Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veteran's Day

Today is Veterans Day. It was established in 1954 to honor the veterans of all wars throughout the history of the United States.

Originally known as Armistice Day, it falls on the anniversary of the end of the First World War. However, in 1954, it was expanded to include all US veterans' regardless of the war in which they fought.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all veterans, and urge all readers to do likewise. As the old saying goes, it is not the Press that ensures freedom of the press. It is not the politicians who ensure free elections and it is not preachers who ensure freedom of religion.

Instead, it is the men and women of the United States Armed Forces- the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard and Merchant Marine- who guarantee that our great country remains free of whatever totalitarian philosophy is currently in vogue amongst the intelligentsia- whether that philosophy goes under the name of Communism, Nazism, or the currently popular imperialist Islam.

Thank you, veterans. Thank you. Your sacrifices are certainly appreciated by this American.

A Press Essay

It has long been apparent to any rational observer of the national press corps that their objectivity and fairness is mostly a figment of the press corps' collective imagination. Coupled with the press corps' lack of courage, complete obliviousness to the very real threats facing the United States in the world today and their collaboration with the very enemies who so badly wish to destroy the United States, they have made the final transition into the useful idiots Josef Stalin spoke of during the early phases of the Cold War. And the recent election completed their transformation into a propaganda machine for the Democratic Party.

But the media in the United States was not always this way. Once upon a time, members of the Press had courage, and were willing to delve deeply into corruption to discover truth. once upon a time, the Press was willing to assist their fellow Americans, instead of doing their best to help America's enemies. I speak not of tools like the infamous Walter Duranty, or the the more recent James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, but of brave members of the press like Ernie Pyle, or Edward Steichen. These men, and many others, went into combat with their peers, and were always ready to report honestly. More recently, brave men like Michael Yon have carried out this tradition. But for most members of the national press corps, their own selfish interests take precedence over the interests of their country and their fellow citizens. Only this can explain why most members of the Press are ready to throw open the borders for illegal aliens, but are not ready to help when those same illegal aliens kill citizens or damage property. The press is always ready to write about enemies' rights, though you won't find any mention of how those same enemies treat lawful combatants when they capture them.

And the press is always ready to write in sobbing phrases about perceived crimes committed by Americans, yet for some reason those same crimes committed by a non-American get not a mention or sometimes even a defense. When an American kills an enemy in a firefight, the press is always ready to declare that soldier a criminal, but somehow the barbarians who fight in disguise, who are not brave enough to fight openly and who in their own families torture children and kill women who even look at another man are considered brave freedom fighters.

Today Wesley Pruden, a former editor-in-chief at the Washington Times newspaper, has an editorial about the current status of the American Press. After examining their disgraceful behavior, and how they waited until after the election to admit what everyone already knew- that they were completely in the tank for President-elect Obama- he concludes,
The most discouraging part of the sad state of media affairs is that there's scant sign it will ever get better. All that writhing around together down in the tank has only reinforced the high opinion the correspondents and commentators have of themselves. They imagine they're responsible for electing a president - and maybe they are - and they can't wait to keep on doing it.

To me this says that we the American people should abandon any hope that the media will ever improve. it is time to kill these dinosaurs and build new media to replace them. Nothing is assured in this world, and despite their belief that they are too valuable to die, no media organ has ever done anything deserving of being saved. Let them die and let us find better alternatives. Let us turn off the television, and end our subscriptions to these newspapers. Let us throw rags like Newsweek and Time into the wastebin where they rightfully belong, and search for the source data ourselves.

Are reporters any better trained at finding truth than you or I? Of course not- they merely have better connections. But journalism is famously one of the least demanding disciplines extant. To be a journalist requires no hard study of anything that requires expertise. Do journalists really understand economics, or history, or engineering, or politics? Of course not. They think that because they can write that they automatically are experts, but they are simply the blind leading the ignorant.

The raw source data for any particular story can be found- all we the people have to do is expend the time and effort necessary to find that data. And if each and every one of us does our job to find the truth, then we can dispense with the biased 'news' and false analysis presented by the dinosaurs of our modern-day Pravda. For that is what the media have become- a cheerleader for one party and their ideals. Therefore, they have forfeited any real claim to the moral high ground and we should expect them to play fast and loose with the truth- they have proven just how partisan and false they have become.

It is time for those of us who care about our great country to move in a different direction. There are alternatives to the Pravda group, but we have to be energetic in order for those sources to become the replacement we as a country desperately need. We must nurture them with tough love. When Pajamas Media or NewsBusters is wrong, we must let them know. But we should give them a chance- certainly they cannot do worse than the media we have now.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Path to Destruction

I know I said I was done writing political posts, but this one is too important to miss. Michael Medved wrote on the eve of Election Day a prescient comment:
John McCain and his advisors picked an appropriate slogan when they came up with the phrase “Country First.” Those two words neatly contrast the Republican emphasis on lasting values and long-term security with the Democratic preference for feel-good, immediate gratification initiatives to pay off the party’s hungry and demanding special interests. The final results will indicate whether the people saw the current global economic crisis as serious enough to warrant transcending narrow advantage for the sake of the Republic at large, and placing the security of the national whole above politically popular efforts at pleasing one party’s favored parts.

How right he was- the American people have chosen to elect special interests that in the long term will damage this country. And because Democrats (aided and abetted by their shills in the supposed 'Press') prefer to pander to these special interests is precisely why I do not believe that we as a country can survive. It happened to Rome, it happened to Constantinople and it will happen to us. We cannot survive if we prefer to put special interests above the good of the country, and with this election, we have chosen our course to self-destruction. This statement is not specifically about Obama, though I do believe that we will see his true colors as a William Ayers-following, tax-and-spending, arrogant Chicago machine politician once he gets inaugurated. Instead, I look at the hypocrisy and pandering of the Democratic Party as a whole. This party is willing to ignore and in fact support wholesale voter fraud (ACORN) and illegal fund raising (Obama's credit-card server) if it gets them power. They control the educational system and so are able to lie about history, deny credit to leaders such as Ronald Reagan for ending the Cold War and twist economic facts to exonerate the guilty. Has anyone actually seen any history book that gives due credit to Reagan, or admits that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was actually created and first proposed by Republicans? Or that it was mainly Democrats that as a party opposed it and that it was the Republicans who managed to provide the votes to pass it? They are willing to de-fund our military on the verge of victory in Vietnam (and soon to repeat this maneuver in Iraq) and then blame a President who was not in fact guilty of starting the war (Nixon). When Iraq turns into a mess after they de-fund our military there, they will no doubt rewrite the history books to blame George W. Bush.

This is why I predict that in a hundred years or thereabouts, we will no longer exist- we will go down the same destructive path taken by Europe before us, and eventually, Islam will conquer the world- something they have been trying to do for 1400 years. If we cannot put the good of our country and our principles above our selfish interests, then we are doomed. I may be pessimistic when I predict a hundred years, but with Democrats set on destroying any impetus to actually create wealth with their high taxes and vast new government programs, while simultaneously muzzling their opponents (the Fairness Doctrine and legal threats to anyone who dares criticise them), they can rapidly achieve their dreams. And then only the self-proclaimed elites (who by the way are the main funders of the Democratic Party) will be able to enjoy life- the rest of us will be as oppressed as the serfs of Russia- working our little lives so that the elites may take our hard-earned money for their particular brand of wealth redistribution.

Does that sound familiar? For anyone who studied history, it should- that is how the Communists seized power in Russia and China, and that is the path that the Democratic Party (which contains many of the same people who actively worked to help the USSR in the Cold War) want to take our country down. Socialism has failed in Europe- even the Europeans know that- several socialist countries in Europe and North America have elected leaders who share more Republican principles (Harper, Merkel, Sarkozy). And yet the Democrats want to make our country a socialist country as well. In five, or ten years, we will look back and ask ourselves how we let this happen. The answer, as always, is that people are more interested in being selfish, and our Press failed us when we needed it most. Since the vast majority of the Press prefers to be the propaganda wing of the Democratic party, I doubt they will have any regrets, since they see themselves as ideologically allied to the socialists. So you can count on their complicity in this program- it is an established fact that no Democrat ever has to actually face the consequences of their bad policy. How many history books actually admit that Roosevelt's policies, far from ending the Great Depression, actually intensified it?

As always, civilizations wake up too late. And we are no exception to this rule. We have so many advantages, but the Democrats seem determined to give our enemies more rights than citizens, not to mention giving illegal aliens more rights than citizens. And at some point, one must ask oneself what benefit citizenship actually brings? I am asking myself that question today, and I cannot answer it. So I believe that for my family, it is safer to live in a country that at least understands the value of a cultural identity and in one that appears determined to give its hard-earned rights and privileges to those who wish to destroy us. And yes, illegal aliens fall under this category, as do the Islamic imperialists who are trying once again to dominate us. It is a pity that we will probably only wake up when it is too late. Maybe a few parts of America will remain free, but once the Democrats eviscerate the Second Amendment (and don't laugh, they have stated they intend to overturn Heller and with a few years, the Democrats can easily pack the Supreme Court to accomplish that goal) I have no confidence in that possibility either. The First Amendment is already under attack- the Democrats and their shills in the press believe that only their speech should be protected, regardless of how vile it is- conservative speech is far more pernicious to them than any Chicago preacher asking his congregation to damn America or an unrepentant, anti-American terrorist setting educational policy.

Ultimately, I see no brightness in the future for America. We will either fall to our selfish elites, or our multicultural infatuation will hand some less tolerant culture (La Raza, Islamic imperialists, Communists, etc) the tools to destroy and consume us. I repeat- it happened to Rome, to Constantinople, and we are not immune to history. Just today I heard someone say we will always be free. This makes me laugh- if I could muster up any amusement at the sobering reality of the future we face. Freedom is not free- that is a cliche but it is true. If a culture is not willing to defend its own values, and farms out its strength to its enemies, then that culture is eventually going to fall. We already are a long way down that path, allowing Islamic imperialists to infiltrate our universities, relying on oil from our enemies, and not bothering to defend our own moral values or state in public why we are better than they. And one of our major parties (aided and abetted by its shills in the Press) is more interested in gaining power than doing what is best for the country. The Democratic Party (and their shills in the Press)are so partisan that they would rather see our country lose a war than help a President of the opposite party.

This is a recipe for cultural suicide. I believe Europe is already too far gone to be saved, and with this election, perhaps America is as well. When the West falls, and submits to the darkness of Islam, perhaps some few souls will be brave enough to fight, but as always, it will be too little, too late. The great Mark Steyn's work America Alone professes that only America offers the world hope to avoid the coming of the new Dark Ages, but with this election, we have shown that we are just as foolish, if not more so, than those cultures who preceded us though the pages of history. I ask those who complain now about the United States- would China be as tolerant and open-handed as the United States in a position of power? Ask Tibet. Would Islam? I think we all know the answer to that question.

And what about the supposed Democratic respect for free speech? Well, we are vilified in every arena, we are treated as criminals, and we are subject to government harassment if we dare open our mouths. No college actually allows conservative speech, and Obama has already shown that his Justice Department, will not tolerate any opinions that are not sufficiently exalting of him. In this respect, an Obama Justice Department is likely to resemble that of Janet Reno's before him, which ignored court orders and conducted armed invasions of those who they deemed to be enemies, regardless of whether that person was indeed a threat.

We as Americans have enjoyed our moment in the sun, but that is ending. The stock market is already falling again- the Wall Street mavens (even those like Buffet and Soros who gave their billions to help the Democrats win this election) know that Democratic rule means high taxes and oppressive regulation. Not to mention that with this new regime, the unions will be able to dispense with secret ballots for unionization, making America too expensive to compete in the world market. All signs point to the end of America. Whether that end comes in a hundred years, or we mimic the centuries-long fall of Constantinople is a question that only history can answer. The only thing certain about that fall is that the press and their political allies will make sure to write the history books to avoid taking any of the blame they so richly deserve.

And with that, I am done commenting on any current issues. No one is listening, and for those who still care about our great country, I can offer little hope.

Election Final

This will be my final political post on StoneHeads- as I previously wrote, criticism of Obama and his party is simply unsafe now that the Democrats have made plain that they intend to shut down all critical thoughts.

So Barack Obama is our President. Congratulations to Senator Obama.

However, our media deserves to be taken out to the dust heap for their performance in this election. And now that the Democrats control all branches of government, we will quickly lose our pre-eminent status in the world.I have already posted my predictions, but i wish to write one last thought.

I predict that Republicans will never win another Presidential election- just as in California, once Democrats gain power, they never relinquish it, and since the Press will not report anything detrimental to a Democrat, they never pay the price for their policies. Just as the Press would not honestly report on the financial crisis which Democrats caused, Democrats can do anything without negative consequences.

Perhaps a new party will emerge, but for Republicans, America has rejected the ideas of self-reliance, small government and strong defense with this election. And that is the Republican brand. The Second Amendment will be emasculated, free speech is already under attack, and the idea that people take responsibility for their actions doesn't seem to apply to Democrats. And so I predict that in less than a one hundred years, this country will no longer exist. Remember, terrorists like William Ayers now have their friends and fellow-travelers running this country. Either the United States will break into component parts, it will be consumed by Mexico or it will be over-run by our Islamic enemies- they are already on the attack through our courts.

Thank you for reading StoneHeads through these last two years. From now on I will focus solely on historical commentary.

UPDATE: One small bright spot- Proposition 8, which deals a setback to activist judges and the gay-rights movement, appears to have passed. Maybe there are still a few people in this country who appreciate tradition and don;'t like a tiny little minority and it's beholden, activist judges dictating to them. The bad news- Obama will almost certainly stack the Supreme Court to change this nationally.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My Last Post

This will be my last political-based post on this blog until I feel safe to speak again. I do not expect to feel safe for the next eight years unless Obama is defeated in his re-election bid (also something I do not expect, since the Press is so in love with The One). However, in my previous post, I forgot to make my predictions about the coming Obama Presidency. Yes, this is a worst-case scenario, but I am depressed and I believe that our country has begun the walk to destruction. It took Byzantium almost five hundred years to die, and the reasons that them to fall are the same ones espoused by the Left and the Democratic Party in this country. I predict that in less than a hundred years, the United States will no longer exist. It will either have splintered into component parts (not entirely a bad thing, in my opinion), be part of Mexico (the mythical Aztlan) or it will be ruled by Islamic imperialists.

So for the next eight years, I will confine myself to posting on history (until the Dear Leader rewrites all our textbooks to his friend Terrorist Bill Ayers' specification). In any event, here are my predictions:

1. Fairness Doctrine is back- goodbye conservative radio. Rush will be either fined out of business or imprisoned for 'sedition'.
2. All conservative websites will be closed down- we're FAR more dangerous than those Islamic terrorists, didn't you know?
3. Taxes will skyrocket, our economy will tank.
4. The Second Amendment will be revoked by a liberal Supreme Court.
5. The US military will be emasculated and used solely as an international police force.
6. Iran will have nuclear weapons in two years.
7. Israel will no longer exist in two years.
8. Iraq will become another Islamic terror sponsor.
9. America will accept UN domination over all aspects of our foreign policy; we will sign a treaty giving the UN the power to control our treasury and our military.
10. No contrary opinions of an Obama Presidency will be tolerated- critics will be fined and possibly even imprisoned.
11. Congress will roll out universal health care and our health care system will become worse than Canada's. Americans will face huge long waits in line and many Americans will die from lack of timely care. Many doctors will go out of business due to their inability to get reimbursed. Getting health care will be worse than a trip to the DMV. (Advice- if you have anything that needs to be addressed health-wise, get it done now. In two years, our health care system will be a disaster).
12. Borders will be flung open- all illegal aliens will be legalized, provoking a fresh flood of illegals wanting citizenship.
13. Human Rights Commissions like those in Canda will form to prevent conservative speech from being heard. Any speech deemed 'hateful' (this only applied to comments made by conservatives, of course- liberals and leftists can do and say anything they wish) will be punished severely.
14. Starting January 20, expect to see the same economic numbers that were deemed to be bad for Bush spun as being wonderful under an Obama Presidency.

There are probably things I have missed, but these are the major initiatives I expect to see from an Obama Presidency. And I ask all of you to ask yourself this- the Press has been telling us for eight years how terrible Bush was. But in eight years from now, ask yourself if you were better off under Bush's Administration or under Obama's? I think the answer might surprise you. Not that the Press will tell the truth, of course.

Farewell. my next post will be about some aspect of history that interests me. I hope that you will bear with me until it once again safe to speak freely.

Election Thoughts

I voted this morning. Since I live in an area that is dominated by the left, I do not expect that my vote will mean anything. However, as this will be perhaps the last opportunity for those of us who are no acolytes of The One to actually speak freely before the Obama Thought Police close down any criticism of His policies, i decided to post my thoughts on this election.

1. The Press: The American press corps has disgraced itself with its unthinking advocacy of the Obama campaign. Not only has the Press refused to do any vetting whatsoever on Obama, they have repeated the sins of the 1992 election, in which they sat on stories that might hurt the Democratic candidate. In addition, the vitriol that the press has aimed at Governor Palin is simply disgraceful. The only reason i could possibly support any version of the Fairness Doctrine would be to pull the MSM into some kind of real journalism. It no longer deserves the title, since it has devolved into a propaganda machine for the Democratic party.

2. Projections: I expect Senator Obama to win the election. He has all the advantages and with his illegal money (and ACORN's illegal voters) and the assistance of his personal propaganda machine (see point 1), the McCain campaign simply is out-gunned. The press has ensured that there can be no honest discussion of the two candidates, sicne they will not run any stories that show The One in an unflattering light. However, if Obama does win (and I expect that he will), I fear our country has taken one more large step toward destruction. Obama is an admitted socialist with a strong streak of arrogance.

3. Free Speech: Obama has not shown any willingness to allow criticism. And of course once he is in office, you can count on the Democratic Congress to shut down any and all critical voices. I write this since I do not believe that we who still have faith in our country will be allowed under an Obama presidency to speak openly. I expect an Obama Justice Department to come for all writers who disagree with The One- he has already shown that side of his personality. We will be threatened, fined and possibly imprisoned if we criticize Obama. Free speech as we know it will end with an Obama Presidency.

4. The World: an Obama win today will end America's strength abroad. Europe has been praying for an Oabma win. Well, be careful what you wish for- Obama intends to eviscerate the US military and that means that nice protective umbrella Europe has lived under since World War II is gone. So Europe, how do you like being on your own? Under Obama, you will be, since The One does not believe in fighting our enemies- he would prefer to surrender.

5. Guns: Obama will take your guns away. Remember, the Supreme Court is already leaning to the Left, and an Obama Presidency will certainly accelerate that trend. And liberals do not like the Constuitution- they prefer to rewrite it as they wish it could be- in otyher words, they want to make the Untied States into a new Soviet Union. Guin rights will be the first to go under an Obama Presidency- don't forget he thinks that we are bitter people who cling to guns and religion. And once the gunsa re gone, who will stop the government from putting us into re-education camps? That is what Bill Ayers wanted to do, and Obama is unquestionably an Ayers acolyte. I expect to see Ayers as Secretary of Homeland Security, so he can implement his re-education plans.

In conclusion, this will probably be my last post for the next eight years, since will not be safe to write anything critical of Obama. Why eight years? Well, regardless of how badly Obama does and how terribly our economy is damaged, the Press will not allow Him to be held accountable for any of His sins. So it is almost certain that we are stuck with The One for the next eight years. Remember- the financial crisis is entirely caused by Democrats, yet somehow the Republicans got blamed for it, despite the facts being available. The mainstream media and their refusal to honestly report the truth has destroyed this great country.

Thank you all for reading this blog over the last few years. If Obama loses today, then I will feel safe to continue writing, but I regret that I cannot be optimistic. Republicans have too many hills to climb and the Democrats are slowly eroding our basic rights while the Press cheers them on. I recommend that all those who can, prepare to emigrate to other countries that still believe in the rights our Founders enshrined in the Constitution- the same Constitution that Obama is about to destroy completely. The United States is not longer a safe place to live if you are not a fervent True Believer in The One.

Monday, October 27, 2008

2008 Election Recommendations

I have been very remiss in keeping up this blog of late, for which I duly apologize- between work and family issues, I have not had the time to blog as I would ordinarily have preferred as we approach this election on November 4. However, I do have my recommendations for the main ballot issues here in California. These recommendations are as follows:

John McCain / Sarah Palin (Republican)- My reasoning has been set out previously, but in short, I do not believe that Barack Obama is qualified for the high office of President, and i believe that the shameless behavior of our major media has prevented most voters from gaining any real understanding of Obama's past or real beliefs. I have many disagreements with john McCain on policy, but I believe him to be a better choice for our nation- especially in these dangerous times- than the inexperienced, insincere Obama.

There are a number of propositions on the California ballot this year, and I will list each of them together with my recommendation. The full information for each of the current ballot propositions are taken from Ballotpedia's page. Official descriptions can be found at the California Secretary of State web site.

  1. Proposition 1a: High-speed Rail. In theory, a high-speed railway running through California and linking the major metorpolises is an excellent idea- California is one of the few places in the U.S. where such a rail system makes sense. However, after reading the proposition, I do not believe that this is anything more than one more attempt to spend taxpayer money without anything to show for it. And until our Legislature can fix the financial problems in California, I do not believe that we should hand over any more of our hard-earned money to them to play with. Vote No on Proposition 1a.

  2. Proposition 2: Animal Rights. This specifies conditions for raising egg-laying chickens. Folks, we have far more pressing issues than this. And the end result will almost certainly be to raise our food prices, as most egg-producers will leave California, thus raising the price of eggs. I expect this to pass, but it seems a waste of time and something that will ultimately do nothing to improve the lives of captive chickens. Vote No on Proposition 2.

  3. Proposition 3: Children's Hospital bond. This specifies over 800 million in bonds for children's hospitals. Of course, many if not all of these are actually private hospitals that were just recently given taxpayer money back in 2004 (Proposition 61). Almost half of that money is not yet spent. in addition, the same groups that pushed through Prop 61 are sponsoring Prop 3. Why are we giving these same groups even more taxpayer money? Vote No on Proposition 3.

  4. Proposition 4: Abortion parental notification. Requires parental or guardian notification before abortions can be performed. I think that all of use agree that parents are responsible for minors. And why parents should be left un-notified before their offspring undergoes a medical procedure of this seriousness is unfathomable. Vote Yes on Proposition 4.

  5. Proposition 5: Drug Rehab Essentially eliminates drug crimes from punishment. if you think that drug sellers and users are not criminals, you will probably vote yes. I think that users should be treated the same as drunk drivers, and so I do not think that this is a good idea. Vote No on Proposition 5.

  6. Proposition 6: Crime Prevention Basically strengthens the penalites for crime and also requires California to spend money from the general fund to pay for the increased penalties. From a fiscal standpoint, it is a bad thing when California is so broke, but on the other hand, crime needs to be reined in. On balance, I think this is probably a better idea than spending money on things politicians want. Vote Yes on Proposition 6.

  7. Proposition 7: Clean Power Requires all California utilites to procure 25 percent of their energy from so-called 'clean' sources by 2025- and requires providers such as PG&E and Edison to have 20 percent by 2010. Not only is this virtually impossible, the bill also cuts most current providers out (causing loss of perhaps 60 percent of our current suppliers), creates massive bureaucracy, has hidden costs, will almost certainly raise utilities fees through the roof and has no way to fix any problems. This is yet another clean energy boondoggle. Vote No on Proposition 7.

  8. Proposition 8: Gay marriage. Amends California Constitution to make marriage for an adult man and woman only. Judges are not allowed to legislate, but that is exactly what the California Supreme Court did when they over-ruled California's voters. Additionally, if gays want to decide what society can and cannot do, then they need to make their argument at the ballot box- not in court.Vote Yes on Proposition 8.

  9. Proposition 9: Victims' Rights This proposition essentially appears to reinforce victims' rights and also makes it much harder for criminals to get early release. It makes a lot of sense to me- anything that increases victim rights and decreases criminal rights cannot be a bad thing. in addition, it's opponents have no strong arguments against it other than they apparently believe that criminals should be released as quickly as possible. this is about as close to a no-brainer as is on the ballot. Vote Yes on Proposition 9.

  10. Proposition 10: Alternative Fuels This is mainly proposed and funded by Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens and would authorize 5 billion dollars to fund alternative energy sources, including wind power- something that both Pickens and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have heavily invested in. I think the best argument is that when California is already so badly in debt, this is NOT the time to be authorizing more spending without any source for that money. Let's tackle more urgent issues first, then talk about Califronia subsidizing alternative energy companies. Vote No on Proposition 10.

  11. Proposition 11: Election reform. This is a difficult measure to determine. It proposes to take redistricting out of the hands of the Legislature and put it into a supposedly bipartisan commission. This does have the potential of becoming an unaccountable bureaucracy, and there is a legitimate danger inherent in it. However, since it is opposed by both the California Democratic Party (which controls the Legislature and most State offices) and both Senator Barbara Boxer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (two of the silliest and most partisan members of the US Congress), I decided that it cannot be worse than the gerrymandering the Democrat-controlled Legislature has inflicted upon us. Vote Yes on Proposition 11.

  12. Proposition 12: Veterans' assistance. This allocates bonds to be sold to create a fund to assist veterans. However, the bond also is unique in this election in that the funds it disburses are not gifts- they are loans that will be paid back by the veterans themselves. This makes it the only bond measure i can endorse. Vote Yes on Proposition 12.

Don't forget to vote on Election Day!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Gwen Ifill: 'I'm Objective!'

PBS news anchor Gwen Ifill- who will be moderating tonight's Vice-Presidential candidate debate between Democrat and Republican Sarah Palin, has a book scheduled to be released on Inauguration Day. The title? The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. Yet despite this, Ifill claims that she will be an objective arbiter of the debate. According to the Associated Press story, Ifill also did not inform the supposedly bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates- the body that chooses debate moderators- of the upcoming book.

Newsbusters has been all over this story, though of course Ifill seems oblivious to any problem. In fact, Ifill has been dismissing criticism by accusing her critics of racism. According to the AP story, Ifill,
... questions why people assume that her book will be favorable toward Obama.

"Do you think they made the same assumptions about Lou Cannon (who is white) when he wrote his book about Reagan?" said Ifill, who is black. Asked if there were racial motives at play, she said, "I don't know what it is. I find it curious."

Well, considering that the title of Ifill's book is "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama", it is pretty plain that Ifill is not exactly a critic of the Obama camnpaign. In addition, the very title clues in the potential reader that Ifill is expecting (and presumable hoping for, since that would increase her sales) an Obama victory in November. I cannot imagine any conservative host who would be allowed by the Democrats to host their debates if said host had a book extolling the virtues of McCain scheduled for publication on Inauguration Day. in addition, the fact that Ifill did not inform the Commission on Presidential Debates that she was planning this book is a big red flag. Journalists, who are responsible for accurately informing the public of the events of the day, have an ethical mandate to reveal conflicts of interest. They are certainly vociferous in exposing any such conflicts in business.

In addition, Ifill's excuse- that the book is posted on the publisher's web site, so people knew about it- does not hold water. I don't think most people check publishers' websites on a regular basis and in any event, it is Ifill's responsibility to come clean about her potential conflict of interest BEFORE accepting the invitation to moderate the debate. And her claim that 'people did not question Lou Cannon's book on REagan' also is a red herring. Cannon was no asked to moderate any Presidential debates, nor did he try to hide his work. As the Power Line crew accurately analyze,
The conflict of interest doesn't arise from her view of Obama; if she favors Obama, she is like countless other journalists including (I suspect) at least some of the whites who will moderate other debates. The conflict arises from Ifill's stake, given the book, in an Obama victory.

Ifill has exposed herself as one more of the army of media types who are desperately hoping for an Obama win in November- and doing everything they can to make that eventuality a reality. She should immediately remove herself from the debate as moderator, if she has any professional ethics. But that would require a conscience- something that few media types seem to have.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Tsar Rehabilitated- A Little Late

According to Yahoo! News, a Russian court has ruled that the last Russian Emperor, Nicholas II and his family were "victims of political repression" and should be rehabilitated. It seems a little late, in my opinion. I suspect that anyone who learned the tragic story of the last Russian Tsar already knew that they were victims of political repression- it is difficult to make any other judgment when a repressive, totalitarian government lines up a hemophiliac child, his teenage sisters and their parents and cold-bloodedly shoots and stabs them to death. And then rapes and burns their mutilated bodies. For a primer on the events of 1918, see the incredible book Nicholas and Alexandria and its follow-up The Romanovs: The Final Chapter by renowned historian Robert K. Massie.

I think that this court could have spent its presumedly valuable time on matters of real consequence? But then it seems that the judiciary in many countries, not just in the United States, has time to spend on this type of case. However, I supposed that this is a case of better late than never. Not that there has ever been any serious question of whether or not the Tsar and his family were victims of 'political repression'.

A more important question, at least in my opinion, is to ask where the voices that are so loud when a single Islamic terrorist is killed by United States soldiers were on this one? The answer, sadly, is that the media, as usual, was too busy getting in bed with the Stalinist government (think Walter Duranty) and the elites were too busy trying on Communism and betraying their own country (the Rosenbergs). And of course throughout the Cold War, the situation was similar- the so-called elites were too busy trying to make the United States into a copy of the Soviet Union, and the media were too busy demonizing the few courageous voices who were trying to protect their country and their principles.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thoughts on The Bailout

I have delayed commenting on the recently defeated bailout plan supported by most of the Republican and Democratic leadership. And I initially supported it as I believe that this was probably the best deal we were likely to get with a Democratic majority in the House and Senate. However, reports that began coming out yesterday are causing me to take a fresh look at the entire bailout and also the votes of the Representatives- both Democrat and Republican- that defeated it.

Firstly, I am disgusted with Nancy Pelosi's 'leadership' on this bill. According to quotes from House Majority Whip Jim Clymer, as reported by Power Line,
As of yesterday, the Democrats' House whip, Jim Clyburn said that he hadn't even begun "whipping" Democratic representatives, and wouldn't do so unless and until he got orders from Nancy Pelosi. Today, Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio told NPR that he never was "whipped" on the bill. So Pelosi evidently left Democrats to vote their consciences--which is to say, vote against the bill if they thought it was politically necessary--while counting on Republicans to put the bill over the top.

So in other words, Pelosi counted on Republicans to vote for this bill despite their constituents' feelings running heavily against it. All the while allowing her own Democrats- and let us remember that Pelosi did not need any Republican votes to pass this since Democrats control the House- to cast politically safe votes. This is not leadership- this is partisan politics at its worst.

Then before the vote occurred, Pelosi proceeded to launch a highly partisan attack on the Republicans we have seen in some time, falsely accusing President Bush and the Republicans of creating this crisis. Pelosi said,
$700 billion. A staggering number, but only a part of the cost of the failed Bush economic policies to our country. Policies that were built on budget recklessness when Pres. Bush took office, he inherited Pres. Clinton’s surpluses - four years in a row budget surpluses on a trajectory of $5.6 trillion in surplus. And with his reckless economic policies, within two years, he had turned it around. And now 8 years later, the foundation of that fiscal irresponsibility, combined with an “anything goes” economic policy, has taken us to where we are today.

This is completely untrue- it was in fact Democrats who caused the structural imbalances that led to the meltdown- particularly in regards to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac- government-sponsored enterprises that were allowed to do borderline-legal deals and extend loans to people who never should have been eligible. In addition, the senior executives of both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, including Franklin Raines- are highly placed Democrats. Even the media once realized that there might be a problem- a Washington Post story from 2004 admits that the Bush Administration in fact was pushing for tighter reins on these entities- regulations that were defeated by the Democrats in Congress, even while the Freddie mac and Fannie Mae executives were pulling in huge bonuses. Where is the condemnation for these people as there was for Ken Lay of Enron? I see little difference between them- save for their party affiliation. Yet the Democrats and their shills in the mainstream media are doing their best to put the blame on the Republicans.

Secondly, the media got into the game by falsely portraying the actual bill itself. Let us recall that in it's first iteration, this bill contained a large sum of money for the corrupt organization ACORN. The Power Line guys described the Republican efforts as follows:
So, what did the Republicans achieve? They put strings on the availability of funds beyond $250 billion, requiring fresh Congressional action for the last $350 billion. They added a requirement that Treasury establish an insurance program which would be funded by participating companies. This may be a big deal; I'm not sure exactly how it is intended to operate or how much, in the end, it will reduce the exposure to the taxpayer. They established a bipartisan oversight committee, rather than a committee run only by the Democrats, as Dodd and Frank had proposed. They took out special interest boondoggles for unions and for ACORN, the voter fraud organization. They removed a provision that would have allowed bankruptcy judges to arbitrarily reduce mortgages, an ill-conceived measure that would have aggravated a central cause of the current crisis, the difficulty of evaluating mortgage-backed securities. And they mandated a GAO study on the impact of the mark-to-market accounting rule, implicitly encouraging regulatory agencies to revise or abandon that principle, which is a key reason why banks that have little to do with the origins of the crisis are currently threatened.

Of course, none of this was reported in the mainstream media, leaving many voters with the impression that not only were the Republicans being obstructive, but that somehow it was the Republicans- the minority party who (in the House at least) have no ability to block the majority- who were responsible for the bill's delay and subsequent defeat. In fact, 95 Democrats also voted against the bill- 40 percent of the majority. Had even half of them voted Aye, then this would have passed. Had all of them voted 'Aye', then Pelosi needed no Republican support at all. So why didn't they? Perhaps because constituent feeling was running strongly against the bill, and Pelosi wanted to put all the blame on the Republicans.

Ultimately, there are some excellent questions as to whether a No vote on this bill is a good idea or not. Since the Republicans did manage to get some good provisions into the bill, it is questionable- especially with this disgraceful Speaker- whether we can get a better bill. However, since the bill did not address the structural issues that actually caused the crisis- particularly Freddie and Fannie- then i questions whether this is any more than a political stopgap. There are good reasons on both sides for voting yay or nay. Ultimately, it will depend on what the markets do. However, I think that this episode has demonstrated yet again that government should have no role in business- why do we even HAVE GSEs like Fannie and Freddie? And this also demonstrates how little leadership our politicians really have. Now are you SURE you want the same people who created this mess in charge of your health care too?

Monday, September 15, 2008

McCain Wins On Looks, Too!

Since the mainstream media is focused on doing their best to drag the undeserving Obama ticket across the finish line in November, it is unlikely that they would actually report anything that makes McCain/Palin appear in a positive light. However, this focus on serving as Democratic Party lapdogs does free up the blogosphere to actually do their job for them. In the vein, Captain Capitalism decided to do a little objective comparison of the physical appeal of John McCain versus Barack Obama on the site Hot or Not. As the Captain writes,
To prove who was the better looking I took two pictures; one of John McCain in his prime and one of Barack Obama in his prime. I faced the problem that if the pictures were too easily identifiable then the screeners at Hot or Not would reject them.

The methodology was as fair as the Captain could make it. He found pictures of both McCain and Obama in their youthful prime (done from an Internet search for 'young McCain' and 'young Obama'). The resulting pictures were posted on Hot of Not under suitable aliases and the Captain then sat back to await results.

Surprise! It turns out that McCain was rated as a 9.9 out of 10, whereas Obama was a pedestrian 7.2 out of 10. McCain also seemed to be more attractive- his profile was reported to have received requests for meetings from members of the opposite sex and also was invited to be the site's Person of the Week- something that the Obama profile did not receive.

As Captain Capitalism concludes,
Of course, looks are irrelevant when it comes to selecting the president of the United States and this was done largely out of humor and jest. However, while you may not be able to date John McCain, you can vote for him. For while he may beat Barack 9.9 to 7.2 in looks (adjusting for prime), I would surmise he equally, if not, more than trounces him in experience.

Agreed. Now if only the mainstream media would perform their jobs with even a small amount of the professionalism displayed by Captain Capitalism, we MIGHT actually have an informed electorate. of course, if that occurred, the Democratic Party would probably never win another election.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

British Publisher Stands Up to Muslims

Islam is well-known for using threats of violence to silence its adversaries. However, at least one company had the strength of will to stand up to said threats. Alas, that company is not US-owned, but rather is a British company.

According to Breitbart.com,
A novel about the Prophet Mohammed and his child bride, which has already caused controversy in the United States and Serbia, will be released in Britain next month, its publisher said Wednesday.

Publishing house Gibson Square, known for having sold other controversial books, such as Alexander Litvinenko's "Blowing Up Russia", said it was "imperative" that "The Jewel of Medina" by American author Sherry Jones be available to the public.

Now, the book itself may well be (and I regret to say probably is) unmitigated rubbish- many romance books are. However, it is the principle at stake here. No group should be able to threaten us into submission. Muslims in particular are very adept (with the willing participation or the world's media) in threatening violence in response to things they do not like.

However, we in the West are not Muslim (yet). There is no reason for Christians, Hindis, Jews, Buddhists or any other non-Islamic religion or culture to pay any attention to what Muslims do or do not like. Christians certainly are not fond of images of Jesus Christ in piss water, but that is one of the many things that they must bear. So books or images that do not portray Muhammad or members of his family in a positive light are also things that Muslims ought to get used to.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Media Piles on LPGA

As was to be expected, once the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) announced its new requirements that all Tour players be proficient in English, the media erupted in protest. A representative attack came from FoxSports' Mark Kriegel, who wrote,
Lawyers can debate whether the LPGA's edict is unconstitutional. But I know this much: It's un-American. It represents a potential assault on the idea of merit, and an insult, not just to golfers, but to all athletes. Eleven years after Tiger Woods won his first major, the golf establishment still reveals its exclusionary heart with alarming regularity. Somewhere, Hootie Johnson is beaming with pride.

I have news for Mr. Kriegel, if he cares to get outside of his little media cocoon. Go to Japan, Mr. Kriegel and try communicating in English on the Japan Pro Golf Tour. Or try communicating in English on the Korean pro golf tour, or the Japan Pro Baseball League. You might find that *gasp* you need to be able to speak the local language. If those leagues require members to be able to speak the local language, what is so wrong about an American league requiring its members to speak the local language?

Now we both know that superstars who are recruited by foreign leagues are provided with translators, but there is a subtle difference. When a star is recruited to go play overseas, it is usually the foreign league who recruits the player. However, the LPGA is in fact an American tour. No one if forcing the foreign players to come and play on said tour. If they do not or cannot speak English, then they can go back and play in their respective countries' tours.

However, any country has the right to enforce a local language requirement. Trying to say that the US tours are not allowed to do that because "As for that gem — the American tour bit — the fact is it's not so American, and hasn't been for a while." is simply untrue. The LPGA is an American tour. American owned, American run and American sponsored. As are the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball. All of these leagues are the American pro sports leagues. They are not based in France, or Korea or anywhere else. They are in the United States- ownership is in the United States and therefore it is irrelevant whether the players are or are not. If players wish to participate on the tour, then it is up to them to meet the Tour's requirements.

Mr. Kriegel and his ilk would have us believe that it is OK for Korea to force all players on the Korean golf tours to speak Korean, but it is somehow not OK for United States sports leagues to have a similar requirement. There is this little thing called national sovereignty, Mr. Kriegel. You probably do not understand the concept, but this is the United States. Not Korea. And our national language is English. Therefore, it seems entirely logical that a US sports tour would want its members to be able to communicate with the sponsors. If we were in Korea, I would expect players to be able to communicate in Korean. But we are not- we are in the United States.

If I were send a word of advice to the media, I would recommend they worry more about their own profession's lack of accountability, lack of objectivity and plummeting ratings than I would be about the LPGA's attempt to help their members communicate to the (mostly American) sponsors.


Republican Presidential candiadte John McCain selected Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate today. According to the announcement sent out by the McCain campaign,
Governor Palin is a tough executive who has demonstrated during her time in office that she is ready to be president. She has brought Republicans and Democrats together within her Administration and has a record of delivering on the change and reform that we need in Washington.

Governor Palin has challenged the influence of the big oil companies while fighting for the development of new energy resources. She leads a state that matters to every one of us -- Alaska has significant energy resources and she has been a leader in the fight to make America energy independent.

In Alaska, Governor Palin challenged a corrupt system and passed a landmark ethics reform bill. She has actually used her veto and cut budgetary spending. She put a stop to the "bridge to nowhere" that would have cost taxpayers $400 million dollars.

As the head of Alaska's National Guard and as the mother of a soldier herself, Governor Palin understands what it takes to lead our nation and she understands the importance of supporting our troops.

I think this is an excellent choice on many levels. First, Governor Palin has the executive experience that both Biden and Obama (and McCain himself, to be honest) so conspicuously lack. Secondly, as the youngest member of either ticket, she is able to challenge Obama's youth-based celebrity (she was herself a beauty contestant in her younger days). And she, like McCain, is a maverick- she has consistently fought the special interests and corruption in her own party and defeated several Establishment candidates to win her current position. She is someone who can bring a voice of reason to the energy debate, as she is Governor of the state with American's largest oil reserves. Finally, as a working mom, she can connect to women on a level that neither Biden nor Obama can, and McCain's choice shows once again that he is the real agent for change and is willing to take risks- in short, as Pajamas Media's Jennifer Rubin so aptly put it "he thinks he can win".

Palin is solidly conservative. As governor, she reduced spending, exposed corruption and worked to make Alaska independent of federal money. She has a long record of fighting corruption and is not close to either of Alaka's corrupt Congressmen- Senator Stevens or Representative Young. She is also a hunter, a lifelong member of the NRA and she is a confirmed pro-life candidate- she chose to have her latest child even though doctors told her that the child had Downs Syndrome. Her oldest son is in the Army, and is preparing to deploy to Iraq.

The risk here is that Palin's experience is limited. Before being elected governor, she was a member of the city council and later mayor of Wasilla, a small town of only 5400 residents in Alaska. However, both her mayoral and her gubernatorial experience trump either Biden or Obama- neither has any executive experience at all. And she, like McCain, has a long record of reformism- in fact, her reformer credentials are even more solid than McCain's- she was never involved with the Keating Five.

In conclusion, Palin may be weak on the experience bit, having less than ten years in elected office. But she has executive experience as both a mayor and as a governor- no one else on either ticket can make that claim. And she is as much the outsider as McCain- in contrast to the Chicago machine politician Obama and the ultimate Washington insider Biden. And she also brings intangibles that neither Biden nor even Obama himself can- she is a woman, and with the Hillary supporters still unhappy with the way their candidate was treated, she may be able to siphon off some of the female support Obama desperately needs in order to win.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

LPGA to Members- Speak English!

The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) has figured out a basic truth that seems to have eluded our elected leaders (and much if not most of the American media)- if you want to work in the United States, you need to be able to speak English. According to a story posted today on Fox Sports, the LPGA is requiring all members who have been on the tour for at least two years to pass an English proficiency examination. If they do not, their membership will be suspended.

According to the story,written by Beth Ann Baldry of Golfweek.com,
For the past several years, the LPGA has impressed upon its membership the importance of communicating effectively in English. As the game's dominance shifts to the East, the LPGA has strengthened its stance. Learning English no longer is a tour suggestion; it's a requirement.

At a mandatory South Korean player meeting Aug. 20 at the Safeway Classic, the tour informed its largest international contingent that beginning in 2009, all players who have been on tour for two years must pass an oral evaluation of their English skills. Failure would result in a suspended membership.

However, the best quote in the story comes toward the end, when the writer quotes Kate Peters, who is the executive director of the LPGA State Farm Classic tournament. She said upon hearing the news,
"This is an American tour. It is important for sponsors to be able to interact with players and have a positive experience."

Imagine that. If you want to participate in an American-hosted event, you need to be able to communicate in English. If the LPGA can understand that basic fact, why is it so difficult for our politicians and our media? The United States of America is a country built on the English language, and with a core of English- based institutions.

When I visit Japan (which I do on a fairly regular basis) I do not expect Japanese officials, or my Japanese friends to speak to me in English. When I go to the store, I certainly do not expect to ask for help from the clerks in English. And if I visit the local government offices, i don't expect to see English documents. I am in Japan- the language is Japanese.

The same is true of my visits to Mexico. While Mexico is not one of my favorite places to visit (the corrupt 'police' and government place it fairly low on my list of Places To See), I do not expect to speak English in Mexico, nor do I expect to be addressed in that language. They speak Spanish- a debased form of Spanish to be true, but still Spanish.

So why do we bend over backward in this county to allow foreigners to speak any language that suits them in their dealings with officialdom? Why do we offer ballots in languages other than English? why do i see signs in Spanish when i visit the Department of Motor Vehicles? This is absurd. If you are a foreigner to the United States, it behooves you to l;earn English if you want to get by in our society. If you cannot or will not learn the language, then do not expect much sympathy from me- you can always go back to your home country. No one is forcing you to be in this country.

My wife came from Japan. When we first met, her English was essentially non-existent. However, she has worked hard and now is working as a registered nurse in a US hospital- a position that requires a very high degree of English competency. The United States used to operate this way as a matter of course- foreigners needed to learn our language and culture. That is common sense.

The LPGA is to be commended for their courageous and entirely commonsensical stance on the matter of English competency. I can only hope that before the United States joins other cultures on the landfill of history that our elected leaders and our Press comes to the same realization as the leadership of the LPGA. If you wish to live/work/study in the United States of America, then you need to speak English. Period.

UPDATE: I actually scooped the awesome Michelle Malkin on this story? Cool!

Monday, August 25, 2008

USA Today Targets McCain in Hillary Article

Just in time for the Democratic Convention in Denver this week, is the national press doing their best once again to tilt the playing field in favor of Senator Barack Obama? It would seem that that is indeed the case.

Case in point is an article in the USAToday online edition headlined Poll: More than half of Clinton backers still not sold on Obama. However, once the story passes it's purported main point of listing the challenges faced by Obama in uniting a Democratic Party thoroughly fractured by the rough campaign season, the story manages to include points that are designed to be negative for the Republican candidate, Arizona Senator John McCain.

the writer, one Susan Page, admits that many Clinton supporters are ambivalent at best about Obama, and also does include the fact that many Americans have concerns over Obama's lack of experience, but she then includes several points that are unhelpful to McCain, writing,
A majority say his policies as president would mostly benefit the wealthy. Four in 10 worry McCain is too old to be president — he'll turn 72 on Friday — and 66% say they're concerned he'll pursue President Bush's course. That includes 64% of independents and 35% of Republicans.

McCain also gets more blame for the campaign's negative tone. Nearly half of respondents, 48%, say McCain has attacked Obama unfairly, compared with 30% who say Obama has unfairly attacked McCain.

I wonder what the polls would say if the mainstream media- yes, this includes you, Miss Page- had actually covered the campaigns from an objective point of view? if the media had not relentlessly written misleading stories on the economy (hint- it isn't as bad as they would like us to think) and on McCain's supposedly negative campaigning.

Is it negative to point out one's rivals flaws, faux pases and mis-steps? Is it negative to point out one's rival's many mis-statements and apparent lack of knowledge? And I notice that the real negative comments from the Obama campaign about McCain somehow seem to be entirely acceptable to the MSM. His age, his 28-year old marital affairs and his wealth seem to be acceptable targets, yet any comparable comments about Obama seem to be unacceptable. How is this possible?

in any event, we already know that the mainstream media are in the tank for Obama. this article, though innocuous on the surface, is merely one more shot from a media that desperately wants to prove it can get its man into the White House after failing to give the past two elections to their favored candidates.

Cross-posted on NewsBusters

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My New Automotive Drool-Inducer

...is the awesome Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. Now, if I only had an extra hundred thousand dollars lying around (and if only I could persuade Mrs. Gankomon to let me spend said cash on this gorgeous piece of engineering...)

Somehow I don't think driving this speed demon will persuade too many people to support Heath Shuler's plan to bring back the 55-mph speed limit. It might persuade more folks to jump on the bandwagon for Donald Sensing's suggestion for higher speed limits, however.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Case for Speed

House of Representatives member Heath Shuler (D- N.C.) is agitating for the return of the 55-mph speed limit. I remember that infamous speed limit- no one followed it and all it did was to irritate drivers. In other words, it was about as successful as Jimmy Carter's plan to wear more sweaters instead of actually developing American energy reserves. However, according to Donald Sensing over at his blog Sense of Events, instead of decreasing the speed limit, now would actually be a good time to increase it- he suggests at least 100 miles an hour or more on the freeways.

To illustrate his idea, Sensing compares the time necessary to take a trip from Nashville to Memphis both by air and by car. He finds that,
Nashville to Memphis, 200 ground miles, flying Northwest Airlines flt. 457. Depart Nashville (BNA) at 0612, arrive Memphis (MEM) at 0715. Cool, just an hour, right? Of course not. You must arrive at the airport no fewer than 90 minutes earlier than flight departure (they say two hours, but let's assume you check no baggage). And you have to drive to the airport, call that 30 minutes. So you leave home at 0412. Three hours later you arrive at the Memphis airport and have to spend another 30 minutes, minimum, getting to your place of business for the day. Use more time if you checked baggage.

So you spend 3 1/2 hours getting to your destination in Memphis from your Nashville home.

If you drive, Google Maps says it would take 3 1/2 hours just to drive from BNA to MEM. Of course, you wouldn't start from BNA or end at MEM, so shave a half-hour. Still, many business travelers would consider the extra half-hour spent flying to be worth it, especially if they can use the down time to work.

So let's raise the speed limit to 100 mph. Using the same route, BNA - MEM, uses 205 interstate miles. Some of this is too congested to permit high-speed driving, probably about 20 miles. Heck, to make it easy let's say 25 miles. So you cover 180 miles in 1 hour, 48 minutes and the other 25 miles in as many minutes. That leaves 16 miscellaneous miles left, which might take you another 25 minutes. Total time, 2 hours, 38 minutes. You save, basically, an hour.

Sensing also examines the other delays built into air travel these days- the TSA security checks, the baggage-checks, the check-in lines and of course the waiting in the plane on the runway. Since airlines over-schedule, the odds of a true on-time departure are extremely low) and the airlines and the FAA manipulate things so that even if the plane officially makes an 'on-time' departure, you still won't be in the ari anywhere near your scheduled departure time.

I find a lot of sense in what Mr. Sensing suggests. For foreign trips, of course, air travel remains the only real alternative, as sea travel is too slow. However, for much domestic travel, driving actually is quicker, and less stressful than air. And if the speed limits were raised, the time involved would drop as well. Read the whole thing and see what you think- I like the idea. Not that there is much chance of our elected officials implementing it, but we proved with the 55-mile speed limit that if we push long enough, even Congress might eventually pay some attention...

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

Friday, August 15, 2008

An Important Birthday

Napoleon Bonaparte, French general, Emperor and master military genius, was born on this day in 1867. Why is this important? Because it was Bonaparte's imperialist dreams that caused the French-English wars between the 1790s and the Waterloo campaign of 1815, led to Britain's Royal Navy becoming the world's premier fighting force and set up the beginnings of the European order that was finally overthrown in 1918.

Napoleon was born on the island of Corsica, but entered the French army at a young age and rose rapidly, becoming a general at age 20. When France was plunged into the darkness of the French Revolution, it was Bonaparte who, with the support of the Army, eventually took control of the French government, being named First Consul in 1799 in what can only be called a coup de etat. After consolidating his power, he declared himself Emperor.

As a side note, it was Bonaparte's expedition to Egypt in 1798 that resulted in the discovery of one of the most important artifacts of all time- the Rosetta Stone. A stone that has the same text written in hieroglyphs, Demotic script and Greek, it was this that finally provided the key for cracking the Egyptian hieroglyphic writing system.

Once he had firm control of France, Bonaparte attacked and conquered virtually ever nation in Europe save for England alone (though Scotland and Ireland also remained unconquered it was mostly due to English naval power, not through any efforts of their own). English naval commanders, such as George Rodney, Sir John Jervis and of course Horatio Nelson created new tactics for the Royal Navy and the superior seamanship of the British, coupled with their new tactics, forced the French from the seas, thus effectively frustrating Napoleon's plans for invading his most resolute foe. The Royal Navy's need for men in their ships and their practice of impressing (forcibly taking men for use in their Navy from neutral ships) also led to the War of 1812 between the US and Great Britain- a war that while it led to some fantastic single-ship victories, was a disastrous one for the United States.

Unlike later tyrants such as Stalin, Mao and Hitler, Napoleon did make many positive contributions to French society, laying the seeds for the modern French nation in his policies. Although his foreign policy ended in disaster for France, his domestic achievements included centralizing the French government departments, setting up a system of higher education, creating a law code, a central ban and road and sewer systems. He also made some positive contributions to Europe as a whole. By reorganizing the old Holy Roman empire, he laid the foundations for the later emergence of the state of Germany, and his Napoleonic Code is part of many modern civil codes, including in the US state of Louisiana.

Historically, Napoleon is one of the few tyrants who probably could not have been stopped by an early response to his aggression, as his victories depended on his mastery of tactics and strategy- not on numbers or on technology. However, the sturdy resolve of the British Empire to oppose Napoleon did eventually lead to his ultimate defeat, as Britain kept resistance going for over twenty years, despite losing virtually every land engagement.

Napoleon was a man of mixed heritage- he was not entirely bad for the world, as he did have some positive effects. However, the balance of his reign led to death, destruction and a constant state of war for over twenty years, thus he must be placed in the same category as all other would-be conquerers. The moral is that when a State or a leader looks high, there is a long way to fall, if the objects of that desire have the will to protect themselves.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More on Alternative Power

I wrote a few weeks ago on Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens' bold plan to make the United States independent of foreign oil via wind power. On Sunday, Dr. Robert Zubrin of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies wrote a response to Pickens on Pajamas Media.

While Dr. Zubrin gave credit to Pickens for at least trying to develop alternative energy sources, he states that pickens' plan of using wind power to free up compressed natural gas for automobile power is not a long-term solution to the American energy crisis. Writes Dr. Zubrin,
So hats off to Mr. Pickens. That said, the plan he is advancing for dealing with the crisis — build windmills to release natural gas from electricity generation so it can be used to power compressed natural gas (CNG)-driven cars, displacing gasoline in the process — is technically flawed and needs to be revised.

According to Dr. Zubrin, the United States cannot replace the energy currently provided by natural gas unless wind power somehow can generate at least thirty times what it currently provides. This is extremely unlikely, as wind power is notoriously fickle and is entirely dependent on weather conditions to function at all. In addition, Dr. Zubrin states that at the united States' current rate of natural gas usage, there is approximately ten years' worth of supply. Thus it is not a reliable long-term solution.

Instead of natural gas and wind power, Dr. Zubrin recommends forcing automobile manufacturers to make all future vehicles flex-fuel capable. As Dr. Zubrin explains,
The key is for Congress to pass a bill, such as the current Open Fuel Standards Act (S.3303, HR.6559) requiring that all new cars sold in the U.S. be fully flex-fueled — that is, capable of running equally well on gasoline, ethanol, and methanol. Such technology is currently available and only adds about $100 to the cost of a car (in contrast to CNG capability, which adds about $2,000). The reason why establishing a full flex-fuel standard is the answer is that methanol — a very safe and practical liquid vehicle fuel — can be made from a vast array of feedstocks, including not only natural gas, but also coal, recycled urban trash, and any kind of biomass without exception.

Thus making automobiles flex-fuel capable would free Americans (and the rest of the world as well, as an American requirement for flex-fuel would probably carry over to the rest of the world) from having to rely on any single power source. Flex-fuel means that cars could be powered by methanol, gasoline and ethanol. This is especially important since methanol can be made from a variety of sources, including refuse. And Dr. Zubrin says that the United States has enough source material to last for centuries. He concludes,
By creating such a true free open-source fuel market, we can make it possible for every nation to contribute to the world’s fuel supply, breaking the monopoly power of the oil cartel, everywhere and forever.

This last is the money quote. Why are we paying countries that are dedicated to our eventual destruction? By cutting off the supply of oil money, we can reduce the Middle East to the position of irrevelevance it richly deserves. And we can finally free ourselves from energy dependence. I am not certain that this alone will work- I would recommend nuclear power plants to generate most of our domestic, non-transportation energy as well, but this is certainly a start. And anything that reduces the amount of money we pay to the unstable oil producing countries is a benefit. Faster, please.....

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Home-schooling IS Acceptable After All

Some readers may recall the February 28 decision by the Los Angeles Second District Court that essentially would have forced home-schooling parents to hodl a teaching credential in order to teach their own children. I wrote at the time that based on my reading of the law in question, the Court simply upheld the existing law. However, I also said that I believ that parents absolutely should have the right to teach their own children at home, provided they are competent adults.

Today, the same court that handed down the original decision reversed themselves, stating that California law did allow parents to home-school without the necessity of obtaining a teaching credential. And the story in the San Francisco Chronicle provides a startling insight into the mind of the teachers' union, stating,
"Parents do not have an unfettered right to dictate the terms of their children's education," a lawyer for the union said in written arguments. Unregulated, unsupervised homeschooling, the lawyer said, is an invitation to "educational anarchy."

Parents do not have an unfettered right to dictate the terms of their childrens's education? Really? And why should some 'teacher' have that right? Especially when I am well aware that in most areas of study, I hold higher certifications than virtually any public school teacher? This mindset by the union is shocking and one of the many reasons why my child(ren) will never be taught in a public school setting if I can avoid it.

This is good news, although I continue to think that the Court acted in a strict constructionist manner throughout- both upholding the original law, and subsequently interpreting it based on the Legislature's apparent wishes. In other words, they did their jobs, which is to interpret the law- not make the law. In his re-interpretation, Judge Walter Croskey wrote,
"Recent statutes indicate that the Legislature is aware that some parents in California homeschool their children by declaring their homes to be private schools," Justice H. Walter Croskey, author of the earlier ruling, wrote Friday.

Croskey said one of those laws, a 1998 measure exempting parents from fingerprinting requirements imposed on private school employees, indicated "a legislative approval of homeschooling." A 1991 law requires the state school superintendent to compile information on all private schools except those with five or fewer students, an exemption that was probably created for homeschools, Croskey said.

In a rare statement from the judiciary - which usually considers itself the ultimate authority on the meaning of the law - Croskey said the 1953 decision that applied compulsory education without exceptions has been effectively overruled in the real world.

I applaud Judge Croskey for recognizing that while the original law does indeed make education compulsory, the Legislature has itself recognized that home-schooling exists and has made accommodations for those who wish to home-school their children. Too many judges have forgotten that subtle difference between the job description of a judge and that of a legislator. Hat tip to Michelle Malkin.

China's Moment of Glory

China is currently putting on the world's largest propaganda show over in Beijing, following in the footsteps of the Nazi Party's 1936 Olympics, and the many Soviet-era productions. Most, if not all, of the world's media and glitterati are convinced that this is China's coming-out party, that China will soon overtake the United States in all the important categories of world dominance. And, since China is an authoritarian, one-party state built on government oppression of its people, these same glitterati are falling all over them selves to become China's friends.

But how realistic is the assumption of China's someday dominance? According to former Beijing bureau chief John Pomfret, the answer is not very. Pomfret penned an opinion piece in the Washington Post on Sunday that itemized some of his doubts about China as a long-term colossus. Writes Pomfret in his introductory paragraph,
Nikita Khrushchev said the Soviet Union would bury us, but these days, everybody seems to think that China is the one wielding the shovel. The People's Republic is on the march -- economically, militarily, even ideologically. Economists expect its GDP to surpass America's by 2025; its submarine fleet is reportedly growing five times faster than Washington's; even its capitalist authoritarianism is called a real alternative to the West's liberal democracy. China, the drumbeat goes, is poised to become the 800-pound gorilla of the international system, ready to dominate the 21st century the way the United States dominated the 20th.

Except that it's not.

Pomfret lists some of the many areas in which China, far from dominating, is in fact far behind the West. These include demographics, the vaunted economy, the horrendous state of the environment and most of all the rigid government. Pomfret says that far from dominating the 21st century he way the United States dominated much of the Twentieth Century, China has some significant hurdles to overcome before it can really be considered a superpower. And the largest of these hurdles lies in China's inability to produce inventiveness- a problem that the United States does not have. Pomfret uses the recent release of 'Kung Fu Panda' to illustrate this issue. His money quote can be found in the conclusion of his opinion piece, where he writes,
But consider the case of the high-kicking panda who uses ancient Chinese teachings to turn himself into a kung fu warrior. That recent Hollywood smash broke Chinese box-office records -- and caused no end of hand-wringing among the country's glitterati. "The film's protagonist is China's national treasure, and all the elements are Chinese, but why didn't we make such a film?" Wu Jiang, president of the China National Peking Opera Company, told the official New China News Agency.

The content may be Chinese, but the irreverence and creativity of "Kung Fu Panda" are 100 percent American. That highlights another weakness in the argument about China's inevitable rise: The place remains an authoritarian state run by a party that limits the free flow of information, stifles ingenuity and doesn't understand how to self-correct. Blockbusters don't grow out of the barrel of a gun. Neither do superpowers in the age of globalization.

To me, this is very familiar. Remember the myth of Japanese superiority that was peddled by so many in the 1980s and 1990s? Remember how the United States was told ad infinitum in the pages of the Press that we must adopt Japanese methods in order to survive? This is not to say that there are certain aspects of Japanese business that could be leveraged by U.S. business. But Japan has been mired in recession (at least partly due to the incestuous relationship between government and business) for some time. Only recently has Japan been showing signs of recovering from the decade-long slowdown. I don't see too many articles in the papers these days on the superiority of Japanese business techniques. Instead, the Press is convinced that China is the new model we ought to emulate.

However, as Pomfret clearly shows, China has a long way to go before they really ought to be considered as a true equal to the United States. Militarily, they are certainly a country that bears close scrutiny, but economically, environmentally and demographically, China has some huge issues. And that is without even discussing the problems that the many differing ethnic and religious groups in China bring to the table.

So, I would certainly keep an eye on China- they are large, belligerent and convinced of their own superiority (let us not forget that China's name, in their own language translates to the Middle Kingdom- ie. the center of the world). But I would caution the Press, our politicians and our business class to remember that China, as every other country, has flaws and problems. Just because they are currently pulling out all the stops to convince the world they are Number One, does not mean that the reality matches the illusion. Until China has reached the stage where they remove the guns from the backs of their own citizens, I would count China as no more of a superpower than the old Soviet Union was. Communist regimes are all about promoting the style to naive reporters while hiding the grim substance of everyday life. And these Olympics, regardless of China's final medal count, are simply more of the same.

Hat tip to the crew over at Power Line.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Media Names Party- for Republicans

Does the media treat Democrats and Republicans differently when stories of their various peccadillos reach the Press? Well, in actuality, the question is essentially a moot point. There are stories today on the NewsBusters front page testifying to said bias. However, in Yahoo! News' choice of front-page stories today, we can see yet another example of this bias.

It seems that Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska has been indicted on seven counts of making false statements. And where did Associated Press writer Lara Jakes Jordan place the senator's political affiliation? in the very first paragraph, of course. According to the story,
Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican senator and a figure in Alaska politics since before statehood, was indicted Tuesday on seven counts of failing to disclose thousands of dollars in services he received from a company that helped renovate his home.

Of course, this appears to be insufficient for Jordan. She goes on to tar Stevens' fellow Alaskan representative with the same brush, writing,
The investigation has upended Alaska state politics and cast scrutiny on Stevens — who is running for re-election this year — and on his congressional colleague, Rep. Don Young of Alaska, who is also under investigation.

Hmmm. When Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana was caught with bushels of money stuffed in a freezer, I do not recall Jordan or anyone else writing about the negative prospects for Jefferson's fellow congressmen- some of whom were also under investigation. And I certainly do not recall that the Associated Press was particularly interested in following lobbyist Tony Rezko's money trail when it appeared to be getting close to Obama.

I have no sympathy for Stevens. if he did what he is accused of, he deserves to pay the price. It is things like this that dampen American enthusiasm for politicians. However, I don't recall a similar hue and cry from the AP about serial defaulter Laura Richardson and her sweetheart deal, nor any interest in following the sweetheart deals for California Senator Dianne Feinstein's husband.

If only the Associated Press was as industrious in following up cases like this as they are when the target has an 'R' after his or her name. but that of course would require both objectivity and professionalism- something the AP has proven time and again that they sadly lack. Cross-posted on NewsBusters.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Return of Nuclear Power

Nuclear power has been one of the environmentalists' main enemies for as long as there has been a modern environmental movement. The infamous movie The China Syndrome by uber-activist Jane Fonda was a dramatization intended to sway the American people (and as much of the world as they could) into an hard opposition to anything nuclear. And it worked in the United States, where no new nuclear plant has been built in over thirty years.

But the same is not true in Europe. Because in western Europe, nuclear power has long been used to create energy and there has been not so much as a single mishap. But in the United States, the environmental activists have been able to use the courts and their ignorant friends in the media to shut down plant after plant, forcing us to rely ever more on imported oil. Europe long ago figured out that nuclear power was a help much more than a hindrance. Could that view finally be coming about in the United States as well?

In an article published in the Wall Street Journal online edition on July 21, William Tucker argues that the American public's attitudes toward nuclear power may be shifting, and that for nuclear power to succeed in the US as it has in Europe, such a shift is vital, since in this country, government does not invest in such things- they are all done by private development. Writes Tucker about the future of nuclear power,
All over the world, nuclear power is making a comeback. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has just commissioned eight new reactors, and says there's "no upper limit" to the number Britain will build in the future. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has challenged her country's program to phase out 17 nuclear reactors by 2020, saying it will be impossible to deal with climate change without them. China and India are building nuclear power plants; France and Russia, both of whom have embraced the technology, are fiercely competing to sell them the hardware.

And just last month John McCain called for the construction of 45 new reactors by 2030. Barack Obama is less enthusiastic about nuclear energy, but he seems to be moving toward tacit approval.

In the U.S. at present, 104 nuclear plants generate about 21% of our electric power. Last November, NRG Energy, of Princeton, N.J., became the first company to file for a license to build a new nuclear plant since the 1970s. Almost a dozen more applications have now also been filed.

But the United States has a unique difficulty in moving forward in the pursuit of nuclear power- the question of cost. As Tucker points out, most developed countries that use nuclear power- the French, the Brit8ish, the Japanese- all rely on investment and development from their respective governments. As a result, the environmentalists cannot stop them from pursuing as the government has a great deal more power to carry out its directives- and judges are not nearly as independent.

None of this is true in the United States. Government neither invests nor directs power projects, and the judiciary is frequently at odds both with the best interests of the nation and with the objectives of the elected government. Therefore most of the heavy lifting has to be carried out by corporate entities- and they are vulnerable both to legal challenges and local government obstacles. So if nuclear power is to succeed in this country, argues Tucker, then the people must be brought around to believe that nuclear power is not an evil, but rather a force for good. On the positive side, the current high price of oil, coupled with the fact that a great deal of it resides in the hands of declared enemies to the United States, has provided a boost for alternate energy sources. And there is no single source that can match the potential of nuclear energy.

But what about safety? Americans still remember the Three Mile Island incident, which although there were absolutely no casualties- no one was even injured or diagnosed with radiation poisoning- still has an effect on how Americans view nuclear power. This despite the fact that the US NAvy, which operates one of the most extensive collection of nuclear-powered facilities in the world has virtually spotless safety receord when comes to handling nuclear power. And no American nucelar pwoer plant has ever been built along the lines of the deadly Chernobyl plant in the former Soviet Union. Even at Three Mile Island, where the plant experienced a partial core meltdown, the entire damage was contained within the reactor, and no one was injured.

But reality has always had a hard time competing with the meme favored by the media of the time. And for a long time, the media was one of the biggest enemies of any new nuclear power plant. Recall how the media did their best to encourage the forces trying to shut down Diablo Canyon in California. However, as Tucker writes, this is finally beginning to change. In the past year, there were "almost a dozen" applications to build new nuclear plants filed in the United States.

I believe that nuclear power is the best solution for all of us. Most alternative power sources are too costly to be efficient and few of them are as reliable and robust as nuclear power plants. Wind is dependent on the atmospheric conditions, as is solar. And both can be easily disrupted and require enormous amounts of real estate. Nuclear on the other hand, currently generates roughly 75 percent of France's electricity, according to Tucker. He writes, "With a fully developed nuclear cycle, the French now store all the waste from 30 years of producing 75% of its electricity beneath the floor of one room at La Hague in Normandy." So much for the waste problem.

If nuclear power is indeed on the way back, we will finally have the trump card in our oil dependency problem. If we can generate most of our electricity from nuclear, we can put our public transport on electricity as they do in Japan and Europe and release ourselves from our need for foreign oil. And for us to be truly safe (and to devalue the Middle East once again into the backwater it richly deserves to be relegated) we desperately need to find an answer to our energy problem. Perhaps we may have finally found that answer- an answer that was before us the entire time.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hillary Prepares for 2012

Hillary Clinton apparently is not ready to go quietly into the night. On the contrary, it appears that she is already thinking about 2012. According to a story in the New York Observer online edition, Clinton is asking donors to her 2008 Presidential run to allow her to roll their contributions over into her 2012 Senatorial election fund. According to the Observer,
Hillary Clinton's campaign is sending out letters to donors asking permission to roll a $2,300 contribution to Clinton's 2008 general election coffers to her 2012 senate election fund instead of offering a refund.

Pardon me for being slightly suspicious, but how many of us actually believe that Clinton is really saving up merely for her 2012 Senatorial election? I may be incorrect, but it is much more likely that Hillary is stockpiling for another run at the Presidency. If Obama wins, of course, she will not be able to run in 2012, but if John McCain should manage to win- not an impossibility, by any means- then Hillary will almost certainly run for the PResidency again in 2012. Of course, if Obama loses this time around, it is almost certain that he too will run again in 2012, and if both run again, they will in all probability be facing another bitter grudge match, as both are well-funded and extremely ambitious. So Hillary will need every dollar she can squeeze out of her donors, since she is likely to be the underdog in a rematch with Obama.

However, unfortunately for Hillary, not all of her donors are willing to allow her to hang on to their money until 2012. As the Observer reports of its anonymous source,
This donor, at least, had no intention of signing. "Of course I'm going to get my money back," the donor told me.

So it may be difficult for Hillary to hang on to her cash. And once she loses her war-chest, she will be even more an underdog. Her campaign this time around was not well-run, and she demonstrated many times the political weaknesses that I for one suspected might doom her. She is a very weak candidate, without much real experience (other than being married to a President) and a well-documented habit of mendacity. If Hillary does run again in 2012, she will face an uphill battle, as she iwll no longer be the Establishment candidate.

My own feeling is that Hillary's chances of becoming President probably are gone. 2008 was practically tailor-made for her, and all the signs seem to indicate that this is probably going to be a Democratic year, despite the Democratic Congress' bungling. However, she not even able to grasp the nomination from Barack Obama. And if Obama wins in 2008, she cannot run again until 2016, and she is no longer very young. And unlike Ronald Reagan and John McCain, Hillary has neither a executive experience nor a reputation for bipartisanship. But most of all, she lacks Reagan's communication skills. So her age will be a much bigger stumbling-block than it was for Reagan and remains for McCain. I guess the Clintons may indeed be pinning their hopes on Chelsea at this point