Saturday, May 31, 2008

A deal!

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — To jeers and boos that showcased deep party divisions, Democratic party officials approved a deal Saturday to seat delegates from the disputed Florida and Michigan primaries with half a vote each, dealing a blow to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The deal, reached behind closed doors and voted on publicly in a raucous meeting of the Democratic National Committee’s rules panel, would give Mrs. Clinton a net gain of 24 delegates over Senator Barack Obama — but fell far short of her hopes of winning the full votes of both delegations.

The decision left Mrs. Clinton lagging behind Mr. Obama in delegates in the final weekend of campaigning before the last of the nominating contests — Puerto Rico on Sunday and Montana and South Dakota on Tuesday — are held.

Under the compromise, Mrs. Clinton, who won the Michigan and Florida contests that were held in defiance of party rules, picked up 19 delegates in Florida and 5 delegates in Michigan.

The deep wounds among Democratic partisans — and the unification challenges awaiting the party — were laid bare when the committee voted on Saturday evening. Supporters of Mrs. Clinton jeered the decision, loudly booing and hissing the members of the group as their faces were shown on a large screen in the room.

One woman, wearing a blue “Team Hillary” shirt, shoved a man in a suit and tie wearing a small Obama button on his lapel. Another woman in a white Clinton shirt hung her head in her hands.

“That was a crime!” a man shouted. “McCain in ’08! McCain in ’08!” a woman yelled from the back of the room. “No-bama! No-bama!”

It remained an open question what Mrs. Clinton would do, with strong hints that she might take the fight to a committee that does not meet until the end of July.

“Mrs. Clinton has instructed me to reserve her rights to take this to the credentials committee,” said Harold Ickes, a senior adviser to Mrs. Clinton who serves on the rules committee. His words drew cheers from Clinton supporters, including many people who yelled, “Denver! Denver! Denver!” — a threat to take their cause all the way to the convention.

It would seem that the Democrat party considers the people of Florida and Michigan to be halfway adults who can halfway make an adult decision and halfway abide by the consequences of that decision.

You will remember that the states of Florida and Michigan both knew full well that the price of moving their primaries was the loss of their delegates. They both chose to exchange having their delegates seated for the increased media attention that would be paid to them when they moved their vote dates up.

Of course since we are talking about Democrats here it is highly likely that it never occurred to them that there would be actual consequences associated with their actions.

Despite the hysterics of some of Hillary's supporters this decision by the party is very much in Mrs. Clinton's favor. With Florida and Michigan having official representation at the convention Senator Clinton's case that she has won the popular vote will be strengthened.

However in the end it will make little difference. Neither candidate will go into the convention with enough pledged delegates to put them over the top. This will leave the decision to the so-called super delegates. These men and women are all elected officials and other Democrat party hacks. They will be far more afraid of appearing to steal the nomination from a black man than a woman. Even if they are convinced that Obama cannot win they will still hand him the nomination because in the complex hierarchy of identity politics which is the foundation of the modern Democrat party race always trumps sex.

Obama calls it quits

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) - Barack Obama has resigned his 20 year membership in the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago in the aftermath of inflammatory remarks by his longtime pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and more recent fiery remarks at the church by another minister.

Obama campaign communications director Robert Gibbs said Obama had resigned from the church "over the last few days."

Campaign aides said they weren't immediately certain how the resignation took place, whether by letter or in some other fashion, and were trying to find out.

Messages left for a church spokeswoman in Chicago were not immediately returned Saturday afternoon.

The development came as Obama campaigned in South Dakota.

Obama said he disagreed with Wright but initially portrayed him as a family member he couldn't disown. The preacher had officiated at Obama's wedding and been his spiritual mentor for some 20 years.

But six weeks after Obama's well-received speech on race, Wright claimed at an appearance in Washington that the U.S. government was capable of planting AIDS in the black community, praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and suggested that Obama was acting like a politician by putting his pastor at arm's length while privately agreeing with him.

Obama denounced those Wright comments as "divisive and destructive."

Comments by Wright inflamed racial tensions and posed an unwanted problem for Obama, front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, as he seeks to wrap up the nomination.

More recently, racially charged remarks from the same pulpit by another pastor, the Rev. Michael Pfleger, kept the controversy alive and proved the latest thorn in the side of Obama. Pfleger mocked Obama rival Hillary Rodham Clinton as a guest speaker at Obama's church.

Although Obama condemned comments by both Wright and Pfleger, the controversy has persisted.

For months, Obama has been hamstrung by the rhetoric of Wright, whose sermons blaming U.S. policies for the Sept. 11 attacks and calls of "God damn America" for its racism became fixtures on the Internet and cable news networks.

Initially, Obama said he disagreed with Wright but portrayed him as a family member he couldn't disown. The preacher had officiated at Obama's wedding and been his spiritual mentor for some 20 years.

But six weeks after Obama's well-received speech on race, Wright claimed at an appearance in Washington that the U.S. government was capable of planting AIDS in the black community, praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and suggested that Obama was acting like a politician by putting his pastor at arm's length while privately agreeing with him.

On Thursday, Obama was again forced to reject another man of the cloth, this time Pfleger, who made racially charged comments mocking Clinton in a guest sermon at Obama's church.

Obama made it clear he wasn't happy with the comments - in which Pfleger pretended he was Clinton crying over "a black man stealing my show" - and said he was "deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger's divisive, backward-looking rhetoric, which doesn't reflect the country I see or the desire of people across America to come together in common cause."

Pfleger, too, issued an apology, saying he was sorry if his comments offended Clinton or anyone else.

The timing of Obama's decision was clearly planned with an eye toward Washington and the calendar. The news broke late on a Saturday and while most of the political attention was focused on the Democratic National Committee's struggle to seat delegates from Florida and Michigan.

I almost feel sorry for Hussein. He did try to meet his loony-tune church half way but every time he would attempt to walk the tightrope of praising their "good works" but disavowing their more hateful rhetoric they would up the ante on him.

Many people think that Jeremiah Wright was indulging in a bit of payback when he said that Obama was just being a typical politician but I think it goes much deeper.

If Obama actually makes it to the White House that pretty much proves that Wright and the new pastor Otis Moss and this Pfleger nutcase are all a pack of dinosaurs living fifty years in the past. From their perspective they have a lot more to gain by Obama's failure than they do by his success.

P.S. How could Hillary Clinton have possibly been so thin skinned that she took offense at being called a white supremacist by a raving lunatic in a clerical collar?

Saturday morning's entertainment

Instead of a cartoon this morning I offer you a scene from the academy award winning 1972 movie Cabaret starring Liza Minnelli and Michael York.

In this scene Brian Roberts (Michael York) an English student studying in Berlin and wealthy German aristocrat Maximillian (Helmut Griem) are out for a drive in the country. Maximillian is telling Brian that the traditional conservative forces of German politics need Hitler to do away with the Communists but that they can control him and when he is no longer needed he will be discarded.

I guess we all know how well that worked out.

Economy killing global warming bill to fail

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- An influential coalition of Fortune 500 companies and environmental groups that was formed to support climate-change legislation has splintered over the Lieberman-Warner bill that is headed next week to the Senate floor.

The U.S. Climate Action Partnership formed last year won't take a position on the bill, although nine of its members - including General Electric (GE, Fortune 500), Alcoa (AA, Fortune 500) and four utility companies - signed a letter to senators backing the legislation.

The letter, also signed by big environmental groups and obtained by Fortune, says: "Prompt action on climate change is essential to protect America's economy, security, quality of life and natural environment."

But other members of the coalition known as U.S. Cap, most visibly Duke Energy (DUK, Fortune 500), a coal-burning utility, are strongly opposed. "It's going to translate into significant electricity price increases," says Jim Rogers, Duke's CEO.

Without widespread corporate support, passage of the bill - already a long shot at best - becomes even more unlikely this year. President Bush remains opposed. House Democrats have been slow to act.

Besides that, a backdrop of rising gasoline prices and the sluggish economy makes it difficult to win votes for a regulatory scheme that will raise the prices of electricity and gasoline. In fact, a key purpose of the bill is to put a price on the emissions of greenhouse gases, as a way to speed the transition to a clean-energy economy and slow down global warming.

With the Senate scheduled to begin debate Monday, lobbying and advertising around the bill are intensifying. (Here's a new TV commercial supporting the bill from Environmental Defense Fund, and a radio ad opposing the bill from the Club for Growth.) But even supporters concede that the debate will set the scene for action in 2009.

"This will put us in a position to have action next year," says David Doniger, director of the climate center at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a supporter of the bill. "We expect in the Senate that the 60-vote rule will be applied. That's a hard one to get over."

"It's a teachable moment," agreed Scott Segal, an advocate for coal-burning utilities that oppose Lieberman-Warner.

The Lieberman-Warner bill sets a cap on greenhouse gas emissions that would reduce them by 70% by 2050. Companies would need permits to emit pollutants that cause global warming. The government would allocate some permits to utilities and industrial companies, and auction others to generate revenues. The question of how to distribute permits and what to do with the money divides even supporters of greenhouse gas regulation.

As currently written, Lieberman-Warner might fall short of a 50-vote majority in the Senate, let alone the 60 votes required to close debate, insiders say. Presidential candidates (and Senators) Clinton, McCain and Obama all support climate-change legislation.

This is why I am not so terrified of an Obama administration as many of my conservative friends are. Congress is comprised of politicians who wish to be reelected. This need to take reelection into account is especially acute in the House of Representatives every member of which stands for election every two years.

House members are extremely reluctant to vote for legislation which will have a pronounced negative effect upon their constituents when those negative consequences will manifest in the short term. This is why Hillary Clinton's socialized medicine plan failed to gain even one vote when it was put before the House.

There are politicians out there who are stupid enough to be global warming true believers. John McCain and Joe Lieberman are two such idiots.

Interestingly enough Al Gore is apparently not a global warming true believer. Otherwise he would be willing to publicly debate the issue with a global warming skeptic. He consistently refuses to engage in such a debate and channels much of his energy into trying to convince the media to stop even acknowledging that there is an ongoing debate about the issue.

But that is a topic for another post so let us get back to the central issue. The next Congress will not hand the next president a blank check even if that president is Barack Hussein Obama. With a Democrat president and a Democrat congress the Democrat party will be extremely reluctant to see the enactment of any measure which will cause a near-term economic downturn.

They will also be extremely reluctant to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory in Iraq, not when it becomes their war to win or lose.

Not that Obama and the congressional Democrats will suddenly start to act like conservatives. It is simply that they will have a strong incentive to govern in the Hubert Humphrey liberal tradition rather than in the left-wing moonbat Jimmy Carter tradition.

Of course congress will be very willing to do things with terrible results - as long as those terrible results will not manifest themselves in the near term. For example amnesty for the tens of millions of alien criminals who are infesting our nation. As long as they write the legislation so that the "path to citizenship" doesn't open up for 25 years most of the men and women who vote for it will either be retired or dead (FDR knew that Social Security would go bankrupt, but he also knew that he would be long dead when it happened).

The moral of the story is that we are going to have a hard four years ahead of us, but all is not lost. Everybody in Washington except for the few genuine conservatives who remain is at least pretending to be a global warming true believer but the global warming bill is going to go down in bright hot carbon-emitting flames. No politician is going to vote for something which will cause the price of gas to rise to $7.50 per gallon when the price rise is near term and undeniable.

Some congressmen will vote for the measure secure in the knowledge that it will fail. That way they can go back to the eco-Nazis and say "well, I tried", but that vote will only come with the certainty of failure.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Tonight's Music

From the evil mirror universe where everyone has a beard.

You may also consider this another chapter in the post-modern music appreciation club.

This is Burzum's one and only music video. It is called Dunkelheit.

Burzum is a Norwegian death metal group which is the brain child of Varg Vikernes. Varg was originally part of the death metal group Mayhem but went solo. He took his satanic image seriously and burned down several of Norway's historic wooden churches. He also murdered Mayhem founder Euronymous by driving a bayonet into his skull.

The man may be evil, but you have to give him credit for keeping it real.

Pictured is the front and back covers from Burzum's 1993 EP Aske. The front cover art calls to mind Varg's church arson.

Vikernes is currently serving a prison sentence for murder and arson. When arrested he was found to be in possession of over 200 pounds of dynamite and is believed to have been planning to blow up additional churches. In 2004 he failed to return from a week long release from prison (first degree murderers and arsonists get vacation from prison in Norway) and was found in a stolen car with an assault rifle (a real military select fire assault rifle), a handgun, several knives, camouflage clothing, a laptop, a compass, a gas mask, a GPS system, various maps and a fake passport. It is believed that he was given these things by a fan in the Norwegian military.

Vikernes was sentenced to an additional 13 months in prison for his attempted escape.

While in prison Vikernes is allowed to continue to record CD's. He is scheduled to be released from prison sometime this year.

Varg says that he has disavowed satanism and is now a pagan/Odalist. Varg considers satan to be "too Christian" and "too capitalistic".

Latest from the grapevine

I have heard a rumor, which I consider reliable, that ICE employees whose jobs involve processing applications from aliens who which to become legal residents have been warned to expect a general amnesty for illegals in the first half of 2009 regardless of who wins the presidential election.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that with he nation's choice being either Obama, McCain or Clinton for president and the certainty of a congress firmly under Democrat control that amnesty will be a done deal.

However the fact that the immigration bureaucrats are being told to look for amnesty in the first few months of next year would seem to indicate that amnesty is going to be the first priority of the next administration.

This makes some sense politically in that it will come at a time when the media will be distracted by covering the transition to the new presidential administration. This will give the House members nearly two full years to send enough pork back to the districts to make people forget the way they betrayed the nation.

Of course you can forget about any kind of earmark reform even if McCain is elected because that pork is going to have to come from somewhere.

The purpose of amnesty is to legalize the 20-30 million Mexicans who are in this nation illegally. The ultimate goal is to create a quick and easy path to citizenship for these new legal residents in order to swell the ranks of the Democrat party so that will never again risk losing the White House or the Senate (and probably not the house either).

After 15 or 20 years of this either that civil war that no one thinks is possible will occur or else the USA will have become the USSA and only the unfortunate location of an ocean will be standing in the way of America joining the European Union.

We must have been cursed by an ancient Chinaman because these are "interesting" times indeed.

Al Qaeda near defeat

From The Washington Post:

Less than a year after his agency warned of new threats from a resurgent al-Qaeda, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden now portrays the terrorist movement as essentially defeated in Iraq and Saudi Arabia and on the defensive throughout much of the rest of the world, including in its presumed haven along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

In a strikingly upbeat assessment, the CIA chief cited major gains against al-Qaeda's allies in the Middle East and an increasingly successful campaign to destabilize the group's core leadership.

While cautioning that al-Qaeda remains a serious threat, Hayden said Osama bin Laden is losing the battle for hearts and minds in the Islamic world and has largely forfeited his ability to exploit the Iraq war to recruit adherents. Two years ago, a CIA study concluded that the U.S.-led war had become a propaganda and marketing bonanza for al-Qaeda, generating cash donations and legions of volunteers.

All that has changed, Hayden said in an interview with The Washington Post this week that coincided with the start of his third year at the helm of the CIA.

"On balance, we are doing pretty well," he said, ticking down a list of accomplishments: "Near strategic defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Near strategic defeat for al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. Significant setbacks for al-Qaeda globally -- and here I'm going to use the word 'ideologically' -- as a lot of the Islamic world pushes back on their form of Islam," he said.

The sense of shifting tides in the terrorism fight is shared by a number of terrorism experts, though some caution that it is too early to tell whether the gains are permanent. Some credit Hayden and other U.S. intelligence leaders for going on the offensive against al-Qaeda in the area along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where the tempo of Predator strikes has dramatically increased from previous years. But analysts say the United States has caught some breaks in the past year, benefiting from improved conditions in Iraq, as well as strategic blunders by al-Qaeda that have cut into its support base.

"One of the lessons we can draw from the past two years is that al-Qaeda is its own worst enemy," said Robert Grenier, a former top CIA counterterrorism official who is now managing director of Kroll, a risk consulting firm. "Where they have succeeded initially, they very quickly discredit themselves."

During the Cold War it was said that the best recruiting tool that the West had for attracting defectors from the Soviet Bloc was the KGB. Al Qaeda is apparently unable to learn the lesson that the worse you behave the fewer people there are who will support you. Of course when you movement is composed of the most satanically evil dregs of an already dysfunctional religious/social system it is hard to behave any other way than they do.

I have many problems with George W Bush. He has made more than his share of mistakes in any number of areas. However he will go down in history as one of the great presidents because he has had the courage and the sheer stubbornness to stay the course both in Iraq and in the general war on terror.

Osama bin Laden believed that the US was a "paper tiger" which would fold when pushed. Bush has proven him wrong and in the end it was the house that bin Laden built that proved to be made of paper.

So that's how it started!

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — At a meeting in his Pentagon office in early 1981, Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman told Capt. John S. McCain III that he was about to attain his life ambition: becoming an admiral.

But Mr. McCain, the son and grandson of revered Navy admirals, was having second thoughts about following his family’s vocation. He had spent the previous four years as the Navy’s liaison to the Senate, sampling life in the world’s most exclusive club as he escorted its members on trips around the globe — sitting with the sultan of Oman on the floor of his desert tent, or smuggling a senator’s private supply of Scotch through Saudi Arabian customs.

. . . Mr. McCain declined the prospect of his first admiral’s star to make a run for Congress, saying that he could “do more good there,” Mr. Lehman recalled. But Mr. Lehman knew duty was only part of the reason.

“He just loved it up there,” Mr. Lehman recalled. “Like very few military people, John heard the music up there, and he really wanted to do it.”

And that's it in a nutshell. McCain grew up in the somewhat austere precincts of a military family then spent years on active duty then more years in a hellish POW camp. Then he gets to Washington and sees the luxury that the Senatorial hogs wallow in and wanted some for himself (this also helps explain his choice of a rich woman to marry).

The year, 1981, also explains why McCain chose to join the Republican party rather than the Democrats, with whom he shares a far deeper affinity. In 1981 Reagan and his conservatism was the "coming thing" in American politics. If you wanted to be popular you had to ride the Reagan bandwagon (I remember Democrats running for reelection in house races in 1982 and 1984 airing commercials where they bragged about how totally they supported Reagan's policies).

So because of a pure accident of timing McCain, only to serve his personal ambition, joins a political party in which he does not belong and, again for no reason other than craven personal ambition, becomes a "foot soldier in the Reagan revolution".

So now the circle is almost closed. Twenty-seven years ago McCain joined a movement he did not believe in and now he is on the brink of having the power to destroy that movement.

How much better off the nation would have been if McCain had just taken his star and served out his career with honor. He could even now be retired and enjoying his 15 minutes of fame as a Democrat military analyst on Fox or CNN.

Another crane topples in New York

From The New York Times:

A crane toppled and collapsed onto a high-rise apartment building on East 91st Street on the Upper East Side on Friday morning, tearing off balconies and leaving a swath of damage, in the second Manhattan crane collapse in two months.

At least two people have been pulled from the wreckage, at the southwest corner of 91st Street and First Avenue. Their condition was not immediately known, according to Fire Department officials.

The crane, which was apparently being used for a construction project at 354 East 91st Street, on the northwest corner of the intersection, collapsed onto the north facade of the building. The damage extends from the building’s top floor, about 20 stories up, to the second floor.

Traffic was blocked in both directions at the intersection, where ambulances, fire trucks, and police personnel were gathered. Residents of the building peeked their heads out from windows to survey the damage.

The accident occurred just two months after a tower crane collapsed on East 51st Street between Second and First Avenues, killing seven people and prompting an extensive review of the safety of the city’s cranes.

You will remember in the previous crane collapse that the inspector who had just signed off on the safety of the crane was arrested due to the fact that he failed to actually perform any on-site inspection. Given the political culture of New York City (especially now that a raving left-wing kook like Bloomberg is mayor rather than a sensible adult like Rudolph Giuliani) I suspect that there is rather a lot of that kind of thing going on.

I recommend that they hire a firm from outside the Northeast to reinspect all the city's cranes. And it wouldn't be a bad idea to have people from the DA's office or NYPD accompany those inspectors in the field either.

Tonight's Music

Karan Casey live at Kennedy Center in Washington DC.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Supply and demand

Back in November of '06 I said that the Republican congress didn't deserve to be reelected but that the nation didn't deserve what would happen if they lost.
Cartoon by Red Planet

Does anyone still care what goes on behind the scenes of the Hillary campaign?

From The Daily News:

Rep. Anthony Weiner, a likely 2009 mayoral candidate, is pouring his heart into Hillary Clinton's White House bid - literally.

Weiner, whose district includes parts of Queens and Brooklyn, finally 'fessed that he is romancing Clinton's glamorous "body woman," Huma Abedin.

Asked by The Associated Press about all the time he's spending on the road campaigning for Clinton, the 43-year-old bachelor said, "It's largely because I'm dating Huma."

The whispers have been around for months, but until yesterday Weiner ducked questions about Abedin, saying his personal life was off limits.

Though she posed recently for a glamorous photo spread in Vogue, Abedin, 32, is famously press-shy.

The New York Observer, in a long profile last year, called her "a sort of mythical figure" who never has a hair out of place or a wrinkle in her Prada suit and can hush a crowd of rambunctious reporters with a single look.

"I think there's some dispute as to whether Huma's actually human or not," an admiring Weiner said then.

Abedin was born in Michigan to a Pakistani mother and an Indian father and was raised in Saudi Arabia.

She landed an internship in the First Lady's office in 1996 and quickly become her indispensable right hand.

If I came even remotely close to giving a damn I would say that the relationship between Weiner and Huma is a red herring cooked up to deflect speculation that Huma is Senator Clinton's lesbian lover.

Weiner has the look of one of those androgynous geldings which are the only kind of man (other than "out" homosexuals) who Hillary will tolerate in her personal space (other than Bill, whom she tranked herself up and copulated with enough times to produce Chelsea because having at least one child was politically useful*) .

I would point out that this would not be the first time that such a sham arrangement was made to keep up appearances (although it has traditionally been a powerful man finding a lesser man to pretend to be the husband or boyfriend of his mistress).

But like I said, I don't even come remotely close to giving a damn.

*This assumes that Bill is Chelsea's father because there are rumors that Webb Hubble is Chelsea's real dad. This is backed up by the extraordinary physical resemblance Chelsea has to Hubble (go here to see for yourself).

June 12, Carbon Belch Day

Conservative grassroots group wants people to waste as much energy as possible on June 12 by "hosting a barbecue, going for a drive, watching television, leaving a few lights on, or even smoking a few cigars."

The point: the group wants to "help Americans break free from the 'carbon footprint guilt' being imposed by Climate Alarmists." says it's skeptical over claims that man-made sources of carbon dioxide emissions -- from automobile exhausts to manufacturing plants -- are raising the Earth's temperature at a dangerous rate. Theories about global warming were highlighted by former Vice President Al Gore's 2006 film, An Inconvenient Truth. president Steve Elliott, in a statement, said such theories are off the mark. "It's time for Americans to purge ourselves of the false guilt that Al Gore and the Climate Alarmists have placed on us," Elliott said. said it chose June 12 as the day it wants Americans to rev up their SUVs because it coincides with expected debate in Congress over a $1.2 billion carbon tax rebate program. "Carbon Belch Day will have at least as much impact on the so-called 'planetary emergency' of man-made global warming as the goofy save the earth mandates telling us to turn our lights off for an hour," said Elliott.

Cities around the world went dark for an hour on March 31 to mark "Earth Hour," an event created by the World Wide Fund for Nature to inspire people to find ways to use less energy. is the latest group to question whether global warming is a real phenomenon, or whether it's as severe as portrayed in Gore's film. London's Daily Telegraph this week called environmentalism "the new secular faith."

The paper said the United Kingdom's carbon credits program for industry is "just like the medieval trade in indulgences, where remission for sins was granted by the Church once the sinner confessed and received absolution."

Noted physicist Frederick Seitz, a former president of the National Academy of Sciences, has also questioned the accuracy of global warming theories, as have a number of other academics.

This is a wonderful idea!

Here is how I intend to spend Carbon Belch Day:

Rise early and leave the house with my air conditioner, computer and television still running, at at lest one incandescent bulb still burning. Take my least fuel efficient vehicle to a shooting range in the next county and burn up at least 300 rounds. Then take a nice long drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. While on that drive I will smoke a
Hoyo de Monterrey and drink carbonated beverages, releasing more CO2 into the atmosphere. On the way home I will pick up a bag of charcoal and some Hebrew National all beef franks (take that Hamas) and have myself a nice little cookout in my back yard. That evening I will watch a DVD while drinking more carbonated beverages and smoking a Romeo y Julieta Vintage. I will then go to bed after leaving the porch light (an incandescent bulb) on to burn through the night.

H/T: Shooting the Messenger

New York to recognize homosexual "marriages"

From The New York Times:

ALBANY — Gov. David A. Paterson has directed all state agencies to begin to revise their policies and regulations to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, like Massachusetts, California and Canada.

In a directive issued on May 14, the governor’s legal counsel, David Nocenti, instructed the agencies that gay couples married elsewhere “should be afforded the same recognition as any other legally performed union.”

The revisions are most likely to involve as many as 1,300 statutes and regulations in New York governing everything from joint filing of income tax returns to transferring fishing licenses between spouses.

In a videotaped message given to gay community leaders at a dinner on May 17, Mr. Paterson described the move as “a strong step toward marriage equality.” And people on both sides of the issue said it moved the state closer to fully legalizing same-sex unions in this state.

What will be interesting to see is how the people of New York state receive this bit of news. Legalized homosexual "marriage" is the harbinger of the death of the institution of true marriage. It is not that the sight of two men or two women standing at the alter will cause a heterosexual couple to divorce, or not marry in the first place. Rather it is that when a culture's moral values degenerate to the point where it is willing to redefine marriage in that way it is an infallible signal that marriage is no longer truly valued.

Society is nothing more than a complex network of human relationships. Since marriage is the foundational relationship weakening it serves to weaken the entire society. Imagine if the reinforced concrete which makes up the foundation of the Empire State Building were to be replaced with sandstone. The results would look like the aftermath of 9/11.

In every case in the US in which a state has legalized homosexual marriage, or in this case recognized same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, it has not come as a result of a referendum in which the people were allowed to vote on the issue directly. Nor has it come about because a state legislature, composed of the elected representatives of the people, has voted on the issue.

In every case it is the judiciary which has imposed homosexual marriage on an unwilling population. In every state where the people have had the opportunity to speak directly on the issue they have rejected homosexual marriage by large margins. This indicates that the moral rot has not spread so far that our culture is beyond repair. However effective steps must be taken to rein in these out of control judges.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tonight's Music

From the second season of the BBC's Transatlantic Sessions:

Iain MacDonald - pipes
Jerry Douglas - dobro
Donald Shaw - piano
Russ Barenberg - mandolin
Tommy Hayes - percussion
Ricky Skaggs - guitar
Danny Thompson - bass

Miss Ann is talking

That means that YOU are listening!

After decades of comparing Nixon to Hitler, Reagan to Hitler and Bush to Hitler, liberals have finally decided it is wrong to make comparisons to Hitler. But the only leader to whom they have applied their newfound rule of thumb is: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

While Ahmadinejad has not done anything as starkly evil as cut the capital gains tax, he does deny the Holocaust, call for the destruction of Israel, deny the existence of gays in Iran and refuses to abandon his nuclear program despite protests from the United Nations. That's the only world leader we're not allowed to compare to Hitler.

President Bush's speech at the Knesset two weeks ago was somewhat more nuanced than liberals' Hitler arguments. He did not simply jump up and down chanting: "Ahmadinejad is Hitler!" Instead, Bush condemned a policy of appeasement toward madmen, citing Neville Chamberlain's ill-fated talks with Adolf Hitler.

Suspiciously, Bush's speech was interpreted as a direct hit on B. Hussein Obama
's foreign policy -- and that's according to Obama's supporters.

So to defend Obama, who -- according to his supporters -- favors appeasing madmen, liberals expanded the rule against ad Hitlerum
arguments to cover any mention of the events leading to World War II. A ban on "You're like Hitler" arguments has become liberals' latest excuse to ignore history.

Unless, of course, it is liberals using historical examples to support Obama's admitted policy of appeasing dangerous lunatics. It's a strange one-sided argument when they can cite Nixon going to China and Reagan meeting with Gorbachev, but we can't cite Chamberlain meeting with Hitler.

There are reasons to meet with a tyrant, but none apply to Ahmadinejad. We're not looking for an imperfect ally against some other dictatorship, as Nixon was with China. And we aren't in a Mexican stand-off with a nuclear power, as Reagan was with the USSR. At least not yet.

Mutually Assured Destruction was bad enough with the Evil Empire, but something you definitely want to avoid with lunatics who are willing to commit suicide in order to destroy the enemies of Islam. As with the H-word, our sole objective with Ahmadinejad is to prevent him from becoming a military power.

What possible reason is there to meet with Ahmadinejad? To win a $20 bar bet as to whether or not the man actually owns a necktie?

We know his position and he knows ours. He wants nuclear arms, American troops out of the Middle East and the destruction of Israel. We don't want that. (This is assuming Mike Gravel doesn't pull off a major upset this November.) We don't need him as an ally against some other more dangerous dictator because ... well, there aren't any. [At least not since we overthrew Saddam Hussein - LC]

Does Obama imagine he will make demands of Ahmadinejad? Using what stick as leverage, pray tell? A U.S. boycott of the next Holocaust-denial conference in Tehran? The U.N. has already demanded that Iran give up its nuclear program. Ahmadinejad has ignored the U.N. and that's the end of it.

We always have the ability to "talk" to Ahmadinejad if we have something to say. Bush has a telephone. If Iranian crop dusters were headed toward one of our nuclear power plants, I am quite certain that Bush would be able to reach Ahmadinejad to tell him that Iran will be flattened unless the planes retreat. If his cell phone died, Bush could just post a quick warning on the Huffington Post.

Liberals view talk as an end in itself. They never think through how these talks will proceed, which is why Chamberlain ended up giving away Czechoslovakia. He didn't leave for Munich planning to do that. It is simply the inevitable result of talking with madmen without a clear and obtainable goal. Without a stick, there's only a carrot.

The only explanation for liberals' hysterical zealotry in favor of Obama's proposed open-ended talks with Ahmadinejad is that they seriously imagine crazy foreign dictators will be as charmed by Obama as cable TV hosts whose legs tingle when they listen to Obama (a condition that used to be known as "sciatica").

Because, really, who better to face down a Holocaust denier with a messianic complex than the guy who is afraid of a debate moderated by Brit Hume?

There is no possible result of such a meeting apart from appeasement and humiliation of the U.S. If we are prepared to talk, then we're looking for a deal. What kind of deal do you make with a madman until he is ready to surrender?
Will President Obama listen respectfully as Ahmadinejad says he plans to build nuclear weapons? Will he say he'll get back to Ahmadinejad on removing all U.S. troops from the region? Will he nod his head as Ahmadinejad demands the removal of the Jewish population from the Middle East? Obama says he's prepared to have an open-ended chat with Ahmadinejad, so I guess everything is on the table.

Perhaps in the spirit of compromise, Obama could agree to let Iran push only half of Israel into the sea. That would certainly constitute "change"! Obama could give one of those upbeat speeches of his, saying:
As a result of my recent talks with President Ahmadinejad, some see the state of Israel as being half empty. I prefer to see it as half full. And then Obama can return and tell Americans he could no more repudiate Ahmadinejad than he could repudiate his own white grandmother. It will make Chris Matthews' leg tingle.

There is a third reason to talk to dictators, in addition to seeking an ally or as part of a policy of Mutually Assured Destruction.

Gen. Douglas C. MacArthur talked with Japanese imperial forces on Sept. 2, 1945. There was a long ceremony aboard the USS Missouri with full press coverage and a lot of talk. It was a regular international confab!

It also took place after we had dropped two nukes on Japan and MacArthur was officially accepting Japan's surrender. If Obama plans to drop nukes on Ahmadinejad prior to their little chat-fest, I'm all for it. But I don't think that's what liberals have in mind.

There was a short lived attempt by some left-wing commentators to try to defend Obama by arguing that Chamberlain's appeasement wasn't such a bad thing when seen in its historical context.

I said short lived because there are some things so outrageous that even leftists are embarrassed to say them.

As Miss Ann says there is no reason to talk to an evil nut job unless you are dictating his terms of surrender.

Well, it was one of those camps

From The Washington Post:

The Republican National Committee, grumbling John McCain staffers and conservative bloggers have tried for months to label Barack Obama as a serial exaggerator and heir to Al Gore, whom Republicans tarred in 2000 as someone who claimed to have discovered the Love Canal disaster and invented the Internet.

It just wasn't sticking. But yesterday, they thought they'd finally caught him red-handed.

Speaking in New Mexico on Memorial Day, Obama said a great-uncle had helped to liberate the Auschwitz death camp at the end of World War II. "I had a uncle who was one of the, who was part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps," Obama said (a YouTube clip of the remarks quickly went viral online).

He continued: "And the story in my family is that when he came home, he just went into the attic, and he didn't leave the house for six months. All right? Now, obviously something had affected him deeply, but at the time, there just weren't the kinds of facilities to help somebody work through that kind of pain."

That may be a fact, the RNC noted gleefully -- but only if Obama's uncle had served in the Red Army of Joseph Stalin, which liberated Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 1945.

Obama's campaign said yesterday that he had erred in naming the camp but not in describing the role of his great-uncle, who partook in the liberation of Buchenwald.

"Senator Obama's family is proud of the service of his grandfather and uncles in World War II -- especially the fact that his great uncle was a part of liberating one of the concentration camps at Buchenwald. Yesterday he mistakenly referred to Auschwitz instead of Buchenwald in telling of his personal experience of a soldier in his family who served heroically," Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement. It also clarified that the great-uncle served in the 89th Infantry Division that "liberated Ohrdruf, a subcamp of Buchenwald."

Obama vaguely remembered hearing about some kind of relative who had something to do with liberating a Nazi concentration camp so when he needed to come up with some kind of story to connect himself with an American military triumph he took a guess and said that it was an uncle who liberated Auschwitz, which is probably the only Nazi concentration camp whose name he could remember off hand. He expected the media to lap it up and his supporters to praise him and all the embittered Jesus-freaks with their squirrel guns to figure that maybe he wasn't so bad after all.

Obama didn't remember whether the relative was an uncle or a great-uncle (I also think he's told one version of the story in the past where the relative was his grandfather) or whether the camp was Ohrdruf or Auschwitz because he has never really cared.

The story of American forces liberating a Nazi forced-labor camp was not a story about America's meanness or its cruelty and injustice so it had little resonance with Obama either when he was growing up or now in his adulthood. It isn't that Obama is ashamed of his great-uncle and what he did it is simply that the America which defeated Hitler and liberated the camps and ended the Holocaust is not the America that Obama prefers to live in. To most Americans the most important thing which happened in May of 1945 was the German surrender which ended the war in Europe. To someone like Obama the most important thing to happen in May of 1945 was the installation of a "white only" water fountain in the courthouse in Columbia, SC.

The America of slavery and segregation is the America in which Obama can feel aggrieved and entitled. And Obama, a man of truly mediocre intellect and ability, defines himself by his grievances and advances himself through entitlement. They are his best friends, giving him an identity and his station in life. They took him to some of the best schools in America and put him in the Illinois state legislature then the United States Senate and will soon, he hopes, put him in the White House. So examples of America's greatness and goodness simply slip past Obama with scarcely a notice. They don't fit the narrative which defines Obama's life.

I wonder if Obama will have the wit to understand that an America in which he can become president, or even almost become president, is an America which has put those segregated water fountains so far behind it that they have as little to do with modern America as the 17th century tulip bubble.

I doubt it because then he would have to part company with grievance and entitlement and a man does not easily abandon what has taken him so far.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Give these a look

The Watchers Council had made its nominations for the week.

Council links:

  1. Dear Mr Hoyt
    Soccer Dad
  2. In Which It Gets Worse
    Done With Mirrors
  3. Cowbama Diplomacy and Iran
    Wolf Howling
  4. An Honest Assesment of the MSM's Problem
    Rhymes With Right
  5. Reflections on the State of the Republic
    Hillbilly White Trash
  6. Why Jews Are Right To Suspect Obama's Advisers
    Bookworm Room
  7. Will History Redeem President Bush?
    The Colossus of Rhodey
  8. Strange Device
    The Glittering Eye
  9. Peacekeepers Raping Children... Again
    Cheat Seeking Missiles
  10. Say Goodnight, Hillary
    The Education Wonks
  11. Looking At The Last Full Measure Of Devotion
  12. Memorial Day 2008
    The Razor
Non-council links:
  1. Return to Sender
  2. Deep Thoughts with Biggie Smalls
    Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal
  3. An Open Letter to Senator Obama on Iran
    Pajamas Media
  4. Democratic Congress Votes to Defund the Future of Military Prepardness
  5. The State of Englishness
    The Brussels Journal
  6. Over Red Coffee Cans and Cigarettes
    The Paragraph Farmer
  7. Siege of the Ivory Tower
    The New York Sun
  8. Madonna of China: Chinese Policewoman Saves Orphan Babies' Lives by Breastfeeding Them
    The Moderate Voice
  9. Obama Excludes Military Service as Way to Serve Country in Memorial Day Weekend Commencement Speech
    Bottom Line Up Front
  10. Remembrances
    Classical Values
  11. All the Views They Spit Into Print
    Big Lizards
  12. Libertarian Party Embraces Big Tent
    Outside the Beltway
  13. Unavoidable Sadness
    Eternity Road
  14. Google Earth Mysteries

The causes of the Chinese earthquake

Sharon Stone, internationally respected philosopher and possessor of the world's second most viewed vagina (after Paris Hilton) has a theory about what caused the devastating earthquake in China:

Well you know it was very interesting because at first, you know, I am not happy about the ways the Chinese were treating the Tibetans because I don’t think anyone should be unkind to anyone else. And so I have been very concerned about how to think and what to do about that because I don’t like THAT.

And I had been this, you know, concerned about, oh how should we deal with the Olympics because they are not being nice to the Dalai Lama, who is a good friend of mine.

And all these earthquake and stuff happened and I thought: IS THAT KARMA... when you are not nice that bad things happen to you?

Remember when an Evangelical preacher suggested that hurricane Katrina might have struck New Orleans as divine punishment for the city's sinfulness? It was calving time on the left and in the mainstream media (sorry, redundant).

I wonder if there will be a similar pile on here.

Tonight's Music

Flogging Molly - (No More) Paddy's Lament.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Blogs4Borders weekly blogburst

Our weekly vlog/poscast in illegal immigration and border security. In this weeks edition...

Jobs Americans Won't Do? Or jobs Americans can't get hired for?

100% Preventable! Americans continue to pay the bloody price for open borders! When will the madness end?

Download for your ipod here.

Click on image

If you'd like to sponsor a show contact us here.

This has been the Blogs For Borders Video Blogburst. The Blogs For Borders Blogroll is dedicated to American sovereignty, border security and a sane immigration policy. If you’d like to join find out how right here.

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Reflections on the state of the Republic

From Mike Vanderboegh writing on the blog Western Rifle Shooters Association:

Premonition of Civil War: "We. . . are about to have our fues lit".

"I listened to Sen. McCain address the NRA Friday night with my 1st grandson asleep in my arms. As I listened to the diluted mumbo jumbo from him, I thought about what my grandson will probably face. I did not like it one bit. I think we, the folks in America that just want to be left alone to live a peaceful life without the gov't intervention in every facet of our life, are about to have our fuse lit. I just know it's coming." - Email to Mike Vanderboegh from his friend John in Florida, 19 May 2008.

Mr. Vanderboegh's comment on his friend's email:

My friend John's prediction, his premonition, "we . . . are about to have our fuse lit," came to him because he understands where we find ourselves in the first decade of the 21st Century. His is an intellectual premonition, as was mine before Thursday afternoon. It takes no seer, no crystal ball, no weird purple light from the Twilight Zone to anticipate the coming confrontation between those who revere the Founders' constitutional republic and the God-given liberty it codifies and the gathering dark forces of "enlightened" collectivism. And like most wars, this one will need to be fought precisely because most of us think it is impossible.

The Belief that there will be another American Civil War is not a new one. Everyone is familiar with Thomas Jefferson's observation that the Tree of Liberty would periodically need to be watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots. What most people don't know was that he saw that "watering" taking place around every 20 years or so.

However I have always been deeply skeptical about the prospect of any kind of widespread insurrection against the federal government. The fact is that for the overwhelming majority of people in the USA life is very good. And it never seemed likely to me that the average person would be too keen on giving up his fat 401K, 56" flat screen with blu-ray disc player and the realistic prospect of that summer home at the beach/mountains/lake to take up his rifle and start potting the jackbooted Schutzstaffel of the American leviathan. I think that most people agree with me in that opinion. This is why the story of the frog in the pan of water being slowly heated to boiling is such a popular metaphor for the American people's slow loss of liberty at the hands of an ever expanding federal government.

However I am reminded of the fact that the people who made the American Revolution happen were not wretched masses of the desperately poor who had nothing to lose. Rather they were the landed gentry. Educated and affluent they were the elite of colonial society. The same can be said of the Southerners who led the South into succession from the Union. In both cases the people leading the breakaway from what was thought of as an oppressive government were the men with the most, not the least, to lose by their actions.

I'm sure that the vast legions of people who comprise the federal government (from elected officials to senior bureaucrats down to the alphabet soup of federal law enforcement agencies) do not feel themselves in any particular danger of an armed domestic uprising. In this respect the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution has failed in its intended purpose. The 2nd Amendment was not written so that country boys could go out and put venison on the table with their trusty long arm. Nor was it written so that the robbers and rapists might be terrorized into reforming their evil ways by the thought that their next victim might put a bullet between their eyes. No, while those things are happy side effects of the 2nd Amendment its real purpose was to ensure that the government would ever and always feel profoundly intimidated by the citizenry.

However the BATF agents who raided a peaceful religious community in Waco, TX in 1993 had absolutely no fear that the other residents of Waco would take up arms and turn out to help defend their neighbors (however they were seriously taken aback when the Davidians had the gall to actually shoot back - note that they haven't tried another raid of that type since). Just like the US Marshals and FBI agents who surrounded Randy Weaver's house and murdered his wife and son knew that there would be no convoys of outraged armed Americans descending on Ruby Ridge to turn the incident into a latter day Lexington and Concord.

We all remember the video of police in post-Katrina New Orleans tackling an elderly woman to take her revolver away from her. Do you think that any of those cops hesitated for one second out of fear that the old woman's neighbors would come to her defense?

As I said, the true purpose of the 2nd Amendment has been forgotten both by the citizens it was intended to protect and by the government it was intended to terrify. But this forgetting is a dangerous thing to both the citizen and to the government and its minions. Fredrick Douglass, the runaway slave who became a respected writer and leading advocate of the abolition of slavery in the antebellum North, once advised slave owners to "cuff your slaves and treat them cruelly, for a slave with a bad master will aspire to have a good master while a slave with a good master will aspire to be his own master".

Douglass knew that removing the lash from a slave's back allowed him to look up and see the possibilities of freedom. In the United States the lash of poverty has been removed from the great majority of the population. At the same time the Internet has broken the virtual monopoly which the elite media (the handmaiden of big government) has held on the dissemination of information (anyone who doubts the importance of having a way to get out the other side of the argument should study the history of the Reformation and realize that Gutenberg had as much to do with its success as Luther).

Remember what drove the propertied class which led both the Continental Congress in the Revolution and the Confederate government in the Civil War was the fact that their life experiences made them intolerant of being pushed around and unwilling to accept the impositions of a distant government which they did not respect. For those of you having difficulty seeing Thomas Jefferson commanding his slaves at Monticello and Joe Sixpack being fawned on by the salesmen at Best Buy in the same light let me ask you this, what really pisses you off about being pulled over by a cop, the fact that a ticket might make your car insurance go up or the fact that you are going to have to bow and scrape before an arrogant prick who, absent his badge, would be fixing cars or sweeping a Wal Mart parking lot?

Fix this thought in your mind. The American Civil War was not an uprising of slaves seeking freedom. It was an uprising of Slave owners seeking to preserve their prerogatives.

Now think about the fact that those who wish to concentrate unlimited power in the federal government have effectively lost the ability to control the flow of information within the United States. Just as the printing press made it impossible for the Pope to prevent all of Christendom from reading Luther's 95 thesis and the committees of correspondence allowed the patriots to frame the debate in colonial America the Internet allows the instant and uncensored distribution of information about every usurpation of liberty and every affront to the dignity of a free people.

Internet services like YouTube allow people to not only read about but to see examples of the outrages which are inflicted by the servants of the state. The video of the old woman in New Orleans being piled on by a group of cops who were just following orders generates far more raw fury than just reading an account of the incident. The 'net also allows these datum to be archived and easily searched so that the intellectually honest seeker after truth soon finds himself buried under an avalanche of other similar affronts and usurpations.

It is not inevitable, but it is entirely possible, that a breaking point could someday be reached. The fact that the government, the police who enforce the government's will and the elites in the academy and the media who exist in symbiosis with the government no longer believe that there is any such thing as a "breaking point" where the people are concerned means that they will be in no way cautious about approaching that point.

The fact that most of the general public is not aware of the fact that there is a societal breaking point in regard to their government means that they will not become alarmed and act to rein in the government while it can still be reined in.

It doesn't have to start big. In fact it almost certainly will start small. Mr. Vanderboegh relates an exchange he had with someone named Peter on a gun blog:

Peter: "The day may come when we need to take up arms against a tyrannical government, but the fact that you can 'tell them in advance, in public, what MY “rules of engagement” were.' is proof that this is not the time. So please stop giving the anti-gun nuts more ammo, and trying to bait the government to come after you. This is only hurting our cause."

Vanderboegh: "Well, if that's the case, our 'causes' are not the same. My cause is that of the constitutional republic of the Founders and a United States of America that my children and grandchildren can live in as free citizens, not frightened serfs. Here's the thing: with the ATF on the prod, and cantankerous people like me refusing to be pushed, sooner or later somebody's going to trade shots. WE, my friends and me, are going to give the cheesers on this board and in the larger country a choice: are you going to make the same excuses you made before in 1993 when you watched government murder on television and did nothing? And if they kill someone like me, someone who's not a religious cultist (unless you count the Baptists as cultists), someone who doesn't mess with explosives or automatic weapons, someone who's a father and a grandfather, a guy who's on disability for congestive heart failure and can't attack anybody, a guy whose only real sin in their eyes is to despise them publicly -- if they kill me and you do nothing AGAIN, hiding behind excuses AGAIN, well I don't know how you look yourself in the mirror."

And I concluded:

"And understand this, in a country that allows the David Olofsons to be victimized without correction, sooner or later people like me are going to force people like you to look in that mirror. And I suppose that's what really scares y'all. But whether you like it or not, whether you join us or not, we will force you to make the choice because we DO NOT consent to be victimized by some thug simply because he possesses a federal badge that is unconstitutional in the first place. We are free men and women, and will live or die as free men and women. You are free to choose, but you should understand that the choice is not far away. The imperial feds have apparently decided that by their egregious misconduct in the Olofson case."
That's how it can start. Someone snaps and says "I'm not taking this any more" and fights back. Then someone like me, a man with no family depending on him, says "you know if I sit here and watch this happen and don't do jack about it I have no right to call myself a man". Then the mirror gets held up and more and more people are dragged kicking and screaming by their own consciences and forced to look into it. Then the nation has a moment like the jury in the movie Walking Tall where Buford Pusser takes his shirt off and shows them his scars and tells them "if they can do this to me then they can do the same damn thing to you".

Will everyone in the nation rise up then? No, and they will not have to. Remember that at the time the Declaration of Independence was signed the actual number of the colonists who favored independence even at the cost of war was around 20%. During the war the percentage favoring independence more than doubled, but never reached even 50%. And of those favoring independence only a small minority actually took up arms and fought for it.

It is just that the minority favoring independence was more willing to act than the majority opposing it. In the Civil War it was the same. The number of Southerners who favored breaking away from the Union was less than half and the number of Northerners who favored going to war to keep the South in the Union was less than half. It is just that an active minority will always trump a passive majority.

The cost in blood and treasure could be enormous and the effect on the rest of the world could be catastrophic. If America, the "essential nation", were ripped apart by internal fighting who would take its place in a world where the "bad guys" outnumber the "good guys" by orders of magnitude?

As Mr.Vanderboegh said, ". . . like most wars, this one will need to be fought precisely because most of us think it is impossible." There is a breaking point and it must be not just respected but feared.

First pictures of the Martian far north

A Nasa spacecraft has sent back historic first pictures of an unexplored region of Mars.

The Mars Phoenix lander touched down in the far north of the Red Planet, after a 680 million-km (423 million-mile) journey from Earth.

The probe is equipped with a robotic arm to dig for water-ice thought to be buried beneath the surface.

It will begin examining the site for evidence of the building blocks of life in the next few days.

A signal confirming the lander had reached the surface was received at 2353 GMT on 25 May (1953 EDT; 0053 BST on 26 May).

Engineers and scientists at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California clapped and cheered when the landing signal came through.

"Phoenix has landed - welcome to the northern plain of Mars," a flight controller announced.

The Martian arctic looks pretty much like every other part of Mars that I've seen. But still it is what is below the surface that counts.

Stop and think for a minute about what a great achievement it is to launch something like this from Earth and have it land safely on another planet at the exact time and place that were planed.

I still doubt that the machine will find the firm evidence of life that it was sent to look for, however. That will take human boots on the Martin ground.

How about we take all the money we are wasting by subsidizing ethanol and other global warming fantasies and put it into space exploration. That way we will not only push back the frontiers of human knowledge we will get all kinds of technological spin-offs which just might do something like cure cancer or even give us that cheap and abundant source of pollution free energy the greens want.*

*Actually that's wrong. The greens don't want a cheap and clean source of abundant energy. They want the human population reduced from six billion to a few million who will live at the neolithic level.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

NASA probe lands on Mars

PASADENA, Calif. — ­ NASA's Phoenix Mars spacecraft appears to have made a safe landing on Mars.

Just before 8 p.m. Eastern time, mission controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory here received a radio signal from the Phoenix on the ground in the icy plains north of Mars' Arctic circle.

Because the signal was relayed via the Mars Odyssey orbiter, the controllers would have to wait another couple of hours, until Odyssey's next pass over the landing site, for additional word of the Phoenix's condition, including whether it had successfully unfolded its solar panels and possibly the first photographs.

If all is operating properly, the next few days will be spent checking out the instruments aboard the lander. Then, it will begin the first upclose investigation of Mars' north polar regions. That area became a prime area of interest for planetary scientists after NASA's orbiting Odyssey spacecraft discovered in 2002 vast quantities of water ice lying a few inches beneath the surface in Mars' polar regions.

All of Mars' surface is currently far too cold for life to exist, but in the past, Mars' axis may have periodically tipped over so that its north pole pointed at the sun during summer. That conceivably could have warmed the ice into liquid water.

With liquid water comes the possibility of life.

On Phoenix, a robotic arm with a scoop at the end will dig into the permafrost terrain into the ice. Instruments on the spacecraft included a small oven that will heat the scooped-up dirt and ice to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Analyzing the vapors will provide information of the minerals, and that will, in turn, provide clues about whether the ice ever melted and whether this region was habitable for life.

"We see Phoenix as a stepping stone to future investigations of Mars," said Peter H. Smith of the University of Arizona, the principal investigator of the mission.

I wish the little robot well on its mission and I congratulate the scientists and engineers who designed and built it and launched it on its way.

I somehow doubt that they will find any firm proof that there was ever life on Mars (not even Sam Tyler's leather jacket) but the effort is still worthwhile.

Prissy and sissy (for once we're not talking about a failed author wannabe from Fla.)

You can't accuse Peggy Noonan of joining the mainstream media feeding frenzy now that the general rejection of Hillary Rodham Clinton is complete since she, as a Republican, has been taking shots at Mrs. Clinton all along:

You know where I'm going, for you know where she went. Hillary Clinton complained again this week that sexism has been a major dynamic in her unsuccessful bid for political dominance. She is quoted by the Washington Post's Lois Romano decrying the "sexist" treatment she received during the campaign, and the "incredible vitriol that has been engendered" by those who are "nothing but misogynists." The New York Times reported she told sympathetic bloggers in a conference call that she is saddened by the "mean-spiritedness and terrible insults" that have been thrown "at you, for supporting me, and at women in general."

Where to begin? One wants to be sympathetic to Mrs. Clinton at this point, if for no other reason than to show one's range. But her last weeks have been, and her next weeks will likely be, one long exercise in summoning further denunciations. It is something new in politics, the How Else Can I Offend You Tour. And I suppose it is aimed not at voters -- you don't persuade anyone by complaining in this way, you only reinforce what your supporters already think -- but at history, at the way history will tell the story of the reasons for her loss.

So, to address the charge that sexism did her in:

It is insulting, because it asserts that those who supported someone else this year were driven by low prejudice and mindless bias.

It is manipulative, because it asserts that if you want to be understood, both within the community and in the larger brotherhood of man, to be wholly without bias and prejudice, you must support Mrs. Clinton.

It is not true. Tough hill-country men voted for her, men so backward they'd give the lady a chair in the union hall. Tough Catholic men in the outer suburbs voted for her, men so backward they'd call a woman a lady. And all of them so naturally courteous that they'd realize, in offering the chair or addressing the lady, that they might have given offense, and awkwardly joke at themselves to take away the sting. These are great men. And Hillary got her share, more than her share, of their votes. She should be a guy and say thanks.

It is prissy. Mrs. Clinton's supporters are now complaining about the Hillary nutcrackers sold at every airport shop. Boo hoo. If Golda Meir, a woman of not only proclaimed but actual toughness, heard about Golda nutcrackers, she would have bought them by the case and given them away as party favors.

It is sissy. It is blame-gaming, whining, a way of not taking responsibility, of not seeing your flaws and addressing them. You want to say "Girl, butch up, you are playing in the leagues, they get bruised in the leagues, they break each other's bones, they like to hit you low and hear the crack, it's like that for the boys and for the girls."

And because the charge of sexism is all of the above, it is, ultimately, undermining of the position of women. Or rather it would be if its source were not someone broadly understood by friend and foe alike to be willing to say anything to gain advantage.

It is probably truer that being a woman helped Mrs. Clinton. She was the front-runner anyway and had all the money, power, Beltway backers. But the fact that she was a woman helped give her supporters the special oomph to be gotten from making history. They were by definition involved in something historic. And they were on the right side, connected to the one making the breakthrough, shattering the glass. They were going to be part of breaking it into a million little pieces that could rain down softly during the balloon drop at the historic convention, each of them catching the glow of the lights. Some network reporter was going to say, "They look like pieces of the glass ceiling that has finally been shattered."

I know: Barf. But also: Fine. Politics should be fun.

I agree that politics should be fun, too bad it isn't this time around, but the wretched quality of the choices before us mean that whoever wins the nation is going to lose and lose badly.

Still, one must take enjoyment wherever one finds it and the cratering in of the Hillary Clinton campaign, the small crowds and generally negative reception that Bill Clinton is getting and the sheer speed with which their own party abandoned the Bonnie and Clyde of American politics the nanosecond a viable alternative showed his jug-eared head is enough to bring forth a chuckle on even the darkest day.


IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.


Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.