Day By Day

Saturday, May 31, 2008

More Pennsylvania Pictures

Another weekend, time for more Pennsylvania Pics. This week, Lancaster County!

Lets start with a hot Amish babe. This picture was taken on a rural road not far from the Green Dragon, which was presumably her destination.



She kept glancing back to see if we were going to pass, and got a bit annoyed when we didn't. She's got a sort of Kelly McGillis thing going on there.



Of course the GD is just a glorified flea market and I didn't take many pictures there, though I did pig out on the ice cream. So on to a better location -- Landis Valley Farms. Lots of picture opportunities there.







The Copenhagen Consensus on Climate Change

More than fifty "specialist scholars" spent two years assembling a list of thirty possible solutions to what they considered to be the ten most pressing problems facing the world. The list was then submitted to a panel of eight leading economists, including five Nobel Prize winners, who were asked to prioritize them. The result was reported in Reason Magazine.

Topping the list as the number one priority was getting essential nutrients to children in the developing world. Expanding free trade came in as number two. And what came in at the bottom of the list?

At number 30, the lowest priority is a proposal to mitigate man-made global warming by cutting the emissions of greenhouse gases. This ranking caused some consternation among the European journalists at the press conference.

I'll bet it did! With few exceptions the European press is locked into a guilt narrative that holds the developed world, and especially the United States, responsible for all the ills that afflict mankind. Anthropogenic global warming is just the latest of their hobby horses.

Read the whole thing here.

Late Night Listening

Still grooving. After listening to Ella for a while I noodled around You Tube and found this -- I'll be listening to this video a lot, and by that I mean a LOT!!!!!



Look at the lineup -- Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Gerry Mulligan, Ben Webster, Victor Dickenson, Roy Eldridge..., what a jam!!!!

When I was young I played sax. Paul Desmond was my idol, but he learned to play the way he did by listening to Lester. This is an amazing performance by some of the greatest musical talents America ever produced.

Summertime with Ella

Just chillin' out tonight listening to the best of the best. Ella, singing "Summertime" during her legendary performance at Berlin in 1968. It just doesn't get any better than this.



I once saw an interview with Mel Torme in which he was asked who his favorite singer was. His response was, "You mean after Ella?" I concur wholeheartedly.

UPDATE:

After reflection I decided that you indeed can do better -- just add a dash of Satchmo.



Aaaaaaaaaah bliss!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Philly's Past


Downtown Philly in 1935

The Truthteller

Victor Davis Hanson has a wonderful indictment of the "me generation" over at Townhall.

Our present problems were not really caused by an unpopular president, a spendthrift Congress, the neocon bogeymen, the greedy Saudis, shifty bankers or corporate oilmen in black hats and handlebar moustaches — much less the anonymous “they.”

The fault of this age, dear baby boomers, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.

Read it here.

What Recession?

As I have pointed out numerous times, we are not in a recession and have not been for several years. To have a recession you have to have a decline in GNP [technically two consecutive quarters of negative growth] and so far we have had no [repeat NO] quarters of decline in recent years. The worst that can be said is that we are in a period of relatively slow growth, and that's a far cry from a recession.

And the slowdown in growth is not so extreme as it has been portrayed. Revised figures for GNP growth in the first quarter of 2008 are higher than earlier estimates [0.9 percent compared to 0.6 percent growth]. What is more, the first quarter growth is higher than the fourth quarter of 2007. That means that the worst is over and that economic growth is picking up.

Read about it here.

And in additional good news, gold and oil prices have begun to drop, the dollar is strengthening, orders for durable goods are higher than predicted, and the stock market is rising.

It's too soon to tell, but it is beginning to look as though the Bush administration has once again provided sound, wise, and expert leadership in a time of economic difficulty. Of course this is an election year where angst and hyperbole rule everywhere, so don't expect Dubya to get much credit.

UPDATE:

Read James Pethokoukis' commentary here.

UPDATE:

And for those who worry about the weakness of the dollar, read this.

Hero Shots

In film parlance the "hero shot" is one taken from near ground level, looking up at the person being filmed. If you want to see an expert use of the technique fire up any John Ford/John Wayne film and note the camera placement.

Here's an example:



So much for cinema heroes.



Here's a shot of a real hero -- my nephew, who will soon be leaving for yet another combat tour. The perspective was inadvertent -- the picture was taken by his five-year-old daughter -- but in my opinion entirely appropriate.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Fareed Zakaria has a nice piece in Newsweek on terrorism. He notes that two U.S. government funded groups [the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), and the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terror (MIPT)] have both reported dramatic rises in the number of deaths due to terrorism since the US invasion of Iraq.

"Aha!" you say. Bush's war has raised, rather than lowered, the terrorist threat.

But Zakaria then goes on to note that both studies are fatally flawed because they count all civilian deaths taking place in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. These account for 80% of the total, and if we look only at deaths outside the war zone, there has in fact been a dramatic decrease in the number of terrorist incidents and deaths from them. The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan have indeed decreased the threat from terrorism outside the war zones.

Read it here.

So, the numbers have been fudged to show the opposite of what has actually been taking place. The question is why? In the case of the MIPT, the answer is easy. The Institute exists to promote awareness of terrorism. If the terrorist threat is declining, then their reason for being is diminished as is their source of revenue. They have an entrepreneurial interest in hyping terrorism. But what about the NCTC? It is a government agency, part of the intelligence community. Why should it be interested in cooking figures in order to subvert the administration's policy? Could it just be ordinary bureaucratic imperatives [more terrorism means more funding, more staff, more of everything]? Or, as in the case of the VIPs [Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a left-wing group of mostly CIA and State Department analysts who actively sought to undermine the war effort], was the duplicity driven by ideology? In either case the country is not being well served.

Just asking.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Rhododendrons


I'm not sure whether it was the rainfall or the late spring, but this year's crop of rhododendrons is spectacular. We have flowering bushes all around our house and down our drive, but these are my favorites.

What a glorious spring here in the Commonwealth. One of the benefits of the current global cooling trend.

Bush Is Winning Another One

Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank note in the New Republic that support for Bin Laden and for the entire jihadi movement is dropping precipitously throughout the Muslim world.

Read it here.

Obama's America

The sheer wonderfulness that is the fine young senator from Cook County seems to be diminishing somewhat lately and it is entirely his own fault. He and his campaign started it all when they leaped on a verbal gaffe by John McCain to suggest that Big Mac is too old to be President, that his mind is fogged by age, that he is confused and befuddled.

The problem with this line of attack is that not only is Sen. McCain is obviously intelligent and very much in touch with the great issues of our day, but that Obama with nearly every public utterance is revealing himself to be intellectually inept and astoundingly ignorant regarding the nation he presumes to lead and the world he will confront should he become President.

The problem has become so blatant that even left-wingers have noticed it. Jake Tapper, writing for ABC news, has branded Obama a "one-man gaffe machine." [read the article here]. He notes that Obama's errors are not just simple slips of the tongue -- they reveal vast wells of ignorance regarding important matters on which a President must make crucial decisions.

But there is a far more disturbing aspect to Obama's utterances that his obvious intellecual incapacity -- it is manifested in his stated perceptions regarding the American nation and its people.

Already we have noted Obama's strange associations with radical figures such as Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayres, and the weird opinions regarding America voiced by his wife, Michelle. The Obama campaign has been able to dismiss these as not reflecting the candidate's own views and attacked his critics as bigots seeking to declare him guilty by association. But, if we look at Obama's own words we can discern a disturbing pattern of references.

Victor Davis Hanson writes:

When Barack Obama talks about avoiding the "money culture" and the lifestyle of suits and big houses, there is nothing per se wrong with such a call to public service.

By the same token, he makes many fine points in his frequent recitals of U.S. history in which the Underground Railroad, the freedom riders, women suffragists, and icons of the civil-rights movement figure prominently....

[I]n almost every allusion to our collective past there is mention of reform and protest, all of it needed of course. But after a while, whether inadvertently or not, our only heroes become those who found the system wanting and took it on. Yet there were many other elements of the system that are responsible for our current freedom and prosperity, and plenty of wonderful Americans outside of social activism.

At some point as he continues to offer us primers on our past, Obama should also include men and women of genius who were not social activists..., otherwise..., the aggregate effect is Carteresque — more lectures about the old gloom and doom, and more reminders that the unique Americans of the past were only those who followed paths of activism — not surprisingly like those claimed as well by Obama himself.
Read the whole thing here.

This is the man who calls for more "oppression studies" in our schools, whose wife sees America as a "mean" place, whose pastor damns America, and who seems to find worthy of note only those who reject the mainstream of American culture. The question looming for most Americans is increasingly going to be whether or not we want to elevate such an alienated individual to the presidency.

UPDATE:

Another day, another gaffe. Obama seems to think that his uncle, or maybe it was his grandfather, liberated Auschwitz. The guys at Hot Air are all over it here.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Global Warming On Jupiter


Gee, the crisis is worse than even Saint Albert imagined. Anthropogenic global warming seems to be affecting the entire solar system. First Earth, then Mars, and now Jupiter are showing signs of global warming.

Read about it here.

I blame Bush.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bush Wins Another One

The Senate just passed the supplemental funding bill for Iraq:

WASHINGTON, May 22 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved an additional $165 billion to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan for another year after lawmakers blocked proposed timetables for withdrawing American troops from Iraq.

By a vote of 70-26, the Senate passed the new war money the Pentagon says it urgently needs to avoid civilian layoffs and the interruption of soldiers' paychecks within months.

Read about it here.

The Village Square

Standing in the village square taking pictures.

Ss

Don't bother to ask if people down in the village support the troops -- just take a look around.

Chipping Away At the Myth

It is dismaying for a serious historian, at least those of us who have not sold our souls to some political movement, to note the extent to which both popular and academic history have been shaped by political narratives. One of the most egregious politically useful narratives [and one of which professional historians are well aware, but which they seldom choose to challenge] is the Camelot myth.

John F. Kennedy was, by any objective measure, at best a mediocre president and, at times, his incompetence and naivete were stunningly dangerous, but a shamefully dishonest adulatory narrative, consciously constructed after his death, has led most Americans to consider JFK to have been a great or a near-great figure.

Today an attractive young Senator seeks to be elected president, and in pursuit of his dream has invoked the memory of JFK -- not the real man, but the carefully constructed image. This has brought the entire subject of the Kennedy administration and the JFK legacy into question once again.

This time there was a difference. For the first time a major liberal institution has been willing to tell the truth about Camelot. One of the key elements of the Kennedy myth was the assertion that he engaged in wise and competent diplomacy. Quite the opposite was the case. In today's New York Times, Nathan Thrall and Jesse James Wilkins, responding to Barak Obama's promise to be like JFK, not afraid to talk directly with his enemies, detail the disastrous course of events at Kennedy's first direct meeting with Khrushchev at Vienna.

a move that would be recorded as one of the more self-destructive American actions of the cold war, and one that contributed to the most dangerous crisis of the nuclear age.
They conclude, as have many historians, that Kennedy's grotesque ineptitude at that meeting led directly to the Soviet decision to construction the Berlin Wall and contributed greatly to Khrushchev's determination to place nuclear missiles in Cuba.

Read the article here.

One of the great benefits of the current disarray in Democrat ranks is that liberals, instead of forming a solid front to sustain politically useful distortions of history, have begun to attack them, and in the process the truth about one of the most mythologized periods in American history has begun to emerge into public view.

Which raises a secondary question -- when he invoked the example of JFK, was Obama displaying his cynical disregard for the truth, or simple ignorance of it? I suspect the latter.

About that Recession...

Once again the hysterical rhetoric of the Democrats and their academic and journalistic toadies is embarrassingly off the mark. They have been assuring us time and again that we are, indeed, in a recession, yet each time they do so inconvenient facts in the form of economic statistics intervene.

Bloomburg reports:

May 22 (Bloomberg) -- Fewer Americans than forecast applied for unemployment benefits last week, indicating companies are reluctant to fire more workers even as the economy slows.

First-time jobless claims fell 9,000 to 365,000, from a revised 374,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The total number of people collecting benefits was unchanged at a four-year high of 3.073 million for the week ended May 10.

Read it here.

It seems that every unbiased economic report that comes out surprises the "experts". This calls into question either their competence as experts or their honesty as commentators. What seems, unsurprisingly, to be the case is that many economists, at least many of those whose views are reported in the mainstream media, either unconsciously or deliberately shape their pronouncements to suit either personal or political goals.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone. As I have said time and again, there is no such thing as disinterested authority.


I'm Baaaaaaaack!

Spent the past few days traveling and visiting with relatives and had no time for blogging. For most of the time I was staying in a very small town in Western Pennsylvania where there was no internet service [a trick of the local geography]. It rained most of the time and I was unable to get out to most of the places I wanted to photograph. Frustrating? No not really! I enjoyed a return to the thrilling days of yesteryear when there were no cell phones, internet connections, and blogs. And, in the midst of everything else, I actually got some serious work done. It's a good feeling.



Each morning I got up early and went here to work. Just me, some coffee and juice, a little fruit, and a pile of papers. Heaven!

As for the promised pictures of Ligonier, the weather did not cooperate. During the few dry sunlit hours available to me I did, however, get these.



These are native azaleas, not the fancy kind I and others use to decorate our yards. These were growing near the foot of Laurel Mountain over in Westmoreland County.



Speaking [OK, writing] of which, here are some mountain laurel buds ready to pop. I couldn't wait around for a few days to see them burst into full flower. Maybe next year.



No pictures of Ligonier, but I did get a chance to visit the historic Compass Inn along the Lincoln Highway in nearby Laughlintown.



I also planned to spend some time at the pool where we were staying, but the weather was just a bit too wet and chill. I did, however, get a this photo and a few others.

As for Ligonier, It will have to wait until next year.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Winning in Iraq

Wretchard has a nice post over at the Belmont Club in which he notes, among other things, that American political elites, especially in academia and the State Department, suffer from a profound misunderstanding of the nature of war and diplomacy.

Winning in war, he writes, is achieved by winning, not by negotiation. The collapse of al Qaeda has come about in part because of the excesses of the Islamists, which repelled people throughout the Arab world, but even more by the repeated demonstrations of American military superiority and competence. Al Qaeda has experienced, over the past few years,

defeat on every battlefield on which they have been found. And as important as the material losses to them have been, far more serious has been the loss to their prestige. They have gone from godlike warriors who can topple skyscrapers in Manhattan to helpless bugs who are effortlessly incinerated despite their incantation.
Just a few years ago young men in Iraq wanted to grow up to be Jihadis. Now they want to be like American troops.

And then he grasps the nut of his argument.

There are those who think negotiations are a substitute for winning, rather than their complement. When J. Peter Scoblic, writing in the LA Times argues that "negotiating isn't appeasement", urges US officials to go cap in hand to Teheran and has even written a book to prove it entitled How a Half Century of Conservatism Has Undermined America's Security, he neglects this essential correlation. He claims the fact that Reagan negotiated with Gorbachev is implicit proof that real men negotiate with the enemy while wusses like Bush don't. But that is to see negotiations in isolation from the battlefield. He neglects to mention that timing is everything. Negotiations are useful when they are used to complement success or effect a mutually improved solution to a crisis. Negotiations are not useful merely as instruments of surrender or vanity platforms for the self-flagellant. Timing is everything. Wainrights negotiations with Japan after the Fall of Bataan are not the same as the one Wainright attended on the deck of the USS Missouri.
And that is a profound observation. Once it was commonplace, but today it is largely dismissed by America's political elites. Diplomacy is a complement, not an alternative, to military power and successful negotiation depends in the end on military potency, either perceived or real.

We are winning in Iraq and the psychological consequences of victory are everywhere to be seen, except in the halls of academia and western halls of government where some members of the Western elite want to wear a keffiyeh at precisely the time when young Muslim men in Baghdad are saving to buy Wiley-X's.

Read it here.

Now is the time for negotiations -- ones that build upon, rather than deny our magnificent effort in Iraq and Afghanistan where American forces have deposed two of the most oppressive regimes in the world and liberated more than fifty million people. Nancy Pelosi's recent statements indicate that she is beginning to understand what is happening. [here] But this is the political season, and the defeatists are ascendant in the Democratic Party. Her coming to terms with reality is unlikely to be widely noticed and President Bush will continue to be handicapped by the perception that the fall elections might undo everything that we have accomplished.

Is it possible for Democrats to act responsibly? Pelosi, and occasionally Hillary!, have shown at least some glimmer of connection to the real world. I am patiently waiting for that nice young Senator from Cook County to take the first steps in that direction. In the meantime I am rooting for Hillary! and voting for Big Mac.

Friday, May 16, 2008

More Misinformation from the MSM

AP reported, and the commentators widely discussed the "dissing" of President Bush by the Saudis. Here's what the AP said:

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabia's leaders made clear Friday they see no reason to increase oil production until customers demand it, apparently rebuffing President Bush amid soaring U.S. gasoline prices.

Here's what really happened:

May 16 (Bloomberg) — Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, will increase crude production next month in response to rising demand from its customers and a request by U.S. President George W. Bush to ease the strain of record oil prices.

The country will raise output by 300,000 barrels a day to 9.45 million barrels a day in June, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al- Naimi said in Riyadh today, following a meeting between Bush and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah. Earlier today, U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said the Saudi policy was to supply extra oil only if customers needed it.

HT J-Lo here.

She seems to think that AP will be embarrassed by this -- don't hold your breath.

More Pennsylvania Pics

It's the weekend again, so here are a few more pictures of the glorious spring we are having in the Commonwealth.




Totten on Yon

Nobody is better qualified to review Michael Yon's superb book, Moment of Truth in Iraq, than Michael J. Totten. Read his review here then buy the book by clicking on the Amazon links at the top of this page.

If you want to understand what is going on in Iraq this is the book to read. Do it!

Obama's Fantasies

Everyone indulges in personal fantasies, and sometimes they can reveal something important about ourselves. Hillary!'s snipers in Bosnia fantasy tells us something about the way she sees herself and her campaign, or at least how she would like us to regard it. Well, Sen. Obama! has repeatedly told a similar lie that is just as revealing. In it he portrays himself as telling truth to a hostile power of corporate types. Unfortunately for him, the incident was recorded and it wasn't quite the way he seems to remember it.

Ordinarily I have no interest in irony, but this is too rich to pass up -- the man who wants to represent himself as a truth-teller resorts to a lie in order to make that claim.

Read about it here.

Megan McArdle on Race

Megan McArdle has a very good post at the Atlantic blog on the subject of race. In it she reveals that she is comely enough to get catcalls from men on the street, that shopping is a different experience for Blacks than for Whites, that she has some sympathy for Rev. Wright, and that C. S. Lewis has a lot to teach us about the nature of love.

Check it out here, and read the comments -- some of them are quite good.

This is what blogging is supposed to be, but seldom is.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Foolish Delusion

This is the portion of President Bush's address that has the Democrats' knickers in a twist:

There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men [the terrorists] and try to explain away their words. It's natural, but it is deadly wrong. As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously. Jews and Americans have seen the consequences of disregarding the words of leaders who espouse hatred. And that is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century.

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history. (Applause.)

Some people suggest if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of the enemies of peace, and America utterly rejects it. Israel's population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because the United States of America stands with you. (Applause.)

Read the transcript here.

Here's Joe Lieberman's response:

“President Bush got it exactly right today when he warned about the threat of Iran and its terrorist proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah. It is imperative that we reject the flawed and na├»ve thinking that denies or dismisses the words of extremists and terrorists when they shout “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” and that holds that—if only we were to sit down and negotiate with these killers—they would cease to threaten us. It is critical to our national security that our commander-in-chief is able to distinguish between America’s friends and America’s enemies, and not confuse the two.”

Read it here.

Joe understands -- too bad his party's leadership doesn't. Instead of cheering Bush's remarks they are attacking them. I have just been reading Niall Ferguson's The War Of the World, in which he notes that Britain's Chamberlain government in 1938-39 was quite willing to sell France out completely in order to maintain peace with Hitler. The arguments they advanced then are eerily similar to those we hear from the Democrat leadership these days.

You can buy Professor Ferguson's excellent book by clicking on the Amazon links at the top of this page.


Another Hot Republican Babe


Living and learning.

The military dad refers me to this columnist. Her name is Kathleen Parker. I had been unfamiliar with her work, but he likes her a lot, and not just because she is smokin' hot. Check her out -- she articulates the sentiments of a lot of Americans.

This is the column he recommended I read. I'm not sure I would agree with her designation of "full-blooded" Americans -- there are plenty of immigrants who understand what she is talking about, but this rings true to me:

[S]o-called "ordinary Americans" aren't... easily manipulated and they don't need interpreters. They can spot a poser a mile off and they have a hound's nose for snootiness. They've got no truck with people who condescend nor tolerance for that down-the-nose glance from people who don't know the things they know.

What they know is that their forefathers fought and died for an America that has worked pretty well for more than 200 years. What they sense is that their heritage is being swept under the carpet while multiculturalism becomes the new national narrative. And they fear what else might get lost in the remodeling of America.

Republicans more than Democrats seem to get this, though Hillary Clinton has figured it out. And, the truth is, Clinton's own DNA is cobbled with many of the same values that rural and small-town Americans cling to. She understands viscerally what Obama has to study.

That God, for instance, isn't something that comes and goes out of fashion. That clinging to religion isn't a knee-jerk response to nativist paranoia, but is the hard work of constant faith.

Likewise, clinging to guns isn't some weird obsession so that Bubba can hang Bambi's head over the mantel. To many gun owners, it's a constitutional bulwark against government tyranny. As Condi Rice has noted, it wasn't long ago in this country that blacks needed guns to protect themselves when the police would not.

Some Americans do feel antipathy toward "people who aren't like them," but that antipathy isn't about racial or ethnic differences. It is not necessary to repair antipathy appropriately directed toward people who disregard the laws of the land and who dismiss the struggles that resulted in their creation.
She's right. This, more than anything else, is what bothers me about the Obamination. They just don't get what it means to be an American. He reeks of Harvard and the barely-suppressed alienation and resentment that runs rampant among the aged adolescents who flourish in our elite institutions and his most ardent followers are youths who by definition are mindless and alienated. He speaks for and to those who dislike America as it is and love only some ideal America that has never been and which they, in their feckless hubrus, are determined to bring into being. Many people say he reminds them of JFK. To me he's more like Bobby, and that, my friends, is not a good thing.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Irresponsible and Incompetent

From IBD, via Betsy:

• For the past 31 years, Congress repeatedly prevented us from building any new oil refineries that we now badly need.

• More recently, congressional Democrats defeated and discouraged any bill that would let us drill in the deep sea 100 miles out. However, it's somehow OK for China to drill there.

• As a further indictment of our Congress, since the 1980s it has continually stopped all building of nuclear power plants while France, Germany and, yes, Japan, plus 12 other major nations, did build plants and now get 20% to 80% of their energy from their wise and safe nuclear plant investments.

• From 1990 to 2000, U.S. crude oil demand rapidly accelerated by 7.41 quadrillion BTUs, according to Department of Energy data. And our rate of foreign oil dependency dramatically increased while our domestic oil production steadily declined.

Under the eight Clinton years alone, U.S. oil production declined 1,349,000 barrels per day, or 19%, while our foreign imports increased 3,574,000 barrels per day, or 45%.

During this time, President Clinton vetoed ANWR drilling bills that would have clearly made Alaska our No. 1 state in the production of our own vitally needed oil supply, not only for all Americans but also for national defense emergencies.

So were Democrats and members of Congress together merely short-sighted, with only a few having any real business experience?

Or were they just ignorant about economics — the fact that the law of supply and demand determines the price of all commodities such as oil, steel, copper and lumber?

Or were they simply and utterly irresponsible and incompetent in their actions that led us to become dangerously dependent on increasing oil imports from foreign countries?

We think it was "all of the above."

Read it here.

The Clueless Candidate

Whoops, he did it again.

Fresh off his declaration that there are 57 States in the Union, that nice young Senator from Cook County asserts that we need more Arabic translators in Afghanistan, but laments that they are all tied up in Iraq. [here]

Arabic translators would be useless in Afghanistan where the population speaks Pashto and Persian, but since Iraqis are Arabs, the translators are located where they can do some good.

The gaffes just keep piling up and as they do at least some of the fine young Senator's fans must start to realize that their candidate is entirely clueless about the nation and the world.

No word yet on his plans for invading Pakistan.

Monday, May 12, 2008

War Mongers?

The peace-loving loons at Time magazine want the United States to invade Burma [purely for humanitarian reasons, of course].

I'm not making this up. Read it for yourself here.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lies of the Left -- The "Bush Lied" Canard

Doug Feith's new book "War and Decision" addresses one of the most important elements of the Left's carefully constructed narrative on the Bush administration and the war in Iraq. That narrative holds that the Bush administration, determined to make war on Iraq, invented a claim that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction and pressured intelligence services to uphold that claim. Feith's book, based on primary sources and his personal experience of the leadup to war, pretty much disposes of the charge that "Bush Lied, People Died." And it is not just Feith who disputes the Left's narrative. Michael Barone notes that the administration's assumptions were justified:

as the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Silberman-Robb Commission have concluded already. Every intelligence agency believed Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, and the post-invasion Duelfer report concluded that he maintained the capability to produce them on short notice. There was abundant evidence of contacts between Saddam's regime and al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. Given Saddam's hostility to the United States and his stonewalling of the United Nations, American leaders had every reason to believe he posed a grave threat. Removing him removed that threat.
And regarding another major criticism of the occupation Barone writes:

Feith identifies as our central mistake the decision not to create an Iraqi Interim Authority to take over some sovereign functions soon after the overthrow of Saddam. Bush ordered the creation of such an authority March 10, 2003. But it was resisted by State Department and CIA leaders, who argued that Iraqis would not trust "externals" -- those in exile -- and who were especially determined to keep the Iraqi National Congress' Ahmed Chalabi from power. As head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, Paul Bremer took the State-CIA view and, without much supervision from Washington, decided that the U.S. occupation would continue for as long as two years. Only deft negotiation by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld produced a June 30, 2004, deadline for returning authority to Iraqis. The January 2005 elections placed many of the "externals," including Chalabi, in high office.
Read it here.

The key point in this second observation is the systematic undermining of administration policy by State Department officials and intelligence professionals, and the interagency warfare that obstructed efforts to deal effectively with Iraq. I suspect that as relatively unpoliticized accounts of the Iraq conflict begin to emerge in the next few decades, this will become a major theme.

UPDATE:

Feith now has a website at which he discusses the "misconceptions" bandied about by leftists and the MSM regarding the decision-making process that took us to war in Iraq.

Check it out here.

More Pennsylvania Pictures

Heading home on a rainy day. "She Who Must Not Be Named" was behind the wheel, so naturally I had a camera in my lap -- just in case. Here's a bit of what we saw driving through paradise.



Barak Obama's America



Show your solidarity with the frustrated and oppressed peoples of the Obamination. Get your lapel pin showing all 57 states here.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Jacob Collins


Tom Wolfe calls this guy "in terms of skill, technique, one of the most brilliant artists in the entire country [the U.S.A.]". I'm inclined to agree, heartily.

His name is Jacob Collins. Check out his work here.

Read Wolfe's comments on Collins and the entire derriere guard here.

Collins is interviewed here.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Resenters

One benefit of this interminable Democrat nomination process is that fundamental issues do get discussed -- no I'm not talking about health care, or foreign policy, or the war, or any of those other transitory things; I'm talking about things that really matter in the long run, such as how the candidates and their supporters see America.

By now it is clear that "Hillary!" and her supporters see America solely in terms of competing interest groups. This is pretty standard for mainstream Democrats, has been ever since the rise of the "broker state" concept in the Roosevelt years. It's a social science vision of the country and in terms of electoral politics it consists of identifying and pandering to a sufficient number of interest groups to accumulate a majority.

Tonight in his North Carolina victory speech, "O-ba-ma!" went out of his way to disparage that sociological approach to America, emphasizing instead common approaches to common problems. This is at first glance similar to the unifying nationalistic themes on which Republican candidates have run ever since the party's inception in the middle of the nineteenth century. But there is a significant difference. Republicans love the country for what it is and what it has been as much as for what it might be in the future. Obama, with his strong liberal and radical associations, focuses almost exclusively on negative aspects of the American experience, and talks instead about an ideal America that has never been, but which he promises to bring into existence. Hence his idiot mantra of "change".

And this brings us to the sour ruminations of Mrs. Obama and the insane posturings of Rev. Wright. Their view of America is exclusively and profoundly negative. In the case of the candidate's wife, this is just simple leftist cant -- the sort of sillyness one picks up in places like Princeton. But Rev. Wright is a different matter.

Peggy Noonan recently wrote [here] that Rev. Wright's insane rhetoric didn't bother her much. She compared it to Irish immigrants and their descendents who on occasion would drink too much, get their Irish on, and revel in denunciation of the Brits, landlords, and other iconic oppressors of their race. Good clean fun, wallowing in self-pity and basking in the glow of ethnic solidarity, and with regard to the "Wolfe Tones" and other Irish nationalist groups, not very threatening. But such things are relatively innocuous because the resentment being stoked at these performances is directed at things long ago and far away. By contrast, Rev. Wright aims his venom at targets in the here and now -- corporate America, the white working class, the country's foreign policy establishment, and the like. Rev. Wright hates America, not just for what it may have done in the past, but for what it is today, and the resentments he stokes have the intent of alienating those who hear them from the society and culture in which we all must live.

To the extent that Sen. O-ba-ma! buys into Rev. Wright's vision of America he is even more of a divider than those he denounces, and his calls for change are a broad-based repudiation of the land that I love. He says that he loves America, but he doesn't. He repudiates America as it is and loves the utopia that he imagines it might be if only people like himself are in charge.

Faugh!

I will be voting for John McCain in the Fall elections. At least he understands just what a miracle America has been and continues to be.

Appalachian Springtime Redux

A few more pictures of springtime on Hawk Mountain





Pretty Poison!



A female downy woodpecker checking out a dead tree.


Mockingbird looking for a place to build his nest.

Poor Thrush


Yesterday I heard a loud thud against one of the windows. From long experience I immediately knew what it was. A bird had become disoriented and tried to fly into the TV room. I went to the window, looked out, and sure enough there it was -- a wood thrush, sitting stunned on the ground.

This shouldn't happen. The window opens on deep forest, not the sky, and the glass panes are small with prominent frames. Still, there's a reason that they talk about "birdbrains".

Of course I grabbed a camera and rushed out to get a picture before the poor thing could recover and fly off. Here's a shot I took from about six inches away.

Back inside, I was uploading the images to my computer when I heard a commotion and fluttering from where the bird had been sitting. I rushed to the window to see my neighbor's dog running off with something in his mouth. The thrush was nowhere in sight.

There is an outside possibility that it got away -- I didn't get a good look at what the dog was carrying -- but it is probably safe to assume that yesterday we had a small death on the mountain.

Advice for College Grads

From P. J. O'Rourke

1. Go out and make a bunch of money!

2. Don't be an idealist!

3. Get politically uninvolved!

4. Forget about fairness!

5. Be a religious extremist!

6. Don't listen to your elders!


Excellent advice from a wise man. Read the whole thing here.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Best Economic Forecaster In the Country

Larry Kudlow writes:

President George W. Bush may turn out to be the top economic forecaster in the country.

About a month ago he told reporters, “We’re not in a recession, we’re in a slowdown.” At a White House news conference a few weeks later, despite the fact that reporters pressed him to use the “R” word, Mr. Bush refused. And on Friday, after the most recent jobs report -- which produced a much-smaller-than-expected decline in corporate payrolls, a huge 362,000 increase in the more entrepreneurial household survey (the best gain in five months), and a historically low 5 percent unemployment rate (4.95 percent, to be precise) -- the president told reporters: “This economy is going to come on. I’m confident it will.”

We’re in the midst of the most widely predicted and heralded recession in history. Problem is, so far it’s a non-recession recession.

....

The bad news bears always focus on areas of economic weakness. But parts of the economy are doing splendidly. This includes agriculture, energy, export firms operating in the global boom, and all manner of private-sector business, professional, health, and education services. Incidentally, these are the exact sectors producing the highest-paying jobs. What’s more, at 154 million employed, the civilian labor force just hit a new all-time high.

Another significant data point: Corporate profits are outperforming all expectations. With three quarters of the S&P 500 companies reporting, profits outside the banking system have increased 10 percent over a year ago.

Read the whole thing here.

Once again President Bush has proven to be a far wiser and better man than his critics.

UPDATE:

The good news just keeps on coming:

Today’s ISM report for non-manufacturing (services) unexpectedly shot up to 52 from 49.6 in March, and a 47.8 percent first-quarter average. (Readings above 50 percent signify growth.) Recession bears are running for cover on this one. Coming off Friday’s jobs report, with 363,000 new household jobs, something is clearly going on here. That something could be a bottoming of the economy, sometime this past winter. We’re not totally out of the woods just yet. But the news is sure getting better. (Even the NYT’s Paul Krugman is backing off recession in his column today.)

Over in the Treasury market, the 10-year note is now trading up at 3.87 percent. During the recession winter, it was 3.3 percent. If the economy is coming out of the downturn, then the 10-year will make a move up to 4 percent or higher. The stock market is bogged down this morning, digesting the breakup of the Microsoft-Yahoo! deal. But stocks have enjoyed a great run since mid-March.
Read it here.

Synchronization

Very nice. Check it out!




HT -- musicthing

Want more? Try this: Gyorgy Ligeti's "Symphonic Poem for 1oo Metronomes".



Too much? Too much!

Global Warming Update

This is getting too easy:

UPI reports:

RAPID CITY, S.D., May 2 (UPI) -- The mayor of Rapid City, S.D., Friday pleaded with residents to stay home as a May blizzard closed down streets and highways in parts of the state.

"Please, stay off the roads until the weather clears. The wind is still gusting to 50 mph with heavy snow," said Mayor Alan Hanks. "There are very few businesses that are going to open, so take a day off and enjoy it."

Rapid City police said they would cite any motorists who got stuck in drifts and were traveling on any non-essential business, the Rapid City Journal reported.

City snowplows were working to clear main arteries, major intersections, emergency routes and other hazardous areas.

Private snow removal contractors said the heavy snow and high winds -- clocked in excess of 65 mph in some places -- made removal efforts almost futile.

Officials in Spearfish, Belle Fourche and Butte Counties declared snow emergencies. All roads were closed to travel except for emergency vehicles.

Read it here.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Haute Cuisine


For you "adventurous" diners out there, Der Spiegel reviews Beijing's exclusive "penis restaurant".

A visit to the Guolizhuang Restaurant in Beijing is not for the faint-hearted. Here the menu consists almost entirely of penis and testicle dishes -- made from the private parts of deer, snakes, yaks, horses, seals and ducks, among others.

The platters have names like "The Essence of the Golden Buddha," "Phoenix Rising," "Jasmine Flowers with 1,000 Layers" and "Look for the Treasure in the Desert Sand." Are such flowery names meant to prevent guests from prematurely running off? After all, the "jasmine flowers" are made of layers of thinly sliced donkey penis, and the "treasure in the desert" is actually sheep gonads on a bed of curry.

Read the whole thing here.

The menu items supposedly promote male virility and, for women, are said to be good for the skin.

And, for special customers, there is a secret menu. Hmmmm. Wonder what or who is on it.

And note, you don't have to trek all the way to Beijing. It is a franchise operation and has a branch in Atlanta.

Bon appetite!

Poor Hillary!

Mark Ambinder has been talking to Clinton advisers, and they are unhappy. They think the press is being unfair:

CLINTON ADVISERS think their candidate is being held to an unreasonable standard. Why should she have to consistently demonstrate her capacity to win in major states? Why does the press persist in setting up new hurdles for her overcome every time she jumps over her old hurdle? The answer is may be that the Democratic nominating process is not democratic and the standards by which one measures it are not the product of some unbiased judge sitting behind a veil of ignorance.
Read it here.

Gee, you'd think she was George Bush or something.

For the first time in recent history a Democratic candidate has been held to the same flexible standards as are routinely applied to Republicans. It doesn't matter how well she does, they move the goalposts and brand her a failure.

At least after this election cycle it will no longer be possible for anyone to credibly assert that the press is objective.

Ten Modern Myths

Reading this, I was reminded of my college days when I first discovered Ambrose Bierce. Check out Simon Blackwell's "Reality Check" in Times Higher Education. The subject is "Ten Modern Myths" and they are doozies. Read it here.

Dealing With Environmental Concerns

Over at "Depleted Cranium" you can find an excellent article on environmental concerns and how to address them. This is good stuff -- really.

Check it out here.

Another Obamanation Dirty Trick

The Obamaniacs have struck again, this time in Indiana.

Check it out here.

So what we have here is a candidate who lies, obscures, and equivocates; a campaign that bases its strategies not on its proclaimed principles, but on expediency; and dirty tricksters seeking to disrupt and subvert his competitors' campaigns.

Welcome to the "politics of transcendence".

Faugh.

But, But, But!

The Democrats and their allies in the MSM insisted that we were in a recession -- some were even talking about a depression. Well..., as of now those terms are no longer operable.

Not only was there no recession [here] but the downturn has turned into an upturn. First, the jobless rate fell to 5.0 percent [here]. That is officially full employment. And the stock market recovered, with the Dow Industrials topping 13,000 again [here].

For the first time in months, analysts and executives sound upbeat again. Many of them see a broad, sustained recovery in both the economy and the financial markets coming in second half of this year....
Think President Bush will get any credit for this? Don't hold your breath.

UPDATE: Bloomberg reports:

Futures traders are betting for the first time since December 2005 that the dollar will gain against the euro.

The difference in the number of wagers by hedge funds and other large speculators on a decline in the euro compared with those on a gain, known as net shorts, was 21,315 on April 29, compared with net longs of 18,907 a week earlier, figures from the Washington-based Commodity Futures Trading Commission show.

``The dollar has already turned against the euro,'' said Benedikt Germanier, a currency strategist at UBS AG in Stamford, Connecticut. ``The dollar will go to $1.52 in a straight line.''

Read it here.


Dogwoods

The weekend is again upon us. Time for some more photos.







They were worth waiting for; the dogwoods are finally in full bloom.

More Democrat Dirty Tricks

The Obamination planted a questioner at a McCain town hall meeting yesterday. The results were not pretty and do not reflect well on the Obamaniacs. Read about it at Gateway Pundit here.

Pretty much the kind of classless nonsense you'd expect from Democrats.

I think McCain handled it pretty well, but expect a lot more of this kind of thing from the loons. They have convinced themselves that McCain can be pressured into a temper tantrum that will discredit him in the minds of the voting public. Yeah, like he's never faced up to intense pressure before.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Sick, Stupid, Environmentalists

There is a real sickness at the heart of the environmental movement. At its core it is violently anti-human. Fred Pierce, writing in New Scientist, notes the persistence of this theme and labels it "Green Fascism". It is worse than that -- it is anti-humanism.

Read it here.

The Perpetual Adolescent

Best assessment yet of Obama.

Lisa Schiffren quotes a friend of hers on that nice young Senator from Illinois:
...the question keeps on being asked whether the Wright affair is a sign of Obama's insincerity or his lack of judgment. I think it's both, and I think it's all part of a bigger problem with Obama: He's not yet a full adult. What I mean by this is that he's still working out, in full view of all of us, his issues with his family (including that poor grandmother), his race, his religion, etc. (less so, alas, his far-left politics). It's all very interesting, I guess, if you have any affinity with him to begin with (count me out), but it's all so undergraduate. He conveys the notion of still being that bright college kid (although not as bright as advertised), asking all those big questions and making all those big speeches at the dinner table. Moreover, as a corollary, he's a youngish overachiever who, like many of them as they age, doesn't handle very well the issue of what to do when his precociousness isn't sufficient to recommend him for further advancement. His wife, of course, seems to be permanently stuck between the pages of her undergraduate thesis, written while she was black at Princeton, on the subject of being black at Princeton.
Read it here.

This strikes me as being right on. There is something soft and unformed at the core of Obama, a youthful quality that might be appealing to children or to the perpetual adolescents who wander the groves of academe, but which I find off-putting. He really doesn't seem to know just what he thinks about the big things and is receptive to a wide range of opinions, some of which I find absolutely abhorrent. When considering a candidate for the Presidency I look for understands fully and deeply where he stands. I may not agree with him [Lord knows, I have my differences with McCain] but I can understand and respect his positions. With Obama, there's just too much tentativeness and mental play. That is an appropriate stance for a university professor, whose responsibilities extend to getting his grades in on time and receiving adequate student evaluations -- it is not what we need in the person who assumes the awesome responsibilities of the office of President of the United States.