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Bloviating Zeppelin: October 2005

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Hugh Hewitt: It's Over. Slam Dunk.

Hugh Hewitt, this evening, says the chance of any resistance to the confirmation of SCOTUS nominee Samuel A. Alito is "over." Slam dunk. Gone.

An immigrant dad. His son in Princeton. Hugh says the President loves to tell a story and, because of this, the President would logically make this choice.

It is becoming patently clear to me that, from day one, almost from hour one, the Dems by way of the DEMs got into the DEM vein and immediately began to self-destruct. The gang of 14 has already, somewhat, hinted that they will collectively not recommend a filibuster of this nomination and may, in fact, go for the-so-called Nuclear Option.

They have not yet totally coagulated on the issue but it was indirectly hinted there may be unanimity soon. Senator Mike DeWine (R, Ohio) so much as came directly out and said so during the Hugh Hewitt show.

The Dems appear to be drawing the line in the sand from the start. It is theorized that this will be the one nomination that may, in fact, change the face and focus of the court for decades to come. The Battle Royale is indeed coming. Will we be bled by leeches and paper cuts, or will it be from tanks, artillery pieces and the Nuclear Option?

A small aside: I just heard Alan Colmes tonight, on Fox's Hannity & Colmes label Alito as "an extreme conservative" and ask: "is the appointment of Alito a distraction from the indictment of Scooter Libby?"

Folks, a clarion call: Let the Games Begin!

It got Really Silly (I call this RS) from moment one. Little Chuckie Schumer first had this despicable thing to say regarding Alito:

This morning, I went and visited Rosa Parks in the Capitol Rotunda, to pay my respects. Being in the presence of Ms. Parks was awe inspiring. This was a woman who changed history with one thin dime. She paid her fare, and took her rightful seat on the bus, and America was never the same again. Like Rosa Parks, Judge Alito will be able to change history by virtue of where he sits. The real question today is whether Judge Alito would use his seat on the bench, just as Rosa Parks used her seat on the bus, to change history for the better, or whether he would use that seat to reverse much of what Rosa Parks, and so many others, fought so hard, and for so long, to put in place.

This, on its face, is a ridiculous and straitjacket-moonbat comment regarding an individual that ALL his Democratic cronies confirmed in 1990. No dissenting votes. NOT ONE. Hello? For those of you just tuning in to this post: not ONE Democratic dissenting vote against confirming Alito to the 3rd USDCA in 1990.

LCS, Little Chuckie Schumer, may in fact be eligible for my very first weekly BZ Moonbat Comment Award (the BZ-MCA) -- but I'll hold that in abeyance until I finalize the graphics for this esteemed award.

Then there was the Chris Matthews comment and about it Hugh Hewitt said:
HH: I thought that would be the worst slander of the day, but then Chris Matthews began Hardball tonight, and I want to read this. I'm sitting here holding in my hands a disgusting document, said Chris Matthews, put out not for attribution, but it came from the Democrats. They are circulating it. I can say that. It's a complaint sheet against Judge Alito's nomination. The first thing they nail about this Italian-American is that he failed to win a mob conviction in 1988. They nail him on not putting Italian mobsters in jail. Why would they bring up this ethnically charged issue? This is either a very bad coincidence, or very bad politics. Either way, it's going to hurt them, this document. Not abortion rights, not civil rights, but that he failed to nail some mobsters back in 1988. This is at the top of their list of what they've got against this guy. Amazingly bad politics.

Amazingly bad politics indeed.

What will be the Dems Talking Points?

  • Alito is an Extreme Conservative
  • He will, by his very nature, overturn Roe v. Wade
  • He is an elitist; just look at what the GOP said about Miers; c'mon: Princeton?
  • There's a great deal of difference between 1990 and 2005
  • He's another Oppressive White Male (OWM)
  • He DEMANDED that females ask for PERMISSION from males prior to abortion (WRONG!)
A few more Moonbat TPs:

  • He defended NC in re: Sasquatch v. Northern Cascade logging;
  • He believes in Global Warming and the eradication of thousands of local ports
  • He thinks that the UN should be the final arbiter of the United States
I suspect that the Dems and the DEMs are absolutely apoplectic because Bush made 1) an End-Around Appointment and 2) the Libby Issue is MAAN: "Much Ado About Nothing."

Dems and DEMS; Did You Hear About the GDP? Bet Not!

There are Dems and there are DEMs.

We all know the Dems are Democrats. What's a DEM? My new name for the MSM (Mainstream Media), the DEMs: Defeatist, Elitist Media.

The world is cracking; Bush's approval rating is the lowest of anyone, ever (a lie). Global Warming will cause oceans to rise a foot next year (a lie). Everyone in the Bush Administration is being indicted (a lie -- and Libby's indictment is pretty flimsy -- like I can remember what I had for dinner last Thursday). Everything is BAD and getting worse! It's all because of that evil, deadly, uncaring, contemptuous, arrogant, warmonger Bush! Arrggh! We're all gonna die!

What a load. How about this:

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones) - Growth in the U.S. economy picked up in the third quarter to a 3.8% annualized rate, the Commerce Department said Friday.


Economists surveyed by Dow Jones were expecting GDP to increase 3.6% in the third quarter.

Economists said the report shows the economy in good shape before the hurricanes struck the Gulf Coast. But they said the jury was still out on the impact of the storms.

Stocks rose after the report was released.

Bonds were initially lower on the faster-than-expected growth rate.

Inflation cooled down. Core consumer prices increased at a 1.3% rate in the quarter, the slowest quarterly increase since the second quarter of 2003.

That report was issued Friday, October 28th. Today, US incomes grew by 1.7% in September. Per gallon gas prices have dropped, in Sacramento, Fornicalia, by 15-cents in the last week, to an observed $2.62.

My question: were you aware of this? Did the DEM alphabet networks scream it? Big newspapers make it their top of the fold headline?

Aw, heck no; that would give some kind of credence to the Bush Administration and, for gosh sakes, we sure can't have that!

DEMs: Defeatist, Elitist Media.

By the way, steal my DEM logo and use it everywhere applicable.

Bush Nominates Second Candidate: Samual A. Alito

At 5 AM PST, 8 AM EST, President Bush will officially submit the name of Samuel A. Alito to fill the SCOTUS position vacated by Sandra Day O'Connor -- the second time, I hope, being the proverbial charm.

In blogging, it's all about timing so, silly me, I got up very early to begin checking the internet for leaks and hints, and came up with the above AP story. In doing a bit further research, one particular paragraph warrants reproduction from the story here:

So consistently conservative, Alito has been dubbed "Scalito" or "Scalia-lite" by some lawyers because his judicial philosophy invites comparisons to conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. But while Scalia is outspoken and is known to badger lawyers, Alito is polite, reserved and even-tempered.

Unnamed "insiders" within the Bush Administration were supposedly saying that Alito, 55, was "Bush's favorite choice of the judges in the last set of deliberations" but that Bush wanted someone outside the courts first -- hence the nomination of Harriet Miers.

Okay: bit of a heavy sigh here; it isn't Janice Rogers Brown -- I was so hoping for that fight. But at the outset, though this person is outside my meagre purvey of judicial knowledge (like I'm a judicial scholar; not), it still appears that the Dems are girding their loins for a fight. And I am so hoping, in reverse, that Bush goes the distance. Alito isn't JRB or Luttig or McConnell. He's still in his 50's, so that's a plus. And he currently sits on the 3rd US District Court of Appeals and has been so sitting since 1990 following an appoint by GHWB.

At the outset, Alito appears of serious consideration. I want to see where this goes. And boy, do I sense a backyard brawl coming. . .

Saturday, October 29, 2005

A New Energy Paradigm

A buddy of mine back in Brunswick, Georgia said that, immediately following the Hurricane Katrina debacle, his local gas stations were charging $6 a gallon -- because they could. I trust this man. And it didn't make the news, that I'm aware.

The prices later went down. Because they had to.

In a capitalist society, it is in fact literally about supply and demand.

So how about this.

Exxon Mobil Corp. rewrote the corporate record books Thursday (10-27-2005) as the oil company's third-quarter earnings soared to almost $10 billion and it became the first public company ever with quarterly sales topping $100 billion. Anglo-Dutch competitor Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA) wasn't far behind, posting a profit of $9 billion for the quarter.

The article continued:

Thursday's outsized earnings are a result of surging oil and natural gas prices that pushed pump prices to record territory after Hurricane Katrina. They come on the heels of similar eye-popping gains reported this week by BP PLC (BP), ConocoPhillips Inc. and Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO) Chevron Corp. (CVX) reports its earnings on Friday.

Is this simply reaping the profits of a singular situation, or is this price-gouging on an heretofore-unprecedented basis? There have been arguments made for both sides at this point. In Fornicalia, I have seen the price of 87-octane gas dip to $2.62 a gallon this weekend at my local Arco -- your basic cheaper cash-only outlet.

How about this:

Chafee Votes to Keep Gas Prices High; Senate Democrats, sensing what they hope will be an opportunity to blame Republicans for the high price of gasoline, voted in unison Wednesday in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to help defeat a bill that would have streamlined the building of new refineries.

To continue:

Senate Democrats, sensing what they hope will be an opportunity to blame Republicans for the high price of gasoline, voted in unison Wednesday in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to help defeat a bill that would have streamlined the building of new refineries. The eight committee Democrats won over liberal Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.-R.I.), whose vote against Chairman Jim Inhofe’s Gas PRICE Act (S 1772) means Republicans will have to take other steps if they want to push a refinery bill through the Senate this year.

Environmentalists opposed Inhofe’s bill for its provisions to expand refinery capacity, streamline refinery permitting and simplify so-called boutique fuel requirements. It also would have provided federal assistance for the construction of refineries on closed military bases, which could have been producing gas in about two years, Inhofe said.

Where do we get the bulk of our imported oil? Are you prepared for a surpise? The top four suppliers are:

  1. Canada
  2. Venezuela
  3. Mexico
  4. Saudi Arabia

Bet you thought it was the Middle East -- wasn't it?

Ponder this for a time; where should we go next?

Building refineries? Building tanks? Building storage and refining capacity?


Anyone know anything about podcasting? I know about the basics: having the ability to create a link to one's website which will enable visitors to listen to MP3 (or similar?) sound files -- like a broadcast over the internet for a certain period of time.

Can you do this on Blogger? Or is this something too sophisticated for a free service, and you have to find another host?

Any input? Or am I way outta my league?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Questions For Bloggers

I'm finding this blogging thing to be a whole buttload of fun.

And despite our differences, we bloggers in truth have a buttload of things in common, primarily this: we started with nothing but an idea or a concept. We checked out the internet. We found Blogger -- or another provider. We were smart enough to make Blogger work (except for me) -- or the other provider.

We crafted our sites, checked out templates, rejected templates, changed our look, our style, started writing and hoped to be read by someone other than our Aunt Tilly. And, of course, we had to tell her where to go and give her the damn URL. "Look: everything begins with http. What part of that don't you get?"

Okay, so we got disgusted with Aunt Tilly because of her computer incompetence and then began playing to the skills of the not-so-disassociated. Our friends at work. Our family. The computer guru for the company. Maybe a local newspaper. Or some Big Time Bloggers like Hugh Hewitt -- who to this day has no idea I exist though I sent him 78 e-mails and 59 links to my pisshead blog -- the bastard.

Do you remember the first time you saw your blog on the internet? On the actual INTERNET? Right there in front of your face? How satisfying was that?

"Hey. Check this out," you thought. "This is something I MADE."

How proud were you? I know I was beaucoup proud. Because you know what? Anyone with any semblance of internet or HTML talent already has their sophisticated website on the WWW. That ain't you or me or otherwise our asses wouldn't be on Blogger anyway.

So we learned how to make posts. Then we learned how to link the titles in our posts. Then we learned how to make links within the body of our posts -- and I'll tell you what: after that accomplishment I felt almost invincible. What a WORLD that opened up for me! My blog can actually look like some of the other Big Time blogs I frequent!

But wait; there's more!

Remember making the discovery about photographs? You didn't just have to go to the internet; oh no! Blogger now gave you the option of downloading items from your very own personal computer! That is so incredibly fabulous! How invincible were you now?

But wait; there's more:

Can you remember your first comment? I can. Mine was a piece of spam from a realty company. Then I decided to turn on spam ID and that became an issue of the past.

My first real comment was from a now-known blog goddess, Mahndisa. To this day, I still don't know how my blog got into the so-called internet mainstream.

Have I hooked you so far?

So I posit these questions:

  1. What makes you come back to a blog?
  2. Is it philosophy only?
  3. Is the "appearance" of the blog a factor?
  4. Do you want to check out the blog's "blog-roll" -- how important is a site's blog-roll? When is it too much? 10 links? 20 links?
  5. Are photographs or graphics of any concern -- or are you into text only?
  6. Do the links make any difference to you? Do they establish credibility?
  7. What do you prefer? Frequent posts daily? Posts every couple of days?
  8. One post a day?

Quite frankly, I prefer an active site. I like posting at least once a day though, due to issues beyond my immediate control, this does not always occur. If I can post once, twice, maybe three times a day (and I have the time!) I will.

It all depends on tidal pull, sunspots and prevailing trade winds.

Gimme your input! What do you think?

I'm-A So Confoosed

So there I was; upstairs huddled in front of my warm, throbbing HP Pavilion zd8000 laptop, really getting into a keen contest of words between Mahndisa of Mahndisa's Thoughts and the interminable Intellectual Insurgent, and boy was it fun -- until I finally realized: the digital world is nice, but I do my best reading when I hold something in my hand.

Are you the same way? I, for whatever moonbat reason, can proofread and concentrate on information most efficiently from a hard copy. Coupled with the inherent long, thin, vertical nature of blogs, I found myself having to go up and down, up and down, trying my best to compare and contrast the various statements they made. I got-a so confoosed. . .

My big desktop confuser is temporarily down pending federal funding for a flatscreen half as decent as the one on this laptop (the zd8000 has the sharpest, clearest, most detailed screen I've ever seen -- anywhere -- on anything -- ever).

Despite that, though my laptop (yeah, right, try placing this monstrous bastard on your lap and see if you ever have decent quadriceps muscles again) has a 17" widescreen, in an ideal world I find I'd like to have about three or four separate monitors so I can put various posts and comments up on each.

Lacking this brain glazingly-expensive (though, for me, ideal) solution, I'll bring the internet up in 3, 4 or 5 separate windows and toggle between them. And in truth, I never really print out hard copies because it's simply not practical -- there's so much information I read and reference.

I guess I just process information this way.

How about you?

NOAA Releases Hurricane Wilma Overview From Space

The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) today released its first overview from photographic take of the US KeyEye MS-11 satellite. I have included a digital copy of this for my devoted readers.

Disloyal, Elitist, Snobbish, Ultra-Conservative, Destroyer of the GOP

I am so over Harriet Miers. I feel like the New York traffic cop: "Move on. Nothing to see here."

Over at the NY Times today, Hugh Hewitt wrote "Why the Right Was Wrong," indicating that "the Harriet Miers precedent cements an extraconstitutional new standard for nominees."

Aw c'mon, Hugh. Let's cut to the chase. I am a conservative first and foremost. I have certain views and beliefs that I am not willing to compromise; not for party, not for man or woman. George Bush is a nice guy I'm sure, but he's less and less impressing me as a Republican. GWB is leaving in three years; Miers would have been in the Supreme Court for the rest of her life.

As a strategist, you couldn't see that the Dems would demand internal White House papers written by Miers?

And as a conservative, I am approaching threshold for being demonized as disloyal, an elitist, snobbish, ultra-conservative (meant to be a pejorative) and a demolisher of the GOP. Jeez; just take a big drink of Get Over It. I am not responsible for the poor planning of an administration. I am not responsible for Miers pulling her name because I happen to have an opinion.

Who knows where this will go? Who knows what name Bush will submit next? I certainly don't. But I know one thing: I reserve the right to disagree AGAIN if I believe the choice isn't the best for the SCOTUS.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Miers Withdraws Herself From SCOTUS Candidacy

Well, it only took four tries via Blogger, but I finally got in -- I suspect other thousands of bloggers were attempting the same thing: access for comment.

Harriet Miers has now officially withdrawn her name as a candidate for the US Supreme Court. Sorry Hugh. From the AP:

President Bush said he reluctantly accepted her decision to withdraw, after weeks of insisting that he did not want her to step down. He blamed her withdrawal on calls in the Senate for the release of internal White House documents that the administration has insisted were protected by executive

The Blogosphere and various hundreds of pundits and political commentators will now speculate about the credibility of the Bush Administration, the future of the GOP, blah blah blah. "We're plummeting down in flames," some R-Wing wonks will wail. There will be much breast beating and self-flagellation. Bleeding for the sake of blood. This afternoon Hugh Hewitt will rail, bemoan, point fingers and say "We didn't even hear from her!" All true; we didn't.

Now, Mr. President. NOW is the time to suck it up, take a big breath, gird thy loins and put up your dukes. You've got three more years, Mr. President. What you do now will most DEFINITELY define those remaining years.

I predicted this outcome in my 10-13 post and posited that Mr. Bush should create a new Short List of nominees to the SCOTUS.

I repeat myself at the risk of being a member of the Department of Redundancy Department: Mr. Bush, you have been given a huge opportunity: the chance to appoint three members to the US Supreme Court. This an incredible, historic opportunity. You will potentially affect a full one-third of the court.

Go for a strict constitutional constructionist. A legal SCC scholar. A Brown. A Luttig. A McConnell. Take the fight right back to the L-Wing. Make calls. Lean on people. Go public. Communicate. Ask for help. Rally your GOP. But FIGHT. Make a STAND. Do NOT appease; the time for conciliation is OVER.

Earth to President Bush: you were delivered a message from your supporters. Did you receive it? In my opinion, Miers did what was right. Can you, sir?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

President For A Day

This post will be all about the results in the comment section, and I anticipate them eagerly.

The Scenario:
You are now President of the United States, George W. Bush. It is Thursday, 10-27-2005. Current events are precisely as they appear today.

The Challenge:
List the top five line items that you would address, by priority, to repair whatever damage you may perceive has been inflicted to the Bush Presidency.

If you believe the President is on track, list five other issues or areas that you think should be addressed during the remainder of the Bush term.

Be professional, be positive. This is not an exercise in complaints but an exercise in solutions. It is easy to complain; it is much more difficult to provide viable and innovative answers to global and national issues.

The ball is now in your court, and the White House is now in your hands. Go.

A Heaping Helping of Class: Good Comes From Bad

On Saturday, October 22nd, Modesto, California resident Diane Chandler discovered the Marine flag hung outside the Chandler home, to honor her son in Iraq, had disappeared. She was very angry. Who would steal a USMC flag from the very front of an American's home? How low can you sink? From the Modesto Bee:

Tuesday, she found the Marine Corps flag she had hung to honor her son Jeff, who is serving near Baghdad, Iraq. The banner had been missing since Saturday morning.

But Chandler no longer wants the flag back. She wants it to stay right where it is: Decorating the grave of Marine Cpl. Michael D. Anderson Jr., who was killed in action in Iraq last year.

Michael D. Anderson Sr. and his wife, Angela, discovered the flag on Michael Jr.'s grave Sunday at Lakewood Memorial Park in Hughson.

"We put fresh flowers on Michael's grave every week," Anderson said. "We just thought it was a nice touch."

The 11-inch-by-14-inch flag rests in front of the Anderson headstone. Two potted flowers, a surfer Bratz doll and replica dog tags rest on top of the marker.

Chandler, the Andersons and a Marine comrade of Mike Jr.'s, Terry Van Doorn, gathered at the grave Tuesday afternoon and marveled about the coincidences that brought them together.

Angela Anderson had taken The Bee to work Tuesday and saved it to read on her morning break. A story about a Marine mother caught her attention. "I called my husband and told him I thought the flag on Michael's grave was the one in the story that (Diane) was looking for."

Anderson agreed but could not find Chandler's name in the phone book. So his wife hopped in her car and drove down Bowen Avenue looking for the makeshift sign that was shown in the newspaper. It closed with a "Shame on You!" exclamation.

She found the home and knocked on the door. She explained why she was there, and Chandler invited her in.

Angela Anderson's description was a match for Chandler's missing flag.

Tuesday, at young Anderson's grave, Chandler said she'll never move the flag. "It's right where it belongs, honoring a Marine."

Michael Anderson Sr. isn't sure who brought the flag to stand beside his son's grave. He does know how he'd feel if someone had stolen any of his Marine keepsakes: "It would be just awful. I'd be out there with my rifles trying to hunt the dogs down."

The Andersons had every intention of returning the flag, but Chandler won't consider it. Angela Anderson, looking at the grave, said, "Good can come from something bad."

The Andersons are unofficially adopting Jeff Chandler and are preparing to mail him care packages in Iraq.

"I know what the boys over there need and want," Michael Anderson said.

The worst Chandler will say now about the culprit who copped her Marine banner is that it was "a misguided patriot. If they would have asked, I would have given it to them."

In Chandler's long view, she didn't lose a flag. She gained some lifetime friends.

There are right things are there are wrong things. There are times to consider the greater good. Diane Chandler did the right thing. And as a result ended up honoring a fallen Marine, honoring her son and the family name, and embracing another Marine family for life.

With all else occurring in the world, it is good to read about heartening things. God Bless America.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Turning the Internet Over to Our Good Friends At the United Nations

I recently made a comment over on Revka's Take (go take a peek right now!) and happened to mention the internet and its possible subsequent control by the United Nations -- which made me want to discuss the issue here and now.

You realize, of course, there is a push to wrest "control" of the internet from the United States and turn same over to the United Nations, don't you? Once again, it is a matter of the evil, acerbic, judgmental, uncultured US holding domain over a technology that clearly should fall under the loving, understanding and compassionate umbrella of the wise, efficient and uncorruptible United Nations. This is a long quote, from Britain's The Guardian, but worth reading:

Breaking America's grip on the net; after troubled negotiations in Geneva, the US may be forced to relinquish control of the internet to a coalition of governments (Thursday October 6, 2005).

The issue of who should control the net had proved an extremely divisive issue, and for 11 days the world's governments traded blows. For the vast majority of people who use the internet, the only real concern is getting on it. But with the internet now essential to countries' basic infrastructure - Brazil relies on it for 90% of its tax collection - the question of who has control has become critical.

And the unwelcome answer for many is that it is the US government. In the early days, an enlightened Department of Commerce (DoC) pushed and funded expansion of the internet. And when it became global, it created a private company, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to run it.

But the DoC retained overall control, and in June stated what many had always feared: that it would retain indefinite control of the internet's foundation - its "root servers", which act as the basic directory for the whole internet.

A number of countries represented in Geneva, including Brazil, China, Cuba, Iran and several African states, insisted the US give up control, but it refused. The meeting "was going nowhere", Hendon says, and so the EU took a bold step and proposed two stark changes: a new forum that would decide public policy, and a "cooperation model" comprising governments that would be in overall charge.

Much to the distress of the US, the idea proved popular. Its representative hit back, stating that it "can't in any way allow any changes" that went against the "historic role" of the US in controlling the top level of the internet.

But the refusal to budge only strengthened opposition, and now the world's governments are expected to agree a deal to award themselves ultimate control. It will be officially raised at a UN summit of world leaders next month and, faced with international consensus, there is little the US government can do but acquiesce.

I would submit that this should never be done. Never. Ever. It's the oldest story in politics and bureucracies: take from the producers (the US essentially invented the internet by way of our military ARPANET) and distribute to the non-producers (what has the world done besides prosper and change as the result of this incredible invention and philosophy of the total freedom of information?).

As an aside here: one LARGE reason I like the internet? It is an incredible playing-field "leveler." That is to say, my website can be every bit as attractive (if I had the technological capability) as that of, say, the mega-corporate GM website. It's all ones and zeroes.

The Christian Science Monitor nails it on the head when it writes:

The free flow of ideas and commerce, so key to the Internet's exponential growth, would not be well served if hobbled by bureaucracy or chilled by governments interested in suppressing dissident voices.

It continues:

If international demands for less US control boil over, other countries could employ a "nuclear option" - setting up a rival to ICANN and potentially creating chaos on the Internet with two divergent standards.

That need not happen. International governance of the Internet does have an inescapable logic. Better that the US engage vigorously now in shaping that institution, even as it realizes that handing off control to it is nowhere in the immediate future.

Why does the world see this as simply another example of arrogant US unilateralism? Hiawatha Bray at The Boston Globe responds:

To understand why, you need only consider that the international talks over the future of the root server network, to be held next month in Tunisia, are sponsored by the United Nations. That's right -- there's a plan afoot to put critical Internet infrastructure under the control of the UN -- the same outfit that has given us the Iraq oil-for-food scandal and a child prostitution ring in Congo. It's hard to see why an agency so steeped in corruption should be given oversight of the computers that serve as the Internet's chief traffic cops.

My point, as a conservative, primarily revolves around money and, more importantly: taxes. What will a controlling UN authority do with the massive tax potential of something as far-reaching as the internet? The Globe continues:

Then there's the prospect of an international Internet tax, with money going to fund technology development in developing countries. The UN has been pushing this idea since 1999. A UN-controlled ICANN might dramatically jack up the cost of Internet addresses in affluent countries like the United States to raise money for its development fund. And Americans would have little say over how this money is spent.

Okay, so we don't hand control of the internet to the UN? What's the downside? Some Bush administration critics say that a refusal to turn over control will cause other countries to set up their own separate versions of the internet, in essence making two separate nets. So what? Who really cares? "If it doesn't connect to the ''real" Internet, it's useless. If it does connect to the ''real" Internet, who cares?"

At least the Bush Administration is making an overt attempt to keep control in the US, as it is backing Senator Norm Coleman's (R, Minnesota) resolution to support ICANN. Coleman said "The Internet is likely to face a grave threat" at the Tunisian World Summit. "If we fail to respond appropriately, we risk the freedom and enterprise fostered by this informational marvel and end up sacrificing access to information, privacy and protection of intellectual property we have all depended on." Luckily, support appears to be bipartisan as similar support has already come from both senior Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Human rights issues. Taxation issues. Oversight and final control issues. I tend to be proprietary; but let's put the shoe on the other foot. What if the internet were "invented" and first placed into usage by scientists and the military minds of France. And let's say the US and Canada decided we wanted to wrest control and place it under our collective monitoring and final authority.

What would the rest of the world say about that decision?

Bottom line? No matter what the US does, it will likely be despised on any number of levels for any number of real (and primarily imagined) slights. We should, therefore, keep doing what we're doing -- to the continued benefit of all persons hooked online, no matter the country, ethnicity or religion.

Buried By Mainstream Media: the Iraqi Constitution

BAGHDAD, Oct. 25 -- Iraqi election officials announced Tuesday that voters approved a new constitution in a nationwide referendum 10 days ago, based on a final tally of votes that had been delayed for more than a week while officials recounted ballots and checked for possible irregularities.

Did you know this? To continue:

According to the vote tallies released by officials here, more than 78 percent of the voters nationwide approved the constitution. Opponents -- mostly minority Sunni Arabs -- were unable to defeat it by getting at least two-thirds of the voters in three provinces to vote against it, according to final preliminary results released by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq. The results confirmed widely reported preliminary estimates shortly after the balloting.

A majority of voters in three of Iraq's 18 provinces voted against the constitution, but one of them failed to reach the two-thirds threshold -- a veto provision designed to protect Iraq's minority communities. In Anbar province, 96 percent of those casting ballots voted against the referendum, and 81 percent rejected it in Salahaddin. But in the key swing province of Nineveh, 56 percent voted against the constitution -- about 10 percentage points short of what was necessary to kill the charter.

About 63 percent of Iraq's 15.5 million registered voters cast ballots, the commission reported.

Hello: the Iraqis just today affirmed that their constitution was approved. Here's an amazing thought: what if America helped provide an entirely new constitution to another country, and nobody heard about it or read about it?

That's precisely what's occurring now. Have you heard or seen this trumpeted on CNN, MSNBC, the primary three letter outlets (ABC, CBS, NBC), the front page of your local newspaper in block letters -- and not buried on page A-4?

For example, lead news story on at 1325 PST: "US military deaths reach 2000 in Iraq." Same time, Drudge Report, top item: "2000." Top news story in my Sacramento paper, The Bee (at "US military deaths reach 2,000 in Iraq." Even on, the constitution is 4th item down.

Quick reality check for me: isn't this why we're in Iraq? Don't I hear the constant bombardment by left leaning individuals: "Where's the progress? What are we doing? Why are we there?" I could have sworn it was to help a country set its own course, determine its own direction.

So, I ask: isn't that a world-shaking, landmark event?

If you're the MSM, apparently not.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Where You Should Go:

There have been two steadfast supporters and commenters, to date, on my site: they would be the Big White Hat and Mahndisa Rigmaiden -- for whatever bizarre, obfuscated and disconnected reasons they have to offer.

I suspect that perhaps they were primarily bored.

I have already extolled the virtues of the fabulous Big White Hat. It is at this point that I feel compelled to promote Mahndisa's Thoughts.

Mahndisa delves into issues I couldn't even begin to attack with the greater bulk of my cerebral cortex without a roadmap, a one-pound chunk of C4 and ten years of education -- and some Stoly vodka.

One day I shall consult her on the placement of the Black American Family and its place in US history because she has a fabulous analysis on some earlier postings.

Not PC: Who Lures Our Children?

I preface this by being honest and saying: I have no children. This fact in and of itself has been a major, a huge issue between myself and the women in my life.

I would not want to bring a child up into our current American environment; all the women I've encountered have said "you would be a great father." I have never seen it that way.

I've never seen myself as anyone's father.

To cut through the crap, I freely admit: I've never wanted that massive responsibility.

I said to my first wife: "you're born alone and you die alone." She remembered that; it was the disembarkation point in our relationship.

She now has a satisfying relationship with a full family. I have moved for myself when push came to shove, for any number of reasons. I have only recently remarried in my 50s; it is only now that I have come to appreciate the meaning of a true union.

So the protection of children does not come naturally to me as, say, it would to a more normal male member of the human race. Despite that, the following makes me sick:

Top officials at the Department of Homeland Security recently revealed that arrests for child sex crimes during the first two years of Operation Predator have exceeded 6,000 and 85 percent of them are criminal immigrants.

How incredible is this? Are these persons who dwell within the continental United States, or are these predators who surf the internet from various external countries?

The majority of the arrests under Operation Predator - roughly 85% - have involved foreign nationals in this country whose child sex crimes make them removable from the United States. By matching immigration databases with state Megan’s law directories, ICE agents have arrested more than 1,800 registered sex offenders.

So I ask to you who read me now and think that allowing your children online is relatively harmless: how do you KNOW what your child is seeing and/or downloading or uploading?

The TRUTHFUL answer would be: you don't know. You can't possibly be with them minute to minute.

But, hey, if you set limits or parameters or took them off the internet entirely that would be an exercising of judgmentalism and that, in and of itself, would be wrong.

Wouldn't it?

Because you could no longer be your kid's best friend.

Because that's what YOU wanted in childhood, wasn't it?

Doesn't that bespeak volumes?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Overmodulation: Enough Is Enough; My Head Is Full Tonight

Are you like me? Do you, every once in a while, pause, take a breath and ask yourself silently (or out loud if particularly frustrated): what in the hell is happening to the world?

I'm in one of those moods at this specific moment. I wonder where we're going as a nation, as a people, as a planet. So little seems to be familiar to me now. Change is rampant, ongoing, incontrovertible. That's a given. But so little seems to make sense now. I try to deal with it, mentally, as best I can. But every once in a while, like now, I feel like screaming: that's it! Enough! My head is full! That's all I can take!

Consider the following from today's internet headlines:

A visiting professor at North Carolina State University says the solution to the problems faced by many blacks is the extermination of "white people off the face of the planet."

Kamau Kambon, who taught Africana Studies at the Raleigh school last spring, told a panel at Howard University Law School Oct. 14 this action must be taken "because white people want to kill us," the Carolina Journal reported.

Kambon, a Raleigh activist and bookstore owner, was addressing a panel on "Hurricane Katrina Media Coverage," broadcast on C-SPAN.

Of course we all know you can't be black and a racist at the same time. Or:

A Palestinian from the village of Dir-Nizam west of Ramallah was killed by IDF gunfire late Saturday.

IDF sources said that soldiers spotted two Palestinians as they placed a suspicious looking bag near the settlement of Neveh Tzuf (Halamish) and fired at them.

The second man was detained and in his interrogation he revealed that the bag contained a dummy bomb, but an inspection of it uncovered rocks.

Earlier, soldiers from the Haruv battalion staging a routine arrest of wanted Palestinian fugitives nabbed 10 kilograms of explosives in a West Bank village and then made a dramatic discovery.

"The wife of the one of the fugitives held her baby with two hands and held a bag with a hand grenade underneath its shirt to hide it from the soldiers," said Lt.-Col. Arik Chen, commander of the battalion.

Okay, fine; the old "live baby hides the hand grenades" trick. Or:

New York City's top disaster planner and fire department chief isn't planning for another 9-11. He's preparing for something far worse – nukes.

Chief Joseph Pfiefer, speaking to a panel of security experts this week, said a terror attack employing crude nuclear weapons or dirty bombs is a scenario the Fire Department of New York is currently training to address.

"It's the training we do that'll make the difference between who gets saved and who doesn't get saved," Pfeifer said.

Right. I look forward to nuclear devastation. Or this:

Edinburgh University in Scotland will begin banning Holy Bibles from its student halls of residence due to concern they are the source of discrimination against students of other faiths. The ban was a response to student association protests as well as an agenda to equally support all faiths, a university spokesman told the Times of London.

Or how about:

China will close its borders if it finds a single case of human-to-human transmission of bird flu there, a Hong Kong newspaper reported on Saturday, while a defiant Taiwan said it would copy a patented antiviral drug.

Is it wrong that I desire "simple" in my life? Or am I just so damned far out of touch that I should be lined up against a wall and shot? At this precise moment in time, I feel so very, very out of control. Helpless. Mired. You ever feel that way? Surrounded? Overwhelmed? Tell me.

Friday, October 21, 2005

My Favorite Time of Year

Coonie and cat.

Okay, so after the sun went down I filled a small metal bowl with cat food, because I wanted to see my Coonie buddies and the local cat people.

They didn't disappoint.

The fattest local coonie made his initial appearance and, though the side door was opened to take this photo, he kept on eating and stuffing the food down his gullet with little hands. I must admit, it's fascinating to watch raccoons eat with their hands like humans.

I have my own little kitten now; she'll be an indoor kitty for the most part, because I've lost a few treasured cats to the regional predators in these mountains. I'm sure some of them were nothing more than appetizers to local coyotes; perhaps even bears, bobcats and cougars.

Goodbye to Ziggy, Max and perhaps even to Burbank. You were wonderful little animals and, moreso to Ziggy, helped to keep me sane during a succession of trying years.

Air America: Striving to Be Above Pathetic

But not quite making it. Witnesseth:

If Al Franken speaks on the radio, and no one is tuned in to hear him, does he make a sound? And what would it be? -- the sound of money and coke flushed down a toilet? Getting a little jowly these days, Al? Age catching up with the disappointment, sir?

That could be the question being asked these days in the nation's capital, where Franken's liberal network, Air America, has no measurable audience according to the Arbitron rating service.

It only gets better:

The Washington Post reports the dismal ratings are in for the summer seasonal ARB "book":

Air America, the liberal talk network carried on WWRC-AM (1260), went from bad to nonexistent. After WWRC recorded a mere fraction of a rating point in the spring with syndicated shows from the likes of lefty talkers Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo and Stephanie Miller, Arbitron couldn't detect a measurable listenership for the station this time around. Notes Chris Field of the conservative publication Human Events, "Static would fare about as well."

And static most definitely describes Air America.

From the "And You Thought I Was Harsh On Bush" Department:

Whilst perusing the internet once again, sifting through the legion of "1s" and "0s", I found the following article from the Wall Street Journal -- occasionally a bastion of right-thinking editorial philosophies. In this piece, Robert Bork (he of the "Borked" origin) writes about the nomination by President Bush of Harriet E. Miers to the US Supreme Court.

Now, consider that many persons on the right side of the aisle have taken Mr. Bush to task for this nomination -- most prominently the National Review and the Weekly Standard -- both right wing bastions; and myself as well (see my Tuesday, 10-18-05 post). In retrospect, I have nothing on Mr. Bork when he writes, in his very first paragraph from the article:

With a single stroke--the nomination of Harriet Miers--the president has damaged the prospects for reform of a left-leaning and imperialistic Supreme Court, taken the heart out of a rising generation of constitutional scholars, and widened the fissures within the conservative movement. That's not a bad day's work--for liberals.

Eeee-yow! Not bad -- if you're Vlad the Impaler. Instead of pulling the pike through the wound, Bork may as well pull it back out the way it came:
There is, to say the least, a heavy presumption that Ms. Miers, though undoubtedly possessed of many sterling qualities, is not qualified to be on the Supreme Court. It is not just that she has no known experience with constitutional law and no known opinions on judicial philosophy. It is worse than that. As president of the Texas Bar Association, she wrote columns for the association's journal. David Brooks of the New York Times examined those columns. He reports, with supporting examples, that the quality of her thought and writing demonstrates absolutely no "ability to write clearly and argue incisively."

Holy crap. As a child I used to salt snails and take a magnifying glass to slugs -- but I outgrew that. Bork continues:
By passing over the many clearly qualified persons, male and female, to pick a stealth candidate, George W. Bush has sent a message to aspiring young originalists that it is better not to say anything remotely controversial, a sort of "Don't ask, don't tell" admonition to would-be judges. It is a blow in particular to the Federalist Society, most of whose members endorse originalism. The society, unlike the ACLU, takes no public positions, engages in no litigation, and includes people of differing views in its programs. It performs the invaluable function of making law students, in the heavily left-leaning schools, aware that there are respectable perspectives on law other than liberal activism. Yet the society has been defamed in McCarthyite fashion by liberals; and it appears to have been important to the White House that neither the new chief justice nor Ms. Miers had much to do with the Federalists.

In many ways President Bush is like most conservatives; in some very unsettling ways he is like many Democrats. I fear that some of his recent conciliatory moves (new immigration reform emphasis) are too little, too late -- and is posturing at best. When he stands to place more Border Patrol agents on our southern lines (and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, GA can only kick out 1,500 per year), he leaves totally unaddressed the issue of federal court judges sufficient to hear the number of immigration cases that would come before that bench. As one Border Patrol agent said: "We can make all the arrests we want; they'll just get kicked because we can't hear them and handle them."

Heavy sigh.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

From My Neck of the Woods: Body of WWII Airman Found In Glacier

FRESNO, Calif. - A glacier-encased body believed to be a World War II airman who crashed into the Sierra Nevada in 1942 was flown off the mountain and into a Fresno laboratory for identification, the county's deputy coroner said Thursday.

Blustery conditions kept rangers at Kings Canyon National Park from reaching the frozen remains for two days after two ice climbers reported last weekend they had seen a man's head, shoulder and arm protruding from the thick ice. About 80 percent of the body was buried in the glacier on the side of the 13,710-foot Mount Mendel.

The remote wilderness area can only be reached by hiking two or three days, or by helicopter when the weather allows, rangers said.

Six park rangers and a military forensics expert started chipping away at the ice on Wednesday, freeing the body after about six hours of meticulous work, said ranger Alexandra Picavet.

"The body barely got out before dark hit," said Picavet, explaining the experts were able to free the body faster than she expected. "The ice initially wasn't bad to dig through, but then as they got deeper it became more difficult."

The crew had to be careful not to damage the remains, and that made the work slow because they didn't know how the body was positioned, Picavet said.

The remains were then flown to the Fresno County Coroner's department.

Deputy Coroner Robert Glasbie said local experts are planning to work with officials from the Joint Prisoner of War Accounting Command, which recovers and identifies missing military personnel. The team will include a forensic anthropologist and a pathologist, who will determine the body's state, Glasbie said.

Park officials summoned the military agency because the man was still wearing a parachute with the word "Army" stenciled onto it. They believe the serviceman may be part of the crew of an AT-7 navigational training plane that crashed on the mountain on Nov. 18, 1942. Several military planes crashed among the craggy peaks in the 1930s and 1940s, and many are still missing.

The wreckage was initially spotted by a climber in 1947. It's impossible to tell if this body is really connected to that expedition until experts go through the identification process, which will include a thorough examination of the clothing and a search for any documents that may have survived the decades, and may include dental records, X-rays or DNA testing, experts said.

Experts said the body was probably not seen for decades because the desolate landscape doesn't attract many casual visitors, through it is popular with ice climbers. The finding surprised Michael Nozel, one of the climbers who first located the body on Sunday.

"It was quite a windy day and I could see the fluttering of the parachute and that was the first thing that kind of caught my eye," Nozel told KFSN, a local ABC television affiliate. "As I got closer, I started to think, gosh, that doesn't look like a rock sticking out of the glacier. And I thought at first ... no, even though it does look like a body, I don't think that's what it is. And then of course, as I got closer, I thought, my goodness I think that is a body."

Military officials said there are 88,000 Americans still missing from past wars, most of them, 78,000, from World War II. Only about 35,000 are deemed recoverable.

Officials with JPAC said they have located and identified remains found in glaciers before. The last one was a Cold War-era serviceman found in Greenland.

Bob Mann, the deputy scientific director with the command's Central Identification Laboratory, said sometimes remains found in glaciers are reasonably well preserved. Often even soft tissue like skin can keep well in icy conditions.

Glaciers are living things, Mann said, slowly melting around the edges and grinding over rock as they move, and sometimes leaving behind long-hidden secrets like this one.

The agency processes hundreds of cases a year, and has an average of two identifications a week, said spokeswoman Rumi Nielson-Green.

"To those families, those are the ones that count," she said.

My father, who is 85, recently told me of an airman who crashed into a mountain during training in World War II.

I wonder. . .I think I'll give my dad a call.

The Docs Are Wrong: Trust Me, I'm Spanish

Agricultural Minister Elena Espinosa of Spain, during a radio broadcast on Cadena Ser (attributed to Agence France-Presse), said the H5N1 strain of the avia flu is "solely and exclusively a veterinary problem."

Espinosa said "The idea of a pandemic among humans is something from science fiction." Further, she said human infections currently in Asia were "in very specific poultry raising situations where the families lived with the chickens and infection was due to constant inhalation."

Is this not the nation that, following the Al Queda attack on March 12, 2004, elected an administration that folded its tent in Iraq and assumed the fetal position when confronted by terrorists? I suppose that's a nice way of saying I'm "considering the source."

In the real world, the strain of H5N1 has been documented and specifically linked to the deaths of 60 persons in Asia in the past three years. Scientists say that, though the strain does not yet spread easily from person to person, the possibility exists that it could mutate into a variety that could be spread as easily as any seasonal flu.

CDC Director Julie Gerberding said "If ever there was a time when the risk (of a pandemic) was higher than usual, it is now."

World Health Organization Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Shigeru Omi, said that with one small genetic adjustment in Influenza A, or H5N1, millions of people across the planet could die on a scale of the 1918 flu pandemic. Public health officials from the Western Pacific region recently gathered at Noumea, New Caledonia, on September 19th, to discuss the issue.

The worst-case scenario, the New York Times reported, would be if person-to-person transmission spawned successive generations of severe disease with high mortality – the situation during the great influenza pandemic of 1918-1919, which killed an estimated 40 to 50 million people.

The early 20th century disaster resulted from the emergence of a completely new influenza virus subtype that spread worldwide in four to six months, causing several waves of infection over two years.

The H5N1 virus, which spreads through migratory birds, has plagued poultry populations in Asia since 2003, exposing more humans.

Several nations in Europe and Asia are now reporting new cases of the lethal H5N1 bird flu strain among poultry, sparking new fears that humans could be at risk. Fresh outbreaks have been reported in Romania and Russia. China says it has lost thousands of fowl to the virus.

More on this in later posts.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Timing In the Immigration Issue -- And What About H5N1?

The New York Times and Associated Press reported yesterday:

President Bush vowed on Tuesday to get tough on illegal immigrants even as he urged Congress to adopt a temporary-worker program that would allow some to remain in the United States for as long as six years.

"We're going to get control of our borders," Mr. Bush said in the White House East Room just before signing a $32 billion domestic security bill that has big increases for the Border Patrol, including money for 1,000 new agents and improved technology. "We'll make this country safer for all our citizens."

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his department aims without exception to expel all those who enter the United States illegally. "Our goal at DHS (Homeland Security) is to completely eliminate the 'catch and release' enforcement problem, and return every single illegal entrant, no exceptions.

"It should be possible to achieve significant and measurable progress to this end in less than a year," Chertoff told a Senate hearing.

Thousands of "Mexicans who are caught entering the United States illegally are returned immediately to Mexico. But other parts of the system have nearly collapsed under the weight of numbers. The problem is especially severe for non-Mexicans apprehended at the southwest border," Chertoff explained.

"Today, a non-Mexican illegal immigrant caught trying to enter the United States across the southwest border has an 80 percent chance of being released immediately because we lack the holding facilities," he added.

"Through a comprehensive approach, we are moving to end this 'catch and release' style of border enforcement by reengineering our detention and removal process." Chertoff's remarks in favor of returning "every illegal entrant, no exceptions" appeared to conflict directly with the US policy toward illegal Cuban migrants.

Though Cubans picked up at sea are returned to their country, those who reach US soil by air, sea or ground are allowed to stay and work -- a fact Cuba says encourages dangerous illegal emigration attempts. Mr. Bush added, "If somebody is here illegally, we've got to do everything we can to find them." Once illegal immigrants are caught, he said, they must be "returned to their home countries as soon as possible."

Mr. Bush's words, among his most insistent on illegal immigrants to date, were intended to calm conservatives upset at his temporary-worker plan, which a number of Republicans view as an amnesty program. Mr. Bush first proposed the plan in January 2004, but it has run into resistance.

In a renewed effort to win support, the White House is now emphasizing the border enforcement part of the plan, but at the same time insisting that enforcement can work only as a part of what Mr. Bush on Tuesday called "a larger, comprehensive immigration reform program."

The timing of this re-focus on immigration issues by the Bush Administration coincides with the overall noise in the blogosphere (myself included) and other fronts (National Review) about the Harriet Miers nomination, and appears to be something of a conciliatory measure to reassure the more conservative base that the president has not abandoned his core.

I have no problem with a temporary worker program; it can be changed and amended when desired. Physically, there is no way to "expel" all those illegal aliens present in the country. The holding facilities and courts sufficient to handle the numbers simply don't exist. Vetting each person entering the country from this point out (or doing our best to do so) and buttressing our borders is a step in the right direction.

In addition, the avian H5N1 flu will impact how we conduct our immigration business as well. It's not a matter of if but when the bird flu arrives in the US, and when it converts from the avian population to the human population. LAX, which moves 10,000 persons a day, is already making plans to take 1,600 passengers at a time and move them to detention centers for a 4 to 10 day flu quarantine.

More on the avian flu issue later -- the potential hazard here is staggering -- perhaps not unlike the 1918 flu pandemic.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


This is another reason I enjoy blogging and finding new blogs.

By way of Fetching Jen's blog, I found the Big White Hat. On Saturday, 10-15, he wrote about being "chosen." Rather than simply providing a link, I wanted to reprint it here in its entirety. A truly moving piece:

Have you ever been the odd man out? Rejection is reality. It happens to us all. It happens all the time. For every evil in the world there is an unequal and opposite good. I say unequal because the good is far greater.

The greatest desire of both God and man is to be chosen.

Chosen. I like to be chosen.

All that is good and right in my life is because I am chosen.

It all started with an irresponsible pair of college students in Lubbock Texas. Wise beyond her years, my birth mother wanted more for me than what she thought she could offer. She checked herself into a home for pregnant women. She knew it would be better for me to be chosen.

Two local kids and their young son were making a go of life in Amarillo. They knew something was missing. So my parents and my brother stood before a judge and I was chosen. They took me to Odessa Texas and never let me forget that I was chosen.

When I was 16, my behavior merited a separation from my car. I rode the bus home one day. At the back of the bus was a young looker sitting with her boyfriend. She looked right through the crowd and zeroed in on me. I did not know it yet but I was chosen.

When I was 17 my good friend informed me that a really good looking girl wanted to meet me. Then I met the girl from the bus. I have never stopped loving her. It is good to be chosen.

Years later, I had made a real mess of my life. The only thing that kept me hanging on was the realization that I was chosen. My loving parents and my friends at a Church across from the park in Odessa Texas wouldn’t let me forget that I was chosen.

One day I was talking to my father. He told me someone had called asking about me. That girl from the bus was back in town. She was back in town to find me. I guess she never really stopped loving me either. Once again I was chosen.

As I ponder my children, I wonder,” Why me?” How could I be the one chosen to turn them into responsible adults? Each of them has their own strengths and needs. I don’t always understand how to do this. But, I know who must do it. Once again I have been chosen.

I try to live my life deliberately. I have my own place in this world. I have a fate, a destiny, a purpose. I am chosen.

When I count my blessings on Earth and when I look forward to my treasures in heaven, I take joy that I am chosen.

I like to be chosen.

How I Explain Harriet Miers: A Primer

Remember I wrote that I'd explain the reason for many conservatives' reaction to Harriet Miers? The time is here. To begin:

George Bush was reelected one year ago next month, acquiring 62 million votes, winning 51% of the vote. His was the first campaign since 1988 to win a majority of the popular vote. He won more votes than any candidate in US history. His first term primarily addressed terrorism. In the second, the issues were social security reform, the continued war on terrorism, continued economic growth. But let's examine these things more closely.

First, social security reform tanked, on a concept that was too blunt, too frank, beyond most politicians' ken -- and a good portion of the electorate as well. The problem hasn't gone away; it's just been tabled until someone else has the guts to broach the issue or the system itself tanks under its own weight and lack of funding.

But ten years ago, when Bill Clinton himself declared "The era of big government is over" -- well, it appears to many conservatives that there isn't a spending measure, bill, or program expansion that George Bush doesn't like. He has yet to veto even one spending bill. Some persons peg the phrase "compassionate conservative" on President Bush. But is the CC label achieving results -- and at what cost? -- literally.

One of the basic tenets underpinning my conservative philosophy is: less government. That which governs least governs best. Push decisions, funding, politics down to the lowest levels: local and state. President Bush has done his best to water the expansion of the federal flower: the Medicare drug benefit (single most expensive entitlement since the 60's), billions and billions for AIDS (where are the other countries with their generous funding, hmm?), supercharging the Department of Education, creating a huge new department (Homeland Security) and now, "whatever it takes" to "rebuild New Orleans" to the tune of $200 billion.

One one hand, Bush is spending money like water. On the other, we got a tax cut. My dad says: tax cuts are good, we always need tax cuts. So I took my "tax cut" and paid a bill. But "tax cuts" or "no more taxes" + prodigious spending = where the hell is this money coming from? Oh: the money will come from cuts. Tom Delay recently said the federal budget was "pared down pretty good." He also said "There is simply no fat left to cut from the federal budget." What?? He recently amended his statement when he saw men approaching with the jacket and Posey cuffs.

Federal spending grew 30% under Bush's first term. Before the hurricanes, federal spending grew 7% this year so far. Despite this, contrary to doomsayers, the economy is still doing well. Murders are at their lowest rate since 1965.

Then of course, there is that niggling little Border Issue. The possibility that there may be a nuclear mushroom cloud over a US city. See either movie: Dirty War or Last Best Chance. Not to mention the fact that illegal immigration is, well, illegal. President Bush called those in the Minuteman Project "vigilantes." I call them American citizens doing a job the President lacks the courage to perform himself. When it takes a French acquaintance of mine seven years to become a US citizen vs. someone who got his or her ankles wet in the Rio Grande -- and they achieve the same results -- why would you want to go the legal route?

This is an entirely separate hotbutton topic for me which deserves later scrutiny.

In any event, massive spending + (in my opinion) unnecessary appeasement of the left wing (my, that's working well, isn't it?) + refusal to secure our borders + the nomination of Harriet Miers = final, open dissatisfaction on the right with a Bush decision.

Plus: President Bush may in fact get the opportunity to make an historical three nominations to the SCOTUS, as it's possible Ruth Bader Ginsberg or John Paul Stevens may retire in the future, during Bush's term. That would give the president the chance to impact a full one-third of this court.

So: the Harriet Miers "upheaval?" Not that difficult to figure out. I voted for George Bush, not LBJ. To be coarse: show me some sack, Mr. President.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Greedy Republican Python Eats Poor Dem Gator

So there I was. Rummaging around the digital ether when all of a sudden: bang! Pythons are taking over the world! To wit:

A 13-foot Burmese python recently burst after it apparently tried to swallow a live, six-foot alligator whole, authorities said. The snake was found with the gator's hindquarters protruding from its midsection. Frank Mazzotti, a University of Florida wildlife professor, said the alligator may have clawed at the python's stomach as the snake tried to digest it.


The finding confirmed that snakes and gators have an appetite for each other.

Prop 74, Teachers and (Gulp!) Merit Pay

New York Post writers Marcus Winters and Jay Green say that everyone knows teachers are terribly underpaid -- just ask any teacher, union official or anyone with an interest in the money poured into public education. However, the writers point out that, as of 2002, national teacher salaries average $44,600.

Most, but not all teachers work 9 months a year -- though that has changed in some districts. $44K for 9 months? Not shabby.

Doing the hourly wage comparison, the Labor Department says firefighters nationwide earn $17.91 an hour, cops $22.64 an hour and teachers $30.75 an hour. They write:

"Yes, teachers have a vital job to do, and they should be fairly paid. But compared to the 50-hour workweeks and daily insecurity of most white-collar workers, the tenured life of a teacher is a darn good deal."

Coming up on November 8th, Fornicalians have the opportunity to vote on Proposition 74, which reads:

Proposition 74:Increases length of time required before a teacher may become a permanent employee from two complete consecutive school years to five complete consecutive school years; measure applies to teachers whose probationary period commenced during or after the 2003-2004 fiscal year. Authorizes school boards to dismiss a permanent teaching employee who receives two consecutive unsatisfactory performance evaluations. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Unknown impact on school district teacher salary costs as a result of changes in teacher tenure and dismissal practices. Fiscal impacts could vary significantly district by district.

As I posted earlier, if Prop 74 passes, could "merit pay" be far behind?

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney spoke about this very subject last Friday on the Laura Ingraham show. She said that Romney had been leading a charge against the political clout of teachers unions in Massachusetts by offering the idea of a $15,000 merit pay increase based on test scores of students.

He said:
What we've found is that the underperforming schools in our state are not spending less money than those doing well. Schools that are underperforming do not have larger class sizes than the ones doing better. The major difference between the better schools and the ones that are not so strong boils down to a couple of things.

One is the capability of the teachers involved and their motivation in leading the class, and the other is the involvement of parents. So we're focusing on both those areas by saying that we want to bring in more excellent teachers, particularly in math and science, by paying a $5,000 bonus to those coming in with math and science backgrounds. We want to pay $5,000 more to those who teach advanced placement classes, in other words, the best and the brightest. And then we also want to pay $5,000 more to any teacher who's able to be in the top third of their school in terms of helping their kids move from one grade to the next. And that would be assessed by their scores on their exams.

Now you'd think we're preaching heresy of some kind, by suggesting that we want to give more money to teachers. The teachers' union doesn't want more money for teachers unless it's only based on tenure. They want mediocrity not to be considered as they look at pay; they want a pay system based on tenure alone. We want to see it based on merit, on commitment, on involvement and on excellence.

Laura asked: What does this look like in the legislature?
This is going to be a campaign that takes a long time to win. I believe that our education reform plan will move forward this year, but not in its entirety. I think it's a campaign that will need to enlist the minority community. My democratic party in this state, which controls 85% of the legislature, has long received the support of unions as well as minorities. But there's a gap here, and it's going to be growing, between minorities and unions.

As the minority population recognizes that the failure of the schools is costing their kids their future, I think you're going to see the minority community, over time, realize that real reform that changes the way unions work in our schools is essential.

Laura said: Governor Schwarzennegger in California had merit pay blocked when he came up against the enormously powerful teachers' unions. How do you propose to get around that in your state?
This is the sort of thing where you do the calculation and you say, okay, there's no way you can win this. But you have to start the fight. You have to start the campaign. You have to keep fighting and campaigning for this around the country. You have to say, our kids are more important than the teachers' union bosses. Look, the teachers agree with me. The teachers want the kind of program I'm proposing. They want to be recognized as a profession where the best performers are rewarded more effectively, with a great future career and better pay.

But the teachers' union doesn't want that. They want to protect their very weakest union members. And over time, we're going to be able to wear down the unions, because the parents and the teachers are going to demand that kids come first.

Governor Romney continued:
You know, it's interesting to me that this country has proven to the world that our system, where the best are rewarded, where people have freedom of choice, where people are able to build their own success, that works. A lockstep socialist system does not work. And in teaching, that message hasn't gotten through. The teachers' unions are clinging to a model which has been proven to be ineffective. The teachers themselves, I believe, in growing numbers, and certainly parents and kids recognize that we should be rewarding the best teachers a lot better.

I want to see our best teachers paid a lot more money. And our worst teachers, I want them to get effective training or move on to careers where they can be more successful.

In my opinion, this logic is absolutely unassailable.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

I Don't Get It, And Neither Do The Rioters

Let's distill this down to its basic elements: a bunch of white supremacist wingnuts decided they wanted to march in Toledo, Ohio, yesterday except they didn't get to march, per se.

"Authorities said there was little they could do to stop the group, because they did not apply for a parade permit and instead planned to walk along sidewalks." Mayor Jack Ford, who is black, said "They do have a right to walk on the Toledo sidewalks." Ford at one point confronted leaders of the mob and tried to settle them down.

"A gang member in a mask threatened to shoot him (Mayor Ford), and others cursed him for allowing the march, the mayor said. He said he didn't know if the man who threatened him was actually armed, but he blamed gangs for much of the violence. The march had been called off because of the crowds, and the white supremacists had left."

In all, 114 people got arrested. Buildings got burned. Property was destroyed, cars were overturned, crowds threw rocks and objects at police and fire personnel. You likely saw the video on Saturday. From Yahoo news:

Neighbors were divided about the city allowing the march. "They don't have the right to bring hate to my front yard," said Terrance Anderson, who lives near a bar that was destroyed. Other neighbors said the group had a right to have their say. "Too bad the people couldn't ignore them," said Dee Huntley.

I don't get it. Maybe I'm just thick. A bunch of idiots come to your neighborhood and you decide to participate in a riot that ends up destroying businesses and infrastructure where you live.

And apparently Terrance Anderson doesn't get it either -- rioters burned his neighborhood bar. What's the upside of that?

Lawfully, the First Amendment (Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.) still applies -- like it or not.

Organize your own march. Keep it peaceful. Keep your neighborhood intact. But trash your own backyard? To borrow a phrase from a General I admire: those folks are "stuck on stupid."

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Mizz Manners 2005

So there I was. I had just taken my 85-year-old father to Wells Fargo to conduct some banking and, on the way out, I held the door open for a woman who breezed through, said nothing, and disappeared as though it was expected.

This really pissed me off. I got no "thank you," no "thanks," not even a grunt. If she were 10 years old I might expect that. This lady was obviously in her mid-30's, well dressed, not a dirtbag, and had all her teeth. She wasn't on crank to the best of my knowledge.

I told Dad: "You know, that's the last damned time I hold the door for anyone. I'm tired of doing that for nothing. People are plain rude so screw 'em."

My Dad had to agree.

I hold the door for anyone; it doesn't matter, male or female. I look upon it as simple courtesy. At 24 Hour Fitness, when I go to work out, I open the door for anyone close. I open the car door for my girlfriends, hold the door at restaurants. When I order something in a store, on the phone, in person, I say lots of "please" and "thank you."

More and more, in response to "thank you," I get: "no problem." It's like everyone's forgotten the proper response is: "you're welcome."

Hello? Thank you = you're welcome.

I'm at the point in my "career" on this planet where I can go either way and not lose sleep: do I keep doing what my gut tells me to do, or do I open a door, let it close behind me, and communicate to those in the service industry with grunts, clicks, or absolute silence -- as I see most others do?

This is apparently an issue in Britain as well:

The British are nowhere near as rude as Americans. Americans are loud, crude and inconsiderate. I see a British people that are chivalrous towards people who are disabled or elderly. In stores or restaurants to be unfailing polite and courteous as well as highly professional and competent. The British are very direct and say exactly what they mean - they are honest, but they are never mean. I have found, on my numerous visits to Britain, the people to be polite, helpful and competent, yet more brisk and impersonal than Americans. Jeff, USA

Or some more comments from Britain:

People all over the world, in my opinion, are today getting more impatient and in the process, ruder too. In today's highly materialistic society there is the inner urge to compete and do better in life than one's neighbour come what may. This often leads to rude behaviour. Gone are the days when people had the time and were in a mood to listen and accommodate the other person's point of view.
Albert Devakaram, India

I love France but if there is one thing that I hate about the place, then it's their level of customer service. Without exaggerating, I can honestly say that they haven't a clue how to treat customers. I have rarely been satisfied when purchasing goods in French shops, and can tell you that the UK's standards in customer service are much, much higher than those in France. James, France

Not an issue. Everyone hates the French anyway. No loss there. This next comment may have hit the nail on the proverbial head:

I'm ashamed to admit that I'm getting ruder. If you're polite these days, many people perceive it as a weakness and exploit your "better nature." As a result, I think that the nation as a whole is getting angrier. Raymond, United Kingdom

So I posit this question: what should I do? I can roll either way. Do I continue to be as polite as, I must admit, I tend to be or -- do I "go with the flow" and shirk what I consider to be my general public resposibility?

Friday, October 14, 2005

Why I Love This Country

In the process of blogreading members of the Western Alliance, adding links to my website and checking out local (read: Sacramento Valley) opinions on the SCOTUS nomination, I came across this from Sacto Dan:

Many Conservatives, myself included, have supported President Bush on key issues while scratching our heads on the others. Yet there has been no action beyond lipservice on the southern border, and Federal spending is making even Democrats blush.

Is Bush a conservative? We think so, but then comes Harriet Miers and our confidence is shaken. We expected Bush to take advantage of an historic opportunity to restore some sanity to the Supreme Court, and he blinked.

Dan, I must say I concur completely. Fetching Jen takes the other tack:
I am growing weary hearing the flapping jaws from conservatives about President Bush's most recent nomination to the Supreme Court, Harriet Miers.

This is the weak link in our party. It is embarassing and frankly, shameful. The behavior smacks of elitism from the left; the "I'm smarter than you" attitude we usually see from our leftie brothers and sisters. Your bewailing is only nourishing the MSM.

Dissension and disparate views. I gotta tell ya: try that in China. Or Russia. Or North Korea. Or much of the Middle East.

That's why I love this country!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Sacramento Housing Prices

This just in:

The average price of a home in Fornicalia is $500,000.

The average price of a home in Sacramento, Fornicalia is $400,000.

To qualify for a $400,000 home, you need to have an income of $120,000.

From the Washington Post:

According to a new survey of average home prices in 319 U.S. markets by real estate firm Coldwell Banker, you've got to be a millionaire to be middle-class in the Golden State.

Of the top 10 most expensive places to buy a relatively basic, 2,200-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-car garage house, nine are in California, with the priciest town being La Jolla, where that kind of home costs $1.88 million. It would cost $1.77 million in Santa Monica and $1.27 million in San Jose, No. 9 on the list. In Greenwich, Conn., the only town outside California to make the top 10, it would cost just under $1.27 million.

My question:

Who in the hell is buying homes in Fornicalia? I bought my 1200sf mountain home in 1993 for $117,000. It was last appraised at $300,000 -- new deck, new paint, etc. At that price, I honestly couldn't afford to buy back my own house at its appraised value! How soon will everyone regret their Trick Mortgage?

Where are the least expensive homes? From the WT:

Rock bottom in Killeen, Tex., where the average price is $131,328, according to Coldwell Banker.

So: is the US housing market going to crash?

The United Kingdom is experiencing its own concerns in the housing market.

Need For A New Short List

Depending on what you read, the GOP is imploding or exploding. My guru, whom I greatly admire in most every aspect, is Hugh Hewitt -- and he's raking everyone over the coals for failing to stand (blindly, in my opinion) behind President Bush in his nomination of Harriet Ellin Miers to the SCOTUS. He has had a website, Beyond the News, augmented to gather specific support for the Miers nomination. He's keen to rake "regular" callers over the coals for their failure to support Bush's choice, but is not quite so keen to treat "VIPS" in this fashion -- those who write political columns, for example. Overall, I have to express my disappointment with Hugh not in what he's saying, but how he's saying it. We all have the right to disagree.

Me too. I also reserve the right to disagree. To the point where I now believe that Harriet Miers may in fact end up stepping down as a nominee. I posted earlier: this might not be a horrible thing. Hugh continues to believe in the president's nominee and writes today:

Conservatives are deeply split, though the pro-Miers camp is gaining, and the steadiness of the president assures her eventual confirmation. (See this morning's from R. Emmett Tyrrell). But it is an important debate among friends, not an occasion for the sort of vows of eternal enmity that mark the left in its melt-downs.

The anti-Miers caucus is headquartered at NRO, but these are remarkably talented and honorable conservatives, not destroyers of the Republic. Some of their rhetoric was over the top, but that's why we call it rhetoric. When I tease them about being a part of the Bos-Wash Axis of Elitism, it is just that teasing, not a call for their banishment. (Well, Peter Robinson. . .)

There's a big difference between wrong and rotten. David Frum is wrong. Bill Mahr is rotten. K-Lo and Mark Levin are wrong. The DailyKos gang is rotten.

Here's the good news: The left is riding over the hill to attack Miers on the basis of her religion and the president's appreciation of it. Now we can all get along, right?

Well, perhaps. Attacking on the basis of religion is wrong. But religion isn't a valid basis for appointing or disqualifying a potential nominee. Article VI, clause 3 of the US Constitution says "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

I don't believe the GOP is coming apart at the seams. I think it's experiencing frustration at having the proverbial Golden Opportunity under the Bush Presidency and then not being allowed to pull out the stops and make a stand. I'm not saying Miers is a bad person or unqualified per se. I'm not an east coast Yale elitist (hell, I barely passed "sandbox" in kindergarten -- just ask my Dad) and I don't think it's sexist or elitist to express concern in her bonafides. I'm just thinking that there are others more eminently qualified that I would love to place on the SCOTUS bench. You know my choices and my preferences.

Things are coming to a head. Some are bemoaning the end of the GOP as we know it; I don't think it's nearly that serious. I'm a loyalist when I can be -- but not so one-sided that I won't verbally disagree with my party, my work, my acquaintances or friends when I believe them to be incorrect.

Folks, if we can't politely discuss and air out various concerns involving the GOP -- well, then, we've a bigger problem than the Harriet Miers issue.