Monday, February 28, 2005

Mayor Jerry Brown on Hunter

Mayor Jerry Brown, former Govenor of California, writes about Hunter S. Thompson's death.

I still think it strange there hasn't been more commentary on his suicide by the very guns Hunter loved. I wonder if Hunter was sane enough to pass a gun purchasing background check?

Perhaps if Gun-Loving-Liberal still reads this site he can give us some insight to rationalizing second amendments rights with liberalism?

Lebanon Tips - is Syria Next?

In a New York Times op-ed piece today, Tom Friedman wrote this:
In Lebanon, the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which Syria is widely suspected of having had a hand in, has reframed that drama. A month ago, Lebanon was the story of a tiny Christian minority trying to resist the Syrian occupation, which had the tacit support of the pro-Syrian Lebanese government and a cadre of Lebanese politicians who had sold their souls to Damascus. After the Hariri murder, Lebanese just snapped. Lebanon became the story of a broad majority of Lebanese Christians, Muslims and Druse no longer willing to remain silent, but instead telling the Syrians, and their Lebanese puppet president, to "go home." Lebanon went from a country where few dared whisper "When will Syria leave?" to a country where nearly everyone was shouting it, and Syria was having to answer.


For Lebanon to liberate itself from Syria, the Lebanese opposition groups will have to find a way to translate their aspirations into a withdrawal deal with Damascus. The Syrians will not be pushed out.
Hold on there, Bobalouie! Because the Times website is prominently featuring this article:
BEIRUT, Lebanon -- Lebanese Prime Minister Omar Karami announced the resignation of his pro-Syrian government Monday, two weeks after the assassination of his predecessor, Rafik Hariri, triggered protests in the streets and calls for Syria to withdraw its thousands of troops.
So it seems that, contrary to Mr. Friedman's contention, the Syrians will be pushed out. Couple that with Syria's recent capture and surrender of Saddam's half-brother and others, and it's clear that something is going on in Damascus.

Academy Awards and Hollywood Values

I'm home with a sick kid today, both of us have a touch of the stomach flu.

I watched some of the Awards last night, and I have to confess I had to wonder if the FCC was going to fine Hollywood last night.

Now I like adult themed entertainment as much as the next ex-frat boy, but there were a few things that were at least R rated about the telecast.

I enjoy Chris Rock in his stand-up routines and HBO show, but it took him about 10 seconds before he said "ass," just the first of many uses of that word during his monologues. I realize this word is acceptable on TV nowadays but still it was only about 8:15 PM ET which makes it dinner time in L.A., and he was setting the tone for the Academy Awards.

Then Chris Rock bashed President Bush to the delight of his audience. I know he's in Hollywood but this is an internationally televised event. So I guess it at least shows the rest of the world what true free speech is about. I guess, I still naively believe, despite Nixon and Clinton and all the other Presidential scandals, that the President deserves a little respect, especially in an international forum. An HBO comedy special is one thing, but a world-wide event is something else.

Much of Chris Rock's humor deals with "stereotypes" of black people. He, in many ways, is following in Richard Pryor's footsteps, but there is almost a sadness about Rock's humor because he challenges not only white people's racism but also often challenges how black people perceive themselves. For example, one of his bits last night wondered why movies aimed at black audiences didn't have better subject matter and titles than "Barbershop" and "Carwash?"

Chris Rock had a good point, it really is a shame there aren't more movies made about black people who aren't playing the jester, the athlete, the entertainer, or gangsta.

How about a biopic on the first black woman elected to Congress or how about a story about a black man suceeding in business? What about the Colin Powell story for a movie? How about a Vietnam War movie from the black soldier's perspective where the black soldier winds up a hero not a victim? Hey, what about a black romantic comedy? How about Hugh Grant and Angelina Bassett in a romantic comedy? I'd say Halle Berry, but her mother was caucasian, although you rarely hear her mention it (does it threaten her 'cred?). How about a black astronaut movie, a young boy infatuated with the stars despite growing up in Harlem where they're nearly invisible with the lights of the city, sneaking into the Rose Planetarium to see the show etc...? Call Cuba Gooding Jr., it writes itself practically. Even Beyonce, who sang many of the songs last night, has a video for Soldier with her group Destiny's Child that celebrates how black women love gangstas.

Hollywood put your money where your mouth and values supposedly are.

During one of the video montages they chose a clip from a movie where a woman is eating a hot dog or sausage with a standing man in the background, making it look like some kind of oral sex was happening. It was a quick clip, but definitely there. Why choose that clip?

I'm afraid I didn't make it to the end of the telecast exhausted from taking care of a sick kid, but I read over at Anne Althouse's blog, Jamie Foxx talked about his grandmother beating him. I didn't hear the speech so I can't really comment on it. But she asks where's the outrage about child abuse?

I just think Hollywood showed last night that it is truly drifting even further away from the "59 million dumb people" who voted for Bush.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Update on Milton Academy Hockey Hummers

One of the five boy hockey players has hired a famous Boston defense attorney to defend them if necessary. Among attorney Tracy Miner's clients is the infamous FBI agent James Connelly who was implicated in the "Whitey" Bulger (click on Whitey Watch) FBI case in Beantown.

The liberty blog reports on an aspect of the incident I missed in previous reports. It seems that some of the boys were probably pretty quick on the trigger. I wonder if there were some fluffers involved.

Anyway, I guess I understand the academy's point about the five to one ratio, but using the famous parental logic statement, "If these five boys jumped off a bridge, would you follow them

And if they did, would the boys all have committed suicide and the girl be a victim of homicide committed by the already dead boys because they convinced her to do it?

Actually come to think of it and given how quick the boys were, perhaps the better parental advice would have been, "Watch out! You'll shoot your eye out!"

Unless the boys threatened this girl with physical violence or true mental anguish to do the dirty deeds, I am having a hard time seeing how the D.A. will be willing to prosecute this one.

Also, one must wonder about the culpability of the school. How did they allow this to happen on their campus?

Friday, February 25, 2005

Survivor Palau: Episode 2

Midnight on Koror beach and we are treated to lots of whining, followed by the feared neon-eyed rats. The tribe pines for the old beach - nostalgia for the good old days on night two.

Back at Ulong, the tribe sits around contemplating various forms of government, looking forward to "democracy" after running that fascist Jolanda out of town.

At reward challenge, Koror sheepisly reveal that they have lost the fire they won the day before. Probst grins knowingly, as only a god of his power can. Today's reward challenge is - we all guessed it - another obstacle course. Probst explains the Machiavellian rules du course, then asks "Make sense?" Inexplicably, both tribes nod Yes.

The challenge proceeds: blood is spilled and breasts are bounced. and Angie reveals that her tattoos are not her only "alternative" attribute - she has full-on armpit hair on day three. We've come to expect this of Survivor women by day 21, but this is apparently Angie's standard mode of operations. Eventually, Ulong wins reward: fire and fishing gear. Group hugs ensue.

Her performance in the challenge has moved Angie from the sh*t-list to the Ulong A-list, and they gleefully start a fire and go fishing.

Koror, meanwhile, sends Ian, who wears freaking inch-thick EYEGLASSES into the water to look for their lost flint, while certainly gay Cory and probably gay Caryn badmouth the operation from the beach. Against all odds, they find the box and retrieve their fire. Group hugs ensue and fire ignites.

I have lost items from boats far more valuable than a chip of flint, such as dive watches. It never even occurred to me to go look for them, which would be an impossible task. No doubt, the location of the box was identified by the crew.

Ulong chows down on seafood and enjoys their fire. Food and water for the first time in 4 days. Ashlee, for unknown reasons wants no part of any of it. Maybe she is holding out for peanut butter and jelly and geothermal heat. If so, the tribe makes clear they will oblige her desires at the first opportunity. Foreshadowing? Fans of Ashlee's chest pray not.

The next day, treemail implores the Survivors to learn morse code. In the couple of hours before the immunity challenge. Judging by the level of intellectual firepower displayed so far, this is asking a lot of these people. An awful lot

Immunity challenge. An obstacle course again, but at least it's underwater for a change. Only after completion of the course can a morse code puzzle be solved. And off we go.

Probst yells "Ulong, go down!" Thankfully, the tribe merely dives underwater. Anyway, they all go down repeatedly, and eventually, thankfully, someone wins. Koror. The older tribe continues to kick butt on the young 'uns with guile, wit, charm. Yeah right. It's more like luck, dumb luck, and happenstance. The highlight of the challenge was Ulong emerging defeated from the water, with a wet T-shirt shot of Ashlee that leaves me begging for more. My wife is similarly impressed.

Facing tribal council, Ulong is now in turmoil. Who to vote out? Kim? Ashlee? Kim? Ashlee? What if it's a tie? Nobody seems to know. All I care is that Queen Ashlee of the High Beams doesn't go home.

Tribal council ensues. In a blatant effort to save herself, Kim blows smoke up everyone's ass: "I don't think you're prepared for how fast you bond with people." She is met with bemused smirks. Ultimately and unfortunately, Ashlee and her twin puppies are gone, never to be seen again. Except, thankfully on the opening credits of every episode yet to come.

Next week: The Survivors spearfish for white-tip sharks and Caryn and Katie have a catfight.

My post on Episode 1 is here.
Jeff Harrell's post on Episode 2 is here.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Regulate Salt!

A few weeks ago in this post I argued that the government has its hands in just about everything. For some people, though, it's simply never enough. Not without a

Department of Sodium Chloride:
An activist group nicknamed the "food police" says it is suing the Food and Drug Administration for refusing to regulate salt. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), diets too high in salt are responsible for 150,000 premature deaths each year in the United States. The group says "urgent action" is required from federal health authorities to reduce Americans' sodium consumption. According to a press release, the CSPI report "identifies trends in sodium consumption, highlights some of the processed foods and restaurant meals that have the highest sodium content, and makes policy recommendations designed to reduce Americans' sodium intake."
A quick perusal of the CSPI website reveals the following documents in their archives:

  • Petition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Amend the Standards of Identity for Pizza
  • Playing Chicken: The Human Cost of Inadequate Regulation of the Poultry Industry
  • Dine at Your Own Risk: The Failure of Local Agencies to Adopt and Enforce National Food Safety Standards for Restaurants
  • Death on the Half Shell

    So who are these "scientists" that want to regulate everything you eat? The Board of Directors consists of nine people. Two are MDs, one a PhD in an unstated field. The remaining members are identified only as "Mr" or "Ms", including Ms. Anne Bancroft. That ain't many "scientists." But that's okay! They just want to help you, whether you want it or not. In fact, CSPI purports to represent YOU. In fact, it's one of their three main goals "to represent the citizen’s interests before regulatory, judicial and legislative bodies on food, alcohol, health, the environment, and other issues."

    Thanks anyway, but I'll look out for myself (and eat what I please). I close with some apropos H.L. Mencken:

    "The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic."

    "It is the fundamental theory of all the more recent American law...that the average citizen is half-witted, and hence not to be trusted to either his own devices or his own thoughts."

    Mencken's Law: Whenever A annoys or injures B on the pretense of saving or improving X, A is a scoundrel
  • Milton Academy and the Clinton link

    Milton Academy has been rocked by a scandal recently and I would be amiss if I did not comment on something happening in my home state. This is a famous school and very tough to get into, and it is a well-known "feeder" school for Harvard. President Bill Clinton gave the commencement address there a couple of years ago.

    I am for the purpose of not being boring and being punny going to "blow" things out of proportion.

    Basically a 15 year-old girl performed oral sex on five male Milton Academy Hockey players in the boys locker room at the school as a birthday present for one of the boys.

    Now the facts, as I understand them. The law in Massachusetts states that the age of consent is 16 and no one under the age of 16 may engage in "sexual intercourse" or "unnatural sexual intercourse" legally. In other words, it is statutory rape for a 15 year old to have any form of sexual intercourse.

    The five boys have been expelled, but the girl has received indefinite academic leave. The parents of the sexually active girl have yet to decide whether to advise the MA District Attorney's Office to press charges against the boys. This is where it gets complicated.

    Based upon rumor and second hand info from people in the "know" who have called the Howie Carr and Jay Severin radio show in the past few days, I will offer a few other pieces of information. The girl has been rumored to have bragged about her deeds at a party following the locker room romper room. The locker is locked by a keypad that the girl had the code to because the boys gave it to her.

    Now it has been suggested that the mere ratio of the incident prevents the girl from having committed these actions willingly.

    "No school likes to think it's at the end of its options, [but] the boys should have understood that a five-to-one situation is by definition pressurized and coercive, and you can't assume there's anything mutual about it," she said. ''It was a very long and challenging conversation for the administrators involved, where we tried to be absolutely true to the core principles of the school and at the same time sensitive to the needs of the adolescents we're trying to

    I disagree with this quote, but then again I'm admit I'm a person that believes people are responsible for their own actions and decisions. And if putting someone's privates into your mouth when a gun to your head isn't present isn't a decision, I don't know what is.

    If the girl chooses to press charges the one 17 year old boy could be tried as an adult and all the boys could wind up with up to 15-20 years in jail plus being labeled as a known sex offenders.

    But of course, the school has kicked out the boys but not the girl based upon the fact the boys broke the law. However, the question becomes if the girl does not press charges or even if oral sex is or isn't "unnatural intercourse," do the boys' parents sue?

    Some may scoff at this, but, given the fact a sitting president of the United States has made the same argument, don't you think a defense attorney could pull it off also?

    It seems Milton's only choice would be to kick them all out for breaking the school's behavior code, but then will people get up in arms because Milton is punishing the "victim?"

    All this from a few blow-jobs and meanwhile in our public schools rainbow parties are all the rage according to Oprah.

    Wednesday, February 23, 2005

    Why "frog-man" ?

    1. My wife's pet name for me has been "Kermie" since the mid-80's.
    2. I am an avid scuba diver.

    The site pre-dates Don's arrival, so he will just have to live with it.

    Terri Schiavo

    How sad is the Terri Schiavo case? And what to make of the players?

    The parents are completely understandable. They want nothing more than to keep their daughter alive.

    On some level, I can understand how a husband would want to end his wife's misery. That said, however, there is something really creepy about the enthusiasm with which Terri's husband Michael is pursuing her death by slow starvation and dehydration, particularly in light of her parent's desire to maintain her care in his stead. And let's not even mention the insurance policy he stands to claim.

    I say grant the husband a divorce so that he can get on with life, and let the parents care for their daughter.

    Tuesday, February 22, 2005

    Hunter S. Thompson RIP

    Back in the early 80's I read Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but I hadn't paid much attention to him in subsequent years. Now that he is gone, I guess I should post an excerpt from his final column:
    Shotgun Golf was invented in the ominous summer of 2004 AD, right here at the Owl Farm in Woody Creek, Colo. The first game was played between me and Sheriff Bob Braudis, on the ancient Bomb & Shooting Range of the Woody Creek Rod & Gun Club. It was witnessed by many members and other invited guests, and filmed for historical purposes by Dr. Thompson on Super-Beta videotape.

    The game consists of one golfer, one shooter and a field judge. The purpose of the game is to shoot your opponent's high-flying golf ball out of the air with a finely-tuned 12-gauge shotgun, thus preventing him (your opponent) from lofting a 9-iron approach shot onto a distant "green" and making a "hole in one." Points are scored by blasting your opponent's shiny new Titleist out of the air and causing his shot to fail miserably. That earns you two points.

    But if you miss and your enemy holes out, he (or she) wins two points when his ball hits and stays on the green.

    And after that, you trade places and equipment, and move on to round 2.

    Monday, February 21, 2005

    Hunter S. Thompson Done for....

    Hunter S. Thompson used one of his many firearms to remove his head from his body today.

    His take on the world was twisted and funny at times, and at other times simply pathetic. It was never clear where the character ended and the author began much like Andy Kaufman.

    Perhaps Bush being re-elected was too much for him, although one would think the lifting of the assault weapons ban would have given the Gonzo Guru the warm fuzzies much like a few of the little red ones downed with a nice swig of Wild Turkey.

    Never can tell with some folks....

    American Poverty

    I have been saying for a long time, to anyone who will listen (okay, that means "my wife") that here in the United States, we have some pretty rich "poor" people. Where else in the world is obesity a problem associated with poverty? Along comes this article citing Walter Williams citing Robert Rector documenting the reality of what poor means in America:

  • 41% of all “poor” households owned their own homes (average size: three bedrooms, one-and-a-half bathrooms; with garage and a porch or patio)

  • Three-quarters of a million “poor” owned homes worth over $150,000 (some with Jacuzzis and pools)

  • The average “poor” American has one-third more living space than the average Japanese, 25% more than the average Frenchman, 40% more than the average Greek and four times more than the average Russian. (Hence, were the American “poor” to purchase a house of the same capacity as these foreign counterparts, they would have a minimum of 25% additional spending ability for other items.

  • 70% of “poor” households own a car - 27% own two or more cars.

  • 97% have a color television - nearly half own two or more televisions.

  • The “poor” people are more likely to be overweight than higher-income people (more room for State intervention there). The average consumption of proteins, vitamins and minerals is virtually the same for poor as middle-income children.

    To be sure, there are certainly pockets of genuine poverty in this country, but these statistics demonstrate that in many cases are poor are really not all that poor.
  • Saturday, February 19, 2005

    The Gates

    Thomas Keane, Jr. (any relation to the former NJ governor?) has a fantastic, hysterical article about The Gates in NYC. I personally think it looks like somebody hung the "Great Pumpkin's" laundry out to dry.

    But there are about 7500 gates at a cost of $21 million dollars. That means each gate cost $2800 dollars. Even assuming $1000 of materials and 8 hours of assembly at $25/hour and another 8 hours for disassembly (Union Labor here) that makes each gate cost $1400 bucks.

    So where's the rest of the money? Rent for NYC's Central Park? Bribes so dogs and bums in the park don't piss on the gates? Inquiring minds want to know....

    Also check out the Somerville, MA gates. Kudos Ann Althouse for the tip of something cool and saffrony happening in my adopted home state.

    Guilty Pleasure- Dumb Comedy Movies

    I love stupid comedies. Give me more pratfalls, poop and fart jokes. As Holden McNeil quoting his grandmother in "Chasing Amy" says, "the big bucks are in dick and fart jokes."

    Anyway my top ten dumb comedies. Not really in any particular order.

    1. Stripes - Bill Murray at his best. The second half of the movie, post basic training, isn't as good as the first, but the movie is genius. In addition, it features a very young very hot Sean Young.

    2. Clerks - I don't know if any Kevin Smith movie can truly be called dumb becuase his dialogue is pure genius, but this movie profane idiocy. Two guys clerking a QuikStop and a Video Rental store. The tenth anniversary edition on DVD is a must for the stuff that didn't make the cut.

    3. Caddyshack - I spent an entire summer watching this movie and memorizing every line. "The World needs ditch diggers too." "Night putting, putting at night with the 16 year old daughter of the dean."

    4. Kingpin - the funniest grossest use of dental floss ever, a Farrelly brothers gem before their "Something About Mary Peak."

    5. UnderCover Brother- Best catfight ever. Brilliant movie, I'm still learning to parallel park my 1949 Studebaker Champion like Undercover Brother parks his Caddy in the opening sequence. That is when I can get my Studebaker to start.

    6. Airplane - The grandfather of them all. My grandmother, Kurt's Great Aunt, told my mother and stepdad they had to take me to see this movie because it was so funny. Of courseI was 9 when the movie was out, and my mother was flabbergasted that my grandmother would think it was OK for me to see the sexually charged humor of some of the scenes. I never did look at Boobs the same way again. But at that age blowing up the Autopilot went right over my head.

    7. Naked Gun - The last time I didn't want to puke when I saw OJ Simpson. Very funny movie version of the short lived TV series Police Squad!

    8. Shrek - Genius! Best work Eddie Murphy's done in a long time. Maybe it because he got to make a literal Jackass of himself.

    9. Happy Gilmore - Beware of Alligators on the golf course.

    10.Life of Brian - Most people prefer "Monty Python's Holy Grail" but I like this one, perhaps b/c I had to take 3 years of Latin in Catholic High School.

    Honorable Mention - Mel Brook's "History of the World Part I" I'm still waiting for part II. I like it better than "Blazing Saddles," but I'm a weirdo.

    I'm sure folks disagree with this list and I could name others but that's what the dumb comments section is for.

    Sgt. Hulka: “Lighten up, Francis!”

    Friday, February 18, 2005

    Palau: May this Never Happen Again.

    Here we go with another epic Survivor! This program is a guilty pleasure of mine. Let the games begin.

    Episode 1

    ...starts with a tour of the islands, their beauty, and history. Like we won't see any more of that in the ensuing episodes.

    The contestants row in like Viking slaves. All row that is, with the exception of one big-haireed woman who seems content to watch the others from the stern, like Nefertiti of the Nile. She turns out to be a Vegas showgirl. And sure, I can mix metaphors with the best of them.

    The race to the beach for immunity ends, and we have had out first glimpse of the survivors. It appears Burnett has reliably included all "groups:" the deep-drawled southern male, the effeminate hairdresser, the butch-cut female "civil rights" attorney, and the always adorable collecton of young, well-racked babes for visual relief. It will take a while to get to know this crowd.

    They begin their search for water, shelter, and fire. Janu the showgirl climbs a tree while a black chick eats a bug. Coby the hairstylist gets lots of airtime. Is that because his gay butt is gone, or because we need to get to know him as a power player? Who knows. Who cares.

    Host Jeff Probst arrives at the beach in all his muscled glory, perhaps scouting for his next date. He holds a surprise vote that consists essentially of picking the good kids for kickball. The last two unpicked are gone. And it's less interesting than that admittedly lame description. This is Survivor reduced to playground politics.

    Voted out (or more accurately, not voted in) are a young spike-haired stud and a freak show singing schoolmarm, who annoyed me to no end in the first five minutes - I can only imagine what living with her would have been like, so it seems more an act of self-preservation than game strategy. The gay hairdresser predictably bursts into tears as they disappear.

    We now have two tribes of nine, living together: Ulong in blue, and Koror in brown.

    The first challenge is - wait for it - AN OBSTACLE COURSE! Jeff Harrell gets tired of these things and so do I. Anyway, over the river and through the woods they go. Yadda yadda yadda, lots of wardrobe malfunctions and assorted chaos later, Koror wins immunity and claims the power of fire. They also get to move to the beach that Jay is bringing down the aisle on his tray.

    Then, disaster. The idiots of Koror dump their canoe on the way to the new beach and lose their fire. The only thing worse would be fainting into the fire and burning your hands to a crisp like that dude in Australia - imagine the standard of care at Palau General. This incident will likely only get these clowns a wry Probstian grin and all-knowing nod of the head.

    Meanwhile, Ulonga tries to figure out who to vote off. Unsurprisingly, attention seems to focus on the tattooed, pierced pincushion of a woman who was the last one picked for dodgeball.

    Tribal council looks like the set of McHale's Navy, with WWII era gun emplacements rusting in the background. The southern guy cracks me up. "Hail yeah!" he says, in response to a Probst query about his relative IQ. "Dumbass!"

    The voting begins, and it looks at first like Tattoo Angie is toast; in a not-so-surprising twist, however, the overbearing and obnoxiously bossy lawyer Jolanda is given the heave-ho. She thinks it was because she was the oldest, but I think it was because she was louder and more annoying than Angie's tattoos.

    Next week: The Survivors are scared by rats and lightning.

    Bill Cosby revisited

    Bill Cosby has received word from Pennsylvania prosecutors that they will not press charges against him for the alleged indiscretion he supposedly committed against a young woman (note I'm not saying lady).

    I find it hard to believe Bill Cosby would have to drug a woman to get cheap thrills. The man is famous rich and funny. I know women who've slept with men just for one of those three characteristics.

    Hell, I knew a guy in college whom was a regular expert lothario at laughing the pants off college sorority girls.

    I still think someone unhappy with Bill's recent remarks paid this woman to do this. But my middle name is Fox Mulder.

    Thursday, February 17, 2005

    Taxation without Representation

    This Virginian Pilot article demonstrates that politicians will raise taxes, not for any particular reason, but just because they can:
    CHESAPEAKE ­— The City Council decided late Tuesday to raise the city’s hotel occupancy tax by two cents on the dollar, but will decide later how to split the money between schools and other city needs.

    The tax increase, which raises the special sales tax from 6 percent to 8 percent, takes effect May 1.

    No staff financial analysis was presented Tuesday, but Councilman Pete Burkhimer estimated that the two-percentage-point increase would generate an additional $1 million per year.
    That's an increase of 33%, without a whisper of justification or study. But what the hey, people staying in hotels in Chesapeake aren't Chesapeake residents, so why not soak 'em for an extra cool million even if we don't know why we need it?

    The Claremont Institute: The Endless Party

    This opinion piece by William Voegeli at The Claremont Institute explains aptly how conservatives view liberals:
    Liberals have a practical reason why they won't say what they ultimately want, and a theoretical reason why they can't say it. The practical reason is that any usably clear statement of what the welfare state should be would define not only a goal but a limit. Conceding that an outer limit exists, and stipulating a location for it, strengthens the hand of conservatives—with liberals having admitted, finally, that the welfare state can and should do only so much, the argument now, the conservatives will say, is over just how much that is.
    With that idea in mind, check out these excerpts from Bill O'Reilly's interview with Kathleen Barr of the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness:

    O'Reilly: "What should the Bush administration be doing (that) it isn't doing?"

    Barr: Blah blah blah background, then this: "We'd recommend that the federal government invest more aggressively in affordable housing, homeless assistance ... more programs."

    O'Reilly: "From 2000, the last year Bill Clinton was in office to (proposed) 2006, there's been an 82% increase in food and nutrition assistance did you know that? Do you think that's not enough?"

    Barr: "Well what I do know is that the 2006 budget ... called for a $1 billion cut in the food stamp program."

    O'Reilly: "Here's my stat: Food stamps, school lunches, women, infants assistance, and food: 2006 proposed budget $51 billion up from $28 billion under Clinton's last year in office. Madam! That is a staggering, staggering increase."

    Barr: "There are many people out there who are not receiving enough food and nutrition assistance."

    O'Reilly: "Every category of assistance to the poor under Bush has gone up incredibly. How much more money do we have to put in there? If you're spending $50 billion on food stamps and school lunches, that is enormous, there's only 300 million people in the country!"

    Barr: "I can't speculate on exactly how much we would need eventually, ... but our study found there are people out there not receiving food assistance who can't find shelter ..."

    O'Reilly: "Do you know housing assistance is up 1400% [not a typo, that's what he said - ed.] from Clinton to Bush in 2006. I don't think the folks in America, with all due respect Ms. Barr, can give any more money. They're just tapped out."

    Barr: "The budget authority for the Department of Housing and Urban Development is 60% less than it was 30 years ago, showing a clear disinvestment in affordable housing."

    O'Reilly at this point says that may be true as a percentage of GNP, but the data show that raw dollar funding has not been cut, but rather is at record levels.

    Clearly, Voegeli is correct: Liberals will never admit that there is an upper limit on the amount of social welfare they are willing to spend. No matter how much we spend on her pet programs, Kathleen Barr wants more and will never admit to an upper limit for her requests.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2005

    Random Travel Observations continued

    Well it seems due to an unfortunate fire, my cousin missed the best thing about Logan which is the Sam Adams Pub located there.

    This is a required stop after traveling to tunnel because odds are you recently traveled through the deathtrap that is called the Big Dig tunnels.

    Yes, if you want an even bigger waste of money than dumping sand on my cousin's favorite beach, look no further than the Big Dig, an engineering marvel that leaks like a submarine with a screen door.

    Random travel observations

    Yesterday's trip to Boston was the first time I'd flown in several years. Airport security, once merely annoying, is officially "ridiculous." Gone are the days of running your briefcase through the X-ray and parading through the metal detector, with the occasional random "wanding." Nobody gets through without removing overcoats and shoes and running them through the X-ray machine as well. Long lines are formed as people stop to strip for the government. Yesterday morning was mostly business travelers lined up in their socks, waiting like sheep for their turn with the TSA (who were actually quite courteous). The return trip featured more families, and I felt sorry for people trying to help their kids remove all manner of footwear, backpacks, and parkas for radioactive review.

    There was an almost surreal experience at Logan yesterday afternoon: the fire alarm went off and part of the B Concourse became smoky from a kitchen accident (as far as I could tell). Amidst blaring alarms, smoky corridors, and firemen in full regalia rushing around, passengers didn't batt an eye. Everyone continued to dutifully remove their shoes and coats, open their laptops, and march through the scanners, nonplussed by the surrounding chaos.

    Monday, February 14, 2005

    Off to Boston

    I'm going on a one-day business trip to meet with some engineers tomorrow. I haven't been to Beantown since 1982 (and then only for a couple hours). The flight boards at 5:24 AM, so I should be pretty bleary-eyed by the time we roll up to the gate.

    Saturday, February 12, 2005

    Your Tax Dollars at Work

    Post-Hurricane Isabel beach replenishment continues around the clock in front of my house.

    Wednesday after work, we gathered with the neighbors to watch the sand pumping procedure over cocktails. The operation is similar to this one in nearby Virginia Beach. Naturally, all the men are sages, carefully explaining every bulldozer turn to each other and agreeing approvingly with the sand distribution strategies of the contractor. The women are pointing out the best spots to sit come July. In a nutshell, the process works like this:

    A large dredge boat loads up on sand at the Thimble Shoal channel serving the southern Chesapeake Bay. The dredge then anchors offshore a couple hundred yards and pumps its spoils, while bulldozers busily distribute it around the beach The plan is to continue the process another three miles along the Norfolk bayfront.

    The Navy gets a dredged channel, the birds get some fresh whelk meat, and we get a new beach. Everyone wins, with the exception of every taxpayer not living along the six mile Norfolk bayfront. Pictures are pending, so stay tuned for riveting action shots.

    Friday, February 11, 2005

    Ward, where's the Beave?

    Anne Althouse suggests that Ward Churchill (what a way to ruin a noble last name) is getting "too much attention." And I agree that this long haired publicity hound and faux Native American is an "Oliver Stone" with a Professorship and without any talent. But this little read blog is hardly publicity.

    What I find disturbing is not him, but the 100 or so people you see cheering his every word when they play the clips of him on the news. On today's college campus people are being "taught" that America is scum and that we have no culture. They are being taught to think for themselves but not any basis for those thoughts. They are no longer being taught the sacrifices our ancestors made for this country but rather the focus is on the "crimes" that got us to this point.

    Building a country like the USA is not easy and tough choices have to be made, and guess what people make mistakes!

    People sometimes even make mistakes with the best intentions. The people who fought on the Southern Side of the Civil War felt they were fighting for their wives, mothers, and children and their way of life.

    Was their way of life immoral by today's standards? Of course.

    But did they know any better? That's how they were born and raised.

    That's the problem with historians like Howard Zinn who interpret history through a moral lens based upon utopian idealistic values of today.

    It took the leadership of great but flawed Americans like Lincoln, a depressive, and Grant, a drunk, to push the country towards greatness. Even that great champion of the Democratic Party, Martin Luther King, Jr., had his flaws, a weakness for women. He was a visionary who fought for his people against the status quo of the time. These men did what they did because life any other way would have been intolerable.

    Now Ward Churchill is no visionary. He is saying that the USA is merely reaping what it has sown. That we stick our noses into too many places where it doesn't belong and use questionable tactics. And he blames the victims. If the terrorists wanted to attack our military or our government installations, well that's one thing (not that we shouldn't kick their ass for that too). But the terrorists intentionally attacked civilians. The civilians were the target, not "collateral damage," and that's the difference between a military strike and a terrorist attack.

    However, half the time we are asked to stick our noses into these sticky situations. If I recall, we were brought into Vietnam after a little country called France got themselves stuck deep in the rice paddies. It was the idealism of Kennedy and the fear of communism that led to that disaster.

    Now we have a generation being taught by a group of people who believe they were heroic in stopping the Vietnam War by protesting and smoking grass. And it's this 60's idealism that is killing this country. Even our past two presidents, who were both 21 in 1967, the summer of love, are afflicted by utopian dreams.

    Clinton's dream was one of peace, love, and understanding.

    Clinton: "Can't we be friends?" "And better yet "friends with benefits," if you're female. Oh what the hell, even if you're a transvestite, I'm a liberal guy."

    North Korea, Iran, and China: "Sure just give us the big missile, Billy boy..."

    Clinton: "Kimmy boy would you put on this wig. Oh Jong-il, Jong-il. You little crazy dictator..."

    It caused President Clinton to ignore the fact that not everyone likes us, and allowed our enemies, North Korea, Iran, Osama Bin Laden, China?, to gain a huge edge on us.

    George W. Shrub dreams of freedom for everyone and making his daddy proud. But George, shouldn't people have to fight for their freedom and weren't we there simply to protect ourselves? Are we still protecting ourselves now that the WMD's have been moved or never existed. Why are we fighting the Iraqi's revolutionary War for them?

    We need a return to the practical values of the 40's and 50's born out of the trying times of the Great Depression and WWII. When you're fighting just to keep your head above water, it's hard to be idealistic, and you're forced to appreciate what you have and who fought so that you have it. This is American culture - clawing, digging your way to the top so your children can have it better. And it's a shame to see the children of "the greatest generation" believing that these ideals can be exported as easy as American TV shows and movies.

    Always remember that American Culture is a bunch of different people who are willing to fight for their freedom and tolerate difference of opinion, but in the end are United for the good of the Republic. What is Ward Churchill fighting for by blaming the victims? It surely isn't the good of the Republic.

    In the end, who will be the Iraqis' George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr.?

    And why didn't they fight Saddam, themselves?

    If a bunch of farming ex-colonists could kick the crap out of the British Empire, why didn't the Iraqis' kick the crap out of Saddam? I'm sure George W. Bush unlike his Daddy would have been happy to lend a hand.

    Thursday, February 10, 2005

    Jersey Girls Go AWOL

    Where are the New Jersey housewives of 9-11 who prominently declared George Bush "asleep at the switch" and decried his alleged politicizing of their husbands' deaths?

    Now Ward Churchill calls their husbands "little Eichmanns" who deserved what they got. Where the heck have these women gone? Here we have a man splashing his face and ideology across the airwaves by disparaging their husbands for making "the empire hum."

    Bush lionizes the victims of 9-11 and the Jersey Girls protest. Ward Churchill disparages them, yet they remain silent. Could it be that it was they that were using their husbands deaths for political gain?

    The Reason for the Zebra Lion Encounter

    Lion: Hey Zeke put on some clothes! Didn't you hear it's illegal to show your underwear in Virginia?

    Zebra: You're dissing my heritage, lady. It's Zebra fashion to run around in your striped undies. I'm gonna sic the ACLU on you. You're clearly targeting Zebra Dudes.

    Lion: Well, it's rude, crude and totally unattractive. Look now your thingy is popping out of the front flap in your jammies. Put that thing away! Who do you think you are "Tommy Lee" Zebra?
    Zebra: Oh yeah, Kalisa. Your just jealous Mr. Kitty-Kat isn't hung like a horse. Let me come over there and give you a little Zeke zeeking....

    And the Zoo Keepers thought the claw marks were from a fight... Silly humans....

    Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    When Rogue Zebras Attack

    There have been some strange goings-on at the Virginia Zoo of late.

    In July 2002 Kalisa, a female lion, attacked and killed another lion in a fight over a duck. Last October, Zeke, a zebra, chased a white rhino into a moat, where it drowned. What we didn't know at the time was that Kalisa and Zeke were apparently working their way through a bracket in a "Tough Beast" competition. Because now they have fought each other. To a draw.
    The encounter happened just before closing Monday after Zeke somehow managed to escape from his exhibit and wound up in the lion area. By the time zoo staff arrived, the animals had retreated to opposite corners of the enclosure.
    Zeke had several claw marks.
    Kalisa, a 6-year-old African lioness, was wet and muddy.
    And it wasn't just a chance encounter, either. Good old Zeke had to really work at it.
    The zebra area is separated from the lion area by a 6- to 8-foot -high vertical drop and a moat, measuring about 8 feet wide and 10 feet deep. On the zebra’s end, there’s a rocky ledge along the drop-off.
    Zoo director Lewis Greene said zebras and other hoofed animals are deterred by rocky terrain. Zeke braved the rocks, then either fell or jumped from the ledge into the moat, he said.
    Whoa. That's one athletic zebra. Unfortunately, no one saw the actual bout, so the staff has been forced to speculate:
    Zeke ended up in the moat. Greene surmises that Kalisa charged into the moat and went after Zeke and the two tussled either in the water or after they emerged onto dry land.

    “I think Zeke either kicked or bit Kalisa because she was keeping her distance,” Greene said. “It was like she was saying she had enough and this guy wasn’t as easy pickings as she thought.”
    Now this sounds like a fun zoo. Coming next week: Zeke wrestles the python into a helicopter spin and is last seen flying out over the Atlantic Ocean.

    Saturday, February 05, 2005

    Bush: A Man of Deeds

    In this post Cousin Don confessed to a certain level of political bigotry:
    I would be amiss [sic] no to[sic] state that I am a bigot about my politicians-- I like them to be able to speak in public.
    Joe Katzman over at Winds of Change has this to say about that:
    W. isn't a speaker. Tony Blair is a speaker, often more lethal on his feet than with a prepared text. W. needs to craft and practice, or he's in trouble. But then, that ain't his archetype. The cowboy lives by deeds, standing tall and then giving his gun a little twirl at the end. Now think of the megaphone at Ground Zero. The aircraft carrier landing. Dropping in on a warring and dangerous Baghdad to serve turkey to the troops. Ms. al-Suhail and the Norwoods. Bush communicates best in deeds, in tableaux that speak incredibly loudly. I'm trying to recall another politician who could match that particular style and gift. I can't. It's W's saving political grace and potential disaster point, all in one.

    Did he say nuclear?

    Well, actually, George W. Bush said nucular, but so does Jimmy Carter and half of America. There's no U in the second syllable of nuclear, folks.

    George W. Bush has balls though. He is messing with the third rail of politics, Social Security. In addition, he's calling for investment in nuclear energy. Oh no Mr. Bill! It's Three Mile Island all over again.

    Now this is fascinating to me, a person who works with radioactive medical materials for a living. Not a single new nuclear plant has been built in over 2o years. Now that would be like still driving a K-car from the early eighties, no air bags, no anti-lock brakes, etc...

    There is a design called the pebble bed reactor which has many features which are vastly superior to the water cooled "hot rod" reactors in use today. The major improvement is the fuel is contained in particle of graphite and the reactor is cooled by ambient air flow. It is essentially hot radioactive charcoals heating helium which turns turbines to create energy. This is basically a very slow burning BBQ grill. The radiation does not move cannot explode and is only dangerous to you if you were basically to sit on top of it.

    Now why has one of these never been built, b/c the US citizens are scared to death of the words nuclear and radiation. So if you are really afraid of radiation do yourself a favor, throw out all your smoke detectors, never go for a stress test at the hospital, if you get cancer just curl up and die, turn off your lights and electricity for 10-30% of the day b/c that's probably nuclear power energy, don't go on a flight or climb a mountain b/c you'll get exposed to more cosmic rays, don't go in your basement or drink your well water b/c there's probably a little radon, turn of your CRT TV because the cathode part uses radioactive thorium, Guitar players throw out your tube amps etc...

    Get the point? Radiation and radioactive material is all around you, so why not use it safely and effectively to solve our energy crisis. China is.

    Friday, February 04, 2005

    OpinionJournal - Extra

    On Thursday's WSJ opinion page was this essay trying to find what the Democrats stand for. It is the best piece I have seen at explaining what liberals look like to conservatives.
    But the complaint that it's impossible to figure liberalism out has, until recently, typically been voiced by exasperated conservatives. For decades they have watched liberals rushing around with wheelbarrows and ladders, busy, busy, busy at building the welfare state. New programs are created, old ones expanded, urgent needs discovered and rediscovered. Conservatives marvel at this vast construction site and ask prosaic questions: What is this thing going to look like when it's done? How big is it going to be? How will we know when it's finished? And just in case there's any doubt that they are conservatives, how much is all this going to cost?
    It should be noted that many conservatives are asking the same questions of George Bush's domestic policy, while liberals ask these questions only as they pertain to foreign policy.

    A lengthy and somewhat scholarly piece from the Claremont Institute, it's worth a read.

    Thursday, February 03, 2005

    State of the Union Live Blogging

    8:30 I just had an incredible idea. I can watch the State of the Union address tonight, all the while writing down snarky observations and comments. Then I can post them to my blog. No one else will be doing that. I will be the toast of the blogosphere with that kind of original thinking. Let's get started.

    8:45 O'Reilly is pre-analyzing the address with Juan Williams and Tony Snow. Can't we wait for the speech before we analyze it. PLEASE?

    9:02 In comes the Cabinet and I'm bored already Someone needs to kick this up. The Cowboy cheerleaders or Shania Twain would be a good start.

    9:05 In walks da Prez to riotous applause. There's a shocker. How odd to see middle aged white men giving "brother" handshakes. Sheila Jackson Leigh is not so honored.

    9:08 The applause continues. And continues.

    9:10 Bush finally starts speaking, declaring Iraq "sovereign." Whoa. Tell that to the 25th Infantry.

    9:13 Cheney and Hastert: separated at birth?

    9:14 Bush promises to cut the deficit in half by 2009, to resounding applause. If the CEO of an airline promised that, they would have fired him.

    9:15 John Kerry is still looking for a personality transplant. Thank God we didn't elect that stiff.

    9:19 Update the archaic tax code! Hillary frowns and claps quietly. Apparently "archaic" is a good thing to her.

    9:20 Social Security reform. Bush says "we must strengthen and save social security," and the Democrats sit on their hands. And their position is we must weaken it and allow it to die?

    9:22 Bush promises not to change Social Security for anyone over 55, and the Dems sit on their hands for that to.

    9:24 The Dems actually heckle the President of the United States with catcalls in the middle of the SotU address over Social Security. The President graciously ignores them.

    9:25 Bush trots out a list of Democrat proposed reforms, declaring Social Security reform more important than partisan politics. Now the Dems rally with applause. What is their position anyway?

    9:28 Bush proposes that people should control their own money. The Republicans erupt in applause and the Democrats look like someone shoved a sourball in their puss. Lord forbid anyone actually owns the money they earn.

    9:30 Bush: "The money is yours and the government can never take it away." Republican side: riotous applause. Democrat side: stony silence. Nice. They can't even promise not to steal.

    9:34 Bush sums it up: The privileges of Congress should be extended to include young Americans. Again the Repubs applaud and the Dems look dour. Are we watching the demise of the party of Thomas Jefferson??

    9:34 Bush declares that his judicial nominees deserve an up or down vote. Senate Judiciary member Joe Biden (D - De) smirks. What a statesman.

    9:35 If Laura Bush wasn't over a decade my senior, I would join Kondracke and declare her "hot." Come to think of it, her daughters are two decades my junior, and I have no problems declaring them hot, so what the hay?

    9:38 Where are the shots of Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Barbara Boxer and the rest of the left wing conspiracy? So far, they are AWOL.

    9:41 Did Cheney just pick his nose? I need to get some sleep.

    9:56 "Freedom in Iraq will make Americans safer for generations to come." Hillary looks like she swallowed a dill gherkin, and Kerry looks like... well, nothing at all.

    10:00 Oh my God. We have the mother of a Marine killed in battle in Fallujah hugging a woman who recently voted in Fallujah. Bush looks like he is barely holding in the tears. I am barely holding in the tears.

    10:05 Too tired to continue blogging. I need to relax and let the pontifications of Brit, Juan, Mara, Mort, and Fred wash over me like a soothing bath. Or not.

    Wednesday, February 02, 2005

    Government Regulates Everything Except Abortion

    There isn't much that liberals don't want to regulate. There is even a federal government website devoted to expounding upon the myriad regulations imposed on society, with links to regs on benefits, business, defense, education and jobs, environment, energy, agriculture, family, community, health, safety, money, taxes, law, volunteerism, travel, recreation, and voting. The ADA guidelines by themselves are better than 300 pages, governing, among other things, the widths of corridors and doors.

    Not to be outdone, the Commonwealth of Virginia has a similar website devoted to state regulations. There are Virginia Boards of Audiology, Certified Seed (?), Counseling, Dentistry, Funeral Directors and Embalmers, Health Professions, Medicine, Motor Vehicle Dealers, Nursing, Nursing Home Adminstrators, Optometry, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Psychology, Social Work, and Veterinary Medicine. And those are just the Boards, nevermind the Departments, Commissions, and Auditors. Heck, there's a State Milk Commission. These people have their hands in the middle of everything. Everything except one. So far.
    By an overwhelming vote of 69-28, the House of Delegates gave final approval to HB2784, which would require abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers. Those standards dictate the width of halls and doorways, the size of operating rooms and the like.
    In the grand scheme of government regulations, that one seems relatively benign. Healthcare providers routinely submit to an array of government oversight and regulation far greater than most, right? It is, after all, in the name of "public health," right? Wrong. At least not for the pro-abortion crowd:
    Critics say it is a transparent effort by foes of abortion to make the procedure less affordable and accessible.
    They say 17 of the 20 abortion clinics in Virginia would be forced to close or spend millions of dollars to upgrade their facilities.
    So, while the rest of the nation is widening doorways, installing grab bars, flattening hills, building ramps and otherwise "upgrading facilities" to satisfy a growing panoply of regulations designed to improve "access," somehow it is a burden too great to bear to ask an abortion clinic to match the standards of one performing carpal tunnel procedures. And when did forcing people to spend millions of dollars making their business more accessible finally become a problem for the abortion rights crowd? When it meant closing an abortion clinic for a month and cutting into the profits. Gotta keep that operation with the 30-inch wide door behind the sandwhich shop up and running 24-7.

    The "State" of the Union

    Let's talk about the word "state."

    "State" has come to have many uses and meanings in the modern English language. has a very lengthy definition about the word "state". The word also derives from the Latin word "status."

    Many presidents have stated that the state of the union is strong, a play on words that is Shakespearean in its tone. Of course, with George W. Bush saying it in The State of the Union is reminiscent of Hal under the grips of Falstaff and his cronies. Which leads to the question, "Did we just watch the Hal become a Henry V this weekend?"

    I would be amiss no to state that I am a bigot about my politicians-- I like them to be able to speak in public. Although, I frequently destroy the English language on this blog with crappy punctuation, questionable grammar, and idiotic statements. But that's b/c I naturally exist in a lazy state and not because I don't know any better. I often wonder if this mental state of "bubba-ness"Bush portrays is an "act." Many have said that his statements were more eloquent when he was running against former Gov. Anne Richards in Texas. Others have speculated that Bush's mental state is due to early stage Alzheimer's.

    Bush in many ways reminds me of the Peter Seller's statuesque character in Being There. This is a harsh comparison that has been stated elsewhere before. However, I cannot help but state the fact that I believe Paul Wolfowitz and Cheney are really running the show.

    Well, The United States will survive this presidency and many more, and perhaps Democracy will finally reach a state of inevitability in the Middle East.

    So in conclusion, I must state that the old proverb, "May you live in interesting times," is quite the profound statement these days in these United States of America. I pray there will soon be a Unified State of Iraq consisting of Kurd, Sunni, and Shiite regions living in harmony. But now I am perhaps bordering on a state of unbelief.


    Tuesday, February 01, 2005

    Taxes in Virginia

    Virginians are pretty tax-averse. We don't see much good government spending, so we don't like to give them money if it isn't for a pretty good reason. Our governor, Democrat Mark Warner, was elected largely on a platform of fiscal conservatism.

    So last year, when Governor Warner issued warnings of dire shortfalls and cuts to some institutions Virginians consider sacred, like UVA, some Republicans came together with the Dems and pushed through the largest tax increase in state history, $1.4 billion. We raised our sales tax by 10 percent, increased cigarette taxes eight fold, and raised taxes on public-service companies, a tax that will be passed along to consumers.

    Mere days after the new taxes were signed into law, we learned that Virginia had run a $323 million SURPLUS for FY 2004! The projected surplus for 2005 stands at nearly $1.2 billion. The only argument the politicians are having now is how best to spend "their" money. And in spite of all this, Governor Warner is laying the groundwork for more tax increases: "The governor described the surplus as a blip that will disappear next winter when he said the state will need to find $2.9 billion in new revenues just to keep pace in education, health care, public safety and economic development for the two-year budget that will start July 1, 2006."

    I point this out for several reasons:

  • Warner is term-limited, so he will be looking for work by 2006.
  • Warner is a Democrat that talks like a fiscal conservative.
  • Warner is from the south, a region swept by Republicans in two straight presidential elections.

    I doubt Governor Warner has a high enough profile to outmaneuver Queen Hillary if she runs, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him in the Veep slot on the Democrats' 2008 ticket. And he will talk a good game, but this Virginian will remember him as just another tax-and-spend Democrat.