"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Thomas Jefferson
Sept. 23, 1800

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Penn State's Whiteout

It seems someone has to rain on every parade. This time they've attacked the "Whiteout" T-shirts being sold for Penn State's home football games. It seems the design, the words "Penn State" horizontally and a blue stripe vertically, comes too close to resembling a Christian cross. Good God, give me a break! The Anti-Defamation league of Philadelphia has filed a complaint with school officials. If the school remains at all as it was when I attended in the early 90's, the shirts will be pulled from the racks very soon.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

To Boldly Go Where No College Has Gone Before

Yes, this is a real bill. It's funding for a technical campus, but they're naming it the Star Fleet Academy, because, well, because they're idiots. The Civitas institute mocks them nicely in this video.

From the Under the Dome blog:

Rep. Earl Jones's bill to provide funding for a technology research center on N.C. A&T State University's campus was a YouTube parody waiting to happen.

Fortunately for all of us, the conservative-leaning Civitas Institute accepted the challenge with a parody video.

Jones' bill would establish "The Star Fleet Academy Complex" on campus. Yes, THAT Star Fleet.

Jones, who co-sponsored the bill in May, said the campus approached him about the idea of creating a world-class technology research center that carried a recognizable brand name.

"Scientists and engineers and people like that, they're pretty straight-laced," Jones said. "It's something that brings attention to the center."

Constitution 101

A quick Constitutional Law lecture from a veteran. I couldn't embed the video, so PLEASE follow this link

Imagine someone mentioning enumerated powers in this day and age.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Tide Is High....

It seems the east coast of the US has been experiencing higher than normal high tides this summer. It's a bit of a mystery to scientists, but what struck me about this news story was that it specifically DID NOT blame global warming! Wow! Hats off to the Raleigh News and Observer. I added the boldface.

Since June, tides have been running from 6 inches to 2 feet above what would normally be expected, even considering seasonal and lunar fluctuations. While local tidal changes are not uncommon, researchers for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration aren't sure they have ever recorded an event like this one, which is showing up all the way from Maine to Florida. In North Carolina, tides have been about a foot above normal predictions.

"Right now we're trying to get a better understanding of what's the cause," said Mike Szabados, director of NOAA's tide and current program in Silver Spring, Md.

Global warming isn't to blame, scientists say, as the rise was too sudden. Possibly, Szabados said, the explanation lies in something called the North Atlantic oscillation, a disturbance in the atmospheric pressure in the area of the North Atlantic Ocean between the Icelandic Low and the Azores High.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Missing Link Found

It's a misnomer that there is such a thing as a single missing link. Any gap in the fossil record is a missing link, and there are lots of them. Here, though, is an important find that places a new species at the bottom of the primate family tree.

This is one cool website, too.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Down With Newspeak

While Peggy Noonan doesn't reference Orwell in her excellent piece at the Wall Street Journal, she very well could have. Noonan is noticing the increasing use of arcane and bizarre government-invented phraseology to explain important policies to the American people. As she points out, it has the effect of making the average citizen tune out the static and ignore something, like health-care reform, that could very well change his or her life. It's dangerous and anti-democratic. Here's the end of Noonan's column:

Do members of the administration speak obscurely because they can't help themselves, or do they speak the way they speak because they really aren't all that keen to have people understand them? Maybe they calculate that lack of clarity ensures maximum ability to maneuver. But maybe they should think less about maneuvering. They're not helping the prevailing sense of national anxiety by speaking in a special lingo all their own. After all, it's not their health-care system they're reforming, it is America's. It would be nice if America were allowed to know what exactly the plan is, and how it would work, and who would pay, and how.

As for the Republicans, the administration is giving them an opening. There could be gain in becoming the party that speaks with concrete honesty, and in a known human language, on the great issues of the day. The GOP could become the party that doesn't make you translate, and doesn't leave you giving up. I wonder if the party right now, for all the battering it's experienced the past few years, is still quick enough to see an opening like this.

Mmmmmmm!!!! Tasty!!

Looks like the human race started off on the right foot (or hand, or rib), competition-wise. French anthropologists think they may have solved the mystery of what caused humans to survive while Neanderthals died out. Apparently, Neanderthal tastes like chicken. From the UK's Daily Mail Online:

The mysterious disappearance of Neanderthals about 30,000 years ago has baffled scientists for centuries.

But now, according to a leading fossil expert, it seems the race may have met a rather grisly end. They were eaten by our ancestors, the modern humans.

The basis for the claim is the markings on a Neanderthal jawbone found in Les Rois, south-west France during a study conducted by the Journal of Anthropological Sciences.

The cuts to the bone are similar to those left on those of deer and other animals butchered by humans in the Stone Age. It is believed that the flesh was eaten by humans and the teeth used to make a necklace.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Finally, A Sensible Bill

I HATE snakes. So, i was happy to read this coming from the North Carolina General Assembly. From the News and Observer's Under the Dome blog:

The Senate approved a bill to regulate snakes.

Sen. Ed Jones sponsored the bill at the request of herpetologists to increase the penalties for pet owners who negligently release venomous snakes.

Senate Bill 307 would make it a Class I misdemeanor to improperly transport, let loose or otherwise expose the public to a creatures such as an African Rock Python, a Burmese Python or a Green Anaconda.

Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand wondered if the bill was tough enough.

"Is that sufficient penalty for turning a cobra loose on an innocent population?" he asked Jones.

Jones, a Halifax County Democrat, said that owners would have objected to tougher standards.

Rand, a Fayetteville Democrat, then asked a more personal question.

"If we get a cobra loose in Fayetteville, will you come down there and catch it?" he asked.

"Only if it looks like a worm," Jones replied.

The bill passed 46-0 and now heads to the House.

Mom Cried "Wolf" In Son's Arrest

My previous post about Ashton Lundeby's arrest under the Patriot turns out to be very flawed. Not only was Ashton charged under long-standing law, he has had access to council and appeared before a judge several times. Mrs. Lundeby, Ashton's Mom, claimed her son was taken into custody under the patriot Act and denied his Constitutional rights. This is not the case.

There is a good Fox News article about the case here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Patriot Act Problems

The USA Patriot Act has been used in North Carolina to hold a 16 year-old boy in federal prison without legal representation or habeus corpus. From WRAL News:

Sixteen-year-old Ashton Lundeby's bedroom in his mother's Granville County home is nothing, if not patriotic. Images of American flags are everywhere – on the bed, on the floor, on the wall.

But according to the United States government, the tenth-grade home-schooler is being held on a criminal complaint that he made a bomb threat from his home on the night of Feb. 15.

Around 10 p.m. on March 5, Lundeby said, armed FBI agents along with three local law enforcement officers stormed her home looking for her son. They handcuffed him and presented her with a search warrant.

Ashton now sits in a juvenile facility in South Bend, Ind. His mother has had little access to him since his arrest. She has gone to her state representatives as well as attorneys, seeking assistance, but, she said, there is nothing she can do.

No one should be surprised that it has come to this. When a government is given power over individuals, it uses it. Always. The Patriot Act was passed in the days after the 9/11 terror attacks and very little heed was given to the damage it did to our Constitutional rights.

I found the saddest part of this story to be this comment from Mrs. Lundeby:

"Never in my worst nightmare did I ever think that it would be my own government that I would have to protect my children from," Lundeby said. "This is the United States, and I feel like I live in a third world country now."

Mrs. Lundeby, all governments are necessary evils, even our own. You should have been taught this in school, but your government runs those. Sorry you had to find this out in such a hard way, but maybe your story will awaken some more people. Let's hope.

This not the first time Americans have faced these problems, and our forefathers told us how to fix them:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

The crew of a ship trying to journey from England to the top of the Greenland ice cap on a non-carbon emitting boat had to be rescued by an oil tanker. From the BBC:

An expedition team which set sail from Plymouth on a 5,000-mile carbon emission-free trip to Greenland have been rescued by an oil tanker.

The team, which left Mount Batten Marina in Plymouth on 19 April in a boat named the Fleur, aimed to rely on sail, solar and man power on a 580-mile (933km/h) journey to and from the highest point of the Greenland ice cap.

The expedition was followed by up to 40 schools across the UK to promote climate change awareness.

But atrocious weather dogged their journey after 27 April, culminating with the rescue on 1 May after the boat was temporarily capsized three times by the wind.

In one incident Mr Stoddart hit his head and the wind generator and solar panels were ripped from the yacht.

This is proof that there is a God and He's got a sense of humor.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tracking Stimulus Money in North Carolina

The North Carolina Capitol Monitor has a useful chart available on their web site showing what stimulus money has been spent in our state, on what, and who was awarded the contract for work. Helpfully, the site also notes potential conflicts of interest by detailing political contributions from those awarded the contracts.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

NC State Employees Furloughed

It's easy to say, "Well, you got what you voted for" to the thousands of North Carolina state employees that face a one half percent annual pay cut to be taken over the next two months, but it wouldn't be helpful.

Yes, state employees are one of the most reliable voting blocks for North Carolina Democrats. And yes, the state has been run by those same Democrats for many years, resulting in the situation we find ourselves in today. The large surpluses the state was running just a few years ago were spent rather than saved and now that the economy in both the state and the nation as a whole has taken a downturn, there isn't enough money coming into the state's coffers to pay for the promises made during the boom times.

That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, but is it realistic to think that had the Republicans controlled the legislature and/or the governorship they'd have done anything differently? I'd like to say differently, but i think not.

The State of North Carolina, as well as most of the several states and the nation as a whole, has taken on more than it has any realistic chance of paying for, much less doing well.

There are 216 distinct units of North Carolina government listed on the state's web site, and that doesn't include any "boards or commissions" or any of the state colleges or universities. I probably should have counted them, as they both need to be funded, but I wanted to point out the massive responsibilities that the state has taken on for itself. The listings include everything form the absolutely necessary, like the highway patrol and courts, to the ridiculous, like the Bingo Division of the Department of Crime and Public Safety.

If North Carolina, and the United States of America for that matter, wants to survive as a place where individuals can realize their dreams and potentials, it must take a long look at the proper role of government.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lionfish, It's What's For Dinner

Lionfish, a poisonous tropical species, have been building in numbers off the North Carolina coast since the early nineties, and now threaten our commercial grouper and snapper stocks. The solution--eat the invaders! They supposedly taste like grouper, so lets have at it.

From the News and Observer:

There are so many lionfish off North Carolina already that scientists don't think it's possible to eliminate them, but hope there may be ways to at least control the population. The researchers are joining forces with sport divers and even culinary instructors from Carteret Community College to see if the critters can be kept in check with spears, nets and tartar sauce.

Lionfish, it turns out, have a sweet, white meat similar to the tasty groupers and snappers they are threatening.

Discovery Diving Co. in Beaufort and Olympus Dive Center in Morehead City are recruiting sport divers for a series of "lionfish rodeos" during the summer dive season, the first May 18-19. Later ones likely will also involve researchers and representatives of the culinary school, said Debby Boyce, owner of Discovery Dive Shop.

The scientists and divers hope to persuade restaurants in the area to start serving lionfish.

"They taste good, and if we can create a food market for them maybe that will not only help keep them in control but maybe take the pressure off some other species," Boyce said.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Thomas Jefferson

To celebrate Jefferson's 266th Birthday, here are a few words of wisdom from the man himself

"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine. "

"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government."

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."

"Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital"

Every generation needs a new revolution"

I own that I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive"

It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own"

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Today is the Ides of March, the traditional anniversary of the day, in 44BC, that Julius Caesar was murdered by a group of senators, among them his friend Brutus. Lest we forget that it is the free man's duty to defend freedom, here's a bit of Brutus's speech from Shakespeare:

If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of
Caesar's, to him I say, that Brutus' love to Caesar
was no less than his. If then that friend demand
why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer:
--Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved
Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living and
die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live
all free men? As Caesar loved me, I weep for him;
as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was
valiant, I honour him: but, as he was ambitious, I
slew him. There is tears for his love; joy for his
fortune; honour for his valour; and death for his
ambition. Who is here so base that would be a
bondman? If any, speak; for him have I offended.
Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If
any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so
vile that will not love his country? If any, speak;
for him have I offended. I pause for a reply.

It isn't a far cry from Brutus via Shakespeare to our own founding documents. With the previous quote in mind, read this from the Declaration of Independence:

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

The Oldest Known Reference to Robin Hood

The Hot Air blog has posted a piece on Robin Hood brought on by a newly discovered margin note in a 15th century history text referencing him. The note, written by a monk, refers to Robin Hood as nothing more than a thief and trouble for the law-abiding folks around Sherwood Forest. Here's the passage from the AP story:

An academic says he's found evidence that Britain's legendary outlaw Robin Hood wasn't as popular as folklore suggests.

Julian Luxford says a note discovered in the margins of an ancient history book contains rare criticism of the supposedly benevolent bandit.

According to legend, Robin Hood roamed 13th-century Britain from a base in central England's Sherwood Forest, plundering from the rich to give to the poor.

But Luxford, an art history lecturer at Scotland's University of St. Andrews, says a 23-word inscription in the margins of a history book, written in Latin by a medieval monk around 1460, casts the outlaw as a persistent thief.

"Around this time, according to popular opinion, a certain outlaw named Robin Hood, with his accomplices, infested Sherwood and other law-abiding areas of England with continuous robberies," the note read when translated into English, Luxford said.

Hot Air, and others apparently, are using this passage to suggest that Robin Hood wasn't the man of the common people as he is popularly portrayed. I think a bit of historic perspective may be in order.

Robin Hood has been made famous for "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor." That he probably did, but who were the rich in the England of the mid 1300s? They were not capitalists or entrepreneurs who had risked their own wealth to create more. They were landed nobility who had inherited their wealth and land and the attendant political power. The government and the nobles, the rich, were one and the same. They made their income to supplement their inheritance by taxing the serfs who lived on their land and worked it raising food and necessities. In return they offered some physical protection, but it wasn't a good deal for the serf and wasn't optional for him either.

The fact that a monk would bad mouth Robin Hood has been taken by some to suggest that he was just a common thief. The assumption here is that the Church was on the side of the "common man" and is just plain untrue. The Church in England at this time was in large part just as corrupt, greedy and political as the nobility. I'm not suggesting every country priest was evil, but it isn't too far of a stretch to imagine the monk who wrote the newly discovered passage naturally preferring the "law-abiding" peasants who made regular tithes to his church and didn't make waves to a populist robber who stood up to the status quo.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bi-Partisanship, as it were

Camille Paglia, a very liberal lesbian feminist Democrat columnist, agrees with yours truly about the Obama administration's attacks on Rush. From Ms. Paglia's Salon.com column:

Case in point: The orchestrated attack on radio host Rush Limbaugh, which has made the White House look like an oafish bunch of drunken frat boys. I returned from carnival in Brazil (more on that shortly) to find the Limbaugh affair in full flower. Has the administration gone mad? This entire fracas was set off by the president himself, who lowered his office by targeting a private citizen by name. Limbaugh had every right to counterattack, which he did with gusto. Why have so many Democrats abandoned the hallowed principle of free speech? Limbaugh, like our own liberal culture hero Lenny Bruce, is a professional commentator who can be as rude and crude as he wants.

Yes, I cringe when Rush plays his "Barack the Magic Negro" satire or when he gratuitously racializes the debate over Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who is a constant subject of withering scrutiny for quite different reasons on sports shows here in Philadelphia. On the other hand, I totally agree with Rush about "feminazis," whose amoral tactics and myopic worldview I as a dissident feminist had to battle for decades. As a student of radio and a longtime listener of Rush's show, I have gotten a wealth of pleasure and insight from him over the years. To attack Rush Limbaugh is to attack his audience -- and to intensify the loyalty of his fan base.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Whitehouse vs. Rush

The New york Times reports that senior Obama advisor David Axelrod ordered the recent White House attacks on Rush Limbaugh. The Sister Toldjah blog asks, "Where's the outrage?"

There should be no outrage. Obama is acting like the rookie he is by using the force of the Presidential bully pulpit against a radio talk show host. Sure Rush is influential, but never more so than after these attacks. If Obama gets Rush's message to just a few more people, we've won this battle. It's a no-win for the administration. If Rush is smeared, they look small. If he comes out looking fine, they look smaller.

Budget In Trouble, For Wrong Reasons

Obama's huge Omnibus Spending Bill lacks the votes to pass the Senate, say the budget committee's leaders. Don't get too excited though, it's not because it's a bloated pork-o-rama that sells our children and grandchildren into financial slavery.

Nope. The major hurdles are cutting subsidies to farmers making over half a million dollars a year and a lack of "help" for industries negatively affected by the President's new carbon tax/cap-and-trade scheme.

Look for the new and improved bill that passes the Senate to be even more expensive.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pile o' Pork

Hot Air has posted a video of Rep. Tom Price plopping down the stack of paper containing all 9,000 earmarks attached to the Omnibus Spending Bill next to the text of the bill itself. The picture is truly worth a thousand words. Check it out.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Smithsonian Magazine Interviews the Night Tripper

This is a really good talk with a really interesting man. Who would have thought the Smithsonian Institution's magazine would ever print an explanation of why someone would bite the head off a live chicken on stage.

Gris gris, indeed.

"The Sinews of Peace"

That is the name Sir Winston Churchill gave to the speech that made famous the term "the Iron Curtain." Churchill gave this speech on March 5, 1946, at Westminster College in Fulton Missouri and was introduced by President Harry Truman.

We can still learn today from the wisdom of Churchill. He was one of the most far-sighted politicians of the twentieth century and a lot of bloodshed could have been avoided had his words been headed earlier.

Here's a piece of the beginning of his speech:

The United States stands at this time at the pinnacle of world power. It is a solemn moment for the American Democracy. For with primacy in power is also joined an awe-inspiring accountability to the future. If you look around you, you must feel not only the sense of duty done but also you must feel anxiety lest you fall below the level of achievement. Opportunity is here now, clear and shining for both our countries. To reject it or ignore it or fritter it away will bring upon us all the long reproaches of the after-time. It is necessary that constancy of mind, persistency of purpose, and the grand simplicity of decision shall guide and rule the conduct of the English-speaking peoples in peace as they did in war. We must, and I believe we shall, prove ourselves equal to this severe requirement.

When American military men approach some serious situation they are wont to write at the head of their directive the words "over-all strategic concept." There is wisdom in this, as it leads to clarity of thought. What then is the over-all strategic concept which we should inscribe today? It is nothing less than the safety and welfare, the freedom and progress, of all the homes and families of all the men and women in all the lands. And here I speak particularly of the myriad cottage or apartment homes where the wage-earner strives amid the accidents and difficulties of life to guard his wife and children from privation and bring the family up in the fear of the Lord, or upon ethical conceptions which often play their potent part.

To give security to these countless homes, they must be shielded from the two giant marauders, war and tyranny. We all know the frightful disturbances in which the ordinary family is plunged when the curse of war swoops down upon the bread-winner and those for whom he works and contrives. The awful ruin of Europe, with all its vanished glories, and of large parts of Asia glares us in the eyes. When the designs of wicked men or the aggressive urge of mighty States dissolve over large areas the frame of civilised society, humble folk are confronted with difficulties with which they cannot cope. For them all is distorted, all is broken, even ground to pulp.

When I stand here this quiet afternoon I shudder to visualise what is actually happening to millions now and what is going to happen in this period when famine stalks the earth. None can compute what has been called "the unestimated sum of human pain." Our supreme task and duty is to guard the homes of the common people from the horrors and miseries of another war. We are all agreed on that.

Our American military colleagues, after having proclaimed their "over-all strategic concept" and computed available resources, always proceed to the next step - namely, the method. Here again there is widespread agreement. A world organisation has already been erected for the prime purpose of preventing war, UNO, the successor of the League of Nations, with the decisive addition of the United States and all that that means, is already at work. We must make sure that its work is fruitful, that it is a reality and not a sham, that it is a force for action, and not merely a frothing of words, that it is a true temple of peace in which the shields of many nations can some day be hung up, and not merely a cockpit in a Tower of Babel. Before we cast away the solid assurances of national armaments for self-preservation we must be certain that our temple is built, not upon shifting sands or quagmires, but upon the rock. Anyone can see with his eyes open that our path will be difficult and also long, but if we persevere together as we did in the two world wars - though not, alas, in the interval between them - I cannot doubt that we shall achieve our common purpose in the end.

Here's the whole speech.

Here's audio of Sir Winston Churchill himself speaking of the Iron Curtain.

Frying Pan Light Tower Gets New Life

Who says private enterprise won't work? The Frying Pan Light Light Tower has been slowly languishing 35 miles off the coast of North Carolina sinc ethe Coast Guard decided it had outlived its usefulness six years ago. Deemed to expensive to clean for artificial reef purposes, the platform rises 125 feet out of the sea and features 5,000 square feet of living space and a helipad.

The structure was put out for bid by the U.S. government in October and yesterday the bid was won by Shipwrecks Inc., based in South Carolina. They plan to use the tower as a base for SCUBA trips, education and research.

Hooray for private enterprise!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Articles of Confederation

On this date in 1781, two years after the new states won their independence from England, our first governing document, the Articles of Confederation, went into effect. The preamble has none of the eloquence of the Constitution, and the Articles themselves proved too weak and unwieldy, but it is good to understand what held the nation together before the ratification of our Constitution.

Here's a link to the whole document, but I'll pull out two especially interesting articles.

Article VIII basically levies a property tax on the states as a way to fund the central government.

ARTICLE VIII. All charges of war, and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the common defence or general welfare, and allowed by the United States in Congress assembled, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury, which shall be supplied by the several states, in proportion to the value of all land within each state, granted to or surveyed for any person, as such land and the buildings and improvements thereon shall be estimated according to such mode as the United States in Congress assembled, shall from time to time direct and appoint.

The taxes for paying that proportion shall be laid and levied by the authority and direction of the legislatures of the several states within the time agreed upon by the United States in Congress assembled.

Article XI invites Canada to join our new nation. Wouldn't that have been interesting?

ARTICLE XI. Canada acceding to this Confederation, and joining in the measures of the United States, shall be admitted into, and entitled to all the advantages of this Union: but no other colony shall be admitted into the same, unless such admission be agreed to by nine states.

Maybe They Could Dump Evian

A report on the Rhymes With Right blog tells of a Tea Party Gone Horribly Wrong. Seems that tea is a pollutant, and the partiers did not acquire the necessary permits to dump said beverage into the Cedar River. From the Des Moines Register:

Tea, although natural and quite tasty, is considered a pollutant that can’t go into a body of water without a permit, said Mike Wade, a senior environmental specialist at the DNR’s Manchester field office.

“Discoloration is considered a violation,” Wade said.

On the one hand, this is just about the most depressing thing I've ever heard. On the other, it sounds like a Monty Python skit.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Haunted Pub

Who can resist actual video footage of a ghost cowboy walking through a pub in Stoke-on-Trent, England? This is too cool.

No More "Education" Lottery

That sure didn't take long. Just three years after being sold to the public as a means of raising money for education, the NC lottery has become just another revenue stream. Gov. Perdue announced yesterday her plans to take millions from the lottery fund to shore up the state's budget, which is expected to fall $3 billion in the hole by next year.

No one can say they're surprised by this. Any legislator who expected the state to abide by a "promise" to keep lottery funds directed toward education without putting that requirement into law is a fool.

The lottery is essentially a tax on the stupid, and in as much as one should tax that which one wants less of, it's not a completely bad thing. It would be refreshing to see some politicians be honest about that fact, though.

Friday, February 27, 2009

That's Just Nasty

The latest in "Green Living"---reusable toilet wipes.

The Sky Is Not Falling

Victor Davis Hanson tries to put some perspective on our current financial mess. Yes, we are having a tough time, but no, this is not the Great Depression, Part Two. Here's a piece:

Nearly 93 percent of those Americans in the workforce are still employed. The difference between what the banks pay out in interest on depositors' savings and what they charge borrowers for loans is one of the most profitable in recent memory.

For the vast majority of Americans with jobs, the fall in prices for almost everything from food to cars has, in real dollars, meant an actual increase in purchasing power. The loss in value of home equity is serious for those who need to relocate for work or want to downsize and move to an apartment or a retirement community. But when averaged over the last decade, real estate still shows a substantial annual increase in value.

Moreover, the vast majority of American homeowners -- well over 90 percent -- meet their mortgage payments. They have no plans to flip their homes for profit. For them, the fact that they have lost paper equity, or even owe more than their homes are currently appraised at, is scary -- but not equivalent to a depression. Most are confident that after a few years their houses will appreciate again. As for now, working young couples have a chance to buy a house that would have been impossible just two years ago.

The same holds true for many retirement accounts whose decline is terrible for those retirees who count on drawing out each month what they put away or must cash out their depleted accounts at vastly reduced value.

But the majority of working Americans are not yet pulling out their sinking retirement funds. Most are still putting away pre-tax money each month, apparently confident that within a few years their portfolios will return to their former value. Some are even consoled that they are now buying mutual funds at rock-bottom prices rather than investing in sky-high investments at the peak of a bull market.

Starbuck Speaks Out

Remember Battlestar Galactica, the original, all full of cigar-smoking fighter pilots, a ship's captain borrowed from Bonanza and evil silver robots with a moving red LED for an eye? Well, that cigar-chomping fighter pilot's been retired to Montana to raise his two sons, but is none too happy with the remake of his old show. The "new" Starbuck is a chick. He is not amused. Here's an excerpt from the Big Hollywood blog:

One thing is certain. In the new un-imagined, re-imagined world of “Battlestar Galactica” everything is female driven. The male characters, from Adama on down, are confused, weak and wracked with indecision, while the female characters are decisive, bold, angry as hell, puffing cigars (gasp!) and not about to take it any more.

One can quickly surmise what a problem the original Starbuck created for the re-imaginators. Starbuck was all charm and humor and flirting without an angry bone in his womanizing body. Yes, he was definitely “female driven,” but not in the politically correct ways of Re-imagined Television. What to do, wondered the Re-imaginators? Keep him as he was, with a twinkle in his eye, a stogie in his mouth and a girl in every galaxy? This could not be. He would stick out like, well, like a jock strap in a drawer of thongs. Starbuck refused to be re-imagined. It became the Great Dilemma. How to have your Starbuck and delete him too?

The best minds in the world of un-imagination doubled their intake of Double Soy Latte’s as they gathered in their smoke-free offices to curse the day that this chauvinistic Viper Pilot was allowed to be. But never under-estimate the power of the un-imaginative mind when it encounters an obstacle (character) it subconsciously loathes. ”Re-inspiration” struck. Starbuck would go the way of most men in today’s society. Starbuck would become “Stardoe.” What the Suits of yesteryear had been incapable of doing to Starbuck 25 years ago was accomplished quicker than you can say orchiectomy. Much quicker, as in, “Frak! Gonads Gone!”

And the word went out to all the Suits in all the smoke-free offices throughout the land of Un-imagination, “Starbuck is dead. Long live Stardoe!”

I’m not sure if a cigar in the mouth of Stardoe resonates in the same way it did in the mouth of Starbuck. Perhaps. Perhaps it “resonates” more. Perhaps that’s the point. I’m not sure.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

How Education Can Work

The Carolina Journal has a piece today about Brunswick's County's own charter school, the Roger Bacon Academy. Charter schools in North Carolina are public schools and funded by public money, though at a lower level than a "regular" school. They accept children by lottery and the waiting list, at least for Roger Bacon, can be long.

Not all charter schools work, but the beauty of them is that if they don't, the parents can remove their child, unlike a traditional public school. Charters provide a glimpse of what the education system could be like if the free market were allowed to operate. Some, like Roger Bacon, would be good and parents would fight to get their children enrolled. Some would be bad, and they would fail and close, rather than continue to fail students in perpetuity.

The whole article is worth a read, but here's some excerpts:

Roger Bacon Academy uses the Direct Instruction method, a systematic presentation of “rules, tools, and techniques” rather than the facilitated discovery model popular in the state’s teacher colleges.

“You can take any content, the classical trivium or something nouveau, as long as it’s nested in a behaviorally sound approach to instructional design,” Mitchell said. “Look at the end goal task, break it up into components, teach each subskill to mastery.” Military and industrial training follows this design, “but here, no, no, we take a kindergartner, immerse him in books and expect him to learn how to read.”

RBA’s philosophy is that every child can learn if properly taught. State records say it’s working. Compared to other Brunswick County elementary and middle schools, Charter Day School had 17 percent more students on or above grade level for reading, 29 percent more in math, and 23 percent more succeeding in both subjects. Many RBA students are going into Early College programs next. This occurred while receiving 30 percent less in funding than surrounding schools, Mitchell said

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Higher Education

In his address to congress last night Pres. Obama asked all Americans to pursue some sort of higher education for at least a year.

And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma.

That's all fine and dandy for career training purposes, but if we're going to survive as a free nation, we need a populace educated in the ideas that made us great in the first place.

With that in mind, here's a little reading list to help us all with our higher educations.

Aristotle's Ethics, and Politics

Plato's The Republic

Voltaire's Candide

John Locke's Two Treatises of Government (especially Book Two)

Thomas Jefferson's A Summary View of the Rights of British America, the un-edited Declaration of Independence, the Kentucky Resolution of 1799 and his First Inaugural Address

Thomas Paine's Common Sense, The Crisis, and The Rights of Man

That ought to last us for a while, but there's plenty more where those came from. All of this is available free of charge on the wonderful world wide web. Just click and get educated. Let's do Obama proud.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Semper Fi

Today is the anniversary of the raising of the American flag at the summit of Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi.

For a little bit of biography of the men who raised that flag, click here. For an interview with one of the flag raisers click here.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lincoln's Fingerprint

This is really cool. From Science Daily:

Lydia Smith, a first-year psychology major from Granville, Ohio, was transcribing a letter written by Lincoln on Oct. 5, 1863, for a class project when she noticed a smudge that she suspected could be the 16th president’s thumbprint. Lincoln historians have confirmed the print.

A student at Miami University has discovered what experts say is a fingerprint belonging to Abraham Lincoln from nearly 150 years ago.


After all the talk of politics and stimulus and bailout and deficits and rich vs. poor, it's easy to lose sight of what really can change the world for the better. It's not going to come from politicians, or pundits or a think-tank, as much as a free people need these things. The salvation of our country and our world will come from the souls of those who seek wisdom and find a way to pass what they find on to the future. Here's the last three stanzas of Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Poet. We need more of them.

And in her raiment's hem was traced in flame
WISDOM, a name to shake
All evil dreams of power--a sacred name. [5]
And when she spake,

Her words did gather thunder as they ran,
And as the lightning to the thunder
Which follows it, riving the spirit of man,
Making earth wonder,

So was their meaning to her words.
No sword
Of wrath her right arm whirl'd, [6]
But one poor poet's scroll, and with 'his' word
She shook the world.

New Constituent Services

Doug Bandow at the Cato Institute's blog has a post about a new kind of help being sought from elected officials. Seems that people who have been turned down for loans by banks that received federal bail-out money are asking their congress-critters to step in. Talk about the Law of Unintended Consequences rearing its ugly head. How long before this starts the ball rolling once again on the government forcing banks to loan money to people without the means to pay it back. And what bank wouldn't go along, knowing the taxpayers will subsidize their foolishness to the tune of billions of dollars.

We are heading at a scary clip toward nationalization of banks in this country. And it won't end there. Here's Mr. Bandow's conclusion:

On the one hand, this is outrageous. On the other hand, if the taxpayers have to support the banks, why shouldn’t the banks support the taxpayers? The logic is obvious even if the consequences are potentially catastrophic.

It won’t be easy to roll back the federal government’s leap into socialism American-style. But if we don’t halt the federal subsidy express, there might not be much real “free enterprise” left in America when we finish.

Those Who Don't Learn from History...

Sure it's a cliche, but it fits. The Obama administration is promising to follow up it's spending orgies with an attack on the nation's job producers and wealth makers. A Washington Post article explains the administration's plans to cut the budget deficit by two-thirds by the end of Obama's first (God help us) term. This is the exact recipe that led us into the Great Depression. Starving the private sector of capitol though increased taxes on business and capitol investment, especially at a time when there is no sense of restraint on the size, scope and expense of federal government will lead to massive private sector job loss.

It took a world war to drag us out of FDR's folly. What's going to do it this time?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Another High School Fails The Hope-n-Change Test

What's become of our education system? First they refuse to name their school after Barack Obama, now we have high schoolers questioning the wisdom of the mortgage bail-out. From the Drudge Report:

Senior Syna Daudfar took some notes during the speech and was among the most vocally opposed to Obama's words.

At one point, when he talked about the costs of his stimulus plan, senior Maaike Albach and Daudfar looked at each other and said, "uh-oh."

"Overall I think it's a good idea, but he's not addressing the issues of the economic crisis," said Daudfar, a John McCain supporter who added he leans more toward being a moderate conservative. "The spending bill he just passed is just progressing the Democratic agenda rather than addressing the economic issues in the country."

Daudfar thinks Obama's plan is backward and deals with the "less important stuff" first. "Bailing out businesses" and "providing better regulatory systems for giving out money to businesses" should have been first, he said.

"If businesses can't afford to hire people, then people won't be able to work and pay off their mortgages," he said. "It's kind of like putting money into20a funnel." Albach, who is also a Republican, said Obama's plan sounds good but questioned how Obama can want to rely on "people's responsibility" when that is "what got us in this economic crisis in the first place."

"This puts us more into debt," said Albach, 18. "It's a horrible situation we're in."

One student even dressed special for the President's visit.

Senior Brandon Miller wore a shirt with the words, "Hitler gave great speeches, too" above a picture of Obama.

Miller said he had been an Obama supporter "because of his speeches," but after debating the issues in this class and looking more into Obama's policies, his vote was swayed toward McCain.

I hope he doesn't wear that to college next year. He'll be brought up on "hate speech" charges.

Tastes Like Chicken

I guess this shouldn't be funny, but it is. Courtesy of Fox News:

A bird suspected to be extinct was reportedly photographed for the first time in the Philippines, and then sold to a poultry market as food.

Worcester's buttonquail was known only through illustrations based on decades-old museum specimens until a television crew documented the live bird in the market before it was sold in January, NationalGeographic.com reported.

Scientists had suspected the bird, found only on the island of Luzon, to be extinct, according to NationalGeographic.com.

Wild Bird Club of the Philippines President Michael Lu, told the Agence France-Press news agency that it’s unfortunate that the locals aren't more conscious of the threatened wildlife around them.

"What if this was the last of its species?" he said.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fun New Maps

The Civitas Institute, always reliable for some good number crunching, has come up with some cool little maps that show the relative partisanship of North Carolina Senate and House districts. You can see how far they lean towards the Democrats or Republicans and also what change there's been in those opinions over time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why Didn't We Ask This Guy First?

A UCLA geography professor thinks he's pinned down the location of Osama bin Laden. He used technology used to track endangered species to draw up an area of probability for Osama's hiding place. Scroll through the article for a look at the most likely building and, helpfully, its exact latitude and longitude.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Presidents' Day

Here's an interesting discussion on National Review Online about who was our greatest President.

No one picked Obama? Racists!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The "F" Word Rears It's Head

Michael Ledeen has a column pointing out that the bailout and economic stimulus are not heading us towards socialism. They are classic examples of Facism.

But that’s not socialism. Socialism rests on a firm theoretical bedrock: the abolition of private property. I haven’t heard anyone this side of Barney Frank calling for any such thing. What is happening now–and Newsweek is honest enough to say so down in the body of the article–is an expansion of the state’s role, an increase in public/private joint ventures and partnerships, and much more state regulation of business. Yes, it’s very “European,” and some of the Europeans even call it “social democracy,” but it isn’t.

It’s fascism. Nobody calls it by its proper name, for two basic reasons: first, because “fascism” has long since lost its actual, historical, content; it’s been a pure epithet for many decades. Lots of the people writing about current events like what Obama et. al. are doing, and wouldn’t want to stigmatize it with that “f” epithet.

Second, not one person in a thousand knows what fascist political economy was. Yet during the great economic crisis of the 1930s, fascism was widely regarded as a possible solution, indeed as the only acceptable solution to a spasm that had shaken the entire First World, and beyond. It was hailed as a “third way” between two failed systems (communism and capitalism), retaining the best of each. Private property was preserved, as the role of the state was expanded. This was necessary because the Great Depression was defined as a crisis “of the system,” not just a glitch “in the system.” And so Mussolini created the “Corporate State,” in which, in theory at least, the big national enterprises were entrusted to state ownership (or substantial state ownership) and of course state management. Some of the big “Corporations” lasted a very long time; indeed some have only very recently been privatized, and the state still holds important chunks–so-called “golden shares”–in some of them.

Nassur, the Terroroist Teddy Bear

Allah be praised, the Palestinians have found a replacement for Assud the Jew-Eating Rabbit on their children's television program, Pioneers of Tomorrow. If you'll remember, Assud was killed by the evil Israelis during the late unpleasantness. Never fear, his replacement, Nassur, is ready to take over the kiddie show Jihad.

"Scotty! I need more power!"

The Examiner editorializes about one needed infrastructure project that may be getting short shrift in the new trillion dollar stimulus bill. They say our current electricity grid is holding us back and won't be able to handle the needs of a high-tech future.

The current, industrial-age grid is simply not sufficient to power the server-dominated digital workplaces of the future. Without a significant upgrade now, future brownouts will become regular Third Worldly features of daily life in America. Peter Huber, a senior analyst at the Manhattan Institute, estimated that the U.S. could eliminate the need for 70 percent of imported foreign oil simply by electrifying its transportation and heating sectors. Installing new million-volt transmission lines would automatically boost the efficiency of existing power plants by 50 percent, Huber added, because it would allow them to operate round the clock instead of sitting idle half the time.

Covering the nation with 21,000 miles of new high-voltage lines would cost between $50 and $75 billion. Pocket change these days.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Students Stop "Obama High"

The students of Boulder High School in Colorado have voted down an attempt by a Marxist student group to have their school's name changed to Barack Obama High School. Seems they they haven't gotten the Hope-n-Change message yet.

If the guy carrying the sign in that picture is in the group for any other reason than to find out what's behind that peace sign, I'll eat my shorts.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Senator Gregg Backs Off Commerce Post

New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg has fallen off the Hope-n-Change Express. His press release announcing his withdraw from consideration for the Commerce Secretary post cites some irreconcilable differences:

“However, it has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for me. Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns. We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy.

Welcome back, Senator.

Maybe They Need A Stimulus, Too?

It seems the crumbling world economy is hurting the terrorists, too. I blame George Bush.

From CBC News:

A Turkish militant group, which has hundreds of Turkish, Chechen and Uzbek fighters allied to the Taliban, reported that a sharp drop in donations is hampering its fight against NATO soldiers.

The group, based near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, made the revelation on an Islamic website last Friday.

Just as financial support from donors in the Middle East and Turkey has dropped off, prices for ammunition and weapons on the black market are skyrocketing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Favorite Governor

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford opposes the stimulus in a more sane and reasoned manner than any talking head pundit. Here's a video.

Obama's had three weeks. America elected a black dude President. Can the adults please have the government back now?

The First 21 Days

Can you believe we've not even lived in Obama-land for a whole month yet? Feelin' the Hope-n-Change already, aren't you? Randall Hoven at American Thinker has a brilliant synopsis of the Dear Leader's first three weeks as Messiah-in-Chief.

Roll Over Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson, once claimed as Democrats as the father of their party, must be rolling in his grave. The Senate has added billions of dollars to the bloated pork-o-rama that passed the House last week and one can only guess at how many billions more will be added in conference. Democrats have become the party of FDR, and proud of it. Let's hope their economic fix doesn't lead to another decade-long depression like their hero's.

To give you an idea of what a true classical liberal sounds like, here is a part of Jefferson's Second Inaugural Address:

At home, fellow-citizens, you best know whether we have done well or ill. The suppression of unnecessary offices, of useless establishments and expenses, enabled us to discontinue our internal taxes. These, covering our land with officers and opening our doors to their intrusions, had already begun that process of domiciliary vexation which once entered is scarcely to be restrained from reaching successively every article of property and produce. If among these taxes some minor ones fell which had not been inconvenient, it was because their amount would not have paid the officers who collected them, and because, if they had any merit, the State authorities might adopt them instead of others less approved.4
The remaining revenue on the consumption of foreign articles is paid chiefly by those who can afford to add foreign luxuries to domestic comforts, being collected on our seaboard and frontiers only, and incorporated with the transactions of our mercantile citizens, it may be the pleasure and the pride of an American to ask, What farmer, what mechanic, what laborer ever sees a taxgatherer of the United States? These contributions enable us to support the current expenses of the Government, to fulfill contracts with foreign nations, to extinguish the native right of soil within our limits, to extend those limits, and to apply such a surplus to our public debts as places at a short day their final redemption, and that redemption once effected the revenue thereby liberated may, by a just repartition of it among the States and a corresponding amendment of the Constitution, be applied in time of peace to rivers, canals, roads, arts, manufactures, education, and other great objects within each State. In time of war, if injustice by ourselves or others must sometimes produce war, increased as the same revenue will be by increased population and consumption, and aided by other resources reserved for that crisis, it may meet within the year all the expenses of the year without encroaching on the rights of future generations by burthening them with the debts of the past. War will then be but a suspension of useful works, and a return to a state of peace, a return to the progress of improvement.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Live Free Or Die, Indeed

Three state representatives and one state senator in New Hampshire are introducing a bill before their state and federal relations committee that "affirms states' rights based on Jeffersonian principles." They seek a return to Federalism and the recognition of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the Bill of Rights. You can read the text of the bill, HCR 0006, at the New Hampshire legislature's website here.

The genius of this is that they've simply re-written the words of one of our Founders. Back in 1798, Kentucky adopted the Kentucky Resolutions as a protest of the Alien and Sedition Acts of the John Adams administration. Though unknown until years later, the resolutions were written by Thomas Jefferson. New Hampshire's bill changes some of the language, removing specific references to the Alien and Sedition Acts and inserting references to the 13th Amendment barring involuntary servitude, but leaves most of Jefferson's arguments untouched.

Here's some of the wording common to both:

That the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General Government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a General Government for special purposes, -- delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force; that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral party, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress

The New Hampshire bill gives some specific examples of federal over-reaching that will not be allowed:

That any Act by the Congress of the United States, Executive Order of the President of the United States of America or Judicial Order by the Judicatories of the United States of America which assumes a power not delegated to the government of United States of America by the Constitution for the United States of America and which serves to diminish the liberty of the any of the several States or their citizens shall constitute a nullification of the Constitution for the United States of America by the government of the United States of America. Acts which would cause such a nullification include, but are not limited to:

I. Establishing martial law or a state of emergency within one of the States comprising the United States of America without the consent of the legislature of that State.

II. Requiring involuntary servitude, or governmental service other than a draft during a declared war, or pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.

III. Requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service of persons under the age of 18 other than pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.

IV. Surrendering any power delegated or not delegated to any corporation or foreign government.

V. Any act regarding religion; further limitations on freedom of political speech; or further limitations on freedom of the press.

VI. Further infringements on the right to keep and bear arms including prohibitions of type or quantity of arms or ammunition

God Speed to these fellows! I can't wait to hear Democrats arguing against the words of Thomas Jefferson. One hopes the other states are paying attention.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Hope For Change

Victor Davis Hanson at National Review Online points out the opportunities Obama has s a result of his relationship with the press. He could, Davis argues, get away with some real helpful radical change that would leave the country better off than he found it. But it looks from his first weeks, that he lacks the courage or imagination to be a transformative president.

Here's Hanson's conclusion:

In the next year Obama can continue to run against George Bush and whine about the “mess” that “they” left him as he tries to turn the U.S. economy and government into copies of those in Spain and Greece. He can print money and label as “stimulus” a pork plan that is designed to empower Democratic constituencies at the price of leaving generations to come with decades of debt. He can use his formidable powers of rhetoric to talk of ethical progress while he allows Clintonian ethical regress. He can hope-and-change the world—and learn to his dismay that its thugs take such magnanimity for weakness to be ridiculed and indecision to be exploited. And he can end up a mediocre president who counts on historians to whitewash his presidency just as the media once ensured it.

Or President Obama can decline to be worshiped and instead stop the monstrous borrowing, unsustainable debt, and endless expansion of an increasingly incompetent government. And as solace, he can remember that his idol, Lincoln, was as hated by his contemporaries as he was worshiped by posterity—and that the latter is often predicated on the former.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Congratulations To Michael Steele

Michael Steele is the new Republican National Committee Chairman and ConservativeNC has his acceptance speech posted.

My favorite bit, "We will cede no ground on matters of principle." Amen.

We've Won

As Ed Morrissey says on the Hot Air blog this morning, "This is what victory looks like."

Iraqis are voting today in the first provincial elections of the post-Saddam era. Unlike the last two national elections, the minority Sunni community has finally embraced the polls as the best way to promote their interests.

Security has been tight and few mortars have been fired, but all-in-all the vote is going well and the Iraqis seem happy.

This would never have happened if Obama had his way two years ago. The world owes George W. Bush a ton of gratitude, maybe in a few years he'll get it.

Beware of "Localism"

The Obama administration may think they've found a way to silence talk radio critics without using the "Fairness Doctrine." The Heritage Foundation reports that "localism" may be used to allow local activist groups to prevent radio stations that carry right wing talk radio from renewing their broadcast licenses by claiming they don't serve the "community's needs" as defined by the left wing activist group. All of this could be put in place without a new law, just by changing the interpretation of licensing guidelines at the FCC.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ernest Hemingway's Cuban Papers Now Available

A complete collection of copies of papers from Ernest Hemingway's Finca Vigia estate outside Havana are now available at the JFK Library in Massachusetts, thanks to an agreement brokered by Rep James McGovern. Sounds really cool.

From the AP:

The archival replicas include corrected proofs of "The Old Man and the Sea," a movie script based on the novel, an alternate ending to "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and thousands of letters, with correspondence from authors Sinclair Lewis and John Dos Passos and actress Ingrid Bergman. The documents were previewed Thursday and will likely be available to researchers in late spring.

Ben Stein on the Stimulus Bill

Ben Stein has an article in the American Spectator bemoaning the mess that is the 680-page Stimulus Bill. If you wanted to put the money in the hands of those who need it most, here's an idea:

For the amount spent we could have given every unemployed person in the United States roughly $75,000.

We could give every person who had lost a job and is now passing through long-term unemployment of six months or longer roughly $300,000.

The whole article is great. Lets hope the Senate can stop this boondoggle.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dangerously Naive

President Obama gave his first television interview to an Arab network. OK, fine, I can see the attempt to reach out, to capitalize on his Muslim roots, but he's going to lead us into trouble. Obama is naive to the point of being ridiculously idealistic. He truly thinks his powers of persuasion can make all the world see us as friends. There are quite a few out there who don't have any desire to be our friends. They'll see Obama as weak, as a result, see the United States as a ripe target once again.

Talk may be cheap, but it can also be dangerous on the world stage. Better to be denigrated as a "cowboy" by effete Europeans than to be seen as weak by vicious, uncivilized madmen.

House Republicans Grew Spines

Maybe they learned a lesson from the last election. Maybe they pay more attention to Rush Limbaugh than the President would like, but all 177 House Republicans voted against Obama's Stimulus bill.

That took courage and conviction. They were, in fact, joined by eleven Democrats, making opposition to the bill bi-partisan. Think we'll hear one reporter refer to the "bipartisan opposition?" Me neither.

The Wall Street Journal has a great explanation of what this pork-fest contains.

On to the Senate!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Making Sense of the Stimulus Debate

Forbes.com has a very good article by Bruce Bartlett explaining the history of economists' thinking of economic stimulus from the 1920's onward. The whole article is great, but here's the conclusion:

Thus the argument really boils down to a question of timing. In the short run, the case for stimulus is overwhelming. But in the longer run, we can't enrich ourselves by borrowing and printing money. That just causes inflation.

The trick is to front-load the stimulus as much as possible while putting in place policies that will tighten both fiscal and monetary policy next year. As terrible as our economic crisis is right now, we don't want to repeat the errors of the past and set off a new round of stagflation.

For this reason, I think there is a better case for stimulating the economy through tax policy than has been made. Congress can change incentives instantly by, for example, saying that new investments in machinery and equipment made after today would qualify for a 10% Investment Tax Credit, and this measure would be in effect only for investments largely completed this year. Businesses will start placing orders tomorrow. By contrast, it will take many months before spending on public works begins to flow through the economy, and it is very hard to stop it when the economy turns around.

Stimulus based on private investment also has the added virtue of establishing a foundation for future growth, whereas consumption spending does not. As economist Hal Varian of the University of California at Berkeley recently put it, "Private investment is what makes possible future increases in production and consumption. Investment tax credits or other subsidies for private sector investment are not as politically appealing as tax cuts for consumers or increases in government expenditure. But if private investment doesn't increase, where will the extra consumption come from in the future?"

Basically, the program before congress is pretty backwards, putting to little money into the economy now and wasting valuable resources in the near future. Let's hope the Republicans in congress can force a little sense into this headlong rush.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Good Advice

Yep, Pres. Obama's right on this one. The New York Post reports his advice to Republicans:

WASHINGTON -- President Obama warned Republicans on Capitol Hill today that they need to quit listening to radio king Rush Limbaugh if they want to get along with Democrats and the new administration.

"You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done," he told top GOP leaders, whom he had invited to the White House to discuss his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.

He's exactly right. If you want to bankrupt your children and your children's children by poring trillions of dollars of pork-barrel money into the hands of a gigantic government Leviathan, you'd better not listen to Rush. If you want Democrat control of the federal and state governments for the foreseeable future, turn off the EIB Network now. If you plan on becoming yet another Drone For Obama, you're better off watch MSNBC than listening to El Rushbo.

Sadly, many of our elected Republicans, led by our last Presidential candidate, are heeding Obama's words.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

He Should Have Surrendered

You just can't make this stuff up. The former President of France was hospitalized after being attacked by his little foo-foo doggie. From The Daily Mail:

Former French president Jacques Chirac was rushed to hospital after being mauled by his own 'clinically depressed' pet dog.

The 76-year-old statesman was savaged by his white Maltese dog - which suffers from frenzied fits and is being treated with anti-depressants.

The animal, named Sumo, had become increasingly violent over the past years and was prone to making 'vicious, unprovoked attacks', Chirac's wife Bernadette said.