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  • Archive for July, 2009

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Lexington Green on 13th July 2009 (All posts by )

    When I try explaining “global warming” to people in Iran or Turkey they have no idea what I’m talking about. Their life is about getting through to the next day, finding their next meal. Eco-guilt is a first-world luxury. It’s the new religion for urban populations which have lost their faith in Christianity. The IPCC report is their Bible. Al Gore and Lord Stern are their prophets.

    Ian Plimer, author of Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, the Missing Science .

    See also, Climate change: The sun and the oceans do not lie.

    Hat tip: Michael Barone

    Posted in Environment, Quotations, Religion, Science | 7 Comments »

    The War on Small Business

    Posted by David Foster on 13th July 2009 (All posts by )

    Dan Kennedy writes about the climate of fear that Obama is creating among small and medium-sized businesses. (via NeoNeocon, who has a discussion of this article)

    Victor Davis Hanson: the war against the producers. (via Dr Helen, who also has a discussion)

    Not to mention the dreadful Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which is having a baleful effect on businesses of all sizes–but particularly small and home-based businesses.

    Obama/Pelosi/Reid are clearly hostile to business in general, but they seem particularly hostile to small and medium-sized businesses. They do not appear to either to understand the importance of this class of enterprises or to have any empathy whatsoever with the people who start and run them.

    Posted in Business, Politics | 10 Comments »

    The Neo-Nazi Boogyman

    Posted by Shannon Love on 11th July 2009 (All posts by )

    The Mudville Gazette [h/t Instapundit] reports:

    Morris Dees, the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, says researchers have identified 40 personal profiles of people who list the military as their occupation on the Web site New Saxon.
     
    The site is run by the Detroit-based National Socialist Movement and describes itself as an “online community for whites by whites.” Its leader, Jeff Schoep, says site operators remove any violent comments they find.
     
    Dees sent a letter to four congressional committee chairs asking for an investigation.

    I can see why this requires a congressional investigation. Forty members of a racist site claiming to belong to the military represent a serious problem. After all, there are only 1,473,900 active service personnel and only 1,458,500 reservists so if there are 40 white supremacists that means that a staggering 1 in every 36,847 active service personnel is a white supremacist! Clearly, this is a pants wetting emergency requiring immediate Congressional attention!

    Okay, it doesn’t.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Leftism, Politics | 44 Comments »

    Talking Tough

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 10th July 2009 (All posts by )

    The following is the first paragraph from this Telegraph UK op-ed.

    “No apologies for posting consecutively on Barack Obama: the Looney Tunes President’s sell-out of US and Western interests is proceeding at such a speed that it is difficult to keep pace. Well said, Nile Gardiner, for asking if Barack Obama is the most naïve president in American history. The answer is undoubtedly yes – unless he has a secret agenda to cut America down to size.”

    And then the author gets kind of harsh.

    (Hat tip to The Cryptic Subterranean, and this essay is cross-posted over at Hell in a Handbasket.)

    Posted in International Affairs, Military Affairs, National Security, Politics, Russia | 9 Comments »

    Overselling Science

    Posted by Shannon Love on 10th July 2009 (All posts by )

    This post at Reason’s Hit & Run links to a Pew study that shows a divergence between the views of scientists and the laity on such matters as evolution, global warming and nuclear power. The study also shows that scientists blame the general public’s ignorance of science for the divergence. I think that scientists themselves are to blame because they too often oversell weak science. 

    The problem with polling “scientists” is that there is a wide divergence in the predictive power of different fields of study that we lump together as “science”. For example, physics has tremendous predictive power but sociology has almost none. Worse, scientists in highly predictive fields tend to project their own fields’ predictive power onto less predictive fields, and scientists in low-predictive fields try to parasitize the public’s trust in highly predictive fields. 

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Politics, Science | 23 Comments »

    Where are the Protesters?

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 10th July 2009 (All posts by )

    The photos from Iran are genuinely heartbreaking. You have unarmed men, women and students, out peacefully protesting that an election has been obviously stolen, and illiterate thugs, many whom are not even Iranian citizens, come out and attack them with truncheons and batons and take them away in the dead of night. THEIR RIGHTS TO FREE ELECTIONS HAVE BEEN STOLEN.

    Where are the protests in the USA and London? I am talking about the local art schools, the ones that couldn’t get enough of protesting the Iraq war and similar types of incidents, that close so that all the students can flood the streets? The anarchists all in black smashing store windows? Where are they?

    And now in China, after the government cracked down on Tibet (thanks, Beastie Boys, for all their support, it helped a lot) they are now going after other indigenous groups with mobs of bat wielding Han Chinese citizens specifically imported in to take over the local province. They are threatening executions, too. THEIR RIGHTS TO INDIGENOUS CUSTOMS AND SELF DETERMINATION ARE BEING STOLEN.

    And what about protesting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? I guess since they are now Obama’s wars, not such a big deal anymore.

    The odd thing is that our “protest class” has been specifically groomed since childhood to view one thing and one thing only as “evil” and protest worthy – basically white Republicans (it isn’t a male thing – look at Palin). This is what gets their ire and gets them to the street, not the actual level of injustice.

    And if you met these protesters in person – their arrogance is breathtaking. Their most immediate attack on Republicans is that they are all “hypocrites”. Since most of you don’t live in a major city that is all-Obama you probably don’t run into them as often as I do. But what type of hypocrisy ignores these obvious types of injustices and focuses only on a certain subset?

    This isn’t a “generational” thing – look at who is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan – an all volunteer force that is the best and most professional military that ever walked the planet – and they are young people of roughly the same age as the “protest class”.

    Protesting against Republicans is all that they have been taught, and all that they know.

    Posted in Leftism | 14 Comments »

    We Are Number One!

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 10th July 2009 (All posts by )

    The headline reads “US demand for handguns driving world gun trade.”

    More than half of all of the legally imported handguns in the world, and about 43% of the total imported shotguns, are sent to the United States. While international trade in weapons has boomed in the past decade, it is largely fueled by sales in handguns.

    Self defense, baby! And I’m a part of it!

    Just trying to do what I can to make the world a better place, and expand the global marketplace.

    (Cross posted at Hell in a Handbasket.)

    Posted in Americas, RKBA | 3 Comments »

    Another Day, Another Speech, Another History Trashed

    Posted by Ginny on 10th July 2009 (All posts by )

    Claudia Rossett’s “The Bear Scare” analyzes Obama’s rather weak grasp of history on display in Moscow as it was in Cairo. But it is not just the confused focus, the generalizations at odds with history. It is also an attitude. She speaks of the real blood and treasure with which we have defended freedom; more importantly, “Americans kept brilliantly alive a philosophy of democratic government and free markets, which offered a beacon to oppressed people of the world, and exported both ideas and inventions that have vastly enriched mankind.” Were Russians surprised a U.S. President interpreted their history as he did?

    In Obama’s version of history, Soviet communism (which he referred to not by name but as “old political and economic restrictions”) came to an end through some sort of brotherly mass movement: “The change did not come from any one nation,” he told an audience of Russian students. “The Cold War reached a conclusion because of the actions of many nations over many years, and because the people of Russia and Eastern Europe stood up and decided that its end would be peaceful.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Political Philosophy, Russia | 10 Comments »

    Lisa Hannigan: I Don’t Know

    Posted by Lexington Green on 9th July 2009 (All posts by )

    (I listened to this about twenty times, literally, the other night.)

    (Hat tip On Park Street.)

    Posted in Music, Video | 6 Comments »

    Cool Retrotech

    Posted by David Foster on 9th July 2009 (All posts by )

    Here’s a guy, Thomas Thwaites, who is attempting to make a toaster, literally from the ground up, starting with primary materials such as iron ore and mica.

    For real retrotoasting, though, seems like he also should make the power source from scratch, with a small generator powered by either a waterwheel or a steam engine. The waterwheel approach might be fairly straightforward, but I’d guess it would be pretty hard to make a viable steam engine without using any machine tools.

    Which raises, of course, the interesting proposition of making a machine tool without any machine tools to make it with…

    Via Isegoria, who sadly says:

    As you might imagine, Thwaites is not celebrating trade, technology, and mutually beneficial exchange; he’s condemning it. Sigh.

    Hopefully the project will turn out to be a little more nuanced than that–Thwaites does say “The project won’t be a ‘how is it made?’ industrial promo or an anti-industry tirade either”…we’ll see.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, History, Tech | 6 Comments »

    It’s Worse Than Mere Corruption

    Posted by Shannon Love on 9th July 2009 (All posts by )

    At USA Today via Instapundit:

    Counties that supported Obama last year have reaped twice as much money per person from the administration’s $787 billion economic stimulus package as those that voted for his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, a USA TODAY analysis of government disclosure and accounting records shows. That money includes aid to repair military bases, improve public housing and help students pay for college.

     

    The reports show the 872 counties that supported Obama received about $69 per person, on average. The 2,234 that supported McCain received about $34.

    The article spends a lot of time explaining that there is no evidence that the distribution of the “stimulus” money occurred owing to favoritism or political corruption. I think that is true. If nothing else, the stimulus was rammed through so quickly I don’t there was time for corrupt allocation on such a scale. 

    The real explanation is much, much worse.

    This pattern reveals that the Democrats have created a hardwired system that automatically takes from Republican-leaning areas and gives to Democrat-leaning areas. This means that people in those areas don’t have to be convinced with intellectual arguments to vote for Democrats, because they will do so automatically out of economic self-interest. People vote for Obama because they expect themselves and their immediate communities to receive money taken from areas that didn’t vote for Obama. 

    Corruption can be fought by bringing down corrupt individuals. A legal, hardwired distribution system that creates an incentive for one group of citizens to loot other citizens is a much more serious and intractable problem.

    [edit (2009-06-09 3:18pm) expanded quote to show per capita spending.]

    Posted in Politics, Taxes | 11 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 8th July 2009 (All posts by )

    Commenter “Lifeofthemind”, in response to this post at Belmont Club (discussing the Obama administration’s prospects if public support for its program declines):

    For what it is worth, which is what the audience is paying that is exactly nothing, Soros-Axelrod-Obama do know what they are doing. It is unlikely that they will cancel elections or or do anything else spectacular that would only serve to rally the resistance. My expectation is that they do not worry unduly about the sagging poll numbers but they do intend to win the next election. How to square this circle when it is likely that in 18 months we will be experiencing 15-20% in both unemployment and inflation? They intend to do it the Chicago way, they intend to buy it with your money.
     
    The Democrats are going to have over half a trillion dollars in slush fund money ready to pump out for the 2010 election. Acorn and an army of hacks will push to hold onto Congress in 2010 and the census will be cooked to deliver the Congress in 2012. The declining economy will drain resources from the opposition. As a side benefit the carping left will discover a new discipline that Republicans could never threaten them with. Recalcitrant academics and think tanks will be defunded and media jobs will be increasingly under the control of Obama aligned conglomerates. Immigration reform will complete the picture for Obama’s reelection. While much of this will be technically illegal, in the general sense of corruption, it does not mean that they will resort to violence or attempt to repeal the 2nd Amendment before 2012.
     
    As I said before people should stop assuming that Obama will make a mistake and do something overtly revolutionary. Expecting or hoping that he does so puts people in a passive or reactive mode. It is like those who still expect his birth certificate or college transcripts to magically appear and then somehow force someone to invalidate the election. Anyone who is thinking that way needs to have Cher slap them in the face and yell “Snap out of it.” Can we win this battle? Yes but it will take hard sustained work.

    Posted in Politics, Predictions, Quotations | 8 Comments »

    Paying for it

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 8th July 2009 (All posts by )

    On the one hand, we have the Obama administration’s grand plans for universal health care, investment in our infrastructure, reducing our atmospheric carbon output, and world-wide reduction in sea levels. On the other, we have the requirement to pay for it, assuming the Chinese would like to have some significant portion of their money returned to them. Currently, the administration seems to favor increased taxes (sorry, “contributions”) on those with the highest incomes. The problem is that there are not enough rich people to go around. Even at a tax rate of 100%, there is still not enough money to pay for all the urgently needed good stuff. What to do, what to do…

    A possible remedy comes from the Internal Revenue Code, which starts with this:

    § 61. Gross income defined
    (a) General definition
    Except as otherwise provided in this subtitle, gross income means all income from whatever source derived, including (but not limited to) the following items:
    (1) Compensation for services, including fees, commissions, fringe benefits, and similar items;
    (2) Gross income derived from business;
    (3) Gains derived from dealings in property;
    (4) Interest;
    (5) Rents;
    (6) Royalties;
    (7) Dividends;
    (8) Alimony and separate maintenance payments;
    (9) Annuities;
    (10) Income from life insurance and endowment contracts;
    (11) Pensions;
    (12) Income from discharge of indebtedness;
    (13) Distributive share of partnership gross income;
    (14) Income in respect of a decedent; and
    (15) Income from an interest in an estate or trust.

    The definition is broad enough to encompass just about anything that could be construed as income; that is, anything that would result in the improvement in the economic situation of a person or entity. Cash need not be involved. Income can be recognized, and taxes must be paid, on the unrealized gains of certain derivatives (§ 1256, § 988), on bonds that do not pay anything at all until they mature (§ 1272), and even in some situations where you pay too little for something (§ 1274). This is a marvelously flexible idea, and suggests that we can close our budget deficits not by raising the tax rates, but by discovering and taxing previously undiscovered sources of income.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Leftism, Politics, Taxes | 3 Comments »

    The Leftists’ Doomsday Machine

    Posted by Shannon Love on 8th July 2009 (All posts by )

    startrekdoomsday

    Commenter Mike on this Hit&Run post on California [h/t Instapundit] observes:

    First the once-great city of Detroit, then California, and soon the entire country if we don’t come to our senses, and fast.

     

    Saul Alinsky’s new leftism combined with old-style Tammany Hall democratic party corruption is the political version of the Star Trek Doomsday Machine, devouring and destroying everything in its path. [links added]

     Heh. Here’s a video if you don’t remember the episode. 

    Can’t say he’s wrong. Leftists have progressively destroyed the economic vitality of every region they dominated for more than a few decades. They do seem inexorable at times but I think we need to remember that things looked equally bleak back in the ’70s after leftists trashed everything. But the nation as a whole recovered and prospered.

    Our diversity and compartmentalization remain our great national strength. If one region destroys itself with foolish policies, others can still prosper. California and the Northeast are failing but Texas and other similar states are prospering. 

    Perhaps this crisis will prove to be the end of the doomsday machine. Perhaps, like the Star Trek doomsday machine, their greedy, selfish overreach in this time of crisis will cause them to choke to death on the cream of their own runaway spending. This happened in the ’70s and led to the rebirth of the ’80s. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take as long this time.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Leftism, Politics | 18 Comments »

    The Quayle-O-Meter goes DingDingDingDingDingDing!!!

    Posted by Lexington Green on 8th July 2009 (All posts by )

    Obama in Moscow:

    Along the way, you gave us a pretty good deal on Alaska. Thank you.

    D’OH!!!

    The man is a Laff Riot!!!

    That’s the way to “hit the Reset button”, Mr. President. Remind the Russians of perhaps the stupidest thing they ever did.

    (Can you imagine the teeth-grinding rage of a person like Putin, a guy who has clawed his way to the top on sheer wit, cunning and brutality, having to deal with this lightweight and take him seriously? I almost feel sorry for Putin.)

    Can you imagine if any Republican said this? How about if Sarah Palin said it? Geez.

    Bottom line: The guy is a smooth-talking ignoramus: not all that smart, not well-read, with a wafer-thin resume.

    Some people who are paying attention don’t call our President His Holiness Messiah Barack I or even just The One: We call him J. Danforth Obama!

    Hold on to your hats, folks. We are in for at least 3.5 more years of comedic hijinks.

    Via Instapundit.

    UPDATE: David Brooks — traitor! — says that Obama has restored, get this, dignity to the presidency, sorta like George Washington! “Whatever policy differences people may have with him, we can all agree that he exemplifies reticence, dispassion and the other traits associated with dignity.” So, whatever his defects as, you know, president, we an at least admire his deportment! Duh, no, can’t agree with that one. George Washington would not have set off the Quayle-O-Meter nearly so often. This guy Obama is “dispassionate” until someone disagrees with him even a little, then he gets downright grumpy. I will agree that he is wise to be reticient when he does not have his teleprompter handy. I must say, Mr. Brooks is putting a pretty thin veil over what is turning out to be a big, steaming chunk of buyer’s remorse.

    Brooks goes on: “The cultural effects of his presidency are not yet clear, but they may surpass his policy impact.” Gadzooks! That better not be right! If Obama’s cultural effects are as destructive as his policy impact, at the rate we are going, we are going to return to paleolithic conditions, and maybe even be reduced to communicating in a system of grunts and squeals like our primate cousins.

    A significant cultural effect of Mr. Obama’s presidency has already been determined. We are now a culture where the rules applied to Governor Palin by the Democrats and their running dog lackeys in the media and the entertainment industry — destroy the enemy at any cost, by any means — will be and must be applied to everyone who wants to play the game of politics. That is cultural degradation, and it is irreversible. But if that is how the combat is now conducted, only a fool would play by chivalric rules. So be it. On to 2010 and 2012.

    UPDATE II: Yow! Check out this picture. Medvedev shows a cringing, needful, almost-supine Obama, which one of them is the biggest and baddest guy in the room . Hint: It ain’t the skinny guy with the bicycle helmet.

    UPDATE III: Obama being dignified.

    UPDATE IV: To clarify: In my original post on this theme, I asked this question, “This is my proposed Quayle Test. Ask yourself: How each time Obama says something stoopid, would the press would have crucified Dan Quayle for it?” Obama fails this test pretty darn frequently. I am not trying to be mean to Dan Quayle. Gerald Ford got similarly unfair treatment. Barack gets the kid gloves treatment. He shouldn’t. The rules should be the same for all politicians. Ha. As if. We’ll never live to see the day.

    UPDATE V: A commenter accused me and this blog racism. I spit on that accusation. But I mention it for an important point. Mr. Obama chose to run for president, and as he has told us: “I won”. Yes, he did. And as president, he is going to be subject to the exact same degree of criticism, fair and foul, reasoned or crazed, which every president gets. More, he is going to get the same mean-spirited treatment that his supporters dish out.

    Mr. Obama’s race is not going to be a way to intimidate his critics into silence. No one is going to play that. This is a democracy, and the people will not behave with courtly decorum, even if David Brooks thinks they should. Mr. Obama is made of stern enough stuff to take the criticism. There. I said something almost fair and even nice about him.

    And for what it’s worth, one of my great political regrets is that Colin Powell — who is every bit as Black as Mr. Obama — did not run for president in 1996. I would not only have voted for General Powell, I would have worked for his campaign. For one thing, President Powell would not have failed to kill Osama bin Laden in 1998, when Clinton could not pull the trigger. The world would be a different and better place.

    I assume that Obama’s supporters will routinely accuse his opponents of racism without any basis, for the entirety of his term in office. That is how they play the game.

    Fair warning: It won’t make anyone shut up.

    Posted in International Affairs, Media, Politics, Russia, Society, War and Peace | 57 Comments »

    Realism on Alternative Energy – Wind Power

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 8th July 2009 (All posts by )

    Today Reuters posted a story called “Pickens backs off wind farm project

    Texas oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens has called off plans to build the world’s biggest wind farm in the Texas Panhandle, the Wall Street Journal said.
     
    Pickens said the wind farm project was scuttled partly because of the lack of adequate transmission lines to carry the electricity from remote locations to cities, according to the paper.
     
    The oil tycoon had hoped to build new transmission lines but could not secure financing, the paper said.

    This paper neatly summarizes the impossible economics for most of these large scale alternative energy projects, focusing on areas that aren’t usually covered well by the media or academics.

    One of the favorite alternative energy projects involve wind energy, basically giant windmills / turbines that generate electricity when the wind blows. Wind energy viability is determined by a lot of factors, including:

    1. how much the wind blows, or more accurately, how “steadily” the wind blows at a relatively high rate of speed
    2. cost of the turbines / windmills
    3. reliability of the turbines / windmills (one of the major manufacturers out of India has been recalling and having issues with the blades)
    4. ability to find permits to site the blades (famously the Kennedy’s are blocking them for damaging the “view” off their compound on the East coast)
    5. amount of subsidy that the state power commission / Federal government is providing for the energy (else they generally aren’t financially viable)
    6. access to transmission lines to bring the electricity back to the urban areas that are most likely to utilize this electricity
    7. access to funding (debt and equity) that allows the developer to build and secure the land, materials and equipment to complete the job

    Of all these items, people tend to focus on items 1-4 above, with some understanding that without 5 (subsidies or requirements to “source” a certain percentage of generation alternatively), it isn’t going to just happen.

    However, #6 and #7 are actually the biggest bottlenecks right now, and tied to long term items that the state, local and Federal authorities are doing the least about.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Energy & Power Generation | 11 Comments »

    “I Still Hate You, Sarah Palin”

    Posted by Jonathan on 7th July 2009 (All posts by )

    An excellent analysis:

    And so the word went out, from that time and place: Eviscerate Sarah Palin like one of her field-dressed moose. Turn her life upside down. Attack her politics, her background, her educational history. Attack her family. Make fun of her husband, her children. Unleash the noted gynecologist Andrew Sullivan to prove that Palin’s fifth child was really her grandchild. Hit her with everything we have: Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, taking a beer-run break from her quixotic search for Mr. Right to drip venom on Sister Sarah; post-funny comic David Letterman, to joke about her and her daughters on national television; Katie Couric, the anchor nobody watches, to give this Alaskan interloper a taste of life in the big leagues; former New York Times hack Todd “Mr. Dee Dee Myers” Purdum, to act as an instrument of Graydon Carter’s wrath at Vanity Fair. Heck, we even burned her church down. Even after the teleological triumph of The One, the assault had to continue, each blow delivered with our Lefty SneerTM (viz.: Donny Deutsch yesterday on Morning Joe), until Sarah was finished.
     
    You know what? It worked! McCain finally succumbed to his long-standing case of Stockholm Syndrome (“My friends, you have nothing to fear from an Obama presidency”), Tina Fey turned Palin into a see-Russia-from-my-house joke, “conservative” useful idiots like Peggy Noonan and Kathleen Parker hatched her, and finally Sarah cried No más and walked away. If we could, we’d cut off her head and mount it on a wall at Tammany Hall, except there is no more Tammany Hall unless you count Obama’s Tony Rezko–financed home in Chicago. And it took only eight months — heck, Sarah couldn’t even have another kid in the time it took us to destroy her. That’s the Chicago way!
     
    […]
     
    I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but maybe now you’re beginning to understand the high-stakes game we’re playing here. This ain’t John McCain’s logrolling senatorial club any more. This is a deadly serious attempt to realize the vision of the 1960s and to fundamentally transform the United States of America. This is the fusion of Communist dogma, high ideals, gangster tactics, and a stunning amount of self-loathing. For the first time in history, the patrician class is deliberately selling its own country down the river just to prove a point: that, yes, we can! This country stinks and we won’t be happy until we’ve forced you to admit it.

    UPDATE: Part of the problem, perhaps unavoidable, is the cartelization of our political system. Because our system strongly discourages the cultivation of new political parties, the fact that we have a leftist Democratic Party means that the Republicans can get away with taking positions that are to the Left of where most Republican voters are on important issues such as the scope of government and level of overall government spending. (I assume that leftism confers a political advantage by rationalizing government spending that may be used to buy votes.) In a two-party system, incumbents of the weaker party may make their lives easier by conceding dominance to the other party and living on the crumbs. (Illinois Republicans will know exactly what I mean.) The weaker party may also find advantage in attacking radical challengers of their own party who threaten to upset this arrangement. Somebody, I think it was William Niskanen, wrote a paper around 1995 that was called something like, “Why Our Two-Party System Doesn’t Work” and made a similar argument. I don’t know if his paper is available online; there may be an updated version under a different title.

    Posted in Leftism, Politics | 21 Comments »

    RIP, Ed McMahon

    Posted by Lexington Green on 7th July 2009 (All posts by )

    I knew Ed McMahon was a Marine, but not the details. This post gives some details of his service. (I got the text as part of an email blitz from a friend. I am not 100% sure of its veracity, but take it with that caveat). Col. McMahon was quite a guy, and he did more that is worthy of respect than Michael, or even Farrah.

    He was recalled to active duty during the Korean War. He never got to fly his fighter aircraft, but he saw his share of raw combat. He flew the Cessna O-1E Bird Dog, which is a single engine slow-moving unarmed plane. He functioned as an artillery spotter for the Marine batteries on the ground and as a forward controller for the Navy & Marine fighter / bombers who flew in on fast moving jet engines, bombed the area and were gone in seconds. Captain Ed was still circling the enemy looking for more targets, all the time taking North Korean and Chinese ground fire.

    RTWT.

    I grew up on The Johnny Carson show. I was half comatose in high school from sleep-deprivation since I watched Johnny (which ended at 1:00 a.m.) and then often watched Tom Snyder on the Tomorrow Show (which ended at 2:00 a.m.) then I had to be up and out the door by 7:30 a.m. for school. This was good training for a lifetime of sleep deprivation. Johnny, Ed, Doc Severinsen and the NBC Orchestra were part of my daily routine. Yet another link to a very different world now broken.

    This belated obituary is out of respect for Col. McMahon’s service to our country. Rest in Peace, sir.

    Posted in Obits | 2 Comments »

    A Question That Needs to be Asked

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 6th July 2009 (All posts by )

    Most of you are no doubt familiar with the Washington Post salon scandal, where people with very deep pockets were invited to pony up $25,000 USD in order to have a dinner at the house of publisher Katharine Weymouth.

    What would you get for that kind of scratch? The movers and shakers at the newspaper would personally introduce you to the movers and shakers at the White House, as well as the reporters who covered them. Pay them cash, and the good folks at the WaPo would create an instant handshake relationship with the very people who are shaping the future of the country, and those who shape public perception of same. If you are a representative from a special interest group, a corporation or lobbyist, this was like sounding the dinner bell at fat camp.

    As the article I linked to above points out, this sort of thing is done all the time by newspapers with their foot in the White House press room door. But this time around it was just a bit too blatant to pass the smell test. The wage slaves in the WaPo’s very own bullpen, the ink stained wretches that are never invited to any of the best shindigs because they are “gray people”, screamed bloody murder. No one had asked them, they claimed. HA! Like anyone who spends their days in a newspaper’s board room on the top floor would ask what a reporter thought when bucks were on the line!

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Media, The Press | 16 Comments »

    A Question for the Obama Administration

    Posted by Jonathan on 6th July 2009 (All posts by )

    Why is our government supporting the guy in the middle?

    Castro, Zelaya, Chavez

    (via Fausta)

    Also, a suggestion for the Republicans: Run ads, in English and Spanish, asking this question and using this photo.

    Something is wrong when the USA allies itself with communist dictators and against democrats.

    Posted in Americas, International Affairs, Latin America, Leftism, Politics | 8 Comments »

    Benji Saves the Universe Bad

    Posted by Shannon Love on 6th July 2009 (All posts by )

    My spouse and I used to read the Bloom County comic strip religiously. Reading the comics sitting together side by side was one of the rituals of our courtship. We read in specific order, snaking our way up the page and back down again until we ended up at Bloom County. We bought all the Bloom County books

    As a consequence, our speech is laced with allusions to the comic strip. I keep finding myself wanting to use these allusions in my writings but I can’t because most people won’t know what I’m talking about. One allusion I like in particular is saying something is, “Benji saves the universe bad,” so I’ve decided to post the strip so I can link to it in the future. 

    benji-saves-the-universe

    (Click the image to view in at full size.)

    Transcript:

    Panel 1: “George Phglat’s new film “Benji saves the Universe” has brought the word ‘Bad” to new levels of badness.”

    Panel 2: “Bad acting. Bad effects. Bad everything. This bad film just oozed rottenness from every bad scene… simply bad beyond beyond all infinite dimensions of possible badness.”

    Panel 3: [Opus pauses for a moment of contemplation.]

    Panel 4: “Well, maybe not that bad, but lord, it wasn’t good.”

    A lot of things are Benji-saves-the-universe bad. The Iraqi Mortality Survey springs to mind.

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Humor | 3 Comments »

    In Town

    Posted by John Jay on 6th July 2009 (All posts by )

    I’ll be in Chicago on Wednesday. I don’t entirely know what my schedule will be yet, but anyone interested in getting together for a few beers in the afternoon or evening please leave drop me a line at my gmail account: perestrelka91.

    Posted in Personal Narrative | 5 Comments »

    We the People, In Order to Form a More Perfect Union…

    Posted by Shannon Love on 5th July 2009 (All posts by )

    Over at Reason’s Hit&Run, Jesse Walker plays the longstanding game of asking what song we should replace the Star Spangled Banner with should we ever decide to retire that old warhorse. I seriously suggested we use the refrain from School House Rock’s “The Preamble”

    The refrain is just the preamble of the U.S. Constitution put to music. I like it as an anthem because it puts the emphasis on the Constitution where it should be. Of course, it may lack gravitas. 

    As long as we’re at it, I think we should replace the socialist originated “Pledge of Allegiance” with a recitation of the key paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. It should run something like this:

    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,
     
    So say we all!

    We could call it the “American Affirmation”. (That last line comes from the New England town-meeting tradition and would be particularly fun at sporting events.)

    I’ve always found the Pledge of Allegiance to be a little too creepily authoritarian. I think it a little too European for my taste. One of the key facets of American exceptionalism is that we are bound together by ideas and principles instead of territory or ethnicity. Swearing allegiance to a particular government represented by a particular flag doesn’t really represent our true bond.

    Changing both the anthem and the pledge wouldn’t be a major break from tradition. The pledge was only made official in 1942 and The Star Spangled Banner in 1931.

    Posted in History, Music | 12 Comments »

    Your (Wasted) Federal Tax Dollars At Work

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 5th July 2009 (All posts by )


    One of the most basic concepts in real estate is TIMING. There is a time to buy properties (when the costs are low) and a time to sell properties (when the prices are high). This is such a basic concept that even a third grader could recite it.

    How you can tell the difference between how the GOVERNMENT operates (with your tax dollars at risk) and how an INDIVIDUAL would choose, if it were their own money? Here is a classic example.

    The old US post office in Chicago is a giant structure rising over I-290 (the main highway into the city coming in from the West) that has been abandoned since 1995, when a new post office was built.

    While the Chicago real estate market absolutely boomed through the period from perhaps 2000 through the 2007-8 crash, the US government was unable to execute a deal of any sort. There were various plans to do so, but they didn’t reach a deal, and anyone who knows a government bureaucrat knows it is better to be “safe than sorry”. If the terms weren’t perfect and there was some controversy, just let it lapse, and who cares, your pay is the same, either way.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Chicagoania | 13 Comments »

    Health Care and Static Analysis

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 5th July 2009 (All posts by )

    PANAMA AND ESCAPING HIGH US COSTS

    One element that is generally not well considered in our health care debate is the fact that individuals will react (over time) to market signals and attempt to make rational financial decisions. A recent article from Business Week called “Panama – It’s the New Florida” with the tag line

    Quality health care and low costs are luring lots of U.S. professionals

    is useful to provide some background on this issue.

    This article uses hyperbole – the total population of Panama is a bit over 3 million and U.S. residents are a small fraction of that total, while Florida has a population of 18 million – but the thinking is spot on, long term.

    They mention a US citizen who has Parkinson’s disease and says

    Researching rates in Seattle, she found that nurses run $25 an hour. In Panama City, where she has lived since 2007, they cost $25 a day.

    Going overseas for medical work has a long tradition; generally it was the wealthy from Middle Eastern countries who came to Europe or the USA to receive advanced treatments. In recent years citizens of many nations featuring socialized medicine such as Canada travel overseas or to the United States to bypass waiting lists for critical procedures.

    COST OF HEALTH INSURANCE

    The most likely individuals to leave based on economics are those who retire early (like those in the article) and are ineligible for Medicare, which starts at 65. According to this survey (which is quite interesting, I recommend you click through and read it) – here are some numbers based on 2006 premiums and the survey was published in December, 2007:
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Taxes | 4 Comments »