Thursday, June 30, 2005

More on Zimbabwe

While the world was busy looking at Zimbabwe's "urban renewal program" (see my previous post here), Robert Mugabe was busy throwing out the remaining white farmers (full story here).

ZimOnline, an apparent news service in South Africa, gives some of the applicable statistics:

Food production has plummeted by 60 percent since the farm evictions began five years ago and only food handouts from international relief agencies have saved Zimbabwe from famine. Zimbabwe requires 1.2 million tonnes of food aid between now and the next harvest around March/April 2006 or about a quarter of the country’s 12 million people could starve.

Mugabe blames erratic rains and economic sabotage by western governments opposed to his farm seizures for crippling Zimbabwe’s mainstay agricultural sector and economy.

But critics say failure by Mugabe to supply black peasant families resettled on former white farms with skills training, financial resources and other inputs is largely to blame for the massive drop in food production.

What's worse is that the continuing evictions of white farmers is going to cause problems for Zimbabwe's winter wheat harvest.

Between the farm evictions and the urban clean-up, Zimbabwe's economy is in the tank.

Zimbabwe is grappling its worst economic crisis in years with shortages of hard cash, fuel, and food. Inflation stands at 144.4 percent and is rising while unemployment is pegged at over 70 percent after hundreds of companies closed down because of the worsening economic climate.

Thousands others, who had gone into informal trading that contributed a third of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, have in one single swoop lost critical income after their businesses were closed by the police under the ongoing urban clean-up campaign.

I see the articles about Zimbabwe in WorldNetDaily, which is generally a conservative news source with more of an eye for international news than the major news sources have. But the mainstream media isn't talking much about Zimbabwe. And that may be because Americans usually don't pay much attention to places outside of North America and the countries where our military is deployed.

Sooner or later, though, we'll hear about Zimbabwe the same way we heard about Ethiopia in the '70s and '80s (and will probably be hearing about Ethiopia again too--stories here and here). But we won't hear about it until Mugabe's policies have utterly destroyed the country and there's nothing left for that country to do but beg for handouts. And we'll send them, because that's who we are.

I get discouraged reading about Zimbabwe's decline and knowing that the UN is more wrapped up in saving Kofi Annan's butt than in doing what it was formed to do: prevent disaster before it's too late.


Blogger Sokwanele has a fine post on the excuses used by non-Zimbabweans to avoid doing anything about the situation there.

Zimpundit names Zimbabwe's worst enemy. A must-read.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

President Bush's Iraq Speech

President Bush gave a speech yesterday (full text here) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to discuss the war in Iraq and the War on Terror.

It was a good speech, but not a home run. One of my favorite lines was, "As we determine the right force level, our troops can know that I will continue to be guided by the advice that matters: the sober judgment of our military leaders." As opposed to the loopy judgment of our Senate Democrat leaders.

Laura Ingraham had David Frum (author of The Right Man : An Inside Account of the Bush White House) on her show this morning to discuss the President's speech. I like David Frum. He has a voice that's low-key, with a pleasant timbre, and yet is full of the passion he obviously feels as he speaks. A point he made about the speech was right on target, and it highlights why this President isn't a great speaker.

President Bush didn't tell any stories. When presidents come before the American people, it's the stories about real individuals that help get the point home. And I don't mean those stupid campaign-debate token stories about poor Sam Spam, the bucket-maker, who's going to starve to death if the other guy gets elected.

Frum gave an example on Laura's show of the kind of story that needs to be in President Bush's speeches. On the eve of the Iraq elections in January, an Iraqi policeman spotted a man with explosives around his middle. The policeman hurried to the terrorist and gave him a bear hug, holding on until the bomb exploded and killed both of them. An Iraqi policeman willingly gave his life to save the lives of an untold number of people, for the sake of the freedom of his own country. Knowing this and knowing of the times that suicide bombers have killed recruits as they wait in line to apply, still the Iraqis wait in potentially deadly lines to apply to the military and the police forces. Because they believe in what their nation is becoming. And it would never have been possible if the US hadn't gone to war there.

All President Bush's speechwriters need to do is go the milblogs to find an endless supply of stories about the difference our troops are making there in Iraq, as well finding a glimpse into the heart and character of our military. A few of these are: Mudville Gazette, Blackfive, and Major K.

The other source of stories is some of the Iraqi blogs, like Iraq the Model, written by an articulate Iraqi about life there now.

President Bush earned his political capital on two issues: Judges and the Global War on Terror. He needs to spend it on those two issues.

When he gets his political focus back on Iraq (and Iran, Syria, North Korea, and even China), and when he starts telling the stories, then he will regain his connection with the American people.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Zombie Dogs

In the last few seconds of Hugh Hewitt's radio show last night (listen live from 3pm - 6pm Pacific here or here), I thought I heard him say something like "zombie dogs," but since the end-of-the-show music was playing I couldn't be sure.

This morning I saw this headline on WorldNetDaily's Page 2 News: "Boffins Create Zombie Dogs." That answered the question of whether or not I heard Hugh right. I did. But it raised another question, besides the whole zombie thing.

What on earth is a "boffin?" It sounds too much like "buffoon," and what would they be doing creating zombie anythings? The word gives the impression that they might attempt creating zombies, but not that they'd succeed.

Naturally, I went to and found this entry:

bof·fin also Bof·fin
( P ) Pronunciation Key (bfn)
n. Chiefly British Slang

A scientist, especially one engaged in research.

OK. That clears up one question, since the article was in an Aussie News site. Researchers--American researchers, not Boffins at all--created the zombie dogs.

Pittsburgh's Safar Centre for Resuscitation Research did the work. According to Nick Buchan of, these researchers "developed a technique in which subject's veins are drained of blood and filled with an ice-cold salt solution." It doesn't sound like the dogs are already dead when the procedure starts.

The animals are considered scientifically dead, as they stop breathing and have no heartbeat or brain activity. But three hours later, their blood is replaced and the zombie dogs are brought back to life with an electric shock.

So far, so good, I suppose. But why? This isn't like cloning your favorite pet, so you can have that lovable personality for two dog-lifetimes. If the dog is dying of cancer, for example, zombifying it won't help when you bring it back to life. It'll still have cancer.

This all sounds too much like Frankenweenie. But wait! There's more!

Plans to test the technique on humans should be realised within a year, according to the Safar Centre.

Who would volunteer to be a research subject for this???

Actually, it's not as bad as it sounds. For somebody else, of course.

However rather than sending people to sleep for years, then bringing them back to life to benefit from medical advances, the boffins would be happy to keep people in this state for just a few hours.

But even this should be enough to save lives such as battlefield casualties and victims of stabbings or gunshot wounds, who have suffered huge blood loss.

During the procedure blood is replaced with saline solution at a few degrees above zero. The dogs' body temperature drops to only 7C, compared with the usual 37C, inducing a state of hypothermia before death.

Although the animals are clinically dead, their tissues and organs are perfectly preserved.
Damaged blood vessels and tissues can then be repaired via surgery. The dogs are brought back to life by returning the blood to their bodies, giving them 100 per cent oxygen and applying electric shocks to restart their hearts.

Tests show they are perfectly normal, with no brain damage.

My little dog, Abby, isn't all that bright, so if they were using test subjects like her, I'm not sure how they'd know if there was any brain damage. I think I'd want this thing to be tested on smarter animals first before graduating to humans.

And, if there is damage to the blood vessels, won't the saline solution leak out the same places that the blood did, causing saline solution to go into places it's not supposed to be, like inside the abdominal cavity? Will the dogs survive a ten-hour heart transplant operation? Can the researchers still revive the dogs after a week? A month?

There are so many questions still to answer. I hope they do a lot more testing on animals with a variety of problems before they turn their attention to people.

Monday, June 27, 2005


WorldNetDaily has an article today (here) that lays out the history of Robert Mugabe's rise to power and how he wielded that power in Zimbabwe. It's beyond appalling.

Mugabe, a committed Marxist, joined the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), which he later left to form the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). ZANU eventually became Chinese-backed, and with that backing, opposed then-Rhodesia's government (led by Ian Smith). Elections were held, and a bi-racial coalition government was formed. The UK and the US "insisted that Mugabe's revolutionary party be included in future elections." According to the dates listed in the article, this would have been during Jimmy Carter's presidency.

Mugabe was elected in 1980 as Zimbabwe's first prime minister.

"When Mugabe became prime minister, approximately 70 percent of the country's arable land was owned by approximately 4,000 descendants of white settlers. However, he reassured white landowners that they had nothing to fear from black majority rule. Mugabe favored, he said, a 'willing buyer, willing seller' plan for gradual redistribution of land."

With this arrangement, the agriculture industry of Zimbabwe was able to produce enough surplus, that they were the "bread basket" of sub-Saharan Africa. But Mugabe was not content.

"In 2000, a new constitution was drawn up limiting the terms of future presidents – but not Mugabe. It also made his government and military officials immune from prosecution for any illegal acts committed while in office. Also, it allowed the government to confiscate white-owned land for redistribution to black farmers without compensation. It was defeated, after a low 20 percent turnout, by a strong urban vote.

"Mugabe declared that he would 'abide by the will of the people.' But, almost immediately, self-styled paramilitary forces began invading white-owned farms."

I've already posted (here) about the effects of Mugabe's "land reform" policy. Now that Zimbabwe's food surplus has has become a deficit that's producing famine in some areas, he has come up with another policy to decimate his country.

In the last month, Mugabe's "urban renewal campaign" has left 1.5 million people homeless and without food. According to the article, in the process of this campaign, "Mugabe has destroyed 25 percent of the Zimbabwe economy."

The article concludes, "With lack of shelter and food, international observers fear a catastrophe will ensue in the coming weeks, with up to 1.5 million starving and dying of disease."

I know our country can't fix every problem in the world. We can't unseat every dictator or overthrow every toxic government. But where is the outrage?

And where is the UN? Preventing (or cleaning up after) atrocities like this was the United Nation's original puropse. Instead of prevention, we now have countries like Zimbabwe with votes in the UN General Assembly.

If the UN can't be reformed to limit itself to free nations, then the US must pull out and form a new Union of Free Nations. The money we now send to the UN is counterproductive at best. It supports a body that looks the other way when atrocities happen, and too much of our money merely lines the pockets of UN officials and bureaucrats. Our money needs to support an organization that will actually help. And one of the first places that needs help is Zimbabwe.


Church leaders (Anglican and Roman Catholic) are joining human rights groups to urge Great Britain's leadership to suspend the deportation of asylum-seekers back to Zimbabwe (full story here).

According to the article, "One Downing Street official said that the Prime Minister 'thinks it would be wrong to have a special moratorium for Zimbabwe. The Home Office should continue to assess each case on its merits.'"

Friday, June 24, 2005

Judicial Coup

While we were looking the other way, toward the war in Iraq and its detractors in the Senate, the Supreme Court pulled off a coup. In a 5-4 decision, the Court invalidated the property rights we have depended on throughout our history, demolishing the traditional understanding of the Fifth Ammendment's Public Use Clause (full story here and here).

The majority opinion was written by Justice Stevens, and he was joined by Justices Kennedy, Souter, Ginsberg, and Breyer. Stevens stated in his opinion, "The city has carefully formulated an economic development that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including -- but by no means limited to -- new jobs and increased tax revenue."

That's all well and good, but this economic development project should follow the time-honored process of finding property through the free market and then adjusting the plan to allow for the people who will not sell. Unfortunately, I realize that theft and coercion (and maybe even corruption) are long-standing (though not honored) traditions as well. Now the Supreme Court majority has codified these as part of their broadening of Fifth Ammendment interpretation.

Justice O'Connor wrote the minority opinion, and she was joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia and Thomas. "Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," O'Connor wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."

And the losers will be individuals, companies, and organizations not wealthy enough to defend themselves. Especially vulnerable will be churches, since their property is removed from the tax rolls. Cities with a desire to convert property to tax-increasing use will likely begin examining the churches within their jurisdiction. And developers with city officials in their pockets have probably already started reviewing possible development sites, with an eye for eminent domain acquisitions.

Justice Thomas added to O'Connor's dissent, "[T]he Court has erased the Public Use Clause from our Constitution."

This ruling is in a different class entirely from earlier rulings that upset the majority of the population. Striking down the Texas sodomy law, or ruling that capital punishment cannot be applied to murderers who were under age 18 at the time of their crime, apply to small segments of the population. But yesterday's decision that, essentially, your property really belongs to the government and not to you, is one that affects everyone who either owns property or wants to.

There is safety only in a handful of states. As reported by AOL News, "At least eight states - Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, South Carolina and Washington - forbid the use of eminent domain for economic development unless it is to eliminate blight."

Tom McClintock, California state senator, "plans to introduce an amendment to the California Constitution to restore the original meaning of the property protections in the Bill of Rights."

If it doesn't pass, maybe I'll move to Montana.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

What They Want

Laura Ingraham's most recent book, Shut Up and Sing, didn't deal with Republican vs. Democrat or conservative vs. liberal, but rather with elites vs. normal Americans. Though her book was published last year, it still fits what's going on, especially in Washington.

Elites want the right to run normal people's lives. Elites want you to see them as God, so you will let them pat you on the head and tell you not to worry yourself about anything as they take control of your life. Elites love Europe, because Europe's elites have had it this way for a long time.

I learned French in school. It's not very useful in Southern California, but what do you do (gallic shrug)? A key piece of information I got in French class has gone a long way toward explaining why Europe's elite system is so much more advanced than ours.

The school system in France (and presumably most of Western Europe) is rigidly structured. At a certain point in the educational process--about the equivalent of late grade school/early middle school here--students are evaluated and assigned to an educational path. One path leads to working class jobs, and the other path leads to college and professional jobs. Once you're placed on your path (you and your family have NO input on the decision), you are stuck there forever. Working class students cannot go to college.

What this fosters in the working class is a certain awe of the educated folks. Those people know more, due to their extensive education, and so they must be more capable of running the nation.
What this fosters in the educated class is a sense of being set apart and above the rabble, and a certainty that they must be more capable of running the nation--and indeed are entitled to run the nation.

The roots of the European class system are deep in the ancient feudal system, where the landed gentry or aristocracy ruled over the peasants. Aside from the political trappings, not much has changed.

Except in America. Our country was founded by people who fled the strictures of European life, people who believed that all people--normal people--are capable not only of running their own lives, but of running a nation.

The problem is that there are people who were born here who somehow managed to grow up believing they know better than the rabble and that they're entitled to reshape our nation to suit their beliefs. These are the elites.

We find elites in the judiciary, declaring rights that never existed and citing international law as a trump over the Constitution. We find elites in the universities, calling on America to cease being unique and to bow down her sovereignty to internationalism in the form of the UN. We find elites in Congress, especially in the Senate, obstructing or pushing to make our nation's sructure more like the socialism that has failed or is failing Europe's countries.

We must not give in. There is even hope, in the latest French and Dutch votes on the EU constitution, that Europe itself may be coming around to America's professed ideals. Mark Steyn's column for the London Telegraph gives an exquisite description of elite thinking, at the same time he gives the picture of the rabble's growing dissatisfaction with those elites.

May the rabble win--both in Europe and in America.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

More on Durbin and Gitmo

Based on scanty evidence (one editorial), I am ready to nominate the Dallas Morning News as the new national Paper of Record. The New York Times has been riding on its own shabby coattails for far too long and should be divested of the POR title immediately.

Hugh Hewitt is the one who tipped me off to the Dallas Morning News editorial (Hugh's link here).

Here is the editorial's conclusion:

"Hey, we're sorry, too.

We're sorry that anything else Mr. Durbin might say about allegations of torture at Guantánamo Bay simply cannot be believed, thanks to his way-over-the-top screed.

We're sorry that in his haste to score political points against the Bush administration, he chose to squander his credibility by linking U.S. troops to despots who killed millions of innocent people.

We're sorry that at this key moment in the war on terror, when democracy demands a full and open debate on all U.S. policies and tactics, he so devalued his own voice and potential contributions.

We're sorry that Mr. Durbin woke up this morning still the Senate's assistant minority leader – the second-ranked Democrat – and that it apparently hasn't occurred to fellow Democrats that he should step down from the leadership."

That says it all. It's amazing to see something this thoughtful, this clear, and this close to the heart of the issue in a major newspaper. They get it, and that's enough to make them deserve POR status.

ACLU Defies Its Name

According to a WorldNetDaily article today, the national ACLU has suspended the entire 14-member board of the ACLU of New Mexico chapter.

What was the offense? One of the board members, Clifford Alford, is forming a Minuteman group in New Mexico. And this has upset the national ACLU.

WorldNetDaily states:

Gary Mitchell, a Ruidoso attorney and president of the ACLU board of directors, said the suspension of the southern chapter was a technical move to make sure the leader of the New Mexico Minutemen, a civilian border patrol group, no longer had authority to act or speak on behalf of the ACLU.

"We will not tolerate racism and vigilantism in the leadership structure of our organization,'' Mitchell told the Albuquerque Journal. "They are repugnant to the principles of civil liberties and the mission of the ACLU.''

Did the ACLU even ask their members who staked out the Minuteman project in Arizona whether or not those Minutemen behaved like racist vigilantes? Exactly which principles of civil liberties were violated in Arizona? And which principles do they expect the New Mexico chapter board member and his group to violate?

Alford has said he's not a hateful vigilante and that he would like to see immigration policy reformed. He has said that if the federal government allowed more immigrant workers to enter the country legally, many problems on the border would be solved. He reportedly scouted the New Mexico-Mexico border two weeks ago for sites to station his 42 volunteers to detect illegal immigrants sneaking into the country. His group plans to offer food, water and medical aid while reporting the illegal immigrants to the U.S. Border Patrol.

Alford sounds pretty "civil" to me. He is apparently a man who believes in the ACLU's guiding principles, or he wouldn't be a board member. That the national board can be so hostile to him so quickly is surprising. It emphasizes the ACLU's knee-jerk reactions to so many issues.

"We are not going to tolerate anyone depriving anyone of liberty without due process of law, not going to tolerate vigilante groups on the border without speaking out against them and without monitoring," Mitchell said.

So the ACLU believes that when the Minutemen hang out by the border and report the whereabouts of non-Americans who illegally cross the border, that constitutes depriving someone of liberty without due process of law. They seem to overlook the fact that when the US Border Patrol arrives to take the illegal border-crossers into custody, this actually is "due process of law." And the vast majority of these people crossing the border already had liberty in the countries they are trying to leave.

The dictionary defines "vigilante" as "One who takes or advocates the taking of law enforcement into one's own hands." What the Minutemen do is not vigilante activity. They leave the law enforcement to the proper law enforcement authorities.

Alford said the dust-up is the result of a lack of understanding about how the Border Watch group plans to operate. He said the ACLU didn't ask questions, "just attacked."

The ACLU, therefore, is mis-named. They do not support American interests at the border. They are not civil to people whose activities they oppose. They mis-apply the meaning of liberty to people who are not entitled to it in our country. And they are not very unified, since they are willing to suspend whole chapters of their organization without discussing the issues first.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Durbin Gets Support

Thanks to Hugh Hewitt for including a link to the Minneapolis Star Tribune's editorial on Senator Dick Durbin's comments about Gitmo.

A lot has been said about Senator Durbin's comments, by the Left and the Right, and this issue doesn't look as though it's going to be fading any time soon. To recap, Durbin--on the floor of the Senate--quoted an email from an FBI agent, and the email is unconfirmed, uncorroborated, and under investigation. The email, in part, said, "On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold . . . . On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees."

What fascinated me most in the Strib's editorial, beyond their full embrace of everything Durbin said, was their statement near the end.

"The senator [Durbin] should stop apologizing and keep up the criticism of the hellhole America's military has created at Guantanamo."

If Guantanamo is a hellhole, what's it doing with air-conditioning?

Friday, June 17, 2005

Terri Schiavo XII

Kevin McCullough's column today in WorldNetDaily is must-reading for anyone who followed the Terri Schiavo case, especially if you've been disappointed or confused by the mainstream media's analysis of the autopsy results. Typical is the headline in the LA Times when the autopsy results were released: "Schiavo Was Beyond Saving, Autopsy Finds."

"Beyond saving" is not what the autopsy said, unless what the LA Times means by "saving" is a return to what she had been before the incident that caused the brain damage.

McCullough lists the family's response to the autopsy:

The family maintained:

  1. The report confirmed her condition and disability. (It did not make the claim that Terri was terminal or in any way in danger of becoming terminal.) The report confirmed that Terri was brain damaged and not brain dead, it also indicated Terri could have lived another 10 years or longer with basic care.
  2. The autopsy did not reveal anything regarding "Terri's choice" to be dehydrated to death.
  3. The autopsy made it clear that dehydration was Terri's cause of death and not her brain injuries.
  4. The autopsy confirmed that Terri's heart was strong and working well.
  5. The autopsy ruled out bulimia and massive heart attack as the cause for Terri's injury. (It did nothing to account for the 70-minute gap from when Terri originally collapsed and when Michael originally called for help.)
  6. With bulimia ruled out, according to the autopsy results, the case for Michael's malpractice suit has been completely undermined. (The parents believe that Michael should return the monies won on this claim.)
  7. The autopsy showed that Terri's struggle to swallow was not from a permanent vegetative state, but from muscle atrophy. (Of course, being denied 12 years of therapy might have had something to do with that atrophy).
  8. The autopsy showed that persistent vegetative state is a clinical diagnosis made on a living individual and a medical examiner can not make this determination by examining a corpse.
  9. The autopsy stated that Terri was given morphine for pain. This ran in contrast to the claims that Mr. Felos made consistently that Terri would experience no pain or discomfort.

It's too bad the mainstream press continues to print only the viewpoint of the right-to-die crowd. Terri deserved better, and someday maybe you or I will deserve better too.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Little Catching Up

It's time to catch up on the things that have caught my eye but have had to make room for the time-sensitive stories. In no particular order:


When I was a kid, I was a St. Louis Cardinals fan, and one of the great things that happened was when the Padres moved into the National League. That meant that we could actually see Bob Gibson pitch, Lou Brock steal base, and all the other Cardinals play right before our very eyes in San Diego. My dad knew that the Cards pitched Bob Gibson every third game, so he'd wait until just before they came to town, check to see when he pitched last, calculate three games forward, and buy tickets for that game. I don't remember his plan ever failing.

But that was a long time ago. I grew up, got married, had kids and lost track of baseball. I seem to recall that the Cardinals left St. Louis. Or was that the football team?

Meanwhile, I listen to Hugh Hewitt's radio show most days on the internet at work. Usually it's on KRLA's live feed, but lately the network at work has had trouble connecting to KRLA's feed, so a couple days ago I remembered that KCBQ (San Diego) also has the live feed for the show. That's where I listened to Hugh yesterday and today. The local news has included mention of who the Padres will be playing, and they said "Detroit." Now, that sounded odd, because I remember Detroit being in the American League. Today, they said it again and also said that the Padres would be playing the Twins next. Another American League team.

Did they move the Padres to the American League? Did they completely rearrange the leagues as they've brought on new teams? I went to google and looked for major league baseball and found a list of the teams by League, and I was right about which teams were in which league.

Next, I hunted for a man at work who follows baseball. Jack told me that the teams play a number of games with the other league's teams, and he said they've been doing it for two years now. He even said it's pretty popular. I tried to make sense out of how the win/loss records might be affected, but it was too much for me at the end of a long day at work.

Today ended up being a reality shift for me in the baseball universe, and it's unsettling (like the earthquake we had today). Needless to say, I'm not a sport.

Progress in Robot Technology

There was an article yesterday in Live Science about an advance in robot technology made by NASA scientist, Vladimir Lumelsky. They're developing "skin" for their robots with over 1,000 infrared sensors. This helps the robots "feel" the obstacles they encounter, so they can decide what to do about it. The long-term goal for the skin-coated robots is for use in space.

Pretty cool.

Voyager I Leaves the Solar System

This one is a little older (May 25, 2005). AOL News reported that Voyager I has reached the region where the influence of the Solar System ends. But the article has so many terms for regions of space out there that I wasn't sure exactly when Voyager left us.

To refresh memory, Voyager I & II were sent on their missions in 1977 to explore Jupiter and Saturn, and it's from them that we got the photos of Saturn casting a partial shadow on its rings. It's also from them that we learned that Jupiter also has rings. Voyager II headed over to Uranus and Neptune, while Voyager I kept on going.

According to the article, "Astronomers tracking the little spaceship's 26-year journey from Earth believe Voyager 1 has gone through a region known as termination shock, some 8.7 billion miles from the Sun, and entered an area called the heliosheath." My friend, the astrophysics major probably understands this statement.

I've lived through times that saw our view of our world change drastically. We went from an earth-bound existence to a world that sent men into space, men who circled the moon and, for the first time ever, saw the earth as something small rising over the edge of the dark side of the moon. We sent Voyagers and Mariners to show us, close up, unimagined wonders of planets we could only have speculated about before.

And now Voyager is crossing another boundary to give us, hopefully, more wonders in the years it has left. I wish it godspeed.

Ya Think???

Here's a news flash: Hashemi Rafsanjani, former Iranian president, has admitted, "[It is] possible that, at times, Iran has not reported its [nuclear] activities." (emphasis added)

I never would have believed it, that Iran's regime could possibly be... deceptive!

Seriously, I never would have believed it, that Iran's regime could possibly ever admit deception. Of course, Rafsanjani continues, "But from the time Iran decided to make such reports, it has made everything transparent." Now, that's the Iran that we know so well.

This report is from The Scotsman (full story here) (HT: WorldNetDaily), which also explains Rafsanjani's promise that if he's elected in tomorrow's presidential election, he would continue to pursue Iran's nuclear program, but only for peaceful purposes.

Yeah, right.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Senator Dick Durbin Over the Top

During my two-hour commute this morning (flipped-over semi blocking traffic lanes), I got the chance to listen to lots of Laura Ingraham's radio show. She played a longish soundbite from yesterday's Senate proceedings, featuring Senator Durbin (D-IL). The debate was on the energy bill, and Matt (or was it Lee?) watched three boring hours of it, until the last senator for the day, Sen. Durbin, took the floor. He spoke for a time on the energy bill then went on to make comments about the situation in Guantanamo Bay.

Here's what Laura's website has to say about Durbin's remarks:

"DURBIN COMPARES U.S. INTERROGATIONS TO POL POT AND NAZIS! Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), speaking on the Senate floor, described our interrogation practices at Gitmo (keeping the 20th hijacker cold or hot, or playing of loud rap music) as akin to something that "happened by [sic] the Nazis, Soviets in their Gulags, or some madman regime like Pol Pot." Not only is this absurd and hideously inaccurate, but Durbin's comments makes our military's job more difficult, and encourages anti-Americanism around the world. Thanks, Dick. Tell him what you think by calling his Senate office at (202) 224-2152."

I echo Laura on this. Tell him what you think by calling his Senate office at (202) 224-2152.

When the Democrats go this far, they paint themselves into a rhetorical corner. If turning the air-conditioning to the detainees' cells up or down and playing rap music, while feeding them well, constitutes Nazi/Gulag/Pol Pot behavior, what's left for them to call it when we do something really mean?

The overall reaction from normal Americans (those whose feet aren't planted firmly in the Loony Left) seems to be, "What! Is that all we're doing to the detainees? They should get worse." Only the Far Left sees Pol Pot inside our soldiers at Guantanamo Bay.

Tell Durbin what you think by calling his Senate office at (202) 224-2152.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Rumsfeld on Gitmo

Hugh Hewitt just played Donald Rumsfeld's speech on Guantanamo Bay (report of his talk here). The statement that jumped out at me was that we spend more money, per person, to feed the Gitmo detainees culturally appropriate meals than we spend feeding our troops.

The Lefties, as represented by their "Human Rights" groups really frost my chaps! The latest from Amnesty International has been to declare Gitmo a gulag.

Gulag, my eye! I wonder if Stalin's gulags fed their prisoners Lemon Fish/Orange Chicken, Rice Pilaf, and Vegetable Medley. Stalin probably fed them even better, since Gitmo is so horribly, wretchedly cruel.

Great post on this by Brian Cox at BYR Blog. He says, "I wonder if those people who talk about shutting down Guantanamo to help with our image have figured out that the same people who are attacking us now over Gitmo will just pick another prison or another target to complain about. Once we've shut it down it will be open season on our military. They will have learned that all it will take to shut down a military prison is a few complaints about a woman standing too close to them. That is not a message we should be sending."

Here's what some other folks had to say: James Lileks. Mark Steyn. Michelle Malkin.

State Wars

Virginia vs. Massachusetts

There's an article in the London Times online edition (HT: WorldNetDaily) about one of the founders of the colony of Jamestown. The body of a man believed to be Bartholomew Gosnold was discovered in 2003 in the Jamestown site in Virginia. He organized and financed the three-ship expedition to the New World, as well as being captain of one of the ships. This venture led to the founding of Jamestown in 1607.

What makes this news is that archaeologists believe they have located the grave of Gosnold's sister, Elizabeth Tilney Gosnold (did the British put a woman's married name in the middle and leave the maiden name at the end back then?) in Suffolk, England. They are exhuming her body to do a DNA match in the hopes that this will identify Bartholomew's body.

According to the Times, "It is the first time that Anglican authorities have granted permission for a grave to be opened in a British church for scientific research." We won't have the answers any time soon, though. "The results of the dig will form part of the 400th anniversary celebrations in 2007 of the founding of America."

But way down at the end of the article is this little jab at Massachusetts from Matt Erskine of the Virginia Governor's office: “It was an English-speaking capitalist venture and Jamestown was the birthplace of modern America. Bartholomew Gosnold was such an important member of it and was one of the six original governors of the colony. The Mayflower didn’t arrive for another 13 years.”

Yes, the Virginia colony of Jamestown (1607) beat out the Massachusetts colony of Plymouth (1624). Yes, Jamestown was a capitalist venture, and America theoretically practices capitalism. But the heart and soul of what America is can be found in the Plymouth colonial desire for religious freedom and its sister goal of helping others freely. We can trace America's finest traditions--the structure of our Republic, our love of freedom, our desire to help other nations during their times of suffering--to the founders and early citizens of Massachusetts.

Colorado vs. Minnesota

The blogosphere has been giving coverage to The Great Quarter War. In fact, David Harsanyi (HT: Hugh Hewitt), of the Denver Post, has chimed in as well, with his chronicle of events (full story here), which only contributes to uproar, particularly this quote: "While Colorado's new auarter design is hardly exhilarating, we should be grateful that it's less atrocious than the design from an inferior state, like, say ... Minnesota."

Although Harsanyi doesn't mention it, the war was started on Hugh Hewitt's radio show (Hugh's take on it here). Hugh has a knack for instigating rivalry between the governors he books on his show, while at the same time shamelessly soliciting meaningless titles from them to add to his collection. The titles that come to mind include: California's Sommelier, Colorado's Warden of the Collegiate Peaks, and most recently, Gymnasiarch of the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.

Radioblogger has the transcript of the original conversation with both Colorado's Governor, Bill Owen and (separately) Minnesota's Governor, Tim Pawlenty (transcript here). From this, the conclusion is clear: Colorado started it.

The controversy: Our commemorative quarter is better than yours! Colorado's quarter is to have a mountain range and the motto, "Colorful Colorado." Minnesota's quarter is to have some low hills with trees, some fishermen in a boat, a loon (often mistaken for Minnesota's state bird, the mosquito), and an outline of the state, with the motto, "10,000 Lakes." Radioblogger currently has a poll at the top of his blog that anyone can participate in. He also has updates here, here, here, and here.

Personally, I prefer Colorado's quarter, although I must agree with James Lileks, as quoted in the above transcript (his comments are between the two governors' comments). It is a bit odd to have a monochromatic mountain range on a quarter declaring the state "Colorful."

Wars have been fought and won over lesser ideals. Let the Games begin--or rather, continue...

Monday, June 13, 2005

Jacko Verdict

Michael Jackson was declared Not Guilty by a jury of his peers earlier today. This isn't news to anyone who was conscious this afternoon.

Hugh Hewitt's comment was that Martha Stewart must be angry to be just about the only famous person to be convicted in a long time.

Actually, Martha Stewart's conviction is proof that she is merely famous, and not a true celebrity. Michael Jackson is a celebrity. OJ is a celebrity. Even Robert Blake is a celebrity. But Martha isn't.

The truth can be found in "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" in the courtroom scene. Whoopi Goldberg, as Judge Cameo, has this factual tidbit:

And you, Mr. District Attorney, I'd like to point something out to you in the penal code. Section C, Paragraph 22. "Celebrities are above the law." This case is dismissed.

Therein lies the explanation for the Michael Jackson verdict. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Two More Justices Confirmed

The LA Times reports that Wednesday the Senate approved Justice Janice Rogers Brown to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (full story here), after two years of waiting. She is the second of the three nominees promised in "The Deal" to get an up-or-down vote. (See previous posts on The Deal here and here.) Priscilla Owen has already received her vote (here and here).

That left William Pryor, and today he was also confirmed to the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals (full story here). Pryor had also been waiting for confirmation for two years, although he was given a recess appointment by President Bush in February of 2004.

I was impressed with the fairness of the LA Times article, written by Times Staff Writer, Maura Reynolds. There were quotes from both sides of the aisle, and although the lefties' quotes seemed a bit longer, overall the article presented both sides of the Brown controversy accurately. This was unexpectd, considering the source.

CNN, however, was quick to add opinion-based speculation to their news article: "By ending the filibusters of Pryor, Brown and the now-confirmed U.S. Appeals Court judge Priscilla Owen, the Senate has taken care of the first part of an agreement reached last month by Senate centrists that averted a showdown that could have brought Senate action to a halt."

So, according to CNN, if the Senate were to have voted whether or not to consider a filibuster of judicial nominees off limits, that vote could have "brought Senate action to a halt." I agree that the vote could be considered a "showdown" since a showdown is just what the Republican leadership had in mind. But a vote does not stop the Senate. Voting is what the Senate is supposed to do.

Any bringing the Senate to a halt would have to be the intentional action of Senators themselves, and so far the only ones threatening to do that are Democrats.

My other problem with the CNN article is their labeling of the 14 who made The Deal as "centrist." Olympia Snowe, Lincoln Chaffee and their ilk are hardly centrists. They're RINOs--Lefties with an "R" at the end of their names--and to characterize them as centrists is to do true moderates a disservice. But CNN's agenda appears to be that of portraying anyone who sides with the hard-liner Dems as being the reasonable ones. It won't wash.

Ultimately, these two votes, combined with Priscilla Owen's confirmation a couple weeks ago, put us precisely where The Deal's rubber meets the road. The three named judges have had their votes. What remains now is to see how the Democrats--especially those who signed The Deal--handle the rest of the filibustered judges. Will they get votes, or will the Dems be surprised (shocked!) to discover that the remaining judges present extraordinary circumstances worthy of continued filibuster?

If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on perpetual filibuster.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Raining Frogs

First, it was exploding toads (link here). Now, it's raining frogs (full story here). I don't know if it's safe for amphibians anywhere.

According to (South African Press Association), thousands of frogs fell from the sky in Odzaci in northwestern Serbia during a storm. The good news is that the frogs survived. "The frogs, different from those usually seen in the area, survived the fall and hopped around in search of water."

Belgrade climatologist Slavisa Ignjatovic said, "A wind resembling a tornado can suck in anything light enough from the surface or shallow water. Usually it is just dust, but sometimes also larger objects."

What Ignjatovic doesn't explain is how frogs can stay alive up in the clouds long enough to travel to a place they don't belong. And how long would that take? And where is the nearest natural habitat for these frogs?

And someday soon, are the environmentalists going to declare Odzaci, Serbia a protected area because the frogs are in small enough numbers there that they're endangered in their new location? If this happened in the US, you could count on it.

Monday, June 06, 2005

At Home Now

My family descended on my parents' house in Small Town, Montana (pop. 2500). I drove up alone from Southern California in two days, while my sister, her husband, and their 16-yr-old daughter drove up from Texas. We got there Monday night (Memorial Day), and their oldest son had already arrived from his Navy base in the Northeast. The next few days saw my brother and his wife come from Massachusetts, my dad's sister from North Carolina, my sister's other Navy son come from the East Coast, and finally my kids flew in from California.

My parents' church was wonderful! They had meals for us scheduled to come every day through the night before the memorial service, and one couple became the taxi service that drove into the Big Town airport an hour away at least once a day to pick up whoever was flying in.

It was good to see everybody all together at the same time, and I even got into a disagreement with my aunt over our country's response to 9-11. She believes that Iraq was beyond a mistake and should never have happened, because it left Afghanistan unfinished and in a mess. I argued (gently, I hope) with her, and when we finished, I told her I appreciated having a discussion with someone I disagreed with, because it's been years. It helped me realize which things I knew and which things I only assumed. I knew what I was saying about the current state of Iraq, but I didn't know what's happening in Afghanistan. The milblogs I read are primarily out of Iraq, so I've got some reading to do about Afghanistan before I talk to my aunt again.

The memorial service for my dad was more than I could have hoped for. I knew, as I drove through Utah, that I would be the one of the three of us kids who would have to speak at the service. My brother and sister are the shy ones in the family. Or rather, I'm the non-shy one. Naturally, for me, I waited until the day of the memorial to figure out what I would say.

I talked about my Daddy and who he was to me, and even as I said some of it, I could see people nodding, because that's the man they knew as well. I said he was a man who did what was right. And he was a man who didn't push his views on people, but asked them questions that drew out the best of who they were and helped them to find their own answers. As a teenager, his questions drove me nuts, but since I grew up and especially since my divorce, I counted on his questions to help me sort out my life. Most of all, he was a man of faith. He prayed and he studied the Word of God, and he lived out his life in service to his Lord.

It was one thing for the family to know who he was, but it was a real joy to hear what people outside the family said about what Daddy meant to them. One woman, who had stayed with my parents for a couple years when they lived in Washington, flew all the way from Australia to be at the memorial service. She said that her childhood hadn't been good, that she had grown up not knowing what a good marriage looked like. But her two years with my parents had shown her what marriage can be, the way a husband should treat his wife. And my dad's questions had helped her to open up and talk about her childhood and her life in a way that helped her to heal.

His questions were a theme running from one friend who spoke to another. Those questions helped a recovering alcoholic to stay sober and to find healthy ways to deal with the challenges of life. Those questions helped a young woman break free from the discouragement that held her back and gave her the confidence to believe in herself.

Several others spoke of Daddy's servant heart. He was a quiet man, not very tall, but he was a big man. And the impact he had on the people who knew him was profound.

I'm going to miss him, and I know I can't begin to imagine how much. But it's my mom I'm most concerned about. My prayer for her is that she would learn all the way to the depths of her heart that she is loved for who she is and not just because she was Daddy's wife.