Friday, August 29, 2008

Peggy Noonan on Obama's Convention Speech

I just found this, because Michelle Malkin linked to something else and this was a teaser on the side. I don't watch MSNBC, so I didn't see it live.

Here's MSNBC's post-Obama speech analysis with conservative commentator Peggy Noonan. Some key quotes:

"Well, it was a bit of a flop-olini, to tell you the truth."

"Six months from now we're all going to remember the event.... We will not, I think, remember what he said."

"I'm actually putting a little edge on my criticism just to make up for the fact that on MSNBC last night, somebody said, quote, 'It wasn't a speech. It was a symphony.' I won't even name who said it. I'm here to balance that bit of fatuous suck-upping."

"My way of saying it would be, 'That was not a sissy speech.' Okay. It wasn't that kind of usual, 'Uhhh, the poor child born with two heads and no medical insurance, and they're using him as a bowling ball.' You know the terrible things they say."

"Everybody is sick in their world, I'm sorry. Everybody is an unhappy, unwed, single mother whose feet are exploding. And they don't exactly see the bright side of America, guys."

The reaction of Noonan's hosts is priceless. Watch it.

McCain Selects Palin for VP

Photo credit: AP

Fox News reported today that Senator John McCain has selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.

The McCain camp issued a statement calling Palin a reformer who can work across the party aisle.

“Governor Palin has challenged the influence of the big oil companies while fighting for the development of new energy resources. She leads a state that matters to every one of us,” the statement said.

“In Alaska, Governor Palin challenged a corrupt system and passed a landmark ethics reform bill. She has actually used her veto and cut budgetary spending. She put a stop to the ‘bridge to nowhere’ that would have cost taxpayers $400 million dollars.”

I couldn't be more thrilled.

In the primaries, I supported Mitt Romney for President, but I ran into too many of my fellow Christians who would refused to vote for him because he's Mormon. Their concern was that his being President (or Vice President) would make Mormonism look like a good religion for people to try. No matter how much they agreed with his policies, the risk of his attracting more people away from Christianity was more important to them. For that reason, I was hoping McCain wouldn't decide on Romney as his VP pick.

Palin is a Christian, she's pro-life, she's tough on corruption, and she's not afraid to take on the Enviro-Nazis who are trying to use the polar bear to stop oil and energy production.

Now I won't have to hold my nose quite as hard when I vote for John McCain in November.

Of course, the Obama campaign had a response to McCain's selection of Gov. Palin--a petty, demeaning response.

Informed of the selection, a Barack Obama spokesman questioned Palin’s executive experience.

“Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain’s commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush’s failed economic policies — that’s not the change we need, it’s just more of the same,” said spokesman Bill Burton. (emphasis added)

Every time Barack Obama points his finger at someone's inexperience, he has three fingers pointing back at himself.

This is perfect. McCain/Palin 2008!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dukakis Apologizes

USA Today reported today that former presidential candidate Michael Dukakis has apologized for the election of President GW Bush.

"If I had beaten the old man you'd of never heard of the kid and you wouldn't be in this mess," 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis told CBS News' Katie Couric today. "So it's all my fault and I feel that very, very strongly. So this is an important election for us. Let me tell 'ya."

He's right. But he's to blame for a lot more. It's his fault Bill Clinton soiled the White House with Monica Lewinsky. It's his fault Clinton bombed that aspirin factory and made the Islamist crazies angry enough at the US to plot the 9/11 attack. It's his fault Al Gore became a global warming maniac who's trying to destroy the world economy. It's his fault Hillary Clinton carpet-bagged New York so she could get elected to the Senate so she could run for president. It's his fault the Democrats have nothing but a vacuous empty suit nominated for the presidency this year.

Yes, Michael Dukakis sure has a lot to answer and apologize for.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Campaign Ads about Ayers

Here's the anti-Obama ad that Obama doesn't want shown on the air:

The AP reported yesterday (HT: Michelle Malkin) that Obama's campaign is trying to use strong-arm tactics to keep the ad from playing.

Barack Obama is striking back fiercely and swiftly to stamp out an ad that links him to a 1960s radical, eager to demonstrate a far more aggressive response to attacks than John Kerry did when faced with the 2004 "Swift Boat" campaign.

Obama not only aired a response ad to the spot linking him to William Ayers, but he sought to block stations the commercial by warning station managers and asking the Justice Department to intervene. The campaign also planned to compel advertisers to pressure stations that continue to air the anti-Obama commercial.

It's the type of going-for-the-jugular approach to politics many Democrats complain that Kerry lacked and that Republicans exploit.

Click here for Obama's powerful response ad.

It never ceases to amaze me when the Left proves yet again that their devotion to "free speech" extends only to themselves. If Obama gets elected and the Democrats control Congress, it won't be long before they resurrect the Fairness Doctrine to shut down conservative talk radio. And they won't stop there. They'll go after Fox News next.

Dennis Prager talked to Mike Gallagher, another talk-show host, at the Democratic Convention in Denver. Gallagher said that when he went to the Fox News desk to pick up his press credentials, he was verbally assaulted by Democrats for his association with Fox News ("You f---ing Fox News neocon!"). The college student who was working the desk was distraught over the abuse she'd been taking that day, and she couldn't understand why they were treating her that way.

Here's the audio of Gallagher describing the incident (starting 31:30 into Hour 2)
Here's where Dennis explained what they really said (2 minutes into Hour 3 for 2 or 3 minutes).

NObama 2008! Or ever.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cruise Accomodations

When my mom and I and my friend and her family went on a cruise this past winter, we were on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas. It was a gorgeous ship, and we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise.

Since then, Royal Caribbean has been trying to entice me back, emailing me with their latest specials. I should see Europe by sea, they tell me. Perhaps sailing up the Thames on one of their smaller ships to dock in London for a few days, or maybe sailing to the Greek Isles or the Dalmatian Coast, or if I prefer, I could see Gibralter and Morocco and Southern Spain.

At other times, they recommend an Alaska cruise or even a Trans-Atlantic cruise as they move one of their ships from the Caribbean to Europe.

I look and sometimes check itineraries and allow myself to say, maybe someday...

But recently Royal Caribbean sent me an email announcing their newest ship, the Oasis of the Seas, which will be launched September 3rd. As far as I can tell, they haven't yet announced a schedule for the Oasis. But they have pictures.

Our room on the Freedom was an interior stateroom, a long rectangle that squeezed more nice furnishings and bathroom equipment inside than you'd have thought possible. But it was comfortable, especially since we didn't spend a lot of time there.

On the Oasis website, this is what they show for their "Accomodations:"

This is not a little rectangle.

There's a slideshow on the website with different views of the room. Those views show that in the far corner of this picture, to the right of the TV, underneath the loft, is what looks like a library with, yes, a grand piano. To the left of the TV, behind the cameraman, is a balcony for private lounging. Stunning. If this were my stateroom, I might not leave my room very much.

I have no idea how much it will cost for someone to stay in this room for a week-long cruise. And I think that at this point in my life, I don't really want to know.

Bill Clinton's Pouting Ways

Swamp Politics reported today that former President Bill Clinton is most unhappy about the speech he's supposed to give at the Democratic National Convention.

Former President Bill Clinton is reportedly miffed that he's been given the assignment of selling Americans on Obama as a better commander-in-chief than Sen. John McCain, the all-but-official Republican presidential nominee.

Evidently, the former president would've preferred to have been given the chance to talk about domestic policy and the economy in order to trash-talk the Republicans who he sees as destroying the prosperity and trend towards growing economic equality that characterized his presidency.

Also, since Obama doesn't have much of a national-security or foreign policy track record, to speak of, what is Clinton supposed to speak of? That's a fairly challenging assignment.

Bill Clinton is to be given a microphone and a national audience, and they Just. Won't Let. Him. Talk. About. Himself. How it must grate!

Yes, it's the little things in life you treasure...

Surprises at Home

I heard a very strange noise outside about ten minutes ago, like something small but loud coming down the street. It's Garbage Day, and the recycling garbage truck already came by, so the regular garbage truck was all the noise that was due. But this was the wrong sound.

After I opened the door, I saw big, fat drops on the pavement. The strange noise was rain. This is what it did to the dirt at the front of my house (the rocks came with the house):

This is one of my agapanthus plants that are suffering for lack of care (I really need to be able to hire a gardener):

Across the street, the neighbor cat jumped over the fence into its yard and toward the cover of the front porch, and then the neighbor came out to shut his pickup's driver window. We're just not prepared for rain this time of year.

Sadly, the rain didn't last. It was the kind that comes with heat storms and humidity, and even though it hasn't been really hot (high 70's to low 80's), it's felt like heat-storm weather. But that kind of rain doesn't quench the plants. It only teases and runs away, like kids playing Doorbell Ditch. Looks like I'll still need to water the agapanthus.

On another note, the other day I was eating some red grapes, and I saw this one that didn't get the memo to dress in solid red:

Of course I took its picture: All of life is potential blog material.

Obviously, I'm easily impressed. After I ate all its stem-mates, I ate the striped grape, and it was just as good as the others. It's not the color that counts but what's on the inside...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

China Cheats Again

The People's Republic of China is a country that cheats. And the Summer Olympic Games have given China ample opportunity to prove that.

First they cheated at the opening ceremonies by faking the fireworks for broadcast. Their reason was that they wouldn't be able to film the fireworks from the air, so they used computer graphics to show TV viewers what the people in Beijing were seeing.

Then the news came out that the cute little girl who sang the "Hymn to the Motherland" was just lip-synching. The real singer wasn't cute enough to be on camera representing all of China, even though her voice was good enough for that.

And all those children representing the 56 different ethnic groups in China were fake too. Oh, they were really children, but they were all from the beautiful Han ethnic group.

But that wasn't enough cheating for China. They started messing with the women's gymnastics by entering little girls into the competition and claiming the girls with baby teeth are 16 years old. Just late bloomers.

The AP raised the issue about the gymnasts' age near the end of July, but the weak-kneed IOC accepted the girls' passports saying they're plenty old to compete. Fox Sports reported on more controversy arising during the Olympics, pointing out the frustration of Chinese officials over the issue.

Lu said the governing body of gymnastics has already been given some of the requested documents, turning over He's current and former passport, ID card and family residence permit Thursday. Lu said the documents all say she was born in 1992, which would have made her eligible to compete.

"Surely it's not possible that these documents are still not sufficient proof of her birthdate?" Lu asked. "The passports were issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry. The identity card was issued by China's Ministry of Public Security. If these valid documents are not enough to clarify this problem, then what will you believe?"

"If you trust every Web site but not a government...," Lu said. "There are so many Web sites, so much hearsay. These are not official. Is it possible that all news on the Internet is accurate?"

Hmmm.... The internet is extremely accurate. And I don't trust the Chinese government, because they cheat.

The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that physicians and forensic doctors have suggested using x-rays to determine the gymnastics girls' ages.

The task is so straightforward that Dr. Peter Hampl, president of the American Board of Forensic Odontology, said the Chinese government should just consent to X-rays and let the films speak for themselves."If there is nothing to be afraid of, let their kids be X-rayed," he said.

"It's almost incriminating if they don't."


But that wouldn't be the end of China's cheating. Wired reported Friday that the national anthems played at the Beijing Olympics are also in question.

Peter Breiner, who arranged more than 200 national anthems for the 2004 Olympics, has accused the Beijing Olympic Committee of stealing those works for this year's Games. He says he is "100 percent sure" that his arrangements are being played at medal ceremonies -- and the Washington Post's culture critic couldn't agree more.

"First, the Slovak orchestra is much better than the Beijing orchestra, which suffers from shrill upper-string sound," writes Philip Kennicott, of the Post. "More to the point, the Beijing orchestra is using Breiner's ideas so blatantly that it would be accused of plagiarism if its arrangers submitted their orchestration as original work in any respectable conservatory. It isn't just the rockets' red glare: Breiner's basic conception of the whole piece has been copied."

So China has shown itself to be run by frauds, cheats, liars, and thieves. What else is left? Well, they're also destructive toward their own people. The Times Online (UK) reported today that China has caused a drought for the sake of the Olympics.

THOUSANDS of Chinese farmers face ruin because their water has been cut off to guarantee supplies to the Olympics in Beijing, and officials are now trying to cover up a grotesque scandal of blunders, lies and repression.

In the capital, foreign dignitaries have admired millions of flowers in bloom and lush, well-watered greens around its famous sights. But just 90 minutes south by train, peasants are hacking at the dry earth as their crops wilt, their money runs out and the work of generations gives way to despair, debt and, in a few cases, suicide.

In between these two Chinas stands a cordon of roadblocks and hundreds of security agents deployed to make sure that the one never sees the other.

The People's Republic of China doesn't give a rip for its people. Only for its image.

They say that cheaters never prosper. In China's case, I hope that proves true very soon.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Quote of the Day

In terms of who's an elitist, I think people have made a judgment that John McCain is not an arugula-eating, pointy headed professor-type based on his life story.

-- Brian Rogers, McCain campaign spokesman

Monday, August 18, 2008

Zombies and Other Books

I was at Barnes & Noble when I spotted this:

I thought of my son, who has this thing for zombies (and ancient maps--usually not at the same time). He'd love it. I looked it over, and the tip I still remember is their advice to use our heads, because zombies aren't sharp thinkers.

It's perfect, because you never know...

I wandered around and on the Under $10 rack I saw several classics--not the classic-classics, but better.

The first was The Meaning of Tingo: And Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World.

I've never heard the word, tingo, but they had the definition on the cover:

tingo (Pascuense, Easter Island) to take all the objects one desires from the house of a friend, one at a time, by borrowing them.

We all know people like this. Now you know the name for it.

Here's another one, but there isn't much need for it in America:

nakhur (Persian) a camel that won't give milk until its nostrils are tickled.

If you want this book, it's cheaper in the store than online.

Another book caught my eye because I took French in school. French for Le Snob: Adding Panache to Your Everyday Conversations is sold out online in hardback, but it might still be on the shelf in the store, and the hardback is cheaper than the paperback, which is available online. Here's an excerpt from the synopsis:

Written for sophisticated English speakers who enjoy being in the limelight as they tittle-tattle about la femme fatale, la belle brunette, l'enfant terrible, and la crème de la crème, while drinking a café noir in their pied-à-terre, this reference also covers the origins of the English language, the development of American English, and how French words invaded English speech.

How formidable!

Keep in mind, I have not read these books, so I can't vouch for their readability. But if you're in the mood for something quirky, one of these just might do the trick for the mood you're in.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mickey and Mighty

It was a busy weekend. My friend, the one my mom and I cruised with back in January, had some extra tickets to Disneyland. She and her kids' families went to Disneyland last month for a couple days, but at the time the three-day Park-Hopper ticket was cheaper than the two-day ticket, so they bought the three-day, and the third day was due to expire by before the end of August.

So my friend invited my daughter and me and a mutual friend my daughter's age to use up the final day of her tickets. We didn't need our arms twisted.

Our younger friend spent the night Friday, and we all stayed up late--the girls hanging out with friends and me trying to get ready. When I finally got to bed, I was too excited to get to sleep and ended up with less than three hours of sleep.

Bright and early, we picked up my friend and drove to Anaheim. We parked at Disneyland, caught the tram, had our purses checked by Security, and entered the Magic Kingdom about an hour after they opened. Our first stop was Indiana Jones to pick up a Fast Pass that would let us come back later and cut ahead of the Stand By line. Then we headed over to the newest ride, the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, where we journeyed deep underwater to watch Nemo's dad and Dory on their adventure to find Nemo. It was cute, but now that we've seen it, none of us needs to see it again.

At Astro Blaster, the Buzz Lightyear ride where you get to shoot at the Evil Zurg, they'll email your picture to you, with your score, which you can see was much less than my friend's score. She was the Astro Blaster queen of our group, even though her face was a blur.

We went back to Indiana Jones, but it was temporarily closed because of "technical difficulties." We rode Pirates of the Caribbean, where I tried to take a nap but couldn't manage it. After riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, we checked Splash Mountain but the line was too long because of the heat in the middle of the day.

Then we started our park-hopping and went to California Adventure, got our Fast Pass for Grizzly River Run, the water ride that can soak you through to your skin, which sounded really good, and had lunch. Back at Grizzly River, we learned that they were having "technical difficulties" too. The water wasn't flowing.

I was hot and tired, and when the other three rode the California Screamin' roller coaster (it goes upside down and is not my idea of a good time), I found a place to sit. I also sat out the MaliBoomer, which shoots you up a big tower and drops you several times.

We got into the Aladdin show, an abbreviated version of the movie, with a non-Robin Williams genie who updated his jokes to fit recent events in the world. I got my nap during the first part of the show and was refreshed and willing to try a scary ride afterward. So we went to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, my first time on the ride.

Rod Serling himself greets you on the TV in the library of the Hollywood Hotel and tells you the story of some former guests whose elevator catapulted them into... The Twilight Zone. And it could happen to you too. And then it does.

Our elevator took us up a few floors, stopping at each one to show us the hallway. And then we watched that long-ago elevator disappear before our eyes. And then our elevator doors shut and we entered the Twilight Zone ourselves, shooting upward and opening the doors to show us the panorama of Disneyland and Southern California beyond it. And then we dropped. And rose. And dropped. Over and over, while I clung to the metal bar beside my seat at the end of the row and screamed the whole time. When we finally stopped, back in normal time and space, my legs were woozy and my throat sore.

We rode other rides, both at California Adventure and back at Disneyland, and even though we had planned to stay until the park closed at midnight, we didn't make it past 11:00. We stayed at a motel for the night and drove back home this morning, refreshed but not in time for most of us to get to church.

I fell asleep on the couch and got woken up by a call from my daughter, who had gone to her church for nursery duty. She was crying and saying she couldn't drive. I was afraid she'd crashed the car so it wasn't drivable, but she said it was her CD player. It had shorted out and turned itself on full volume, and she couldn't eject the CD or turn the volume back down or power it off. The only way to make the noise stop was to turn off the car, so she parked beside the road and waited for me to come help her. I grabbed a couple sizes of phillips and slotted screwdrivers and a set of tiny tools and drove to her.

First, I have to say that I'm not mechanical. When I was a kid, my mom was the handyman in the family (she took after her dad). In that respect, I take after my dad, but I've had to learn a few things since I've been on my own.

My daughter was right that the volume was so loud it was intolerable. I disconnected the big set of speakers from the back, and that made the sound painfully loud only in the front. I found a transistor strap (pardon me if my terminology is sadly out of date) and disconnected it, then turned the key on Accessory, plugged my ears with my fingers, and waited. That didn't fix the problem. Then I unscrewed and detached the front section (it folds down to reveal the tape deck), but that didn't fix it either.

It took me a while. There were screws I couldn't remove, so I figured out how to pull off the plastic casing around the CD player and pulled the player out and unplugged everything from the back and put the player on the floor. Then I turned on the car without plugging my ears and listened to the beautiful sound of an idling engine. I turned the car over to my daughter and went back home.

Mighty Mom. That's me!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Immune Boosters May Cure Cancer

The Telegraph (UK) reported yesterday on the results of a recent cancer study.

Cancer patients have been left free of the disease after being treated with a new drug which harnesses the power of their own immune cells.

Four of 38 patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma have seen "complete regressions" following treatment, while five others saw reductions of 50 per cent in their tumours.

The drug, which could prove cheaper than other therapies that try to achieve the same effect with cells, works by activating the body's own defences to attack the cancer.

The results have been described as an "exciting" and "significant" development in the use of immunotherapy, the process of using the body's own immune system to fight disease.

While the trials were only carried out on patients with the blood cancer, it is hoped the methods can be adapated to tackle other cancers.

This is really good news, although the raw results of 4 of 38 patients doesn't sound very promising. Further details told more of the story:

The results, published in the journal Science, are encouraging because they suggest that the bigger the dose, the bigger the effect.

Coauthor of the study Dr Patrick Baeuerle, of Micromet, said all seven who received the highest dose responded to the drug.

"Two of the seven had a complete response, and five a partial regression (greater than 50 per cent reduction of tumour).".

Let's hope that future studies are able to duplicate and expand the progress of this line of attack on cancer. The human body is amazing, and its ability to repair itself should be harnessed.

John Bolton on Russia's Invasion of Georgia

The Telegraph (UK) published today the analysis of the Georgia situation by former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton.

Russia’s invasion across an internationally recognised border, its thrashing of the Georgian military, and its smug satisfaction in humbling one of its former fiefdoms represents only the visible damage.

As bad as the bloodying of Georgia is, the broader consequences are worse. The United States fiddled while Georgia burned, not even reaching the right rhetorical level in its public statements until three days after the Russian invasion began, and not, at least to date, matching its rhetoric with anything even approximating decisive action. This pattern is the very definition of a paper tiger. Sending Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice to Tbilisi is touching, but hardly reassuring; dispatching humanitarian assistance is nothing more than we would have done if Georgia had been hit by a natural rather than a man-made disaster.

The West, collectively, failed in this crisis. Georgia wasted its dime making that famous 3am telephone call to the White House, the one Hillary Clinton referred to in a campaign ad questioning Barack Obama’s fitness for the Presidency. Moreover, the blood on the Bear’s claws did not go unobserved in other states that were once part of the Soviet Union. Russia demonstrated unambiguously that it could have marched directly to Tbilisi and installed a puppet government before any Western leader was able to turn away from the Olympic Games. It could, presumably, do the same to them.

It profits us little to blame Georgia for “provoking” the Russian attack. Nor is it becoming of the United States to have anonymous officials from its State Department telling reporters, as they did earlier this week, that they had warned Georgia not to provoke Russia. This confrontation is not about who violated the Marquess of Queensbury rules in South Ossetia, where ethnic violence has been a fact of life since the break-up of the Soviet Union on December 31, 1991 – and, indeed, long before. Instead, we are facing the much larger issue of how Russia plans to behave in international affairs for decades to come. Whether Mikhail Saakashvili “provoked” the Russians on August 8, or September 8, or whenever, this rape was well-planned and clearly coming, given Georgia’s manifest unwillingness to be “Finlandized” – the Cold War term for effectively losing your foreign-policy independence.

Bolton goes on to describe his recommendations for answering the question, "What is to be done?"

The Telegraph reported today on the response of other former Soviet-bloc countries to the invasion of Georgia by Russia.

The presence of the leaders of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine at a mass rally in Tbilisi this week provides pointers both to the past and the future. All these countries were once part of the Soviet empire.

As a result, all of them fear that the Russian annexation of a large part of Georgia, and the West's weak response, presages further trouble from a country still smarting from what it regards as national humiliation in the 1990s.

Their participation in Tuesday's rally in support of President Mikheil Saakashvili makes an appropriate starting-point for examining the probable hot spots in Moscow's revanchist drive.

In spite of the US having brokered a truce between Georgia and Russia, with Secretary of State Rice in Tblisi for Georgia's signing of the document, we have only the promise of Russia that they will sign it and actually withdraw their troops. Those nations that suffered for over three decades under Soviet rule will be watching closely. But they'd better not hold their breath.

Russia Threatening Poland

The Telegraph (UK) reported today on the statements of a Russian general.

Earlier, a senior Russian general warned that Poland has made itself a nuclear target for Russia's military by hosting elements of a US anti-missile system.

"By hosting these, Poland is making itself a target. This is 100 per cent" certain, Russia's Interfax news agency quoted General Anatoly Nogovitsyn as saying.

"It becomes a target for attack. Such targets are destroyed as a first priority," Gen Nogovitsy was quoted as saying.

He added that Russia's military doctrine sanctions the use of nuclear weapons "against the allies of countries having nuclear weapons if they in some way help them," Interfax said. (emphasis added)

Did you get that? "A nuclear target." And for what?

The Telegraph reported yesterday that Russia's invasion of Georgia has spurred an agreement between the US and Poland.

The US and Poland have been talking about the missile shield for a year but rushed to cement their alliance in the wake of this week's conflict.

Donald Tusk, the prime minister, said that talks had been completed on a preliminary agreement and "technical questions remained".

Washington plans to site a silo of 10 interceptor missiles at the Brdy army base in northern Poland to accompany a radar installation in the Czech Republic. The radar station, probably to be sited at Gorsko, has already been agreed by Prague and is awaiting parliamentary ratification.

"We feel at the moment a greater concern for our safety," said Bogdan Klich, the Polish defence minister, evoking fears of a resurgent Russia, widespread in the former Eastern Bloc. "That's why every installation of the Western world on the Polish territory has its meaning, because it anchors Poland more deeply to the West."

While America says the shield is designed to destroy lone missiles from "rogue states" such as Iran, Russia considers it a strategic encirclement that undermines its nuclear deterrent. If fully agreed now, the system would be ready by around 2012.

Russia was against the installation of the missile defense system in Poland from the beginning, long before Georgia moved into its own South Ossetia region. And that says that Russia has continually been hostile to the West, mistrusting Bush's benign efforts at friendship.

We have multiple enemies in the world, and they're not limited to the Islamist-fanatic terrorists who want to destroy us. The Bush Administration would do well to wake up and smell the vodka.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sudetenland Revisited

When Vladimir Putin, formerly of the KGB, first took control of Russia at the end of 1999, it didn't bode well. Especially after President Bush met him and said, "I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul."

There is no soul. It was the first indication of Bush's tendency toward self-delusion.

Vladimir Putin is Soviet Union through and through, and he's not to be trusted. His burning desire has always been to rebuild the former glory of the USSR, and his actions of the past several days have proven that.

Hugh Hewitt, on his radio show, has been discussing the invasion of Georgia by the Russian military. Yesterday one of Hugh's guests, I believe it was Frank Gaffney, pointed out what should be obvious. The massive Russian response to Georgia's sending of troops into its South Ossetia region was not a sudden decision. Russia was ready and waiting to invade and only needed an excuse.

There's a pipeline that Russia wanted routed through that country but that the US and other Western countries prevailed in having built through Georgia. The existence of the Georgian pipeline puts a crimp in Russia's ability to monopolize the energy supply into the rest of Europe. And in the past Russia has shown itself willing to use its pipeline to gain the upper hand over Europe in trade disputes. Having control over Georgia and its pipeline would allow Russia to hold Europe hostage to its will.

But of course Russia wouldn't admit that desire. Instead, they couched their invasion of Georgia's recognized borders in terms of "helping" the poor, unfortunate Russian people being oppressed by cruel Georgian troops. It's a defense the world heard in 1938 by Germany about its invasion of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. And just as Germany wasn't content with just one region but invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia, Russia has moved its military beyond South Ossetia toward Georgia's capital city of Tblisi.

Never again. We must not let this stand.

But Barack Obama doesn't get it. His first statement equated Georgia's use of troops to quell unrest within its borders to Russia's invasion of Georgia, in a Rodney King-esque "Can't we all just get along?" approach. Then he went back to his vacation in Hawaii.

John McCain, on the other hand, gets it. He condemned Russia and called for its isolation from the world community.

President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice both condemned Russia. And Rice declared, "This is not 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia where Russia can threaten a neighbor, occupy a capital, overthrow a government and get away with it. Things have changed."

She's absolutely right, at least I hope things have changed.

John McCain was spot-on at the end of July, described ironically enough by Pravda (Russia) this way:

The senator still sees three capital letters – KGB – in Putin’s eyes.

PETA Wants to Help Illegals

No, PETA hasn't declared illegals to be animals in need of their care. The Houston Chronicle reported yesterday that PETA wants to start a new advertising campaign.

While many view the contentious border fence as a government fiasco, an animal rights group sees a rare opportunity.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans today to announce an unusual marketing pitch to the U.S. government: Rent us space on the fence for billboards warning illegal border crossers there is more to fear than the Border Patrol.

The billboards, in English and Spanish, would offer the caution: "If the Border Patrol Doesn't Get You, the Chicken and Burgers Will — Go Vegan."

"We think that Mexicans and other immigrants should be warned if they cross into the U.S. they are putting their health at risk by leaving behind a healthier, staple diet of corn tortillas, beans, rice, fruits and vegetables," said Lindsay Rajt, assistant manager of PETA's vegan campaigns.

I'm not sure if the PETA folks know that a lot of Mexican cooking is done with lard. Nice, saturated animal fat...

Still, I like their creativity. Selling advertising space on the border fence is the perfect way for the Border Patrol to raise some operating cash, and Congress (especially the Democratic Congress) always loves money coming into the federal coffers. Even better, this money would be coming from an otherwise untaxed source.

So, PETA spends pointless money warning illegals away from Dangerous America, the government gets money from somebody's pocket that isn't mine, and the border fence gets built. I love it!

Some days are filled with great beauty.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cloaking Device Progress

A couple years ago I blogged about a preliminary advance toward an invisibility device. That progress was made at the University of Utah and involved a "superlens."

Now UC Berkeley (surprisingly they do more there than attack military recruiters) has something even better. The Los Angeles Times reported today on the details.

Photo credit: Shizuo Kambayashi AP File

Long the stuff of fantasy, practical invisibility shields have been brought a step closer to reality by researchers who say they have engineered materials that can hide an object by bending ordinary light like balloon animals at a circus.

The researchers, led by Xiang Zhang of the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center at the University of California, Berkeley, have created two composite materials that possess negative refraction indexes, meaning they bend light opposite to the way most natural substances do. If water exhibited negative refraction, fish swimming in a pool would appear to be in the air above the water.

"This is an important step toward creating a cloak," Zhang said Monday.

We need something like this. Everybody should have an outfit that lets you see through it to the people behind you. You can hide, but they can't. Perfect.

Of course, that's not the only purpose.

But [Zhang] insisted the work was not aimed at shielding Federation starships from Klingon battle cruisers. A more practical application, he said, would be to create a so-called "super lens" that could image infinitesimally small objects, enabling the manufacture of still tinier computer chips.

This is great. It'll make that Dick Tracy watch better and with fabulous features.

"Dick Tracy calling Joe Jitsu. Come in, Joe." I can't wait.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hollywood Defends President Bush

I've been saving this for a few days, and it was a week old when I found it. Andrew Bolt's column in the Herald Sun (Australia) July 30, 2008, discussed a popular movie out of Hollywood.

FINALLY Hollywood makes a film that says President George W Bush was right.

But director Christopher Nolan had to disguise it a little, so journalists wouldn't freak and the film's more fashionable stars wouldn't walk.

So he hides Bush in a cape. He even sticks a mask on him, with pointy ears for some reason.

Sure, when the terrified citizens of Gotham City scream for Bush to come save them, Nolan has them shine a great W in the night sky, but he blurs it so it looks more like a bird.

Or a bat, perhaps.

And he has them call their hero not Mr Bush, of course, or even "Mr President", but . . .

And what do you know.

Bush may be one of the most despised presidents in American history, but this movie of his struggle is now smashing all box-office records.

Critics weep, audiences swoon - and suddenly the world sees Bush's agonising dilemma and sympathises with what it had been taught so long to despise.

As this superb Batman retelling,
The Dark Knight, makes clear, its subject is a weakness that runs instinctively through us - to hate a hero who, in saving us, exposes our fears, prods our weaknesses, calls from us more than we want to give, or can.

And how we resent a hero who must shake our world in order to save it, or brings alive that maxim of George Orwell that so implicates us in our preening piety: "Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I plan on it. First, though, I'll have to watch Batman Begins again.

It will be good to see a movie about a man who chooses to fight evil even when it's hard, rather than taking the easy road avoiding conflict even if it means evil wins.

Light Blogging

I've been taken to task for not blogging this week. In my defense, I have to say that nothing much has been happening in the world.

Russia has been minding its own business and keeping its tanks to itself.

Barack Obama's most likely Vice Presidential running mate looks like it will be John Edwards, who has been behaving quite nicely.

And everybody knows China doesn't know how to put on a show.


Or am I missing something?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Turtle Number 72 Hero in Drug Bust

Photo credit: National Park Service

The Washington Post reported August 1, 2008, about an intrepid turtle.

From the files of the U.S. Park Police, Incident No. 08-29683: Suspicious vegetation in Rock Creek Park.

The hero of this little crime drama has a brain about the size of a raisin, so of course she has no idea what happened. She's a reptile -- but who cares? There's a drug suspect in custody, so let's credit her with the arrest.

Her name is Turtle No. 72.

And this is her story:

Be sure to read the whole thing. Excerpts wouldn't do justice for Turtle No. 72.

Finding Oil

I listened to Hugh Hewitt's radio show today, and he focused on the oil situation, especially on Obama "doubling down" on his inflate-your-tires message for conserving oil. Here's what Obama said (from Jake Tapper):

"Let me make a point about efficiency, because my Republican opponents - they don’t like to talk about efficiency," Obama said.

"You know the other day I was in a town hall meeting and I laid out my plans for investing $15 billion a year in energy efficient cars and a new electricity grid and somebody said, 'well, what can I do? what can individuals do?' Obama recalled.

"So I told them something simple," Obama said. "I said, 'You know what? You can inflate your tires to the proper levels and that if everybody in America inflated their tires to the proper level, we would actually probably save more oil than all the oil we'd get from John McCain drilling right below his feet there, or wherever he was going to drill.'"

(Note: that's not accurate, as we fact-checked last week. But the larger point about energy savings is correct.)

"So now the Republicans are going around - this is the kind of thing they do. I don't understand it! They’re going around, they're sending like little tire gauges, making fun of this idea as if this is 'Barack Obama's energy plan.'

"Now two points, one, they know they're lying about what my energy plan is, but the other thing is they're making fun of a step that every expert says would absolutely reduce our oil consumption by 3 to 4 percent. It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant.

"You know, they think it is funny that they are making fun of something that is actually true. They need to do their homework. Because this is serious business. Instead of running ads about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears they should go talk to some energy experts and actually make a difference."

Yes, those Republicans need to do their homework. If they did, they'd know that Obama would be correct only if every car in the country were out of tune with underinflated tires, and nobody had thought yet about checking their tire pressure to help them save money on gas. Silly Republican ignoramuses!

Hugh also talked about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's hard-line approach to oil drilling. Twisting herself in tighter circles than the rubber band on a toy plane, she had this to say, on This Week With George Stephanopoulus, about her goals:

We have a debate every single day on this subject. What you saw in the Congress this week was the war dance of the hand maidens of the oil companies. That's what you saw on the Republican side of the aisle. Democrats and Republicans are not right down party lines on this issue. There are regional concerns as well as some people concerned about what this means back home for them. But we have a planet to save. We have an economy to grow. And we can do that if we keep our balance in all of this, and not just say, but for drilling in unprotected -- in these protected areas offshore, we would have lower gas prices.

I forgot about that. We have a planet to save and an economy to grow, and of course we can't grow the economy if we let the "hand maidens of the oil companies" get their way. Why, they might drill for more oil!

Hugh interviewed somebody who is an economist or a writer for a well-respected economics magazine (I didn't catch the name of the interviewee or the magazine). He said that there was a study that determined that the decision to open up drilling offshore and in ANWR would bring down gas prices right away. The magazine decided NOT to publish the study, because the results weren't anything new. "Everybody knows" that increasing supply long-term will drop prices short-term. Apparently, though, Democrats don't know.

Finally, I was impressed with a caller who had a possible solution that addresses both sides of the issue. It explores an alternative energy source, which should make the Democrats happy. And the technology already exists, which should make the Republicans happy. And it's renewable, which should make everybody happy.

We can quit importing foreign oil and start using whale oil instead.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Star Party

This past weekend was a new moon, and for astronomy buffs that means getting away from the city lights to look at the stars. My astrophysics-major friend has always kept track of the new moon, but this weekend was special. She invited her friends to come camping with her at Lake Morena.

The occasion was the christening and First Light for her new telescope, appropriately named Cyclops.

We had to wait until dark to do any viewing, and while we waited we got acquainted with each other--her San Diego friends, her Orange County friends, and me, her old friend--and then the cooks got busy.

After we ate, the sky was plenty dark, so my friend began the ceremony. We watched a video of her quest to purchase and pick up Cyclops, a 28" diameter reflecting telescope. And then she christened him, tapping a champagne bottle gently against a corner of the base and gave a heartfelt talk about how much it means to her to have a 'scope this size.

We toasted Cyclops, then we looked at the stars. One of her astronomy friends (the guy who built my telescope) was there with his 8" refracting telescope, which has one of those mechanisms that keeps the star or planet in view as it moves across the sky (actually, the earth is moving, be we won't quibble about that). He got us started on Jupiter. We could see two main bands across the planet and four of the moons.

Over on Cyclops, we looked at M14 (the Globular Cluster, not the weapon). It looked like this one (scroll down to "Messier 14"). Then we moved on to some nebulae, many pictured here. The Triffid Nebula (2nd row, 2nd picture), the Swan Nebula (top row, 4th picture), the Eagle Nebula (top row, 1st picture), and the Veil Nebula, which was too big to fit completely in Cyclops's view but looked a lot like the picture I linked to. And there were galaxies, including the Andromeda Galaxy, and some other things I've forgotten.

For the objects that were higher in the sky, we had to climb the ladder to be able to look in the eyepiece. It's tempting to want to steady yourself by holding the telescope, but that just moves it away and you lose the object and have to call the astronomy guy (AG) to come back and find it again (he's better at finding things than my friend is right now). So you quickly get used to gripping the ladder as you lean toward the eyepiece, and someone else holds the ladder to steady it. Since Cyclops doesn't have machinery to compensate for the spin of the earth, we kept having to send AG up the ladder to re-find the objects for the next person, because they'd slip out of view.

Then Cyclops turned his eye on Jupiter, and my friend put in the high-magnification eyepiece. The planet was bright, but oh it was stunning! We could see so many bands, and the red spot must have been on the other side, because I didn't see it. And with the the planet so large, it raced across and disappeared, so we had to keep nudging Cyclops to keep it in view. It looked something like the top photo here, only with the white bands brighter and no color showing.

My friend has marked all the new moons on her calendar and will be taking Cyclops out for as many of them as she can. In several months, Orion will be back in the sky, and I'll want to go with my friend then and see Orion's Nebula up close.

The night sky is a place of wonder, declaring the glory of God. I'll be glad to see that glory declared again and again.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Fighting for Oil

Humberto Fontava (never heard of him before) had an interesting column in WorldNetDaily Wednesday about oil spills. He begins by quoting several news items about a spill a week ago. Here's one:

"An oil spill that closed a long stretch of the lower Mississippi River on Wednesday undercut his (McCain's) message that offshore drilling was desirable and safe." Elizabeth Bumiller, New York Times, July 25.

Sounds pretty damning, doesn't it? Maybe we shouldn't be drilling offshore for oil , after all...

But wait!

In fact, the 419,000 gallons that spilled into the Mississippi river on July 23 consisted of fuel oil (not crude oil) from a barge that picked it up from a local fuel merchant. As it happened, this fuel oil-laden barge collided with a tanker, the Tintomara, but this tanker was also not carrying crude oil. It transported styrene and biodiesel. But the Tintomara has carried (foreign) crude oil in the past and could easily carry (foreign) crude oil in the future.

The Mississippi River below and above New Orleans typically carries a heavy traffic of tankers transporting (foreign) crude oil to refineries in this area. And accidents occur. So here, I'll help you senatorial and media greenies establish the premise your sloppy research and wishful thinking caused you to botch on this spill. Here ya go … softly and right over home plate:

"An oil tanker, the Westchester, lost power and ran aground 40 miles south of New Orleans, spilling more than half a million gallons of (foreign) crude oil into the Mississippi River. The spill was the largest in U.S. waters since the Exxon Valdez disaster in March 1989." New Orleans Times Picayune, Nov 29, 2000.

So here's a bona-fide oil tanker, carrying bona-fide oil and causing a bona-fide oil spill, as you eminent journalists concocted last week. Well, this type of spill is the very thing that more domestic oil drilling
will prevent. The transportation of foreign oil to American refineries by tankers – not the production of domestic oil, which is transported to refineries via pipeline – causes most oil spills. (emphasis added)

So, if we want to help the environment (not to mention help the economy and reduce our funding of terrorists), we need to develop our domestic supply of oil and eliminate as much importation of foreign oil as possible. But the Democrats, who are in the pockets of the environmental lobby, don't quite see it the same way normal people do. No, they refuse to allow offshore oil drilling, because oil might spill. In fact, they're so hard-set against drilling for oil that they've gone on August recess without addressing offshore oil drilling.

Democratic leaders have been resolute in blocking new offshore exploration, even as oil patch members and moderates in the party support the idea. It's clear that if a vote were allowed, new offshore drilling plans would be allowed.

"Congress shouldn't leave its business unfinished while American wallets are drained at the pump," said Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla.

Democrats believe they can weather the criticism since voters are hardly sympathetic to the big oil companies pressing to lift the drilling restrictions. They perform better than Republicans in opinion polls on energy—despite the shift in opinions favoring offshore drilling—as well as on most other issues.

But all is not lost yet. Michelle Malkin is reporting today on a Republican revolt in the House.

Just got this heads up from a Hill staffer. The Democrats may have gone on vacation, but House Republicans are on the floor today, working on behalf of taxpayers to push energy proposals forward. Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, is busy hawking her miserably performing book–currently ,1726 on

From: Stipicevic, John
Sent: Friday, August 01, 2008 11:39 AM
Although, this Democrat Majority just
Adjourned for the Democrat 5-Week Vacation, House Republicans are continuing to fight on the House Floor. Although the lights, mics and C-SPAN camera’s have been turned off, House Republicans are on the Floor speaking to the taxpayers in the gallery who, not surprisingly, agree with Republican Energy proposals. All Republicans who are in town are encouraged to come to the House Floor.

There are plenty of updates, including a letter sent by the Republican Study Committee calling for President Bush to convene a special session of Congress to deal with gas prices, as well as a list of the Congressmen who are participating in the oil-drilling revolt (ODR). My Congressman wasn't in the list, so I called his office here in town and told them I wanted him to get over to the House and start fighting for me.

Meanwhile, the ODR has sparked a reaction from the Don't Drill Democrats (DDD) leader, Nancy Pelosi. Michelle Malkin has the story with continuing updates.

Until C-SPAN turns the cameras back on, we’ll have to rely on GOP staff to get out video of their bosses’ speeches. (Flip has an e-mail link to contact C-SPAN. Go here.)

The Washington Post calls the GOP House revolt “bizarre.”

No. “Bizarre” is Democrats whining about high gas prices and then taking a vacation and doing nothing, nothing, nothing to solve the energy crisis about which they whine.

Guess a 14 percent approval rating isn’t low enough for them.

Nancy Pelosi got the Capitol police to shut down the building to tourists, who were cheering in the gallery, so the ODR leaders will be holding a press conference.

Stay tuned. This is getting fun!

Update (Saturday morning):

Congressional Quarterly has a more detailed report of the ODR festivities. I like the part at the end where Congressman Nunes (R-CA) says they may hold more of these sessions throughout the August recess. Keep preachin' it, Brother!