Sunday, August 30, 2009


Straining to Find Points On Which We Can Agree

Long- time lefty activist and former Californian Congressman, Tom Hayden, has a piece today in the Denver Post about energy policy. It's not very good. But here is something on which I can agree with Tom, at least partially:

My feeling of deju vu first came with the recital of the persistent failure under both parties to capture energy savings from what Chu called the "low hanging fruit": half of all energy waste, for example, is in existing buildings and the materials used for those buildings. Thirty-six million American homes currently qualify for weatherization subsidies, while another 100 million homes need similar retrofits. But only 36,000 units are being weatherized per year.
No rational person is against making homes and businesses more efficient in energy use--the problem arises regarding who is to pay for the upgrades, here weatherization. Tom seems on board with the federal government paying for them. I think that giving a tax credit would be a preferable way. But if it makes economic sense to make the house or business more like a thermos cooler, wouldn't the home or business owner want to do that? If it saves him or her money, wouldn't he or she want to spend a little to save more? Nothing is stopping anyone from weatherizing, that is, no federal entanglement--no penalty or regulation. But on a broader scale, how is conservation a complete energy policy? And the agreement fades.

But here is some straight BS from the aging radical:
The Obama stimulus legislation and Waxman-Markey bill, despite being watered down, still would invest $24.4 billon in real money for energy efficiency, $25.3 billion for renewables, and $23 billon for transit improvements. Greenhouse gas emissions would be based on California's regulation of new vehicles. The measure puts off setting standards for renewable electricity, industrial efficiency and carbon capture and storage, setting the stage for fights ahead. According to Clinton and Obama adviser John Podesta, the package means $150 billion in clean energy investments yearly for 10 years, creating 1.7 million net new jobs.

There just has to be a point where additional government spending here will be seen as counterproductive, for the simple reason that we, as a nation, don't have the money to spend on weatherization and the like. I think we passed that point a while back, but rational lefties, which pretty much leaves out Tom Hayden, certainly will reach a point in our proposed spending where they have to say: Basta. No Mas. And we know from the Europeans, who have attempted it, that there will be no net new jobs in renewable energy. See the next posting down. $1.5 Trillion to create the illusion of 1.7 million new jobs, actual lost jobs, and worse energy sources, that is, more expensive and less reliable, indeed just a whole lot less of it, as the "renewable" Hayden is talking about is less than 2% of our current supply?

The "green" revolution in alternative energy Hayden is so nostalgic for, up to when Carter was president, did not end because of sabotage by capitalists and big energy corporations. It was stillborn because then, as now, it couldn't supply the needed energy and it was way too expensive. Scapegoating the companies who could, and did, power our nation to ever growing prosperity, as Tom Hayden does here and there throughout this opinion piece, reminds me of the excuses the Soviet Union always relied on--the wreckers.

There are more moribund lefty talking points, however, than just those left in Hayden's battered portfolio.

How to possibly evolve from our current fossil-fuel economy to one based on renewables and efficiency while fighting long wars over oil and pipelines in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran was a contradiction too large for the specialized brains at the table.

Tom! The war in Afghanistan against al Qaeda and its enabler the Taliban was about an oil pipeline? You're worse than the Birthers. Where is that pipeline? Where is the oil we were to steal from the Iraqis? And "too large for the specialized brains at the table?" Only the non-specialized giant brain at the table could comprehend the fantasy world history of Tom Hayden and, of course that non-specialized giant brain would be Tom Hayden's.



Music to My Ears--Horrible Noise to the Warmies

It's good to read someone, who thinks like you, making sense. Like here, talking about what a boondoggle most of the new "green" energy economy actually is.

Money quotes:

There has been much press and advertising lately about "green jobs" being, or about to be, created by construction of wind farms and other renewable energy sources. President Barack Obama, in fact, has used Spain as a model for pursuing sustainable energy projects.

But for every four green jobs created in Spain, less than one was made permanent, according to a study released by Spain's Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in March 2009. Spain's experience also shows for every permanent green job created, nine permanent jobs were destroyed. Creating green jobs, then, is touted as a "Bridge to the Future," but it looks like a "Bridge to Nowhere."


Groups like the NRCM claim, "Wind power emits no mercury, no air pollution, no carbon dioxide, no need to mine coal, and alleviate the demand for natural gas!" But the experiences of countries that have actually invested heavily in wind power like Spain, Germany, and Denmark prove the opposite.

The National Post has reported, "Denmark, the most wind intensive country with 6000 turbines generating 19% of electricity from wind power, they have not been able to close one fossil fuel plant and to their dismay, 50% more electricity was needed to cover wind's unpredictability, and CO2 emissions rose 36%."

"Niels Gram of the Danish Federation of Industries says, "windmills are a mistake and economically make no sense." Aase Madsen, the Chair of Energy Policy in the Danish Parliament, calls it "a terribly expensive disaster."


So, if wind power does not decrease the use of coal or gas, does not decrease CO2 emissions, does not produce permanent job gains, and in fact destroys jobs, increases electricity costs, and increases CO2 production, what does it do?

One begins to wonder if cap and trade is the equivalent of economic self-mutilation.




A Well of Ignorance

Lefty columnist at the Denver Post, David Sirota, formerly a Democratic political strategist, continues his campaign of disinformation and piddling insight with a weirdly titled piece yesterday, called: The Science Fiction of Military Marketing.

It seems Mr. Sirota has just twigged to the fact that the United States Armed Forces advertise enlisting therein using the most glamorous and exciting tasks the enlisted do. Wow, one is simply amazed at the intellectual achievement of such an insight. Who knew?

I recall the Navy ads of 25 years ago which had kick ass rock music and slick editing of the best and brightest of jobs in the Navy, with the tag line "The Navy. It's not just a job, it's an adventure." Saturday Night Live, back when it was funny, skewered those ads with a parody showing, in the same style, most of the non-glamorous jobs in the Navy, like KP duty and latrine cleaning, and ended: "The Navy. It's not just a job, it's $89.74 a week."

Here are a few of Mr. Sirota's bons mots:

As Bush-era attempts to conflate bellicosity and patriotism were undermined by persistent body bags, military recruitment has become more challenging. In response, the Pentagon hopes to make prospective volunteers believe their tours of duty will be as safe as a night on the couch.

I'll skip the blame Bush meme (after all, who wouldn't blame Bush for actually and finally fighting back and freeing 50 million plus from mind blowing oppression). But with his calling recruitment "more challenging," Sirota implies that recruitment is failing. It's not. Or that the ads with kick ass music and slick editing of the coolest things about each branch of service are new. They're not; see above.

There's more:
It's a good bet more than a few enlistees will expect their service to be happy video games, only to find themselves dodging real bullets in a Baghdad shooting gallery.
What utterly inane condescension. It is a constant theme with lefty writers that our armed forces are full of losers who couldn't make it in the economy at home and who are not the brightest bulbs in the marquee. I imagine that most of them are savvy enough to know that American combat troops left Iraqi cities, like Baghdad, about two month ago and are being shot at only rarely now, out in the countryside. (It was in all the papers). The idea that our competent and deadly armed forces were like the targets in shooting gallery is more evidence of the left's, or more specifically Mr. Sirota's, contempt for them. In reality, in both Afghanistan and formerly in Iraq, the Taliban and al Qaeda types are generally the poor dumb bastard being blown apart by .50 BMG and Hellfire missiles.



Thought of the Day

Mary Jo wasn't a right-wing talking point or a negative campaign slogan. She was a dedicated civil rights activist and political talent with a bright future....We don't know how much Kennedy was affected by her death, or what she'd have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history. What we don't know, as always, could fill a Metrodome.

Still, ignorance doesn't preclude a right to wonder. So it doesn't automatically make someone (aka, me) a Limbaugh-loving, aerial-wolf-hunting NRA troll for asking what Mary Jo Kopechne would have had to say about Ted's death, and what she'd have thought of the life and career that are being (rightfully) heralded.

Who knows -- maybe she'd feel it was worth it. (Emphasis added).

Melissa "A Million" Lafsky

As James Taranto observed: One does get the sense that a certain type of liberal regards women as expendable.


Saturday, August 29, 2009


Thought of the Day

When a man is capable of what Ted Kennedy did that night in 1969 and in the weeks afterwards, what else is he capable of? An NPR listener said the senator’s passing marked “the end of civility in the U.S. Congress.” Yes, indeed. Who among us does not mourn the lost “civility” of the 1987 Supreme Court hearings? Considering the nomination of Judge Bork, Ted Kennedy rose on the Senate floor and announced that “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit down at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution . . . ”

Whoa! “Liberals” (in the debased contemporary American sense of the term) would have reason to find Borkian jurisprudence uncongenial, but to suggest the judge and former solicitor-general favored re-segregation of lunch counters is a slander not merely vile but so preposterous that, like his explanation for Chappaquiddick, only a Kennedy could get away with it. If you had to identify a single speech that marked “the end of civility” in American politics, that’s a shoo-in.

Mark Steyn


Friday, August 28, 2009


Thought of the Day

If they’re going to talk about Camelot, then we get to talk about The Lady in the Lake.

Dave in Texas



History is Bunk

The actual political violence perpetrated by documented, 'everyone can agree on the political designation' Right Wing extremists here in America in the past 50 years is overwhelmed completely by the actual political violence perpetrated by dedicated leftists. It's no contest. It mirrors the imbalance in political murder by lefties in the 20th Century worldwide.

But the left tends to feign historical ignorance (as opposed to being ignorant of it--everyone knows the left is the real intellectual powerhouse in America, so they couldn't possibly be actually ignorant of real history) and indeed projects its violent tendencies onto the more passive "other side."

One of the most pernicious examples of this ignorance is the left's calling the Nazis right wing, as if their name, National Socialist and German Workers' Party, were a big goof.

But here's some evidence of lefty ignorance of even recent American history from about all that's left of the much ballyhooed, but less than successful, Air America, charming Mike Malloy:

So with the death of Ted Kennedy last night, liberalism in this country has lost its champion; the person who, in the modern era, personified liberalism to a greater degree than anyone in Congress; I think that his death heralds the beginning of a very, very very dark period in this country.

I remember feeling that way in 1963 and in 1968-when his two brothers were murdered by the right wing in this country. (Emphasis added).

JFK was murdered by a dedicated Communist, Lee Harvey Oswald, with an M91/38 Carcano 6.5mm rifle. One of the many conspiracy theories that have arisen around that historical fact is merely the left's trying to rewrite history and change the real 'dedicated Communist' into an alleged 'shadowy group of right wing conspirators'. The perniciously continued existence of this conspiracy theory is further evidence of the projection of the left's violent tendencies onto the right.

RFK was murdered by lefty Palestinian extremist Sirhan Sirhan with an Iver-Johnson Cadet .22 pistol. If you doubt my calling Mr. Sirhan a lefty, I'll refer you to Prairie Fire by Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers, et al. and the dedication to a page full of lefties, including Sirhan Sirhan. Do you believe that Ayres thought Sirhan Sirhan was a right wing assassin? Do you believe Bill Ayers and the other weathermen would dedicate their manifesto in 1974 to a right winger?

Mr. Malloy, quit lying.

Other lefties, quit lying to yourself.

(h/t Brian Malony)



Setting the Bar Very Low

I have often stated that the tiny bit of power we get from the seriously intermittent sources of wind and solar will not save a single lump of coal in a nearby or back-up coal fired power plant, because they set the base power output without regard to small, seriously intermittent sources, like wind and solar. Difficult to know if I'm as right as I think I am.

So today I read in the Denver Post that Xcel is building a smallish coal power plant combined with a focused mirror solar plant to see how much coal, if any, the solar powered portion saves. Wow! Perfect.

It's always good to see what the not disinterested party thinks. Here is Xcel's prediction:
The solar unit is forecast to replace about 900 tons of coal a year at Cameo. The plant burns about 230,000 tons a year.
900 divided by (230,000 minus 900) is .0037 or .37%, a third of a percent. That's really tiny. .37% of The Drive against Cleveland would be less than 4.5 inches. Helpful, but not very helpful.

I still say if the experiment is honest, there will be no real savings of coal burned (even though the solar part is designed merely to pre-heat the water the coal fire will turn to steam and will not generate its own power per se). Almost all the energy used in turning water to steam occurs after the water is heated to 210 degrees F. So the savings may well be smaller than the slightly less than lavish amount expected.

I'll get back to you when the experiment has been preformed.


Thursday, August 27, 2009


The New Narrative

Yesterday I wrote about the vandalism on the windows of the local Democrat Party Headquarters and posed two competing narratives, both from Nazi Germany's history, Kristallnacht and the Reichstag fire. I am here now to propose a third narrative, also from Nazi Germany's history--internecine conflict between the left and the far left. Although the Nazis were socialists (national socialists), they hated the even more socialist Communists (international socialists) and persecuted them with Concentration Camp internment, et al. If you don't count the millions of Communist soldiers taken prisoner after June, 1941, the civilian Communists were third in line, after the Jews and the Gypsies, for German nationalist leftist hatred and crime, specifically against other leftists. That's what apparently is going on with Maurice Schwenkler, aka Ariel Attack a so-called transgendered member of focused far lefty Denver Bash Back!.

As one of the wags a People's Press Collective said, Smash-troturfing.

So it's probably neither Kristallnacht or the Reichstag fire, but it's nothing new under the sun.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Kristallnacht Oder Reichstagsbrand?

Yesterday I was completely bummed by the news that 11 big windows at Democrat Party Headquarters here in Denver, at 8th and Santa Fe, were smashed during the night. Using reasonable inference and logic, it made sense to me that someone on the right did this. (Just so, it made sense that Saddam Hussein maintained a stockpile of WMD otherwise he would have let the UN inspectors inspect and avoided the war's continuing and his being hanged--but that's a separate topic).

Certainly the Democrats in this state jumped to my instant conclusion. Not only that, Democratic Party chairwoman Pat Waak said this about the damage to the building: "Clearly there's been an effort on the other side to stir up hate. I think this is the consequence of it" Thus, the first narrative of the event to use a Nazi Germany reference was to compare it to Kristallnacht. Think I'm kidding? Think no one would be so petty as to compare breaking 11 windows of a single party headquarters, in a petty political fight, to the nationwide property destruction of Jewish businesses and Synagogues, and murder of nearly a hundred Jews, and rounding up for the concentration camp of thirty thousand Jews in Germany and Austria on the night November 8/9, 1938? See for yourself.

But the vandals were too stupid to look carefully around before they started breaking windows to see if perhaps a Denver police patrol car might be near, so one of the two was caught. Maurice Schwenkler was caught. Here's what People's Press Collective (all power to the people!) was able to glean from the public record. Other people, like Gateway Pundit, found other things.

Now the narrative, with its required Nazi Germany reference, is Reichstag fire, presuming that Marinus van der Lubbe was not the real arsonist in question.

It is certainly possible that young Mr. Schwenkler is, DESPITE every fact we know about him, actually a Republithug, or perhaps he's merely an anarchist who hates both left and right, or perhaps he's, allegedly, just one of those guys who likes to break things; but there is enough out there to show he's a dedicated leftist, so that the burden has fallen squarely on the Democrats to show that they did not hire Mr. Schwenkler to do a "false flag" operation, if they can.

Certainly there is more to follow.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009


What Are They, Nuts?

Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that he has appointed a special prosecutor (I thought we were done with those?) to investigate CIA people who were effective in interrogation of captured al Qaeda types and who have helped keep us safe in the near 8 years since 9/11.

Many on the right suspect this is a political ploy to take the heat of the all-seeing public eye off the ever-sinking-in-popularity health insurance reform bill and refocus on the horrible, terrible, no good former president and his party who had deficit spending less than half a trillion dollars per year (pikers, tyros!). It would seem a better plan if there was any there there, but here is the report on the horrible, terrible, no good things the CIA did to the captured al Qaeda types:

Some of the debriefers (not the trained interrogators) threatened to use a gun or a drill. The CIA never used the gun or the drill but they threatened to. The CIA threatened to kill KSM's children and and another inferred that the mother and family of another terrorist could be raped. They put on a play where they pretended to kill a fellow prisoner. Oh, and they blew cigar smoke in the face of a prisoner, after checking to see that blowing smoke was legal.

That's pretty much it. They were mean to them but didn't hurt them. The Horror!

There is nothing, nothing to be prosecuted. The career (as opposed to the political appointees) prosecutors during the Bush Administration looked at the facts and decided rightly that there was no torture and no crime, and they kept to their special ethics and did not investigate further.

This is pretty clearly a Kabuki play to spread some stink on the CIA in general and on the Bush Administration specifically but like a lot of what President Obama is pushing, it has feet of clay all the way up to the neck. It is transparently false, as is his wont.


Monday, August 24, 2009


Photos From the Front

Cousin Jake at an undisclosed location, with an undisclosed (by me) unit of America's Finest Fighting-men.


Is it my imagination or does that LAV look like it's seen quite a few miles? It has that lived-in look the Shermans in Kelly's Heroes had. But that was just a movie.


Sunday, August 23, 2009


Not Particularly Good News

Here is a graph of the declining magnetism in our sun. No magnetism, no sunspots. No sunspots, no more interglacial. We've been recently bombarded with propaganda of what warming a few degrees will do to the ecology of the planet, but an ice age is far, far worse.

The good news is that this is a very short term trend.

Don't panic.


Saturday, August 22, 2009


Friday Movie Review--In the Loop

The Independent Film Channel has bankrolled, but not really promoted In the Loop, the movie version of a Brit TV comedy called The Thick of It, which ran for a season and a half a few years ago and the movie version, at least, is a gem. In the Loop is one of the funniest political comedies I've ever seen--certainly the best since Dr. Strangelove 45 years ago. I'm lucky my wife talked me into seeing it. Think Yes, Minister with Python's best written sketches as the sript

It is actually as surreal as anything Ionesco and his coterie ever did, but its comic strength relies primarily on the spoken word, the very clever, quickly spoken word, as there is almost no physical comedy, no slapstick or even odd facial expressions (well, there is the bleeding from the mouth Mimi Kennedy but that wasn't that funny).

I recognized only a few of the Brits--the shrew Director of Communications, Judy, who served the sad little minister, was the paralyzed sister of Hugh Grant in Notting Hill. The sad little minister, Tom Hollander, was the horrible suitor in the new Pride and Prejudice and the evilest guy in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. But the strength and main pillar was the nasty Scot, head media minister or undersecretary of communications whatever played by Peter Capaldi (any relation to the late Traffic drummer Jim?) who carries the movie. It turns out he was an ill-fated Scot in the campy horror film The Lair of the White Worm by Ken Russell, which, by chance, is where Hugh Grant learned to play the Hugh Grant we all know and mostly like him. Of course, Capaldi is a lot older now and in slightly darker spirits than he was in the Lair movie. Indeed, it's as if his character there, corrupted by the snakewoman bite, has aged into his wonderfully bitter, meaner character here. He does get the lion share of the sharper lines, and there are tons and tons of sharp lines. Oh, and Steve Coogan is in it as well, but he's only a little funny.

On the American side there's Tony Soprano in a Lieutenant General's uniform, the aforementioned Mimi Kennedy, and the guy, David Raiche, from the 80s private eye parody TV show, Sledge Hammer, who here plays a state department undersecretary of something with decided overtones of former Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld. Also good to see the cute child star of the My Girl movies, Anna Chlumsky, back all grown up and kinda pretty still.

The setting generally is about the time period just before the 3/2003 start of Gulf War II but they are not explicitly then or there. The general tone is lefty and anti-war, but no one escapes unscathed. There are no real heroes or heroines nor any completely bad people, although Capaldi and his meaner, if that's possible, Scot henchmen come close. One can try to be as cynnical as these people but one could never keep up.

The director, Armando Iannucci, a 45 year old Glasgow native (of an Italian born dad) has done some of the higher brow Brit television humor, the real thing, not what passes for it with the new generations, just being uncomfortably embarrassed by actions on the screen. His work includes the above mentioned The Thick of It as well as the highly praised but sporadic I'm Alan Parson with Steve Coogan at his best.

Given the near catastrophe we, and England too, have stumbled into politically, it is more reassuring to believe that this is a broad parody of government rather than a little slice of life at the undersecretary of whatever level. More reassuring to believe broad parody, but difficult to embrace it fully. It's difficult to believe our middle management government leadership could be this petty and inept, but it is not impossible to believe it.

Not everything works, but it rarely goes for the cheap laugh or the easy target (as Borat and the new one constantly do); this movie is plain old funny, but with enough wit and intellectual warp and weave that you don't immediately forget it as you leave the theater.

I don't smell bisque.



The Flaw in the Opinion

Unfortunately, I do not have enough knowledge of macroeconomics to criticize, properly, the learned idiocy of David Sirota talking about tax policy. Popular talk show host, Mike Rosen, fortunately does and has taken Sirota apart, figuratively, for one of his recent, near worthless opinion pieces.

I do have a passing familiarity with the 1st and 2nd Amendments to the United States Constitution and so I'll take a brief shot at Sirota's piece today in the Denver Post, which you can read here.

Sirota decries people exercising their 2nd Amendment rights outside townhall meetings and, like many on the left, plays the race card early and wrongly:

The gun has been transformed from a sport and self-defense device into a tool of mass bullying. Like the noose in the Jim Crow South, its symbolic message is clear: If you dare engage in the democratic process, you risk bodily harm.

Well, the right to keep and bear arms was never limited to sport and self-defense. As the 2nd Amendment itself makes clear, the primary purpose is to arm the citizens who make up the militia, the preferred federal military outfit. There was also a little keeping the government in its place (i.e. fearful of an armed uprising) in the framers' minds as well. But the real blindness displayed by Mr. Sirota in that paragraph is his idea that the people bringing guns to the townhalls are doing so to intimidate the democratic process. I think they are foolish to carry guns there openly--it is too strong a symbolic display; but I don't think their primary purpose is to bully or intimidate--that's what the union thugs are there for. And since the only assault weapon (an AR-15) evident so far was carried by a black man, I'm pretty sure the "noose" of "Jim Crow" allusion was not justified.

But here is the central locus of lunacy, just after the first, obligatory mention of Nazi Germany:

While the First Amendment doesn't ensure credibility or significance, it is supposed to guarantee freedom from fear — a freedom that is now under siege. Citing the Second Amendment and the increasingly maniacal rhetoric of conservative media firebrands, a small handful of violence-threatening protesters aims to make the rest of us — whether pro- or anti-health-reform — afraid to speak out.
The 1st Amendment merely protects public speakers and those associating with fellow citizens from government harassment. Just as it won't ensure that people believe you or think you're deep, it won't ensure that you will be persuasive or popular for your expressed views. Whatever 'freedom from fear' there is in the 1st Amendment is governocentric--the federal police won't arrest you for voicing opinion or peacefully assembling; but it is no guarantee that the common person won't disagree with you and certainly no guarantee that you can say anything you like with no repercussions of any kind, like people yelling 'you're wrong' or 'you're an idiot' or worse yet, ignoring you entirely.

In a mote/beam/eye episode, Sirota claims that the rhetoric of conservative media firebrands is ever more maniacal but he conveniently fails to mention the fear inducing rhetoric of the left over the past 40 years. As a solution, Sirota proposes making the townhalls firearm free zones, like schools and stadiums, because we all know how effective the firearm free zones in schools have proved to prospective mass murderers.

This is typical lefty so called thinking--to protect a right that doesn't exist (freedom from fear) he proposes infringing on the actual right to keep and bear arms right there in the amendments to the Constitution.

For Sirota, and his ilk, to fly a Virginia State flag near a town hall would chill their fantasy 1st Amendment right to be free from fear, what with that flag's threatening Latin motto: Sic Semper Tyrannis, even though the threat therein is towards the government and not to fellow citizens peacefully assembling, speaking and seeking redress of grievances.

You really have to wonder what amount of education could have made an ordinary guy like Sirota so foolish.



Thought of the Day

Of course, the president retains his formidable political skills, artfully distracting attention from his stimulus debacle with his health care debacle. But there are diminishing returns to his serial thousand-page, trillion-dollar boondoggles.

Mark Steyn


Friday, August 21, 2009


Thought of the Day

When men have a problem and they tell you about it, they want to know how to fix it. When women have a problem and they tell you about it, they just want you to listen.

John Hawkins



Not With a Bang But a Whimper

There's no doubt that I am a huge Hayao Miyazuki fan. His work at the so-called Disney of Japan studios, Ghibli Studios is generally excellent. But I was really disappointed in what was to be his swan song (he's 68 and apparently retiring) Ponyo. Man, that was a poor movie--so bad as to edge into child abuse, considering its intended audience.

How do I not love you? Let me count the disappointing ways:

Most of Studio Ghibli's actual artwork is, like much of anime, beautiful but detailed. Here it is hazy and full of pastels, almost like children's' drawings, but not in a minimalist good way, not even stylized like the 19th Century wood cuts--very unsatisfying.

The title character is again a 5 year old girl (but unlike the main character in Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies not at all endearing). When she makes the complete transition to girl from girl-like fish (don't ask), she seems to be wearing diapers or 19th Century bloomers. Either way, quite disturbing.

There has always been an undercurrent of ecological thinking in even the early movies (Nausicaa and Princess Mononoke explicitly so) but it was subtle, as was the collectivist inclusiveness, dare I say it, the pro-diversity sub-theme, but Ponyo is politically correct central, as subtle as a framing hammer to the thumb.

In the earlier films (notably Castle in the Sky) we could tell the protagonists loved each other by their actions, there was no need for exposition by others and certainly no need for a lame, formal test/ceremony of love. What has happened to the master storyteller's skill set?

There was generally a sense of wonder in the earlier works, replaced here by a seriously didactic meme (the kids naming the Devonian fish they recognized is but a minor example of this wrong turn).

What's with it about Miyazaki's recent near obsession with old ladies? There was the ever aging witch in Howl's Moving Castle reproduced nearly intact here and then multiplied. I know Japan's population is aging seriously and badly, and there are few children to replace (and support financially) the ancient ones, but really would any mother of a 5 year old, at the height of a storm that has cut off the power and threatens to isolate the house, leave the child at home to go help the 'seniors' at the senior care center on the other side of town? "You be good now, Sosuke. See ya." That was madness.

Liam Neeson was a weird choice for the title character's human hating, ecologically minded human father. Tina Fey was the voice of the all accepting mother (although she was able to avoid saying: "I can see China from my house." here). I thought Noah Cyrus did a good job as Ponyo's English voice but what a bad name she has--I thought she was an achy breaky son. Matt Damon's contribution was, thankfully, just a few lines long. Whenever I see or hear him, it is all I can do to stop from yelling out in a moronic voice, "Matt Damon!"

Finally there was the insipid, treacley closing song repeating the name Ponyo over and over and over. It sticks with you like only truly execrable songs can, maddeningly.

I have reserved praising the good things about this move for the end but, alas, I can think of nothing. See any of the other films by him but avoid this like the plague.



Scalzi Goes Off on George Lukas

The author of some of the most hopeful science fiction recently written, John Scalzi, tells the truth about some of the really stupid things in the Star Wars universe. Here is my favorite:

Death Star

An unshielded exhaust port leading directly to the central reactor? Really? And when you rebuild it, your solution to this problem is four paths into the central core so large that you can literally fly a spaceship through them? Brilliant. Note to the Emperor: Someone on your Death Star design staff is in the pay of Rebel forces. Oh, right, you can't get the memo because someone threw you down a huge exposed shaft in your Death Star throne room.


Thursday, August 20, 2009


Avatar Trailer

Avatar, the new serious science fiction movie by James Cameron, due out on December 18, has just been partially revealed in a trailer, which you can reach here (it will take another click there and patience). Looks pretty good to me. Troubled by the floating islands, though.



Noticing Something Fishy

I was at the emissions testing facility today getting the son's car tested (we passed) and over in the next lane a big Denver Water pick-up went through the motions of getting tested but did not get tested. It was truck 326 with license plate 318-DHT. It went through the line but was not tested on the rollers and the gas cap did not get pressure tested.

I have no problem with the government vehicles being exempt from testing, but why bring the truck down to the testing facility and not test it?

How we're treated at the testing facility is a precursor to how we'll be treated by the "government option." As much like this as with the DMV or post office, I think.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009


A Non Fatal Case of Projection

Josh Marshall, who has a Ph.D. in American History from Brown (so he should know better) today writes the following at his Talking Points Memo (TPM) blog:

But let's be honest about what this is about. The right -- the modern American right -- has a very troubled history with political violence. The ideological pattern is clear going back at least thirty years and arguably far longer. A simple review of the 1990s, particularly 1993, 1994, culminating in many respects in the tragic 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal building in April 1995 tells the tale. Mix in the militias, the thankfully inept attempt on President Clinton's life a few months before Oklahoma City (see Francisco Duran) and it's all really not a pretty picture.

What is he talking about in '93 and '94? I doubt he means the first World Trade Center bombing by radical islamists on 2/26/93 or the shooting of CIA personnel by radical islamist Mir Aimal Kasi on 1/25/93. I doubt he means the bombing death of Thomas Mosser on 12/10/94 (or of Gilbert Murray on 4/24/95) by the semi-crazy lefty known as the Unabomber.

He almost certainly means the mistaken self defense and later self immolation by Vernon Howell (aka David Koresh) of his compound and followers outside Waco, Texas on 4/19/93, and the shooting death of Denver talk radio host Alan Berg on 7/18/84 by white supremacists. And of course he specifies poor, really dumb Tim McVeigh, et al. I don't know these guys were part of the modern American right, but I'll cop to their membership therein. I'll argue that, except for some very sporadic violence against abortionists by religious zealots, that's a near complete list of right wing political violence in the past 30 years.

The historian Marshall then mentions the innocuous militias, who got a lot of media coverage but did nothing, and he then mentions by name the completely crazy Francisco Duran, whose political affiliation is unclear at best, and who shot a lot of 7.62 x 39mm bullets out of his SKS at the White House generally. Yet he leaves out just as crazy Frank Corder, who crashed a stolen plane onto the White House grounds. I wonder why the omission.

Here is a more complete list of attempts on our Presidents' lives just since dedicated Communist Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed JFK:

2/22/74--pretty crazy Samuel Byck attempts to fly a plane into the White House to kill President Nixon.

9/5/75--recently released lefty loon Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme draws a gun on President Ford.

9/22/75--released years ago lefty loon Sara Jane Moore attempts to shoot President Ford.

3/31/81--Completely crazy John Hinkley shoots Ronald Reagan in order to impress Jodie Foster.

2/7/01--Emotionally disturbed Robert Picket shoots at the White House but manages to miss W.

Just as many of these guys and gals were completely crazy as were clearly lefty, but the target was enough for inclusion in the modern American right for Josh Marshall looking back on the '90s, so he shouldn't complain about my list. I see he has anticipated me and poo-poos any more comprehensive history thus:

Now, I know we'll likely get emails from right-wingers pointing out some animal rights activists who freed a bunch of gerbils, another fellow whose tires got slashed and no doubt a host of people with backwards Bs scrawled on their cheeks. But I think we all know the story here.

I don't think we do know the whole story here, Josh, or at least you don't, as you seem oblivious to this partial list of arsons and bombings, attempted and successful:

3/1/71--Dedicated lefty terrorists called the Weatherman (aka Friends of Obama) bomb the Capitol.

12/8/82--Lefty early eco-terrorist Norman Mayer pretends to have a truck bomb at Washington Monument.

4/26/83--Dedicated Communist terrorists explode bomb at National War College at Fort NcNair.

8/18/83--Dedicated Communist terrorists explode bomb at Washington Navy Yard's computer center.

11/7/83--Dedicated Communist terrorists explode bomb at the Capitol.

4/20/84-- Dedicated Communist terrorists explode bomb at Washington Navy Yard's officers' club.

12/11/85--Hugh Scrutton killed by Unabomber.

2/12/88--Lefty terrorist and member of Japanese Red Army Yu Kikumura arrested with 3 large pipe bombs destined for military recruitment centers.

3/11/97--ELF and ALF cause a million dollars damage to fur breeders in Sandy, Utah.

10/19/98--ELF burns 12 million dollar building in Vail, Colorado.

12/16/98--ELF burns .7 million dollar building at US Forest Industries in Medford, Oregon.

12/31/99--ELF starts fire at Michigan State and causes a million in damages.

11/27/00--Elf burns 2.5 million dollar home in Niwot, Colorado.

5/21/01--ELF starts fire at University of Washington and causes 7 million in damages.

8/22/03--ELF burns SUVs and Hummers worth 2.3 million in West Corvino, California.

1/17/06--ELF burns down 3 million dollar home on Camano Island, Washington.

6/06--Lefty eco-terrorists targets house of UCLA researcher Lynn Fairbanks for firebombing.

3/3/08--ELF burns 4 milti-million dollar houses in Washington.

8/2/08--Lefty eco-terrorists firebomb UC Santa Cruz researcher's house.

The arsonists and bombers mentioned above were not quite as innocuous as releasing gerbils. or as minor as tire slashing; but I have to admit that, so far, the ELF and ALF have not been as deadly as the Weathermen were to other Weathermen.

Mr. Marshall then doubles down at the end:
Let's be honest with ourselves: the American right has a deep-seated problem with political violence. It's deep-seated; it's recurrent and it's real. And it endangers the country.

Let's be even more honest and admit that the modern American right's political violence has been completely overwhelmed by the deep-seated, recurrent, real danger of the political violence from the left.

And that's just in America. 20th Century political violence in Europe and Asia was lefty dominated by a ratio approaching 1,000 to 1.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Second Thought of the Day

Now is the time at SDA when we juxtapose!

June 25, 2009 - The World Wind Energy Award has been given for Minister Smitherman's outstanding achievements in making Ontario the leading wind energy jurisdiction in North America. Under his political responsibility and leadership in the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, the Green Energy and Economy Act was initiated and adopted as a decisive step in establishing a strong domestic wind and renewable energy industry in Ontario.

August 17th, 2009 - Today it became public that Hydro One has asked the Ontario Energy Board for permission to raise the cost of distribution to all Ontario customers an average of 9.5% in 2010 and 13.3% in 2011 to cover $266 million dollars in costs relating to their four year Green Energy Plan for 2010 to 2014. By 2011 the impact of this $266 million will be an average increase of 24.3% over two years on the delivery portion of every Ontarian’s hydro bill.

Kate at Small Dead Animals



Thought of the Day

What drives me crazy about liberal complaints about conservative tactics these days is how selective they are. Obama, Barney Frank, Jacob Hacker, and others have said that they want these reforms — specifically the public option — to lead to single payer. But when conservatives take them at their word, suddenly it's outrageous misinformation and "fishy" stuff. When the wind is at their backs, liberals look way off to the horizon, like Obama at a podium, dreaming of a future of European-style statism. But when conservatives use this to their advantage, suddenly it is outrageous to even consider the possibility of a road to hell being paved with good intentions. Suddenly liberals bleat that it is scare-mongering to look beyond what they are proposing in this exact moment, outrageous to ask "Where will this lead?"

Jonah Goldberg



The Limits of Personal Rights

There are few people who are purer purists about the Second Amendment than I am. I think non violent felonies should not prevent a citizen from owning a firearm. No violent misdemeanor conviction nor any restraining order should destroy one's Second Amendment rights. A 14 year old should be able to get a belt fed, full auto machine gun from the local hardware store and not fill out a single form*.

But even I think people should not bring weapons to meetings with our representatives, including our President.

Call it etiquette, but why make the Secret Service's job even harder.

*20mm and above needs a class III permit. You can own a nuke but if it injures anyone you are strictly liable and you are required to have a safe place for it and insurance to cover the possible damage it could do if it ever exploded.
UPDATE: Although I never noticed it, the guy carrying the AR 15 is African American. Look here for the editing MSNBC does to fit the narrative the talking (air) heads are peddeling, namely, that the gun carriers are racists, as well as bitter clingers to their guns, usw.
MSNBC obscuring the facts in order to attack gun carriers as racists and give sympathy and support to President Obama. What were the odds?


Saturday, August 15, 2009


New on DVD Post--Defiance

Just as I wanted to get to Valkyrie, I really wanted to get to Defiance while it was in theaters earlier this year, but I never did see either one. So I recently bought Defiance and watched it with Charlie. It was pretty good but well short of excellent. Instead of saying "based on a true story" which is rapidly beginning to mean merely that the movie is set on planet Earth, this one said "a true story" Oh, really? Every word and action? I doubt it.

But before I start on the bad things about the movie, let me praise the good. It had very good performances by nearly everyone. It was beautiful, shot in Lithuania, about 100 miles from the forest it portrayed. The producer/director Edward Zwick has a long pedigree, having been responsible for the following: Last Samurai, Courage Under Fire, The Siege, Legends of the Fall, Glory and Special Bulletin. He also produced Traffic and Shakespeare in Love as well as several pretty good TV shows--the divorce show Once and Again, My So-Called Life and Thirty Something. You understand that I'm setting you up for a fall here.

Because this is basically a true story and has a lot of good actors in it and a very good director/producer, it should have been a lot better, a lot more powerful. What went wrong? Let's take care of the easy ones first.

Daniel Craig, the new James Bond (and a good one) who plays the nicer Bielski brother, Tuvia, looks about as Jewish as Halle Berry. I know there are blue eyed, blondish haired Jews, but there are not many of them; and it doesn't matter that he played an unlikely Jew before in Munich, a movie I pretty much detested.

They make a huge deal about getting Amoxicillin from a local Belarusian police station in order to treat typhus. Amoxicillin wasn't available until the 60s and it has proved ineffective in treatment for typhus.

The idea that the German army deployed a full armored division (18,000 men) and lost to the 100 or so partisans around the Beilski brothers is foolish. Some people say the Bielski partisans never fought the Germans, but only their proxies in Belarus and Poland. Also, I'm not buying the Swiss 61 modified to look like a Pkw III. Nor was the Stuka attack at all convincing as the explosions were way too small, since the plane, the Junkers Ju 87, typically carried one 1100 pound bomb and four 110 pounders.

Zus Bielski was apparently much more of a mad dog type partisan, who cut off the heads of collaborators with the Nazis and put them of stakes with warning signs, and might have shoved soon to explode grenades up the rectum of captured soldiers and policemen. Not the brothers, apparently, but the Bielski Partisans probably attacked a Polish village and killed over a hundred innocent civilians.

Why is the speech about the protocols of the Jewish partisans delivered off a white stallion (destined, alas, for the stew pot)?

Back to the good things. Alan Cordunar, who was terrific as Sir Arthur Sullivan in Topsy-Turvy and as a Hungarian doctor in Birkenau in The Grey Zone, is broadly Jewish here but rises above cliche. The generally death-to-a-TV-series actor, Mark Feuerstein, plays a generally useless Jewish intellectual near perfectly. Most of the women are great too but perhaps the stand out is Australian Mia Wasikowska, who was the very troubled gymnast on the unsatisfying HBO series In Treatment. Craig and Liev Schreiber are very good, but they usually are in the laconic, tightly bound in performances they generally give. The male stand out was however the young Brit actor, Jamie Bell, who played here doomed Asael Bielski. Bell was the original Billy Elliot but also good in The Chumscrubber.

So what was wrong? Perhaps the scope was too narrow. The Bielskis are credited with saving 1,200 Jews from the Ghetto and death camps, but we rarely see more than 60 people. The sets are perhaps too beautiful and the real suffering they must have endured is muted and wan. The battle scenes are crap, to my inexperienced way of thinking. Generally a good story that got away.

Below are the real Partisans.


Friday, August 14, 2009


Friday Movie Review--District Nine

Saw District Nine, the South African science fiction flick, last night at midnight on the big screen of the Continental with son and youngest daughter (and their friends, usw). It was packed with 20 somethings and a scattering of old sci fi fans like me. First impression was that at the end of the movie, I really wanted to take a metaphysical shower. To call this movie gritty is to consign all the gritty movies of the past to the Disney school of family films, or, more, directly to the so-clean-you-can-eat-off-the-floor of the Jeffries tube on the Next Generation. As I thought about it more, I realized it was quite a good film, the best in years in the genre.

So what's the word? Johannesburg! The movie starts and ends as a pseudo-documentary about the Prawns (exo-skelatoned bipedal aliens with insectoid mouths and antennae) who arrived in a huge ships over the most famous city in South Africa that is not one of the three capitals, and hung there exactly the opposite way a brick does. 20 plus years after the arrival, the two million prawns are in a sprawling ugly ghetto near Joburg (I know, I know--not at all subtle), right under the inert ship, where they crave cat food, can't get along with humans, and trade away their weapons, which no human can fire anyway. As it happens, as cameras begin to follow the 'hero' of the film, the bad guy NGO, of which he is the fall guy leader, is just beginning to move the 8 foot aliens to a much worse ghetto far, far away. About 50 minutes into it, the documentary is over and it's live action, and a lot of it until near the end when it's back in the documentary. The first part goes on so long that it seemed to lag, but the middle section zipped by in very satisfactory fashion. Quite satisfactory, indeed.

Part of the credit for the fun of most of the movie goes to Peter Jackson, the Kiwi director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, who is the producer here. The director is South African Niel Blomkamp, whose primary previous work is a smattering of special effects and a 6 minute short, Alive in Joberg, which inhabits the same alternative universe as this movie.

Apparently the whole budget for this was about $30 Million. Wow. They sure get a lot of bang for the buck. All the aliens are CGI, but the interaction seemed seamless to me. The action here seemed infinitely superior to the big picture stuff we've seen, or in my case, not seen, this summer (Transformers, et al.) because it had the grit the Jeffries tube school of action entirely lacks, despite the cost and expertise.

The actors were entirely unknown to me. Actors are sheep. Moving on.

I would argue that there are no holes in the plot, just unknown things, like real life; and after the documentary narration/interview stuff stops, we learn what's happening as the actors discover it. I'm always a sucker for movies that show me the plot rather than tell me about it. Why the ship is motionless is not a plot flaw--you can figure it out. You can figure it all out. That has its own twist of satisfaction as well.

Although short of an important movie, the kind that changes movies in general and becomes an important icon of our shared culture, such as it is, this is a very good movie I heartily recommend. It has just enough intellectual heft to get you satisfied to the end, as hopeful an end as was possible under the circumstances.



Mr. President, I'm Beginning to Smell a Big Fat Commie Rat

There are four main sources for measurement of the mean global temperature--HadCRU3, GISS, RSS, and UAH. The first two of these 4 acronyms are reliant on ground measurement and the last two use only satellite microwaves measurement. I have always believed the satellite record, which, unfortunately only goes back to 1979, and been really suspicious of GISS (which is Warmie central) and been neutral to slightly suspicious of the HadCRU3. Now I have reason to be really suspicious of HadCRU3, because the so-called research branch of that outfit, the Hadley Climate Research Unit aka the CRU, has recently admitted that it either destroyed or lost all of the raw temperature measurement data it "processes" to result in global mean temperature numbers. See paragraph 4 of the undated release in the link.

Steve McIntyre, who was instrumental in showing the Mann "hockey stick" was junk science, had for years asked CRU for its raw data in order to reproduce its processed results. The thing is Mr. McIntyre did not really doubt that processing the raw data would have reproduced the CRU results. Now, after a series of excuses, his spideysense is perhaps tingling.

Who destroys or loses the raw data?

Not careful scientists worthy of credence is the answer.


Thursday, August 13, 2009


Thought of the Day

What is weird about the liberal hysteria to the obstreperous (and occasionally rude) town meetings is the complete amnesia about what constitutes reckless public discourse.

At one time not so long ago, those on the Left, and mainstream Democrats as well, apparently believed inflammatory language, Hitler parallels, and perverse expressions of real hatred were acceptable means to the noble end of discrediting the Bush presidency.

During the bleak days of Iraq, demonstrators carried swastikas and Hitler portraits of Bush habitually. Nicholson Baker wrote a novel in which characters are contemplating killing Bush. Films were praised imagining the assassination of the president. Michael Moore, courted by the Democratic elite, lamented that bin Laden on 9/11 had hit a blue state — and once compared the killers of Americans in Iraq to Minutemen.

Al Gore customarily used excessive language like "brown shirts." Senators Durbin, Kennedy, and others compared our soldiers to Saddamites, Pol Pot’s killers, and Nazis. Ward Churchill compared the victims in the Twin Tower to “little Eichmanns.” Sen. Robert Byrd likened Pres. George W. Bush’s policies to what transpired in Nazi Germany. Linda Ronstadt, Harold Pinter, Scott Ritter, Ted Rall, and George Soros agreed with Fidel Castro, the Iranians, and North Koreans in comparing Bush to Hitler.

Jonathan Chait wrote in the New Republic on why “I hate George W. Bush.” Garrison Keillor likened Bush’s Republicans to “brown shirts in pinstripes.” Even old hero Sen. John Glenn said of the Bush agenda: “It’s the old Hitler business.” In 1984, the Guardian’s Charles Brooker declared:

On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. — where are you now that we need you?
Democrats were furious that Rush Limbaugh wanted Obama’s agenda to fail, but I think it was their National Chairman Howard Dean himself who went way beyond Limbaugh when he said publicly, “I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for,” and, “This is a struggle of good and evil. And we're the good.”

Didn’t NAACP chairman Julian Bond once declare of the Bush administration, “Their idea of equal rights is the American flag and the Confederate swastika flying side by side?”

In comparison to all that, the outrage of a few private citizens — none of them in government, prominent in the arts, or political commentators — seems rather mild. In truth, the 2000s marked the liberal reversion to the hateful speech of the 1950s extreme Right, but with a twist. In the 1950s, there were liberal humanists who rose up to deplore the cheap slurs of Joe McCarthy & Co.; by 2001, there were none to object to the above sort of speech.

Victor Davis Hanson



Conversations With the President (About His Grandmother's Hip Replacement Weeks Before Her Death)

HE PRESIDENT: So that's where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues. But that's also a huge driver of cost, right?

I mean, the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here.

LEONHARDT: So how do you - how do we deal with it?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place. It is very difficult to imagine the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels. And that's part of why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance. It's not determinative, but I think has to be able to give you some guidance. And that's part of what I suspect you'll see emerging out of the various health care conversations that are taking place on the Hill right now.

So maybe this death panel stuff is not entirely crazy talk.

(h/t Kausefiles and Tom Maguire)


Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Evidence of Doom

A beautiful impact crater miles wide, eons old, in Chad. Although most of the Earth is ocean (which leaves less of a trace of impact) and the craters on solid ground are erased by erosion et al. over time, there are dozens of these all over.

This is something worth worrying about (slightly) as opposed to the Doomsday scenario de jour, anthropogenic global warming. Recall that the recent Earth sized impact on Jupiter was a complete surprise to our astronomers.

(h/t Jonah Goldberg)


Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Credit Where Credit's Due

Had lunch with Diomedes and he said I should say something good about Obama. OK, here goes.

Good one.

What could be more frightening than a pseudo robot attack (well, I guess a real robot attack)? Keep up the pressure, Commander in Chief. I hope he settles on a unified counter insurgency in Afghanistan soon. We as a nation will soon tire of 10 casualties (eight wounded two killed) a day there with no perceptable improvement of the situation. Oops, I see I've wandered into criticism again, my default position, I guess. I'll stop with praise for continued use of the Predator, et al.

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Thought of the Day

In fact, natural smarties—the intellectual elite—often don’t seem to learn the art of soliciting the criticism necessary to grasp the core issues of a complex problem, and then making vital adaptations as a result. Instead, they fall in naturally with people who admire, rather than are critical, of their thinking. This further strengthens their conviction they are right even as it distances them from people of very different backgrounds who grasp very different, but no less crucial aspects of complex problems. That’s why the intellectual elite is often branded by those from other groups as out of touch.

Barbara Oakley


Monday, August 10, 2009


Good News About Honduras

The Obama Administration via the State Department has thrown in the towel on the position that matters regarding Honduras' perfectly legal (and not at all a coup) ousting of former President Zelaya. Here's the strong analysis on the straight dope.

Money quote:

In a welcome about-face, the State Department told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Richard Lugar, R-Ind., in a letter Tuesday that the U.S. would no longer threaten sanctions on Honduras for ousting its president, Mel Zelaya, last June 28.

Nor will it insist on Zelaya's return to power. As it turns out, the U.S. Senate can't find any legal reason why the Honduran Supreme Court's refusal to let Zelaya stay in office beyond the time allowed by Honduran law constitutes a "military coup."

We're still making noise about reconciliation and negotiation regarding the would be dictator but without our threatening sanctions, Zelaya is out. Good Riddance.



Following in President Obama's Footsteps

Last week they had a party for the volunteers (and their families) at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (a museum I have been visiting since at least 1958, when it was still just one unimproved building). My father-in-law works in the astronomy section. He's still thin enough to fit in a space suit. The party was fun. I went up to the roof for a tour of the solar array up there. You might recall our President and Vice President doing just that the day the President signed the reckless so called stimulus bill earlier this year. This is what I learned:

It's a beautiful view of the city and the whole front range up there, especially in the evening.

The array in a year produces 146,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. (Unfortunately, the museum uses nearly 12 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year so the percentage supplied is just over 1%--that ain't so good).

The expected life of the solar panels is 20 years. The expected life of the 18 inverters (which change the DC power from the sun into AC for the lights, etc.) is 10 years.

The museum does not now own the array (as it is a non-profit and non-profits don't get the government goodies from installing a photovoltaic array) but is going to buy it when all the available government money is collected by the owner, in just a few years.

They don't wash off the array but let the fairly intermittent rains clean the panels. That's not so good.

The real question is why the museum leadership would do that? The array cost $720,000. If the museum saved the highest price available for the power it generates (and it's just possible it could); that is, if the museum saved twice the average commercial price of 6 cents per kilowatt hour, namely, 12 cents per kilowatt hour, then the 146,000 kilowatt hours the array generates is worth $17,520.00 a year. The real savings will almost certainly be closer to half that. But even at an unrealistically high yearly savings, the pay off for the system would be 41 years, which is 2 times the expected life of the major components of the system, not to mention the expensive inverters. Even if the current owners of the array reduce its price to the museum by some percentage of the government money they received, it still takes longer to repay than the system lasts. Thus a purchase of the system doesn't make sense. See the old analysis at Gateway Pundit here. Letting another cash in on the government supports for the photovoltaic industry didn't render the purchase any more viable financially.

The pleasing, fuzzy feeling you get from the warm power of the sun only gets you so far.



Thought of the Day

However, it is now evident that an ugly campaign is underway not merely to misrepresent the health insurance reform legislation, but to disrupt public meetings and prevent members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue. These tactics have included hanging in effigy one Democratic member of Congress in Maryland and protesters holding a sign displaying a tombstone with the name of another congressman in Texas, where protesters also shouted "Just say no!" drowning out those who wanted to hold a substantive discussion.

Let the facts be heard

These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.

Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi

Here is a partial list of conservatives whose speeches were disrupted and/or drowned out by liberal intolerants on American College Campuses in the last quarter century or so:

Tom Tancredo (UNC-Chapel Hill 4/14/09)

Virgil Good (UNC-Chapel Hill 4/22/09)

Don Feder (UMass 3/11/09)

Ann Coulter (multiple times most recently at the College of New Jersey 2/19/09)

Ryan Sorba (Smith 5/2/08)

Daniel Pipes (UC-Irvine 2007)

Nonie Darwish (Brown 11/06)

Jim Gilcrest (Columbia, 10/06)

David Horowitz (SF State 2/05 and also at Bowling Green State U in '05)

Benjamin Netanyahu (UC-Berkeley 11/28/00)

Jeane Kirkpatrick (UC-Berkeley 2/83)


Saturday, August 08, 2009


Creative Accounting of Jobs Lost

So the July numbers are out and we lost nearly a quarter million jobs (less than expected--Happy Happy Joy Joy) but despite there being an ever less number of citizens employed, the unemployment rate fell by .1% (9.5 to 9.4--Happy Happy Joy Joy).

You may ask: How can there be less people employed but a lower jobless rate?

Good question. It is because .5% of the former numbers of individuals in the workforce have been removed. The workforce is defined as those with jobs and those looking for jobs. When people quit looking for jobs (because there are just none to be had), the workforce and the number of unemployed shrinks (even though actual unemployment is the same). Thus, less jobs but less unemployed vis a vis the definitions of workforce and unemployed. Without this sleight of hand, the unemployment rate would have been around 9.9%.

I wish I could report that this special accounting of the unemployed was a recent invention of the Obama administration but, alas, the Bush administration used it in 2003 (and perhaps other Presidents before that).

Ah, politics.

(h/t Jim Geraghty)



The Balance of Power

There has been a constant evolution in tanks, since 1916, regarding the effectiveness of their armor versus the effectiveness of anti-tank weapons. For a while the tank is ascendant, then new technology is developed which gives the edge to the anti-tank weapons. Since the Germans developed the shaped charge on an RPG during WWII, the edge has been creeping towards anti-tank weapons. I recall hearing from an Israeli tanker at Stanford the horror stories from the 1973 Yom Kippur war, where tank after tank was knocked out by Soviet weapons using the Nazi technology. Although Israel has endeavored to improve their tanks, the Merkava I through Merkava IV, the re-invasion of southern Lebanon in 2006 went somewhat poorly because the crew fired anti-tank weapons (like the MILAN, the TOW and Kornet) were knocking out the Merkavas and slowing the IDF advance to a grueling, bloody crawl.

Times have changed. The Israelis have developed, in Trophy and Iron Fist systems, effective anti-anti-tank weapons, which brings the tank (and the APC) back to ascendancy. The systems see anti-tank weapons coming and either shoot them down or otherwise deflect them, making the tank relatively impervious to formerly effective counter-measures.
Real bad news for Hamas and Hezbollah--so real good news for the rest of the world.



Over Reaction

I have been a causal observer of American politics since I was in 5th grade and President Kennedy's assassination was announced (to cheers) in my school. I have been a much keener observer since Al Gore tried and failed to keep counting the votes until they came out right (something Gov. Gregoire and Sen. Franken were able to do better). I have seen the excesses of the somewhat paranoid Pres. Nixon (just because you're paranoid doesn't mean...). But I have never seen the likes of the vapors that have overtaken the Democrat leadership when citizens actually dare to opine that the proposed Health Care/Insurance reform legislation is no good.

Let me recount the ways:

Let's start at the top. President Obama said, recently in the Old Dominion:

I don’t want the folks who created the mess do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. I don’t mind cleaning up after them, but don’t do a lot of talking.

Shut up, he explained.

Here's what Speaker of the House said in response to the question: Do you think there’s a legitimate grassroots movement going on here?

I think they’re AstroTurf. You be the judge. They’re carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on health care.

Godwin's Law aside, government taking over the control, but not the ownership, of business is the essence of fascism and the Nazis were German fascists (self named national socialists and therefore lefties). So aside from the insane Jew hatred and genocide and all the other important baggage, it is not an inaccurate historical comparison. Still, the sign Ms. Pelosi was almost certainly referring to (from here in Colorado) had the swastika inside a red circle with a red line through it, like a no smoking sign in symbols. Being against swastikas, and what they stand for, is NOT the same as showing support for swastikas, und so weiter. More here.

There there's Senator Barbara "Don't call me Ma'am" Boxer, saying:

"Let's make this Obama's Waterloo. Let's break him." That's what this is about. And by the way I saw some of the clips of people storming these town hall meetings. The last time I saw well-dressed people doing this...

The horror of the meeting attendance by well dressed neo-storm troopers was echoed by White House Spokesman Gibbs:

I would point out that I don't know what all those guys were doing, what were they called, the Brooks Brothers Brigade in Florida in 2000, appear to have rented a similar bus and are appearing together at town hall meetings throughout the country.
More here.

Then there's the Ministry of Truth's reaction video, starring former reporter Linda Douglass, located on the White House Blog:

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to

That the so called disinformation complained about is the playing of an older clip of Obama saying he supports a single payer plan and will work to get one by increments doesn't seem to merit a mention. The reaction is merely to play Obama's recent serial lie* about keeping your own insurance under the new plan. That has tones of 'pay no attention to that man behind the curtain' to a lot of people and hints of the jackboot (sorry for the Nazi imagery) in this snitch invitation.

I could go on and on but here is a funnier and better mind at work:

The Washington Post’s Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite (not, as far as I know, a Brooks sister to the Brooks Brothers) says “the town hall demolition derby” is “cynically designed and carried out in order to destroy real debate in the public square over health insurance reform.” Decrying the snarling, angry protesters, liberal talk-show host Bill Press (no relation to the Corby Trouser Press) says that “Americans want serious discussion” on health care. If only we’d stuck to the president’s August timetable and passed a gazillion-page health-care reform entirely unread by the House of Representatives or the Senate (the world’s greatest deliberative body) in nothing flat, we’d now have all the time in the world to sit around having a “serious discussion” and “real debate” on whatever it was we just did to one-sixth of the economy.

But a sick, deranged, un-American mob has put an end to all that moderate and reasonable steamrollering by showing up and yelling insane, out-of-control questions like, “Awfully sorry to bother you, your Most Excellent Senatorial Eminence, but I was wondering if you could tell me why you don’t read any of the laws you make before you make them into law?”

*The President cannot guarantee that your employer, by whom most health insurance is paid, will continue to subsidize the health care insurance you like, particularly in light of the economic pressure in the bill for the employer to drop their plans and also in light of the language in the bill which prohibits health insurers from offering any coverage different from the government option. Either way, the majority of Americans end up in the government option, the DMV brand of health care insurance. Who wouldn't enthusiastically support that result?

Rather than go all ad hominem on those who have real, informed objections to the proposed legislation, wouldn't it be better to answer the questions and explain why the government option is the solution we've all been waiting for?


Friday, August 07, 2009


Thought of the Day

In sum, after a slew of hearings and three unsuccessful votes on the Senate floor, the Democrats taught us that cap-and-trade is a great big tax that will raise electricity prices on consumers, enrich Wall Street traders, and send jobs to China and India-all without any impact on global temperature.

Sen. James Inhofe


Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Report on the American War Dead in Afghanistan and Iraq

According to Department of Defense releases for the month of July: Things continue to wind down in Iraq, a month after our withdrawal from Iraqi cities. We again had fewer war deaths than last month (in which we had 14 war dead), and only suffered 8 deaths there (of which only 5 were from combat). In Afghanistan, it looks like we're fighting a real war, as there were nearly twice the battle deaths this month as in June.

Here is further breakdown. In Iraq, none were killed by IEDs (amazing), one died from small arms; three died from non combat causes, and one died in combat operations in al Anbar province. Three were killed in one attack with indirect fire.

In Afghanistan, fourteen died from IEDs (the same as in June), three from non-combat causes, nine died from small arms, fourteen in combat operations, and three were killed in accidents. The total in Afghanistan was 43, about two times the number from last month, and all but six were combat related. The total during July for the wars being waged against us is 51, approaching two a day.

It was another deadly month for officers. These dead were: Chief Warrant Officer Rodney Jarvis, 34, of Akron, Ohio, dead from a non combat cause in Iraq; Capt. Mark Garner, 30, of Elkin, NC, killed by an IED in Afghanistan; 2nd Lt. Derwin Williams, 41, of Glenwood, Ill., killed by an IED in Afghanistan; Capt. Thomas Gramith, 27, of Egan, MN and Capt. Mark McDowell, 26, of Colorado Springs, CO, killed in a crash of an F-15E, and Chief Warrant Officer Douglas Vose, III, 38, of Concrete, WA, killed by small arms fire in Afghanistan.

Our thoughts and prayers go to the families and loved ones of these fallen warriors, and all our hopes for their continued success goes to our men and women, mainly men, fighting overseas.



Wilkommen auf der Fete, Kamerad

The German Armed Forces, the Bundeswehr, have just done what they have not done since May, 1945, they've gone on the offensive, in Afghanistan.

They used to have so many restrictions on their ability to fight, that they were near literally reduced to shouting at their enemies and that was it, unless they were fired on. It doesn't take a huge amount of empathy to know what having to give the other side the first shot every time has on the martial spirit.

This is good news.


Monday, August 03, 2009


Cast Lead Benefits

Here is a chart (via Wikipedia) of the rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza over the border into Israel in 2008. There were over 3,100 rockets and mortar shells fired indiscriminately against civilian targets. The average, even with a five month 'truce', was 258 per month. Then came Operation Cast Lead which the IDF led into Gaza to stop such criminal attacks. Since the end of Cast Lead, at the end of January, 2009, roughly 200 rockets have been launched from Gaza into Israel. That's just over 33 a month. Hmmm. I can't find any figures about mortar shells launched into Israel. In fact it's very hard to find out anything about Hamas's continued war crimes against Israel since their smack down by the IDF.

Although I hate to judge before all the facts are in, it's beginning to look like Cast Lead might have been a success.


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