Wednesday, November 30, 2005

More Like a Pump Than a Filter...

...But I'd prefer a flange. We have a saying in the Navy, perhaps you've heard it: Loose lips sink ships.

John Hinderaker's Wekkly Standard article Leaking At All Costs: What the CIA is willing to do to hurt the Bush administration is worth your attention.

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Because they're round?

Why do people get all worked up over numbers with zeroes in them? For example, I will be twenty-ten in April. I'm getting a few gray hairs, and new hairs on the back, but 30 is just a damn number. It's an arbitrary number of years which media and pop culture insist I start feeling morbid about.

We've seen a lot of this around the 1000th and 2000th U.S. servicemember deaths in Iraq. Oh, it wasn't important when only 1999 of us were dead, but journalists salivated over the column-inches those 2000th death stories would fill for weeks as they counted down to the big two-oh-oh-oh. Spare us the macabre tallying of lives lost. Why not try to figure out how many lives have been saved?

The same goes for the 1000th death penalty execution. Fox News reports today that the pinko chief executive wannabe governor of Virgina has commuted Robin Lovitt's sentence. I am completely unaware of the details of the case, but is it remotely possible that Governor Warner's interest in poor Mr. Lovitt has something to do with his dreams of occupying the White House and not wanting to be associated with the 1000th execution while running as a Democrat? Is it unfathomable to think he'd never make it past the primaries? Way to milk the drama, Mr. Warner.

I am unfortunately not wearing my tin foil hat right now, but I think I'm safe. It's no more idle speculation than occurs in the press every day, and I readily admit it has no basis in fact. I just thought this obsession with zeroes was worth noting.

UPDATE: More on weightier matters at RedState

A side note: I've been wanting to comment on the President's address today and particularly President John F'in Kerry's response to it. I missed President Bush's speech entirely, but have a nine-page printed copy sitting next to me... as well as two unread Wall Street Journals and this week's Economist. I heard a bit of Kerry's response at the gym today, rolled my eyes and made a snyde comment about some hypocritical navel-gazing statement he made, then turned on the MP3 player and rocked out to Marylin Manson. Oh, yeah. There was other music on there, too, but that one got me going. My point, and I do have one, is I have no idea what anyone said today. If you want to know what's keeping me busy this week, try taking this test. I have to ace it on Friday.

Oh, Well That's Different.

Wow, my two areas of expertise all in one news story!
U.S. Military Covertly Pays to Run Stories in Iraqi Press: Troops write articles presented as news reports. Some officers object to the practice.

The L.A. Times got themselves a major scoop here, folks. Apparently there are unethical news organizations in the Middle East running stories biased toward showing a positive view of our military's work there!
Though the articles are basically factual, they present only one side of events and omit information that might reflect poorly on the U.S. or Iraqi governments, officials said. Records and interviews indicate that the U.S. has paid Iraqi newspapers to run dozens of such articles, with headlines such as "Iraqis Insist on Living Despite Terrorism," since the effort began this year.

The very thought of a news organization publishing basically factual stories that only show one side of an issue and omit facts is galling! Well, at least the Iraqis haven't been paid by the U.S. military to fabricate them out of whole cloth. That should be done for free!

Noe of our highly ethical American media organizations would ever accept money to publish biased messages. Our media organizations here in America are certainly the best judge of unethical journalism.

Sarcasm aside, it is a free country. At least the L.A. Times saw fit to report that at least one publisher supports our efforts there and would've run pro-U.S. stories anyway. I suspect there are many more. Is there something inherently wrong with letting Iraqis know what we're doing to help them? Isn't the fourth estate always braying about "winning the Iraqis' hearts and minds"? I'm beginning to think that the problem with the Global War On Terror is that it's such a high-concept type of world changing effort, that no one, save its architects and those of us who've put some effort into following it, really understand what it's about. 50 years from now, this will be understood to be a pivotal point in history.

You never learn in school that history's details are incredibly tedious.

EDIT: Hey Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is kind of a hottie, isn't she? Too bad my lust belongs to Laura Ingraham. And Michelle Malkin. (Heart goes to the wife, sorry gals.)

EDITx2: Hey, post number 42! Why? I tried that, "Why? 42." It doesn't work.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Here's Today's Ray of Hope

Hey, it looks like the Capitol "Holiday Tree" will be a Christmas Tree after all.(TFHT: Eye Of The Storm)

Is it possible that our elected representatives are finally getting the message that dilution of Christian customs it detrimental to American culture? Look, I'm not some Bible-thumper in the least, and apologies if that describes you in some way. I think Christianity makes for a fine system of ethics when loosely applied. But living in America, if there is any American history being taught in school at all anymore, people should know that Christian customs made this country what it is today. Democracy and protestant work ethic go hand-in-hand; they are the grease that kept us going and enables us to always come out ahead of the rest of the world. Constantly attacking the institutions that make this land such a wonderful place to live in and such a dear thing to protect can only serve to cheapen it.

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Merry Krissmachannaramasolstikwanzawinterfestiveenimas!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Ted Rall Is A Sick Bastard

I know most of the folks who read PCIF are also Michelle Malkin readers, but Ted Rall's contribution to public discourse today really spun me up just now, while I should be studying for my Rules of the Road exam tomorrow. Seems like everything comes down to sex for the really raving moonbats. This is funny like Al Franken pretending to beat the crap out of a conservative is funny.

I won't even post it here, or grace him with a link. Check it out at Michelle's and feel free to comment here. All I have to say is that I need to get back to work so I can have the honor of being an Iraq War vet someday.

For funny political cartoons, check out Day By Day.

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

This Just In...

There are as-yet unconfirmed reports of U.S. Marines engaging Syrian forces near the border with Iraq, possibly in Syria (TFHT, LGF). Never Yet Melted has the up-to-date details.

Also, the civilian casuality fable. Good bedtime reading.

So You Want To Be A Moonbat...

When I was in college, my housemate made a Christmas gift for a friend who was addicted to X-Files. It was the the "So You Want To Be Fox Mulder..." Kit, complete with sunflower seeds and a skin magazine.

Exile From Hillary's Village is giving away similar million dollar ideas: Conspiracy In A Box, or as I like to call it, the "So You Want To Be A Moonbat..." Kit.

EDIT: I had to add this. These pictures made me laugh out loud (Tin Foil Hat Tip, LGF), how can you not feel sorry for Cindy Sheehan? Maybe the signing hadn't started yet? The Left rode her hard and put her away wet.

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CNN Operator Fired For Being A Moonbat At Caller

Well, Drudge is currently flashing that the jerk on the phone at CNN got fired (Tin Foil Hat Tip: Phantom Driver):

A CNN switchboard operator was fired over the holiday -- after the operator claimed the 'X' placed over Vice President's Dick Cheney's face was "free speech!"

"We did it just to make a point. Tell them to stop lying, Bush and Cheney," the CNN operator said to a caller. "Bring our soldiers home."

The caller initially phoned the network to complain about the all-news channel flashing an "X' over Cheney as he gave an address live from Washington.

"Was it not freedom of speech? Yes or No?" the CNN operator explained.

"If you don't like it, don't watch."

Laurie Goldberg, Senior Vice President for Public Relations with CNN, said in a release:

"A Turner switchboard operator was fired today after we were alerted to a conversation the operator had with a caller in which the operator lost his temper and expressed his personal views -- behavior that was totally inappropriate. His comments did not reflect the views of CNN. We are reaching out to the caller and expressing our deep regret to her and apologizing that she did not get the courtesy entitled to her. "

I guess the tape was authentic. I wonder if he tried to slap the "freedom of speech" line on the boss when he got canned?

If you missed the audio, it's here.

Previous:
CNN, regarding big "X": "Tell your president to stop lying."
Now I've Gone And Spent All My Outrage
What Liberal Media? II

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Goodnight Reality

Time for a story of revisionist history, courtesy the author of "Goodnight Moon", Peter Cowdin. (Hat Tip Michelle Malkin)

Cowdin started the website Goodnight Reality, in response to publisher Harper Collins' decision to doctor a photograph inside the book of illustrator Clement Hurd to remove a cigarette from his hand.
The company defends the altered photo. Kate Morgan Jackson, editor-in-chief for HarperCollins Children’s Books, said the company contends the issue is about smoking.
"One of our responsibilities is to make sure we are publishing" the book "the right way throughout the ages and making it healthy for every generation," she said.

The fact is that it's Big Brotherism at it's most subtle. Oh sure, a little cigarette today, no one will notice. Ever notice how you never see anyone smoke in films or on TV anymore? Perhaps we'll go back and remove the cigarettes from Casablanca next. Better yet, lets make sure we never show the 1976 remake of King Kong because the Ape climbs the World Trade Center. Actually, why don't we go back into all film that use footage from New York City pre-9/11 and digitally erase the World Trade Center from them. Wouldn't want to dredge up the trauma of that awful day, would we? Sound far-fetched? Does it really?

I'm no advocate of smoking, heck, I've never been able to pick up the habit, myself. That doesn't mean that I think it's OK to ban a perfectly legal drug from bars and restaurants and treat smokers as second-class citizens, or erase cigarettes from old photographs. The truth is that, even though something that was accepted or prevalent in our society isn't any longer, it doesn't mean that we should forget it ever happened or try to erase all traces of evidence that it ever did. Embrace the fact that yesterday happened and try to make things better tomorrow.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Merry Krissmachannaramasolstikwanza-winterfestiveenimas!

Policital correctness is the scourge of modern society. One the one hand, hey, at least Bill Clinton can try to add it to his legacy, even though the practice of bowdlerizing language has been around for hundreds of years. In certain peoples' rush to not offend anyone at all, our language has been bastardized, our traditions have been skewered and we have been made to feel rotten about ourselves by being forced to look at things from other people's supposed points of view.

There's an interesting article about the Christmas tree in a Boston city park. It was renamed a "holiday tree" by the city (apparently the mayor had nothing to do with it). The Nova Scotia logger who donated the tree said if he had known it would be called a holiday tree, he wouldn't have donated it. He also said he wants it back. This kind of thing happens in California all the time, but since the guy who cut it down has protested, this particlar one has attracted attention.

I have a question. Is there another holiday that involves putting an evergreen in your house and hanging things on it? If it's a "holiday tree" does that mean muslims will start putting them up in their house? Will we have "holiday candlesticks" as well? The same controvesy took place in Toronto in 2002, when city workers referred to the city's Christmas tree as a "holiday tree" resulting in a controversy that political correctness had been taken too far. Said Barry Levy, an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi and the head of religious studies at Montreal's McGill University, "That object is identified as a Christmas tree - it's not a Hannukah bush, it's not a winter tree, it's not a festival tree - it's a Christmas tree - we all know it for what it is. Quite frankly I'm offended on behalf of Christians for whom it's a symbol of some importance - that they should have a religious symbol converted into a secular one just in order to accommodate it into public display." This is almost as stupid as French African-Americans

I don't care what holiday you celebrate or what religion you practice. The fact is that if you live in America, you do not have the right not to be offended. Nor do you have the right to prevent me from practicing my religion or lack thereof, and vice versa. You also dont get "freedom from religion." I refuse to feel guilty about Christmas or my family traditions and I am completely unwilling to try to predict what is going to get your undies in a bunch. I refuse to walk on eggshells around anyone or suffer the insinuation that I am inherently evil because I am white, male or raised as a Christian.

If you are offended by public Christmas displays, you need to get over yourself. If someone uses "God" or "Jesus" in a sentence within earshot of you, my friend, then you are just going to have to deal with it. Stop imposing your sensibilities on the rest of us. Try to have some fun. Don't forget one reason this country exists is because adventurous men sought freedom from religious oppression. The reason we celebrate anything in December is because of the beliefs of those men and their willingness to die for it, if necessary.

Bad news: The Christmas Tree on the capitol grounds is also being called a "holiday tree".

For more info on the secularization of Christmas, check out The Grinch List, The Committee to Save Merry Christmas and The War Against Christmas.

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Coda

Did you know that Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving, is so named because it is the time of year when most businesses go "into the black" financially? I always thought it was because of the revolting and disturbing news stories taht resulted and the media's eagerness in covering them. After all, local TV stations are stationing their cameras outside stores that have huge deals so they get the chaos and the worst of human behavior on tape and pipe it straight into your idiot box at home.

Drudge is topping his site with a couple of choice stories of human suffering. For example, a 13-year-old girl and a 37-year-old woman (possibly the pregnant one referred to earlier in the story) were sent to the hospital in Michigan yesterday. The girl was trying to help a pregnant woman up, who was knocked down. In return, she also was knocked down and stepped on.

I emailed that one to Red, with the note, "This is why we don't shop on Black Friday. Discounts on gifts are not worth you or the baby." I don't like being pushed or shoved or generally being in crowds and I've got a family to think about. Hearing about pregnant women and children being hurt always makes me extrememly angry.

Hearing about the eldery being mistreated angers me as well. A 73-year-old woman in Florida was knocked down and stepped on. That's someone's grandmother! How would you like it if someone did that to your grandmother?

There's also a video of a guy being subdued by WalMart security when he started getting violent after budging in line. Apparently, at this store, people were throwing laptops 20 feet in the air, and the crowd was diving on top of each other to get them. At another WalMart in Texas, a crowd got so unruly, an officer pepper sprayed them.

I actually had to talk Red out of going shopping yesterday. I couldn't believe she'd even think about it; this kind of thing happens every year, yet people go out and subject themselves to it again and again. I've heard the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Hm.

And The Tin Foil Hat Award Goes To...

I've been meaning to post about this since I saw it Thursday, but cooking Thanksgiving dinner took priority. Former Canadian Defense Minister, Paul Hellyer, said in September, "The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning." Why exactly this is just making the news now, I have no idea, but it's fun to see what's on the mind of our neighbors to the north, eh?

According to him, Bush Doctrine (pre-emptive war) is leading to the establishment of bases on the moon, so we can shoot down the flying saucers before they get to Earth. He feels Canadian Parliament should hold public hearings on exopolitics before the U.S. starts a war with an alien race. I don't think Kurt Vonnegut could have said it any better.

I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords, and would like to remind them, that as an Inter-web blogging personality, I can be useful in rounding up other humans for them to dump into volcanoes on distant primitive worlds. Hail Xenu!

Mr. Hellyer, you win this week's Tin Foil Hat Award!

Directions to make your own Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie.

EDIT: Interestingly, the Church of Scientology website promises a world without insanity. Heh.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

CNN, regarding big "X": "Tell your president to stop lying."

*blink*

Well I was content to let this go, but the "Big X" seems to have taken on a life of its own. Check out this Daily Pundit post by Bill Quick, with a (as yet unverified) recording of a telephone complaint to the network: CNN Employee On Tape: Cheney "X" Is "Freedom of Speech" - "Tell Bush And Cheney To Stop Lying"

Of course this isn't the "official" CNN position. After all, as a member of the press, they pride themselves on impartiality. But the position that the employees of the network take is quite interesting, isn't it? I'll probably post about any other weirdness regarding this, but I'm taking it as just that. Weirdness.

Oh, and more eye-rolling. I have a house to clean.

Previous:
Now I've Gone And Spent All My Outrage
What Liberal Media? II

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Tokyo Governor Calls Us Out

East Asia allies doubt U.S. could win war with China
"Mr. Ishihara said U.S. ground forces, with the exception of the Marines, are 'extremely incompetent' and would be unable to stem a Chinese conventional attack. Indeed, he asserted that China would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons against Asian and American cities—even at the risk of a massive U.S. retaliation."

Them's fightin' words. His insinuation that the military is incompetent makes me want to go over there and remind Japan who its daddy is.

A surprising bit of insight can be gained from this joker in the next paragraph, however:
"The governor said the U.S. military could not counter a wave of millions of Chinese soldiers prepared to die in any onslaught against U.S. forces. After 2,000 casualties, he said, the U.S. military would be forced to withdraw."

This is the message the opposition is sending the rest of the world. This guy is known for saying some wacky things, according to Gaijinbiker. I lived in Japan for two years, however, and I know he's not alone. There are some big-time liberal lunatics in Japan, most of them aren't even as well-informed as our home-grown moonbats. These people protest nuclear weapons when a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier comes to Yokosuka.

I don't give a damn what the rest of the world thinks of America as long as we stay the course of liberty and freedom. This, however, reflects how our country's political discourse affects our allies... how do you suppose it's affecting our enemies? It's that kind of mentality that made our enemies see us as a "paper tiger" and emboldened them in the first place.

'Tis The Season To Be Cranky

And so it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut might say. Every year around this time the really serious moonbats come out of their cave to rain on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, if I may attempt to be clever. Seems like the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas will be full of more of the same goofballs fighting your favorite holiday traditions. They're almost becoming a holiday tradition themselves, aren't they?

My Thanksgiving tradition used to be dinner with my Mom's huge family as well as dinner with my Dad's huge family and separate days. Board games, playing in the barn, seeing my dozens of cousins, lots and lots of excellent food. Ah, I miss those days. Since joining the Navy, Red and I have had to start our own traditions. Every year, we try to invite as many of the single junior officers as are interested (occassionally sailors, too, but they're not always comfortable around a bunch of off-duty officers) and cook dinner for our friends. We get lucky sometimes and family will come to us as well; this year, my step-brother will be joining us, along with some of his friends.

If there's one thing the moonbats can't stand, it seems to be tradition. They like to think up new ways to piss in your corn flakes every year, and cook up new reasons for self-loathing. For example, today's Opinion Journal explains how new childrens' literature is aimed at getting kids to become vegetarians, and feel bad about enjoying themselves:
Getting children to root for the underdog is of course nothing new. Getting children to see the sinister slaughterhouse behind a holiday tradition has about it the whiff of propaganda. It's the sort of low-level, hearts-and-minds, counterculture didacticism that today saturates so many books for children, whether the goal is to normalize Heather's two mommies, show dads in aprons or make sure that every depiction of a group of children includes every possible skin color.


Yet another Thanksgiving grinch, University of Texas at Austin Professor Robert Jensen serves up a hearty helping of white guilt with moral superiority gravy. Mm-mmm!
One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.

Yes, you can bet I'll be thinking about all the Native Americans I'm responsible for killing while I watch Denver spank Dallas tomorrow afternoon. How can serious-minded adults reasonably suggest that today's Americans hold themselves responsible for the ignorance of our forefathers 400 years ago. Whose fault is it that European and indiginous cultures clashed to disastrous effect? No one that's alive today, that's who. If the Americans of today have any responsibility, it's to be better than that, because we have come so far since then. What's done is done and can't be changed.

For some more positive Thanksgiving reading, check out my LJ post from last year, "What Thanksgiving Is For", check out Rush Limbaugh's "The Real Story of Thanksgiving" and Ken Masugi's "Thanksgiving's Simple Meaning" (which has links to George Washington's establishment of the national holiday and Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in 1863).

UPDATE: Opinion Journal also has an article about the real first Thanksgiving: How the pilgrims made real progess, if you don't want to read Limbaugh's version, you can read and except of William Bradford's "History of Plimoth" there.

However you choose to spend it, Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Never had one lesson!

Interesting how the dramatic drop in gasoline prices has gone practically unnoticed, considering how big of a deal it was not one week ago that Big Oil was raking in the profits at the expense of women, poor people and minorities? Ok, I exaggerated that last part. It chaps my hide how the press is bandying about claims of price gouging on the part of oil companies. Oh, businessfolk are not necessarily paragons of virtue, but I'd trust them farther than I could throw Teddy Kennedy.

Well, since this comes up every year, I'm going to do a quick explanation about why gas prices fluctuate the way they do. Then I can refer back to it without repeating myself. Oil companies, despite what you hear in the news, do not control the price of gasoline. It is the nature of the marketplace that they need to sell their goods at the market price. If they sell at too high a price, no one will buy their product and they will lose money. If they sell at too low a price, they also lose money because they are not covering their costs. The profit margin in a capital and asset-intensive industry like Oil and Gas is slim, even though it does amount to billions of dollars

I've drawn a basic supply-demand curve here. The point where the supply (blue) and demand (red) lines cross is called equilibrium (dotted line); where the price (P) of the good is set. Either line can slide back and forth horizontally as quantity supplied increases or decreases, or as quantity demanded increases or decreases. As demand increases, producers attempt to match it by increasing supply. If they can achieve this, the price stays the same. If demand outpaces supply, the price increases.

This essentially is what the curve for oil looks like. The supply line is more vertical because refineries currently produce at near 100% capacity to meet existing demand. This makes the oil market especially vulnerable to current events: weather, war, OPEC embargoes, that kind of thing. Say that the price before a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico was at P1 and the supply was at S1. Once the hurricane hit and interrupted operations of oil companies in the region, the supply would decrease to S2 due to a reduction in quantity and the price would increase to P2. Notice that demand stays exactly the same.

This is not to say that demand for oil never changes, because of course it does, but gradually. Demand for oil is quite inelastic (meaning that it changes very little regardless of the price). The demand curve I drew in the second figure could be represented as much more vertical than it is, but I left it the way it is for instructional purposes.

I've had one economics class ever, in which this was explained to me by an ultraliberal economics professor. It was nice how he was able to effectively convey the subject matter without interjecting personal politics into it. If I can understand this, it shouldn't be too difficult for even the looniest of moonbats. The price of gasoline depends very little on the companies that sell it, and only slightly more on the government, and then only when the government manipulates the regulations and taxes on the companies that sell gasoline. More regulation and taxes mean higher prices for consumers. Is this clear?

Liberality For All

This was news a couple of weeks ago, but I'm mentioning it now because I got my copy of "Liberality For All" yesterday and read it last night.
PR Web says:
Liberality For All is an eight-issue comic book mini-series of a dystopia where the oppressors are doves, not hawks. While this action-packed, patriotic knee-in-the-groin to the embodiment of the ultra-left is a blatant satire of liberalism, it still asks significant questions about the end result of liberal political policies.

That's the most unbiased summary I've read. Reading the book, I thought the action was a bit confusing; G. Gordon Liddy is magically jumping a motorcycle all over the place, while Sean Hannity is broadcasting his pirate radio show in New York City while U.N. peacekeeping troops are trying to track him down. The story is really interesting, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest. The art was OK, but probably nothing a comic connoisseur would get worked up over. I find the concept of an Orwellian cyber-punk ultra-liberal society interesting. This book is a different type of satire, and certainly the idea of liberal ideas getting out of control isn't original. (PCU, anyone?) I think it would've been better as a one-shot graphic novel, with the possibility of other issues following once in a while. It raises interesting questions about what oppression is, what if we had stayed the course we were on in the 1990's, and is generally pretty imaginative.

I don't think for minute it could really happen, America joining a world government run by the U.N. or persecution of people for holding certain political beliefs - not in the U.S., anyway. I don't think Sean Hannity's comic doppelganger looks a thing like the real one, bionic arm and eyepatch notwithstanding. I do think something like this has been a long time coming; whenever you see story involving a futuristic Orwellian post-apocalyptic society in film or print, the implied and occasionally explicit conclusion is that conservatives/corporations took over and oppressed everybody. Please, someone prove me wrong here. I'm thinking of Escape From New York, Escape From L.A., Tank Girl, Dark Angel, the Terminator Trilogy, the Alien Quadrilogy, Brazil, movies like those. The only movies/TV shows I can think of where a liberal world government took over is Star Trek and everything turned out more or less OK there. Unless you're Maquis.

So I'm interested enough in Liberality For All to probably follow the series and see the whole story arc. Taken with a grain of salt, I think it could be an interesting story, but in the long run, I'll probably stick with Superman.

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Now I've Gone And Spent All My Outrage

I appear to be behind the power curve here about the Cheney "X" thing. I noticed what looked like scribbles over the white text on the screen before, but thought it was a bad picture or part of the prank. I've done a little bit of public access TV production and figured that someone was just having fun and only meant for the graphic to be inside the control room, instead broadcasting it live. It tuns out it was indeed a glitch. The black scribbles are actually text that says "Transition begins after 5 frames of black". Just a technical marker of some kind.

I wasn't really outraged. Did I give that impression? On this end it was more of an eye-roll and a sigh, hopefully that was adequately conveyed. Good on more able elements of the blogosphere for doing the due diligence on this one. The Michelle Malkin post is a great example of what citizen journalists can do for America. It doesn't look like it took more than an hour to figure it out. I'm still working on my morning tea (trying to go without coffee today... wish me luck).

EDIT: Jeff Harrell sums it up nicely.

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What Liberal Media? II

It looks like somebody at CNN is going to get fired. Drudge is reporting that
some jamoke flashed a big black "X" over the Vice President's face while he was giving his speech last night. It's not as though we haven't seen the man behind the curtain with the mainstream media ove rthe last couple of years, so why should this surprise anyone? Jane Fonda and Ted Turner were probably sitting home watching the broadcast and smiling mischeviously to themselves.

Cheney and the President are right to clarify their position on the out-of-control moonbattery, however belated it is. Unfortunately, the more they repeat themselves, the more the vulture pounce on them and twist their words. The questions from the press corps seems to focus around the insinuation that the White House is saying it's inappropriate or *gasp* unamerican to question and criticize the White House's motives. Hardly; in fact it's quite American to do exactly that! What doesn't seem to sink in, regardless how many times they repeat it, is that it is irresponsible of the dissenters and the press to lie, or report lies, about the Global War on Terror. It's nice gesture, but it hasn't had much effect on the tin foil hat crowd.

I didn't hear Cheney's speech last night, NBC didn't see fit to interrupt their bang-up Monday line-up for it, and I was perfectly happy watching Surface, Las Vegas and Medium. Medium was in 3-D last night, a cheesy sweeps gimmick. There was a brief message right before the show saying you need to sit 6-8 feet from the TV screen. Good grief! Who sits that close to the TV? I am the only one who watches the TV from across the room in my bed at 10 pm? The effect was pretty neat, though. I think the last time I saw something in 3-D was when I watched the original King Kong on TV as a kid.

I was a little disappointed with one cop-out; there's a scene, which was advertised, where a meat cleaver is thrown directly at the screen. It made me gasp, actually, it was quite real... except for the part at the very end of its arc where it reaches the screen and impossibly swoops off to the left. A casual viewer might not have noticed this, or know that it was deliberately done, but your faithful blogger does! TV networks feel that weapons being used directly at the TV screen are too violent or shocking. So they make the TV shows point them off to one side so they're not aimed directly at the viewer. The same thing was done with the opening credits of Sledge Hammer!, where Sledge says, "Trust me, I know what I'm doing," and fires his .357 Magnum. The gun was originally pointed straight at the screen, but the network made the show change it so it was fired a bit to the side and, consequently, much more cheesy-looking.

I am a cornucopia of useless knowledge. You're welcome!

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Bittersweet Victories and Killing Trees

I posted a letter I emailed to pretty much everyone I know a while back detailing my support for the Coburn Amendment, which was subsequently defeated by legislators interested in securing thier own future and present pork projects. Sen. Tom Cobrun (R-OK) tried to call attention to Congress' irresponsible spending by proposing to reallocate transportation bill money from a bridge to Gravinas Island in Alaska (pop. 50) for land development and tourism purposes, to a bridge in Louisiana that had been damaged in hurricane Katrina.

Well, Coburn appears to have acheived a half-victory. Alaska's king fo bringing hoem the bacon, Ted Stevens, pulled the $230 million project "announcing that he was taking this 'drastic action' because his state had been 'so unfairly maligned in the national press' in recent weeks," according to the OpinionJournal today. The Journal editorial board puts it much more eloquently than I could (login may be required), but from my perspective this is hardly a victory, since the money will stay in Alaska for other projects. They may as well have just built the bridge, if Alaska still gets the money. How about refunding that money to the taxpayers? Maybe a Constitutional amendment repealing the Sixteenth Amendment? Just thought I'd ask.

This is as good an arguement as any against having large withholding on your W-2 throughout the year, just so you can get a huge taw refund in April. Income tax is not a savings plan! If you put that money in a plain old savings account and ignore it and accrue five dollars in interest, you'll still be putting it to better use the your government will ever manage. It doesn't matter if that money had been spent on either bridge, it's still blatant waste. Tom Coburn called attention to a broken system using half-measures and came out looking like a hero. Now the bridge is gone and all is right with the world, isn't it?

And now for something completely different, I've recently obtained an essentially free subscription to the Wall Street Journal (Monday-Saturday). Everytime I decide to receive a daily paper, I realize how little time I actually have. Who really has time to read a newspaper everyday? People whose job it is to know things, I suppose. For me, I'm an interested news junkie, but it's a hobby. The Internet works much better for targeting the stories a guy like me wants to read than a newspaper can do. I think there's something to that. I don't want my newspaper dumbed down, I just want it easy and fast. So far I've had the subscription one week and I've only not read one paper (two if you count today's that I haven't gotten to yet). Now that I get the Wall Street Journal, I love getting the paper again (used to get the New York Times, the Providence Journal and the St. Paul Pioneer Press, but came to really hate reading them), but I have a heck of a time finding time to get through it.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Pot Calls Kettle Black

I turns out I do have a little bit to say about this House vote debacle. I had to go see Harry Potter first, which should be a clue as to how I feel about the subject. From MSNBC: House spurns calls for immediate Iraq pullout
Democrats accused Republicans of orchestrating a political stunt that prohibited thoughtful debate on the issue, and nearly all voted against the measure.

I got a laugh out of the above paragraph. Who is preventing thoughtful debate? I flipped on Hannity and Colmes last night while this was still going on, and two Representatives, a Republican and a Democrat (their names escape me), were going at it. The Democrat would not shut up or let anyone else talk. He talked over both the Republican and Hannity and spewed the usual predictable talking points including the popular, yet easily disproven "BUSH LIED".

So they voted 403-3 against the Republican-sponsored "Put Your Vote Where Your Mouth Is" bill; hardly a surprise. I have yet to read the text of the bill, so I have only heard the spin, in the interest of full disclosure. If there is any truth in advertising, the intent seems to have been to find out if the left really believed all the nonsense they spout about this conflict. What seems clear to me is that their memories don't go back much farther than 2003, which is when Rep. Murtha says terrorism began. For a short version of the history of our involvement in Iraq, check this post at the Mudville Gazette: A Brief History of a Long War. Mudville's perma link is acting a little wonky right now, so you may have to go to main page and scroll about halfway down. It's terrific summary of the events leading up to the Iraq War that are so easily forgotten by so many. As for terrorism... well, I'll save that for another post.

Friday, November 18, 2005

May I Direct Your Attention...

I don't really have much to say about Rep. John Murtha's (D-PA) demand for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, other than, "What kind of stupid plan is that?" The rest of the blogosphere pretty much has it covered, but OxBlog's David Adesnik sums it up well in an appropriately titled article, "Who is John Murtha?":
The signal that our withdrawal will send is that terrorists can defeat a superpower. That is the signal we sent when we withdrew from Lebanon in 1983. That is the signal we sent when we withdrew from Somalia in 1993. This time, nothing will change.

The war we are currently fighting, that I am currently fighting, didn't start when we decided it was time to fight back.

Another good article in Weekly Standard by a fellow Minnesotan, Army 1LT Kate Thornton Buzicky, Don't Serve/Don't Tell, reminds me of similar experiences I had on the campus of the University of Minnesota. We only had drill once a week, meaning we only had to be in uniform once a week, but that one day really seemed to bring out the worst in our class mates. A friend of mine was called a "baby killer" to his face on his very first day in uniform freshman year. I found more intolerance in graduate school at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth while getting my graduate degree over the last two years. When discussing anecdotes of our management experience with respect to various topics, virtually every time I related an experience, a professor would say something to the effect of, "Yeah, but that's in the military." Among other things.

Hugh Hewitt has twelve words for the unfocused Congressional Republicans. I couldn't agree more.

Not much original thought right now, but share and enjoy.

Bafflement and Annoyance

Something that confounds me to no end is how anybody with a means of expressing their view refers to the former dictator of Iraq as "Saddam." I feel the need to share this, since I appear to be the only who doesn't like it.

How are we on a first name basis with this monster, anyway? Is this something that I just haven't seen in AP Stylebook? My copy is a little old, but this has been going on since the first Iraq war, when my uncle was deployed to the Middle East with the Marines and I realized that world events do indeed affect people. But I digress.

At the very least, I think it's remarkably unprofessional of a journalist or a politician to say. I've always said, "Saddam Hussein" or "Hussein" myself. It's not as though I think he deserves any respect, It just seems odd and wrong. Like referring to the president of Russia as "Vladmir" or the prime minister of England as "Tony." Does it make a difference that they are our allies? We don't call Kim Jong Il or Muammar al-Qaddafi or Fidel Castro by their first names.

This doesn't bug me as much as the bandying about of the term "progressive", since those who claim to be in the particular school of thought have no idea what they are talking about; they just want to have a name that makes it sound like they actually stand for something. I think the worst part of the use of the former dictator of Iraq's first name in public discourse is that it humanizes him, other than than, we're talking about low-level annoyance like hangnails or canker sores.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Atrocity

I saw this link on Power Line today: Korean Reds Targeting Christians. Here's another 50-year-old struggle that is going to come to a boiling point sooner or later. It seems as though, like the Soviet Union, North Korea should have just fizzled out by now. Funny, you don't see people carrying signs around that say "Free North Korea" or something to the effect that the destitute citizens of North Korea ought to be free. If we had to invade, I would predict mass surrenders like we saw in Iraq. Unfortunately, I think the leadership is much more unstable than Iraq's was... and that's saying quite a bit.

It is my personal opinion that without China on its side, North Korea will fold like a paper airplane (appropriate, for a paper tiger) should we decide to bust up the party over there. I'm surprised we've tolerated this regime for as long as we have, listen:

May 1967 - NK intruders set off explosives in 2nd Infantry Barracks - 2 US killed

1968 - 17 US killed in 181 serious incidents along the DMZ

Jan 1968 - USS PUEBLO seized in international waters

Apr 1969 - USN EC-121 shot down by 2 NK MiGs 90 miles off east coast of NK. 31 US killed.

Aug 1976 - NK guards kill 2 US in "tree trimming incident"
(Thanks for above info goes to BGB at SailorBob.com)

They've in a constant state of tepid war with one of our closest allies and 600,000 Korean soldiers died in the original conflict according to US estimates. The total including all civilians and military soldiers from UN Nations and China, was over 2 million deaths. More than a million South Koreans were killed, 85% of them civilians. We just drew a line and called time out. Hasn't this gone on long enough?

Fantastic! Incredible! Holy Hellfire, Tell Us About It!

This morning I picked up on the Newsmax article New Documents Reveal Saddam Hid WMD, Was Tied to Al Qaida.

You don't say? Funny, I'm getting some deja vu, like I've had this theory before or something. Newsmax means to say that while were spend months rattling our sabre with one hand and stroking the U.N. with the other, Hussein and his goons were getting rid of the evidence? Gasp! Shock! Who could ever have suspected that giving Hussein a huge headstart would give him time to cover his tracks and play innocent and foster sympathy in the world community(except for the whole torture and bribery thing, which doesn't matter because the rest of the world is already sympathetic to that).

I just can't believe that a quiet beautiful country that kept to itself, a veritable Shangri-La, would have attempted to not only obtain weapons of mass destruction, but subsequently attmpt to hide them from the evil United States. Surely Bush dreamed up the supposed imminent threat!

Well, it's a start. If Bush and his administration's admonishment of the opposition for attempting to rewrite history doesn't stop the "BUSH LIED!" chorus, surely any information that comes to light from the recently recovered documents will quell the static. I'll be following this story, savoring the clarity of vision that common sense brings.

EDIT: Occam's Razor. That was the term I was looking for. The rule of philosophical simplicity: the philosophical and scientific rule that simple explanations should be preferred to more complicated ones, and that the explanation of a new phenomenon should be based on what is already known

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

What Liberal Bias?

Another chapter in Public Broadcasting history. NPR reports self-consciously on the inspector general report today that Tomlinson used "political tests" in hiring decisions. One particular case stated in the article:
Tomlinson's role in creating a new public affairs show, The Journal Editorial Report, violated the director's code of ethics, according to the review. Tomlinson "violated his fiduciary responsibilities and statutory prohibitions against Board member involvement in programming decisions" in his handling of the show, according to Konz's report.
The most subtle way of skewing a story while maintaining the appearance of fairness is, of course, omission of opposing points of view.

Today's print version of ther Wall Street Journal adds (bold not in original):
[Amy Wolfcale, vice president of corporate communications for Dow Jones & Co. (publisher of the Wall Street Journal)] said "Mr Tomlinson did encourage Paul Gigot to work with PBS to produce "The Journal Editorial Report." Had we been asked, we would've told the inspector general that Mr. Tomlinson had no control or influence over the content of the program beyond urging the Journal to pursue a program on PBS."

The inspector general did even see fit to inquire into the arrangement or lack thereof? I'm no lawyer, maybe that's why I don't get it. It seems like the people pointing fingers are a lot less concerned with other people's points of view than Tomlinson.

The good news is that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is happy with Tomlinson's hand-picked successor, former RNC co-chair Patricia Harrison. Hopefully she doesn't get fired for trying to promote a variety of points of view as well. Additionally, WSJ says the CPB board will establish a new set of guidelines to provide more accountability. I'm assuming that with her in charge, it will not result in affirmative-action-esque policies, but I suppose that remains to be seen.

Boy, it's a good thing no one watches PBS anymore!

EDIT: OpinionJournal discusses the crucifixtion of Tomlinson. (may require free login).

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End Of The World

All Students Deserve Safe SCC Restrooms

Pomona College is in dire need of a gender-neutral restroom in the Smith Campus Center. As the situation currently stands, the campus center only has gender-specific facilities, creating an uncomfortable, exclusive and unsafe environment for students at the Claremont Colleges who do not choose to conform to heteronormative identities.

WHAAAAAAAT? All both of them are uncomfortable?
When did organizations start having to take the sensibilities and abnormalities of every single individual into consideration? Is this even remotely safe for students who do conform to heteronormative identities? I mean, they know what gender they are. Why do educational institutions and other organizations cave in to every nut that decides he is being discriminated against? Good grief!

Tangent: Try Googling "gender specific restrooms" for a good time.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Happy Anniversary to Iraq The Model

Today is Iraq The Model's second anniversary, stop by and take a look! If you want to know about what's really going on in Iraq, you should read this blog. They are two brothers who are doing this at great personal risk.

In Memoriam

I know it's a funny day to be doing this, but I'll give you a bit of background. I'm currently in a position known as "stashed" at my command. I'm going to be a student at the Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS) Department Head Course at the end of the month, but I finished my graduate degree before they had a seat available for me. Therefore, I have to wait for the next class to start and in the meantime get tasked with all kinds of little jobs. I'm trying to make the most of the down time by spending time with my family and relaxing (the job of a naval officer at sea is tressful! Relaxing is an important part of shore duty).

One of the jobs I have been tasked with is assisting with the dedication of a simulator we call a Full Mission Bridge (FMB). It is a large round room with a structure in the middle built to look like the bridge of a generic ship. The round walls have a 360 degree picture projected onto them that make it look like you are on the water; you could be in San Diego, Norfolk, or any harbor/coastline/open water that is available to the system. You can set it for any given sea state, day or night or fog or sandstorms. It all feels real because the moving pictures on the walls create the optical illusion that the deck is pitching and rolloing beneath your feet.

We are dedicatiing the trainer to Capt. Mick McDonough tomorrow, a former commanding officer of SWOS who recently died of cancer. His wife and family along with a few other dignitaries will be there and me and a few other Lieutenants spent the morning setting up chairs and tables for tomorrow morning. The trainer is in a building here the was just built two years ago called Memorial Hall. It was dedicated to the memory of the several naval officers (including one who the captain of my previous ship) who died in the Pentagon on 9/11. After we were done setting up for tomorrow, I got to looking at the frames on the walls.

There are pictures and biographies of each officer who died on the wall of one passageway, and some pictures of the chapel in the Pentagon with a beautiful stained-glass window and as well as a picture of Arleigh Burke's bell, recovered from the wreckage of the attack and remounted. There's a wall that describe the Global War on Terror medal and has a large "Don't Tread On Me" jack, which all Navy ships have flown since Sept. 11, 2001.

I read a plaque which says: "Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss. And in our grief and anger, we have found our mission and our moment. - President George W. Bush, September 2001"

I felt cold and solemn. These men died while serving their country, what have I done? I've gone down to the sea in ships, of course, and I've done a small part in that mission. How do you live up to the memory of these great men? The passageways of these buildings I come to every day are filled with pictures and plaques honoring historic men and events. I'm dwarfed by their memory. I remember the whining and complaining and the stupidity that I have dealt with or inflicted. It's not a job, nor is it an adventure, it's service. It's a shift in thinking that I am working very hard to achieve. Everything I do is part of that service. I need to try harder to live up to that service and the memory of the men who came before me and died for the idea that this nation means something unique and esoteric to the world. I am part of something bigger than me, as are we all.

EDIT: Interestingly, this post seems to be the only site Google picks up on the USS McDonough (FMB-1). For more information: Remarks read on behalf of Admiral Mike Mullen, Chief of Naval Operations

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Keep Out Of Our Way, We'll Defend America

I'm all for alternate points of view as long as they can be backed up by fact. I also let it slide if someone has an alternate point of view and has no way of backing it up, if I like them otherwise. I'm a pretty reasonable guy and I don't like letting little things get in the way of friendships.

I owe no such consideration to the moonbats at CODEPINK who claim that the best way to Support Our Troops is to pull them out of Iraq:
This November 11, as we honor the sacrifice and courage of our veterans, let us recognize that the best way to support our troops is to call for their swift exit from Iraq, to guarantee them the care they deserve when they return, and to make policy changes that will stop us from ever again rushing into a reckless, oil-hungry war.

Sure, there are setbacks, just as there are victories. Do all Iraqis want America in their country? No, but I'd be willing to bet that most of them were people who benfitted from the thugocracy of the last thirty years. Are we going to get Iraqi oil out of the deal? Sure! Everybody will be able to buy it now that it's back on the market, not just the countries that want to ignore U.N. sanctions and recieve kickbacks from Oil For Food. The answer to these people (as it seems to be with all issues, you have to admire their consistency) is to coddle and shield people from all possible harm, admit defeat, and baselessly attack anyone who doesn't agree with them. And blame Karl Rove. (Or was it Dick Cheney? Have I mentioned the name of my next ship is the USS Halyburton?) We should provide servicemen and their vehicles more armor than they can efficiently carry. We should pull them out of the Middle East immediately so that all they have fought for goes to waste. We should manufacture personal plights and atrocities when we can't find anything real with which to damage the civilian leadership. We should convince the soldiers to turn on their officers.

"A reckless war"? Why is the U.N. put on a pedastal by these people, but when the U.S. tries to back the U.N.'s bloviation and pretend like it actually has some authority, suddenly President Bush is the bad guy. Twelve years of thumbing his nose at the world and finally someone wants to do something about it, and we're the bad guys? That's OK, everybody hates visionaries - people who believe in something larger than themselves and take action to achieve that vision. Hate all you like, just remember that free speech doesn't mean anyone has to listen.

The purpose of our all volunteer military is to go and fight so that the rest of the citizens of this country don't have to. These people have forgotten what were doing, or couldn't figure it out in the first place. We're changing the world, making it a better place to live. It will be a long, uphill battle between ideology and ideas. This war started in 1948 and it took the US 58 years to start fighting back. Talk is cheap, but it's easier than picking up a rifle and standing a watch, isn't it?

A serviceman's job is to defend to the death these people's right to continue to say what they say. I'll die for my country, but I'd rather make the other bastard die for the broken 1000-year-old philosophy of death and misery he's fighting for.

UPDATE: Dr. Sanity revisits Charles Krauthammer's Bush Derangement Syndrome, an appropriate segueway from the above.

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Friday, November 11, 2005

Obscene Profits

*Outrage!* Just look at the profits the newspaper publishing industry is making! 8.9%! Horror! Rich People Are Getting Richer(tm)! I demand a Congressional investigation immediately to find out why the New York Times costs so damn much!

Jumping GOP On A Pogo Stick!!

I know I've been posting a lot about this lately, but it's bugging the ever-loving crap out of me. I let this budget bill/ANWR nonsense go for a little bit, but I'm still steamed about it, for cryin' out loud!! Basic economics! Supply and demand! What is WRONG with the Republicans in Congress?

I've taken exactly one introductory college-level economics class and I understand that in creasing supply decreases scarcity and therefore price. The only result that can come from not exploring and harvesting the oil we have available to us in our own territory is stragic weakness and financial pain for consumers. I thought today's Cox and Forkum cartoon summed it up nicely. The envirnmental lobby is an extremely vocal minority. The politicians with an "R" after their name outnumber the other guys. That equals a majority of people in America who want Congress to represent a conservative point of view. Unfortunately, Republicans do not always equal conservatives and politicians are known invertibrates.

Well, certainly it's not over yet, but the House Republicans are making this harder than it has to be. They can still submit bills to open up the small sliver of ANWR, an area the size of South Carolina, in question up to oil exploration and drilling, but they will be subject to the procedural filibuster that senators have been employing of late. (They only have to threaten a filibuster now, and that seems to be enough for the cowards we have sent to Washington.) The budget bill wasn't subject to filibuster, but apparently there were threats from "moderate" Republicans was that it wouldn't have passed with the section on ANWR.

Michelle Malkin has been compiling letters to the GOP which express most of the same frustration that I'm feeling here. If you're annoyed by this as well, you could always write your congressman or senator.

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A Hollywood Republican's Observation

Interestingly, after yesterday's rant, I revisited Pat Sajak's blog, which he hasn't updated since July, unfortunately. I thought he had a neat perspective on the whole Air America flop:
As someone who has been involved in a TV project or two which went largely unnoticed, I think I can answer the question. Conservative radio succeeds, in great measure, because a major segment of the population perceives a need for it. There is no need for mass media with a Liberal slant, because it is already all around us. When I did a late-night talk show on CBS more than 15 years ago, we modeled it after Johnny Carson’s show on the supposition that he was about to retire. He didn’t, and people went right on watching him. Heck, I watched him. Putting aside any talent deficiencies I might have had, there was no need for Pat Sajak when Johnny Carson was there.

Free market capitalism, the liberal's worst enemy.

I forgot to wish Mr. Sajak at happy belated birthday, by the way. (October 26th!)

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

God Bless Tom Harkin

I have Iowa Senator Tom Harkin to thank for a chance at a free subscription to Rush Limbaugh's 24/7 website. Oh, yeah, I know; it's not kosher to admit that you like Rush. Well, sometimes I tune him out, but I find him pretty entertaining most of the time. He does inspire me to go learn all I can about certain topics when he brings them up, as do other talk shows and blogs.

Yesterday, he talked about the fact that he was the subject of an hour of debate on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Senator Harkin is concerned with "the fact that there is no commentary on the service that would even begin to balance the extreme right-wing views that Rush Limbaugh routinely expresses on his program." Well that's far from a fact. Many of you may not have had the opportunity to listen to AFRTS Radio, but less than one hour of Rush Limbaugh is not equal to one whole channel devoted to NPR 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An the channel that Rush is on also broadcasts NPR shows. Check the schedule and see how many other conservative talk show hosts you can find. I looked and found not a single one, but I've been wrong before.

The Honorable Senator Harkin is so afraid of Rush that he thinks that the entire NPR line-up doesn't balance an hour of his show? Gee manetley. Well, yes actually that is what he thinks, because he insists that NPR is completely unbiased while Rush preaches extreme right wing ideology to his legions of zombie dittoheads.

I suppose you could drop Hint From Heloise or Kim Komando or Outdoor Trivia or any of the other junk that AFRTS packs its schedule with and maybe broadcast a little Al Franken or Rhandi Rhodes. Hey, they're mainstream, right? Have you ever listened to them? No probably not, since they have essentially zero maket share. But we must inflict them on the troops in the name of fairness! It doesn't matter what this nation's soldiers or sailor want, does it, Senator? Only that your views are shoved down as many throats as possible.

When did the definition of "mainstream" come to mean "agrees with the Democrats", anyway? I suppose when the blogs started refering to newspapers and TV as the Mainstream Media? Well, if that's mainstream, consider me wading in the shallows on the right bank.

But I digress. As a result of Harkin's skewed perspective, Rush has started an Adopt-A-Soldier program (and Sailor/Marine/Airman, where applicable). People can go to Rush's website and donate one or multiple subscrpitions to eligible servicemembers so they can listen to Rush whenever they want. To be eligible, all a servicemember has to do is go to Rush's website on Monday, 14 November, and sign up for a donated subscription. They'll be given out on a first-come-first-served. Guess what I'm doing on Monday?

UPDATE: More on this over at Radio Equalizer. What servicemember wants to listen to crazy people go on tirades about how evil the things are that we are doing? Balance or no, these jokers do nothing for morale; they only set us back in our efforts to do our job. This Ed Schultz character is no progressive. This is the only progressive I know. But without all that bad eugenics and teetotaling.

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A Culture Of Fitness

After returning to the Navy from working on my graduate degree full-time, I was introduced a couple of new concepts that had surfaced while I was away. One of these being the "Culture of Fitness".

I will be the first to admit that those of us in the surface Navy (in general) do not focus as much on fitness of our members as other services. Most of us get underway on small ships with limited availability of gym equipment (or time to use it), and when we're inport, we work hard repairing and maintaining equipment and trying to spen time with our families. The Navy had made efforts to emphasize physical fitness repeatedly since I joined, and most of them fizzle out. It is a struggle to stay in shape; I've gained 15 pounds since I was commissioned. I don't want to be chubby, but I have a problem with the Culture of Fitness.

The problem with all this focus on staying fit is that we don't bother training anyone how to do it. Just go run, do some push-ups and sit-ups, beat the crap out of yourself. That's what I did. Not knowing what not to do, I managed to injure myself chronically over and over again, starting seven years ago, after I developed shin splints which persist to this day. I sprained both ankles while jogging and continue to roll and sprain them occassionally because they are perpetually weak. I have tendonitis in both shoulders as a result of lifting more weight than I should've repeatedly and incorrectly, not knowing any better.

Here's what I would say to the Chief of Naval Operations or the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy: It's all good that you want to emphasize fitness, but if people don't know what they're doing, they are going to do more harm than good. We need to train them how not to injure themselves for God's sake! I'd love to see a study about how many man-hours are lost due to injury form exercise, because it happens frequently, occassionally costing the Navy good people, because they can no longer go to sea.

The more injured I am, the less able I am to exercise, the fatter I get and the less able I am to meet physical fitness standards. I can barely run anymore without excruciating pain, how's that for Human Capital?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Unquestioning Belief In Works Of Fiction

My last post about gas prices assumed that a 9.1% oil industry profit margin was reasonable, an assumption I made based on the high prices of the last quarter. With the companies doing so well, maybe they can increase refining capacity or invest in exploration (especially in ANWR, thanks for finally getting you act together, Congress!)

There's a great article on National Review Online today explaining the market forces behind oil companies doing really well recently and it's worth a read. Unless you are a worshipper at the modern altar of Environmentalism, then don't bother.

That reminds me of the text of a speech by Michael Crichton I read recently, on Environmentalism as religion. It's a terrific and perceptive point of view and widely applicable to other political "movements" that have long since achieved their purpose and descended into radical ideology.

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Some Are More Equal Than Others?

Uff-da. I have to admit I'm not as smart on the massive tangle that has been campaign finance reform as I want to be. Could anyone possibly blame me? Have you looked at this stuff? I think perhaps it's a stupendous conspiracy that law-making and the Congressional Record are as dry as possible to prevent all but the most stalwart citizen involvement. Reading a bill makes me want to stick a fork in my EYE. Hey, at least it's all searchable on the Internet, right?

Here's the deal. From what I've gleaned so far, The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA) was designed to "end the use of nonfederal, or 'soft money' (money raised outside the limits and prohibitions of federal campaign finance law) for activity affecting federal elections", according to the FEC website. The problem is that it resulted in the 527's we saw last year sprouting up all over the place and causing a ruckus. I'm not a against a ruckus, generally speaking. I think it's great how much more involved in politicking the average citizen has become in the last ten years or so, thanks to magical musical Internet (Hell, look at me). The best part about it is that it lets the moonbats get involve and completely discredit themselves! But I digress.

Something even the moonbats can get behind is this Online Freedom of Speech Act. What the BCRA has done is increase the influnce of the Internet on politics, as I'm sure anybody could plainly see last year. This has naturally resulted in the FEC seeking to regulate it. Luckily a lot of Senators think that's a bad idea, mostly because it serves their interest to keep the Internet unregulated so they can get around the BCRA. Bloggers are almost 100% behind the Online Freedom of Speech Act, because it also serves their (our?) interest. I guess I don't see the point of regulating the Internet. The more regulation on communication that exists, the harder it is to communicate. Same as regulating business just makes it harder to do business.

Ron at Likelihood of Confusion is against the Online Freedom of Speech Act because it doesn't go far enough. I like his thinking here, and he's not alone. Why are we creating a sperate right of free speech for bloggers? Free speech is free speech, why should bloggers be the only ones entitled to it? Perhaps the realization that the BCRA impinges upon bloggers' free speech should be a wake-up call to Congress that, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's predictable 5-4 ruling that the BCRA does not restrict free speech, the BCRA does, in fact, restrict free speech!

Why is Congress so intent upon making bad law? Why is the Supreme Court so intent upon upholding bad law? It's nice that everyone thinks that those nasty rich folks can't buy their very own politicians anymore, but now you have groups like MoveOn.org thinking that they've bought the politicians. Does anyone really think that the BCRA cleaned up politics?

EDIT: By the way, the Online Freedom of Speech Act was voted down today. I've already written Congressman Jim Ramstad, who (while I no longer vote in his district) voted against it and represents my family. List of Reps who voted against it is in the RedState article.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Real Gouge

I have heard rumblings over the last few weeks of left-leaning officials have been making an effort to convince people that they are experiencing price gouging as a result of events in the Middle East, hurricane season, and greed on the part of oil companies. Certainly, gas prices have decreased appreciably since Hurricane Katrina, so perhaps that would lead some to believe Big Oil was taking advantage of their pain. The MSM has made sure to make a big stink about oil companies reporting record profits while minorities and women suffer from the effects of the severe storms this year. After all, conflict sells newspapers.

Yesterday, Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor said consumers need to be protected from gouging when gasoline is in short supply. I couldn’t agree more, which is why I think state and federal governments need to lower or eliminate taxes on gasoline and stop gouging consumers.

In order to continue selling gasoline to you, the consumer, oil companies need to make a profit. So for the time being, let’s assume the industry 9.1% profit margin is reasonable (I think it is) and examine why the price of gas is so high. The price of gasoline depends on a number of factors. As of September 2005, 50% of the price you pay for gasoline is to pay for the crude oil, 8% goes toward distribution and marketing, 27% goes toward refining costs and profits.

Federal and local taxes account for about 15% of the total price of gas in the United States (down from 31% in 2002). Federal excise taxes are 18.4 cents per gallon, and state excise taxes average 21 cents per gallon. Some states also levy additional sales taxes, as well as local and city taxes. In Europe, gas prices are far higher than in America because taxes on gas are much higher. For example, gas prices in England have risen as high as $6 per gallon, with 78 percent of that going to taxes.

To put it in perspective, I was driving home from work today and saw that gas was $2.35/gallon. That means 35.25 cents per gallon goes directly from my pocket to the government: 18.4 cents to the federal government and 16.85 cents to local governments. Multiply that by the 19.1 gallons in my tank ($6.73 per fill-up), about four times a month, which means that I pay $323.17 a year in taxes on gasoline (for just one of my two cars, not counting extra driving on vacations and fluctuation in prices, we have to assume some things are static for this little mental exercise).

Since 1990, the Gasoline tax has transmogrified from a scheme for deficit reduction and then to a use tax. Due to the faulty and politically charged pseudoscience of global warming and general environmental hysteria, gasoline taxes were nearly double what they are today in order to discourage use and force people to seek alternatives. The problem is the same as it is with use taxes on alcohol and tobacco; the tax doesn’t discourage use and the government becomes dependent upon revenues from the tax so it doesn’t really want you to find an alternative to the commodity it’s taxing. It remains to be seen whether the recent spike in sales of hybrid vehicles is a fad due to the spike in gas prices or will be an ongoing trend.

Some folks will say that they don’t mind paying taxes like this because it benefits society as a whole. The problem is that it doesn’t, since government is incapable, by design, of using your tax dollars effectively. It collects taxes on your income before you even get to see it, and then charges taxes whenever you buy something and still can’t get that pothole down the street filled. That has a lot to do with our current expectations of government to coddle and support us, when they should be worrying about infrastructure, defense and civil preparedness PERIOD. I understand that government needs money to perform these functions, but getting us coming and going is excessive. No tax means $2.00 per gallon of gasoline. No income tax, but a consumption tax on gasoline means that even if gas is slightly more expensive, I’ll be able to afford it. But I digress; I’ll save the consumption tax (fair tax) argument for another day, along with other things the government can stop doing to the petroleum supply chain to help consumers sleep a little better at night.

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