Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Inconsistent Politics

Jay Tea over at Wizbangblog has a post titled "I'm Getting Dizzy Here" that points out some inconsistencies in positions held by the Democratic Party. Some might find it amusing, and I was definitely amused but I'm not exactly sure of the reason why. I'm pretty sure it's one of the following.
  • There's enough truth in the list to make it frighteningly funny.

  • Jay Tea continues to describe himself as a moderate, but a surprisingly large number of his posts make the Democrats look like idiots.

  • A flame war has erupted in the comments that is full of stereotypical Bush-bashers making logically weak points while stereotypical Bush-supporters resort to ridiculously overblown comments (and a lot of swearing and name calling).
Personally I am, with much of society I think, disgusted with politicians in general, on both sides. The wild outbreak of Bush Derangement Syndrome and rampant liberal media bias has pushed me to "the right" some in recent years. But let's be clear here. Candidates and office-holders from both parties have said and done ridiculous things to gain and hold power. And there are no signs that the system will correct itself to change that.

John Kerry Trashes The American Military

By now I'm sure you've heard about John Kerry's remarks and seen the video. Even this one hasn't escaped the mainstream media; apparently CNN has run the video multiple times per hour. In case you somehow missed it, Mr. Kerry took it up himself to warn kids that they better getting an education or else they will wind up dumb and end up stuck in Iraq.

Reaction is everywhere. Instapundit. Wizbangblog. Captain's Quarters. Michelle Malkin. The Anchoress.

Whether you find his attitude reprehensible or secretly agree with him, I think you have to agree that it was an astoundingly stupid thing to say a week before a major election. Suddenly the major news story isn't Foley. It isn't the latest combat death in Iraq. It's a prominent Democrat on tape saying he feels that people who join the military are stupid. Expect quotes like this one from Donald Sensing (quoted on Instapundit, above) to be front and center for the next week.
In about 30 minutes I wll leave to attend the funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Richard Buerstetta, killed in action in Iraq two weekends ago. He was a 2004 graduate of Franklin High School, where both my sons knew him. He and my eldest son were actually scheduled to go to boot camp at Parris Island, SC, the same day, but a change by their recruiter sent them on different days. Lance Cpl. Buerstetta was a Marine reservist, enrolled in college at Middle Tennessee State University, when his callup came. Without a flicker of hesitation at being yanked from his college courses, he shouldered his seabags and went off to war. “His bags stayed packed,” according to a family member. He died about a month after arriving in Iraq.

Got that? High school graduate. College student. US Marine. Iraq.

This Youtube video of Sen. John F. Kerry laying the most grievous insult upon Lance Cpl. Buerstetta and his peers explains why, as much as I will hold my nose to vote Republican next week, I cannot possibly bring myself to vote at this time for any Democrat.
Note that Sensing isn't a rabid conservative, who was shilling for the Republican party the entire election season.

Somewhere, Karl Rove is smiling.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Impressions Of The Economy By The Media

In a recent Instapundit post, Glenn quipped:
No wonder the Big Media are acting as if the economy is in dreadful shape. For them, it is.
I'm wondering if there is more truth to this than people realize.

I experienced the boom and the bust of the dot com industry first hand. When I started, things were really good. The yearly company meeting was seen as an excuse to fly everyone to the Bahamas on charted jets. Then when things tanked, things changed in a hurry. The company meeting became fried chicken at a city park.

Economically and from a morale standpoint, the situation was still at a low for us when the economy as a whole started to bounce back. I remember my shock when I started reading articles about how strong the economy actually was. It couldn't be, could it? The last quarterly update from out CFO was devastating.

I can say with experience that I understand how one's own situation can color the impression of the economy. Old-school, big media is definitely seeing a shift in popularity to alternative forms such as blogs and podcasts. It seems more than reasonable that living through and trying to cope with such drastic changes would cause them to see a generally robust economy in a more negative light.

France And The 35-Hour Work Week

The French, it seems, don't learn. A French judge has expanded the scope of the mandatory maximum 35-hour work week to include bars and restaurants. Restaurant owners are saying that it will cripple their businesses.

As a (French) friend of mine once said: "France is on it's way to becoming a 3rd world country--they just don't realize it yet."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Why Traffic Cameras Don't Work, Part 327

I've always been opposed to traffic cameras on basic principle. While I'm not a huge Libertarian, the idea of using a computer to monitor human behavior and issue corrections has always scared me.

Here's one more reason it won't work.
The cameras were designed to catch motorists who simply slow down in front of a camera, and then drive above the speed limit until they reach the next one.
I still don't like it, but sounds well thought out so far.
But, under Home Office rules governing the camera equipment, prosecutions are only valid if a driver is filmed in the same lane at the start and finish of each section by a linked pair of cameras.


That means a three-lane motorway would require three separate sets of cameras - one for each lane. If drivers leave the speed-camera zone via a different lane to the one they entered in, they cannot normally be prosecuted.
The Chief Constable of the Yorkshire police adds:
Motorists are strongly advised not to seek to evade detection by unnecessarily changing lanes as this would generate a greater risk of collision and may lead to other offences being committed which the police may prosecute.
This is the a different version of the problem seen with red light cameras--people accelerating massively when they see a yellow light to avoid a ticket.

I think it's clear that such systems don't work, but that's doesn't stop people from trying.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Chernobyl Myth (Again)

There is an article at the NewScientist.com about what the Earth would be like without humans on it. I started to say it was an interesting article but I retracted that assessment as I'm not really sure what the point of the article is. It does manage to get a number of "humans bad, nature good" talking points, so I suppose that must be author's rationale for writing it.

I mention the article only to attempt--and I'm sure in vain--to squash the myth of the Chernobyl disaster once more time. The author is explaining how quickly certain human creations would be swallowed up by nature, and how slowly it would subsume others.
The best illustration of this is the city of Pripyat near Chernobyl in Ukraine, which was abandoned after the nuclear disaster 20 years ago and remains deserted. "From a distance, you would still believe that Pripyat is a living city, but the buildings are slowly decaying," says Ronald Chesser, an environmental biologist at Texas Tech University in Lubbock who has worked extensively in the exclusion zone around Chernobyl. "The most pervasive thing you see are plants whose root systems get into the concrete and behind the bricks and into doorframes and so forth, and are rapidly breaking up the structure. You wouldn't think, as you walk around your house every day, that we have a big impact on keeping that from happening, but clearly we do. It's really sobering to see how the plant community invades every nook and cranny of a city."
That is an interesting observation. Yet the article continues:
The area around Chernobyl has revealed just how fast nature can bounce back. "I really expected to see a nuclear desert there," says Chesser. "I was quite surprised. When you enter into the exclusion zone, it's a very thriving ecosystem."

The first few years after people evacuated the zone, rats and house mice flourished, and packs of feral dogs roamed the area despite efforts to exterminate them. But the heyday of these vermin proved to be short-lived, and already the native fauna has begun to take over. Wild boar are 10 to 15 times as common within the Chernobyl exclusion zone as outside it, and big predators are making a spectacular comeback. "I've never seen a wolf in the Ukraine outside the exclusion zone. I've seen many of them inside," says Chesser.
He expected to find a "nuclear desert". Really?

In case you aren't aware, the scope of the Chernobyl event has now reached mythical proportions. I wrote about this topic previously. Estimates of immediate deaths caused by the accident are now widely reported between 15,000 and 30,000. The actual number of deaths was 56. Deaths from radiation sickness are suggested to be as high as 3.5 million when in fact they were less than 4,000. Chesser expected to see a nuclear desert because he's bought into a deliberate distortion of the truth. I write this in the hopes that at least a few people won't be fooled.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Classic Schwarzenegger Quote

I watched Governor Schwarzenegger's appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno tonight. Leno was questioning him on negative campaigns ads that tried to be negative by linking him with President Bush. Leno asked him if suggesting such a link was fair. His response?
Linking me to President Bush is like linking me to an Oscar.
Love him or hate him, Schwarzenegger is always entertaining.

Bush Derangement Syndrome Strikes Barbara Streisand

While "performing" in NY, a heckler wouldn't leave Barbara Streisand alone and she cut him short with an f-bomb. I put performing in quotes because she wasn't actually singing at the time. Instead she was acting out a skit with a George Bush impersonator.
There was Streisand, enduring a smattering of loud jeers as she and “George Bush” — a celebrity impersonator — muddled through a skit that portrayed the president as a bumbling idiot.

Though most of the crowd offered polite applause during the slightly humorous routine, it had gone on a bit too long, especially for those who just wanted to hear Streisand sing like she had been doing for the past hour.

“Come on, be polite!” the well-known liberal implored during the sketch as she and “Bush” exchanged zingers. But one heckler wouldn’t let up. And finally, Streisand let him have it.

“Shut the (expletive) up!” Streisand bellowed, drawing wild applause. “Shut up if you can’t take a joke!”

With that one F-word, the jeers ended.
The article hits the nail on the head with the observation: "...for those who just wanted to hear Streisand sing..." Ms. Streisand is welcome to whatever political views she chooses. But couldn't she understand that fans that paid a large sum on money to see her did so to hear her sing?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Possibility Of Russian Assassins In Iraq

A recent post on StategyPage theorizes about the presence of Russian assassins in Iraq. Read the whole piece for the details but the theory starts with:
Last June, after five Russian diplomats were killed by Sunni Arab terrorists, many experienced counter-terrorism professionals expected the Russians to act.
I also would have expected this. The genesis for this expectation is mentioned in the article--an event that was burned into my memory during my childhood.
Back in the 1980s, for example, Islamic terrorists in Lebanon kidnapped a Russian diplomat. The Russians (then the Soviets, a distinction without much difference in these matters) quickly found out which faction had their guy, kidnapped a relative of one of the kidnappers, and had a body part delivered to the Islamic kidnappers. The message was, release the Russian diplomat unharmed, or the KGB (Soviet secret police) would keep sending body parts, and grabbing kinfolk of the kidnappers. The Russian diplomat was released.
I remember reading about this clearly. It was such a contrast to the failed U.S. attempt to free the hostages by Carter in 1979. Given the success of such brutal tactics, I would have expected the Russians to use it again.

No news of a repeat has been forthcoming, apparently. Thus the theory that Russian agents are still on the case. The damage to the Russian image due to giving up would be devastating.
The Russians tend to be patient, and persistent, in these matters. They also realize that they have a reputation to uphold. Many times, local thugs and radicals have avoided harming Russian diplomats because of the Russian tradition of retribution. Break that tradition, and you put a lot of Russian diplomats at risk in the future.


The only thing that could stop the Russians is someone else having gotten to the killers first. The attrition among Sunni Arab terrorists is very high. If American or Iraqi counter-terror action has already killed the guys the Russians are hunting, it would still probably be announced, just to show that the Russians were on the case. So, four months of silence probably means that the Russians are still after the people who killed their diplomats.
Sounds reasonable to me but I'm no expert in such matters. It will interesting to see what, if anything, is announced by the Russians in the future.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Biased ABC News Coverage Of ...

In my previous post I alluded to a featured ABC News story. What does the story cover? That's a good question. If you were to read the whole story, which I can't say I recommend, you'd realize it has something to do with poll results, the Foley scandal, and effects on the upcoming November elections. I honestly had to keep checking to see that the story wasn't actually an editorial, the slant and bias was so thick.

Let's start with the headline on the front page:
Democrats See Biggest Lead in Congressional Races in 20 Years
Or, to paraphrase the author, "Go Team!" Under the headline for the main story are two more stories:
Republicans Losing Steam on the Mom Vote
GOP Struggles With Korea, Foley Scandal
Oh my, things aren't looking good. If you click on the first headline, you get a different headline on the actual story:
Bush Approval Withers Under Iraq, Foley Pressure
The author apparently felt his point wasn't clear, so there's a minor headline under the main one:
A Deep Deficit for the Republicans Reflects a Beleaguered President
Then we get to the actual text of the article, which begins:
An unpopular war led by a beleaguered president has pushed the Republican Party back to a deep deficit in voter preferences. But the Mark Foley scandal, while it hasn't helped, is a distant concern, with many doubting that the Democrats would've handled it any better.

The scandal's likeliest impact is that it forces the Republicans off the anti-terrorism message that remains their best push back against the broad discontent with the war in Iraq. The scandal has erased the minor gains the Republicans showed around the 9/11 anniversary.
I'm honestly speechless. Remember this isn't an editorial, this is a news story--ostensibly about a scientific poll. Almost in one breath we have "Democrats See Biggest Lead", "Republicans Losing Steam", "GOP Struggles", "Bush Approval Withers", "Deep Deficit", "Beleaguered President", "unpopular war", "scandal", "broad discontent", and "erased the minor gains".

Author Gary Langer should be ashamed of himself. Or at least moved to the editorial department where he belongs.

Massive Anti-Chavista Rallies

I debated posting about this. I mean surely you've all read and seen about the anti-Chavista rallies from the mainstream media on the TV and on the web, right? Then I checked the usually culprits--CNN, FoxNews, CBS, ABC--and found no mention of Chavez, rally, or anti. ABC was running a major story, "Democrats See Biggest Lead in Congressional Races in 20 Years" (more on that later), but no, nothing on Chavez.

Anyway, for those actually interested in the news, there was a massive rally in Venezuela for opposition presidential candidate Manuel Rosales. (Hat tip Lorie Byrd at WizbanBlog). Here's an AP Photo:

Strange, the AP seemed to cover the event, at least with photographs, but no mention from the major news outlets. Yet when Chavez calls President Bush the devil at a UN speech it gets major coverage.

Media bias? Check out the next post...

More Frequent Updates

Well the move has been "completed"--at least in the most basic sense. I can't say that I am settled . I'm sad that I can say that I am no longer a Texan. I am now a (I had to look this up for spelling) Coloradan. More on that later.

But for now, I just wanted to make a quick note to those return visitors to say to expect more frequent updates now that much of the move is behind me.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Not Breaking New: Stocks At Record Highs

The DOW Jones index hit a record high for the 3rd straight day. You'd think that would be news. I checked the front pages of CNN, FoxNews, ABC, CBS, and MSNBC. None of them really covered the story. There was a small headline on FoxNews, but we all know they are just a shill for the White House, so that hardly counts.

Glenn seems to have taken a slight interest over an Instapundit. That first link is quite interesting, if not well-written. It discusses a Chicago Tribune article titled, "As Dow Surges, Many Left Behind," and has commentary such as:
At the same time, the housing market developed a bubble of its own in the past six years as the Federal Reserve kept interest rates low to prop up the economy. Now, home construction has tumbled, and prices generally have softened. Some fear the end of this bubble could sink the economy. Others disagree. Whatever the case, the economy is slowing down.
The author goes on to analyze earlier Tribune coverage of stock market highs from 2000, when Clinton was President. The stories are all glowing and any negatives are explained away as "nothing to worry about".

The media's behavior on this issue has become somewhat of a joke at more conservative blogs. Wizbangblog had a post about the record highs. The first comment?
I blame Bush.
As funny as such postings may be, I still continue to worry about the state of the current mainstream media.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Inspirational Picture Of The International Space Station and Space Shuttle

I thought about writing this post from a political angle and I certainly could have. Space exploration is important and should be funded and so on. But honestly, this photo stands on its own--no political commentary necessary.

At a site called Astrosurf, a photographer captured the Space Shuttle Atlantis minutes after undocking from the International Space Station. Oh yeah, against the backdrop of the sun. Simply awe-inpiring.

Click the link, above, to see the uncropped version.

And tell me you didn't think of this: