Wednesday, August 31, 2005


So asks Terry Treachout.
Shepard Smith of Fox News was on Bourbon Street late Sunday afternoon, carrying a cell phone and watching the diehards party. He ran into one man who was walking his dogs.

"What are you still doing here?" he asked the man incredulously.

"None of your ------- business," the man answered.

I wonder where that guy is now?
Beauvoir destroyed

Landmarks like Beavoir, the final home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, are virtually demolished.

The Davis home, built in 1854, has been reduced to rubble and a frame of a house.

My parents took me to this museum when I was a youngster. These were the days before casino gambling dominated the sleepy coast of Gulf Port and Biloxi. I bought a Civil War book in the giftshop that maps all the Civil War Battlefields. I would use it years later for a term paper.

One of these days, we're going to lose an American city to nuclear terrorism, and we will wail and gnash our teeth over what happened to us. NOW is the time to foresee this kind of thing, and to prepare for it as much as we can. I had in my office today an Israeli security consultant, who, talking about terrorism, said to me, "Americans are great in figuring out how to react to things after they happen. But you're not very good at preventing them from happening."

With Cindy Sheehan leaving the ranch, perhaps this store owner in the French Quarter becomes the new spokesperson, as in, our soldiers could be here saving American lives if they weren't over there dying in Bush's phony war for oil.
He then turned to another person and said, “I’ve got to ration stuff, you know. All the National Guard that knows how to fight hurricanes is over in Iraq. They took my cavalry, man.”

Next time put all those blowhards down along the Mississippi Delta and blow the storm back out to sea.
N.O. UPDATE - 10:20am

We are looking at 12 to 16 weeks before people can come in," Mayor Ray Nagin said, "and the other issue that's concerning me is have dead bodies in the water. At some point in time the dead bodies are going to start to create a serious disease issue."

Blanco acknowledged that looting was a severe problem but said that officials had to focus on survivors. "We don't like looters one bit, but first and foremost is search and rescue," she said.

To repair one of the levees holding back Lake Pontchartrain, officials late Tuesday dropped 3,000-pound sandbags from helicopters and hauled dozens of 15-foot concrete barriers into the breach. Maj. Gen. Don Riley of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said officials also had a more audacious plan: finding a barge to plug the 500-foot hole.

Riley said it could take close to a month to get the water out of the city. If the water rises a few feet higher, it could also wipe out the water system for the whole city, said New Orleans' homeland security chief, Terry Ebbert.

Blanco said she wanted the Superdome — which had become a shelter of last resort for about 20,000 people — evacuated within two days, along with other gathering points for storm refugees. The situation inside the dank and sweltering Superdome was becoming desperate: The water was rising, the air conditioning was out, toilets were broken, and tempers were rising.

At the same time, sections of Interstate 10, the only major freeway leading into New Orleans from the east, lay shattered, dozens of huge slabs of concrete floating in the floodwaters. I-10 is the only route for commercial trucking across southern Louisiana.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency was considering putting people on cruise ships, in tent cities, mobile home parks, and so-called floating dormitories — boats the agency uses to house its own employees.

Looting broke out in some New Orleans neighborhoods, prompting authorities to send more than 70 additional officers and an armed personnel carrier into the city. One police officer was shot in the head by a looter but was expected to recover, authorities said.

A giant new Wal-Mart in New Orleans was looted, and the entire gun collection was taken. "There are gangs of armed men in the city moving around the city," said Ebbert, the city's homeland security chief. Also, looters tried to break into Children's Hospital, the governor's office said.

On New Orleans' Canal Street, dozens of looters ripped open the steel gates on clothing and jewelry stores and grabbed merchandise. In Biloxi, Miss., people picked through casino slot machines for coins and ransacked other businesses. In some cases, the looting was in full view of police and National Guardsmen.

Across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, more than 1 million residents remained without electricity, some without clean drinking water. Officials said it could be weeks, if not months, before most evacuees will be able to return.

FEMA director Mike Brown warned that structural damage to homes, diseases from animal carcasses and chemicals in floodwaters made it unsafe for residents to come home anytime soon.


Things are not looking good in N.O. as you know from watching the news. The lake emptied into the city, and now the water level in the city is higher than the lake, so they need to get that water back into the lake. The pumping stations have been inoperable. The 20,000 people in the squalid Superdome are being evacuated, as is the rest of the city. To the south and east there is utter devastation.

Some 400 Tulane students were evacuated to Jackson State U. as well as faculty and staff. Arrangements are being made to get the students home. My alma mater is closed until further notice. Obviously there is extensive damage to the campus and power could be out for weeks. I will expect appeal after appeal in my mailbox. The rest of us have it very good right now; to whom much is given, much is required.

Looting is widespread.

He said looting has also escalated and an atmosphere of lawlessness has developed as police resources have been almost entirely devoted to search-and-rescue operations for people trapped by floodwaters on roofs and in attics. “Widespread looting is taking place in all parts of the city” - from uptown and Canal Street to areas around the housing projects, Thomas said.

“People are going in and out of businesses at Louisiana and Claiborne (avenues), taking clothes, tennis shoes and goods,” Thomas said. “It is inconceivable to me how people can do this.”

“People are leaving the Superdome to go to Canal Street to loot,” Thomas said. "Some people broke into drug stores and stole the drugs off the shelves. It is looting times five. I'm telling you, it's like Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Amid such desperate conditions, the situation will get worse before it gets better.

Those trapped in the city faced an increasingly lawless environment, as law enforcement agencies found themselves overwhelmed with widespread looting. Looters swarmed the Wal-mart on Tchoupitoulas Street, often bypassing the food and drink section to steal wide-screen TVs, jewelry, bicycles and computers. Watching the sordid display and shaking his head in disgust, one firefighter said of the scene: "It’s a f---- hurricane, what are you do with a basketball goal?"

Police regained control at about 3 p.m., after clearing the store with armed patrol.

One shotgun-toting Third District detective described the looting as "ferocious.""And it’s going to get worse as the days progress," he said.

The stories of heroism will surely follow, but New Orleans is taking a black eye right now.
"You know what sucks," Depodesta said. "The whole U.S. is looking at this city right now, and this is what they see."

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


A sobering signoff from the Times-Pic, below. Tulane's
website is down. Anecdotal reports indicate catastrophic losses in most sections of the city, and even worse heading east along what used to be I-10.


Tuesday, 9:40 a.m.

The Times-Picayune is evacuating its New Orleans building.Water continues to rise around our building, as it is throughout the region. We want to evaucate our employees and families while we are still able to safely leave our building.

Our plan is to head across the Mississippi River on the Pontchartrain Expressway to the west bank of New Orleans and Jefferson Parish. From there, we'll try to head to Houma.

Our plan, obviously, is to resume providing news to our readers ASAP. Please refer back to this site for continuing information as soon as we are able to provide it.


Rebuild power system, Entergy says

Tuesday, 9:25 a.m.

Entergy probably will have to rebuild its power system, a process that will take at least a month, because hurricane-related damage was so extensive, a company spokesman said Tuesday.

"We're looking at a rebuild situation," Dan Silverman said. "I don't want to minimize the devastation we've experience in the metro area. . . . Maybe this isn't he worst, but it's damn close."

Speaking on WWL-AM radio the morning after Hurricane Katrina roared through the New Orleans area, Silverman said that all Entergy customers -- about 750,000 people -- are without power and that nearly all the power poles he has seen had been snapped in two.

Nevertheless, he said, some substations are still in working order. Their capabilities are being assessed as part of a study of Entergy's power system.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

A favorite landmark. Let it stand. Posted by Picasa

The Junto Boys have fond memories of New Orleans, especially E who attended college there. This article from the New Orleans newspaper the The Times-Picayune suggests that their world will be turned upside down.
A stronger storm on a slightly different course -- such as the path Georges was on just 16 hours before landfall -- could have realized emergency officials' worst-case scenario: hundreds of billions of gallons of lake water pouring over the levees into an area averaging 5 feet below sea level with no natural means of drainage.

That would turn the city and the east bank of Jefferson Parish into a lake as much as 30 feet deep, fouled with chemicals and waste from ruined septic systems, businesses and homes. Such a flood could trap hundreds of thousands of people in buildings and in vehicles. At the same time, high winds and tornadoes would tear at everything left standing. Between 25,000 and 100,000 people would die, said John Clizbe, national vice president for disaster services with the American Red Cross.

Ninety percent of the structures in the city are likely to be destroyed by the combination of water and wind accompanying a Category 5 storm, said Robert Eichorn, former director of the New Orleans Office of Emergency Preparedness. The LSU Hurricane Center surveyed numerous large public buildings in Jefferson Parish in hopes of identifying those that might withstand such catastrophic winds. They found none.

Amid this maelstrom, the estimated 200,000 or more people left behind in an evacuation will be struggling to survive. Some will be housed at the Superdome, the designated shelter in New Orleans for people too sick or infirm to leave the city. Others will end up in last-minute emergency refuges that will offer minimal safety. But many will simply be on their own, in homes or looking for high ground.

Thousands will drown while trapped in homes or cars by rising water. Others will be washed away or crushed by debris. Survivors will end up trapped on roofs, in buildings or on high ground surrounded by water, with no means of escape and little food or fresh water, perhaps for several days.

"If you look at the World Trade Center collapsing, it'll be like that, but add water," Eichorn said. "There will be debris flying around, and you're going to be in the water with snakes, rodents, nutria and fish from the lake. It's not going to be nice."

Godspeed to the family of my pal Rob Landy. He grew up in New Orleans and his family still resides there. I hope they got out to higher ground.

Instapundit got me reading Brandon Loy's blog on the storm. Terry Treachout also has a lot of links.

The New Orleans Metroblog is worthwhile. The Times Picayune has one too.

When you notice the whole world zig, then it’s a good time to zag if you want to make money. This article is a good reminder that people live in the short-term and there are certain advantages of not following them off the hill.

As they happily watch their houses swell in value, Americans are changing their attitudes toward mortgage debt. Increasingly, a home is no longer a nest egg whose equity should never be touched, but a seemingly magical ATM enabling the owner to live it up or just live.

This spend-now-rather-than-save-for-later phenomenon has produced undeniable benefits. Experts attribute much of the nation's economic growth to cash-out refinancings, home equity loans and other methods of tapping rising home values. And additional real estate investments financed by home equity have contributed to the rising home prices that bring owners such pleasure.

"If you paid your mortgage off, it means you probably did not manage your funds efficiently over the years," said David Lereah, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors and author of "Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?" "It's as if you had 500,000 dollar bills stuffed in your mattress."

He called it "very unsophisticated."

Fredrich Hayek discusses in his masterwork, THE ROAD TO SERFDOM, the trappings of inflation. The storekeeper that purchased products at the pre-inflation price has the good fortune to sell them at the current inflated price and he loves the idea so much that inflation becomes a drug. The problem as Hayek points out is the system can only continue for as long as the rate of inflation continues at a rate higher than the projected rate. As soon as the projected rate catches up to reality, the storekeeper loses his advantage, because the projected inflation rate is already figured into his wholesale costs. If the projected inflation doesn't materialize, the storekeeper can be ruined because he now has to sell his products as less than cost.

Although Real Estate prices are being driven by supply and demand instead of inflation, the same negatives will start to infect people who have bought into the recent paradigm shift. Those homeowners that begin to factor their home equity into their lifestyle will soon find themselves either short of the equity they need to continue their new lifestyle or too far into debt to service the interest. The result for some will be chaos.

The equity in your home is not necessarily wasted capital, because it actually represents a savings in interest payments which reduces your overall cost of living. The IRS interest deduction is a nice incentive to owning a home, but paying less in interest is actually a better deal, because you save the actual amount versus the small percentage of savings offered by the govt.

The only real jusification for cash-out re-financing is to pay for needed home repairs, or to invest in something that will earn you a greater rate of return than your mortgage interest rate. For instance, if you are borrowing against your equity at 6% then you need to get a return on that money of more than 6%.

Even if the money you spend increases the overall value of your home, it still might not be a good idea. First, most home improvements do not result in a dollar for dollar increase in the value of your home. You’re probably lucky to get 50 cents on the dollar unless your improvement is an actual addition to your square footage.

The other negative is that whatever value you to add to your home will be added to your overall property tax bill, meaning that the improvements will continue to cost you down the road. If your family is expanding and you need the space, then a homeowner might have no choice. But those with the choice should decide if the trade-off is worth it.

Re-financing to pay off credit card debt is also tempting, but it can only be a positive if you’re willing to tear those cards up. Empty credit cards are more of a temptation to continue the same behavior than a road to recovery.

Retirement begins the day your passive income is greater than your expenses so although cashing out your equity is a temptation in the short term, it can only work for you if it reduces and not expands your debt (expenses) in the future.

One of the pitfalls of working for the man is that people are usually most dependent on their employer as they reach their 50s. That’s also the time that they’re getting most expensive to keep around. A person who has sacrificed lifestyle leading up to that magic number is most likely to take any surprises more easily. Those who invest well and have controlled their debt will even be able to retire by then. Those who have been living off their assets will have to work later in life to find independence.

I planned on keeping my current house even after the new one is built, but I’m beginning to re-think that decision. The cash flow is positive, but I think the appreciation is going to slow or halt in the next few years due to several factors.

1. Many homeowners with interest-only loans are going to realize that their wages haven’t increased enough to re-finance to the currently higher interest rates. Those with ARMS may face similar problems. As soon as the equity stops compiling, the result will be more inventory on the housing market either in sales or in foreclosure.

2. People who made living decisions based on a rate of increase of their equity could find themselves spread too thin. More people will be forced to sell or lose everything.

3. Whereas places like San Francisco have real land scarcity because of environmental laws, most of the places in Florida seeing an increase in value will be tempered by the surge in development. There are 12 high-rise condo units in pre-sale mode to be built in downtown Orlando in the next 5 years. The starting prices are $300,000 and up. In addition to that, many apartment buildings in Orange County and the surrounding areas are being sold as condos. Plus there is still a lot of vacant land in Central Florida. Any daytime flight in or out of the city confirms that. Supply is doing everything it can to meet demand here.

I don’t know when the plateau will happen, but forces controlled and uncontrolled will increase the housing supply at some point in the next few years and the consumer behavior we're seeing makes me think it will be painful for a great many. Those with money in liquid assets may have an opportunity to take advantage of the next paradigm shift.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


This blog has become a guilty pleasure. Huff has decsended from a Newt Gingrich aid to a radical leftist and she's brought plenty of company to her blog. Like most instruments of the leftwing media she has a few token conservatives to "balance" the leftist cry.David Frum and John Fund chime in every now and then like William Safire once did at the New York Times. They're only outnumbered 100-1.

The group blog concept is an interesting one, but there are so many people on this site it's more like a mob. I usually read the entries from people I have heard of, but so many of the posts are from people I don't know. You get the feeling that Huff spent years writing down the numbers of people she's met at Beverly Hills cocktail parties anticipating this blog project.

Harry Shearer can be funny, but even he has grown more serious. Unlike a lot of name people, he's kept with the blog posting several times a week.

Tom Hayden plays the Vietnam era Rip Van Winkle. It's like he's been hibernating for 30 years in order to someday wakeup and denounce the next war.

Gary Hart seems to mirror Jerry Brown as a guy who was once a mainstream Democrat Presidential candidate, but has become a Ralph Nader through time. It would be like seeing Jack Kemp or Howard Baker become John Birchers.

I try to read Jim Lampley's infrequent posts and he's a hoot despite himself. His sports insight is quite good, but his emerging radical side is a good example of how we can't take experts seriously when they wander outside of their expertise. He's a big "Bush stole the election twice" fan. He also pushed a story in June about the Bush Administration lying about the American death toll in Iraq. He didn't quite endorse the story, but he was hoping it was true. Since there is an official list of American dead and since family members know whether or not their kinfolk have been killed, there is no way to shield the death toll. Why can't a guy who analyzes boxing see the simple hole in that theory? My favorite Lampley tract is his insistence on a military draft to make things fair.
The current system harbors all the same discriminatory elements as did the draft, but the net result is an even more extreme division, a more pernicious South Americanization, between gung-ho military achievers and poor kids brought in to meet recruitment quotas. There is no leavening of the system with differing talent, with greater penetration of the social fabric across the board, and with all parents having to consider at least the possibility of their children having to go. Those elements come into play only with a draft.

Since Jim is a Boxing Broadcaster for HBO, I wrote this in his comments section:

If the socio-economic system is such that a disproportionate number of poor kids risk their lives by joining the military, can't the same thing be said for boxers? I mean haven't a disproportionate amount of poor and working class youngsters fought risking their lives in the ring in order to escape poverty? What can we do to make boxing more fair?

Posted by: Tom on June 04, 2005 at 01:14PM

Neither Jim nor any other commentor had an answer for that one and Jim had dropped the subject.

Huff spent the end of July trying to discredit Judith Miller in the eyes of her fellow journalists. Ariana is convinced that Miller is in jail to protect her own honor and not a source. Ariana was in love with the topic and even fought a little with blogger Mickey Kaus for a while. That all changed when Cindy Sheehan entered the picture. For the last three weeks or so the Saint Sheenan Tour has been rolling through the Huffington Post. They adore this Dr. Seus looking character. But Sheehan is now in danger of space, because Pat Robertson wants Chavez offed and Ann Coulter says New Yorkers would surrender to terrorists.

The Huffington Post is a good example of how liberal blogs will have the urge to move further and further left in order not to mimic the mainstream liberal press. A good reason to make it a guilty pleasure.

Friday, August 26, 2005


Hurricane Katrina is moving toward The Grand Casino in Biloxi and then it's heading to E's house. Posted by Picasa
The Rev. Al Sharpton plans to join peace activist Cindy Sheehan, known as the Peace Mom, on Sunday near President Bush's Texas ranch.

Sharpton's office said Thursday he would participate in a prayer vigil Sunday with Sheehan in Crawford, Texas. Sheehan returned on Wednesday to Camp Casey, named after her 24-year-old son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, who was killed last year in Iraq.

That should add legitimacy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

BALLPARKS I've visited.

CHI - Old Commiskey
CHI - New Commiskey
CHI - Wrigley Field
DET - Old Tiger Stadium
ATL - Fulton County Stadium
TAM - Tropicana Field
MIA - Pro PLayer Stadium (Game 4 2003 World Series)
LA - Dodger Stadium
NY - Yankee Stadium
NO - The Super Dome (I saw a Yankees/Redsox Spring Training game there if that counts)


KC - Ewing Kaufman Stadium (During the winter twice - you can see the stands from the road)
OAK - Oakland Alameda (Summer 1983 - CHISOX v A'S We were on the plane with newly called up catcher Joel Skinner and drove past the stadium right before gametime. The horror.)
STL - BUSCH STADIUM (Same trip as KC)

I had a meeting yesterday in Milwaukee and stayed to watched the Brew Crew beat up the Marlins at Miller Park. I was sandwiched in between an old guy keeping score on my right and a young guy guzzling beer on my left. We each kept to ourselves and our snacks until the top of the fourth when the old man flipped through some previous pages in his scorebook and I noticed he had scored games in a variety of ballparks. I struck up a conversation and it turned out he was one of those baseball encyclopedia guys who knows every player, every park, every story and every stat. And he was a US history buff on top of that. What a delight to banter with him from top 4 thru top 8 when I left. He takes a week or two vacation every summer and visits a ballpark or two. It wasn't long before the fellow on my left joined in. He was visiting from Boston with his girlfriend. They met at college at Bryn Mawr outside Philly. Both they and the old man had just seen games in Chicago and now were catching some games in Milwaukee. It was great company and a perfect baseball scene. I did not get their names and it did not matter.

I have now seen games in at least the following stadia:
CLE - Municipal Stadium
PIT - Three Rivers
PIT - PNC Park
PHI - Veterans Stadium
PHI - Citizens Bank Park
MON - Olympic Stadium
MIL - Miller Park
CHC - Wrigley Field
ATL - Fulton County Stadium
ATL - Turner Field
CHW - new Comiskey
LAD - Dodger Stadium
NYY - Yankee Stadium

I still need to get to Camden Yards which is about 2 hours south. My favorites are Wrigley and PNC. Worst was Olympic Stadium by far, next worst Municipal Stadium. Much of that may have had to do with the chronically losing teams, although that doesn't dampen my enjoyment of PNC Park.

And you? (Your list and your favorites.)

Gotta go, may expound later...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

In its final report last year, the Sept. 11 commission said that American intelligence agencies were unaware of Mr. Atta until the day of the attacks.

Commission members did acknowledge in a statement on Aug. 12 that their staff met with a Navy officer last July, only 10 days before releasing the panel's final report, who had asserted that Able Danger, a highly classified intelligence operation, had identified "Mohamed Atta to be a member of an Al Qaeda cell located in Brooklyn."

But the statement, which did not identify the officer by name, said that the commission's staff had determined that "the officer's account was not sufficiently reliable to warrant revision of the report or further investigation" and that the intelligence operation "did not turn out to be historically significant."

With his comments today, Captain Phillpott acknowledged that he was the officer who had briefed the commission last year. "I will not discuss the issues outside of my chain of command and the Department of Defense," he said. "But my story is consistent. Atta was identified by Able Danger in January-February of 2000. I have nothing else to say."

This 911 commission is turning out to have the credibility of the Warren Commission. Stories like this make it obvious that the report was rushed out in an election year to sing a particular song rather than find the truth. When you don't bother to follow up the testimony of military officers because you're too interested in your publishing deadline, it's hard to take anything you bothered to say seriously.

Monday, August 22, 2005

I'm a Republican. A heretofore secret Hollywood Republican. I know men and women who are heavy drug addicts and they have no problem finding employment in Hollywood. I know men and women who are gambling addicts and they work pretty regularly. There's even a director who was arrested for child molestation and yet was hired by Disney — yes, Disney — to helm a picture, and people defended this decision by saying even child molesters have a right to work. I would bet my bottom dollar that all these people are on the correct side of the political spectrum. They are liberal democrats.

Hollywood, once upon a time, was one of the most patriotic colonies on the planet. During World War II, Frank Capra made a series of propaganda films titled “Why We Fight.” Marlene Dietrich put herself through a most grueling schedule visiting and entertaining our troops and selling war bonds. Jimmy Stewart joined the Air Force. Numerous movie stars put their careers on hold to help the war effort. These men and women loved America and understood who the enemy was and why the enemy had to be not only defeated but obliterated from the face of the earth.

Look at Hollywood now. Sean Penn goes to Iraq and apologizes for American war crimes. Hollywood’s patron saint is Michael Moore, its liturgy his package of lies, the movie “Fahrenheit 9/11.” When this film had its Hollywood premiere, the red carpet was choked with stars just dying to make an anti-Bush statement. We’re talking about movie stars who know basically nothing about politics. To call them fools would be generous. I have spent time with too many of these people, and believe me, if you’re not talking about how beautiful or how talented they are, the conversation sort of just dies.

It is, I kid you not, a badge of honor in Hollywood to hate America. These airheads who have amassed millions through the free market economy constantly spout nonsense about the need for a Scandinavian style socialist government. They don’t even know that the Scandinavian countries are economic basket cases. I’m not making this up. They actually cruise Sunset Strip in their Bentleys and accuse Republicans of being greedy.

By the way, if ever you should get into a contract negotiation with any of these kind and gentle Democrats, you’ll be lucky to walk away with your undershirt. Talk about brutal. You have not experienced pain until your lawyer calls to inform you that your regular deal has been somewhat modified — meaning you’re about to get murdered financially by some star who just minutes ago was on TV cradling some starving African child.

Last year the Dutch film director Theo Van Gogh was murdered in Holland at the hands of Islamic extremists. It was a gruesome murder. There was not one word of protest from the Hollywood community. Because of liberal political correctness, the 2002 version of Tom Clancy’s “The Sum of All Fears” transformed Palestinian terrorists into European neo-Nazis.

The sad truth is that behind the dashing and courageous Hollywood characters up on the screen sit a bunch of cowards. A group of craven men and women who have little love for this country and who have no idea that Islamic terrorists are working hard to bring down the foundations of civilization.

These Hollywood liberals spend their lives negotiating. They believe that when the time comes they will sit down with Osama bin Laden and cut a deal. Imagine how surprised they’ll be when the cold blade hits their necks. Imagine their shock when they realize there is no negotiating with barbarians; that Osama makes no distinctions between Democrats and Republicans, between observant Jew and Buddhist chanting Jew.

This is at times a very funny and at times very sad article written by a guy who has truly had it. It's worth reading the whole piece to find out why. He details two scripts that he wrote and the reaction to both of them.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Not so says Mark Steyn.
They're not children in Iraq; they're grown-ups who made their own decision to join the military. That seems to be difficult for the left to grasp. Ever since America's all-adult, all-volunteer army went into Iraq, the anti-war crowd have made a sustained effort to characterize them as "children." If a 13-year-old wants to have an abortion, that's her decision and her parents shouldn't get a look-in. If a 21-year-old wants to drop to the broadloom in Bill Clinton's Oval Office, she's a grown woman and free to do what she wants. But, if a 22- or 25- or 37-year-old is serving his country overseas, he's a wee "child" who isn't really old enough to know what he's doing.

The infantilization of the military promoted by the left is deeply insulting to America's warriors but it suits the anti-war crowd's purposes. It enables them to drone ceaselessly that "of course" they "support our troops," because they want to stop these poor confused moppets from being exploited by the Bush war machine.

Well said!
Joe Scarborough is leaving the job of trying to unseat U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson to another Republican.

On Saturday, the former congressman from Pensacola ended several days of speculation by announcing he would not challenge U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris for the Republican nomination in the 2006 Senate race.

The D.C.-based Republican leadership reportedly wants to field another candidate instead of Harris, whose role as Florida secretary of state in the 2000 president vote recount still leaves her a divisive figure. Some party leaders and political analysts believe that will make it hard for her to secure more moderate votes that she will need to unseat Nelson.

Hillary Clinton is a devisive figure and she still carpetbagged her way to the Senate. I think Harris problem is image. She doesn't photograph well and she doesn't seem to connect with people when she speaks. The media made her a focus during the election re-count, but people scarcely remember 911 anymore. She can overcome 2000, but she cannot overcome her present packaging.

As for Joe, I wonder if a Florida Senator has ever hailed from Pensacola.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

It never seemed to me that there was any alternative to confronting the reality of Iraq, which was already on the verge of implosion and might, if left to rot and crash, have become to the region what the Congo is to Central Africa: a vortex of chaos and misery that would draw in opportunistic interventions from Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Bad as Iraq may look now, it is nothing to what it would have become without the steadying influence of coalition forces. None of the many blunders in postwar planning make any essential difference to that conclusion. Indeed, by drawing attention to the ruined condition of the Iraqi society and its infrastructure, they serve to reinforce the point.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

911 Commission Report Crumbles

"A classified military intelligence unit called 'Able Danger' identified Atta and three other hijackers in 1999 as potential members of a terrorist cell in New York City."

At first, the commission denied that it knew anything about "Able Danger": "The Sept. 11 Commission did not learn of any U.S. government knowledge prior to 9/11 of surveillance of Mohammed Atta or of his cell," insisted Lee Hamilton, the Democratic co-chair. "Had we learned of it, obviously, it would've been a major focus of our investigation."

But within 48 hours this version was non-operative. As the AP subsequently reported: "The Sept. 11 Commission knew military intelligence officials had identified lead hijacker Mohamed Atta as a member of al-Qaida who might be part of U.S.-based terror cell more than a year before the terror attacks but decided not to include that in its final report, a spokesman acknowledged Thursday."

So, far from being a "major focus" that they just happened to miss -- coulda happened to anyone -- it turns out they knew about it but "decided not to include" it.

How'd that happen? Well, as Felzenberg says so disarmingly, "this information was not meshing with the other information.'' As a glimpse into the mindset of the commission, that's astonishing. Sept. 11 happened, in part, because the various federal bureaucracies involved were unable to process information that didn't "mesh" with conventional wisdom. Now we find that the official commission intended to identify those problems and ensure they don't recur is, in fact, guilty of the very same fatal flaw. The new information didn't "mesh" with the old information, so they disregarded it.

Sept. 11 was a total government fiasco: CIA, FBI, INS, FAA, all the hot shot acronyms failed spectacularly. But appoint an official commission and let them issue an official report and suddenly everyone says, oh, well, this is the official version of 9/11; if they say something didn't happen, it can't possibly have happened.

Readers may recall that I never cared for the commission. There were too many showboating partisan hacks -- Richard ben Veniste, Bob Kerrey -- who seemed more interested in playing to the rhythms of election season. There was at least one person with an outrageous conflict of interest: Clinton Justice Department honcho Jamie Gorelick, who shouldn't have been on the commission but instead a key witness appearing in front of it. And there were far too many areas where the members appeared to be interested only in facts that supported a predetermined outcome.

Maybe we need a 9/11 Commission Commission to investigate the 9/11 Commission. A body intended to reassure Americans that the lessons of that terrible day had been learned instead engaged in what at best was transparent politicking and collusion in posterior-covering and at worst was something a whole lot darker and more disturbing.

These investigative commissions are mostly about public relations and not fact finding. It’s very rare that real independent minded people get on these commissions. Instead it’s a bunch of insiders that agree to do the things necessary to present enough information so that the problem will go away. I thought the 911 commission was nonsense when I saw the Commission members grilling witnesses while a studio audience applauded the gotcha lines. How is truth every going to be found in that setting?

Richard Feynman has a great story in one of his books about appearing on the Challenger Commission and how he would get into trouble for field investigation while the chairman wanted to sit in a conference room and banter. Feynman is famous for demonstrating the tile problem with a cup of ice water, but as he tells in the story it was hardly a dramatic moment at the time. After he finished the demo, without a gasp or a hooray, they moved onto the next commission member. History has treated it as a pivotal moment, especially since he was proved correct, but it was ignored by commission members at the time that were more interested in the cameras and posturing. Feynman couldn't get his overall analysis of the problems with NASA culture into the official report, because they were deemed too controversial. His thoughts wound up as an appendix that he includes in the same book.

Today we think of Feynman when we think of that commission, and therefore, those commissions do all they can to eliminate independent minded people like him. For as bad as the press may be in their leftward leanings, at least their version of events can be countered by a conservative one somewhere else. The problem with official government findings is that we’re too ready to believe them and move on and that’s why they exist. Hopefully, stories like this will discredit the commission enough that it will cease being accepted as the official story.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


An interesting article about Reagan's reputation in the film industry then and now.
On February 8, 1950, some of Hollywood's brightest lights gathered at the Beverly Hills Hotel for the kind of glamorous, star-studded soiree typically held on Academy Awards night. While it was Oscar season in Hollywood, the event for which Cecil B. DeMille, Harry Cohn, George Burns, Ed Wynn, Jane Wyman and some 600 others turned out had nothing to do with the film industry's annual awards ceremony. Instead, it was a formal tribute to Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan? The same Ronald Reagan who supposedly had a B-grade movie career and was a failure as a leading man? Why would he be feted with such fanfare, more than 15 years before he was elected governor of California?

In those days, the view of Reagan was far different from today's conventional wisdom about his work in Hollywood. That night at the pink palace on Sunset Boulevard, people were honoring a genuine movie star, labor chief, and accomplished political activist. The Friars Club hosted the evening, but the ambience was far from humorous. The account in Variety describes a "note of seriousness rarely demonstrated at a Friars get-together. This was not a roast." It was unique, "a heartfelt tribute to a real guy." When Al Jolson spoke, he said his wish was that his son would grow up "to be the kind of man Ronnie is." Despite Reagan's enduring popularity with the American people, one would be hard pressed to find that same sentiment among the arbiters in today's Hollywood. For decades, Reagan's career has been marginalized and caricatured by the establishment here as well as in the top film schools. Among those who determine what is deemed worthy of attention and study in film, Reagan is persona non grata.

James McWhorter writing in the Washington Post
The eternal question about the riots has been: Why did they happen just then? Leaders like Martin Luther King were baffled about this at the time, and the question is still relevant to assessing the black condition. In 1965, black Americans had been dealing with the short end of the stick for almost 400 years. If black American history from the early 1600s to 2005 could be condensed to 24 hours, then these riots took place at 10 p.m. Why not before?

The worst riots happened in places where conditions for blacks were best. If one had to predict in August 1965 where black-led riots might be most likely, the obvious choice would have been the deep South. And yet, very few of the riots in the late '60s took place in the most bigoted region in America: There was no memorable race riot in Atlanta or Birmingham. As for Watts, just the year before the riots, the National Urban League had rated Los Angeles the best city in the nation for blacks to live in. Several studies have shown no correlation between the destructiveness of the black-led riots in a given city and conditions for blacks there.

But political rebellion always leaves in its wake people who are moved more by the sheer theatrics of acting up than by the actual goals of the protest. At the University of California at Berkeley in 1964, for example, the Free Speech Movement rose up against indefensible suppression of students' speaking truth to power. But on the same campus the following year, a new bunch started the "Filthy Speech Movement," based on emblazoning curse words on placards and watching the suits squirm. It was rebellion for rebellion's sake.

That kind of unintentional by-product of genuine activism hit black America between the eyes. Seasoned black civil rights leaders like Bayard Rustin and A. Phillip Randolph -- who had made real, if gradual, progress in the struggle -- watched as younger sorts shunned their brass-tacks lobbying and rhetorical persuasion in favor of high-profile altercations, preferably involving getting arrested on television. In 1963, Rustin told the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) that "the ability to go to jail should not be substituted for an overall social reform program." But Rustin's speech didn't go over too well with SNCC that night, and three years later, the group edged out undramatic but proactive John Lewis as its leader in favor of rabble-rousing polemicist Stokely Carmichael. Acting out was now the main point.

McWhorter is a linguist professor who writes reviews on about pop culture stuff like Broadway shows and DVD sitcom releases. I saw him on Booknotes a few years ago talking about his book Authentically Black. It deals with things like the way blacks talk around white people versus each other. He's an all-around interesting guy.

Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed another Republican bill Friday that would have forced Wisconsin voters to show government-issued photo identification at the polls. Republicans vowed to go around the governor and amend the state constitution to require picture IDs.

Investigators in Milwaukee believe 4,600 more ballots were cast than people recorded as voting in the city during the presidential race. Felons cast hundreds of votes and people used fake names and addresses, they say.

Friday's veto marks the third time Doyle, a Democrat, has killed GOP legislation establishing a photo ID requirement.

The governor says the IDs would do little to protect election integrity because the problems stem from poor poll management. Worse, Doyle said, the provision would keep thousands of people without identification from voting. He claimed 177,000 Wisconsin seniors don't have driver's licenses or state IDs.

So better to have massive fraud than people waiting in DMV lines.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Plato advocated (using Socrates' voice) that those who are best at thinking (not making), learning (not applying), and talking (not doing) are best qualified to rule the mean masses. Not much has changed. Our Western philosophy is deeply rooted in humanistic, relativistic, Greek pagan philosophy.

The following is excerpted from Plato, THE REPUBLIC, in which Socrates discusses the Philosopher-King with his interlocutors. Socrates speaks first.

Inasmuch as philosophers only are able to grasp the eternal and unchangeable, and those who wander in the region of the many and variable are not philosophers, I must ask you which of the two classes should be the rulers of our State?

And how can we rightly answer that question?

Whichever of the two are best able to guard the laws and institutions of our State--let them be our guardians.

Very good.

Neither, I said, can there be any question that the guardian who is to keep anything should have eyes rather than no eyes?

There can be no question of that.

And are not those who are verily and indeed wanting in the knowledge of the true being of each thing, and who have in their souls no clear pattern, and are unable as with a painter's eye to look at the absolute truth and to that original to repair, and having perfect vision of the other world to order the laws about beauty, goodness, justice in this, if not already ordered, and to guard and preserve the order of them--are not such persons, I ask, simply blind?

Truly, he replied, they are much in that condition.

And shall they be our guardians when there are others who, besides being their equals in experience and falling short of them in no particular of virtue, also know the very truth of each thing?

There can be no reason, he said, for rejecting those who have this greatest of all great qualities; they must always have the first place unless they fail in some other respect. Suppose, then, I said, that we determine how far they can unite this and the other excellences.

By all means.

In the first place, as we began by observing, the nature of the philosopher has to be ascertained. We must come to an understanding about him, and, when we have done so, then, if I am not mistaken, we shall also acknowledge that such a union of qualities is possible, and that those in whom they are united, and those only, should be rulers in the State.

What do you mean?

Let us suppose that philosophical minds always love knowledge of a sort which shows them the eternal nature not varying from generation and corruption.


And further, I said, let us agree that they are lovers of all true being; there is no part whether greater or less, or more or less honorable, which they are willing to renounce; as we said before of the lover and the man of ambition.


And if they are to be what we were describing, is there not another quality which they should also possess?

What quality?

Truthfulness: they will never intentionally receive into their minds falsehood, which is their detestation, and they will love the truth.

Yes, that may be safely affirmed of them.

"May be." my friend, I replied, is not the word; say rather, "must be affirmed:" for he whose nature is amorous of anything cannot help loving all that belongs or is akin to the object of his affections.

Right, he said.

And is there anything more akin to wisdom than truth?

How can there be?

Can the same nature be a lover of wisdom and a lover of falsehood?


The true lover of learning then must from his earliest youth, as far as in him lies, desire all


But then again, as we know by experience, he whose desires are strong in one direction will have them weaker in others; they will be like a stream which has been drawn off into another channel.


He whose desires are drawn toward knowledge in every form will be absorbed in the pleasures of the soul, and will hardly feel bodily pleasure--I mean, if he be a true philosopher and not a sham one.

That is most certain.

Such a one is sure to be temperate and the reverse of covetous; for the motives which make another man desirous of having and spending, have no place in his character.

Very true.

Another criterion of the philosophical nature has also to be considered.

What is that?

There should be no secret corner of illiberality; nothing can be more antagonistic than meanness to a soul which is ever longing after the whole of things both divine and human.

Most true, he replied.

Then how can he who has magnificence of mind and is the spectator of all time and all existence, think much of human life?

He cannot.

Or can such a one account death fearful?

No, indeed.

Then the cowardly and mean nature has no part in true philosophy?

Certainly not.

Or again: can he who is harmoniously constituted, who is not covetous or mean, or a boaster, or a coward--can he, I say, ever be unjust or hard in his dealings?


Then you will soon observe whether a man is just and gentle, or rude and unsociable; these are the signs which distinguish even in youth the philosophical nature from the unphilosophical.


There is another point which should be remarked.

What point?

Whether he has or has not a pleasure in learning; for no one will love that which gives him pain, and in which after much toil he makes little progress.

Certainly not.

And again, if he is forgetful and retains nothing of what he learns, will he not be an empty vessel?

That is certain.

Laboring in vain, he must end in hating himself and his fruitless occupation?


Then a soul which forgets cannot be ranked among genuine philosophic natures; we must insist that the philosopher should have a good memory?


And once more, the inharmonious and unseemly nature can only tend to disproportion?


And do you consider truth to be akin to proportion or to disproportion?

To proportion.

Then, besides other qualities, we must try to find a naturally well-proportioned and gracious mind, which will move spontaneously toward the true being of everything.


Well, and do not all these qualities, which we have been enumerating, go together, and are they not, in a manner, necessary to a soul, which is to have a full and perfect participation of being?

They are absolutely necessary, he replied.

And must not that be a blameless study which he only can pursue who has the gift of a good memory, and is quick to learn--noble, gracious, the friend of truth, justice, courage, temperance, who are his kindred?

The god of jealousy himself, he said, could find no fault with such a study.

And to men like him, I said, when perfected by years and education, and to these only you will intrust the State.

I'm not Coulter's biggest fan but she is good this week.
Two weeks ago, Gen. Jack Keane, a former deputy chief of staff for the Army, said our forces in Iraq have killed or arrested more than 50,000 insurgents in the past six or seven months.

We may yet suffer another major terrorist strike in the U.S., but the absence of one for 47 consecutive months, combined with 50,000+ insurgents taken off the street in Iraq alone, bear witness to the tremendous success of our strategy and our military.
Ms. Sheehan's son, Casey, was killed last year in Iraq, after which she became an antiwar activist. She says she and her family met with the president two months later at Fort Lewis in Washington State.

But when she was blocked by the police a few miles from Mr. Bush's 1,600-acre spread on Saturday, the 48-year-old Ms. Sheehan of Vacaville, Calif., was transformed into a news media phenomenon, the new face of opposition to the Iraq conflict at a moment when public opinion is in flux and the politics of the war have grown more complicated for the president and the Republican Party.

Ms. Sheehan has vowed to camp out on the spot until Mr. Bush agrees to meet with her, even if it means spending all of August under a broiling sun by the dusty road. Early on Sunday afternoon, 25 hours after she was turned back as she approached Mr. Bush's ranch, Prairie Chapel, Ms. Sheehan stood red-faced from the heat at the makeshift campsite that she says will be her home until the president relents or leaves to go back to Washington. A reporter from The Associated Press had just finished interviewing her. CBS was taping a segment on her. She had already appeared on CNN, and was scheduled to appear live on ABC on Monday morning. Reporters from across the country were calling her cellphone.

The media attempt to make this war illegitimate is naturally going to be heard loudest from those who have sacrificed the most. It was only a matter of time before some grieving mother would succumb to the media barrage and blame Bush. Now the media is covering that as if were an independent phenomenon.

That we lost more people in a single World War II battle than we've lost in Iraq doesn't make the news, and neither does the amount of enemy kills. You'd get the impression that our men are sitting in the middle of a shooting gallery helpless.

The media is trying to convince people that it would be much better to go back to the nineties when we ignored terrorism. FDR could never have won the war in Europe had the media taken this approach. Hitler did not invade us nor was he a danger to. FDR would have been spread too thin and focusing his attention in the wrong place.

The Hiroshima anniversary reminds me that world opinion expects us to sacrifice the lives of our men rather than drop the bomb that ends the problem. The catch-22 is that if we drop the bomb the media will criticize the President for being heartless and a renegade to world civility. If the President sends men to carefully defeat someone and bring order, then the casualties are too high a price. In short, without saying it, the media just does not want to see any U.S. force until the knife is at our neck.

Mrs. Sheehan could just as well be picketing the United Nations to protest the appeasement, half measures, and oil for food scandal that made this war inevitable. I mean, Saddam may have lost power on his own if not for the illegal oil deals that kept him rich and powerful. It would be true and more to the point, but it wouldn't fit the media's desire to discredit Bush and war in general.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


I hadn't heard of John Harold Johnson, the founder of EBONY magazine but his Obit in the Chicago Sun Times is inspiring.

Mr. Johnson, 87, who died Monday of heart failure at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, offered his own life up as Exhibit A for black material success -- if he could make it, he argued, others could.

And make it he did. He was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the 400 richest people in America, with a personal fortune in excess of $100 million. The South Michigan Avenue headquarters he constructed for his empire in 1972 is still the only black-owned high-rise in downtown Chicago.

He encouraged blacks not to lose themselves in grand schemes, but to "dream small dreams, because very often when you try to see things in their largest form, you get discouraged." He never thought he'd be rich, he said.

The key to his success, he said, was simple: "I was lucky, the timing was right, and I worked hard."

Mr. Johnson believed in sidestepping racism by being smarter than his opponents. After being turned down by a white owner who didn't want to sell property to a black man, Mr. Johnson hired a white lawyer to negotiate the sale.

The lawyer told the owner that he represented a large Eastern publishing firm, and that the firm would send its head of maintenance around to inspect the building. Then Mr. Johnson, dressed as a janitor, in work clothes and carrying a flashlight, examined the building before buying it.

Mr. Johnson relished his success. His office at Johnson Publishing, 820 S. Michigan, took up the entire 11th floor and was dubbed "probably the most lavish" executive suite in Chicago in the mid-1970s, with suede walls, a silver-plated telephone, and a typewriter trimmed in red alligator. The office had its own bedroom suite and exercise room with walls and floor done in red goat hair.

The Beatles' John Lennon, visiting with his wife, Yoko Ono, said the suite was better than Buckingham Palace, and asked if they could come back the next day.

It's an interesting life story if you have time to read the whole thing.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


As you know, I have been studying ufology for the past few years. I subscribe to the mailing list UFO UPDATES on which many famous ufologists exchange information. A major focus in the field presently is Nick Redfern's book entitled BODY SNATCHERS IN THE DESERT: THE HORRIBLE TRUTH AT THE HEART OF THE ROSWELL STORY. Redfern has posited a down-to-earth explanation for the mystery of Roswell.

There is no question that SOMETHING crashed in the New Mexico desert in July, 1947. There were witnesses to the debris field and there are official stories to account for it. The whole Roswell legend as we know it was born in 1980 with the publication of the first book on the subject, by William Moore. Moore had interviewed every living witness to the event, and most believed that what they had seen was a downed alien spacecraft. Redfern, who claims to believe that there ARE spacecraft in our skies, offers an alternate view of what actually crashed near Roswell.

This is a good recap of Redfern's research as put forth in his book. It was not written by me; I thought you might be interested and could comment:

In simplified terms, Redfern believes what happened at Roswell
involves the intersection of several programs being conducted by
Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, and our own government during WWII
and the years immediately following. These programs were:


This program involved the use of experimental high altitude
balloons as weapons. The goal was to launch these balloons from
Japan in such a way as to ensure that they would be carried by
the winds over the western United States. The intended payload
on these balloons were lethal biotoxins. 9,000 such balloons
were launched in the initial phase of the plan, complete with
ingenious explosive devices. A few reached U.S. soil, and there
were a few casualties. The press wisely obeyed military gag
orders on these events, and so the Japanese were kept from ever
finding out if their balloon bombs were effective. The nuclear
destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought the war to an end
before the Japanese could send the Fugo ballons with bioweapons.
Learning about all this has renewed my confidence in our nuclear
decision to end the war.


One of the more infamous atrocity mills of WWII, Unit 731
was an officially sanctioned and funded bioweapons program /
facility headquartered in Harbin, Manchuria. Headed by Shiro
Ishii. Unit 731 has become synonymous with human experimentation
for those who know of its existence. Experiments on human beings
(or "logs" as they were referred to) involving live human
vivisection, effects of frostbite, high altitude pressurization
exposure to bioweapons, flamethrowers, and explosives were
routine. These experiments included U.S. POWs. This Unit was the
potential source of the bioweapons to be used for the Fugo
balloon project.


The now well-known program begun under the Truman
administration to bring Nazi scientists to U.S. soil for their
knowledge and expertise. As Nick demonstrates, the program
eventually included Japanese scientists. However, even prior to
the "heyday" of PAPERCLIP, the U.S. government, with the
approval of Douglas MacArthur, was soliciting and procuring Unit
731 scientists for their advanced knowledge of bioweapons and
their effect on human beings. Nick marshals brief, but weighty,
evidence that both Nazis and Unit 731 scientists who engaged in
human experimentation made it into this country and wound up on
the U.S. payroll.


This refers to the work of Reimer and Walter Horten, mainly
toward the end of the war, to produce a flight-worthy wingless
disk aircraft. Although models were tested and commissioned by
the Luftwaffe in 1944-45, the war ended before the Nazis could
more perfectly develop and mass produce the model. The Horten
craft was discovered by the British, after which the Horten
brothers were invited to Britain to continue their work. An
agreement between the two and Britain could not be reached, and
the Hortens returned to Germany in 1945.


This program focused on developing nuclear energy for the
propulsion of aircraft. One of the significant obstacles with
achieving the project goal was shielding pilots from radiation.
Another problem was constructing a reactor light enough and
small enough for an aircraft. A sub-problem for the testing
involving the protection of occupants from radiation was that,
eventually, human occupants would have to be put at risk.
Redfern argues that, in the wake of the 1947 close of the
Nuremberg trials — which called for the end of human
experimentation — those involved in our testing program felt
rushed to gain official permission to use human subjects.
Attempts were made to procure legislation allowing human
experimentation. Documentation indicates that, eventually,
prisoners and mental patients from U.S jails and institutions
were used, along with dead bodies snatched from morgues and
hospitals without consent of surviving kin. This body snatching
program was dubbed Project Sunshine. Of particular relevance for
Redfern’s thesis is the documentary evidence that certain
"specimens" were procured from Formosa, home of Unit 731.

The intersection of all the above offered by Redfern can be
briefly described as follows. Roswell was a PAPERCLIP screw-up.
The "UFO" was in reality a wingless craft launched from a U.S.
base in the southwest via a high altitude Fugo balloon. These
craft were occupied by either a Japanese crew (no one over five
feet tall) or human unfortunates being utilized for testing
purposes. Two or more of these craft crashed at Roswell and
other nearby locations, explaining the multiple site / multiple
date problem pointed to by skeptics as conflicting (and
therefore unreliable) testimony. The bodies were human, but
physically unusual to those who discovered them. The victims
were small, perhaps oriental, or perhaps unfortunates who
suffered from progeria or Turner’s syndrome (which involved
baldness, enlarged head, and even polydactylism). The UFO
explanation was floated to the public to deflect attention away
from the fact that Nazis and other Japanese war criminals were
on our payroll. After the late forties, the UFO scenario proved
useful for misdirecting the Soviets, and so the myth was

An extreme Muslim cleric whose family have been living on benefits in Britain for 20 years says it would not be 'fair' to deport him.

Speaking after the Prime Minister announced his clampdown, father-of-seven Sheik Omar Bakri said: "I have wives, children, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law. It would be hard on my family if I was deported."

Since Syrian-born Bakri settled in Britain, he and his extended family have raked in benefits amounting to at least £300,000. He is registered disabled because of an injury to his leg during his childhood, and was recently supplied with a £31,000 Ford Galaxy under the Motability scheme.

Bakri, who lives in a £200,000 home in North London, tops up his £250-a-week benefit payments with an extra £50 incapacity allowance.

He has praised the September 11 terrorists as 'magnificent', called Israel 'a cancer' and said homosexuals should be 'thrown from Big Ben'.

In January, he declared that Britain had become a 'land of war', and called on Muslims to unite behind Al Qaeda. He has supported suicide bombings and urged his followers to kill non-Muslims ' wherever, whenever'.

What are they doing to their country?

The New York Daily News of all papers has a great editorial relating to this.

Friday, August 05, 2005


Cute analogy, but cheating is still cheating and perjury is still perjury.

An SUV is a station wagon on steroids. A Hummer is an SUV on steroids. A mountain bike is a bicycle on steroids. PlayStation 2 is Atari on steroids. Cable TV is like your aerial antenna on steroids. DSL is your dial-up modem on steroids.

We can go on and on. The truth of the matter — and this is not an excuse for steroid-using professionals — is we're all looking for anything that can increase performance, no matter what.

Premium bandwidth so is the Internet on steroids. Beauty salons that cater to men are your barber on steroids. Malls are shopping centers on steroids. Twenty four-hour news channels are the evening news on steroids. Internet news sites are newspapers on steroids.

Which should surprise no one.

Thu Aug 4, 2:55 PM ET

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadians can put away those extra welcome mats -- it seems Americans unhappy about the result of last November's presidential election have decided to stay at home after all.

In the days after President Bush won a second term, the number of U.S. citizens visiting Canada's main immigration Web site shot up sixfold, prompting speculation that unhappy Democrats would flock north.

But official statistics show the number of Americans actually applying to live permanently in Canada fell in the six months after the election.

A great find for the lover of history or rhetoric. I have some reading to do! Reagan and Nixon dominate the list.

1. MLK (I Have a Dream)
2. JFK (Inaugural Address)
6. Nixon (Checkers)
8. Reagan (Challenger Shuttle Disaster)
21. Nixon (The Great Silent Majority)
25. Reagan (A Time for Choosing)
29. Reagan
30. Reagan
35. Hillary Clinton (Women's Rights are Human Rights)
39. Nixon
60. Reagan
73. Lou Gehrig
74. Nixon
92. Bill Clinton (Oklahoma City)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

An Open Letter to the President (edited)

June 27th, 2005

Dear Mr. President,

I’ve no idea what your advisers are telling you, but based on my own experience in Washington I suspect they are talking more bluntly among themselves than they are to you. So I’m writing to deliver an unpleasant message you must hear, and hear now: We are in danger of losing the war in Iraq.

Think back to what happened in Vietnam. Even as our troops did better and better on the ground – as they killed more and more North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers and secured more and more of South Vietnam itself – support for that war eroded here at home. For example, the Tet offensive was a huge military victory for our forces – but a decisive political defeat in the US. Simply put, we didn’t lose the Vietnam war in Vietnam. We lost it in Washington.

It’s a race against time. As I’m sure you learned at Harvard Business School, in real life cash flow can dry up faster than it does in the spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations the company’s financial geniuses gin up for the securities analysts.

In war, public support is the equivalent of cash flow. So the question isn’t whether a war is going well, but whether a war is going well enough, and fast enough, to end in victory before public support gives out. And it’s obvious that public support for the war in Iraq has begun to erode, which means that from now on we are not only in a battle against our enemy overseas, but in a race against time here at home.

History teaches that once public support for a war starts to erode – no matter what may be the actual, on-the-ground situation – it erodes at an accelerating rate. But what matters most isn’t so much the actual date you project for when the two lines will intersect. Rather, what matters most is that you recognize these two lines now are on a collision course, and that you understand what this means: You have less time to win this war than you thought you had. So to win, you will need to fight harder.

Do whatever is necessary, and do it now.

First, give the generals all the troops they want.

Second, and more important, fight harder in Washington. To explain why this will help win the war in Iraq, let me tell you about how one of your predecessors acted domestically in a way that had a huge foreign impact. Shortly after President Reagan took office, our country’s 13,000 air-traffic controllers went on strike. Reagan ordered them back to work, and when they refused he did the one thing neither the controllers nor anyone else ever imagined he would do: he fired them all.

The ensuing political explosion is well known, but what isn’t well known is what effect the President’s decision had on the Soviet Union’s leaders. It terrified them, because they realized that in Ronald Reagan they were confronting a President who was willing to put all his chips on the table and go for broke no matter what might be the political consequences. I had access to a lot of top-secret intelligence in those days, and I can tell you that during the next few years there were several very dangerous things the Kremlin wanted to do, but refrained from doing purely out of fear over how President Reagan would respond.

With all respect, sir, your performance in Washington has been too weak. The terrorists in Iraq, their leaders who are hiding in caves, the mullahs in Teheran, the creep in Damascus and the nut in North Korea – they all see what is happening to your programs and your people, and the judgment they are reaching is this: if you aren’t willing to fight to the death in Washington, you aren’t willing to fight to the death in Iraq.

You need to start fighting in Washington just as hard as you expect our troops to fight in Iraq. And you need to keep fighting until the Potomac flows red with the blood of your political enemies. Personally, I think you’ll win more of your domestic battles than your advisers seem to think you’ll win. But what really matters is that by fighting to the death for your domestic programs, our country’s enemies will get the message that you are a man who will risk everything – everything – to win. And by itself this will markedly increase our chances for victory in Iraq.

The war is now entering its most dangerous phase, by which I mean that period of time during which we will either secure our victory or lose so much public support that our defeat becomes inevitable. The outcome will be determined by the decisions you make – both foreign and domestic – in the coming weeks.

God bless you, sir, for all you have done to keep us safe. Now, go get ‘em.


Herbert E. Meyer

Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council.

Monday, August 01, 2005


Bush has used the Democrats’ opposition to his district and circuit-court judicial appointments against them and made it a ratification of the Roberts candidacy. Simply put, by choosing a judge whom the Democrats confirmed unanimously when he was nominated for the D.C. Circuit Court — and whom they did not filibuster — Bush has made the Democrats impotent.

For Tom the list lover.

Virtually every mound conversation these days is conducted behind the veil of the players' gloves, for which Will Clark deserves the credit (or blame). In the opening game of the 1989 NLCS at Wrigley Field, San Francisco's Clark was set to bat against the Cubs' Greg Maddux with the bases loaded. Cubs manager Don Zimmer came out to the mound to talk to Maddux.

"I read his lips," Clark told the San Francisco Chronicle years later. "I was standing there adjusting my batting glove, and I had a clear view of Maddux's face. I could see him say 'fastball in' to Zimmer."

Sure enough, Clark hit a grand slam, and the face of baseball was changed forever. When he heard of Clark's trickery, Maddux began covering up his face, and now virtually every pitcher does the same.

If Raffy is doing it. . .

. . . why don't we test the more obvious examples
Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, who testified before Congress on March 17 that he'd never used steroids, was suspended by Commissioner Bud Selig on Monday for 10 days for violating baseball's steroids policy.

In remarks prepared for a conference call Monday, Palmeiro said he had accepted his punishment and could not explain how the steroids got into his body.

"I have never intentionally used steroids. Never. Ever. Period," he said. "Ultimately, although I never intentionally put a banned substance into my body, the independent arbitrator ruled that I had to be suspended under the terms of the program."

Does that mean that Balko said, "Try this Raffy, it's a surprise."

And Raffy said, "humm, my bat is now producing opposite field check swing homers, thanks."

Balko said, "You won't believe what's in this."

Raffy replied, "Don't tell me, I don't want to ruin your secret recipe."

I just looked at today's headlines. I see that Bush, "tired of waiting," has appointed Bolton to the U.N. The next headline says "Saudi leader King Fahd dead." Since the media can't handle two big stories at once, the Dems now have to decide whether to jump on Bush over Bolton, where they might hope to score some political points, or debate a real and vital issue over Saudi succession, where Bush is vulnerable but cannot be attacked in short sound bites. I love when he does stuff like this.

A New Zealand shepherd refuses to remove the hundreds of women's bras that hang along his farm's fence. He describes 90 percent of the letters he receives as "supportive."

According to the judges at Human Events magazine, the Internal Revenue Code is our government's most harmful program. At 17,000 pages and 893 forms, enforced by 99,000 federal employees at a cost of $13.2 billion a year, it is a beast indeed. It costs Americans more than $200 billion a year to comply with the code. See the full list here.

1. Internal Revenue Code

Score: 140

Started when: 1913

By whom: Republican President William Howard Taft proposed, and Congress approved, the 16th Amendment in 1909. It was ratified by the states in early 1913, just before Taft left office. Newly inaugurated Democratic President Woodrow Wilson promptly pushed through a progressive income tax. Under President Franklin Roosevelt in 1939, the income-tax laws were formally consolidated into the Internal Revenue Code.

Why: To give the federal government a means, over and above tariffs and excise taxes, for raising revenue.

What it does: Takes large sums of money from American workers, and uses the threat of targeted taxation to manipulate the behavior of citizens. Behavior that politicians disfavor is taxed heavily. Behavior they prefer is taxed less, not at all, or even granted tax credits. Daniel Mitchell of the Heritage Foundation reports that the current code requires 893 different forms. The Internal Revenue Service has determined it takes Americans a collective 6.6 billion hours each year to complete all the paperwork to comply with the code. As of 2003, the code and its accompanying regulations totaled 17,000 pages.

Cost: In fiscal 2004, the IRS employed 99,000 people and spent $10.2 billion enforcing the code. The Tax Foundation calculates that it cost Americans $194 billion to comply with the code in 2002, and predicts that compliance costs will rise to $244 billion by 2007.

Constitutional provision: The 16th Amendment says: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”