Monday, December 31, 2007

Dr. W. Steven Saunders, pictured here circa December 31st, 1973 has released his top ten predictions for the coming year.
10. Quantum computers will become a viable reality when photons are able to be utilized in a light capturing medium where their alternating spins are used to symbolize the "0" and "1" in digital data.
9. Hillary Clinton will become to Democrat Party Nominee.
8. Rudy Giuliani will become the Republican Party nominee. He will ask Huckabee to be his Vice-Presidential running mate.
7. The first commercial residential robot helper will be sold by the Sony Corporation in the U.S. for $35,256.25.
6. A group of Physicists will finalize the unified field theory and concretely determine that reality consists of 11 dimensions. One scientist learns to "look into" some of these higher dimensions. He goes psychotic. Some theorize he glimpsed "God." Some theorize he came in contact with dark energy. All is research is classified and suppressed.
5. No hurricanes will encounter Florida.
4. The new Star Trek movie will be poorly written with good effects.
3. Dude will move to New York City. While at a Bagel shop he will strike up a conversation with someone, only to discover that person is a powerful but unfamous movie producer. He buys one of Dude's movie scripts which launches his 2 decade hoped for career.
2. Sir Saunders will refashion the "God Helmet" based on a crude earlier design. The solenoids he uses are too powerful and it gives all who wear it instant enlightenment. This ushers in a new age of communion with "that which is beyond the personal self."
1. A new pandemic will start in Sir Lanka and sweep across the globe sickening and killing 1/3 of the third world population. The U.S. will quarantine itself and will largely be protected due to our Flu Shot program.

Monday, December 24, 2007


It's a Wonderful Life with Bunnies. . .in 30 seconds.

click here

or A Christmas Story if that's your speed.

The Coup de Gras is Dana Carvey as George Bailey


No matter where I move UWF finds me. It shows how strong the fund raising motivation is. They publish a glossy magazine every quarter talking about what’s happening at the college. This time I learn that Ralph Eubanks passed away at the age of 86. Dude and I had Ralph for Communication Ethics and he was Professor Emeritus even then. He was a heck of a nice guy and he would talk with you for an hour about anything. He was the only professor to quote H.L. Mencken during my college years.

He was impossible to keep up with as an instructor. His talks were very stream of consciousness and the tests were fill-in-the-blank quizzes on those lectures. I guess he wanted you to transcribe his lecture and study that. I remember that Angela Hatcher came over to our dorm to study for the final, but we decided to simulate play the 1978 Yankees v. 1979 Pirates instead. Dude and I played a 50 game season with those two teams and I will never forget how fun it was, a lot more memorable than my grade in Ralph’s class. Hatcher was frustrated with us, Skinny Lynnie was frustrated with us, but Dude and I were in our element.

A year or so later we saw Dr. Eubanks on campus and I told them that were taking some sort of fiction class and decided to see the movies instead of reading the text. Ralph laughed and he said that there was no one has more ingenuity than a college student. Shortly after Dude’s first attempt at Atlas Shrugged he showed me a passage where they mention the character Balph Eubank, and we both laughed. I wonder if Ralph ever read the book.

It says that he died in Little Rock Arkansas. 86 is a good long life and Ralph was a happy man. Thanks, Ralph for being a part of our great memories.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


In the Golden Age.
The movies made during the studio era—what the cineastes have dubbed “the classical Hollywood cinema”—are, along with jazz, America’s best creative work from the late 1920s to about 1950. But although those pictures are revered, they’re contested. Products of a system run by five vertically integrated companies, they spark ardent and surprisingly nasty debates—about the relationships between art and commerce, convention and innovation, individual and collaborative effort, administrative constraint and creative freedom. These boil down to a single argument: Were the great pictures made because of, or despite, that system? To be sure, plenty in these books could be used in a hackneyed indictment of the studios as fiendish machines that stifled individual creativity, talent, and vision.

More important, any Hollywood history illuminates the dichotomy between those movies that the system most highly prized and those we love now, raising some doubts about the much-vaunted “genius of the system.” MGM under its production head and later special-projects producer Irving Thalberg (Fitzgerald’s model for The Last Tycoon) was the most factory-like and systematized studio, with the biggest and most shimmering collection of stars.

But many of its luminaries (Norma Shearer, say) and its self-important “prestige” pictures (Rose-Marie, Romeo and Juliet) long ago lost their magic; glamour, unlike style, is inherently ephemeral. True, the mystique of Metro’s greatest star, Garbo, remains undiminished. But for the most part, those pictures Holly­wood thought would endure (Metro’s lofty movies from the 1930s, Warner Brothers’ ponderous “artistically ambitious” Paul Muni biopics of Socially Progressive men) are now far overshadowed by the studio era’s stylish entertainments, whether rollicking (My Man Godfrey), effervescent (Trouble in Paradise), light-headedly lovely (the Fred and Ginger movies, the highest and purest “art” Holly­wood ever produced), hard-boiled (Double Indemnity), or high-trash melodramatic (Dark Victory)—movies no one thought would be watched in 10 years, let alone 70.

In the movie version of The Great Tycoon, the Thalberg character played by Robert DeNiro explains to the board of directors that they are making a certain prestige picture even though he knows it will lose money. He thinks that doing so will lend a certain bit of credibility to the studio.

I heard a long interview recently with Brian DePalma about his anti-Iraq war movie. It's nothing but a revamp of Casualties of War and DePalma spent the interview telling us how the war drove these men to this heinous act. Like the prestige films of the Golden Age, the DePalma film and so many like it are made for peer attention.

The art in museums is usually the art people still want to see. It should be no surprise that the best classic movies share that attribute.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

PETTITE ADMITS USE. . . And it makes me think of a solution to this mess

Pettitte, in a statement released by agent Randy Hendricks, admitted using human growth hormone (HGH) on two occasions but denied ever having used steroids.

"Everything else written or said about me knowingly using illegal drugs is nonsense, wrong and hurtful," Pettitte said. "I have the utmost respect for baseball and have always tried to live my life in a way that would be honorable. I wasn't looking for an edge; I was looking to heal.

"If I have let down people that care about me, I am sorry, but I hope that you will listen to me carefully and understand that two days of perhaps bad judgment should not ruin a lifetime of hard work and dedication. I have tried to do things the right way my entire life, and, again, ask that you put those two days in the proper context."

I want to believe him. Why didn't he talk to the investigators? He knew they had the Jason Grimsley evidence to which he was rumored to be linked last spring. Was he too embarrassed to say anything at first or was he waiting to see what the report would say so as not to implicate himself in things the committee doesn't know about?

By admitting to everything in the Mitchell Report, Pettite makes it harder for Clemens and the others involved with McNamee to say McNamee was lying.

This is what brings us back to the Black Sox. There are varying degrees of guilt in both situations. Some players took money and helped to throw games like Cicotte. Some players took money and played their hardest like Shoeless Joe. Others took no money and didn't tank but were implicated because of their knowledge of the conspiracy like Buck Weaver. In the Black Sox case all the players were treated the same.

Where Landis went too far was in the second and third examples. Cicotte you had to banish, but I wouldn't have punished Weaver simply for knowledge. Shoeless Joe is the toughest case. There has to be a penalty for taking money from gamblers, but a guy who hit .375 certainly wasn't throwing the series. Do you give him one or two years suspension?

One of the problems here may be that Landis gave us the wrong kind of precedent. Had he passed sentence for degrees of culpability instead of a blanket response, it would be much easier to wade through the true murkiness of this swamp today.

Baseball should ask all players to come forward under a sort of limited immunity and receive some sort of punishment for full disclosure. For instance, the extent of the use of the drug would determine how long a player would be suspended. Any player who did not come forward during the immunity offer or any player not disclosing their entire use of the stuff would be banned for life if proof contradicted their position.

Then from here on out all players would know that use of HGH or Steroids or whatever else may be invented in the future will end their careers. If guys want to use a supplement or a cream then it needs to be administered by the team doctor or tested by MLB.

I think best part of the full disclosure is that it doesn't disproportionately hurt some users over others and it also takes away stigma on some players who are clean. It would have been a better solution before the Mitchell Report was released when guilty players still didn't know if they were going to named, but better late than never.

It also allows HOF voters to determine how long or how much of the stuff contributed to their numbers and whether the stuff had an impact on their perceived greatness. If baseball wants the public to think the doping will cease, I think this would work.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Off topic but recently discovered. If you've seen LOST IN TRANSLATION, then you know it is a great film capped by an inaudible whisper. Now, through the miracle of digital processing and YouTube, we have found a translation:


Just caught the very end of Colin Cowherd interviewing Dan Rooney on ESPN Radio. He asked Rooney, in view of Rooney's 60 years in the NFL and his current vantage point as owner and Chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, what he thought was the most significant development that he had seen in the NFL.

Rooney said the players are bigger-stronger-faster and we've got instant reply and all that, but the single biggest difference-maker was when players started wearing face masks in the 1950s. Take away the real risk of destroying your face on every play and that REALLY changes the game. That's the kind of great answer you can only get from an old man who has been around and seen it all.

July 4, 1995 I was at Commiskey Park in Chicago to see the Yankees play the White Sox. We had pretty decent seats and got there early. Beaver Cleaver and Eddie Haskel were on hand to throw out the first pitch. Rookie Andy Pettite came out of the dugout during batting practice and a bunch of kids clamored for his autograph. I had to look at the program to learn his identity. I was close enough that I heard him tell the kids that he had to warm up but afterwards he would come over and sign autographs for anyone who waited. He did exactly as he promised. It really impressed me at the time. The most disappointing part of the Mitchell Report for me was Pettite's culpability.

The report itself consumed my whole night. Fascinating report. The names have been all over the news and rightly so. It is very well laid out. What irks me is Mitchell's conclusion.

The first two points deal with the player’s responsibility and drug testing. The third one and beyond echo the post-Clinton zeitgeist.
Obviously, the players who illegally used performance enhancing substances are responsible for their actions. But they did not act in a vacuum. Everyone involved in baseball over the past two decades – Commissioners, club officials, the Players Association, and players – shares to some extent in the responsibility for the steroids era. There was a collective failure to recognize the problem as it emerged and to deal with it early on. As a result, an environment developed in which illegal use became widespread.

ESPN seems to be taking the attitude that Bud Selig should step forward and shoulder some of the blame. I can’t stand Selig, but blaming him allows the moral relativists to blame everyone and thus no one. It was the perfect approach from a former Senator trained to put together commissions to find answers and no solutions. This allows everyone to feel good about the study with a promise to be better next time with the built-in exercise that everyone will be to blame then too. The constant cycle that we can always be sorry and promise to be better.

Knowledge and understanding of the past are essential if the problem is to be dealt with effectively in the future. But being chained to the past is not helpful.

Nothing would be more helpful in the future than to match this capital offense with a capital punishment. This report without real consequences is an enticement to find and take the undetectable HGH.

Baseball does not need and cannot afford to engage in a never-ending search for the name of every player who ever used performance enhancing substances.

It’s their brand. If they want us to continue to wonder whether or not the game is fair then just stop now and pretend no one else is a wrong-doer.

The Commissioner was right to ask for this investigation and report. It would have been impossible to get closure on this issue without it, or something like it.

There is no closure without a penalty for the cheating.

But it is now time to look to the future, to get on with the important and difficult task that lies ahead. Everyone involved in Major League Baseball should join in a well planned, well-executed, and sustained effort to bring the era of steroids and human growth hormone to an end and to prevent its recurrence in some other form in the future. That is the only way this cloud will be removed from the game. The adoption of the recommendations set forth in this report will be a first step in that direction.

Looking to the future is the usual battle cry of the guilty who do not want punishment. Remember how impeachment was hurting the country because President Clinton needed to get on with the business of the American people? It’s not that he should have resigned to get the country back together but that we should just ignore the wrongdoing with a promise that he will be better next time.

The current players named in this report need to be booted from baseball. Those who retired should be ineligible for the HOF. It's a shame that so many people cheated, but they did it to themselves. The union could have prevented some of it early on by cooperating with proper testing, but they didn't make the players cheat either.

It was a shame what happened to Shoeless Joe. No one could ever prove that he actually cheated and his career was over and his HOF chances lost. How can you look at his example and then allow these cheaters to play or be in the HOF?

But the most important lesson of the Black Sox is that throwing baseball games stopped. The penalty was so high that it wasn't worth the risk. That's why you have to boot these guys. Without real consequences the problem is going to get worse not better. It's even admitted in the report that technology is always going to be further ahead than the testing. The only thing baseball has to combat the usage is the danger that detection will end careers.

After seeing Pettite in his rookie year, I probably saw the Yankees in person 12-15 more times in Spring training, regular season and even one World Series game. I never saw Pettite repeat his grand gesture to those kids. I didn't always have seats close enough to the action to hear him speak to the kids, but I sometimes did. I don't mean that I blame him, but I think that the 1995 Andy Pettite was excited to be in the big leagues. Having played the game as a kid and probably dreamed of getting autographs himself, the experience of signing was as much of a thrill for him as the kids. With time those kinds of feelings naturally subside and I'm sure they did with Pettite.

By the time Pettite took the HGH he was no longer thinking about those kids or being a kid. Baseball was a job now and he needed every advantage. I can understand the economic incentives that caused this cheating like I can understand the economic incentives of embezzlement. The difference is that the penalties for embezzlement are a lot more harsh than losing your job. And until penalties make it too risky this problem will continue.

I can forgive Pettite as a human being and understand his temptations, but his actions would have been different had Barry Bonds or Ken Caminiti or Mark McGwire been detected and booted in the late 1990s. Pettite with the rest of the names in this report need to pay the price now to prevent the next impressionable young player from following in their footsteps.

Santa attacked outside Dollar General. According to witness Butch Johnson, 48, the alleged assailant cried out, "Who the --- he callin' 'ho'?" before the jolly smackdown.
SYDNEY (AFP) - Santas in Australia's largest city have been told not to use Father Christmas's traditional "ho ho ho" greeting because it may be offensive to women, it was reported Thursday.

Sydney's Santa Clauses have instead been instructed to say "ha ha ha" instead, the Daily Telegraph reported.

He hasn't solved Social Security or health care or built a fence, but maybe he is making progress on steroid use in baseball. As you recall, he felt strongly enough about it to include it as a priority in his State of the Union address in January 2004:
To help children make right choices, they need good examples. Athletics play such an important role in our society, but unfortunately, some in professional sports are not setting much of an example. The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball, football, and other sports is dangerous, and it sends the wrong message, that there are shortcuts to accomplishment and that performance is more important than character. So tonight I call on team owners, union representatives, coaches, and players to take the lead, to send the right signal, to get tough, and to get rid of steroids now.

Whatever else can be said about Bush, he is a guy who believes that character matters, that it is the true measure of a man. Isn't that why we still watch Westerns?

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Trump's latest has hit the shelves. Like everything he does, it's 1 part Machiavelli, 1 part blather, and 3 parts marketing machine. He taps into the get-rich-quick mentality that he knows so many Americans have and that he knows is a farce, except as it applies to himself.

Speaking of big, I reviewed the names in the Mitchell report and how did the Giles brothers (they of the square jaws and unusual bulk) evade detection?

Yet another bailout for the bull in the china shop who splashed his money around during the housing run and now finds himself facing increasing mortgage payments - exactly as stipulated in the contract he knowingly signed. This article posits that the government is wrongly focused on keeping people from losing their homes when it should instead be focused on making people wealthier, which is quite a different thing.
If two percentage points on a mortgage rate decides whether someone can afford to keep their house or not, then they can't afford to keep their house. They're paying too much. By continuing to pay too much, they'll divert their would-be savings to an asset that's likely twice as expensive as it should be right now, and even if it's not, tends to produce poor returns over long time periods.

House prices have swelled since World War II to the point where renting, for most people, now makes far more financial sense than buying. The ratio of house prices to rents has more than doubled during that period, as has the ratio of house prices to incomes. That's because the government has worked in earnest during that time to make houses more affordable by subsidizing down payments. In doing so, it has increased demand, and with it, prices. Ironically, affordability efforts have made houses more expensive than ever before. And we're still pushing them. The Federal Housing Administration still talks about owning a house as a key part of the American Dream, while the less-math-inclined members of my profession still talk about renting as "throwing money down the drain."
Stocks tend to return 7% a year after inflation over long time periods, while houses tend to return zero. So at today's prices, I'm keen on renting the latter while owning the former.

Once upon a time in America, before the FHA, we didn't need the government to intervene in the decision about whether we should buy, or continue to own, houses ... while things like clothing, cars and food have grown more affordable since World War II, houses have become a bad deal.

If I'm right, the government isn't doing any favors for recent house buyers who are struggling to afford their payments by guaranteeing that those payments will keep coming at their current pace for five years. It's merely forcing those same homeowners to divert too large a percentage of their income to a no-growth asset, while leaving little or nothing to invest in a fast-growth asset. The government isn't doing that because it's mean. It's doing that because it honestly believes it knows better than its citizens how they should allocate their money. What's particularly sad about that is that the government has overspent its own checking account by $1.6 trillion since 2002, thereby increasing the national debt by as much. On Thursday, struggling homeowners got misguided financial advice from a source that can't even pay its own bills.
Don't we vote Republican to avoid this sort of policy from getting pushed through?

Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise attack on climate change prophets of doom, warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology.

The leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics suggested that fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disasters were nothing more than scare-mongering.

The 80-year-old Pope said the world needed to care for the environment but not to the point where the welfare of animals and plants was given a greater priority than that of mankind.

I love that the Pope gets to remind the secular hysterics about the importance of science.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Interesting story out of Pasadena, Texas. A grandfatherly man called 911 to report a burglary in progress next door. He gave play-by-play to the dispatcher while waiting for the police to arrive. Minutes pass. He desperately does not want the robbers to get away. Finally, against the dispatcher's emphatic instructions, he goes outside with his shotgun and shoots both the burglars just before the cops arrive.

The incident may prove a test for a new law recently passed [Sept 1] in Texas which expands the right of citizens to use deadly force. Under Texas law, people may use deadly force to protect their own property or to stop arson, burglary, robbery, theft or criminal mischief at night.

But the legislator who authored the "castle doctrine" bill told the Chronicle it was never intended to apply to a neighbor's property, to prompt a "'Law West of the Pecos' mentality or action," said Republican Sen. Jeff Wentworth.

"You're supposed to be able to defend your own home, your own family, in your house, your place of business or your motor vehicle."

I understand and agree with the argument that human life is worth more than property. And I understand and agree with the right to protect your own life and property. And I understand and agree that in Texas, it's more shoot first, ask questions later, than in, say, Massachusetts. And I don't like someone going out with his shotgun to shoot people dead. I also don't like that all you're allowed to do as an American citizen is sit and watch two guys loot your neighbor's house and hope the police show up in time to stop them. And I really like that somewhere people are still looking out for their neighbors.

I don't really know what to make of this story. Do you?

Friday, December 07, 2007


I did some reading recently on death positivity bias. In a nutshell, research confirms the tendency among the living, particulary strong in America, to ascribe higher favorability ratings to the recently deceased. In other words, people tend to be remembered more fondly in death than during their lives. The bias is strongest in situations where the deceased is perceived to have become a better person late in life. It was interesting to see this play out in the Sean Taylor story. Taylor was generally perceived as a thug, an attitude problem, and undisciplined in college and in his early NFL career. The early stories, when all that was known was that he had been shot in his home, tended to mention his negative reputation. The following day, the stories reporting his death played up what a fine young man he was and how, after having a baby with his girlfriend, he was really putting his life together and you could see he was a changed man. By dying, he cleaned up his act literally overnight.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Revisiting Bush's "axis of evil" State of the Union speech on January 29, 2002.

My hope is that all nations will heed our call, and eliminate the terrorist parasites who threaten their countries and our own. Many nations are acting forcefully. Pakistan is now cracking down on terror, and I admire the strong leadership of President Musharraf. (Applause.)

But some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will. (Applause.)

Our second goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction. Some of these regimes have been pretty quiet since September the 11th. But we know their true nature.

North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens.

Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom.

Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens -- leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections -- then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.

States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.

We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology, and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction. We will develop and deploy effective missile defenses to protect America and our allies from sudden attack. (Applause.)

And all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation's security.

We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons. (Applause.)

Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch -- yet it must be and it will be waged on our watch.

We can't stop short. If we stop now -- leaving terror camps intact and terror states unchecked -- our sense of security would be false and temporary. History has called America and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our privilege to
fight freedom's fight. (Applause.)

Our first priority must always be the security of our nation, and that will be reflected in the budget I send to Congress. My budget supports three great goals for America: We will win this war; we'll protect our homeland; and we will revive our economy.

Several observations can be made.

1. Six years later, the three "evil" countries are generally considered to be less of a threat today than they were in 2002.

2. Bush indisputably did play the weapons of mass destruction card.

3. This speech was delivered a few months after 9/11. Another attack on US soil and this speech resonates again. A "24" marathon on Fox prior to election day would be a good idea.

4. Using the simple and non-nuanced measure of whether Bush did what he said he was going to do, he has been remarkably effective. He has been disciplined about maintaining a limited agenda -- win the war, protect the homeland, and revive the economy -- and his ability to maintain that focus has been his practical strength and political weakness.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Friday morning I was in Irving, Texas for a meeting. A front page story in the FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM began this way:

English fluency rises sharply in 2nd generation

Three-quarters of Hispanic immigrants do not speak English well, but the overwhelming majority of their children and grandchildren speak the language fluently, according to a new study from the Pew Hispanic Center.

"The second generation has a foot in each world, and the third has made the transition to English," said D'Vera Cohn, co-author of the study. "By the third generation and beyond, English is dominant, and Spanish has faded into the background."

Saturday morning, my local paper had picked up the story for its front page and it began this way:

Study: Poor English skills among Mexican immigrants

Nearly three out of every four Mexican immigrants speak English "just a little or not at all," the most among immigrant groups from Latin America, according to a study released this week.

The reasons for poor English skills among Mexican immigrants include lower education levels before entering the U.S., less time in this country and more opportunities to speak Spanish at work, the study found.

Same Pew study, totally different slants. Now tell me again how there is no media bias, and how the editor's choices of headline, placement and lead don't tell me how I am supposed to interpret the data.

Bush must be feeling good these days. His approval rating is up to 36 percent and Congress's is still very low at 22 percent (but nowhere will you see the headline "Approval of Bush 64% higher than of Congress"). House and Senate candidates yapped about how bad Bush is to get elected, then yapped about all the things they were going to do to make Bush pay and to undo the damage, and they have been singularly ineffective on nearly all fronts. The surge is working and the Dems are starting to realize that "anybody but Bush" won't necessarily restore them to power, since the Republican candidates aren't Bush either. Of course they can still pray to Mother Earth or great grandfather spirit for a massive natural disaster or tanked economy to blame on the GOP.

From Bush's press conference this morning:

Congress still has a lot to do, and doesn't have very much time to do it. Three weeks from today Americans will celebrate Christmas, and three groups of Americans are waiting on Congress to act.

The first group are the troops. Our troops are waiting on Congress to fund them in their operations overseas. Nearly 10 months ago, I submitted a detailed funding request. Congress has not acted. Our men and women shouldn't have to wait any longer.

Second, our intelligence professionals are waiting for Congress to act. The legislation Congress approved early this year to make sure our intelligence professionals can continue to effectively monitor terrorist communications is set to expire in February. Allowing this law to lapse would open gaps in our intelligence and increase the danger to our country. Our intelligence professionals need these tools to keep our people safe, and they need Congress to ensure that these tools are not taken away.

Third, American taxpayers are waiting on Congress to act. Congress has failed to pass legislation that will protect middle class families from the burden of the Alternative Minimum Tax. If Congress doesn't act, millions of Americans will be hit with an unexpected tax bill. And even if Congress does act by the end of the year, this action could delay the delivery of about $75 billion worth of tax refund checks. Congress expects Americans to pay their taxes on time, and the least the Congress can do is make sure Americans get their refunds on time.

Give Bush credit. His message remains the same: national security and tax breaks. And everyone who is trying to distance themselves from him should be careful about distancing themselves from that winning message. Meanwhile he is using his veto pen to attach the negativity that people have toward Congress -- what with its earmarks, waste, political bickering, mutual back scratching, and self-serving pomposity -- to its Democratic majority.
Americans also expect their tax dollars to be spent wisely. Yet today, 11 of the 12 annual spending bills that fund the day-to-day operations of the federal government remain unfinished. And now congressional leaders are talking about piling these bills into one monstrous piece of legislation which they will load with billions of dollars in earmarks and wasteful spending. Taxpayers deserve better. And if the Congress passes an irresponsible spending bill, I'm going to veto it.

And for good measure, he gives the bums a deadline to shape up.
The holidays are approaching and the clock is ticking for the United States Congress. Based on the record so far, Americans could be forgiven for thinking that Santa will have slipped down their chimney on Christmas Eve before Congress finishes its work. Let's hope they're wrong.

Yeah, let's do that, you and me, we're together on this, united against that foul enemy, Congress. Americans are right and Congress is wrong. You go! Occasionally Bush manages to say something that is both upbeat and politically smart.

Like "the Democratic Congress is divided and inept":

Congress -- the Democrats in Congress, in the House and the Senate, need to work out their differences before they come to the White House. You can imagine what it's like to try to deal on an important piece of legislation, and the Democrats in the House have one opinion and the Democrats in the Senate have another opinion. FISA is a good example.

And "Congress is more concerned about scoring political points than in doing the job people sent them here to do. They are unprincipled and undisciplined":
And hopefully, as we come down the stretch here, they're capable of coming forward with, here's what we believe, here's our plan, here's what we would like you to consider. As opposed to some examples, which is passing legislation for the sake of the headline, as opposed to passing legislation to get it passed, and SCHIP is a classic example. They knew I was going to veto the bill. They knew that was going to happen. They knew the veto would be sustained. But they ate up valuable time and passed the bill anyway.

And they don't support the troops.
Hopefully [in their remaining time in control of Congress and mine as President] we're capable of working together. But if not, I'm going to stand strong for certain principles, one of which is to make sure our troops get funded. We've got men and women in combat. We've got people risking their lives for the United States of America. And this Congress has yet to fund them, and it needs to. And it needs to fund them without telling our military how to conduct this war. Arbitrary dates for withdrawal are unacceptable, particularly given the fact that the strategy is working. It's working. And it seems like to me that this Congress ought to be congratulating our military commanders and our troops. And one way to send a congratulatory message is to give them the funds they need -- and now is the time to do it.

Well said, for a change.

Steyn has a way of saying things that no one else is saying. You read it and think about it and then you realize there is something to it.
What if we've already had the reformation of Islam and jihadism is it? It wasn't just Seventies Bryn Mawr Muslims who were "moderates". So were, comparatively, Muslims all over the world. The Sudan's always been a nutty joint but you'd have had a harder time convincing anyone to jail an English schoolmarm over a teddy bear 50 years ago: The Prophet's authoritative cuddly-toy suras date back all of 20 minutes. In 1950, a young Pakistani emigrating to Scotland or Canada would have received an education different only in degree, not (as now) wholly foreign in kind and ever more resistant even to the possibility of assimilation. One can detect similar trends in Indonesia, Singapore, the Central Asian stans, the Balkans - and among the de-assimilationist third generation Muslims in western Europe.

The Islamic "reformation" is, in a sense, the opposite of Christianity's. The Saudis have used their vast oil enrichment to promote themselves as a kind of Holy See for Muslims, and the Wahhabization of previously low-key syncretic localized Islams in almost every corner of the planet is testament to their success. I look at the gazillions of dollars tossed into the great sucking maw of US "intelligence" agencies and I wonder why somewhere in the budget we couldn't put something aside to promote a bit of covert ideological rollback in Chechnya or Bosnia or Pakistan. But we're not that savvy, and God knows what unintended consequences would blow up in our faces.

And at one level the Islamist "reformation" makes perfect sense. After all, they look at Christianity's reformation and see that everywhere but the United States it led to the ebbing of faith and its banishment to the fringes of life. The jihadist reformation is, as they see it, a rational response to the Christian one.

Monday, December 03, 2007


A new U.S. intelligence report says Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and it remains on hold, contradicting the Bush administration's earlier assertion that Tehran was intent on developing a bomb.

What event happened in 2003 that would convince Iran to halt their program?

And how long will it remain on hold if the anti-war party elects a president?
According to a source close to Leno, the host will pay around 100 "Tonight Show" staffers on a week-by-week basis -- taking the optimistic approach that a strike will be settled soon.

Most of the workers were officially pinkslipped by NBC on Friday; the staff at "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" was also let go the same day.

"NBC regretfully informed the people who work on 'The Tonight Show With Jay Leno' and 'Late Night With Conan O'Brien' that their services are not needed at this time due to our inability to continue production of the shows," the Peacock said in statement.

The article makes Jay out to be some sort of miser for not paying people their full salaries. The Internet is full of staffer quotes about how he is turning his back on them. We're talking about 100 people. I can't see that costing less than $100,000 a week. I guess it's his responsibility since the strike was his idea.