Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hello Americans — Stand By For NEWS!

When I was working with Dad we always took our breaks with Paul Harvey. The morning update, the noon report, The Rest Of The Story® later in the afternoon. He followed a set formula but we never got tired of it, probably because we were tired already and the sound of Paul Harvey's voice meant a chance to rest, open our lunch boxes, pour a cup of coffee, sit down for a few minutes.

He always had something interesting to say, too. It wasn't just the day's headlines. We got those every hour on the hour. No, he took the stories apart and put them back together in a way that made more sense. In between he sprinkled in the good news, odd anecdotes, lucky breaks, somebody's birthday, the sixtieth anniversary of some old couple "on their way to forever together."

His own wife went on ahead of him less than a year ago. Still he went on working. It was only a matter of time, though. He was 90 years old.

I can still hear his voice in my mind and I always will. Every day, at half past noon, signaling to us that it was time to finish the cup, put the apple core back in the box, close the lid, and get back to work. Every day, exactly the same, down the the precisely measured one and a half second pause, his trademark pause.

Paul Harvey...   ...   ...   Good DAY!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Coping With Depression

Bill Croke, a freelance writer for The American Spectator, knows how to cope with tough economic times. If worse comes to worse, you can always get a job.
I've done construction work, roofing, landscaping, farm labor, janitorial work in a regular hospital, and ward duties in two state hospitals. I've worked in the woods for the U.S. Forest Service and in a lumber mill. I've been a waiter (four times), have cleaned hotel rooms (three times), and done the dishwashing routine a half dozen times (I've actually lost count). I've been a security guard (twice) and a newspaper stringer (thrice). I've worked in a smelly paper factory, two department stores, three warehouses, and a grocery store....
And more. Much more. He even worked for Ben & Jerry's — for four whole days. Read it all.

Totally Awesome Depression

Mark Steyn said it back in September:
FDR put the "Great" in the "Great Depression". Lots of other places — from Britain to Australia — took a hit in 1929 but, alas, they lacked an FDR to keep it going till the end of the Thirties. That's why in other countries they refer to it as "the Depression", but only in the US is it "Great".

I'm confident President Obama will be able to bring us the world's first Totally Awesome Depression.
And he has:
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 119.15 points, or 1.7%, to end at 7062.93. The blue-chip benchmark ended down 937.93 points, or 11.72% on the month — the worst percentage drop since 1933...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Worth Less

Lileks:
Goggle this chart of San Diego, if you dare: the last time this much property was underwater, they called it Atlantis.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Walther Recall

Smith & Wesson has recalled every Walther PPK and PPK/S manufactured since 2002 because some pistols might have a problem.
"We have not had any instances of injuries. But a couple of pistols came back for repair in which we saw a problem," said Paul J. Pluff, a spokesman for the gunmaker.

"A certain percentage of the guns (manufactured in a specific range of serial numbers) have the potential to do that. So we're making the effort to go out and find all the pistols with those serial numbers," he said.
That "certain percentage" might be large and it might be small. He's not saying.
The problem relates to the timing of the mechanism that blocks the hammer to prevent it from coming into contact with the cartridge when the pistol is not being used, Pluff said. The timing may be off on some models in the affected range of serial numbers so that even though the trigger is not being employed, if the hammer were to be pulled back more than half way, the hammer block would pull away enough to reveal the chambered cartridge to the hammer. If the hammer should be released suddenly, the cartridge might fire, he said.
That explanation is hopelessly screwed up; obviously the reporter had no idea what he was talking about.

I own a Walther, and while I am not a gunsmith, and not a firearms expert, and not a product safety expert, and not a lawyer, I think I have an idea what the problem might be. It's a matter of timing.

Refer to the photos of my Walther PPK at right. The Walther's decocking lever (L) rotates a cylindrical hammer block up around the firing pin (P) before allowing the hammer (H) to fall. If the hammer block gets far enough into place before the hammer is released it will fall harmlessly onto the block. If it doesn't rotate far enough before the hammer falls — a little matter of timing — you have a problem.

In the second, third, and fourth photos, you can see the hammer block rotating into position. The hammer drops when the block is somewhere beyond the position shown in the fourth photo. If the hammer were to drop when the block was advanced only as far as the second photo, you might have a problem. I don't know. It doesn't happen with my Walther.

In the last photo, you can see the decocking lever almost fully depressed, and the hammer still has not dropped. Another fraction of a degree and it will.

I'm going to take it to the range Sunday and burn through a box of fifty, decocking between each shot, always, of course, with the gun pointed safely down range. If it fails even once, I'll ship it off to Smith & Wesson. I may ship it off anyway, just to maintain its resale value. But I won't be in any hurry to do it.

Update: I did, and it didn't. Fifty-five rounds, to be exact, decocking between each one; decocking never caused the pistol to fire.

Guns and Butter

Greg gave me a copy of the Traveler's Guide to the Firearm Laws of the Fifty States, by J. Scott Kappas, Esq. Besides detailing the laws of each state, Mr. Kappas ranks each state on a scale of 100, from District of Columbia (9) to Alaska (97).

The Tax Foundation similarly ranks each state on a scale of ten for Business Tax Climate, from New Jersey (3.92) to Wyoming (7.53).

I have combined these two rough measures* of political and economic freedom into a rough measure of the state's overall freedom. After all, you need both guns and butter, don't you?

Here are the top ten:
                     Guns    Butter   Freedom
1 Alaska 0.97 0.73 0.84
2 South Dakota 0.91 0.75 0.83
3 Wyoming 0.89 0.75 0.82
4 Nevada 0.86 0.74 0.80
5 Florida 0.89 0.69 0.79
6 Texas 0.91 0.63 0.76
7 Montana 0.86 0.63 0.74
8 Colorado 0.91 0.59 0.73
9 Missouri 0.92 0.56 0.72
10 New Hampshire 0.83 0.62 0.72
So if I have to ditch Oregon, my first choice would probably be Nevada (just over the border) or the badlands. But would I even have to go that far?

Here are the next two on the list:
11   Utah            0.83     0.60     0.70
12 Oregon 0.80 0.61 0.70
What do you know. Oregon ain't so bad, after all.

By the way, just to let you know how lucky you are, boys, here's the dirty dozen:
40   Michigan        0.51     0.53     0.52
41 Iowa 0.49 0.44 0.46
42 Rhode Island 0.49 0.42 0.45
43 Illinois 0.29 0.53 0.39
44 New York 0.34 0.40 0.37
45 California 0.31 0.42 0.36
46 Connecticut 0.26 0.48 0.35
47 Maryland 0.29 0.43 0.35
48 Hawaii 0.14 0.52 0.27
49 Massachusetts 0.14 0.50 0.27
50 New Jersey 0.17 0.39 0.26
51 D. of C. 0.09 0.46 0.20
* square root of the product; each measure scaled to 0.0 to 1.0.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Choir

Professor Reynolds nailed it:
Scariest moment of the night? This image. Is this what Obama sees? Give him bonus points for staying cool.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Collapsing Carbon Market

Julian Glover in the Guardian:
Roll up for the great pollution fire sale, the ultimate chance to wreck the climate on the cheap. You sir, over there, from the power company - look at this lovely tonne of freshly made, sulphur-rich carbon dioxide. Last summer it cost an eyewatering €31 to throw up your smokestack, but in our give-away global recession sale, that's been slashed to a crazy €8.20. Dump plans for the wind turbine! Compare our offer with costly solar energy! At this low, low price you can't afford not to burn coal!
Heck, yes! I got a pile of old tires, too. Git the lighter fluid, Ma!

I just love it when liberals discover supply and demand. It's like a drunk discovering gravity.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sixty Years And Nothing's Changed

If you can go past those awful idiot faces on the bleachers outside the theater without a sense of the collapse of the human intelligence; if you can stand the hailstorm of flash bulbs popping at the poor patient actors who, like kings and queens, have never the right to look bored; if you can glance out over this gathered assemblage of what is supposed to be the elite of Hollywood and say to yourself without a sinking feeling, "In these hands lie the destinies of the only original art the modern world has conceived"; if you can laugh, and you probably will, at the cast-off jokes from the comedians on the stage, stuff that wasn't good enough to use on their radio shows; if you can stand the fake sentimentality and the platitudes of the officials and the mincing elocution of the glamour queens (you ought to hear them with four martinis down the hatch); if you can do all these things with grace and pleasure, and not have a wild and forsaken horror at the thought that most of these people actually take this shoddy performance seriously; and if you can then go out into the night to see half the police force of Los Angeles gathered to protect the golden ones from the mob in the free seats but not from that awful moaning sound they give out, like destiny whistling through a hollow shell; if you can do all these things and still feel next morning that the picture business is worth the attention of one single intelligent, artistic mind, then in the picture business you certainly belong, because this sort of vulgarity is part of its inevitable price.
—Raymond Chandler, "Oscar Night in Hollywood," The Atlantic, March 1948.

Dumpster Diving

I read the news today, oh boy.

Collected below for your amusement are links to most of the small town newspapers in Oregon. After a while they all start to look alike. There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, quite a few of them are jointly owned by some larger organization and managed as a group. All the newspapers in the group use the same templates and run the same ads. The local content varies somewhat, but not a lot. Which brings me to the second reason.

It appears that small town newspaper editors are tested for liberalism early on, and those that fail are steered into more promising careers. Reporters come and go, but it's the editors that pick the stories. So it's "all victims, all the time" on the front pages of the daily paper, with heroic government agencies always riding to the rescue (or they would be if it weren't for those pesky budget cuts).

Anyway, if you have the stomach for it, here's the list. If it gets too dreary, take a break. There's another world, and a very different one, outside your door.

Along the Coast
Daily Astorian
Seaside Signal
Cannon Beach Citizen
North Coast Citizen
Tillamook Headlight Herald
Lincoln City News Guard
Newport News Times
Florence Siuslaw News
Coos Bay World
The Umpqua Post
Bandon Western World
Curry County Reporter
Curry Coastal Pilot
Crescent City Daily Triplicate
Eastern Oregon
Hood River News
The Dalles Chronicle
Hermiston Herald
Pendleton East Oregonian
Baker City Herald
Blue Mountain Eagale
Wallowa County Chieftan
Ontario Argus Observer
Prineville Central Oregonian
Bend Bulletin
Sisters Nugget
Madras Pioneer
Klamath Herald and News
Southern Oregon
Cresswell Chronicle
Cottage Grove Sentinel
Roseburg News-Review
Illinois Valley News
Grants Pass Daily Courier
Rogue River Press
Medford Mail Tribune
Ashland Daily Tidings
Willamette Valley
Polk County Itemizer Observer
Woodburn Independent
Keizer Times
Salem Statesman Journal
Albany Democrat Herald
Corvallis Gazette Times
Lebanon Express
Sweet Home News
Eugene Register Guard
Cosmopolis
Forest Grove News Times
Beaverton Valley Times
Portland Tribune
Willamette Week
Gresham Outlook
Sandy Post
Lake Oswego Review
Yamhill Valley News Register
West Linn Tidings
Wilsonville Spokesman
Newberg Graphic

Saturday, February 21, 2009

His Mouth Hath Spoken It

And I wrote it down pretty much verbatim.
The economy will be difficult. The recovery will take too long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American taxpayer. Because if we are willing to work for it, and pay for it, and hope it works, then I am pretty much absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to halve the deficit; this was the moment when the fall of the stock market began to slow and our banks began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a downturn and secured our credit and restored our funding for the last, best deal we're going to get. This was the moment — this was the time — when we came together to rewrite our great tax code so that it may always result in our very best deductions and our highest marginal rates. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless us every One.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Gamblers and Losers

Michael Barone looks at the foreclosure numbers. What's fascinating, he says, is
how geographically concentrated the foreclosures are in a few states. Only nine states have foreclosure rates (number of foreclosures per 5,000 housing units) above the national average. Four states have massive high foreclosure rates—the four Sand States, as some call them...

All but California have had massive population growth in the 1990s and the 2000s; all have large Hispanic populations; all have been the site of much housing speculation.
Speculation? In Nevada, they call it what it is: gambling.

I'm with Rick Santelli. You want to pay the mortgage for these losers?

Eight Most Terrifying Holes

Chas Sprague links to The 8 Most Terrifying Holes on Earth.

Amazing pictures. I've mentioned kimberlite pipes before. This is truly a strange planet we find ourselves on.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

You Don't Know Unless You Try

Me, personally? I'll be hunkering down for the next four years.

Clueless

Tony Blankley says he...
...can think of four possible explanations for this almost unprecedented presidential detachment from the decision making of policies the president publicly declared to be vital to the country and his presidency:
  1. He is a very, very big-picture man, and he delegates decisions even on the central points of vital issues.
  2. For tactical reasons, he decided these matters were not worth using up political chits.
  3. He is either hesitant or unskilled at management, and he let matters drift until it seemed too late to intervene personally.
  4. Or his personality type leaves him surprisingly uninterested in things that aren't personally about him.
I can think of one more explanation: He hasn't got a clue. He's winging it. He's got 150 advisors and a Chinese menu. (One from column A, one from column B, hey this sounds good...)

Update: Dr. Rove concurs.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Porkulus Bill Signed

And a gloriously beautiful day for a protest rally it was. Pictures from the Peoples Press Collective. Link provided by the omniscient Instapundit.

The Great College Hoax

Forbes magazine exposes the scam, the claim that college graduates will earn a million dollars more than high school graduates.
Like many good cons, this one contains a kernel of truth. Census figures show that college grads earn an average of $57,500 a year, which is 82% more than the $31,600 high school alumni make. Multiply the $25,900 difference by the 40 years the average person works and, sure enough, it comes to a tad over $1 million.

But anybody who has gotten a passing grade in statistics knows what's wrong with this line of argument. A correlation between B.A.s and incomes is not proof of cause and effect. It may reflect nothing more than the fact that the economy rewards smart people and smart people are likely to go to college....

Offsetting that million-dollar income discrepancy is the $46,700 four-year cost of tuition, fees, books, room and board at a public school and $99,900 at a private one -- even after financial aid, scholarships and grants. Add all this to the equation and college grads don't pull even with high school grads in lifetime income until age 33 on average, the College Board says. Even that doesn't include the $125,000 in pay students forgo over four years.
Emphasis added.

As I've said before, and as I'll continue to say for the next five years, college is not for everyone.

Charles Murray had a three part series on it in The Wall Street Journal, and later suggested that certification was a better option. Marty Nemko said that, for many, college was a waste of time and money. And Carol Hymowit says that, if you must go, any old college will do — don't waste money on a prestigious name.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Morphing The Presidents


Watch this and you're off the hook for the rest of Presidents Day.

The Rep Who Loves Taxes

W. James Antle, III in The American Spectator.
It is a polite fiction that the stimulus was primarily written by three moderate Republican senators with the help of some friendly neighborhood Blue Dog Democrats. The only Democrat who seemed to believe it was Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon). While six other House Democrats voted against the bill on fiscally conservative grounds, only DeFazio opposed it from the left. Apparently, tax cuts and even token Republican support gives him the vapors. "Been a lot of talk in Washington, D.C. over the last few years about the Bridge to Nowhere in the last highway bill," he said in his floor speech last Thursday explaining his vote against the package. "But what we have with the passage of this bill is a lot of tax cuts to nowhere."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Paying For The Bailout

Larrey Anderson has a plan.
All ordinary Americans should get a new credit card — a credit card issued by one of the banks receiving bailout funds. The credit card is to be used solely for one purpose: to pay off our income taxes. So the 100 million or so hard working Americans, who still have jobs and still pay taxes, will put all of our tax payments on a credit card — and then we will refuse to pay off those credit cards.
Wait. Wait. Let's think this through...

Yeah. It just might work.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

We Are All Fascists Now

Michael Ledeen has a point.
It's fascism. Nobody calls it by its proper name, for two basic reasons: first, because "fascism" has long since lost its actual, historical, content; it's been a pure epithet for many decades. Lots of the people writing about current events like what Obama et. al. are doing, and wouldn't want to stigmatize it with that "f" epithet.

Second, not one person in a thousand knows what fascist political economy was. Yet during the great economic crisis of the 1930s, fascism was widely regarded as a possible solution, indeed as the only acceptable solution to a spasm that had shaken the entire First World, and beyond. It was hailed as a "third way" between two failed systems (communism and capitalism), retaining the best of each. Private property was preserved, as the role of the state was expanded. This was necessary because the Great Depression was defined as a crisis "of the system," not just a glitch "in the system." And so Mussolini created the "Corporate State," in which, in theory at least, the big national enterprises were entrusted to state ownership (or substantial state ownership) and of course state management. Some of the big "Corporations" lasted a very long time; indeed some have only very recently been privatized, and the state still holds important chunks—so-called "golden shares—in some of them.

Back in the early thirties, before "fascism" became a pure epithet, leading politicians and economists recognized that it might work, and many believed it was urgently required. When Roosevelt was elected in 1932, in fact, Mussolini personally reviewed his book, Looking Forward, and the Duce's bottom line was, "this guy is one of us."
Obama's one of them, too.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Likely Candidate

John Tierney:
Now that the Neanderthal genome has been reconstructed, my colleague Nicholas Wade reports, a leading genome researcher at Harvard says that a Neanderthal could be brought to life with present technology for about $30 million.

So why not do it?
And why, for goodness sake, wasn't this in the stimulus bill? A lousy $30 million! Wait, maybe it was. Just a sec. Let me go check....
(Ten hours and 51 minutes pass.)
No! It's not there!

Who will Obama get for a Commerce secretary?

We Don't Have Time To Do That


Must-watch video. (Go ahead and click. It's only 36 seconds.)

Via Drudge.

206 views as of this instant. I'll bet it goes over 1,000,000 by tomorrow.

Maxwell May Seek Civil Damages

The Associated Press is picking up on the Jeffrey Maxwell story:
An ex-Marine with a concealed weapons permit has been suspended from Western Oregon University for the rest of the spring term because he carried a handgun on campus last month.

Jeffrey Maxwell, 30, of Lebanon was arrested Jan. 28 for possessing a firearm in a public building, but the charge was later dropped by the Polk County district attorney. But Maxwell's suspension from school, which requires him to write a paper and take a mental health evaluation before he can return, has a gun-rights lobbying organization and at least two Republican state legislators rallying to his defense.

"I put in a lot of work and effort already into this semester, and now it's nothing, it's worth nothing," Maxwell, a junior studying psychology, told the Statesman Journal newspaper.

Maxwell is appealing the disciplinary decision and has the support of the lobbying group Oregon Firearms Federation. The federation's executive director, Kevin Starrett, said the group wants Maxwell reinstated, given an apology and compensated. Otherwise, the organization would help Maxwell seek civil damages.

"He was behaving lawfully and bothering no one," Starrett said.
Thanks to Greg who spotted it in the local fishwrap.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thick, Rich, Intoxicating

If you were a beer, which would you be?
A Guinness, Sam Adams, or Old Milwaukee?

Do you have a thick head? Are you dark, are you skunked?
Aged at the hands of obscure Trappist Monks?

Are you stout, are you bitter, oaky like Fall,
Or like most of my coworkers, with no taste at all?

However you are, here's one test you can't flunk,
All beers are okay, so long as you're drunk.
Which beer are you? Take the test.

(Thank you, Miss Brigid.)

P.S. Before drinking Guinness, I like to get high.

Light, Sweet, Crude

The Australian:
Prices dropped for a fifth straight day, pummelled by a growing oversupply and an increasingly weak demand outlook.

Light, sweet crude for March delivery settled $US1.96 lower at $US33.98 a barrel. In an aggressive late sell-off, traders targeted the $US33.87-a-barrel settlement price hit on December 19 on the expiration of the January contract.
But as I noted back in July, still a long way to go.

What Took You So Long?


Happy 200th Birthday, Charles Darwin!

We're still evolving. Or, in some cases, devolving.

I've read only one biography of Charles Darwin but it was, as the subtitle suggests, "A Biography of a Man and an Idea." The man himself dies about page 196, but the idea continues on to page 345, not counting end notes.
Born in the Shropshire town of Shrewsbury on February 12, 1809, Darwin had a youth unmarked by the slightest trace of genius. Indeed, his father, Robert Waring Darwin II, the town's most prosperous doctor, was to remark: "You care of nothing but shooting, dogs, & rat-catching, & you will be a disgrace to yourself & all your family."
Robert W. Clark, The Survival of Charles Darwin, Random House, 1984 (now out of print).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Referred To Committee

ESPN has an article on the Blair Holt bill.
Toure Muhammad, communications director for Rep. [Bobby] Rush [D-IL], says while the Blair Holt bill would set up a system for tracking guns, it would not an infringement of Second Amendment rights. He explains, "This is not an attempt to ban guns. It is not intended in any way to impede the constitutional right to own or carry a gun."
So some guy named Muhammad working for an ex-Black Panther says he doesn't want to infringe your rights. Right. Fortunately it's not going anywhere.
Pro-gun activists are vigilant but don't seem overly worried about it. They point out that the bill's failure to attract co-sponsors is an indication of a lack of enthusiasm for it among other congressmen.
It's at point 2 in the process (see below), and that's as far as it's going to go. In 2007 it made it all the way to point 3.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How An Incredibly Stupid Idea Might Become Law

The woof is by no means an expert, and that is by choice as much as laziness, but as he understands it the process of enacting a law goes something like this.
  1. Some idiot proposes it, and it becomes a "bill" with a number, such as "H.R.45," to identify it. The idiot notifies the press, and if anyone cares (probably no one does) they cheer or jeer. That might be as far as it goes.
  2. The bill is referred to a committee.
  3. The committee refers it to a sub-committee.
  4. At some point, when the sub-committee runs out of better things to do, they might schedule a hearing.
  5. At the hearing, if anyone cares, witnesses may be interviewed.
  6. The sub-comimttee might "mark up" (that is, change) the bill, and refer it back up to the committee. Or they just might say "forget it" in which case no harm has been done.
  7. When (and if) the committee gets the marked up bill, they might schedule a hearing too.
  8. At the hearing, if and when it occurs, things might actually get interesting. If anyone cares, and by this time someone probably does, the bill will get "marked up" some more.
  9. The committee might (or, hopefully, might not) refer the bill, with all its changes, to the full House (or Senate, if that's where it started) for a vote.
  10. With luck, that's the end of it. If the whole House (or Senate) says "to hell with it" it's history. On the other hand, they might approve it.
  11. (Don't worry; it's not over yet!) The bill, as approved by one house, goes to the other house.
  12. And gets referred to a committee.
  13. And a sub-committee. Which marks it up.
  14. To a committee. Which marks it up.
  15. The committee might, if they have completely taken leave of their senses, refer the bill to the full Senate (or House, if it started in the Senate) for a vote.
  16. The press will definitely be notified at this point. (Don't worry; it's not over yet!)
  17. The House, or Senate, (whose ever court it's in at this time) will play it to the galleries, probably for weeks, milking it for every contribution it's worth. The nightly news will cover it nightly. The late night news will cover it again, and again.
  18. They will, finally, vote.
  19. They might pass it.
  20. (Don't worry; it's not over yet!) The bill, which was passed in different forms by the two different houses, must now be "reconciled," that is, re-written in a form that both houses can agree upon, and upon which they must vote (once more) in favor. That may be impossible (keep your fingers crossed). Or not.
  21. Both houses must vote on the reconciled bill. They might pass it.
  22. (Don't worry; it's not over yet!) The bill said nothing in very definite terms. That is, it spelled out objectives, but left the details kind of vague. The law is passed on to the appropriate agencies, who actually get to spell out the Rules and Regulations.
  23. The agencies write up their Rules & Regulations®, hold hearings, bicker, fudge, take bribes, obfuscate, et cetera, etc. (Don't worry; it's not over yet!)
  24. The agencies must ultimately wrestle with the problem of how to
    1. implement, and
    2. enforce,
    their new Rules & Regulations®. With luck, there is no good answer to this. If they do have an answer it probably depends on increased funding, which they won't get.
  25. The citizen, in the meantime, and if he knows what is good for him, remains blissfully unaware of this entire process.
  26. Nothing actually happens.
Update: Yeah, yeah, I left out a couple of steps. There might be floor debates, filibusters, and cloture votes. And of course the President has to sign the bill, and he might (don't hold your breath) veto it instead, or he might just stick it in his pocket and forget it. That rarely happens, because the President craves approval, and the press strongly disapproves of vetoes.

The Wrath of Grapes

A Letter to the Editor in The American Spectator.
A heads-up to the people of Oklahoma: As the Pelosi Recession deepens, expect caravans of cars packed with indigent Californians — you will call them Calies, no doubt — looking for jobs in your better-managed, lower-cost state. Until then, man your border and prepare a Joad-like reception.

David Govett
Davis, California
Look for the SUVs with the Aeron chair tied on top.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Aussie Scientist: I Told You So

David Packham in The Australian.
The decision to ignore the threat has been encouraged by some shocking pseudo-science from a few academics who use arguments that may have a place in political discourse but should have no place in managing our environment and protecting it and us from the bushfire threat.

The conclusion of these academics is that high intensity fires are good for the environment and that the resulting mudslides after rains are merely localised and serve to redistribute nutrients. The purpose of this failed policy is to secure uninformed city votes....

It is hard for me to see this perversion of public policy and to accept that the folk of the bush have lost their battle to live a safe life in a cared-for rural and forest environment, all because of the environmental fantasies of outraged extremists and latte conservationists.

In a letter to my local paper, the Weekly Times, on January 25, I predicted we were facing a very critical situation in which 1000 to 2000 homes could be lost in the Yarra catchment, the Otways and/or the Strezleckies; that 100 souls could be lost in a most horrible and violent way; and that there was even a threat to Melbourne's water supply, which could be rendered unusable by the ash and debris. Horrifically, much of this has come to pass, and it is not yet the end of the bushfire season.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Waited Too Long

Times Online:
The deadliest bushfires in Australia's history are still raging across the south of the country, leaving hundreds of homes destroyed and towns decimated.

Described as "hell on earth", Victoria is currently ablaze with 26 fires, including one with a 60-mile firefront. They began yesterday amid record-breaking temperatures and left a trail of death and devastation across the state, burning through 350,000 hectares. 50 fires are also now burning across the border in New South Wales, where temperatures reached 46C [115F] today....

...many of the deaths occurred when people waited too long to evacuate their homes and were trapped when the fire hit their vehicles. Six people died in an horrific car crash at Kinglake while they tried to outrun the blaze.

The Defiance Impulse

David Hardy (Of Arms and the Law) linked to an interesting article in a scholarly law review entitled Imagining Gun Control in America: Understanding the Remainder Problem by Nicholas J. Johnson.

What Johnson means by "the remainder problem" is that, even if the production and sale of all guns were outlawed tomorrow, Americans already own "close to half the private firearms on the planet." That's the "remainder" problem. The second problem is the "defiance impulse." Even if the law requires surrender — or even just registration — of firearms, Americans won't do it. This is not just hypothetical, he says:
In Boston and Cleveland, the rate of compliance with the ban on assault rifles is estimated at 1%. In California, nearly 90% of the approximately 300,000 assault weapons owners did not register their weapons. Out of the 100,000-300,000 assault rifles estimated to be in private hands in New Jersey, 947 were registered, an additional 888 were rendered inoperable, and four were turned over to the authorities.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Comet Lulin

In the pre-dawn sky for the next few weeks. It's in Libra right now. Chart here. More info here. You'll need binoculars.

The Last Draftee

Time magazine tells the story of Jeffrey Mellinger.
He donned his Army uniform for the first time on April 18, 1972, about the time the Nixon Administration was seeking "peace with honor" in Vietnam and The Godfather was opening on the silver screen. Nearly 37 years later, he's still wearing Army green. Mellinger is, by all accounts, the last active-duty draftee serving in the U.S. Army.

Does Not Compute

Portland:
Nearly 200 passengers bound for Portland were shaken but safe after the plane they were in had engine trouble over the Pacific Ocean.

Hawaiian Airlines flight 40 left Maui and was scheduled to land at Portland International Airport just after 11 p.m., Thursday.

Airline officials told KGW Friday that an electronic flight controller failed, causing one of the engines to power down....
France:
French fighter planes were unable to take off after military computers were infected by a computer virus, an intelligence magazine claims.

The aircraft were unable to download their flight plans after databases were infected by a Microsoft virus they had already been warned about several months beforehand.

At one point French naval staff were also instructed not to even open their computers.
Next time we're going by boat.

Everything's Better With Bacon!

Go ahead, click here.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Obama Meltdown

Victor Davis Hanson dealt it out on Wednesday.
We are quite literally after two weeks teetering on an Obama implosion—and with no Dick Morris to bail him out—brought on by messianic delusions of grandeur, hubris, and a strange naivete...
Jennifer Rubin chipped in this morning.
Liberals may be disappointed, but conservatives are shocked. Among conservatives taken aback by the Obama semi-meltdown you hear the buzz: "Did you think it would happen this quickly?" "Aren't you surprised how fast it happened?" The "it" is the undoing of the pretense that Obama has near-magical political powers....
And Mark Steyn took the pot this evening.
It's early days yet, but the gulf between the rhetoric and the reality, between the audacity of hope and the reality of pork, yawns ever wider. Right now, it's the Obama mythology that urgently needs some stimulus. Some of us never expected him to walk on water. But we didn't think he'd be all at sea taking on quite so much of it after a mere two weeks.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Wealth Eaters

John Derbyshire:
Our civilization rests on our having enough citizens possessed of the ability to turn a nickel into a dime, and a government that keeps out of the way while they do it. Nobody in Obama's cabinet has any idea how to turn nickels into dimes, least of all the Wealth-Eater-in-Chief. In his autobiography, Obama described his one brief experience in the world of private enterprise as a sort of endurance test—a purgatory he had to suffer before ascending to the heaven of "community organizing." He felt, he tells us, "like a spy behind enemy lines." Those private-sector money-grubbers, trying to squeeze some wealth out of a reluctant world—that's the enemy in Obama's universe. A friend would presumably be someone who squeezes wealth out of big, litigation-whipped corporations, guilty white liberals, foundations taken over by leftist ideologues, and of course the ever-milkable taxpayer.
An economist (I have forgotten which) once said that there are two basic methods of acquiring wealth. You can produce it—this is known as the "economic" method. Or you can steal it—this is the "political" method.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Headline of the Day

Russia Buys A Vowel In Kyrgyzstan

What about good old "sometimes y?" Doesn't that count for something?

Fail

The SF Examiner says what worked in Chicago isn't working in Washington.

Michael Ledeen says this is no way to organize a government.

Victor Davis Hanson says he hopes Obama can save his administration.

I don't agree. "My country" and "my government" are not synonymous. If, in order for my country to survive, my government must fail, then let it fail.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Brokering the Transfer

The Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Daschle's embarrassment of riches is a typical story, and in fact is the result of the liberal ideology his critics have been advocating for decades. The main story of the Obama Presidency so far isn't the contradiction between Mr. Obama's campaign promises and the messier reality of his nominees. That was always inevitable. The real story is the massive transfer of power and wealth now underway from the private sector to the political class. Mr. Daschle could make so much money and achieve such prominence because he was expected to be a central broker in that wealth transfer.
Used to be "receiving stolen goods" was a crime. Now it's just politics.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Tell The Paper Boy, “Scram, Kid”

William Murchison recalls the old-style newspaperman.
A couple of decades after I got to know him, his like was gone. People of his sort didn't go into newspapering anymore. People with master's degrees in English literature from Columbia did; people inherently suspicious of the mores and institutions and personalities dominant in America before the tumultuous Sixties. The newsroom became an unlikely place to search for affirmation of middle-American norms.

I wouldn't for a minute posit that my old friends of the pre-1974 newsroom were a superior class of news-gatherers and communicators. They were different. In some sense they were of the readers, by the readers, for the readers. The categories overlapped — readers and writers and reporters. They knew one another. The reporters knew what readers liked and tried to deliver it to them. It was a good commercial marriage.

After Watergate the paradigmatic reporter was a man — or, now, a woman — with a high-minded mission; namely to instruct society concerning its tastes and habits; to improve things. No problem there — a little improvement never hurt anyone. Problems arose only when the bearer of news arrived at the home of the recipient of news with the look of a doctor preparing a rabies injection.
Thanks to Greg, who spotted it first.

Driving Mr. Daschle

Oh, to be a fly on the window ...

... in Tom Daschle's limousine.

The New Thought Police

Peter Hitchens said it:
If I never again had to read or write a word about homosexuals, I would be very happy. I really don't want to know what other people do in their bedrooms. But these days they really, really want us all to know. And, more important, they insist that we approve. No longer are we allowed to keep our thoughts to ourselves, while being polite and kind.

We are forced to say that we think homosexuality is a good thing, that homosexual couples are equal in all ways to heterosexual married couples. Most emphatically, we are compelled to agree that homosexual couples are just as good at bringing up children as the children's own grandparents. Better, in fact.

Many people who believe nothing of the kind now know that their careers in politics, the media, the Armed Services, the police or schools will be ruined if they ever let their true opinions show. I am sure that many of them regularly lie about their views, to avoid such trouble.

We cringe to the new Thought Police, like the subjects of some insane, sex-obsessed Stalinist state, compelled to wave our little rainbow flags as the 'Gay Pride' parade passes by.
And I agree with every word, except that he's speaking of the country formerly known as "Great" Britain.

It's not quite as bad over here. Yet.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

As I Was Saying

The Case For Drilling In ANWR

A little op-ed by Sarah Palin in the Star-Tribune, reproduced here in its entirety, copyright be damned.
I am dismayed that legislation has again been introduced in Congress to prohibit forever oil and gas development in the most promising unexplored petroleum province in North America — the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in Alaska.

Let's not forget: Only six months ago, oil was selling for nearly $150 per barrel, while Americans were paying $4 a gallon and more for gasoline. And today, there is potential for prices to rebound as OPEC asserts its market power and as Russia disrupts needed natural gas to Europe for the second time in three years.

As I traveled throughout the country campaigning for vice president, I was glad to hear politicians, including Barack Obama, promise that "everything was on the table" to address America's great challenges. I also found that when Americans were apprised of the facts, most people became supporters of responsible oil and gas drilling in Alaska. So, I want to remind our national leaders of this promise and make the case against this legislation:
  • Oil from ANWR represents a huge, secure domestic supply that could help satisfy U.S. demand for more than 25 years.
  • ANWR sits within a 20 million-acre refuge (the size of South Carolina), but thanks to advanced technology like directional drilling, the aggregated drilling footprint would be less than 2,000 acres (about one-quarter the size of Dulles Airport). This is like laying a 2-by-3-foot welcome mat on a basketball court.
  • Energy development is quite compatible with the protection of our wildlife and their habitat. For example, North Slope caribou herds have grown and remained healthy throughout more than three decades of oil development. Most of the year, our coastal plain is frozen solid and thus characterized by low biological productivity.
  • ANWR development would create hundreds of thousands of good American jobs, positively affecting every state by providing a safe energy supply and generating demand for goods and services.
  • Development here would reduce U.S. dependence on unstable, dangerous sources of energy, such as the Middle East, and would decrease our huge trade deficit, a large percentage of which is directly attributable to oil imports.
  • Incremental ANWR production would help reduce energy price volatility. Previous price disruptions demonstrate how even relatively low levels of oil production influence world prices.
  • Federal revenues from ANWR — cash bids, leases and oil taxes — would help reduce the multitrillion-dollar national debt, and we'd circulate U.S. petrodollars in our own country instead of continuing to send hundreds of billions of our dollars overseas, creating jobs and stronger economies in other countries.
The development of oil and clean-burning natural gas isn't a panacea. However, this development should be authorized in comprehensive legislation that includes alternative fuels, fuel efficiency and conservation.

Americans know that gasoline and other refined crude oil products will keep fueling our transportation system for the foreseeable future. Further, the soaring prices of food, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and other products graphically illustrate the importance of petroleum to the health and well-being of America.

Another important reality is that the location and quantity of oil production are drastically changing world geopolitics.

Energy-producing countries are rapidly gaining world power. Several of these countries have objectives and value systems that are antithetical to U.S. interests.

Washington politicians should be horrified as we become increasingly dependent on these insecure, foreign sources while our U.S. petrodollars finance activities that harm America and our economic and military interests around the world.

If we don't move now to enact a comprehensive energy policy that includes domestic oil and gas production, including ANWR, we will look back someday and regret that we failed to perceive a critical crossroads in the history of America. It's not overly dramatic to say our nation's future depends on the decisions made by the federal government over the next few months.

Polls show a majority of Americans now support responsible energy development in Alaska. Unfortunately, some disingenuous special-interest groups are still fighting the public will in Congress.

Americans, please contact Congress and ask that all options stay on the table as we formulate our needed energy plan. Remind politicians about their promises to increase domestic oil and gas production.
Sarah Palin, if you have been in a coma for the last five months, is the governor of Alaska.

They Saw The Future. And It Wasn't Working

Are you as tired as I am of scanning the wires, selecting stories, editing, collating, and printing your own damn newspaper, every damn morning, just because no one out there is willing to sell you a decent product at a reasonable price?

I'm tired of it, I tell you, sick and tired of it, and it doesn't help to find out that the San Francisco Examiner saw this coming twenty-eight years ago.

Way to respond to a crisis, guys. Hope you enjoy your eternity in hell.