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Saturday, October 22, 2005

And If You Act Now...

My blog is worth

How much is your blog worth?

... for a limited time only, we'll also include at no additional charge the I-80 bridge over the Platte River. (H/T Half-Cocked)

Reality of Iraq

Last week the people of Iraq once again gave the world a lesson in democracy. This time the naysayers were more careful. They were caught flat-footed by the stunning success of the last election, watching in amazement and distress as the expected debacle turned to triumph for Iraq's democratic majority. A different approach this time avoided a similar embarassment: just assert beforehand that the election itself makes no difference. Still the outcome on the ground last week was no less stunning:
VDH's Private Papers::With a Whimper: "The Western media was relatively quiet about the quite amazing news from the recent trifecta in Iraq: very little violence on election day, Sunni participation, and approval of the constitution. Those who forecasted that either the Sunnis would boycott, or that the constitution would be -- and should be -- rejected, stayed mum.

But how odd that in the face of threats, a higher percentage of Iraqis in this nascent democracy voted in a referendum than did we Americans during our most recent presidential election -- we who have grown so weary of Iraq's experiment.

Something must be going on when the cable-news outlets could not whet their appetite for carnival-like violence and pyrotechnics in Iraq, and so diverted their attention to Toledo, where live streams of American looting and arson seemed to be more like Iraq than Iraq."
The rest of Hanson's article is well worth reading, particularly if you are tired of hearing the MSM Iraq=quagmaire line played over and over like a broken record. There is plenty of evidence that the jihadi position in Iraq is getting worse every day.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Strange Twist

Stranger than "Fake But Accurate." You really need to read the whole thing for the full effect.
OpinionJournal - John Fund on the Trail: "The Miers nomination pits a Swift Boat author against a Bush National Guard detractor--in reverse."

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Time to Triangulate

The confirmation of Harriet Miers may require Clintonian-like "triangulation" on the part of GWB and company. There are apparently, based on the Roberts confirmation, 22 deadend Senate Democrats who will vote against anyone appointed by President Bush. While there are 55 Republicans, it's by no means clear at this point that even a majority of them will vote to confirm Miers. If there are more than 5 Republican defectors, some moderate Democrats will be needed. This is assuming she makes it out of committee to the full Senate.

The problem is that anything Miers and the administration do or say to attract Democrats risks alienating more Republicans and vice versa. For example, we doubt that bringing up Miers' religious faith persuaded anyone to vote for her. We don't hold her faith against her, but it is no argument for her appointment either. Liberal attempts to make Roberts' Catholicism into a constitutionally-prohibited religious test were properly decried by conservatives. Trying to make a religious argument for Miers' confirmation makes the previous, principled complaints seem merely partisan.

So the question is whether to attempt to appeal more to the center or the right. Attempting to do both at once will not persuade either group to confirm. One factor in Miers' favor is the Just Say No Left has been hesitating:
Conservative Split Could Give Democrats Key to Miers Vote: "Jim Jordan, a former presidential campaign manager for Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), agrees that Democrats will have plenty of reasons to oppose Miers, but he said some worry that Bush might replace her with a more forceful and effective conservative. 'Even though she's undoubtedly a mediocrity,' he said, 'philosophically she's probably the best they [Democrats] can do.'"
It takes a special level of arrogance for a former John Kerry presidential campaign manager to call someone else "a mediocrity." However, Jordan should know a mediocrity when he sees one. He's right that a defeat of Miers might prove to be a Pyrrhic victory for the Left if the President appoints a Janice Rogers Brown or a Ted Olson next.

It's hard to imagine this coming down to a filibuster. The conservative senators would be legitimizing the tactic if they were to join a filibuster with liberals on this nomination. The judicial filibuster would be with us forever, if they did.

Robert Bork had a column in today's Wall Street Journal:
OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "With a single stroke--the nomination of Harriet Miers--the president has damaged the prospects for reform of a left-leaning and imperialistic Supreme Court, taken the heart out of a rising generation of constitutional scholars, and widened the fissures within the conservative movement. That's not a bad day's work--for liberals.

There is, to say the least, a heavy presumption that Ms. Miers, though undoubtedly possessed of many sterling qualities, is not qualified to be on the Supreme Court. It is not just that she has no known experience with constitutional law and no known opinions on judicial philosophy. It is worse than that. As president of the Texas Bar Association, she wrote columns for the association's journal. David Brooks of the New York Times examined those columns. He reports, with supporting examples, that the quality of her thought and writing demonstrates absolutely no 'ability to write clearly and argue incisively.'

The administration's defense of the nomination is pathetic: Ms. Miers was a bar association president (a nonqualification for anyone familiar with the bureaucratic service that leads to such presidencies); she shares Mr. Bush's judicial philosophy (which seems to consist of bromides about 'strict construction' and the like); and she is, as an evangelical Christian, deeply religious. That last, along with her contributions to pro-life causes, is designed to suggest that she does not like Roe v. Wade, though it certainly does not necessarily mean that she would vote to overturn that constitutional travesty."
If the Miers nomination does fail, we think Bork would make an excellent nominee. We don't suppose this column helped his prospects, though.

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Ben and Gerry's

Stephen Moore has a fascinating report on his tour of the factory of this socialist capitalist enterprise:
OpinionJournal - Cross Country: "Most of my fellow tourists are a bit on the chubby side, and a few start wheezing as we climb the half-flight of stairs to the observation area. These folks need another scoop of Cherry Garcia like a hole in the head. Although this company touts its 'wholesome and natural ingredients mixed with euphoric concoctions,' the truth is that Ben & Jerry's ice cream mostly contains two hazardous ingredients: fatty cream and sugar.

Herein lies a second irony: This product is probably about as good for your health as a pack of Camel cigarettes--and at least cigarettes carry the Surgeon General's warning labels. At Ben & Jerry's, the saying goes 'if you can't eat a whole pint... in one sitting, you aren't really trying.' But if you do, you might as well be injecting your arteries with Elmer's glue. And they have no qualms about marketing this dangerous product to children. If you want to know the definition of a liberal's dilemma, just wait till the trial lawyers slap Ben & Jerry's with a billion-dollar lawsuit."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Energy Crisis

It has come to our attention that the world is facing an acute shortage of phlogiston. This critical material, involved in all cumbustion reactions, was once abundant throughout the world. Now scientists believe that worldwide phlogiston reserves are near zero. Efforts to find new phlogiston sources have so far been fruitless.

Once again the rampant consumerism of capitalism has deprived future generations of the rights to their proper shares of a global resource. We call upon the government to implement mandatory conservation guidelines. To protect the poor from phlogiston price gouging we need price controls and a new tax on the windfall profits of the phlogiston industry.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Caribou People

You might wonder, as we did, what are "Caribou People?" It turns out they are not a sort of "were-caribou." They are the Gwitchin, a tribe of subsistence hunters in the Canadian Arctic. They eat caribou meat an average of 245 meals a year. They live more or less as they have for 13,000 years, aside from the use of firearms, which is presumably a modern inovation. It's a subsistence culture, so they don't have much to show for the last 13,000 years, not that there's anything wrong with that.

The Gwitchin happily hunted their caribou in obscurity until Hurricane Katrina's devastation of the Gulf oil and gas production broke the political logjam blocking drilling in "ANWR." Now the Gwitchin are better known, because they are useful to those who want to prevent any oil drilling in what some like to call "the country's premier wildlife refuge." I suppose this "precious jewel of the circumpolar north" is the "premier wildlife refuge," if you ignore the rest of Alaska and huge portions of the western, continental US.

The thesis is that drilling in ANWR will mean drilling in the "calving grounds" of the caribou herd. This may lead to further dimunition of the already dwindling herd, taking down the entire ecosystem of the tundra. It's not really known why the herd has been dwindling, but the article does mention that "global warming" is happening in the Arctic. We're apparently supposed to infer that this is related in some way. Perhaps the dwindling herd is causing the global warming.

It's hard for us to believe that the caribou, which have survived thousands of years in a very inhospitable environment, will be unable to cope with presence of drilling/production crews and equipment. Chances are the caribou are highly motivated in the matter of reproduction, and they will find a workaround for the problem.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Oklahoma Bomber Update

The story of the Joel Hinrichs "suicide" bombing in Oklahoma still refuses to go away. There was a segment on CNN about it that included Mark Tapscott of Tapscott's Copy Desk. Not surprisingly, the show was quite critical of bloggers, but at least it did pose the questions and expose the lack of real answers. Tapscott has a transcript of the program (evidently a draft).

There is also a report (fairly nosy registration required) that Hinrichs left a "suicide note." The "note" itself is just one line on a computer screen, typed by someone. The actual words have not been revealed to the public.

Tapscott asks more good questions:
  1. Since the lone, depressed student suicide theory has been played up as the whole story, why no mention of the "suicide note" that would support that until now?
  2. What did the "note" say, and how do we know Hinrichs wrote it?
  3. Since the standard federal practice is to assume all bombings are terrorist actions until proven otherwise, why the early and persistent claims to the contrary in this case?
  4. Since the federal Joint Task Force takes charge when terrorism is involved and ATF normally takes over for a "lone bomber" scenario, is that going to happen soon?
Powerline also weighed in on the Wall Street Journal article on the case and gets to the heart of things:
"As we have said before, we have no independent knowledge of Joel Hinrichs. We don't know whether he was a free-lance terrorist, part of an extremist group, or just a depressed student. But it simply won't do to cite bland, 'no known link' statements by the FBI as an excuse to sweep all questions under the rug. It is important to know whether Hinrichs intended a spectacular terrorist attack at an Oklahoma football game. If he did, it is important to know whether he was inspired by extremist ideology, and it is important to know whether he was part of an extremist group that is still operating. The answers to these questions may be No, No and No. But at this point, we have no reason to believe that the authorities actually know the answers. And the Journal's effort to stifle discussion of the subject is unworthy of that newspaper.

Speaking for myself, I'm still waiting for an explanation of why Hinrichs wanted that load of fertilizer."
Another very good question.

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Chemistry Jokes

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

An atom walks into a bar, and says to the bartender, "Boy, do I need a drink. This is the worst day of my life."
"What seems to be the problem?" replies the bartender.
The atom says, "I've lost one of my electrons."
"No," says the bartender, "Are you sure?"
"Yes," the atom replied, "I'm positive."

What's the difference between a quantum mechanic and a regular mechanic?
A quantum mechanic can pull his car into the garage without opening the door.*

*Note for the non-chemist: The quantum mechanical principle of "tunneling" allows a system to move between two states separated by an infinitely high energy barrier in certain cases.


Seawitch of Biloxi, MS, has written about the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in her area, complete with photos. She talks about one small town that is still in very bad shape in Pearlington - A Small Town Forgotten. The chain began when Michele Malkin received an email plea for help for Pearlington.

Here's a map of the area, showing Pearlington right on the MS - LA border, just a stone's throw from Lake Pontchartrain and the Gulf.
Map from MapQuest.