Archive for August, 2008
29 Aug 2008

Technical Difficulties

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Today is one of those days. I’d love to comment on the democrat party’s lemming-like drive toward electoral disaster. Those unable to learn from History, being obliged to repeat it, and repeat it, and… But, Hughesnet is having a problem with its satellite, and my Internet connectivity is only fleeting. Maybe later today.

28 Aug 2008

The Semiotics of Clinton’s Speech

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Bill Clinton addresses 2008 democrat convention

Stephen Green provides some help in reading between the lines of the former president’s address to the democrat convention last night.

Clinton came out swinging, boldly stating right up front that, “I am here to support Barack Obama.” “Second, I’m here to warm up the crowd for Joe Biden. I love Joe Biden and America will, too.” And that’s about as much mention as Biden got in Clinton’s speech.

And why does Bill think Obama is “the man for the job?” Let’s take a look at his words.

Well, Clinton based that endorsement on “everything I learned in eight years as President.” It’s all about Bill.

And why is Obama so good? Because “the long, hard primary” had “strengthened him.” In other words, Obama was weak to start.

And with Joe Biden on board, “America will have the national security leadership we need.” Obama wasn’t qualified, so he picked a veep who was.

But the digs didn’t end there.

Clinton very pointedly mentioned crushing “credit card debt.” And Biden is pretty much a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delaware’s many credit card companies. Clinton knows that. The media know that. And pretty soon they’ll remind you of it, too.

And then there was the claim about Obama’s “acute grasp of foreign policy,” which is sure to remind folks that Obama was against the surge before he admitted it’s working, and that Biden — like Hill — voted for the Iraq War.

He claimed that, “Hillary told us in no uncertain terms that she will do everything she can to elect Barack Obama.” But that’s not the speech most people heard her give last night. And, “that makes two of us. Actually, that makes 18 million of us.” The 18 million figure is the number of people who voted for Hillary during the primaries, and that served as a pointed reminder that the Clintons remain a powerful force.

It was a powerful speech, expertly delivered — and much of it could have come straight from Hillary’s stump speech. The recurring theme was that “the job of the next President is to rebuild the American Dream and restore American leadership in the world.” Those are not the themes Obama is running on. No hope, no change, were anywhere to be found.

Michelle Obama noticed, too. When Michelle really smiles, she lights up the entire Pepsi Center. All she gave Clinton was her tight, closed-mouth smile. And unlike Clinton’s rhetoric tonight, that doesn’t light up much at all.

28 Aug 2008

Obama’s Brings Change to Presidential Campaign

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In America, we didn’t previously arrest reporters for filming on the public sidewalk.

Washington Post:

An ABC News producer was arrested outside a downtown hotel here Wednesday while he and a camera crew tried to shoot footage of corporate donors leaving a meeting with a group of Democratic senators.

Asa Eslocker, who works with the network’s investigative unit, was charged with trespass, interference and failure to follow a lawful order. He was released four hours later on a $500 bond.

“We expect to see this kind of behavior in Myanmar, not in Denver, Colorado, at a national political convention where a reporter is trying to videotape big-money donors trying to meet with elected officials,” said ABC spokesman Jeffrey Schneider.

Footage of the incident showed one police officer constantly pushing Eslocker as the producer walked backwards across the street, and another officer placing his hand around Eslocker’s neck. Eslocker kept saying that it was a public street and asking what law he was violating. Schneider said Esocker never entered the Brown Palace Hotel, where the meeting was taking place.

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And, in America, we didn’t previously try to silence the opposition through legal manuevers and intimidation.

New York Times:

As Senator Obama’s campaign makes its argument for his candidacy before a national audience here this week, it is waging a separate, forceful campaign against a new conservative group running millions of dollars of ads linking him to the 1960s radical William Ayers Jr.

Lawyers for the campaign have asked the Justice Department to investigate the group — which is operating under rules governing non-profit corporations — calling on television stations to cease airing the spot, and, campaign officials said, planning to pressure advertisers on stations that refuse to do so. The ad is running in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.

28 Aug 2008

Linux: A Cautionary Tale

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Since I detest Vista, I’ve started fooling around with Linux on a new laptop. Ubuntu installed easily, but there is this little problem with accessing the Internet.

My wife sent me the following cartoon some weeks ago as a warning, and I’m afraid it already seems to be a very accurate picture of my Linux experience.

27 Aug 2008

Green Technology

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One of the favorite talking points at the democrat convention this year is “investing in green technology to create new jobs.”

Green technology, insofar as it exists, represents only significantly more expensive approaches to very ordinary things, chosen on the basis of ideology by poseurs and nutjobs. The green technology that B. Hussein and Al Gore talk about is just like fairy dust, a purely imaginary fantasy-substance useful only to gratify the desires of children in dreams.

Green technology is just one more proof of the arrested development of liberals. There is no price in dirt, ugliness, and polluted lands and streams for industrial civilization, human prosperity, and economic abundance. The calculative powers of human reason are completely omnipotent when supplemented by Leviathan’s coercive power and purse. Throw federal money at reality and all the tragedies and limitations of the human condition can be abolished. Force people to quit smoking and avoid fatty foods, and we’ll all live forever. The idle, the dissipated, and the dishonest will become just as prosperous and successful as the hard working and the prudent. The lazy and the stupid, even the mentally retarded, will not be left behind. Little boys and girls will all go to Ivy League colleges and become doctors and lawyers, if we just raise teachers’ salaries and build fancier schools.

Just grant more dollars to Obama cronies like Antoin Rezko, and desirable housing in good neighborhoods will magically become available permanently to the kind of people who shoot up and urinate in elevators. We won’t have to burn black, nasty fuels like coal or oil, or deal with radioactive substances. We won’t have to take out the ashes, change the oil filter, or fill the tank. We won’t have to dig in the ground or cut down trees. Even the most remote and worthless frozen landscapes will be preserved like fine art in a museum on Manhattan’s Upper East side. We can do anything and everything, yes, we can. And none of it can possibly have any untoward costs, drawbacks, or side effects, or impose any burdens or inefficiencies or unreasonable costs on anyone but “the rich,” and screw them.

Children. Our elite, the backbone of the moocher/looter party, consists of spoiled and stupid children, incapable of reasoning or dealing with reality. They are good at their professional specialties, which typically involve only the manipulation of words, symbols, and ideas. Outside those small and limited areas of actual competence, they are clueless, irresponsible, and destructive.

27 Aug 2008

Obama to Speak from Greek Temple

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Reuters:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s big speech on Thursday night will be delivered from an elaborate columned stage resembling a miniature Greek temple.

The stage, similar to structures used for rock concerts, has been set up at the 50-yard-line, the midpoint of Invesco Field, the stadium where the Denver Broncos’ National Football League team plays.

Some 80,000 supporters will see Obama appear from between plywood columns painted off-white, reminiscent of Washington’s Capitol building or even the White House, to accept the party’s nomination for president.

He will stride out to a raised platform to a podium that can be raised from beneath the floor.

The show should provide a striking image for the millions of Americans watching on television as Obama delivers a speech accepting the Democratic presidential nomination.

Politicians in past elections have typically spoken from the convention site itself, but the Obama campaign liked the idea of having their man speak to a larger, stadium-sized crowd not far from where the Democratic National Convention is being held, at the Denver pro basketball arena.

Maybe he’s running for emperor.

Photocommentary here. Heh.

Pejman: Will Zeus be the next Democratic nominee?

27 Aug 2008

US Navy Runs Off Russia’s Black Sea Fleet

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Chinese news service photo of USS McFaul delivering humanitarian supplies at Batumi

EarthTimes quotes an Interfax News Agency Russian press release indicating that the Russian Black Sea Fleet is “shifting positions” to the rear.

Elements of Russia’s Black Sea fleet shifted locations on Wednesday in an possible move to avoid a confrontation with a growing NATO warship flotilla near Georgia. Russian naval vessels operating off of Georgia’s coastline had moved from a station in the vicinity of the Georgian port Poti into “Abkhazian territorial waters,” said Sergei Menialo, commander of Russia’s Novorossisk naval base, according to an Interfax news agency report.

The shift took a group of some six to eight Russian warships that had been patrolling near the Georgian port of Poti out of the path of US warships reportedly planning to make a humanitarian aid delivery to the same location. …

NATO led by the US began a dramatic increase to its naval presence in the Black Sea in mid-August, after Russian refusal to abide by a Russo-Georgian ceasefire plan engineered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The NATO flotilla led by the American destroyer USS McFaul already has exceeded ten warships and will reach eighteen vessels in coming days, Kremlin officials citing Russian intelligence said Tuesday.

German, Polish, Spanish, and Canadian warships are among the members of the multi-national squadron being assembled in the Black Sea, according to Georgian media reports.

Russian admiral Sergei Kasatonov admitted the growing NATO naval formation would soon be stronger than the Russian Black Sea warships off Georgia and Abkhazia’s shore, but added the Kremlin could in case of a confrontation deal with the western vessels “using other forms of combat power, including aviation assets.”

Years ago, when I was working on military simulations games, a historical discussion got going within the development group, a gang of hard-core military history buffs, about the threat to US and Nato forces posed by a much-reported Soviet Naval build-up.

“When was the last time Russia won a major naval engagement?” sardonically asked one of the senior designers.

Despite the vast store of expertise on matters of this kind readily at hand, puzzlement ensued.

One authority suggest the Battle of Navarino in 1827 during the Greek War of Independence. But the example was rejected because Russia had merely participated in a combined operation with France and Britain, under British command.

Finally, smiling, one of the most knowledgeable people present, suggested John Paul Jones‘ 1788 victory over the Turks in the Liman arm of the Black Sea. “But, they won’t have Jones in command today, will they?” he concluded, reducing the crowd of analysts and prognosticators to gales of derisive laughter at the idea of what would happen to the Russian Navy if it tried taking on a naval service like our own, one with a firm and unbroken tradition of victory.

26 Aug 2008

Japanese Goblin Shark

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So the Alien has an actual model in Nature: the Goblin shark (Mitsukurina owstoni). It figures.

1:40 video

From Atomic Nerds via Karen L. Myers.

26 Aug 2008

Charges Against Tom Delay Evaporating

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Years later, after driving the House Majority Leader out of office, and serving as key ammunition for democrats to use to overthrow the GOP majority in Congress with corruption charges, the last undismissed count of the contrived and partisan indictment of Tom Delay by radical Austin, Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle has been demolished by an Appeals Court ruling noting that the alleged illicit financial cooperation between two political entities involved checks, and the Texas statute applied only to cash.

The Austin American Statesman story does its best to give all possible credit to the theory that the contribution of money by one Republican political organization to another really was a form of money-laundering in a deliberate attempt to evade the law. The story fundamentally incorporates also the dubious premise that opportunistic interpretations of the the arcane technicalities of state campaign finance regulations really make the victims of their unique and partisan application genuinely culpable. And it fails to note the rather important point, that though Mr. Delay was nominally and formally involved with the Texas organizations, he was actually in Washington, DC, serving in the very active role of House Majority Leader, and obviously far too busy with Congressional leadership to be personally in charge of the financial operation and details of those local organizations.

It also fails to mention that a previous grand jury declined to find in favor of Earle’s proposed indictment, and that, in an unusual and highly controversial prosecutorial move, Earle empaneled another grand jury and tried again.

We win,” said Dick DeGuerin, DeLay’s lawyer. .. it means every crime Ronnie Earle indicted Tom DeLay for was not a crime.”

Where does Tom Delay go to get his reputation back?

Where does America go to get two years of a democrat majority in Congress back?

Previous postings.

26 Aug 2008

McCain Campaign’s New 3 AM Ad

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Recycles a line by Hillary.

0:32 video

26 Aug 2008

Catharsis

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1:04 Obama supporters’ video mocking Hillary.

Democrats are such nice people.

Hat tip to Larry Johnson.

25 Aug 2008

Charity Begins at Home

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The Republican Party of Texas produced this anti-Obama ad, which I think makes a very telling point.

0:33 video

25 Aug 2008

Obama: Liberal Magic Think in Action

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George Will notes how liberals like Obama believe government can simply order new energy sources to come into being.

Obama recently said that he would “require that 10 percent of our energy comes from renewable sources by the end of my first term — more than double what we have now.” Note the verb “require” and the adjective “renewable.” …

What will that involve? For conservatives, seeing is believing; for liberals, believing is seeing. Obama seems to believe that if a particular outcome is desirable, one can see how to require it. But how does that work? Details to follow, sometime after noon Jan. 20, 2009.

Obama has also promised that “we will get 1 million 150-mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrids on our roads within six years.” What a tranquilizing verb “get” is. This senator, who has never run so much as a Dairy Queen, is going to get a huge, complex industry to produce, and is going to get a million consumers to buy, these cars. How? Almost certainly by federal financial incentives for both — billions of dollars of tax subsidies for automakers and billions more to bribe customers to buy cars they otherwise would spurn.

Conservatives are sometimes justly accused of ascribing magic powers to money and markets: Increase the monetary demand for anything, and the supply of it will expand. But it is liberals such as Obama who think that any new technological marvel or other social delight can be summoned into existence by a sufficient appropriation. Once they thought “model cities” could be, too.

Where will the electricity for these million cars come from? Not nuclear power (see above). And not anywhere else, if Obama means this: “I will set a hard cap on all carbon emissions at a level that scientists say is necessary to curb global warming — an 80 percent reduction by 2050.”

No, he won’t. Steven Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute notes that in 2050 there will be 420 million Americans — 40 million more households. So Obama’s cap would require reducing per capita carbon emissions to levels probably below even those “in colonial days when the only fuel we burned was wood.”

Liberal statism is a cult, fundamentally based on a narcissistic belief in the omnipotence of the calculative powers of human reason employed by an educated elite, to which class its subscribers by some curious coincidence invariably belong.

25 Aug 2008

Environmentalists Turned Dragons into Maneaters

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The Wall Street Journal describes how policies imposed by environmentalist outsiders are making it difficult for human residents of Eastern Indonesia to co-exist with Varanus komodoensis.

These locals have long viewed the dragons as a reincarnation of fellow kinsfolk, to be treated with reverence. But now, villagers say, the once-friendly dragons have turned into vicious man-eaters. And they blame policies drafted by American-funded environmentalists for this frightening turn of events.

“When I was growing up, I felt the dragons were my family,” says 55-year-old Hajji Faisal. “But today the dragons are angry with us, and see us as enemies.” The reason, he and many other villagers believe, is that environmentalists, in the name of preserving nature, have destroyed Komodo’s age-old symbiosis between dragon and man.

For centuries, local tradition required feeding the dragons — which live more than 50 years, can recognize individual humans and usually stick to fairly small areas. Locals say they always left deer parts for the dragons after a hunt, and often tied goats to a post as sacrifice. Island taboos strictly prohibited hurting the giant reptiles, a possible reason why the dragons have survived in the Komodo area despite becoming extinct everywhere else.

For us, giving food to the dragons is an obligation, our sacred duty,” says Hajji Adam, headman of the park’s biggest village, Kampung Komodo.

Indonesia invited the Nature Conservancy, a Virginia-based environment protection group, to help manage the park in 1995. An Indonesian subsidiary of the group, called Putri Naga Komodo, gained a tourism concession for the park in 2005 and is investing in the conservation effort some $10 million of its own money and matching financing from international donors.

With this funding and advice, park authorities put an end to villagers’ traditional deer hunting, enforcing a prohibition that had been widely disregarded. They declared canines an alien species, and outlawed the villagers’ dogs, which used to keep dragons away from homes. Park authorities banned the goat sacrifices, previously staged on Komodo for the benefit of picture-snapping tourists.

“We don’t want the Komodo dragon to be domesticated. It’s against natural balance,” says Widodo Ramono, policy director of the Nature Conservancy’s Indonesian branch and a former director of the country’s national park service. “We have to keep this conservation area for the purpose of wildlife. It is not for human beings.”

When people hunt deer, it poses a mortal threat to the dragons, which disappeared from a small island near Komodo after poachers decimated deer stocks there, officials say. “If we let the locals hunt again, the dragons will be gone,” says Vinsensius Latief, the national park’s chief for Komodo island. “If we are not strict in enforcing the ban, everything here will be destroyed.”

But, while the deer population remains stable in the park, many dragons these days prefer to seek easier prey in the vicinity of humans. They frequently descend from the hills to the villages, hiding under stilt houses and waiting for a chance to snap at passing chicken or goats. Much to the fury of villagers, park authorities, while endorsing the idea in principle, so far haven’t acted on repeated requests to build dragon-proof fences around the park’s inhabited areas. The measure is estimated to cost about $5,000 per village.

“People are scared because, every day, the dragons come down and eat our goats,” complains Ibrahim Hamso, secretary of the Kampung Rinca village. “Today it’s a goat, and tomorrow it can be our child.”

A year ago, a 9-year-old named Mansur was one such victim. The boy went to answer the call of nature behind a bush near his home in Kampung Komodo. In broad daylight, as terrified relatives looked on, a dragon lunged from his hideout, took a bite of the boy’s stomach and chest, and started crushing his skull.

“We threw branches and stones to drive him away, but the dragon was crazed with blood, and just wouldn’t let go,” says the boy’s father, Jamain, who, like many Indonesians, goes by only one name.

Unlike in the U.S. and many other Western countries, park rangers here don’t routinely put down animals that develop a taste for human flesh.

A few months later, Jamain’s neighbor Mustaming Kiswanto, a 38-year-old who makes a living selling dragon woodcarvings to tourists, and whose son had been bitten by a dragon, was attacked by another giant lizard after falling asleep. In June, five European divers, stranded in an isolated part of the park, said they successfully fended off an aggressive dragon by throwing their weight belts at it. …

To the villagers in Komodo, the recent incidents provide clear evidence of an ominous change in reptile behavior. “I don’t blame the dragons for my boy’s death. I blame those who forbade us from following custom and feeding them,” says Jamain. “If it weren’t for them, my boy would still be alive.”

Officials at the Nature Conservancy’s Indonesian headquarters in Bali dismiss such widespread belief about a connection between the attacks and the ban on feeding the dragons as “superstition.” The group and its Komodo subsidiary reject any responsibility for Mansur’s death.

The boy “shouldn’t have crouched like a prey species in a place where dragons live,” says Marcus Matthews-Sawyer, tourism, marketing and communications director at Putri Naga Komodo. “You’ve got to be very careful about extrapolating and drawing any conclusions.”

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

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