Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bureaucratic Wisdom

Over on To The Point News, Dr. Jack Wheeler writes about "Bureaucratic Wisdom":
Tribal wisdom, passed on from generation to generation, says that, "When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount."

However, in government and corporate bureaucracies, more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:

1. Buying a stronger whip.

2. Changing riders.

3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.

4. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride horses.

5. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.

6. Reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired.

7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.

8. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.

9. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase dead horse's performance.

10. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's performance.

11. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.

12. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.

And of course bureaucrat’s favorite... ......... .....

13. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.

"Carbon Chastity" and The Church of Global Warming

For some time now, I've been among those who consider global warming, as promoted by Saint Al Gore and his acolytes, to be a religious cult. Although it masquerades as science, its tenets are matters of faith, and as such are immune to the influences of factual evidence and logical thought.

As is true of any religion, the True Believers of the Church of Global Warming refuse to debate the fundamental doctrines of their faith. "The science is settled," quoth Saint Al and his High Priest, James Hansen.

Charles Krauthammer, unquestionably one of our most brilliant commentators, has just come out with a column expanding upon the idea of Global Warmism as religion, "Environmentalists Pick Up Where Communists Left Off." He begins by clarifying his own position: he is neither a Believer nor a Skeptic, but considers himself to be a Global Warming Agnostic. Then, in his inimitable wry manner, he introduces the concept of Carbon Chastity:
Environmentalists are Gaia's priests, instructing us in her proper service and casting out those who refuse to genuflect... And having proclaimed the ultimate commandment – carbon chastity – they are preparing the supporting canonical legislation that will tell you how much you can travel, what kind of light you will read by, and at what temperature you may set your bedroom thermostat.


Fortunately, it appears that just about the time most of our self-anointed leaders have decided to jump aboard the Global Warming train, it has begun to run out of steam. The large and growing number of eminently qualified climate scientists who have joined the ranks of the skeptics are attracting increasing public attention. Most significantly, the public is beginning to get some inkling of the astronomical cost burden they will be forced to carry if the various global warming mitigation nostrums should be enacted into law.

Yes, we are most assuredly in great peril – but not from global warming. Instead, we must do all within our power to dissuade our gullible and scientifically illiterate politicians from being suckered into this gigantic scam. We must stop them from enacting ruinously expensive anti-global warming measures to combat this nonexistent threat. Calm, well-reasoned opinion pieces by highly regarded pundits, such as this masterpiece by Charles Krauthammer, will be enormously helpful in the effort.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Peter Principle at Work

Remember the Peter Principle, which states that in any organization, an individual will rise to his level of incompetence? It seems that it struck Abu Dhabi's flagship Etihad Airways in epidemic fashion last November.

The airline was about to take delivery of a brand new Airbus A340-600 at the Airbus facility in Toulouse, France. They sent a crew of nine of their most competent and highly trained employees to conduct the pre-acceptance engine runup tests – and had a slight "industrial accident."

At first, news of the incident was suppressed, as its widespread release would have constituted a major embarrassment to Arab Muslims. However, word began to leak out, so Airbus released this statement:
Industrial accident at Airbus facility
15 November 2007

Airbus deeply regrets to confirm that an accident occurred at its Saint-Martin site in Toulouse this afternoon.

The accident occurred at 5:00 pm local time, when engine-run-ups were being carried out on an A340-600, MSN 856, which was due to be delivered to Etihad in the coming days.

There were nine persons on board out of them five people sustained injuries. There are no fatalities.

At this time, recovery operations are still in progress and Airbus staff is working closely with the emergency services and local authorities at the site.

Airbus expresses its sympathy to the families and friends of the persons concerned.

Airbus will provide the full support to the official investigation authorities in France.

The next day, they released this somewhat more detailed account:
Industrial accident at Airbus facility - Saint Martin site
16 November 2007

Following the regrettable accident that occurred at the Airbus Saint-Martin site (close to Toulouse) yesterday 15th November at 5 pm local time, Airbus reports that of the five injured people, three remain in hospital. Two were released between yesterday night and this morning. Of the three persons remaining in hospital, one is an employee of Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT), a service provider for Etihad Airways, and two are Airbus employees. Airbus and ADAT are providing all necessary support to the persons involved and their families.

The accident involved an A340-600 (MSN 856), which was carrying out engine-run-ups and was due to be delivered to Etihad in the coming days.

An investigation has started yesterday night and Airbus is providing full support to the official investigation authorities in France.

Ground tests including engine-run-ups are a normal procedure on all Airbus aircraft.

Airbus expresses its sympathy and support to the families and friends of the persons concerned.

Editors’ note: Airbus will release further information as soon as it is available.

Then, further details, along with pictures, began to leak out.

First came these 6 pictures from the Airline World blog:

Aren't cellphone cameras handy?

Then, little by little, the details of what happened leaked out, too.

You can read Dr. Jack Wheeler's recent report on To The Point News here:
Written by To The Point News
Friday, 16 May 2008

The brand spanking new Airbus 340-600, the largest passenger airplane ever built, sat in its hangar in Toulouse, France without a single hour of airtime. Enter the Arab flight crew of Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT) to conduct pre-delivery tests on the ground, such as engine runups, prior to delivery to Etihad Airways in Abu Dhabi. The date was November 15, 2007.

The ADAT crew taxied the A340-600 to the run-up area. Then they took all four engines to takeoff power with a virtually empty aircraft. Not having read the run-up manuals, they had no clue just how light an empty A340-600 really is.

The takeoff warning horn was blaring away in the cockpit because they had all 4 engines at full power. The aircraft computers thought they were trying to takeoff but it had not been configured properly (flaps/slats, etc.) Then one of the ADAT crew decided to pull the circuit breaker on the Ground Proximity Sensor to silence the alarm.

This fools the aircraft into thinking it is in the air.

The computers automatically released all the brakes and set the aircraft rocketing forward. The ADAT crew had no idea that this is a safety feature so that pilots can't land with the brakes on.

Not one member of the seven-man Arab crew was smart enough to throttle back the engines from their max power setting, so the $80 million brand-new aircraft crashed into a blast barrier, totaling it.

The extent of injuries to the crew is unknown, for there has been a news blackout in the major media in France and elsewhere. Coverage of the story was deemed insulting to Moslem Arabs. Finally, the photos are starting to leak out.

What can one say?

It's hard to hire good help.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

1957 vs. 2007

One of Jerry Pournelle's readers, Darrell, submitted this gem:
Subject: Changing times

High School

1957 vs. 2007

Scenario: Jack goes quail hunting before school, pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack.
1957 - Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
2007 - School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.
1957 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2007 - Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario: Jeffrey won't be still in class, disrupts other students.
1957 - Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by the Principal. Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2007 - Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
1957 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2007 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.

Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.
1957 - Mark shares aspirin with Principal out on the smoking dock.
2007 - Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario: A foreign student fails high school English.
1957 - He goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.
2007 - His cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and his English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. He is given a diploma anyway.

Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.
1957 - Ants die.
2007 - BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny's Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.
1957 - In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2007 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.

For once, Jerry was left speechless. His only comment was "No comment. None at all..."

Not Evil, Just Wrong

There's a new documentary coming out. Here's the leader.

There's a website here, but it's still under construction. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Seeing Evil: The Arms of John McCain

Over in The American Spectator, Jeffrey Lord has just come up with another must-read masterpiece, "Seeing Evil: The Arms of John McCain." This magnificent piece begins with these almost child-like questions:
What did Chamberlain do? What is appeasement?

And what happened to John McCain's arms?
Lord then proceeds to answer the questions in simple, clear, elegant words that should – but won't – be able to penetrate the skulls of even the most doctrinaire liberals.

Read it for yourself, and see if you don't agree. But then picture the reaction that this piece would elicit from, say, a Jimmy Carter, a Nancy Pelosi, or a Barack Obama. THAT's our problem. The liberal mind is different from yours and mine. It operates solely upon emotion, being impervious to both facts and logic. It never learns from its mistakes. Worst of all, it craves power above all else – the kind of power that allows liberals to tell the rest of us how to live our lives.

I suppose some of us could accept that if the results of their meddling were positive. The trouble is, though, their results inevitably range from ineffective through counterproductive all the way to disastrous. The history of the 20th century is strewn with the wreckage of calamities which were allowed, encouraged, or even directly caused to happen by disastrous liberal policies. As Jeffrey Lord reminds us, those liberal policies were directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people – because liberals cannot or will not recognize evil when they see it. Nevertheless, given the opportunity, their remedy for our present afflictions would be more of the same.

For several reasons originating from their inordinate love of government, the majority of politicians are liberals. No doubt, it was that type of politician that the inimitable P.J. O'Rourke had in mind when he wrote "Giving money and power to politicians is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."

Frustratingly for those of us who helped to elect them, even the majority of conservative politicians, who generally go off to Washington or their respective state capitals full of idealism and imbued with conservative common sense, tend to become more and more liberal with time. Apparently, it takes an uncommon degree of strength of character to resist the many temptations and pressures that motivate the majority of "our guys" to gradually become "their guys."

Despite his unusual strength of character as proven by his heroic behavior in circumstances few of us can even imagine, John McCain has most definitely been affected by this liberal drift. Nevertheless, come November, I intend to give him my vote because he is far more likely than his opponent to recognize evil for what it is, then act accordingly.

An Amazing Life

If you haven't yet read it, be sure to check out George Will's magnificent tribute to the last surviving American World War I veteran, "The Last Doughboy." It's about the amazing life of 107-year-old Frank Buckles, who volunteered for the Army at 16 by lying about his age.

Here's a small sample:
After Cpl. Buckles was mustered out of the Army in 1920 with $143.90 in his pocket, he went to business school in Oklahoma City for five months, then rented a typewriter for $3 a month and sent out job applications. One landed him work in the steamship business, which took him around the world — Latin America, China, Manchuria. And Germany, where, he says, in 1928 "two impressive gentlemen" told him, "We are preparing for another war."

Behind glass in a cabinet in his small sitting room are mementos from his eventful life: a German army belt with a buckle bearing words all nations believe, "Gott Mit Uns" (God Is With Us). The tin cup from which he ate all his meals, such as they were, during the 39 months he was a prisoner of the Japanese — because he was working for a shipping company in Manila on Dec. 7, 1941.

Just think – this man, whose faculties are obviously undimmed by time, was a contemporary of Sgt. Alvin York – yet he's still with us.

To put things in perspective, I remember excitedly watching a Memorial Day Parade down the Grand Concourse in the Bronx as a young boy. The guests of honor were three elderly veterans of the Spanish-American War, who were dressed in their old Rough Rider uniforms. The parade was probably held in 1946 or 1947, some 48 years after the Spanish-American War had been fought.

At the time, the Spanish-American War seemed like ancient history to me, and its surviving veterans looked very, very old. Yet, I am now nearly as old (66) as they must have been.

As I was growing up, I remember hearing on the news about the last of the Civil War veterans passing on, one by one. Now, we are down to the last World War I veteran.

In my mind, World War II is still a vivid memory. Although I was only 3 at the time, I still remember the joyous celebrations in 1945 when first the Germans, then later the Japanese, surrendered, and the war was over. Yet, in the minds of today's children, World War II seems like ancient history, even though it ended "only" 63 years ago. And, sadly, we are now losing that war's veterans, truly our greatest generation, at the rate of over a thousand a day. Before we know it, the day will come when we hear that only one of them still lives among us here on earth.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Dems Want to "Change" Our Energy Policies

Mark Steyn is one of the few columnists who consistently belts out homers every time he steps up to the plate. His latest National Review Online article, "Fill Her Up with Hot Air," does not disappoint.
I was watching the Big Oil execs testifying before Congress. That was my first mistake. If memory serves, there was lesbian mud wrestling over on Channel 137, and on the whole that’s less rigged. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz knew the routine: “I can’t say that there is evidence that you are manipulating the price, but I believe that you probably are. So prove to me that you are not.”

Had I been in the hapless oil man’s expensive shoes, I’d have answered, “Hey, you first. I can’t say that there is evidence that you’re sleeping with barnyard animals, but I believe that you probably are. So prove to me that you are not. Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence and prima facie evidence, lady? Do I have to file a U.N. complaint in Geneva that the House of Representatives is in breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?”

Later, he comes up with this vivid picture:
Okay, how about if we all go back to the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe, and start criss-crossing the country on wood-fired trains?

Go here to read the whole thing.

Characteristically, the Democrats, with the help of far too many Republican geldings, create problems, then worsen them with counterproductive solutions. Their War on Poverty has created millions more poor people, in addition to destroying the institution of the black family. Their meddling in the education field has resulted in the universal lowering of standards and the consequent graduation of huge numbers of abysmally unqualified students. Now, they have created a totally predictable energy crisis by restricting oil exploration and drilling while forbidding the construction of oil refineries and nuclear power plants for the past three decades.

Now, the Democrats propose to solve our energy crisis by "alternative energy sources" such as wind and solar, while unmercifully abusing our oil companies for the benefit of their constituents, who haven't the slightest conception of the influences of supply and demand in a free market, since they have been educated in government schools, and thus have never been taught even the basics of economics.

It's too bad we can't sue our professional politicians for malpractice.

'Miracle' Marine refused to surrender will to live

This story from will bring tears to your eyes:
'Miracle' Marine refused to surrender will to live

May 25 11:46 AM US/Eastern
AP National Writer

The young Marine came back from the war, with his toughest fight ahead of him. Merlin German waged that battle in the quiet of a Texas hospital, far from the dusty road in Iraq where a bomb exploded, leaving him with burns over 97 percent of his body.

No one expected him to survive.

But for more than three years, he would not surrender. He endured more than 100 surgeries and procedures. He learned to live with pain, to stare at a stranger's face in the mirror. He learned to smile again, to joke, to make others laugh.

He became known as the "Miracle Man."

Go here to read the rest.

"The Boy Who Cried Wolf" Redux

Here are some quotes of famous people from a few years ago. For some reason, when I read these, I was reminded of that old story "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." See what you think.
'In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. Population control is the only answer.'

~~~~~ Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb (1968)

'I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.'

~~~~~ Paul Ehrlich (1969)

'In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.'

~~~~~ Paul Ehrlich, Earth Day (1970)

'Before 1985, mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity ... in which the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion.'

~~~~~ Paul Ehrlich (1976)

'This [cooling] trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century.'

~~~~~ Peter Gwynne, Newsweek (1976)

'There are ominous signs that the earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production – with serious political implications for just about every nation on earth. The drop in food production could begin quite soon ... The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologist are hard-pressed to keep up with it.'

~~~~~ Newsweek, (April 28, 1975)

'This cooling has already killed hundreds of thousands of people. If it continues and no strong action is taken, it will cause world famine, world chaos and world war, and this could all come about before the year 2000.'

~~~~~ Lowell Ponte, "The Cooling" (1976)

'If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder by the year 2000 ... This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age.'

~~~~~ Kenneth E.F. Watt on air pollution and global cooling, Earth Day (1970)

'The continued rapid cooling of the earth since WWII is in accord with the increase in global air pollution associated with industrialization, mechanization, urbanization and exploding population.'

~~~~~ Reid Bryson, "Global Ecology; Readings towards a rational strategy for Man" (1971)

[Hat tip: David C. Kifer, who posted these to alt.quotations.]

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Why Are Gas Prices so High?

According to our grandstanding politicians, as well as some loud, obnoxious media gasbags like Bill O'Reilly, gas prices are high because of an evil conspiracy by "Big Oil." It turns out that they're partially right, but not in the way they intended.

In this "Big Oil" post by John Hinderaker of the indispensable Power Line blog, we learn that in comparison to the world's large state-owned oil companies, our companies are pipsqueaks. This chart from Chevron illustrates the point most convincingly:

According to John,
With 94% of the world's oil supply locked up by foreign governments, most of which are hostile to the United States, the relatively puny American oil companies do not have access to enough crude oil to significantly affect the market and help bring prices down. Thus, Exxon Mobil, a small oil company, buys 90% of the crude oil that it refines for the U.S. market from the big players, i.e, mostly-hostile foreign governments. The price at the U.S. pump is rising because the price the big oil companies charge Exxon Mobil and the other small American companies for crude oil is going up.

This is obviously a tough situation for the American consumer. The irony is that it doesn't have to be that way. The United States--unlike, say, France--actually has vast petroleum reserves. It would be possible for American oil companies to develop those reserves, play a far bigger role in international markets, and deliver gas at the pump to American consumers at a much lower price, while creating many thousands of jobs for Americans. This would be infinitely preferable to shipping endless billions of dollars to Saudi Arabia, Russia and Venezuela.

So, why doesn't it happen? Because the Democratic Party--aided, sadly, by a handful of Republicans--deliberately keeps gas prices high and our domestic oil companies small by putting most of our reserves off limits to development. China is now drilling in the Caribbean, but our own companies are barred by law from developing large oil fields off the coasts of Florida and California. Enormous shale oil deposits in the Rocky Mountain states could go a long way toward supplying American consumers' needs, but the Democratic Congress won't allow those resources to be developed. ANWR contains vast petroleum reserves, but we don't know how vast, because Congress, not wanting the American people to know how badly its policies are hurting our economy, has made it illegal to explore and map those reserves, let alone develop them.

In short, all Americans are paying a terrible price for the Democratic Party's perverse energy policies.

Sounds about right to me.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Media Bias and Our Servicemen

The Weekly Standard has just come out with a great read for Memorial Day. It's in the unlikely form of a book review by Mackubin Thomas Owens, a professor at the Naval War College who earned a Silver Star as a Marine Corps platoon commander in Vietnam. In the article, "Americans Under Fire ," Owens reviews three books (Moment of Truth in Iraq: How a New 'Greatest Generation' of American Soldiers is Turning Defeat and Disaster into Victory and Hope by Michael Yon, House to House by David Bellavia, and Hard Corps: From Gangster to Marine Hero by Marco Martinez), but also offers an authoritative explanation of how a biased media has managed to besmirch the reputation of our servicemen through selective reporting.
It seems that Americans have forgotten how to honor their war heroes.

When I was growing up in the 1950s, most boys knew the story of Lt. Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of World War II. Indeed, after the war, he became a fairly successful actor. The public, including Hollywood, recognized him for what he was--a hero. Most of us also knew the story of Marine Sgt. John Basilone, who earned the Medal of Honor on Guadalcanal. He was brought home to help sell war bonds but kept asking to go back to the Pacific. His superiors finally relented. He was killed on Iwo Jima. The American public recognized him for what he was--a hero.

No more. Americans have performed extraordinary feats of bravery in Iraq and Afghanistan, but with the exception of those who regularly read military blogs, who knows about them?

Things changed with Vietnam. Although Americans fought bravely there, the press, if not the American people, began to treat those who fought in Vietnam as either moral monsters, victims, or both. The dysfunctional Vietnam vet became a staple of popular culture. Despite the fact that atrocities were rare, My Lai came to symbolize the entire war; and thanks to the press's preoccupation with the anomaly of My Lai, Lt. William Calley became the poster boy for Vietnam. The honorable and heroic performance of the vast majority of those who served in Vietnam went largely unrecognized.

For example, how many Americans know the story of Marine Lt. John P. Bobo, who received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Vietnam? Here is part of his citation:

When an exploding enemy mortar round severed Lieutenant Bobo's right leg below the knee, he refused to be evacuated and insisted upon being placed in a firing position to cover the movement of the command group to a better location. With a web belt around his leg serving as a tourniquet, and with his leg jammed into the dirt to curtail the bleeding, he remained in this position and delivered devastating fire into the ranks of the enemy attempting to overrun the Marines. Lieutenant Bobo was mortally wounded while firing his weapon into the main point of the enemy attack but his valiant spirit inspired his men to heroic efforts.

The reason for this disparity in coverage is simple. My Lai fit the conventional narrative of the antiwar left: Bobo's story did not.

Things haven't changed much since then. The conventional wisdom concerning Vietnam has been absorbed by today's press, even by those too young to remember our Southeast Asia misadventure. The result is a troubling predisposition to believe the worst about those who are willing to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan.

By all means read the whole thing, but with this cautionary note: Mac Owens' article is not for the squeamish. He is, after all, reviewing three excellent first-hand accounts of combat in Iraq, and includes an exceptionally graphic account of the death of a terrorist at the hands of one of the authors, David Bellavia. You'll come away with a heightened respect for our remarkable military personnel, along with a replenished supply of outrage and contempt for the media weasels who knowingly and deliberately set out to cast our soldiers in the worst possible light.

For your convenience, I've set it up so you can order any of these books by clicking the appropriate link. All come highly recommended, but Michael Yon's is outstanding (as anyone would know who's ever read his blog, Michael Yon: Online Magazine) and promises to become a classic of military literature.

UPDATE: Check out this story of extraordinary heroism by combat journalist Jeff Emanuel: "Return From Samarra."
Caught completely by surprise and outnumbered at least ten to one by heavily-armed fighters, the four young soldiers -- Sergeant Josh Morley, Specialist Tracy Willis, and then-Specialists Eric Moser and Chris Corriveau -- fought a pitched and protracted rooftop battle that left at least a dozen terrorists dead, and made the surviving Americans into heroes.

Sergeant Morley and Specialist Willis lost their lives in the encounter. Morley left behind an infant daughter he had never met.

Global Warming – On Jupiter

Jupiter's Three Red Spots

Must be all those gas-guzzling Jovian SUVs.

Obama's Metastatic Gaffe

In "Obama's Metastatic Gaffe," Charles Krauthammer demonstrates that as smart as he is, Obama has yet to master The First Law of Holes: When you're in one, stop digging.
When the House of Representatives takes up arms against $4 gas by voting 324-84 to sue OPEC, you know that election-year discourse has entered the realm of the surreal. Another unmistakable sign is when a presidential candidate makes a gaffe, then, realizing it is too egregious to take back without suffering humiliation, decides to make it a centerpiece of his foreign policy.

Before the Democratic debate of July 23, Barack Obama had never expounded upon the wisdom of meeting, without precondition, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar al-Assad, Hugo Chávez, Kim Jong Il or the Castro brothers. But in that debate, he was asked about doing exactly that. Unprepared, he said sure — then got fancy, declaring the Bush administration's refusal to do so not just "ridiculous" but "a disgrace."

After that, there was no going back. So he doubled down. What started as a gaffe became policy. By now, it has become doctrine. Yet it remains today what it was on the day he blurted it out: an absurdity.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Memorial Day Masterpiece from Michael Ramirez

American Thinker: Gore Celebrates Israel's 60th With Whoppers

The latest American Thinker includes a slashing attack on a recent visitor to Israel, Marc Sheppard's "Gore Celebrates Israel's 60th With Whoppers."

It seems that Prince Albert brought Israel a special gift for its 60th birthday – what else but a heaping helping of manure:
After delivering a scientifically inept global warming lecture in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, greenhouse gasbag Al Gore presented Israel with a 60th birthday gift of custom tailored, regionally-targeted Globaloney.

As adaptable to his surroundings as any desert snake, the shameless Nobel laureate told conference attendees that plunging water levels in their lakes and rivers were the result of -- guess what? Quothe the Goracle:

"In this region of the world, the water crisis is one of the most important manifestations of the global climate change crisis."

Later in the article, Sheppard addresses the same shameful injustice upon which I commented here:
... these latest fabrications and exaggerations weigh all the more contemptible by virtue of both their milieu and timing -- having been spoken just days after the Warsaw funeral of Irena Sendlerowa. She, you see, was the Polish Catholic credited with rescuing 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust.

Irena Sendlerowa's historic bravery facing the Nazis earned the 98-year-old a Nobel Peace Prize nomination -- the very same year as Gore's.

Somehow, in an act totally devoid of any "sense of justice," the gentle hero was denied the honor in favor of the bombastic charlatan -- who Tuesday dared speak to the Israeli people of "moral duty" while lying through his teeth.

It seems the more his little scam unravels, the more loathsome his methods become.

Not only is the article outstanding, but even the comments are unusually good. Some are quite insightful, and some are hilarious – such as the one comparing Gore to Baghdad Bob, and this gem:
There he blows. Will someone tell this man to take a breather. I can't believe the number of people who just buy into this nonsense--and many of them aren't really politically minded. I have to say, the title kind of got me laughing--Gore celebrating Israel's 60th birthday with a Whopper. Can someone tell that fool whoppers aren't kosher!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Thought for Today

“To sensible conservatives, it is virtually incomprehensible that the Republican Party can’t quite figure out why their prospects for the 2008 election seem so dim. Here’s your first clue, boys and girls: America already has one socialist, tax-and-spend, appeasement-oriented, global warming Kool-aid drinking political party. Who needs two of them?”

~~~~~ Arnold Ahlert

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"The Party of the Weak Horse"

Jeffrey Lord is a superlative wordsmith, as would be expected of a former Reagan White House political director. He has just written an eloquent and powerful account of how the modern Democratic Party has come to be identified with weakness and appeasement – and why Obama and company reacted so dramatically to President Bush's Knesset address. I very seldom use this term, but "The Party of the Weak Horse" is a must-read. Here's the first sentence:
It was as if a dentist had just jabbed at an exposed nerve in a rotting tooth, inducing a shrill howl from his helpless patient.
Go read the rest. I promise you won't be disappointed. Then come on back here for a moment. There's something else I'd like to show you.


Did you like it? Good! I knew you would.

Next, check out this column that Jeffrey Lord wrote last week, "Jimmy Carter’s Second Term." It's a masterpiece. (If you were listening to Rush the other day – yes, this is the column he was discussing.)

Here's a snippet:
But Obama's views are also something else. They are the product of a world view that has been around for centuries -- failing every time it's tried. Obama's campaign website says Obama "will take several steps down the long road toward eliminating nuclear weapons. He will stop the development of new nuclear weapons; work with Russia to take U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles off hair trigger alert; seek dramatic reductions in U.S. and Russian stockpiles of nuclear weapons and material; and set a goal to expand the U.S.-Russian ban on intermediate- range missiles so that the agreement is global." He also pledges to stop the research and deployment of a missile defense, the same system that Reagan created to end the Cold War.

America was led down this philosophical garden path most recently by Carter. Whether advocated by Carter in 1979, Chamberlain in 1939 or a President Obama in 2009, the philosophy behind this idea has simply never worked. Period. Yet, to borrow from Reagan's line in his debate with Carter, here we go again.

With all of the sweep of American history to look back on, with virtual libraries of history recording what works and what doesn't when running the American government, Obama has stunningly selected the Carter policies as his role model.

Thought for Today

"Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery of party, faction, and division of society."

~~~~ John Adams

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Thoughts About "Gay Marriage"

Yesterday, another member of a mailing list to which I subscribe posted this rhetorical question in response to another member's comment on the recent California Supreme Court decision:
Yeah, yeah, I hear all the complaints.
What I don't understand is why so many people seem to feel *threatened* by it?
I'm straight, and happily married for 40 years, next month, and somehow, I don't feel the slightest bit lessened ot threatened by the thought of same-sex marriage!
Maybe it's just me...
I thought about it for a few minutes, then posted this response:

[Name], IMHO, it's not a matter of "feeling threatened." My objection is to their intentional corruption of our language as part of their larger agenda of achieving societal approval. Not acceptance, which they already have, but approval.

They've already succeeded in co-opting and corrupting the words "gay" and "straight." "Gay" used to be a perfectly good synonym for "happy," and "straight" used to be the opposite of "crooked." Now, they're after the word "marriage," which has a very specific meaning – not just in our culture, but in nearly all other cultures throughout the world.

Words have meanings. You can call a Hampshire sow a Thoroughbred mare, but she remains a Hampshire sow regardless. Those behind the "gay marriage" push are trying to redefine the word "marriage" to the extent that the concept of marriage will become meaningless. They view that redefinition as part of their quest for the approval which they will never achieve, any more than that sow can transform herself into a mare.

As long as they don't hurt anybody else, I have no interest whatsoever in what consenting adults do to each other in the privacy of their homes. However, I draw the line at two things: going public with their perverted practices, and involving children in any manner whatsoever.

When they get in my face about their "alternative life style," they've lost me. And when they involve children, either by so-called "gay adoption" or by those circumstances whereby some sick individual who's married and has children, then suddenly decides that he or she is "gay," they have earned my undying enmity – not because I "feel threatened," but because I feel so disgusted I want to barf!

To that, I would add (and I am certainly not the first to notice) that the currently popular word "homophobia" is yet another corruption of the English language – a bastardization of two perfectly good Greek roots with well-established meanings in professional literature. "Homo -" means "like oneself," while "- phobia" means "fear of -", and in particular, "illogical or unreasonable fear of -".

Therefore, the term is incorrect on two counts. The emotion which normal people experience when the question of so-called "gay marriage" comes up is certainly not directed toward those like ourselves, and it is most assuredly not fear, either reasonable or unreasonable. Frankly, the emotion is far more likely to be disgust than fear.

I know nothing about Greek except for the etymological roots I learned in school many years ago, but to my knowledge, there is no Greek root for "disgust" in common use. The Greek word "apostrophé" translates as "revulsion," or "a turning away," but I can't come up with a catchy way to use it in a word. Somehow, "homoapostrophia" lacks that certain something that triggers the acceptance of new words.

So, unfortunately, we're probably stuck with "homophobia," not only because it has entered common usage, but because despite its flawed derivation, it is euphonious, and rolls trippingly off the tongue.

Immortal Words

In my opinion, George W. Bush's words to the Israeli Knesset will go down in history along with Ronald Reagan's "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Watch the video and see if you don't agree.

Here, from the article "Obama says Bush falsely accuses him of appeasement", is a transcript of the key portion of his speech – the portion which, not surprisingly, has Obama and his Democrat apologists running for the cameras and microphones to whine, like the weenies they are, to their friends in the MSM:
"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along.

"We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is—the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

I wonder, first, why any American not infected with terminal Bush Derangement Syndrome would take offense at this speech, undoubtedly one of the finest that President Bush has ever delivered, and second, why Barack Obama immediately assumed that the president was referring to him. Truly, "the guilty flees when no man pursueth; the righteous stand as bold as a lion."

5/18/08 UPDATED AND BUMPED: Wesley Pruden, the Editor-in-Chief of the Washington Times, has a colorful and unique way with words. In "A little rock hits a noisy target," he has applied his rhetorical skills to this situation with devastating results. Here's a small sample:

"Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," he said. "We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is — which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

How could anyone with even a Classic Comics understanding of history quarrel with that? Who could doubt that negotiating with terrorists is an exercise for fools? Who doubts that we've heard delusional appeasement talk all through history? Who would quarrel with the proposition that "the comfort of appeasement" has been repeatedly discredited by history? Where better to say this than to those who live with the risks and perils of appeasement of Islamist thugs in the Middle East?

Well, a lot of prominent Democrats, beginning with Barack Obama, that's who. The orator prince of the South Side of Chicago was reduced to splutter and slash. "It is sad ... this false political attack ... it's time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran and failed to secure America or our ally in Israel."

Has the "Straight Talk Express" Jumped the Tracks?

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George Will has, in effect, challenged Sen. McCain to a duel. Will's challenge comes in the form of a superb Newsweek column, "Questions For McCain, " in which he asks the putative GOP presidential candidate ten straightforward questions, such as this:
• You say that even if global warming turns out to be no crisis (the World Meteorological Organization says global temperatures have not risen in a decade), even unnecessary measures taken to combat it will be beneficial because "then all we've done is give our kids a cleaner world." But what of the trillions of dollars those measures will cost in direct expenditures and diminished economic growth—hence diminished medical research, cultural investment, etc.? Given that Earth is always warming or cooling, what is its proper temperature, and how do you know?

Among the MSM, Sen. McCain has long been considered to be a straight shooter who gives frank and honest answers to reporters' questions. During his unsuccessful 2000 presidential run, he called his campaign bus, on which a number of his favored journalists got to ride, the "Straight Talk Express."

Since I, along with George Will and a few million other disaffected conservatives, would love to know Sen. McCain's answers to those questions, I'm eagerly looking forward to hearing them. Can we expect the good Senator to answer the questions before we go to the polls? Or has the "Straight Talk Express" been replaced by the "Mealy-Mouthed Milquetoast Milk Train?"

Thought for Today

"The excellent is new forever."

~~~~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mark Steyn Strikes Again!

Mark Steyn has directed a mighty blast against the same target I aimed at in my Immortal Words post. His column, "Obama an appeaser? How dare you," makes my modest effort seem even more puny by comparison – about like comparing a broadside from all nine of the USS WISCONSIN's 16-inch guns

to a popgun.
"That's enough. That – that's a show of disrespect to me."

That was Barack Obama, a couple of weeks back, explaining why he was casting the Rev. Jeremiah Wright into outer darkness. It's one thing to wallow in "adolescent grandiosity" (as Scott Johnson of the Powerline Web site called it) when it's a family dispute between you and your pastor of 20 years. It's quite another to do so when it's the 60th anniversary celebrations of one of America's closest allies.

President Bush was in Israel the other day and gave a speech to the Knesset. Its perspective was summed up by his closing anecdote – a departing British officer in May 1948 handing the iron bar to the Zion Gate to a trembling rabbi and telling him it was the first time in 18 centuries that a key to the gates of the Jerusalem was in the hands of a Jew. In other words, it was a big-picture speech, referencing the Holocaust, the pogroms, Masada – and the challenges that lie ahead. Sen. Obama was not mentioned in the text. No Democrat was mentioned, save for President Truman, in the context of his recognition of the new state of Israel when it was a mere 11 minutes old.

Nonetheless, Barack Obama decided that the president's speech was really about him, and he didn't care for it. He didn't put it quite as bluntly as he did with the Rev. Wright, but the message was the same: "That's enough. That's a show of disrespect to me." And, taking their cue from the soon-to-be nominee's weirdly petty narcissism, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Joe Biden and Co. piled on to deplore Bush's outrageous, unacceptable, unpresidential, outrageously unacceptable and unacceptably unpresidential behavior.

Honestly. What a bunch of self-absorbed ninnies. Here's what the president said:

Go read the rest of it and see what the president said (but if you've read my post, then you already know), and what else Mark had to say about our would-be Whiner-in-Chief and his enablers.

What an awesome talent!


Writing in "The American Spectator," Andrew Cline of the New Hampshire Union Leader comes up with a deadly accurate satire that skewers the GOP with surgical precision: "Pigs Take Wing". Here's how it begins:
WASHINGTON -- The Republican Party announced yesterday its members in Congress have sold the party's spine to the rival Democratic Party for a small slice of pork.

"Some have questioned whether the Republican Party still had a spine," read the press release issued after Republicans helped Democrats pass a massive farm bill yesterday. "Today we proved that we do have one by removing it from storage and selling it to the Democrats for some much-coveted pork."

"What a deal!" exclaimed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. "I got a tax break for racehorse owners, and all it cost us was one lousy elephant backbone that nobody even used anyway! Awesome!"
Go read the rest of it – then try very hard to come up with one good reason to vote for any of these whores. I've been trying my best, but I keep coming around to "the lesser of two evils" rationalization.

When you get right down to the basics, though, "to rationalize" means "to tell ourselves rational lies."

One other consideration keeps gnawing at me: the lesser of two evils – is still evil.

A woman of valour

Please click over to Meryl Yourish's indispensable blog and read this post "A woman of valour" about Irena Sendler, who has just passed away at the age of 98. I added a comment to Meryl's post, but wouldn't change a word of what she has written even if I could.

Thanks, Meryl.

5/17/08 BUMPED UP AND UPDATED: The Wall Street Journal has weighed in with an eloquent tribute, "Irena's Worlds," which originally ran in Wall Street Journal Europe.

The Talmud says that "whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world." Irena Sendlerowa, who died Monday at the age of 98 in Warsaw, saved some 2,500 worlds.

During the Nazi occupation of her country, this Polish Catholic woman risked her life and endured unspeakable torture to rescue Jewish children from the Holocaust. As a member of "Zegota," the organization set up by the Polish underground to help Jews, she masterminded a daring rescue operation: Posing as a nurse, she and about 20 other Poles smuggled about 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto.

Spirited out in ambulances, coffins, sacks and through sewers and tunnels, the kids were given Christian names and placed with Polish families, convents and orphanages. Sendlerowa meticulously recorded the children's real names and their new identities so that they could be eventually reunited with their parents. Most of them, though, had no family to return to after the war.

In 1943, the Germans arrested Sendlerowa. They broke her legs and feet to get her to divulge the names of her helpers and the children's whereabouts. She told them nothing. Sentenced to death, Sendlerowa narrowly escaped after Zegota bribed a guard. She continued her underground work until Germany's defeat.

Recognition, which she never sought, came late in her life. Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial, honored her in 1965. The Communists didn't let her travel to accept the award. In 2003 she received the Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest civilian decoration. Polish President Lech Kaczynski lobbied hard for her to win the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. But Al Gore got the award.

Ill health prevented Sendlerowa from attending a Polish parliament ceremony last year that recognized her as a national hero. Instead she told the lawmakers in a letter: "Every child saved with my help and the help of all the wonderful secret messengers, who today are no longer living, is the justification of my existence on this earth, and not a title to glory."

That's the way it always is with true heroes. Invariably, they're reluctant to talk about their deeds, and do so only when they must. Characteristically, they deny that they did anything out of the ordinary, and insist they they were just doing their jobs. Nevertheless, despite this remarkable woman's modesty, there's no doubt that she has earned her "title to glory," along with a place at God's right hand.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Krauthammer: "The Miracle, at 60"

Charles Krauthammer is arguably our greatest living columnist. On the occasion of Israel's 60th birthday, he does not disappoint. Here's are two snippets:
Besides restoring Jewish sovereignty, the establishment of the State of Israel embodied many subsidiary miracles, from the creation of the first Jewish army since Roman times to the only recorded instance of the resurrection of a dead language -- Hebrew, now the daily tongue of a vibrant nation of 7 million. As historian Barbara Tuchman once wrote, Israel is "the only nation in the world that is governing itself in the same territory, under the same name, and with the same religion and same language as it did 3,000 years ago."

Then, this:
One constantly hears about the disabling complexity of the Arab-Israeli dispute. Complex it is, but the root cause is not. Israel's crime is not its policies but its insistence on living.

You can read it in several places, including the Washington Post, RealClearPolitics, and

Hat tip: Meryl Yourish and Soccerdad

The McCain Mutiny

No comment needed – this masterpiece by IBD's Michael Ramirez speaks for itself.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Politics of Global Warming

The Wall Street Journal's Holman Jenkins offers some wise insights on the interface between practical politics and the global warming hysteria, "Warming to McCain". Here's how his column begins:
It's good to see a politician rewarded for a courageous and unpopular stand, as John McCain has been over Iraq. History will show he was as central to the battle of Washington as Gen. David Petraeus has been to the battle of Baghdad. Our enemies strategized that America lacks staying power. Mr. McCain's role deprived them of their plan for victory.

But honor, the value that underlined Mr. McCain's stand, is no use on an issue like global warming. Here, he could use a little more Mitt Romney, his vanquished nemesis whose name has now resurfaced in the veep sweepstakes.

Mr. Romney was tagged as a wonk because he "immerses himself in data." But one thing immersion can do that casual "gut" proceedings can't is let you know when the data don't provide an answer, even if people are telling you it does.

Further into the article, you'll find this memorable line:
Politics is often a business of adaptive dishonesty, and never more so than when dealing with an issue like climate change.

By all means, read the whole thing.

On the Mark

Check out these pieces by two outstanding writers – first, from Mark Steyn, "Be Careful What You Wish For", an insightful commentary on the occasion of Israel's 60th birthday, then this one from Mark Helprin, "The Challenge From China". Both contain much food for thought, and both are "right on the Mark".

Mark Steyn's column begins like this:
Almost everywhere I went last week — TV, radio, speeches — I was asked about the 60th anniversary of the Israeli state. I don’t recall being asked about Israel quite so much on its 50th anniversary, which as a general rule is a much bigger deal than the 60th. But these days friends and enemies alike smell weakness at the heart of the Zionist Entity. Assuming President Ahmadinejad’s apocalyptic fancies don’t come to pass, Israel will surely make it to its 70th birthday. But a lot of folks don’t fancy its prospects for its 80th and beyond.

Here is the beginning of Mark Helprin's essay, based upon a speech he recently gave at the Hoover Institute:
Even as our hearts go out to the Chinese who have perished in the earthquake, we cannot lose sight of the fact that every day China is growing stronger. The rate and nature of its economic expansion, the character and patriotism of its youth, and its military and technical development present the United States with two essential challenges that we have failed to meet, even though they play to our traditional advantages.

The first of these challenges is economic, the second military. They are inextricably bound together, and if we do not attend to both we may eventually discover in a place above us a nation recently so impotent we cannot now convince ourselves to look at the blow it may strike. We may think we have troubles now, but imagine what they will be like were we to face an equal.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Roots of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The Wall Street Journal's has republished an outstanding May 8, 2008 Commentary article by Efraim Karsh which will be of interest to anyone curious about the causes of the seemingly insoluble Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Here's the WSJ's brief description:
An exhaustive review of the archival evidence tells a ruinous tale of villainy and betrayal.
Here's the lede:
Sixty years after its establishment by an internationally recognized act of self-determination, Israel remains the only state in the world that is subjected to a constant outpouring of the most outlandish conspiracy theories and blood libels; whose policies and actions are obsessively condemned by the international community; and whose right to exist is constantly debated and challenged not only by its Arab enemies but by segments of advanced opinion in the West.

During the past decade or so, the actual elimination of the Jewish state has become a cause célèbre among many of these educated Westerners. The "one-state solution," as it is called, is a euphemistic formula proposing the replacement of Israel by a state, theoretically comprising the whole of historic Palestine, in which Jews will be reduced to the status of a permanent minority. Only this, it is said, can expiate the "original sin" of Israel's founding, an act built (in the words of one critic) "on the ruins of Arab Palestine" and achieved through the deliberate and aggressive dispossession of its native population.

This claim of premeditated dispossession and the consequent creation of the longstanding Palestinian "refugee problem" forms, indeed, the central plank in the bill of particulars pressed by Israel's alleged victims and their Western supporters. It is a charge that has hardly gone undisputed. As early as the mid-1950s, the eminent American historian J.C. Hurewitz undertook a systematic refutation, and his findings were abundantly confirmed by later generations of scholars and writers. Even Benny Morris, the most influential of Israel's revisionist "new historians," and one who went out of his way to establish the case for Israel's "original sin," grudgingly stipulated that there was no "design" to displace the Palestinian Arabs.

The recent declassification of millions of documents from the period of the British Mandate (1920-48) and Israel's early days, documents untapped by earlier generations of writers and ignored or distorted by the "new historians," paints a much more definitive picture of the historical record. These documents reveal that the claim of dispossession is not only completely unfounded but the inverse of the truth. What follows is based on fresh research into these documents, which contain many facts and data hitherto unreported.

I'd heartily recommend clicking the link "1948, Israel and the Palestinians: The True Story" and reading the whole thing. Even if you think you're pretty well checked out on the momentous events of that time, you'll learn a few things you never knew before, and gain a new understanding of the problem.

The Wisdom of Dr. Haim Ginott

In refreshing contrast to these examples of how not to teach children, consider these words of wisdom from the late Dr. Haim Ginott (1922-1973):
"Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression."
"I've come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It's my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized."

Somehow, I think that he'd know how to deal with a 3rd grade boy who claims that he wants to be a girl.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Education or Indoctrination?

Consider these two recent stories from

"3rd-graders asked to help classmate in gender change"

A Pennsylvania elementary school has angered parents by giving them one-day's notice of planned counseling sessions with 100 third-grade students to explain that one of their male classmates would soon begin wearing girls' clothing and taking a female name and to ask that they accept him as a girl and not make unkind remarks.

"Propaganda-driven kids attack think tank"

Students at a California public school have written a series of letters to Chicago's Heartland Institute, which works to discover and develop free-market solutions to society's problems, attacking its members for "destroying our planet" by refusing to endorse the politics of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" film.

Read them both, then ask yourself – are these children, along with millions of others in public schools throughout the country, being educated, or are they being indoctrinated?

The 3rd graders are being trained to accept as perfectly normal a troubled male classmate who has decided, with the full support of his PINOs (Parents In Name Only), to assume a girl's name and dress and act like a girl.

The letters that the 6th grade children wrote to the Heartland Institute are available online. These are 11 year olds who write like 7 or 8 year olds. Not only are they not being taught to think, but they are not even being taught to express themselves in a logical and coherent manner.

The children in both of these classes are being crippled for life.

Is it any wonder that more and more children are being withdrawn from the clutches of the public schools and educated elsewhere? Even at the cost of enormous personal sacrifice, more and more parents are electing to send their children to private or church-affiliated schools, or to school them at home.

How did the public education system get into such sad shape? Who permitted it? For the answer, look in the mirror. We all did when we abrogated our responsibilities as adult citizens and allowed the agenda-driven ideologues to take over.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings."

~~~~~ William Shakespeare, "Julius Caesar"

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Gore Steps In It Again

No doubt, you've seen those ads produced by The Goreacle's new Alliance for Climate Protection. Both feature Odd Couples, one with Pat Robertson and Al Sharpton, and the other,
this one, with Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi.

Well, according to this article "Lawyers: Gore's Pelosi Ad May Violate Election Law" in the New York Sun, that ad is almost certainly illegal.
The spot, which shows Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Gingrich seated on a couch in front of the Capitol, is being questioned because the California Democrat faces a primary election June 3 in her San Francisco district.

“It’s prohibited,” a Republican campaign finance lawyer, Jan Baran, said. He said the ad constitutes a “coordinated” expenditure on behalf of Ms. Pelosi’s campaign by the group sponsoring the ad, the Alliance for Climate Protection. Any ad of that sort distributed in a candidate’s district within 90 days of a congressional primary or general election is deemed a campaign donation, Mr. Baran said.

Read the whole thing and see what you think.

On the other hand, what difference does it make what we think? Since when does a violation of the law matter to a committed Democrat? After all, their intentions are pure, and that's all that counts. Besides, what are good lawyers for if not to figure out ways for determined pols to avoid being bound by the laws that they themselves have passed?

Setting the Record Straight

It seems that the Democrats are now trying to pin our exorbitant gas prices on President Bush. Well, let's just take a look at a couple of inconvenient facts.

On February 27, 2007, shortly after the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate took power, the average price for regular grade here in Lebanon, Tennessee was $2.269 per gallon.

As of two days ago, on May 8, 2008, the average price had increased to $3.539 per gallon.

I'm not much of a mathematician, but I didn't need to be to figure out that in the 15 months since the Democrats took over both houses of Congress, gas prices have increased by 56%, with no end in sight.

If I remember correctly, back in 2006, when the Dems were persuading us to put them back in power, one of their big selling points was the plan they supposedly had to lower gas prices. I don't remember ever hearing any specifics about that plan, though. Apparently, we were just supposed to trust them.

Democrats don't believe they should ever be held to account for the inevitable failure of their grandiose plans to accomplish their stated objectives. Recently, a group of Republican congressmen wrote to Speaker Pelosi's office asking for the particulars of the gas price-lowering plan her party ran on back in 2006. Speaker Pelosi did not even grant them the courtesy of a reply.

No, while they insist on holding Republicans in general, and George W. Bush in particular, to performance standards so strict that only God Himself could meet them, they believe that they should be judged not upon the results of their actions, but upon the purity of their intentions.

Not only do the Democrats expect to be judged by different standards than Republicans, but they also see no conflict between expressing certain goals, then taking actions with results diametrically opposed to those they claimed to favor. Thus, even though the Democrats say that they desire lower gas prices and energy independence, they have managed for decades to prevent us from drilling more oil wells, building refineries, and constructing nuclear power plants. Despite their stated intentions, as a direct result of the Congressional Democrats' actions, we now have higher gas prices, increasing dependence on both foreign oil sources and foreign refining capacity, and a looming shortage of electricity.

The United States has plenty of oil. According to the most informed estimates, our known reserves contain enough petroleum to keep us supplied for the next 200 years. It's located in such places as the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), off the coasts of California and Florida, in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and in the upper midwest. Why don't we go get it and tell our "friends" the Saudis to stick their oil where the sun don't shine? Good question. Ask your friendly local Democrat politician – and if you can get his attention, ask why the views of the radical environmentalists carry so much more weight with the Democrats than those of their constituents.

Just in case you didn't know, the last oil refinery built anywhere in the United States was Marathon Oil's facility in Garyville, Louisiana. It was built in 1976 – 32 years ago. Every bit of the additional refining capacity added since that time has been the result of modernization and expansion of existing refineries. The Democrats and their allies in the radical environmental movement and the mainstream media have successfully squelched all attempts to build new refineries during the past three decades.

How about nuclear power? An objective look at this alternative shows that it is a proven technology which is safe, reliable, economical, and non-polluting. Not only do we have the example of France, which generates 78% of its electric power from nuclear plants, but we can look at our own Navy. Our fleet of nuclear carriers, cruisers, and submarines is the envy of the world. Our first nuclear submarine, the Nautilus, went into service in 1955. According to the World Nuclear Association's "Nuclear-Powered Ships" article,
The US Navy has accumulated over 5500 reactor years of accident-free experience, and operates more than 80 nuclear-powered ships (with 103 reactors as of early 2005).
Is that safe enough for you?

Well, what about Three-Mile Island? Yes, what ABOUT Three-Mile Island? It was a serious incident caused by an avoidable sequence of human errors, but the important lesson to learn from it is that the safety systems worked exactly as they were supposed to! Not only did no one die, no one was even injured, and no damage was done outside the plant. Yet, our friends the Democrats and their enviro and media allies have used Three-Mile Island to scare us all into a state of helpless hysteria over nonexistent hobgoblins, and thus set our country's energy policies back decades.

OK, what about Chernobyl? Wasn't that a true catastrophe caused by a malfunctioning nuclear reactor? Yes, indeed it was, but Chernobyl was a graphite-mediated reactor of a type not used in any Western nation since Enrico Fermi built the world's first reactor under the University of Chicago football stadium 66 years ago. Western reactors are of the Pressurized Water type, and can no more go out of control à la Chernobyl than your car could sprout wings and fly non-stop from New York to San Francisco. Both are physical impossibilities.

In short, if not for the neo-Luddite anti-nuclear mass hysteria ginned up by the Democrats and the extremist environmentalists working hand in glove with their willing allies in the media, we'd now have a network of safe, reliable, economical, non-polluting nuclear power plants, along with nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities to recycle their nuclear waste back into additional fuel. With such an infrastructure in place, we'd have the groundwork to support the mass use of rechargeable electric vehicles, then later, as the technology develops, hydrogen-powered vehicles using fuel cells. As more and more nuclear plants came on line, we could retire some of our older coal-fired plants, thus reducing air pollution and saving countless coal miners who would no longer have to risk their lives in order to supply those plants with fuel.

In addition, if not for the Democrat-environmentalist axis of hysteria, we'd have more than enough oil to meet our needs, along with refineries with which to turn it into fuel.

Does that help put things into perspective?

Thought for Today

"Anticipate charity by preventing poverty; help your fellow man who is in reduced circumstances, either by a substantial gift or a sum of money or by teaching him a trade or by finding him some means of employment so that he may earn an honest living and not be obliged to pursue the grim option of begging for charity. This is the highest rung and summit of the golden ladder of charity."

~~~~~ Moshe ben Maimon [Maimonides], (1135-1204)

The Deniers Gets a Rave Review

In two previous posts, I mentioned the important new book The Deniers: The World Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud**And those who are too fearful to do so by Lawrence Solomon.

The book has just been reviewed by Shawn Macomber of The American Spectator, writing in the Washington Times. His take on the book was, not surprisingly, highly favorable. You can read his eloquent review here: "The climate change deniers."

Here's how it begins:

When heralded Canadian environmentalist Lawrence Solomon first set out two years ago — on a bet, no less — to find credible dissenters to the well-entrenched climate change dogma, he thought he might perhaps unearth enough material for a few National Post columns. Instead, like Alice passing through the looking glass, Mr. Solomon entered a world wherein it soon became clear the much-ballyhooed idea of a "scientific consensus" was as nonsensical as "Jabberwocky."

"I had picked several of the most essential and/or most widely publicized 'building blocks' of the case for catastrophic global warming," Mr. Solomon writes. "In each case, not only was I able to find a truly eminent, world-renowned leader in the field who disputed the point in question, but in each case the denier had more authority, sometimes far more authority, than those who put forward the building block in the first place."

The debate over anthropogenic — that is, human induced — climate change, is, in other words, just a bit more complicated than Al Gore suggested on "Oprah." Few books have captured this cognitive dissonance as well as "The Deniers," Mr. Solomon's essential, engrossing travelogue through the world of climate-change dissent.

By all means, go read the rest of it. I'd encourage everyone to buy and read the book, too – it's that important.

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Well-Deserved Blast

On May 6th, Rev. Al Gore, Prelate of the Church of Global Warming, broke his long public silence. His Goreship deigned to grant an interview with a friendly and sympathetic host, Terry Gross of NPR's "Fresh Air". You can read about it here: "Al Gore Calls Myanmar Cyclone a 'Consequence' of Global Warming ".

On the following day, Marc Sheppard blasted Gore as the self-serving hypocrite he is in a brief post to The American Thinker blog. Click this link "Gore's Myanmar Words as Inopportune as they were Repulsive" to read the whole thing. It won't take long.

Any normal man would be deeply embarrassed to be thus described, particularly when the description is so devastatingly accurate. But as those of us in his home state have known for quite a while now, Al Gore is totally shameless.


An alert Washington, DC resident, John Lockwood, was doing some research in the Library of Congress. He ran across an old Washington Post story dated July 9, 1971 which described a climate prediction issued under NASA auspices by a Columbia University scientist, S.I. Rasool. His prediction was for a man-made Ice Age within 5 to 10 years, supposedly caused by the dust released into the atmosphere by the combustion of fossil fuels. The basis of his prediction? Computer modeling, aided by a program written by then-Research Associate Dr. James Hansen.

Yep – the very same James Hansen who now heads NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and has become the High Priest in Prelate Al Gore's Church of Global Warming.

According to the Washington Post story, the scientists making the frigid prediction were asked about the coutervailing influence of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere during combustion. The result? "They found no need to worry about the carbon dioxide fuel-burning puts in the atmosphere."

The existence of this rather incriminating news story was reported in the Washington Times and picked up by You can read the whole thing here: Global Warming Guru Bitten By His Own Words.

According to the article,
Hansen has some explaining to do. The public deserves to know how he was converted from an apparent believer in a coming ice age who had no worries about greenhouse gas emissions to a global warming fear monger.

Yes, I'd say he does, indeed. Was he lying then, is he lying now, or both?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Eight Belles

First of all, I need to explain that while I am a veterinarian, I am no expert on race horses. During the first 17 years of my career, up until 1987, I worked on horses regularly, but never on a race horse. My only direct exposure to them was as a student at veterinary school 40 years ago.

Nevertheless, I have enough of an understanding of the situation to have some definite ideas about what went wrong, and why we see these horrific racehorse tragedies so frequently.

Horses, like all vertebrate animals, have physeal plates – growth plates – in their bones. While the horse's bones are growing, those growth plates are composed of cartilage, and thus represent weak spots in the bone. Once the horse's bones have reached their maximum length, those growth plates ossify, or turn into solid bone. From then on, the growth plate area is just as strong as the surrounding bone.

Horses' bones continue to grow, although at a decreased rate, until the horse is nearly 5 years old. Yet, we race these horses competitively as 2-year-olds, and begin to train them intensively months earlier. Why, then, should we be surprised when some of these horses break their legs in such spectacular fashion?

Keep in mind, too, that by tradition, the Thoroughbred industry clings to a quaint custom for calculating the age of racehorses. Regardless of when in a given year a horse is born, its birthday is considered to be January 1st of that year. Most foals are dropped between February and May, so a so-called "yearling" on January 1st of the following year may well be only 8 months old in real time.

In truth, the problem is far more severe than most racing fans know. The industry's deep, dark secret is that they are racing these colts and fillies much too young. Everyone involved knows it, yet they never say it publicly.

Once in a great while, someone publishes an article laying out the unvarnished truth about this uncomfortable subject. One such appeared in the British scientific press about 15 years ago, "Early casualties of a sporting life: Thoroughbred racehorses are pampered aristocrats of the equine world. But many have their careers cut short by injuries that some say are caused by pushing them too hard too soon" by John Bonner (New Scientist, 20 March 1993).

Let's look at a few choice quotes:

Lameness is the single biggest factor preventing young racehorses from running. Some vets argue that injuries to leg bones and tendons are the result of pushing animals too hard and too soon – before they are physically mature. The racing industry accepts that pitting two-year-olds against one another is risky, but regards it as economically essential, especially when racing is in the grip of recession.

A bit later,

Horses have a natural lifespan of more than 20 years and do not stop growing until they are around five. In a two-year-old horse new bone is still being laid down in the epiphyses or growth plates near the ends of the bones. New bone is made up of cartilage-like material which gradually hardens as it is permeated by calcium and phosphorus. In the bones of the leg, these growth areas have to support the animal's weight and their softness makes them particularly vulnerable to injury.

Once in a while, experts speak frankly:

Some vets argue that two years is too young an age to race horses. They maintain that the rigours of training contribute to lameness. 'I would say that they are raced too early and too fast,' says Alastair Mews, assistant chief veterinary officer with the RSPCA.

Brian Singleton, the former director of the Animal Health Trust, Britain's leading equine research centre, says: 'The epiphyseal growth plates are still open in the leg bones of a two-year-old horse. They are beginning to close in a three-year-old. Inevitably, these structures can be damaged by the stresses of training and racing. I strongly feel that two-year-old horses are just too young.'

Why the rush to race these horses before they're ready? Money, of course:

Racing exists for betting and the industry is dependent on the money betting generates. A horse has to show its speed and stamina in races restricted to two-year-olds to develop the form that will encourage punters to spend their money on classic races, such as the Derby, when they are three. To stop racing two-year-olds would force a complete overhaul of this system.

Then, this frank admission:

The cost of training an animal is at least £150 a week, and few trainers could afford to keep a horse off the racetrack for an extra year. According to Deborah Baker, president of the British Equine Veterinary Association, if two-year-old racing were curtailed, the industry would crumble.

To get a good, fair, balanced view of the entire situation as it exists in the British racing industry, read the whole thing. As far as I know, the problems and concerns of the US industry are similar, although the industry is, of course, much larger.

If you're not familiar with the physical arrangement of growth plates within bones, here is a diagram and a couple of x-rays to help you understand. All three involve the human knee, a joint which is easy for most of us to understand, since so many of us have had problems with our knees at one time or another, or have close family members who have. Therefore, we have probably seen knee x-rays before.

The diagram shows the locations of the growth plates in the bones of the human knee. Then, there are x-rays of a normal right knee and a severely injured left knee.

Here's the normal right knee.

The left knee has suffered a particularly nasty growth plate fracture classified as a "Salter-Harris Type IV." I've made a few notes on the picture to help you understand what you're seeing. The exact meaning of the classification system is not important. Suffice it to say that this type of fracture is a challenge to the skill of the finest orthopedic surgeons, and can never be expected to be completely normal regardless of the procedure used to repair it. The reason is that such a severe injury to an active growth plate can be expected to result in premature physeal closure – the cessation of growth before the bone has reached its full length.

In humans, premature physeal closure can result in one limb being considerably shorter than the other, or even in curvature of a limb if the injury occurs to either the forearm or the shin. Such cases require further corrective surgery, such as Ilizarov limb-lengthening procedures or wedge osteotomies and compression plating to straighten crooked limbs. If you're interested in knowing more about growth plate injuries in humans, here's an excellent reference from the National Institutes of Health: "Q&A: Growth Plate Injuries"

Many of these procedures are equally applicable to dogs and cats. The cost may be an insurmountable obstacle for many owners, but the procedures are not only technically feasible, but are now performed almost routinely in veterinary teaching hospitals and specialty surgery practices.

Horses, though, are a different matter. People who have never worked with them invariably don't understand, but the fact is that even in cases where the horse's owner is willing and able to pay the bill, and states plainly that money is no object, it is often impossible to save these horses. Those who may doubt that hard reality got a sad lesson 2 years ago in the case of Barbaro.

In that case, the horse broke only one of his hind legs. In addition, the skin was not torn open – thus, there was no bacterial contamination of the wound. Nevertheless, despite the great skill of the attending veterinarian and the determination of all involved to see the case through to a successful conclusion, we all know what happened.

Because of the additional stress placed upon it, the opposing, uninjured limb broke down and developed laminitis – founder. Some of the finest equine veterinarians in the profession tried their best to stop the process, but it inexorably progressed to the point where the tip of Barbaro's 3rd phalanx, the coffin bone, broke through the sole of his hoof. That in itself would have been a devastating complication, but when coupled with the condition of the opposing limb – fractured, repaired, and healing nicely, but still far from normal – his case rapidly became hopeless. At that point, the owners had to make the sad decision to authorize Barbaro's euthanasia.

Eight Belles never had a chance. Not only did she simultaneously break both of her forelimbs, but at the time of the injury, the bone came through the skin of the left leg, thus turning an already grave situation into a compound fracture. Thus, she had two insurmountable problems. First, she did not have one good limb to support her weight during a protracted healing period. Second, she had a contaminated lower leg wound – a bad enough situation in dogs and humans, but devastating in horses, which, despite their great strength, have far less innate infection-fighting ability than humans, small animals, or even cattle.

No doubt, those unfamiliar with horses will be second-guessing the decision to euthanize Eight Belles for some time to come. In my opinion, though, there is no question that they did the right thing.

While we can never prevent every accident, we can easily prevent the vast majority of these gallant young racehorses from experiencing the sort of violent, agonizing end that we have now seen twice within two years. Just as we no longer permit child labor in this country, we should no longer tolerate the spectacle of immature horses racing their hearts out for our amusement, and putting their very lives in peril in the process.

UPDATE: We might have known this was coming – PETA has weighed in: "PETA wants Eight Belles jockey suspended after filly's death". As usual, they've got it wrong. This tragedy was not the jockey's fault. He was just doing his job. The only aspect of PETA's faxed letter that makes any sense is their demand for limits on the age of racehorses. In that respect, and only in that respect, PETA and I agree. Otherwise, in my opinion, their fax was a waste of valuable fax paper.

4/20/09 NOTE: If you came here to read about Eight Belles, you'll also want to learn about the latest outrage, the unfolding tale of an Equine Massacre.