Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Filed Under Awesome

Just because I saw it somewhere else and love it, watch "Pac-Man: The Movie"

The twisted tale of four ghosts trapped in a maze while being stalked by a giant yellow monster.

The Indian Prophecy

In 1755 George Washington marched with the army of Major General Edward Braddock as part of the expedition to capture Fort Duquesne, held by the French. Washington was serving as an aide-de-camp to the General at the time. The British regulars, drilled for traditional combat, were ambushed by a force of French and American Indians, severely beaten by guerrilla tactics and forced to retreat. Then Colonel Washington took the lead after Gen. Braddock was shot and salvaged the situation the best he could.

"15 years later, in the fall of 1770, Washington and several other men traveled to the Ohio river to examine some of the western lands that had been granted to colonial veterans of the French and Indian War. During the journey they were met by an Indian trader who "declared that he was conducting a party which consisted of a grand sachem and some attendant warriors; that the chief was a very great man among the northwestern tribes, and the same who [had] commanded the Indians at the fall of Braddock.... Hearing of the visit of Colonel Washington to the western country, this chief had set out on a mission, the object of which [he] himself would make known." (32) After the two groups had arranged themselves around a council fire, the old Indian rose and spoke to the group through an interpreter:
"I am a chief, and the ruler over many tribes. My influence extends to the waters of the great lakes, and to the far blue mountains. I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle.

"It was on the day when the white man's blood mixed with the streams of our forest that I first beheld this chief. I called to my young men and said, Mark yon tall and daring warrior? He is not of the red-coat tribe-he hath an Indian's wisdom, and his warriors fight as we do-himself is alone exposed. Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies. Our rifles were levelled, rifles which but for him knew not how to miss-'twas all in vain; a power mightier far than we shielded him from harm. He cannot die in battle.

"I am old, and soon shall be gathered to the great council fire of my fathers in the land of shades; but ere I go there is something bids me speak in the voice of prophecy. Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man, and guides his destinies-he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire!" (33)

32. George Washington Parke Custis, Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington, ed. Benson J. Lossing (New York: Derby & Jackson, 1860), p. 302.

33. Ibid., pp. 303-4. This incident was related personally by Dr. James Craik, an eyewitness, to G.W.P. Custis, Martha Washington's grandson.

Excerpt from The Real George Washington

There is some discussion as to the veracity of the above. However, it is hard to imagine a better source than Dr. Craik, who sat at the fire, heard the prophecy and reported it to Martha Washington's grandson.

Note that George Washington, despite receiving many holes to his clothing, was never injured in battle so far as I've been able to determine.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Discussion after House Passage of H.R. 2454

Following yesterday's passage of H.R. 2454 in the House of Representatives, there was naturally some discussion by people who were following the legislation. Tangent: Please contact your Senators and let them know you oppose the passage of any Senate version of H.R. 2454.

One disturbing comment I saw was this one:

"Predictably, I am in favor of it. Bring on the truth in pricing. If I'm doing or buying something that is particularly bad for the earth, I might as well know it, and decide if it is worth my money and my kid's future. (And yes, I know there are many ways the big G is messing with our children's futures.) But then, I saw this coming years ago and started shrinking our family 'footprint' well in advance of government compulsion, so maybe I am just being annoyingly smug. Sorry."

Many environmental activists may feel the same way today, so let me take a moment to say what I feel is wrong with it.

"Bring on the truth in pricing."

What truth? My understanding of this comment is that additional cost in energy and products is warranted. Why? They already reflect current costs of energy creation, salaries of those involved, etc. If the truth is the cost to the environment of carbon dioxide production, then I dispute the term truth. There is plenty of room for doubt about carbon dioxide's effect on the environment and the theory (yes, theory, not fact) of anthropogenic global warming. Here are just a few posts on this blog on the subject, each referencing solid outside sources:

Say No to Cap and Trade. Oppose H.R. 2454

California's Going to Tax Carbon Dioxide Emissions: A Cautionary Tale

The End of Global Warming (inaccurate data throws the entire theory into doubt)

Al Gore, the face of Global Warming doesn't act like he believes his own theory

Then again, fewer and fewer people do believe in anthropogenic global warming

Nevertheless, despite much inquiry into the credibility of the theory and his own actions, Gore still pushes global warming legislation before congress

This despite the fact that arctic ice doesn't really seem to be disappearing as originally reported

That other planets were behaving similarly to Earth (pointing to an extraplanatary cause, meaning any climate change was not likely anthropogenic)

And that Earth now seems to be cooling, or at the very least, temperatures have been flat since 2001. This is all cited in the resources linked in the various posts linked above.

So, it's clear the global climate change bill isn't about truth. It's about a very questionable theory.

That means there's a huge problem with forcing this policy on everyone. Because the science is not settled, the belief in anthropogenic global warming is real is just a belief. Many scientists have characterized it as a religious belief. It is not fair, nor even Constitutional, to force anyone's belief on anyone else by legislation.

There's also the matter of a legislative instead of a market-based solution. If the commenter would like to pay more to offset her carbon footprint, she is free to do so. Most utility companies offer the option to pay a bit more for the delivery of green energy. Entire lines of products are devoted to environmentally friendly options that usually cost a bit more. As demand for such goods and energy increases, they will become more prevalent in the marketplace. That's the American solution, rather than the authoritarian socialist solution passed by the House of Representatives yesterday. The market solution is in keeping with the Constitution and the founding principles of our nation. Better yet, no one's free will or rights are abridged.

The most basic concept of the founding of America is liberty. Key to that concept is that your rights extend precisely to the point where they infringe upon mine, and there they stop! Naturally, the opposite is also true. My rights end when they infringe upon yours.

Finally, there's the matter of being in favor of this bill. How could anyone possibly be? No one had time to read the over 1200 pages of bill, let alone the over 300 pages of amendment added at 3 AM the day of the vote. We don't know what's in there, and that may well be the scariest part. A vote should never take place unless the legislature and the people have had a time to read and consider what's being voted on.

As an aside, the poster was right; her smugness doesn't help her cause, nor does her sense of moral superiority give her any special right to force her beliefs on me, at a cost my family can't afford.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

You don't even have to study history not to repeat this mistake

Reuters is reporting that Representatives Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Anthony Weiner want Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to relax recently tightened standards for mortgages on new condominiums. They feel the current guidelines are causing housing to sell too slowly, thus prolonging the economic slump.

Even Barney Frank can't be quite that stupid. This crisis arose from government intervention, and government intervention will prolong it. Making lending easier after the .com crash led to the housing bubble. Lending organizations were also forced to make loans they knew they shouldn't or face accusations of redlining and racism. That is, had market forces not been interfered with, most of this wouldn't happened.

I sincerely hope Fannie and Freddie don't give in to Frank, but suspect they won't have much choice.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Words of Wisdom from George Washington

I'm reading "The Real George Washington" at the moment, and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in the founding of the U.S.

What is striking to me is that many of the situations that bothered him have parallels today, and many of his statements about them are similarly applicable.

"At a time when our lordly masters in Great Britain will be satisfied with nothing less than the deprication [sic] of American freedom, it seems highly necessary that something should be done to avert the stroke and maintain the liberty which we have derived from our ancestors; but the manner of doing it to answer the purpose effectually is the point in question.
"That no man should scruple or hesitate a moment to use arms in defense of so valuable a blessing, on which all the good and evil of life life depends, is clearly my opinion. Yet arms, I would beg leave to add, should be the last resource." (George Washington to George Mason, April 5, 1769)

It is notable that Mr. Washington considered liberty an heritage from his ancestors, not a privilege granted by government.

With regard to the unreasonable taxation Great Britain was heaping upon the unwilling colonists at the time, he wrote:

"...the Parliament of Great Britain have no more right to put their hands into my pocket, without my consent, than I have to put my hands into yours for money." (George Washington to Bryan Fairfax, July 20, 1774).

This is a concept that is central to the original Constitution of the United States. That is, the government only exists and functions at the sufferance of the citizenry, and that its officers have no more power to do anything a citizen than does his neighbor or any other citizen. Thus, taxation can only be effected if the citizenry agrees to it, and it must be put to uses agreed upon by them. This is a deeply different idea from the current view of most of the U.S. and local governments, who see citizens only as a source of "revenue."

It would be well to politely remind your representative that you're more than a cash cow.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Missing the Mark on Education

AP missed the mark in a recent article on education in California. The entire column focuses on how the current financial crisis will reduce per capital funding and increase class sizes, which will destroy education in the state.

Unfortunately for this premise, California was spending less per pupil and taxing less per capita adjusted for inflation when it had a model educational system, great roads and a free California State University education for every lawful resident who wanted one.

California now ranks low on education even though it has some of the toughest teacher credentialing standards in the U.S. (to my knowledge, only New York is similarly difficult).

Our schools, even during the massive income years of the recent past, haven't performed well when flush with money. In fact, they seem to perform poorly no matter how well they're funded. Something else is going on, and if we're going to solve the problem, we have to look at it honestly and figure out what it is.

Pouring money on a problem doesn't usually solve it unless the money is used well. There's a lot of waste and mismanagement in California school districts as anyone in the system for a while can attest. I taught for two years, and have a friend who has been teaching for nearly two decades, a large portion of that in the Oakland, California school district. I saw corruption during my brief involvement in the profession. My friend has seen it on a much grander scale.

The "65 percent" solution might help, mandating that at least 65 percent of all funding go directly to classroom expenses. Detractors claim this strict guideline isn't actually helpful, but given what I've seen of administrative misuse of funds, I'd like to examine more data before I agree it's not effective.

It isn't just money we're misusing, though. We waste time. Any teacher will tell you that in California approximately the last month and a half of class time is spent on testing and assessments of various kinds. When you're using 15% of your school year on assessment instead of instruction, you'll convey less information to your students.

It's notable that part of the reason for the strict yet ineffectual credentialing and massive amount of assessment is that our legislature passes laws based on what feels good, so every time someone wants to tell their district they're pro-education, they pass another law toughening credentialing or adding testing, regardless of how that actually affects our schools.

Other problems in California include the fact that many of the cultures within the State don't emphasize education as important and a large portion of the population doesn't speak English.

California is out of money to spend on anything, so we no longer have the luxury of pretending this is just a problem of funding and class size.

It's time to study what other states are doing right and implement their strategies here rather than remaining mired in failed ideology.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Budget Bully

Normally, I wouldn't post anything produced by the Republican party. I'm not Republican, and the party in California acted shamefully in February. What's funny is that this commercial is absolutely true, but is just as damning against the Republican party, which fully participated in raising taxes, and is just as enslaved by the SEIU and other State unions.

So, as you watch, remember, this applies to both parties equally in California.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Enjoyable Forward--Divorce Agreement

You may have seen this in your inbox already, and usually I don't post forwards. This one was sufficiently entertaining, with enough pointed content to post. I haven't been able to verify the attribution, but it's entertaining nonetheless.

Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists and Obama supporters, et al.:

We have stuck together since the late 1950's, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has run its course. Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way.

Here is a model separation agreement:

Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass each taking a portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy! Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.

We don't like redistributive taxes so you can keep them. You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU.. Since you hate guns and war, we'll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA and the military. You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore and Rosie O'Donnell (You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move all three of them).

We'll keep the capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart and Wall Street. You can have your beloved homeless, homeboys, hippies and illegal aliens. We'll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO's and rednecks. We'll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood .

You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we'll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us. You can have the peaceniks and war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we'll help provide them security.

We'll keep our Judeo-Christian values.. You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism and Shirley McClain. You can also have the U.N.. but we will no longer be paying the bill.

We'll keep the SUVs, pickup trucks and over-sized luxury cars. You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find.

You can give everyone health care if you can find any practicing doctors. We'll continue to believe health care is a luxury and not a right. We'll keep The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the National Anthem. I'm sure you'll be happy to substitute Imagine, I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing, Kum Ba Ya or We Are the World.

We'll practice trickle down economics and you can give trickle up poverty your best shot. Since it often so offends you, we'll keep our history, our name and our flag.

In the spirit of friendly parting, I'll bet you ANWR which one of us will need whose help in 15 years.

John J. Wall
Law Student and an American
P.S. Also, please take Barbara Streisand & Jane Fonda with you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Knife Control? Seriously?

We've posted on knife control before. Now it looks like the U.K. is getting serious about it. Here's the anti-stab knife that they're beginning to sell:


Full article here.

This really won't change anything in the U.K., much as gun control hasn't.

What is the truth about this "anti-stab" knife? A criminal will be able to modify this knife very quickly to make it a stabbing weapon (or he can just use it in a slashing fashion). Worse yet, lawful citizens in the U.K. will be just a little more helpless.

I'm waiting for them to start banning rocks and bricks.

Any society is foolish to blame the instrument of violence for the behavior. Address the behavioral problems and recognize the criminal is to blame, not the gun or knife.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Obama's Loose Relationship With the Truth

Something I worried about before the '08 election was that Obama seems to lie whenever he's pressed into a corner. He says what sounds good, rather than what's true.

Victor Davis Hanson asks the question, "Why has President Obama developed a general disregard for the truth, in a manner far beyond typical politicians who run one way and govern another, or hide failures and broadcast successes?"
In the first six months of the Obama administration, we have witnessed an assault on the truth of a magnitude not seen since the Nixon Watergate years. The prevarication is ironic given the Obama campaign’s accusations that the Bush years were not transparent and that Hillary Clinton, like her husband, was a chronic fabricator. Remember Obama’s own assertions that he was a “student of history” and that “words mean something. You can’t just make stuff up.”


What is stunning about Obama’s hostile demagoguery about Bush’s War on Terror is not that he has now contradicted himself on one or two particulars. Instead, he has reversed himself on every major issue — renditions, military tribunals, intercepts, wiretaps, Predator drone attacks, the release of interrogation photos, Iraq (and, I think, soon Guantanamo Bay) — and yet never acknowledged these reversals.

Are we supposed to think that Obama was never against these protocols at all? Or that he still remains opposed to them even as he keeps them in place? Meanwhile, his attorney general, Eric Holder, is as voluble on the excesses of the Bush War on Terror as he is silent about his own earlier declarations that detainees in this war were not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Convention.
I urge you to read the whole thing.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

All Obama Statements Come With an Expiration Date

Yep, all of them. The title is from Jim Geraghty's NRO post from November of last year.

This time around, it's amazing how much reversal Obama has done in the last few months (reversals which will have dramatic impact on our nation).

Pointed out from the blog Small Dead Animals:

Obama at Buchenwald, June 5: "This place teaches us that we must be ever-vigilant about the spread of evil in our own time, that we must reject the false comfort that others' suffering is not our problem, and commit ourselves to resisting those who would subjugate others to serve their own interests."

Obama in Cairo, June 4: "So let me be clear: No system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other."

Or slightly different quotes at Gateway Pundit:

"Preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn't a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there."
Barack Obama
Sunapee, N.H.
June 20, 2007
"The international community has an obligation, even when it's inconvenient, to act when genocide is occurring."
Barack Obama
Dresden, Germany
June 5, 2009
Today's reversal is about Mirandizing jihadis on the battlefield, reading them their rights, as if they're arrested by police officers.

Jack Tapper pointed out that Obama flatly denied that this would happen, all the way back in...March of this year:
In March, President Obama told 60 Minutes that "the whole premise of Guantanamo promoted by Vice President Cheney was that somehow the American system of justice was not up to the task of dealing with these terrorists. I fundamentally disagree with that. Now do these folks deserve Miranda rights? Do they deserve to be treated like a shoplifter down the block? Of course not."

The End of Global Warming

An important Op-Ed showed up last week, titled "Cooling down with global-warming data."

"We can't know for sure if global warming is a problem if we can't trust the data," said Anthony Watts, veteran broadcast meteorologist, who for three years organized an extensive review of official ground temperature monitoring stations, in conjunction with Dr. Roger Pielke Sr., senior research scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and professor emeritus of the Department of Atmospheric Science at the University of Colorado.

The study, recently published by the free-market Heartland Institute, inspected 860 of the 1,221 U.S. ground stations that gauge temperature changes. The findings were alarming.

They found 89 percent of stations "fail to meet the National Weather Service's own siting requirements" that say stations must be located at least 100 feet from artificial heat sources.

What specifically is being addressed is the Surface Stations Project. In particular, look at the overview of the survey map:

What this means is that the vast majority of the actual measuring stations have a bias that shows temperatures warmer than they really are.

Note a good station vs. a bad station.


Take a look at this station in Santa Ana:

That's right, that's a temperature monitoring station on a roof, with AC exhaust all around. How can we even trust the surface data if this is how it's measured?

The Detroit Lakes Station was apparently shamed into fixing their setup. Is it any wonder this setup showed warming over time?

Of course it's not surprising--as those AC vents got added, it would increase the hot air exhaust over time. In fact, the overall warming trend is smaller than the bias from the improper stationing. Which means that we might be in the middle of a global cooling trend.

In fact, AccuWeather suggests we might be in for a year without a summer this year:
According to Long Range Expert Joe Bastardi, areas from the northern Plains into the Northeast will have a “year without a summer.” The jet stream, which is suppressed abnormally south this spring, is also suppressing the number of thunderstorms that can form.
Good thing we're ready to pass that cap-and-trade on carbon! Perfect timing.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Hitler Guy is Greg Gutfield

Well, it's official

Evan Thomas, Editor of Newsweek, has now deified President Obama.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Thanks for the Trade War Obama!

Our Presidential Student of History is following in the footsteps of the Great Depression. It's a well-known lesson of history that protectionism leads to trade wars leads to serious economic harm.

Despite warnings, the "stimulus" package included "buy American" clauses. This angered Canada, and now they're starting to retaliate. Thanks a bunch!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Will Obama Defend the Constitution?

I'm new to the blog here, but I have something to say. I saw a bumper sticker during a work day that had a picture of Obama with the text that said "Hitler gave great speeches too." A co-worker of mine is mostly liberal and supports Obama. We frequently have heated political debates and I shared with him what I saw on that bumper sticker. His initial reaction was somewhat hostile and asking me how I could say something like that since Obama hadn't killed millions of people as Hitler did. This led me to explain that the point of the bumper sticker I saw (as I took it) was that someone who can speak well is also capable of horrendous acts. This country is taken by a man who is capable of speaking well and they've given him his votes. The Hitler thing bothers me because he spelled something out early: "How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think." It bothers me to no end that this is where we are today in the United States of America. People aren't thinking. They are feeling. There is nothing wrong with feeling, but there comes a point when thinking is necessary. And a lot of thinking isn't required. I will say that Reagan got it right. He was hated by what was the media in that age, but he stayed true to his beliefs. That's something that us conservatives saw and loved in Palin. She is a gold-plated conservative. And she's paid the price for being drawn into the spotlight. I know a lot of leftists will say I'm repeating talk radio, and they are right but so am I. And so is talk radio. Reagan took a stand and drew a line in the sand. Obama has wiped the line out with his foot. My fellow bloggers do this better than I do, but I stand on their side. Obama makes a trip to celebrate D-Day and it's amongst apologizing (again) for what America stands for. I'm not sorry for what America has stood for, nor the countries we've helped. My father served in Vietnam and was wounded in action (I have his purple heart medal). I, as a citizen of the United States of America will NOT apologize, or accept someone else apologizing on my behalf for us defending our constitution. Oh, and speaking of which, what happened to the oath that our "president" took? In case you forgot, here it is: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES! HE SPOKE THOSE WORDS! Is he living up to that oath? No. The Constitution is not ambiguous. It is very specific, and the man who took the oath to uphold it is not doing so. He is endangering us all at a break-neck speed and seems to be doing so cluelessly. My purpose of this blog (thank you Andy and Mark) is to put out the opinion of someone who understands what is happening to our country. If we don't do something about this, the results could be disastrous. To my co-worker who was upset that I compared Obama to Hitler: Both were/are able to speak well. It scares me that someone who can win crowds as Hitler did has emerged and is president of my country. I'm not saying Obama is Hitler, but I'm cautious of what he's capable of. Students of history know that Germany was converted to socialism by Hitler. I don't want to see that happen here.

Friday, June 5, 2009

What Balkanization and Identity Politics Bring

In Ethnic Studies at U.C. Berkeley, I was taught that only the majority can be racist. Minorities can not be racist, because they do not have power to carry out their biases. That's simply a lie, as demonstrated by this story. Still doubting it? Remember this story from 2007? Here is the same issue, in 2009. What can stop all this? We have to start identifying with other people as humans, not as subcategories of ethnicity. People matter. Color doesn't.

The Heart of Progressivism

Many people proudly announce they're progressives. What exactly is a progressive, though? Jonah Goldberg, author of "Liberal Fascism," wrote this column early in 2008 during the presidential election to help people understand a some of the history of the progressive movement.

We're not a Democracy, Reprise

I've made the point in the past that we're not a Democracy. Sometimes a short video will make more of an impression than many words. The difference between a Democracy and a Republic is key to the return of good governance in the U.S.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Obama Lie: "Create or Save Jobs"

One of the ridiculous things coming out of the Obama administration is that the stimulus plan will "create or save" many many jobs. We've been shedding 500-600k jobs every month for serveral months now. Meanwhile, news stories are claiming that in 100 days we've "created or saved 150k jobs." The only problem is that there's no way anyone could know what has been saved (at least someone in the media is noticing that):

There is only one necessary data point to make the "jobs-saved" claim: an accurate measure of expected employment levels in the future. That baseline data is critical to measure what the employment level would be in the absence of the stimulus. Unfortunately for the White House, they cannot possibly know that measurement within any degree of confidence -- and they know it.

To understand just how unknowable this data point is, it's not necessary to be an economist, a mathematician or a statistician.

You only need to know this: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) - thousands of the most professional and rigorous counters and analyzers of labor data in the history of mankind - makes TWO revisions of employment data for their ESTIMATE of the PREVIOUS month! And even then the reports are mere estimates - an annual benchmark survey is required to reset the nation's payroll baseline.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pravda Mocks U.S.

To be fair, it's an opinion piece. Still, did you ever think you'd see the day when Pravda would mock us as hapless sheeple?