Friday, February 02, 2007



I've had enough.

Blogging has been few and far between in the past two weeks. Lack of news? Nah. Lack of drive? Nah. Lack of time? Well that has entered the equation.

The real reason, though, is because of shitty (sorry, that's the best way to put it) service from Blog*Spot's "NEW Blogger." I upgraded while it was still in Beta, but I swear it's been worse since it came out...

This week alone I have been:

  • Locked out of dashboard 3 times
  • Devoid of a blog at all (that is, typing in the URL resulted in an error) 2 times.
  • Bored while waiting for the dashboard to load: ever time I tried to use the thing
And so with a history of frustration and a bad taste in my mouth, I leave Blogger for Wordpres instead. The new URL will be I would greatly appreciate it if any regular reader would PLEASE bookmark the NEW address, and feel free to describe to the RSS Feed as well! After all that's what it's there for.

One final thought...does ANYBODY know how to import TO FROM New Blogger? I've read about 100 posts on forums at Wordpress, but that's mainly for


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

'Cuz it's "hip"

David Bell's LA Times piece is yet another example of the pontifications of somebody who just doesn't quite get this whole "war on terror" thing. Via Patterico:

IMAGINE THAT on 9/11, six hours after the assault on the twin towers
and the Pentagon, terrorists had carried out a second wave of attacks
on the United States, taking an additional 3,000 lives. Imagine that
six hours after that,there had been yet another wave. Now imagine that the attacks hadcontinued, every six hours, for another four years, until nearly 20
million Americans were dead. This is roughly what the Soviet Union
suffered during World War II, and contemplating these numbers may help
put in perspective what the United States has so far experienced during
the war against terrorism.

It also raises several questions. Has the American reaction to the
attacks in fact been a massive overreaction? Is the widespread belief
that 9/11 plunged us into one of the deadliest struggles of our time
simply wrong? If we did overreact, why did we do so? Does history
provide any insight?


The people who attacked us in 2001 are indeed hate-filled fanatics who
would like nothing better than to destroy this country. But desire is
not the same thing as capacity, and although Islamist extremists can
certainly do huge amounts of harm around the world, it is quite
different to suggest that they can threaten the existence of the United
Wrong, wrong, wrong! Bell completely misses the point of the War on Terror. He quite accurately assess the situation in stating that, "desire is not the same thing as capacity..." but he misses the connection. Let us examine this further.

The Islamists that want us dead truly do desire our extinction. They don't simply hate us--the people. They don't hate John because he's John or Teressa because she's Teressa. They hate America because it is America: free, equal, (mostly) Judao-Christian oriented, the land of prosperity and opportunity. This is what they hate. Their desire is not to kill a few people, but to destroy the way of life we call American.

But this is more than simply desiring something. I desire a large house, a nice car and the financial freedom to do whatever the hell I want. While surely I work hard to achieve these things, there are certain things that are off the table in my "desire" to achieve these things: I would not steal. I would not murder. I would not bring any harm to others. I would not cheat or do anything to compromise my family, myself or my values. For the Islamist fundamentalist, this restraint does not exist. In the case of those who wish us to be destroyed, for our way of life to eternally parish, they will stop at nothing. Not only would they murder and destroy as a last resort, they would do this as a primary resort. Their mindset is this: achieve our goal at any cost and with any means necessary.

This brings us to capacity. Bell believes the fundamentalists lack the capacity to do real or significant harm. There are a few problems with this view. Firstly, the extent of harm done cannot be measured simply in how many deaths have been accrued. Instead, there are certain other indicators, both measurable and immeasurable, that must be considered. Did the attack do damage to financial institutions? (Think Twin Towers) Did the attack strike a blow against the morale of the enemy? (Say, by striking the heart of the American Armed Forces in hitting the Pentagon.) What symbolism can be drawn from the attacks. (While they were unsuccessful in destroying the White House or Capital, and the fact that the likelihood that even if they had hit the White House of the Capitol they would have killed any "major players," such an attack would have been a symbolic blow to the US).

Secondly, and most significantly, we have to consider the fact that such extremists not only desire our destruction, but they desire the means (capacity) to bring about that destruction. And so we find ourselves in Iraq, wherein we hoped to prevent such monsters as Osama bin Laden from acquiring WMD's which would thus give them the capacity to do large, wide-scale destruction.

The fact that Bell leaves these arguments out of his piece makes me suspicious. I'm no genius (in fact, I can't even spell the word as the Spell Check tool as just underlined it in red...), but even I can see that these are the most basic flaws in Bell's piece. To me, the possibility that Bell was aiming to cause a stink and get some attention must at least be considered. In a time when it has become "hip" to think that 9/11 was a vast government conspiracy which was allowed to go forth (or perhaps even carried out) by our leadership in order to build the ground on which to launch "wars of aggression" in the Middle East, I think it's at least possible that some--Bell included--might just see this as a means to achieve a few minutes in the national spotlight...

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Hallmarks of a Democrat

Hillary Clinton visited Iowa this weekend, causing a big stink in her wake. Video of the most talked about portion of her town-hall style meeting can be seen at HotAir. Yahoo also reports:

Clinton held a town hall-style forum attended by about 300 activists, giving a brief speech before taking questions for nearly an hour. Pressed to defend her vote to authorize force in Iraq before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, Clinton responded by stepping up her criticism of Bush.

"I am going to level with you, the president has said this is going to be left to his successor," Clinton said. "I think it is the height of irresponsibility and I really resent it."


One questioner asked Clinton if her track record showed she could stand up to "evil men" around the world.

"The question is, we face a lot of dangers in the world and, in the gentleman's words, we face a lot of evil men and what in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men," Clinton said. She paused to gaze while the audience interrupted with about 30 seconds of laughter and applause.

Meeting later with reporters, she was pressed repeatedly to explain what she meant. She insisted it was a simple joke.

"I thought I was funny," Clinton said. "You guys keep telling me to lighten up, be funny. I get a little funny and now I'm being psychoanalyzed."

She told reporters that evil men included al-Qaida leader

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden, who remains at large. "Isn't it about time we get serious about that?" she said.


"The height of irresponsibility," spokesman Rob Saliterman said, "would be to cap our troop numbers at an arbitrary figure and to cut off their funding."

Clinton does not support cutting funding for American troops, but does favor that step for Iraqi forces if the Baghdad government fails to meet certain conditions.

Clinton defended the role that Congress has played, saying newly empowered Democrats are beginning to build pressure on Bush to act, but the public needs to be patient.

"We are at the beginning of a process," Clinton said. "It's a frustrating process, our system is sometimes frustrating."

My, oh my. Hillary hit all the major hallmarks of what it takes (at least since the '04 General Election) to be a presidential candidate for the Democrat Party, didn't she?

  • Emulating her favorite fellow senator John Kerr, she botched a bad joke (or, if she didn't botch a bad joke, she was read as having attempted a bad joke).
  • She turned a very serious--in my opinion the single most serious and important--issue into a laughing matter. After all, it is the President's single most awesome responsibility to protect the United States from "evil and bad men" and Clinton turned it into a joke--whether about Republicans, Ken Starr or her husband. This sort of joking is something we should have gotten used to by now, though.
  • Flip-flopper. "I was being serious." "I thought I was funny..." Can she have it both ways? Can she be serious and be funny? No. I don't think so.
Beyond the above outline idiocy, Clinton illustrated yet another contradiction in her views on the war. Consider this: Senator Clinton does not support Bush's troop increase. She does not support a new strategy in Iraq. She wants to "cap" troop numbers and funding at their current levels (thus maintaining the status quo), yet she has the audacity to say this:

"We are at the beginning of a process [...] It's a frustrating process, our system is sometimes frustrating"

Clinton defended the role that Congress has played, saying newly empowered Democrats are beginning to build pressure on Bush to act, but the public needs to be patient.

Certain members of the Congress need to heed this advice: be patient. Bush has acted. That's the reality. He has changed leaders and strategy and initial reports seem to suggest some measure of success.

Hillary says, "Isn't it about time we get serious about [the War on Terror]?"

Yes, it is. It is time that you--Democrats--get serious about the War on Terror. You don't like the Bush policy. Fine. I myself am not convinced it will work. But at the moment it's the best we've got. So either get serious and provide an alternate plan, or shut the hell up.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

More on real foods

From The New York Times via Instapundit:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.


A little meat won’t kill you, though it’s better approached as a side dish than as a main. And you’re much better off eating whole fresh foods than processed food products. That’s what I mean by the recommendation to eat “food.” Once, food was all you could eat, but today there are lots of other edible foodlike substances in the supermarket. These novel products of food science often come in packages festooned with health claims, which brings me to a related rule of thumb: if you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a good indication that it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.

The advice and science seems so simple, yet so logical. It wasn't that long ago that our ancestors were in much better overall health (even without the benefits of modern medicine) meaning that some development of recent time must be responsible for the shift towards obesity, cancer and diabetes, all of which are controlled, again, by the miracle of modern medicine.

At the beginning of January, I posted a review of Nina Planck's book Real Foods, in which Planck explains the importance of eating real food. In case you forgot, here's a snippet from Planck's site:
Don't you find it odd that the experts blame butter and beef for heart disease, even though heart disease as we know it has only been around since 1912, and we've been eating butter for 30,000 years and beef for 3 million?

Don't you find it funny that the foods in all traditional diets - starting with breast milk - are loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol, yet people who eat these traditional foods liberally don't get heart disease? Nor are they fat or diabetic.

The experts are mistaken. The so-called diseases of civilization - obesity, diabetes, and heart disease - are not caused by real food. The diseases of industrialization - as I call them - are caused by the foods of industrialization.

What are industrial foods? In the triple epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, the three main villains are trans fats, corn oil, and sugar - not butter and eggs.

In Real Food: What to Eat and Why, I explain why traditional foods such as butter are healthy and industrial foods are not. You'll learn how butter, lard, beef, cheese, eggs, and other foods we've been eating for thousands of years got a bad rap - and why it's a bad rap.

Now I am no purists. While I try to eat mostly organic products, lots of veggies, lean meat and dairy along with some whole grains (mostly wheat bread, organic oatmeal and bran or wheat cereal), I still find myself eating food that contains forbidden products (particularly HFCS). One thing I have noticed, though, is that the more I eat real foods, the less I enjoy eating highly processed foods, artificially sweetened foods. In particular, I can no longer even stomach the taste of white bread. The taste and texture simply make me gag. Sweetened cereal on the other hand--particularly PB Crunch--is another story.

Still, the more I read about the "real foods approach," the more it makes sense, and the harder I try to stick to a mostly real-foods diet. I think these folks are on to something...

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Who's it gonna be?

Even though we have over a year and a half before the 2008 election, it's quite clear that we are simply going to be flooded with hypothetical situations, polls and speculation about who will emerge as the two '08 contenders. Let us, for today's sake (and because of the fact that of those who have declared their intent to run for the Republican nomination, I don't care for any of them more than the other) focus on the Dems.

A new Time poll shows Hillary has a sizable advantage:

Despite the buzz generated by Senator Barack Obama entering the race,
the survey found that Senator Clinton would beat him for the Democratic
nomination by a margin of 40% to 21%.

All the talk about Obama and he still trails by 19 points? It's not look good for a man who is being played up as the new Chosen One. When coupled with this story for CBS which suggests that "many black voters dont' identify with Obama," I can't help but doubt any speculation that he has a real chance of beating Hillary. According to the CBS report:

As CBS 2 political editor Mike Flannery reports, Obama faced questions
about it as he met with a one-time street preacher from New York who's
run for president himself – Rev. Al Sharpton.

Sharpton made
clear that he does plan to keep putting pressure on Barack Obama and
Obama's about-to-be-launched campaign for president. Sharpton
complained publicly that none of the presidential candidates, including
Obama, has worked for what Sharpton called an "urban agenda."

This seems to play into that ideology which is often used to discredit Colin Powell or Condi Rice's contributions to the black community: you just ain't black enough. What does that mean anyway? State Senate President Emil Jones attempts to answer this:

"It does not mean that you have to be on welfare in order to represent
the African-American community," said State Senate President Emil
Jones. "The mere fact that he's a U.S. Senator, the mere fact that he's
a credible candidate running for President, does more for our children
and grand-children than all of them combined."

"Saying you're not black enough is an attempt to discredit him among black voters," said Professor Timuel Black.

That answer still isn't enough for me, but we'll come back to examine that another time...

It seems to be that at the end of the day (unless somebody else declares their intent to run) Senator Clinton has a much better chance to emerge than Obama. Why?

Clinton is such a polarizing force--you either really love her, or you really hate her. The fact is that, while there are democrats--many democrats--that hate her, the majority of Clinton-haters are on the right side of the isle. So it seems logical to me to infer that the most vehement Hillary supporters will be coming out in droves to support her.

On the other hand, Obama's inexperience adds a different element. A friend of mine discussed this last night. He sees to believe that Obama's separation from Washington politics will make him appear less corrupt, that it some how distances him from insider-influence. I see it differently. I think there are people out there (like me) who would vote against Obama because of his inexperience. We need a presidential candidate who has experience, preferably at a national level and on foreign policy issues, who can transition from their current position to the presidency without any major problems. Secondly, I have zero respect for somebody who has nothing on their resume. In other words, Hillary, like her or hate her, has an extensive resume of political positions and public service. Obama? Not so much.

So that's my spin on the democrat primary situation. Please use the comment section and tell me who you see as coming ahead...

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Poetic Truth

A friend of mine showed me this poem on taxes:

Tax his land,

Tax his wage,

Tax his bed in which he lays.

Tax his tractor,

Tax his mule,

Teach him taxes is the rule.

Tax his cow,

Tax his goat,

Tax his pants,

Tax his coat.

Tax his ties,

Tax his shirts,

Tax his work,

Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco,

Tax his drink,

Tax him if he tries to think.

Tax his booze,

Tax his beers,

If he cries,

Tax his tears.

Tax his bills,

Tax his gas,

Tax his notes,

Tax his cash.

Tax him good and let him know

That after taxes, he has no dough.

If he hollers,

Tax him more,

Tax him until he's good and sore.

Tax his coffin,

Tax his grave,

Tax the sod in which he lays.

Put these words upon his tomb,

"Taxes drove me to my doom!"

And when he's gone,

We won't relax,

We'll still be after the inheritance TAX!!

A kind of shocking look at the sad state of our tax system. Don't think it's that bad? Below this clever poem was a partial list of some of the taxes that exist:

Accounts Receivable Tax

Building Permit Tax

CDL License Tax

Cigarette Tax

Corporate Income Tax

Dog License Tax

Federal Income Tax

Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)

Fishing License Tax

Food License Tax

Fuel Permit Tax

Gasoline Tax

Hunting License Tax

Inheritance Tax

Inventory Tax

IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax),

IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax),

Liquor Tax,

Luxury Tax,

Marriage License Tax,

Medicare Tax,

Property Tax,

Real Estate Tax,

Service charge taxes,

Social Security Tax,

Road Usage Tax (Truckers),

Sales Taxes,

Recreational Vehicle Tax,

School Tax,

State Income Tax,

State Unemployment Tax (SUTA),

Telephone Federal Excise Tax,

Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax,

Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax,

Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax,

Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax,

Telephone State and Local Tax,

Telephone Usage Charge Tax,

Utility Tax,

Vehicle License Registration Tax,

Vehicle Sales Tax,

Watercraft Registration Tax,

Well Permit Tax,

Workers Compensation Tax.

One person noted that this country still had relative prosperity around 100 years ago, though none of these taxes existed...

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

It's just too simplistic

Jules Crittenden has written the speech he thinks President Bush should deliever tonight. Somehow, I doubt things will be delivered as simplistic as Crittenden has advocated, even as prudent and correct as such action would be. Some highlights:

Don’t bother standing up or clapping, any of you. I already know who won the election, and I know how you feel.

I come before you tonight not to make amends, not to make it good, curry any favor or find any middle ground.


So what is the best thing I can do tonight? I can tell you the
truth. What none of you want to hear. What you’ve been stopping your
ears to. The ugly truth.

The State of the Union is a disaster. I did my best, but I made mistakes, and my best wasn’t good enough.

We went to war without building up our army, and now, I am trying to make up for that.

But that is not the disaster.

The disaster is that you, Congress and the American people, do not care to fight.


ou didn’t like it when I talked about evil. Sounded too simple, too uncompromising, too moralistic. Too … biblical.

I don’t know what else you call people who fly passenger jets into
office buildings; who rape women in front of their husbands and
children, and execute their opponents in acid baths; who seek to spread
tyrannical and archaic religious regimes that enslave women and stifle
fundamental freedoms. Who want to dominate the world’s primary oil
fields with nuclear weapons.

I call it evil. Works for me.


I will engage evil directly where I find it, in Iraq and in Iran.
With an aggressive and ruthless new strategy and a plan to build our
army as we should have a long time ago, I will show the American people
that we can fight and we can win. I expect that the American people,
though misled by their press and many of their elected representatives,
will see results and will get it. Because the American people are a
people who in the end don’t give up, don’t stop fighting, refuse to
lose, and will choose to win. I have faith in them.

Oh, there’s another one of those words you don’t like.

A nation that is not willing to fight for what it believes in, for
its place in the world, is not worthy of its own ideals. But that is
not America. I now intend to help America restore its faith in itself.
By fighting this necessary fight that we cannot afford to lose.

Well said indeed. I have always stood by the President's use of the word "evil" to describe the Islamists extremists that want to murder us. Though I wasn't there, I fully understand and accept Reagan's labeling of the USSR as "the Evil Empire." Unless we call it what it is, we will never overcome the dark forces that are controlling the actions of our enemies.

More important than continuing the discussion of the evil we face, though, is the will to face it. The President can explain that we face evil, but knowledge of such evil is only half the battle. Here is where the president must shine. He must, as Crittenden as stated, explain that he is not here to discuss middle ground or compromises. He is not going to be a lame duck. He must continue to battle this evil with ruthless determination. The State of the Union depends on it. The state of Freedom depends on it.

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