Reasonable Nuts

Sometimes nuts. Always reasonable. We are REASONABLE NUTS.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Re: John Kerry, which is worse?

In case you didn't already know, John Kerry is an elitist jerk. I don't know what's worse - that he's a jerk or that he continues to get elected. Wait... seeing that in print... I definitely know which is worse.

"Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so."

The title of this entry is Joss Whedon's 6 word story, one of some 90 or so submitted by professional writers to Wired Magazine in an emulation of Ernest Hemingway's classic, "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

Some others I enjoyed:
Wasted day. Wasted life. Dessert, please.
- Steven Meretzky

Kirby had never eaten toes before.
- Kevin Smith

Will this do (lazy writer asked)?
- Ken MacLeod

Cryonics: Disney thawed. Mickey gnawed. Omigawd.
- Eileen Gunn

Solution: stop electing politicians

Thomas Sowell is my favorite thinker these days. No surprise then that he has a long history of libertarianism tempering his conservatism. Here, he points out something lost in the general coverage of the election:
Contrary to what you might think from the way the media cover politics, elections are not about the careers of politicians but about the fate of the country.
I suggest a solution to this problem: stop electing politicians.

Credit where credit is due

I'll take the Catholic line on marriage over the (typically) Protestant interpretation any day. Here's an interesting study from a couple years back:
The state with the lowest divorce rate in the nation is Massachusetts. At latest count it had a divorce rate of 2.4 per 1,000 population, while the rate for Texas was 4.1.

But don't take the US government's word for it. Take a look at the findings from the George Barna Research Group. George Barna, a born-again Christian whose company is in Ventura, Calif., found that Massachusetts does indeed have the lowest divorce rate among all 50 states. More disturbing was the finding that born-again Christians have among the highest divorce rates. (emphasis mine)

Choose reason.

Is Dennis Prager right?
Finally, please remember that it was disaffected Republicans who voted for Ross Perot who helped elect Bill Clinton president, and it was disaffected Democrats who voted for Ralph Nader who helped elect George W. Bush president. Unless you run yourself, dear annoyed Republican, you will never find an ideal candidate. Compared to you and your conservative principles, real-life Republicans are indeed a failure. But compared to real-life Democrats, they are almost giants.

Vote out of anger, and you'll either vote Democrat or stay home. Vote out of reason, and you'll vote Republican. Please choose reason. If you don't like the Republican candidate, the place to get rid of him is in the primary, not the general election. The general election is not between good Republicans and irresponsible Republicans; it's between Republicans and Democrats.

"The Party of Blow Jobs"

Billy McMorris, a junior at Cornell writes of the recent Jim Webb brouhaha:
If Republicans are described as the Party of Blowhards, then the Democrats should be called the Party of Blow Jobs. Be it a father and son or an adulterous former Arkansas governor and a heavyset intern, if there is a penis in a mouth, the Democrats will be there to categorically deny that there is anything sexual about it.
He suggests the Democrats will not retake the congress simply because they have not changed their ways in any shape or form.

Red Hat responds to "Unbreakable Linux"

One would expect Red Hat Linux to have responded to Oracle's recent announcement of internal "support" for the OS. Responded they have...

Monday, October 30, 2006

We have met the enemy and he is us.

At first I thought it amazing that this was reported not on FoxNews, but CNN:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A quarter century after the Reagan revolution and a dozen years after Republicans vaulted into control of Congress, a new CNN poll finds most Americans still agree with the bedrock conservative premise that, as the Gipper put it, "government is not the answer to our problems -- government is the problem."

The poll released Friday also showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans perceive, correctly, that the size and cost of government have gone up in the past four years, when Republicans have had a grip on the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House.

Discretionary spending grew from $649 billion in fiscal year 2001 to $968 billion in fiscal year 2005, an increase of $319 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Queried about their views on the role of government, 54 percent of the 1,013 adults polled said they thought it was trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Only 37 percent said they thought the government should do more to solve the country's problems.
I considered it amazing, that is, until I realized the emphasis is on the Republican's control of the federal government - intimating not so clandestinely that - HA HA - the Republicans are the big government menace they described all those years ago.

Perhaps. But this is only because there are decreasing numbers of conservatives with backbones in congress - the sort of people who understand the need to be fiscally responsible.

Why Mark Warner isn't running

Just conjecture at this point, but makes about as much sense as anything else:
Why Warner Isn’t Running (eVote.com)
At the moment, we can’t see a specific trail that leads from Warner’s Nextel landfall and his present hiatus from politics. But clearly there’s more to the Warner pull-out than his announced reasons, and the trigger for his withdrawal may have been this past week’s crescendo of CEO resignations, terminations, and early retirements.

Warner may have chosen to take himself out of a race because it was only a matter of time before his previous financial history did so.

Democrats not only can cure cancer, they love the "Lord" in a way that Republicans do not!

This is icky icky gross on at least 2 levels. Can you name them?

Said Ford:
My friend Lincoln Davis who chairs our campaign says there are, there's one big difference between us and misfortunate Republicans when it comes to our faith: he said that Republicans fear the Lord; he said Democrats fear AND love the Lord.
Interpreted: "love" as in "have intercourse with" and "Lord" as in "Lord Satan." OK - that's just as bad as Ford's shitty assertion. Sorry about that. ;-)

Remember folks, Ford Junior is my age, which is just barely old enough to make any sense of... anything.

Democrats can cure cancer!

Paul Jacob reports:
Maryland's open U.S. Senate primary is coming up. But it may not be much of a contest. One of the candidates is promising a cure for cancer.

Wow. That's even better than a tax cut. I wonder if he could take a look at heart disease and a few other ailments.?

I'm not kidding about this cure talk. Really. The life-offering candidate is Congressman Ben Cardin, a Democrat who has already spent 20 years in the House. (Not to be ungrateful, but in all that time why didn't he save us from cancer already?)

Cardin's Senate campaign now has a TV ad featuring a doctor. He had cancer and tells viewers, "They caught mine early and I'm cured. Thanks to Ben Cardin others can have their chance." The doc concludes, "He's literally a lifesaver."
...groan...

Perhaps Cardin should win if Marylanders actually are influenced to vote for him by that ad; they would then deserve one another.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Really genius, this is.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency on Friday hailed what he described as epochal progress toward putting a high-energy laser aboard a modified Boeing Co. 747 to zap ballistic missiles that could be fired by North Korea and Iran.
Why does this sound so familiar? Oh, I know now.

IntelligentVote.com: the RN site of the month

Want to know how your congressman's votes would square with yours, were you given the opportunity? Visit IntelligentVote.com - the Reasonable Nuts website of the month. I did as much, reading a description of each of the bills. Given that all 3 of my representatives are Republicans, I expected to at least partially square with their votes:
Senator: George Allen
Result: You voted in agreement with George Allen on the bills that you selected, 73% of the time out of 22 bills.

Senator: John Warner
Result: You voted in agreement with John Warner on the bills that you selected, 68% of the time out of 22 bills.

Congressman: Eric Cantor
Result: You voted in agreement with Eric Cantor on the bills that you selected, 78 % of the time out of 23 bills.
A further examination shows that where I differ with my representatives is in matters where I don't think the congress should have authority. For example, all 3 voted for the horrid Medicare "reform" bill. Also, 2 of the 3 voted to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. I think we should force real and immediate budget cuts instead. All 3 approved aid to foreign nations, whereas I wish to see all such aid suspended.

Bush is *not* a conservative

About the disdain among conservatives for the policies of President Bush, Peggy Noonan says it so much better than can I:
...it's clear now to everyone in the Republican Party that Mr. Bush has changed the modern governing definition of "conservative."

He did this without asking. He did it even without explaining. He didn't go to the people whose loyalty and support raised him high and say, "This is what I'm doing, this is why I'm changing things, here's my thinking, here are the implications." The cynics around him likely thought this a good thing. To explain is to make things clearer, or at least to try, and they probably didn't want it clear. They had the best of both worlds, a conservative reputation and a liberal reality.

And Republicans, most of whom are conservative in at least general ways, and who endure the disadvantages of being conservative because they actually believe in ideas, in philosophy, in an understanding of the relation of man and the state, are still somewhat concussed. The conservative tradition on foreign affairs is prudent realism; the conservative position on borders is that they must be governed; the conservative position on high spending is that it is obnoxious and generationally irresponsible. Etc.

This is not how Mr. Bush has governed. And so in the base today personal loyalty, and affection, bumps up against intellectual unease.

Well, at least he can write... sort-of.

The U.S. Senate campaign in Virginia is getting dirty, folks. CNSNews reports:
The campaign of Republican Sen. George Allen on Thursday released excerpts from some of the war novels Webb wrote between 1978 and 2002. The books include some graphic sexual passages, as well as frequent uses of a racial slur for blacks and descriptions of Vietnamese women as "monkey-faced."

Among the excerpts is a scene from the 2002 novel "Lost Soldiers," in which a man embraces his four-year-old son and places the boy's penis in his mouth.
??? - What could possibly be the context of that passage? ???
"It's not a sexual act," Webb told Plotkin regarding the "Lost Soldiers" excerpt. "I actually saw this happen in a slum in Bangkok when I was there as a journalist."

"The duty of a writer is to illuminate his surroundings," he added.

Coincidentally, a Cambodian woman in Las Vegas is facing sexual assault charges for performing a similar act on her young son, according to an Oct. 14 report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The article quotes an office manager for the Cambodian Association of America, who described the act as a sign of respect or love.
OK, well then that totally makes sense. We westerners are just prudes, that's all.

Nothing says "I love you" like sucking your son's penis. Thanks, Jim for enlightening me.

I'll take "Things I really wish I'd never known" for $1000, Alex.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

liberal = anti-rational hack

Here's another reason (as if one were needed) to despise the anti-intellectualism of today's liberals:
Fifty or so other Republican candidates have also been made targets in a sophisticated “Google bombing” campaign intended to game the search engine’s ranking algorithms. By flooding the Web with references to the candidates and repeatedly cross-linking to specific articles and sites on the Web, it is possible to take advantage of Google’s formula and force those articles to the top of the list of search results.
Liberals by and large cannot win a fair contest of any stripe, be it an argument or an election. So they resort to such tactics to spike the results. They are the cheaters who graduate with hollow degrees; Ted Kennedy is their poster child.

I have long argued that conservative notions tend to win the day primarily because they are disseminated through the free marketplace of ideas. They only lose when that marketplace is obscured with deceit, lies, or the moral failings of the conservative messenger.

Anyone who wins through deceit is still a loser.

Trick or trick

A number of "Sexy Halloween costume" stories have come across the Reasonable Nuts newsdesk in the past few days. Case in point: exhibit A, exhibit B, exhibit C.

They all basically come to the same conclusion: almost all Halloween costumes for women today are decidedly sexed-up. What gives?
Recently, the top five selling women's costumes available through the Spirit Halloween Store Web site, www.spirithalloween.com, were "Sexy Dorothy," a slinky take on the popular Wizard of Oz character; "Stardust Doll," a sexy send-up of the 1980s cartoon character Rainbow Brite; short-dressed "Groovy Go-Go"; a "Ghostly Gal"; and a body-hugging "Race Car Driver" uniform.
The low-brained man in me says "yeah, baby!" I love seeing my wife in such little numbers. But this is generally in the privacy of our home. And that's precisely what has happened in recent years: what was once privy to the bedroom has been mainstreamed.

Men have it far easier...
In contrast, the top five costumes going for men are a beer keg, the Cat in the Hat, a gothic vampire, a department of corrections orange jumpsuit and a beer can.
Were I a woman, I think I'd take the track that this woman suggests:
"Maybe I'll be a boy for Halloween," joked Concord resident Stephanie Gatewood, 21. She decided to veer away from one of her original costume choices after coming across a particularly revealing number. "I was thinking I could be a bee and then I saw that and said, 'Oh no, that's not the bee I want to be."
So, Stephanie - don that beer can proudly! You might wear a pair of thigh-high stiletto-heeled boots under it, just to make it interesting. Mmm... "Sexy Beer Can"... now that's a costume!

Larry, destroyer of all that is good: part II

[Click the image for a life-size Larry Ellison Halloween mask cut-out!]

As I wrote earlier this year, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has had his eye set on challenging Microsoft's OS hegemony for some time. You'll recall that he was briefly the world's richest man, topping Bill Gates. One surmises he wishes to get back there. It appears he's decided that way is through dominating the Linux market. Looks like while he was interested in Novell some time back, he's set out to destroy Red Hat Linux, though he says he's not.
The announcement prompted an audience member to ask during a question-and-answer session: "So what happens to Red Hat? Is killing them the unintended side effect?"

"This is capitalism," Ellison. "We're competing. We're offering a better product at a lower price."

He also said: "We are trying to speed up the adoption of Linux. I don't think Red Hat is going to be killed. ... The goal here is very clear: We are on the side of pushing open standards in software. ... This isn't about Red Hat. ... The goal here is to make all versions of Linux better. So these bug fixes are immediately and freely available to anyone who wants to incorporate them into their systems."
I'm not sure exactly how this will play out. I have suspicions that many IT professionals will continue to use Red Hat's support offerings, though I admit that money will ultimately drive this. And the majority of IT professionals do not control the money in their shops. Those most sensitive to cost are higher up in the food chain and concomitantly more prone to be influenced by Oracle's maneuvering - leveraging perhaps their database and applications pricing with that of the OS. Ellison knows (and banks on) this.

I wonder if Ellison has made offers to purchase Red Hat - or if he's never deemed that necessary.

In any event, I know some stockholders who must be a tad angry this morning.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Anti-anti-Americanism

Good for Brandon Flowers of The Killers:
Brandon Flowers has criticised Green Day for what he sees as their calculated anti-Americanism.

In particular, Flowers singled out the track 'American Idiot' and the fact they filmed their DVD 'Bullet In A Bible', which features the song, in the UK.

"You have Green Day and 'American Idiot'. Where do they film their DVD? In England," The Killers' frontman told The Word. "A bunch of kids screaming 'I don't want to be an American idiot' I saw it as a very negative thing towards Americans. It really lit a fire in me."

Stem the tide

So now there's a celebrity-ladened response to the recent ad featuring Michael J. Fox:

Here's the M.J.Fox ad, with commentary from Rush Limbaugh spliced to the end:

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Does anyone find this story surprising?

I certainly do not wish to post a piece on this story. I have a 10 week old daughter at home... and my wife reads this blog from time to time. I don't want to upset her. But stories like this need to be discussed, if there's any hope of change.

I share this person's sentiments:
"It is just so disgusting. What has happened to the dignity of the human being? It reflects increasingly certain people in society's attitudes to the unborn child just flushing them away, or burning them like any other waste. How can we let this happen in a civilised society?"
I posit she's hit the nail on the head: we do not live in a civilised society - "civilised" being a certain moral threshold codified and practiced. This requires an adherence to certain absolutes our society is unwilling (or incapable) of sustaining.

Good idea: don't punish the country.

Dick Morris suggests why the GOP would appear to be back in the running:
The GOP base, alienated by the Foley scandal and the generally dismal record of this Congress, may have fast forwarded to the prospect of a Democratic victory and recoiled. They may have pondered the impact of a repeal of the Patriot Act, a ban on NSA wiretapping and a requirement of having an attorney present in terrorist questioning - and decided not to punish the country for the sins of the Republican leaders.

Is he or isn't he?

Here's a question for the Protagonist, the only lawyer among the Reasonable Nuts. Is one who graduates law school, but fails to pass a bar exam - is this person a lawyer? Senate candidate Harold Ford, Jr. called himself as much recently...

Is this merely splitting hairs? I could interpret "I am a lawyer" as "I am a lawyer by training" as much as "I am a practicing lawyer". While Ford is a legislator, he's not a lawyer in a technical sense. CNN hopped on this one...

In any event, it's disingenuous of him to use the term to lend himself authority he does not really possess.

Ford should also consider that some of us actually hold it against a legislator who is a lawyer! ;-)

FAQ on Marriage Amendment

Marriage Amendment Myths
Q. Will the amendment ban same-sex marriage in Virginia?

A. Virginia law already bans same-sex marriage and civil unions. The amendment simply protects current law from activist judges.

Q. What will change in Virginia if this amendment is passed?

A. Absolutely nothing will change in Virginia. Everything the amendment covers already is part of Virginia law, including a ban on homosexual marriage and civil unions, so no laws or regulations as currently applied in Virginia will change for anyone or any institution. This proves false the wild claims made by the homosexual rights lobby that, among other things, domestic violence cases might not be prosecuted or certain contracts would be prohibited if the amendment passes. But by amending Virginia’s constitution, we protect Virginia from activist state judges, such as those who legalized same-sex marriage and civil unions in Massachusetts and overturned Maryland’s same-sex marriage ban, from doing the same thing here.

Q. Will the amendment ban so-called 'civil unions' in Virginia?

A. Virginia law already bans civil unions, domestic partnerships, and any other union, partnership or legal status that attempts to approximate traditional marriage or confer the benefits of marriage. Legal contract rights will in no way be infringed upon. Again, the amendment doesn't change the law - it just protects it.

Q. Doesn't state law already limit marriage to one man and one woman? An amendment really isn't needed, is it?

A. The amendment is necessary because the only way to take the issue out of the hands of activist judges is a constitutional amendment. Virginia passed a defense of marriage act, but homosexual groups have challenged several state DOMAs in courts. Just recently a judge in Maryland ruled unconstitutional that state’s 33 year old ban on same-sex marriage. The only protection we have from activist courts is a constitutional amendment.
For the rest of this FAQ, see the Virginia Marriage Amendment website.

The "cost to government" of a tax cut... huh?

Preach it, brother Ron:
Whenever tax cuts are discussed in Washington, the media and most politicians use the phrase, “cost to government.” “How much will this tax cut cost the government?” we are asked, as though some crime is being contemplated when we consider reducing taxes. The American people have every right to fund the federal government at whatever level they deem acceptable, and if they choose-- through their elected representatives-- to reduce that funding level, they are not somehow injuring the government. If Congresses passes a new law that results in you paying $1000 less in taxes next year, have you taken something from the government that rightfully belongs to it? Or has the government simply taken less from you?

You don’t cost the government money, the government costs you money!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Memo to the LP: stop running these loser candidates!

And Libertarians wonder why they can't get their candidates elected? Consider this candidate for Governor of Alabama:
Early in her campaign, she talked about how her misdemeanor arrest for marijuana possession in 2002 led her to start the U.S. Marijuana Party.

Then she entertained readers of her campaign Web site with lots of information about her personal life, including a discussion of why she doesn't wear panties.
The party must deny these one-issue candidates if they ever want any chance of holding office. They're a distraction. Let them run as independents.

Such is why, though I'm a libertarian, I am not a Libertarian.

Sorry folks; there will be no Reasonable Nuts Chinese Edition

Known for its liberal attitude towards public criticism of its governmental policies... HA!... China is seeking bloggers be required to register their real names when setting up a blog.

No matter how they or their apologists spin it, does anyone believe it isn't ultimately so dissention can be quashed?

The Reasonable Nuts are glad to be blogging from their communal chateau in the alps of an undisclosed country, the name of which rhymes with Blitzerland.

Be Prepared... for Copyright violations!


Now here's something that just might get Hollywood leftists supporting the Boy Scouts again: scouts can earn a patch for "respecting copyrights".

Perhaps we could give members of congress similar patches for "respecting the taxpayer".

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Order! Must! Be! Restored!

It is essential that we collectively purchase at least 100,000 copies of Neil Diamond albums so that we might restore order to the Universe. It was today that, sadly, I discovered that, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, Neil has cumulatively sold precisely the same number of albums as has Kenny G (48.0 million). This cannot stand! Do your part for Universal Truth and puchase a Neil Diamond album! Today!

Weekend Levity: Classical Gas

So here's the original...

and an interesting cover by Vanessa Mae that kinda loses some of the syncopated punch of the original...

what is with the dancers? surreal.
here's Tommy Emmanuel (who looks disturbingly like Tim Robbins) with a decidedly energetic rendition...

and again at a concert in Waco, with another (great!) arrangement...

Here Simon Davies (gee, ya think he's British?) gives us a nice version (with perhaps just a bit too much reverb)...


How much fun is this, if you're Mason Williams?

By the way, what other Mason Williams hits can you name?

Friday, October 20, 2006

This just in: Madonna is a moron


So, some reasonable nuts at NBC have decided not to air imagery of Madonna on a cross. Madonna is upset. Perhaps NBC should show the concert on Friday night, a time Kabbalahists (Madonna is a dabbler in things Kabbalah) view as one when no work is to be performed. Said the prophet Madonna:
"I believe if Jesus were alive today, he would be doing the same thing," she said, adding that her specific intent was to bring attention to the extreme poverty in Africa.
Dear Madonna,

1. Some of us believe Jesus is alive today.
2. Strapping yourself to a mirrored cross as a means of bringing attention to poverty... this does not compute. Please check your logic unit. Reboot if necessary.
3. To associate the sovereign mind of the Universe with your tiny mental machinations is... moronic. This is typical of liberals. They decide upon an outcome (their desires), then orient all space and time (and even things spiritual) to support this outcome.

My rambling solution to Middle-East tensions: a beer in Switzerland

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday called Israel's leaders a "group of terrorists" and threatened any country that supports the Jewish state.

"You imposed a group of terrorists ... on the region," Ahmadinejad said, addressing the U.S. and its allies. "It is in your own interest to distance yourself from these criminals... This is an ultimatum. Don't complain tomorrow."

"Nations will take revenge," he told a crowd of thousands gathered at a pro-Palestinian rally in the capital Tehran.

Ahmadinejad said Israel no longer had any reason to exist and would soon disappear.

"This regime, thanks to God, has lost the reason for its existence," he said.

"Efforts to stabilize this fake (Israeli) regime, by the grace of God, have completely failed... You should believe that this regime is disappearing," he said.
My only explanation for this - the reticence on the part of seemingly anyone in the world to denounce such talk from the leader of a state - is that most simply do not care that Israel is in real peril. Or, that they actually agree with Ahmadinejad. I tend to think it's more the prior than the latter. However, I've seen plenty of apathy and anti-semitism both.

Why would so many be so callous to the millions of Israelis just trying to survive as a nation? My guess is there is indeed some hatred of Jews in particular on the part of many. However, I think there's another reason that seems to go unnoticed (probably because it requires some examination of history - not a favorite topic of most).

The genesis of the modern Israel in some ways parallels the creation of many of the nations of the region: that is, it's a meal with a distinctly synthetic flavor. Israel was formulated through the actions of zionists in (primarily) the British government and their mouthpieces in the newly-formed U.N. Similarly, (Trans)Jordan and Iraq were created through such machinations following World War II. The borders of these nations are distinctly simple - straight lines often - which run through diverse people groups. Tolerance for straight lines in a crooked world runs very short. You can and will see the strife in places where peoples are forced to live in such synthetic states.

Mountains and rivers are typically fine borders, for these present natural (v. synthetic) territorial boundaries to humans. Does anyone think the situation in Iraq would be nearly so bad if the Kurds had a mountain range in between them and the Sunnis and similarly, the Sunnis and the Shia?

So what am I arguing? Probably what my Neocon friends do not wish to hear - that their nation-state building machinations are as doomed to failure as the other more leftist interventionist policies (such as welfare, social security, outcome-based education, etc.) for the very same reason: they are unnatural, running counter to both human aspirations and frailties.

In regard to Iraq, many have argued what you might think I am suggesting: that the current Iraq be divided into 3 states. I am not suggesting this. Rather, I am inclined to allow the people of the current Iraq to do as they may, without our continuing to force them to maintain the lines cast upon them by others. If they wish to remain as they are, let them. If not, let them. If they need to fight one another to determine the outcome, let them. This is the natural order of things: peoples fight one another for land and resources. To pretend otherwise is to run counter to history - never a good idea for long.

The Israelis used to get this. I'm not sure they still do.

What troubles most in the West regarding allowing Iraq to fracture (officially) is that the Shia of the south would almost certainly join with Iran and thus control the port of Basra and the oil fields surrounding. Great for Iran, scary for the civilized world. The Sunnis would get screwed, since they'd get the interior, without much oil and they'd be landlocked. The Kurds to the north would be landlocked as well, but they'd get a lot of oil. And this would totally piss-off the Turks, who have a sizeable Kurdish element in the southeast of Turkey, as well as the Iranians, who have Kurds in the northwest of Iran. The fear here being that these elements would secede from Turkey and Iran and join the Kurds of the former Iraq in a new Kurdistan, probably setting off another war.

Let's consider another angle of this situation. I tend to accept that the natural state of the region (or the world for that matter) is the preferable one, since all systems decay over time (entropy), devolving from synthetically ordered states to more natural ones. So, accepting this is how the region will settle once outside forces are removed, what is our best hope for a continued interest in the region?

Simply put: you ally yourself with people who indicate they want to be your friends (Hello: Israel, Kurdistan). You do not pretend to be friends with those who brazenly disrespect you (everyone else). You support your friends. You are clear with anyone claiming a desire to be your friend that you have boundaries and expectations. You woo them with honey, sure, but not without being clear about your standards. And if your friend screws up in some regard, you don't necessarily terminate the friendship, though you certainly reevaluate. If your friend ruins the lawnmower he borrowed, you don't lend him any other tools, but you might still have him over for dinner. If he's an honest chap, maybe he'll do the right thing and replace your mower. If not, you can always meet in neutral Switzerland for a beer now and then. He's buying, of course.

In other, related news, the European left wing is (finally) getting its collective underwear in a knot over radical Islamic influences in their lands. Welcome to reality, leftists! You really have to (start to) lose something before you realize the peril in which you exist. In the case of liberals, it is the arts, acceptance of homosexuality, etc. I'm glad that some are waking up. I'd just like to see them take the next logical leap and discover what I mentioned yesterday, that they have far more to fear from theocratically-minded Muslims than they do Christians.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fear of theocracy is reasonable; fear of a Christian one is not.

Rich Lowry's on the ball with his piece today concerning an impending Christian theocracy (or is that Theocracy?). Consider this passage:
Some of the anti-theocracy writers claim that what sets Christian conservatives apart is that their advocacy is explicitly religious. But most of the time it isn't. Take the high-profile issue of abortion. It doesn't take any particular religious faith to think that embryos in the womb are humans deserving protection — the key claim of abortion opponents. But their critics don't want to hear it.

For such self-professed advocates of reasoned discourse, they show an appalling tendency to want to shut down the other side with their swear word of "theocracy." They are emotional, self-righteous and close-minded. They are, in short, everything they accuse Christian conservatives of being. When the theo-panic passes, maybe a few of them will regret their hysteria.
As a Christian, the LAST thing I wish to see is a "Christian" theocracy in this world. Follow me. As a believer, I accept that men are inherently flawed (due to the real presence of sin in the lives of each man). This being the case, how can I accept men's interpretation of - and adherence to - what is perceived as God's intended form of government? They - we - are bound to fail. While men can and should be trusted with small amounts of power and authority, with larger amounts - the sort a theocracy would enable - they can never be trusted.

The best alternative form of government then is one in which men's power is decidedly limited in scope and fully described in writing. Conveniently, this is what we have today - a constitutional republic via liberal democracy (or is that the other way 'round?).

Instead of fearing a Christian theocracy (which I argue is an oxymoron in THIS world), intellectuals should be fearing an Islamic one - a very real possibility in some areas of this world.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Usual Suspects

Roger Friedman has an interesting connect-the-dots tale on the FoxNews website today. He suggests Bill Clinton's much hyped foundation is the number one supporter of Madonna's Raising Malawi organization, which itself is a front for the Kabbalah Centre in Hollywood. What a tangled web. Read the piece for yourself.

What I also appreciate is Friedman's contrasting the "activism" of Madonna with that of Bono:
Unlike U2’s Bono, who’s merely trying to send money to Africa by pushing the sales of red phones and T-shirts, Madonna is preaching as she disseminates her funds and largesse.
What is this really but a great example of the players in the utopian one-world government, new age movements coming together in one story? And what's behind it? Greed and deceit figure more prominently than do the good intentions.

Bono's efforts are guided by something often overlooked: his following the principles of Christ. I don't think Madonna is going to get this without help.

A Korea blew something up, apparently.

Apparently, one of the Koreas has tested a nuclear weapon. This is what I heard, at least.

Anyhow, the best coverage I've thus far found is a piece at The Onion, N. Korea Detonates 40 Years Of GDP. Particularly salient are these haunting words:
"This fraction-of-a-second blast is what I, and my parents before me, have given up everything to achieve," said tractor driver Chin Lee-Park, whose machine was cannibalized for bomb derrick parts in 1997.

"It is truly a great day for North Korea," added Lee-Park, who then died due to a combination of malnutrition and tuberculosis.

Alone Again (Naturally)


"Alone Again (Naturally)" -- Gilbert O'Sullivan

So Mark Steyn has this new book out, America Alone. From the snippet I read yesterday, it looks pretty good - if documenting the lunacy of the majority of the world and the collapsing remnant within the States is what you call a good read.
As a bleary Dean Martin liked to say, in mock bewilderment, at the start of his stage act: "How did all these people get in my room?" How did all these jihadists get rooms in Miami and Portland and Montreal? How did we come to breed suicide bombers not just in Gaza but in Yorkshire?

IN the globalized pre-9/11 world, we in the West thought in terms of nations - the Americans, the French, the Chinese - and, insofar as we considered transnational groups, were obsessed mostly with race. Religion wasn't really on the radar.

So an insurgency that lurks within a religion automatically has a global network. And you don't need "deep cover": You can hang your shingle on Main Street and we won't even notice it. And when we do - as we did on 9/11 - we still won't do anything about it, because, well, it's a religion, and modern man is disinclined to go after any faith except perhaps his own.

But Islam is not just a religion. Those lefties who bemoan what America is doing to provoke "the Muslim world" would go bananas if any Western politician started referring to "the Christian world." When such sensitive guardians of the separation of church and state endorse the first formulation but not the second, they implicitly accept that Islam has a political sovereignty too. Thus, it's not merely that there's a global jihad lurking within this religion, but that the religion itself is a political project - and, in fact, an imperial project - in a way that modern Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism are not.

Furthermore, this particular religion is historically a somewhat bloodthirsty faith, in which whatever's your bag violence-wise can almost certainly be justified. (Yes, Christianity has had its blood drenched moments, but the Spanish Inquisition, still a byword for theocratic violence, killed fewer people in a century and a half than the jihad does in a typical year.)

So we have a global terrorist movement, insulated within a global political project, insulated within a severely self-segregating religion whose adherents are the fastest-growing demographic in the developed world. The jihad thus has a very potent brand inside a highly dispersed and very decentralized network much more efficient than anything the CIA can muster. And these fellows can hide in plain sight.
Austin Bay writes today particularly on the fate of Eutopia (Steyn's term for Europe).

I'm just not sure whether I should read this book, preaching to the choir as it were. Were it to equip me to convince others, then perhaps I should read it. But my time is short these days - and best spent with my family.

So you do me a favor please and read the book - particularly if you are the errant liberal who has stumbled onto this post. It is said that no non-smoker is so militant a non-smoker as an ex-smoker. I've seen the same with ex-liberals. Shoot, I am one.

So go out and convert the masses, my soon to be ex-liberal friends!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Pump up the volume... please!

Not that you necessarily will, but I found this site fascinating: The Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project @ UCSB. After all, where else can you hear that 1898 George P. Watson classic, Emmett's Cuckoo Song?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Add your own caption


Story: here.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Weekend Levity: Father Ted: My Lovely Horse

I've heard that the Irish comedy Father Ted is eminently watch worthy. This video snippet just may prove this assertion. Enjoy.

Friday, October 13, 2006

More on the National Debt

OpinionEditorials.com picked up my piece on the National Debt.

Also, I found a nice graph of the current holders of that debt - specifically, the nationalities of those holders. By far, it's still an Americans-owe-Americans proposition, but as you can see, nearly a third is held by such close allies of the U.S. as China, OPEC, France, and Bob Dobbs.

Know your history

I was reading comments on a piece by Marvin Olasky (concerning nascent Christophobia), when I came across a particularly good bit of enlightenment from reader Carl O. Witz:
I think one of the reasons why I'm "conservative" while most of my friends are "liberal" is that I know more history.

Gingrich is back, but...

Marc Rotterman writes that Newt Gingrich is back and in demand.
But, while Newt is changing the minds of those who did not think they could find themselves in agreement with him, he is also having a conversation with the conservative base who are longing for a reconvening of the conservative movement, and he is communicating in a way no one else is. Gifted with clarity, Newt and his message to the GOP has been tough.
I've always liked Gingrich's thinking and am an eager ally of many of his points. However, as I've written previously, I cannot support him in any office for which I might cast a vote, due to some of his personal choices, which in my view stain his potential effectiveness to govern.

To the guilty rich

Hey George Soros, Warren Buffet, Barbara Streisand, and any other limousine liberals! Next time you feel guilty about your wealth, feel free to put your money where your mouth is and contribute to reduce the national debt. From the Bureau of the Public Debt website:
How do you make a contribution to reduce the debt?

Please follow these important steps to make a contribution to reduce the debt.

1. Make check payable to the Bureau of the Public Debt.
2. In the memo section of the check, notate Gift to reduce Debt Held by the Public.
3. Mail check to -

ATTN DEPT G
BUREAU OF THE PUBLIC DEBT
P O BOX 2188
PARKERSBURG, WV 26106-2188

Thursday, October 12, 2006

On a lighter note...

On a distinctly lighter note (what? lighter than the U.S. trade deficit, federal budget deficit, and national debt?!), this is an entertaining link to a site hosting images of some very interesting public sculptures from around the world.

The widening U.S. trade deficit

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The U.S. trade deficit widened by 2.7% in August to a record $69.9 billion, the Commerce Department said Thursday. The widening of the deficit surprised economists. The consensus forecast of Wall Street economists had been for the deficit to narrow to $66.4 billion from $68.0 billion in July. For the first eight months of the year, the trade deficit widened to $522.8 billion, ahead of last year's record pace of $457 billion. Imports rose faster than exports in August. The U.S. trade deficit with China widened to a record $22.0 billion in August, compared with $18.5 billion in the same month last year. The U.S. imported a record $26.7 billion in goods from China in August.
So what is the U.S. trade deficit? Simply stated, it's the net difference between what we sell to others and what others sell to us. But to think of it most properly, I suggest it is the amount of our national wealth we are putting into the hands of non-Americans. Approximately $800 billion per year of American wealth is being sent overseas.

Some (partially correctly) argue that a good deal of these dollars reenter the U.S. in the form of investment. However, this can be construed as selling our assets to foreign interests. People who own things tend to be legally permitted to control the terms of use of those things. Wouldn't you rather be renting from some entrepreneurial American landlord than from a Chinese government consortium?

What's the solution? It's a simple one: we need to sell more to others than they do to us. We can do this either by restricting our purchases (unlikely immediately) or by growing our exports. We can do the latter either by aggressively pursuing limited tarrifs (import duties) on our products and services or by offering products and services the world cannot live without. I'm focusing my energies on the latter.

Nuttiness defined: The National Debt

My friend - and Reasonable Nut Emeritus - Paul, rightly took issue with a post here the other day. It was actually a reprint of a Wall Street Journal opinion piece concerning the U.S. Federal budget deficit. Paul was concerned that by posting the piece, the Reasonable Nuts were missing the big picture: that we as a nation are still sinking further into debt. I commented on his site to the contrary. Those comments took on a life of their own and I decided to send a portion of them to a few of my representatives in the Federal government. As always, I expect a nice reply. What more should I expect?

Here's the text of my reply to Paul:

Paul -

I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment.

About the ‘Nuts, it is important to note that some of us seek to defend the Republican Party more forcefully than do others. I am of the latter sort - a conservative / libertarian who allies himself with no particular party, but seeks allegiances only with fellow travelers also seeking the big truth.

While the decrease in the annual budget deficit is a welcome (potential) bellwether, it does nothing to promote the decrease of the national debt, the ceiling of which was recently raised to over $9 trillion. That’s 9 thousand thousand thousand thousand dollars, between you, me, and our American brothers and sisters.

My father-in-law and I recently had a conversation in which he asked me about what I was most concerned. “The national debt” was my answer. Were it Americans who owed other Americans this debt, I would be concerned still, but not nearly as much as I am given the fact most of our recent debt is in the form of treasuries bought by nations not exactly allied with us - this concerns me greatly.

What I told my father-in-law was that I’d like to see a president come clean with the people - explain matters in the simplest of ways - say something like this:
“My fellow Americans, today I come to you with a heavy heart, but a clean conscience. My fiscal advisors tell me that we - your federal government - those you have entrusted with power and privelege, we have been overspending your money for a long time and that it’s time to change this behavior.”

“In your personal finances, you have to make tough decisions. You only make so much income. If your expenses exceed your income, you go into debt, if you’re priveleged to have credit extended to you. You can only work so hard, only make so much money. At some point, you have to balance your budget and ensure your expenses are less than your income. Otherwise, you sink further into debt and that much closer to insolvency.”

“Credit is a privelege, not a right. It requires responsibility in order for it to be a useful tool. Otherwise, it becomes a master and you, its slave. Your federal government has such privelege - and has abused that privelege for a long time. Because the American taxpayer funds the federal government, he is the one enslaved by the debts incurred in his name.”

“You have possibly heard the federal budget deficit has been cut quite a bit recently - due to extra taxes coming in from your hard work. This is a very good thing. But it only means that each year we go less deeply into the same dangerous hole. That hole is called ‘the national debt’. This is how much money your congress has spent in excess of tax revenues, over the years, with interest compounded. This is money that your government has borrowed on your behalf, without your direct approval.”

“You may have also heard that congress recently approved raising the ceiling on that debt to $9 trillion. How much is a trillion? A million millionaires have a trillion dollars between them. It’s a number beyond the combined wealth of most of the world’s nations. It amounts to nearly $30,000 for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. - or - more appropriately, $100,000 for every taxpayer. And that’s in the end who has been saddled with this debt - the American taxpayer.”

“I have been fortunate in my life to have an extra $100,000 for which I could repay my share of this burden. But I realize that most of us could not. And it seems most of us should not - since we had no say in the matter. Or did we?”

“This is the tough part - the part where we start to see our role in this mess. The stark truth is that we have always had a say. It’s called the electoral process. We all along have had the ability to hold congress accountable for its actions by holding our elected representatives accountable through the pressure of reelection. If my congressman failed to strongly support a balanced budget - or better - a budget with a small surplus, I should have voted for someone who would - and let him know I considered this issue important.”

“You may think that the President has control of the federal budget. He does not. The President submits a budget, but congress can and always does only use this as the merest of guidelines. Congress, as provided for in the Constitution, sets and approves the federal budget. The President only has veto authority.”

“So why have I not vetoed past budgets? This is a good question. I have to say I have not been strong enough on this issue. It’s a complex one. If I veto a budget and a new one is not approved in time, parts of your government in effect may shut down and some people’s needs may not be met. There are some who have somewhat flippantly argued that we should indeed allow the federal government to shut down - precisely to discover what needs actually exist and conversely, where elements of the government are ripe for elimination. As we do nothing about the issues of the looming federal budget deficit and national debt, I admit I am more sensitive to this notion of shutting down the government and sorting the wheat from chaff. But I do not want to have to do this. I’d like to take a less drastic approach.”

“What I am asking congress is that they approve, without adding one additional dollar, the budget I am sending them tomorrow. In this budget, nearly all programs and departments are having their funding cut 10% - the amount of the current deficit. This alone will balance the budget and is a fair approach. Additionally, I have sought to eliminate several programs that combined, will amount to a $500 billion annual budget surplus, given current tax revenues. This annual surplus, applied to the national debt, should pay off that debt within a generation. I have sought the creation of only one additional program - and that is an office solely tasked with the elimination of other programs. One day, I hope to see that it has eliminated itself.”

“Many have lived off the excesses of the federal government for a long time. Immediately following this talk, you will hear the din of their voices as they call my proposal draconian, excessive, impossible, foolish. Let them call it what they will, but foolishness it is not. It is the most sane thing we can do today for our future. I will not approve a budget that does not contain a surplus within it. And to those who would seek to deceive the American people through fuzzy math and numeric skullduggery - mark my words - you will not succeed. Your actions will be discovered and published for all to see. I want to see a balanced budget containing a surplus and arrived at through GAAP accounting standards. These are the same standards which exposed fraudulent activities at Enron and Worldcomm. Let’s apply them to the federal budget.”

“What I most want you to know, my fellow Americans, is that we can get out of the situation we are in today. But I also want you to know the fact that we have to do this. All debts must be repaid, one way or another. Because we’ve waited so very long, we are left with only one way to repay our debts: trim our budget and eliminate excess. Let’s get a good night’s sleep and tomorrow, roll-up our sleeves and get to work.”
So what's the National Debt today?


Click the above figure for a wealth of information concerning the National Debt. Additionally, you can find good information at the Bureau of the Public Debt.

Bill Bonner and Addison Wiggin write for The Daily Reckoning of the Coming Correction they envsion. A particularly salient bit:
What was wrong with our parents, grandparents, and long-dead ancestors? Why weren't they smart enough to realize that they could have a brand-new house with all the modern conveniences without paying for it? Why didn't they figure out that they could all get rich by buying each others' houses? But now, thank God, we are all geniuses.

The baby born when the empire began in 1913 came into the world with nothing. But he owed nothing. Now, he comes into the world owing his share of 37 trillion; that's about $128,560 with his name on it. Is he richer? Is he better off? What would the dead say? That doesn't include his share of Federal obligations and commitments that he'll have to pay, which could add $100,000 more.

As well they should

WASHINGTON (AP) - A group of House Republicans called Wednesday for a congressional investigation into the improper handling of classified documents by President Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger.

Berger admitted last year that he deliberately took classified documents out of the National Archives in 2003 and destroyed some of them at his office. He pleaded guilty in federal court to one charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material and was fined $50,000.
When I consider the "Clinton legacy", I think most often of Sandy Berger's disgraceful attempt at whitewashing that legacy through criminal means.

Some would compare this to the shredding of documents in the Iran Contra affair - a warranted comparison, perhaps. But it occurs to me in that case there was no theft of documents, particularly from the National Archives.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Harry Reid's True Colors

So very typical. Moralizing Harry Reid has benefited from the same forms of graft of which he accuses others:
WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid collected a $1.1 million windfall on a Las Vegas land sale even though he hadn't personally owned the property for three years, property deeds show.

In the process, Reid did not disclose to Congress an earlier sale in which he transferred his land to a company created by a friend and took a financial stake in that company, according to records and interviews.

The Nevada Democrat's deal was engineered by Jay Brown, a longtime friend and former casino lawyer whose name surfaced in a major political bribery trial this summer and in other prior organized crime investigations.
All you really need to know about the way financial dealings and political influence mingle to form corruption and greed can be learned in the entertaining 1991 film, True Colors. It features two of the cooler elements of Americana: John Cusack and the University of Virigina.

Welcome, Lou

The Reasonable Nuts welcome Lou Dobbs (of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight) to the fore of nutty reasonableness. He's penned a fine opinion piece on the middle class and the war he deems waged against them, through special interests and political lobbying.
NEW YORK (CNN) -- I don't know about you, but I can't take seriously anyone who takes either the Republican Party or Democratic Party seriously -- in part because neither party takes you and me seriously; in part because both are bought and paid for by corporate America and special interests. And neither party gives a damn about the middle class.
Dobbs stops one logical leap short of making total sense (rallying the reader 'round the libertarian flag), but he at least suggests every voter change his registration to "independent" as a wake-up message to Republicans and Democrats. He wraps it up with an expression of idealism:
I sincerely hope that we will find the resolve to face these challenges to our way of life, and we do so soon. George Bernard Shaw said, "It is dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid."

I'm stupid enough to be absolutely sincere in the hope that middle-class America will awake soon and take action.

Just a bit over the top... a wee bit.

A tinderbox in the ocean

As so much attention is effected on the parts of the world with which we are all too familiar - the middle east, e.g. - the contrarian in me is left looking for regions and issues of future concern. Here's one.

If oil prices remain relatively high and it is indeed determined (or widely advertised at least) that subterranean oil supplies are dwindling rapidly, conflict over this resource will drive nations against one another in ways previously unimagined.

What of alternative energy sources? They're not ready for prime time and, where they are, simply nothing packs the punch (dollar per unit of energy) as does petroleum. I am open to refutation - prove me wrong - please!

So where will we see conflict if this plays out? The South China Sea looks to be the hottest of hot spots. It is under-developed and is surrounded by many rapidly industrializing nations with two (or at best three) bit dictators at their helms. Add the North Korean nuclear fire to the mix. And to that, the ongoing hostilities between China and Taiwan. God forbid if Japan decides to publicly announce it has nuclear weapons.

Check out this dossier on the Spratly Islands - in the mix of it all - courtesy of our friends at Global Security. "Islands" is something of a misnomer. They are merely coral growths, no more than a few meters above sea level. But they sit right in the middle of the South China Sea - and China has even been building on them. This bit from the abovementioned dossier is priceless:
In January 2000 photographs of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands were shown to the foreign ministers of the other eight ASEAN countries by Philippine foreign minister, Domingo Siazon. The photographic evidence showed that China had expanded installations on the reef since 1995, when it first started building what it said were shelters for fishermen. There are now four sites on the reef with installations that could be connected to form a fortress, like Gibraltar, or a five-star hotel for fishermen.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The unNuke?

Others seem to be speculating as I did Monday, that the purported North Korean nuclear blast this past weekend may not have been nuclear at all. Says Gordon Cucullu in a thoroughly interesting piece of analysis:
There is another, so far unstated possibility. Suppose all this is smoke and mirrors? That North Korea has detonated hundreds of tons of explosive and simply faked a nuclear test in order to convince possible customers and intimidate the world into giving it more aid? Kim has pushed the envelope previously with success. He was rewarded in 1994 for pretending to cease nuclear development. Maybe this time he’s trying a new wrinkle? Perhaps he wishes to impress potential clients like Chavez that he really has the bomb. Perhaps he thinks that he can intimidate South Korea. Either way the sand is running fast in the hourglass and the only person who seems to be in control is Kim Jong Il, a totally unacceptable situation that cries out for change.
And from a piece at the Washington Times, by intelligence & intrigue guru Bill Gertz:
U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that seismic readings show that the conventional high explosives used to create a chain reaction in a plutonium-based device went off, but that the blast's readings were shy of a typical nuclear detonation.

Stilettos as baby makers?

From the journal (I kid you not) "Hormones and Behavior":
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Women dress to impress when they are at their most fertile, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday in a study they say shows that signs of human ovulation may not be as mysterious as some scientists believe.

A study of young college women showed they frequently wore more fashionable or flashier clothing and jewelery when they were ovulating, as assessed by a panel of men and women looking at their photographs.

"They tend to put on skirts instead of pants, show more skin and generally dress more fashionably," said Martie Haselton, a communication studies and psychology expert at the University of California Los Angeles who led the study.
So this explains why my wife dresses so well. And it also explains this.

Monday, October 09, 2006

They did it - or - did they?

Last evening's post:
Congratulations to the North Koreans, who appear to have successfully detonated a nuclear weapon, if the Magnitude 4.2 earthquake measured by the USGS is a reasonable indication of such a test.
As I've considered the "nuclear test", something rubs me wrong. I have researched the manner in which such devices are tested and it occurs to me that based on the relatively low magnitude of the tremor indicated by the USGS, and the fact this was an underground test, there is yet no way to classify this as a fission explosion. It well could be a mere 1000+ tons of conventional high explosive detonated below ground to produce an effect almost identical to that of a nuclear explosion. It would not be beyond the North Koreans to be bluffing this way.

But even so - even if it were nuclear - as I mentioned to my father in law this morning, any nuclear material exploded on their own territory is that much less that can be exported to other lands. Let them explode them all on North Korean soil.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Conservative views stand on their own merit

Bill O'Reilly has in his "Talking Points Memo" today commentary concerning the portrayal of conservative viewpoints in opinion pieces on the CBS Evening News - detailing where supposedly unbiased anchor Katie Couric refers to the views of one man as "repugnant". That man is the father of one of the boys slain at Columbine. His comments:
BRIAN ROHRBOUGH, FATHER: I am saddened and shaken by the shooting at an Amish school today and last week's school murders. When my son Dan was murdered on the sidewalk at Columbine High School on April 20th, 1999, I hoped that would be the last school shooting.

Since that day, I tried to answer the question why did this happen? This country is in a moral free fall. For over two generations, the public school system has taught in a moral vacuum, expelling God from the school and from the government, replacing Him with evolution, where the strong kill the weak without moral consequences. And life has no inherent value.

We teach there are no absolutes, no right or wrong. And I assure you, the murder of innocent children is always wrong, including by abortion.

Abortion has diminished the value of children. Suicide has become an acceptable action and has further emboldened these criminals. And we are seeing an epidemic increase in murder/suicide attacks on our children.

Sadly, our schools are not safe. In fact, we now witness that within our schools, our children have become a target of terrorists from within the United States.
Let's set aside the argument that even someone who disagrees with this man's views should not find them "repugnant" in the traditional sense of the word. Let's instead focus on the point I think O'Reilly misses: the contrast with the case of Cindy Sheehan. I thought that a parent's loss of his child innoculated him from any dissention. Where are the accusations on the part of conservatives that this father deserves this priveleged treatment?

Conservatives, by and large, submit their views to the free marketplace of ideas, either for consumption or rejection. Liberals, again by and large, require special status (innoculation) for their views to gain more than the briefest of acceptance. Their views tend to be like the poorly matched organ transplant: the recipient's body knows something is wrong with it and anti-rejection drugs are required to deceive the body into accepting the rogue organ. Whereas, give the patient an organ superbly matched to his body and little or no such drugs are required. You can look at the useful idiots in positions of power (read: media, politicians, actors, the "idolized") as the anti-rejection drugs which keep the rogue organs (liberal views) within the body (American social consciousness).

Tax Tidal Wave

Tax Tidal Wave October 6, 2006; WSJ Page A14
Congress keeps breaking the Beltway Book of World Records for spending money, but the government will soon report that the federal budget deficit for the just-completed 2006 fiscal year fell to about $260 billion.

What's the secret of this deficit success that you aren't reading much about this election year? It isn't spending restraint. The federal budget expanded to $2.7 trillion last year, a 9% increase, or three times the inflation rate. Over the past six years the federal budget has increased by 49.2%.

The main cause of the deficit decline -- 90% of it, says White House budget director Rob Portman -- is a tidal wave of tax revenue. Tax collections have increased by $521 billion in the last two fiscal years, the largest two-year revenue increase -- even after adjusting for inflation -- in American history. If you're surprised to hear that, it's probably because inside Washington this is treated as the only secret no one wants to print. On the few occasions when the media pay attention to the rise in tax collections, they scratch their heads and wonder where this "surprising" and "unexpected windfall" came from.

One place it has come from are corporations, whose tax collections have climbed by 76% over the past two years thanks to greater profitability. Personal income tax payments are up by 30.3% since 2004 too, despite the fact that the highest tax rate is down to 35% from 39.6%. The IRS tax-return data just released last month indicates that a near-record 37% of those income tax payments are received from the top 1% of earners -- "the rich," who are derided regularly in Washington for not paying their "fair share."

More good news is that dividend-tax payments appear to be up as well, even though the tax rate was lowered to 15% from as high as 39.6%. A National Bureau of Economic Research study found that "after a continuous decline in dividend payments over more than two decades, total regular dividends have grown by nearly 20%" and that this reversal happened at "precisely the point at which the lower tax rate was proposed and subsequently applied retroactively." There hasn't been a purer validation of the Laffer Curve since Ronald Reagan rode off into the sunset.

As for the budget deficit, at $260 billion it is now about 2% of our $13 trillion economy, well below the 2.7% average of the last 40 years. Most states and localities are also afloat in tax collections, and including their revenue surpluses brings the total U.S. public sector borrowing down to roughly 1.5% of GDP. Not too shabby given that we're waging a war on terrorism and Congress spent $50 billion last year on Hurricane Katrina clean-up.

Anyway, we thought our taxpaying readers might like to know how much you've all been contributing to the falling deficit -- the best-kept secret in Washington.

URL for this article:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116008947901684269.html

Duped

My household recently signed up for the Netflix service and we've been enjoying it thoroughly, considering our concomitant recent purchase, a 46" DLP HDTV. One film we viewed this week nearly made us both ill and simultaneously gave us whiplash, as its storyline violently jerked from genre to genre. That film is "The Girl in the Cafe" and here's my review at Netflix:
There were 2 very distinct parts to this film, thus a 2 pt review.

Pt 1: Quirky, smart dialogue between the 2 leads. Genuinely fun to watch their thoughtful, typically English interactions. Shades of the stilted tension between Hopkins and Thompson in "The Remains of the Day", but so much the funnier. Winsome characters have the viewer wanting the best for them. Great cinematography and subdued acting. 4 stars.

Pt 2: Transition to Iceland. What was a romantic film becomes a moralizing preachfest, warning the viewer of the perils of "extreme poverty" at least 3 times. What was probably a well-intentioned revelry for old men to remember the young man's dreams of making a real difference, becomes ridiculous in its heavy-handed (and frankly, coldly rendered) statistical dialogues. Gina rails about the heart of the matter, yet her acting is strangely divorced from real passion. Without spoiling the revelations, it seemed to me that if Gina truly went through the experiences revealed later, that character would act quite differently. Yet, to the writers of this film, it was more important to impart to the viewer the full and well-enunciated statistics regarding the hard go of it among the world's poor. This was the entirely wrong way to present the material. It turned off both my wife and me, who otherwise might have felt sympathetic to a more careful plea. Gina's impetuous and impolite confrontations were excruciating. A guest knows her place. And the response of the bigwigs is laughable. People at that level of experience are not so simply motivated by such foolishness. A childlike plea should not be confused with a foolish one. Gina's were the latter.

In a word, we felt duped. We rented a romantic film and instead received a diatribe jacketed by a thin romance. Pt 2 receives 0 stars and since it's the bulk of the film, it brings my overall review to a single star. Watch the first part if you desire, then return the film once they board the plane to Iceland.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

At Least They Weren't 1200 Pages Long

Before she wrote epic novels such as The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand actually had a short career writing greeting cards. Very Short.

She also wrote professional-sounding voicemail messages:

“Your call is of no importance to us, but we want your money. Therefore, it is in our rational self interest to talk to you. If it is in your rational self interest to stay on the line, your call will be answered in turn.”

"Before mid-November"

Sayeth the sage analysts:
A North Korean nuclear test is now a just matter of time, a growing number of analysts say, as an increasingly desperate Pyongyang tries to ease the external pressures that are crippling the economy and might even be threatening Kim Jong-il’s leadership.
So, the big question is "when?"
Daniel Pinkston of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, said, if it was this year, a test would almost certainly have to take place before mid-November to avoid heavy snow falls.
Won't this certainly add some complexity to the U.S. congressional elections?

Note: though the image above is of a mushroom cloud, the Reasonable Nuts expect that a North Korean attempt would be done underground... except that they might just be batty enough to do so aboveground.

MVB


Nothing really to this post. I simply like this photo of the 8th U.S. President, Martin van Buren. Ross Perot might have actually been elected in 1992, had he had such a head of hair.

The faith of a child

Oct. 5, 2006 — The oldest of the five Amish girls shot dead in a Pennsylvania schoolhouse is said to have stepped forward and asked her killer to "Shoot me first," in an apparent effort to buy time for her schoolmates. -- via ABC
This is a stunning level of faith - almost only ever found in children these days.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hey, look at me! I'm pretty too!

File this under: "Hey, look at me! I'm pretty too!"

North Korea announces it will "in the future" conduct a nuclear test. It's got to be hard for the North Koreans, to have the Iranians getting all the press these days. Geesh - Dear Leader (no shit - this is what he is called) Kim Jong-il wasn't even invited to speak at the recent gathering of Despots at the U.N. This is likely due to the invitation committee knowing North Korea is not in possession of a working airplane with which Dear Leader might be transported.

Actually, the real reason he never goes anywhere is more simple:
Like his father, he has a profound fear of flying, and has always traveled by private armoured train for state visits to Russia and China. -- Wikipedia
So - to the point of the story - can the North Koreans actually detonate a nuclear weapon? Yes - but, if it's to be anything like the quality of their typical industrial endeavors, it will explode as a dirty radiological weapon (an unitended fizzle) which will kill all involved with the test and contaminate even more of their dwindling arable land.

To which I say - GO FOR IT!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The (blood) Red Badge of Courage?

This story is a sad tale of delusional hubris:
At a pivotal time in the abortion debate, Ms. magazine is releasing its fall issue next week with a cover story titled "We Had Abortions," accompanied by the names of thousands of women nationwide who signed a petition making that declaration.
... as if an abortion were a laudable feat. Are these women completely delusional?
The signatories include Ms. founder Gloria Steinem, comedian Carol Leifer, and actresses Kathy Najimy and Amy Brenneman, but most are not famous names.

Tyffine Jones, 27, of Jackson, Miss., said she had no hesitation about signing _ although she lives in a state where restrictions on abortion are tough and all but one abortion clinic has been closed.

Jones said she got an abortion 10 years ago _ enduring harassment from protesters when she entered the clinic _ in order to finish high school. She went on to become the first member of her family to graduate from college, and hopes at some point to attend law school.

"I wanted to do something bigger with myself _ I didn't want to be stopped by anything," she said in a telephone interview.
Yeah, don't let that precious little baby stop you from fulfilling your selfish interests. Suck its brain out. You deserve it!

And for this old saw - "I wanted to do something bigger...". What is bigger than birthing and seeing to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of a baby? Don't even dare bring up this argument with my wife. She will - justly - rip you a new one!
Another signatory, Debbie Findling of San Francisco, described her difficult decision last year to have an abortion after tests showed that she would bear a son with Down syndrome.

"I felt it was my right to make the decision, but having that right doesn't make the decision any easier," she said. "It was the hardest decision I've ever made."

Findling, 42, is married, with a 5-year-old daughter, and has been trying to get pregnant again while pursuing her career as a philanthropic foundation executive.
Hey Debbie - philanthropy begins in the womb. Thank God I am not now a fetus in this woman's womb! And how lucky for her 5 year old that she passed the (often flawed) tests. I write this as a 37 year old father of a 2 month old who, because his wife is nearly the same age, was presented with a littany of (often unwelcomed) information related to birth defects in kids of mothers beyond 35 years old. I didn't mind the initial info, but the seemingly unceasing "high risk" talk, when nothing pointed toward a high risk pregnancy, was very aggravating.

By the way, something I noticed: though all the medical professionals we consulted gave us the party line in regard to the possibility of having a kid with birth defects, they each seemed relieved when we indicated the results of any tests would not change our commitment to the birth. It seemed to me, at least, that most people know the right course of action and are relieved to hear a commitment to it.

Rather than this repugnant story, I'd like to see instead an article titled something like "We had babies" - stories of real courage in the face of difficulty.

Heads Need to Roll

Check out the forums at Heads Need to Roll. The Reasonable Nuts heartily concur with this assessment regarding the mobility of hat supports.

More proof the Bang was Big

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Americans John Mather and George Smoot won the 2006 Nobel prize for physics on Tuesday for work on cosmic radiation which helped pinpoint the age of the universe and supported the Big Bang theory of its birth.

Socialism most hurts the poor

Thomas Sowell makes a strong assertion:
Although socialism has long claimed to be for the poor, it has probably done more damage, on net balance, to the poor than to the rich.
And then follows it up with a good case.