Friday, August 31, 2007

Matt Lauer Talks "Republican Corruption"; Tom Delay Calls Him On Double Standard and Bias.

I didn’t watch the show, but I read this reaction at Blogs For Bush. Matt Lauer had former Speaker of the House Tom Delay on the show to talk about the recent woes of the Republican Party. Mr. Delay wasted no time pointing out the hypocrisy in the media by pointing to the disparity in coverage of the two parties. He said that coverage of Republicans who are accused of wrongdoing is relentless, while coverage of Democrats suspected of malfeasance or impropriety is for a day or two and then dropped and never discussed again. Apparently Mr. Lauer became quite defensive, and accused Mr. Delay of deviousness by accepting his invitation to discuss Republican wrongdoing and then wanting to change the subject once they were on camera. Mr. Delay responded by saying, basically, "See, you just illustrated my point. You’ll talk about Republican shenanigans and treat Democrat scandals as old stories and sweep them under the rug. And then accuse me of deception and dishonesty. The basic difference between Republicans and Democrats is this: Republicans kick out wrongdoers; Democrats re-elect and promote them to positions of power term after term."

Democrats who were reelected last yet despite being under a dark ethical cloud:
Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) is the target of a federal investigation, was forced (by Republicans) to step down from the ethics committee last year but was reelected in November.
Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) was the target of a 2-year federal bribery investigation, had $90,000 in bribe money found in his freezer, and was still reelected last November.
Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) was involved in the ABSCAM scandal, also apparently steered millions in federal funding to companies that were clients of his brother's lobbying firm. He was also reelected in November.
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) found guilty in civil court of leaking an illegally recorded phone conversation to the media in March 2006. He too, was reelected last November.

Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-IL), linked to countless scandals, was reelected last November.
Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) linked to countless scandals, was reelected last November.
From Blogs for Bush

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Abu Ghraib Commander Exonerated, Washington Post Whines

Lt. Col. Steven Jordan was court martialed for his role in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and was exonerated. The jury found that he didn’t authorize the abuse nor did he engage in it.
This apparently doesn’t sit well with the Washington Post, which was one among many media outlets which trumpeted the story for weeks and insisted that this was not an isolated incident but was systemic and pervasive throughout the military. From the conservative blog Powerline:

This story in the Washington Post also provides no reason to doubt that justice was done. However, the Post sniffs that "the verdict means no officer will serve prison time in connection with the mistreatement of detainees at Abu Ghraib, leaving the harshest punishment for low-ranking soldiers who were shown in the infamous photographs that emerged in early 2004." This theme also appears in the subtitle of the story in the print edition. The Post thus seems unable to conceal its disappointment that the harshest punishment went to the people who actually engaged in the abuse, as opposed to bigger-shots who were never shown to be culpable.
(Bold mine).

Apparently, this is another situation where the facts didn't fit the narrative, but the Post was undeterred in their telling of a nice juicy story that smeared our entire military all the way along the chain of command up to and including the White House, which was the objective all along. Mission accomplished!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Awesome ATV Trail Ride

Sunday my oldest son Jared called and invited me to go on a challenging ATV trail ride on Monday. I jumped at the chance. Here's Jared posing on the trail with his Chinese motorcycle and my Yammy Big Bear.

There's some great scenery, such as this waterfall that goes right across the trail.

This is looking down the waterfall. What looks like the creek is actually the lower part of the trail, which switches back. Part of the stream goes right down the trail for a hundred yards or so. Not too much dust on this trail!

This picture was taken about three-quarters of the way up the trail. We're looking north, back down the canyon. The far mountains are on the opposite side of the main canyon, which runs east and west, left to right in this photo.
We sat on the little knoll in the middle right of this photo and saw some very interesting things.

Jared Petersen photo
Jared took this picture from that knoll while I ate a sandwich. It shows the steep grandeur of the canyon, the rugged, steep trail, and if you look very closely, in the lightened area at the top of the photo, some very tiny white specks...(click the picture to see the enlarged version of the photo).

Yep, mountain goats!

I counted six females with kids. I think one of them had twins, because I counted 13 goats altogether. (Not all pictured)

We didn't actually get this close to these animals, but I took the photos at the highest resolution with my camera, then cropped tight in Photoshop. We were able to work a little closer to the goats a little later but the pictures turned out to be disappointing. Note to aspiring wildlife photographers: photos of wildlife with their heads down and their backsides towards you aren't nearly as interesting as animals facing you with their heads up.

Jared takes air.

Most of the trail was pretty rough, but this part was smooth as silk.

Jared Petersen photo
This was the trickiest part of the trail. It's a narrow section between a rock wall on one side and large boulders on the other with a wide crack in the middle. A hiker can simply march on through without hardly breaking stride, and a motorcyle can just stay on the high side near the rock wall. But it's too narrow for an ATV, and a rider has to carefully pick his way through without getting wedged into the middle. You have to put one front wheel down in the crack, and one up on the side, and try not to tip over. What makes it even worse, the rocks form kind of a rachet, so it's easier to go one way than the other. On the way up, Jared got through easily on his motorcycle, then had to dismount and help me through because I got wedged in there pretty tight.

Jared Petersen photo
Coming down was a lot easier. I was nervous because of the trouble I had had getting through on the way up. The fact that I'd been through it already helped, from an experience standpoint, but the angle of the rocks was different going in the other direction, and I was able to pick my way through without assistance.
Jared Petersen photo
Sometimes I only had three wheels on the ground.

Jared Petersen photo
It was definitely not a place for a lot of throttle.

Jared Petersen photo


Jared Petersen photo

After we'd loaded up the bikes and we were headed out of the canyon we saw this mountain goat crossing the road. I could tell as soon as I saw him he was hurt because he was limping really badly. I don't know if he got hit by a car or what, but he wasn't putting any weight on that one leg. He had just been down to the creek to get a drink, I think. He soon became the center of attention as motorists pulled over to have a look.

Jared Petersen photo

Making his way back up the slope, but wondering what all the fuss was about.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

British Subject Calls for Military Coup d'Etat at the White House. No, Really.

Martin Lewis at the Huffington Post is calling for the head of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Peter Pace, USMC, to relieve President Bush of his command as Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Armed Forces and place him under arrest for “Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman.” And apparently he’s not joking, and he quotes extensively from the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

I think they’re becoming unhinged. I’ve heard of “Bush Derangement Syndrome” before, but this has got to be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. It’s kind of like Hillary Clinton calling for Nouri al-Maliki to step down as the Iraqi prime minister. He’s come to office by a duly elected Iraqi government, but a U.S. Senator feels competent to nullify that by calling for his dismissal because he hasn’t measured up to her standards of governance. Maliki is totally justified in calling on Clinton and other American politicians to “come to their senses.”

The Looney Left has tried to incite assassination of both our President and Vice-President and repeatedly expressed regret over their failure. They’ve called for impeachment, with no satisfaction, as the Democratic Congress has shown little interest. They’ve called on Congress to obstruct the war effort by defunding it, and have gone unheeded. Now they’re calling on the Joint Chiefs to remove the President from his position as Commander-in-Chief. They are so desperate to depose this President that they’re willing to commit sedition and treason to get it done. Incredible.

Martin Lewis is a British subject of the Queen, by the way. He’s also described as a humorist, although the “humor” on display in the post is a little, um, shrill. And I can’t help wondering how humorous the Secret Service detail charged with the President’s security would take an attempt by U.S. Marines under the command of Gen. Pace to place the President under military arrest as the General relieves the President of his command. What an asinine screed.

Everyone in government needs to concentrate on doing their job instead of tending everybody else’s business. The media needs to concentrate on reporting the news, instead of telling the American people what to think. Congress needs to take care of the country’s business, instead of obstructing the President in everything he tries to do. A lot of stuff is being neglected because our government in Washington is dysfunctional, incompetent and corrupt. It’s hurting the country. A lot.

Mitt Romney and the “M-word”–(Money)

I read a column online at the JEWISH WORLD REVIEW by Cokie and Steve Roberts about Mitt Romney and his immense wealth, (an estimated $350 M) and how it could help or hinder his quest for the White House.

Theology came up. From the column:

The wealth question reaches beyond the practical into the realm of theology and myth. A core belief of early New England settlers was the Protestant Ethic: the idea that thrift and hard work were prime earthly virtues; and even better, that material success was a sign of God's grace and eternal salvation.

But that’s it. That’s as close to the "M-word" as they got. I finished the column and then reread it to be sure. Nope, not one single time did they mention Romney’s peculiar Mormon faith or any of the odd tenets of his religion, past or present.

They talked about money, his family’s investments that are enumerated in a list that covers 47 pages, how the company that oversees the investments has divested of some questionable stocks in the recent past, but is still invested in a Chinese company that does business with the government of Sudan, which supports genocide.

They mentioned how in the recent Iowa straw poll, in which he finished 1st with 32% of the vote, he spent something like $800 per vote. The runner-up, Mike Huckabee spent $58 per vote and got 18%, and told his supporters he couldn’t pay for them, or even rent them.

They talked about rich candidates who’ve sought the White House and failed, such as Steve Forbes, John F. Kerry and John Edwards and the pitfalls that had brought about their failures. They talked about other more successful candidates, such as John Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt, who ascended to high office partly because they were able to avoid the appearance of hypocrisy, elitism and greed.

But no mention of Mormons, gold bibles, plural wives or magic underwear. I’m shocked.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Washington Woman Mauled by Black Bear...

...but she may have had it coming. By that I mean she kind of brought in on herself.

Here’s a link to the story in the Kitsap Reporter. It’s an unintentionally hilarious story, really, about a couple in Kitsap, Washington who had trouble with a 300 pound black bear and handled it, um, badly.

In an attempt to try and scare the more than 300-pound black bear after spotting it on her property last Wednesday morning, the woman, a retired Navy doctor and volunteer Search and Rescue worker who wishes to remain unnamed, shot off her .30-06-caliber rifle, hitting the bear.

Okay, let me get this straight. She tried to scare the bear by shooting her rifle and hit the bear when she did. I assume, since she only wanted to scare the bear, she was aiming to miss it. And she missed. By hitting the bear.

I’m sorry, but my B.S. meter is blaring.

I can believe this woman is a bad shot. I just can’t believe she’s that bad. If you’re aiming to miss a dangerous creature like a 300 pound black bear, aim for someplace other than the bear, for crying out loud. No wonder she "wishes to remain unnamed".

I guess frightened people can do incredible things. And in this case, I do mean incredible! I’m not normally a suspicious-natured person. But this story, um, smells funny.

If she actually tried to kill the bear and didn’t get it done with the first shot, that’s much more plausible. Many hunters have botched one-shot kills, including myself. It’s not something to be proud of, but it happens. Maybe it’s illegal to kill a marauding black bear on your property in Washington state. I don’t know.

But okay, let’s take her at her word and agree that she’s a dangerously inaccurate shooter. I still have some questions.

Why didn’t the husband take the shot?

Why did he let her go first when they went looking for the now clearly dangerous wounded bear? Did he know something she didn’t? I love this quote from the story: "The bear was taller than I was," her husband said. "He was hiding in the brush ... then I heard movement and started walking behind her." Clearly a very clever man. Not necessarily a brave man, but a smart man, nonetheless.

Why did he wait until the bear had his wife’s head in its mouth before shooting it? The story says "[n]ot missing a beat, her husband shot five rounds into the bear." From a .460 Magnum handgun. But obviously, he missed a beat or two.

And the recoil of the gun was so violent it nearly severed his thumb? That’s way too much recoil. The .460 Magnum is an elephant-rifle cartridge, fully capable of taking down a 300 lb. black bear. But apparently, it’s fully capable of taking down the shooter, too. Somebody needs to rethink their choice of handgun caliber. I think some gun merchant motivated by cash flow rather than scruples saw this couple coming when they came into the gun store and sold them some very expensive guns and ammo when they had no idea what they were buying. The .30-06 is probably the most common hunting rifle in North America, but it's not a cheap gun. The .460 Magnum is exotic and expensive. Ammo for the .460 Magnum is $4.50 to $6.00 per cartridge.

Clearly this couple is a pair of babes in the woods and they have no business living in black bear country. But I don’t know. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But does it make you smarter, too?

Have a nice day.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Anthropogenic Global Warming; Scientific Hypothesis, Not Ideological Dogma

Jeff Jacoby, a Boston Globe columnist, has written part two of his column on anthropogenic global warming. Here’s a link to the Jewish World Review. From the column:

Take the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Unlike its previous report in 2001, which foresaw a possible rise in sea levels over the next century of around 3 feet, the new report cuts that figure in half, to about 17 inches. Why the revision? "Mainly because of improved information," the IPCC notes in the fine print. It goes on to note that even its latest estimate involves some guesswork: "Understanding of these effects is too limited to assess their likelihood." The science is getting better, but it's far from settled.

So, basically, the science is getting better and we’re learning more and more all the time. And the prospect that we can actually do something about climate change is still very much in doubt.

It’s well worth reading the whole thing. And here’s a link to part 1.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

She's back! I mean...THEY'RE back.

The kids, Hattie and her mom and dad, are back from Florida. They stopped at our house for a quick visit. Look how big she's grown. And she's walking. Of course, we knew she would be, but it's still kind of neat. She even runs, kind of. And she loves to stick her fingers in electrical outlets. I guess we're gonna have to work on that.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Anthropogenic Global Warming: Solid and Settled Science or Politicized Ideological Dogma?

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist who wants to know why anthropogenic global warming propagandists [my term] are so intemperate. From his recent column:

Anthropogenic global warming is a scientific hypothesis, not an article of religious or ideological dogma. Skepticism and doubt are entirely appropriate in the realm of science, in which truth is determined by evidence, experimentation, and observation, not by consensus or revelation. Yet when it comes to global warming, dissent is treated as heresy -- as a pernicious belief whose exponents must be shamed, shunned, or silenced.
Newsweek is hardly the only offender. At the Live Earth concert in New Jersey last month, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. denounced climate-change skeptics as "corporate toadies" for "villainous" enemies of America and the human race. "This is treason," he shouted, "and we need to start treating them now as traitors."
Some environmentalists and commentators have suggested that global-warming "denial" be made a crime, much as Holocaust denial is in some countries. Others have proposed that climate-change dissidents be prosecuted in Nuremberg-style trials. The Weather Channel's Heidi Cullen has suggested that television meteorologists be stripped of their American Meteorological Society certification if they dare to question predictions of catastrophic global warming.

When Marlo Lewis, a scientist at the Competitive Enterprise Institute wrote an article opposing Congressionally imposed hard limits on carbon-dioxide emissions until technology exists to produce energy that doesn’t rely on carbon-dioxide, he was vilified and threatened by the President of the American Council on Renewable Energy thusly:

Take this warning from me, Marlo. It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar. If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America.

Mr. Jacoby concludes:

The interesting and complicated phenomenon of climate change is still being figured out, and as much as those determined to turn it into a crusade of good vs. evil may insist otherwise, the issue of global warming isn't a closed book. Smearing those who buck the "scientific consensus" as traitors, toadies, or enemies of humankind may be emotionally satisfying and even professionally lucrative. It is also indefensible, hyperbolic bullying.

Clearly, global warming propagandists aren’t responding to skepticism with scientific argument but with slander and threats. This looks more like bigotry than solid scientific endeavor. I don’t think it should have a place at the table when we’re having a public policy debate. But that’s just me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I Saw This Photo and Read the Caption and Laughed Till I Cried!

AFP photo
" An elderly Iraqi woman shows two bullets which she said hit her house following an early coalition forces raid in the predominantly Shiite Baghdad suburb of Sadr City."

Here's a link to a blog I saw it on.

I know I risk offending some readers, but just in case it's not obvious to you, the items the woman is holding up appears to be two live rounds of 5.56mm ammunition, the kind our coalition forces use. They haven't been fired.

Repeat: they have not been fired.

The only way they could have hit her house is if someone threw them, or used a slingshot. Some stringer at AFP has a diabolical sense of humor, or they believe their target audience is comprised of stupid and ignorant people who won't know the difference between live unfired ammunition, and bullets that have been fired and have been recovered. In other words, these guys are extremely arrogant and have enormous contempt for their audience!

Hillary Clinton: Optimistic Modern Progressive, or Old School Socialist in Thin Disguise?

AP photo/Mark Hirsch
"Shared Prosperity" is code for Socialism, or redistribution of wealth through higher taxes.
From an AP story in the online Traverse City Eagle Record, Hillary Clinton seems eager to campaign against the Bush administration in her quest for the White House. Actually, it makes sense, because by doing so she forces the Republican nominee, whoever that may turn out to be, to distance themselves from the White House and it’s policies.

Calling herself an optimistic and modern progressive who would help the nation overcome economic disparities, Clinton said the U.S. can "grow" its economy amid global competition "and do it in a way that benefits all Americans."

Clinton said the Bush administration "is working for Americans with incomes at the very top."

"Americans work harder than anyone else in the world, yet we're not getting rewarded," she said. "We're seeing a growing gap between the haves and have-nots that threatens the backbone of our country, the middle class that built our country." [Notice how she cleverly includes herself as a "have-not" middle class American.--ed.]

I have to admit I lack enthusiasm for the senator’s projected platform. Socialist economies, such as France’s and Sweden’s, have stagnated over the years because they’ve been overburdened with the expenses of paying for their burgeoning entitlement programs by overtaxing corporations, businesses and "fat cats". This always has a chilling effect on any economy, no matter how robust.

Capitalism works because corporations, businesses and entrepreneurs are willing to take risks by expanding their businesses, hiring employees and spending capital. The motive, of course, is profit. Cut into that profit with heavier taxes, and capitalists become more risk averse, they cut back on expansion and hiring and spending, and the whole economy suffers as a result. That means the poor get poorer, while the rich stay rich.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

If the Facts Don’t Fit the Narrative, Can the Facts Be “Wrong”?

The recent Duke non-rape story turned out to be a bust for the main stream media. What really happened here was that politicians, race baiters, a rogue prosecutor, a feckless lab administrator and the media formed quickly into a lynch mob that nearly succeeded in railroading a group of young men who were clearly guilty of being white, rich, privileged, and perhaps of being rowdy and arrogant, but not actually guilty of a crime.

If anyone ever starts a museum of horrible explanations, the one-liner by Newsweek's Evan Thomas about his magazine's dubious reporting on the Duke non-rape case — "The narrative was right but the facts were wrong" — is destined to become a popular exhibit, right up there with "we had to destroy the village to save it."
What Mr. Thomas seems to mean is that the newsroom view of the lacrosse players as privileged, sexist, and arrogant white male jocks was the correct angle on the story. It wasn't. . . .
We now live in a docudrama world in which techniques of fiction and nonfiction are starting to blur. Many reporters think objectivity is a myth. They see journalism as inherently a subjective exercise in which the feelings and the will of the journalist function to reveal the truth of what has occurred. Two results are the emotional commitment to powerful but untrue story lines, and a further loss of credibility for the press. – John Leo

"The narrative was right but the facts were wrong"
Who buys this arrogant crap? Geez. And we wonder why our approval ratings are in the crapper?
I could be crazy but perhaps it is time to focus on the facts rather than trying to tell people what to think.
-- Silence on August 14, 2007

U.S. Military Has Increasing Moral Authority In Iraq...

...while Congress, um, doesn't.

In spite of what you may be hearing on the news, especially from such knowledgeable sources as Harry Reid, Jack Murtha, Nancy Pelosi, etc., progress is being made in Iraq, and not just militarily.

Michael Yon frequently imbeds with military units in Iraq, goes on patrols, attends town meetings, and gets out of the Green Zone to get a good idea what’s going on in Iraq. Here’s what he says in his latest dispatch:

Our military has increasing moral authority in Iraq, but the same cannot be said for our government at home. In fact, it’s in moral deficit because many Iraqis are increasingly frightened we will abandon them to genocide. The Iraqis I speak with couldn’t care less what is said from Washington but large numbers of them pay close attention to what some Marine Gunny says, or what American battalion commanders all over Iraq say. Some of our commanders could probably run for local offices in Iraq, and win. To say there has been no political progress in Iraq in 2007 is patently absurd, completely wrong and dangerously dismissive of the significant changes and improvements happening all across Iraq. Whether or not Americans are seeing it on the nightly news or reading it in their local papers, Iraqis are actively writing their children’s history.

Michael Yon is well worth reading every time he publishes a new dispatch. There’s a link to his site on the sidebar, and here’s a link to this article on his site:

Ethics Bill Proves Congress is Corrupt, Does Less to Correct It Than Hide It

Congress is sitting on a mountain of corruption, and the recent ethics bill proves it. From Ed Morrisey at Captain’s Quarters:

We have heard that the new bill keeps lawmakers from accepting free meals from lobbyists, as though a free $40 steak has been the root of all corruption on Capitol Hill, but it doesn't even do that much. There are over 20 exceptions to the food and gift bans in the bill. For instance, lobbyists can still fund trips to "well-attended" events, such as charity golf tournaments and receptions, or events where the lawmaker plays a ceremonial role. They can't give tickets to sporting events, but that changes if the Congressman tosses out the first pitch.
So let's recap. Lobbyists can't buy a meal unless it's part of a fundraiser, which means that the previous $40 steak can be legalized now by providing a $10,000 check to tenderize it. Lawmakers can't accept gifts to sporting events unless the lobbyists can make sure they get all sorts of attention from the crowd, preferably during election season. Lobbyists can't buy a round of golf for a Senator, but that changes if the round of golf comes at a charity function where lots of press usually attend.
Wow -- what a sacrifice our Congress has made for themselves in this ethics bill! No wonder lobbyists object to it. All Congress has done is to increase their prices, not take them off the market. In a way, it makes it even more easier for the richest interests to buy a Congressman and keep the hoi polloi from shopping at the Capitol Hill outlet store.

It’s worth reading the whole thing. Here’s a link:

Monday, August 6, 2007

Grandma Baird Has Gone Home...

First she had to take care of some "business", you know, birthday cards, anniversary gifts, etc.

Then she said her goodbyes...
And then Wendy whisked her off to the airport, where they flew back to San Jose.

We enjoyed having her at our house. It's the first time she's ever been to our home since we've been married.

Friday, August 3, 2007

“There are 250 to 500 bears around Tahoe, and everyone seems to have a bear story.”

Hmmmm, sound familiar?

Here’s a link to an interesting story in the New York Times about bears in Lake Tahoe and what a nuisance they’ve become. Here’s a link:

Last June Laura's sister Wendy and her family spent 4 nights camping out near Lake Tahoe, and they came home with some bear stories of their own.