Friday, October 31, 2008

Not Quite An Endorsement

Not Quite An Endorsement

But for those large number of Americans who intend to turn out and vote against "McSame" (as the Democrats call John McCain for his supposed similarity to Bush) and Republicans--well, you've got friends overseas telling you to do so:

DUBAI (Reuters) - An al Qaeda leader has called for President George W. Bush and the Republicans to be "humiliated," without endorsing a party in the upcoming U.S. presidential election, according to an Internet video posting.

"O God, humiliate Bush and his party, O Lord of the Worlds, degrade and defy him," Abu Yahya al-Libi said at the end of sermon marking the Muslim feast of Eid al-Fitr, in a video posted on the Internet.

Libi, a top al Qaeda commander believed to be living in Afghanistan or Pakistan, called for God's wrath to be brought against Bush equating him with past tyrants in history.

Yes, I take so seriously the human rights concerns of a group that intentionally murdered thousands of civilians (a surprising number of them Muslims) in an unprovoked sneak attack, and films its operatives beheading people with knives as part of a recruiting campaign.

Make no mistake about it: a crowd that doesn't believe women should go to school, that supports crushing homosexuals to death under walls, that makes Jerry Falwell look like the ACLU when it comes to freedom of speech, is telling you to vote Democrat! (Okay, not exactly, but I don't think that when he says to vote against Republicans, that he means to vote Libertarian.) What a ringing endorsement!

What Do The Experts Know?

What Do The Experts Know?

I've been intrigued and even a bit startled by the negative reactions to Governor Palin. Yes, she's light on experience to be President, and being Vice President under Senator McCain means that she is likely to end up as President. But anyone who is upset about Palin being "light on experience" can't possibly be serious about voting for Obama! I mean, Governor Palin actually has some experience running a small government and an executive branch--unlike Senator Obama.

Governor Palin is not terribly glib--which some people mistake for not being very intelligent. One of the smartest people I know, my best friend (after my wife), is not terribly glib. He will often take many, many seconds to think carefully what he is going to say, and then say it--and the results are often utterly startling in their wit or brilliance. I'm sure by the standards that are popular in some circles, he would be considered not too bright. And my, would they be wrong! Dan Quayle came in for a lot of criticism (and often justified) for not being too well informed--but it was nothing like the ferocious hatred that Palin engenders (which is an apt choice of word, for the following reason).

As near as I can tell, much of the really fierce hatred of Governor Palin is that she is two things simultaneously that make her anethema to the left:

1. She's a pro-life, evangelical Christian.

2. She's a woman.

To the left, it is axiomatic that every woman has to be pro-choice and hostile to the patriarchial system of oppression that is Christianity. A woman that doesn't fit this model is a traitor to her sex--and we all know that traitors are more hated than enemies that haven't changed sides.

Now, it turns out that a number of Republican columnists and experts are blathering on about Palin. As my friend Stacy McCain points out:
None of her critics in the commentariat could ever draw such a crowd or generate such enthusiasm, and yet they do not hesitate to proclaim that she is "not close to being acceptable in high office" ([Ken] Adelman), that her selection as John McCain's running mate is "irresponsible" ([Francis] Fukuyama) and even that she "represents a fatal cancer to the Republican Party" ([David] Brooks).

Popularity as a pathology? What Brooks and the others are saying is that these people who spend hours in the cold October wind for a chance to see Sarah Palin are too stupid to know what's good for them. "Listen to us," say the political experts.

YES, THE EXPERTS always know best. In September 2002, [George F.] Will advocated "preemptive" war with Iraq, with a nuclear "mushroom cloud" as the alternative. Now, he denounces as "carelessness" the war he once urged, lumping Palin into the same category of Republican error.

Fukuyama militated for war with Iraq much earlier, signing onto the Project for the New American Century's 1998 letter to President Clinton calling for "a strategy for removing Saddam's regime from power." In the run-up to the 2003 invasion, Brooks warned that "the fog of peace" was blinding critics to the "menace" of Saddam. Among the advocates of invasion, Adelman took the cake, so to speak, by predicting a "cakewalk" in Iraq.

Experts, you see. And at nothing are they more expert than evading responsibility, a task that requires scapegoats. So the unpopularity of the Republican Party has nothing to do with the policies the experts urged and the politicians the experts supported. Rather, it's the provincial hockey mom who is to blame.
I'm not going to spend a lot of energy criticizing Adelman, Will, and others for their mistakes with respect to Iraq. There's plenty of blame to go around. Lots of Democrats made the same mistakes that they now criticize Bush and McCain for making. As I have pointed out previously, while some of the Bush mistakes with respect to Iraq were incomprehensible, others were "damned if you do, damned if you don't" choices. As the saying goes, no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.

I do think Stacy is on to something here: when the people that played a major part in the Iraq strategy suggest that Palin was an incredibly bad choice--consider the source.

The Other Mortgage Is Gone

The Other Mortgage Is Gone

Finally. The wire of funds completed; the mortgage on the house in Boise is zero balance. Why, if there were any full-time teaching jobs available in this area, I could actually afford to do that now!

I Voted Absentee--And For a Democrat!

I Voted Absentee--And For a Democrat!

For the first time in my life, I voted absentee, because I will be in Bend, Oregon to work on Tuesday. And for those Democratic bloggers who think that I am a rigid Republican--why, I actually voted for Democrat Greg Simione for 2nd District County Commissioner. Why? I actually had a chance to hear the "Republican" Jaimie A. Anderson speech at one of candidate forums that I attended, and she sounded like a leftwing Democrat.

Garden Valley supporters of my campaign also tell me that what may have contributed (although only in a small way) to my loss in the Republican primary is that a lot of Boise County Democrats voted in the Republican primary this year just to help Anderson get the Republican nomination--and while they were there, they voted for State Senator Corder in the Republican primary (instead of yours truly).

There is still a small chance that McCain can defeat the preferred candidate of North Korea, Moammar Khaddafy, Fidel Castro, and Hugo Chavez--so get out there and vote. Democrats like Erica Jong are still saying that we will have a civil war in this country if Obama doesn't win:

"If Obama loses it will spark the second American Civil War. Blood will run in the streets, believe me. And it's not a coincidence that President Bush recalled soldiers from Iraq for Dick Cheney to lead against American citizens in the streets."

"Bush has transformed America into a police state, from torture to the imprisonment of reporters, to the Patriot Act."

She may be right that there will be race riots if Obama doesn't win. (Odd: but if Republicans said things like that, it would be a sign of racism, assuming that blacks are such sore losers that they can only respond with violence. But when Democrats say it--repeatedly--it's a sign of being politically engaged.) But I would also worry--eventually--about civil war if Obama gets in power, if it turns out that his associations with Bill Ayers, Rev. Wright, and the rest of the totalitarian America-haters don't turn out out to be coincidences. It won't be because Republicans rise up in fury at losing the election. It will be when progressives decide to "eliminate" those who can't be "re-educated." Why do you think the left is so hot to disarm law-abiding adults? They don't want any resistance to the re-education camps and extermination.

Most Democrats in America aren't progressives, thankfully. They're content to loot the pockets of the middle class, throw some chump change to the poor, and give most of it to their fellow multimillionaires. But the progressives that now largely dominate the Democratic Party--they are a scary bunch.

Important Point by Orson Scott Card

Important Point by Orson Scott Card

Why, whatever misgivings you might have about McCain, he deserves your vote--at least way more than Obama:

We have been at war with radical Islam since the Iran hostage crisis during the Carter presidency. Reagan's and Clinton's spineless inaction and GHW Bush's failure to follow up the Gulf War with support for Iraqis who tried to oust Saddam encouraged our enemies to be even bolder.

But the attacks on 9/11 came when we finally had a president with the kind of resolve and courage that Washington, Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt brought to the monumental struggles they led us through.

Bush made mistakes, but he never lost resolve and he never backed down. Bush had been a governor and not much of a soldier when he took office as president; McCain will be the best-prepared president we've had since Eisenhower to lead us in a dangerous world.

Why, if you thought Bush was inept, would you install as Commander-in-Chief a man whose ignorance of world affairs and military strategy make Bush look like a genius?

I had a former neighbor tell me yesterday that she was unsure whether to vote for McCain because she was "sick of the war." Unfortunately, this isn't a choice, like whether to have pancakes or French toast. We are at a war with Islamofascism, they have not been decisively beaten (nor is it likely to happen in our lifetime), and we do not have the option of resigning from war with them. We can only fight them closer to home.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Corvette Got Dinged Pretty Good Today

The Corvette Got Dinged Pretty Good Today

From noon onward yesterday and most of today was spent helping my daughter and son-in-law get moved into their new house, and getting our old one ready for the new owner. I parked the Corvette across the street this morning, while driving the monstrous U-Haul.

When I was ready to live, as I approached the car, I found a note on the windshield informing me that the note leaver had seen a green SUV back out of a driveway and into the Corvette--and then leave, without leaving a note (as required by law).

I didn't see any damage, until I got around to the rear of the car--and the damage was very substantial. I'm guessing that it is going to be in low thousands to repair. (Fiberglass: you can't just pound out a dent.)

Click to enlarge

Because I know the neighbor from whose driveway the green SUV came, I asked her--and she had an idea who it might be--a very elderly person who my neighbor thought might not have realized that she had hit a car. A few phone calls later, and I had the person--who responded that she didn't think she did any damage, thought about leaving a note, but decided that if she did do any damage, "I'm sure that someone would track me down."

Fortunately, one of my more responsible neighbors in the Legends was passing by, so I was able to track down the irresponsible party. Otherwise, I would not have been able to track her down, and hold her responsible. My insurer got hold of her insurer. Without this information, I would have been stuck with a $250 deductible and responsibility for renting a car while the Corvette is in the body shop.

I was initially concerned that perhaps this elderly driver was perhaps getting past her ability to drive, if she didn't realize that she bashed in a big chunk of my car--but the more I thought about her response, the more I realized that she was just hoping that she wouldn't be held responsible for it. I filed a police report for hit and run.

Verifying Length of Driveway

Verifying Length of Driveway

Can anyone recommend a way to measure the length of a driveway? My GPS claims that it is about 700 feet long. The paving guy did all but the last 100 feet of the driveway (a miscommunication about what I wanted), and claims that he paved 725 feet by 8 1/2 feet wide. Any quick way to measure this without a very, very long tape measure?

UPDATE: My memory is playing tricks on me. I think I paced off the driveway to get 700 feet. i just used the GPS, and it claims the paved section is .14 miles--which is about 739 feet.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008



I had hoped to get a permanent job with health insurance by the time that HP's benefits expired, but that doesn't seem to be happening. To my surprise and pleasure, it is actually a bit cheaper to pay for COBRA for medical, dental, and vision services for my son and me than it is to add both of us to my wife's Blue Cross plan through her employer. But it is even cheaper to add him to her plan, and use COBRA for my medical and dental.

Vision services insurance is expensive enough, and the amount of services required is sufficiently predictable, that it doesn't make sense to buy it, for the reasons that I articulate here.

Even the dental insurance does not make sense for me to carry. I get a cleaning and exam twice a year, dental X-rays once a year. The cleaning and exam alone is $130; when they do the X-rays as well, it comes to $209. That's less than approximately $500 a year that the dental insurance costs. I have had one filling that required replacement in the last five years, so the odds are that nothing is going come up that justifies the dental insurance in the next year or two--and even replacing a filling would probably barely make the dental insurance pay for itself.

Excel Question

Excel Question

I've run into an annoying problem. I have a large spreadsheet with about 14,000 records. One column consists of zipcodes...some of which were entered without leading zeroes (those New England zipcodes such as 01238). I can force them to display with leading zeroes by using the Format Cells command, but in this case, I need to combine the zipcode with another field to use for key lookup. Because those leading zeroes aren't actually in the field, they don't get used.

Well, the obvious fix is to use the keyboard macro feature to go through and enter a leading zero in each of these hundreds of fields...but that doesn't work. It turns out that whatever the value of the field is when you record the macro is used for all subsequent fields. So if you have:


You record the macro with F2 (to go into the Formula bar), use the Home button to go to the start of the field, then enter a 0, down arrow, and enter.

But the next time you run the macro, in the cell with 1258, even though you didn't actually type 1255 when you recorded the macro--that's what it drops into the cell. Any suggestions?

I wish Excel had a regular expression Find and Replace. It's weird, because Word does, and has had it for years.

UPDATE: That was quick! A reader suggested:
In a new blank column, enter the following formula:
then drag it down to the rest of the column. You should get back all of the zipcodes padded to 5 characters, and then you can either use those values, or copy/Paste Special (values) over the original column.
It worked perfectly, my problem is solved!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Back From Reno

Back From Reno

And tired. Nice people, long interview, ready for bed.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Too Young

Too Young

I know that a lot of people think that you are never too young to take your kids shooting. I do not agree. And especially with an automatic weapon. From October 27, 2008 Fox News:

WESTFIELD, Mass. — An 8-year-old boy died after accidentally shooting himself in the head while firing an Uzi submachine gun under adult supervision at a gun fair.
The boy lost control of the weapon while firing it Sunday at the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman's Club, police Lt. Lawrence Vallierpratte said.
Police said the boy, Christopher Bizilj of Ashford, Conn., was with a certified instructor and called the death a "self-inflicted accidental shooting."
As the boy fired the Uzi, "the front end of the weapon went up with the backfire and he ended up receiving a round in his head," police Lt. Hipolito Nunez said. The boy died at a hospital.
The boy's father and older brother were also there at the time, a gun club member and school official said. Francis Mitchell, a longtime member and trustee of the club, said he was told the boy's father was supporting his son from behind when the shooting happened.
Although the death appeared to be an accident, officials were investigating.
Yes, this is a one in a million accident--but it should have been a zero in a million accident. I am still trying to figure out what happened, since the recoil on an Uzi isn't that severe--but the simple fact is that most sensible people recognize that it would not be prudent to have an eight year old drive a car (even on private property), even with adult supervision. There are simple size disparities between a gun (or a car) intended for adult use and a child that make this higher risk than it needs to be. I am not proposing or suggesting that there needs to be any more regulation; Massachusetts already has more regulation in this area than I would have guessed. Rely more on your brain, and less on the government.

Many years ago, my daughter and I went to a submachine gun class at Front Sight. After the first day of classroom instruction and handling unloaded weapons, they were of the opinion that at 15, she was a bit too small to handle a full auto weapon. Not too immature, but too small. She accepted this graciously. By this action, Front Sight's staff demonstrated that they were putting safety above happy customers.

Ugly Architecture

Ugly Architecture

The gruesome details of the Intel x86 instruction set are coming back to me...and reminding how much more elegant the dear departed Zilog Z8000 processor was. Even the Motorola MC68000 looks pretty good by comparison. To quote a former employee: "Segments are for worms." Even worse, all of these instructions that are tied to particular registers: ESI for string source, EDI for string for destination, ECX reserved for counters. That's part of why I found the Z8000 design so elegant--16 general purpose registers, and they really were general purpose. The only actual exception was that you couldn't index through register 0.

My Daughter About Obama

My Daughter About Obama

She's a social worker, no less, and she has this to say:
I believe that Americans have a fundamental flaw in their thinking (not all, but many) that throwing money at things will "fix" them. Problems with schools? Just spend more money on it! Problems with Katrina? Just throw money at it! And yet these are complicated problems that are complicated by infrastructure problems, corrupt organizers, structural flaws, etc. Its more than just a lack of money! That being said, money does help. I'm not so naive to thinking that everything in America is perfectly funded. But system issues and the simple fact that people do not always use resources that are available make these complicated issues to fix.
I felt last night like Obama's answer to things is throw more money at them. For example, he discussed the importance of getting more kids to college...AWESOME! That's a great idea, but who pays for it? He discussed paying teachers more to have higher quality teachers. So true! But who pays for it? I understand that the logical response is to stop spending so much money on the war in Iraq, but Obama is not going to pull out of Iraq I'm at a loss.
And in an economy that is quickly going down the toilet, where is that money coming from? One cannot argue that the national deficit is too large and then promise things that COST money. Very frustrating to me because ultimately, Obama sounds great! He wants better schools! More people going to college! Better health care! But WHO'S GONNA PAY FOR IT? Especially when people are getting more and more strapped and watching their retirement accounts bottoming out. I hope people realize that a simple bit of accounting is that you have to have debits AND credits in a country.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century!

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century!

It has been a number of years since I wrote assembly language for Intel processors--back when we were still stuck in real address mode (1 MB maximum RAM, segmented architecture) . I'm brushing up on my Intel assembly language in preparation for an interview tomorrow--and reading the features that now appear in the post-486 processors is like coming out of many decades long coma, and marveling at how much the technology has advanced. Flat addressing memory models! Speculative execution to speed up performance! Hyperthreading! Where are the jet packs and wristwatch phones?

Obama On Redistribution of Wealth

Obama On Redistribution of Wealth

A 2001 Chicago public radio interview with then State Senator Barack Obama explaining that the failing of the Supreme Court with respect to civil rights was that it didn't redistribute wealth--it only granted the right of blacks to vote, order a meal at a lunch counter, and equal protection of the law.

Why am I suspecting that President Obama will push for slavery reparations?

UPDATE: Let me be clear on this: if Obama's talk about redistributing wealth meant redistributing wealth from the rich to the poor, my concerns would be:

1. There are people who are poor through no fault of their own--but there are many people who are poor because of incredibly bad choices. We can argue about what level of support a Christian commonwealth owes to the deserving poor--but many of the poor have worked hard to get there, with laziness and substance abuse problems.

2. Redistribution discourages hard work, both because it taxes the productive and takes away incentives to work from those who can do so. It is surprisingly easy to kill the goose of capitalism that lays the golden eggs that fund the welfare state.

Of course, Obama's redistribution of wealth isn't going to be from the rich to the poor. At best it will be a redistribution from those who are working to become wealthy (those with taxable incomes) to those who with little or no income. For those who are obscenely rich, income taxes are completely optional right now. (You buy municipal bonds of your state, and owe no federal or state income taxes on the interest.)

In practice, because Democrats are so completely in the pocket of Wall Street (as this recent bailout shows) and other wealthy interests, a few scraps will be thrown to the poor, but most of the redistribution will be upward, from middle class households to the obscenely rich. There's a reason that the obscenely rich class are funding Obama's campaign--they know that he is going to help them continue looting middle class America.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The View From Squaw Butte

The View From Squaw Butte

My wife and I finally found our way to the top of Squaw Butte, a pretty major mountain northwest of Boise, a few weeks back. The view was amazing up there--and it might be better with a bit less haze, but what the heck:

Click to enlarge

And you get really interested in seeing more detail, there's a 20 MB panorama available here.

The Remote Desktop Connection Problem Solved

The Remote Desktop Connection Problem Solved

It turns out that my LAN used the addresses 192.168.1.*. So did the company's LAN. When I set up the VPN, it created a virtual IP address to send to from my end: At the other end, it was trying to open a connection to (the IP address of the remote computer). Not surprisingly, it got very confused, and decided that I was trying to open a connection to a device here in Horseshoe Bend. My guess is that it worked in Bend because the LAN there wasn't using 192.168.1.*.

Thanks to all for the helpful suggestions, and for the reader who suggested this possibility, and let me open a Remote Desktop Connection to his PC to verify that RDC actually was working.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Determining Which Ports Are Open

Determining Which Ports Are Open

I'm trying to use the Remote Desktop Connection feature of Windows XP Professional. When I was in Bend, Oregon, it worked great to connect to another Windows box through VPN. Now that I am back home--it doesn't work! Port 3389 is what allows Remote Desktop to work--and I have read that some ISPs block 3389 as a security measure. (And no, I turned off the Windows Firewall--that wasn't it.)

How can I determine which ports my ISP is blocking (while waiting for their customer support to get back to me on Monday)? This website has a port tester that claims to let you enter an IP address, and see which ports are open. Using my external IP address, it claims that port 3389 is closed--but it claims that all ports are closed--and that clearly isn't true, or I wouldn't be able to use a browser.

So, is there a free tool out there that will let me know if my ISP is blocking a particular port?

UPDATE: Thanks for all the helpful responses. I was able to do a remote desktop connection--so it may be because I am using the same address range (192.168.1.*) as the far end.

UPDATE 2: Problem solved; see above.

Bush = Hitler As Projection

Bush = Hitler As Projection

The progressives spent a lot of time comparing Bush to Hitler over the last few years--and now, they are comparing McCain to Bush. So what would you call a group that wanted to engage in the murder of millions of people? Confederate Yankee found a clip from a 1982 documentary in which an FBI informant discusses his involvement with William Ayers' organization, Weather Underground (both the text and the video are over there):
I asked, "well what is going to happen to those people we can't reeducate, that are diehard capitalists?" and the reply was that they'd have to be eliminated.

And when I pursued this further, they estimated they would have to eliminate 25 million people in these reeducation centers.

And when I say "eliminate," I mean "kill."

Twenty-five million people.

I want you to imagine sitting in a room with 25 people, most of which have graduate degrees, from Columbia and other well-known educational centers, and hear them figuring out the logistics for the elimination of 25 million people.

And they were dead serious.
Zombietime (one of my favorite reporters from Progressive Pervert Central, San Francisco) has dug up copies of Prairie Fire, written by Ayers and Dohrn and others while they were underground, and scanned in pages from it. Read it, and you will see that there is nothing implausible about the idea that these lunatics were prepared to kill 25 million Americans who couldn't be "re-educated."

By the way, the progressive academics at (who are a strong argument for political quotas in university teaching jobs) have described Ayers' involvement in planning bombings of buildings this way:
The current characterizations of Professor Ayers---“unrepentant terrorist,” “lunatic leftist”---are unrecognizable to those who know or work with him. It’s true that Professor Ayers participated passionately in the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s, as did hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Thanks to Professor David Bernstein at Volokh Conspiracy for pointing out how the progressive academics describe bombings and plans to murder 25 million people for their refusal to accept socialist dogma: "participated passionately in the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s."

I remember in the late 1960s or early 1970s running into a book titled Pigtown (not the same as the novel by William J. Caunitz) set just a little ways in the future where progressives are being rounded up and exterminated by conservatives in concentration camps. (It was so stupid that I didn't get past the first chapter.) Like I said, an awful lot of progressive thinking is projection: taking their deepest and darkest desires and projecting them onto their opponents.

I don't assume that Obama has this same genocidal madness as other progressives do. But Obama's attempts to pretend that William Ayers was "a guy in the neighborhood," instead of a significant political ally in Obama's rise to power, is dishonest, and pretty darn scary. I can only hope that President Obama will be more influenced by crooks like Rezko than ideologically driven mass murderer wannabes like William Ayers. But for that later situation: I think it would be a good idea to make sure that you have a few thousand rounds of ammunition for your rifles--just in case Ayers and friends end up in positions of power.

Confidence Building

Confidence Building

I've been doing some contract work in C#/.NET the last two weeks--and it has been a confidence building experience. I showed up, spent the first two days building a rather complicated mail merge utility, and then started on the third day writing unit tests for their product. By the time I left Friday evening, I had written more than 40 unit tests, a few of which were modeled on existing unit tests, but most of which were built from scratch--and thoroughly tested some of these methods. By the fourth day I was there, I was building unit tests for classes that were, by their own account, complex.

I feel really smart at times like this. My unit tests were sufficiently thorough that I produced dozens of bug reports, most relatively minor, but some of which shook rather important bugs. What bothers me is that my ability to do work like this is of no apparent value to the vast majority of employers--who work on the assumption that if you don't have at least two years of experience in C#/.NET, you can't possibly be worth hiring. Most employers seem to work on the assumption that a software engineer with 30 years of experience is some sort of dullard, who will require years to learn what really only takes days to weeks.

Oh Yeah, I See The Teaching Connection Here

Oh Yeah, I See The Teaching Connection Here

I know a public school teacher here who insists that teachers unions aren't political--they are just looking out for the interests of their students. From the October 24, 2008 San Diego Union-Tribune:
Escalating the divide: a $1 million contribution by the California Teachers Association to defeat Proposition 8, the proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.
I know that many teachers do not support gay marriage--as the article points out--but I fear that as long as there are teachers' unions pulling in big money in mandatory dues (in most states) from public school teachers, the left's control of teachers' unions will continue this type of behavior.

I have some serious criticisms of libertarian atomism: the belief that each of us is an individual, with no legally enforceable obligation or duty to the society as a whole. But stuff like this, and the corruption and near destruction of capitalism by mandated subprime mortgage lending makes me increasingly sympathetic to the view that there can be middle path because collectivism and libertarian atomism. It seems that the wealthy and powerful will always twist governmental power to increase the left's control over individuals.

Those trying to rein in the California Supreme Court, and return authority to make laws to the people, are short on funds. They need your help.

Corvette As Rapid Transit

Corvette As Rapid Transit

I was planning to work into the early evening last night (the advantage of being paid by the hour!) and then leave bright and early this morning for home. But I reached a convenient breaking point, and having already worked about 50 hours, I really didn't want to start writing unit tests for yet another company's record formats.

So I jumped in the Corvette, and drove home. Aside from being a little loud from wind noise, the Corvette is a splendid car for a fast drive on a two lane highway. Aside from a couple of...biological necessity stops and a stop for a burger at Carl's in Ontario, I drove straight through. Especially with the Michelin Pilots, the ride is smooth without being floating, there's relatively little tire or road noise, and Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries makes a great accompaniment through the windy parts between Burns and Vale.

If only there was a decent paying job that involved traveling around the United States by Corvette.... Wait! Wasn't that the whole premise of the TV series Route 66?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Have A Job Interview in Reno Next Tuesday

I Have A Job Interview in Reno Next Tuesday

It sounds intimidating--but it is both faster and cheaper to travel to Reno than to Bend, Oregon. For starters, there is a non-stop flight to Reno on Southwest Airlines that only takes about 70 minutes (versus five hours of driving to Bend). At least right at the moment, that's a $180-$220 round trip--a bit cheaper than the cost of the drive to Bend. And once winter starts, I would need a 4WD to get to Bend--assuming that I could get here at all.

I still would prefer a job in Boise or nearby--but the way the economy is going, any permanent job at all is an improvement.

Spreading the Wealth: At Least The IRS Won't Disfigure You

Spreading the Wealth: At Least The IRS Won't Disfigure You

This account from October 23, 2008 WTAE channel 4 is obviously not going to get national attention--unlike people saying unkind things about Obama at McCain/Palin rallies. I wonder why?

A 20-year-old woman who was robbed at an ATM in Bloomfield was also maimed by her attacker, apparently because of her political views, Pittsburgh police said.

According to WTAE's news exchange partners at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Ashley Todd, of College Station, Texas, was using an ATM at Liberty Avenue and Pearl Street just before 9 p.m. Wednesday when a man approached her and put a knife to her throat.

Police spokeswoman Diane Richard said the robber took $60 from Todd, then became angry when he saw a McCain bumper sticker on the victim's car. The attacker then punched and kicked the victim, before using the knife to scratch the letter "B" into her face, Richard said.

The Tribune-Review reported that Todd, who isn't familiar with the area, drove to a friend's house and together the pair located the Citizens Bank ATM at Liberty and Pearl where the attack happened and called police.Todd declined to comment to the Tribune-Review. Friends said she is in Pittsburgh volunteering for the McCain-Palin campaign.


The robber is described as a dark-skinned black man, 6 feet 4 inches tall, 200 pounds with a medium build, short black hair and brown eyes. The man was wearing dark colored jeans, a black undershirt and black shoes.
The Obama campaign was upset about this, of course. Freelance socialists implementing Obama's "share the wealth" program take away jobs that properly belong to union members who work for the IRS! You know, I think there's a reason that Democrats want state laws that take the vote away from convicted felons to go away; it's too much of a part of their constituency.

UPDATE: I have had people ask me if I really believe this story. At this point, I don't see a strong reason to disbelieve it, and apparently, the police are taking it seriously as well. Of all the claims that I have seen about why this couldn't have happened, the only argument that is worth even a little attention is that the "B" is backward on her cheek--which is what might happen if you scratched yourself in a mirror. (A lesbian "victim" of a hate crime was caught some years ago in San Francisco because she had written several words on her face in a mirror, and had not realized that they would be backward.) However, if you write a B from above (as, for example, if you were holding a much shorter person by the hair, and scratching a B from above), it will be "backward" in the sense that it appears in the picture.

There are multiple violent incidents every election cycle by leftwing Democrats who are clearly too mentally unstable to handle the excitement. Why is it so hard to believe that it is happening in this election cycle?

UPDATE 2: She confesses now that she made it all up.

This May Be Closer Than The Media Are Claiming

This May Be Closer Than The Media Are Claiming

Apparently, some idiot in Obama's Pennsylvania campaign accidentally released the results of an internal poll that shows Obama only up 2 points on McCain there--far worse than the widely publicized surveys--and I'm getting this from one of the deranged hard-left blogs, Daily Kos:

Steve Corbett, a radio talk show host in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, accidentally received a copy of an internal email sent by Grant Olin who heads the Wilkes-Barre headquarters of the Obama campaign. The email went to 627 Obama campaign volunteers in the Wilkes-Barre Scranton region, saying that Obama Headquarters reported an internal poll which shows that Obama is only 2 points up in Pennsylvania.

Sean Smith, who is heading Obama’s Pennsylvania campaign, was interviewed by Steve Corbett via phone at 5:35 today to discuss this. He said that Grant "went rogue", and aknowledged that Grant was "reprimanded" for this.

I don't know what the survey size was, but a 2 point advantage is certainly within the 95% confidence interval (unless they are doing absolutely huge samples). If Pennsylvania is winnable, there's a good chance that that some of the other battleground states are still winnable.

Remember: one of the objectives of the news media is to create such disheartenment that McCain supporters don't show up to vote, or decide to vote Libertarian, or some other third party. If I had a real job, I would have been throwing money into the various independent campaign efforts right now. There's still hope for knocking Obamessiah out.

UPDATE: Investor's Business Daily says that their organization doing their daily tracking polls was the most accurate at calling the 2004 presidential election--and shows Obama 44.8%, McCain 43.7%, and undecided at 11.6%. That's winnable. That's very winnable for Sarah Palin and the old guy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Prospect of Riots

The Prospect of Riots

This report from the October 21, 2008 The Hill should make a lot of Democrats think long and hard about their continual playing of the race card when anyone (included Democrats) criticized Obama:
Police departments in cities across the country are beefing up their ranks for Election Day, preparing for possible civil unrest and riots after the historic presidential contest.
Public safety officials said in interviews with The Hill that the election, which will end with either the nation’s first black president or its first female vice president, demanded a stronger police presence.

Some worry that if Barack Obama loses and there is suspicion of foul play in the election, violence could ensue in cities with large black populations. Others based the need for enhanced patrols on past riots in urban areas (following professional sports events) and also on Internet rumors.
You notice that no one worries about Republicans rioting if Obama wins. But then again, we are the party of adults. When we lost control of Congress in 2006, there were no temper tantrums, or accusations that we lost control because of election fraud (although there were certainly individual elections decided by fraudulent votes). And the tragedy is that the big losers if McCain miraculously pulls a victory rabbit out of his hat, and blacks go on a rampage will be...blacks. As Crime, Guns, and Videotape points out:
I don’t like the message that’s being spread around right now. At least one African-American columnist from the Baltimore Sun has tried to spread fear and racial divide. What I see is a lame attempt at extortionate intimidation to assure Barack Obama gets installed into the Whitehouse.

African-Americans can’t have that short a memory. When that happens in our country the death and destruction always becomes localized in the ghettos. The impact, damage and suffering is always heaviest on the African-Americans themselves.
Obviously, the vast majority of blacks aren't going to lose their tempers and start rioting if Obama loses. They're just like you and me. But a small number of hotheads, encouraged by the lunatic fringe of the Democratic Party, might decide that looting, pillaging, and burning makes loads of sense...and thus create a strong incentive for Democrats not to nominate another black Presidential candidate, perhaps even one who is qualified for the job.

The Scale of the Fraud Is Massive

The Scale of the Fraud Is Massive

On one of the Washington Post blogs, there is this astonishing story:

There have been a smattering of incidents reported in which people have seen credit card charges surface suggesting they donated to Barack Obama when they did not.

Now comes the story of Mary T. Biskup, of Manchester, Missouri. Biskup got a call recently from the Obama campaign, which was trying to figure out why she donated $174,800 to the campaign -- well over the contribution limit of $2,300.

The answer she gave them was simple. "That's an error."

Biskup, a retired insurance manager who occasionally submits recipes to the local paper, says someone used a credit card to donate the money in her name. No charges ever showed up on her credit card statement.

"We're not out a penny," Biskup said. "I gather that someone has hacked into something using other people's credit cards and putting my name on it."

Obama's campaign spotted the irregular donations, more than 70 of which all arrived on the same day, and aides to the senator said they refunded the money. The campaign began investigating immediately.

As some bright commenter pointed out, if the donation wasn't charged to Biskup's credit card, then where did the Obama campaign refund the bogus contributions to? I've seen suggestions that what we may be seeing is a very large scale laundering of money from overseas, using the names of real Americans to hide contributions that are unlawful--and might explain why some of the amounts are for small amounts, sometimes with a few odd cents involved. (These would be the results of currency translation taking place after there had been a change in exchange rates. After all, bin Laden's cave isn't exactly Internet connected.) This would explain how Obama's campaign could "refund" credit card contributions where the person whose credit card was supposedly used claims not to have any charges on her card.

If anything this odd were going on with the McCain campaign, the mainstream media would be screaming up a storm. Isn't it odd that these reports keep popping up--and nothing happens? One would hope that someone in the Justice Department would be investigating--but I'm sure that the lawyers there all have Obama stickers on their cars.

Why Is Obama Going To Hawaii Now?

Why Is Obama Going To Hawaii Now?

Just before the election? This article suggests that the Berg lawsuit--which Obama and the DNC are still frantically trying to make go away, rather than show Obama's certified Hawaii birth certificate--might have something to do with it:
Now – belatedly – that the net is closing in on Obama, and the suspicions, as many have alleged, are that he is a Trojan Horse for Islamic interests, or a Manchurian Candidate, or a total fraud – Obama has seemingly discovered an interest in his ailing grandmother. Yes, that Grammy who he so facilely threw under the bus during the early days of his campaign.

He is now so worried about Grandma Dunham – the woman who raised him but strangely didn’t attend his nomination – that he is taking a few days off from his intense campaign to visit this ailing widow.

Or could his strangely-timed trip to Hawaii really be to “clear up” the sticky case of his missing birth certificate?

I live in New York, where it is not uncommon for BIG payoffs to influence people to come up with “the goods.” A half-a-million here, a dire threat there, often influence people to do things – like perjure themselves, produce phony documents, et al – that they would never do under less “pressured” circumstances.

If the magic document doesn’t appear, it is possible, and entirely legal, that Obama could be removed from the ballots in states that are questioning his eligibility.

According to a recent article in The Daily Herald in Everett, WA, a civil action was filed in Washington State Superior Court against Sam Reed, Secretary of State, demanding that Illinois Sen. Barack Obama be removed from the ballot in Washington unless he can provide verification of his status as a United States citizen. The citizen who filed the suit, Steven Marquis, asked that Reed verify – by looking at “original or certified verifiable official documents” – that Obama is a natural-born citizen of the United States and eligible to serve as president, and that the office do so by Election Day.

Like others investigating the matter, Marquis said that answering the unanswered questions about Obama’s citizenship and background would “preclude a constitutional crisis and likely civil unrest” that would arise if information about Obama’s ineligibility came to light after the election.
According to Berg's filing of October 15, Obama and the DNC have missed their deadline to produce the birth certificate--and he's asking for the court to find that Obama is not a natural born citizen of the U.S.

We are less than two weeks from the election--and Obama suddenly decides to spend several days in Hawaii?

There's an awful lot about Berg's suit that smells bad--for example, his claim in the initial filing that a Kenyan birth certificate for Obama has been found by a GOP research team back in June. If this was really true, the GOP would have presented it--because by now it is too late to substitute someone else on the ballot. This press release concerns the suit against the Washington Secretary of State demanding proof that Obama is legally qualified. Still, the weirdness of Obama and the DNC refusing to hand over the certified birth certificate that would knock this suit completely out of the water combined with the timing of Obama's trip to Hawaii is quite mystifying.

I really hope that Berg is right--because right now, this is about the only realistic hope of defeating Obama. If there is any evidence of the utter incompetence of democracy to make good decisions, this election proves it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

An Amazing Statement About What Happens If Obama Wins

An Amazing Statement About What Happens If Obama Wins

The statement was made at a fundraiser recently by a prominent national politician. He said that if Obama wins, there will be a major effort to test Obama with "a major international challenge." That sounds like something that those evil Republicans would say, right? No, it was Joe Biden!

Now, Biden claims that Obama has "steel in his spine" and will be up to the challenge. But it isn't going to be Obama who is going to be killed in a terrorist attack. It will be ordinary Americans, or members of our armed forces, or police officers.

Somehow, I doubt that any of the crowd that thinks Obama might be soft thinks that about McCain.

By the way, I am inclined to think that Biden is right. Obama is "full of steel" (as was another politician with similar attitudes about freedom of speech--what do you think the nomme de guerre "Stalin" means?). And that's what I am scared witless of--is that Obama will be the same thuggish politician in the White House that he has demonstrated in the primaries--prepared to call any criticism of him "racism" as a way of shutting up disagreement.

Maybe Obama Has Gone Too Far...

Maybe Obama Has Gone Too Far...

Reporters that want to cover the victory celebration are going to be paying for the privilege:

WASHINGTON---The Obama campaign is putting a hefty price tag on the best camera and reporting positions for news organizations covering Barack Obama's outdoor election night activities in downtown Chicago. If a reporter wants access to the file center--which will be the best place to find Obama officials and spokesmen--be prepared to write a check for $935. The cheapest place a reporter could stand on a riser with a view is $880.

That $935 covers one reporter in a heated file tent, power, cable tv, internet and food. I am told by an Obama spokesman who did not want his name used that this just covers costs and they are not turning a profit on this. The planners could have built in more al a carte options for Grant Park coverage.

This is an outrageous pay to play plan that caters to national elite outlets with deep pockets.

I am not asking for a free ride--news outlets pay for plane seats, other transportation organized by the campaign, hotel rooms, plus associated costs for filing centers.

But this Election Night list is pricey and does not take into account some reporters won't need power, cable, internet or food but will crave the access more than the food. As I was talking to this unnamed spokesman about this enormously expensive set-up, he did say--that a news outlet could rotate people in and out of the tent on that one credential. Great.

Obama's friends have already played a major part in looting $850 billion from the American taxpayer, and you can be sure that they will be looting even more once he is in office. What do you suppose the chances are that Obama will ask Congress to pass a slavery reparations bill to compensate people like himself--whose ancestors were never held as slaves in America?

The Ultimate Obama Endorsement (Humor)

The Ultimate Obama Endorsement (Humor)

I don't know if this is satire or not--there are some pretty whacky people out there!
MEDIA ALERT: Prophet Yahweh Predicts Spaceships Will Appear Oct. 31st in Support of Senator Obama

Prophet Yahweh, Seer of Yahweh, Master UFO Caller says that on October 31, 2008, superhuman black men, from other planets, will appear in their spaceships and hover over his UFO Summoning School for three days as a sign that all Americans should vote for Obama as President.

Nice Little Video About The Berg Suit

Nice Little Video About The Berg Suit

I mentioned the suit by Berg against Obama, and the bizarre claims that Obama has used to avoid producing his birth certificate. For those who aren't big on reading, here's a well produced video interviewing Berg about the suit, and the very serious questions about whether Obama is a natural born citizen--or if he was, perhaps lost his citizenship when his mother married an Indonesian citizen.

Lobster, Caviar, & the Obamas: Never Mind!

Lobster, Caviar, & the Obamas: Never Mind!

The New York Post is now admitting that their source for the Obamas lobster and caviar room service feast was way wrong--the Obamas were not even in town.

How unfortunate. I really wanted to believe it!

More About Powell's Endorsement of Obama

More About Powell's Endorsement of Obama

Roger L. Simon observes that Powell's reasons
for endorsing Obama makes no sense:
Citing unnamed Republican party leaders (not McCain), he said these leaders made allegations to him that Obama was a Muslim and therefore a “terrorist”. Really? I would like to hear the names of those “leaders.” Sure, there are plenty of extremists on the Internet and elsewhere bantering around stuff like that (just as there are liberal-left extremists spewing nonsense about McCain), but genuine party leaders? Would Powell please name one? If not, this seems like a political smear. Why would Powell feel he needed to make it?

Meanwhile, Obama’s real, quite verifiable and public religious background (and mentor) was not even mentioned by the Secretary of State - namely, the execrable Reverend Wright. That is far more disconcerting than some vague Muslim association (whether by birth or otherwise) and indicates a lack of judgment on Obama’s part that any person of gravitas (like a Colin Powell) should find difficult, almost impossible, to defend. Yet the racist Wright, we all know, was Obama’s chosen minister for twenty years, married him, baptized his children, gave him spiritual guidance and provided the inspiration for his memoirs - even the title of the second one. It’s hard to imagine a closer relationship with a pastor, except perhaps a spousal one.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Writing a Personal Book Is More Effort

Writing a Personal Book Is More Effort

Way more effort. I'm working through the edits and corrections from my mother and oldest sister right now about my brother's fall into mental illness. Of course, no one's memories are ever perfect; we all remember slightly different details. Some of us remember stuff that the others don't. Compared to writing a straight scholarly history, this is hard work. Especially because it brings back so many painful memories. Sitting by myself in a little house in Bend while doing doesn't make it any easier.

Crossing Paths (Again)

Crossing Paths (Again)

Zombietime (one of my favorite San Francisco Bay Area troublemakers) has an image
of the 1997 review (if you can call something that short a review) by Barack Obama of William Ayers' book--which mentions Obama on page 82!

Joe The Plumber? What About Bill The Bomber?

Joe The Plumber? What About Bill The Bomber?

For all this talk about "Joe the Plumber"--why aren't we hearing more about "Bill the Bomber"? (William Ayers.)

The Coming Ice Age!

The Coming Ice Age!

The National Post (one of the Canadian newspapers) had a nice article today
pointing out how rapidly the global warming garbage is melting away, and includes this graph showing the recent trend lines based on NASA's weather satellite data:

Whoops! Unfortunately, facts are almost irrelevant to this now. President Obama intends to declare carbon dioxide as a "dangerous pollutant" as soon as he takes office. (I'm a bit surprised that he is bothering to wait until after the election to issue the executive order.)

I'm Disappointed By Powell's Endorsement of Obama

I'm Disappointed By Powell's Endorsement of Obama

If Colin Powell is serious that his endorsement of Obama wasn't because of race, then I am really disappointed at what Powell considers important: the fear that McCain will appoint a bunch more conservatives to the Supreme Court. Rush Limbaugh asks where are all the white, liberal inexperienced candidates that Powell has endorsed? If Powell's concern about McCain's likely nominees is really what is driving this, then Powell is on my list of people that I will not support for president.

So Much for EnvironmentalismSo Much for Environmentalism

So Much for Environmentalism

Environmentalists have been screeching for some time about the importance of not using disposable diapers--that traditional cloth diapers are less destructive to Mother Earth. But the British government went ahead and studied the carbon footprint of disposable vs. cloth--and didn't get the Politically Correct results. From the October 19, 2008 Times of London:
A government report that found old-fashioned reusable nappies damage the environment more than disposables has been hushed up because ministers are embarrassed by its findings.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has instructed civil servants not to publicise the conclusions of the £50,000 nappy research project and to adopt a “defensive” stance towards its conclusions.
The report found that using washable nappies, hailed by councils throughout Britain as a key way of saving the planet, have a higher carbon footprint than their disposable equivalents unless parents adopt an extreme approach to laundering them.
To reduce the impact of cloth nappies on climate change parents would have to hang wet nappies out to dry all year round, keep them for years for use on younger children, and make sure the water in their washing machines does not exceed 60C.
The conclusions will upset proponents of real nappies who have claimed they can help save the planet.
Restricted Whitehall documents, seen by The Sunday Times, show that the government is so concerned by the “negative laundry options” outlined in the report, it has told its media managers not to give its conclusions any publicity.
You see, one of the problems with the modern environmental movement is that it is more about forcing people to wear hair shirts and otherwise be miserable than saving the environment. Much of environmentalism today is the modern equivalent of medieval monks flagellating themselves.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Target Ads and Learning To Live Within Means

Target Ads and Learning To Live Within Means

Since the financial crisis started, Target has been running a series of ads that imply saving money by a combination of reining in absurd spending and (of course) buying stuff at Target. The ads are cute, but they do bring up a point that I have sometimes made over the last few years, such as in this piece (search for "Cutting Spending").

My experience, living in the San Francisco Bay Area, and over the last few years here in the Boise area, is that an awful lot of people have bought an awful lot of expensive stuff--and the direction of ownership has become a bit inverted: the possessions increasingly become the owners, not the owned. Yes, it is awfully nice to to go to McCall and go water skiing. But the boat wasn't free, neither was the trailer, and instead of driving to the lake in a family sedan that gets 22 to 25 mpg--you need to drive a truck or SUV that gets 15 mpg, because you need the towing capacity.

I felt really, really extravagant when I bought the Corvette back in 2002--but it only cost me $32,500 for a nearly new sports car that was still under warranty. I look at people in their 20s and 30s who I see driving $90,000+ sedans (and there are a lot of them in Boise in now) and I wonder what these people must be doing to afford cars this expensive--and what they will do if this source of income disappears. Just a bit down from that are vehicles like the Cadillac Escalade. For almost $62,000, you can buy a Chevy Tahoe (which is mechanically identical) and have $25,000 left over (which should fill the Tahoe up at least several times).

If all of this money that people are spending were coming from a bottomless pit, I suppose that it would much matter. But I rather doubt that this is the case. I look at the vast amount of wealth that is being spent just on rolling stock around here, and I conclude that one of the following must be true:

1. There are a vast number of people in Boise who are obscenely rich (many millions of dollars in net assets) and for whom spending $90,000 for a Mercedes S-class is nothing. (This may explain why Obama bumper stickers here are at least as common as McCain stickers.)

2. There are a lot of couples in Boise making $200,000 a year or more--and who are not even slightly worried about someone losing their job.

3. A lot of this apparent wealth is built on a vast ocean of unsustainable consumer debt.

Another Variant

Another Variant

I mentioned yesterday a cute parable
that I heard. Here's a variant:
The son was home from college to watch the playoffs on dad's flat panel high def 60 inch big screen tv. A break in the action an 0bamama poly ad and the discussion was on. Sonny thought his dad should be proud to pay more taxes to help the poor and homeless. Dad just shook his head and the neighbor said to sonny, "I know how you feel, I've been at your dad for years, and there is no way to change him." "But", the neighbor said, "I can help you out." "My lawn needs to be mowed raked and fertilized, I'll give you $50 if you will do it, tomorrow?"

Sonny said, "I can use the money and I'd be glad to do that for you."

Neighbor said, "Good, good, when your done I'll drive you over to the Superette where ole homeless Joe lives under the dumpster." "You can give Joe the $50 so he can eat and maybe buy a '40' or two."

Sonny said, "If that's what you think i should do, why don't you just have ole Joe do your yard work?" Sonny's dad said, "Welcome to the Republican party, Sonny!"

Crossing Paths

Crossing Paths

Obama's story about his relationship with William Ayers has changed at least once so far. I believe that the current version is that they were on a board of directors, and that Ayers "is a guy that lives in the neighborhood," but that they weren't ever close. Over at Verumserum, some clever detective work shows that Obama and Ayers actually worked in the same building for quite a while: 115 S. Sangamon Street, in Chicago. Now, this is a multistory building, so perhaps it doesn't mean so much...except that the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (which Obama chaired) and the Small Schools Workshop (which employed Ayers) have the same curious address in that building: 3rd floor.

In my experience, when an office has as its address an entire floor, not a suite number, it usually indicates that you have the entire floor. When multiple organizations share the same address, including an entire floor, let's just say that it is implausible that these organizations didn't have substantial overlap in staff and personnel. Imagine if the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, the Small Schools Workshop, and ten or fifteen other organizations had no connection to each other except that they all had offices on the 3rd floor--with no suite numbers to differentiate them. Would you find that likely? No, I didn't think so.

If Ayers had actually been "rehabilitated," in Obama's words, then there would be no need for Obama to pretend that they didn't have any connection. But Ayers' defense of his terrorist bombings as late as September of 2001 shows that Ayers is not rehabilitated in the least.

If Obama is trying to distance himself from Ayers now, when they did indeed seem to have a pretty close relationship some years ago, it shows that either Obama was pretty radical back then, or very poor at making personal judgments--rather like Obama's relationships with Tony Rezko, and Rev. Wright.

Hey, we all make mistakes in life--but President of the United States picks Cabinet officers, sub-Cabinet officers, appoints judges, appoints commissioners to FEC, FTC, ICC, FBI director, CIA director, and hundreds of other terribly important posts. Either Obama has had an astonishing run of bad luck with his friends--or his choice of friends shows an astonishing lack of judgment.

Hey, McCain isn't exactly clean on this--for example, Charles Keating, back some years ago. But the mainstream news media make sure that you don't forget about McCain's friendship with Keating. So why are they largely ignoring the inconsistencies (I'm being polite) in Obama's account of his relationship with Ayers?

The Obamas and Room Service

The Obamas and Room Service

Just about every right of center blogger is discussing the Obamas room service. Like this one:

From the New York Post:

THOUGH he's battling GOP accusations that he's an Ivy League elitist, Barack Obama has a lifestyle of the rich and famous, like TV show host Robin Leach, who always signed off, "Champagne wishes and caviar dreams!" While he was at a meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Michelle Obama called room service and ordered lobster hors d'oeuvres, two whole steamed lobsters, Iranian caviar and champagne, a tipster told Page Six.

Wow. What were you eating at 4:00 yesterday?

From Obama's book, Dreams from My Father:

"It is this world, a world where cruise ships throw away more food in a day than most residents of Port-au-Prince see in a year, where white folks' greed runs a world in need, apartheid in one hemisphere, apathy in another hemisphere...That's the world! On which hope sits!"

You can hear this portion of his audiobook and find more questions that the Mainstream media didn't find interesting here.

These days you really can't get away with this kind of hypocrisy unseen. But for some reason, it doesn't seem to make much difference to Obama's followers - or the mainstream media.

And that really is the problem. If John McCain paid for one of his staffers to get an abortion--or worse, forced her to get an abortion--this would be on every broadcast news show every day until the election. And yet this hypocrisy from the Obamas just gets ignored by the mainstream media.

UPDATE: the New York Post is now acknowledging that the tip was false; the Obamas were not in town at the time that this supposedly happened.

Polling Results

Polling Results

There has been a lot of discussion of how accurate Presidential polling has become since the great disaster in 1948. It is true that the polls have accurately identified the winner in nearly all the recent elections--but by what margin? Ann Coulter goes over October polls for the last few elections, and makes an interesting claim:
Reviewing the polls printed in The New York Times and The Washington Post in the last month of every presidential election since 1976, I found the polls were never wrong in a friendly way to Republicans. When the polls were wrong, which was often, they overestimated support for the Democrat, usually by about 6 to 10 points.

In 1976, Jimmy Carter narrowly beat Gerald Ford 50.1 percent to 48 percent. And yet, on Sept. 1, Carter led Ford by 15 points. Just weeks before the election, on Oct. 16, 1976, Carter led Ford in the Gallup Poll by 6 percentage points -- down from his 33-point Gallup Poll lead in August.

Reading newspaper coverage of presidential elections in 1980 and 1984, I found myself paralyzed by the fear that Reagan was going to lose.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan beat Carter by nearly 10 points, 51 percent to 41 percent. In a Gallup Poll released days before the election on Oct. 27, it was Carter who led Reagan 45 percent to 42 percent.

In 1984, Reagan walloped Walter Mondale 58.8 percent to 40 percent, -- the largest electoral landslide in U.S. history. But on Oct. 15, The New York Daily News published a poll showing Mondale with only a 4-point deficit to Reagan, 45 percent to 41 percent. A Harris Poll about the same time showed Reagan with only a 9-point lead. The Oct. 19 New York Times/CBS News Poll had Mr. Reagan ahead of Mondale by 13 points. All these polls underestimated Reagan's actual margin of victory by 6 to 15 points.
It is only in 2004 that the polling numbers turn out to be pretty close to the actual election results. Political scientists that I have talked to tell me that one of the reasons why there is this long tradition of overestimating Democratic votes is that many of the polling organizations make assumptions that are simply not historically correct: for example, that the same percentage of blacks vote as whites. Perhaps this time around, with a black person at the head of the Democratic ticket, blacks will vote in the same numbers as whites. But I wouldn't assume that Obama's election is completely in the bag right yet. I think it is likely, but by no means certain.

Maybe This Is Just A Coincidence

Maybe This Is Just A Coincidence

But what a fascinating coincidence it is! From the October 18, 2008 Wall Street Journal:
New York Sen. Charles Schumer's public criticism of IndyMac Bancorp last summer, which critics say helped spark a run on deposits that took under the troubled thrift, came while IndyMac's assets were being eyed by investors who are major donors to the Democratic Senate campaign committee the senator chairs.
Sen. Schumer, chairman of a Senate banking subcommittee, was criticized at the time for publicly raising questions about the bank's solvency and regulators' oversight of it. What wasn't known then was that a group of potential investors, led by Los Angeles-based Oaktree Capital Management LP, had been inside the bank looking over its books. They had already decided not to invest in the bank, but were scouting assets that might become available if the bank failed and was taken over by the government.
Sen. Schumer's office said recently he didn't know anything about Oaktree's possible interest in IndyMac until after the bank failed. Oaktree Chairman Howard Marks said he never talked to the senator about IndyMac.
Oh yeah, I believe that! Some years ago, when I was writing Firing Back!, Microsoft Word's spellchecker didn't recognize "Schumer" as a word, and suggested an alternative choice: "Schemer." And who said software couldn't be wise?

Unfortunately, the next paragraph of the column just makes me shake my head:
The bank's demise in June now is almost a footnote in the financial-sector problems that have exploded in succeeding months. Still, Sen. Schumer's fund-raising involvement with investors looking over the bank underscores how Democrats' entanglements with the financial industry will make it hard for them to score political points over the market upheavals in the remaining weeks of the election.
Well, I suppose if Americans who read the Wall Street Journal were comparable to the number who watch ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN, they might have a point here.

What is just amazing is how many progressives will vote Democratic this year in an attempt to destroy crony capitalism--and either don't care, or don't realize that when it comes to crony capitalism, the elephants are inconsistent amateurs compared to the donkeys.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Prison and Its Aftermath

Prison and Its Aftermath

At our church's Men's Prayer Breakfast this morning, we were talking about what the church can do to help those coming out of prison. The guy next to me at the table is a guard at the women's prison near Boise; the senior pastor is suddenly getting lots of mail from prisoners who hear his local radio show, asking him to pray for them when they get out.

The prison guard (whose name I used to know, but I seem to have forgotten) told me that a lot of the inmates, once they get out, spiral back down again--usually because the same drug and alcohol problems that got them in prison in the first place, come and grab them again. He indicated that relatively few of the women in the prison are there on drug charges directly--but many are there because they turned to forgery or other financial crimes to pay for their addiction problems.

This is one of the depressing realities that a lot of liberals (who want to blame capitalism) and libertarians (who want to blame drug laws) seem to be missing: addiction, even to legal and relatively cheap drugs like alcohol, destroys a lot of people, taking them down paths of criminality and personal degradation.

I used the opportunity to remind everyone at the table that with along with these problems, at least here in the Boise area, released felons have a heck of a time finding not only jobs, but even places to live. Many landlords won't rent to ex-felons, often for as much as ten years after release.

I understand the reluctance of employers and landlords. Would it be wise to put someone convicted of embezzlement in charge of the company safe? Probably not. Someone convicted of manufacturing meth--well, I can see why a landlord might be reluctant to see a house or even an entire apartment building condemned because someone built a meth lab in it. But not every felony conviction necessarily involves those same risks. A rigid rule about ex-felons probably doesn't make any sense--and perhaps there needs to be a bit more thought as to what felony convictions actually justify denying the ex-felon certain jobs.

I've done a bit of digging around through early Republic sources, and it is interesting that Pennsylvania, when it started on its campaign of prison reform in the 1785-1810 period, did something rather radical. Once a prisoner was considered rehabilitated, and he was released from prison, he wasn't an ex-felon--the governor pardoned him. What is rather astonishing about this is that at least at the beginning, this actually seemed to work pretty well. And then, for some reason, the system stopped working so well.

Of course, in the early stages, inmates were confined to a cell with a Bible. The word "penitentiary" comes from "penitent." It was a fiercely, unabashedly Christian system, designed to break the hardness of the criminal's heart, in the hopes that he would not just that what he did was pragmatically bad, but that it was wrong.

Pretty obviously, we won't be going to back to that approach in post-Christian ACLU America.

Spreading Like Wildfire!

Spreading Like Wildfire!

I received this cute little story by email a few hours ago--and then heard it over a campfire this evening where some neighbors are building a house!

Father/daughter talk...

A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat, and among other liberal ideals, was very much in favor of higher taxes to support more government programs, in other words, redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch Republican, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the need for more government programs. The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father. He responded by asking how she was doing in school.

Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn't even have time for a boyfriend, and didn't really have many college friends because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then a asked, 'How is your friend Audrey doing?' She replied, 'Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are easy classes, she never studies, and she barely has as a 2.0 GPA. She is so popular on campus; college for her is a blast. She's always invited to all the parties and lots of times she doesn't ev en show up for classes because she's too hung over.'

Her wise father asked his daughter, 'Why don't you go to the Dean's office and ask him to deduct 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA.'

The daughter, visibly shocked by her father's suggestion, angrily fired back, 'That's a crazy idea, and how would that be fair! I've worked really hard for my grades! I've invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work! Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I worked my tail off!'

The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, 'Welcome to the Republican party.'
Now, it isn't completely fair. There are some people who are poor through no fault of their own. Sometimes a husband runs off, and leaves Mom with three small children. Some people suffer mental illness or psychological breakdowns. Some people are born with serious mental or physical deficiencies that prevent them from ever being self-sufficient. Some people develop serious drug or alcohol problems--and while they should not have started down that road, once you get going, it is sometimes hard to stop. Some people are victims of horrendous crimes that make it impossible to ever be self-sufficient--like Mary Vincent.

But there are a lot of people in America who have only themselves to blame for their current situation. The tragedies out there are real, and they aren't one in a million cases. They aren't even particularly rare. But when Democrats screech about poverty and suffering, they are using these tragedies as an excuse to loot those who work to reward those who can work, but choose not to do so. Far more often, they are rewarding people who are simply con men on a big scale--like Franklin Raines.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Health Care Costs and Self-Hatred

Health Care Costs and Self-Hatred

When I was listening to the debate between Obama and McCain the other night, I heard a lot of pablum about cost containment from Obama, but I didn't hear anywhere near enough about one of the core problems of health care costs: self-inflicted health problems. The October 16, 2008 Idaho Statesman discusses the rising problem of AIDS in Idaho (which, having relatively few gay people, hasn't had a big problem with this in the past):
An upward spike in HIV cases is leading Idaho health officials to warn people at risk to get tested.
“HIV infections appear to be on the rise in young people in Idaho,” Dr. Christine Hahn, state epidemiologist, said in news release.
“Some people are putting themselves at risk for a preventable infection which is lifelong and can cause serious illness and death," Hahn said. "We are concerned that people think the risk of HIV is low since they have heard little about it in the news lately. This increase in new infections reminds all of us that the risk is real in Idaho.”
Idaho historically has among the lowest rates of HIV and AIDS infections in the nation. Five cases have been reported so far this year in the health district that includes Ada County, and another five in the district that takes in Canyon County.
As the article points out:
The 2008 reports are being seen in people putting themselves at risk in several ways, including:

  • People having unprotected sex with multiple sexual partners, sometimes finding anonymous partners through Internet sites.
  • Men having unprotected sex with other men.
  • People sharing injection drug paraphernalia, such as needles and syringes
Now, before I point out this ugly fact, let me explain that I am not defending casual heterosexual sex. But the fact is that the vast majority of the risk of getting, or giving AIDS is not from casual, non-commercial heterosexual sex. There is a risk there, and there are plenty of risks of getting other STDs (some of which may increase one's risk for contracting AIDS). But overwhelmingly, Americans get AIDS from sharing dirty needles, from sex with prostitutes, and homosexual sex.

The risk of sharing dirty needles is obvious. Homosexual sex is especially risky compared to heterosexual sex, not just because homosexuals are, on average, more promiscuous than heterosexuals (and STDs spread with the square of the increase in the number of sexual partners per time), but because there are aspects to homosexual sex that are intrinsically more risky.

1. Anal sex seems to be especially effective at transmitting AIDS--and for the same reason that anal suppositories are an effective method of getting drugs into your bloodstream.

2. Because homosexual men are seldom just recipients of anal sex, if A infects B, B will likely infect C. By comparison, vaginal sex seems to be relatively inefficient at transmitting AIDS from women to men. Women are penetrated, and infected, but they simply lack the right "parts" to be quite so effective at passing it on.

3. There has long been reason to suspect that substance abuse and STDs other than AIDS may diminish the body's immune system--and remember that AIDS is, after all, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Homosexuals are disproportionately substance abusers, and those suffering from syphilis. Last year, 64% of syphilis cases were among gay men--who make up about 2% of the U.S. population.

In 1980, or 1981, or maybe even 1985, you could make the argument that people with AIDS simply had no way to know that they were at risk. Today, this is simply not the case. The vast majority of Americans with AIDS today get it from high risk behavior. This is no different from smokers (like soon-to-be President Obama) at increased risk of cancer, or obese people at increased risk of heart disease. Why isn't Obama talking about these self-inflicted risks as a way to reduce health care costs?

There's one other aspect to the risks associated with AIDS--and that's intentional infection. You may recall a few years back when that well known right-wing magazine Rolling Stone carried an article about gay men who were intentionally infecting other gay men, and others who were intentionally seeking infection, so that they would get more attention. This October 15, 2008 AFP news story from the Netherlands makes you wonder how often this might be going on in America--but to avoid causing "homophobia," it isn't being covered:

HIV-positive men told a Dutch court on Wednesday how a three-member gay gang tried to infect them with the AIDS virus at sex orgies.
"I feel fear, anger, sadness and anxiety," one of the alleged victims testified before the district court in Groningen on the third day of the week-long trial.
"I have lost a lot of weight," lamented the student, who is infected with HIV.
The three accused, all HIV-positive, are charged with drugging gay men at sex orgies, raping them, and injecting them with blood contaminated with HIV. They are aged 39, 49 and 50.
The three, including a nurse, are accused of intentionally spreading the deadly virus at sex parties they promoted on the Internet.
They face charges of aggravated assault, rape, and illegal possession of drugs and face up to 21 years in jail.
Another witness, identified only as Erwin, questioned the motives behind intentionally infecting another with the immunodeficiency virus. He said he has been taking anti-retroviral medication for six months.
"One must have incredible hatred," he said in a statement read out to the court by the presiding judge.
"This question occupies my days and nights. For the rest of my life I will carry this crime with me, and its consequences."
The trio were arrested in May last year after 14 alleged victims -- 12 of whom are HIV-positive or sick with AIDS -- lay charges. It is not known whether they had contracted the virus before the orgies.
The prosecution alleges the victims were sedated with a combination of ecstasy and the date rape drug GHB (gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid), before being raped or injected with a cocktail of their assailants' blood.
I am frequently told that gay men are just like the rest of us--and that any little quirks in their behavior are just because they are oppressed. The whole "bug hunting" and "giving the gift" crowd, and this behavior makes me just a little suspicious that we are seeing is really an indication of something fundamentally broken. The intentional "giving the gift" and "bug hunting" wasn't just three criminals--it was an entire subculture of gay America.

But not to worry: President Obama's Supreme Court appointees will require states to recognize gay marriage, and probably a lot of other stuff quite a bit more worrisome than that. And then we will wonder why we aren't getting anywhere on health care cost containment.

Paving The Driveway

Paving The Driveway

One of our neighbors is a developer, and mentioned a few months ago that he had paid about $1 per square foot to have the roads in his subdivision paved with asphalt. This was very exciting; our driveway is about 600 feet long, and a 10 foot wide driveway...why, that would only be about $6000. When we get the proceeds of the house in Boise, our thought was to go ahead, and use some of the money to have the driveway paved.

Asphalt driveways clear snow quite effectively. Once one part is exposed to sunlight, the asphalt absorbs energy, and pretty quickly, the rest of the surface clears. Some of our neighbors with asphalt driveways are clear in a few hours--while those of us with rock and dirt driveways take days.

A reasonably smooth driveway would also be faster to clear with the snowthrower, and with less rocks getting into (and breaking) the mechanism.

So we started making some calls--and the company that did our neighbor the developer's roads wasn't available--too many commercial calls as we approach snow season.

So I started calling other pavers--and the vast majority don't even return phone calls.

Those that do respond, however, are talking about $2.25 per square foot--which is suddenly not so cheap. In addition, we were looking at getting the back driveway done as well, and the big spot in front of the house, not just the driveway. But then we are talking about 10,000 square feet--or more like $22,500. Whoa, that's getting up to a point where I am reminded of the (almost certainly apocryphal) story of the Indian rajah who takes pity on the suffering of his people, walking the roads in bare feet, and orders all the roads covered in leather--and an advisor suggests that it would be cheaper to give all his subjects shoes, instead.

We asked about using reground asphalt (which would give me brownie points for recycling). One paver indicated that this would be more like $1.25 per square foot--and that for five years or so, it would probably work okay, although it would be less attractive. The other paver indicated that he stopped doing reground asphalt, because it just didn't do a very good job--customers were complaining pretty quickly about it shedding rocks.

So, in the tradition of that Indian rajah's advisor, I am wondering if it might make more sense to buy a small snowplow instead--something that we could ride while clearing the driveway--with the added advantage that we could use it to clear the rest of the road out to the old highway. It wouldn't look as nice, and it wouldn't let me get the Corvette in and out, but until the snows are largely gone, the Corvette is just, as my wife calls it, "the tart": looks hot, but not very useful!

There are several categories of snowplows:

1. There are blades that go on the front of your SUV. Positive: relatively cheap ($1000 to $1500). Downside: these are light duty, at least when mounted on the wife's TrailBlazer, and I'm not sure if there are some legal issues involved with driving one of these on public roads. You certainly don't want to put this on and off a lot. Install it in December: remove it in March (or maybe April, here).

2. There are snowplow attachments for ATVs. Positive: if the snow is really deep, and you can't get the TrailBlazer up the driveway, you walk up, start the ATV, and plow the driveway. Negative: One more item to maintain; maybe not enough power to take a very deep cut. And the blades are usually not very wide, so it might take a couple of passes even for relatively shallow snow.

3. I think that there may be purpose-built snowplows, but I'm not sure what they are called. I suspect that they aren't cheap.

4. It might make sense to find out who does snow plowing for a living around here, and ask what they charge to do it. If someone charges me $50 each time I need the driveway and road cleared--and they do it thirty times a season--that's $1500. We could live here at least 15 years and barely reach the cost of a 10,000 square foot driveway.