31 July 2007

The Beginning of the End for Ted?

Lots of folks will blindly defend any trangression by those in their political party. Not me. As a moderate conservative and frequent patron of the Republican ticket, I feel very comfortable throwing Ted Stevens under the bus.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Federal agents with cameras searched the home of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens amid questions about an oil company official's involvement in a 2000 renovation project that doubled the home's size, law enforcement officials
said. Stevens, 83, is under a federal investigation for his connections to Bill Allen, founder of VECO Corp., an Alaska-based oil field services and engineering company that has reaped tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts.

The Justice Department's probe into Allen's relationships has led to charges against state lawmakers and contractors. Last year, FBI raids on the offices of several Alaska lawmakers included Stevens' son, former Alaska Senate President Ben Stevens.

Ted, get off my side.

It's the Most Wonderful Time

It was a dark and stormy night, although according to meteorologists since the lightning density on the satellite imagery for the area was only about 0.5 strikes per square mile, it wasn't stormy, and according to members of the American Society of Cinematographers because the lights from the city reflected off the clouds and created about 13 lumens of light, it didn't really fit the technical definition of dark.

Steve Petermann - Plano, TX

Karl awoke with a start, his heart pounding away like a drum, not a well mannered tympani such as one might hear in a Boston Pops rendition of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" but rather more like a snare drum in the hands of Terry Bozzio during the time when he was performing with Frank Zappa.

Christopher D Brunkhorst - Oxford, NJ

Racing through space at unimaginable speeds, Capt. Dimwell could only imagine how fast his spaceship was going.

Gary Smith - Florissant, CO

Ah-yup, the winners have been selected in the 2007 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

29 July 2007

Nurturing the Weeds

How do you go from a single weed in the garden to a whole mess of weeds? Easy - you create all the conditions necessary for them to thrive:

When the Winter Olympics open in Vancouver, visitors will find one of the most alluring cities in North America, a green and vibrant port to Asia brimming with diversity, skyscrapers and West Coast cool. But if they take a wrong turn, they will enter Downtown Eastside, a 16-block area teeming with drug dealers, addicts, prostitutes and panhandlers.

The side alleys are open markets for crack cocaine and crystal methamphetamine. The streets reek of urine. Rates of AIDS and hepatitis C are at Third World levels. Those who don't have rooms in some shabby flophouse sleep on the pavement. A U.N. report last month called the area "the trouble in paradise."

Now, social agencies run programs in Vancouver that would raise eyebrows elsewhere. The provincial health department has a storefront office where addicts come to safely inject themselves with drugs. Another program gives out methadone. Another provides free sterile needles. The mayor is pushing a plan to distribute prescription pills to substitute for illegal drugs.

But his Olympic assurances are greeted with skepticism on the grimy streets of Downtown Eastside, where many expect the worst.

Culturally, socially and politically, Vancouver is the San Francisco of Canada. Like American its American counterpart, Vancouver is finding that no amount of happy thoughts can cure very real civic decay issues.

27 July 2007

Unchecked Bandits

Being in congress is rough; tax-free income, expense account, staff at your disposal and pension & benefits without peer. Hell, you can even kill someone and walk away.

The trouble for you and me, who are paying the bills, comes from the fact that since most of the clowns start running for reelection from day one, there's really no time to learn anything about anything. So, intellectually blindfilded and racing the clock, they will swing the bat HARD at the legislative piñata and, no matter how flawed the information from which they work, back up their ill-advised votes with the full force of the federal government.

The star witness was Donna Smith, whose story was featured in the movie — including her trip to Havana to seek the supposedly superior medical treatment available in Cuba. She was surrounded at the hearing by a bevy of nurses in brightly colored "Sicko" T-shirts, who applauded her testimony enthusiastically. The hearing quickly developed into a cheerleading session for single-payer health care — over which the subcommittee has no jurisdiction.

The study's central findings were that 54½ percent of all bankruptcies have a "medical cause" and 46.2 percent of all bankruptcies have a "major medical cause." Even if this were true, bankruptcy law already provides adequate safeguards for the special problems posed by medical bankruptcies, as one of us (Mr. Zywicki) testified at the hearing. But it is not true. And the only way to make such a claim is to gerrymander the definition of medical bankruptcies to generate the desired results — true junk social science.

For example, the study classifies uncontrolled gambling, drug or alcohol addiction, and the birth or adoption of a child as "a medical cause." There are indeed situations in which a researcher may legitimately classify those conditions as "medical," but a study used to prove Americans are going bankrupt as a result of crushing medical debt is not one of them.

A father who has gambled away his family's mortgage payment is not the victim of crushing medical bills.
They hold hearings and act concerned and shovel our money into the furnace and then fly home to brag about it. It there any wonder why congress' approval ratings are lower than the president's?

Read is all.

26 July 2007

News From the Ol' Dog Farm

What do the movie Animal House, Sheriff Taylor's jail, most every multi-story building have in common? They all have an "Otis."

And now, so does the Ravenscroft Dog Farm.

Sixty pounds at six months - it's my understanding he's only going to get bigger.

20 July 2007

John Doe Killed in Senate

The US Senate just killed the John Doe immunity provision in SA2340. I wonder what else will die as a result.
Political correctness and the possibility of hurt feelings trump your right to not get blown to smithereens by intolerant psychopaths. Here's the roll: Norm Coleman votes for you and me; Amy Klobuchar votes against you an me. Even Hillary votes for you and me. Obama; the Perfect Human, sat this one out - way to show spine, Barry.

Tigerhawk has the whole sordid tale:
Just so we're clear, most Democratic senators do not (any longer) want to fight terrorists aggressively with our military, they oppose law enforcement officials taking actions to interdict domestic terrorism that they would not otherwise take against ordinary crime, and they believe that if civilians, acting in good faith, report suspicious activity those civilians should be subject to a law suit if they are wrong.

For those of you late to the party, this vote determines the fate of the "King amendment," which was brought by the ejected "flying imams" against the "John Does" who reported their suspicious activity to the airline.

19 July 2007

To Reminds You

Whenever I have tough days, I eventually realize that there are others having tougher days.

Taking Sides

It's hard to type out something you hear delivered with a unique accent. Here's my try: As Alvin York (portrayed by Gary Cooper) would say - "Yer eethir FER us, or ahGIN us."
Congressional Democrats today failed to include a provision in homeland security legislation that would protect the public from being sued for reporting suspicious behavior that may lead to a terrorist attack, according to House Republican leaders.

"This is a slap in the face of good citizens who do their patriotic duty and come forward, and it caves in to radical Islamists," said Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican and ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

"Democrats are trying to find any technical excuse to keep immunity out of the language of the bill to protect citizens, who in good faith, report suspicious activity
to police or law enforcement," Mr. King said. "I don't see how you can have a homeland security bill without protecting people who come forward to report suspicious activity."

Florida Rep. Adam Putnam, chairman of the House Republican Conference, said failure to enact the provision will hold "the threat of endless litigation over the heads of the American people. Democrats are discouraging citizens from reporting suspicious behavior.
It doesn't take much wondering where my, uh, represetative stands on this one. She thinks homeland security means giant earmarks for labor and human serivces. I'll be gleefully working for her opponent next time 'round.

UPDATE - Amy saw a last-minute opportunity to get right on this one and she took it, happily.
Klobuchar's vote was one of the three that seemed to sink John Doe. But on Monday, she told me that she had decided to support the measure. "It came up in the middle of the night, attached to an unrelated bill," she said. "I was thinking about a case I had in Bloomington as [Hennepin] county attorney. A security guard reported a series of fires set by a 'Middle Eastern man,' but police discovered he had set the fires himself. I wanted to make sure that the [immunity provision] had exceptions that would preserve the right to sue under such circumstances." After the late-night vote, Klobuchar talked to Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., a cochairman of the committee and a supporter of the John Doe provision. He alleviated her concerns, she said.

Pretty weak foundation for opposition in the first place, but I'm glad she came around.

The Icon Crumbles

How often are we beat over the head with anecdotes and bromides about how the United States is so far behind all the rest of the world? You know the drill; every other nation from Angola to Zimbabwe has better health care than we do and it's all free. Everyone moves about on emissionless mass-transit while we cirlce the mall in our SUVs. Should you have a child, you get 2 years off at double your salary and every soul has every want accomodated from cradle to grave by generous social spending.

They tell us we could have it all here if we'd just pay our fair share, which is code for fleecing the producing class in order to give away the store to the non-producers. Not only is it utopian bliss in every other nation but mine, but all those folks in other countries simply LOVE to pay onerous taxes on everything without expecting any directly-attributable return, right? Not so fast:
Norwegians are among the most heavily taxed people in the world, and that in turn has made Norway one of the most expensive countries in which to live. Most accept the taxes they're ordered to pay on income and even net worth and property, but growing numbers are publicly complaining about sky-high taxes on everything from cars to fuel to consumer goods.

Norwegians differentiate between skatter (taxes) and avgifter (duties, fees or user taxes) and the latter is the most hated. They're what causes a glass of house wine at an Oslo restaurant to cost the equivalent of nearly USD 16, or a gallon of gas to cost nearly USD 9 at current exchange rates. The taxes placed on new cars, which can more than double the price of the car itself, are another bone of contention, even though most Norwegians support measures to protect the environment. "The car tax is much too high, but so are most all the other avgifter also," said Ernst Bendiksen of the northern city of Vadsø, where Norwegians are far more dependent on their cars than those living in cities with good public transit systems. "We certainly don't get anything in return for them."
Something to think about as our congressional delegation keeps promising something for nothing to the largest blocs of voters.

The Troubel With Harry

Will Collier steps in it.

It all started about 24 hours ago, when I found a plain cardboard box on my doorstep. I was surprised to see my name on the label, as I wasn’t expecting anything this week. My surprise increased exponentially when I opened the package to find a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows within.


The first thing I thought upon seeing the book was, “Boy, somebody screwed up.” Hallows is famously scheduled for release at midnight on July 21, more than four days after my copy arrived. As you’ve probably guessed by now, my second thought was, “Hey, this thing’s probably worth more than 18 bucks between now and then.” It was a matter of minutes from that thought to taking a blurry digital photo of the book propped up against my computer and composing a brief ad on eBay.


No sooner had I clocked a couple of hours of vacation time to make up for my Potter errand-running than my desk phone rang. A pleasant-sounding woman introduced herself as being with Scholastic Books, and my jaw hit the desk at something approaching supersonic speed. She said, “We understand you have received a copy of the new Harry Potter book from DeepDiscount.com, are you a Harry Potter fan?”To say that I freaked would be a bit of an understatement. My desk phone number isn’t published anywhere — how the hell did they find me?


The Associated Press ran a story about the book’s release, noted my ad, and falsely claimed that I’d declined to respond to a query. That’s a lie: Even as I write this an hour or so after the AP’s story, I have not been contacted by them in any way—and if they actually try they’re going to get hung up on; lie about me and you lose interview rights.

What a perfect cap to this adventure - to have AP screw up its reporting. I think the only sound course of action during Pottermania is to keep one's head down and let both the vultures and the wolves have their day. Once Saturday comes and goes, we can emerge from our shelters, and try to pretend the world belong to all of us again.

Notes From Harry Reid's Circus

As Captain Ed says, Harry wanted a debate, and he got one from John McCain:
Mr. President, we have nearly finished this little exhibition, which was staged, I assume, for the benefit of a briefly amused press corps and in deference to political activists opposed to the war who have come to expect from Congress such gestures, empty though they may be, as proof that the majority in the Senate has heard their demands for action to end the war in Iraq.

No battle will have been won or lost, no enemy will have been captured or killed, no ground will have been taken or surrendered, no soldier will have survived or been wounded, died or come home because we spent an entire night delivering our poll-tested message points, spinning our soundbites, arguing with each other, and substituting our amateur theatrics for statesmanship.

All we have achieved are remarkably similar newspaper accounts of our inflated sense of the drama of this display and our own temporary physical fatigue. Tomorrow the press will move on to other things and we will be better rested. But nothing else will have changed.
It's worth a read as lots of influence peddlers are trying to write off McCain's candidacy.

18 July 2007

It's Only Tax Money

Look at what we get to pay for:

To serve your politician worshiping needs - The Charlie Rangel library.
It seems as though the Chairman is going to use taxpayer dollars to build a library (or public service center) in his own name, perhaps to establish a location for his future papers to be housed. The earmark is for $2 million.
Further, to make sure that there's no shortage of fools in Hollywood, how about an earmark for some hokey film school.
(T)he funds would “establish a first-of-its-kind entertainment industry craft and technician college job training program to respond to the film and television industry’s immediate need for new, trained employees.” That’s right, Democrats are looking to create a job training program for the Los Angeles entertainment industry.
You know, I love movies, but not one dime of tax money should got to propping up this industry, especially in such a politically diseased, pandering way.

How to Win the Nomination

Wow, who can fault this?

"Many bad things are not just bad—they're terrible," said a beaming (John) Edwards, whose "Only the Good Things" proposal builds upon previous efforts to end poverty, outlaw startlingly loud noises, and offer tax breaks to those who smile
frequently. "Other candidates have plans that would reduce some of the bad things, but I want all of them gone completely."

"Racism will soon be a thing of the past," Edwards said. "Same goes for being picked last for playground athletics, AIDS, robbery, not having enough spending money, and murder. Because these things are bad and not good, I promise they will be eliminated."

Pay no mind to the parody aspect and get on the Edwards train - first the lobotomy, then to the voting booth!

Mad Tea Party Indeed

Don't you be disrespectin' my place in line:
ORLANDO, Fla. -- A 52-year-old Alabama woman was arrested on suspicion she beat and choked a woman who was allowed ahead of her while waiting to board a tea cup ride at Walt Disney World, according to authorities. Witnesses said Victoria Walker became enraged after the victim and her children were allowed ahead of her at the "Mad Tea Party' ride in May.
United States 2007: Once again, law enforcement must take time to deal with people who will not grow up and act their age.

14 July 2007

Weekend Heavy Thoughts

Tim Carney:
In the 2006 film The Good Shepherd, Matt Damon plays Edward Bell Wilson, a WASP Yalie at the head of the CIA. At one point, Joe Pesci's character asks him: "You know, we Italians have our families and the church, the Irish have their homeland, the Jews their tradition, the niggers their music. What do you guys have?" Damon replies, "We have the United States of America. The rest of you are just visiting."

Damon's reply gives the path out of the WASP trap. If the Wilsons, Bushes, Rockefellers, and Mathers run the show -- and they used to, at least -- that means it's a WASPy show. If they shaped our culture -- and to a large extent they did -- then it might be hard for them to see there are particularities about our culture. It is easy to start thinking that American culture is just plain American. Even worse, we might start to believe that American culture, with all of its melting pot action and enlightenment rhetoric, is simply human nature unadorned by the particularities of time, place, or history. This is the WASP trap.

Tortured Soul Update

I was touring either a huge apartment complex or office campus. It was several connected buildings and it had a centrally-located food service. The place was so large that the lunch crowd had to be brought through in waves. People were moved through tubular corridors, that had butterfly-valve like doors at each end, in groups the way that mass-produced food products were separated, counted and shuffled to awaiting packages - imagine the way tons of M&Ms are diverted to one-pound bags in queue. Once one group had make sufficient progress through the food lines, a set of doors would open and more would be admitted.

Since my tour was moving the opposite direction as the masses, my presence upset the counts of people in these groups, and the mechanism controlling the flow tried to isolate me by routing me into progressively smaller chambers until I was in a roughly 3-foot square cube unable to even reach my cell phone in my pocket. It gave me a sense of how claustrophobics feel when confined.

Woke up out of breath.

10 July 2007

Royalty On Parade

Just another episode in the continuing saga of eleceted officials acting the part of the monarch:
Mr. Miles, a former law enforcement officer who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon, shot the man in the left leg, police said. Mr. Miles voted against the "castle doctrine" that gives residents stronger rights to defend their property. The law goes into effect Sept. 1.
There's only one message this sents to his contituents - all you slobs who elected me aren't wise enough to exercise your Second Ammendment rights, but I get to, for I hold public office.

08 July 2007

Wither Spain

Is it any wonder why radical Islam is displacing Europeans from the EU?
He also agreed with me when I told him that Muslim immigrants to Europe should be expected to assimilate into their new culture, rather than reject a Western lifestyle. But Miguel wasn’t prepared to call certain Western values superior to radical Islamic values. When I asked him if we could agree to condemn honor killings (a practice spreading across Europe), he said no. Even when I pointed to his three beautiful daughters and reminded him that forced female genital mutilation was regularly practiced in many Muslim countries, he shrugged as if to say “that’s just the way they do things over there.”
After learning of the attempted bombing of London’s Tiger Tiger nightclub on ladies night (my sister works in the building right next door), she expressed her horror and disgust to one of her British friends. His method of comforting her was to declare that “the American public’s reaction to 9/11 was scarier than the event itself.”

I wonder if he was equally troubled by the reaction of John Smeaton to the attack on Glasgow airport. When one of the terrorists—who was so intent on slaughtering innocent children (the airport was full of school children on holiday) that he set himself on fire after the car bomb failed to go off—shouted “Allah! Allah! Allah!” and attacked a police officer, Smeaton, a maintenance worker, responded by giving him a good right-hander. Would my sister’s friend and others who counsel against what they deem to be rash action have done the same?

Al Gore's Hot Air Weekend Pt. 2

Watch out - here comes a smart man with an opinion, on national television, speaking truth to power (whatever that's supposed to mean). I wonder how long he'll last in this position since he's not toting the party line with his dangerous independent thought.

On Al Gore's Hot Air Weekend

Colby Cosh:
I find it hard to believe he's really saying "There's no way in hell I'm going to stop flying so much, so the airline industry had better get its butt in gear reducing my climate impact for me." But you could sit there staring at the quote all day and you can't make it mean anything else. It's also important to note that Joel Makower's speaking engagements are a cosmically fixed "reality"; unfortunately, your shopping, home-heating, and toilet habits don't enjoy this status.

What a Country

It's 12:45 and already 94 Fahrenheit in Saint Paul, but I have no complaints. I am standing on my deck, in the shade, on the WiFi, in view of the Grand Prix of Britain in HD, and getting sprinkled on from the knees down.

And the mint in my iced tea is from the garden.

05 July 2007

I Dare You

To keep it together when you watch this. Kudos to Boyd Huppert and KARE for making television journalism remarkable for at least a few minutes.

Not Afraid

Normally, this would call for a boot to the head, but Alex was shootin' lower:
Alex McIlveen, 45, kicked the man, whose body was in flames, so hard that he tore a tendon in his foot. But he said last night: "He didn't even flinch. I couldn't believe he didn't go down. "A doctor told me later I'd damaged a tendon in my foot."
Excellent action from a workin' man who has no time for 3rd-century Islamic cavemen, but also excellent headline writing from Scotland's Daily Record.

This is not unrelated.

Reply to the Professional Doubters

Michael Ramirez - Copley News Service

Sign of Things to Come

Here's a harbinger of the future - another well-connected screw-up posing as someone who cares.
Al Gore III, 24, was driving a blue Toyota Prius about 100 mph on the San Diego Freeway when he was pulled over at about 2:15 a.m., Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim Amormino said.
Oh THANK GOD he was being criminally reckless in a Prius. It he had killed someone while driving an evil SUV that would have been unforgivable, but since he was in a hybrid, the vehicular homicide would have been mitigated by so much Green Intention that the crime would hardly be punishable.

The deputies said they smelled marijuana and searched the car, Amormino said. They found less than an ounce of marijuana along with Xanax, Valium, Vicodin and Adderall, which is used for attention deficit disorder, he said. "He does not have a prescription for any of those drugs," Amormino said.
No, no, he's not transporting drugs for sale, distribution and personal use, he's merely helping to alleviate the pain caused by the tyrannical pharmaceutical industry because, you know, when you hate Big Pharma enough, there's really no crime you can be convicted of.
Gore was released from the men's central jail in Santa Ana Wednesday afternoon after posting $20,000 bail.
That's just pocket money when daddy's got an Oscar on the mantle. Can you imagine if you or I wanted to post bond and get out of jail on a national holiday? How do you like our chances?

Gore lives in Los Angeles and is an associate publisher of GOOD, a magazine about philanthropy aimed at young people.
The irony is sitting there like prime rib: Instead of following in the footsteps of his father by telling (and legislating ) others how to live their lives, he should establish a whiff of credibility by living the life he expects others to live.

Also - bad journalism here as usual; there was no mention in the story of how this was Dick Cheney's fault.

03 July 2007

One More Fon the Sunday Run

Variety is the spice of life.
Lunch at Hanson's Hold Up, north of Fountain City, Wisconsin.

Fiberglass Sunday

The route was roughly Saint Paul, Prescott, Stockholm (for breakfast), Durand, Alma, lunch (who knows that place was), Fountain City, Hudson and home again. In between all the alleged municipalities were miles and miles of mostly deserted and relatively high quality twisites, straights and sweepers. The weather was ideal and opposing traffic was suspiciously sparse. Running in two groups, our pack left no fun road unconquored as we toured the driftless areas of Pepin and Buffalo Counties, including, what Tom, the organizer, noted on the map as the "Bolivian Highway of Death." There's a chance he's seen this movie.

The 8-year old ragtop du jour (not mine) delivered a great combination of performace, comfort and reliablity. The performance capabilty was important to "keep up my end of the deal" with the M3s, Boxters and Mustangs that made the run. The comfort was there in leather, climate control (when needed) and a qualtity fold-up top. Very importantly, the reliability was there. No brake fade, no overheating and no leaking of fluids or voltage. Not all thirty cars came back under their own power.

Eleven hours and three-hundred miles later, safely back at home, I was able so squirrell away a terrific day in the ol' memory box.