"Yes We Can" Move On....

I am not sure I have seen so many people succumb to peer pressure so thoroughly in an attempt to be as cool as the new 'in' crowd since I was in High School. Granted that was long ago, when cool meant trying to look like Don Johnson wearing pastels and no socks...

Back in this century, in an effort to leech off of the 'uber-cool' status of our incoming celebrity-in-chief, everyone is getting on the band-wagon and appropriating the divine slogans of The One.

Today Evan Coyne Maloney points out how Pepsi is rolling out some legalized trademark infringement, and doesn't mind if anyone notices the blatant similarities to some other recent advertising.

(Photo: Evan Coyne Maloney)

Hmmm....seems familiar....

Well, Pepsi ain't the only offenders. The People's Choice Awards, and event marketed as uber-cool in its own right, are looking to steal a little of the magic as well.

Their current advertisement with Queen Latifah has the following dialog:
"When the people vote, Change happens. And this January, history will be made right before our eyes."
Hmmm....I wonder what they could be referring to???

Wait, before you shout out an answer, Queen Latifah says:
"You know I am talking about the People's Choice Awards, don't you?"
Ha-ha, ROTFL...

Of course, the ad ends with this smug reassurance...
"Can we pick the winners? Yes. We. Can."

Wonderful. I can't wait to see what slobbering tributes get rolled out at this event...

Well, it it not like I was going to watch this or any other celeberity self-congratulatory love-fest anyhow.

Now, I may need to move fast, as I notice that yeswecanmoveon.org has yet to be appropriated....


Tuesday Night Beer

Tonight I am enjoying a Casco Bay Winter Ale

Not too bad....went well with the 45 degree temps and Beef Stew for dinner.


Peace is Our Profession

Damn, this is the best idea to come out of the lefty Peace movement in years!

Code Pink For Peace

Hat Tip: Code Monkey, Chuck Z, and Uncle Jimbo.

UPDATE: Code Monkey has even MORE on this breakthrough idea to bring Peace to the world!

Obama's deceptive 'Tax Cuts'

According to a link from Instapundit, Obama is continuing his Bush impersonation by an effort to "push forward tax cuts despite economic crisis".

The linked article presents these details:

The incoming administration is considering tax cuts of $1,000 for couples and $500 for individuals that will be delivered by reducing the tax withheld from paychecks. That plan, which would cost about $140 billion over 2009-2010, would put more money in paychecks.
The funny thing is that as presented above (perhaps there are more details), this is not a tax cut. This is simply fewer $$ being withheld from paychecks, but the implications won't be apparent until April 2010.

As presented, this does nothing to change anyone's tax rate. So come Tax Day in 2010, people will find that their refund is reduced by $500-1000, or that they will have to dig up $500-1000 to help pay tax that they owe. While this will make people feel good by putting a *little* extra moola in their checks, it will also set them up for unexpected consequences....

It is possible that Obama could get corresponding lower tax rates passed by the end of 2009 and make them retroactive, but if he doesn't, many Americans may unexpectedly get stuck with lower refunds/higher taxes in 15 months.

Now ultimately this is simply government feel-goodery in action. Accomplishing something that people can already do for themselves. Withholding is optional people! Set your withholding to $0 if you want, but you will need to come up with some extra cash next April. Or if you do a little tax planning, you can adjust your withholding to match your circumstances. For instance, if you get big refunds every year, that means you are giving the government interest-free loans each and every month, until you get that money back a year later. If that is the case, go fill out an IRS Form W-4, and reduce your withholding so that you get more money in your paycheck now.

America, you don't need to wait for Team Obama to do the work for you! But unfortunately, I think many of you want them to.....


Pass the Blame Game

This morning Ace of Spades is pointing out a convergence of two of Instapundit's favorite topics: Chris Dodd and the demise of Newspapers.

It seems that the Connecticut Post does want to give equal time to those whom might view prominent Democrats as the cause of the current fiscal crisis.
“All letters are welcome. But there are code words hidden in some that are signals to stop paying close attention — “Chris Dodd” and “Barney Frank.” According to one school of thinking, these two, more than anyone else in America, are to blame for our current troubles.

If you want to castigate their decision-making, fine. If you want to say they and they alone are to blame for the recession, that’s crazy. They didn’t even take over their congressional committees until early last year, and our problems started long before then.”
That's right, Chris Dodd and Barney Frank were only wet-behind-the-ears, babes-in-the-woods Congresscritters before 2006, and could do nothing to stop the evil Bush profiteers. And people continue to wonder why no one bothers to read Newspapers anymore...

Now, the Post's rant is not entirely without merit, as it is true that there are many fathers/mothers to this crisis. However what the post is really trying to say in the text above is "All the blame lies with President Bush and Congressional Republicans. They have been in power for a long time, how could the Democrats be to blame?".

But, as many rational people know, national level problems of this nature do no pop up overnight, or even in 8 years. Things of this magnitude take years and years of bureaucratic mismanagement, political chicanery, and downright ineptitude to produce.

So to be fair to the Republicans as well, I think that the Post should also post the following graph:
“All letters are welcome. But there are code words hidden in some that are signals to stop paying close attention — “George Bush” and “Karl Rove.” According to one school of thinking, these two, more than anyone else in America, are to blame for our current troubles.

If you want to castigate their decision-making, fine. If you want to say they and they alone are to blame for the recession, that’s crazy. They didn’t even take over the White House until 2001, and our problems started long before then.”
Yes, the Post is right that this mess started before 2006, but that conveniently ignores Dodd's and Frank's (and others) actions (and inactions) before that point.


Christmas Beers

Last night I enjoyed a great beer...

Schneider Aventinus

I heard the clerk tell another customer he thought it was one of the best beers in the world. So what the hey, I bought one. It was pretty darn good. In fact, after 1600 ratings at ratebeer.com, it is in the 99th percentile of all beers.


Hugo's Big Mess

Now that I am back to driving on a daily basis, I have been taking note of the prices at gas stations along my routes.

On interesting thing that I have noticed is that the prices at CITGO are significatnly higher than at other stations (by several to 15 cents). Why might that be? Perhaps it could be due to the ultimate benefactor of CITGO profits?

For those of you who don't know, CITGO is a "wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela."

In other words, it belongs to Hugo Chavez.

Given the rapid decline in the price of oil, Hugo's little dictatorship is in desperate need of capital to prop up its tottering leadership and infrastructure.

Perhaps he wants to keep prices a little bit higher than everyone else to squeeze every last cent he can out of his most precious lifeline?

Who knows, but its just my observation....

UPDATE: Instapundit also posts concerning Hugo's massive revenue problems. Glenn had best be careful, or Hugo might nationalize Instapundit too....


Four Horsemen of the Obacaplypse?

The economy is in the dumps. However the incoming Obama administration wants to save this capitalist economy with a dose of big-government socialism.

I have just begun reading the new book "The End of Prosperity" by Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore, and Peter Tanous.

In the very first chapter titled "The Gathering Economic Storm", the authors point out that the U.S. economy encountered "Four Killers of Prosperity" during the two tumultuous periods during the 1930s and 1970s.

Those 'Four Killers' are:
- Trade Protectionism
- Tax Increases and profligate Govt Spending
- New Regulations and increased Gov't intervention in the economy
- Monetary policy mistakes
Unfortunately, a couple of those killers have already struck, and Obama isn't even in office yet. However, very soon all of those killers will be paroled, and sold to the public as the cure to economic ills.

Lets run through those Killers again...

Trade Protectionism - Check! Colombia can kiss its trade pact goodbye, and when the newly empowered Unions get their way, NAFTA will be the next big target

Tax Increases and profligate Govt Spending - Check! Obama has paid lip service to delaying Income Tax increases, but there are many other ways to raise taxes, or if you live in California, "fees". Also, if you think that the Dems won't continue spending gov't oney like drunken sailors, now that the GOP has been kicked out of the budgetary bar, you must be high....

New Regulations and increased Gov't intervention in the economy - Check! Since the new Dem bogeyman for a lot of this fiscal mess is "de-regulation", you certainly know what will be coming soon to a bureaucracy near you....more rules!! Welcome to the Nanny State...make yourself at home, just don't sit on the furniture.

Monetary policy mistakes - Check! Already taken care of by the current administration. All Obama has to do is mind the store, and not advocate for a strong dollar.

Laffer, Moore, and Tanous may call them the Four Killers, but I think they will be refered to in the future as the Four Horsemen of the Obacalypse...

Messiah of the Year??

Let me start out by saying, that I have not seen or heard anything concerning who might be Time Magazine's "Person of the Year".

However I think I might have a good idea. Not because the press coverage has been so fawning that it has bordered on idolatry, but by this other sign I saw today. Two signs actually...

One on each door of the entrance at Barnes & Noble (where I was stopping for a last minute gift), which read "Due to high demand, we are limiting sales of Time Magazine's 'Man of the Year' issue to two copies per person."

Now who else would have such a devoted flock such that liberal book store workers would see the need to impose rationing such that everyone might have a chance to get a copy (or two!) to save for historical purposes?

This really is a head scratcher....


OK, so I couldn't stand to wait, and slipped over to the Time website.

Now, I do have a couple of questions...

1) Who is this guy? Seriously, where is the name? I guess Time can't imagine that *no one* would not know who this grand figure might be. The only reason I ask is that every other Man/Person/Thing of the Year has been identified with a label. Even president's Bush and Clinton, whom presumably everybody knew. Perhaps this mans transcends a name. He just is "The One".

2) Are they trying to say he is transparent, or that we can see right through him? Just curious....


A Weaponized Version of Borat


Head over to Pajama's Media, and read
Michael Yon's latest dispatch and observtions from the Afghan province of Zabul.

The best portion are the descriptions of our new stalwart allies, the Lithuanians. Please note how these allies will actually deign to fight the Taliban...
Maybe when your country spends almost a half-century with the Soviet boot on its neck, its first generation of free soldiers know what freedom is worth — and that you sometimes have to fight for it

UPDATE: For anyone who might think that Yon was writing disparagingly about the Lithuanian soldiers, please reconsider. As he states, perhaps he being 'tongue-in-cheek', but if you read his post closely, you should understand that he was being complimentary with his overall assessment. Both Yon, myself (who recently returned from several months in Afghanistan, and others are highly appreciative of the fact that there are some countries who will actually stand up and fight the evil in front of us...as opposed to some other European countries who do not seem to have the will.

Please see Yon's mea culpa letter to the Commander of Lithuanian Special Forces, here.

From the U.S. military...Thank you Lithuania!


We Get What We Vote For - Part IV

Now, what was the biggest economic story of the year (besides that Mortgage thingy)? Why, the extra high price of Gas of course, and the resulting detrimental effects on the economy.

Every person and every segment of the economy felt the effects as Gas edged north of $4 per gallon. Everyone was hoping for a big change to help them out. So you would think that a politician that won with a campaign of Hope & Change would want his administration to help continue the current trend of dropping gas prices.

Unfortunately, as pointed out by The Foundry blog over at Heritage Foundation, Mr. Obama's selections for Secretary of Energy actually wouldn't mind seeing Gas priced much higher than it was this summer.
"Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”
So says Dr Steven Chu, Obama's selection for the Energy post.

So, what do Europe's Gas prices look like?

Well, in July, when average U.S. prices were topping off at $4.34, Gas in the Netherlands was $10.64. The cheapest of the big European countries cost almost $9 per gallon. Right now the average prices in the U.S. stand at $1.97, whereas the average across Europe is about $5.50. For the math impaired, that is nearly 3 times the cost that we pay. The funny thing is, the actual base cost of the gasoline isn't that much different in Europe than it is in the U.S. It is just that European countries tack on taxes such that taxes make up 65-70+% of the price.

(Source: DOE)

Thus, the incoming senior federal bureaucrat for energy issues wants us all to pay
double the painful prices we were paying this summer, or triple what we pay now? In the normal touchy-feely liberal parlance, How does that make you feel, America?

But hey...you got the Hope and Change you voted for, right? Too bad you didn't read the fine print....


Holy Crap!

In some small irony I have been 'published' in the New York Times....

Not sure how that happened...

We Get What We Vote For - Part III

Not sure why anyone would want to live in California anymore....
"California Democrats devise plan to hike taxes. By structuring them as fees, they would skirt GOP opponents and raise $9.3 billion. A court fight looms."
Like this is a great shock to anyone? Sigh....
"Republican legislators and antitax groups promised legal challenges to derail the Democrats' plan. "Raising taxes on people and playing funny math and calling it fees is not governing," said Assembly GOP leader Michael Villines of Clovis. "That's trickery, is what that is.""
Good luck guys. If you don't succeed, perhaps you can hitch a ride with one of the businesses fleeing out of the state...

(Hat Tip: Instapundit)


We Get What We Vote For - Part II

Ken Salazar will be Obama's selection to head up the Department of the Interior.
"Mr. Salazar’s most urgent task will be to remove the influence of politics and ideology from decisions that are best left to science."
Funny, but I doubt that the Obama administration will be bringing 'science' to Interior. I think that they will probably be bringing religion instead....

Praise Gaia and pass the the carbon credits....

We Get What We Vote For - Part I

Congratulations North Carolina, you will finally get the change you voted for....
"With gas-tax revenues plummeting, the state of North Carolina is looking seriously at taxing motorists for how far they drive."
I hope you are very happy with your choices....

Bush Subjected to Torture by Iraqis

Isn't it funny how one election can change everything.

Not too many years ago, simply subjecting people to humiliation and insults was defined as torture. Now, if someone subjects someone else to "the worst possible insult...meant to show extreme disrespect and contempt...", he is somehow a hero and probably a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Change has arrived! Now we are just waiting for hope to show up....


Following the Madoff Money

In a Corner post earlier today by Victor Davis Hanson, the question was posed:
Given what we know of Stevens, Rangel, and the Freddie/Fannie circle, surely no one like Bernie Madoff steals billions right under the N.Y./D.C. radar without friends in high places. Can't our media do some research and find out exactly to whom and to what degree he donated to Congress?
Since things like this are now fairly easy for us in the great unwashed populace outside of the media, here is what a quick look turned up.

Madoff personally gave $100,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee since 2005. Bernie and relatives (also co-workers at his Hedge...err...Ponzi Scheme) have also given lots of money to many pols, including Chuck Schumer ($39k), Ed Markey ($43k), Ron Wyden ($33k), and the Securities Industry Assn (Lobbying Assn; $61k). Schumer is a natural recipient, since he is not only the senior Senator from NY, but also on the Senate Finance Committee. Wyden is on the same Senate Finance Committee. Markey is on the House Energy & Commerce Committee. Why would Madoff ever contribute to them??

And in case anyone wants to play 'Name that Party', Madoff ( and his several relatives/co-workers) gave Democrats over $290,000, and only $33,000 to GOP entities (including a Congressman who, shockingly, was on the House Energy & Commerce Committee)

More to follow....when I have time, I will try to take a deeper look at which of those many Pols (like Schumer, Markey and Wyden) not listed here were involved in Committees that touched the Securities industry.

UPDATE: I suppose my sagging faith in the press might have been a little unwarrented this AM. Mark Hemingway, also in the Corner, points to the fact that Politico.com is actually doing some journalism on this issue, "Madoff bought influence in Washington". Sadly enough (but perhaps not surprisingly) the only Pol to be mentioned by name 'above the fold' for taking campaign contribution from Madoff was a Republican.
The Madoffs were also hefty donors to political candidates. In total, the Madoff family has donated more than $380,000 to political candidates, parties and political action committees since 1993, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The giving skewed largely Democratic, although donations were made to several Republicans, including scandal-ridden Rep. Vito J. Fossella (R-N.Y.).
You have to go to page 2 of the story to find out that Chuckie Schumer raked in his $39k, and $100k for his DSCC. Fossella is an odd choice to mention, seeing as how he got a whopping $4000 from the Madoff clan (only $1000 from Bernie), and $0 after 2001. He is (was?) however on the
House Energy & Commerce Committee. Anyone seeing a pattern here? Heck, fellow Republican ( and once again former House Energy & Commerce Committee member) Jack Fields got $14K from the Madoffs. But I guess that Fossella was the closest that Politico could get to a current 'scandal-ridden' Republican (DUI, Affair) to try to pin the tail on the elephant....


Beer o' the Night

Left Hand Deep Cover Brown Ale....could be better....

UPDATE: OK, since it is Friday, I had to have something else...

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale...the old classic....


Capitalism Saves the Planet?

For years, we have been told that our rampant obsession with Capitalism and a consumer society was leading to the demise of the planet.

Ironically enough, the recent economic downturn has sent the critically important (or so we have ben told) recycling biz into a nosedive. Turns out, no one wants to buy recycled materials if there is no market to use them to make other products.
Just months after riding an incredible high, the recycling market has tanked almost in lockstep with the global economic meltdown. As consumer demand for autos, appliances and new homes dropped, so did the steel and pulp mills' demand for scrap, paper and other recyclables.

Cardboard that sold for about $135 a ton in September is now going for $35 a ton. Plastic bottles have fallen from 25 cents to 2 cents a pound. Aluminum cans dropped nearly half to about 40 cents a pound, and scrap metal tumbled from $525 a gross ton to about $100.
Ooops. Guess we need that evil capitalism idea after all. Though perhaps the new Obama Administration could mandate price controls on recycled scrap. That way we could continue to save the planet through the goodness of government, and avoid the ickiness of a market-driven solution....

Corruption You Can Believe In!

Lets see....what does it tell you when a throughly corrupt politician, who is only in it for himself and the money, wants either one of two jobs...

a) Union boss and obvious benefactor of the soon to arrive 'Card Check' legislation


b) Secretary of Health and Human Services in the soon to arrive Obama Administration

What is wrong with the second one you ask? It appears to be a very altruistic choice, right?

Perhaps. However in my estimation, when you have a throughly corrupt politician who is only in it for himself and the money , who is eyeing a fairly backwater cabinet position in which he has no prior professional expertise, then you ar
e probably looking at the segment of the economy where there will be the most change, and certainly the most shakedown money...errr, patronage...helping to shape that change.

I fear for the future of American healthcare under the Obama Administration, even if this low life is nowhere near it...

Home Sweet Home

My six-months of Afghanistan fun are done!

Got plenty of leave on the books, so I won't be back to work until January...


Black Gold Friday?

It is 'Black Friday'. Since I am still in Afghanistan, I will have to order from what Glenn Reynolds calls 'Old Reliable'.

Anyhow, the media has been bemoaning he conventional wisdom that since there has been dire economic new, that we will see poor retail sales this holiday season.

However, I think that this will end up being fairly wrong. Why would I think this, especially since "everyone knows" that we are in a recession and people are hurting? I think this for one reason. And that reason is graphically depicted by this image:

Six or even three months ago, people may have forgone Christmas spending because they knew they had to buy gas at historically high prices. But now that we are seeing prices that we haven't had in 2-3 years, people will be more willing to put those $$ to use for Christmas cheer.

Gas prices have the most direct correlation of any economic measure on how people view their personal economic situation. With prices low and dropping, I am betting thaat people will feel ok to buy more for Christmas.

I am sure that Paul Krugman will label it the 'Obama Effect', but I think I would rather term it 'Black Gold Friday'.


Bizarro World Economic Incentives

I guess we could see this train coming down the tracks, but the new economic rules continue to amaze me....
- Fail miserably and catastrophically, and the government will reward you will Billions of dollars that you *did not* earn

- Succeed fantastically and legitimately by providing a product that everyone wants & needs, and the government will slap a windfall-profit tax on you and confiscate Billions of dollars that you *did* earn
Talk about a zero-sum game!

I am sure the classes in Business Schools will be extremely interesting over the next few years....


The Greatest Country on Earth

Alas, the election is over. Congratulations to Barrack Obama.

While his election is disappointing based on my personal political philosophy, I believe that it is a demonstration on many levels as to why the United States of America is the greatest country on the face of the earth. He was not my candidate by a long shot, and I will not agree with him on probably 95% of issues, but he will be my President. Because I am an American, thick or thin.

And because the liberties of America allow me to do so, I look forward to Nov 2012 when we can hopefully elect a Conservative president to right the many things that I think President Obama will do wrong.

Thus, when I get home shortly from my posting here in Afghanistan, I have 3 books that I intend to read before Inauguration Day to put me in the right frame of mind to fight for conservative reform in a country that will be politically dominated by liberal rule.

1) Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand: Who is John Galt? I don't know, but I am going to find out....and hope that the next four years don't follow this plot.

2) Real Change - From the World that Fails To the World That Works by Newt Gingrich: what would sensible conservative reform look like. I have always been drawn in recent years to Newt Gingrich's common sense words on producing changes from the 'right' perspective.

3) Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream by Ross Douthat & Reihan Salam: While the GOP may have proven itself moribund, it is the only viable political vehicle for conservative reform. How might we set it right? I will start with this tome

God bless and good reading.....


Military Voter Suppression

Instapundit points out a very interesting blurb in the Atlantic, which says that some military voters are going to take it in the shorts....again:
Fairfax general registrar Rokey Suleman said Thursday that he has had to reject some of the ballots because of a Virginia law passed in 2002. That law -- then called Senate Bill 113, sponsored by then state Sen. Bill Bolling -- requires that when an overseas citizen wants to request an absentee ballot and cast a vote with the same paperwork, it requires not only a witness signature but also the current address of the witness.
So let me get this straight. In some states you can be dead or even non-existant, and you don't need a legitimate address in order to vote. But in Virginia if you are stationed overseas with the military you might actually need *TWO* legitimate addresses??

What a crock.

I sent in my ballot to Texas a few weeks ago. Easy as pie....


Wild Dreams and Military Strategy

Instapundit has linked to a disturbing quote from Obama, which reveals much on what we can expect from his prospective administration's national security strategy.
“I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated,” Obama said while refusing to retract his initial opposition to the surge. “I’ve already said it’s succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.”
This quote is absurd on many levels, but here are two thoughts:

1 - The surge did not "[succeed] in ways that nobody anticipated". It in fact succeeded in the ways that the military strategists who devised it had anticipated. The goals (broadly) of the surge were to reduce the internecine violence that was rife, and set the conditions for democratic governance. When Petraeus et al set forth with the "Surge", this is the result they "anticipated". Had it not been, then they probably would not have executed the plan. Perhaps someone should tell Mr. Obama that you only execute a strategy with the anticipation of success, not with the anticipation of failure.

2 - Military and National Security strategies, when properly done, are not based upon "wild dreams". Perhaps this best demonstrates the difference on how the two ends of the political spectrum devise these strategies. On the left, strategy is often based on "our wildest dreams". This "peace-in-our-time", "can't-we-all-just-get-along approach". Somehow this is now referred to as "realism". Unfortunately, "Hope" is not a strategy. The surge was not based on the hope that we could be victorious, or the wild dream that we could succeed, it was built on many hours of sober and realistic assessments of the existing situation, and study of what had succeeded in the past.

Unfortunately, our future may hold security strategy that is based on the "wildest dreams" that the Iranians will give up their quest for nuclear weapons based on our newly installed, and ever so hopeful Ivy League diplomats. Or based on the "hope" that Russia will play nice if we simply ignore their attempts to re-annex portions of other sovereign nations.

A sober review of history will reveal that this sort of approach does not have a record "[succeeding] in ways that nobody anticipated". But rather it has a disturbing tendency to "fail
in ways that many anticipated", except for those who were implementing the approach.

Once again, Hope is not a strategy.


The 106-day Work Week

No, it is not some masochistic proposal to increase the production of American industry...it is simply the "work week" I have just had here in Afghanistan.

After 106 days filled with combat skills training, trans-oceanic flights, 4 countries, and a non-stop run of 15-18 hour days....I have finally taken a day off. It may only be a one day "weekend", but it has felt good.

Now, only one more "week" to go, and I can get back to my family for the holidays....

CF out....


Foresight is 20/200

After getting off shift today, I went over to the US morale area to poke around, and see what might be on AFN.

I happened upon a copy of the 2007 'Man of the Year' edition of Time Magazine. Given the events this week, perhaps this would be a good time to review that decision.

Now Time does throw out the caveat that "TIME's Person of the Year is a clear-eyed recognition of the world as it is and of the most powerful individuals and forces shaping that world—for better or for worse", but I remind people once again that they had a chance to pick this man.

Maybe this year he will get recognized for his actions in 2007.

Other notable items from a look back at the Putin spread:

- The title of the Putin article "Choosing Order Before Freedom". Hmmmmm, I guess Time was right on this one. The Georgians chose freedom instead of the order of their former Russian masters, and they ended up getting the Budapest treatment.

- "Russia needs Putin -- His firm hand will smooth the transition to democracy..." - Mikail Gorbachev. Good call Gorby....Vlad is doing wonders for the democratic ideal this week.

Maybe Putin is just flexing his muscles this week as he has realized that he is far behind Barack Obama in this year's MoTY race. Because of this, if I were Obama, I'd be wary of getting the Litvinenko treatment.
When Putin wants something...he takes it.


Finally a War to Protest

Naked Imperialist aggression? Check!

Indiscriminate bombing and killing of civilians? Check!

Designs on another nation's energy resources? Check!

Remember all those breathless, and wholly incorrect, charges leveled at he U.S. at numerous "peace" protests concerning the war in Iraq? Well now all those charges are *actually* happening in South Ossetia.....so where are the calls for vast marches on the National Mall, or in Paris or Berlin, to protest this *actual* imperialist aggression?? Nowhere to be seen....

I guess all the leftists are on their summer holiday along with Obama, and can't be bothered to answer this 3am phone call.....

UPDATES: JustOneMinute notes that we have now moved on to the 4am phone call. Also, Ed Morrisey at HotAir notes how certain Presidential candidates who might have shown outrage at accidental U.S. incidents in Afghanistan, now can't summon the will to interrupt a vacation long enough to discern between aggressor and victim in this conflict.


Choking on Hope & Change

Apparently the Obamacons have a new 'sign' in order to express their unifying experience in the church of Hope & Change.

When I saw it, I immediately thought of something very different.

This is the campaign poster I envision....

This is not the hope and change *I* have been waiting for....


Elitism on Parade: Ignorance Edition

Over at Townhall.com, Amanda Carpenter points us to another new and devastating elitist insult from Barack Obama:
Barack Obama called Republicans "ignorant" for making fun of him because he encouraged Americans to properly inflate their tires to conserve gasoline. “It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant!” Obama told an audience in Berea, Ohio on Tuesday.
Whoa nelly! Them's fightin' words… Seriously, maybe the pressure has gotten to Obama, but he certainly seems to have lowered the discourse a notch. Calling someone "ignorant" is not something casually thrown about in civil conversation. Probably because it is normally, and rightly, considered an insult. Is his new message is "Vote Democrat, or Vote Ignorant"?

So while McCain is a racist for calling Obama a "Celeb", I am sure that Obama will be considered 'brutally honest' for calling McCain, and by extension the right side of the political spectrum, "ignorant". Seems like a strange way to heal a divided nation.

Ultimately this is a grand case of the pot calling the kettle….errrr….anyhow…. This label of 'ignorant' comes from a man who's very own energy plan called for a major reduction in electricity consumption, AND an increase in cars the you can plug into an electrical socket and recharge. Does he even notice the conflicting goals here, or did they just quickly poll the interns for good energy ideas, and stick the list in a brochure without proof-reading it?

It seems to me that this could well be another "clinging to guns and religion" moment. He has just handed the GOP a great sound bite to hound him with until November. McCain should flood Ohio, PA and other flyover states with ads using the message: "John McCain and 75% of America are calling for more drilling here in America to lower oil prices. Barack Obama wants you to inflate your tires. And if you don't agree with him, he says you must be ignorant. [CLIP] So much for the message of hope and change…"

I guess we should re-write that now famous line to read "Clinging to their guns, religion, and gasoline..."


An Ignorant Wind Blows

Glenn Reynolds links to an interview with T. Boone Pickens in the New York Times, allegedly concerning his new wind power project.

Only the first quarter of the interview by Deborah Solomon covers actual substantive wind issues, before it devolves into politics and personal minutia. The most fascinating part of the interview has to be this exchange concerning Pickens involvement in the 2004 election:
You helped re-elect Bush in ’04 when you gave $3 million to the Swift Boat campaign to discredit John Kerry’s Vietnam service. Do you regret your involvement?
-Why would I?

Because it’s such an ugly chapter in American political history.
Oh, I see. Well, it was true. Everything that went into those ads was the truth.

Really? I thought it was all invented.
-I never did anything dishonest.


If not the Swift Boats, what do you regret?

You get the drift….

I find it jaw-droppingly honest to have a journalist (or perhaps Ms. Solomon is an aspiring HS student who's journalism class interview project accidentally ended up in the NYT) admit their bias, or their ignorance, by saying "Really? I thought it was all invented" about the Swift Boat allegations. You certainly couldn't tell by their reporting.....not.

It shows the thought process and lack of intellectual/journalist curiosity that would dismiss such things out of hand as political sabotage. No wonder the use the phrase "Swift Boating" in such a derogatory fashion….

My only question is, if this is something that is considered an "ugly chapter" worthy of obvious regret, I wonder how Ms. Solomon and the NYT feel about Rathergate and evidence that was clearly "invented"?

I suppose it is better not to ask....


What we really meant was....

Allahpundit has an excellent takedown of Dem angst over McCain getting verbally pugilistic with their messiah candidate. Read it here.

The best bit that comes out of it is the new Dem line that Iraq can't be lost, so why are we staying?

Not too long ago, according to Democrats, we needed to get out of Iraq, because Iraq couldn't be won.

Now, according to Democrats, we need to get out of Iraq, because Iraq can't be lost.

Unfortunately both arguments simply demonstrate the Dems lack of understanding of reality.

You see, not too long ago, we needed to stay in Iraq, because Iraq could be won.

Now we need to stay in Iraq because Iraq can be lost.

It is their simple misunderstanding of this reality that bothers me. For a good simulation of how the Dems line of reasoning would have affected events, please also read Bob Owens great piece: The Iraq We'd Have If We'd Heeded Obama

Also read Blackfive's comments on Obama's surge contortions here.


Guess what, Andy...we won

If you haven't done so already, I highly recommend perusing Greyhawk's recent series of posts at Mudville Gazette entitled "WHILE AMERICA SLEPT"

Part 1 - "But by my estimation, the Iraq War is over. We won."
Part 2 - "Afghanistan is where the war is now; it's where it always was..."
Part 3 - "...after much blood and sweat equity - the need for combat ops had fallen significantly"
Part 4 - "I'm dead. That sucks," and "I died doing a job I loved."

The title of this post is the final line from Part 4, and a statement by Greyhawk to departed milblogger Andy Olmsted to inform him that his sacrifice was not in vain.

Read on...

God bless to all of those who have given that blood and sweat equity in Iraq, and Godspeed to those who will continue to do so here in Afghanistan.

CF out....

Energizer Al

You have to give Al Gore some credit....he doesn't quit. And he always ups the ante.
Gore called on Americans to completely abandon electricity generated by fossil fuels within 10 years, and replace them with carbon-free renewables like solar, wind and geothermal.
Now don't get me wrong, I actually think that such a goal is commendable, and even as a conservative would love to have an energy grid based on renewables, that would eliminate airborne pollution. But 10 years is a pipe dream. Especially if you don't even consider using Nuclear as the primary backbone for that energy grid.

In as much as it is a good idea, reaching this goal by 2018 has an even chance with mankind achieving the goal of traveling at the speed of light within that same time period. It is the height of folly. Even Time Magazine is skeptical, calling it an "unrealistic plan" and "... it's hard to see how Gore's target is remotely attainable. This isn't negative thinking, or fiction put out by the oil industry. This is reality."

Al, buddy, I am all for a plan than provides clean renewable power...but let's be realistic. If you want to achieve this goal, while at the same time not ruining the U.S. economy and lowering people's standard of living, then you have to think in the longer term. Lets say 2050. You and I may not be alive by then, but that is certainly a more achievable timeframe than by the middle of Bobby Jindal's second Presidential term.

Don't ruin a fairly good idea by placing impossible deadlines on it....


Thank You America

I read with great interest a couple of weeks ago about the web-a-thon that was being held to raise money to support the troops called “From the Frontlines”, sponsored by Move America Forward, and prominent bloggers like Michelle Malkin.

This great effort was able to raise over $1 million, and will go directly to sending care packages to my compatriots on the front lines.

So imagine my surprise when a MAF care package arrived for my NCOIC. Now we may be in Afghanistan, and we may work in a high ops-tempo operations center, but we are by no means as far out on the frontlines as some of the kids out there. So it had never occurred to me that this great effort would benefit my troops and I. I assumed it would go to the kids who really deserve it, the ones to have to travel the roads and man the Combat Outposts out on the ragged frontier of this war.

For the generosity that MAF and its individual sponsors have bestowed upon this group of REMFs, we are deeply appreciative, and can never thank you enough for the items and the thoughtful words that you send along with them.

A special thanks to Millie from DuQuoin, IL, who’s donation bought the package of Beef Jerky that I got my hands on. God Bless You too Millie.

I would encourage everyone who might read this to go to MAF’s Campaign Store and sponsor a package, which start at $15. Not for me, because I have what I need, but for those troops like the 2/7 Marines, or TF Bayonet, or TF Currahee, or any of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) who spends their days on the true front lines.

I know those who receive them will greatly appreciate any generosity.


Heller Brings out Hysterical Ignorance

Now I am not a big gun advocate. I don't own any, but I currently carry one or two everyday due to my current deployment, and I know how to use them.

However, I do know idiocy on guns when I hear it. And we are hearing plenty of it now in the aftermath of the Heller case concerning gun ownership in D.C.

One such display of ignorance can be found in the Washington Post, courtesy of Colbert King.

King says:
"If D.C. street thugs are pleased by anything, it's probably the fact that five of the justices -- a slim majority, but that's all it takes to win -- have come around to seeing things their way."
"The court's ruling doesn't affect the dudes who have been blowing away their fellow citizens for three decades."
Unfortunately Mr. King does not realize that he is actually making the case for Heller with his argument.

Perhaps he has heard the old adage, "If guns are outlawed, only the outlaws will have guns." This has been the reality for DC residents, as King points out, for 3 decades. But not because of gun ownership (since it does not exist), but because of the very gun control that Mr. King would like to see continue. That he is unable to make this logical connection is disturbing.

The bottom line is that people who think like King don't realize that there is a huge difference between gun OWNERS and criminals who POSSESS guns. Gun Control always restricts ownership, but never has any significant effect on the gun violence which is perpetrated by the criminals who are already possessing their guns illegally. More and stricter gun laws usually only ever affect the law abiding, and not the law breakers.

As for Mr. King's assertion that the Heller case will have no effect on "the dudes" who have been spilling blood in DC for years, perhaps he should consider this. If you are a thug/dude who has been terrorizing your local populace because you knew that the innocent among them can do nothing to defnd themselves, you can pretty much act with impunity. But if you are that same thug, and you are faced with the prospect that one of your law abiding fellow citizens might legally have a gun in his home, or perhaps tucked in his belt, you might definitely have second thoughts about how or if you conduct your reign of terror.

King ends his column with the refrain: "...the NRA has taken aim at San Francisco and Chicago. See what we have unleashed, D.C.? America, more body bags, please." Perhaps he should take a few minutes to ruminate on why it is that the cities with the strictest gun control laws have been the ones that have been filling the body bags already, and those with stronger guns rights tend to have less violence.


Good News is No News in Iraq

It has always been readily apparent that the major news outlets were more than willing to broadcast/print any bad news that emerged from Iraq. And it has been equally apparent recently that there is a reticence to give equal treatment to the good news that turned from a trickle to a regular flow. The MSM have scoffed that there could be any bias influencing their reporting from this war zone, and equal scoffing from the conservative blogosphere at that claim.
Well apparently there was a copy editor asleep at the switch over at the Old Grey Lady, because they have published a very interesting article titled "
Reporters Say Networks Put Wars on Back Burner". I guess no one sent them the memo on obscuring any evidence of bias....

Other mainstream blogs like Powerline and Danger Room are right to point out the amazing numbers:
"According to data compiled by Andrew Tyndall, a television consultant who monitors the three network evening newscasts, coverage of Iraq has been “massively scaled back this year.” Almost halfway into 2008, the three newscasts have shown 181 weekday minutes of Iraq coverage, compared with 1,157 minutes for all of 2007."
However no one I have seen yet (though my reading time is limited here in Afghanistan) has noted the real smoking gun, found in the quote from a CBS news bigwig:
"Paul Friedman, a senior vice president at CBS News, said the news division does not get reports from Iraq on television “with enough frequency to justify keeping a very, very large bureau in Baghdad.” He said CBS correspondents can “get in there very quickly when a story merits it.”
Oh I see. So we finally have an admission of guilt on the bias front.

CBS news has now admitted that good news from a war zone does not merit coverage. Death, carnage, mis-doings of individual soldiers, and lack of good planning all drown out positive stories when they happen at the same time. But when those negatives all dry up and disappear, and the positive stories are left standing alone, the "journalists" lose interest and can't "justify" sticking around to do their jobs. If you can't justify a bureau because not enough reports from Iraq get on television....then put more reports from Iraq on television! This magically wasn't a problem a year ago. There were plenty of stories then. Gee, if we could only figure out what has changed during that time.....

Sad. Shameful. Disappointing.

How the once mighty have fallen.

In deference to Glenn Reynolds, we don't need and "Army of Davids". We desperately need an "Army of Yons", and "Army of Roggios", and an "Army of Tottens"....


Habeas Corpus Decision

Herein lies the rub:

The Supremes "...have granted illegal combatants greater rights in detention than would be afforded a legal combatant."

Thusly, "When fighting Americans, then, there is simply precious little reason any more to abide by the laws of war."

And finally, "...by putting these animals on a higher legal plane than even our own military are entitled to in the event of court martial, it is a slap in the face to our soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen."

Good words from Jason....


Greetings from Afghanistan

Greetings to all from Afghanistan.

I am settling in for my months of task and toil, after a trip which was at times both exasperating and thrilling.

With the hours that I will be keeping during my service here, I hope I will have the time to keep my blogging up. At least I have access to Blogger this time, even if the connection is fairly slow.

In the mean time, enjoy a snapshot from my first convoy across this ancient land....

PS - It is getting hot here, and even hotter in Iraq. Please consider going to Soldiers Angels and buying/donating some 'Cooling Scarfs' for the troops. I already have one, and know that many who don't would really appreciate them..... CF out....


Polar Bear Party Poopers

Instapundit talks about some good economic news on the Tennessee front:
In the face of rising demand for coal, Knoxville-based National Coal Corp. plans to expand production by re-opening some idle mines in Tennessee and Alabama and by digging one new underground mine in Tennessee.
Unfortunately he does not consider the sure-to-be-follow-up-story that we all know is coming. It will read something like this.....

"National Coal Corp's plans to expand coal production have been put on hold after the National Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club filed suit in Federal Court to block the mining. They argue that mining for coal has a direct contribution to Global Warming, and thus has a direct negative effect on the Polar Bear which was recently placed on the endangered species list by the U.S. Interior Department."

Welcome to our future folks!

UPDATE: For some good background on this issue, go read Hugh Hewitt's punditry:
- PBIP: The Approach and Outbreak of Polar Bear-Induced Paralysis
- The Polar Bear Tractor Beam
- Polar Bear Pushback


Lowering the Bar

Instapundit links to an interesting piece on a Professor who is losing his job for flunking too many students. He argues that the students aren't prepared to handle the coursework, and the university argues that he is not doing his job because the school is a "historically black university with a...mission of educating those who aren’t well prepared".

Here is what the school's spokesperson had to say on the issue:
Sharon R. Hoggard, a spokeswoman for Norfolk State, said that she could not comment at all on Aird’s case. But she did say this, generally, on the issues raised by Aird: “Something is wrong when you cannot impart your knowledge onto students. We are a university of opportunity, so we take students who are underprepared, but we have a history of whipping them into shape. That’s our niche.”
First off..."whipping"?!? Ms Hoggard should probably count her lucky stars that she is black, or like Mr. Aird, she could be cleaning out her office today as well. Seriously, who doesn't think that a perfectly innocent (and in context) phraseology like "whipping them into shape" wouldn't cause a lot of trouble for a white spokesman at a historically black college? Just a passing thought....

Second, and more importantly, if the students are not prepared for University-level learning, then they shouldn't be there at all. It shouldn't be the role of a University teach 'underprepared' students. That is what we have Community Colleges for. Not everyone is ready for, or needs to participate in, a University environment. To turn a cruel but true phrase from the erudite Judge Smails: "The world needs ditch-diggers too."

Anyhow, if you want to be disgusted by the political correctness that lowers the bar such that the students can succeed, but the education process fails, be sure to read the whole article....


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Recession

In a segment on Friday (the same I had previously mentioned with Larry Kudlow), Hugh Hewitt reports on Obama's lame attempt to win at the game of Taboo by guessing "Where do gays shop?"

Obama guessed Abercrombie & Fitch, for which he got much abuse.

But the question that I have is.....if we are in a recession, the economy is in trouble, and most Americans can't afford to make ends meet (according to the Obamas), then who has the money to shop at Abercrombie & Fitch?? Or the Gap, or Banana Republic, or Diesel? These places aren't the Goodwill, they are pretty pricey.

So I think that this question in the game of Taboo actually reveals Obama's entire schpeel on the economy to be bogus. If Obama actually believed that this country is in real economic trouble, shouldn't he have answered "They must be shopping at Wal-Mart, since no one can afford to shop at the mall right now". But he didn't, probably because people *can* afford to shop at the mall right now. I went to a large upscale mall twice this weekend, and the place was packed.

If people were really hurting, wouldn't they use their precious gasoline to drive to the discount stores instead?


Capital Gains and the Obama Effect

On Thursday, Hugh Hewitt played some clips of Barrack Obama, including one about his desire to raise the Capital Gains tax (At ~31:00). Obama tried to brush it aside as a "phony argument" by saying that it wouldn't affect regular folks, since their 401ks aren't subject to the Capital Gains tax upon withdrawal, and that only the wealthy who own stock will be affected, and besides they "can afford to pay a little bit more".

This whole argument shows great ignorance about the reality of how the market works, and follows the normal liberal economic delusions.

First, not just the wealthy own stocks in this country Mr. Obama. I am hardly wealthy, but I own stock outside of my retirement vehicles.

Second, those regular folk who have IRAs and 401ks *will* be affected by this tax hike. Not by paying the taxes, but by suffering the market losses that will occur when this plan is passed. Not to mention the wider effect on the overall economy.

What do you think is going to happen between the time legislation is introduced and it would receive the signature of the President (no matter whom)? The market is going to drop. Individuals, corporations, investment houses, etc are all going to lock in gains that they have on their stock positions at the lower tax rate. This will have the overall effect of causing the market to go down.

In fact, yesterday on Hugh's show Larry Kudlow said this had already happened. The days following what appeared to be Obama's sewing up of the Democratic nomination, the markets were chattering about his tax plans, and the market dropped. Listen here (~10:25).

Now I am a big believer in the markets, and know that even if this were to happen, they would come back over the long term. But if Obama wants 'middle class people' to prosper, then he should not mess with the Capital Gains tax. It will hurt the market and people's portfolios in the short to mid-term, and discount all future earnings for the long term.

If he really wants to raise more tax money, then perhaps he should consider lowering the Capital Gains rate....

Please Barack, leave well enough alone....


Heinz 57

Wow! I thought I had been to a lot of states....

H/T: Instapundit

UPDATE: I have been giving this some thought. Obama has been to 57 states, not including Alaska & Hawaii. That makes for a total of 59 states.

To me it is obvious that this is the DNC's master plan to ensure Obama can win the Electoral College. Now they just need to find 9 new left leaning states, especially ones that take away Electoral votes from normally red states. So under the super-secret DNC plan, Miami, Denver, St Louis, Houston, San Antonio, Las Vegas, Cleveland, Philadephia, and Puerto Rico will become 'states', and be given the requisite number of electors based on the population taken away from their former state. Genius! It is too bad that Obama had to go and lose his bearings and reveal the whole plan!

(Looks like the esteemed Dean Barnett had a similar take)


Iraq - A Bigger Distraction Than We Thought?

For quite a while now, whenever things go well in Iraq, the Democratic party-line response has been "Yeah, but it is distracting us from the War on Terror!"

Little did we know it is actually worse. Much worse.

According to Barrack Obama:
"...the way the war in Iraq has been handled has kept the United States from focusing on key issues like energy policy, global warming and the economy..."
Holy Cow! I had no idea.....

Now far be it for a politician, especially one running for President, to hyperbolize to score a point, but personally I am pretty sure Obama has it backwards.

You see, no matter where you turn nowadays you cannot avoid being smacked in the face with dire global warming news, or its major symptom....'Go Green' bandwagon-itis. Cars & SUVs, product advertisements, TV shows, network PSAs, State Governments, Oil Companies.... Everyone is now officially on-board with the peer pressure to 'Go Green'. Green is the new Black.

So for Obama to imply that Iraq has somehow distracted the nation (even the government) from the topic of Global Warming (or any of his other listed subjects) is pure poppycock. I would probably venture a guess that the subject of the economy garners more media splash than Iraq as well. So much for distraction.

I would offer that perhaps the growth of the Green fad (which has now officially reached Atkins Diet proportions) has distracted the nation (or the media that feeds the nation and its obsessions) from the war in Iraq.

Why run stories on positive developments from Iraq when you could hypothetically run a story about a third grade class writing letters to the President on how they will remember to turn out all their lights to save energy and save the planet (I remember being forced to write just such a letter to one President James Carter when I was that age, as we had some previous energy folderol going on back then), or how evil oil companies are making record profits.

Needless to say, Iraq is not distracting from Global Warming, nor is it distracting from any of those other topics. America was already distracted.

In the words of a sage, but anonymous, Marine:
"America is not at war. The Marine Corps is at war; America is at the mall."