Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Two excellent videos by Newt Gingrich

While I'm not a big fan of his, he is occasionally right on the mark with some of his observations. And that is the case with these two videos.


Newt Gingrich: 3 Ways to Lower Gas Prices




This video is 3 minutes and 41 seconds. He makes it clear that the problem we are facing does have viable, workable solutions. The real problem is the people who are blocking us from proceeding with the solutions that are in our control to implement.


Newt Gingrich on the War on Terror



This video is 5 minutes and 24 seconds. He's very blunt about spelling out the reality we are facing. Is he right about what it's going to take for us to wake up to what we are dealing with, and act accordingly? I'm afraid if it is, that by the time we are ready to face reality, it will be too late to act. 9-11 wasn't enough. What's it gonna take?

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Avast anti-virus software program for home PC

I was using AVG anti-virus software up until recently, when they did a major upgrade. Their new software slowed down my computer considerably, and it seemed to be causing browser crashes. This lead to a search for an alternative free-for-personal-use anti-virus program. The one I settled on is called "Avast". I believe I read it has 50 million users world-wide. I've been using it for the past month or so, and have found it to be problem-free. Here's a review from C-Net, where it got high marks from both reviewers and users:

Avast Home Edition 4.8.1201.80611
Avast Home Edition is a complete ICSA & Checkmark certified antivirus, Checkmark certified anti-spyware & anti-rootkit package. Avast includes the following components: On demand scanner with skinnable simple interface, just select what do you want to scan in which way and press the Play button; On access scanner, special providers to protect the most of available e-mail clients; Instant messaging--ICQ, Miranda; Network traffic--intrusion detection, lightweight firewall; P2P protection for Kazaa, BitTorrent; Web shield--monitors and filter all HTTP traffic; NNTP scanner--scans all Usenet Newsgroup traffic and all operations with files on PC; Boot time scanner--scans disks in the same way and in the same time as Windows CHKDSK does.

Version 4.8.1201.80611 contains improvements in spyware and rootkit detection.

Follow the link for user comments and download link. Here's another review from Softpedia:

avast! 4 Home Edition 4.8.1201

Here is the link for the download page on the Avast Website is here:

avast! 4 Home Edition - FREE antivirus software - Download.

The software is free to use for non-commercial use by home users. There is a 60 day trial period before you have to register it. Registration is free, and easy to do. You have to re-register it once a year. I have it set to scan once a day, and it does updates automatically. So far, I'm quite happy with it.
     

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Roberta McCain: a charming and feisty lady


Pat recently did an interesting post about Cindy McCain. This morning I read an interesting piece about John's mother, Roberta McCain, by James Rainey at the LA Times:

Roberta McCain steals reporter's heart, strikes fear in handlers'
A formal interview with John McCain's mother proves elusive to arrange. But she picks up the phone on the first ring.

[...]

I concede, with only a tinge of embarrassment, that I've been captivated by that world traveler, grandmother, freeway speedster and potential First Mother of the United States, Roberta McCain.

But after months waiting in vain for a formal interview, I'm beginning to believe that her son's presidential campaign really isn't interested in getting Roberta McCain and me together for, as the man likes to call it, a little "straight talk."

"They've got me muzzled," Mrs. McCain, 96, said when I phoned the other day. She added with a chuckle: "Now don't you print that. . . . I really don't like to be interviewed." [...]

I learned some things I didn't know. She has a twin sister, Rowena, and she has traveled a lot and had a very interesting life. When asked about people saying that John is too old to be president, she said:

[...] I mentioned that some thought her son, at 71, was too old to be president.

"I don't think that has anything to do with it," Mrs. McCain responded firmly. "My father was taking care of his business in his 90s and walking five miles a day until the day he died.

"I don't think there is any question that he has the experience and the wisdom and the accomplishments. That's something. I don't think the others can compare, do you?" [...]

The article is based on a series of phone calls the reporter had with her, not a formal interview. It's a bit of a puff piece, as he's probably fishing for permission for a more formal meeting. But he does ask her about John's temper, and she is quite adamant in her reply. Read the whole thing.
     

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Linux to Microsoft: THANKS! And so long...

Is Microsoft making some huge mistakes? It's not hard to see why some people think so. From PCWorld.com:

Dear Microsoft: Thanks for the Help, Linux
You gotta love it. Microsoft has decided that it will go ahead and kill off easy access to XP on June 30th. On behalf of desktop Linux users everywhere, and our first cousins, the Mac fans, thanks. You've given us the best shot we'll ever have of taking the desktop.

But it gets even better! Microsoft has also announced that it will be releasing Windows 7 on January 2010. They'll blow that ship date. Microsoft has never set a shipping date it could meet. But, who in their right mind would now buy Vista?

I mean, come on, I don't think anyone with their wits about them would buy Vista anyway. Vista is to operating systems what the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are to the National Football League, the worse of all time. Vista was trash; Vista is trash; and now Microsoft, as expected, is throwing Vista on the trash dump.

It also helps that Microsoft has decided to go ahead and dump XP, the operating system its customers want, no matter how loudly they say they want to keep buying XP. Now that's showing your customers how much you really care about what they want.

Desktop Linux is poised to make the most of this opportunity to convince Windows users that there is a better way. [...]

The article has lots of embeded links, and goes on to explain in detail why this is going to be so favorable to Linux. I won't cry for Microsoft, but it sure seems like they are shooting themselves in the foot... at best.

     

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Is Great Britian becoming a Nation of Hooligans?

I keep reading stories about gangs of "youths" in Britain, this story is typical:

Former soldier arrested for kidnap after his citizen's arrest on yob who pelted his home with eggs
[...] The trouble started on the evening of February 17 when Mr McCourt and his wife Maria heard a bang on the window of their £170,000 semi-detached home in Crawley, West Sussex.

Mr McCourt went outside to find two boys 'of about 11' throwing stones, mud and eggs at houses. He reprimanded them and told them not to come back.

But when he returned from work the next day, he found his wife in tears.

He said: 'She was absolutely terrified. She told me a gang of kids had been throwing things at the house all afternoon, and shouting all the names under the sun at her.'

When they came back later, Mr McCourt called the police on their anti-social behaviour hotline but couldn't get an answer despite holding for three-quarters of an hour.

He went out to look for a community support officer but couldn't find one.

At his wit's end, Mr McCourt grabbed one of the louts, led him into his house and demanded to know the boy's name, his mother's name and her phone number.

While he was trying to call the boy's mother, she turned up banging on the door, shouting and swearing.

He said: 'She said she didn't want me manhandling her son. I said if she'd brought him up properly, I wouldn't have to.'

Mr McCourt let the child go but minutes later police arrived and arrested him on suspicion of kidnapping. [...]

Is it any wonder that people are emigrating out of Britain in droves? What is wrong with British youths? Youth gangs are also responsible for a growing number of murders, including random, lethal attacks against Goths.

Is this the result of being taught to hate their own country? By a culture that tells them everything is meaningless, and there is nothing worth striving for? That is exactly what some people are saying.


Related Link:

An interview with Theodore Dalrymple
     

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Farm Report: Another Chick Flick...


Ok, I'm sure you're tired of seeing chicks. But these 3 three-day old chicks are the last of the season, and they are so tiny I couldn't resist. Hopefully they really are the last of the season; they were hatched outside from a secret renegade nest.

I got some really good closeup shots:


The chick is a Bantam chick, about the size of my thumb, so the close-up really is close.


You have to see the video though, to appreciate the little peeper and siblings in action. The video is also a good demo of the camcorder's auto focus at work, as I move the chick towards and away from the lens.

The video is about 1 minute and 37 seconds long. Toward the end, while I'm filming the chicks with their mommy, you can hear one of our guinea fowls screeching outside the window. I got a shot of it just as it was running away. And a brief shot of Herbie, our chihuahua-dachshund mix, disapproving of it all.


Related Link:

Naked black redneck chicks
More video, of Pat with the three chicks.

     

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We must abandon the principle of free speech

WHAT!?! If we want to reconcile with Islam, that is what we must do, according to some Islamist "authorities". American writer Joshua Trevino at the Brussel's Journal has the details:

Too Good to Win. Is the West Losing the War?
[...] Last week, I returned from the Third International Conference on the Muslim World and the West in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The aim of the conference was to “bridge the gap,” as they put it, between the Muslim world and the West.

Now, this seems like a worthy thing. Surely we of the West ought to find our common ground with the Muslim world, and vice versa. Surely there is common ground to be found. Surely the problems between us are predominantly problems of understanding and comprehension… and surely they are solvable with a little goodwill.

I admit to having been a bit dismayed when, at a pre-conference interview, the chairman — a Columbia University alumnus named Imam Feisal Rauf — told me that Muslim violence was “predominantly” the fault of Westerners. Nonetheless, I soldiered on in the belief that we could — how to put it? — bridge the gap.

To say that the luminaries of the conference disappointed my hopes is to understate things. But to say that that were luminous is to be perfectly accurate. I’ll just name three of the most prominent and powerful:

• Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Ekmeleddin Ihsanouglu of Turkey.
• Former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.
• His Royal Highness Prince Turki bin Faisal al Saud, former director of Saudi intelligence, and until recently the Saudi Ambassador to the United States.

These men are educated… well traveled… experienced… wealthy… and Westernized. And each of them told the conference that for the West and Islam to reconcile, the West must abandon the principle of free speech. [...]

(bold emphasis mine) Josh give the details of what they said, and it's shocking. It's bad enough that the whole conference was like that. But even worse, all the representatives from the West who were invited to speak agreed with them! Josh speculated about that:

[...] The deputy speaker of the French National Assembly was there, as was a Spanish ambassador, an Australian MP, and various other mostly European functionaries. Every single one of them accepted the demand for an end to free speech without complaint.

We might call this the mindset of the quisling. Or, to invoke the opposite side of that historical allusion, we might say that they merely adhere to Winston Churchill’s admonition that “it is better to jaw-jaw than to war-war.”

There is tremendous wisdom in Churchill’s statement — but to take it at face value is to ignore that the man himself would not “jaw-jaw” with simply anyone, on any terms. This, after all, is a man for whom Mohandas Gandhi was deemed a morally unfit interlocutor. (I believe Churchill was right on this, but that’s for another speech.) Churchill rightly understood that to talk with someone in the absence of conditions gives some measure of moral sanction to that person.

For Churchill, to sit down with Hitler on equal terms, conceding from the start the legitimacy of the Nazi’s desires, was to lose the battle before it began. [...]

Churchill wasn't a fool, and we would do well to follow his example. And lest you think this is merely a Muslim bashing article, it's not. Josh does not agree that these attitudes represent the whole of the Islamic world. He maintains that we must not accept the "logic" that our freedom is responsible for Islamic terror, and insists that we have an obligation, to ourselves and the Islamic world, to stand up and defend our freedom. He ends the article with an explanation of why he became a Republican at the tender age of nine. Way to go, I say.
     

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Farm Report: Our Humming Bird Heaven



This video is about 1 minute and 45 seconds long. I was trying out my new Canon ZR-800 mini DV camcorder on our local hummingbirds. One of them seemed to be posing for me, and I was able to zoom in really close. It was hand-held, if I had a tripod I could have even zoomed in closer. Next time I'll set up the tripod.

I've tried uploading this video as a high quality DV file, size of about 100MB, but it would not upload, it would try for hours, then fail with an error. So I've uploaded this copy I made, using the .wmv format that's specifically recommended for internet video by my editing software, using the highest resolution setting it allowed. The copy was only 25MB, and it only took about 16 minutes to upload to blogger.

It's not bad, it's just that the original footage on my hard drive is sharper and better. I don't know if there is another web host that would let me upload higher quality video, I'll have to look into that. Here's a few still shots from the video:



We have several feeders on the front and back porches. They seem to really love it here. Hopefully I'll get some good footage of the swarms that happen sometimes.



I'm very happy with this camcorder. The image quality is outstanding. The biggest complaint about the camera by people who have purchased it has been that you can hear the motor of the camera in the recorded footage.

Now while you are looking at this footage, if you listen closely, you can hear a high pitched whine. THAT is the sound of the motor, being picked up by the camcorders built-in microphone. Some people find it totally unacceptable, while others are not bothered by it at all.

Ideally it shouldn't have the motor noise, but it's not deafening. Listen and judge for yourself. But it's worth noting that this model has a jack for an external mic, which is highly unusual for a camcorder in this price range. Some reviewers say they solved the noise problem by using an external mic. I purchased an external condenser microphone for about $20, but I have not tried it out yet. I still have lots of experimenting to do!


Related Links:

Farm Report: two chicks in a screen test

Video Camcorders: Cheap or Pricey? A comparison of the Canon ZR800 and HV20
     

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Ireland votes "no" on EU superstate

The European Union was unable to ratify a constitution uniting Europe, because France and the Netherlands rejected it. So then they tried to push it through as the "Lisbon Treaty", because that way they could avoid the voters - except for Ireland, which requires all treaties to be submitted to the voters for approval.

Now the Irish voters have spoken, and they've rejected it. From Soeren Kern at the Brussels Journal:

Why Irish Voters Rejected the Lisbon Treaty
Irish voters on June 12 said ‘No’ to the superpower ambitions of European political elites, who want all 27 member-states of the European Union to ratify the 269-page (about 3000 pages with annexes) Lisbon Treaty that would turn the EU into a bureaucratic superstate. Ireland was the only country to submit the “Reform Treaty” to a popular vote; all other member states of the EU intend to ratify the document through parliamentary procedures. Although by EU law the Irish vote (53.4 percent said ‘No’ and 46.6 percent said ‘Yes’) should kill the treaty (because it requires unanimous approval to come into effect), European politicians will almost certainly find a way to keep it alive.

[...]

As many observers of European politics know, democracy does not come easy on a continent where European elites view themselves as an aristocracy entitled to rule over the ignorant masses. Indeed, the entire European social welfare state has been built upon the unspoken quid pro quo of “bread and circuses” (ie, the cradle-to-grave nanny state) for the general populace, in exchange for their loyal submission to the political and intellectual classes.

[...]

What follows is a brief summary of comments made by select European leaders, both before and after the Irish referendum. It not only provides an explanation as to why Irish voters are turned off by the Lisbon Treaty, but it also sheds some light on the state of democracy in contemporary Europe. [...]

Read the whole thing, it's an education. And a good explanation of why the European way is not for us.

More from John Laughland at the Brussels Journal:

What Ireland’s No Means for the Future
[...] With the Lisbon treaty, the EU is precisely trying to find a foreign policy role for itself: the whole point of the treaty, just as of the now defunct constitution, is to give the EU a foreign minister in all but name. Never mind the fact that the EU states occasionally diverge on foreign policy priorities; the reasoning is presumably that, once EU foreign policy is institutionalised, it will come into being of its own accord in the same way as EU laws do once the institutions are created to draw them up.

The EU wants this foreign policy role because it wants a big project to justify its existence. [...]

Yep, the European Elites have got plans. They just need to get those damned voters out of the way once and for all, so they can get on with ruling the world. Read the whole thing for more details.
     

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Firefox 3 is here, and better than ever


I've been using their last beta, and it fabulous. Now the final release is out, and you can download it here:

The Best Firefox Yet

They are boasting they've made more than 15,000 improvements. If you follow the link, on that page at the lower left hand corner, is a neat video that showcases many of the more dramatic improvements. It's worth a look-see.
     

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A "Winnie the Pooh" Foreign Policy?

You can't make this stuff up. But you can make some fun photoshops about it. Here's a few of my favorites:







You can see more here: The Obama/Pooh Photoshop collection.

Couldn't they see it coming?
     

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Save the Earth, Eat Insects

It's no joke:

Liberals Want You To Eat Bugs

Eeew.

     

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

McCain, offshore drilling, China and Cuba

So the latest thing that has people on the far left and far right screaming is that McCain wants to lift ban on offshore drilling. The Right says he needs to drill ANWAR too, the Left says it proves he's not serious about the environment or global warming.

To me, it proves he's very much a genuine centrist. A centrist is willing to compromise, which always infuriates the extremists who are unwilling to bend.

I've been maintaining that many of the environmentalists are really just leftists wanting to use environmental causes to fight capitalism. Here is a good example. They don't want to let us drill off our coastlines, but they say nothing about Cuba hiring China to drill for oil just outside of where our drilling rights end. From last Friday's Nealz Nuze:

SO ... IS CHINA REALLY DRILLING OFF CUBA?

Yesterday Florida Senator Mel Martinez said that China drilling off the coast of Cuba was merely an urban legend. So because we here at the Neal Boortz Show are so incredibly fair and balanced ... we have tried to get to the bottom of this mystery. Here's what we found.

All the way back in 2004, China's Petrochemical Corporation known as Sinopec signed a memorandum of understanding with Cuba's national oil company, known as Cupet to explore four oil blocks in Cuba. Keep in mind that both of these companies are owned by their communist governments. China's Sinopec conducted six months of geological studies of the four Cuban blocks. This was the first attempt by Sinopec, China's second largest oil and gas company, to enter oil and gas exploration and production in Cuba.

Then in 2005, China's Sinopec signed an agreement with the Cuban government to jointly produce oil in Cuba off the coast of Pinar del R�o. Ok so let's get this straight. The governments of China and Cuba enter into a production sharing agreement ... what exactly does that mean? This is when the Cuban government awards the execution of exploration and production activities to an international oil company like Sinopec. The contractor bears the mineral and financial risk of the initiative and, when successful, recovers capital expenditure and costs incurred in the year (cost oil) by means of a share of production.

So now, for your reading pleasure (and Mel Martinez's) is a timeline of China's oil exploration efforts in Cuba. This is from the World Security Institute ...

2005

January 31: Cuba and China signed a contract in Havana providing for the Asian giant's participation in extracting oil from a deposit off the island's north shore, the press reported. The deal is between Cubapetroleos and the Chinese oil company Sinopec, said the official daily newspapaer Granma. In December, Fidel Castro announced discovery of oil at a site offshore from Santa Cruz del Norte, some 55 kilometers (33 miles) east of Havana. The deposit is believed to hold some 100 million barrels of "light" crude, or the equivalent of 14 million tons. (EFE, Prensa Latina, 31/1/05)
February 8: China's oil giants began cultivating their virgin soil in Cuba. China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), as the first comer, has inked a contract with Cuba Oil Company (Cubapetroleo) to jointly exploit oil in the Caribbean country. Under the terms of their contract, the two sides will join forces to prospect and exploit a potential oil-producing region. Chinese experts believe it is a significant beginning of the cooperation between China and Cuba in the petroleum industry. (SinoCast, 8/2/05)
March 22: Chinese oil drilling equipment has begun arriving in Cuba as state-run Cubapetroleo (Cupet) and its foreign partners prepare to significantly increase drilling along the northwest coast, industry sources said. "Four service units and a small rig have arrived and we are waiting for more," said a Cuban oil service manager, asking his name not be used. There are currently five rigs operating along the northwest heavy oil belt, an 80-mile (128-km) stretch of coast in Havana and Matanzas provinces from whence come all of Cuba's 70,000 to 80,000 barrels per day of heavy crude at 8 API to 18 API and with a high sulfur content. The poor-quality oil is burned in modified power plants and factories. (Reuters, 22/3/05)

April 6: The operator of China's second-largest Shengli oilfield is stepping up overseas exploration, spending more on such ventures this year as the world's No. 2 oil user grapples with falling reserves, officials said. Shengli Oilfield Administration Bureau, a unit of state-run Sinopec Group, will spend about $40 million drilling for oil and gas in Cuba, Iran and central Asia in 2005, company officials said. "This will be the heaviest spending in a year and we expect the pace to continue in the next few years," a Shengli executive told the press. Shengli, which is among the first Chinese companies to venture abroad, will sink a total of eight wildcat and appraisal wells this year, four in Kazakhstan, two in Iran, and one each in Cuba and Kyrgyzstan. (Reuters, 6/4/05)

November 24: PetroChina Great Wall Drilling Co., Ltd. and Petroleum Company of Cuba held a ceremony for signing two drilling service contracts on November 3, 2005. It is the second-time cooperation between Great Wall Drilling Co., Ltd. and Petroleum Company of Cuba after the signing of a one-year petroleum service agreement on one 1500HP drilling rig and one 2000HP rig on April 8 this year. The contract signed this time includes three 2000HP drilling rigs. The contract has a period of one year and a value of over US$24 million. The project will be launched in January 2006. (China Chemical Reporter, 24/11/05)

December 22: Sinopec of China signed an agreement earlier this year to jointly produce heavy oil with Cupet in westernmost Pinar del R�o province, with drilling expected to begin in 2006. (The Oil Daily, 27/12/05)

Still not convinced Senator Martinez? Here are some more reports from 2005 from the Energy Intelligence Group and National Post's Financial Post & FP Investing in Canada.

... China is seeking oil everywhere and Cuba is no exception. Three large Chinese companies, SINOPEC, Petro China and CINOOC - China National Offshore Corporation, are involved in a large agreement, perhaps already underway, for coastal and deep-water explorations. Most significant to this topic, especially in light of other Chinese investment in Cuba, is the fact that Sinopec, China's second largest oil company, has stated a goal of helping boost Cuba's domestic oil production and producing 60% of its oil needs by 2006 ... Additional plans for exploration and development of other blocs of potential reserves were announced by two other Chinese oil companies, China National Petroleum Corp. and China National Offshore Oil Corp., after talks with CUPET, Cuba Petroleum. Some exploration will be in coastal regions but much, based on the better quality of the oil, will take place in off-shore deep waters.

Let's cut to the chase ... and pardon me if I scream here:

The point isn't that China is not presently drilling for oil within 90 miles of the U.S. The point is that they CAN! --- and, thanks to the Democrat congress --- we CAN'T.

Democrats would like us to wrangle over what IS happening. The issue is what CAN happen. They can drill. We can't. They're planning to. We aren't. Even government educated Democrat myrmidons can understand that.


So Cuba, with China's help (and the help of the Leftists in the USA), can drain the oil reserves WE don't ALLOW ourselves to drill, by drilling on the edge where our water rights end. The Commies win, we loose. Because we LET them.

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John McCain, Global Warming, Cleaner Air, Silver Lined Clouds and Sweet Lemonade

I've been ranting a lot lately about supporting our candidate, even when you can't agree with him on many issues. It's clearly difficult when you don't agree with your party's potential leader. I've compared it to making lemonade out of lemons. Perhaps it's my turn to make the lemonade.

Anyone who's read my blog knows what I think about the global warming hoax. Anyone who sees the news knows that John McCain is actively playing up to it.

Yes, it bothers me. Many times in my life, I've embraced the philosophy of finding silver linings in clouds, or making lemonade out of lemons. And yes, I've applied it to this. I'll start with the cloud first. Yes, I found the silver lining. For me it is thus:

Pat recently used the word "Watermelons" to describe many of the people who dominate the environmental movement; they are green on the outside, red on the inside. Their concern for the environment is only skin deep, it's really just a cover for their leftist anti-capitalist agenda. Their main purpose is to use environmentalism to attack capitalism, the same way many leftists support gay rights, radical feminists and black separatists; they care nothing for these causes, they are just supported by leftists to be used as a means to an end.

I consider myself "green" in the genuine sense; things like recycling and conserving energy and using resources efficiently, and conserving our environment by developing renewable resources are, to me, wonderful conservative ideas. Authentic environmentalism doesn't bother me, but the watermelons like Al Gore and company do.

When president Bush first mentioned global warming in his state of the union address, I was quite annoyed with him. I suspect he was simply trying to address an issue that has many Americans concerned, because he is supposed to be president of all the people, and as such it's necessary to stretch yourself at times to address issues that may not be your own, or at least not your priority.

I expect the same with John McCain, but he has walked through the door George Bush opened, and taken this issue to the next level. What good could come out of this? I can honestly think of a few things:

1.) If he treats the issue moderately, he will be appreciated by moderates who want to see something done, while simultaneously taking some of the wind out of the sails of the loonies and the radical left who are egging them on.

2.) Many of the solutions that are desired by global warmist believers also mesh nicely with concerns of many Republicans like myself. Developing alternative energy sources, including nuclear power, reducing dependency on oil, conserving energy, less waste of resources... if we can agree on these things, even if it's for different reasons, then why shouldn't we?

3.) We end up with cleaner air. Is this a bad thing? We all need to breath, and so will future generations. The pollution we release into the air can't be called back, it just keeps building up. It builds up gradually and we don't notice. Then one day, it's too late. Nuclear waste can be contained, and 80 percent of it can now be recycled. Other alternate energy sources don't pollute. Placing caps on emissions would provide incentive to support and speed their development.

Ok, that's the silver lining. But there are dangers inherent here. No matter what McCain does, the radical left will scream that it's not enough, and push for more, to try and damage our economy as much a possible. But by treating their concerns seriously and attempting to do something about it, he's also entering a tug-of-war contest, that will bring him close to the edge of the hoax abyss. If he can maintain his position and balance, fine. If he gets pulled over the edge, it could be disastrous.

So then comes the question: can we make lemonade out of this? I'm willing to try, but it depends on how far left he gets dragged. If he's pulled too far, the lemons will be so sour that I doubt any amount of sugar could fix it. I'm hoping he can build enough moderate support in this cause, to anchor him and keep him away from the cliff's edge, where the extremists want to go. If he can maintain the necessary balance, I will support him in this... but cautiously.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Can We Sue Al Gore and Carbon Credit Sellers?

Here is a scathing article by Eric Creed of Cityview magazine:

The Greatest Hoax Ever Perpetrated
[...] OK, I am a skeptic. When every lunatic liberal leftist on the face of the planet says we need to close down the carbon emissions of industry (carbon caps) and spend trillions of dollars trying to fix something that (1.) we don’t know if we caused it (the factual evidence says we didn’t), and (2.) if we did cause global warming, is it really in our power to fix (reverse) it, red flags go up. Many leading scientists firmly believe that more CO2 in the atmosphere is actually good for the planet. David Archibald, PhD, at the Biology Department of San Diego State University, is one of those leading scientists. In a lecture given at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, Dr. Archibald said that more CO2 in the atmosphere will give us a lusher environment and actually increase plant growth rates in addition to increasing the sustainability of crops in arid regions. [...]

This article is full of details about the fraudulent data that Al Gore and company have been peddling. At one point, it's suggested that Al Gore and people selling carbon credits should be sued for fraud. It would expose the financing behind the global warming hoax and allow testimony by reputable scientists who are informed with the complete data, not the faulty, incomplete and deliberately misleading computer models Al Gore has been using. Apparently this has been happening in Britain, and the real Inconvenient Truths have finally started to be debated honestly.

It's fine for people to be concerned about the environment, but debate and discussion about it has to be open and honest, and not ignore FACTS such as the sun's influence, and how the Earth's history is full of abrupt climate changes:

Study of Greenland Ice Finds Rapid Change in Past Climate

We have nothing to fear from the truth. Liars are a different matter.
     

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President Bush Didn't Lie. Duh.

This isn't news to me. But to see it explained in detail, in the MSM, especially from a left-leaning source like the L.A. Times, is shocking:

Bush never lied to us about Iraq
[...] Four years on from the first Senate Intelligence Committee report, war critics, old and newfangled, still don't get that a lie is an act of deliberate, not unwitting, deception. If Democrats wish to contend they were "misled" into war, they should vent their spleen at the CIA.

In 2003, top Senate Democrats -- not just Rockefeller but also Carl Levin, Clinton, Kerry and others -- sounded just as alarmist. Conveniently, this month's report, titled "Whether Public Statements Regarding Iraq by U.S. Government Officials Were Substantiated by Intelligence Information," includes only statements by the executive branch. Had it scrutinized public statements of Democrats on the Intelligence, Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees -- who have access to the same intelligence information as the president and his chief advisors -- many senators would be unable to distinguish their own words from what they today characterize as warmongering.

This may sound like ancient history, but it matters. After Sept. 11, President Bush did not want to risk allowing Hussein, who had twice invaded neighboring nations, murdered more than 1 million Iraqis and stood in violation of 16 U.N. Security Council resolutions, to remain in possession of what he believed were stocks of chemical and biological warheads and a nuclear weapons program. By glossing over this history, the Democrats' lies-led-to-war narrative provides false comfort in a world of significant dangers. [...]

(bold emphasis mine) It's also worth noting that Weapons of Mass destruction were NOT the ONLY reason for the war. Hussein was destabilizing the region, he was certainly intent on developing WMD's, and by removing him, we got rid of the biggest WMD - himself.

Unfortunately, removing Saddam Hussein also got rid of Iran's biggest enemy in the region. Iran just needs to get rid of the US influence in the region now, so they can annex Iraq and it's oil to fuel their war machine and fund their global ambitions. It's yet another reason why we can't just pull out and leave. Iran is the other half of the equation that still needs to be dealt with.

And yes, we freed up Iraq so it could sell oil on the world market again, making us less dependent on the Saudis. If you think that's a bad thing, then shut up about gas prices. You can't have it both ways. Duh.

The article was written by James Kirchick, who is an assistant editor of the New Republic. There are some criticisms within it about Mitt Romney's father who was governor of Michigan. What's he got to do with it? Read it and find out, if history interests you.
     

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Police Scanners part II; back to the $100 models

In an earlier post, "Learning Ham Radio; start with a Police Scanner?", I was looking at $200 scanners, attracted by all the bells and whistles. But since then, I've gotten my "Two-Way Radios & Scanners For Dummies" book, and after reading up on them, I think the $100 range would suit me fine.

Here are the top three I'm looking at now, from Radio Shack:


200-Channel VHF/AIR/UHF Desktop Scanner with 1-Touch Service
Some good friends of ours own this model, and recently they came to visit and brought it with them, so I got to see first hand how it works. Easy to use, and good reception. They use it in town, but even out here it picked up the police and sheriff's departments just fine. It gets 200 channels, and is programmable. It goes for $100, but I've seen it on sale for $79. It's got good reviews by users, but some reviewers claim it's little more than a toy. The one drawback I could see is that it only runs on AC power, no option for batteries, so if your power goes out, you're out of luck.


PRO-82 200-Channel Handheld Scanner
This model is also 200 channels. The manual is easy to read (the manuals for all these units are available for download as .pdf files), and it can run on batteries and is very mobile, great for traveling. It's $100.


PRO-433 1,000-Channel Triple-Trunking Desktop/Mobile Scanner
This last model is the one I think I'm leaning towards. It costs $120, but for that $20 more you get 1000 channels, 800Mgz capability, more frequencies, the ability to scan trunked radio systems, the option of batteries and the flexibility of mobility and portability. It's also gotten great reviews from customers.

I don't think any of the places I'd be scanning are using trunking, but if they upgrade to it later, I'll still be able to listen. I'll read up on them more, then visit our local Radio Shack and start asking questions, and see if I can clarify what would be the best for my situation.

I've also got the book: "Ham Radio For Dummies" by Ward Silver, the same author who wrote the scanner book, and I'm looking forward to reading it too. But first things first, and I think it will be focusing on a good scanner and making that purchase.
     

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

What it means to me, to be Republican



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Discovery Returns, Mission Accomplished


So what did they get done, besides the usual goofy zero gravity pics?





Plenty! They installed the main components of the Kibo science lab, the largest module on the station. Below is the interior of the lab:



Here is the exterior, with the storage unit placed on top:



Astronaut Nyberg looks out the shuttle window at the station as the shuttle departs:



Here is a closeup of the installed modules, taken from the shuttle after it departed:



Same photo, bigger view:



You can see more photos from the mission here:STS-124 Mission Photos


You can read more about the mission's conclusion here:
NASA, Astronauts Celebrate Successful Mission
Seven astronauts flew space shuttle Discovery back to NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Saturday to end the latest construction mission to the International Space Station.

Commander Mark Kelly and Pilot Ken Ham were at the controls of Discovery as it glided through Florida skies to touch down on time at 11:15 a.m. EDT.

Kelly, Ham and Mission Specialists Karen Nyberg, Ron Garan, Mike Fossum and Japan's Akihiko Hoshide spent 14 days in orbit installing the Japanese Pressurized Module to the space station. The module is the largest section of the Japanese laboratory called "Kibo," or hope. Garrett Reisman also returned onboard Discovery. He spent three months living on the space station.

Talking to the news media a few hours after landing, the crew of STS-124 beamed about the flight.

"I think I have the best space shuttle crew of all-time," Kelly said.

Although there are more pieces to add on future flights, Fossum said the addition of Kibo made the station look nearly complete.

"It was a great feeling of accomplishment as we backed away (from the station)," he said.

Hoshide, one of the astronauts of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, spent time on Earth monitoring Kibo's preparation for space. Saying goodbye to it in orbit was not easy.

"When we went to close the hatch, that was a tender moment, it was kind of sad," he said.

NASA and Japanese officials hailed the flight just after landing.

"I can't think of a mission really that's been better than this one," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator of Space Operations. "We're starting to break that tie to planet Earth and get out and do what exploration is."

Discovery returned to its base in good shape, said Michael Leinbach, shuttle launch director.

"It's just a terrific day here at the Kennedy Space Center." [...]


     

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Vicious Dustmop Attacks German Shepard




Hat Tip: Tammy Bruce
     

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Democrats, Republicans, and Gas Prices

Which party has better for bringing down gas prices? From the Powerline blog:

Doing Something Constructive About Oil Prices
Republican whip Roy Blunt put together this chart showing the practical effects of Democratic vs. Republican policies on the price of gasoline at the pump; click to enlarge:



Follow the link to the Powerline blog for more details.
     

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

McCain has appeal to evangelicals, even as he clashes with some of their leadership


From Steven Waldman for the WSJ:

The Myth of McCain’s Weakness Among Evangelicals
[...] But is this conventional wisdom really true? Or to be more precise, Sen. McCain clearly has a problem with evangelical leaders — but does he really have a major problem with evangelical voters?

On the contrary, Sen. McCain won the nomination in part because he did far better than expected with rank-and-file evangelicals. [...]

In a recent Rasmussen poll, Sen. McCain was winning 58% of evangelicals, and his Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama, was winning 32%.

Running Stronger Among Rank and File

Why would Sen. McCain be doing so much better among evangelical voters than evangelical leaders?

First, the leadership’s disgust with Sen. McCain stems from the candidate’s treatment of them. His “agents of intolerance” speech was not an attack on evangelicals, but on a few of their leaders.

Second, some of the issues over which Christian leaders have chastised Sen. McCain are inside-the-beltway concerns that don’t resonate with rank-and-file voters. For instance, Christian leaders often cite Sen. McCain’s authorship of campaign finance legislation that they believe would restrict their lobbying and advocacy abilities. Most voters care little about this issue.

Third, though he’s reluctant to talk about his personal faith, in many ways Sen. McCain is substantively in perfect alignment with today’s evangelical voters. They tend to be conservative but have veered from the religious right on a few issues, one of which is climate change – the exact issue that Sen. McCain has highlighted as his point of departure with Republican orthodoxy.

Fourth, Sen. McCain’s support of the Iraq war, his war-hero history and his emphasis on fighting terrorism appeals to those Christians who feel that fighting Islam has risen to the top of the list of important issues for Christians. For many Christians, Islamofascism is the new “gay marriage.” [...]

I think there are some excellent insights in this article. Evangelicals are not a monolithic bloc that all think exactly the same, there is some diversity among their views, and they can be more flexible on some issues than they are generally given credit for. They are also capable of understanding which candidate will ultimately serve their interests best, even if they can't agree with that candidate on every issue.

John McCain has by no means got the evangelical vote "in the bag", but neither has he lost it. Evangelicals were leary of Reagan at first too, but he was eventually able to gain their support. McCain may be able to do the same.


Related Links:


While I'm no fan of Newsweek, this interview with John McCain was pretty good, addressing their BS very directly:

How to Beat a Rock Star: ‘Substance.’
There is, McCain says, 'a right change and a wrong change.' His general-election case, in his own words.

And these two posts from Pat are also worth reading:

A new post-partisan mood?

It's a "Democratic year" and McCain is the best Democrat

Since Reagan's time, conservative Democrats have been essential for Republicans to win elections. It's true now, more than ever.
     

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Is Carbon Dioxide actually our Friend?

In praise of CO2
With less heat and less carbon dioxide, the planet could become less hospitable and less green
[...] Until the 1980s, ecologists had no way to systematically track growth in plant matter in every corner of the Earth -- the best they could do was analyze small plots of one-tenth of a hectare or less. The notion of continuously tracking global production to discover the true state of the globe's biota was not even considered.

Then, in the 1980s, ecologists realized that satellites could track production, and enlisted NASA to collect the data. For the first time, ecologists did not need to rely on rough estimates or anecdotal evidence of the health of the ecology: They could objectively measure the land's output and soon did -- on a daily basis and down to the last kilometre.

More from FP Oil Watch

The results surprised Steven Running of the University of Montana and Ramakrishna Nemani of NASA, scientists involved in analyzing the NASA data. They found that over a period of almost two decades, the Earth as a whole became more bountiful by a whopping 6.2%. About 25% of the Earth's vegetated landmass -- almost 110 million square kilometres -- enjoyed significant increases and only 7% showed significant declines. When the satellite data zooms in, it finds that each square metre of land, on average, now produces almost 500 grams of greenery per year.

Why the increase? Their 2004 study, and other more recent ones, point to the warming of the planet and the presence of CO2, a gas indispensable to plant life. CO2 is nature's fertilizer, bathing the biota with its life-giving nutrients. Plants take the carbon from CO2 to bulk themselves up -- carbon is the building block of life -- and release the oxygen, which along with the plants, then sustain animal life. As summarized in a report last month, released along with a petition signed by 32,000 U. S. scientists who vouched for the benefits of CO2: "Higher CO2 enables plants to grow faster and larger and to live in drier climates. Plants provide food for animals, which are thereby also enhanced. The extent and diversity of plant and animal life have both increased substantially during the past half-century."

Lush as the planet may now be, it is as nothing compared to earlier times, when levels of CO2 and Earth temperatures were far higher. [...]

The article goes on about the extensive benefits, including more abundant food. But if we are to believe radical leftists who claim that CO2 is a bad thing, what would it REALLY mean if we were seriously try to stop it? This next article tells us about the many sacred cows of the environmental movement that would be skewered by serious attempts to limit CO2:

Inconvenient Truths: Get Ready to Rethink What It Means to Be Green
[...]Winning the war on global warming requires slaughtering some of environmentalism's sacred cows. We can afford to ignore neither the carbon-free electricity supplied by nuclear energy nor the transformational potential of genetic engineering. We need to take advantage of the energy efficiencies offered by urban density. We must accept that the world's fastest-growing economies won't forgo a higher standard of living in the name of climate science — and that, on the way up, countries like India and China might actually help devise the solutions the planet so desperately needs. [...]

The article goes on to give 10 Green Heresies that environmentalists need to embrace if they are serious about stopping greenhouse gases. You may find them shocking, even if you aren't "green"!
     

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

John McCain: Take a Chance on Me

Shocking scandal: John McCain is an ABBA fan:

McCain controversy
[...] "He said that a lot of people won't admit that they love ABBA, but he would," radio jock Rich Berra says. "Then he asked us if it was old-fashioned to like ABBA, and we said that it wasn't old-fashioned at all."

Well, what could they say? Granted, ABBA broke up back in the '80s and was seen as wildly unfashionable for a time. However, the fab foursome has gained a whole new respect in recent years thanks to the success of the stage musical Mamma Mia!, which uses an all-ABBA score. A movie version opens July 18; we're sure McCain will catch it opening weekend.

The jocks also got the politico to drop an even bigger ABBA bomb: Before campaign speeches, he'll listen to the group's Take a Chance on Me to pump himself up.

"Those are the kind of hard-hitting political questions we ask," Berra says.

McCain spokesman Jeff Sadosky says it's not unusual for his boss to make unscheduled calls into radio programs. [...]

If you don't remember the song "Take a Chance on Me", here is ABBA's music video to refresh your memory:



I didn't care much for ABBA when I was a kid, but now it seems nostalgic. And like so many things I didn't care for in my youth, I find myself liking them a lot now.

Regardless of music preferences, John McCain's the best candidate we have, and he's got my vote.
     

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Clinton subdued at last; Obama VS McCain

While this is a great cartoon, I'm sure this isn't the last we'll see of Clinton, although this may well be the end of her 2008 campaign. Where did she go wrong, and where does the election go from here? John O'Sullivan at the British Telegraph provides and interesting perspective:

Amid Barack Obamamania, John McCain could still win the US presidential election
[...] Despite all the praise for her gallant uphill fight, Mrs Clinton blew a sure thing. As the candidate of inevitability, she lost. As the candidate of competence, she won most major battleground states, but lost the nomination because her campaign failed to organise in the smaller states. As the candidate with an unrivalled Democratic Rolodex, she lost the "super-delegates".

Even her late emergence as the friend of Joe Sixpack reflected her loss of most other Democratic constituencies rather than her recruitment of a new political base. She is a very implausible leader of a white working class that is drifting steadily towards the Republicans.

Her campaign's excuse for defeat - that sexism trumped racism - implicitly accuses all Democrat voters of being bigots. It leaves behind a poisonous atmosphere of internecine identity politics on the Left. None of this augurs well for her post-2008 presidential prospects - whoever wins in November.

John McCain is probably the only Republican who could win the presidency in a year when almost any Democrat should beat almost any Republican. Voters prefer Democrats to Republicans by 15 per cent.

Even if McCain makes it to the White House, their opponents may win the Senate majority sufficient to override a presidential veto. McCain might well campaign in the final days on the theme "Help me to restrain a rampaging Democrat Congress". [...]

(bold emphasis mine) The author goes on to examine the road ahead for McCain and Obama, and what they will have to achieve to win. And interesting analysis from across the pond.


Related Link: I'm grateful to Obama for one thing
     

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Iran, Nukes, and No Second Chances




I generally like to think optimistically about world affairs. I like to think that no matter how screwed up a situation becomes, that it can be reversed or corrected later. But there are some instances where that's extremely unlikely. Iran, nuclear weapons technology and Amadinejad are a prime example.

Thomas Sowell spells it out plain and simple:

Obama and McCain and Iran
[...] While all sorts of gushing is going on in the media, and posturing is going on in politics, the biggest national sponsor of terrorism in the world-- Iran-- is moving step by step toward building a nuclear bomb.

The point when they get that bomb will be the point of no return. Iran's nuclear bomb will be the terrorists' nuclear bomb-- and they can make 9/11 look like child's play.

All the options that are on the table right now will be swept off the table forever. Our choices will be to give in to whatever the terrorists demand-- however outrageous those demands might be-- or to risk seeing American cities start disappearing in radioactive mushroom clouds.

All the things we are preoccupied with today, from the price of gasoline to health care to global warming, will suddenly no longer matter.

Just as the Nazis did not find it enough to simply kill people in their concentration camps, but had to humiliate and dehumanize them first, so we can expect terrorists with nuclear weapons to both humiliate us and force us to humiliate ourselves, before they finally start killing us.

They have already telegraphed their punches with their sadistic beheadings of innocent civilians, and with the popularity of videotapes of those beheadings in the Middle East.

They have already telegraphed their intention to dictate to us with such things as Osama bin Laden's threats to target those places in America that did not vote the way he prescribed in the 2004 elections. He could not back up those threats then but he may be able to in a very few years.

The terrorists have given us as clear a picture of what they are all about as Adolf Hitler and the Nazis did during the 1930s-- and our "leaders" and intelligentsia have ignored the warning signs as resolutely as the "leaders" and intelligentsia of the 1930s downplayed the dangers of Hitler.

We are much like people drifting down the Niagara River, oblivious to the waterfalls up ahead. Once we go over those falls, we cannot come back up again.

What does this have to do with today's presidential candidates? It has everything to do with them. [...]

(bold emphasis mine) As much as I like to be optimistic, I also believe in being a realist. Hitler did not have the Atom Bomb, and we defeated him before he got it. If he had succeeded in getting the Atom Bomb... can you imagine the horror?

We are facing a very similar situation now. The term of our next president will likely be the last window of opportunity to stop this. Will we? If we don't, Sowell is right, nothing else we're fussing about now is going to matter.

Sowell is not a McCain fan. But Sowell compares McCain to Obama on the Iran issue, and makes a compelling case as to why it's important not to "sit this one out". Now is not the time for moral paralysis. We need to support the Republican candidate now, more than ever. Our very lives may depend on it.


Related Links:

Amadinejad talks crazy on Iranian TV, with help from a "Death to Amercia" chorus

Iranian Theocracy prepares the Iranian people for the "Return of the Mahdi"

Iran's pressing needs and Iraq's vulnerability

Why Obama Must Go to Iraq
     

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

John McCain's speech in New Orleans

From the Associated Press:
Excerpts of Republican John McCain's speech Tuesday
Excerpts of Republican John McCain's speech in New Orleans on Tuesday, as prepared for delivery and provided by the McCain campaign:

Good evening from the great city of New Orleans. Tonight, we can say with confidence the primary season is over, and the general election campaign has begun. I commend both Senators Obama and Clinton for the long, hard race they have run. Senator Obama has impressed many Americans with his eloquence and his spirited campaign. Senator Clinton has earned great respect for her tenacity and courage. The media often overlooked how compassionately she spoke to the concerns and dreams of millions of Americans, and she deserves a lot more appreciation than she sometimes received. As the father of three daughters, I owe her a debt for inspiring millions of women to believe there is no opportunity in this great country beyond their reach. I am proud to call her my friend. Pundits and party elders have declared that Senator Obama will be my opponent. He will be a formidable one. But I'm ready for the challenge, and determined to run this race in a way that does credit to our campaign and to the proud, decent and patriotic people I ask to lead.

___

The wrong change looks not to the future but to the past for solutions that have failed us before and will surely fail us again. I have a few years on my opponent, so I am surprised that a young man has bought in to so many failed ideas. Like others before him, he seems to think government is the answer to every problem; that government should take our resources and make our decisions for us. That type of change doesn't trust Americans to know what is right or what is in their own best interests. It's the attitude of politicians who are sure of themselves but have little faith in the wisdom, decency and common sense of free people. That attitude created the unresponsive bureaucracies of big government in the first place. And that's not change we can believe in.

You will hear from my opponent's campaign in every speech, every interview, every press release that I'm running for President Bush's third term. You will hear every policy of the president described as the Bush-McCain policy. Why does Senator Obama believe it's so important to repeat that idea over and over again? Because he knows it's very difficult to get Americans to believe something they know is false. So he tries to drum it into your minds by constantly repeating it rather than debate honestly the very different directions he and I would take the country. But the American people didn't get to know me yesterday, as they are just getting to know Senator Obama. They know I have a long record of bipartisan problem solving. They've seen me put our country before any president — before any party — before any special interest — before my own interest. They might think me an imperfect servant of our country, which I surely am. But I am her servant first, last and always.

I have worked with the president to keep our nation safe. But he and I have not seen eye to eye on many issues. We've disagreed over the conduct of the war in Iraq and the treatment of detainees; over out-of-control government spending and budget gimmicks; over energy policy and climate change; over defense spending that favored defense contractors over the public good.

I disagreed strongly with the Bush administration's mismanagement of the war in Iraq. I called for the change in strategy that is now, at last, succeeding where the previous strategy had failed miserably. I was criticized for doing so by Republicans. I was criticized by Democrats. I was criticized by the press. But I don't answer to them. I answer to you. And I would be ashamed to admit I knew what had to be done in Iraq to spare us from a defeat that would endanger us for years, but I kept quiet because it was too politically hard for me to do. No ambition is more important to me than the security of the country I have defended all my adult life.

Senator Obama opposed the new strategy, and, after promising not to, voted to deny funds to the soldiers who have done a brilliant and brave job of carrying it out. Yet in the last year we have seen the success of that plan as violence has fallen to a four year low; Sunni insurgents have joined us in the fight against al-Qaida; the Iraqi Army has taken the lead in places once lost to Sunni and Shia extremists; and the Iraqi government has begun to make progress toward political reconciliation.

None of this progress would have happened had we not changed course over a year ago. And all of this progress would be lost if Senator Obama had his way and began to withdraw our forces from Iraq without concern for conditions on the ground and the advice of commanders in the field. Americans ought to be concerned about the judgment of a presidential candidate who says he's ready to talk, in person and without conditions, with tyrants from Havana to Pyongyang, but hasn't traveled to Iraq to meet with General Petraeus, and see for himself the progress he threatens to reverse.

I know Americans are tired of this war. I don't oppose a reckless withdrawal from Iraq because I'm indifferent to the suffering war inflicts on too many American families. I hate war. And I know very personally how terrible its costs are. But I know, too, that the course Senator Obama advocates could draw us into a wider war with even greater sacrifices; put peace further out of reach, and Americans back in harm's way.

___

In just a few years in office, Senator Obama has accumulated the most liberal voting record in the Senate. But the old, tired, big government policies he seeks to dust off and call new won't work in a world that has changed dramatically since they were last tried and failed. That's not change we can believe in.

The sweeping reforms of government we need won't occur unless we change the political habits of Washington that have locked us in an endless cycle of bickering and stalemate. Washington is consumed by a hyper-partisanship that treats every serious issue as an opportunity to trade insults; impugn each other's motives; and fight about the next election. This is the game Washington plays. Both parties play it, as do the special interests that support each side. The American people know it's not on the level. For all the problems we face, what frustrates them most about Washington is they don't think we're capable of serving the public interest before our personal ambitions; that we fight for ourselves and not for them. They are sick of the politics of selfishness, stalemate and delay, and they have every right to be. We have to change not only government policies that have failed them, but the political culture that produced them.

Both Senator Obama and I promise we will end Washington's stagnant, unproductive partisanship. But one of us has a record of working to do that and one of us doesn't. Americans have seen me put aside partisan and personal interests to move this country forward. They haven't seen Senator Obama do the same. For all his fine words and all his promise, he has never taken the hard but right course of risking his own interests for yours; of standing against the partisan rancor on his side to stand up for our country. He is an impressive man, who makes a great first impression. But he hasn't been willing to make the tough calls; to challenge his party; to risk criticism from his supporters to bring real change to Washington. I have.

Excellent and to the point, as usual.
     

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Amadinejad talks crazy on Iranian TV, with help from a "Death to Amercia" chorus

I suppose you have to give Amadinejad credit for being open about his intentions. From IRINN TV (Iran) - Broadcast June 2, 2008:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "The Countdown for the Decline of America's Demonic Power Has Begun. Zionist Germ of Corruption Will Be Wiped off the Face of the Earth."







Here is a link to the Video Clip. Here is a partial transcript. How does one "talk" to such a person in any meaningful way?

So Obama won't meet with our General Petraus, but he does want to meet with Amadinejad. It's not as if nobody else has tried that. What does Obama think he can say that is going to make a difference? What does one say to the New Hilter?

I think Iran would be alright if they were just allowed to have a real election. The ruling party has never allowed it, because they know they would loose their power. If a real election could occur, this lunacy could be stopped, by the Iranians themselves.


Related Links:

TV in Iran: a selection of offerings

Ahmadinejad continues his Lunatic agenda
     

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Illegal Immigration is a Pain to Spain. But is it also making Spain the Gateway to Europe?

Spain granted an amnesty to almost a million illegals three years ago, the largest amnesty in Spain's history. Today, they now have another million illegals, along with a soring crime rate and growing unemployment.

Recently Spain has been attacking Italy's new government, which has been cracking down on illegal immigrants in Italy. More from Soeren Kern at the Brussels Journal:

Why Spain Lectures Other Countries on Immigration
Italian voters in April returned Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to a third term in office. The center-right leader was given a strong mandate to crack down on runaway immigration and spiraling street crime, two hot-button issues that are intrinsically linked, not just in the minds of Italians, but in those of many other Europeans too, especially in Spain.

As a result, Spanish Socialists are (rightly) worried that Berlusconi’s get-tough approach will jeopardize their own fantastical vision of turning Europe into a post-modern multicultural utopia.

[...]

Since Spanish Socialists (more often than not) have trouble winning arguments on their own merit, the preferred tactic is to demonize their opponents instead. And so De la Vega’s comments were echoed by the new Spanish Minister for Labor and Immigration, Celestino Corbacho, who felt obliged to accuse Berlusconi of wanting “to criminalize those who are different.”

[...]

Apart from the strategic threat that Italy’s immigration crackdown poses to the post-nationalist multicultural vision that Spanish Socialists have for Europe, there are two more practical (and inter-related) reasons why the Socialist Party has latched onto the immigration issue: Domestic politics and fear that the immigrants expelled from Italy will come to Spain instead.

During the recent general election campaign in Spain, survey after survey showed that Spanish voters perceived the center-right Popular Party to be far better equipped than the Socialist Party to tackle the issues of immigration and crime.

[...]

As a result, the Socialists are now trying to make these issues their own. But they are doing so by reframing the question of immigration through the use of post-modern word games that give the appearance that they have a more benevolent approach.

[...]

By rewarding illegal immigrants with Spanish (and thus European) documentation, Zapatero has unleashed what is known as the “call effect” to people as far away as Kashmir who now believe that Spain is an easy gateway into Europe. [...]

It's quite a dance Spain is doing. The article goes on to give more details of Spain's predicament, and how it fits into immigration in Europe as a whole. The socialists in Spain have been using every trick in the book to vilify their opponents, but it's wearing thin as reality sets in and grates away at the Spanish Public. Their current government sounds like the city council of Berkeley, CA. Strident and hysterical, posturing while lacking real content or ability to accomplish or solve anything.

Lots of high drama in this story, with accusations being hurled. But as the pressure builds, it looks to me like... somethings gotta give. I'll be watching.
     

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Kibo Lab attached, to be activated today

Yesterday, the Discovery crew unloaded the pressurized Kibo space lab from Discovery's cargo bay, and attached it to the station.


The spacewalk crew unbolted it, and two astronauts inside the station attached it to the station using a robot arm, while the spacewalk crew got on with other repairs outside the station.


Here is an illustration that shows where the Kibo lab has been attached on the station:


Today the astronauts will complete all the internal hookups, and open the lab up. Here is some information from NASA's mission summary .PDF file:

NASA Mission Summary, SPACE SHUTTLE DISCOVERY (STS-124)
FACTS & FIGURES

• STS-124 is the 123rd space shuttle flight, the 26th flight to the station, the 35th flight for Discovery and the third flight in 2008.

• The Kibo laboratory—which means “hope” in Japanese—is the country’s major contribution to the station and will enhance the research capabilities of the space station.

• The JPM will be the largest habitable module on the space station and is equipped with its own airlock and robotic arm for external experiments.

• The final components of Kibo will be assembled in space on shuttle mission STS-127.

• The RMS main arm can handle up to 14,000 pounds of hardware. The small fine arm, when attached to the main arm, handles more delicate operations. Each arm has six joints that mimic the movements of a human arm.

• The JPM is 36.7 feet long and 14.4 feet in diameter, about the size of a large tour bus.

• The main arm measures 32.5 feet long, and the small fine arm measures 6.2 feet.

• Kibo experiments and systems are operated from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's control center called the Space Station Integration and Promotion Center, just north of Tokyo.

• Experiments in Kibo focus on space medicine, biology, Earth observations, material production, biotechnology and communications research.

• To help prevent the glove cuts seen in recent missions from recurring, both spacewalkers will wear gloves with special patches on the thumb and index finger for the first time. The patches are made of the same protective vectran material already used in the palm of the gloves, but in a much tighter weave. In this form, the fabric is called TurtleSkin. It is up to four times more resistant to damage.

When all the components are in place, the Kibo lab unit should be configured like this:


The porch-like attachment is for performing experiments outside the station, using robotic arms. I believe the porch-platform is scheduled to brought up and added on in a future mission.

More about todays activities:

Crews to Enter Japanese Lab Today
The shuttle and station crews will open the newly installed Japanese laboratory Kibo for business today. Hatch opening is planned for 4:52 p.m. EDT. The experiment module was installed on the Harmony Node’s port side Tuesday.

After a leak check, mission specialists Karen Nyberg and Akihiko Hoshide will prepare Kibo for activation before opening the hatches. Shortly after entering Kibo with Hoshide, Expedition 17 Commander Sergei Volkov will sample the air and test for contamination. They will wear protective goggles and masks until they are sure the Japanese lab’s air is clean.

Mission Specialists Mike Fossum and Ron Garan will review procedures for their second spacewalk and sleep in the U.S. Quest airlock tonight to purge the nitrogen from their bodies. During Thursday’s spacewalk, the second of the mission, the spacewalkers will outfit the new lab and prepare the Japanese logistics module for relocation.

You can check the link for progress updates. They have already fixed the malfunctioning Zero-Gravity Space Toilet. That should make life in space a bit easier.
     

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