Friday, March 30, 2007

The State of Education in America - We’re Doomed

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"I think we’re being educated for failure. We learn math in case the calculator fails. We learn to read in case the TV breaks , and we learn to spell in case the spell-checker doesn’t work."

I just returned from our weekly Rotary luncheon at renowned St. Orres Restaurant. Our speaker was a charming young lady completing her Freshman year at Stanford. She is very bright and energetic, a straight-A student, and a poster girl for my statement that we are doomed. Her majors at Stanford are Creative Writing (English) and Italian. Add her to the long list of bright, energetic, well educated Americans who won’t be going into math, science, or engineering.

As she talked, I listened and smiled politely, and had a friendly chat with her and her father afterwards, while I seethed inwardly. It would do absolutely no good towards any purpose for me to abuse the cordial atmosphere of our luncheon to complain about how our best and brightest are using our citadels of higher learning to pursue their hobbies.

I have heard from so many Americans over the years that the greatest good is done by people who love what they are doing. Who am I to throw cold water on such self-congratulatory conventional wisdom?

However, I contend that that love, that personal fulfillment, is a result of exposure to a particular culture, or set of values, and in a different environment, our best and brightest would chose more challenging paths to personal fulfillment. Unfortunately, at the moment our culture is becoming softer and fuzzier, more feminine, and young men have become a minority in higher education. At the same time, areas that contain our largest concentrations of young people also provide them totally inadequate public educations, educations that qualify them for nothing except remedial education programs when and if they ever attempt higher education.

I was caught up in the joy and enthusiasm of our young Stanford Freshman, and I almost felt ashamed as curmudgeonly thoughts passed through my mind as she described her African culture themed dormitory and its activities. Apparently half the students in her dorm are African Americans or Africans, and the rest are from other cultures.

As she spoke, I imagined life in the dorm as an unending chorus of “Kumbaya.” She described the many hours spent in rehearsal of "native" songs and dances, including "hip hop," and many more hours devoted to original compositions reflecting the multicultural ethos, and I was happy for her and sad for our nation, and the developing nations of the world.

Why the double dose of sadness?

Sadness number one, we are not recruiting our best and brightest to fill our greatest needs by taking the “hard” majors. We are rapidly developing our nation into a fool’s paradise of happy hobbyists.

Sadness number two, we’re taking developing nations’ best and brightest to fill our needs. The developing nations suffer “brain drain,” and our culture devolves into dependency, where our technical and skilled work is done by educated foreigners, and our menial tasks by unskilled and uneducated foreigners.

Our colleges and universities will continue as first-rate educational institutions, more and more serving the higher education needs of foreign students who receive excellent basic educations in their own countries. They will continue to come to America to fill the spaces in math, science, and engineering that our own inadequate public education system cannot.

Our inadequate public education system will continue to build on its ineptitude, meaning in translation that it will go from bad to worse as the poor quality of its product provides the infertile soil for the next crop of teachers and administrators.


(The following letter appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle today - well, on 31 March 2007, anyway. It is from a member of a Chinese immigrant family, and eloquently illustrates the cultural differences that inspire America's best and brightest to pursue "soft" educations, and immigrant families to choose math and science. )

Living the dream
(Please scroll down to the Harry W. Tong letter, and while you're at it, you can read my letter on "Porky Pelosi's Prowess)

Editor -- I disagree with Ashley Jones (Letters, "Poverty and schools," March 24) that "hopelessness springs from abject poverty."

Our family grew up in "abject poverty" in Chicago's Chinatown ghetto without any government social programs or financial assistance, surrounded by high-crime public housing. My father was hospitalized and my mom had 25 cents in the house to feed five children.

We broke every child labor law that existed, as all five of us took any job we could find and we worked seven days a week , sometimes at two to three jobs, each into the wee hours of the night to survive.

We knew the only way out of the ghetto was to use our brains and study hard as million-dollar contracts in sports were not yet an option and, at 5-foot-5, I knew no basketball scout would beat a path to my door.

Today, our parents, in heaven, would be proud of our accomplishments for we have capitalized on the American dream as immigrants from China. Among our extended family are four Ph.D.s, five M.D.s (with two more soon to be in residency training), five Master's degree holders and one lawyer.

Only in America can immigrants escape their "abject poverty" and poor schools by applying their God-given brains in spite of all the barriers imposed by the miserable school systems.

Foster City

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Wake Up the ACLU and Congress!

Iran took an act of war against our NATO ally, Britain, and the sovereign state of Iraq. That’s what an armed invasion of a nation’s territory is, and that is what the capture of British military personnel performing their lawful duties in Iraqi waters is.

That’s what the meaning of “is” is.

This is an act of war.

Where are all the anti-war protesters?

The same place they were when the Palestinians invaded Israel from Gaza and captured an Israeli soldier, and the same place they were when Hamas invaded Israel from Lebanon and killed and captured Israeli soldiers.

The anti-war protesters are sitting on their hypocritical asses ignoring that Iran has taken unprovoked, belligerent, and unjustifiable actions against the persons and territory of sovereign states. Apparently, the United States is the only nation whose actions the anti-war crowds protest.

Even when those actions are taken under United Nations resolutions, and even when in compliance with the Geneva Conventions.

The ACLU and anti-war protesters are total hypocrites about violations of the Geneva Conventions. Their concern about the treatment of unlawful combatants not covered by the Geneva Convention is balanced by their lack of concern about the treatment of British sailors actually entitled to all the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

Of course, since a state of war does not exist – yet – between Iran and Britain, the Geneva Conventions may not apply. What Iran did was totally illegal, even in the kangaroo court of international law, and was more an act of piracy than warfare. Since the act was sanctioned and conducted by the Iranian government, that government is now an outlaw by the standards of international law.

Although no one should hold their breath waiting for international justice, the following is just a brief description of obvious violations so far.

The first violation is invasion of the territory of a sovereign nation. Satellite and GPS data, and the statements of the Indian and other uninvolved nationals on the scene, prove that the incident occurred 1.7 miles inside Iraqi territorial waters.

The next is kidnapping of British nationals and theft of British property seized in Iraqi territorial waters.

The third is extortion of “confessions” and false statements from the lone female captured, the most vulnerable member of the kidnapped group. Apparently statements from other British personnel have also been coerced, and will be produced as the Iranian bandits feel the need.

The fourth is making a public display of the captured British.

The fifth, and a particularly egregious violation of the Geneva Conventions, is threatening to try the British as spies. In the murky world of international law, nothing could be clearer than the standard that no military member captured while wearing his or her uniform may be tried as a spy. Instead, all military captured in uniform in the service of their country must be afforded all the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

Even Russia, so cautious of offending the mullahs that they sell so much military hardware, must admit, regardless of the laughable “plausible deniability” of the Iranians that the British were captured in Iranian waters, that the Iranians have not given their captives the treatment and protections absolutely required of the Geneva Conventions.

Even allowing the charade that the British were captured in Iranian territorial waters, the treatment of the British military members required under the Geneva Conventions is not altered an iota.

Again, the protections required under the Geneva Conventions in these circumstances are not vague and subject to interpretation – or misinterpretation. The captured British are members of their country’s armed services, and when captured were in uniform under orders to discharge British responsibilities in accordance with United Nations resolutions.

Where are the demonstrators? Where is the ACLU?

Why can they get it all wrong on unlawful combatants, and then ignore real violations of UN resolutions and the Geneva Conventions?

How do these hypocrites sleep at night?

And why does anyone listen to them?

On Captain's Quarters, Cap'n Ed lays out the situation masterfully, but all his commenters are deep into tactics to prevent something from occurring that already has, or to take actions to try to make the mullahs of Iran give up the British personnel. Conspicuously missing is any call for or reliance on the United Nations, the world organization formed and chartered to take effective actions when these sorts of things happen.

I think the only country in the world that wants the UN to step in is Iran, because then they know they can continue their outrages without fear of military reprisal.

Where are the Democrats, where are the peace protesters, demanding that the one governmental agency in the world they most support and admire do the job for which it was established? If the United Nations cannot be expected to control the outlaw actions of a member nation, why is there a United Nations? So far, all the UN seems to do is give cover for Muslim violations of international law and the Geneva Conventions.

That's right, the United Nations primarily aids and abets international criminal acts rather than preventing or punishing them.

And then asks us for more money and support.

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Soaking Wet, Wearing a Big Smile

Celebrities have iconic images, a look that is clearly stamped in the public eye and is readily associated with them. Back in the good old days, when we had few TV channels and everyone watched the same shows, an impersonator didn’t have to say a word to conjure up images of Ed Sullivan, Jack Benny, or Jackie Gleason. The way an arm was held, an eyebrow raised, a pained expression, and we all knew who the subject was.

Today, with the proliferation of celebrity status, it’s much more difficult. A woman on her knees barfing could be Paris Hilton, but it could be Halle Berry or one of our many celebrityettes. It’s the modern measure of celebrity: name recognition today, rehab tomorrow.

For those of us who are not celebrities, we may have as many iconic images as we have lasting associations with others. My image of Alice is soaking wet (fully clothed) with a big smile. Usually a bicycle is also in the picture.

After Marilynn died, and I joined Great Expectations, I noticed most of the young ladies wrote they loved outdoor activities and exercise. However, when I dated them, I discovered that a “love of outdoor activities and exercise” was very elastic. It seems that to many a walk through an uncovered shopping center satisfied both the outdoor and the exercise components.

This then brings me to Alice and her description of herself. If anything, she understated her love of outdoor activity, exercise, and of particular significance, adventure.

Unlike all the others, who said they loved the wind and the rain, but didn’t want to mess up their hair, Alice loves the wind and the rain and never gives a thought to her hair.

While I was auditing hazardous material and waste management at Lockheed in Sunnyvale, California in the early 1990’s, Alice accompanied me on all my audit travel projects, one of which started at Cape Canaveral, then up coast to Kings Bay Naval Base near St. Marys, Georgia, and finished at the Naval Base at Charleston, South Carolina. At Kings Bay we rented a bungalow on Amelia Island and while I worked, Alice explored the island on her rented bicycle.

We had already learned from previous travel on Lockheed business to Cape Canaveral that just about every day in the Atlantic Coast South includes a short but heavy thunderstorm. A particularly powerful one hit one afternoon after work just as I was driving back to our bungalow. When I got to the place we were staying, Alice and her bicycle were gone. Just as I was hoping that she hadn’t been caught out in the storm on her bike, I heard her on the front porch.

When I saw her, I had to laugh. I had never seen a person wearing clothes who looked so wet in my life. And I had never seen such a big smile anytime, anywhere. Alice had been totally thrilled and energized by her experience pedaling through the storm. Instead of being a discomfort and a bother, to Alice it was a great adventure. I could tell by her expression and energy that she was eagerly anticipating biking through the next thunderstorm to come along.

In the years since, we have experienced several memorable soakings. Once was in 1998 biking back to Rothenberg ob der Tauber from Wurzburg, and another was in Scotland in 2002 pedaling to Stirling on our way south to Edinburgh.

Now we live on the beautiful Northern California coast, and except for the few periods when health problems make her take it easy, Alice and Buddy take several walks every day. The morning and evening walks are usually along our road and through the woods, but their afternoon walks are to the beach, regardless of weather. Since she’s not on her bike, the combination of umbrella, rain gear, and raincoat usually keep Alice fairly dry. However, Buddy comes back looking like a happy drowned rat, and it usually takes me at least two towels to dry him. Needless to say, Alice and Buddy both love their walks, rain or shine, and Buddy loves the attention and towel rubdown, and his milk-bone reward.

My special reward is looking at their happy faces, and hearing Alice say “God, I love this beautiful place.”

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Celebrating Campaign Finance Reform

Anniversaries are causes for celebration, and today is the fifth anniversary of the signing of Campaign Finance Reform. As at each celebration, the central point of an anniversary is to celebrate the accomplishments of the event being honored.

(This space intentionally left blank)

OK, now we’ve covered that.

Seriously, what has campaign finance reform accomplished?

Did it enable the Democrats to take the House and Senate from the Republicans? Or did the mid-term election of 2006 closely resemble the mid-term election of 1994, and most other mid-term elections, when the party not in the White House usually does very well?

Is there less money in politics?

The last time I checked, there was more money in political races than ever, even after being adjusted for inflation.

As one door to political contributions was shut, many more were opened.

You can tell when something is a total failure, when its creators don’t grab spotlights and take bows and congratulate themselves.

I heard that when John McCain was asked about campaign finance reform successes, he started giving it credit for things like the proliferation of televised news outlets, and blogging.

Great shades of “Al Gore invented the Internet!”

John, you’ve been out in the Arizona sun without your hat too long. This is the fifth anniversary of campaign finance. CSAN, CNN, Fox News, et al occurred long before campaign finance reform became law.

It is reminiscent of Diane Feinstein’s assault weapons ban, which was circumvented by gun manufacturers before the ink was dry from its signing ceremony. The only reason gun violence has gone down is that the country is getting older. If Feinstein and friends were really serious about reducing gun violence, they would push to have existing legislation concerning use of a gun in the commission of a crime strictly enforced.

Legislators love to penalize and annoy honest citizens, and to protect and extend the rights of law breakers.

Feinstein’s beloved San Francisco provides many examples of this. Basically law-abiding citizens are taken to court and fined for traffic tickets, building code violations, and the like, while the scofflaws need fear nothing. The homeless in San Francisco make themselves into public nuisances, turning city streets and storefronts into filthy eyesores and urban cesspools.

Protesters in San Francisco violate laws with impunity, then sue the city for arresting them, or have their violations thrown out because the city can’t afford to tie up resources in endless court appearances.

The only ones who obey the laws are the ones who would never dream of violating them in the first place. All the rest see the laws for what they are, vain posturing to take rights from good citizens, and provide opportunities for abuse by the rest.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

2008 Republican Straw Poll

San Francisco Chronicle becomes first Non-news Newspaper

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St. Brigid Catholic Church in San Francisco, closed in 1994, the subject of a front page Chronicle story for three days in a row.

I haven’t written many posts lately, and it’s all because of the San Francisco Chronicle. For most of the past year, the Chronicle has daily provided ignorant and inane articles and editorials that inspire me, that overcome me with waves of righteous indignation, to write responses.

Unfortunately for me, lately the Chronicle has changed a lot, and the biggest change is they have become a “non-news” newspaper. For example, the Sunday Chronicle for March 25, 2007 did not have one newsworthy article in its entire first section.

For example, the Page 1 Headline article was “Food bloggers dish up plates of spicy criticism – Formerly formal discipline of reviewing becomes a free-for-all for online amateurs.”

(Food on the Web - Some sites relating to the search, discovery and criticism of Bay Area cuisine:

  • )

    Stop the presses!

    Below and occupying a third of the front page was “The lost parish,” the first of a three-part story about a Catholic Church in San Francisco that was closed in 1994!

    Hold page one!

    At the bottom of the first page was an opinion-editorial article, “War at home for hearts and minds.”

    Oh, the breathless excitement of anticipation!

    On the left side of the front page were three blocks introducing articles within. The first, in the Sunday Magazine, page 8, “A second try at pregnancy – In the wake of a still-birth, a woman’s diary relates the worry, the hope and the joy en route to motherhood.”

    Then, in the Bay Area section, page B1, “The buzz of the bee – Kids and their parents get caught up in the modern theater of competitive spelling.”

    Finally, in Real Estate, page K1, “Homes with a conscience – Developer builds in Sonoma County with an environmentally sustainable attitude.”

    In tiny print at the bottom, in World News, page A15, “U. N. Security Council bans arms exports, freezes some accounts over Iran’s nuclear program,” and Conflict in Iraq, page A16, “Hundreds, including actor Sean Penn and Rep. Barbara Lee, gather in Oakland to denounce Iraq war.”

    In terms of news to blog about, the Chronicle has totally under-whelmed me.

    Just to prove it wasn't a one-time anomaly, the Monday, March 26 Chronicle Front Page headlined "Disabled placards proliferate," the second part of "The Lost Parish," "Proposed car-smoking ban angers foes of 'nanny' laws," and Campaign 2008 - Unity08 challenges Dems, GOP online."

    How un-newsy can a newspaper get?!

    Where will I go for inspiration?

    What is the URL for Al Gore's website?

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Global Warming - Religion of the Elites

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And did you purchase an Apocalyptic Al indulgence?

Taking his cue from the Muslims, who actually seem to believe their mythology is sound scientifically, Al Gore has made Global Warming into a religion with all the trappings of a self-appointed priesthood.

Ayatollah Al and his Acolytes practice an ancient religion demanding both obeisance to its dogma and human sacrifice. Its priesthood live lives of opulent luxury in stately pleasure domes, employing private jets and limousines to traverse the world in Pharaoh-class style, purchasing carbon-offset “indulgences” to maintain their façade of “carbon neutrality.”

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Gore's carbon footprint

Knowing that increased power production and energy consumption are the essential elements of economic progress, these self-anointed Saviors decree that the masses be kept in misery and poverty and be denied the means of attaining a comfortable life and a secure future for themselves and their families.

While liberals self-righteously congratulate themselves for replacing an incandescent bulb with a low-energy one, buying a hybrid car to accessorize their Hummer, and turning up the air conditioner thermostat a degree, on just about any street in Africa a man wishes his family had electricity for more than four hours a day, that they could afford a tire for their decrepit bicycle, and could find relief from the oppressive heat and malaria-bearing mosquitoes.

“You don’t want economic progress,” say the High Priests of Hypocrisy. “If you consume energy like we do to maintain our indulgent lifestyles, the world climate might get warmer.”

That’s right, it might warm up to resemble the Medieval Warm Period of AD 800 to 1400, when mankind made great progress both culturally and economically.

We can’t have a repeat of that.

If we did the people might forget how much they need Apocalyptic Al to lead them in sacrificial rites to placate the doomsayers and make him feel relevant again.

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The four horsemen of Apocalyptic Global Warming - Poverty, Insecurity, Hunger, and Disease.

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Porky Pelosi’s Political Prowess

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Pelosi trading pork for votes.
Al Gore buying carbon offsets.
It looks like the Democrats have their own commodity exchange!

In the San Francisco Chronicle’s paean to Porky Pelosi’s political prowess (House OK of Iraq timetable proves Pelosi’s prowess, Saturday, March 24, 2007), I noticed no mention that none of her “100 hours” legislation has become law.

Also not mentioned, that the House Democrats adopted rules requiring that appropriation "earmarks" for special purposes identify their authors, and then immediately violated their new rule.

Concerning the pork Pelosi lavished to bribe Democrats to support the Iraq funding bill, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind) noted: "Spinach, shrimp, peanuts and shellfish? That's not a war funding bill, that's the salad bar at Denny's."

The Senate bill has been further sweetened with aid to sugar-beet and sugar-cane growers.

Is Pelosi’s prowess demonstrated by inability to pass legislation? If so, she will go down in history as the Speaker with the most prowess ever.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Global Warming Apocalypse

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Climate change - a challenge and an opportunity for mankind to prove we can adapt to anything and everything Nature throws at us - and prosper!

"Before this century is over, billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic," predicted James Lovelock, a "renowned" environmental scientist.

I think I know what he is renowned for. He wants to be the next Paul Ehrlich, and this is his "Population Bomb" contender.

The first part of his prediction is about as true as true can be. By 2100, approximately twelve billion will die. First, almost all of the current world population of 6,697,969,970 will be dead, given that average life expectancy (at a very optimistic projection) will be somewhere around 70 years. Second, with a 70-year life expectancy, almost all of the over three billion born between 2007 and 2030 will also be dead by 2100. Finally, between 2070 and 2100, given current annual world mortality, at least another two billion will die.

So, as James Lovelock predicts: “Before this century is over, billions of us will die…”

You and I, and James Lovelock, will probably be among them.

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Concerning the second part of his prediction: “… the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic," I think the world’s scientific community is equally at a loss as I am to understand how any mechanism of apocalyptic doom could cause the most adaptive creature on the planet to suffer such a fate.

Since most of the Arctic is ocean, I hope they’re good with boats and like fish. I also hope they don’t commit suicide when they find out about Norwegian taxes.

Leif Erickson’s lie when he named an icecap “Greenland” to fool and encourage potential settlers will finally become truth.

The vast uninhabited expanses of Siberia and Canada will become prime real estate.

Australians and New Zealanders will wonder what all the fuss is about.

Will it be caused by a doubling of atmospheric CO2? Many life forms survived – dare I say thrived? – when CO2 levels were several times higher than the present.

Will it be because of high temperatures? The several recent periods of higher temperatures than present were times of increased progress and prosperity for mankind. What evidence is there that mankind has suddenly become fragile and incapable of adapting to change, when advances in science and increasing resources are steadily improving mankind’s abilities to control and adapt to a changing environment?

Millions of years ago the earth was hotter, and ice free. At other times it was much colder, covered by ice to a far greater extent than the last glacial period 18,000 years ago. We are now near an end to an interglacial (warmer) period, and in about 2,000 years we will probably enter the next glacial (colder) period.

By then a quarter of a trillion humans may have lived – and died – and laughed about the Great Global Warming Panic that began the Twenty First Century.

Then they’ll shiver, bundle up more tightly in their warmest clothes, and pray: “God, when you have a minute, could you turn up the thermostat?”

“Come on, Global Warming!”

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Clinton Lied, People Died (Updated and reposted)

Yesterday was World Cliché Day, and about fifty of the usual Irrelevants gathered on the Post Office sidewalk on Highway One to chant the old chants, and wave the old banners.

As a Conservative, I can appreciate not wasting resources, and the same people and banners turn out to “Free Mumia” and other cop killers, fight genetically modified crops so that millions can continue to be sick and starve, and oppose military interventions anywhere at any time, even to stop genocide.

One of the oldies and perennials was proudly present, the ubiquitous Liberal bumper sticker, "When Clinton lied, no one died."

Of course, "When Clinton lied, no one died" is a perversion of the truth that only the history illiterates and delusionals on the Left believe. Far more died of terrorism during Clinton's presidency than under President Bush. It is a monument to Bush hatred and a defiance of reason that the Left, the custodians of academia, dare continue to feed lies to their ignorant followers when abundant truth is available in voluminous news archives on the Internet.

How many do the Left claim died in Iraq? The highest, wildest, unsubstantiated claim is 100,000, although official Iraqi estimates are under 30,000.

Of course either number pales when compared to the 100,000 to 230,000 Iraqis Saddam murdered during the Clinton presidency, when Bill Clinton and the United Nations waffled about holding Saddam to the commitments he made to end Gulf War I.

At the same time, Iraqi suffering was totally overshadowed by the 800,000 to one million killed in the Rwanda genocide. Again Bill Clinton and the United Nations studiously looked the other way as the widely reported slaughter proceeded. The Rwandans were under the “protection” of the United Nations, and at the time Bill Clinton was one of the strongest supporters of the UN of recent US presidents. Bill Clinton, also known as America’s “first black president,” lied about his knowledge of the genocide and let the slaughter of blacks by blacks continue for 100 hellish and horrific days.

Bill Clinton went to Rwanda in 1998 to “apologize” for not knowing how fast and lethal the Hutu attacks were, but recently released classified documents prove otherwise.

President Bill Clinton's administration knew Rwanda was being engulfed by genocide in April 1994 but buried the information to justify its inaction, according to classified documents made available for the first time.

Senior officials privately used the word genocide within 16 days of the start of the killings, but chose not to do so publicly because the president had already decided not to intervene.

…It took Hutu death squads three months from April 6 to murder an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus and at each stage accurate, detailed reports were reaching Washington's top policymakers.The documents undermine claims by Mr Clinton and his senior officials that they did not fully appreciate the scale and speed of the killings.

Clinton Lied, A Million Rwandans Died – How’d that look on your bumper?

While Clinton was visiting Africa in 1998 to "apologize" for not noticing the Rwandan genocide, he also didn't notice that the First and Second Congo Wars were raging all around him, and that almost four million died during his second term.

Bosnia provided Bill Clinton and the United Nations another opportunity to waffle and procrastinate while observing and doing nothing about ethnic cleansing. Over 100,000 were killed, and over a million were made refugees.

Before the Rwanda genocide, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, killing six and wounding 1,000. That attack set the stage for more dithering and fumbling by Bill Clinton as the terrorists became stronger and bolder.

Hizbollah bombed the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, killing 19 American servicemen and one Saudi, and wounding 372.

In 1998 Islamic terrorists simultaneously bombed United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 257 and wounding 4,000.

The USS Cole was attacked in the Yemeni port of Aden in 2000. Seventeen sailors were killed, and 39 were wounded.

During Bill Clinton’s second term, as he was being entertained by Monica , then lying about it, and trying to put a lid on “Bimbo eruptions” - Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick – Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda planned, organized, staffed, and trained for the attacks on 9/11/2001. When Osama was vulnerable to attack, to assassination, the Clinton presidency was tried and found wanting. The fact that the attacks occurred on President Bush’s “watch” should not obscure the fact that everything but the execution of 9/11 occurred on Clinton’s.

Three thousand died needlessly, like the million in Rwanda, the hundreds of thousands in Iraq, the millions in the Congo, and the hundreds in other places where terrorists struck.

The “Path to 9/11” was prepared and paved by Clinton’s inability to identify, understand, and to make any attempt at combating the growing threat of Islamofascism. As he lied, and denied, bin Laden and other terrorist leaders took heart and were inspired by our inability to face the reality of Islamic terrorism.

Bill Clinton, Madeline Albright, Sandy Berger, Al Gore – when we needed leaders, all we got were these clowns.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Valerie Plame, Highly Trained Covert Agent

I heard a report on the testimony of Valerie Plame Wilson that she was asked about being tailed while going to work at CIA Headquarters at Langley, and she replied that in the CIA you are trained to lose anyone tailing you.

I was aghast to hear such lying by omission. I served as a Russian linguist in the Air Force Security Service, and the first security lesson we learned was that the enemy was not as dumb as we thought. We could think we were very clever and could easily outsmart them, but they knew where we worked and just watched our comings and goings.

As an example, I attended classes on Soviet missile test range activities at the National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade, Maryland in 1964. Our security briefing made it very clear that the Soviets already knew who we were, and had a good idea of why we were at NSA.

Did the Soviets assign an “Ivan Bondsky” agent to track us? No. Identifying and tracking us was low-level clerk work.

First, after completion of Basic Training the Air Force sent Russian language trainees to either the University of Syracuse or to Indiana University. At both Syracuse and Indiana the Air Force had faculty, classrooms, and dormitories separate from the university, and Air Force language students attended classes in uniform. For those unfamiliar with military uniforms, a group which now includes most Americans, I would like to point out that each of us, when in uniform, wore a name tag prominently displayed over a breast pocket.

Since Russian language school lasted nine months, even the dumbest, laziest Soviet spy-clerk had plenty of time to identify us all.

If, after we were in language school for nine months, the Soviets still were unsure what we were up to, our next assignment may have helped clear up any confusion. We were all sent to the United States Air Force Security Service Headquarters at Goodfellow Air Force Base, San Angelo, Texas, for three months of Radio Intercept School.

Of course the Soviets didn't know that Goodfellow AFB was a communications intelligence base, right?

From Goodfellow most Russian linguists were sent to work at bases in England, Germany, Italy, Korea, Japan, and Alaska. However, as I previously mentioned, some of us were sent to NSA for specialized training in intercepting Soviet missile test activities. After NSA we were sent to one of four bases – Karamürsel, Trabzon, and Samsun, Turkey; or Peshawar, Pakistan.

Since the Air Force chose these four sites because of proximity to the Soviet missile test ranges, we might credit the Soviets with enough intelligence to figure out why we were there too, mightn't we?

Maybe the Soviets were also smart enough to notice that we used both HF (high frequency) and VHF (very high frequency) antennas. Since aircraft used VHF instead of HF, they probably figured out that a bunch of Air Force Russian language specialists were interested in more than just aircraft movement. What Soviet activity was conducted on HF?

Of interest to the United States Air Force, only the missile test ranges.

Of course, we never told our wives and families anything about what we were doing. They were surprised many years later when we were finally “cold” for intelligence purposes to find out the details of our jobs. They knew all along that our assignment was to intercept Soviet radio communications, because our unclassified job title was Russian Language Intercept and Analysis Specialist. However, for over a decade, only those of us with specialized missile net training, and the Soviets of course, knew we were intercepting test missile developments.

So it is with Valerie Plame, “covert” agent. Only an idiot or a Democrat would think the “enemy” didn’t know she once was, but no longer is, a covert agent.

For those with limited abilities, let us run through it in simple terms. To aid your comprehension, I’ll type very slowly.

A woman is seen going to work daily at CIA Headquarters, Langley, Virginia. As is the standard practice, her identification is determined by tracing back from her automobile license plate and other bits of public information.

“It seems that she worked overseas for several years.”

“Interesting, isn’t it, that she now works at the CIA?”

“I wonder who she was working for in her overseas jobs before she started working at the CIA?” puzzles the simple agent of an unidentified foreign intelligence service.

“I see in Who’s Who that she is married to a former ambassador to Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe, Joseph C. Wilson 4th.”

“I see that over ten years ago the CIA inadvertently gave the Cubans access to her identity. I wonder if Cuba told the Russians?”

“No, of course not. The CIA knows the Cubans and Russians are too stupid to trace Ms. Plame to where she worked then and after, and who she worked with and for.”

“It’s always good to have stupid enemies.”

“The motto of the Clinton administration: ‘Never overestimate the intelligence of your enemy.’”

“Lucky for the CIA and Ms. Plame that they taught her how to avoid being tailed to work.”

“I see she also notes that not everyone on the Georgetown cocktail circuit knew she was a covert agent.”

“I’ll drink to that.”

”для здарове, товариш!”

“çok güzel!”



“ 好运气!”

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hurricane Al Gore and the IPCC

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"You dare challenge global warming with scientific debate?"

I’ve written before how the pronouncements of the global-warming-is-man-made-and-we’re-all-going-to-die crowd sound both apocalyptic and reminiscent of biblical plagues. I’ve also written of the similarities between modern environmental doomsayers and ancient soothsayers.

Harken to the ancients, and how the future was foretold by “reading” the entrails of animals (including humans) and interpreting cosmic “signs.”

An eagle couldn’t just land on a cactus to devour a snake. No way. That eagle on that cactus eating that snake was a prophecy fulfilled. To the eagle, it was dinner. To the watching priests, it was destiny.

So it is with Al Gore and his Acolytes, and the high priests of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). To them, a hurricane like Katrina is a sign of what is to come. A lot of hurricanes in 2005 were a sign that what is to come has already came. However, when 2006 bestowed few hurricanes, it wasn’t taken as a sign of anything.

I guess some “signs” can just be ignored, if what they imply are inconvenient in the light of telling greater “truth.”

Compared to the current period, there were many more powerful hurricanes in the period 1926-1935, and 1900-1905 was almost as active. What were those periods a sign of?

If man-made, greenhouse-gas caused global warming is responsible for increased hurricane activity now, mustn’t it have been responsible then? If so, hurricane activity should have increased steadily since 1900, because CO2 certainly did. Why the long period of low hurricane activity during a period of steadily increasing carbon dioxide?

What made the hurricanes of 2005 special? Were they special because Al Gore and the IPCC were looking for a sign?

Historically, nothing has made the current hurricane activity special. However, the long period of low activity following 1935, when temperatures fell as carbon dioxide increased, were finally reversed by a return to the same sort of increased activity which has characterized hurricanes for hundreds of years. In the meantime, during the quiet period, mankind invested billions in developing the choice coastal properties that are jeopardized when the natural hurricane cycle brings back strong storms like the ones early in the twentieth century.

People like to live by the sea, and benign weather, plus insurance rates for coastal properties kept low by regulation, encouraged them to do so.

According to some scientists, the number and intensity of hurricanes have increased. According to others, all that has increased is our ability to identify and measure them. Weather satellites and devices for measuring wind speed and hurricane strength have only been in use since about 1980. Less than a hundred years ago, a hurricane that didn’t make a landfall had a high probability of not being counted.

Ones that did come ashore, but hit what were then mostly sparsely populated regions, would not have been accurately measured.

Speaking of measurements, what does science estimate global warming would add to hurricane forces. Supposedly, if water temperature increased one degree Fahrenheit, wind speed would increase two percent. Water temperatures off the coast of Africa have increased about one degree, so a very strong hurricane would have a top wind speed two to three miles per hour higher.

Hardly a devastating increase in power.

Anyway, the IPCC in all its wisdom says that the hurricanes we are experiencing show that man-made global warming driven by increased carbon dioxide is already here. I think I would be more convinced of the logic of their position if they would explain why the very things that used to be considered natural now only occur because mankind is doing something bad.

If increased carbon dioxide causes it, why did hurricane activity decrease significantly during a period when carbon dioxide went up over twenty-five percent?

It was up when carbon dioxide was down, and down when carbon dioxide was up. Now it is up when carbon dioxide is up, except one year hurricane activity was up, the next it was down, but carbon dioxide was up both years.

Doesn’t it seem like something else is going on here? The correlation of hurricanes and carbon dioxide is, being charitable, non-existent or coincidental. The correlation of hurricanes with solar activity during the last century is direct. So why are we blaming hurricanes on man-made global warming, when it seems to be more likely that it is the sun, not carbon dioxide, that is driving hurricane activity?

Is it because we can’t dictate mankind’s personal and economic activities if the sun is to blame?

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Walkie Poos

While stationed at RAF Bentwaters, U.K. 1970 to 1975, we lived on The Street Farm, Saxmundham, Suffolk. Marilynn was very active in the Officer Wife’s Club, and one of her friends was Ida, the wife of LtCol Bill Juhrs, our Base’s elderly Safety Officer. In the early spring of 1972, the Vice Wing Commander and his wife gave them a puppy. They loved the puppy, and Bill took it with him all day in his pickup as he made his safety rounds, but the puppy was too active for them to care for and exercise in their small house and yard on base, so they sadly gave it to Marilynn.

Dilly on The Street Farm, Saxmundham, U.K. 1972

When we got Dilly, she had already left most of her puppy days behind. She was still playful, but also well trained, and never gave us any puppy problems such as messing in the house, or chewing on things.

Dilly was a wonderful dog for our family. She was medium size, short black hair with white patches and tummy, long legs and body, deep chest, small waist, about 35 pounds, loved to play with me and our three sons, was a fast, tireless runner, and was never heard to bark. She whined softly once, when I accidentally stepped on her paw, so I knew she wasn’t mute, but besides that she was silent.

She had been named for the couple that originally gave her as a present, Richard and Phyllis = Dick and Philly = Dilly.

Jeffrey and Dilly after a busy day on The Street Farm

Dilly was a perfect dog for farm life. The Street Farm was surrounded by fields for running, and the wheat and barley fields, which the British called “corn,” contained many hare for her to chase.

One rainy afternoon I took Dilly for a walk in the fields, and just after we passed the last farm building, a hare dashed across the recently plowed field. Dilly was off after the hare in an instant, and was gaining on it rapidly when the hare made a sharp left turn back towards the farm buildings. In my mind’s eye I can still see Dilly suddenly turning left as hard as she could. She had been running much faster than the hare, and it was difficult to change direction at high speed on the wet, plowed earth. Her body was almost parallel to the ground, her legs churning, her tail lashing like a whip to steady her balance as she turned and slid, and was suddenly running at full speed again and gaining on the hare as her body coiled and uncoiled with each bounding stride.

I still get tears in my eyes thinking about it. Dilly running at full speed across that field was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.

The hare darted into another sharp turn, and Dilly slid – turned - clawed her way after it again. And again. And again, and just when I thought the hare “was a goner,” it reached the safety of the thick brush beside a small farm pond.

If Dilly was disappointed, it never showed. She sniffed a bit, then pranced happily back to me with what I was sure was a doggy smile.

Dilly knew how to relax

One of the many characters on British television was a woman who had a show on dog training, and one of her catch phrases was “walkies,” to signal a dog it was time for its walk. Marilynn and the boys quickly taught Dilly that that was the eagerly awaited signal for me to take her on her evening walk. Since one of the purposes of the evening walk was also to give Dilly an opportunity to “poo,” the signal quickly became, “Dilly! Walkie poos!”

That was all Dilly needed to hear to race to the door and start a hopping, tail wagging dance while waiting for me to get the leash and let her out.

Safe sunning and dignity go together

Our wonderful five years in England ended all too soon, and we set off in February of 1975 for Scott AFB near Belleville, Illinois. One of the last things I did before we left England was to deliver Dilly to a kennel that would care for her for a month, and then ship her via air cargo to Lambert Field in Saint Louis.

Bruce and Jeff love Dilly

We soon found and bought a nice house on the south side of Belleville, and Dilly made herself at home. As with most homes in Illinois, ours was only a block from a cornfield. Dilly may have been disappointed there weren’t as many hare, but probably she felt the number of feral cats abounding more than made up for the lack of hare.

The thing Dilly liked most about Illinois was the snow, and what she liked most about snow was snowstorms. During the winter it was already dark when I got home from work at Scott AFB. We usually had dinner at about six, then I would settle back to read the newspaper. However, this bucolic, relaxing scene never was destined to last long if a storm was blowing through. If the wind was howling, the snow blowing, the boys knew it was time to announce: “Dilly! Walkie poos!”

Dilly would run to the door, both body and tail wagging vigorously, looking at the door, looking at me, looking back at the door, almost beside herself in eager anticipation. I put on my sweater, thick parka, thick socks, felt insulated snowmobile boots, snowmobile mittens (very handy, even if, like me, you have never ridden on a snowmobile), and wrapped a scarf around my neck. Finally I got a flashlight, and Dilly’s leash, and opened the door.

Dilly would dash out the door, leap over the bushes by the porch, race across the snow-covered lawn, cross the street, and into the cornfield. I would plod along behind, the Incredible Bulk, hardly recognizable as human under thirty pounds of cold-weather gear and wishing I had more.

In the meantime, Dilly would be gloriously running, bounding, sliding through the snow covered cornfield. The stronger the wind, the heavier the snowfall, the entire better to Dilly. We never had a blizzard in our four Illinois winters, according to my Illini neighbors, although I thought they must draw the dividing line between a snow storm and a blizzard awfully high.

We left Scott AFB and Illinois for Hickam AFB and Hawaii in the summer of 1978. Marilynn had just had a mastectomy for breast cancer, leaving her with an eight-inch open incision where a breast had been. With our two youngest sons, Scott and Jeffrey, she went back to California by plane to stay at her parent’s home in Vallejo. I loaded a rental truck with all the things we didn’t ship to Hawaii, attached our red VW station wagon with a bumper hitch, and set off with Dilly as my companion. My mother-in-law, Priscilla, drove our 1974 Jaguar XJ6 (a memento of England) with our oldest son, Bruce, for companionship.

Along the way we stopped briefly in Bellevue, Nebraska, to load some household items that Marilynn’s recently divorced sister Deanna wanted from the house where her ex-husband, an Air Force officer, still lived while working at Offut AFB.

When we arrived in California I immediately put Dilly on a flight for Honolulu, where she was transported to the Animal Quarantine Station in Halawa Valley to be held for 120 days to prevent rabies from being introduced in Hawaii.

Dilly had already been in quarantine for 30 days when we arrived in Hawaii, with 90 days to go. This started one of the most heart-warming, heart aching periods I have ever experienced with a pet.

We would visit Dilly at Halawa about once a week, and Marilynn and the boys insisted I go in her cage first. The reason was than she was so overjoyed at seeing us, she would jump all over almost uncontrollably for several minutes, wagging her whole body, paws on my chest, licking me, finally settling down to let me pet her quietly and rub her tummy.

When she had calmed enough, Marilynn and the boys came in to join us, and Dilly made the rounds of greeting each and letting each know how much she loved and missed them.

Then it would be time to leave, and she would watch us intently, tail still wagging constantly, and then we would be out of sight. I would imagine her sitting there, silently watching, waiting for us to come back.

September 1978 finally arrived, and Dilly was finally free to come home with us to our townhouse on Fox Boulevard, Hickam AFB. It was small, three bedrooms on two floors, about 900 square feet, but it was comfortable and airy. One of the good features was a fenced back yard, small, but a nice area for Dilly to relax and stretch.

Her big event each day was still the evening “walkie poos.” After sundown, Dilly and I would walk about a block, past the tennis courts and baseball diamonds, past the base library, to the big lawn lined with cocoanut palms surrounding the Base Headquarters building. I would let Dilly off the leash, and she would trot over towards the bushes next to Headquarters.

The big attraction for Dilly was the feral cats that the ladies working at Headquarters put out food for every day. The cats would prowl around the building each evening, and Dilly would search for one to chase. As soon as she spotted one, the chase was on!

Since Dilly never gave a warning bark, the first sign of danger the cat would notice was a flash of white fur on the chest of a hard-charging black dog.

The cat would bolt towards the safety of the bushes around the building, with Dilly in hot pursuit. Not only did the bushes give the cats sanctuary, but there were also holes in the vents that the small cats could dive through to get away under the building, that were much to small for Dilly to follow behind.

On our usual half-hour “walk,” Dilly would usually get to chase three or four cats. She would bowl over a cat now and then, but I never saw her bite one (or be bitten). It seemed harmless - fun and exercise for Dilly, and a break in boredom for the cats.

When the Air Force gave me a humanitarian reassignment to Travis AFB in 1982, to be near Marilynn’s family in Vallejo for help and support during her cancer treatment, we picked up a new addition to our family just before we left Hawaii.

Our eldest son Bruce was given a little black kitten he named Ash for a “graduation” present from one of his classmates at Radford High School. We sent Dilly on a cargo flight back to California, and I carried Ash on the plane back in a little basket I held on my lap or set on the aircraft floor between my feet.

It didn’t take Ash and Dilly long to become good friends and play together. Dilly would jab her nose at Ash (now usually called by her nickname “Ashley”), and Ashley would sit up and jab with her forepaws like a boxer. Then they would curl up and sleep together.

The family considered Dilly to be my dog because she seemed to be next to me most of the time. Ashley was Bruce’s, and Marilynn said she would like a pet of her own. We found an ad for kittens in San Francisco, and Marilynn fell in love with a lively little white one she named “Dusty.”

Dusty and Ashley both got along wonderfully with Dilly, although they didn’t seem to care for each other at all.

When Ashley wanted some excitement, she would pounce on Dilly in our living room, and then race away down the hall towards the rear bedroom with Dilly in pursuit. As often as not, Dilly would soon race back into the living room with little Ashley in pursuit. They would fly over and across the couch, jab at each other a few times in the middle of the living room, then the pursuer would again become the pursued, and switch, then switch again.

Surprisingly, with all the mad running and rough play fighting, I never saw or heard any anger or injury, and nothing was damaged or broken.

Besides not barking, we had never seen Dilly swim, so one day the boys gently carried her into the swimming pool and released her. Without kicking, splashing, or any other motion, she sank slowly in about four feet of water and stood on the pool bottom looking up at me. I jumped in and pulled her up to the surface, then set her back on the pool deck. At no point did she show any sign of distress, nor any sign that she would ever try to swim.

About a year later, about the time of her fourteenth birthday, it seemed she became weak and feeble almost overnight. I took her to the veterinarian, and he said she wasn’t sick, just old, would probably die soon, and that there was nothing that could be done to make her get better.

I took her back home, but she was so weak she couldn’t go out for “walkie poos” anymore, and she looked very distressed as she had an accident on the floor for the first time in her life.

Marilynn and the boys said goodbye to her, and I took her to the vet to be euthanized. I wanted to be with her when she was put down, to have her head on my lap and be petting her, but the vet didn’t allow it, so I gave her some last pats and rubs and left quietly.

I don’t remember driving home.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Global Warming - An Al Gore Fable

There were six men of Al Gore-stan
who stuck to Al like glue,
As he preached of global warming,
with science quite untrue,
Al blamed it all on mankind,
not giving Nature its due.

(With abject apologies to John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887), author of “The Blind Men and the Elephant” subtitled A Hindu Fable, which is included at the end of this post.)

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(I wonder what the blind Hindi would have thought if they encountered Al Gore instead of the elephant? Would they have noticed the difference?)

Al was already preaching Environmental Apocalypse Now (remember "Earth in the Toilet"?), but no one was paying much attention because they could see that the more prosperous a nation was, the better care that nation took of its environment. Not only did prosperous nations take better care of the environment, but they also exported funds through aid and tourism to help less prosperous nations improve their environmental stewardship too.

“We can’t do much with this,” Al surmised. “No one gets worked up when the developed nations, and in particular the United States, are the ones doing good.”

“Go questing, loyal Apostles of Al, and find me a cause!”

(“Losing the election was bad enough, but being totally irrelevant is even worse,” Al thought.)

The first quested mightily, and soon noticed that, through freedom, many nations were prosperous, and many others were moving rapidly in the same direction. The common thread linking the two groups was that, to increase production and prosperity, they all consumed more power.

“This won’t do,” the Al Gore Acolyte muttered. “At this rate, no one will think the world needs government planning and control of all resources, and everyone will be free to buy property and accumulate wealth in order to take care of themselves and their families. What will we do when the people find out they don’t need us?”

“Aha!” he said, “they’ll need us to save them from disasters. Everybody panicked over the threat of global cooling in the 1970’s, but that panic ended when it started to warm up again. Why not global warming this time?”

“It’s perfect! We can blame it on the United States, because they have prospered more than any nation ever, and no one likes the thing – be it person or nation - that they envy.”

The second Acolyte of Al Gore-stan saw a graph based on ice core samples that showed temperatures and carbon dioxide atmospheric concentrations had moved together for millions of years.

“Perfect,” he cried. “Increased carbon dioxide caused higher temperatures. Since the Industrial Revolution, mankind has increased the output of carbon dioxide. Therefore, more carbon dioxide means higher temperatures, and obviously the only way to control it is for governments to control industrial production. And lifestyles, too.”

(At this point we pause to inject a dose of sanity. The first dose contains the knowledge that temperature increases preceded, not followed, increases in carbon dioxide.

The second is that climate fluctuations are natural, and have occurred hundreds of times, in greater magnitudes, than the current instance of natural global warming.

The third is that temperatures fell from 1945 to 1970, while atmospheric CO2 rose steadily.)

Al’s third Zealot was concerned that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control (IPCC) had already blown the case for unprecedented man-made global warming by including a graph showing it had been warmer 1000 years ago. Fortunately he found a pseudo-scientific study by Mann et al, dubbed the “hockey stick,” that conveniently erased the earlier warmer period, called the Medieval Warm Period, and also, for good measure, scrubbed the more recent Little Ice Age.

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(The graph the IPCC had to get rid of)
(It just wouldn’t do, for panic-mongering purposes, to show that Nature, with no help from man’s activities, was responsible for larger climate fluctuations in the past 2000 years – not once, but twice - than we have seen in the current period.)

Number four found glaciers in retreat, and the Antarctic losing ice shelves – and couldn’t find the many more glaciers that are stable or growing, or that Antarctica overall is colder and growing.

Number five found the Snows of Kilimanjaro disappearing – just as they have been naturally for over a hundred years.

Number six found four polar bears in distress, and commissioned a cartoon depicting their stress, while not finding that there are twice as many now as forty years ago.

(Six also didn’t check earlier warm periods to find that polar bears survived the much warmer 1930’s, the Medieval Warm Period, and the even warmer Roman Empire period. Since polar bears naturally spend about half of each year on bare land, not ice, it is a fundamental mystery how polar bears became the poster animal for man-made global warming.)
So six Acolytes of Al Gore-stan
pontificated loud and long,
Blowing hot air in each breath
exceeding stiff and strong;
Though they thought they fooled us all,
they got everything all wrong!

“The Blind Men and the Elephant” subtitled A Hindu Fable, by John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)

There were six men of Hindustan,
to learning much inclined,
Who went to see an elephant,
though all of them were blind,
That each by observation
might satisfy his mind.

The first approached the elephant,
and happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
at once began to bawl,
"This mystery of an elephant
is very like a wall."

The second, feeling of the tusk,
cried, "Ho, what have we here,
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear,
This wonder of an elephant
is very like a spear."

The third approached the elephant,
and happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
thus boldly up and spake,
"I see," quoth he,
"the elephant is very like a snake."

The fourth reached out an eager hand,
and felt above the knee,
"What this most wondrous beast
is like is very plain" said he,
"'Tis clear enough the elephant
is very like a tree."

The fifth who chanced to touch the ear
said, "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
deny the fact who can;
This marvel of an elephant
is very like a fan."

The sixth no sooner had begun
about the beast to grope,
Than seizing on the swinging tail
that fell within his scope;
"I see," said he, "the elephant
is very like a rope."

So six blind men of Hindustan
disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
exceeding stiff and strong;
Though each was partly in the right,
they all were in the wrong!

So oft in theologic wars
The disputants I wean
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean
And prate about an elephant
Not one of them has seen!

At least they were closer to the truth than Al Gore and his merry band of misinformation mavens.
(Thanks to Steverino, who alerted me to a last verse I had never before encountered, which now is added, and which sums it all up perfectly!)
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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Almost Fetch With Buddy

Buddy with Alice and I, and his little sister Duchess

We live in paradise, and a beautiful sandy beach in a sheltered cove is just a ten-minute walk from our house. Yesterday Buddy and I were playing on the beach while Alice read her book. Buddy and I were playing “Almost Fetch,” one of Buddy’s favorite games. I get a driftwood stick, a bit smaller than my fist, and throw it down the beach. Buddy races after it, tries to pick it up while running at full speed, usually misses, turns and races back to it, usually misses again, then finally picks it up briefly, flips it in the air, and then watches it land on the sand. Then he waits for me come to pick it up and throw it again.

Tide-pooling can be fun!

Almost Fetch is really a great game for Buddy and me. Alice likes it too. Both of us know of friends and family who have dogs that are “fetching fools.” As soon as they spot a visitor, they get their ball and drop it at the visitor’s feet. They insist that the ball be thrown for them to fetch, then race back to repeat the process over and over, no matter that the person doesn’t want to play for more than a fetch or two.

"A whole beach to throw at, and all you could hit was the water?"

Buddy’s different. Playing Almost Fetch is never his idea, and he’s ready to quit when you are, and often before. Plus playing Almost Fetch with Buddy means you and Buddy get almost the same amount of exercise. Unlike Real Fetch, where the dog gets the ball and brings it back, in Almost Fetch the thrower has to go get the ball or stick themselves after each throw. All Buddy does is stand beside it and wait for you to pick it up.

Yesterday I decided to make a bit more of a game of it, and now and then after a throw I would race Buddy to see if I could beat him to the stick. I wasn’t surprised that I never even came close, but I was surprised at how easily I could put my 64-year old body into a short sprint over the sand.

Not a plod, a jog, a shuffle, a stumble, but an honest-to-goodness sprint, up on the balls of my feet, knees pumping high, stride long and smooth.

Wow! What a feeling!

I have been jogging almost daily for about thirty-five years. Recently, for just over a month, I hadn’t jogged at all because of a lingering cough and cold. Yesterday morning I restarted jogging, and yesterday afternoon was sprinting. Double wow!

The realization that I was sprinting, even though for only short distances, jogged my memory. How long has it been since I last sprinted? Where was I, and what was I doing?

It didn’t take long for a memory to form. The last time was almost ten years ago. At the time I was working for Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California, as an internal auditor. Every day, instead of lunch, I would run a double loop of Lake Merritt with buddies I worked with at Kaiser: Jerome, Robin, and Henry.

In multiracial Oakland, our little jogging group fit right in. Robin and I were white, but Robin would use Chinese words he learned from his wife to express his admiration for any pretty girl we saw on the way. Henry was Korean, a calm fellow with a ready smile, strong Christian beliefs, and was the acknowledged expert in the software program we used to record and report our internal audit work.

Jerome was black. And one of the best guys I have known and worked with.

For a white to express admiration for a black person is a touchy subject. Just about anything the white says can be interpreted as patronizing.

We used to joke about a fellow dancing with a girl, who was very pretty even though she was overweight. Searching for a compliment, he told her: “For a fat girl, you sure don’t sweat much.”

Democrat Senator Joe Biden, far from the sharpest knife in the cutlery drawer, said of fellow Democrat Senator Barack Obama: “I mean, you got the first (sort of) mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

Then Joe could have added: “and he doesn’t sweat much, either.”

Instead he continued, "I mean, that's a storybook, man."

Anyway, in the full knowledge that anything and everything a conservative white writes about a black person they admire is providing ammunition for someone to call the remarks patronizing and racist, here goes.

Jerome was one of the best internal auditors I ever worked with, and I worked with many outstanding ones. Another that comes to mind from my Kaiser days, John Connors, is also black, also one of the best.

Jerome grew up in Oakland, and was educated in Jesuit schools before he went on to the University of California. The Jesuit training showed in the way he organized and performed his audit duties. He was calm, thorough, and I enjoyed working on his projects.

He was also a good, steady runner, and even though he was only twenty years younger than me, which meant he was already getting ancient, he was ready to push the pace at times.

I remember one time in particular, when we were about a half-mile from the finish of our five-mile run, and he speeded up. Henry, Robin, and I followed suit, but soon Henry and Robin fell back, leaving just the two of us racing faster and faster over the not too-uncrowded, not too-level Oakland sidewalks. The last part of our dash took us off the busy sidewalks and down a walkway beside Lake Merritt, and we were neck and neck and going for all we had.

I had a strange sensation that the faster I ran, the easier it seemed. In my mind’s eye today I have this vision of the two of us, a picture of two football players ending practice. Me looking like a tight end at 6’ 2” and 225 pounds, Jerome like a halfback, on a sprint towards an end zone somewhere over there. And each of us has a ball, and the first one over the line scores the points.

I think I just edged him by a nose at the finish.

I think he believed it was the other way.

However it ended, we both won.

Maybe I can describe how thankful I am now to remember that Jerome inspired me to do much more than I thought I could.

Yesterday playing Almost Fetch with Buddy brought back the memory of how it felt the last time I ran with the wind.

Ran like the wind.

I know I’m going to feel it again.

I’m not sure when, or where, or how, but I will.

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Liberals Don't Understand The National Debt Either

I have exchanged posts on the Contra Costa Times Forum with several Liberals, and one of them, Medawhite, is in truth a flaming Leftist. Much of what Medawhite writes seems to be derived from such bastions of socialism, and more precisely communism, such as International Answer.

You can find the full text of Medawhite's post here on the Contra Costa Time forum. This post was a reply to one of mine posted here. Which was a reply to an earlier Medawhite one posted here.

I have taken excerpts of Medawhite's post (highlighted in maroon below), then followed with my comments.

I will not argue on the level of GDP spent on the military between then and now since the economy today has no relation to the economy of 1950 which did not have an interstate highway system or air transport system that in any way could be considered commercially and militarily viable. Therefore your argument at best is deceptive and at worst pure dung heaped on what might otherwise be an intelligent debate.

What the interstate highway system or air transport system has to do with anything is beyond me. We had an excellent railroad system, and a huge number of cargo ships. The point was and still is that we are spending a much smaller percentage of gross domestic product on the military now than we used to. It’s not my argument. Armies of academics, economists, and statisticians have compiled, analyzed, and reported these statistics for over sixty years.

That seems to be news to you, so I doubt you have any college-level economics, history, or statistics on your transcript – at least not with a passing grade.

I see you don’t like graphs. You consider them boring. Probably because you don’t have a clue about how to read them, or what they mean.

On your farm subsidy argument: If agribusiness is so efficient and productive then why is agribusiness subsidized in the first place?

In 1929, before agriculture subsidization, Americans spent 23.9% of their income on food, by 1997 this had lowered to only 10.7%.

Agricultural subsidies were started by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a Democrat, as part of his program of relief to farmers during the Great Depression. Republicans have been trying to get rid of it ever since. However, it has worked to stabilize prices and agricultural production. Today we have more food, more variety, and lower prices for food of any nation at any time in all history.

Even our poor are fat.

If we were discussing oil subsidies that would be a different matter since the US taxpayers pay billions to the oil industry to keep a gallon of gas lower at the pump here than the world market prices elsewhere.

How wrong you are. The billions Americans pay to the oil industry are for oil, not subsidies. The higher prices elsewhere, forinstance in Europe, are due to the high taxes European nations place on oil, and have nothing to do with world market prices.

As an example, when I was the base budget officer in England 1970-1975, the United States Air Force and the British bought gasoline from the same supplier. We didn’t pay any taxes on gasoline when we bought it on our Air Force base, so we paid about twenty cents a gallon and the Base Exchange made a profit on that. Off the base, the same gasoline was sold for about seventy-five cents a gallon, almost four times as much. The difference was taxes, not market prices.

Fuel taxes account for more than half of every Euro spent at the gas pump. Gasoline recently hit €1.36 a liter, the equivalent of $6.40 a gallon.

Bild (a German publication) warns that new taxes being proposed (higher sales tax, a health care tax and a surtax on rich people) could strangle Germany's economic rebound. However, both high taxes and very high gasoline taxes are necessary to raise money to pay down huge public debts. In Europe gasoline taxes are paid into the general fund, whereas in the United States they are treated as user fees and go into a fund for transportation-related projects.

I find that Europe is not in anyway heading for disaster; quite to the contrary of your contention on the matter the world is slowly trying to convert to euros because they see the impending disaster that is inevitable; that the dollar will be devalued to the point of no longer being the currency of world exchange.

You really need to crack open a book on basic economics. Taxes in Europe are very high, and going higher because the ratio of older retirees to younger workers is very high and rising rapidly. One reason among many is that the European birthrate is very low, is falling, and has already fallen below the replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman in most countries.

European birthrates are the lowest in the world - and the lowest sustained rates in history: 1.2 per woman in the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Latvia and Poland, far below the rate of 2.1 needed to maintain population.

West European countries are also suffering: Greece, Italy, and Spain have had rates of 1.3 and under for a decade

Birthrates have reached a historic and prolonged low in European countries, from Italy and Germany to Poland and the Czech Republic, straining pension plans and depleting the work force across the Continent.

The number of elderly already exceeds the number of young people in many countries, and the European Union's executive arm, alarmed by the trend, estimates that the bloc will have a shortfall of 20 million workers by 2030 if the low birthrates persist.

Will the last Europeans please send any Euros they have left – not many after taxes, to be sure – to some other needy socialist country? Any socialist country will do, because they are all on their way to economic ruin because of their high taxes and expensive welfare societies.

Social Security comes to mind when speaking of entitlements so I will use it for my talking point. First of all even the word entitlement is a misnomer since the operating funds come directly from payroll deductions and is paid for by the recipient.

Wrong again! Social Security payments are transfer payments which are paid from funds collected from current workers to the recipients. The recipients did not pay for the Social Security payments they are receiving now. All those funds they paid in when they were working were immediately paid out to former recipients, and any excess was spent by the government to cover shortfalls in the general fund. Social Security is a “pay-as-you-go” program, not a pension plan.

It’s also a very unfair program. Historically, the class of person drawing the most from Social Security often paid in the least, i.e., the relatively long-lived elderly white women whose life expectancy is almost eighty years, many of whom were stay-at-home mothers and now draw social security as a widow. The lowest life expectancy is a black male, who is often single, and on average dies at about the time he becomes eligible to receive full Social Security benefits. Since Social Security is not vested, when he dies all his potential future benefits disappear.

They wouldn’t if Social Security was privatized, but Democrats can’t stand the thought of losing all that money to spend on their pet programs now.

The only one that is receiving the entitlement is the US government that raids the Social Security fund as though it were a slush fund to finance the military with all the glee of someone that has found free money.

A Democrat, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and a Democrat congress are the ones you can thank for that. It’s Republicans who are trying to privatize Social Security, and get the government’s filthy hands off it.

By the way, since that raid on Social Security was started by the Democrats in the late 1960’s, expenditures for the military have decreased relative to expenditures for social programs. The Democrats used it as a slush fund, but not to finance the military, but to pay for rapidly increasing costs of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as the share spent on the military shrank rapidly.

Remember this graph I included in the post you are commenting on now?

Oh, that’s right, you don’t do graphs.

Graphs may have a place in some instances, but in a debate they are really boring and frankly useless as a learning tool.

This chart shows that as Defense Spending has shrunk in terms of percentage of GDP, social spending has increased rapidly.

Federal Outlays, 1962 to 2001
(As a percentage of GDP)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Source: Congressional Budget Office.

If entitlements are absorbing all of the money; why was the US budget in the black when Clinton left office and is now seven trillion in the red with everlasting war spending by the Pentagon and the corporate raid on the US Treasury of 1.2 trillion dollars handed to them by Congress in 2002?

The current year budgets were in the black during the last years of the Clinton presidency, but the National Debt was 6 trillion dollars when he left office. You are mistaking the current budget deficit or surplus with the National Debt.

The budget under Bill Clinton went into surplus because of two main reasons. 1) Clinton cut military expenditures because of the perceived “peace dividend” resulting from the collapse of the Soviet Union, and 2) the strong economy provided ample tax revenues up until the Clinton Recession, which started in October 2000 following the collapse and huge stock market losses in the middle of 2000.

The current high tax revenues resulting from strong economic growth resulting from the Bush tax cuts which brought us quickly out of the Clinton Recession have brought the current budget deficit down to a projection of less than 200 billion dollars (Even with coming out of recession, recovering from the stock market crash, 9/11, Katrina, and the Iraq War).

However, the fly in the ointment is that the National Debt does not reflect the huge costs that will hit soon and rise sharply as Baby Boomers reach Social Security and Medicare age. The first Baby Boomer reaches reduced Social Security eligibility (62) in two years, and Medicare eligibility (65) in five years.

Both Social Security and Medicare will be bankrupt in less than a decade after that.

One reason things are in such a mess is because we have citizens like you, who don’t know the difference between a current budget year deficit or surplus and the National Debt.

Unfortunately, as ignorant as you are, you’re far from being alone.

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