Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Some Miscellaneous Good Stuff

1. Oh how I wish that we had a Republican politician with the oratorical skills and the courage to rival this British Member of the House of Parliament. And how I hope we will not be voicing similar thoughts after a year or so of Obama.

Video is also located here.
2. The only surprise in this opinion piece is that it was published in the Los Angeles Times. Perhaps they are reaching out to some traditional Americans to try to save themselves from bankruptcy after slavishly following the liberal line all these years.

Take the Limbaugh Challenge

Liberals who hate Rush Limbaugh -- why don't you actually listen to his show before bashing him?

By Andrew Klavan March 29, 2009 Los Angeles Times

If you are reading this newspaper, the likelihood is that you agree with the Obama administration's recent attacks on conservative radio talker Rush Limbaugh. That's the likelihood; here's the certainty: You've never listened to Rush Limbaugh.

Oh no, you haven't. Whenever I interrupt a liberal's anti-Limbaugh rant to point out that the ranter has never actually listened to the man, he always says the same thing: "I've heard him!"

On further questioning, it always turns out that by "heard him," he means he's heard the selected excerpts spoon-fed him by the distortion-mongers of the mainstream media. These excerpts are specifically designed to accomplish one thing: to make sure you never actually listen to Limbaugh's show, never actually give him a fair chance to speak his piece to you directly.

By lifting some typically Rushian piece of outrageous hilarity completely out of context, the distortion gang knows full well it can get you to widen your eyes and open your mouth in the universal sign of Liberal Outrage. Your scrawny chest swelling with a warm sense of completely unearned righteousness, you will turn to your second spouse and say, "I'm not a liberal, I'm a moderate, and I'm tolerant of a wide range of differing views -- but this goes too far!"

There is more untruthfulness in that statement than in a speech by President Obama. Even the commas are self-deceiving. You're not a moderate or you wouldn't be reading this newspaper. You're not tolerant of a wide range of views; you are tolerant of a narrow spectrum of variations on your views. And, whatever you claim, you still haven't listened to Rush Limbaugh.

Which leads to a question: Why not? I mean, come on, the guy's one of the figures of the age. Aren't you even curious? I listen to all your guys: NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, The Times, the New York Times, the New Yorker -- I check out the whole left-wing hallelujah chorus. Why are you afraid to spend a couple of hours listening to Limbaugh's show and seriously considering if and why you disagree with him?

Let me guess at your answer. You don't need to listen to him. You've heard enough to know he's a) racist, b) hateful, c) stupid, d) merely an outrageous entertainer not to be taken seriously or e) all of the above.

Now let me tell you the real answer: You're a lowdown, yellow-bellied, lily-livered intellectual coward. You're terrified of finding out he makes more sense than you do.

I listen to Limbaugh every chance I get, and I have never heard the man utter a single racist, hateful or stupid word. Do I always agree with him? Of course not. I'm a conservative; I think for myself. But Limbaugh, by turns insightful, satiric, raucously funny and wise, is one of the best voices talking about first principles and policy in the country today.

Therefore, I am throwing down my gauntlet at your quivering liberal feet. I hereby issue my challenge -- the Limbaugh Challenge: Listen to the show. Not for five minutes but for several hours: an hour a day for several days. Consider what he has to say -- the real policy material under the jokes and teasing bluster. Do what your intellectual keepers do not want you to do and keep an open mind. Ask yourself: What's he getting at? Why does he say the things he says? Why do so many people of goodwill -- like that nice Mr. Klavan -- agree with him?

The mainstream media (a.k.a. the Matrix) don't want you to listen to Limbaugh because they're afraid he'll wake you up and set you free of their worldview. You don't want to listen to him because you're afraid of the same thing.

Don't believe me? Well, then, gird your loins. Gather your courage. Accept the Limbaugh Challenge. See what happens.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Best Global Warming Discussion Ever

The other day I went to a global warming presentation delivered by my friend, Mason Wilson (retired Professor Emeritus from the University of Rhode Island, College of Engineering). I was so impressed by the information he presented and by his organization of the material that I invited him to post it on my blog. He starts by explaining the difference between short range weather forecasting, based on real-time data – and longer range forecasting, based primarily on extrapolating historical data into the future. Next he points out the significance of the historical record of climate data on which there should be universal agreement. Lastly he points out some of the factors that may be more important than CO2 emissions in explaining some current conditions.

A Discussion of Global Warming and Latest Developments
by Dr. Mason Wilson

Global warming is most likely the most cited scientific problem in recent times, as many thousands of people rally behind those saying Global Warming is due to mankind, It satisfies the hunger of those who would like to see the downfall of the industrial giants who are profit centered, greedy - and are claimed to have no regard for the environment. And those opposed to the global warming concept are said to be bought off by these destroyers of the universe. The recent news items linking President Obama to the formation of the biggest carbon tax and trade company in the world and Al Gore's making millions off of the global warming problems make for hot topics of discussion. That’s the political side of the thrust to embrace global warming.

This article does not want to get in the middle of is not science. To put the science in perspective we will review the problems of forecasting weather, short range, medium range and long range forecasting (climatology) and the role that greenhouse gases can expect to play in the long range predictions, where they should be found in the atmosphere and the degree of influence that they may have in the atmosphere.

Short range forecasting in recent years has improved considerably, mostly because of the satellite information that is provided - cloud cover, infrared scans, Doppler radar and a host of new technologies support the local weather forecaster with an enormous amount of information. The classical weather map is assisted by this information so that 24 hour forecasts have achieved 70 to 80 percent accuracy and reasonable 10 day forecasting represents fairly good estimates of what is in the future.

However as one tries to predict things like hurricanes in the next one, two or three months, most forecaster rely mostly on historical evidence, such as the frequency of storms as illustrated in the next four figures

Most forecasting of hurricanes is based on these historical histories together with the latest positions of La Nina, El Nino, weather conditions in the Sahara Desert, and sea surface temperatures in order to modify the historical predictions. Even with all of these latter meteorological inputs, forecasting the number of hurricanes and their intensity is only a little better than a true historical forecast as shown in the following table. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Hurricane Forecast Accuracy

Climatology on the other hand relies on information based on past weather history which only goes back a few hundred years and paleo-climatology which yields ancient weather evidence as found in ice core samples, tree rings etc. It is generally recognized that the climate of the earth is governed by plate tectonics, volcano eruptions, sun variability and the earth’s orbit. Modern climate models all include the most famous and pioneering work of Milankovitch who successfully correlated and predicted the cyclic temperature variations of the earth using the inclination and declination of the earth together with the orbit fluctuations of the earth around the sun. This inclusion makes all climate models appear accurate, sometime leading to a false reliance on these models.

Milankovitch results are shown in the following figures

100,000 year cycle...angle of earth's axis varies
from 22-24 degrees every 41,000 years, and earth
wobbles away from the sun every 19,000 to
23,000 years driven solely by solar radiation

Global warming experts like to modify these temperature predictions by the effects of greenhouse gases such as shown in the following figure.

These are the absorption spectra, and climatologists who want to predict global warming from these figures must integrate the radiation absorbed by these gases together with the concentration of these gases in the atmosphere and their exposure to the incident radiation. No easy task. Much information can be derived from the above graph. The distribution of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is primarily due to its density as compared to air. Gas density varies with the molecular weight and the molecular weight of air is 28.9. Hence greenhouse gases having larger molecular weight should be found in the lower atmosphere and those having a lower molecular weight should be found in the higher altitudes. The molecular weight of carbon dioxide is 44 which is much heavier than air, consequently it should be only found in the lower atmosphere. The argument that it can be carried into the upper atmosphere by thunderstorms is highly implausible since the carbon dioxide can be easily removed by the water in the raindrops. Natural gas (methane) is quite a different story. It has a molecular weight of only 16 which is almost half the density of air, Consequently it should be found mainly in the upper atmosphere. Notice that water vapor is one of strongest of all of the greenhouse gases and the most abundant in the atmosphere. It has a molecular weight of on 18 as compared to air of 28.9 and should be found in the upper atmosphere, unless it condenses or freezes. When a gas absorbs incoming radiation the energy is transformed into kinetic energy of the molecule such as the vibrational oscillation of the double bond between the carbon and oxygen atoms as in carbon dioxide and into translation into kinetic energy. Some of the energy is also reradiated. Some of the absorbed energy is transferred to surrounding molecules through a collision process. The kinetic energy of the molecule represents the temperature of the gas.

The famous IPCC Conference that had concluded that global warming was caused by anthropogenic carbon dioxide relied very heavily on the Antarctic ice core data and global mean temperature trend as shown in the following two figures:


The first figure clearly shows that carbon dioxide leads the temperature profile, hence the conclusion that carbon dioxide causes global warming. The temperature increases shown in the second figure illustrates that the average global temperature increased during that time that carbon dioxide increased. The problem with this figure is in determining what portion of the increase is due to carbon dioxide greenhouse effect and what portion of the temperature increase is due to solar variability. If climate modelers assign to the carbon dioxide portion of this increase that is due to solar variability, their models will overcompensate the solar activity and will predict much higher temperatures. IPCC uses a radiation forcing function that requires many assumptions concerning the amount of radiation absorbed and re-radiated by carbon dioxide . Using this method can easily result in overestimates of the temperature increases caused by carbon dioxide. Recent observations have born this out as shown in the following figure.

Recent data by NOAA shows that the hot spots in the Arctic fall surprisingly close and along the intersection of two tectonic plates that form the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It is well known that many vents occur along this ridge. These vents heat up the surrounding water and provide many minerals that support local marine fauna. The vents surface at Iceland and provides this country all of its power and heating needs. This ridge exits Iceland to the northwest and then to the northeast along the Greenland coast where most of the glacial melting is occurring. What a coincidence!

This striking comparison does not prove that plate tectonics is the cause of Arctic warming but does suggest an explanation of why this region is so much warmer than the surrounding area. It can also explain why the Arctic is losing ice cover while the Antartic appears to be gaining, as seen in the following two figures

Inspection of the ice and snow graph of the Antartic shows that in recent years there has been a record buildup of ice and snow in this region. This causes a greater pressure at the heads of the glaciers forcing them to calve more rapidly. Recent reports suggesting that the higher calving of these glaciers is due to global warming is very misleading.

Recent ice core studies also shows some conflicting data that leads one to question some of the assumptions made in the IPCC report. The following figure of a 2000 ice core shows that some of the time carbon dioxide leads the increase of temperature and some of the time the temperature precedes the increase of carbon dioxide. Recent cores in 2003 and 2005 appear to support the above figure.

Note: The blue line (CO2) sometimes leads the temperature line (red line) and sometimes follows it. This is in conflict with a conclusion that CO2 forces global warming.

The following figure also is not in line with the prediction of the global warming forecasts.

Recent findings indicate that solar variability more closely follows the climactic temperature than the increase of carbon dioxide.

One of the initial studies showing an increase of temperature with an increase in carbon dioxide is revisited and shown to correlate more with solar variability than any increase in carbon dioxide as shown below.

Last but not least if one still believes in global warming is due to anthropogenic carbon dioxide and thinks that we can do something about. The following figure show that even with a Herculean effort we are going to have an abysmally small effect.

Editorial Note:
I decided to add one of the slide exhibits that Professor Wilson presented at his talk, but did not include in this post – a slide that details the fact that the historical record clearly shows our planet going through cycles of cooling and warming. We are now in a cooling period of a warming cycle, and extrapolations would seem to show a continuation of this cooling period.


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Friday, March 27, 2009

Let’s Not Forget the Threat Posed by Islam

It is a tribute to the success President Bush achieved in protecting America from Muslim terrorists that I haven’t published anything about this subject in quite a while. No American should feel complaisant, however, about not only the threat of terrorism, but also by the threat of our civilization being overwhelmed by the sinister and dictatorial aspects and aspirations of the followers of Islam. Not only are their huge population growth figures disconcerting, but the clear evidence of what happens to countries that allow their expansion is there for all to see. Against my own notions of freedom and American traditions, I again call for an absolute shutdown of any further immigration of Muslims into the United States. I say this because it is very clear that Islam is much more than a religion – it is a political movement that has shown itself to be completely immune to the assimilating forces that turn recent immigrants into citizens who love and support our Constitution.

I have excerpted here below two pieces. The first is a report on what is going on at the UN that, if passed, will affect all citizens of all UN members.

In the second piece below I have republished an excerpt from a book that details the actual history of what happens when Muslims take over.

Islamic States Push to Criminalize 'Defamation of Islam'

Peter Glover March 25, 2009 RealClearPolitics (Excerpt)

A powerful bloc of 57 Islamic states is again pushing for the UN to make it a criminal offense to criticise or 'defame' Islam. In a new resolution circulated at a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 11, a paper entitled "Combating Defamation of Religions" was circulated ahead of the Council's next meeting on March 26-27, when the resolution will be voted on.

Though the 57 nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), a bloc which also dominates the UN's Human Rights Council, have been lobbying for the move since 1999, the signs this time are that the resolution could well be made binding.

While the resolution calls for protection against "defamation" of all religions, it only mentions Islam by name.

The resolution deems offending Islamic sensitivities a "serious affront to human dignity" which could lead to "social disharmony", "violations of human rights" and "incitement to religious hatred in general and against Islam in particular". If passed, the resulting binding resolution would find its way into various UN documents all of which would require that UN member states at "local, national and international levels" start restricting the free speech of citizens to prevent public criticism of religious beliefs, particularly Islamic belief.

And now below - an adaptation from a book, “Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat” by Dr. Peter Hammond:

“Islam is not a religion, nor is it a cult. In it's fullest form, it is a complete, total, 100% system of life.

Islam has religious, legal, political, economic, social, and military components. The religious component is a beard for all of the other components.

Islamization begins when there are sufficient Muslims in a country to agitate for their religious rights.

When politically correct, tolerant, and culturally diverse societies agree to Muslim demands for their religious rights, some of the other components tend to creep in as well. Here's how it works.

As long as the Muslim population remains around or under 2% in any given country, they will be for the most part be regarded as a peace-loving minority, and not as a threat to other citizens. This is the case in:

United States -- Muslim 0.6%
Australia -- Muslim 1.5%
Canada -- Muslim 1.9%
China -- Muslim 1.8%
Italy -- Muslim 1.5%
Norway -- Muslim 1.8%

At 2% to 5%, they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and disaffected groups, often with major recruiting from the jails and among street gangs. This is happening in:

Denmark -- Muslim 2%
Germany -- Muslim 3.7%
United Kingdom -- Muslim 2.7%
Spain -- Muslim 4%
Thailand -- Muslim 4.6%

From 5% on, they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage of the population. For example, they will push for the introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food, thereby securing food preparation jobs for Muslims. They will increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature halal on their shelves -- along with threats for failure to comply. This is occurring in:

France -- Muslim 8%
Philippines -- Muslim 5%
Sweden -- Muslim 5%
Switzerland -- Muslim 4.3%
The Netherlands -- Muslim 5.5%
Trinidad & Tobago -- Muslim 5.8%

At this point, they will work to get the ruling government to allow them to rule themselves (within their ghettos) under Sharia, the Islamic Law. The ultimate goal of Islamists is to establish Sharia law over the entire world.

When Muslims approach 10% of the population, they tend to increase lawlessness as a means of complaint about their conditions. In Paris, we are already seeing car-burnings. Any non-Muslim action offends Islam, and results in uprisings and threats, such as in Amsterdam, with opposition to Mohammed cartoons and films about Islam. Such tensions are seen daily, particularly in Muslim sections, in:

Guyana -- Muslim 10%
India -- Muslim 13.4%
Israel -- Muslim 16%
Kenya -- Muslim 10%
Russia -- Muslim 15%

After reaching 20%, nations can expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia formations, sporadic killings, and the burnings of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues, such as in:

Ethiopia -- Muslim 32.8%

At 40%, nations experience widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks, and ongoing militia warfare, such as in:

Bosnia -- Muslim 40%
Chad -- Muslim 53.1%
Lebanon -- Muslim 59.7%

From 60%, nations experience unfettered persecution of non-believers of all other religions (including non-conforming Muslims), sporadic ethnic cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia Law as a weapon, and Jizya, the tax placed on infidels, such as in:

Albania -- Muslim 70%
Malaysia -- Muslim 60.4%
Qatar -- Muslim 77.5%
Sudan -- Muslim 70%

After 80%, expect daily intimidation and violent jihad, some State-run ethnic cleansing, and even some genocide, as these nations drive out the infidels, and move toward 100% Muslim, such as has been experienced and in some ways is on-going in:

Bangladesh -- Muslim 83%
Egypt -- Muslim 90%
Gaza -- Muslim 98.7%
Indonesia -- Muslim 86.1%
Iran -- Muslim 98%
Iraq -- Muslim 97%
Jordan -- Muslim 92%
Morocco -- Muslim 98.7%
Pakistan -- Muslim 97%
Palestine -- Muslim 99%
Syria -- Muslim 90%
Tajikistan -- Muslim 90%
Turkey -- Muslim 99.8%
United Arab Emirates -- Muslim 96%

100% will usher in the peace of 'Dar-es-Salaam' -- the Islamic House of Peace. Here there's supposed to be peace, because everybody is a Muslim, the Madrasses are the only schools, and the Koran is the only word, such as in:

Afghanistan -- Muslim 100%
Saudi Arabia -- Muslim 100%
Somalia -- Muslim 100%
Yemen -- Muslim 100%

Unfortunately, peace in never achieved, as in these 100% states the most radical Muslims intimidate and spew hatred, and satisfy their blood lust by killing less radical Muslims, for a variety of reasons.

'Before I was nine I had learned the basic canon of Arab life. It was me against my brother; me and my brother against our father; my family against my cousins and the clan; the clan against the tribe; the tribe against the world, and all of us against the infidel. -- Leon Uris, 'The Haj'

It is important to understand that in some countries, with well under 100% Muslim populations, such as France, the minority Muslim populations live in ghettos, within which they are 100% Muslim, and within which they live by Sharia Law. The national police do not even enter these ghettos. There are no national courts nor schools nor non-Muslim religious facilities. In such situations, Muslims do not integrate into the community at large. The children attend madrasses. They learn only the Koran. To even associate with an infidel is a crime punishable with death. Therefore, in some areas of certain nations, Muslim Imams and extremists exercise more power than the national average would indicate.

Today's 1.5 billion Muslims make up 22% of the world's population. But their birth rates dwarf the birth rates of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and Jews, and all other believers. Muslims will exceed 50% of the world's population by the end of this century.”


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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Major League Baseball Cheats Spring Training Fans

I would like to add my voice to that of the letter writer who complained that so many major league baseball players were nowhere in evidence at spring training games where tickets cost $20-30 to attend. Where are the players? Well they are playing in the World Baseball Classic, another invention of Major League Baseball to extract more dollars from its fans.

This exhibition series, won by Japan in its first airing in 2006, will, thankfully not be seen again until 2013. For the next three years, fans will have some expectation of seeing a few more major league players when they attend spring training games where a hot dog and a beer can cost you $10 to 17 dollars. Bud Selig, the Major League Commissioner, tells us in the story below that The Netherlands, a country not known for baseball, did very well this year. He failed to mention that 12 of the 28 Netherlands players were from the American major leagues. He also failed to mention that most of the players that spring training fans paid to see turned out to be minor leaguers no-one ever heard of.

Selig: Classic to get 'bigger and bigger' (Excerpts)

LOS ANGELES –“ Accentuating the benefits of the event and addressing various questions, Commissioner Bud Selig left no doubt Saturday night that the World Baseball Classic has carved out an important global presence, shows tremendous promise and is poised to become all the more exciting when it returns in March of 2013.

The event, which uniquely showcases Major League players at a time of year when baseball revs up the engines for a new season, is nearing the end of its second running and is slated to be staged every four years. The inaugural event was unveiled in 2006….

"I know we have some GMs who are somewhat reticent -- I'm going to be as kind here as I can," Selig said. "Look, the clubs hear this all the time, but I'm going to say this to you as directly as I can:

" 'This is a time in life where I know how important your individual club is -- this is a time to put the best interests of the game ahead of your own provincial self-interest.' "


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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Friendly Fire Hits Obama

In my last post I pointed out that many former supporters of Obama had jumped ship. I was referring to moderates and businessmen like David Gergen, David Brooks and Warren Buffett. I also said that the best hope we have for slowing down or stopping the socialization of America was for the mainstream, liberal press, who had put this neophyte into office, to start doing their job. Apparently this has now started happening – even by the ultra-liberal New York Times.

Friendly fire: NYT hits Obama

By: Jonathan Martin March 22, 2009 Politico

The leading liberal voices of the New York Times editorial pages all criticized—and, in some cases, clobbered—President Obama on Sunday for his handling of the economy and national security.

It's not unusual for Barack Obama to take a little friendly fire from the Times. But it's perhaps unprecedented for him to get hit on the same day by columnists Frank Rich, Thomas Friedman and Maureen Dowd—and in the paper's lead editorial. Their critique punctuated a weekend that started with a widely circulated blog post by Paul Krugman that said the president’s yet to be announced bank rescue plan would almost certainly fail.

The sentiment, coming just two months after the president was sworn in, reflects elite opinion in the Washington-New York corridor that Obama is increasingly overwhelmed, and not fully appreciative of the building tsunami of populist outrage.

Unlike with President Bush, the Obama administration is less apt to dismiss such commentary, at least publicly, as so much carping from an out-of-touch peanut gallery. These are voices that have been sympathetic, and at times gushing toward Obama, during the campaign and in his administration’s early days.

The president and his top aides read the Times closely and react quickly to its reporting and commentary. Tom Daschle, for example, withdrew from consideration as Health and Human Services Secretary amid back tax issues on the same day that the paper ran a tough front-page piece and editorial on what keeping Daschle would mean to the Obama brand.

So it likely caused some consternation this morning at the White House and at Camp David, where the president is staying this weekend, to pick up the Times and find:

—Frank Rich, who made a cottage industry of Bush-bashing, writing that until Obama “addresses the full depth of Americans’ anger with his full arsenal of policy smarts and political gifts, his presidency and, worse, our economy will be paralyzed.”

Recalling the Daschle episode and the public’s response to the image of a wealthy former senator not paying taxes on a limousine, Rich said that judging from their response to the AIG case “the administration learned nothing from that brush with disaster.”

Larry Summers, perhaps the president’s most high-profile economic adviser, came in for the worst of it.

“Summers is so tone-deaf that he makes Geithner seem like Bobby Kennedy," Rich wrote.

—Thomas Friedman, the paper’s highly-read foreign affairs columnist, turning his focus home to find the nation lacking “inspirational leadership.”

Friedman’s indictment was not limited to Obama, but he captured some of the concern about the president’s communications skills by writing that the president “missed a huge teaching opportunity with A.I.G.”

Instead of letting Congress react in its usual knee-jerk fashion to overcompensate for what it believes the public wants—what Friedman called letting them “run riot”—the president should have stepped up.
“He should have gone on national TV and had the fireside chat with the country that is long overdue. That’s a talk where he lays out exactly how deep the crisis we are in is, exactly how much sacrifice we’re all going to have to make to get out of it, and then calls on those A.I.G. brokers — and everyone else who, in our rush to heal our banking system, may have gotten bonuses they did not deserve — and tells them that their president is asking them to return their bonuses ‘for the sake of the country.’”

—The paper’s liberal editorial page and a frequent voice of opposition to Bush’s national security policies complaining about “confused and mixed signals from the [Obama] White House” on some of the same issues.

“Some of what the public has heard from the Obama administration on issues like state secrets and detainees sounds a bit too close for comfort to the Bush team’s benighted ideas,” penned the Times editorialists, carping about Guantanamo specifically, detainee policy more broadly and Obama’s reluctance to investigate Bush-era actions on “terrorism, state secrets, wiretapping, detention and interrogation.”

—Maureen Dowd, in her inimitable fashion, citing the take-charge First Lady digging a White House garden to wonder “if the wrong Obama is in the Oval.”

“It’s a time in America’s history where we need less smooth jazz and more martial brass,” wrote Dowd.

—Krugman, who is perhaps the most frequent Obama critic at the paper but also a Nobel Prize-winning economist whose analysis carries considerable sway in liberal circles, not even waiting for the administration’s bank plan announcement this week before panning it.

“It’s exactly the plan that was widely analyzed — and found wanting — a couple of weeks ago,” Krugman wrote on his blog. “The zombie ideas have won. The Obama administration is now completely wedded to the idea that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the financial system — that what we’re facing is the equivalent of a run on an essentially sound bank.”

The Princeton economist turned opinion columnist predicted: “This plan will produce big gains for banks that didn’t actually need any help; it will, however, do little to reassure the public about banks that are seriously undercapitalized. And I fear that when the plan fails, as it almost surely will, the administration will have shot its bolt: it won’t be able to come back to Congress for a plan that might actually work. What an awful mess.”

Christina Romer, the Chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, called Krugman’s critique “unfair” in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” and said their plan of partnering with the private sector was to ensure taxpayers didn’t shoulder more of the burden and they didn’t offer “just another hand-out to banks.”

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Depressed Americans View the 60 Day Wonder

Traditional Americans who love their country as it is are aghast at the socialization program that is under way, the unimaginable debt being piled up, and the ineptness and the incompetence of Obama, his staff and his appointees. Perhaps many of us, like me, came from poverty in childhood, and have achieved a standard of living beyond our wildest dreams. What we want most is for our children and our grandchildren (and for legal immigrants) to have the same opportunities and freedoms to succeed (and sometimes to fail) that we had.

Almost all of the people I talk to are dumbfounded at what is going on – and are deeply depressed that there seems to be no way to stop or slow down the vicious program that is under way nor to slow the destruction of our free market system. Every time one of these people, who used to be called useful idiots by avowed Marxists, opens his mouth, the situation worsens, the market drops further, and more panic sets in.

The only hope we have is that some in the liberal press, who put these people in power, will start doing their job – and that the rising protests will be heard and listened to by even the most liberal Democrats. Only if that happens will the country of our birth survive until 2012.

With all that said, I want to point out that what we hope for may already be happening. The Democrats, in general, seem greatly embarrassed and concerned at the duplicity and the ineptness surrounding the government-approved AIG bonuses. Former supporters in the public eye, like David Gergen, David Brooks, Christopher Buckley, Maureen Dowd, Jim Cramer, Warren Buffett, and many others are already jumping ship – and recent polls show a rapid loss of support for Obama.

An even more interesting poll has just come out:
“Just as the economic news was relentlessly negative until the last few days, poll numbers for Republicans were horrific for months. So the GOP should be heartened by the first encouraging polling news it has received perhaps since Lehman Brothers defaulted in mid-September: Republicans have pulled even with Democrats on the generic congressional ballot test, according to a survey by a respected pair of firms.

In the new National Public Radio poll conducted by the Democratic polling company Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and its Republican counterpart, Public Opinion Strategies, 42 percent of the 800 likely voters surveyed March 10 to 14 said that if the next congressional election were held today they would vote for the Republican candidate; an identical percentage of respondents said they would vote for the Democratic one. For several years, Democrats held a substantial lead on this question.

Democrats still outnumbered Republicans in terms of party identification in this poll by 6 points, 45 percent to 39 percent. Democrats also favored their own party's congressional candidates 83 percent to 7 percent. But voters who call themselves independents gave GOP candidates the edge by 14 points, 38 percent to 24 percent. And self-identified Republicans supported their own party's candidates 85 percent to 3 percent.

Republican pollster Glen Bolger, who worked on the survey for Public Opinion Strategies, says that this is the first time since 2004 that he has seen independents favoring Republicans on the generic ballot test

We who knew what was going to happen and are so depressed can read the following piece of satire with some satisfaction – not that it changes anything:

Palinphobes and the audacity of type

By Noemie Emery 3/17/09 DCExaminer

Now that the Obama presidency is nearing the 60-day mark, it’s time to thank those fastidious scribes on the left and the right who worked so hard to warn us against Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, and the dire things that would surely occur if she ever got close to executive power.

How right they were to insist that she was unfit for high office. Let’s just imagine what she might have done:

As president, she might have caused the stock market to plunge over 2,000 points in the six weeks after she assumed office, left important posts in the Treasury unfilled for two months, been described by insiders as ‘overwhelmed’ by the office, and then gone on to diss the British Prime Minister on his first state visit, giving him, as one head of state to another, a set of DVDs plucked from the aisles of Wal Mart, a tasteful gift, even if they can’t be played on a TV in Britain. (Note, the Prime Minister, who is losing his eyesight, may even be blind in one eye).

As vice president, she might have told Katie Couric that when the stock market crashed in 1929, President Franklin D. Roosevelt went on TV to reassure a terrified nation. Or on her first trip abroad as Secretary of State, she might have, as the AP reported, “raised eyebrows on her first visit to Europe...when she mispronounced her “EU counterparts names and claimed U.S. democracy was older than Europe’s,” then gave the Russian minister a gag “reset” button, on which the word “reset” was translated incorrectly.

What a good thing that Palin, whom Christopher Buckley called “an embarrassment, and a dangerous one,” wasn’t in office to cause such debacles, and that we have Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton instead.

“This is not a leader, this is a follower,” wrote ex-Reagan muse Peggy Noonan. “She follows what she imagines is the base, which is in fact a vast and broken-hearted thing whose pain she cannot, actually, imagine...she doesn’t seem to understand the implications of her own thoughts.”

Huh? While indulging in prose such as this, the Palinphobes didn’t seem to understand the implications of Palin’s record as governor, which they appear to never have looked at, while obsessing over her life in Alaska (too rural), her children (too many), and her exploits as a huntress (too much).

This is the flip side of their refusal to be disturbed by the fact that Obama had no record to speak of, as long as he looked like a Gap or Vogue model, and could write and could talk up a storm. A Gap or Vogue model would never disgrace you, and besides, he was there.

“You’re camping, and you wake up one morning and there is a mountain,” as David Brooks put it. “The next morning, there is a mountain...Obama is just the mountain. He is just there.” Braced by rationales such as this, the literati flocked to Obama, while denouncing Palin as appealing to the party’s least logical members and wing.

Call the Palinphobes lacking in logic and they will have tantrums, but this time the sandal might fit. This is the Audacity of Type, a faith-based illusion if ever there was one, the belief that qualities shared by and appealing to pundits and writers - glibness, a worldly patina, and a superficial verbal facility - are those needed to run a great nation in a troubled and dangerous era.

But which is more rational, to place limited trust in a proven reformer, who can learn certain facts she does not know already, or to breathe fictional traits into an unknown quantity, who has never run anything, or ever done much besides talk

“Having a first class temperament and first class intellect, President Obama will...surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit.” Buckley wrote last October. Surely he will.

Obama may be there, but your 401k isn’t. Buckley and Brooks are now feeling queasy, while Noonan and friends are taking to Xanax. “The sale of antidepressants and antianxiety drugs is widespread,” she reported last Friday. “People feel ‘unled, overwhelmed.”’

But at least, we now have sophisticates running the country, not a moose-hunting ditz from Alaska. God knows what might happen then.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Secret Moves to Ban Guns Under Way

When Barack Obama said he supported the Supreme Court decision upholding the Constitutionality of the Second Amendment and the private ownership of guns, we knew he was lying – just as he lied about public financing of his campaign, earmarks, and not hiring lobbyists. It was just part of his campaign to fool everyone into thinking that he was a moderate.

It hasn’t taken long, but already steps are being taken to restrict gun ownership; some steps are secret and sneaky; some are out in the open.

Guns on a plane

March 17, 2009 Washington Times (Excerpt)

"After the September 11 attacks, commercial airline pilots were allowed to carry guns if they completed a federal-safety program. No longer would unarmed pilots be defenseless as remorseless hijackers seized control of aircraft and rammed them into buildings.

Now President Obama is quietly ending the federal firearms program, risking public safety on airlines in the name of an anti-gun ideology.

The Obama administration this past week diverted some $2 million from the pilot training program to hire more supervisory staff, who will engage in field inspections of pilots.

This looks like completely unnecessary harassment of the pilots. The 12,000 Federal Flight Deck Officers, the pilots who have been approved to carry guns, are reported to have the best behavior of any federal law enforcement agency. There are no cases where any of them has improperly brandished or used a gun. There are just a few cases where officers have improperly used their IDs.

Fewer than one percent of the officers have any administrative actions brought against them and, we are told, virtually all of those cases “are trumped up.”

Take a case against one flight officer who had visited the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles within the last few weeks. While there, the pilot noticed that federal law enforcement officers can, with the approval of a superior, obtain a license plate that cannot be traced, a key safety feature for law enforcement personnel. So the pilot asked if, as a member of the federal program, he was eligible. The DMV staffer checked and said “no.” The next day administrative actions were brought against the pilot for “misrepresenting himself.” These are the kinds of cases that President Obama wants to investigate.

Since Mr. Obama's election, pilots have told us that the approval process for letting pilots carry guns on planes slowed significantly. Last week the problem went from bad to worse. Federal Flight Deck Officers - the pilots who have been approved to car - indicate that the approval process has stalled out."

Pro-gun Democrats oppose new assault weapon ban

JIM ABRAMS ASSOCIATED PRESS March 18, 2009 (Excerpt)

WASHINGTON (AP) – “Sixty-five House Democrats said Wednesday that they would oppose any attempt by the Obama administration to revive a ban on military-style weapons that President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1994 and President George W. Bush let expire….

The letters came after Holder, during a news conference to announce the arrest of Mexican drug dealers, said the drug cartels were obtaining high-powered weapons like the AK-47 from U.S. gun stores and said the Obama administration supported reinstituting the ban on the sale of assault-style weapons.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has said she plans to introduce legislation to bring back the weapons ban. Feinstein was an author of the 1994 bill, which banned 19 types of semiautomatic, military-style guns. The law expired under the Bush administration in 2004. Another long-term goal is requiring that all gun shows conduct background checks before selling firearms.”

The left are very skillful at anti-gun propaganda, but the facts are these:

Nationally, gun-rights advocates have been on the defensive since the early '90s. But in the states, where the fight against crime is won or lost, they're winning the debate. That's because they have the facts on their side.

Thirty-one states now let citizens carry concealed weapons -- up from just nine states in '86. Have these "right-to-carry" laws made the public safer, or have they caused a sharp drop in public safety, as opponents warned?

The standard argument against "concealed carry" laws is that there is no good reason for the average Joe to carry a gun. But federal courts have ruled that police aren t obliged to protect individuals from crime. That means citizens are ultimately responsible for their own defense.

But do concealed weapons deter crime? Criminals commit 10 million violent crimes a year. Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck found that victims use handguns about 1.9 million times in self-defense.

Criminals weigh the costs of the crime against the benefits. You don t have to be a criminal mastermind to know that the possibility of a concealed weapon tilts the odds in the victim's favor. Research shows that robbery and rape victims who resist with a gun are only half as likely to be injured as those who don't.

A recent study by John Lott and David Mustard of the University of Chicago published in the Journal of Legal Studies bears this out. They found that concealed handgun laws reduced murder by 8.5% and severe assault by 7% from 1977 to '92. Had "right-to-carry" laws been in effect throughout the country, there would have been 1,600 fewer murders and 60,000 fewer assaults every year.

Vermont has long had the least restrictive firearms-carry laws. Citizens there can carry guns either openly or concealed without any permit. Perhaps in part because of its liberal gun policies, Vermont has among the lowest violent crime numbers in the country.

In 1980, when murders and robberies in the U.S. had soared to 10 and 251 per 100,000 people, respectively, Vermont's murder rate was 22% of the national average and its robbery rate was 15%.

In 1996, Vermont s crime rates were among the lowest in the country: 25% of the national murder rate, 8% of the national robbery rate.

Another objection to concealed-carry laws is that they'll boost impulse killings -- fostering a "wild West" mentality with more shootings and deaths as people vent their anger with pistols instead of fists. Yet FBI data show that killings stemming from arguments are falling as a share of all homicides.

In fact, concealed-weapon permit holders are involved in fewer incidents than off-duty police officers.

Consider also:
Dade County, Fla., kept detailed records for six years. Of 21,000 carry permit holders, there was no reported incident of a permit holder injuring an innocent person.

Virginia issued more than 50,000 permits since it passed a right-to-carry law in '95. In that time, not one permit holder has been convicted of a crime, and violent crime has dropped.

Opponents are left to argue that concealed-carry laws will put guns in untrained hands and accidents will go up.

But there has been no rise in accidental shootings in counties with right-to-carry laws. Nationwide, there are about 1,400 accidental firearms deaths annually -- a figure far lower than the number of deaths blamed on medical errors or car accidents.

And data show that civilians are even more careful with firearms than police officers are. There are only about 30 mistaken civilian shootings in the U.S. each year. The police commit more than three times as many mistaken killings as civilians.

In fact, the death rate from firearms has dropped in the last 20 years even as gun ownership has more than doubled and 22 states have passed right-to-carry laws.

The fatal firearm accident rate has dropped more than 19% in the last decade, and the number of gun-related accidents among children fell to an all-time low of 185 in '94 -- down 64% since '75.

Keeping honest, law-abiding people unarmed and at the mercy of armed and violent criminals was never a good idea. In the gun policy debate, gun-rights advocates can argue honestly that a general concealed-carry law is sound public policy. Gun Facts
Court decision blocks guns in national parks

March 20, 2009 MSNBC (Excerpt)

WASHINGTON - "A judge on Thursday blocked a federal rule allowing people to carry concealed, loaded guns in U.S. national parks and wildlife refuges….

The rule, which took effect Jan. 11, and allowed visitors to carry a loaded gun into a park or wildlife refuge as long as the person had a permit for a concealed weapon and the state where the park or refuge was located allowed concealed firearms. Previously, guns in parks had been severely restricted.” MSNBC

I wonder if the Obama Administration will try to overturn this decision (satire).


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Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Boring Mark-to-Market Discussion

Those who study accounting, or aspire to responsible positions in finance, learn of the importance of FASB early on. They had better, because FASB, the Financial Accounting Standards Board, is universally recognized as the authoritative voice in setting finance and accounting standards.

FASB is:
“A seven-member independent board consisting of accounting professionals who establish and communicate standards of financial accounting and reporting in the United States. FASB standards, known as generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), govern the preparation of corporate financial reports and are recognized as authoritative by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Accounting standards are crucial in an efficient market, as information must be transparent, credible and understandable. The FASB sets out to improve corporate accounting practices by enhancing guidelines set out for accounting reports, identifying and resolving issues in a timely manner and creating a uniform standard across the financial markets.”

“Mark-to-Market” is a term that describes one of FASB’s most important rules (FAS 157): mark-to-market accounting requires banks to value assets as if they were about to be sold on the open market. Unfortunately for banks holding mortgage-backed securities, the "open market" price of an unwanted asset is often lower than its cash flow value. This forces banks to show "losses on paper" even though the losses haven't been realized, and probably never will be.

To date, banks have written down hundreds of billions of dollars because of mark-to-market accounting, even though the mortgagee is paying on time and there is no indication he will not continue to do so.

Much has been made about the cascading effect of “mark-to-market” in turning a housing downturn into a catastrophic shutting down of credit markets and the failures of hundreds of huge and important financial institutions. Considerable pressure is now being brought to bear on Congress and FASB to loosen this rule.

There are also some very good reasons for the existence of “mark-to-market”: it is an consumer protection measure. Because corporations are required to report the current values of assets, investors can get a better sense of which firms are gaining and which firms are losing. The reality, though, is that mark-to-market accounting can make a bank's balance sheet appear weaker that it really is which then triggers the need capital infusions from the government and leads to heightened investor fear.

This is precisely the reason why banks like Citigroup and Bank of America have been battered by the stock market. Even though they're earning healthy interest on their respective mortgage-backed bond portfolios, banks are constantly having to markdown their portfolio's value.

Congress and other influential organizations are now holding hearings on “mark-to-market”, and the word investors are hearing is that something is finally going to be done about its corrosive effects as it is now stated and interpreted. What is not generally known is that, although the concept of “mark-to-market” has a long history, FAS 157 was issued in November, 2007 – just prior to the financial collapse we are now experiencing and which is being blamed on the nonfeasance of the Bush Administration.


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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Please Bring Back Jimmy Carter

Obama will try to block executive bonuses at AIG

March 16, 2009 YahooNews (Excerpt)

WASHINGTON – “President Barack Obama declared Monday that insurance giant American International Group is in financial straits because of "recklessness and greed" and said he intends to stop it from paying out millions in executive bonuses.

"It's hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay," Obama said at the outset of an appearance to announce help for small businesses hurt by the deep recession.

"How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat," the president said.

Obama spoke out in the wake of reports that surfaced over the weekend saying that financially strapped American International Group Inc. was paying substantial bonuses to executives.”

As angry and outraged as I am at the idea of AIG using government money to pay legally required contractual bonuses to their executives, I have to go against the crowd because I am more angry that the Obama Administration would attempt to interfere in the business decisions of an American company. Is this Venezuela, and are we dealing with a Hugo Chavez? Did our Forefathers not impose a Constitution and a system of checks and balances to prevent such assertions and abuses of power? This has to be seen in the background of other attempts to chastise American business owners and managers and tell them how to treat their employees and their customers. This has to be seen in the wake of the outrage expressed by the likes of Barney Frank and Chris Dodd (in addition to Obama and his staff) to the idea that the use of private jets and the entertainment of executives and customers at posh resorts was bordering on criminal if those companies accepted government help. This is still a free country, and business owners should decide what is best for their companies and their businesses.

I well understand that the Obama Administration is greatly embarrassed because these bonuses were known by them well in advance and makes them look even more foolish. To confiscate these unwise bonuses smacks of Bills of Attainder – something our forefathers gave their lives to end forever.

As bad a president as Jimmy Carter was, when, in the aftermath of the great blizzard of 1978, I applied for and accepted very-low-interest government loans for each of my five corporations, I never received, nor did I expect to receive, any hints or pressure from the U.S. government telling me how I could spend or not spend the money. I guess Jimmy Carter wasn’t so bad after all. At least he followed the spirit as well as the terms of the Constitution.

On a related matter, all this caterwauling about AIG also honoring its insurance contracts to its clients is being done by people who know full well that our banking system would have collapsed if AIG had not honored those contracts as well.
The Real AIG Outrage

MARCH 17, 2009 (Excerpt)

“President Obama joined yesterday in the clamor of outrage at AIG for paying some $165 million in contractually obligated employee bonuses. He and the rest of the political class thus neatly deflected attention from the larger outrage, which is the five-month Beltway cover-up over who benefited most from the AIG bailout.

Taxpayers have already put up $173 billion, or more than a thousand times the amount of those bonuses, to fund the government's AIG "rescue." This federal takeover, never approved by AIG shareholders, uses the firm as a conduit to bail out other institutions. After months of government stonewalling, on Sunday night AIG officially acknowledged where most of the taxpayer funds have been going.

Since September 16, AIG has sent $120 billion in cash, collateral and other payouts to banks, municipal governments and other derivative counterparties around the world. This includes at least $20 billion to European banks. The list also includes American charity cases like Goldman Sachs, which received at least $13 billion. This comes after months of claims by Goldman that all of its AIG bets were adequately hedged and that it needed no "bailout." Why take $13 billion then? This needless cover-up is one reason Americans are getting angrier as they wonder if Washington is lying to them about these bailouts.
* * *
Given that the government has never defined "systemic risk," we're also starting to wonder exactly which system American taxpayers are paying to protect. It's not capitalism, in which risk-takers suffer the consequences of bad decisions. And in some cases it's not even American. The U.S. government is now in the business of distributing foreign aid to offshore financiers, laundered through a once-great American company.

The politicians also prefer to talk about AIG's latest bonus payments because they deflect attention from Washington's failure to supervise AIG. The Beltway crowd has been selling the story that AIG failed because it operated in a shadowy unregulated world and cleverly exploited gaps among Washington overseers. Said President Obama yesterday, "This is a corporation that finds itself in financial distress due to recklessness and greed." That's true, but Washington doesn't want you to know that various arms of government approved, enabled and encouraged AIG's disastrous bet on the U.S. housing market.”


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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Green Eggs and Fish

Today’s St. Patrick’s Day Blondie and Dagwood cartoon reminded me of something funny that also happened on St. Pattie’s day. One of the secrets of our success in the restaurant business was provided by a young, ex-marine, named Charles Rathbun, who had studied at the Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Management program. Charles (we called him, Chick) was a hard-working and personable manager who we hired a month before we opened our first unit - to manage that unit.

Six months after that Lums Restaurant in Seekonk, MA opened, it became the number one Lums in the world out of about 350 Lums. Chick was married to a charming girl from the back woods of North Carolina named Faye. Faye often worked as a waitress, and had a very large family back home – a place where jobs were very scarce. As the Seekonk Lums expanded, and as we built more Lums sites, Chick would often bring up more and more of Faye’s relatives to work for us. As we expanded we promoted Chick to become our Area Supervisor, and this process continued.

Faye’s relatives were always hard workers and good employees, but sometimes some strange things would happen. One of these employees was a teenager named Donnie Spivey who first went to work as an after-hours cleaner, and then joined our management-training program. Donnie was a hard-worker without much education who put all his earnings into fast cars and automobile insurance that kept increasing as he crashed his cars. After some training and a couple of stints as relief-manager, Donnie was promoted to become the Assistant Manager of our Lums in Cranston, RI.

My custom the week before St. Patrick’s day, at our weekly meetings, was to hand out a small bottle of green food dye to each manager so that they could serve green beer that day. The following week, on St. Patrick’s day, I went round to each restaurant (that year we had six) to check on them. I arrived at the Cranston Lums after the noon rush was over, about 1:30 PM. Immediately something looked wrong. There were dozens of tables with dishes containing the remains of uneaten food, and as I looked closer, I saw that most of it was greenish fish.

You guessed it. Donnie had decided that, if it was cool to serve green beer, it would also make great sense to serve green fish! He had poured some of the green dye into the batter into which we dip the fish fillets before deep frying them. Although it was disastrous to the business that day (we recovered), it was also so funny that I was laughing about it as I confronted Donnie. Donnie eventually drifted away into another line of work.


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Monday, March 16, 2009

Ron Silver R.I.P.

We lost a good guy yesterday, one of the few in the Hollywood elite acting community who understood the world as it really is – and stood up for America. In contrast to so many in Hollywood who take up causes about which they are entirely ignorant (like the snail darter, DDT and Alar), Ron Silber spoke out often about important traditional values and upholding Constitutional principles. He was a prominent supporter of the War on Terror, and understood the centerpiece position of the war in Iraq in prosecuting this conflict. We will miss him.

Actor, Political Activist Ron Silver, 62, Dies

By Roger Friedman March 15, 2009 FoxNews

I am terribly saddened to report that the great actor and political activist, Ron Silver, died this morning at his home in New York. Ron was 62 and had been bravely battling esophageal cancer for the last two years. He leaves two children, Adam and Alexandra, his parents and his two brothers, as well as countless friends and admirers.

About ten days ago I wrote in this space about Ron’s great acting achievements. Of course, he first came to popularity acting with Valerie Harper and Julie Kavner in “Rhoda,” as their menschy neighbor, Gary. But very quickly he took off in movies, with such milestones as his performance in "Enemies: A Love Story", his wonderful portrayal of lawyer Alan Dershowitz in "Reversal of Fortune", and so many other films including "Garbo Talks", "Blue Steel", and "Ali". He was nominated twice for Emmy awards.

Ron was also an accomplished theater actor. His credits included the original Broadway cast of "HurlyBurly" (1984) with William Hurt, Judith Ivey, and Harvey Keitel. In 1986 he co-starred on Broadway with Marlo Thomas in the comedy "Social Security". And in 1988 he, Joe Mantegna and Madonna were the original cast of David Mamet’s “Speed the Plow.” Ron played Charlie Fox, the screenwriter with the idea who comes to Bobby Gould (Mantegna) for help. In all three plays, Ron secured his place as the “it” New York actor of his time, consummate, literate, dangerous and smart.

The smart was a good thing and a bad thing. In 1989, Ron helped found the Creative Coalition with Alec Baldwin, Ron Silver, Christopher Reeve, Susan Sarandon, Blair Brown and Stephen Collins. It only takes a second to realize this was a group of liberal minded actors, and Ron was part of them. But soon his politics turned conservative. In short order Ron started endorsing candidates like New York Republicans Rudolph Giuiliani and Alfonse D’Amato. This caused no end of headaches, discussions, debates, and fights. But it also made for a lively time.

I didn’t always agree with Ron politically, but it didn’t matter. He was a great friend, a great family man. He loved his kids. Whether we ran into each other at events or planned on seeing each other, we always had a great time talking Hollywood or chewing over Washington. Last August, Ron insisted on covering the Democratic convention in Denver for Sirius Radio. He was very weak, but he did it with gusto, running around the city getting interviews for his show. He could not be stopped, even though his daughter, Alex, and I, as well as his Sirius assistant, could see the strain.

Last week when I checked in with him, Ron’s voice sounded like a distant signal over a radio. Still, he was bouncy and ebullient. We talked about a lot of things including his radio show on Sirius, which was he was still doing once a week. He had an idea. “Why don’t we a whole show with gossip columnists?” he asked. I said, we’ll think about it. But he couldn’t stop thinking. He had a million ideas for shows, and I think would have had dozens more great performances in him as an actor. I’m not the only friend who will say this in coming days, but he will truly, always, be sorely missed and greatly remembered.


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Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Hatred that Drives Them

Conservative and traditional Americans are always baffled whenever they see the actions of some far-left liberals who are obviously operating from a platform of pure hatred – hatred for their opponents who merely disagree with them and hatred for the country of their birth. Over a year ago I published a story about a noted psychiatrist (Dr. Lyle Rossiter) who had come to the conclusion that this hatred, and the acts it provoked, represented a kind of mental sickness. Certainly you can never reason with these people, and you are wasting your breath trying to present them with any facts or refer to the historical record.

Why did they search through Judge Bork’s garbage; why did they destroy Ray Donovan’s reputation; why did they subject Justice Thomas to a “high tech lynching"; why did they say we “lost” in Iraq; why did they write books and make movies about George Bush’s assassination; why did they claim an incestuous relationship between Mr. Palin and his daughter and say that Sarah Palin caused the Downes syndrome of her son? Because they are miserable failures in their own lives, that’s why. Presented below is a review of the book, “United in Hate”, which tries to explain the perverted and dangerous behavior exhibited by millions on the far left:

Inside the enemy's mind

By Vasko Kohlmayer March 12, 2009

United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror (WND Books, 2009), 239 pages

United in Hate: The Leftist Mind Exposed

Ever since 9/11, patriotic Americans of all stripes watched in bewilderment as the political Left defended, rationalized and praised the very people and ideology responsible for the atrocities of that fateful day.

Not long after the attacks, the prominent novelist and author Norman Mailer described the hijackers as "brilliant." Director Oliver Stone compared 9/11 to the French and Russian revolutions. "America's chickens are coming home to roost," thundered Jeremiah Wright, the spiritual father of our current president. Tony Campolo, one of President Clinton's spiritual advisors, thought that the attacks were a legitimate response to the Crusades. Robert Paul Churchill, a professor of philosophy at George Washington University, said:

"What the terrorists despised and sought to defeat was our arrogance, our gluttonous way of life, our miserliness toward the poor and its starving; the expression of a soulless pop culture... and a domineering attitude that insists on having our own way no matter what the cost to others."

It soon became obvious that while regular Americans were horrified by the tragedy, 9/11 had an electrifying effect for those on the Left. Commenting on their demeanor in the days and weeks after those terrible events, Jamie Glazov writes in his new book United in Hate: "Almost overnight, these individuals underwent a miraculous transformation. A bright sparkle could once again be detected in their eyes, as their souls came out of a deep slumber."

Leftist office holders had to exercise greater self-control and verbal restraint than their unelected counterparts. Understandably so. But even though they had to act in an ostensibly more restrained manner, they have ultimately proven to be the Islamists' most valuable allies. They earned this distinction by mounting a campaign from within our government to undermine this country's ability to act against those bent on our destruction. Especially egregious was their behavior in the US Congress where the Democrats - the party that has been taken over by leftists - acted with such zeal that they at times forgot to mask their true sympathies. Their outrageous acts were many. Congressional Democrats, for instance, declared America's defeat in Iraq, sought to extend constitutional rights to terrorists, outed and cancelled crucial-intelligence gathering programs, publicly ridiculed America's commanders, and consistently impugned our military.

The degree of their culpability becomes obvious when we ask ourselves this question: If the terrorists were represented by a political party in America, how would their program substantially differ from that of present-day Democrats? Is it possible to think of more terrorist-friendly policies than those the Democrats have already come up with? President Obama's executive order to shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay and close down interrogation centers across the globe are only the latest in the Left's drive to tip the scales in the Islamists' favor. We should never forget that it was in these facilities that we gained actionable intelligence that helped to prevent terrorist attacks on America and break up murderous schemes that were even more ambitious than that of 9/11. Today we are systematically and voluntarily depriving ourselves of this life-saving capability thus giving the terrorists the space to plan and hatch their homicidal plots.

The Left's conduct has come as a shock to many. Many thoughtful commentators have sought to come to grips with it, but satisfactory and coherent explanations were few. Not surprisingly, given the ostensibly contradictory nature of the behavior in question. Why, for example, would those on the Left praise and defend those whose ideology is so completely at odds with everything they claim to stand for? As most people have long realized, Islamists are misogynistic homophobes who abhor any form of dissent, individual freedom or free expression. To put it another way, Islamists' program is anathema to the Left's professed agenda. Why, then, are leftists so supportive and protective of these genocidal fanatics given that they would be the first ones to be eliminated under Islamist rule?

What, in short, are the motives that lead to such apparently inconsistent behavior? Confronted with this question, many observers have thrown up their hands in frustration concluding that leftists are simply irrational or even mentally ill. But ascribing the leftist state of mind to mental sickness or some unexplainable irrationality will not do, for one senses that there indeed is a method to their seeming madness. Jamie Glazov has brought it to light with chilling clarity in his book titled United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror.

As Glazov notes at the outset, leftists' dalliance with Islamists is not the first time they have embraced a murderous ideology and its brutal executioners. On the contrary, this is what they have always done. Glazov documents this with painstaking thoroughness and to a great effect. A few examples will suffice as an illustration. Joseph E. Davies who served as the American ambassador to the Soviet Union before the Second World War was a life-long admirer of Joseph Stalin, one of the most infamous mass murderers in all of history. This is how Davies described his idol: "[Stalin's] brown eye is exceedingly wise and gentle. A child would sidle up to him." In one of his final memos from Moscow to Washington, Davies wrote, "Communism holds no serious threat to the United States. Friendly relations in the future may be of great general value."

Father Daniel Berrigan claimed that Hanoi's Prime Minister Pham Van Dong, a man who was involved in numerous purges and massacres, was a person "in whom complexity dwells, in whom daily issues of life and death resound; a face of great intelligence, and yet also of great reserves of compassion... he had dared to be a humanist in an inhuman time."

Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy, two leftist authors and scholars, had this to say about Fidel Castro after visiting with him in Havana in the 1960s:

Fidel is a passionate humanitarian, not in the fraudulent sense that he loves all humanity but in the meaningful sense that he feels compassion for human suffering, hates injustice because it causes unnecessary suffering, and is totally committed to building in Cuba a society in which the poor and the unprivileged shall be able to hold up their heads and enjoy a fair share of the good things of life.

This raises the question of what psychological impulses give rise to such perverted worship of mass murderers. It is when shedding light on the underlying mental and emotional pathologies that United in Hate is at its best, for Glazov produces psychological analysis of the highest order. Although we cannot reiterate all his insights here, we can at least touch briefly on some of the main points.

The psychological progression that culminates in the blind glorification of tyrants and the inhuman regimes over which they preside starts with the estrangement of the worshiper from his own environment. As Glazov puts it, "The believer's totalitarian journey begins with an acute sense of alienation form his own society - an alienation to which he is, himself, completely blind."

This alienation occurs because the "believer" fails to rise to the challenges of secular modernist culture. The leftist's ultimate problem is thus the inability to find meaning in life. Seeking misguidedly to fill this spiritual void with material things, which are so readily attainable under capitalism, only further exacerbates his predicament. Desperate to make sense of his condition, he comes to blame - through a sequence of mistaken mental steps - his own society for the painful quandary in which he finds himself:

Convinced that it is incumbent upon society, and not him, to imbue his life with purpose, the believer becomes indignant; he scapegoats his society - and ends up despising and rejecting it.

It is at this point in his personal journey that totalitarian regimes and ideologies begin to seem so appealing. To start with, they are all natural enemies of the United States, the very society the leftist abhors. Secondly, they offer a putative alternative to the system he finds so unfulfilling. Thirdly and most chillingly, their invariably murderous nature appeals to the leftist's lust for death. Arising from an amalgam of psychological dysfunctions, this craving is enhanced by the misguided assumption that the "ground" must be cleared,

in order to build the perfect world. And upon that ground stand flawed human beings who must be perfected or destroyed. As a result, human salvation on earth, orchestrated by human beings alone, necessarily requires the damnation of those who do not want to be saved.

As Glazov extensively documents and points out, leftists' "adulation always reached its highest level at exactly the time when the regimes reached their apex of genocide and terror." In other words, the leftist's enthusiasm for totalitarian regimes is positively correlated with its brutality. Once a regime ceases to be brutal, it holds little appeal.

Although Glazov's starting objective is to explain the Left's seemingly contradictory enthusiasm for radical Islam his work ultimately accomplishes far more - it uncovers the elemental pathological processes that actuate the leftist psyche. To put it another way, it answers the question that has for so long baffled so many: Why do people become leftists?

For those who do not follow politics too closely, this book would make a good introduction to the challenges before us. To begin with, they would come to understand that the Left does not stand for freedom, compassion, and love. The impression that it does is a result of the most egregious deception foisted on public consciousness in modern times, mostly by the left-controlled media and academia. The Left is in its very nature vicious, insidious and bloodthirsty and if given the opportunity it would wreck a murderous havoc across this land.

Lest you may think that the above is an exaggeration consider more than forty million babies aborted with such nonchalance in the last four decades. Many of them were killed by a technique called partial birth abortion, a brutal procedure during which the skull of a viable baby is crushed after the body has already been birthed. Each of us would do well to survey in our mind's eye the mountains of little corpses, far more than were left behind in Hitler's wake. Since abortion is one of the Left's most important issues, think of it as a sneak preview of the things they would do if given full chance.

A tour de force of psychological analysis, United in Hate will satisfy everyone who has ever asked himself why leftists speak and act the way they do. But even though the book stands as a searing indictment of the Left's perfidy, its tone is not angry. Glazov does not seek to vilify or humiliate, but earnestly seeks after truth and his pursuit yields eye-opening results. He possesses the wisdom of a mature writer who does not get stumped or sidetracked by the treachery of those he tries to understand.

No doubt much of Glazov's poise and insight derive from his personal experiences. Born in the Soviet Union to parents who were dissidents, he had an opportunity to observe first-hand the tragic impact of the leftist dogma on the psyches of affected individuals. And among them must have been some he loved. In the acknowledgments section, Glazov speaks about his grandfather who died defending the totalitarian Soviet Union from the Nazi aggressors. It is a heart-rending, thought-provoking personal story that sets the right tone for this sobering work.

The noted author Steve Emerson wrote this about United in Hate: "In years to come, this book will become a classic, not just for conservatives but for all Americans interested in the truth and how to combat a perfidious alliance." Emerson is not the only distinguished thinker who has good things to say about this skillfully executed work. The list of endorsers offering their praise reads almost like "Who is Who" in the American intellectual pantheon.

A must-read for everyone interested in the political and cultural wars of our time, United in Hate marks the arrival of Jamie Glazov as one of the most perceptive observers of the contemporary scene.


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Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Dispiriting Easter Egg Hunt

To those who understand that private money has always been free to investigate the potential of embryonic stem cells, that so far that area of research has been a dry hole, and that technology has already found ways to bypass any advantages gained by experimentation on embryonic cells – this piece may not hold any surprises. We ought to understand, though, the ‘slippery slope’ possibilities of this situation. Of course, some of my liberal friends often ‘tut, tut’ any ‘slippery slope’ arguments. They “forget” that the 1973 federal approval of abortions in the first trimester has brought us to a situation where babies who survive abortions in the 9th month are legally killed. I don’t think, in 1973, that anyone contemplated that. This purely political decision by Obama will inevitably lead to pregnancies and abortions by desperate women trying to earn some money.

Obama has too many eggs in his basket

By Kathleen Parker Mar. 11, 2009 FresnoBee

WASHINGTON -- As he lifted the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research Monday, President Barack Obama proclaimed that scientific decisions now will be made "on facts, not ideology."

This sounds good, but what if there were other nonideological facts that Obama seems to be ignoring? One fact is that since Obama began running for president, researchers have made amazing strides in alternative stem cell research.

Science and ethics finally fell in love, in other words, and Obama seems to have fallen asleep during the kiss. Either that, or he decided that keeping an old political promise was more important than acknowledging new developments. In the process, he missed an opportunity to prove that he is pro-science but also sensitive to the concerns of taxpayers who don't want to pay for research that requires embryo destruction.

Unfortunately, the stem cell debate has been characterized as a conflict between science and religious "kooks." In choosing sides, it is, indeed, easier to imagine lunch with a researcher who wants to resurrect Christopher Reeve (whom Obama couldn't resist mentioning) and make him walk again, than with the corner protester holding a fetus in a jar.

Moreover, as Obama said, the majority of Americans have reached a consensus that we should pursue this research. Polling confirms as much, but most Americans, including most journalists and politicians, aren't fluent in stem cell research. It's complicated.

If people "know" anything, it is that embryonic stem cells can cure diseases and that all stem cells come from fertility clinic embryos that will be discarded anyway. Neither belief is entirely true.

In fact, every single one of the successes in treating patients with stem cells thus far -- for spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis, for example -- have involved adult or umbilical cord blood stem cells, not embryonic. And though federal dollars still won't directly fund embryo destruction, federally funded researchers can obtain embryos privately created only for experimentation. Thus, taxpayers now are incentivizing a market for embryo creation and destruction.

The insistence on using embryonic stem cells always rested on the argument that they were pluripotent, capable of becoming any kind of cell. That superior claim no longer can be made with the spectacular discovery in 2007 of "induced pluripotent stem cells," the laboratory equivalent of the airplane.

Very simply, iPS cells can be produced from a skin cell by injecting genes that force it to revert to its primitive "blank slate" form with all the same pluripotent capabilities of embryonic stem cells.

"Induced pluripotent stem cells" doesn't trip easily off the tongue. But Time magazine named iPS innovation No. 1 on its "Top 10 Scientific Discoveries" of 2007, and the journal Science rated it the No. 1 breakthrough of 2008.

The iPS discovery even prompted Dr. Ian Wilmut, who cloned Dolly the sheep, to abandon his license to attempt human cloning, saying that the researchers "may have achieved what no politician could: an end to the embryonic stem cell debate." And, just several days ago, Dr. Bernadine Healy, director of the National Institutes of Health under the first President Bush, wrote in U.S. News & World Report that these recent developments "reinforced the notion that embryonic stem cells ... are obsolete."

Many scientists, of course, want to conduct embryonic stem cell research, as they have and always could with private funding. One may agree or disagree with their purposes, but one may also question why taxpayers should have to fund something so ethically charged when alternative methods are available.

Next comes a move to lift the unfortunately named Dickey-Wicker amendment in Congress, which prohibits using tax dollars to create human embryos for research purposes. If the amendment is rescinded, then human embryos can be created and destroyed with federal tax dollars.

Good people can disagree on these things, but those who insist that this is "only about abortion" miss the point. The objectification of human life is never a trivial matter. And determining what role government plays in that objectification may be the ethical dilemma of the century.

In this case, science handed Obama a gift -- and he sent it back.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Even If We Survive the Crash, We Still Lose It All

What We Will Soon Face: Hyper-Inflation

In Florida, if anyone mentions the word, Charley, everyone else immediately recognizes the reference to a 2004 hurricane that devastated the state – and, for a generation, has raised the economics of living here to new heights. In Rhode Island, where I live in the summertime, a similar thing can be said of “the blizzard”, a massive snowstorm on February 6, 1978 that blanketed the Atlantic coast and dropped up to four feet of snow on Rhode Island. From that day to the present time, Rhode Islanders empty the stores of bread and milk if any kind of snow storm is predicted.

I was thinking the other day about that blizzard, and some of the things that happened then. Most automobile traffic was halted for days. I had several restaurants in Massachusetts and RI at the time, and could not get to some of them for a week. If you had snowshoes or cross-country skies you could get around a little, and if you had a snowmobile you were pretty well off.

I remember, on the second day, skiing up one block from my house to a main street, and finding a panel truck and a man there selling loaves of bread off the truck for $1.00 each. That won’t register with many people today, with bread selling for $1.00 to $4.50 per loaf, depending on quality, but at that time bread sold for $0.25, and I was outraged. Little did I know then that bread would one day sell for a minimum of $1.00 – and, with the debt being piled up by Obama, will soon sell for a minimum of $10.00 a loaf.

It has now become obvious that we have a Socialist in the White House, a man devoted to righting imagined wrongs committed by the moneyed class against poor people (and poor people are noble; wealthy people are not noble). He has set out to teach us a lesson by driving down the market and raising income taxes. He demonizes businesses and all investors and bankers. He fiddles with global warming and healthcare while a fire rages that he has the responsibility to put out; he and his supporters may or may not have driven the credit crisis to new heights before the election, but it is his responsibility now. If you have savings and are retired, not only are your savings being wiped out, but whatever you are able to protect will soon become virtually worthless when the printing presses start to roll.

History tells us that the trillions of debt he is accumulating can only be accommodated by devaluing the value of our money through rampant inflation. I have enjoyed a reasonable retirement; my children never will.

His spending plans must be defeated.

The first thing to do is to bring back publicity of the "misery index", the sum of the inflation rate and the unemployment rate, which was used so successfully to make Jimmy Carter a one-term, President. In his last term, the "misery index" reached an incredible 20.5 %, and Carter also saddled us with interest rates that reached 21%.

"Why did things get so bad under Carter? And that's a long story. The fundamental reason, however, is he made mistake after mistake, blinded by the leftist rhetoric his party adopted after the infamous '72 Democratic Convention, when the so-called New Left seized control.

In office, Carter adopted the Keynesian economics of the time, buying into the theory that there was a reverse "trade-off" between inflation and unemployment — an idea that proved spectacularly wrong. The U.S. became mired in "stagflation," with both inflation and unemployment rising sharply.

As things grew worse, Carter sharply boosted government spending. When that didn't work, he blamed the American people. "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "The only trend is downward. But it's impossible to get people to face up to this."

Those remarks were followed by his now-famous "malaise" speech in which he unveiled six proposals — including import quotas, windfall profits taxes and increased spending on alternative fuels — to combat higher oil prices charged by OPEC. Nothing about tax cuts. Nothing about finding more energy. In short, he told Americans to consume less, but pay more." Investors Business Daily


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