Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's Time to Fire Harry Reid

The guy just can't shut up.
"We got into a little jam with Roberts. Roberts didn't tell us the truth. At least [Justice Samuel A.] Alito told us who he was," Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, said...
Fortunately, Fred Thompson provides some antidote:
Former Sen. Fred Thompson, a Tennessee Republican who shepherded the chief justice's nomination through the Senate, said Mr. Reid's charge was off base.

"Senator Reid has compiled quite a catalog of mean and irrational statements about various people," Mr. Thompson said.

"The chief justice was very forthright in explaining that he would not tell the senators how he was going to vote but that he would follow the law and the intent of the framers. He's done exactly that, and that, of course, is anathema to Harry Reid."
It's time for Reid to go home, and stay there.

Monday, March 30, 2009

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Missile

I mentioned a few days ago the the North Koreans were setting up for a launch of what they claim is a communications satellite and what looks suspiciously like a long-range missile.

Closing Velocity has a story mentioning some of the guests of honor: an Iranian missile team. As McKittrick at CV goes on to say:
Iranians in North Korea, North Koreans in Iran. It's as if WMD proliferation is something around which the North Koreans and Iranians revolve. An "axis," if you will. You know, another laughably archaic term, like "enemy combatants" and "Global War on Terror."

Well, yesterday came this cheery news:
Gates: U.S. Not Prepared to Respond to North Korea Missile Launch

The United States can do nothing to stop North Korea from breaking international law in the next 10 days by firing a missile that is unlikely to be shot down by the U.S. or its allies, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday.

Appearing on "FOX News Sunday," Gates said North Korea "probably will" fire the missile, prompting host Chris Wallace to ask: "And there's nothing we can do about it?"

"No," Gates answered, adding, "I would say we're not prepared to do anything about it."

Last week, Admiral Timothy Keating, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, said the U.S. is "fully prepared" to shoot down the missile. But Gates said such a response is unlikely.

"I think if we had an aberrant missile, one that was headed for Hawaii, that looked like it was headed for Hawaii or something like that, we might consider it," Gates said. "But I don't think we have any plans to do anything like that at this point."
Great. Just great.

The Japanese aren't being quite so timid, preparing ships and land-based launchers to shoot down any missile that threatens Japanese territory.

Head to Closing Velocity for the latest.

Looks Wrong

You can justify (or is it rationalize?) the firing of General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner by President Obama just feels wrong.

I'm not the only one.

As James Lileks says,
Maybe I’m old-school, but “President fires CEO” looks as wrong as “Pope fires Missile.”
Ah, the sweet smell of hope and change. Smells like socialism.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Little Brown Jug

There's something about this music that carries more than a little nostalgia. This was my grandparents' music - the music they grew up to, courted to, went to war and went to work with. (Frankly, it makes me jealous - it's better than much of what we have.) One of my grandfathers played semi-professionally around Salt Lake for several years; even spent a summer in Newport Beach playing drums for one of the big bands. Then, after he retired he started playing again, with the Phoenix Jazz & Swing Band. (A very appropriate name, considering the youngest members were 70!)

There is a great article by Peter Robinson over at Forbes on this very subject - sharing the music his father grew up with with his children. Well worth the read.

And even now, seventy years later, it's still worth listening to.

This one's for you, Bampa.

In The Dark

In only the latest bit of imbecility masquerading as environmentalism, tomorrow we are being encouraged to sit in the dark in observance of "Earth Hour."

Of course, this event is being advertised pretty much everywhere in "public service" announcements. Who is servicing whom is up for debate.

I won't be participating - indeed, I want nothing to do with this foolishness.

Even my own church participated last year. Seeing the Salt Lake Temple revert from a shining beacon to a faint ghost in the night brought sorrow, not reflection. What kind of message does that send, that God dips His banner to the fleeting fancies of man?

Ever since men first walked the Earth, night has been an enemy. Darkness put man at a disadvantage, and gave advantage to those that sought to harm him. Each advance brought the ability to beat back that enemy, to force back the darkness. From basic fire, to oil, to electricity, the ability to generate light at will has coincided with the advance of human civilization.

Now, we are being encouraged to turn away. To shun the light, and in essence, embrace darkness. Our ancestors would not understand; neither do I. I rather doubt these new good things we are being urged to embrace as our supposed betters encourage us to throw away and shun the old are really any good at all.

Strange times we live in.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bombay Beach is Shaking

Following a moderate earthquake on Tuesday, an ongoing swarm of small earthquakes has continued to shake the area around the Salton Sea in southern California.

Right now, this earthquake swarm is getting the attention of seismologists, due to both their frequency and especially their location, which is very close to a segment of the San Andreas Fault that is believed to be overdue for a major earthquake. The Southern California Seismic Network has a report on the swarm up on their main page.

The main response is one of "We need more info." Additional seismographs and other sensors are being emplaced around the area, in order to better determine the location of the quakes and find if there is any pattern to them. (For instance - are the locations of the quakes trending in any direction?) It is important to note that this swarm is not that unusual - a similar swarm occurred in 2001. But it bears watching.

There also seems to be some increased alertness among emergency planners. The California Office of Emergency Services issued a notice yesterday, advising of the earthquake swarm and encouraging officials to review their emergency plans.

This area is very interesting, seismologically. Somewhere near the Salton Sea and heading southeast through the Imperial Valley, the San Andreas Fault becomes less defined, broadening into a rift zone where the North American plate and the Pacific Plate stop sliding past each other and actually start moving away from each other. These quakes are occurring about where this rift zone begins.

For more information:

Southern California Seismic Network

USGS, "Recent Earthquakes in California and Nevada"

Los Angeles Times, "Salton Sea is swarming with earthquake data"

Los Angeles Times, "Study finds troubling pattern of Southern California quakes"

Mt. Redoubt Continues to Erupt

Mt. Redoubt has erupted in a series of eruptions, including one this morning that produced an ash cloud rising to 65,000 feet.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory is the best source for the latest information.

Boldly Stepping Backward

The latest hope and change from Minitrue, as reported in the Washington Post:
The end of the Global War on Terror -- or at least the use of that phrase -- has been codified at the Pentagon. Reports that the phrase was being retired have been circulating for some time amongst senior administration officials, and this morning speechwriters and other staff were notified via this e-mail to use "Overseas Contingency Operation" instead.

And they have the gall to call themselves "reality-based."

Found this story over at Cdr. Salamander.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kim Jong Il Wants Attention

Or money. Those are the only logical reasons for this:
North Korea looks set to launch missile
By Jim Miklaszewski
Chief Pentagon correspondent
NBC News
updated 7:41 a.m. MT, Wed., March. 25, 2009

North Korea has positioned a Taepodong-2 missile on the launchpad at its facility in Musudan in the east of the country, U.S. officials told NBC News on Wednesday.

Pyongyang has said it intends to use the missile to launch a satellite into space. The North Koreans issued an international notice that the launch may occur sometime between April 4 through the 8th.

According to the U.S. officials, while two stages of the missile can be seen, the top is covered with a shroud supported by a crane.

But now that the missile is on the pad, the launch itself could come within a matter of days, a likelihood that has sparked a flurry of diplomatic activity as the event would be in violation of a U.N. ban prohibiting the country from ballistic activity. Some fear the launch is a cover for the test-fire of long-range missile technology.
Learning of this from Closing Velocity, to me the more interesting aspect of this is what Japan is preparing to do in response:
Japan readies N.Korean rocket launch response

TOKYO (AFP) — The Japanese government's powerful security council will meet this week to prepare for the shooting down of a North Korean rocket if it threatens to hit the country, the premier said on Wednesday.

The isolated Pyongyang regime has said it will launch a communications satellite over Japanese territory in early April, but the United States and its Asian allies suspect the launch is a ballistic missile test.

Tokyo, which has developed a missile defence system with the United States in recent years, has warned it will attempt to shoot down any missile or debris that threatens to hit its territory.

North Korea, which has announced a launch window of April 4 to 8, says it would regard a rocket intercept as an act of war.

This is a story to watch. I recommend Closing Velocity, as he will be watching it closely.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mr. Redoubt Erupts

Mt. Redoubt, southwest of Anchorage, Alaska, has begun erupting.

Go to the Alaska Volcano Observatory for the latest.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

CDF Air Attack

California Department of Forestry air tankers and helicopters at Hemet-Ryan Tanker Base.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Eight Second Ride

This video I can embed. Enjoy.

Culture Determines Success

Jonah Goldberg today at NRO:

This is a very old story. The founders of modern liberalism, led by Woodrow Wilson and the two Roosevelts, were quite open about their effort to adopt a more European approach to political economy. The progressive leader William Allen White said in 1911: “We were parts, one of another, in the United States and Europe. Something was welding us into one social and economic whole with local political variations. It was Stubbs in Kansas, Jaures in Paris, the Social Democrats in Germany, the Socialists in Belgium, and I should say the whole people in Holland, fighting a common cause.”

But it was FDR’s New Deal that truly aimed to “assimilate the American into the ‘European’ political experience,” according to historian Daniel Boorstin.

But suddenly, when the most unapologetically liberal president ever actually starts to make good on this long-term liberal agenda — including, perhaps, a “new New Deal” — Obama’s new New Dealers guffaw at the parochial paranoia of it all. David Brooks is surely right that the American “commercial republic” is admirably resilient to statism, but resilience isn’t immunity — as public-opinion data and Obama’s 2008 victory demonstrate.

Obama’s defenders are right that American culture is different than Europe’s. But what they seem to forget is Patrick Moynihan’s famous observation: “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.” The political aim of liberalism for a century has been to move us in a European direction.

It’s hardly crazy that conservatives would complain about Obama’s great leap “forward.”

The Stimulus & The States

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

--- Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

Last month, Congress enacted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, popularly called "the stimulus plan." It gives billions of dollars to the states, but the gift has strings attached...

...If the state accepts funds, it also accepts a host of restrictions. For example, the plan increases, temporarily, the money it sends to states to fund various welfare programs. To receive that money, states have to add thousands of new people to the welfare rolls. In two years, the federal largesse stops, but the new welfare recipients are still there...

...Because some governors might not accept the money, Congress added a unique provision, in subsection 1607(b): "If funds provided to any State in any division of this Act are not accepted for use by the Governor, then acceptance by the State legislature, by means of the adoption of a concurrent resolution, shall be sufficient to provide funding to such State."

--- "Some Strings Attached," by Ronald Rotunda

It's interesting how the Democrats are ardent supporters of states' rights - until such rights get in their way.

How To Keep Our Attention

Rich Lowry, writing today in National Review Online:
Democrats profess to love our allies — unless they want to trade with us. Mexico joins South Korea and Colombia among friends we are stiffing on trade. Perhaps if they got together and started an illicit nuclear-weapons program, they would be treated with more solicitude.
The Mexican truck issue is not an easy one - but Obama has killed a study program, signaling "we're not even going to pretend to consider that."

At a time when we need to work closely with Mexico in order to avoid a breakdown of civil authority south of the border - we do this.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Life Is A Highway

A little Chris Ledoux to head into the weekend:

"Life Is A Highway."

Still my favorite version of that song.

However, CapitolNashville doesn't allow embedding, so you'll have to follow the link to YouTube.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How to Alienate Friends and Lose Influence

For all the wailings and lamentations about Bush's "cowboy diplomacy," for all the poses and promises that this administration would "be ready to rule on day one" and be the "bestest administration evar," President Obama and company are not off to a very good start on the foreign relations front.

[I'll let Nate handle the commentary on the home front.]

First, we manage to lose the use of bases in Kazakstan in support of our operations in Afghanistan. Not by choice. No, it happened because we didn't do anything.

Then we promise to give up on missle defence - and get in exchange nothing.

Now, we have the two gaffes over the weekend. We have the juvenile stunt by our new Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her staffers. She presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a large red button, meant to show the Obama administration's desire to "reset" relations with Russia. Only the button was not labelled "reset," rather, it was labelled "overcharge." Leaving aside the question the appropriateness of this sophomoric stunt (Does that big red button remind you of anything? Oh, Armageddon you say?) or the policy moves it portends ("Hey Russia, let's just pretend that Georgian thing never happened") - I am left with this question: Wouldn't you think that someone, somewhere in the State Department would know how to read and write Russian? Is that too much to ask?

But, sadly, that wasn't the worst of the damage. Now, the Obama Administration is doing its best to screw up relations with the United Kingdom.

First, it was the Churchill bust. In the days after September 11, 2001, the British Government under Tony Blair loaned President Bush and the White House a bronze bust of Winston Churchill, as a symbol of the "special relationship" between the United States and Britain. The bust was returned to Britain upon Obama's assumption of office.

Then UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrived for his first state visit with President Obama, bringing with him some gifts for the new president: a pen holder carved from timbers from the HMS Gannet (sister ship to the HMS Resolute, and both ships with significance to US-UK relations) and a first-edition seven-volume set of Sir Martin Gilbert’s authorized biography of Winston Churchill. (There's a message in that for Obama - I don't think the Brits took the rejection of the Churchill bust lightly.)

In return, Prime Minister Brown received an insulting break with protocol and a gift set of DVDs. Probably from Best Buy.

And received this send-off:
The real views of many in Obama administration were laid bare by a State Department official involved in planning the Brown visit, who reacted with fury when questioned by The Sunday Telegraph about why the event was so low-key.

The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship, saying: "There's nothing special about Britain. You're just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn't expect special treatment."
As you can probably imagine, the British press is in an uproar. And they deserve to be.

Is President Obama and his administration really this stupid? Or are they too busy "ruling" to govern? I don't know - but there's plenty of speculation. (Don't follow that link if language offends you.)

President Obama's only been in office seven weeks, and I'm already hoping for change.

Monday, March 09, 2009

What's This About?

One of those headlines you only find on the web, when you should see it on the evening news (or at least the news magazines):
"Key investigator in the 1994 Jewish Center bombing kidnapped, tortured in Buenos Aires"

Former investigator of 1994 terror attack Claudio Lifschitz says hooded men forced him into their car, tattooed case file number on his arm with blowtorch and told him ‘not to mess’ with internal security service

The Argentinean daily Clarin reported Saturday that Claudio Lifschitz, a former investigator of the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, claimed he was kidnapped and tortured by elements trying to coerce him into disclosing documents related to the case.

The 1994 bombing killed 85 people, and has been tied to Iran.

Why dredge this up now? Ah, the tangled web of international terror.

Anybody Get The Number of That Truck?

Back out from under. Ugh. Serious black funk last week.

Even missed Friday Afternoon Tunes. Sorry about that. New post up later.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Paul Harvey... Good Day!

Paul Harvey passed away this past weekend.

Lots of words have been written, but I liked what James Lileks had to say:

Ninety years! It’s hard to feel sad. Sometimes you hear of the death of a famous person, or formerly famous person, and you deflate a little, partly because it’s a pity, him being dead and all, and mostly because it moves something from your own experience from the ALIVE into the GONE column, and makes you wonder if you’re replenishing your own store of cultural icons, or just dusting the ones you’ve had for years. For some reason when I heard Paul Harvey was dead (once again, via Twitter) I thought: damn. And then I wanted to applaud. Some lives are like that. Curtain down, the house is dark - and everyone decides, on their own, to clap. I don’t know what Paul Harvey was like, and I don’t care: that career was a performance. Sure, I’ll clap. And stand.