Thursday, December 22, 2005


Christmas 2005

A woman goes to the Post Office to buy stamps for her Christmas Cards. She says to the clerk, "May I have 50 Christmas stamps?" The clerk says, "What denominations?" The woman says, "God help us, has it really come to this? Give me 6 Catholic, 12 Baptist, 10 Lutheran and 22 Assembly of God."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


This is really hard to believe, but I don't discount it for a minute. The Scotsman.

The Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered the creation of Planet of the Apes-style warriors by crossing humans with apes, according to recently uncovered secret documents.

Moscow archives show that in the mid-1920s Russia's top animal breeding scientist, Ilya Ivanov, was ordered to turn his skills from horse and animal work to the quest for a super-warrior.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Now Fortune magazine is covering the issue of the demise of big oil. It discusses billionaire Richard Rainwater: Rainwater is something of a behind-the-scenes type—at least as far as alpha-male billionaires go. He counts President Bush as a personal friend but dislikes politics, and frankly, when he gets worked up, he says some pretty far-out things that could easily be taken out of context. Such as: An economic tsunami is about to hit the global economy as the world runs out of oil.

Monday, December 19, 2005


I really have trouble understanding Mary Mapes after watching her discuss her recent book on several talk shows. She keeps defending the CBS news report regarding Dubya's military service when all the evidence points to the fact she had no support for her accusations. Evidence does not seem to matter to her.

Reporter Brian Ross: "Mary Mapes was the woman behind the scenes, the producer who researched, wrote and put together Dan Rather’s 60 Minutes report on President Bush’s National Guard service, a report which Rather and CBS would later apologize for airing...."
Ross to Mapes: "Do you still think that story was true?"
Ex-CBS producer Mary Mapes: "The story? Absolutely.
"Ross: "This seems remarkable to me that you would sit here now and say you still find that story to be up to your standards."
Mapes: "I’m perfectly willing to believe those documents are forgeries if there’s proof that I haven’t seen."
Ross: "But isn’t it the other way around? Don’t you have to prove they’re authentic?"
Mapes: "Well, I think that’s what critics of the story would say. I know more now than I did then and I think, I think they have not been proved to be false, yet."
Ross: "Have they proved to be authentic though? Isn’t that really what journalists do?"
Mapes: "No, I don’t think that’s the standard."
— ABC’s Good Morning America, November 9.


An interesting study on media bias has appeared. It seems to indicate that the media does tilt to the left, but I assume there will be critics of the research methodology employed. Nevertheless, it does seem to be built on a more solid research framework than some previous studies.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


It would appear the author of Life After the Oil Crash is in the book-selling business, but he does raise a number of issues and problems. All resources are finite so I expect to see some major changes in our fuel options within the next 10 years.

Monday, December 12, 2005


Obviously there is a lot of debate about Holiday Tree vs. Christmas Tree; Season's Greetings vs. Merry Christmas; which store should I boycott because it is dropping any reference to Christmas in its advertising; etc. There seems to be a lot of confusion about Christmas, but I was not expecting it to be a problem in a "conservative" Southern Baptist Church. I was surprised to hear, as I was entering the sanctuary for the morning service this past Sunday. . . "Jingle Bells," played by the string ensemble. After the benediction we were sent out to face the world with "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Between the start and finish of the service, the congregation was able to sing a number of the great carols of the faith.


Last summer I posted a survey I received from the folks at Siena College asking history professors to rank the most trying times to be alive in American history. The results have come in. My votes were pretty much right in with the consensus. It is really hard not to see the civil war era as a very difficult time to be alive.

How America’s Trying Times Add Up for 354 U.S. History Professors*:

Most Trying:
#1: The Civil War Era (55%)
#2: The Revolutionary War Era (24%)
#3: The Great Depression Era (14%)

Least Trying:
#1: The War on Terror (46%)
#2: World War I Era (33%)
#3: The Cold War Era (9%)

*Also included in the poll were the World War II and Vietnam/Cultural Revolution eras.

Friday, December 09, 2005


From the Angry Bear.

What strikes me about this chart is that while spending on Defense and Homeland Security (the red line) has indeed risen quite sharply under the Bush administration, other types of discretionary spending (the green line) have risen only quite modestly, and are still slightly below where they were in 1995.

While Bush 43's budgets have clearly benefited from low interest payments (thanks in part to the low deficits and surpluses of the late 1990s, and in part to the very low interest rates of the past few years), the one other category of spending that has grown rapidly during his presidency is government-provided health insurance.

So perhaps Bush is indeed no Reagan when it comes to non-defense-related discretionary spending. But neither has such federal spending grown dramatically in the past few years. No, the only category where it seems clear that Bush has deliberately let the money flow freely is in defense. So if you think that the federal government's spending has grown too fast in recent years, turn your attention to defense spending and health care. That's where the money has been going.

I think the trends are interesting. While defense spending has surged, social security and health care costs have been on a steady climb.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Democrats are questioning the anti-war positions of Pelosi and Dean. Washington Post.


Another blogger raises more suspicions about what was exactly going on with Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson, and the CIA.

The bit about her being crippled by her public status is essentially BS - she had not been operating as a clandestine agent for years, and was moving towards an interagency liaison function (hence her appearance at the meeting with the INR chaps who duly outed her internally).

However, she may well have become radioactive. One of the many enduring mysteries of this case - why did Ms. Plame take a leave of absence (an "enforced" leave of absence, per the Daily Telegraph) around the time the SSCI report came out? This Times story dates her leave from June 1, 2004. The SSCI came out in early July, but the cognoscenti would have been aware of its contents by June.

And a quick stroll through the SSCI suggests that the Senate (and yes, I am looking at the bipartisan section voted out by the full committee) was critical of the Wilson trip in ways that may have reflected badly in Ms. Plame. Excerpts to follow.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


I have not seen the Shiite rioting in Bahrain covered in the mainstream media. Not only is Bahrain the home of the Fifth Fleet, but Bahrain is considered a moderate Arab country. It also points up the increasing militancy of the Shiites and will potentially make it difficult for Bush to deliver a democratic Iraq. In addition where is Iran at work in this increasing Shiite militancy.

Friday, December 02, 2005


Positive Liberty has an excellent discussion on whether Washington was an orthodox Christian. Washington was certainly not open about his Christian faith. Most evangelicals would expect of a follower of Jesus Christ to at least witness in some way publicly about one's faith.

Muslims in Germany

Muslim leader, Dyab Abou Jahjah, the leader of the Brussels-based Arab
European League, says: "We reject integration when it leads to assimilation.
I don't believe in a host country. We are at home here and whatever we consider
our culture to be also belongs to our chosen country. I'm in my country, not the
country of the Westerners."
[someone sent me this quote--haven't verified it}

Or consider the statement (given at a rally) of a German radical Islamist based on a National Public Radio broadcast: "Germany is an Islamic country. Islam is in the home, in schools. Germans will be outnumbered. We [Muslims] will say what we want. We'll live how we want. It's outrageous that Germans demand! We speak their language. Our children will have our language, our laws, our culture."

Thursday, December 01, 2005


For some time I have been wondering if the CIA or some group in the CIA has been out to get Bush. I am still dissatisfied with the explanations of the Plamegate affair. Now the Weekly Standard is raising the issue.

THE CIA'S WAR against the Bush administration is one of the great untold stories of the past three years. It is, perhaps, the agency's most successful covert action of recent times. The CIA has used its budget to fund criticism of the administration by former Democratic officeholders. The agency allowed an employee, Michael Scheuer, to publish and promote a book containing classified information, as long as, in Scheuer's words, "the book was being used to bash the president." However, the agency's preferred weapon has been the leak. In one leak after another, generally to the New York Times or the Washington Post, CIA officials have sought to undermine America's foreign policy. Usually this is done by leaking reports or memos critical of administration policies or skeptical of their prospects. Through it all, our principal news outlets, which share the agency's agenda and profit from its torrent of leaks, have maintained a discreet silence about what should be a major scandal.