Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Let's give pharmaceutical freedom to our elderly. Elderly Americans should be legally permitted to use any drug their doctor approves of, even if the drug has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Consider a 90-year-old man suffering from severe kidney disease. He would like to take an experimental drug, but his doctor can't get him in on the clinical trials. As a result, the man must wait nine more years until the drug is approved by the FDA. Unfortunately, this man's advanced age means he has only a slight chance of living another nine years.
News reports describe the Soldiers of Heaven as a "messianic Shia cult" intent on murdering Shia pilgrims visiting shrines in the Iraqi city of Najaf. The Shia pilgrims were commemorating Ashoura, the murder of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein, after the Battle of Karbala in A.D. 680. That murder fixed the schism between the Sunni and the Shia. Najaf (which isn't far from the modern city of Karbala) is also Sistani's home.Luckily for Sistani, the Iraqi Shia, and the U.S., the Iraqi government caught wind of the pending terrorist attack and attacked first. When the Iraqi army brigade ran into heavy resistance, they pulled back and called in American air strikes. In the end, some 263 terrorists were killed and another 300 captured. And with all those captives, it shouldn't be long before it can be determined who was beind the planned attack: Sadr's Mahdi army; the Iranians; or Sunnis. At present it looks to be Sadr and his militia, but if Iranian involvement can be proven, the results could be devastating to Tehran and the clerics running Iran right now. After all, this was a very important pilgramage to a very holy Shiite site. Plus, Sistani is rapidly gaining adherants in Iran. That rate would only increase if Tehran can be shown complicit.
WASHINGTON, DC—Following the tragic falling death of 32-year-old methamphetamine addict Phillip Diggs, who was reportedly attacked by spiders while scaling a large construction crane near Palo Alto, CA, thousands of outraged and confused meth addicts marched frenetically on Washington as part of a week of activities urging the federal government to address the nation's growing spider epidemic.
Following the case to trial has been interesting, as both sides have filed innumerable motions, responses, etc. maneuvering for advantage. Early on, the pleadings were hard to get. More recently, they seem to appear there within hours of being filed.
All in all, great theater.
Labels: Plame Game
Not everyone these days is changing their lifestyle to combat global warming. Rather Airparks: a plane in your garage points to a trend of airparks, where you can build your house at an airpark, and have your plane in your garage.
The house pictured above is owned by John Revolting (oh, sorry, Travolta):
His house is located immediately off the main airstrip, and is designed so his jets can taxi right up to two outbuildings connected to the main structure, which is shaped like a squat air-control tower. "He uses the 707 as the family van," says Jumbolair developer Terri Jones. "The Gulfstream is his sports car."While Travolta apparently has the only privately owned 707 in the country, others own even bigger planes (last I knew, Paul Allen had a 757/767) and there seem to be quite a few 727s and 737s in private hands.
There is no holier icon in the Church of the First Amendment than the anonymous leak. Ever since columnist Robert Novak published the identity of a CIA agent nearly four years ago, voices of journalism have delivered sermon after sermon about the centrality of leaks not just to journalism but to democracy itself: We need leaks to keep the government honest.And concludes with:
If leaks are vital to freedom of the press, then surely both of the people needed to create a leak — the reporter and the source — deserve protection. If Judy Miller is a martyr of press freedom, then so is Scooter Libby.In other words, the reason to acquit Libby is that he leaked and the press runs on leaks. But in the middle, he suggests that crimes were committed in the leaking, and by all indications now, none were. Libby was only charged (and is currently being tried) with a coverup of a non-crime. Kinsley can't quite get himself to point out that the "leaks" themselves in this case were most likely legal.
But the problem is that not all leaking is legal, and it is illegal to even publish some leaks. And Kinsley would have us put the New York Times in charge of deciding what is in the nation's interest to publish and what is not. That means a highly partisan publisher running his family's closely held corporation second guessing a democratically elected goverrnment.
But Kinsley is right that the Plame/Libby case has been a disaster for the press. Pinch Sulzberger of the NYT led the charge for the appointment of a special prosecutor, only to have the special prosecutor, when appointed, destroy the fiction that there was any sort of 1st Amendment press privilege or federal shield law protecting reporters from having to testify.
Labels: Plame Game
Libby’s fate is now a crapshoot. If he has a fair-minded jury, he probably will get acquitted. But if not (and he is being tried in heavily Democratic Washington, D.C.), he won’t. Patrick Fitzgerald surely would consider that vindication, but it would only add to his shame.
Labels: Plame Game
Our health-care system will inevitably combine government regulation and private enterprise. But what should the mix be? How important is health care compared with other public and private goals? Will an expanding health-care sector spur the economy -- or, through high taxes and insurance premiums, retard it? We have refused to have this debate for obvious reasons. It makes us queasy, because it pits moral imperatives (including the right to live) against coldhearted economics. A case in point: A friend of mine recently had a near-death experience; he survived only because he had superb medical care.
Monday, January 29, 2007
Many Democrats in Congress seem incapable of separating their BDS and anti-war fever from doing what is best for the country. That they would condone anti-war grafitti being written on the capital steps within a month of retaking Congress is just more evidence of this.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
- No Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).
- The 2003 Invasion was Illegal.
- Sanctions were working.
- Overthrowing Saddam Only Helped Iran.
- The Invasion Was a Failure.
- The Invasion Helped Al Qaeda.
- Iraq Is In A State of Civil War.
- Iraqis Were Better Off Under Saddam.
- The Iraq War Caused Islamic Terrorism to Increase in Europe.
- The War in Iraq is Lost.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Early morning at Keystone Ski Area
And this second photo shows North Peak and the gondola to it, as well as the top of Mozart run.
Both photos are from the top of Dercum Mountain. The first faces west, and is taken from the top of the Summit House. The second faces south.
New Samsung Phone
Unfortunately, Qwest, my cell phone provider, no longer sells that Motorola phone, or, indeed, any Motorola phones. So, I was stuck getting something else, and that turned out to be a Samsung A920.
Overall, I liked my Motorola phone better. But the Samsung phone has a couple of nice features. Notable is a removable memory chip that is the default location for storing photos. It is easy to move the chip to a reader so that the pictures can be uploaded to this computer. And that is how I produced the pictures in the previous two blog entries.
Skiing - photos of 10th Special Forces Group
Here, they have started working their way down the mountain:
I ran into them at the end of the day Tuesday, the second day on skiis for most of them, and they were doing great. These are truly our Best and Brightest, and their ability to pick up skiing so quickly is just one more illustration of this.
Over the years, I have talked to some of them, and apparently their unit is dedicated to the part of the world that includes Afganistan. Some have been there twice already.
So, Tuesday when I was riding up a chairlift with a soldier from Hawaii at Keystone for a biomedical conference, and he called the ski training a boondoggle, I said, fine. I just wish that more soldiers and marines could utilize the same boondoogle, training to ski under our bright blue skies while waiting for their next deployment to the Middle East.
Skiing - 01/22/07 photos
Next is our "THIS RUN MONITORED BY MOUNTAIN WATCH" sign a little below the previous sign:
This is taken right at a "SLOW" sign on a big roll right below the "Denver Cliffs". This is where I do a lot of my speed control (normally I am looking uphill). You can barely see the top of the Peru and A51 lifts lower down the ridge in a clearing.
That is a snowmobile lane to the left. Keystone added these on Schoolmarm trail for the places where snowmobiles have reduced visibility, such as here, coming over a big roll, after a teenage girl racer was killed at Vail hitting a snowmobile going uphill.
It really is a hard choice, brain dead but honest Al Gore, or the smartest woman in the world who also happens to be a crook, more venal than the president she helped run out of office. Barak Obama looks better and better, despite the color of his skin being his only realistic credential.
This is rather a sordid story. Hillary's brother Tony apparently obtained pardons from his brother-in-law for Edward Gregory and his wife. He also borrowed $109,000 from a carnival company owned by them. Unfortunately for Tony Rodham, Gregory is dead, the company is in bankruptcy, and the trustee has gone after Rodham for repayment, which has not been forthcoming. The trustee had Rodham's account frozen and obtained a default judgment. But Tony appealed, the judge unfroze the account, and the money appears to have disappeared. Oh, and he made another $240,000 from the company as a consultant, which the trustee did not try to recover.
The last six years, we have repeatedly heard about the Culture of Corruption in the Bush Administration, despite the fact that the only member thereof indicted so far has been Scooter Libby, who is currently on trial for purjury and obstruction of justice in the Plame Game case. This is a reminder of what a real Culture of Corruption really is, and what we can expect again with another Clinton in the White House.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Skiing - 01/23/07
We had a lot of Mountain Watch on the mountain today, though I really didn't see many of the others doing speed control either. Ran into a bunch of them on a wreck about half way donw Schoolmarm ridge. And somehow, checking my radio, I managed to lose my whistle. It took me months to find a plastic whistle with a ball inside. Before that, I had to use a metal whistle with a ball, or a plastic one w/o. The metal one was a lot better, but it has the tendency to stick to your lips on really cold days. So, a plastic one with ball inside is optimal. The problem is that outside ski patrol usage, there isn't a lot of call for them, and so they are hard to find. Usually, I have it clipped to my jacket, but was wearing a radio harness today, and clipped it there. Somehow I dislodged it as I worked my radio as I skied by the wreck.
The next run, I heard of another wreck in the smaller terrain park, and went there to help, closing the third jump on the jump line. Maybe not needed here - the two big jump lines in the bigger park do need to be closed for accidents, since they have very blind landings. Luckily, Mountain Watch dispatch is pretty close to the top of the A51 terrain park, and we are getting a lot more agressive about sending people to assist whenever we hear or or see accidents there (partially I think at my urging - last year I happened to see the patrol pick up a BLS pack at the top of the Peru lift and got a lot of kudos for calling in backup for shutting down a jump for a major back/neck/head injury - I repeatedly suggested after that that we get more agressive, and our dispathers have). This one wasn't too bad - it did require a long (back) board, but not O2, etc.
Then, about 2:20, I was riding up with Guest Services, and a call came on our radios that the River Run gondola was being shut down at 3:15 (it turns out for maintainence). I was stopping at PHQ (patrol headquarters) to warm up for gang groom anyway, and went through the Summit House looking for anyone in street clothes to tell them to download early, if they didn't want to ride the Summit Express chair down.
As with Monday, we were overmanned for gang grooming, so I was posted to the top (PHQ) for any help that was ultimately needed. But today, Patrol was stretched thin, and we volunteered to help them. I was asked to sweep Frenchman for gang groom. That fired off about 3:45, so was unable to have my hot tea and warm up. I did have time though to go back upstairs and tell the food and beverage people the why for the gondola shutdown (they were all in street clothes, and so were appreciative of my warning).
I then Helped the patrol at the top of Frenchman pull the rope and set the signs, and then headed down, tailing the last people on the run. I then pulled the rope at the French Connection (the cutover from Irishman about 1/4 of the way down). Then, I ran into a complication - a woman walking down with her snowboard. Her two male companions were riding slowly down with her. Obviously, we wouldn't get down in time at that speed. I sent the guys down, and skied slowly with her for awhile. Then, about half way down, I ran into additional traffic coming in on 3rd Road from Wild Irishman. The patrol shutting that off was late. But he showed up then, and I left the woman walking down the treeline with him, and followed the rest of the guests down, clearing the run about a minute before the grooming machines showed up to head back up Frenchman. I helped the closure at the bottom of Irishman/ Paymaster, and then headed up Montezuma to help on top.
I got there in time to meet the grooming machines as they reached the top of Frenchman, and helped them through the traffic at the top as most of them went over to the "dark side" for their night of grooming. Usually, I would then run drag (ski rear escort) for the four machines heading down Schoolmarm ridge for the terrain parks. But today, I decided to check Frenchman, and found the French Connection closure still up. Pulled that, skied to the bottom, back up, and down the ridge to our dispatch to turn in my radio and check out.
I make it a habit of skiing slowly down Schoolmarm my last run of the day looking for hurt or injured guests in need of assistance. This also keeps me a bit safer, as that is the most likely time to be injured.
About 3/4 of the way down Schoolmarm, as the trail opens up and a lot of trails run into together, for the last time, I saw a guy sitting on the snow with his board off. I skied up, and saw that his face was bloody. He didn't think that he was that hurt, but somehow I thought he was wrong. So, over his resistance, I called the patrol on my cell phone and told them where he was, etc. I then started asking him questions to determine his alertness, and when he didn't know the day of the week it was (he kept saying Saturday), I called PHQ again and told them he had reduced alertness and was a bit flaky.
A ski patrol showed up, and I told him my observations. I then left him with the patient, and went to direct traffic. Three more Mountain Watch showed up on their final sweep and joined in, one with traffic control, and two directly helping the patrol. He called for a long (back) board rig (toboggan), and another patrol showed up with that. As the four of them were putting on a neck brace, strapping him to the backboard, taping his head to it, etc., a third ski patrol showed up, on her final sweep to the bottom. Aparently, about this time, they activated truama at the medical center at the bottom, due to the patient's increasing flakiness. Also, apparently, his pupils weren't right either. Both evidence of some head trauma.
The patrol were soon off with the patient, on their way to the medical center. In cases like this, the patients aren't given a choice - they aren't released until seen by a ER physician. The four remaining Mountain Watch cleaned up the (now frozen) blood. Luckily, we no longer have to bag it in biohazard bags (though I do carry some), as any pathogens are supposed to die w/i ten minutes in this environment. Nevertheless, it still has to be cleaned up, so I gave two pair of gloves to another MW, and he filled the one pair with the big clumps (wearing the other pair). We then buried the rest. And then, we were done, almost an hour after I signed out. (I will adjust my time tomorrow).
It is times like that that make Mountain Watch worthwhile. I may have saved that guy's life today. He was likely to try riding down on his own, and my guess is that the blood was building up in his brain as he sat there (as evidenced by his increasing flakiness, etc.) He would ultimately have been noticed, if not by a guest, then by one of the Mountain Watch who were about ten minutes behind me (and joined me at the scene), or by the third patroller, who was also making her last sweep down the mountain. The difference between us and the guests is that we are actively looking for this sort of thing, and they aren't. Ski patrol calls this "eyes on swivel". It takes a month or so every year for me to click back in, but I was obviously clicked back in for this. And my second call to PHQ, after I had determined the lowered alertness may have gotten patrol there a bit faster. After I dumped my skis at the MOB, I ran into the patroller who had shown up with the long board rig, walking back from the medical center. He is a paramedic, and was the one to activate trauma. He thought that I had done just fine, and that it was only when they had determined that the patient's alertness was lessening as they finished loading him that they knew that they had a real medical emergency.
And, that is why I work there - for the times when I do make a difference.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Skiing - 01/22/07
Last week, we did have cold and snow. This week, it is just a bit cold - somewhere around a high of almost 20 degrees. But, as with the dry beat of Phoenix, this is a dry, dry, cold. So dry that people I know who come here ever winter from La. have a humidifier and still get nose bleeds. Luckily for me, I am a native, and thus don't have problems with the lack of humidity.
My day, as with many of my skiing days, finds me at the computer around 7, handling emails, and doing a bit of patent work. Business is a bit light right now, as things wind down every year for the holidays, and don't get going again until about February.
My goal most skiing days is to be at Keystone by about 11:30 and at the top of the Peru lift before noon to check in and get a radio. This means getting dressed a bit before 11 and walking out the door no later than 11:15. As I work as a volunteer, I use employee parking, fairly close to the Peru lift, where I put on my boots. I have four pair of skiis at the Mountain Operations Building (MOB) right above that lift. I mostly ski on a pair of Atomic Beta Race 10'22s that my next brother sold me cheap this year. They carve well on fairly hard snow, possibly made even better by his addition of some race chargers (adding maybe another half inch of height under my feet). Red skiis, yellow race chargers, green bindings, and orange poles. I also have at the MOB a pair of Beta Carves for soft snow (matching the poles), some fat Coyotes for deeper powder, and a pair of Rossi downhills for opening up (with curved poles to match).
This year, despite all the blizzards that seem to be hitting Colorado, the snow is usually relatively hard. Not ice, but a mixture of manufactured snow laid down before the end of the year and some packed powder on top, heavily groomed every night. Just soft enough that carving is a lot of fun. And, thus, I mostly ski the Beta Races. They are an about four year old race ski that my brother has upgraded from, and so can also move, if the need arises, as it does a couple times a day working MOuntain Watch at Keystone. They are comfortable at reasonably high speeds - I hit terminal velocity on the two runs that we patrol today a couple of times. This means that I was going straight down, w/o turning, and no longer accelerating. And doing it comfortably. It usually takes into January for me to do this, and in years past, usually only did it on my downhills. But I picked up two pair of GS skiis this fall, and they work almost as well at that. But mostly, I just carve back and forth, using up the center half of the fairly wide slopes, maing GS sized turns.
The object of carving is to not skid your skis. Skidding slows you down, and most skiers skid, at least some. So, the best carvers can move down the slope at almost the same speed as someone going almost straight, but covering a lot more distance.
One of the harder things to learn about carving is to keep my weight centered over my skis. The problem is that I spent better than 35 years on straight skis, where you needed your weight forward. Thus, I often find my weight too far forward, and my tails skid a bit. Just like hitting terminal velocity, it seems like it takes until Jan. every year to find the sweat spot on the skis, where my weight is perfectly balanced, fore and aft, and my tails don't wash out even a little. And I still don't have perfect runs, top to bottom. But I am happy if I can make a half a dozen fairly perfect well carved turns in a row.
So, back to the beautiful, boring, day. It was cold enough that there weren't many people on the slopes. That meant that we didn't have to do much speed control, and would get cold if we just stood around doing speed control. So, I spent a couple hours doing fairly high speed carving runs patrolling the greener runs at Keystone. I would typically stop maybe twice for a minute or two each time, and then go on. Mostly, it was just high speed carving turns under perfect blue skies on a run almost by myself.
Then, around 2, I was riding up the lift with a ski patroller, and we heard of a neck/back injury on Frenchman. I popped down there, did traffic control for the patrol attending the patient, helped get him into the sled, and got some witness statements filled out. I escorted a couple to the top, where I bribed them hot drink coupons, and, as we all warmed up (me, for the first time that day), a nurse, who was the first on the scene, had found the patient barely responsive, and called the accident in, filled out an witness statement. I also gave them all the gum I had or could find in the patrol room.
Then, I screamed down to the top of Haywood for crowd control for gang grooming. I beat the 9 grooming machines by about a minute, but luckily, we were overstaffed. Then, to the bottom of the Summit Express, to follow the four grooming machines that split off for the Terrain Park down Schoolmarm ridge. Back to the top, and a slow ski down the same Schoolmarm ridge to our dispatch on the top of the Peru lift. I turned in my radio, and started down Silver Spoon for a last slow run to the bottom, looking for injuries and worn out guests needing assistance. Unfortunately, they had race training for junior racers, notably the Summit County High school team, on Haywood starting at 4. They were using Silver Spoon to warm up. Unfortunately, it is (officially, but not actually) a green (beginners) run, and there was still a ski school class on it. So, I ended up stopping a bunch of them, and yelling at others for skiing much too fast down it. I then caught them at the top of Haywood, and asked for a coach. The coaches hadn't shown up yet, so, I warned them that if they did that again, they wouldn't be racing at Keystone again. They were all respectful.
Then, since Haywood was closed, I skied down Schoolmarm, again slowly, and ran into another Mountain Watch in a confrontation with a pair of middle aged snow boarders. Apparently, the woman was getting leg cramps and was walking down. Her boyfriend (older than I by two years) was riding with her. They went down one of the snowmobile lanes that we have to protect everyone when the snowmobiles go uphill. This is usually grounds for at least a warning, and possibly a ticket revocation. The Mountain Watch guy was half their ages, and it wasn't going well. Both the guests were trying to protect the other. Finally, I was able to get the woman started walking down the hill with me, and separating them ultimately calmed things down. I skied slowly with her to the bottom, and gave her a pair of hot drink coupons. By the time she got down, her legs were no longer cramping. Her boyfriend was there to meet her, and hopefully, alls well that ended well. I ran into the MW guy involved at the MOB and he thanked me for the backup and help.
I also ran into the director of the ski patrol there, and told him about both of my occurances on the way down, as I believe in keeping management aware of potential problems they may face. His reaction to the racers was that if it had been he, instead of me interaccting with them, race training for the day would have been cancelled for at least the day.
Addendum - the racers were back Tues., but Keystone ran the Argentine lift for them, and that kept them off of Silver Spoon. Much less chance for them to ski fast enough to terrorize the paying guests.
The only thing that is surprising is that anyone is surprised at this. They are doing what they always do: make money and increase their influence while pretending to hew to the international consensus. Ditto, BTW, for China. It should also be remembered that the Russians consider Iran a natural client, vying throughout the 19th Century with the British for effective control there.
But all should remember that the Russians, Chinese, and, in particular, the French were taking bribes and selling arms to Saddam Hussein throughout the time that U.N. sanctions were in place. Why should Iran be any different?
If she can't be elected, it isn't because of that, but rather, because of who she is, a fairly corrupt, even by Democratic Party standards, polician, who is willing to use the levers of government for personal gain and to gain political power by abusing whatever power she might have. And, she is married to a sexual preditor whom she refuses to condem.
I also fault her on being a utopian micro manager of the worst sort, believing that the best and brightest, led by her superior intellect, are able to outthink and outplan the capitalist market and human behavior. But that isn't going to dissuade those on the left from backing her, because they too believe this.
I still see her as having the best odds of anyone on the national stage at replacing George W. Bush.
Labels: Plame Game
Many now accept that the failure of the Democratic Congress to pay to fulfill promises made to the South Vietnamese govt. ended up costing millions of lives. But this article looks at much earlier years, and concludes that the historians who wrote that history also got it wrong, as reflected even today in the Conventional Wisdom, esp. about the outster of President Diem.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
If the Democrats running the House were ever to allow the Delegates to vote on the floor, there would be significant Constitutional issues. But there is little that the Republicans can do if they can only vote in committee, since the vote that counts is the one for the entire House.
Card's two modern examples of this are the U.S. and China. The Chinese have been swallowing their conquerers for millenia. And I have little doubt, that the U.S. would do the same if conquered. To some extent, it is because both are built on ideals. Interestingly, the U.S. is giving China its first real scare, as the later becomes more like us in order to compete with us economically. And, as a result, China is once again, after centuries of turning inward, looking outward, as it starts to assert itself internationally.
Many, esp. on the left, bemoan that we spend so much time looking inward, and ignore the rest of the world. But we do this knowing that our place in history is secure. I suspect that a thousand years from now, our Constitution and Declaration of Independence will still be setting much of the debate about how man governs himself. How many other countries in the world can say that right now? Few. Much of the rest of the world view themselves in comparison with us. I think that is a good indication that we are doing a lot of things right.
The ploy is to pretend that a rotating aggregate or a snapshot is the same thing as a permanent population. Fifty-nine million is the aggregate number of those who at some time during the year, even if only for a day, were without health insurance. This is a meaningless statistic.So, if we look at the snapshot:
Forty-six million is the snapshot figure, the average number who have no insurance on a given day. To see how misleading this can be, consider this: At any time perhaps 50 million Americans have a head cold. And during the course of a year, probably 300 million Americans will have a cold at one time or another. This is hardly the same thing as saying that 300 million Americans have a permanent head cold.
The uninsured can include those between jobs or students just out of school. The Census Bureau estimates that the average family that loses its health insurance will be reinsured within 5 1/2 months; 75 percent will be reinsured within one year. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that between 21 million and 31 million Americans may be uninsured for the entire year, including about 12 million foreign-born residents many of whom are here illegally.Yes, between 1/3 and 1/2 of those uninsured for the entire year are aliens, many (IMHO most) illegal. Just as importantly:
The largest group, 42 percent, of longer-term uninsured, about 19 million, are between the ages of 18 and 34. Most are healthy and could afford health insurance but choose to gamble, opting to run the risk of going uninsured rather than forgoing current consumption. This is motivated in part by the ease of acquiring government-regulated health insurance after becoming ill or obtaining free treatment at a hospital emergency room if unable to pay.So, the bulk of the hardcoare uninsured are either aliens, primarily illegal, or young adults, primarily male, the later believing themselves invincible, and thus chosing to spend their insurance money on partying. And for this, we are going to ruin the best health care system in the world by socializing it?
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Vali Nasr in "The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future" pointed out that Shia Islam under Ayatollah Khomeini moved significantly in the direction of communism, while Sunni Islam moved towards the Nazi or Fascist brand of socialism. Both, of course, are destined for failure. But the Iranian form seems to be failing faster, as communism has a greater emphasis on equality of result than does Naziism/ Fascism.
Again though, we see some of the benefits of overthrowing Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi economy is on fire, and the Iranians next door are watching their oil run out and their incomes plummet. No wonder the pressure on the Iranian government continues to build. The proud Persians can remember when they were the ones with the booming economy, and the Arabs next door were dirt poor (well, many still are there, just fewer every year).
Thursday, January 18, 2007
The Sunni Arabs are not waiting, with radio and print calls to arms circulating in Sunni neighborhoods recently. Armed Sunni Arabs are urged to go to Baghdad, to fight the decisive battle to keep Baghdad Sunni. That battle has already been lost, but the noise level on the Sunni side has reached epic levels because the Shia death squads are now invading solidly Sunni neighborhoods. There are no more safe havens for Sunnis in Baghdad. The men of Anbar (the Sunni heartland west of Baghdad) are being called in to save Baghdad. That has led to some spectacular street battles in the last few days. But all of these have ended with a lot of dead Sunnis. The Battle of Baghdad has been lost, but the fighting will go on for a while. The Sunni Arabs are dead-men-walking, and more of them will have to be put in the ground before the majority admit they are beat.And the reason that they have lost:
About half the Sunni Arabs of Iraq have been driven from their homes so far. Some 60 percent of those have left the country, while the others have taken refuge in areas where Sunni Arabs are the majority. There are far fewer "mixed" (Sunni and Shia) neighborhoods in Iraq today, and there will be a lot fewer in the future. In 2006 alone, about ten percent of the Sunni Arab population was driven from their homes, and either left the country or settled elsewhere in Iraq.Obviously, a well founded concern.
Each month, 50-100,000 Iraqis, mostly Sunni Arabs, leave the country. There are nearly a million Iraqi refugees in Syria, about 700,000 in Jordan, nearly 100,000 in Egypt, about 40,000 in Lebanon, and about 20,000 in Turkey. Over a hundred thousand have fled further still, to Europe and the Americas. The U.S. is trying to keep Sunni Arab refugees out, as it is believed many of them would be inclined to support Sunni Arab terrorist groups like al Qaeda, and seek revenge against the United States.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
One thing that is interesting here how the Wahhabi Sunnis from al Qaeda and the Gulf States were able to work together with Shiite Iran and Hizb'Allah. It would make more sense if their common enemy were the U.S. here. But our involvement has been fairly minimal. The only other thing that comes to mind here is that the Iranians (and their Hizb'Allah surrogates) were involved in order to bolster their Islamic credentials.
”[I]f he gets anywhere in the primaries,” Weisberg declared, “Romney's religion will become an issue with moderate and secular voters—and rightly so.” And as if realizing that he has just declared open season on religious belief, Weisberg quickly added: "Objecting to someone because of his religious beliefs is not the same thing as prejudice based on religious heritage, race, or gender."Thus, Weisberg cleverly tries to distinguish between believing in something that most don't, and coming from a people (in his case, presumably Jewish) who believe something that most do not.
Thus does the left casually open the door to the baldest sort of bigotry, a first cousin of the anti-Catholicism thought buried in 1960, or the anti-Semitism that continues to plague Europe and of course the Middle East. The not-so-deft substitution of "religious heritage" for "religion" is supposed, I guess, to protect Jews willing to abandon the outward display of their faith, but for anyone believing in the miraculous of any sort, well, those days of the great tolerance in American politics are over.
I don't think that there is any way around the fact that Weisberg is suggesting religious bigotry for voting for president. As Hewitt points out, religious fundamentalists of any stripe believe in stuff that the more "rational" find questionable. He also seems to be applying a time test to religious belief - it is acceptable if the unrational belief has, say, over 200 years behind it, but not if it has less. And, thus, Mormonism is out, as is Scientology, but Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are ok, despite having beliefs that if taken literally, are just as unrational as is found in Mormonism.
Not a good sign. Hopefully though, those who espouse this sort of thinking will get the same sort of response that Woody Paige here got when opining about the SLC Olympics.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
The bad news is that the new al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, appears to be much better tactically than his predecessor, Zarqawi. Of interest though is that al-Masri has ordered al Qaeda to pull out of Baghdad into the Diyala region of Iraq. This area is located between Baghdad and Iran. It may work out to be a trap for them, possibly being caught between U.S. and Iraqi forces to the west and Iranian forces to the east. It partly depends on how Iran treats the fiercely anti-Shiite al Qaeda insurgents.
For example, in the 2005 round of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 36% of all fourth-graders were below the NAEP's "basic achievement" score in reading. It sounds like a terrible record. But we know from the mathematics of the normal distribution that 36% of fourth-graders also have IQs lower than 95.The comments are also interesting. I was esp. struck by this one by Daren Miller:
What IQ is necessary to give a child a reasonable chance to meet the NAEP's basic achievement score? Remarkably, it appears that no one has tried to answer that question. We only know for sure that if the bar for basic achievement is meaningfully defined, some substantial proportion of students will be unable to meet it no matter how well they are taught. As it happens, the NAEP's definition of basic achievement is said to be on the tough side. That substantial proportion of fourth-graders who cannot reasonably be expected to meet it could well be close to 36%.
Part of the problem with our education system is the need for political correctness. Gone are the days when students were segregated by ability and taught to the level of their ability. Remember the old classes; 8A, 8B, etc. The students in 8A were smarter than the students in 8B, students in 8B were smarter than the students in 8C and so on. I know there were some students in 8B that belonged in 8A or 8C, but the system worked pretty well. The students in 8D spent more time learning the three Rs using teaching techniques for their intellectual ability. The students in 8A spent more time on creative thinking skills.
My wife taught in the public school system for 35 years and over the years main-streaming resulted from political correctness. She had children in her first grade class that were reading on a third grade level and she also had children with Down Syndrome. With a class room of students with such a wide range of learning abilities, and disabilities, how does a teacher give everyone in the class a good education? She does not. The smart kids get less and the children with Down Syndrome get very little because the "normal" classroom setting is not equipped to teach these children. No Child Left Behind is not a perfect answer to improving our education system, but it has put pressure on school administrators to do a better job and it has also helped to focus attention on reasons, as Mr. Murray has, for why all children can not be A students.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
The dynamics are interesting. We are supporting the Shiite majority in Iraq, while also supporting the non-Shiite majorities in Lebaannon and Syria. The Saudis are panicked by the emerging Shiite crescent running from Pakistan through the center of Islam to Lebannon, and are now actively looking for our assistance. But the Shiite majority in Iraq is doing the same. So far, we seem to be able to play most of the sides, without alienating them, since in all cases, we support the majority sentiments in each country. Thus, while al-Hakim may not like that we have sided againt Hizb'Allah in Lebannon, it is much more important to him that we are supporting moderate Shiite dominated rule back home in Iraq. Similarly, the Sunnis in Lebannon, Syria, and even Saudi Arabia, may not like our support of the Shia in Iraq, they are more concerned with Hizb'Allah.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Speaking of earmarks, Democrats are having their own problems cleaning up bad spending habits, and that's after only a few days in power. Yesterday on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid was caught pulling out every stop to kill his own party's plan for earmark reform.Not surprising really, from "Dirty Harry" Reid. After all, he is likely to make a nice bundle from that new bridge between Laughlin, Nevada and Bull Head City, Arizona running right by his property. But realistically, the legislation should be expanded to include kids, and not just spouses, as he has apparently made his four boys rich too.
To Speaker Nancy Pelosi's credit, House Democrats recently passed ethics legislation that included provisions making earmarks more transparent. The House bill included a broad definition of earmarks, thereby making it harder to hide them in, say, last-minute conference reports. It also requires Members to file a public disclosure form when they request an earmark, and to state that neither they nor their spouses will financially benefit. It's hard to argue that this is anything but elementary good government.
Unless you are Harry Reid. The ethics reform offered by Senate Democrats contained none of these tougher earmark provisions. So Senate Republicans, led by South Carolina's Jim DeMint, cheekily took the identical language of the House earmark bill and offered it as an amendment to the Senate version. Numerous Democrats instantly denounced it, apparently unaware (or unconcerned) that the language had been sponsored by Ms. Pelosi.
Democrat Dick Durbin then moved to table the amendment, though he lost by 51 to 46. Of the 46 Senators who voted to banish Ms. Pelosi's reform, 38 of them were her fellow Democrats. The seven Republicans who went along with Mr. Reid included some of the GOP's biggest spenders (Trent Lott) and Members of the Appropriations Committee, aka Earmark Central Station. When Senator DeMint then moved to have his amendment accepted by voice vote -- which is customary -- Mr. Durbin objected. The effect of these procedural run-arounds was to give Mr. Reid more time to twist a few more Democratic arms into killing earmark reform.
By our deadline last night, he still hadn't succeeded, though Senate sources told us that Mr. Reid was considering filing for cloture on the entire ethics bill, thereby foreclosing a vote on the current DeMint amendment. If he prevails, voters will know just much "fiscal discipline" to expect from the new majority.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean today chose Denver to host the Democrats' convention over New York City, putting a victorious cap on an 11-month drive by city boosters to put Denver on center stage in the next presidential election.It will be interesting to see if this helps the Democrats here in CO in 2008. I, for one though, will make sure that I am out of town then.
Typical liberal wishful thinking economics.
This is one place where different countries have significantly different laws. In the U.S., if neither Cicarelli nor Malzoni had made the video, they would have had limited ability to shut down its distribution. Interestingly, YouTube's response here appears to be based the types of procedures typically implemented to stay within the safe harbor provisions of the D.M.C.A. provisions of U.S. Copyright Law.
Cisco Systems has filed a lawsuit against Apple accusing the company of infringing its iPhone trademark, the networking company said Wednesday.
The suit also accuses the iPod maker used a front company to try to acquire rights to the name.
Cisco accused Apple in a suit filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of California of willingly infringing its trademark when it announced the new iPhone at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco on Tuesday.
The problem had been that getting an infringement case into federal court had become a high risk endeaver for potential infringers. That is because if they had licensed a patent, they were on notice of it, and if they then breached and infringed to get standing, any finding of infringment would be willful. But w/o the infringement, there would be no Case or Controversy, and, thus, no standing.
The Bush Administration had supported the ultimate victor here, arguing that the Federal Circuit precedent discouraged litigating the validity of questionable patents, and, thus, hurt efficient licensing, hindered competition and undermined incentives for innovation.