Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Surreal pre-flight safety video

A buddy at worked sent this to me. It took me a few seconds to realize what was so weird about this Air New Zealand pre-flight video

Monday, June 29, 2009

Judge not...lest you be reversed

When firefighters in New Haven, CT passed a promotion exam then were denied promotions because no black firefighters passed the same exam, they were pissed. When their successful suit was reversed by Sonya Sotomayor's appeals court, they were outraged, but the US Supreme Court set things right today.

I'm assuming the exam didn't include questions like "Which NASCAR driver won the Winston Cup title in 1997?" or the Supremes would probably have ruled differently. As it was, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her dissent that the firefighters "...had no vested right to promotion." That wasn't their argument, nor the city of New Haven's. New Haven told the firefighters they must pass the exam in order to be promoted, and then, by the city's own admission, they set aside the exam results out of fear of lawsuits from the minority firefighters.

I'm also assuming that the citizens of New Haven are more interested in the competence of their firefighters than in the color of their skin.

Sonya Sotomayor's famed "empathy" as a "wise Latina" is really nothing more than the soft bigotry of low expectations and if confirmed, her attempts to legislate from the bench - an inclination already shown in the Ricci v. DeStefano New Haven firefighter case - will take years to undo.

On the other hand, she can hardly be much worse than Justice Ginsburg, the one she's nominated to replace.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

She Bites Dogs

Dorian (front), Chris, Stefan and Rick (back, left to right)

It occurs to me that (1) I haven't posted anything about local music in a while and (2) I've never posted anything about this local band, which Ms. Pool Bar and I have seen, oh, probably 20 times. She Bites Dogs put on another great show last night at The Tavern at Lee's Hill here in Fredericksburg. They're really one of the best local bands, and I'm not just saying that because I know the guys.

A typical show features mostly original music, with a sprinkling of very well-done covers. Their original style is hard to pin down, but sort of blends edgy pop with hard rock. They mainly play in Virginia and the DC area, but with a little luck they'll get some wider exposure with their soon-to-be-released CD.

Rock on, guys!

I see defeat in her future

Rob Wittman, Republican representing Virginia's 1st Congressional district, is up for reelection next year, and a young, 27-year-old Democrat may be his challenger:
The 2010 congressional races are 18 months away, but Krystal Ball, who recently kicked off her challenge to Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Westmoreland, doesn't think she's starting her campaign too early.

As a young mother who has never run for office before, and as a Democrat in the Republican-leaning 1st District, Ball said she needs that year and a half to introduce herself to voters and raise money.

[ ... ]

A King George County native, Ball, 27, said she has always been interested in politics, particularly economics and foreign affairs. But she didn't plan to get personally involved until the birth of her daughter, Ella, now 15 months old.
I say "may" be his challenger because it's likely she'll have to contend with another Democrat in a primary, and 1st District Democrats may want someone a bit more battle-hardened:
Once she decided to get involved in politics, Ball set her sights on federal office because, she said, that's where her interests and experience lie. An economics major who recently passed her CPA exam, Ball has worked for federal contractor CGI. Now she and her husband work from home designing educational software, which Ball said entails much international travel; they were in Jordan for three months, including during last fall's presidential election and President Barack Obama's inauguration in January.
In any event, it's not likely that the 1st District will elect a Democrat any time soon, and - petty though this might sound - probably not one named "Krystal Ball".

Monday, June 22, 2009

Obama admin: Can we get any worse? Yes! We! CAN!

Just as I thought Barack Obama couldn't possibly get any more inept and tone-deaf over his handling of the Iranian situation, I saw this link float by on Twitter.
The United States said Monday its invitations were still standing for Iranian diplomats to attend July 4 celebrations at US embassies despite the crackdown on opposition supporters.

President Barack Obama's administration said earlier this month it would invite Iran to US embassy barbecues for the national holiday for the first time since the two nations severed relations following the 1979 Islamic revolution.

"There's no thought to rescinding the invitations to Iranian diplomats," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.
Is he fucking serious? The whole idea was batshit crazy before the Iranian regime rigged an election and murdered citizens who dared protest. I've come to truly detest Obama.

The original link was from Weasel Zippers, who said "I can't take it anymore, he drives me fucking insane.....". Yeah, I'm with you on that, Zip.

Dude's not paying attention

Barack Obama's desire to not be used by Iran's regime as a "foil" against dissidents was somewhat understandable at first, but now that they've already done just that, what's the point in continued indifference? Is he not paying attention?
President Barack Obama says he does not want to become a scapegoat for Iran's leadership amid that country's postelection upheaval, but Republicans are nevertheless saying the new president is being too cautious.

"The last thing that I want to do is to have the United States be a foil for those forces inside Iran who would love nothing better than to make this an argument about the United States," Obama said in an interview broadcast Monday on CBS' "The Early Show."
Obama has missed one opportunity after another to stand on the principles of human rights. While 27-year-old Neda was being gunned down in the street on Saturday by her own government, he went out for ice cream. And on Sunday while Iran's security forces tightened their stranglehold on the country, he went golfing.

Where's the much-vaunted empathy? Where the hell is the leadership?

Supporting not the same as meddling

In a comment on my earlier Ron Paul post, my brother Chuck posted a timely quote from Daniel Webster which he said came from a column by Stephen Hayes. I found the column (actually by Stephen Hayes and William Kristol) at the Weekly Standard, and here's the money quote:
In 1823, first-term congressman Daniel Webster spoke up in support of the Greek revolution. Responding to critics who said that mere rhetorical support would do the revolutionaries no good, Webster said: "I hope it may. It may give them courage and spirit. It may assure them of public regard, teach them that they are not wholly forgotten by the civilized world, and inspire them with constancy in the pursuit of their great end."
Unfortunately, the Obama administration has little use for the incoherent ramblings of this nation's forebears, so they've probably never heard of Daniel Webster.

By the way, it was during my search for this article that I stumbled upon the quote that now appears on the header.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ahmadinejad to Obama: You're not my friend any more!

I guess this means that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has not only de-friended Obama on Facebook, but has also unfollowed him on Twitter.
"Definitely by hasty remarks you will not be placed in the circle of friendship with the Iranian nation. Therefore I advise you to correct your interfering stances," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying.
I can't help but wonder if the situation in Iran wasn't deliberately precipitated by the regime as a pretext to cut off what little dialog there was over their nuclear program and to start booting nosy western journalists out of the country and in general lock down the entire country.

If so, it appears there may be unintended consequences.

Why does this guy keep getting elected?

Last Friday, the House of Representatives passed a resolution which stated in its entirety the following:
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) expresses its support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law;

(2) condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the Government of Iran and pro-government militias, as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cellphones; and

(3) affirms the universality of individual rights and the importance of democratic and fair elections.
The resolution passed on a vote of 405-1. The Senate version of the resolution passed unanimously. So, who cast the one "nay" vote on this no-brainer?

If you guessed Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), take a bow.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Iranian revolt: Most likely outcome

I'm not usually one for making predictions, but I'll go out on a limb here and forecast what I believe the most likely outcome of the voter revolt in Iran.

There's no question a huge number of Iranians are seriously pissed off at the current regime. But I don't think it's safe to assume that all those people are necessarily opposed to the structure of the current regime. Yes, it's probably a pretty safe bet that many of the younger crowd hope for a less autocratic, more secular government. But take a look at the guy they really wanted to win. Mir Hussein Mousavi is hardly a true reformer wishing to take Iran down a more liberal, secular path. The differences between him and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are more ones of style than substance. The fact that Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri has cast his lot with the protesters should be ample evidence that this is more of a power struggle within the mullahcracy than a true secular revolution.

So, without further ado, my prediction: An agreement will be reached among the Guardian Council and the Assembly of Experts (the theocrats who actually run things in Iran) and Mousavi will be installed in place of Ahmadinejad. The unrest will quiet down as the majority will have had their say, and the status quo in Iran will be maintained.

Update 28 September 2009: It would appear my prediction was thoroughly wrong on one count (that Mousavi would be installed) and more correct than I'd like on the other count (that the status quo would remain).

Monday, June 15, 2009

Iran and Obama's silence

I don't get Barack Obama's silence on the situation in Iran. Yeah, I'm pretty critical of him and I don't expect much from him - certainly not greatness - but this is really a no-brainer. So why the silence? If not an outright message of support for the protesters, why not a rebuke to the regime for their brutal suppression of those protests?

I can understand not coming out with overtly supportive statements for Mousavi and his supporters. That's the kind of thing that can too easily be spun into Iranian government propaganda that Mousavi and the protesters are puppets of the hated Americans. But surely Obama can find within himself the words to denounce the rigging of an election and the violence perpetrated against those voicing their anger at having their votes discarded? I guess these women have more guts than Obama:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hot air

Via my buddy Kris, a little Sunday morning humor...

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of 346 feet above sea level. You are at 47 degrees, 30.97 minutes north latitude and 122 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.

"She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a Republican."

"I am," replied the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct. But I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."

The man smiled and responded, "You must be an Obama Democrat."

"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"

"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you are going. You've risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow now it's my fault."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Improve your body image

I saw this ad while looking up guitar tabs at ultimate-guitar.com and, well, I guess there's nothing to add to this, is there?

Friday, June 12, 2009

'She's with me'

During a town hall meeting to pimp his health care plan, Barack Obama gave 10-year-old Kennedy Corpus something she'll never forget:
Her father, John Corpus of Green Bay, stood to ask Obama about health care during the president's town hall-style meeting at Southwest High School on Thursday. He told Obama that his daughter was missing school to attend the event and that he hoped she didn't get in trouble.

"Do you need me to write a note?" Obama asked. The crowd laughed, but the president was serious.

On a piece of paper, he wrote: "To Kennedy's teacher: Please excuse Kennedy's absence. She's with me. Barack Obama." He stepped off the stage to hand-deliver the note -- to Kennedy's surprise.

"I thought he was joking until he started walking down," Kennedy said after the event, showing off the note in front of a bank of television cameras. "It was like the best thing ever."
Young Ms. Corpus declined to comment on what actually is the best thing ever.

Anyway, this is very cool for young Kennedy. Her share of the national debt is already $546,668 so in 10 or 20 years, she can sell the note on eBay and pay down her share. Or if she finds herself with health issues, she can use the money to go to some other country for treatment.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

War of choice

In President Obama's speech to "the Muslim world" in Cairo, he perpetuated the notion that Afghanistan was a just war while Iraq was a bad one because it was a "war of choice". Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, this has been the term used by those who opposed the invasion to suggest that it wasn't justified or necessary.

But setting aside for now the question of which of the two wars were justified, aren't all wars wars of choice? President Bush could have chosen not to invade Afghanistan and drive out the Taliban just as he chose to invade Iraq and rid the world of one more despotic dictator. The fact that one choice may have been more evidently wise than the other is not relevant -- they were both wars of choice.

In the months preceding the invasion of Iraq, I wasn't convinced that the time was right for running Saddam out of town. The Bush administration, as well as that of Britain's then-PM Tony Blair, justified the action almost exclusively on the basis of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction program. I never doubted (and still don't) the existence of Iraq's WMD program at the time, but I also didn't doubt that, given the time allowed, Saddam had ample opportunity to erase the evidence. I gradually concluded by early 2003, though, that removing Saddam was necessary for a host of other reasons, not the least of which were his demonstrable ties to international Islamist terrorists*, even if those terrorists weren't directly connected to Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda.

Ultimately, Iraq would have to be dealt with in the broader context of fighting and Bush appears to have asked the question "if not now, when?", to which one might add "at what cost of delay?". Bush knew he had a small window of opportunity to move against Saddam, the alternative being to leave the problem for his successor. Had Bush chosen to do so, what would his obsessive critics had to say if in the intervening years there'd been a terrorist attack on the US traced back to Saddam, or a situation forcing Barack Obama to deal with him?

* See, for example, Abu Nidal, killed in Baghdad in August 2002 by Iraqi agents, and Abu Abbas, captured by US troops in Baghdad in April 2003, right after the invasion.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Hey, I want Barack Obama to succeed. I just don't think "success" means what he thinks it means.

Apology reflex

Obama's trying to make nice with the "Muslim world" so they have a better perception of us. He doesn't get it. The 5-10% of Muslims we're worried about aren't going to like us and stop trying to kill us because of his Muslim roots and flowery words.

The abortionist and the soldier

Over the past week, two high-profile murders took place which would have otherwise been almost not worthy of national news. In one case, a guy in Wichita was gunned down in church. In the other, a guy was shot to death at a Little Rock strip mall.

But Dr. George Tiller in Wichita ran one of three remaining clinics in the US which still administered late-term abortions and was killed by an anti-abortion activist, and Pvt. William Long in Little Rock was a US Army soldier, murdered by a recent convert to Islam.

My views on abortion aren't shared by most self-described conservatives. I'm opposed to abortion as a method of birth control and I'm dead-set against late-term abortions, but I do think abortion is an option women need to have in the very early stages of pregnancy. While late-term abortion may still be legal, I consider the practice immoral and reprehensible, and I don't mourn Dr. Tiller's death. But the "service" he offered is still legal, and even if it wasn't, his murderer, Scott Roeder, is still a murderer...vigilante murder is still murder.

In the case of Pvt. William Long, his murder was also ideologically motivated, here by Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, an American convert to Islam who'd studied jihad in Yemen, and possibly Somalia. Mujahid, by the way, is the singular form of Mujahedeen...holy warrior.

And yet the pro-abortion crowd holds candlelight vigils for Tiller. They blame right-wing commentators for Tiller's death, yet ignore left-wing anti-military and pro-jihadi propaganda while they studiously ignore Pvt. Long's death.

Blowing off the cobwebs

Yeah, I know I've been neglecting this blog lately. Work's been killing me and when I haven't been traveling (Seattle, WA and Portland, OR this week) I've been trying to play catch-up.

The hell of a recession...those of us still working are doing the work of three people. But I'll have some brief, almost Twitter-length posts coming up.