Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday blimp

This just flew over our office a few minutes ago, and not a single Sopwith Camel in pursuit.

The Obama administration...asleep at the switch.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Perspective

With everyone freaking out about Swine Flu, it may be oddly comforting to know that 36,000 people in the US die each year from regular flu.
The number of deaths caused by influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in the United States per year is substantially higher than previously estimated, according to a Jan 7, 2003, news release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Using improved statistical models, CDC researchers estimate that an average of 36,000 people die from complications of influenza each year, compared to a previous estimate of 20,000. Another 11,000 people per year die from RSV, which causes upper and lower respiratory tract infections, primarily in young children and older adults. Researchers believe that the aging US population and the circulation of influenza A, the most virulent strain in recent years, are among the reasons for this increase.
The report, by the way, is from 2003 and not something issued to get people to climb down from today's hysteria.

Kurt & Norman



I sometimes meet interesting people while traveling. Today (well, yesterday I guess, if you're on Eastern time) I stopped for a couple of beers at the airport in Atlanta while waiting for my connecting flight and chatted for an hour or so with a guy named Norman who it turns out is the Norman half of a band called the Kurt and Norman Band. He's the guy playing the keyboards in the video, and seemed to be particularly proud of this tune, which I must admit is pretty cool.

Anyway, Norman is an American expat living in Panama who was en route to visit family back home. He says he barely speaks enough Spanish to get by.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine flu news


I think I may have to "unfollow" BreakingNews on Twitter. These are the "tweets" I saw when I opened up TweetDeck this morning...I'm thinking it's a good idea to short airline stocks today.

Speaking of airlines...think anyone would be offended if I boarded my flight for San Francisco today in self-contained bubble?

Yeesh...this is getting a little disconcerting.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday grillin'

Mmmmm...London Broil and salmon on the grill.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Howler monkey watch: The torture drumbeat


The Left is really going to town on the torture thing. Just looking at the front page of Huffington Post this morning, there were three featured articles (including the lead story in blaring NY Post-like headline font) on the subject. Of the 39 blog entries linked on the left-hand side, 16 - nearly half - were on the topic of torture. At the Daily Kos, four out of the eight "recommended diaries" are on the torture story. For the Left, it's all torture all the time.

Never mind that little new has surfaced in the past week that wasn't already widely known, or that calling waterboarding torture is akin to calling checkers a sport. The howler monkeys on the Left have outrage to whip up and they're going to keep howling about torture until there's something else to howl about.

Red Sox watch


After winning their opening game of the season, the Sox hit a bad pitch and racked up a string of losses. But since that patch they've gone on a bit of tear, winning their last eight games, including an extra innings win over the Evil Empire last night. Sweet.

Seven Nations


Went with Mrs. Poolbar to see a band called Seven Nations tonight at the Colonial Tavern. We'd never heard of them before and may not have gone except we both wanted to do something to try and get out of the funk over our friend's death.

Dude. No, I mean dude. These guys are awesome. And they were down two members from their full complement. Imagine Red Hot Chili Peppers going Celtic - no, that's not quite right, but maybe close. Anyway, they have to be seen to be believed.

They're based in Orlando, Florida so they're not a local act. In fact, their tour schedule shows them all over the US, with stops in Indiana, Illinois, California, Wyoming and even my former home town of Hartford in September.

Check their web site for the tour schedule...they're well worth going out of your way to see.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's always later than you think

When I was stationed at Andrews AFB near Washington, DC in the early to mid '90s, my wife and I became close friends with another USAF couple who'd moved in across the street from us shortly after we did. We remained close long after his retirement from the Air Force and my return to reserve status, but we hadn't seen much of each other over the past couple of years, even though they relocated not long ago a bit closer to where we live. There just always seemed to be too much other crap going on.

Just this evening as I was driving home from the airport, something reminded me of my buddy Ryan, and I thought I'd give him a call tomorrow to try and set something up for the weekend. But when I got home, Mrs. Poolbar told me to grab a beer and sit down. It turns out she'd gotten a call from Ryan's wife earlier today. She'd found him dead yesterday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Without getting into a lot of philosophical bullshit about friendships and how fleeting life is, suffice it to say that if you've got a friend or family member you've been thinking about getting back in touch with, stop thinking and just do it.

Beginning of time looks depressingly like 8-bit graphics


Yeah, crappy 8-bit graphics seem like something from the distant past now, but I had no idea how distant.
A newly found primordial blob may represent the most massive object ever discovered in the early universe, researchers announced today.

The gas cloud, spotted from 12.9 billion light-years away, could signal the earliest stages of galaxy formation back when the universe was just 800 million years old.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Don't misinterpret me, bro!

Fidel Castro says Barack Obama misinterpreted his little bro Raul's conciliatory words:
Fidel Castro said Tuesday that President Barack Obama "misinterpreted" his brother Raul's sentiments toward the United States and bristled at any suggestion Cuba should free political prisoners or reduce official fees on money sent to the island from the U.S.
Well, of course Obama misinterpreted Raul. He doesn't speak Spanish. Or Cuban.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A wry observation

Over at Hot Air, reader "andycanuck" snarks on Hugo Chavez's gift to the president:
And, oh, the irony that President Bush would be able to read the book while the unilingual Obama can’t.
And America's Comedy Corps (hey, there's a corps for everything now...why not?) can't find anything funny to say about Barack Obama.

When Obama's right, he's right

The speculation since February has been that the Obama administration would boycott the Durban Review UN conference on racism. This weekend, Jake Tapper reports, the administration sealed the deal.
The Obama administration quietly announced this weekend that it would boycott an international conference about racism and discrimination because of concerns that the conference unfairly singles out Israel for criticism and because the conference may set the stage for restrictions on free speech.
Those concerns about restrictions on free speech are well-founded. Language adopted for the Durban II treaty included restrictions on speech criticizing religion, particularly Islam.

Score one for Obama for, er, continuing another Bush administration policy.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Liberal spin on Tea Parties soundly refuted



Lifted from Hot Air. This is important because it gives lie to the leftists' and media (but I repeat myself) spin that the Tea Parties were all about opposition to Obama and Democrats in Congress.

South Carolina Rep. Gresham Barrett is roundly booed by the crowd - beginning to end - at the Greenville, SC Tea Party for his less than stellar voting record on spending. He's a Republican, and he voted for TARP.

Yes, the Tea Parties were kicked off almost exclusively by conservatives and it's very much a conservative cause. But dismissing them as Republican party populism and propaganda is very much complete and utter bullshit. The lefties know this, but it better fits their narrative to push that lie.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Horsin' around

Beautiful day in downtown Fredericksburg, VA...I picked the perfect day to play hookey from work.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My media moment



Here's the video clip from Breitbart TV's B-Cast that's got the segment with my phone interview with Liz Stephans and Scott Baker from last night's Tea Party in Richmond. You only have to get to just past the 1 minute mark and my interview runs a little over six minutes.

Eye of the beholder

I recall years ago watching the late, great Sam Kinnison doing a standup comedy routine during which at one point while riffing on homosexuals he uttered the line "How does one man look at another man's hairy ass and see love?"

Similarly, how does one look at this graph and say "Hey! I want me some of that!"


I mean, c'mon. Even the White House's own projections are worse than Bush's worse deficits, and the CBO's projections are worse than those. So, how is it that Obama's fanboys snicker at the Tea Parties and dismiss them as meaningless rants by a fringe right-wing element when this hairy ass is what the Tea Partiers are bitching about?

How does one look at this hairy ass and see love?

Missing the point

Janet Napolitano issued a qualified apology over the DHS report on a feared rise of "right-wing extremism".
"To the extent veterans read it as an accusation ... an apology is owed," she said during an on-air interview on FOX News Thursday, a day after veterans' groups and members of Congress blasted her for the report, which they said libeled members of the armed forces.

"This was an assessment, not an accusation," Napolitano continued. "It was limited to extremists those who seek to commit violence within the United States. And all this was meant to do was to give law enforcement what we call 'situational awareness.'"

[ ... ]

"If there's one part of this report that I would rewrite ... it would be that footnote," Napolitano said.
Not terribly surprising, but not only does she miss the point completely, the references to veterans constitute far more than a footnote. In fact, there's only one footnote in the report, and it doesn't mention veterans. Veterans are mentioned eight times in four separate sections of the report, with one section dedicated to the subject. She's deliberately trying to downplay the veteran smear by calling it a "footnote".

But even the smearing of veterans in the report - which is offensive enough by itself - is secondary to the smearing of something like half the US population who, to varying degrees, hold a variety of conservative viewpoints.

The assessment is intended to be an advisory to state and local law enforcement agencies. But if I'm a local cop, I have absolutely no clue who to consider a potential threat on the basis of this report. The absurd generalizations in the report render it utterly useless as a law enforcement advisory.

So, what's the real purpose of the report, Janet?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Richmond Tea Party follow-up

Had a great time at the Richmond Tea Party this evening. Talked to some real nice people and enjoyed a couple hours out in the wonderful 45 degree damp weather, which failed to keep the crowds away. I chatted with a cop there who put the crowd to be in the 1000-1500 range. Final tally may have ended up higher, because that was early (right around 6PM) and people were still streaming in.

The crowd was well-behaved with no fringe elements I could see (other than one guy with a cryptic Ron Paul sign), and no ACORN freakazoids or others of their ilk were around to make things unpleasant. Three Richmond TV news trucks were there, but I saw no news crews about in the crowd. I'm not sure exactly where they were or what they were covering, but maybe I'll catch something on the local news tonight.

Near the end I was feeling a little cold and damp, so I headed a couple blocks over to Richbrau, my favorite haunt from my days working in downtown Richmond. I had a pre-arranged phone interview with Liz Stephans and Scott Baker of Breitbart TV's B-Cast, and they managed to get me on the phone for the live interview while I was still into my first beer, so hopefully I made sense. If they post a clip of the interview, I'll update with a link.

Dave...sorry we missed each other!

Update: A tweet (actually a re-tweet) from Tammy Bruce puts the attendance at 3500-4000. Possible, I guess. Who knows? I know I can't tell the size of a crowd just by looking at it.

Right-wing extremists

Guess he made this sign in the past day or so.

Denizens

The permanent residents of Kanawha Plaza don't seem overly excited by the goings on.

Three local TV news trucks, but no crews spotted yet.

Bagpipes sighted

What's a rally without bagpipes?

"Stop Comrade Obama"

Loved this one. 15 min to official start time and Kanawha Plaza is filling up.

My (least) favorite bar chart

I'll post good sign pics when I see them. No counter demos yet.

Richmond Tea Party

Mobile blogging from Richmond Tea Party. Pretty good turnout so far especially in the rain.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Evil clown consolidates power

Well, gee...who couldn't see this coming?
Manuel Rosales ran against [Venezuela president Hugo] Chavez for president in 2006 and lost, but last year he was elected mayor of the port city of Maracaibo, home to over 3 million people.

After Chavez vowed on national TV to throw Rosales in jail, the government filed corruption charges against the 56-year-old mayor. Two weeks ago, Rosales dropped out of sight. Supporters say he is hiding — from an enemy who now has the power to crush all opposition.

Rosales isn't alone in fearing retribution. Antonio Ledezma, another Chavez opponent, was elected mayor of Caracas in 2008 but is being barred from his office by his own police force, which attacked him when he tried to enter.

"It is hard to understand — a mayor can't get into his own office," Ledezma said. "The people there have guns. They have a license for guns, a license for crime."

[ ... ]

"I have already been victim of three murder attempts," said Leopoldo Lopez, mayor of Chacao, now a part of the capital of Caracas. "And two years ago was the last murder attempt and a fellow worker, Carlos Mendoza, was killed — he died in my arms."
But, hey...all those smart Hollywood celebrities say Hugo's cool, so who am I to argue?

Daily Kos: Bringing teh krazy

Here's a Daily Kos diary making the Right-wing Extremist™ rounds...
Captain Phillips of the Maersk Alabama recklessly put himself, the crew, and the Navy Seals at unnecessary risk.

The pirates' modus operandi is that they hold the crew, ship, and cargo harmlessly until a lot of money is paid to them. Phillips "heroic" actions put his crew and himself at risk. If he'd done nothing except acquiesce to the pirates' demands, there would have been no risk, just possible discomfort until the extortion money was paid. Instead he put himself and the Seals at grave risk.
To be fair, though, the comments on the post roundly denounce the diarist and support Capt. Phillips' decision. But even there you can see the "blame America first" mentality that's so pervasive on the American left:
The Somalis loathe Americans. There are good reasons for that hatred, but those reasons have zero to do with Captain Phillips.
What good reasons? That we tried to alleviate suffering there and in return our troops were attacked and we fought back? Fuck you, Kossacks.

A little right-wing extremist chatter

Here's some truly scary stuff, via Michelle Malkin. From a recently issued Department of Homeland Security assessment:
Many rightwing extremists are antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues, including immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms ownership and use.
Shit...they've just described, at least in liberal terminology, just about every conservative voter in the country! If you're opposed to blanket amnesty for illegal aliens, redistribution of your earnings or infringement of your 2nd amendment rights, you're a right-wing extremist!

But DHS has issued similar reports on radical left-wing organizations, too, right? Here again, Michelle does our homework for us:
They were very defensive — preemptively so — in asserting that it was not a politicized document and that DHS had done reports on “leftwing extremism” in the past. I have covered DHS for many years and am quite familiar with past assessments they and the FBI have done on animal rights terrorists and environmental terrorists. But those past reports have always been very specific in identifying the exact groups, causes, and targets of domestic terrorism, i.e., the ALF, ELF, and Stop Huntingdon wackos who have engaged in physical harassment, arson, vandalism, and worse against pharmaceutical companies, farms, labs, and university researchers.

By contrast, the piece of crap report issued on April 7 is a sweeping indictment of conservatives. And the intent is clear. As the two spokespeople I talked with on the phone today made clear: They both pinpointed the recent “economic downturn” and the “general state of the economy” for stoking “rightwing extremism.” One of the spokespeople said he was told that the report has been in the works for a year. My b.s. detector went off the chart, and yours will, too, if you read through the entire report — which asserts with no evidence that an unquantified “resurgence in rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalizations activity” is due to home foreclosures, job losses, and…the historical presidential election.
Like the previous administration's monitoring of terrorist activity, the DHS report cites increased "chatter" among right-wing extremists:
Rightwing extremist chatter on the Internet continues to focus on the economy, the perceived [How about actual? --ed.] loss of U.S. jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors, and home foreclosures.
Wow. So if you're concerned about the economy, unemployment and foreclosed homes in your neighborhood and you don't think Obama's policies are working and you "chatter" about it on the Internet, you're a right-wing extremist!

Republican members of Congress, and whatever sane Democrats remain there, must call DHS secretary Janet Napolitano in to testify and defend this hit piece against the administration's political opponents.

Update: Charles at LGF and AJ Strata at Strata-Sphere are calling conservative bloggers nuts and kooks for getting worked up about this. I'm not sure they've really read the report or what bloggers are really saying about it. Charles even refers to "black helicopter territory" in the comments, while Strata points to real fringe right-wing groups as examples of why it's legitimate for DHS to flag such groups as dangerous.

There are problems with both of those positions. In Charles' case, none of the conservative blogs I've read covering this have claimed that this is evidence of the government monitoring and surveilling its political opposition. In Strata's case, the report doesn't mention a single right-wing group, but instead speaks in general terms about right-wingers' opposition to government policies.

The trouble we have with this report is its apparent efforts to smear people with legitimate opposition to confiscatory tax policies, open-borders immigration policy and other policies and positions which conservatives find objectionable.

As an advisory to law enforcement agencies, it's absolutely worthless. As a sly means of depicting honest conservatives as a radical fringe movement, it's brilliant.

Hey Minnesota...seek help!

I imagined 10 years ago or so that when the people of Minnesota elected Jesse Ventura as their governor, they woke up the next day feeling like someone after a bender with a butt-ugly one night stand sleeping next to them. They apparently haven't learned from that mistake.
A Minnesota court ruled Monday night that Democrat Al Franken has defeated Republican Norm Coleman and should be granted the election certificate that will allow him to take his seat in the U.S. Senate.
Really, Minnesota? Al Franken? Maybe it's time for an intervention.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Let the hand-wringing begin

Let's get one thing out of the way first. I didn't criticize Obama's handling of the Maersk Alabama piracy for the simple reason that there wasn't anything to criticize. Well, OK...side-stepping a reporter's question by saying he wanted to talk about housing when he could have issued a simple response indicating the situation had his attention was kinda dumb. But I thought the constant cries of "why isn't Obama doing anything?" during the hostage standoff were kinda dumb, too. The ship and crew were safe and absent an immediate threat to Capt. Phillips' life, there was no need to rush a rescue attempt. It's quite likely that our own military counseled against assaulting the enclosed lifeboat unless the situation detiorated. Obama did the right thing in leaving the decision to those on the scene and pre-approving the action they needed to take.

What's important now is how Obama follows through. The Somali piracy problem didn't end yesterday when our Navy rescued Phillips. In fact, it's likely to get worse.
The killing of three Somali pirates in the dramatic U.S. Navy rescue of a cargo ship captain has sparked concern for other hostages and fears that the stakes have been raised for future hijackings in the busy Indian Ocean shipping lane.

[ ... ]

It "could escalate violence in this part of the world, no question about it," said Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.
A couple things are almost certain. One is that with piracy being the linchpin to some local economies in Somalia, it's not going to stop just because of this episode. The second is that the piracies will become more violent.

Somalia is not just a failed state, it's a non-state. That became evident the other day when Somali "officials" blamed the US for the breakdown in negotiations on our insistence that the pirates be arrested and prosecuted. There's really nobody in control there and what little authority is exercised in Somalia is local and is owned by the warlords who employ the pirates.

That leaves the US and other nations with functioning naval forces in the region to make it too costly for the pirates to operate. Blockade the pirates' harbors by establishing an exclusion zone off the coast of Somalia. Primitive though they might be, the pirates have a functioning logistical support network that can be taken out with relative ease.

There is simply no reason to allow the pirates to continue to operate with impunity. What remains to be seen is whether Barack Obama has the resolve to do something about it or if he'll join the rest of the world in wringing his hands over it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Awesome: Ship's captain free, 3 pirates dead

AP is reporting that Capt. Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama is safely in the hands of the US Navy, and three of the Somali pirates killed and one captured in a "swift" firefight with Navy SEALs.

Update: Drew M. at AoSHQ is saying Phillips jumped overboard again, and the SEAL team took advantage.

Update: Early reports said that Phillips had jumped overboard, but it seems that snipers took out the pirates with Phillips still on the boat. Still not sure how that all worked what with an enclosed lifeboat and all, but I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Impotence

This first paragraph from a foxnews.com piece on the standoff between the US Navy and Somali pirates just about made me have a stroke:
U.S. talks with pirates holding American ship captain Richard Phillips broke down this weekend, with Somali officials blaming a U.S. insistence that the pirates must be arrested, The New York Times reported.
OK. Setting aside for the moment the fact that the term "Somali official" is an oxymoron, what possible objection could "Somali officials" have to arresting the pirates? Surely these "Somali officials" don't endorse or support these outlaws...do they?

Letters of Marque and Reprisal

In a comment to my most recent post on the Somalia piracy problem, my brother Chuck said:
Maybe it's time to issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal. I'll bet a lot of freelancers would jump at the chance!
If you're not familiar with this somewhat archaic legal instrument, a letter of marque permits a private party - a merchant marine, for example - to search, seize or destroy assets or personnel of a foreign party which has committed offenses against the issuing nation.

This got me wondering if there was still a legal basis for letters of marque, and it appears there is. From Wikipedia:
Article 1 of the United States Constitution lists issuing letters of marque and reprisal in Section 8 as one of the enumerated powers of Congress, alongside the power to declare war.
The Wikipedia article goes on to say that the 1856 Treaty of Paris bans the issuance of letters of marque, but the US is not a signatory to the pact and isn't bound by it.

The US last issued a letter of marque during World War 2, and Texas congressman Ron Paul, crazy though he may be, introduced a bill to authorize the issue of letters of marque after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but the bill apparently failed to pass. He introduced a similar bill in 2007 which never made it to committee.

Actor assaults cameraman; thought he was a zombie

Actor Woody Harrelson assaulted a paparazzi cameraman at New York's LaGuardia airport in an apparent case of mistaken identity. It seems he thought the photographer was a zombie.
"I wrapped a movie called 'Zombieland,' in which I was constantly under assault by zombies, then flew to New York, still very much in character," Harrelson said in a statement issued Friday by his publicist.

"With my daughter at the airport I was startled by a paparazzo, who I quite understandably mistook for a zombie," he said.
Yes, quite understandable. The way those guys pursue celebrity pictures is creepily similar to the way a zombie pursues brains.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lack of focus

The Obama administration managed to make time to yank Kal Penn from his role on House to fill a low-level PR job in the White House, but has yet to get around to filling "hundreds" of positions reporting to cabinet-level appointees.
President Barack Obama doesn't have time for a victory lap now that his Cabinet is finally largely in place.

One level down, he faces gaping holes in the ranks he needs to fill if there is to be any hope of turning his ambitious agenda into action on health care, the environment and much more.
But that's only part of the problem with this administration.
At a recent congressional hearing, for example, Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., lamented that Dennis Blair, the national intelligence director, doesn't have time to manage the extra responsibilities he's been given on economics and climate change.
Uhhh...what? Climate change is an intelligence matter now?

Terrorism and piracy: Criminal or national security matter?

There's a good article in the Wall Street Journal by Mackubin Thomas Owens which draws parallels between global terrorism and the ongoing piracy problem off the east coast of Africa and the Obama administration's approach to both issues.

From the very words the new administration uses to describe events and the parties involved we learn much about how Team Obama views the problems:
It seems that our new president is desperate to do everything he can to distance himself from his predecessor, which is why his team has launched a campaign to rebrand the War on Terror. The results are mystifying. "Overseas contingency operations" [See note below. --ed.] is the new name for the war, while "man-caused disasters" is a euphemism for terrorist attacks.

[ ... ]

Instead of calling the detainees enemy combatants, the administration has opted to refer to them as "individuals captured in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations," or "members of enemy forces," or "persons who [the president] determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, and persons who harbored those responsible for the September 11 attacks."

Though these changes might seem superficial, unfortunately, they represent a substantive shift. They signal a return to the policy mindset that existed before 9/11, and the consequence will be material harm to U.S. security.
Which of course is exactly what many of us warned of during the campaign; namely that Obama, along with most Democrats, don't take very seriously the threat of international terrorism and have resumed a 9/10 way of thinking about the problem.

Owens then gets to the heart of the matter in terms of how to classify those who are caught engaging in illegal (by international norms) warfare or in hijacking (pirating) vessels exercising their rights of maritime navigation:
As the eminent military historian Sir Michael Howard argued shortly after 9/11, the status of al Qaeda terrorists is to be found in a distinction first made by the Romans and subsequently incorporated into international law by way of medieval and early modern European jurisprudence. According to Mr. Howard, the Romans distinguished between bellum (war against legitimus hostis, a legitimate enemy) and guerra (war against latrunculi, pirates, robbers, brigands and outlaws).

Bellum became the standard for interstate conflict, and it is here that the Geneva Conventions were meant to apply. They do not apply to guerra. Indeed, punishment for latrunculi, "the common enemies of mankind," traditionally has been summary execution.

Though they don't often employ the term, many legal experts agree that al Qaeda fighters are latrunculi -- hardly distinguishable by their actions from pirates and the like.
I said as much in this post nearly two years ago:
In fact, under international law, their legal status is closer to that of sea pirates.
Now, about that "overseas contingency operations" thing.

A "contingency operation" is a generic military term for any real-world operation carried out by our military in response to an event. It can range anywhere from humanitarian relief operations to evacuation of US embassy personnel during times of civil unrest to invading a country and replacing its government.

Nobody dreamed up the term "overseas contingency operations" to replace "Global War on Terror". My guess is someone in the Pentagon was preparing a paper for the new kid in the White House and was advised that the new kid didn't like the Bushism "Global War on Terror" and simply replaced such references to it with the generic term "overseas contingency operations". Imagine a memo with the line "operational costs associated with the Global War on Terror" modified to read "operational costs associated with overseas contingency operations" and you get the picture.

Friday, April 10, 2009

File under: What if Bush did it?

Hey! Did you hear that when George Bush was president he flew a pizza guy 860 miles to Washington just to make pizza for him? Oh, wait...sorry. That was Barack Obama. Just yesterday.
Chris Sommers, 33, jetted into Washington from St Louis, Missouri, on Thursday with a suitcase of dough, cheese and pans to to prepare food for the Obamas and their staff.
Yes, the same president who's so in tune with the suffering of Americans in these uncertain economic times and who's so concerned about carbon emissions and their impact on the climate flew a guy 1,710 miles round trip to come to the White House to make fucking pizza.

A Yahoo News search on this only turns up amusing articles about how a guy from Chicago prefers pizza from St. Louis.

Via AoSHQ.

Update: Apparently, Sommers flew to Washington at his own (restaurant's) expense, is a poster child for environmental consciousness, yada-yada. That's not the point. Or at least it's not mine, which is why this is filed under "What if Bush did it?".

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Revealed: Obama's first intel brief as President-elect



The Pool Bar's cameras were fortunate enough to be present during Barack Obama's first intelligence briefing after his election.

(Yes...this is an animated version of this post from last November. Xtranormal is pretty cool.)

It's on! Or is it?

Most Americans have paid only passing attention to the sea piracy occurring on a nearly daily basis off the coast of Somalia and nearby waters. But now that a US-flagged vessel with an all American crew of 21 has been taken by the scurvy swine, this major problem will be harder to ignore.
Somali pirates on Wednesday hijacked a U.S.-flagged cargo ship with 21 crew members aboard, a diplomat and a U.S. Navy spokesman said.

The Kenya-based diplomat identified the vessel as the 17,000-ton Maersk Alabama and said all the crew members are American. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The U.S. Navy confirmed that a U.S. flagged ship with 21 members of crew was hijacked early Wednesday off the eastern coast of Somalia.
Unfortunately, the current occupant of the White House isn't likely to want to do anything more than negotiate, accede to ransom demands then study the root causes of why so many ships - owned by evil corporate leviathans and greedy rich bastards, of course - are being pirated in that region.

Update: This doesn't appear to have worked out too well for the pirates. Both CNN and FOX News are now reporting that the crew has re-taken control of the ship with one pirate "in custody and several in the water". Heh.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Red Sox watch


Boston won their home opener today, delayed by rain from yesterday, 5-3 over Tampa Bay. Got a great seven innings from Josh Beckett, and the usual strong close from Jonathan Papelbon.

Magic Number: 161 (heh)

File under: What if Bush did it?


The Democrats' latest assault on the Constitution comes in the form of the Cybersecurity Act of 2009. American Thinker quotes the Center for Democracy and Technology, hardly a source of right-wing hysteria:
A cybersecurity bill introduced today in the Senate would give the federal government extraordinary power over private sector Internet services, applications and software. The Cybersecurity Act of 2009 would, for example, give the President unfettered power to shut down Internet traffic in emergencies or disconnect any critical infrastructure system or network on national security grounds. The bill would grant the Commerce Department the ability to override all privacy laws to access any information about Internet usage in connection with a new role in tracking cybersecurity threats. The bill, introduced by Sens. John Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe, would also give the government unprecedented control over computer software and Internet services, threatening innovation, freedom and privacy. CDT President and CEO Leslie Harris said, "The cybersecurity threat is real, but such a drastic federal intervention in private communications technology and networks could harm both security and privacy."
Of course, I couldn't resist including the graphic from American Thinker, which comes from iOwnTheWorld.com.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Kim Jong Il on borrowed time?

Via Jim Treacher on Twitter comes this Weekly Standard article speculating on the future of North Korea's Kim Jong Il.

Written nearly two weeks ago before North Korea launched its Happy Lotus Blossom With Peaceful Satellite™ (if you've ever bought fireworks before, you'll recognize that kind of thing), author Reuben F. Johnson suggests that Kim's regime may have entered the first stages of its demise.
Throughout history the initial signs of collapse of despotic regimes can usually be traced back to some apocryphal moment in which the armed forces, secret police or others charged with maintaining "public order" demonstrate that they no longer unquestioningly follow the orders of the dictator. There are famous stories from the 1917 Russian Revolution. For example, one of the dreaded crowd-suppressing Cossacks once winked at those demonstrating against Tsar Nicholas II rather than giving the standard order to mow down scores unarmed civilians. Another of the Tsar's Cossacks used his curved, razor-sharp cavalry sword to cut open sacks of state-owned grain for starving workers and peasants instead ordering a charge to cut them down Bloody Sunday-style. These and other similar moments are considered the beginning of the end for the Romanov dynasty.

Several recent analytical reports, including a study from the U.S. government's National Intelligence Council (NIC), are causing those watching the situation in North Korea to ask if we are not seeing a similar deterioration in the control over the military by the Kim Family Regime (KFR), as it is referred to by the U.S. military command in South Korea. Like the starving mobs in St. Petersburg who were demanding to be fed, the on-going food crisis in North Korea is having a crippling effect on the military establishment's loyalty to the Great Leader, and is permanently weakening the grip that the KFR has on the country.
The article also brings up a consequence of chronic and widespread malnutrition which had never occurred to me - large numbers of newborns with mental deficiencies:
According to findings of the NIC, around 25 per cent of those eligible for military service will be rejected due to mental retardation caused by lack of proper nutrition. Overall, intellectual deficiencies caused by hunger among the young will make future economic development of North Korea problematic. Thus, not only political subservience to the regime, but also the future viability of the military as a credible fighting force is at risk.
Yikes. The article points out the danger in drawing parallels between the reunification of Germany nearly 20 years ago and the potential reunification of the two Koreas in the event of collapse of the Kim dynasty. This one problem alone would be enough to make South Korea think twice about it.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

File under: What if Bush did it?



Jim Treacher tweeted a link to this video with the comment:
Remember when Bush said "I don't know what the term is in Austrian"? It's not a language, you rube! Whoops, I meant Obama.
Yes, folks, Barack Obama thinks Austrians speak a language called "Austrian".

Gear Acquisition Syndrome


I started playing guitar taking guitar lessons (to say I actually play guitar would be a bit of a stretch yet) a little over a year ago, and I'm nowhere near mastering the 6-string guitar. But after putzing around with a 12-string at our local guitar shop (Picker's Supply for you denizens of Fredericksburg), I had to have one. Trouble was, I didn't want to plop down $1400 for the used Taylor they had at Picker's, no matter how beautiful it sounded.

I got on Craig's List and came across an old Alvarez Kazuo Yairi model 5068 for sale at a small luthier's shop in Richmond. The luthier said that it had a couple of cracks which he fixed, and he'd replaced the bridge plate. He did a good enough job that you have to know where the cracks were to find them. One strum and I had to have it. I paid him the asking price (which was so low, I'm embarassed to put it here), and took it home.

From what I can gather at the Alvarez guitar web site, the guitar was produced in 1972...when I was 12 years old. Wow.

My younger son says I've got G.A.S., or "gear acquisition syndrome". Apparently that's a term used in the guitar-playing world for people who get the fever for a new instrument or piece of equipment. Ha! He's a fine one to talk. I've got four guitars now and he still has more crap than I do.

Obama's bow: Why does it matter?

When I first heard that Barack Obama bowed to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, I thought, "nah...no way". I'd seen a video of his meeting with Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, and during that encounter Obama rendered the barely perceptible head nod, which is an appropriate show of respect by a US president to a reigning monarch of a friendly nation.

But when I saw the video of his meeting with Abdullah, there was no mistaking it. Obama bowed - deeply - to one monarch during the same trip in which he barely nodded to another. But why does this matter? Because in the foreign relations and diplomacy world, symbolic gestures matter, and they matter greatly. What will King Carl Gustav of Sweden, for example, think if Obama fails to render the same bow to him? From here on out anything short of a waist-deep bow to a reigning foreign monarch can be taken as a snub.

The Anchoress reminds us that in 1994, the New York Times chided then-President Bill Clinton for much less in an encounter with the Emperor of Japan.
It wasn't a bow, exactly. But Mr. Clinton came close. He inclined his head and shoulders forward, he pressed his hands together. It lasted no longer than a snapshot, but the image on the South Lawn was indelible: an obsequent President, and the Emperor of Japan.
Yet so far, not one single major news outlet has said word one about Obama's obsequiousness to the Saudi monarch. It's almost as if...I don't know...the White House press pool has been warned not to ask questions about it.

The Anchoress also suggests there may be something revealing in the way Obama seemed to have checked his bow, as if he started the bow as an automatic reflex before catching himself.
Let me say right off the bat, I have never thought, as apparently many still do, that Barack Obama was a Muslim. Obama said he was a Christian, and - although it is difficult to believe he sat in Jeremiah Wright’s church for 20 years and never heard him utter racist or anti-American sentiments - I tend to take people at their word, until their behavior informs me otherwise.

Such is the case, here. President Obama’s own behavior has me wondering.

I don’t like this video. Spin it any way you like, Obama’s knee is bending, and the head is going very low, almost low enough to kiss a ring, but then Obama’s smooth movements become awkward and stilted, reflecting interrupted momentum - like a batter checking his swing. This looks very much like a man catching himself in mid-bow and suddenly remembering that he should not.
I don't think this reveals anything more than a bias favoring a representative of a more "exotic" foreign culture, over the representative of a boring, old Western culture.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air put together this video for you to compare and contrast.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Smart power: You're doing it wrong


When Barack Obama went hat in hand to his European pals this week, I'll bet he was sure he'd get nothing but eager agreement to his requests for European countries to contribute more to the effort in Afghanistan. He found out pretty quickly that while Europeans might love him and hate Bush, they still don't like us very much. And, collectively speaking, I don't think a plurality of Europeans ever have.

The above cartoon, which I lifted from Theo's place, refers to the economic issues but can just as easily be applied to any other global problem Obama might ask for help with.

Which reminded me of some lyrics from that old George Thorogood song, One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer:
So I go down the streets,
down to my good friend's house
I said "Look man I'm outdoors you know,
can I stay with you maybe a couple days?"
He said "Uh, Let me go and ask my wife"
He come out of the house,
I could see in his face
I know that was no
He said "I don't know man, ah she kinda funny, you know"
I said "I know, everybody funny, now you funny too"

Friday, April 03, 2009

Caption this!

Got this pic e-mailed to me today and couldn't come up with a caption, other than the obvious. Help a brother out?

Update: OK, I came up with one somewhat lame one: "“He came this close to getting me to trade Carla for Michelle”.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Indymedia Richmond cancelled due to lack of interest

The Independent Media (Indymedia) project is a network of local and regional "news" sites which is, well, let's hear it from them:
Indymedia is a collective of independent media organizations and hundreds of journalists offering grassroots, non-corporate coverage. Indymedia is a democratic media outlet for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of truth.
I love that last bit..."tellings of truth". And not just accurate, but radical, too! Heh.

Anyway, Indymedia sites are commonly used to advertise and solicit participation in demonstrations for left-wing causes, so I thought I'd check the Richmond Indymedia site to see if they were planning any festivities to counter the Richmond Tea Party coming up on 15 April. But it seems that if anyone's promoting such a counter-demonstration, it won't be Indymedia Richmond. Their last update is from January 2008, and reads:
The Richmond Independent Media Center website has served as an online news outlet for Virginia since the end of 1999. And now we’re putting the site on pause by turning off open publishing until we can fix the tech problems that have plagued us.

Overcoming our technical challenges is not the only need. For Richmond Indymedia to continue being a passionate media-driven vehicle for progressive social change it needs a core collective of volunteers dedicated to maintaining the site editorially and technically.

[ ... ]

We’re dedicated to keeping this site up even with publishing turned off so that at least the unique and often exclusive news stories it has carried over the years remain available for all to remember, learn from, and be inspired by. Check out our old features (linked at the bottom of this page) going as far back as April 2001 when we upgraded the site, if you’d like a taste or memory of what an open-publishing news site can be when it’s not all spammed out and under-utilized.
One would think that with all those colleges in and around Richmond there'd be battalions of hippies to keep the site up and running and posting drug-induced drivel about the evils of capitalism, Republicans and bathing.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Where's MoveOn.org on deficit spending now?

I saw this linked at Hot Air from Red State today. A pointed example of the hypocrisy and outright dishonesty of the left. Watch both videos...they're short. First, the Red State video:



And here's the MoveOn.org video from a year ago:



As Treacher tweeted the other night:
Remember: The guy who's trying to nationalize industry and start his own youth corps isn't the fascist. That was the previous occupant.
Republican deficit spending? Bad! Democrat deficit spending? Good! A president who says "nookewlar"? Moron! A president who presents as a gift to the Queen of England something anyone can get at Best Buy? Brilliant!

Back to the deficit spending thing. Besides Bush's support for amnesty for illegal aliens, the one thing over which he took the most heat from conservatives was his rampant spending and resulting deficits. But compare the two deficits (Bush's actual and Obama's projected):


That's not even an apples to oranges comparison...it's apples to rocks. And yet - unlike the righties with Bush - the lefties are OK with this as long as it's their guy in office.

Lying, hypocritical pieces of shit.

It begins: Leftists demonizing Obama at G20


I'm pretty sure it took George W. Bush more than 70-odd days to be depicted as a fiendish demon by the loony left. But a G20 summit in the midst of economic chaos has a way of accelerating and escalating things, I guess.