Friday, April 29, 2005

Peggy Noonan on John Bolton

Peggy Noonan may very well be the best political speech writer and columnist of my lifetime. Her column this week, as always, is worth reading.

The Rigas Crime Family gets a pass

This really pisses me off, and it should piss you off too. They steal Billions (that's 10 digits before the decimal point) of dollars, ruin people's lives, defraud stockholders, and get a MULLIGAN?!!!! And we wonder why the American people are getting cynical about the stock market being on the up and up? The SEC and US Attorney's office conspire to give people who make the Enron execs look like alter boys a pass and wonder why we don't trust the government?

(HT: Professor Bainbridge)

Unsustainable?...OR...More Lies from the Left?

You absolutely have to read this post on Powerline that reprints a series of obvious but hysterical questions about the validity of the claims of the new "sustainability director" at Dartmouth. Basically, getting a professorship at a major lefty university now means just telling politically correct lies. Even more, you can tell lies that a 3rd grade understanding of arithmetic would see through. But, as Barbi famously said, "Math is hard" so most lefty professors skipped those classes in school.

Fantasy news reporting again

Hugh appeared at the L.A. Press Club a couple nights ago and apparently some of the reporters who claimed to be there were actually in an alternate reality. Look here for Hugh's post. Read the reports he links to and the prepared text of his speech.

Ninth Circuit Joke

Professor Bainbridge posted a great lawyer joke today (I hope repost in entirety, including HT, doesn't offend anyone on this one but check out his site regularly).

A lawyer is opening his arguments before the US Supreme Court:
"Your Honors, I'm here to appeal a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court. But I also have other arguments in my favor ..."

Scalia interrupts:
"That's fine, but they won't be necessary."

(Thanks to Kent Budge.)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Drag liberals into the Light

Ann Coulter's latest piece is not her usual biting over-the-top commentary but a much more rational, although partisan, suggestion for Senate Republicans that has been lost in the fray as she points out in the opening paragraph:
Democrats are in an incomprehensible rage over the filibuster. DON'T STOP READING! I AM NOT GOING TO DISCUSS THE HISTORY OF THE FILIBUSTER!

The most important paragraph (which btw Ann is a runnon sentence :-) in this must read column is
I am sublimely confident that normal Americans will not be shocked to learn that a Republican Senate plans to confirm the judicial nominees of a Republican president despite the objections of radical elements of a party that is the minority in the Senate, the minority in the House, the loser in the last two presidential races, the minority in state governorships, and the minority in all but a tiny number of very small but densely populated enclaves in this country that need to tax Rush Limbaugh, even though he lives in another state, just to keep all their little socialist programs afloat.

Me too. More than that I am supremely confident that any Republican Senator who votes against the rule change not only loses any possibility of a presidential nomination but will face the most well financed opponents in the primaries that they have ever seen. The base is pissed and they have their checkbooks out. Ann's point is just as valid. Surely even Democrats will not be shocked that Republicans would use the rules (and yes rule changes are part of the rules, ask Sen. KKK Byrd) to confirm the nominees of a Republican President. Democrats and Republicans alike would be shocked if Democrats didn't change the rules for their purposes. And it wouldn't take years.
As I understand it, the reason Democrats are in a blind rage about Priscilla Owen is that, as a state court judge in Texas, Owen interpreted a law passed by the Texas Legislature requiring parental consent for 14-year-old girls to have abortions to mean that parental consent was required for 14-year-old girls to have abortions.

OK, so this is classic Ann to liberal extremists who hate her. The only problem, as usual, is that while spun the statement is true. I have heard this case cited by numerous liberals on TV and radio as to why she is extreme and no others. Dig up the case. The reason she is an extremist is that she is not a liberal judicial activist.
I am a big Ann Coulter fan and think she is best when she is over the top. I like my Bill Maher over the top too. It is what they do. This article is a must read even for folks who don't generally like Ann's work.

'Minutemen' to push Congress

Say a prayer of thanks for these guys. Say another that our politicians (from all parties) final get a clue on this problem.

Stupid Criminal Tricks

Newsday gives us this look into the intelligence of your average car thief:
"He popped the trunk from the inside and crawled back there, ransacking every inch," Hernandez said. "But then he grabs the trunk to heave himself out and closes it on top of him. He's got to be the dumbest criminal of the day."

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Congressional Republicans still have a spine

While the President has largely avoided any moves that might stir up trouble with the Hispanic vote w.r.t. illegal immigration and the Senate Republicans have been wishy washy on this and on the "constitutional option", the House Republicans have stepped forward with legislation that any rational person, conservative or liberal, must agree is a step in the right direction.
Under Real I.D.'s provisions, the secretary of Department of Homeland Security could waive laws in border areas, allowing completion of a section of border fence near San Diego; judges would have more discretion in deciding asylum petitions; and the categories of those who can be deported for association with terrorist groups would be expanded.
But the most wide-ranging provision would set standards for government-issued IDs. The standards would include ensuring the holder is legally present in the United States. The 10 states that don't meet those standards would not be forced to change, but residents could not use their IDs for federal purposes such as boarding an airplane.

And, I assume, since ABC is a federal agency this includes buying alcohol or getting into bars. Any guesses as to how long those 10 states will take to change their laws when Joe 6-pack needs a passport to buy beer or get on a plane?

Court OKs guns for overseas convicts

I read this article and was left speechless. From the title reference I expected that it would be a 5-4 "Second Amendment" ruling with the conservatives on the court edging out the liberals. It turns out that it was a 5-3 (Judge Rehnquist was out due to health) with the liberals ruling in favor of..... assuming that the word "all" didn't really mean "all". In case anybody was wondering, the courts have gone around the bend. Read the article.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

$16M in trips by congress

This CBS story is written by someone who either doesn't own a calculator or who is trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill. For fun, let's pull it apart and see what kind of dough we are really talking about. Now, before anybody gets all pissed off at me about the influence of money, I don't think the rules should permit these trips at all. The fact of the matter is that the rules do allow it so the real question is how much money/influence are we talking about.
(CBS) A new study shows that members of Congress have taken more than $16 million in privately financed trips over the past five years, with many of the trips sponsored by non-profit groups that are not obligated to disclose who paid the bills.

OK, so let us begin to do some math. $16M sounds like a lot of money. Let us examine.

$16M / 5 years = $3.2M/year

There are currently 535 members of Congress, 435 in the House and 100 in the Senate.

$3.2M / 535 members = $5,981.31

How much influence do you figure $6K buys you with a member of Congress? And that is their yearly average so the average trip has to be somewhat less than that if everybody is in on the game.
But the study shows that more than half the private money spent on congressional travel since 2000 - $8.8 million - came from non-profit organizations who are not obligated to identify who may be actually paying the bills.

OK, so that comes out to less than $3,300 per Congressman. I am really concerned now.
The PoliticalMoneyLine study reviewed 5,410 trips taken by 605 members of the House and Senate. Democratic lawmakers had the edge, taking 3,025 trips, to 2,375 trips for GOP members.

So this tells us that the average trip cost is just under $3,000. Given that any of these groups/individuals can donate $2,000 to their campaign and more to the party, etc...... yawn.
The No. 1 trip-taker in dollar terms was Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Sensenbrenner took 19 trips valued at $168,000.

So the worst offender took less than 4 trips per year at an average cost of $8842. That may be a big inducement for the county dog catcher, but we are talking about people who get wined and dined at 5 star restaurants on a very regular basis. I would love to get 4 such vacations/year but I am not in a position to deliver millions of dollars to anybody.
In contrast, DeLay finished 28th by taking 14 trips valued at $94,568.

The best part, IMNSHO, of the article. But put in more graspable terms.... Delay took less than 3 trips per year at an average of $6755. And he is the Senate Majority Leader!! A check for $10,000 won't get you an hour with his secretary.

And my favorite, just for the humor factor:
Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-Tenn., took the most trips - 63. But Ford's less expensive domestic jaunts only totaled $61,000.

Either this guy never leaves the state of TN or I want the name of his travel agent. That is less than $1,000 per trip. And my guess is that it has been a long time since Rep. Ford has slept at a Motel 6.

And just for reference, how much did George Soros alone spend on political activities in 2004?

Monday, April 25, 2005

I finally broke down

And bought an iPod Mini. I love music from a variety of genres. I was given a GPX mp3 player for Christmas and I got the bug. It was entirely reasonable for the price but I want to tote around more music than it could handle and I like the idea of syncing my Mac address book and calendar to another device than my cell phone which is old and likes to be plugged in more than it likes to be used. It also serves as a high capacity transfer device for files when I am at a telco data center which tend to have limited Internet connectivity..... (for those outside the business, this is true to the point of comical although it makes no rational sense, the place that you get your Intenet access from has limited access when you are actually there) The integration with iTunes is brilliant and I must find a way to tear myself away from it or my wife is going to leave me :-)

My big problem was deciding between the even smaller and cableless Shuffle and the higher featured Mini which requires me to carry around yet another cable. The break point for me was that the Mini, like the Shuffle, charges off of any USB port meaning I don't need to find yet another electrical outlet in a hotel room.

book review: Raise the Titanic

Clive Cussler has done it again. This is a fast reading adventure novel with plot twists at every corner. It has just the right amount of scientific fact to make the story totally believable to the non-science mind and close enough to be allowed artistic license for those of us who are science geeks. I highly recommend it for like minded individuals who enjoy well written adventure fiction.