Sunday, October 30, 2005

Hummer-owners, rejoice!

Blood and Oil : The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported PetroleumEver heard of 'oil sands'? Michael Fumento describes the possibility of five centuries of cheap oil:

It was a tenet of the late great economist Julian Simon that we'll never run out of any commodity. That's because before we do the increasing scarcity of that resource will drive up the price and force us to adopt alternatives. For example, as firewood grew scarce people turned to coal, and as the whale oil supply dwindled 'twas petroleum that saved the whales.

Now we're told we're running out of petroleum. The "proof" is the high prices at the pump. In fact, oil cost about 50% more per barrel in 1979-80 than now when adjusted for inflation. Yet it's also true that industrializing nations like China and India are making serious demands on the world's ability to provide oil and are driving prices up. So is this the beginning of the end?

Nope. The Julian Simon effect is already occurring.

The evidence is in something called oil sands (also called oil shale), a tar-like substance that can be surface mined as coal often is. The oil is then separated from the dirt using energy from oil or natural gas extracted from the site itself to produce a tar-like goo called bitumen. It's then chemically split to produce crude as light as from a well head.

Oil sands in a single Venezuelan deposit contain an estimated 1.8 trillion barrels of petroleum, with 1.7 trillion in a single Canadian deposit. In all, about 70 countries (including the U.S.), have oil sand deposits although technology hasn't yet made them economical for exploitation. Of Canada's reserves alone, over 300 billion barrels (more than the entire proved oil reserves of Saudi Arabia) is currently considered recoverable. And recovering it they are...

Michael Fumento: Fill 'er up with oil sands!

"I ain't real good at number-countin' and stuff"

The invaluable Newsbusters site points to this bizarre gaffe by Tim Russert. That Russert, the 'golden child' of mainstream political commentators, could be so unaware of recent history seems -- at best -- implausible. But not out of character for his ilk.

[with great] anticipation by many in the media, a Bush Administration official, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was today indicted by a federal grand jury. NBC's Washington bureau chief Tim Russert wanted to emphasize the event's importance, telling his MSNBC audience: "This is significant, it's the first time in 130 years a White House official has been indicted."

Not according to MSNBC's own Web site. It's "Fact File: White House Staff Indictments" provides a "brief history of indictments in recent administrations." Going back only into the mid-1970s, it identifies eight people, including a Reagan Cabinet member and two Clinton Cabinet members, who were indicted on various charges. These included conspiracy, obstruction, embezzlement, illegal stock trading, lying to the FBI and grand larceny.

I ain't real good at number-countin' and stuff, but I'm thinkin' that 130 number ain't quite right.

Iran's President and "A World without America"

Countdown to Crisis : The Coming Nuclear Showdown with IranFunny, this UPI report didn't seem to get as much press as Scooter Libby's indictment:

Addressing students at the conference, [President of Iran] Ahmadinejad said, "To those who doubt, to those who ask is it possible, or those who do not believe, I say accomplishment of a world without America and Israel is both possible and feasible."

Someday, wouldn't it be lovely if the mediacrats would bestow as much attention on nuclear-armed countries declaring de facto war on America as they do on the current administration's troubles?

We can only dare to dream.

The harsh ramifications of Hitler-esque statements on the part of Iran require all the mental gymnastics of a Mister Rogers episode. But these calculations appear well beyond the grasp of the mediacrats, who remain simple "optimists" in the face of ugly, brutal facts confronting our world. We ignore a nuclear-armed Iran at our own peril.

It would be nice if the mediacrats would actually bother to report upon and analyze the traffic coming out of Tehran. The fate of our children and grandchildren hinges, in part, upon the press doing their jobs. And, thus far, they've been found woefully lacking.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Libby Resigns

Top aide to Vice President Cheney, Scooter Libby, was indicted yesterday on charges of perjury, false statements, and obstruction of justice.

The charges are no joke. And, though the charges don't mention the outing of Victoria Plame as an employee of the CIA, that is no joke either.

Consider those who may have cooperated with Plame in a foreign country, knowingly or not. In truth, their lives are at risk over beltway political gamesmanship.

And for someone reputed to be highly intelligent, Libby finds himself in scalding water over some relatively simple misstatements. Did Libby hear about Plame from White House officials... or from other reporters? These key issues are at the heart of the matter.

Libby should indeed be prosecuted with vigor. Political advantage pales in comparison to the importance of human lives at risk.

The Volcker Report, the Anti-War Left Bank and Saddam

Saddam's Bombmaker: The Terrifying Inside Story of the Iraqi Nuclear and Biological Weapons AgendaToday, if anyone tells you that sanctions were working in Iraq prior to the war, they are either (a) prevaricating or (b) blissfully ignorant. Certainly, that much is clear from the Volcker Report.

Consider that one of the Americans named in the report is Shakir Al-Khafaji, who received dibs on 12 million barrels of Saddam's oil. You may recall that this influential businessman orchestrated a visit to Baghdad in September of 2002, leading a delegation of anti-war Congressional Democrats.

Thus it came to pass: a Democratic congressman -- Jim McDermott of Washington -- reportedly accepted cash payments from Al-Khafaji (a suitable proxy for Saddam). Also on the trip were David Bonior (D-MI) and Mike Thompson (D-CA).

Together, this abysmal crew became Saddam's dupes. Consider their statements after returning from the Baghdad junket. George Will wrote:

Not since Jane Fonda posed for photographers at a Hanoi antiaircraft gun has there been anything like Rep. Jim McDermott, speaking to ABC's ``This Week'' from Baghdad, saying Americans should take Saddam Hussein at his word, but should not take President Bush at his. McDermott, in his seventh term representing Seattle, said Iraqi officials promised him and his traveling companion, Rep. David Bonior, a 13-term Michigan Democrat, that weapons inspectors would be ``allowed to look anywhere.''

Bonior, until recently second-ranking in the House Democratic leadership, said sources no less reliable than Saddam's minions told them that inspectors will have an ``unrestricted ability to go where they want.'' McDermott said: ``I think you have to take the Iraqis on their value--at their face value.'' And: ``I think the president would mislead the American people.''

And now the Volcker report confirms what many had long believed. These Democrats and certain other anti-war Galloway clones were, in effect, Saddam's puppets. Some were paid, some were not. All were in thrall to a mass-murdering despot, the likes of which the world hasn't seen since Pol Pot.

The motives, then, of some in the anti-war Left are crystal clear. They wanted Saddam's loot. They didn't care a whit about the war on terror, Scuds, chemical weapons, rape rooms, inspections, nuclear arms, torture chambers designed for children, or Al Qaqaa. They wanted cold, hard cash.

Now consider that today's thought-leaders of the anti-war Left Bank echo these same, morally bankrupt precepts. They claim that sanctions and inspections were destined to work. They posit that Bush -- not Saddam -- lied. They ignore the ramifications of Abu Abbas, Abu Nidal, Zarqawi, Ansar al-Islam, nuclear centrifuges, and the terrorist training camp at Salman Pak, all of which were conveniently located in or near Baghdad prior to the war.

To term this posse "useful idiots" (a la Lenin) is to severely overestimate their intellectual acumen. Someday, the pro-American Democratic party of FDR, JFK and Truman will return. But, today, that day seems very far off.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Left: Partying over American Dead

Faux outrage over at the Dauo Report, where Peter Daou objects to Leftist events marking two thousand American deaths in Iraq as "parties".

LGF operative ZombieTime happened to attend one such party. And he took lots of pictures. Judge for yourself.

As famed milblogger BlackFive noted recently:

There are two groups that will celebrate and use George Alexander's sacrifice. The morally bankrupt anti-war movement. And Al Qaeda.

As for the watery Leftist question -- "[H]ow is it that wanting our troops NOT to die is worse than wanting them to remain in the line of fire?" -- BlackFive notes the nature of the question is...

Disengenuous. Your question assumes a fact not in evidence -- that the majority of purported "antiwar" folks are motivated by a desire to keep our troops from dying. Certainly, the statements from many such folks reveals a virulent hatred of the US. I am also curious as to why so many so-called "antiwar" folks seemed quite happy for Bill Clinton to send US troops all over the globe.

In any case, a blind desire to "bring the troops home" is not necessarily in the troops' best interest, even if we assume that this is your true motivation. Any rational person can see how such protests could embolden our enemy and actually increase the danger to our troops. For that matter, imagine what the world would be like if such an argument had prevailed in World War II or the American Civil War? In either case, "bringing the troops home" would have resulted in horrific consequences. Have the antiwar folks bothered to poll the troops on this issue?

And frankly, I am unconvinced that most of the "antiwar" folks are actually opposed to war. I think that they are just opposed to the US. Certainly, they seem unconcerned that their conduct may well encourage our enemies.

Even if they do not intend for the Islamist fanatics to be encouraged, so what? Seems to me that a grownup should be held to intend the consequences of an act, if those consequences are reasonably forseeable.

In any case, I have a question for you that I can't seem to get any antiwar folks to answer:

Do you think that a majority of Iraqis wish that Saddam was still in power?

Dauo and the rest of the anti-American gasbags simply need to declare their true allegiances. If they are truly pro-terror, they should go ahead and say so. Because their mission -- so far -- appears to align perfectly with that of the terrorists.

Condi vs. Hillary

Condi vs. Hillary : The Next Great Presidential RaceThe entire first chapter of Dick Morris' new book, entitled Condi vs. Hillary , is online. Morris is, of course, the long-time Clinton adviser who has transformed himself into an anti-Clintonian zealot. Imagine Karl Rove leaving the Bush fold and co-authoring a breathless tell-all on White House shenanigans - that's effectively what Morris has done for the Clintons.

Condoleezza Rice has never been involved in personal or professional wrongdoing; Hillary has been embroiled in scandal after scandal, ever since she entered public life. She has always teetered on the ethical edge. Her unexplainable windfall in her commodities futures speculation; the circumstances of her Whitewater investment; the disappearance of her law firm's billing records; her role in the decapitation of the White House Travel Office employees; her solicitation and acceptance of personal gifts of expensive furniture, silver, and china during her last days in the White House while she was still first lady (but not yet a senator bound by rules about gifts); her acceptance of contributions and gifts from persons seeking presidential pardons; and the hiring of her brothers by drug dealers and others seeking pardons-all of these have led to the continuous cloud of doubt that has surrounded her personal and professional integrity.

Perhaps the most shocking example of her tin ear on ethical issues was her acceptance of furniture-and $70,000 in campaign contributions from Denise Rich, who was basically trying to buy a pardon for her fugitive ex-husband, Marc Rich. After a federal indictment charged Marc Rich with fifty-one counts of tax evasion and illegal trading with the enemy-Iran-during the hostage crisis of the late 1970s, Rich had fled to Switzerland and renounced his U.S. citizenship. In the wake of his ex-wife's gifts and campaign contributions to Mrs. Clinton and $450,000 donation to the Clinton Library, Marc Rich was pardoned in the very last minutes of the Clinton presidency.

You can read the entire first chapter here.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

In search of a survival plan

I'm back from Seattle and normal blogging will resume shortly. In the mean time, read Baldilocks' In search of a survival plan. Bathe yourself in the hot tub of wisdom for a few minutes and read the whole thing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Glamor of Business Travel

Sleepless in SeattleSo I had a flight out to Seattle scheduled for Sunday. There's an IT-related event hosted by one of the big software vendors (I'm sure you can guess which one in under three tries) to which I was an invitee. The flight was scheduled to leave my city -- which is in the northeastern quadrant of the Midwest -- at 4:40pm EST, arriving at SeaTac at 6:55pm PST or thereabouts. Here's a chronology of the trip... and all times are Eastern, for consistency's sake -- and because that's simply the way the world should operate.

3:30 PM - I arrive at the airport and realize I have forgotten to upgrade to first-class. My attempt is politely rebuffed: "the entire flight is booked and is oversold, in fact."

4:21 PM - Boarding begins. I am in "zone 5", which is akin to being the United Nations representative from the Isle of Man - back o' the bus.

4:53 PM - Everyone is crammed aboard. I'm in an aisle seat, parked next to a middle-aged lady who is about a hundred-or-so pounds overweight and -- as an added bonus -- has a hacking cough. I can fit about a quarter of my arm on the steel armrest, which is also straining to support the overflow of her midsection.

5:02 PM - Pushback from the gate. Taxiing begins. Air temperature inside the cabin - a balmy 82% with high humidity.

5:07 PM - Taxiing ends. Announcement from the Captain: "We have some engine warning lights on. We're going to park here for a few minutes while the maintenance crew takes a look and tries to reset them. Usually this takes just a few minutes and there's really no problem."

5:16 PM - We're hearing buzzing underneath the plane as the maintenance crew tries to reset the warning lights.

5:25 PM - Äir temperature - 83%. Announcement from the Captain: "Well, that didn't work. The maintenance crew is going to replace an engine-control circuit board to see if that fixes the problem. This really won't take too long. Update in a couple of minutes."

5:40 PM - Air temperature - 84%. Announcement from the Captain: "Okay, they've got the circuit board. But to replace it, they're going to have to turn off all power to the plane for a few minutes. Otherwise, they might have a 'shocking' experience. So in a few minutes, the lights and everything will go off, but they should come back on in just a couple of minutes."

5:43 PM - Air temperature - 86. The plane goes dark. The fan, which had been pushing around moist, hot air (isn't that the best kind?), stops. My next-door neighbor erupts in a hacking cough.

5:46 PM - Air temperature - 88. The lights come back on. Moist air circulation resumes. My next-door neighbor nearly knocks the wind out of me while searching in her pockets for a lozenge.

5:49 PM - Air temperature - 89. The Captain: "Well, that didn't quite do it. We're going to head back to the gate and see what control recommends."

6:12 PM - Temperatures are cooling as we arrive at the gate and the door opens. My neighbor commemorates the event with a vicious coughing fit. Fortunately, it's not a phlegmy cough, it's a dry cough.

6:33 PM - We deplane. Another piece of equipment (apparently, this means another "airplane") has been located and is going to pull into a nearby gate.

6:51 PM - The other plane arrives. Its passengers deplane and we're notified that, after cleaning and re-provisioning, we'll be permitted to board.

7:23 PM - Boarding begins on the replacement plane equipment.

7:44 PM - Boarding finishes. My neighbor resumes a coughing fit as I crack open my book, ironically entitled, "The Great Influenza" (subtitle: 'The epic story of the deadliest plague in history').

7:50 PM - We begin taxiing.

8:02 PM - The captain announces that we're third in line for takeoff.

8:06 PM - We're second in line for takeoff. I high-five my neighbor when the Captain announces this. Uhm, actually, my neighbor just expectorates into a handkerchief.

8:10 PM - We lift off.

9:00 PM - The feature film - Batman Begins - well, begins. And (sweet!) complimentary headphones!

9:03 PM - The screen goes to black.

9:09 PM - The feature film begins again.

9:11 PM - The screen goes black again.

9:15 PM - The flim begins again.

9:19 PM - The screen goes black.

9:21 PM - The film begins again.

9:24 PM - The screen goes black, this time with a white line in the middle of all of the screens. I pull off my headphones.

9:30 PM - The film begins again. I put my headphones back on.

9:33 PM - The screen goes dead once more. I wonder whether I should leave the headphones back on.

9:36 PM - The film begins again.

9:39 PM - The screen goes black. I can swear that the flight staff is teasing us.

9:43 PM - The film begins again. This time, it seems to take.

12:30 AM - We touch down at SeaTac.

1:00 AM - My traveling partner's checked bag is nowhere to be found. We report it to the lost baggage office.

1:20 AM - House Shiraz at the Rock Bottom Brewery in downtown Seattle, the only place in the area serving dinner after 10PM PST.

Ah, the glamor of business travel. Nothing like it.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Tom Coburn's Spine of Steel

Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into InsidersTom Coburn (R-OK) introduced an interesting amendment to a spending bill yesterday. The amendment (S.A. 2112) to H.R. 3058 proposed excising some useless pork-barrel spending. Outside the Beltway described the amendment this way:

This amendment will transfer funding from the wasteful pork project, the “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska, to the repair and reconstruction of the “Twin Spans” bridge in Louisiana. According to published reports, the Alaskan pork project costs $220 million for a 5.9-mile bridge connecting Gravina Island (population 50) to the Alaskan mainland. The cost of the bridge alone would be enough to buy every island resident his own personal Lear jet.

Of course, the amendment went down by a vote of 82-15. As Powerline notes:

... [it] was a clarifying moment. The Associated Press says:

[I]n the tradition-bound Senate, Coburn was taking on an unwritten rule that one senator does not attack the projects sought by another.

To tell you the truth, I'm not sure I was aware of that rule. I guess I always assumed that both the Senate and the House made some pretense of trying to spend the taxpayers' money wisely, for the benefit of the nation as a whole. So at least we now know where we stand... So now we know: there are only fifteen members of the Senate who are unwilling to waste the taxpayers' money on even the most frivolous of projects. Let's see what we can do about the other 85.

By taking on most of the Senate's "good old boys" and the FDR-era tradition of pork allocation, Coburn demonstrated some significant backbone. In an interview on the Hugh Hewitt show, Coburn explained his stand:

...we're at war, we've got hurricanes, we've got $600 billion dollars we added to our children and grandchildren's debt this last year. It's time for us to change...

Indeed. And who's with Coburn? Specifically he named Senators DeMint, Ensign, Brownback, and Sununu. Remember all five names. You'll be hearing them again.

This isn't a partisan issue. It's an American issue.

The Tale of Joe Wilson

Boy Genius: Karl Rove, the Brains Behind the Remarkable Political Triumph of George W. BushStephen Hayes, writing in the Weekly Standard, breaks down the Valerie Plame kerfuffle into digestible pieces. In fact, they're so straightforward... even Maureen Dowd should be able to understand them. Note that I said should, not will.

...ON JULY 22, 2005, the New York Times published a lengthy, front-page article detailing the work of two senior Bush administration officials, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, on the Niger-uranium story. A seemingly exhaustive timeline ran alongside the piece. In 19 bullet points, the Times provided its readers in considerable detail with what it regarded as the highlights of the story. The timeline traces events from the initial request for more information on the alleged Iraqi inquiries in Africa to Joseph Wilson's trip to Niger; from the now-famous "16 words" in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union to the details of White House telephone logs; from Bush administration claims that Karl Rove was not involved in the leak to the naming of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, and on from there to the dates that White House officials testified before the grand jury.

As I say, seemingly exhaustive. But there is one curious omission: July 7, 2004. On that date, the bipartisan Senate Select Intelligence Committee released a 511-page report on the intelligence that served as the foundation for the Bush administration's case for war in Iraq. The [2004] Senate report includes a 48-page section on Wilson that demonstrates, in painstaking detail, that virtually everything Joseph Wilson said publicly about his trip, from its origins to his conclusions, was false.

...It is certainly the case that the media narrative is much more sensational than the Senate report... But sometimes the boring stories have an additional virtue. They're true.

Weekly Standard: The Tale of Joe Wilson

Honda Offers Natural Gas-Powered Civic

21st Century Complete Guide to Alternative FuelsHonda is offering a natural gas-powered Civic in sourthern California. The Civic GX model -- for a limited time -- also includes the "Phill" home refueling appliance, free of charge. The MSRP is $21K and that figure, of course, doesn't include the $2K federal tax deduction.

After seven years of successfully marketing the Civic GX strictly to fleet operators who have the convenience of dedicated fueling stations, the Civic GX-Phill package is now available to southern California consumers that live within the boundaries of the SCAQMD. The Civic GX sedan provides practical transportation for up to four passengers and a driving range of between 200 and 220 miles, given the possibility to conveniently refuel as necessary from the customers own home...

Phill, the world's first low-cost, home-based refueling appliance that can be mounted to a garage wall either indoors or outdoors, to allow natural gas powered vehicles to be refueled overnight directly from a homeowner's existing natural gas supply line. Phill provides GX drivers enough fuel for approximately 100 miles of driving on an eight hour refueling cycle. Phill is designed to offer ease of operation with simple "start" and "stop" buttons and will automatically turn itself off when the tank is full. Phil also has numerous safeguards throughout its system. Like any natural gas appliance, a FuelMaker trained installer must install Phill...

AutoSpies: Honda offers Natural Gas-powered Civic

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Hillary in trouble: not far enough to the left

There's trouble brewing out on the far left bank that makes up the chief fundraising power of the current Democratic party. Think Michael Moore, George Soros, and other "evil-genius" characters ripped straight out of an Austin Powers film. The far left sees Hillary as a sellout. Do tell.

Cindy Sheehan, the so-called "peace mom" on a crusade to end U.S. involvement in the Iraq war, is publicly blasting Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., for her continued support of the ongoing conflict.

"I think she is a political animal who believes she has to be a war hawk to keep up with the big boys," Sheehan writes in an open letter posted on anti-Bush filmmaker Michael Moore's website...

...She was granted a meeting with Sen. Clinton to discuss the war effort, but says the Democrat "apparently" didn't listen, as the senator told a reporter for the Village Voice, "My bottom line is that I don't want their sons to die in vain. ... I don't believe it's smart to set a date for withdrawal. ... I don't think it's the right time to withdraw."

"That sounds like Rush Limbaugh to me," Sheehan said...

"There's trouble in paradise out there on the far left extreme which has become the Democrat base," Limbaugh responded today on his national radio program.

"You don't do this, folks. You don't publicly as a Democrat disavow a Clinton and live to do it again. Well, you just don't do it again and again without something happening. So she's one gutsy lady or stupid, one of the two. But something's going to happen to this woman. Something's going to silence her."

On a political messageboard online, one writer notes, "Who would have thought that Hillary's candidacy could be in trouble because she's not far enough to the left?"

WND: Sheehan thrashes 'war hawk' Hillary

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What is ZIP + 4?

DIRECT MAIL COPY THAT SELLSEver wondered about the ZIP + 4 codes that you're encouraged (or, if you're in the direct-mail business, required) to use? The US Postal Service began using ZIP + 4 in 1983. A typical ZIP + 4 code -- say, 01254-9012 if you're somewhere in Richmond, Massachusetts -- is used to pinpoint a highly focused geographic segment within the five-digit delivery area.

How many households does a ZIP + 4 code represent? The claim, according to Wikipedia is that the code can be resolved to, "a city block, a group of apartments, [or] an individual high-volume receiver of mail."

I did a little experiment on my street. I live in a quiet suburban neighborhood, about eighteen miles northeast of a major metropolitan downtown area. It's typical of thousands of other suburban enclaves: houses on lots ranging from 1/3 acre to a half-acre, upper-middle-class, good school system. You know: the 2005 equivalent of Ward Cleaver's crib.

Using the Post Office ZIP-code lookup tool, I set out on a mission to figure out how many households a typical "ZIP + 4" code represents -- at least in my neighborhood. Is your heart racing yet? Here are the results of all of the actual houses on my street with the "+4" extended code:


These translate to:

1805 7
1806 6
1843 4
1844 4

So, at least in my little 'hood, a ZIP + 4 code translates to between four and seven households.

Why do I mention this? Because as marketers target us, they often use data that's aggregated at the ZIP + 4 level. And you can tell that this level is highly granular: it doesn't take very sophisticated analysis for summarized ZIP + 4 household data to be disassembled into individual households.

And your ZIP + 4 code isn't private. Anyone can look it up if they know your address. Marketers that share information about households at this level aren't seeking your permission, from what I can tell. It's an interesting little game and one that isn't well-publicized.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Booming Real Estate Market

The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading IraqIf you rely on news from Iraq strictly through the lenses of the AP, CNN or the Gray Lady, you'd think that the entire country is aflame and that -- in spite of the inferno -- all of the non-functional power-lines haven't quite melted yet. And while the streets run red with blood, 80% of Iraqi citizens hate Americans while the remainder simply despise them.

But back in the real world, if you happen to parse the typical dispatches from the MediaCrats, you occasionally find nuggets like this (hat tip: PoliPundit):

A five-bedroom river-view house sold three years ago for $45,000. Two years ago it sold again, this time for $80,000. It sold a third time in August. The latest price tag? $300,000. It's not in Charlotte or Kansas City or Philadelphia; it's in Baghdad. The market here is booming...

...Baghdad's economy is also surprisingly strong. Streets are jammed with traffic. Cell phones are everywhere. The bare shelves of retail stores from the Saddam Hussein era are now piled high with imported goods...

So while the MediaCrats continue to put the worst possible face on each story out of Iraq, real-estate prices are rising dramatically and the economy is booming. Hmmm.

Slop du Jour

M*A*S*H - TV Season Three - 3 Tape Boxed SetThe new series of Comcast ads feature an old clip of Loretta Swit on the $10,000 Pyramid show (which, if inflation-adjusted, would be roughly $9.3 million dollars today, I believe). This got me thinking about M*A*S*H and, for some reason, the Colonel Flagg character. Flagg -- a kind of demi-secret military intelligence operative -- was a perfect combination of blowhard and ignoramus (kind of like a testosterone-fueled version of Maureen Dowd, come to think of it).

A quick search got me a comprehensive list of quotes from the show, the following of which are my personal favorites.

A device has yet to be invented that will measure my indifference to this remark. -- Hawkeye

Okay, Radar, state your business, in one word or less. -- Hawkeye

Well, what's the slop du jour? -- Hawkeye

I told you the food here should not be taken internally. -- Hawkeye

How would you like to donate a pint of blood through your nose? -- Trapper

The only thing Charles remembers fondly from his childhood is his hair. -- Hawkeye

Klinger, it's my considered opinion that no one is going to believe you are pregnant -- Henry

I'm sick of hearing about the wounded. What about all the thousands of wonderful guys who are fighting this war without any of the credit or the glory that always goes to those lucky few who just happen to get shot -- Frank

What a unique device, the human tush. An architectural wonder, one of a kind...actually two of a kind. Designed to support our weight for a lifetime of sitting it also has the subtlety to do the samba. And when attached to certain members of the female species at a time when light summer dresses are worn can cause some of us to drive our cars straight up a lamppost. - Hawkeye

You are the 10 most boring people I know -- Trapper to Frank

I don't mind eating if it's possible to make a martini sandwich. -- Hawkeye

I'd like a dry martini, Mr. Quoc, a very dry martini. A very dry, arrid, barren, desiccated, veritable dustbowel of a martini. I want a martini that could be declared a disaster area. Mix me just such a martini. -- Hawkeye

Don't play dumb with me, you're not as good at it as I am -- Flagg

I am only paranoid because everyone is against me -- Frank

Are you eating breakfast cereal or is that just a bad telephone line? -- Klinger

You look like an ad for death -- Hawkeye

M*A*S*H Quotes

Monday, October 17, 2005

What Democrats must do to win elections

Governance.Com: Democracy in the Information AgeThe Powerline crew points us to Washington Times coverage of a report on Democratic strategy for 2006 and beyond.

Written by two veteran Democratic strategists, William Galston and Elaine Kamarck, the report insists that Democrats must truly become centrists if they are to regain majority status. In doing so, the pair highlights a set of 'myths', which have bedeviled the party for years:

• "The myth of mobilization." Democrats are not going to be able to win with the old liberal orthodoxy by simply energizing the party's base and bringing voters "to the polls in record numbers." In an electorate "where conservatives outnumber liberals 3-2 and where ideology so closely predicts voting behavior, Democrats cannot win the game of 'base' ball."

• "The myth of demography." Democrats are fooling themselves if they think the population growth among major minorities such as Hispanics "will secure a Democratic majority for decades to come."

"Along with rising Hispanic voter rolls has been a dramatic increase in Hispanic incomes, and these newly affluent voters behave more like the rest of the middle-class electorate."

• "The myth of prescription drugs is our shorthand for the proposition, which seems to bewitch Democratic political consultants, that Democrats can win present-day national elections by avoiding cultural issues, downplaying national security, and changing the subject to domestic issues such as health care, education and job security."

The report also noted a 'precipitous drop' in support from two critical groups: married women and Catholics. The former group has dropped from +4 Democratic in '96, even in '00, to -12 in '04. The latter group has dropped from +16 Democratic in '96, +2 in '00, to -5 in '04.

Trouble is, the authors wrote similar advice in 1988. Entitled "The Politics of Evasion," that report also charged liberal Democrats with "clinging to a series of myths that thwarted critical thinking and needed change." Powerline notes:

The Democrats didn't listen then; will they now? I doubt it. The Democratic Party has lost much of its influence to far-left grass roots groups like, which are funded not primarily by the party's traditional constituencies, but by the far left, especially the far-left super-rich. The issues on which Galston and Kamarck urge the party to move toward the center -- the war on terror, the American military generally, and social issues like gay marriage -- are precisely the issues that motivate the most partisan Democrats. I'm not sure there are many Democrats left who are willing to compromise on those core issues, which is one reason I'm not as confident as most people that Hillary Clinton has the '08 nomination more or less wrapped up.

Over the last nine months, events have gone about as badly as they could for the Republicans. Maybe yesterday's election in Iraq was the beginning of a turnaround, and prospects will look brighter by next November. But even if the next year proves tough for the Republicans, they will still have their ace in the hole: they get to run against Democrats.

Like death, taxes, and Chad Johnson getting open, this report -- too -- is certain to be ignored.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Book Review: Good to Great

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don'tI may, by now, be the last person in America to read Collins' best-seller. No matter, it's exceptional. Using extensive quantitative research, Jim Collins and his team arrived at a set of fundamental differentiators that distinguish great companies from merely good ones.

How, for example, did Walgreens outperform the market by a factor of fifteen times, while its competitor Eckerd turned into an industry laggard? How did Kimberly-Clark meet and beat the master marketers at P&G? And how could Nucor take on -- and soundly defeat -- US Steel? Simple, Collins tells us: all exhibited a suite of traits that supercharged corporate performance.

To illustrate the point: had you invested one thousand dollars in Walgreens in 1975, that stake would have been worth over $560,000 by the year 2000. Contrast that performance with the great names of corporate America: Intel ($309,000), GE ($119,000), Coke ($73,000), Merck ($64,000), and the general market ($37,000).

In a nutshell, the traits include:

o "Level 5 leadership" - leaders that exhibit a unique combination of personal humility and professional discipline with ambition focused on the company, not the individual.
o "First Who, then What" - getting the best people on board, then worrying about fine-tuning corporate direction.
o "Confront brutal facts, without ever losing faith" - also termed "the Stockdale Paradox", this trait involves seeking the truth of the current situation while maintaining a certainty in victory.
o "The Hedgehog Concept" - fundamental discipline at the intersection of what your organization has passion for, what it can be the best at, and knowing the single metric that drives your economic engine (e.g., dollars per customer-visit, if you're a retailer).
o "A culture of discipline" - sustaining excellent results requires nuturing a culture of displined people taking displined action, consistent with the Hedgehog Concept.
o "The flywheel" - good-to-great transitions never happen in one grandiose re-org; instead, they are the result of a consistent sequence of buildups and breakthroughs, one after the other.

Like all great ideas, from the perspective of hindsight, Collins' characteristics look simple, dry, and boring. The book is anything but: it is a unique combination of research report, historical retrospective, and incisive analysis. Put simply, if you work in a business (!), you owe it to yourself to read this book.

Irony Alert: Carter-era official criticizes administration

The Real Jimmy Carter: How Our Worst Ex-President Undermines American Foreign Policy, Coddles Dictators and Created the Party of Clinton and Kerry In a recent op-ed column (the LA Times, as if you couldn't guess), former national security advisor to Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, pilloried the Bush administration. Calling the post-9/11 approach, "suicidal statecraft" (a la Arnold Toynbee), Brzezinski further claims that 9/11 represented a "challenge largely of regional origin."

Those slaughtered in the World Trade Center or at the Pentagon are, of course, unable to voice their opinions while Brzezinski pontificates. That a Carter-era official, party to -- inarguably -- the most disastrous presidency in the last half-century, criticizes anyone, should be enough to set off alarm claxons in newsrooms everywhere.

Recognizing the irony inherent in a Carter-era administration windbag critiquing anyone, Victor Davis Hanson shreds Brzezinski using everything but a taser and a cattle prod. Sally forth and read it all, for it is good.

...Aside from the unintended irony that the classical historian Arnold Toynbee himself was not always “adroit,” but wrong in most of his determinist conclusions, and that such criticism comes from a high official of an administration that witnessed on its watch the Iranian-hostage debacle, the disastrous rescue mission, the tragicomic odyssey of the terminally ill shah, the first and last Western Olympic boycott, oil hikes even higher in real dollars than the present spikes, Communist infiltration into Central America, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Cambodian holocaust, a gloomy acceptance that perpetual parity with the Soviet Union was the hope of the day, the realism that cemented our ties with corrupt autocracies in the Middle East (Orwellian sales of F-15 warplanes to the Saudis minus their extras), and the hard-to-achieve simultaneous high unemployment, high inflation, and high interest rates, Mr. Brzezinski is at least a valuable barometer of the current pessimism over events such as September 11...

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Egyptian liberals and the American conservatives

Ancient Egypt The Gateway Pundit points us to this exceptional post on the Freedom for Egyptions blog, which is entitled, "The Egyptian liberals and the American conservatives."

Recently, I had a discussion with a friend of mine who claims to be a liberal Egyptian on the Iraq war. In a separate coincidence, I had another meeting with another friend who also claims to be also liberal on the same topic.

Egyptian liberals are quite divided on the war in Iraq. Or it could be that the war on Iraq demonstrated sharply two streams of liberals in Egypt...

After reading this exceptional post, GatewayPundit further ponders an intriguing set of questions:

A few questions came to mind while reading this great posting:

* What happened to American Liberals?
* If American Conservatives stand as Freedom Fighters what do the liberals stand for today?
* How can a person say he or she believes in freedom and democracy but is unwilling to sacrifice?
* What is the American liberal strategy to freeing people enslaved in a brutal regime?
* How can one say they are for Human Rights and yet turn their back as mass graves are being filled to overflowing?
* How can one who believes in Human Rights equate dismemberment to hazing techniques?

And, to my Egyptian friends...

* Please name one international leader who consistently stated that their were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq "before" the War in Iraq began. Just one... (and Saddam Hussein does not count!)
* What are you being told about America that would have you not trust American intentions today?
* Does anyone give America credit for the great sacrifice in life and money that our country is giving Iraq and the region today?
* Why is there not greater outrage in the Middle East against the killers of innocent Iraqis?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Mediacrats and the Terrorists: on the Same Page

April 6, 2004: CNN: "Sen. Edward Kennedy launched a blistering election-year attack on the Bush administration's candor and honesty Monday... [he] said that Iraq was never a threat to the United States... 'Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam,' [he said]."

Feb. 13, 2004: New York Times, Bob Herbert: "...Citing phantom weapons of mass destruction, he led the nation into a war of choice that has resulted so far in the tragic deaths of more than 500 American troops and thousands of innocent Iraqis... powerfully connected corporations like Halliburton and Bechtel [are profiting]... More than 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam, another war of choice that was marketed deceitfully to the American people..."

May 5, 2004: Boston Globe: "...If Kerry prevails, he will beat Bush on foreign policy by being the more prudent and sensible. Just as the sheer unpopularity of the Korean and Vietnam wars ruined Democratic incumbents, the calamity of Iraq will speak for itself in undermining Bush..."

Oct. 11, 2005: ZAWAHIRI-ZARQAWI COMMUNIQUÉ: "...Things may develop faster than we imagine... The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam, and how they ran and left their agents, is noteworthy... we are in a battle, and that more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media..."

Yes indeedy-do. Sometimes it's tough to tell where Bob Herbert ends and Ayman al-Zawahiri begins
(hat tip: PoliPundit). Sadly, mimicking the party line of the terrorists is nothing new for the Mediacrats. Perhaps the Times could even reprint the "How to make a nuclear bomb" manual that is circulating on terrorist web-sites.

Where is the party of Truman, FDR, and JFK? Where are the Democrats who would not hesitate to protect America first? Unfortunately, they are removed from this Earth and probably spinning in their graves faster than Lance Armstrong's front wheel.

Bill Clinton's litany of half-hearted law enforcement actions -- pilloried most recently by his own appointee, Louis Freeh -- resulted in the A.Q. Kahn nuclear parts network; surreptitious nuclear programs in Libya, North Korea and Iran; and a series of horrific attacks by Al Qaeda.

While I pray the day never arrives, it is likely that -- in the not-so-distant future -- a nuclear device will detonate in Europe, or North America, or the Middle East. And it will be a direct result of the Clinton legacy. And on that forsaken day, a lot of people in the world -- liberals and conservatives alike -- will be longing for the good old days of President George W. Bush.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Rocket Scientists in the Media

Masterminds of Terror: The Truth Behind the Most Devastating Attack The World Has Ever SeenI wonder if any of the mainstream news outlets can spend about ninety seconds considering the following news articles that have been reported (separately) over the last several days:

UCLA Daily Bruin: IED Detonated near UCLA: "...the bomb squad arrived at 527 Midvale Ave. to find “an improvised explosive device” in the building’s open-air courtyard, said Grace Brady, a spokeswoman for the LAPD..."

News 11: Explosives Found near Georgia Tech Dorms: "Three explosive devices found in a courtyard between two Georgia Tech dormitories on the East Campus Monday morning were part of a “terrorist act,” an Atlanta police official said..."

Dallas Morning News: Media might be missing a story and ignoring a terrorist: "... On Oct. 1, as the Oklahoma Sooners hosted Kansas State in front of 84,000 fans, University of Oklahoma student Joel Hinrichs III blew himself up outside the stadium. There is evidence that he sought to enter the game and was turned away by security after refusing to allow his backpack to be searched. Some minutes later, that backpack, containing the chosen explosive of shoe bomber Richard Reid and the London subway bombers, exploded, killing Mr. Hinrichs as he sat on a bench..."

Yes, the gasbags at the New York Times -- genius op-ed columnists like former theater critic Frank Rich and uber-feminist Maureen Dowd -- can't let up on their bloviating anti-Bush agenda for a moment to ruminate on real stories.

Requiring all the mental gymnastics of adding two and two, stringing together a common thread between these stories is well beyond the mainstream media's rocket scientists. And, besides, it might make clear that President Bush was deadly serious when he stated that we're at war. After all, that message isn't on point for the Mediacrats.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Keep drivin' that Hummer

Beyond Oil : The View from Hubbert's PeakInteresting article from the Rocky Mountain News (hat tip: PoliPundit):

Eight U.S. companies have filed applications with the federal government to lease land in Colorado for oil-shale development, a sign that oil producers again are ready to gamble some 23 years after the last boom went bust.

The government said it will tread carefully, since it doesn’t want to repeat the oil shale boom-and-bust cycles of the 1970s and 1980s that almost devastated the Western Slope’s economy.

But with crude oil above $66 a barrel at the close of trading Tuesday, oil shale is a promising alternative to crude. The Green River shale deposits in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming are estimated to contain 1.5 trillion to 1.8 trillion barrels of oil, and while not all of it can be recovered, half that amount is nearly triple the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.

Before we start breakdancing, though, it's worth noting that several companies (like EnergyTec [EYTC]*) have been working diligently on freeing oil from the Wyoming area for quite some time. It ain't as easy as it might appear at first blush.

With industrialized and emerging countries all pursuing limited supplies of oil (and none of them quite as concerned with ecological damage as most in the U.S.), it's high time government eased exploration, refining, and alternative energy restrictions. It's not just good policy - it's a matter of national security.

*Full disclosure: yes, I am an investor in EYTC.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Hinrichs and Shrapnel

Had an interesting thought last night: there's a way to conclusively prove Joel Henry Hinrichs III was a suicide bomber bent on killing as many OU football fans as possible. I'd heard reports that trees in the area of the explosion were pockmarked with holes, as if from shrapnel. Were that the case, it would prove -- without a shadow of a doubt -- that Hinrichs had intended to kill dozens.

Blogger Acorns-from-an-Okie had similar thoughts. He stopped by the scene and took a few photos. His conclusion:

I (as definitely a non-forensic-science-type-guy) was not able to see any evidence of shrapnel or anything that would make the bomb explosive device more lethal.

Conclusion: while there's apparently no easy way to prove that Hinrichs was out to kill lots of people, a lack of shrapnel alone doesn't tell us a thing. Why, for instance, did he attempt to buy quantities of ammonium nitrate several days prior to the explosion? A lack of shrapnel points only to a lack of bomb-making skill or a need to transfer the device (say, from a backpack to a vest -- as has been reported).

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Here be good readin'

Carefully hand-selected for your reading consumption, a cornucopia of vignettes designed to enlighten the open-minded and infuriate the liberal:

Victor Davis Hanson, writing in National Review:

...The old debate whether Saddam Hussein was involved with al Qaeda is now calcified. Liberal conventional wisdom denies any such linkage since there is no firm evidence that Saddam knew of, or was involved in, the September 11 attacks. Thus most on the left ignore entirely that Ansar al-Islam was doing Saddam's dirty work in fighting the Kurds, that Abu Nidal and Abu Abbas resided in Baghdad, that Saddam openly harbored Abdul Rahman Yasin and Ahmed Hikmat Shakir who were connected to the effort in 1993 to blow up the World Trade Center and various anti-American plots, and that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi fled Afghanistan to the sanctuary of Iraq.

No matter. That was then, this is now — and there is no denying that al-Zarqawi is conducting al-Qaedist operations in Iraq, or that the sort of people who attacked us on September 11 are the sort of people now flocking to the Sunni Triangle and often dying at the hands of U.S. military forces. Everyone can agree on that.

The "flypaper" exegesis — that Iraq has become a magnetized burial ground pulling in wannabe al Qaedists — is widely dismissed as unsophisticated and yokelish. But we saw the same phenomenon on the Afghan border in late 2001 where the Pakistani madrassas thinned out as jihadists went over the mountains to the Taliban's aid — only to be bombed to smithereens, the survivors limping back to warn others to give up such a holy trek....

And today's Urban Legend, courtesy of SRT's collection of said legends:

URBAN LEGEND: The President and his administration intentionally misled the country into war with Iraq--and the "16 words" that appeared in the 2003 State of the Union are the best proof of it. In the words of Senator Ted Kennedy, "The gross abuse of intelligence was on full display in the President's State of the Union ... when he spoke the now infamous 16 words: 'The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.'.... As we all now know, that allegation was false...."

REALITY: On July 14, 2004--after a nearly half-year investigation--a special panel reported to the British Parliament that British intelligence had indeed concluded that Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy uranium from Africa. The Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction, chaired by Lord Buffer, summarized: "It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999. The British government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium.... The statement in President Bush's State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that 'The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa' was well-founded."

Oh, but I'm sure Saddam's uranium was intended for peaceful purposes. Shhhhh. No one tell the Mediacrats. They can't be bothered with this story, because Tom Delay's alleged involvement in a trumped-up fund-raising tussle is really, truly more important.

Speaking of which: George Will recently described a surefire solution to poverty in America. And it's one that is certain to be ignored -- in every respect -- by the Mediacrats.

...last Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois's freshman Democrat, [had] the requisite lament about the president's inadequate "empathy" and an amazing criticism of the government's "historic indifference" and its "passive indifference" that "is as bad as active malice." The senator, 44, is just 30 months older than the "war on poverty" that President Johnson declared in January 1964. Since then the indifference that is as bad as active malice has been expressed in more than $6.6 trillion of anti-poverty spending, strictly defined.

The senator is called a "new kind of Democrat," which often means one with new ways of ignoring evidence discordant with old liberal orthodoxies about using cash - much of it spent through liberalism's "caring professions" - to cope with cultural collapse. He might, however, care to note three not-at-all recondite rules for avoiding poverty: Graduate from high school, don't have a baby until you are married, don't marry while you are a teenager. Among people who obey those rules, poverty is minimal....

I saw a great sign over at SRT. It was a sign held by a counter-protester, possibly in one of the Sheehan media-circus events.

It simply read:





You could also list the war on poverty (e.g., the Welfare Reform act of 1996, utterly successful by every measure and egregiously opposed by the Mediacratic leadership) as well as a host of other issues.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to question the Left's litany of failures over the last half-century. Which begs the question: why are they still using the same play-book? No matter, here are some results. Courtesy of PoliPundit, witness the progression of Democratic power in Congress, "ever since the high water mark of the FDR-era coalition":

...(for the US Senate)...

68 seats - 1965.
61 seats - 1975.
47 seats - 1985.
48 seats - 1995.
44 seats - 2005.

...(and for the House of Representatives)...

295 seats - 1965.
291 seats - 1975.
253 seats - 1985.
204 seats - 1995.
202 seats - 2005.

That’s despite the media, the FDR-era voter blocs, the public-sector unions, non-voting conservatives, the Democrat money machines, those bogus “opinion polls,” bogus “exit polls,” and those 18-22 year-old “librulz,” who get whipped up into frenzies by the Ward Churchills and Paul Krugmans of the world, and who then march off to the wrong precincts to vote against those evil conservatives...

Furthermore, here are two numbers you won’t see if you’re getting your political analyses from people who tend to get fawning interviews by the Pravda-Media:


A grand total of nine incumbent Republican House members have lost re-election bids since the 2000 election cycle, *inclusive*... Ever since the re-apportionment of the U.S. House following the 1990 Census... the Democrats have lost a grand total of 65 net House seats.


Just keep those raw numbers in mind when next August rolls around, and the usual suspects begin screaming and shouting the media is poised to re-take the House.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Francisco Franco still dead: MSM ignores Suicide Bomber

There are more startling and credible stories circulating around the death of bomber Joel Henry Hinrichs III, the Oklahoma U. student who blew himself into smithereens just outside a packed stadium last weekend.

One commentator on OU's FanBlogs notes:

Some local speculation that I consider reliable after I've sorted through rumors and media reports.

Bomber attempted to enter the stadium and was turned away when he refused to allow his backpack to be searched.

He then went to an area where charter buses park. A bus driver had a conversation with him while driver smoked cigarette, driver was returning to his bus when the explosion occurred, knocking driver off his feet.

Evidently, bomber was transferring explosive from a backpack to a vest when they exploded. The explosives in backpack failed to ignite and then were subsequenlty detonated by police later that evening ( which accounts for second blast heard nd reported Saturday night ) .

Hinrich visiting the Mosque or any Muslim connections are not established. I've seen reliable reports that conflict as to Hinrich's involvement at the Mosque. Respected Muslim OU professor says no, some media reports say yes.

One thing for sure, there's still more to come out about this and I'm puzzled by the national media ignoring this story.


And Tap Scott's CopyDesk claims to have that very same eye-witness account, abridged here for readability:

"...Saturday night I walked out of the OU stadium with about three minutes left on the clock bringing the game to the half. I am a part-time driver for a bus company and decided to go back to the bus... Prior to leaving the game, I sat on a cart and chatted with one of the security guards and would catch a glimpse of the game on the Big screen at the South end of the field. When I decided to leave, I stopped and talked to a very tall gate keeper and another young lady who was also a security officer...

From there, I proceeded to the Bus parking area. As I walked up to the buses, I stopped behind a gentleman sitting on the bench at the end of the last bus. I was looking for someone to talk to because that is just who I am. He appeared to me to be asleep, so I decided not to share with him about the beautiful new bus I was driving. It was then I made my way toward my bus. While walking, I heard another bus with its engine running and so I decided to see if I could find another driver.

After taking just a few more steps, I was hit from behind with a huge concussion. It didn't knock me down but it did push me forward. When I turned around, I saw a huge plume of smoke rising from what seemed to me to be coming from the back of the last bus, so I immediately ran to see if there was any danger of a fire.

When I got to the bus, I found nothing that indicated the bus had exploded. It was only after I turned around that I saw what had really happened. I have been instructed by the FBI not to give out any details of what I saw..."

Just a suicide? Do you really need ammonium nitrate fertilizer... just to off yourself? A car idling in a garage or a .38 special would seem to be sufficient. Channel 9 News reports that Police have confirmed Hinrichs attempted to buy quantities of the fertilizer:

Norman police confirmed Thursday that they ran a routine investigation of a 21-year-old University of Oklahoma student who blew himself up on campus Saturday night. [...Officials said...] an off-duty, plainclothes officer overheard a conversation Joel Henry Hinrichs III had with the proprietor of a Norman feed store last Thursday at 4 p.m. The conversation centered on a purchase of ammonium nitrate fertilizer... the off-duty officer reported that Hinrichs asked about different types of fertilizer and the concentration of ammonium nitrate in each.

Ammonium nitrate was the primary ingredient in the bomb that killed 168 people in the explosion that brought down the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

Okay, so he couldn't build a McVeigh-style bomb and raised some suspicions in doing so. And to reiterate the fact that it wasn't just a suicide, OU President David Boren stated:

"Passouts were suspended during halftime for security reasons in order to enhance safety for the fans. A second device which was found during the initial search has been detonated."

Two devices.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, writing on the Counterterrorism Blog wonders aloud:

Perhaps Hinrichs's attendance of the mosque that Moussaoui attended and his attempt to purchase ammonium nitrate have reasonable explanations unrelated to terrorism. (Or perhaps the sources are wrong about this information; one hesitation I have about drawing conclusions in this case is that many of the reported facts are based on fairly sketchy sourcing.) However, there's enough to this story that it deserves more attention. It would be significant if Hinrichs had been motivated by radical Islam...

The Enid (OK) News & Eagle boils it down to some critical questions for OU President David Boren:

...the information that is being ferreted out by the media is starting to paint a disturbing picture. Why would Hinrichs try to buy large quantities of a known explosive material? What was his motive for committing the suicide in such a public and dramatic way? What kinds of associations has he been involved with recently and what were his political views?

If a suicide bomber detonates himself in the midwest, far, far away from New York, did it really happen?

I hear crickets chirping.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Non-story #8,604: Hafnium shipment intercepted at Bulgarian Border

Osama's Revenge: THE NEXT 9/11 : What the Media and the Government Haven't Told YouThe Sunday Herald of Scotland reports another interesting little story that the Mediacrats haven't deemed lede-worthy. A shipment of around ten pounds of hafnium, which can be used to enrich nuclear material, was intercepted by Bulgarian customs officials late last month.

Where was it headed? The chief of the Bulgarian police stated that is was destined for the Middle East, brokered by the Romanian mafia. Add it all up: organized crime, the Middle East, and lots of interesting toys from the old Soviet bloc. Nah... that's not worth reporting.

Where are the "journalists"? Where, indeed? Hey, does someone want to wake up Andy Rooney and give him the news?

Iran's quest to become a nuclear power has galvanised the Balkan mafias, security sources have warned following the discovery of potentially lethal nuclear enrichment material in the region. Last week, Bulgarian customs officials prevented a car from crossing into Romania after discovering 3.5kg of hafnium, a metallic element that is used in the nuclear enrichment process and which could potentially be employed in the manufacture of radioactive "dirty bombs".

Sunday Herald: Police fear Balkan mafia eager to sell A-bomb materials to Iran

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A suicide bomber at Oklahoma University

Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News (Paperback)The president of Oklahoma University -- one David Boren -- would have you believe that the late Joel Henry Hinrichs III was simply an emotionally disturbed individual. Never mind that Hinrichs was within 100 yards from a stadium, which was filled to capacity with 84,000 football fans, when he detonated the bomb he was carrying.

Here are some related non-stories that the Mediacrats haven't been digging into:

1) "The Daily Oklahoman is reporting authorities found a large cache of bomb-making materials in Hinrichs' apartment. The cache is so big that the Oklahoman quoted one of the officials on the scene as estimating a full 24 hours would be required to cart away all of the material." -- Newsbusters

2) "Joel Hinrichs attended a mosque down the street from his apartment. His roommate is Pakistani and his identity has not yet been released..." -- Gateway Pundit

3) Hinrichs tried to buy ammonium nitrate, the substance used to level the Edward P. Murrah Federal Building: "Dustin Ellison, the general manager of Ellison Feed & Seed on Porter Avenue, said that a man matching Hinrichs' description had come into the store days before he blew himself up on OU's campus. Ellison said the man asked about ammonium nitrate, but couldn't offer a reason why he needed it. After the bombing, Ellison said he thought nothing of it. However, when he saw Hinrichs' photo, it triggered his memory...." -- Unattributed Yahoo News Report

4) Hinrichs' possible Jihadi connections are also outlined in this News Oklahoma report (video).

As Newsbusters notes, the proximity of Hinrichs to the crowd is highly suspicious. As an OU student, he would probably have had access to the student section. Is there a more target-rich environment than a stadium crammed with people? Not that I can think of.

The Mediacrats are, true to form, out to lunch on yet another critical story. If anyone is still wondering about shrinking subscription rates and falling Nielsen ratings, wonder no more.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Conservative angst on Miers

Men In Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying AmericaThere's been a righteous diversity of opinion (okay, some would call it an uproar) among the right-of-center blogs concerning the appointment of Harriet Miers. There have been a host of negative reactions and a smattering of positive ones.

John at Powerline: "A disappointment."
Michelle Malkin: "Utterly underwhelmed."
John Yoo: "Opportunity squandered."
Ankle-Biting Pundits: "Is this what we fought for?"
John Hawkins: "A disaster."
Junkyard Blog: "Miers disappoints."

The most optimistic conservative I've seen so far is the effervescent Hugh Hewitt.

I hope the disappointed right will get over its sulk quickly as the fight over Miers is going to get very ugly very quickly as both the secular left and the anti-religious left realize that the president has nominated a thorough-going Evangelical of character and tough disposition. The light is going to go off over there that the president's eyebrows went up when Harry Reid scribbled Miers' name on the Minority Leader's list of acceptable nominees.

Taking the ball and going home because the nominee doesn't know you by your first name is hardly principle at work, and the refusal to see what she brings to the table isn't argument. It is entertaining, and also a sort of wish for a return to the days of old when the president was a Democrat and brick throwing made life as a pundit easy...

...See also The American Thinker, which is simply brilliant. By day's end there will be great and spreading fear on the left, and perhaps some genuine remorse among the shoot first and think later right.

Give Hugh credit. At crunch-time, Hewitt's gut reactions have frequently been brutally accurate. Consider the forces that he mustered -- in a matter of minutes -- during the 2004 elections. Remember? The exit polls that showed a clear Kerry lead? Amidst the wailing and gnashing of teeth, Hugh's voice was a clarion call, unequivocally stating that no matter the reasons, the exit polls were bogus. And while many others were crowing catastrophe, he had already declared, "checkmate."

Volokh Conspiracy notes that Miers appears pro-Second Amendment... always a good sign. And Alexander McClure puts the dot on the exclamation point:

All I need to do is quote from her remarks this morning:

“The wisdom of those who drafted our Constitution... have proven truly remarkable. It is the responsibility of every generation to be true to the founders’ vision of the proper role of the courts... If confirmed, I recognize that I will have a tremendous responsibility to... help ensure that the courts meet their obligation to strictly apply the law and the Constitution.”

What more do you need?

Would it be trite to say, "indeed" ?

Monday, October 03, 2005

CBS online: bias confirmed

In honor of Hugh Hewitt's ongoing debate with CBS over its alleged bias in listing journo-bloggers, I decided to run the same test on CBS News as I did the MSM at large a few days ago. The results? I laughed. I cried. But it didn't change my opinion much.

Democrat: 81,200
Republican: 65,400
Percentage of articles that mention Democrats, versus percentage that mention Republicans: 55%

Liberal: 11,600
Conservative: 33,400
Percentage of times the subjective label "Conservative" is employed, rather than "Liberal": 74%

Left-wing: 359
Right-wing: 506
Percentage of times the subjective label "Right-wing" is employed, rather than "Left-wing": 58%

The phrase, "CBS - you just got pwnt" comes to mind.

And don't forget to check out the original survey, which appears in much prettier fashion and covers the general print media. Spoiler (shhh, don't tell anyone): the Mediacrats are demonstrably biased.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

RadioBlogger: dropping (metaphorical) bodies like John Gotti

Unreliable Sources: A Guide to Detecting Bias in News MediaThere's been some exceptional work over at Radioblogger of late. RadioBlogger, working with Hugh Hewitt, offers outstanding transcripts of discussions with various media luminaries.

Recent conversations relate to the delayed Katrina response. Christopher Cooper, in Friday's Wall Street Journal, reports some startling news. And it's news that you probably haven't heard via conventional channels:

One of the mysteries of the fumbling federal response to... Katrina has been why the military, which was standing by, and federal disaster agencies, which had pre-positioned supplied in the area, didn't move in more quickly and with greater force. Senior government officials now say that one major reason for the delay was that they believed they had to plan for a far more complicated military operation, rather than... [just] a relief effort.

[False] Accounts from local officials of widespread looting and unspeakable violence [Ed: sloppily relayed by the mainstream media ] -- which now appear to have been significantly overstated -- raised the specter that soldiers might be forced to confront or even kill American citizens. The prospect of such a scenario added political and tactical complications to the job of filling the city with troops and set back relief efforts by days... [FEMA] faulted a "hysteric media" for passing on such [bogus] stories...

In other words, the mainstream media -- through its sheer incompetence -- helped cause the humanitarian crisis it so stridently decries. Look for a related Sixty Minutes  expose, oh, about the same time Jessica Simpson pulls down a Nobel Prize for mathematics.

RadioBlogger captures some related conversation. James Lileks:

HH: Now let me talk about the media and New Orleans. I just did this...oh, it was so classic PBS, sitting around the table talking with three people about something that nobody's going to watch. But it was fun. And they're defending the media down there, and you know, the slashed baby throats, and the forty people in the freezer, et cetera, as, you know, they were the captives of Ray Nagin. What do you make of this?

JL: I think, I'm going to defend the media here, because I think that if somebody runs screaming out of the dome, shouting that a giant octopus is eating people in the upper deck, I think it's the duty of the media to report that. Because if the media went inside, they might be eaten by the giant octopus. So I'm on their side in this one.

When Lileks breaks off a riff like that, it can probably only be equalled by P. Diddy or, perhaps, Mark "the Genius" Steyn:

And one thing I've learned since September 11th, is that a lot of things that 90% of journalists claim as fact are not fact. I mean, it started on about September the 12th, when people said we couldn't invade Afghanistan, because of the quote brutal Afghan winter...

...[if you're in the mainstream media], when you get to Iraq, you're supplied generally with a translator. The big news organizations have translators. Who are those translators? The ones that CNN and ABC and a lot of the big newspapers are using are actually the old Baath party translators.

...I think the Democrats for years now have made the mistake of... because they're not great issues people, and they make the mistake of, as they say in English soccer, playing the man, not the ball.... and they get rid of the guy, and some other guy nobody's ever heard of takes over, and life goes on, and the ideas, which is what's important about conservatism, those ideas stay strong. And until Democrats learn to stop wasting their time trying to do a... take a contract out on some peripheral political figure and actually attack the ideas, they're always going to be losing elections.

In his casual and exquisitely succint manner, Hugh Hewitt then boils the underlying truth to its purest distillation.

...We had all the resources of the American media combined in New Orleans. Everything they had, they threw at it. With the help of locals like you and national networks, print, media, radio, everything, not one outlet could get inside the convention center or the Superdome to do accurate reporting. What's that tell us about the trustworthyness of American media, when it's far away from home in a war zone like Iraq? Isn't that in fact an obvious admission that not only can they not do the job in New Orleans, we can't expect them to do the job of accurate reporting in a war zone like Iraq?

Indeed. Go ye and read of RadioBlogger, for it is good. Just do it. You know you want to.

Update: Welcome, RadioBlogger regulars! Related reading in these parts: The Stockdale Paradox and the Modern Left and Is the media biased? Google News has the answer.