Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rev. Wright is a racist, pure and simple

The Reverend Wright and Senator Obama have to deal with being black in American in very different ways. The Rev. Wright can very comfortably remain within his black identity and preach black isolation and hatred for whites. Sen. Obama must find a way to reconcile his identification with American blacks and the other 88% of the country who he needs in order to be elected.

I do not envy the Senator his position. He, no doubt, aligned himself with Trinity Church and the Rev. Wright in order to fit in his community and further his political career in Chicago. This served him well when he was a local politician and state senator, but now that he is running for a national office what benefitted him then is now a detriment. He has had to distance himself strongly from the Rev. Wright, but this has alienated some of the black community who supported him.

There is perhaps a positive in this brouhaha in that the discussion of race in America will now not be one sided. The past few decades have seen a racial discussion that basically devolved to “it is all whiteys fault and we have no responsibility for division.” Now the discussion has fallen down to the black community to sort out. Anyone who argues that the Rev. Wright’s views are not racist is promoting an agenda that does not hold up to argument. Making statements that the U.S. government is responsible for AIDS in order to kill blacks, that we are a terrorist nation, and that Louis Farrakhan is one of the great voices of the 20th and 21st century is just crazy. Then top that with the whole commentary about black brain physiology being different from Caucasians and Asians and you have certifiable bigotry.

This man is speaking from a place that is just not acceptable, and that he got cheers from the crowd at the National Press Club is disturbing. I am not saying that there is not racism in this country, clearly there is, but we rarely here it so openly displayed as we do when the Rev. Wright speaks. His speech sounded like the black version of a KKK rally. I know racist individuals, but I cannot think of ever encountering a single racial institution or having ever heard racism expressed in an open forum. I guess that makes the redneck Texan less of a bigot than the good Dr. of Divinity from Chicago.

I only hope that this is an opportunity for a real discussion about race in America.

End of rant.

No recession, yet

The U.S. economy grew at 0.6% in the first quarter, matching the fourth quarter of 2007. This is an anemic growth rate. Despite all of the negatives dragging on the economy (housing deflation, high fuel costs, high food costs) we have still not entered into a period of contraction.

It would be nice to see some positive economic news that might signal a return to a period of higher growth. But it is hard to see any.

Locally, the economy still bustles. High oil prices are good for west Texas, and despite the high costs of fuel and fertilizer, high prices for crops is also a boon to our region. If we have a year of rain even close to 2007 this should be a good year for the farmer. With the added benefit of perhaps being able to get the wheat crop out before it rots in the field (2007's good crop largely spoiled in the field due to excess moisture.)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

ID to vote is ok

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Indiana law requiring identification in order to vote. Crawford v. Marion County Election Board was decided by a 6-3 majority. If you follow the court you know who the dissenting justices were (Breyer, Souter and Ginsburg.) It is now legal for the states to pass a statute requiring positive identification in order to cast a ballot. The purpose is to discourage voter fraud. Oddly this is a measure supported by Republicans, and vilified by Democrats. It does not seem onerous to require identification to vote, when you must have it to write a check, drive a car, buy a drink or board a plane. Remember, it is not necessary to be a citizen to have a drivers license, so ID is not dispositive of the right to vote. It merely verifies that the voter's name is the same as that on the registration.

I think the real problem the Democratic Party has with this is that it makes it much more difficult to commit vote fraud. That is the same problem the Party has with electronic voting machines. There is a complaint that the machines can be manipulated, but no one ever demonstrates how to do so in a way that is not obvious. I might be wrong about this, a highly doubtful possibility, but in actual cases of proven voter fraud, it is about 90% likely the fraud advantages a Democrat. (I am not talking about the constant accusations by Democrats that Republicans commit fraud, which never prove out, but actual litigated and proven cases.)

It is about time some action be taken to clean up the voting process. Election fraud is not a problem in many areas, but where it is a problem, it is huge. Districts where more votes are cast than there are residents of voting age, double voting in New York and Florida by retirees, etc.

Vote fraud has been with us since the country began and, I am sure, will continue, but photo identification is a step in the right direction.

Don't drink and zoo

Proof that different countries have different mores. I like a drink, but it has never occurred to me to go to the zoo drunk.

Maybe Stephen Colbert is right.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Rev. Wright speaks out

Reverend Jeremiah Wright in response to this question, “You have said that the media have taken you out of context. Can you explain what you meant in a sermon shortly after 9/11 when you said the United States had brought the terrorist attacks on itself? Quote, "America's chickens are coming home to roost."

Rev. Wright: “You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back on you. Those are biblical principles, not Jeremiah Wright bombastic, divisive principles.”

This answer has no context because the Reverend provided no context. He cited the Golden Rule and then said this. Obviously he considers the U.S. to be a terrorist nation. What terrorism is he referring to? The man gets a free ride on questions because he is self-centered, egomaniacal and most importantly, speaking from the black tradition. What a load of bullshit. It is easy to see someone’s true nature by observing their denials. These are exactly bombastic, divisive principles.

This man is working very hard to undermine the candidacy of Senator Obama. What motivates him is hard to discern, but surely he knows poking his finger in the eye of non-black Americans is not helpful to his parishioner. The man is another Sharpton.

The entire transcript of his speech at the National Press Club is available here.

End of rant.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

How high is too high

In an interview with FoxNews', Chris Wallace, Senator Obama said, "I don’t get too high when I’m high." Rarely do you hear a frank discussion of drug use, and this is certainly not such a discussion either. He was talking about emotional highs and lows. But this is just the kind of comment than can be taken out of context and used improperly. It won't surprise me when this starts being emailed around the world as proof that he is a drug user. Just like the canards that he took his oath on a Quran and that he is a Muslim.

Evil Texans

Why do I hate so much on people from NYC and California? Here is the explanation for NYC. Michael Hirsh condescends to my whole cultural base and world view. We have a “rather savage, unsophisticated set of mores.” The nation has lost the balance that is brought by “a more diplomatic, communitarian Yankee sensibility.” “On foreign policy, the realism and internationalism of the Eastern elitist tradition once kept the Southern-frontier warrior culture and Wilsonian messianism in check. Now the latter two, in toxic combination, have taken over our national dialogue, and the Easterners are running for the hills.” And of course we Texans are the worst; “In Texas in particular, Lieven writes, we can see "the mingling of the Southern and Western traditions" that made its first appearance during Jackson's presidency, and which today so defines our current politics, culture, and foreign policy.”

You see the Eastern elites world view is correct, and those of us who hold other views are just plain wrong and rapidly destroying the whole country and the world. Never mind that the awful Scots-Irish point of view has been transcendent for the past three decades.

You will note the Southernization of our national politics at the hands of the GOP. This despite that fact that the last three Democratic Presidents have been Johnson (Texas), Carter (Georgia) and Clinton (Arkansas), but it is the GOP that has Southernized national politics.

I certainly do not agree with everything that the national GOP stands for or does, but I am proud of my ancestry and of being a Texan. And I do take it as an insult when some jackass at “Newsweek” assumes he is superior and more sophisticated because my views differ from his. Just one more example of elitism and condescension toward those of us who just don’t realize we are stupid and should listen to our betters, because they will look out for us and make sure we don’t stupidly do something in our own interests.

End of rant.

(Emphasis added.)

Friday, April 25, 2008

I read articles from "The Guardian", "The Times", "Financial Times" and sometimes "The Sun", as well as the occasional piece from Australia, because it is nice to get a perspective of America from the outside. (Cousin Mark is in shock I'm sure.)

This opinion piece in todays "Times" is interesting in that it rings true. I definitely agree that for all the many flaws of the Republican party the primary produced the only electable candidate in John McCain. He is not a right-wing conservative, he doesn't have the baggage of the lunatic religious right and he is on the sane side of the immigration issue.

Go. Read.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

We're all bitter now

It seems what Senator Obama really meant by his “bitter” comment was that small town American’s who are falling behind economically do not vote their economic interest when they vote Republican; they are hewing more closely to cultural issues.

I will accept that. All he needs to do now is explain why the wealthy in Manhattan and Hollywood support Democrats who do not share their economic interests. Could it be that they find cultural issues more important? But of course they are so much more intelligent.


How McCain was selected

We all came together…Republicans came together; "the Mexican haters, the Muslim haters ,and the oil executives, and the gun nuts, and the gay bashers, and the home schoolers, and the clinic bombers and we put aside our differences,... all except for the Ron Paul nuts." (Profanity)

It's the little things that count

Low-information signaling is the use of minor cues to form impressions about political candidates. Joe Klein of Time dismisses these as “stupid things”, but he is dismissing the actual importance of this signaling. Low-information signaling is the actual information that leaks through to the public around the framing the candidate and his campaign create. His examples of stupid things are whether you know how to roll a bowling ball or wear an American flag pin. All of the references he uses are to perceptions of recent Democratic presidential candidates; Dukakis in a tankers helmet, John Kerry wind surfing and Bill Clinton eating junk food at McDonalds. I suspect we all get an image of the three of them when we read that and the only positive one is that Clinton is a regular guy.

Journalists like to dismiss this type of evaluation as unimportant because it is not issue oriented. Samuel Popkin, a political scientist, in “The Reasoning Voter”, implies that low-information signaling is an important part of a broader definition of issues. Voters look to this information to determine if the candidate is someone they like. The elites like to dismiss the importance of the average voter looking at a candidate and making a mental note of whether this is a person they would like to sit down and have a beer with. In the three examples above it seems the answer is two no's and a yes. It would be embarrassing to be seen with Dukakis, Kerry is just not average enough to relate too and Clinton would be fun to drink beer with.

The low-information signaling is used to square the candidate’s public persona with what seems to be his/her real personality. This is why Senator Obama is having a difficult time shaking the Rev. Wright controversy and his comment about the bitter small town folk. These two things do not square at all with what he says from the campaign hustings, but when aligned with other low-information signals they have a ring of truth that someone is trying to obscure.

This is not something that any of us is immune to. It is likely (about a 75% probability) that the party affiliation will determine our eventual vote, but in the primary these signals come into play. How else can Senator Clinton’s loss of the nomination be explained? She is, based on resume, the better candidate, but almost no one sees her personality as aligned with her official persona. This is what has hurt her. The “sniper fire in Bosnia” comments openly exposed what had been low-information signaling. People just do not trust her.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Beware the penis snatcher

Forget about climate change, food shortages, high fuel costs and the election; this is important. What if it spreads beyond the Congo? Every man should be concerned about this. And is someone stockpiling penises? Imagine the ramifications. What if a sorcerer attains a large penis advantage? Something will have to be done about the penis gap!

Frankenstein food is good for you

Genetically modified (GM) crops are the answer to much of the world hunger problem. According to Paul Driessen quoting Norman Bourlag, the only way to feed the world’s population is through chemical fertilizers and genetically modified crops.

"If we only use organic fertilisers and natural methods on arable land, we can only feed four billion people," Driessen's editorial quotes Borlaug as saying.

This is too important an issue to be left in the hands of anti-progress environmentalist groups. Crops and livestock have been genetically engineered for millennia. Prior to the use of modern genetic techniques modification was accomplished by selective breeding. Positive characteristics were selected and plants and animals carrying those characteristics were bred, while inferior specimens were culled.

The modern GM crops are simply modified using a different methodology. This speeds up the process and is more precise than selective breeding. It is also less, not more, likely to create an undesirable mutation. It is hard for me to fathom the fear of GM foods unless it is the fear of disastrous mutation.

The EU needs to wake up and allow their farmers to help in feeding the world. U.S. farm policy is awful, but it looks like high intelligence compared to EU policies. EU farmers should be allowed to grow GM crops.

End of rant.

Hungry? drink ethanol

The result of stupid energy policy is starvation for poor third-worlders.

The U.S. is paying large subsidies for ethanol, which means that the price of corn has more than doubled as demand has increased. Crop land that can be planted in corn is being switched from other crops. Corn used for food and feed is being used to make ethanol. Grains that could be used for food and feed are not being grown in deference to ethanol. It is almost criminal what Congress has done in support of a dubious fuel.

One gallon of ethanol requires 1.35 gallons of fossil fuel to produce; that is the fuel used to plant, cultivate, harvest and manufacture. Not a lot of gain there. On top of that the carbon footprint of ethanol production may be greater than that of gasoline; the science is far from conclusive either way. What is environmentally sound about this practice? It is merely a case of farmers gaining money, and environmentalists getting warm fuzzies, at the expense of everyone else in this country, and now it appears, the rest of the world.

It is time to revisit a stupid energy plan. Ethanol subsidies should be eliminated. Let the market determine if this is a viable fuel option.

End of rant.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

To the four winds

This afternoon I met, on Highway 83 moving south, three buses, escorted by three Texas DPS troopers and three ambulances. Three buses will hold somewhere between 70 and 110 passengers. It appears Tom Green County has emptied the Coliseum and transferred the children of the YFZ Ranch all over the state of Texas.

Monday, April 21, 2008


King Abdullah II shows the expression any reasonable man would if he had to listen to President Carter maunder on. I bet his appointment secretary is in deep shit for this one.

San Jacinto Day

Today is a significant day in Texas and American history. On this day in 1836 Sam Houston's Texians caught Santa Anna's Mexican army literally sleeping; they were at afternoon siesta when the attack came. Santa Anna was said to be entertaining Emily Morgan, the Yellow Rose of Texas, in his tent. The Texians suffered two killed while several hundred Mexicans were killed, and Santa Anna was captured. Since he was the dictator of Mexico, Houston forced him to recognize Texas' independence in return for his release. Thus was born the Republic of Texas.

This event led eventually to the Mexican War. Texas was annexed into the United States in 1845 and Mexico did not recognize Texan sovereignty. This led to the conflict in 1846-1848. As settlement for the war the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo led to the Mexican Cession. The Mexican Cession added approximately a third to the size of the then United States; added territory included California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, parts of Texas, Colorado, Utah and Idaho.

The events of April 21, 1836 truly had long range affects both for the U.S. and Mexico, and all because Santa Anna did not prepare to defend his army.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Big empty

The weekend was spent in suburban Rule, Texas. The denizens refer to the area as the big empty. If you've ever been there it's not hard to see why. It is possible to see for several miles in any given direction, and the wind does blow a little bit. This is the southern plains and there is not much to see but wheat, oats and cotton; for miles in any direction. This is farm country and the people do definitely cling to their guns, religion and antipathy to others. This is America. The America that Woody Guthrie was writing about in "This Land is Your Land."

It is not a world for the faint of heart. If you live in the city it is almost impossible to imagine how wide open the country is. There are birds, snakes and coyotes, but trees are rather scarce. The saying when a blue norther is blowing is that, "there's nothing between here and the arctic circle but a barbed wire fence, and it has blown down."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

San Angelo is overwhelmed

I made the mistake of going to the county library this morning. I didn't think about what was going on at the courthouse; the library is just across the street south of the courthouse. Parking was at a premium as there were 14 broadcast trucks parked around the courthouse, plus many additional vans from radio and television news services.

Today was the day that the hearings for all of the 400 plus FLDS children were held. Each child is represented by an attorney serving as ad litum. The task of the ad litum is to represent the child's best interest. There can be nothing easy about recommending to the court that the child is better off back in the home they have known, or in the state's foster care system.

The FLDS is completely foreign to the common west Texas resident. The attorney generals of Utah and Arizona have prepared a primer that helps we "gentiles" to understand the FLDS society.

This is a rare instance when I don't have an opinion on what is going on. On the one hand it seems that there may be some abuse (underage pregnancy seems to make this clear), on the other hand this sect has a totally different culture than mainstream America. A hundred years ago it was not rare, perhaps uncommon, but not unheard of, for young teenage women to enter into marriage and bear children. I may be wrong, but from my reading of history, it was fairly common for women from 14 and up to marry and have families in Appalachia, up to the early part of the 20th century. The age of consent in Canada was 14 years until February 28th of THIS year (it is now 16). I can see where there might be difference of opinion based on religious beliefs.

All I can finally say is that I hope our legal system ends up doing the thing that is best for these children; whether that is returning them to the ranch in Eldorado or placing them in permanent custody of the State of Texas.

Careful who you associate with

Should we judge a candidate for high office by the company he/she keeps? Cousin Mark observes:

It does some (sic) strange to me that Obama has to take responsibility for anything anyone he's ever met has said.

There is some unfairness here. He is being smeared with his association with William Ayers, who as a member of the Weather Underground was a domestic terrorist, though it seems the association is tangential. They served on a board of directors together.

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright is an entirely different issue. There is clearly a close association between the Senator and the Reverend. Senator Obama was a member of the Reverend’s church for twenty years. It seems fair to wonder how the Senator could continue this association given the inflammatory things said in that church. Cousin Mark and I have both disassociated ourselves from religion that we find objectionable. This does not make us better than Senator Obama, but it begs the question why didn’t he leave this church and join another?

In an election the candidate needs to nuance his message for various audiences, this makes it difficult to know the real truth about character. That is why we have to look at the people that the candidate associates with. This is not unfair; it is the only way to get a true gauge of the person’s true self. It applies across the board, to left, right and center.

All I can say is that I might not have raised the issue with Rev. Wright himself, but I would not have been back in that church if he were preaching values I did not share. Life is too short to listen to objectionable crap every Sunday. I even bet there are many black churches in Chicago where the minister does not preach hatred of American, whites and western culture. That is why this issue won’t die. People just don’t understand how a person could continue to support, spiritually and monetarily, a man with whom he disagrees.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Obama again

It seems that, as Cousin Mark says, I am picking on Obama, but I am really trying hard to like him. But it seems that he is serving as an empty vessel into which everyone is pouring their hopes. The flaw here is that the vessel has begun speaking his mind, if only when he thinks that only sympathetic souls are listening. It is beginning to look like the Democrats are, again, going to nominate an unelectable individual; see McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis.

Senator Obama is an earnest idealist, but history does not bear out his speaking points. He has NEVER acted in a bipartisan manner in the Senate. His voting record is highly liberal, or I guess I’m supposed to say progressive since liberal is a dirty word; he is arrogant and can’t hide it; he is elitist; he is tainted by the Chicago political machine; he associates himself with a racist black theology (and he is not even authentically an American black). All of this adds up to the core Democrat vote in November and not much of the persuadable electorate; that damnable mid 40% level.

It is hard to imagine Senator McCain, with his long history in the public eye, ever producing anywhere near the negatives that Senator Obama is piling up.

I thought the Democrats would nominate Senator Clinton with her negatives of almost 50, (truly a disaster) but they may actually make a worse decision. Let us all hope that Senator Obama proves to be a better candidate than he looks to be today.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Kudos to the Texas bar

Lawyers are easily maligned, I certainly do my fair share. But as the courts, social services and legal community here in San Angelo (and more particularly Eldorado) are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of cases presented by the children of the FLDS, attorneys from all over the state are volunteering to do pro bono work on the behalf of the children.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have offered their services in these cases; you are a credit to your profession.


Someone asked why I included Megan McArdle in my blogroll, as she didn't seem to fit. Read her "Taxes Revolt" and perhaps it will be clear. That plus she is the tallest economics blogger out there. So, she is a woman I can look up to.

Hillary appears human

In this video Senator Clinton actually looks quite natural. To me most things she does appear calculated but this one looks very normal for her. And I say; good for her! She would do better if she appeared to be more like an average American instead of some annoying policy wonk and scold.

The food crisis

This article, by George Monbiot in the Guardian (a British rag), raises some interesting issues about the impending food crisis in the undeveloped parts of the world. He points out the obvious:
The World Bank points out that "the grain required to fill the tank of a sports utility vehicle with ethanol ... could feed one person for a year."
It is obvious, at least it is to me, that diverting food products to fuel is highly inefficient (it takes 1.3 gallons of fossil based fuel to create a gallon of biofuel) and, on top of driving up food costs, creates grain shortages in the parts of the world most dependent on grain for food.

Mr. Monbiot also suggests that the feeding of grain to animals is inefficient and adds to the shortage. This is no doubt correct, though I would question his conversion rate for beef animals. He cites a rate of some 8:1 and from what I remember from my animal science education, it was close to 3:1 thirty years ago, surely it is somewhat improved now. But it is not just meat production that requires grain. Dairy is perhaps the area where an 8:1 conversion rate applies, and even vegetarians (though not vegans) like milk and cheese.

He is not condoning a vegan lifestyle as it is clearly not a healthy route. Humans have not developed as vegans. Meat has been a part of the species diet for 500,000 years, so it is unlikely that the human omnivore can successfully convert to a vegan in even a few generations.

Of course we can eat range fed beef. This takes no grain production from the human food chain. Mr. Monbiot takes issue with this, as bovine flatulence and belching add, by his citation, 18% of the carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and he is apparently a global warming enthusiast. Range fed beef would be a good trade off as it not only does not use grain stocks, but it is less fatty and therefore should not contribute as heavily to coronary artery disease.

I don't have a solution for a potential food shortage, but I cannot fathom why we would convert food to fuel when there is still a highly adequate supply of fossil fuels. Seeking alternative energy sources is good and should be done, but not at the expense of people who need grain just to survive. Biofuel is not an energy plan, it is just feel good activity for people who don't think through the whole system.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

We are not worthy

“And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” Thus spake Lord Obama in reference to people who live in small towns.

The arrogance and condescension in that comment is breathtaking. First of all, how the hell would he know what it is like to live in a small town; he being of Chicago. Secondly, I assure you, having always lived in small towns, that the people living there are not in some way inferior, backwards rubes, as his comment implies. The mix of ignorance to sophistication is roughly the same as a metropolitan area. But interaction exists. In a city you can cling to your own group, in a small town you must mingle with others. To me that is a positive.

But what would I know. I bitterly cling to my guns and antipathy for people who aren’t like me.


End of rant.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

EJ knows all

Anyone who didn't vote for Senator Clinton is a misogynist. God forbid you have a political difference with her, it is all because she is a woman.

And I am a big fan of Elton John (for real) but who cares what some Brit has to say about our election?


My cousin Mark, who I dearly love, says he has pointed my blog out to some of his NJ friends. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess they will not agree with me on any political position I take.

Welcome to you all, and please keep reading and commenting. Contrary to some opinion I do like a good discussion, and I try not to be dismissive of any wrong headed ideas that may originate in the stagnating, liberal (oops, I mean progressive) part of these United States.

Since y'all don't really know me, I do have a highly developed sense of humor, so you can't take everything written here as a strongly held belief. But please, call me on anything you find flagrantly middle American (or as I prefer to call it common sense.) That would be things like the Constitution actually meaning what is written there, the right to keep what you have rightfully earned, the belief that the federal government is not actually looking out for my best interests (I am a middle aged, white, male; so I do realize that I represent everything that this country was founded to stand against), and a strongly held belief that western culture is a good thing.

And for those specific readers: you need to know how brave Mark is to admit at our family gatherings that he voted for Bill Clinton (TWICE!) and that he is currently a supporter of Barack Obama. We still love him, but are not sure why he is not in counseling for his disorder.


The drive from Bellville to La Grange on highway 159 is well worth the trip right now. That is the area with the best wildflower show that I saw on my trip. There are fields of pure pink!

For those of you who are not Texans or in Texas all I can say is; I'm sorry.

Crazy Mormons

Since all of these unfortunate children, 416 at the last count, have been brought to my hometown for shelter I guess I should comment. But what can be said. This "church", the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS), appear to violate state and federal law at every turn.

A sub-cult of a cult is still a cult? I think that the answer is yes. I am sure that most of these women and children just wonder what the hell is happening to them. They have been jerked out of what is their normal life and dropped in the middle of modern America. Culture shock will most assuredly ensue.

I am doubtful that any organization like CPS can help, since they usually work ad hoc and right now they are in the spot light. My prediction is no good will come of this for these children. They will be saved from abuse by their "church" and treated to abuse at the hands of the wonderful foster system they are soon to encounter. I am not saying foster parents are abusive but benign neglect is about the best that can expected.

Rosie come on!

I'm a big fan of Rosie O'Donnell but if she is scared of Elizabeth Hasselbeck I'm done with her. What a wimpy thing to say!

Rosie is brave in her stance against guns and as a Truther, but this is just weird. I guess she figured big old Elizabeth was gonna hurt her with her scary Republican words.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Texas wildflowers

The wildflowers are beautiful in the Brenham area. Our drive today took us from Bryan to Columbus and I went down the back roads. The bluebonnets and indian paint brush are glorious. Well worth a drive down Highway 50 or 109 to see them.

I wish I had a camera with me so some pictures could be posted, but I didn't remember.

Monday, April 7, 2008


Today was a nice day for a drive across Texas. The sun is shining and the temperatures are in the low 80's.

I drove from San Angelo to College Station across the center of the state. Spring has been kind. Everywhere is green. The wildflowers are scarce until you get East of Austin. The fall and winter were to dry to produce many flowers.

Tomorrow I will be traveling across the original settlement areas of Texas; Brazos, Washington and Austin Counties. This is part of the area settled with the first land grants. The wildflowers should be more prolific in that area of the state.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Golden chains bind us

We are reliant on the government for too much. Live to 62, you get a check every month. Live to 65 you get free or damn near free, healthcare for life. What is magical about attaining a certain age?

We have a social contract that provides benefits for reaching a certain age, or being disabled, or just being to stupid or lazy to be productive. What we need to ask ourselves as a country is can we afford to be so generous.

When social security was created 65 was old age. Now it is common. Just think about this: 1/3 of all the people who have EVER, in the history of humans, attained the age of 65 are alive today!

Is this a tenable situation? How can we possibly pay for such largesse? Already the “rich” pay all of the taxes. We have politicians demagoguing this and saying the rich need to pay their fair share. Anyone can access IRS statistics that show that the top 1% of taxpayers pay 40% of taxes. Those tax filers making over $75,000 comprise 5.4% of tax filers yet they pay 78.4% of income taxes. This is just over 5% paying almost 80% of the bill! Tax cuts for the rich my ass, who else are you going to give tax cuts too? And since when does $75,000 make you rich? Just how much more can you bleed from the most productive part of society?

The lowest 40% of tax filers actually receive a net positive tax payment from the Treasury (due to child tax credit and earned income credits). The lowest 50% pay less than 2% of the taxes. You can only soak the rich for so much before they rebel.

The golden chains must be broken. There is no way to support social payments (social security and Medicare) going forward. These programs have got to be significantly modified. The answer to federal deficits is not more taxes, it is less spending. And less spending means significantly changing the entitlement system.

End of rant.

Fat girls rule

Chloe Marshall, a plus size, size 16, girl has reached the finals of the Miss England contest. She says, "All I wanted to do by entering this pageant was to send a message out to young girls that it is fine NOT to be a size zero."

Not everyone is impressed. This is an interesting rant against fat girls.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Climate change is upon us!

Climate change is happening. That is a statement of the obvious. The Earth’s climate changes continuously. Geologically speaking the changes are cyclical and very rapid. Temperatures have been warmer over the past two decades than they were in the 1970’s. The real questions are: Is warming actually going to continue? Is climate change significantly effected by human activity?

Though Vice-President Gore has declared the debate closed, it does not appear he has the authority to do so. The climatologists are certainly still debating the issue. Climate is certainly a complex system and it is difficult to make accurate predictions. Lacking the science background, as does VP Gore, it is hard for me to make a judgment about what is good science versus junk science. Some cited information is clearly junk and that is easy to discount.

What appears to be fact is that the most important factor to the Earth’s climate is the sun. It is the engine that drives the weather. David Archibald makes a good argument that the climate change we need to be concerned about is cooling. Warming is not a negative, in that it puts more water in the atmosphere (melting ice) and creates longer growing seasons. That translates to more food for the population. Human population reacts to climate the same as any other animal population does; it grows or shrinks according to whether the climate is beneficial or non-beneficial. Cooling causes shortened growing seasons and locks water vapor up in ice. Cool periods are more likely to create drought and desertification than warm periods.

The sunspot cycle we are entering, according to Mr. Archibald, is one that triggers cooling and glaciation. There is not anything we can do about the warming or the cooling in actual fact. All that we can do as a species is what we have always done; react. Mr. Archibald argues that carbon loading of the atmosphere would actually temper the affect of the cooling period.

The problem with trying to close the debate and declare your side has won is that it does not allow for skepticism, which is at the very core of real science. Any peer reviewed paper should be open to discussion, dissection, argument and refutation. What the global warming alarmist do is try to make an end run on the scientific debate.

The application of Occam’s razor would point to the sun as the most likely source of planetary heating and cooling. Climate is clearly a highly chaotic and complex system. The more complicated the explanation for temperature variation the more scientific it looks, but that does not necessarily add any validity to the final conclusion.

Ask yourself this basic question: Do I trust a weather forecast for 30 days from now? If you answer no, then how can you possibly trust ANY climate forecast for 100 years from now?

For a balanced view of the debate go to Climate Debate Daily.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Warner Brothers or Disney

Warner Brother or Disney; it is a question that has vexed generations.

There has never been a better cartoon character than Bugs Bunny. That rascally rabbit is the funniest character extant. He works on so many levels. Bugs is funny to a kid of four, he is funny to a teenager and then there is a whole other level for the adult viewer. Probably a large part of the appeal for me personally is the basic smart ass attitude. I can relate. Classic: “This aint Pismo Beach, I must have taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque.” That makes me laugh every time. And of course the phrase that has almost become a part of normal discourse; “what a maroon!”

The rest of the stable; Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Speedy Gonzales, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote, these are classic characters. Again, Foghorn Leghorn appeals strongly to me, for the same reason that Bugs Bunny does.

Warner Brothers – Looney Tunes are edgier than Disney. They are not necessarily politically correct and some of the classic shorts are not available because they might offend the sensibility of some victim group, but they are damn funny.

Disney gives us Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and Chip and Dale. Of this stable of characters the only ones who ever elicit a belly laugh are Goofy and Chip and Dale. The exaggerated politeness of Chip and Dale while they create mischief is a howl.

Disney is like “Father Knows Best” and Warner Brothers is like “Married with Children”. There is nothing to offend in a Disney cartoon and therefore not much of an edge. Looney Tunes thrive on pushing right up to the edge of acceptable. For example: Bugs walking past a phone booth and answering the ringing phone. It is a radio quiz show with a question like what is 234,238 times 437, he rattles off 1,266,806 immediately. The caller asks how he could do that. The response, “if there is one thing we rabbits can do it is multiply.” Now that is funny. This from a 1954 cartoon!

Count me solidly in the Warner Brothers corner. Even at my age I watch those shorts and laugh along with Bugs.

Voluntary taxes

Senator Harry Reid claims that taxes are voluntary, and that we don’t have employers collect taxes for the government.

Well knock me over with a feather; I’ve been preparing tax returns all these years under the impression that we were forced by government coercion to pay. And I seem to recall my last employer collecting federal income tax, social security tax and Medicare tax out of my pay and forwarding it to the U.S. Treasury. I guess I have just been one confused Aggie all this time.

Would someone out there volunteer to skip paying taxes this year based on Sen. Reid’s claim? Let me know how that works out for you.

Dim bulb from Searchlight indeed!