Thursday, December 27, 2007

Back yard wildlife

A Christmas eve visitor.

The dogs went berserk.

Paul and LaRouche: Cults?

Twenty five years ago a buddy and I were walking through Houston Hobby airport when he spotted the LaRouche table (back then his vehicle was the "U.S Labor Party") and walked up to them. "OK, what's your theory on who killed JFK?" he asked.
"We don't have a theory. We know."

Ron Paul and his supporters seem cut from the same cloth. Dr. Paul has no doubts, no nuance. All that is wrong with America can be fixed if we just follow the Constitution. The abortion debate disappears when the states are allowed to decide it. Our economic problems are solved when we return to the gold standard. There really are simple solutions to complex issues. And Ron Paul is the LAST chance to save America.

Or so it seems from reading Dr.Paul's supporters on the web. Whether gold standard monetarists, 9 11 truthers, white supremacists, or his more sane supporters, all have a certainty that few other campaigns can match. What's interesting about the Paul cult is its inclusiveness. This is a big tent party. LaRouche was a Stalinist; his campaigns were a cult of personality with a fixed ideology. Everyone drank the same Kool aid and followed the Dear Leader. Paul is more like a Unitarian New Age cult. There is room for different opinions; but only Ron Paul can save America.

The Paul campaign can't keep all its divergent groups together for long. And no one is quite as bitter as an ex cult member. But Paul's campaign may still give us another six months of cheap entertainment.

Bhutto's assassination and the US primaries

John Podhoretz calls it right: The end of the Primary's Holiday from History.
The murder of Bhutto moves foreign policy, the war on terror, and the threat of
Islamofascism back into the center of the 2008 campaign.

So who benefits?
For the Republicans, for the typical Republican primary voter who will want a foreign policy hawk, it helps Giuliani and McCain. Perhaps Romney and Thompson. It does Huckabee no good.
But it gives a boost to the 21st century Lindberghs ("Let Europe deal with Europe's problems"). It will hurt Senator Clinton in the primaries. It may boost Ron Paul's support, despite insane statements like this:

Ronald Reagan would be ashamed.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

After Fidel, what?

Fidel Castro surprised nearly everyone when he announced a week ago that he might give up power. As far as I can tell, no one took the statement at face value. Does it mean he is finally dead? Or is he recovering and putting out bait to see who agrees with the idea and needs to be arrested?

The past seventy years provide multiple examples of how dictatorships end.
Nazi Germany and Tojo’s Japan: Ruins
Soviet Union: The farce of the 1991 coup. Sixteen years later…
Franco: Peaceful death, peaceful transition
Romania: Ceasescu’s violent end
China: Tiananmen 1989. Some regimes don’t just fade away

What does Cuba look like after Fidel? If history is a guide, the conventional wisdom is probably wrong.
Will Cuban cigars still be a hot commodity when they are easily available in the U.S?
Does Cuba become a foothold for Hugo Chavez or the Chinese? A new center for the Colombian drug trade? A tropical Las Vegas?
Will a free Cuba induce massive immigration to Florida and points north; or will first-, second- and third generation Cuban Americans return to the island?
If Cuba’s health care system is as good as we’ve been told, it will be a lure for retirees-- Florida with cheap medicine.
Guantanamo may close.
NAFTA may expand.

There are at least a couple of sure things.
Havana will make a great stop for cruise lines.
Free Cuba will certainly attract missionaries- Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, LDS, Scientologist. The expected rise of religion in Russia, post 1991, has tempered neither nationalism nor capitalism. Secular missions- Amway, Mary Kay Cosmetics and Starbucks- may be more successful.

It’s a future that could head in almost any direction. Castro has been in power for nearly fifty years. A majority of Cubans and Americans have never known a Cuba without Fidel. Can any of us predict what it will become?

It’s more than a rhetorical question. The Mariel boatlift in 1980 brought 125,000 Cubans to the United States. The influx of refugees, and the riots at Camp Chaffee Arkansas, added to the public’s malaise with Jimmy Carter, and helped first term Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton lose re- election in the Reagan landslide. Whatever happens after Fidel will affect us all, in ways large and small.

As an engineer, I’ll close with my dream for a free Cuba. I want the design contract and toll concession for the Florida Straits bridge- tunnel.

So much for Solidarity

First Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien crossed the writers' picket lines. Now Stewart and Colbert are coming back. Will they use scab writers? Illegal aliens ? Or outsource the writing to India?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Huckabee and gastric bypass surgery

Mike Huckabee’s weight loss scam

Vanderleun calls it a blog hit.

I’m not a Huckabee fan. There are plenty of serious issues for which Huckabee can, and should, be criticized. He’s fourth or fifth on my list of candidates I’d support, behind Giuliani, Thompson and Romney but still well ahead of Ron Paul.
But this is just indecent.
I haven’t read the whole 10,000 words, and I don’t plan to do a point by point analysis , but Plutarch lost me at the marathon and fuel belt.

The marathon prowess that Huckabee often touts is not so likely to be an example of exercise inducing weight loss, as it is the expected result of (bariatric) weight loss permitting exercise.
While running marathons Huckabee is shown carrying that energy supplementation, that is both expected of, and associated with, bariatric marathoners.

I’ve run 26.2 miles. Trust me, you get hungry. I carried snacks with me. That’s evidence I had gastric bypass surgery?

100% of wife beaters are men. I‘m a man. Therefore….

And I really want to see the evidence that running marathons is an expected result of bariatric weight loss.

That Governor Huckabee took a vacation and didn’t reveal where he was going seems to be the same sort of argument.

If you have a good argument you don’t need to pile on.
The whole article reminds me of the poor schnook who built a model of the World Trade Center from chicken wire and proved that fire does not melt steel. He’s even got graphs. In color.

I don’t really care whether Romney believes Jesus is Satan’s brother; or Hilary seduces twelve year old boys. The personal lives of some of the candidates (in both parties ) are a little tawdry. But if we can’t win elections based on issues, we don’t deserve to win.

If Plutarch’s “research” is true, yes, Huckabee is toast.

I call BS.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Global warming causes blizzards; school children and teachers rejoice.

Snow on Mount Ida

National Review online notes that Global warming saps hurricane strength.

It apparently causes heavy snow too.

My office has a project in upstate New York; a team just spent a week there. (Tragically, I was unable to go.) On their return they reported the area is having snow earlier and heavier than usual. It's global warming. Lake Erie hasn't frozen over yet; so the open water generates more lake effect snow.

The first computer game I ever purchased was SimEarth. It was a cool little toy. The user's guide included a long appendix on the Gaia hypothesis, with a discussion on what might cause an ice age. Snow has a high albedo; it reflects a lot of sunlight, which reduces the energy in the atmopsphere and cools the earth. More snowfall, less melting.

Global warming causes glaciation.

The good news is, the rising sea level will fall.

Breaking news: Earthquake in Bali. I blame all the Gulfstreams parked there for the UN Global Climate conference.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Annapolis is not Munich

Let's get serious. The Annapolis conference will not accomplish its stated purpose (although it may have benefits that no one now wants to discuss publicly) but it is not Munich. Here are six reasons why:
1. Israel is the strongest military power in the Mideast. No one else comes close.
2. Israel, with the support of the United States, two months ago pulled off a stealth raid on some sort of facility of in Syria. (Would Neville Chamberlain have helped the Czechs bomb a German munitions plant in 1938?)
3. Yet Syria is still attending the conference. That must make for interesting conversation in the men's room.
4. Despite the public posturing (Arab leaders assume if they are photographed shaking Olmert's hand, they will wind up like Anwar Sadat), who do the Saudis and the Gulf States fear the most?
a) Israel's nuclear weapons
b) the US Navy
c) a nuclear armed Iran.

5. Israel and the faction of the PLO of which Abbas is, for the moment, the nominal leader, have agreed to agree. Ho hum. No one- not Condi Rice nor George Bush nor Olmert nor any of the Quartet, the Arabs, or Abbas- expect any results. The can has merely been kicked down the road. Given the alternatives, that is not a bad option.

Abbas is in the same situation that Arafat was. One can debate whether he can control the Palestinian groups who send splodeydopes to Tel Aviv discos, but chooses not to; or whether he really wants peace but can not control the "militants". It makes no difference. What stops Palestinian terror is good Israeli intelligence, police work, and the IDF. Abbas is irrelevant.

6. What's the point of Annapolis? Maybe it is just feel- good photo ops. Maybe it is a wish that talking can't do any harm and may do some good.
Maybe it is about more than Israel and the Palestinians. See #4 above.

I heard a couple of talk radio callers today suggest that Olmert be replaced with Netanyahu. I don't like Olmert either, but I get pissed when the French or Germans try to tell Americans who we should elect as President.

There is a story that President Reagan decided not to attend Andropov's funeral when he was told he would not be allowed to dance on the grave. Olmert has been in politics long enough that he probably does not care that the Arabs will not shake his hand. Yet if I were Olmert, or George Bush, I would like to shake Assad's hand, look him in the eyes, grin, and squeeze just a little harder.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What does wartime look like?

One benefit to living in DC is that the lunchtime professional /civic group rubber chicken meetings tend to have more interesting speakers than in , say, Topeka. Last week at an engineering group, the guest speaker was in charge of new construction for the Department of State. "I try to protect our employees from incidents like this", he noted. (1998 US embassy bombing, Nairobi.)
Later on he said "this is wartime." I had heard the same statement a week before from the Director of Public Works at one of the large Army bases near DC. He could not understand why local transportation and environmental agencies were not more cooperative with the Army.
From their perspective, they are right. I have to disagree.

If we were really at war we would be rationing gasoline and tires.
We' might be rationing meat and sugar.
We'd probably be rationing computer chips.
There would be a draft.
We'd have secure borders. There would be still be a lot of resident aliens working here but we would be keeping track of who and where they are.
Taxes would be a lot higher; government services, for most of us, would be a lot lower. Few would complain.
Bipartisanship would mean something. Politics really would stop at the water's edge.

The State Department employee made another comment, in passing, that makes me
wonder if he had heard something recently that stuck with him, or if he had
just been to one too many security briefings that week.
We need to prepare the American people to respond to chemical and biological attacks. The government has not done a very good job of that and we should. It 's
going to happen.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ron Paul: America's Paul Belien?

Ron Paul was first elected to Congress in a 1975 special election. In the next five years he ran several fiercely contested races for the seat, against the same opponent; as I recall he won in '75 , lost in '76, won in '78 and '80. I was a volunteer in his first three campaigns.

Paul's supporters were mostly very conservative Republicans- people who had not yet forgiven Eisenhower for beating Robert Taft in the 1952 presidential primary; and for whom Barry Goldwater was an even greater hero than Ronald Reagan. Paul 's supporters also included a fervent group of gold standard libertarians; I heard several long lectures on von Mises economics. ( I'm an engineer: Zzzzzzzz.)

Now, this was Texas in the mid 70's; it wasn't Birmingham 1962, but it wasn't politically correct California of 2007 either. We used to entertain ourselves at college by calling one of Houston's two Dial a Nazi recorded phone messages. One claimed to be the Texas branch of the American Nazi party; the other claimed it was the Houston Klan chapter.

There were a few folks among Paul's volunteers who, if you talked to them for very long, were quite upfront about their white supremacist views. They sounded a lot like the recording on the Dial a Klan line.

I never understood Dr. Paul's appeal to those folks. I never heard him say anything remotely racist. On the other hand, while volunteering for a half dozen other candidates in the mid 70's, I never ran into anyone else who was as viciously racist as those few folks in the Paul campaigns.

So stories like these are not a surprise:

Ron Paul and the neo Nazis

Paul responds on Nazi gold

Hutton Gibson for Ron Paul

Neo Nazi organizes Ron Paul Youtube gaming

Is Ron Paul the American equivalent of Paul Belien and Vlaams Belang? Paul has supporters in his current Presidential campaign who are 9-11 truthers; he also has supporters who are white supremacists or neo Nazis. His failure to distance himself from them does him no good. And his supporters' response to these stories is a coy wink. It's either

If people who hold views that the candidate doesn't agree with, and they give to
us, that's their loss


I just wonder how difficult it is to get a PO box in W. Palm Beach under someone
else's name (or even just lie on the online donations) especially seeing that a
very prominent member of the anti-Ron-Paul squad that made a point to land on
Fox News and call Ron Paul 'cerifiably insane' (and then went on to brag about
it) also happens to live in... wait for it... W. Palm Beach, FL.

(Both comments from the first link above)

People, people. You can't have it both ways. Get your story straight. And if Paul's campaign can't keep track of who is giving them money, they will be in big trouble with the FEC.

UPDATE: "Vlaams Belang" corrected. My humble apologies.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rudy, Fred and Mitt are not Ronald Reagan.

And they should not try to be.
Don't get me wrong. I think Reagan was one of our greatest Presidents. But whoever wins in 2008 will face completely different challenges than he did.

2008 is 28 years since Reagan was first elected President, and 20 years since he left office.
JFK in 1960 invoked the New Deal but promised the New Frontier.
Reagan in 1980 did not invoke Eisenhower's 1952 campaign (though I knew several Reagan supporters in 76 and 80 who also proudly wore Taft buttons from his 1952 campaign.)

While Reagan understood Russia as the Evil Empire, he knew no more about Islamofascism than anyone else in 1986. After the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut he pulled our forces from Lebanon. Under his watch Robert McDermott took a a cake to Iran.

To win in 2008. the Democrats need more than "I'm not George Bush". And the Republicans need more than "I'm not Hilary Clinton and I'll be the next Reagan."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What will Baby Assad do now?

Assad has his gonads in a vise. Syria admitted the IAF blew up something, and escaped unscathed. If he retaliates, he hand Israel the opportunity to do much more serious damage.
If he doesn't, he looks like a wimp to democracy reformers, fundamentalists, his military, his neighbors, anyone anti- Assad. How long can he hang on to power?
Here's the first rational explanation I've seen for why Israel seems so reluctant to act when provoked (like the last Qassam.) The status quo is not good, but it is better than the alternatives if the status quo is disturbed.
That Israel acted points out just how dangerous they considered the Syrian whatever-it-was facility.
Interesting times indeed.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The next Chernobyl?

Disasters- real, potential or imaginary- hold a strange and morbid fascination, particularly when observed at a comfortable distance. Whether it is Katrina, the Christmas 2004 tsunami, or the Next Great California Quake, there is something in our response beyond horror or compassion. As the great Southern writer Walker Percy says in Lost in the Cosmos (fair use quote):
A fellow commuter tells you of the news bulletin..San Francisco has
suffered the long awaited major earthquake, casualties are estimated at 200,000.
Why is your fellow commuter so excited that even as he shakes his head
dolefully, his earphones come loose?....

Imagine you are a NATO colonel defending Greece against a Soviet attack.
You are in a bunker in downtown Athens. A missile attack is under way. Half
a million Greeks are dead. Two missiles bracket the Parthenon. The next
will surely be a hit. Between columns of smoke, a ray of golden light catches
the portico. Are you bored ? Can you see the Parthenon?

If real disasters are not big enough, potential ones -huge, world changing cataclysms- are the stuff of block buster movies. California's Big One pales in comparison to the collapse of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, flooding Miami, New Orleans, Venice and Bangla Desh.
But there are more likely catastrophes, with consequences just as grave.

China is in an unprecedented economic boom, with all the ingredients for a massive train wreck: manic growth, rampant corruption, a large and unskilled labor force, rapid technological change, and a political system with little transparency or responsiveness to its people. The recent toy and food scares are good examples of the problems that China faces; but the potential for massive infrastructure failure is the disater waiting to happen.

Besides poor maintenance, there are four chief causes of infrastructure failure: design errors due to inadequate skills; construction errors due to inadequate skills; shoddy design to meet a budget or schedule; and shoddy construction for the same reasons. Consider the enormous amount of current construction in China- dams, nuclear power plants, bridges, highways, stadiums, entire new cities being built from scratch. Given the corruption in Chinese government and business, the frenetic pace of construction, and the level of skills in a low wage workforce recently moved from the rural villages, how many of those four magic errors exist in the typical Chinese construction project?

The 1999 Izmit, Turkey earthquake killed 17,000 people; many casualties were caused by the collapse of new, poorly built high rise apartment towers. Past disasters in China have had death tolls unimaginable by Western standards: the Shaanxi quaake in 1556 killed 830,000. The 1976 Tangshan quake killed 255,000. The Banqiao dam failure in 1975 killed over 200,000.

It's been said that the Soviet Union collapsed because of Matthias Rust's plane flight to Red Square, the Afghan war, and Chernobyl. An economic recession in China would put severe strains on Chinese government and society. A disaster like Banqiao, Tangshan or Chernobyl, with the resulting economic and social effects, could bring upheaval. If Tian an Mien 1989 is an indicator, the breakup of the Chinese empire would be far more brutal than the Soviet collapse, and the impacts even more far reaching.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The comfortable dog

Rove, you magnificent bastard!

Karl Rove, wearing dark glasses and an obviously fake mustache, sits down next to Norman Hsu on the Zephyr and introduces himself. Hsu , who had looked very uncomfortable, becomes even more uneasy.
"Relax," says Rove. "I just want to talk. You'd be surprised how many people want to talk to you."
Hsu giggles nervously. "Actually I wouldn't be surprised at all."
"Yep, James Carville is camped out at Denver Airport with a couple of former linebackers from the Angola prison football team. He's being trailed by three goons from the Peoples' Liberation Army." Hsu looks paler.
Rove pulls out a cell phone. "As it happens, I have their numbers on speed dial. " He smiles and waits for a minute. Hsu isn't giggling.
"Or, you can talk to me and my friends here." He motions to a sinister man with short hair and a dark suit down the aisle, and his comapanion, an even more severe looking young woman.

"FBI, " Rove whispers. "And then, it's witness protection time, baby!"

Hsu gets up, walks down the aisle and sits between Rove's agents. "Be sure you tell them everything," Rove says, tapping his cell phone. He walks the opposite direction, whistling. "My work here is done."

The train speeds into a tunnel.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Wind in the Heights

America's best essayist has reposted a story from September 2001.

The Beautiful Sharpshooter

Or, more crudely, hot women with guns.
From Seraphic Secret, late last year.
"What happens when you guys have an argument?"
"She wins," the Sharpshooter's husband says with no humor whatsoever.

Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?

Syria claims to have shot at Israeli jets.
Cited all over the blogosphere today, and given varying degrees of credibility.
Charles Levinson thinks that whatever actually took place, both Israel and Syria are trying to downplay it and cool tensions.
The incident reminds me of Michael Oren's account of the Egyptian media in the 1967 war (from Six Days of War.) On the first day of the war, Cairo radio and newspapers reported the stunning success of Nasser's military. The Egyptian air force was bombing Tel Aviv as Egyptian tanks approached the city.
None of it was true. It wasn't just a matter of misinterpreting facts. It was simply made up. The IAF had destroyed most of the Egyptian air force on the ground and the Israeli army was smashing through the Egyptian lines in the Sinai.
As the Russians used to say,
There is no truth in Pravda

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

GOP straw poll

Here's a GOP straw poll. FWIW, Fred is winning.
But Ron Paul is not in the poll.

Will the 2008 primaries be a long horse race?

The conventional wisdom is that with the front loaded primaries each party's race will be over by the end of February.

But it's the first Presidential race since 1952 when neither the sitting President or Vice President is running. That explains the large candidate field. It's also one of the rare years in which each party has serious choices between its head and its soul.

The Democrats' soul is wth Al Gore. He really won in 2000. (Truth be told, for many Democrats their soul is with Ned Lamont, a true believer who beat a reviled incumbent Senator in the primary. That primary victory is all that matters.) If Gore won't run, Edwards or Obama or Dodd make a good stand in.

The Democrats' head is with Hilary Clinton, the heir to Bill Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council, a group the liberal Democrats hate even more than they hate George Bush. This is the group who managed the only two Democratic presidential victories since 1976.

The Republicans face similar head/ soul choices. Karl Rove's genius was in welding evangelical social conservatives, small -l libertarian fiscal conservatives and big business Republicans into a winning coalition in a post Cold War world. 9-11 returned us to an era when national security matters, and Americans are unsure they can trust Democrats on the issue. This year the Republican soul may belong to Mike Huckabee, a solid social conservative with a populist bent; or to Sam Brownback or Tom Tancredo. The head? Rudy and Fred, and maybe Mitt. The Republican Big Tent that Rove built may not be able to stay together.

There is no reason that the winner of the Iowa caucus or the New Hampshire primary will go on to win the next three or six or ten primaries. It's possible that the campaigns in both parties produce two or three front runners without a clear leader; and two or three strong second tier candidates. If no clear front runner emerges, the second tier candidates may suspend their campaigns as they run out of money, yet stay in the race to make a deal- or with the hope of becoming everyone's second choice. The race, in either party, could go right up to the Convention.

If the race does last beyond the first month of primaries, the danger to Senator Clinton is that she will still need to cast votes in the Senate. Her day job will take time away from the campaign, or allow her opponents to argue that she is neglecting her duties. Far worse, voting yes or no on specific issues presents too many opportunities to anger convention delegates, or November voters.

Predictions? Not Clinton nor Obama. The Democrats go with their soul; the Republicans with their head- and the potential for a serious schism.

Castro's parting gift?

I recall a magazine article twenty years ago that speculated Fidel had gotten hold of a few Chinese suitcase nukes. (I'm not sure I believe in the existence of such things as real threats but let's not spoil the story.) As his last deathbed act, with the knowledge if not approval of the Chicomms, he detonated them in several US cities, and one in Red Square as lagniappe.
This was back in the day whe we we were certain the Chinese were crazy, and we did not worry about radical Christian fundamentalists or rogue states getting nukes. Still, it brings to mind tyrants who, like Jim Jones, can't go out alone; they must take as many of their own people with them as they can.
Hitler and Saddam fit the profile. You could argue Stalin and Mao did. Kim Jong Il and Fidel might, but let's hope not.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Smoke, fires, plague DC metro two days running

WMATA is baffled by two days of unprecedented and unexplained incidents. which closed multiple stations in the system Sunday and Monday evenings. Metro staff discounts terrorism, but wonders if the cause is not just random or accidental. From WaPo:
"This is not normal," Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. said. "This is highly, highly irregular."

Gee, you think so?

I suspect aliens. The bug eyed monster, we- come- to- serve- humanity- and- we- like- them- well- done kind.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Will Bill torpedo Hilary's campaign?

A couple thoughts on the Michelle Obama "If you can't run your own house" kerfluffle:
1. It's awfully naive to ask if personal attacks are "fair" in a political campaign. But if Obama doesn't know it yet, he's going to learn that payback is a bitch.
2. The shoe that everyone is waiting to drop is the next Bill scandal. If I were working for Edwards or Gore (or Giuliani or Fred Thompson), I'd be trolling a squad of young ladies for Bill Clinton, like chum in the water, with photographers (or lawyers) ready if he takes the bait.

Any good campaign knows even more about the the candidate's weaknesses than her strengths. I expect that a couple of Hilary's staffers are assigned full time to watch Bill. I envision them as ugly lesbians (so there is no chance at temptation) with really bad attitudes.
Hmm, definite possibilities for a novel here. Joe Klein may already be on it.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Stephanapoulos and the Republicans

Illegal aliens and amnesty, the surge in Iraq, riots in Pakistan, Hamas in Gaza, unrest in Lebanon, Iranian nukes, a dysfunctional Congress, infrastructure that is literally falling apart.
What is George Stephanapoulos's first question to the Republican candidates?
He asks about Brownback's robocall attack on Romney and abortion.
That's all it took for me to turn off the TV.

If the Democrats are lucky then American's honeymoon from history- our six year respite from terror attacks on US soil- will last until November 2008. Still, I don't imagine abortion rights will be the top issue for many voters in 2008 in either party.

Inquiring minds want to know

This is a late pile on but it's hard to resist.

Barack Obama's comment on sending troops to Pakistan may have been a mistake
but it is one he is standing by. His website (no, I won't link to it) notes:

We must stop fighting the wrong war and start fighting the war we need to win.
.... We must reinforce our mission in Afghanistan with additional troops. We
must press Pakistan and President Musharraf to close down terrorist training
camps .... If Musharraf acts, we will stand with him. But if Pakistan will not
act against Osama bin Ladin and the terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans, we

It will be interesting to see how big the Democratic party constituency is for a candidate who promises to send more troops to Afghanistan and to invade Pakistan, to boot. What I want to know:

Does Obama intend to act unilaterally?

If not, how many members of the UN Security Council must approve before we send troops to Pakistan?

If Musharraf is overthrown and a Taliban style government takes control of Pakistan's nuclear weapons (as big a nightmare to New Delhi as to Tel Aviv), would Obama support a strike against the Pakistani nuclear facilities? He says he would never use American nuclear weapons; would he support India if they used their own?

It’s whats for dinner…..

One of the more annoying aspects of today’s environmental movement is the unwillingness to admit any progress. Yet it is hard to find any measure of environmental quality where the United States and Europe have not made tremendous leaps in the last thirty years- in air and water quality, recycling, hazardous waste cleanup, and protection of wetlands and other wild and scenic resources. The killer London fogs of a half century ago are gone. The Hudson and the Potomac, if not pristine, are much cleaner than forty years ago. The level of environmental regulation of personal, business, and municipal activities in 2007 is stunning when compared to 1967.
Perhaps the most striking example of environmental progress is the comeback of species recently consider endangered, if not on the verge of extinction. Forty years ago, both the American alligator and the bald eagle seemed to be on their last legs. But by the early 1990’s it was not uncommon for homeowners in Florida and New Orleans to find alligators in their back yard swimming pools.
Eagles, too, are thriving, and have adapted well enough to human presence that a pair (dubbed George and Martha by construction crews) nested in the shadow of the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge construction here in Alexandria.

Other wildlife are thriving too. Deer have become common in the DC suburbs and occasionally snarl traffic in downtown Washington. Bears and coyotes have been sighted in the ‘burbs too.
We have an uneasy relationship with wildlife. Bambi is cute until he nibbles all your azaleas. The alligator in your pool in Tampa may decide your cat looks tasty.
We have friends who raise papillions on a small acreage ten mile south of the Wilson Bridge. They frequently see eagles, who seem to have a healthy interest in the

Papillion: It’s whats for dinner.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The enemy of my enemy is.. probably still my enemy

It's definitely a Monday.
Al Qaeda in Iraq threatens Iran
The leader of an Al Qaeda umbrella group in Iraq threatened to wage war against
Iran unless it stops supporting Shiites in Iraq within two months

They should be careful:

Tunneling Near Iranian Nuclear Site Stirs Worry

The sudden flurry of digging seen in recent satellite photos of a mountainside
in central Iran the back yard of Iran's most ambitious and controversial
nuclear facility, leading U.S. officials and independent experts to reach
another conclusion: It appears to be the start of a major tunnel complex inside
the mountain....On Friday, an IAEA spokeswoman confirmed that the agency has
broached the subject with Iranian officials.

Cue music: Ride of the Valkyries.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Happy Fourth!

We walked up to the Rt.1 overpass a few blocks from the house last night and joined a couple hundred of our neighbors. That venue, five miles from the Washington Monument, provides a clear view of the fireworks show on the National Mall. (And it is a lot easier to get home afterwards.) An added benefit: the smaller fireworks all around the horizon, in other parts of DC, in suburban Maryland, out in Fairfax County. It was a good show.
Happy Fourth of July. Thanks to all who keep us free.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Clairvoyance or just a keen grasp of the obvious?

This is a long way around to a point, so bear with me...
One of the annoying things about many political and religious arguments is the absolute certainty with which each side holds its view. My example today is the notion in liberal Protestant circles that because the gospel of Mark quotes Jesus's prediction that the Temple would be destroyed, it must have been written after the Temple's destruction in 70 AD.
I'm not even an amateur Biblical scholar; but to any Jew in Jesus's time and place with even a casual knowledge of Jewish and Roman history, of the brutal Roman suppressions of Jewish revolts, this was not a prediction but a foregone conclusion. You knew how things were going to end; the question was, what would happen next?
So, here are a few foregone conclusions:
1) Hamas and Hizbollah will continue to shoot rockets at Israel. A couple years ago they were killing Jews in tens and twenties in homicide attacks; now they can only kill in ones and twos. As soon as they have the means to do so, they will attempt to kill Jews in the hundreds or thousands.
2) Not all Islamofascists are bungling idiots. Sooner or later they will succeed in a catastrophic attack- in London or Glasgow or New York or Washington.
3) There will be another Mideast war, maybe not this month or this summer but soon. A rational Bashir Assad would not attack Israel directly; a conventional Israel- Syria war will be like Godzilla meets Bambi. Is Bashir Assad rational? Is Hamas or Hizballah or Ahmadinejad?
4) Musharraf's governement in Pakistan will fall, and be replaced by something worse. A really nasty pro west strong man or more likely, a Taliban.

The questions is, what will happen next? What will we- the Israelis, British, Americans, Indians- do?
Old Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times.

Monday, June 25, 2007

My big sister Barbara in happier times.

1954- May 11, 2007
Rest in the loving arms of the Lord.

May was a tough month.
As a boomer, I’ve long believed that there is a song for every occasion. Here are two.

Mary Chapin Carpenter: My Heaven

Nothing shatters nothing breaks
Nothing hurts and nothing aches
We got ourselves one helluva place
in my heaven.
No one's lost and no one's missing
No more partings just hugs and kissing
And all these stars are just for wishing, in my heaven.
There's neighbors, thieves and long lost lovers
villains, poets, kings and mothers
Up here we forgive each other, in my heaven.
For every soul that's down there waiting,holding on, still hesitating
We say a prayer of levitating, in my heaven.
You can look back on your life and lot
But it can't matter what you're not
By the time you're here, we're all we've got
In my heaven.

And Lyle Lovett: Last of the Family Reserve:
When I saw the ambulance screaming down Main Street
I didn’t give it a thought
It was my uncle Eugene
He died on October the second, nineteen eighty one

And there are more I remember
And more I could mention
Than I could ever write in a song
But I feel them watching
And I see them laughing
And I hear them singing along

And we’re all gonna be here forever
So mama don’t you make such a stir
Just put down that camera
And come on and join up
The last of the family reserve

Jim Moran and earmark reform

My Congressman, Jim Moran, was asked at a District meeting earlier this spring if he would support earmark reform in the new Congress. He replied that he was proud of the funds he brings to northern Virginia.
Apparently not that proud. Via Winds of Change comes a report that Anderson Cooper had his interns ask all the members of Congress to list their earmarks.

Moran declined.

Friday, June 1, 2007

An arrest in Hit

Michael Yon reports on the Coaliton arrest of Iraqi police general Ibrahim Hamid Jaza in Hit. Yon's report, like everything he writes, is a great story.
All I can add is that I have met LTC Crissman; I worked for several years with his father Cris, a retired Army engineer. LTC Crissman's actions on duty are amazing; but knowing the family, not surprising.
As Yon puts it, "you don't abuse people."

Thaks Doug, for all that you and your men and women do.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Thursday, April 26, 2007

More stifling of dissent in Bush's America.
Michelle Malkin reports that the good people over at Talking Points Memo are calling for David Broder to resign.
Did he call Rosie a nappy headed ho? Assist Mike Nifong in the Duke lacrosse prosecution? Write Rudy's alleged speech saying a Democrat President would mean another 9-11?
Naw. he just compared Harry Reid to Alberto Gonzales.
The TPM folks figure if he isn't senile, he must have been bribed or blackmailed.

By the way, I went to college with Mr. Gonzales. He was pretty quiet but one of the less geeky kids in a very geeky student body. If I were he, I'd be offended by Broder's column.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Last Sunday's run

The GW Parkway classic 1o miler. A perfect day to run and a personal record:
I'm obnoxiously proud.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

There is evil in the world...

Shortly after President Kennedy’s assassination, two Washington journalists ran into each other.
“We’ll never laugh again, “ one said.
“Oh, of course we’ll laugh again," responded the second. “But we’ll never be young again.”

For most of us who live in the First World, life is mostly good. Few of us worry about having a roof over our heads, or enough food to eat, or finding a decent job. And for most of us, no matter how much we complain, our Government really is there to help us.
Yet each of us has a time when we finally become adults- when we discover that while the world we live in is full of joy, there is also pain, and sometimes evil. For some this discovery is individual - a parent or child is suddenly struck by illness or death. For American society, every few years we are reminded of the evil in the world, and know that we will never be young again.

I’m a Christian, but more rational than mystic. Yet I find it unnerving how the Biblical stories of Jesus casting out demons track with what anecdotal knowledge I have of mental illness. Why do schizophrenics hear voices telling them not to take their medication?
Eighteen months ago the Virginia Tech shooter disturbed enough people that he was referred to a hospital. Upon his release, by all accounts he stopped his behavior- he hid inside himself, giving no warning of his madness, until Monday April 16.
What do we do when faced with the evil of a Tim McVeigh or Mohammed Atta, a Charles Whitman or Seung Hui Cho? Curling up in a fetal position on the couch, or finding solace at the bottom of the ice cream carton or the gin bottle, is tempting. Where can you find safety if comfortable suburbia is Columbine, and bucolic rural academia is Blacksburg?
For myself and my family, we try to live in faith, not fear; to go out each day and use our skills and talents in the best way we can; to know that while there is evil in the world, there is also great good.
Some days that is easier to do than others.

A last thought: Tom Mauser, whose 15 year old son Daniel died at Columbine High School, observes in today’s Washington Post:
I think it is important to avoid referring to the killer by name or
ethnicity. He should be simply "the killer." He should be afforded no special
recognition, for he deserves none. Instead, the names of the victims should be
mentioned often, and their loss should never be forgotten. We best honor them by
celebrating their lives, reading about their accomplishments and doing good
things in their name.
In memoriam
Ross Abdallah Alameddine, 20, Saugus MA
Jamie Bishop, 25, Blacksburg VA
Brian Bluhm, 25, Cedar Rapids IA
Ryan C. Clark, 22, Columbia County GA
Austin Cloyd, 18, Blacksburg VA
Jocelyn Couture- Nowak, 49, Blacksburg VA
Kevin Granata, 46, Blacksburg VA
Matthew G. Gwaltney, 24, Chester VA
Caitlin Hammaren, 19, Middletown NY
Jeremy Herbstritt, 27, Bellefonte PA
Rachael Elizabeth Hill, 18, Richmond VA
Emily Jane Hilscher, 19, Woodville VA
Jarrett Lee Lane, 22, Narrows VA
Matthew J. LaPorte, 20, Dumont NJ
Henry Lee, 20, Roanoke VA
Liviu Librescu, 76, Blacksburg VA
G.V. Loganathan, 51, Blacksburg VA
Partahi Lumbantoruan, 34, Indonesia
Lauren McCain, 20, Hampton VA
Daniel Patrick O’Neil, 22, Lincoln RI
Juan Ramon Ortiz, 26, Bayamon, Puerto Rico
Minal Panchal, 26, Mumbai, India
Daniel Perez Cueva, 21, Woodbridge VA
Erin Peterson, 18, Fairfax County VA
Michael Pohle, 23, Flemington NJ
Julia Pryde, 23, Middletown NJ
Mary Read, 19, Fairfax County VA
Reema Samaha, 18, Fairfax County VA
Waleed Shaalan, 32, Zagazig, Egypt
Leslie Sherman, 20, Fairfax County VA
Maxine Turner, 22, Vienna VA
Nicole R. White, 20, Smithfield VA

May God grant peace to their families and friends and to the Virginia Tech community.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

If I ever meet you in public, you will need a new nose, lots of beefsteak for black eyes and perhaps a supporter below. You are a guttersnipe!

So said President Harry S. Truman to music critic Paul Hume, in response to Hume's review of Margaret Truman's singing.

The Rutgers women's basketball team will meet with Don Imus. Why? To mete out the punishment Truman considered? Doubtful. No, the team has been "physically and emotionally spent and hurt" by Imus's remarks. Imus apologized. Does the team expect more contrition? Hugs?
Call his sponsors. Tell them that you won't buy products that support a man who entertains his audience by insulting others. Then get on wth your life.
He called you mean names. He's a gutter snipe. You're on the Rutgers womens' basketball team that played at the natonal championship. Unless it's on a basketball court, why meet with him?

About ten years ago a local professor noted that while discrimination does still exist in America, he tells his students
You say you're oppressed? You're not oppressed. You're at Georgetown.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Nicholas Cage, Al Gore, and the Masonic conspiracy.
Much attention has been given to the pervasive Masonic influence on the U.S. government; and recent investigations have revealed the mysterious Masonic symbols at Denver International Airport. See, for example, this and this feeble effort to refute current investigations.

Surprisingly, there is little awareness of the Masonic artifacts around the Washington DC area, or their relationship to the ongoing power struggle between the Masons and their foes: the Wilsonian Democrats, the British royal family, and the Zionist Occupation Government. Much investigation remains to be done, and the full story is too dangerous to disseminate publicly, but a few highlights can be provided:
First there are the Forty Masonic Boundary stones, set in place when the District of Columbia was surveyed in 1791 and 1792.

On each stone, the side facing the District of Columbia displayed the
inscription "Jurisdiction of the United States and a mile number. … The third
and fourth sides displayed the year in which the stone was placed …and the
magnetic compass variance at that place.

These stones, placed in accordance with the Masonic ritual derived from ancient Druidic and Egyptian lore, generate a powerful magnetic field which focuses the earth’s energy within the District of Columbia. This focused energy field, controlled by the Masons, assured the country’s growth and power for over 200 years and enabled the Masons to maintain their control over the government.

For reasons not yet known, (perhaps the effort to "protect" the remaining stones by enclosing them in steel cages; the steel cage acts as a Faraday box, diverting the stones’ electromagnetic energy into the ground and reducing the energy field they collectively generate), by the late 19th century several of the stones were lost or deteriorating, leading to a decline in the Mason’s influence, and resulting in the election of Woodrow Wilson, who plunged America into war with Germany, the heirs of the Knights Templar tradition, on the side of the British royal family.

Attempting to re- exert control, the Masons in 1922 constructed in Alexandria Virginia the so called “George Washington Masonic Memorial”, a replica of the Great Lighthouse at Alexandria Egypt. This structure, only 200 feet outside the original boundary, enhances and focused the stones’ energy and also serves as a control tower for the Masons’ activities.

National Treasure, the 2004 Nicolas Cage movie, was a largely factual account of Masonic influence. The sequel, now being filmed, may reveal more of the Masonic secrets. It will include scenes filmed at the “George Washington Masonic Memorial”:

the Alexandria shoot is being kept super hush-hush. …"It's very exciting," said George Seghers, director of the temple. …this is the first Hollywood movie to be filmed here. But I can't say much more than that.”

The struggle between the Masons and the ZOG/ British royal family has continued for the last 90 years. In 1961 the Woodrow Wilson Bridge was constructed almost on top of the southern boundary stone at Jones Point Park- the site of the original lighthouse at Alexandria. A replacement for the bridge, now under construction, is even closer to the lighthouse and to the remaining southern boundary stone, one of the most powerful due to its corner location, and now also threatened by rising water of the tidal Potomac due to alleged “global warming.”

Many questions remain.
What is the connection between the Carlyle House in Old Town Alexandria, a few blocks from the Masonic Memorial, and the Carlyle Group, a known front organization for the British?

Why were Gavrilo Princip, Lynette Fromme, and John Hinckley all carrying postcards from the Masonic Memorial when apprehended after the assassination attempts on Archduke Ferdinand, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan?

Is Al Gore’s campaign against global warming an effort to save the southern boundary stone- or a red herring to distract attention?

The blogosphere has focused more attention to the ongoing Masonic- British conflict and their insidious influence. Both liberal and conservative blog readers have taken notice. A recent post at Little Green Footballs noted :

“Never attempt to murder a man who is committing suicide” -- W. Wilson
I would say the same about the Goracle, but he is too friggin' busy
invoking the Global Warming Druids moonbats who while away their time seeking Masonic symbolism underneath the Denver International Airport cubby holes. This, combined with their obsessive need to link anything, and everything, to a supposed Zog uberconspiracy.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

An Iranian hostage recalls his time in Teheran.
Via Tigerhawk (who adds a good story from Guests of the Ayatollah.)
God bless the USMC.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Former President James Earl Carter, 82, received the Ridenhour "Courage Prize" yesterday at the National Press Club as the latest Iranian hostage crisis was wrapping up.

"As a matter of fact, I went through the same ordeal earlier," he told a British questioner with a smile. "Four-hundred forty days instead of 16 days -- but all of our hostages came home safe and free, also."

The moment that Ronald Reagan was inaugurated.

Seems I'm listening to a bad oldies radio station.

April 2008, Nancy Pelosi in Damascus

Israel is ready to engage in peace talks... Mr Assad is ready to resume the
peace process as well

Where have I seen this movie before? 1938. Munich. Neville Chamberlain.

Peace in our time.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Things are different inside the Beltway.
As Congress goes through the latest iteration of debate over Congressional representation for District of Columbia residents, I could argue the merits of various plans, from full statehood to retrocession. But I’d like to propose a slightly different outlook.

I lived in Texas and Arkansas until I was past thirty. I’ve lived in Northern Virginia, inside the Beltway, for almost twenty years now. I can assure you, things are indeed different inside the Beltway.

Washington’s proximity affects its suburbs. The Northern Virginia suburbs care little about what happens south of the Rappahannock; the rest of the Old Dominion returns the sentiments. Northern Virginia, year after year, sends more money and gets fewer services back from Richmond than other parts of the state.

In Texas, if you are interested in politics, you work in local campaigns. Maybe you run for city council or the legislature. After a term or two you move up to state senate or Congress, or maybe Governor. (Unless, of course, you’ve been managing the Texas Rangers.)

If you grow up in, or attend college in, or move to Arlington Virginia, and you’re interested in politics, you get a job on Capitol Hill. If you’re a policy wonk you work your way up through EPA or Justice. If you’re a smart lawyer with good connections you lobby on K Street. The best politicians in northern Virginia don’t go into local politics.

DC residents routinely complain, with good reason, that Congress interferes in what limited self government the District is allowed. But Congress interferes in suburban Virginia and Maryland government, too; usually with the approval of the local Congressional constituencies. It’s not just the amazing amounts of funding that local lawmakers direct to the DC suburbs; (my congressman, Jim Moran, was asked at a neighborhood forum in January about earmark reform. He responded that he was proud of the projects he brings to the 8th District.) Nor is it the support that local Congressmen give to their constituents, many of whom are government employees. (A top priority: make sure the District never institutes an income tax on commuters.) Again and again, local transportation and land use issues that anywhere else would be solved at a local or state level, here are decided in Congress.

I. Imagine you are a Civil War buff. A local developer is building a mall on private land adjacent to a nearby Civil War battlefield park. The County zoning board has approved the project, despite the protests of historic preservationists. What do you do?
Well, if the project is on the outskirts of Atlanta or Nashville you are probably out of luck. If it is 1988 and the project is William Center in Manassas Virginia, you mobilize preservation and conservation groups in Washington, 30 miles east. You marshal your supporters on Capitol Hill, organize a nationwide media campaign, and in a few months Congress buys the site for $134 million. The developer walks away a richer man; the County loses $23 million in annual tax revenues; local residents have 800 acres more open space, paid for by their fellow Americans, most of whom will never set foot on it.

II. In 1992, Virginia governor Doug Wilder and Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke announced plans for a new football stadium on an abandoned railroad yard in Alexandria. The deal had been arranged quietly by the Governor, with no local input. The response by local residents was quick.
“I work in the EPA. They will never get the permits to clean the site up.”
“I’m on (Tenth District Congressman) Tom Davis’s staff. We’ll kill this on the Hill.”

It took six weeks for Cooke and Wilder to abandon their plans.

III. Dulles Airport, 25 mile west, connects to DC by the Dulles Access Road. The road’s sole use is airport access; once you get on it, just inside the Beltway, you can’t exit until you reach the airport. In the late 80’s Congress allowed Virginia to build a toll road in the right of way, parallel but without connections to the access road, to serve the burgeoning suburbs. Several years later, as growing traffic clogged the toll road, the State proposed allowing carpools to use the access road. Congress vetoed the plan: increased traffic on the access road might reduce easy access to the airport. For some reason, Congress is less concerned with easy access between downtown LA and LAX.

Yes, things are different in DC. I’ve always believed the Constitution bars Congressional representation for DC, to prevent local residents from exerting undue influence on the Federal government. It makes sense, then, that the solution to DC voting rights is to give the residents of the DC suburbs the same rights as DC residents. Make Alexandria city and Fairfax, Arlington, Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties part of the Federal enclave.
Back on the road after a week's hiatus- 3.5 miles, 29:15. Nice morning, cool, high 50's. Ran into a neighbor with whom I used to work - we're not even casual acquantances but our paths collide every six months or so; we did the 30 second update.
A benefit to living in the same house for over 16 years: You don't know everyone around you but you recognize a lot of the folks you see day to day.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The best parts of a race
The start, when the pack justs starts to spread out so you can actually run, but you're still in a crowd. I always feel as if I'm in a bad Japanese movie, one of the extras being chased by Ghidrah the Three Headed Monster or Nancy Pelosi.
The Post Race. Carb loading. Shiner bock is best but anything will do.
Admiral Stockdale: "Who am I ? Why am I here?"

Why Running Dog?
1. Running Dog Imperialist Lackey is too long.
2. You may have guessed, I'm a Dog Person. The Wife is, even more so. In our house "You dog " is a term of endearment, not a pejorative. (At least that's what she tells me.)

At age 40, about a year after the kids were born, it was time to get serious about regular exercise. I started running three or four times a week. I enjoy it, and it keeps the stress and cholesterol down. I've done three ten milers (best time 85 minutes) and a marathon (4:24.) Not bad for a guy who became a jock in middle age.

Daniel Lyons writes in the latest Forbes magazine on easy blogging with Blogger. I've considered it for awhile. so here I am.

What will this be about? Running. Politics. Silliness. Kids. Travel. The GWOT. Life. Heck, I don't know, really. I'm making this up as I go along.
More boring gratuitous personal stuff follows. You've been warned.

I'm a civil engineer in a consulting firm with offices in Old Town Alexandria.
"What did you do at work today Dad?"
"Sent lots of emails, talked on the phone to clients, shuffled papers, went to too many meetings."
It's a good career. I've had a part, if only a small one, in projects like the Springfield interchange, the new Wilson Bridge, the new NAVSEA headquarters at thw Washington Navy Yard, and Pentagon Metro bus station.
I've been married for over fifteen years. The Wife teaches AP English and plays with an Irish band.
We have twin daughters, 12. They are terrific kids.
I grew up in the Southwest, went to Rice University, and then lived in Texas for ten years before moving to Virginia.
As George Will wrote,

Visitors may consider Rice the Harvard of the Southwest. Rice students
prefer to think of Harvard as the Rice of the Northeast.

I have a core sample of the Edwards aquifer on my desk; it's my own little piece of Texas.

Watson the Wonder Dog and Sweet Polly Purebred