Archive for the 'Keith's Page' Category

I know, let’s compare ourselves to Jimmy!!!

Let’s compare ourselves to other successful Democratic Presidents.

Brilliant I say! BRILLIANT.

Planting Trees

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If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

What do tea parties, Glenn Beck, Fox News, and the US Chamber of Commerce have in common? All are demonized opponents of the Obama administration, and more popular then ever.

“If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”

This seems to be the case, not only for Jedi Knights, but also opponents of the Obama administration (or at least those on their enemies list.)

Cases in point:

Tea party and the 9/12 DC Protest:

Does anyone think these would have had such widespread, and non-partisan support as they have if the Obama administration (and their MSM sycophants) hadn’t demonized and belittled the people attending them.

Glenn Beck

Beck’s indignant critiques of the Obama administration and gloomy outlook on the nation’s financial health have found near-instant resonance. His eponymous 2 p.m. PST program averaged nearly 2.2 million viewers last month — double the number the time slot attracted the previous February and a remarkable amount for the afternoon. That made “Glenn Beck” the third most-watched program in all of cable news for the month, after Bill O’Reilly’s and Sean Hannity’s evening shows.

“I look at the ratings every day shocked,” Beck said on a recent afternoon, sitting shoeless in his Midtown office as snow pelted the Manhattan skyline behind him.

But he believes he knows why viewers are tuning in: “People know in their gut that something’s not right. They’re not getting the truth.”

Fox News as a whole:

The August ratings are out, and once again, the ratings for the Fox News Channel are phenomenal.

Rather than throwing a million pieces of data that every channel is spinning into madness, I ask you to consider just this one: On Sunday night, the third episode of AMC’s highly-publicized and much-discussed series, “Mad Men,” drew an audience of 1.6 million viewers at 10 p.m. when it debuted. Throughout the month of August, Fox News Channel averaged an audience of 2.29 million viewers during every single hour of prime time. And some nights, Bill O’Reilly drew an audience twice as large as that of “Mad Men.”

US Chamber of Commerce:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is on track to exceed last year’s fundraising by more than $10 million, thanks in part to the Obama administration’s decision to target the pro-business group, according to the organization’s president.

President Tom Donohue told that even though a few companies have left the chamber over its opposition to President Obama’s domestic policies, the organization is actually benefiting from its place in the White House crosshairs.

“There are some longstanding members that wanted to step up and help more,” he told The public friction with the White House comes in the midst of a $100 million fundraising campaign for the chamber.

The White House, while claiming that it hasn’t tried to encourage any business to part ways with the chamber, has been cutting the business group out of the loop by dealing directly with member executives. Obama and his aides have criticized the group publicly for its opposition to legislation dealing with climate change, health care and financial regulation.

Another interesting point revealed in the above quote. Unions and community organizing are great, unless they oppose you, in which case it’s fine to just bypass them.


Don Surber notes that CNN’s numbers dropped 68% in prime time during the same period. President Obama’s polling numbers are showing a similar drop. Couldn’t be related, could it. (H/T instapundit)

Thanks for the instalanche… and welcome Instapundit readers.

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Where do I donate to the “citizen journalist” legal fund???

ACORN wants to play hardball. Smack it back at them… But that takes resources.

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Creep Factor 10

So, what do you do when adults stop singing your praises

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The Democrats really do want to screw the little people

I guess they think if you own a home, you must be rich.

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About those violent town hall protests

Never mind…

Water Under the Bridge

So Joe Wilson apologized for the outbreak during President Obama’s latest cheer leading session for health care/insurance reform.

While his behavior was inappropriate, he did have a point that Obama was not quite truthful with the facts. Otherwise there wouldn’t have been a flurry of activity to bar illegal immigrants from getting coverage under any current plans.

Wilson apologized again Thursday morning, though he also says a massive loophole could wind up in the health care bill: no requirement to prove citizenship for health care coverage.

Among three House committees to pass bills for health reform, only one expressly bans federal funding for proving health coverage to illegal immigrants.

“The Congressional Research Service has indicated that indeed the bills that are before Congress would include illegal aliens,” Wilson said. “And I think this is wrong.”

Indeed, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service study found that the House health care bill does not restrict illegal immigrants from receiving health care coverage.

House Republican Minority Leader John Boehner amplified the complaint that without proof of citizenship, illegal immigrants could be insured.

“There were two opportunities for House Democrats to make clear that illegal immigrants wouldn’t be covered by putting in requirements to show citizenships,” he said. “Both of those amendments were, in fact, rejected.”

In the Senate, Democrats in the so called “Gang of Six,” a group of bipartisan senators on the Senate Finance Committee which is the last panel yet to release its bill, began moving quickly to close the loophole that Wilson helped bring greater attention to.

“We absolutely assure that those who are here illegally would not get the benefit of any of these initiatives,” Sen. Kent Conrad said.

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Time for a Rum Revolt…

This just has me speechless… (or wordless…)

Under the agreement, London-based Diageo PLC will receive tax credits and other benefits worth $2.7 billion over 30 years, including the entire $165-million cost of building a state-of-the-art distillery on the island of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, a U.S. territory.

“The U.S. taxpayer is basically being asked to line the pockets of the world’s largest liquor producer,” says Steve Ellis, the president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog organization.

Some of the points Ed Morrissy is pointing out, which is the reason for my not thinking straight…

  • Puerto Rico will lose 300 jobs in this move
  • Puerto Rico uses 90% of its tax revenues from rum on public welfare. The loss of revenue will cut those funds just in time to have even more people unemployed.
  • Diageo produces about $103 million in tax receipts
  • I think if this is what passes for “smart leadership” in Washington, I’ll take the status-quo for $1000, Alex.

    Go read the whole thing for updates.

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Canadian scientist aims to turn chickens into dinosaurs

nothing could go wrong with that idea… 2 questions: will a 12 guage slug take them down, and will they taste like chicken??

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Pulling Strings in Foreign Relations

Seems to be an awful lot of “testing” going on.

Mutiny in Georgia!!!

Iran attacks Kurdish guerillas in Iraq with helicopters

Pakistan is melting down!!!

Chinese Ships Come Dangerously Close to American Vessel

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To Big To Fail

Over at Instapundit, Glenn has been keeping an eye on both the Tax Day Tea Party and the New Way Forward demonstrations.

Reading about what the left is doing, I have to think, that if the left thinks banks that are “to big to fail” should be broken up, then what about government programs like social security, medicare, and medicaid?

Surely, these are just as big, and they are to important to fail. Shouldn’t these also be broken up??

And once they’re done with the banks, and the auto industry, what are they going to find “to big to fail” then???

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Send in the SEALS

Well, here’s a true foreign crisis to test the President with.

My response is noted in the title. And we should kill the pirates. In fact, after rescued the hostages, and killed the pirates, we should get all Jeffersonian with the rest of them.

Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk confirmed that the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama had been attacked by pirates about 500 km (300 miles) off Somalia and had probably been hijacked. The company said it had 20 American crew on board.

A spokesman for the U.N.’s World Food Program (WFP) in Nairobi told Reuters that among the vessel’s cargo were 232 containers of WFP relief food destined for Somalia and Uganda.

At least the administration has already , although a weak one, so far.

A presidential spokesman says the White House is assessing a course of action to resolve the hijacking of a U.S.-flagged ship off the coast of Somalia.

Press secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that the White House was monitoring the incident closely. Said Gibbs: “Our top priority is the personal safety of the crew members on board.”

Keep checking back for updates when they’re available.

I’m not the only one following this: may have already retaken their ship. Should be an interesting story once we hear the whole truth. (hattip to tigerhawk) And there’s what I get for going out to lunch.

And it looks like Dam Riehl had the same idea as me… This mission would have been exactly why we have SEAL team 6, (now called the Naval Special Warfare Development Group,) isn’t it.


Well, I would have to say President Obama, and the Navy SEALs get passing marks for the resolution to this crisis. The bits-n-pieces to the story that I’ve heard are the stuff that will make great bar fodder when these SEALs cozy up for a brew. Two teams, parachuting at night in the seas near the Navy ship, to be picked up. 3 simultaneous shots from the deck of 1 ship into a towed lifeboat, taking at all three targets.

I’m sure if asked, all the SEALs involved would say it was “all in a days work.” Surely they deserve a moment of praise and adoration, even if they personally will be kept in the shadows as part of their mission.

And to all the second guessing about President Obama’s actions out in punditstan, we wouldn’t have done this to President Bush, so why disrespect the office now.

The scene got “tenuous” according to one official, shortly after the three pirates agreed to let the Bainbridge tow their boat. The sea conditions were worsening and the lifeboat was “floundering” before pirates acknowledged that by establishing a tow, it would be a smoother ride.

But sometime soon after the boats were hooked together, shots were fired from the lifeboat and the pirates were seen holding a gun to Captain Phillips back. Acting on a standing order from President Obama to move in when Phillips was in “imminent danger” snipers were ordered to fire.

They established clear head shots on all three pirates. One of the pirates was visible through the front window, and the other two were revealing their heads through the top hatch, presumably to get fresh air. It would be their last breath.

As to what this might portend for the future, one data point does not make a trend.

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Iraq – We’re Winning!!!

A funny thing happened on the way to Iraq, President Obama declared that we’re winning.

Anyone who’s been keeping up to date knows we’ve been making great progress, and I say, winning in Iraq. President Obama acknowledges the courage and sacrifice of our troops, while ignoring the sacrifice of the Iraqis, and the choices President Bush made to enable progress to be made.

Under enormous strain and under enormous sacrifice, through controversy and difficulty and politics, you’ve kept your eyes focused on just doing your job. And because of that, every mission that’s been assigned — from getting rid of Saddam, to reducing violence, to stabilizing the country, to facilitating elections — you have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country. That is an extraordinary achievement, and for that you have the thanks of the American people. (Applause.) That’s point number one.

Point number two is, this is going to be a critical period, these next 18 months. I was just discussing this with your commander, but I think it’s something that all of you know. It is time for us to transition to the Iraqis. (Applause.) They need to take responsibility for their country and for their sovereignty. (Applause.)

And in order for them to do that, they have got to make political accommodations. They’re going to have to decide that they want to resolve their differences through constitutional means and legal means. They are going to have to focus on providing government services that encourage confidence among their citizens.

All those things they have to do. We can’t do it for them. But what we can do is make sure that we are a stalwart partner, that we are working alongside them, that we are committed to their success, that in terms of training their security forces, training their civilian forces in order to achieve a more effective government, they know that they have a steady partner with us.

Something’s missing from this. Oh yeah, an acknowledgment that Iraqis have made a huge commitment, and have sacrificed much more then we have towards achieving these goals.

Nor did he, or the press mention that Iraqis already have control of a large number of the provinces, and has been making tremendous progress in the last 2 years.

As of November 2008, 13 of Iraq’s 18 provinces have successfully transitioned to Provincial Iraqi Control (PIC). In fact, the current report, shows that the same provinces that hadn’t transitioned, are still the areas of concern for further transitioning.

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They say you wanna Revolution!

Come one, come all. Anyone interested in attending a mass rally protesting the mess our government is, come join Hoosiers for Fair Taxation on March 25th at the capital building in Indianapolis.

They are also calling for volunteers, and there are sponsorship opportunities for anyone willing to donate money.

Keep an eye on their blog to stay informed about this.

Hoosiers for Fair Taxation were ahead of the times 2 years ago, as they held a Tea Party to protest the property tax increases that occurred in Indiana at that time.

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Not only is she a Bonneville record holder, but Leslie Porterfield also used an innovative new skin wrap on her bike. While I would suspect the claims of any company, a personal endorsement such as the following holds weight enough for me. A 3mph gain at top speed with no other change to the bike, that’s incredible.

Where can I get me some of this…

“I had excellent results with the FastSkinz on my motorcycles. Both bikes set records this year. I made several runs on the Honda at the Texas Mile. We had the opportunity to test all weekend, and change bodywork out for comparison. I had a consistent 3mph gain on top speed at the end of one mile.

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Pitchfork Time?? How about Shovel Time!

Glenn Reynolds ponders “IS IT PITCHFORK TIME? Dang, I don’t own a pitchfork. Oh well, they’re not too expensive. Maybe mail a bunch to Congress, first . . .”

I think shovels would be a more appropriate gift to send to our Congressmen. They must be standing knee deep in cow manure to believe their doing what’s best for the nations economy. And it would also give them a head start on their “shovel ready” projects.

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Late Night in the Halls of Congress

Well, the final text of the spendathon bill is out, looks like it was a late night in the halls of Congress.

Interesting that they chose not to create a searchable PDF, but scanned in a printed version, with markups.

hr1_legtext_cr.pdf – Created 2/12/2009 11:44:51 PM Modified 2/13/2009 12:40:12 AM
hr1_legtext_crb.pdf – Created 2/12/2009 11:55:17 PM Modified 2/13/2009 1:19:36 AM

hr1_cr_jse.pdf – Created 2/12/2009 10:22:08 PM Modified 2/13/2009 1:02:34 AM
hr1_cr_jseb.pdf – Created 2/12/2009 10:22:44 PM Modified 2/13/2009 1:26:21 AM

So much for promises of transparency by the Obama administration.

So much for the post-partisan Presidency.

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A Rose By Any Other Name

Sounds like they want the Fairness Doctrine to me. If they want this fight, then broadcast TV ought be included. More over at QandO.

“If markets cannot produce what society really cares about, like a media that reflects the true diversity and spirit of our country, then government has a legitimate role to play,” he said.

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Name That Party

Any guesses what party this state rep. belongs to? Answer after the break.

While local and national media swarmed Henrietta Hughes for interviews, Chene Thompson, wife of State Rep. Nick Thompson, grabbed Hughes’ hand and offered them a house.

The house is in LaBelle, the first home Chene Thompson bought after law school.
“Just give me the opportunity to help you,” Chene Thompson told her.

Politician doing a good deed. No mention of party.


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I Love Fast Women!!!

I think it’s great that there are fast women in the world. Fast on the 1/4 mile, fast on the Speedway, fast on the road course, and fast on the Salt Flats. If you thought I meant something else, you have a dirty mind.

Let me introduce Leslie Porterfield who holds 3 land-speed records, and is the fastest woman on a motorcycle in the US. 234.197 MPH

234.197 MPH !!!!

That would be really freakin’ fast in a car, and she did it on a naked bike. I first learned of her amazing feat while watching a Discovery Channel program, “Land Speed Records: Bonneville Salt Flats.” What is especially amazing to me is that Leslie returned to the Salt Flats to take the record after crashing at 175 MPH in 2007. She suffered several broken ribs, a punctured lung, and lots of bruises.

Next meet, Jessica Zalusky, who won #2 overall in the Central Roadracing Association Expert Championship.

Put Jessica in your prayers, as she suffered a stroke last year. Looks like she’s making a good recovery though.

I think both of these women (in fact all racers,) show tremendous courage when they sit behind the wheel or on top of a motorcycle. There’s always the chance that things will go wrong. And you have to be tough to recover from spills, accidents, or twists of fate.

So, why do I like seeing women in racing? It’s more then just wanting to see a pretty face in the pits and on the winners platform. My wife has done a little bracket racing, and one of the most inspiring things was seeing a little girl tug on her mom’s jeans saying, look, a girl is racing. I think it’s important to open up the possibilities for young women.

Racing isn’t just a mans game.

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Mr Bad Example

Isn’t there an energy crisis or something that we all have to worry about?

Guess, we can just call him “Mr Bad Example,” and be done with it.

The capital flew into a bit of a tizzy when, on his first full day in the White House, President Obama was photographed in the Oval Office without his suit jacket. There was, however, a logical explanation: Mr. Obama, who hates the cold, had cranked up the thermostat.

“He’s from Hawaii, O.K.?” said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, who occupies the small but strategically located office next door to his boss. “He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”

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Obama Snubs MOH recipients

In a sense, this is surprising to me. I thought Obama had more political sense to him then this. It might have been his handlers fault. That’s being generous though.

In this case, the American Legion, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and the Paralyzed Veterans of America, as well as other veteran’s groups, were sponsoring their gala that has coincided with the inaugural evening since Eisenhower took office in 1953. In total, nine presidents and 56 years have gone by, and each inaugural evening the new president arrived to thank the veterans and Medal of Honor recipients in attendance. As one of the “unofficial” balls, it meant quite a bit to have the president show up and make an appearance.

Except this time.

The president and first lady, for the first time in those ensuing 56 years, did not make an appearance at the Salute to Heroes Inaugural Ball. In attendance at the gala were 48 of the 99 living recipients of our nation’s highest honor. Of the 99 who are still with us, not even half are in any condition or possess the wherewithal to travel to such an event. And by the next inauguration, likely half of those won’t be with us.

This ball was hosted by the Medal of Honor Society.

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Is Today “Historic?”

In one sense, today is an historic day. We’ve now sworn in our 44th President, in yet another peaceful transition of the leadership of our government.

But it seems to me that the only other way to see this day as historic is to view Obama based on his skin color. Isn’t that exactly the opposite of what MLK was getting at.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I think the celebration is over the top, both in cost, and extravagance. The liberal double-standard is in play, as President Bush spent less on his parties, and was derided more. But, such is neither here nor there.

I expect President Obama will not meet the rather high expectations of his supporters, nor the worst fears of his detractors.

May God keep President Obama and our country safe.

Some other interesting quotes that come to mind right now.

I submit to you that if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.

* Speech in Detroit, Michigan (1963-06-23)

Man is man because he is free to operate within the framework of his destiny. He is free to deliberate, to make decisions, and to choose between alternatives. He is distinguished from animals by his freedom to do evil or to do good and to walk the high road of beauty or tread the low road of ugly degeneracy.

* The Measures of Man (1959)

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Taxation without Representation

The current bailout mania, and the long going practice of spending our way into debt, ought to be considered the highest form of “taxation without representation” as the government is taxing the future revenue of people who, at the moment, can not vote, may not even be born, or who currently are not US citizens.

The injustice of it all!!!

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How to help loose the election, in 10 easy steps…

I was commenting to my wife the other night when we saw the trailer for “Religulous,” just what the Obama camp needs at the moment, something to remind the right, and especially the religious right, why they hate liberals.

Bill Maher jabs his style of comedy into the eye of religions and those that follow them, in his latest film. I’ve not seen anything but the trailer, and it does look like he’s being an equal opportunity ass with this film. I really expect this, fairly or not, to get a lot of time on the radio, and pulpit.

We’re probably going to skip, since we can’t stand Maher.

We probably will go see “An American Carol,” with one of the big reasons being, liberals don’t want you to see this movie.

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Stop Making Sense

I really need to write my thoughts out sooner…

Imagine for a moment if John McCain had used a similar shopworn phrase in reference to Barack Obama’s policies. Suppose he said, “Obama says he’s going to cut your taxes but he’s really going to raise them. My friends, it’s time for some straight talk about taxes, it’s time to call a spade a spade.”

Do you think for a second the Joe Kleins, Andrew Sullivans, and Josh Marshalls of the world wouldn’t scream from the rooftops that McCain had used a racial slur against Obama? Of course they would – and they’d scoff at the notion that McCain was somehow unaware of how that phrase would be interpreted. Anyone who tried to argue that McCain was simply using a well known phrase that predated the current presidential race would be tagged as an apologist for racism. Even if McCain hadn’t meant it that way, it wouldn’t matter.

And you can bet if McCain made that sort of mistake he would immediately turn around and apologize publicly for using a phrase that could in any way have been construed as racist. Further, it’s inconceivable that McCain would begin a speech the following day, as Obama did, by not only failing to issue an apology but instead blaming his opponent for ginning up a phony controversy.

So count me among those who are underwhelmed by the entire episode. Obama played cute and got caught. The McCain campaign did what any campaign would do – and probably a lot less than the Obama camp would have done if the shoe were on the other foot.

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Substantive Debate vs Pot Shots vs Mudslinging

An interesting debate occurred through email over my short jab at Obama’s experience. Now, I think it’s great when we have substantive debate about important issues, but I’m not above taking pot shots at our political class. A little sarcasm can go a long way towards highlighting a particular issue.

Mudslinging – the act of throwing around outright lies, innuendo, and gossip, in the hopes of tarnishing the opposition. There may be the whiff of truth somewhere, but it’s usually hidden beneath a partisan agenda.

Pot shots – humorously pointing out a negative feature of the opposition. Should be true in and of itself.

Substantive debate – the point/counter-point revealing of facts about a topic.

Now, I’m not claiming that the following is a complete debate about the issues brought up. But it does show that, a pot shot may lead to a greater discussion of the issues. I think if you look through some of the comments on recent posts about Palin you’ll see examples of mudslinging. Actually you can look through the mainstream media and see enough mudslinging.


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Luck, Good Karma, and Preparing for the Worst

I had a lesson in all three this past Friday (8/29.) As I was riding my brand new Triumph Bonneville (with 2 weeks & 650 miles on it,) to work, not more then 2 miles from my house I had a collision with a raccoon. The short story is that the bike and I are in about the same shape, a few dings, and some scrapes, but salvageable. Currently the bike is at the dealer, waiting for inspection by the insurance agent. The rider is at work, and other then a little pain from his knees, is doing fine.

Read the whole story, and view the gory details below the fold.


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Recent History – Republic of Georgia

I’m doing this for my own benefit, as I’ve not followed the goings on in the Republic of Georgia, except to note when it’s in the news, not our Georgia.

April 18, 2008

Georgia sought the backing of NATO and the European Union on Friday after Russia stepped up pressure by announcing intensified ties with two separatist Georgian regions.

Georgia’s Vice Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze called Russia’s action “very, very, very dangerous.”

“It is a decisive moment,” said Georgia’s Vice Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze. “Russia has crossed the red line and Europe and the Euro-Atlantic community must react.”

April 22, 2008

Georgia has asked the U.N. Security Council to discuss Russia’s “military aggression” after saying a Russian jet shot down one of its unmanned spy planes.

“We call upon the United Nations to address this direct military aggression against Georgia and to fully exploit its own means and capabilities in order to keep the situation from further escalation,” Georgia’s U.N. Ambassador Irakli Alasania told reporters Monday.

To bolster its case, the Georgian air force released a video that it says shows a twin-tailed Russian MiG-29 shooting down a Georgian unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, over the separatist region of Abkhazia on Sunday.

April 23, 2008

Tensions have been escalating between Georgia’s pro-Western government and Russia, which is providing assistance to Abkhazia and another breakaway region, South Ossetia.

Georgian forces fought separatists in Abkhazia before the ceasefire was negotiated more than a decade ago.

Last week, Moscow formalized relations with the territories and withdrew trade sanctions while expanding “trade, economic, social, scientific and technical, information, cultural, and educational” contacts with them, Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency reported.

April 29, 2008

Russia is increasing the number of its troops near the region of Abkhazia amid simmering tensions between Russia and Georgia, the Defense Ministry announced Tuesday.

Georgians protest outside the Russian Embassy in Tbilisi on April 25, 2008.

A statement posted on the ministry’s Web site said the increase of what it called peacekeepers was in response to a Georgian troop buildup.

“Georgia is increasing its group of forces in close vicinity to the conflict zones,” and there have been “threats to use military force and provocations on behalf of Georgian authorities,” the statement said, according to a CNN translation.

July 4, 2008

Georgia and its breakaway region of South Ossetia offered differing accounts Friday of a shooting that highlights continued tension between them amid Georgia’s NATO ambitions.
South Ossetians stand in the street during a night of shelling in Tskhinvali.

South Ossetians stand in the street during a night of shelling in Tskhinvali.

South Ossetia said shootings Thursday night in the regional capital of Tskhinvali and surrounding areas killed two people and wounded 11 in what a South Ossetian government spokeswoman called a Georgian “military provocation,” according to a report on Russia’s state Interfax news agency.

A Georgian defense official, however, denied that Georgian troops even fired a shot, though they were fired upon, and said the incident is part of ongoing provocation by South Ossetian separatists.

August 2, 2008

Six people were killed and 13 wounded in the shelling of South Ossetia by Georgian forces, South Ossetian officials said Saturday, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

Officials of the breakaway Georgian region said the shelling was part of a Georgian military operation, Interfax reported.

Georgia initially suggested Russian peacekeepers were to blame, drawing heated denials from the Russian Defense Ministry, which called the allegation “dirty informational provocation.”

Later, however, Mamuka Kurashvili, the commander of Georgian peacekeeping operations, told reporters that four people were wounded when several Georgian villages were fired upon from South Ossetia, and Georgia “had to return fire.”

August 7, 2008

Georgia’s president on Thursday ordered his country’s forces to cease fire in South Ossetia, the separatist region where days of sporadic clashes have raised fears of full-scale war.

President Mikhail Saakashvili announced the order in a television broadcast in which he also urged South Ossetian separatist leaders to enter talks on resolving the conflict.

He proposed that Russia could become a guarantor of wide-ranging autonomy for South Ossetia, if the region remains under Georgian control.

Russia has close ties with the separatist leadership, and Georgian officials have alleged that Moscow is provoking the recent clashes.

August 8, 2008

Intense fighting reportedly raged for a second night in the Georgian separatist region of South Ossetia on Saturday and Georgia’s interior ministry reported air attacks on three military bases and key facilities for shipping oil to the West.

Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said the Vaziani military base on the outskirts of the Georgian capital was bombed by warplanes during the night and that bombs fell in the area of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline.

He also said two other Georgian military bases were hit and that warplanes bombed the Black Sea port city of Poti, which has a sizable oil shipment facility.

Utiashvili said there apparently were significant casualties and damage in the attacks, but that further details would not be known until the morning.

Russia dispatched an armored column into South Ossetia on Friday after Georgia, a staunch U.S. ally, launched a surprise offensive to crush separatists. Witnesses said hundreds of civilians were killed.

August 9, 2008

Russian forces launched an airstrike against a military airfield near the Tbilisi International Airport early Sunday, despite international calls for Russia to stand down from the escalating conflict, Georgian officials told CNN.

The attack near the Georgian capital city came after a day of intense fighting in the former Soviet republic, with dozens of Russian warplanes bombing civilian and military targets in Georgia on Saturday.

As many as 2,000 people had been killed in the capital of separatist Georgian province South Ossetia, according to a Russian ambassador.

“The city of Tskhinvali no longer exists. There is nothing left. It was wiped out by the Georgian military,” the Russian news agency Interfax said, quoting the Russian ambassador to Georgia, Vyacheslav Kovalenko.

August 11, 2008

As fighting continued Sunday between Russia and Georgia over the separatist province of South Ossetia, U.N. officials expressed concern about violence in another Russian-backed breakaway territory in Georgia.

Forces of Abkhazia launched air and artillery strikes on Georgian troops Sunday, intending to drive them out of a small part of Abkhazia that the Georgians controlled, The Associated Press reported.

U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Edmond Mulet said Russian personnel and weapons were part of a military buildup in Abkhazia’s capital, Sukhumi. The Georgian government said 4,000 Russian troops have landed in Abkhazia, according to the AP.

Also Sunday, bombing was reported in the Georgian city of Zugdidi, south of the Abkhaz border, “causing panic among the civilian population,” Mulet said. Information on casualties and who was responsible for the bombing wasn’t available.

Map of Georgia

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Just show him your O face

via Instapundit, we find Tigerhawk making the complaint that the new O salute is discriminatory against those differently-abled people who have lost an arm or hand. He doesn’t seem to have a problem with those who have lost both arms or hands though.

But the solution is simple. Show him your “O face.”

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My Summer Vacation

It was a busy weekend here at the homestead. Although it wasn’t actually at the homestead, we traveled to beautiful , to take in the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days event. Other than being hot, and humid, we had a great couple of days dodging golf carts and scooters, while ogling over the most motorcycles I’ve ever seen in one place.

This was also perhaps the largest vehicular event I’ve ever been to. Estimates are that there were 1000 swap meet vendors over 35 acres, 10’s of thousands of spectators, and I don’t know how many racers. I didn’t know who owned it at the time, but Jay Leno’s Y2K jet bike made a few laps around the track. That was a bit freaky, and thrilling, as a m/c passed by, and then you heard the whine of a turbine. Spent most of the time, taking pictures and wishing we had brought more money and a trailer.

Keith Taking Pictures

Keith Taking Pictures

There was also the added bonus of having Triumph motorcycles be the marque for the event. I’m currently in the market for a new motorcycle, because I like to ride, and the 2 m/c’s I have are in disrepair, I work on them more then I ride them. So, my wife graciously agreed last month that I could get a new m/c once our credit cards are paid off, which will be happening in the next month. Triumph is one of the few m/c’s that I’m interested in. I like the upright position of riding, and the classic look is unbeatable. Plus, it’s tame enough for a beginning rider, I’ve only been riding for 3 years now, and only have a thousand or so miles under me.

Taking a test ride of the Triumph Scrambler

Taking a test ride of the Triumph Scrambler

The test ride was good, I haven’t been able to ride since last spring, between selling our old house, moving into our new one, and trying to repair various cars and motorcycles. I did take a wrong turn, but I quickly realized my error and the tail gunner escort stopped to lead us back to the track. The Scrambler fit me well, and the power, handling and brakes were light years better then the 2 bikes I own. I’m now torn between the Scrambler and the Bonneville.

Yet another added bonus was being able to briefly meet Craig Vetter. If you are into motorcycles, you probably know him, or his products. He produced a line of fairings for motorcycles called the Windjammer. He was there with his new project, the Last Vetter Fairing, which is a full streamlined body for a Helix scooter. He’s aiming to get 100MPG at regular highway speeds, while able to fit 4 grocery bags into it. The thing is remarkable, especially when you realize the skin is made out of plastic notebook cover material, and only has around 18 HP. He is an inspiration to anyone investigating streamlining motorcycles. I’ve incorporated many of his ideas into sketches of things I’ve yet to build.

Craig Vetter w/ Streamlined Scooter

Craig Vetter w/ Streamlined Scooter

That’s Craig Vetter behind his scooter with the denim shirt and shades. He was happily talking about his efforts and hoped more people would get interested in his type of backyard innovation.

He also ran a contest in the early 80’s to see what kind of MPG people could get out of a motorcycle. 470 MPG was the record. Now these were purpose built machines, and the riders were crouched down to lower their wind resistance. His current project is all about practicality. Something a person could take to the store, or drive across country.

Most memorable food of the trip was having dinner at . Great food, but the decor and music were a flashback to the 80’s. If you’re in the area, I’d recommend it.

On the way home, we stopped off to pickup some parts to put disc brakes on my 61 Falcon. Met the guy off a Ford Falcon website, and he happened to have the parts sitting in his garage. So, I have another new project, which I’ll probably wait for the winter to start, to add to my long list of things I do in my increasingly rare spare time. At least I didn’t have to search the boneyards myself.

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Sometimes We Get Lucky

We probably wont know what’s behind this, unless there’s some indictments handed down. Just goes to show though that the fight against terrorism hasn’t completely left our country. However, the second article shows that many of those we are fighting over seas have been over here at some point in the past. Which just shows the need for tighter immigration and border enforcement. (both articles H/T Instapundit.)

At about 5 p.m. yesterday, an unidentified thief with a police record broke into a red van that had been parked at 53rd Street and Second Avenue in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park for about a month, a source told The Post.

He was stunned when he looked inside – it was filled with gas cans and Styrofoam cups containing a mysterious white substance with protruding wires and switches.

The street is lined with brownstones, and there’s a ballet studio and a small Muslim school. So he drove the van 15 blocks to 37th Street and parked it at a desolate waterfront location behind the Costco store and next to some little-used piers.

Then he got out and called a cop he knows from his run-ins with the law.

“He did the right thing,” a high-ranking officer said. “And he possibly saved a lot of people’s lives.”

In the six-and-a-half years that the U.S. government has been fingerprinting insurgents, detainees and ordinary people in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa, hundreds have turned out to share an unexpected background, FBI and military officials said. They have criminal arrest records in the United States.

There was the suspected militant fleeing Somalia who had been arrested on a drug charge in New Jersey. And the man stopped at a checkpoint in Tikrit who claimed to be a dirt farmer but had 11 felony charges in the United States, including assault with a deadly weapon.

The records suggest that potential enemies abroad know a great deal about the United States because many of them have lived here, officials said. The matches also reflect the power of sharing data across agencies and even countries, data that links an identity to a distinguishing human characteristic such as a fingerprint.

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Broadcaster Freedom Act – A Call To Action

First they came for the Press,
and I didn’t speak out,
because the press didn’t speak for me.
Then they came for television,
and I didn’t speak out,
I was tired of watching their bias anyway.
Then they came for talk radio,
and I failed to act,
so now the right is muzzled.
Then they came for my blog…

Could it happen, I don’t put it outside the realm of what is possible.

Why are the Democrats against free speech? Why do they want to bring back the Fairness Doctrine? Why are the stalling on an up or down vote on the Broadcaster Freedom Act?

And the big question, why aren’t conservatives, republicans, and libertarians up in arms over this and pressuring Congress to act.

Heard about this issue again, the other day when Mike Pence was on Hannity’s radio show. Why is it that the Democrats aren’t even discussing this issue? I can think of two reasons, they’re stalling in the hopes that they’ll have Obama to rubberstamp any old thing they pass in Congress. And they’re not talking about it so they don’t anger their base, or rile up the right. Last thing they’d want to do is get the right active again this close to an important election.

Free speech isn’t always fair, that’s why the market provides choices. If a station is forced to provide a “balanced” view of every issue, we will quickly find less and less views on the air. Assuming the stations can survive the legal battle the left brings to them to try and get those “opposing” views on the air. And, should Obama be elected President, what’s to prevent the Democrats from also going after blogs, and other websites, and making sure their version of “balance” reigns supreme.

Congressman Pence’s statement announcing this effort:

“Bringing back the Fairness Doctrine would amount to government control over political views expressed on the public airwaves. It is dangerous to suggest that the government should be in the business of rationing free speech. During my years in radio and television, I developed a great respect for a free and independent press. Since being in Congress, I have been the recipient of praise and criticism from broadcast media, but it has not changed my fundamental belief that a free and independent press must be vigorously defended by those who love liberty.

“Sadly, some of the most powerful elected officials in America have said that Congress should bring back this outright regulation of the American political debate. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, Senator Diane Feinstein and Senator John Kerry have openly advocated for bringing back the Fairness Doctrine. Meanwhile, the top Democratic leadership of the House united last summer during consideration of the Financial Services Appropriations bill to oppose my amendment enacting a one-year moratorium on the Fairness Doctrine. But that amendment passed.

“When 309 Members voted in support of the Pence Amendment to ban the Fairness Doctrine for just one year, they demonstrated the broad, bipartisan support that exists in the House for ending the specter of the Fairness Doctrine once and for all.”

23 more signatures are needed to get this on the docket to even be discussed. I think one thing every conservative, republican and libertarian blog should be doing right now is promoting this, and hounding people on this list. Contact your states representatives, and let them know your views on this.

Surely this is something everyone can get behind.

We’ve posted about this issue before, and it’s time to act.

Cross posted at The Next Right

Previous Posts:

01/16/07 Free Speech/Grassroots Lobbying Under Threat

04/30/07 The Return of “Fairness” to the Media

05/15/07 The “Fairness Doctrine” looms: Updated with a statement from Senator McConnell

10/05/07 Left Wing Attacks on Right Wing Punditry

10/08/07 Muzzling the Right

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War, Peace, and Reconciliation

Some thoughts from Hal Moore on war, peace, and reconciliation. Hal Moore

When the blood of any war soaks your clothes and covers your hands, and soldiers die in your arms, every breath forever more becomes an appeal for a greater peace, unity and reconciliation.

From face-to-face combat to arm-in-arm friendship — unity was restored by our efforts to come together. I implore our great leaders on “the many days after” Memorial Day to advance this most worthy of causes for peace and unity. People and nations rise above their differences only through effort, through trust.

Without trust, unity is beyond reach and restoration. With trust, unity is within reach and preservation. We must reach out to others in order to preserve the freedom we hold dear. We are each called to bear witness to the ideals of liberty. When we treat others with the respect and friendship that true liberty engenders, they will be brought into that same liberty.

When the heartbeat of one soldier stops forever, the heartbeat of our nation should accelerate, driving us to ensure that this life was not sacrificed in vain. That racing pulse should rouse us to seek, at all costs, better ways to understand, forgive and deal with our differences. Reconciliation should always be our objective.

We owe our dead and their survivors no less! We owe our children much more! We owe our children’s children even more! Let us pay our debts.

God bless America.

And God bless the men and women who serve her everywhere, past, present and future.

Have a happy and safe Memorial Day this weekend, and remember those who’ve sacrificed for the liberties we have.

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Amazing New MPG Breakthrough!!!

Yes, after extensive research I can now offer to the public an almost guaranteed way of decreasing the amount of gas used in a week. While YMMV (Your Millage May Vary) I saw a 13% increase this past week using this new breakthrough.

I’m so confident about this breakthrough, that I’m also going to thrown in another breakthrough, FOR ABSOLUTELY NO CHARGE!!!

The first breakthrough is, get this, driving slower.

I know, who would have thought, that driving slower would bring such incredible results. Yes, while YMMV, mine went up to 34MPG, from a paltry 30MPG. That’s right, by backing off on the skinny pedal, and setting the cruise control a whole 5 MPH slower then I normally do, I achieved such breakthrough millage.

But wait, I promised another breakthrough for decreasing the amount of gas used in a week, FOR FREE!!!

The second breakthrough is, drive less often.

I know, it’s an incredible breakthrough. Why, by planning our trips over the weekend, we only went on 3 trips for errands, where we could have easily made 5 or 6.

So, there you have it, two incredible breakthroughs in driving technology, which will, more then likely, reduce the amount of gas you use in a week. Of course, YMMV.

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The Other Credit Shoe Drops

If being upside down on your mortgage isn’t bad enough, consider how many people are into large pickups and SUVs for more then they are worth. And now with gas prices climbing they want to get out of them.

The sale of new SUVs and pickup trucks has dropped precipitously in recent months amid soaring gas prices and a weakening economy: SUV sales for the month of April alone fell 32.3 percent from a year earlier and small car sales rose 18.6 percent. This fundamental shift comes against a backdrop of relentless gas increases, and growing concerns over the environment and US oil consumption, according to auto analysts and car dealers.

“The SUV craze was a bubble and now it is bursting,” said George Hoffer, an economics professor at Virginia Commonwealth University whose research focuses on the automotive industry. “It’s an irrational vehicle. It’ll never come back.”

At the same time, consumers like Chrystall are flooding the market with used SUVs, trying to trade in hulking Hummers for compact Corollas, and getting thousands of dollars less than they would have just a few months ago. In April, the average used SUV took more than 66 days to sell, at a 20 percent discount from vehicle valuation books, such as Kelley Blue Book, compared to 48 days and a 7.8 percent discount a year earlier, reported CNW Marketing Research, an automotive marketing research company.

Get me a turbo diesel hybrid SUV that get’s 30MPG and I’d be interested in it. As a family hauler w/ toys trailered out back. Otherwise, my next new vehicle will probably be a turbo diesel sedan, and better get north of 40MPG.

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And Pigs Will Fly…

Hmmm, oil states controlling production to just barely meet 35.6% of supply so they can keep prices high. That’s bad.

“We’re going to go right at OPEC,” she said. “They can no longer be a cartel, a monopoly that get together once every couple of months in some conference room in some plush place in the world, they decide how much oil they’re going to produce and what price they’re going to put it at,” she told a crowd at a firehouse in Merrillville, IN.

“That’s not a market. That’s a monopoly,” she said, saying she’d use anti-trust law and the World Trade Organization to take on OPEC.

But, wait till you see her plan for health care.

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Clinton Campaign Steppin’ In It – Updated

I agree with one of the commenters over on HotAir

How DARE they call us Indianans. We are called Hoosiers for some gawd damn reason, so call us that when you’re insulting us.

I dare him to come here and say that. It would be a tossup if he were beaten or laughed at. Mostly we’d probably laugh at him, and maybe tar-n-feather him. That’s what he deserves.


Alright, seems to have been either a hoax, or a dirty campaign trick.

But I will stand by my tar-n-feathering for anyone who got Bill Clinton elected… or nearly any career politician.

One has to ask though, who ultimately benefits from an anti-Clinton attack based on doctored footage?

Maybe this is actually a reverse attack. Now that the ad has been shown to be faked (and quickly,) Hillary will gain some sympathy, because obviously Obama and his crew are using dirty tricks to attack Hillary. So, maybe Clinton operatives put out such an attack, simply because it could be easily defused.

Or, most likely, an army of one decided that this was a good ploy. Occams razor and all…

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Sins of Omission – Updated

The sin of omission that Hillary is committing with the re-telling of the Indiana plant moving to China (while not mentioning that it was sold to China during her husbands tenure,) is starting to gather some light. The following story was linked by the DrudgeReport today.

It’s a story Hillary Clinton loves to tell, about how the Chinese government bought a good American company in Indiana, laid off all its workers and moved its critical defense technology work to China.

And it’s a story with a dramatic, political ending. Republican President George W. Bush could have stopped it, but didn’t.

If she were president, she says, she’d fight to protect those jobs. It’s just the kind of talk that’s helping her win support form working-class Democrats worried about jobs and paychecks, not to mention their country’s security.

What Clinton never tells in the oft-repeated tale is the role prominent Democrats played in selling the company and its technology to the Chinese. She never mentions that big-time Democratic contributor George Soros helped put together the deal to sell the company, or that the sale was approved by the administration of her husband.

I’ve been following this since the 24th when I finally got around doing some investigation of the claims she made in her ad. And even noted that Senator Bayh of Indiana is complicit in her sin of omission.

And what is their excuse for not being concerned with the purchase in 1995…

Because “there were assurances made that production would stay in the United States,”

In other words, they promised not to move production out of the US.


Instapundit linked to the same story also.

And the story made the Special Report w/ Brit Hume last night on Fox News.

The Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin, keep this wagon rollin’ Update:

More coverage,

Kevin Griffis, Indiana spokesman for U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, said Hillary Clinton’s comments about Magnequench were part of “Washington game-playing” in which “people are willing to say anything to win an election.”

“In 1995, when this group bought Magnequench, there were assurances made that production would stay in the United States.” But as ABC recounts, the Congressional Research Service reports that the state-owned Chinese company that Clinton allowed to purchase Magnequench “promised to keep those Anderson, Ind., jobs in the U.S. only until 2005.”

Hillary’s chutzpah in flagging this issue is compounded by her criticism of the sale on national-security grounds (“They’re building up their military. They want to compete with us every step of the way. And we’re basically helping them.”) In the late 1990s, Republicans in Congress decided that U.S.-approved technology transfers to China under Clinton were creating a disastrous national-security breach, and conservatives tried to stir anxieties about imminent U.S. surrender to the Middle Kingdom to defeat presidential candidate Al Gore in 2000. Now, to win Indiana, Hillary Clinton seems to be saying that the wingers were right all along about that no-good husband of hers.

Interestingly, the hometown paper did carry this on the 17th of last month. But it hasn’t received national attention until now. Hmmm, wonder if the email to the Obama campaign had anything to do with it???

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Shooting Oneself in the Foot

Never underestimate the power of a politician to overestimate their power, especially in an election year.

Just as the signs are trending towards a “permanent” majority for Democrats, one of them has the bright idea to poke a sleeping bear.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, has introduced a bill that would allow the FBI to keep background check information on approved gun buyers for 180 days.

Since 2004, records of firearm transactions must be destroyed within 24 hours after those transactions are approved. (Prior to 2004, the FBI retained the records for 90 days.)

Second Amendment supporters strongly oppose the retention of lawful gun sale records, seeing it as a step toward creating a national gun registration list. When the National Instant Criminal Background Check System began running at the end of 1998, the FBI said it would “not be used to establish a federal firearm registry” and that all information resulting in legal firearm transfers would be destroyed.

I can already anticipate the pleas from the usual suspects (NRA, GOA, 2nd Amendment Foundation, etc) coming in the mail.

The last thing the Democrats ought to be doing is riling up those rubes in the heartland who are clinging to their guns and religion. The 2 things they hate most are people trying to take away their guns or religion, which is probably why most of them cling so dearly to them.

Next thing you know they’ll be pushing to pass an “assault weapons” ban.

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The Irony Keeps Rolling : Updated

In searching today about the post I put up last week, about Clinton’s ad about defense jobs lost to China, I found these juicy bits

Bayh blasted federal policies that allowed the sale of the plant to the Chinese, saying that now the United States has to buy the magnets used in its smart bombs from China. The Pentagon bureaucrat who approved the sale ought to have lost his job, Bayh said, not the 225 people who worked at Magnaquench. “We ought to put a stop to it, and President Clinton will,” he said.

Trout said Indiana used to be the magnet capital of the United States, but that all magnet manufacturing plants have since been sold to foreign interests.

“If we had someone in the White House who was paying attention, maybe this wouldn’t have happened,” he said.

Clinton said America is losing its military advantage. To allow the sale of a company that makes magnets for use in smart bombs to the Chinese is “anything but smart,” she said.

Eee gads, the irony is just to good to be true.

Coverage of the issue

Glad to see I wasn’t the only one to figure it out.


OH, and it really does keep on rolling:

We might just want to ask ourselves, who was governor of Indiana at the time of the sale to China?

I know, I know, but they promised not to move the company out of the country, so that makes it OK to sell them the technology.

More coverage:

And I got a letter in the local paper

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Is Obama an Elitist?

Finally, someone else is bringing up the same point I’ve been making about Obama’s remarks at that SanFran fundraiser…

For a man who clings to a racist black preacher as tightly as Obama has clung to Reverend Wright, it’s odd that he would speak of clinging to religion as a small-town phenomenon that grew out of bitterness. Someone might think that he’s projecting his own reason for clinging to religion onto white people, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on here.

Likewise, I don’t know anybody who “clings to” religion out of bitterness. In fact, the people I know who are truly bitter invariably become atheists. It’s the people with faith and hope who cling to religion. Surely Obama knows this from his own experience and from the religious people in his life. Does he really think white people cling to religion for reasons so radically different from black people?

Or is he actually admitting that while he attends Rev. Wright’s church, Obama himself doesn’t actually believe in religion — he just knows that going to church is something a politician has to do? And Rev. Wright was his friend, so it might as well be his church? To explain away religious faith as, in effect, the “opiate of the people” — something you cling to because your life is so awful — is a position, not of a believer, but of the atheistic intellectual Left.

Read the rest as sci fi author Orson Scott Card deconstructs what Obama said, and what it implies. At least in his view.

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Clinton to Keep Defense Jobs Here

Here’s an ad some of you may not have seen. But now (wonder of wonders) since Indiana is a battleground state in the Democratic primary, it’s been getting plenty of air play during the local news programs.

Hillary Clinton:
Right here over 200 Hoosiers built parts that guided our military’s smart bombs to their targets.
They were good jobs, but now, they’re gone to China.
And now America’s defense relies on Chinese spare parts.
George Bush could have stopped it, but he didn’t.
As your president, I will fight to keep good jobs here, and to turn this economy around.
I’m Hillary Clinton and I approve this message because American workers should build America’s defense.

Seems like a simple enough case, doesn’t it. Bush and the Republicans failing to do what she would do.

But wait till you here the kicker about this.

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Welcoming Signs of Progress

Security improvements bringing people back to their homes in South Baghdad…

With security improving, local economies flourishing and community reconstruction underway, Iraqis who once fled their South Baghdad homes in fear are now returning to the villages they deserted.

This is a good sign, said Maj. Mark Bailey, the officer in charge of the Multi-National Division – Center governance cell.

“Once people are convinced that security is good in their area, they come back,” said Bailey, who is with 401st Civil Affairs Battalion, attached to 3rd Infantry Division. “If they own a business, they re-open their business, which helps the economy.”

Out of the approximate 18,700 Iraqis who left their homes, it is estimated that 10,450 have returned, according to MND-C records.

via Hot Air we find that the Iraqis are making further progress in reconciliation.

Most of those released were Sunnis who had been low-level army officials or former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party. They were among thousands of Iraqis who were arrested without charges by coalition and Iraqi forces. The discharges signal “a return to some sense of normalcy,” said U.S. Army Col. David Paschal, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division, who attended the ceremony. “At some point, the fighting must stop.”…

The prisoners are being freed under an amnesty law passed by Iraq’s parliament in February. More than 52,400 detainees in government custody have applied for their freedom. Of those, nearly 78%, or more than 40,000, were granted amnesty. More than one in five, though, were denied because they are being held for crimes not covered by the law. These include killing, kidnapping, rape, embezzling government funds, selling drugs and smuggling antiquities.

Ed Morrissey says of this:

This marks yet another benchmark in the Maliki government’s progress in meeting the political benchmarks set by Congress. It also defuses a longstanding point of friction with the Sunni tribes who have complained loudly about the imbalance in treatment for their communities by Baghdad. Their efforts to work within the political system have paid off, and their win in gaining amnesty for so many detainees will encourage them to work within the democratic system rather than conduct insurgencies against it.

Day by day, week by week, Iraq is making the progress we all want to see on all fronts. Security, Economic, and Socio-Political.

That this isn’t bigger news isn’t a surprise. After all, we need to know when Hillary knocks back a cold one, or someone finds yet another radical in Obama’s past.

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McCain’s Tax Plan

Lot’s of stuff to like here

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called for a repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) on Tuesday as part of his “pro-growth, pro-jobs tax agenda.”

If elected president, McCain said he would make it harder to raise taxes. “It should require a three-fifth-majority vote in Congress to raise taxes,” he said.

McCain also called for a “permanent and immediate reform of the estate tax.” He said he wants to exempt estates valued up to $10 million from taxation and cut the tax rate to 15 percent.

He also called for the enactment of “a new and simpler tax system that would give the American people a choice.”

“As president, I will propose an alternative tax system,” he said. If enacted, McCain’s plan potentially would increase the federal income tax exemptions for dependents from $3,500 to $7,000.

McCain said he wants “a simpler, a flatter, and a fair tax code” with the options of either paying under the current system or choosing from “a vastly less complicated system with two tax rates and a generous standard deduction.”

The presidential candidate also proposed the enactment of a law that would lower the business income tax from 35 percent to 25 percent, although he was critical of “the extravagant salaries and severance deals of CEOs.”

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McCain – Not a Flip-Flopper on Housing Issue

Well, it’s all the rage now. The AHA GOTCHA! moments of political campaigning.

Some think they’ve got McCain painted in a corner by the selective use of quotes:

In a speech March 25, he said: “It is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers.” He also said that any assistance shouldn’t “reward people who were irresponsible at the expense of those who weren’t.”

And now, McCain is proposing a medium sized bailout (i.e. less then the Democrats but greater then none.) So, there, he’s clearly contradicting himself. Both Obama and Hillary are starting to pump up this meme, no doubt, in an effort to distract the public from their own flaws.

Except that, he said more than those 2 sentences.

From his March 25th speech:

Let’s start with some straight talk:

I will not play election year politics with the housing crisis. I will evaluate everything in terms of whether it might be harmful or helpful to our effort to deal with the crisis we face now.

I have always been committed to the principle that it is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers. Government assistance to the banking system should be based solely on preventing systemic risk that would endanger the entire financial system and the economy.

In our effort to help deserving homeowners, no assistance should be given to speculators. Any assistance for borrowers should be focused solely on homeowners, not people who bought houses for speculative purposes, to rent or as second homes. Any assistance must be temporary and must not reward people who were irresponsible at the expense of those who weren’t. I will consider any and all proposals based on their cost and benefits. In this crisis, as in all I may face in the future, I will not allow dogma to override common sense.

When we commit taxpayer dollars as assistance, it should be accompanied by reforms that ensure that we never face this problem again. Central to those reforms should be transparency and accountability.

We may not like what he’s proposing now, but it is entirely consistent with his views in March.

That his views weren’t properly conveyed by either the media, or his political opponents shouldn’t be surprising. That they also aren’t being properly conveyed now, shouldn’t be a surprise either.

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Political Progress in Iraq

This will be good news if it happens…

Iraq’s major Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish parties have closed ranks to force anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to disband his Mahdi Army militia or leave politics, lawmakers and officials involved in the effort said Sunday.

Such a bold move risks a violent backlash by al-Sadr’s Shiite militia. But if it succeeds it could cause a major realignment of Iraq’s political landscape.

The first step will be adding language to a draft election bill banning parties that operate militias from fielding candidates in provincial balloting this fall, the officials and lawmakers said. The government intends to send the draft to parliament within days and hopes to win approval within weeks.

“We, the Sadrists, are in a predicament,” lawmaker Hassan al-Rubaie said Sunday. “Even the blocs that had in the past supported us are now against us and we cannot stop them from taking action against us in parliament.”

And it looks like Sadr is reading the writing on the wall…

Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr will consult senior religious leaders and disband his Mehdi Army militia if they instruct him to, a senior aide said on Monday.

The surprise announcement was the first time Sadr has proposed dissolving the Mehdi Army, one of the principle actors in Iraq’s five-year-old conflict and the main opponent of U.S. and Iraqi forces during a recent upsurge in fighting.

It came on the day Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, in a television interview, ordered the Mehdi Army to disband or Sadr’s followers would be excluded from Iraqi political life.

Senior aide Hassan Zargani said Sadr would seek rulings from Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most senior Shi’ite cleric, as well as senior Shi’ite clergy based in Iran, on whether to dissolve the Mehdi Army, and would obey their orders.

That effectively puts the militia’s fate in the hands of the ageing and reclusive Sistani, a cleric revered by all of Iraq’s Shi’ite factions and whose edicts carry the force of Islamic law, but who almost never intervenes in politics.

“Moqtada al-Sadr has ordered his offices in Najaf and Qom to form a delegation to visit Sistani in Najaf and (other leaders) in Qom to discuss the disbanding of the Mehdi Army,” Zargani told Reuters.

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Uncertain Future of Iraq

Fred and Kimberly Kagan have a decent analysis of what we do and don’t know about the situation in Iraq.

Just the highlights (as I see them)

Do Know

* The legitimate Government of Iraq and its legally-constituted security forces launched a security operation against illegal, foreign-backed, insurgent and criminal militias serving leaders who openly call for the defeat and humiliation of the United States and its allies in Iraq and throughout the region. We can be ambivalent about the political motivations of Maliki and his allies, but we cannot be ambivalent about the outcome of this combat between our open allies and our open enemies.

* The Sadrists and Special Groups failed to set Iraq alight despite their efforts–Iraqi forces kept the Five Cities area (Najaf, Karbala, Hillah, Diwaniyah, and Kut) under control with very little Coalition assistance; Iraqi and Coalition forces kept Baghdad under control.

* Sadr never moved to return to Iraq, ordered his forces to stop fighting without achieving anything, and further demonstrated his
dependence on (and control by) Iran.

Don’t Know

* What was his (Maliki) precise aim? He continually spoke about fighting “criminal elements,” but then issued an ultimatum for the disarmament of all JAM (a task clearly beyond the means of the forces he sent to Basra).

* Did Maliki accept a deal with Sadr in return for his stand-down order and, if so, what was involved? We know what Sadr’s demands were (at least publicly), but he ordered his forces to stop fighting before Maliki publicly accepted his terms.

Read the rest…

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Operation Lost Cause

Let’s see, the Mahdi Army is in retreat, and the ISF is continuing operations, and sending reinforcements.

Isn’t it OBVIOUS that Maliki is loosing.

Update -

This puts things into perspective…

Mission accomplished has been duly declared, although the JAM in Basra remains apparently intact and raids are still ongoing to seize some of the weapons whose surrender was the accomplishment the mission was aimed at. I’ve given up trying to figure out who won, a conclusion I reached when I found myself nodding along with this theory that Sadr’s actually in cahoots with Maliki to target the “rogue” JAM units who are operating essentially as renegades but under the Mahdi Army banner.

Read the whole thing…

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Indiana Republicans for Obama??

Temporarily for Obama… Maybe.

So far as I can gather Obama is a big question mark, who’s been ‘present’ for the voting of many important issues, but who refuses to take a stand on them.

But I can think of one thing that would make me vote for Obama.

Mrs. Clinton’s aides said they could see no circumstance in which she would withdraw unless she lost Pennsylvania on April 22. Two senior advisers and one close ally said they would urge her to quit the race if she lost Indiana two weeks later, on May 6…

Some of her associates said Indiana was now a must-win state for her. A defeat there would make it even more mathematically improbable that she would win the nomination and undercut any boost she might achieve from a victory in Pennsylvania.

But is that even the right strategy?? Would trying to ensure a Hillary win drag the process out, causing even more damage to both Democratic candidates and the party itself??

Other opinions would be appreciated…

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