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    Saturday, August 29, 2009

    Mark Steyn on Kennedy Hagiography

    Mark Steyn, as usual, says best the way I feel about Kennedy's passing (in case that's scrolled off, you can find my thoughts, here).

    While Liberals are spending the day mourning the loss of the "greatest legislator" (is having your name on 1000 bills really an accomplishment?) or the "Lion" of the Senate (doesn't that just mean he spoke a lot?) or the last great "civil" senator (tell that to Robert Bork), I guess I am spending it wondering why they love this SOB who left a 29 year old woman to die.

    But, "it's the body of his work, the totality of the man" they say.

    Say it all you want, why would I expect people who don't care whether an unborn child is killed to care about Mary Jo Kopechne's death and the Senator's culpability in it, and the character his actions afterward revealed.

    They don't care. He was right on their issues, and he was moderately effective. Who cares what he might have done. If serial abuser (if not rapist) Bill Clinton can be forgiven (hell, he even had one female columnist promising to fellate him) because he pledged to protect a woman's womb, surely Ted Kennedy is forgiven murder for 40 years of adherence to liberal orthodoxy.


    Beers for Torture! I'm in!

    Jeffrey H Smith, former general counsel to the CIA (during the Clinton administration) wrote an op-ed last week in the Washington Post giving six reason why the CIA interrogators should NOT be prosecuted.

    This necessarily prompted the predictable responses from those opposed to torture, enhanced interrogation, or any technique providing useful information from the enemy.

    However, one writer, Patty Healy, of Fairfax, VA (here's to you, Patty!) dissented and cleanly summed up my views:

    "I am sorely disappointed that the names of the interrogators were redacted in the recently released memos about interrogation techniques. The more I read about what they did to protect our country, the more I would like to buy them a beer."

    (H/T: Brother-in-law and actual reader of the Washington Post.)


    Ted Kennedy's Legacy: OJ Simpson

    Frank Fleming, publisher of IMAO.com and Pajamas Media contributor, has it about right on Ted Kennedy when he says,

    "What was his civil rights legacy? He was a rich white guy who killed a woman and got away without consequences, and so paved the way that one day a black man, O.J. Simpson, could do the same?"

    Other than that, I don't really see what greatness Ted Kennedy brought to his life and to our world.

    The guy was a drunken lecher, who happened to be borne into the American version of royalty. He was the progeny of a man, Joseph P Kennedy, who today would be the poster child to the Left of all that is wrong with corporate America. And, sometimes when you listen to the Left complain and rail on the evil executive class, you have to wonder if Teddy hadn't just delivered a speech to them on his own father's life.

    In his own life, Ted Kennedy will always be remembered, by me, for allowing a young girl, Mary Jo Kopechne, to die in his car after he crashed off an embankment at Chappaquidick Island, MA. He failed to report the incident for 10 hours, and, in the real world that the rest of us live in, would have been found guilty of manslaughter, at the least. But, like OJ, the Kennedy's don't live in our world. Kennedy did plea to a misdemeanor Leaving the Scene of an Accident charge, and got two months probation.

    Listening yesterday to some people talk about Senator Kennedy, it was clear he was a likable guy, as most Irish drunks are. People enjoyed his company. He lived life hard, but he had the wealth and privilege to do that without serious repercussions. Orrin Hatch related a time where Kennedy had played a song (I guess that Hatch had composed) for his 2nd wife (oh, yes, did I mention he was also a serial philanderer), and he called Hatch to thank him and tell him how well received it was. The funny part (to Hatch, certainly not to taxpayers) was that Hatch received this call while working in Washington, from Kennedy, on the family boat with his significant other. When Hatch asked Kennedy why he wasn't working, Kennedy just laughed. Joke was on you, Massachusetts residents who elected this guy 7 times.

    Another story teller (friend, Ed Kleine) related during a discussion on “The Diane Rehm Show” on National Public Radio (H/T The Examiner):

    "I don't know if you know this or not, but one of his favorite topics of humor was indeed Chappaquiddick itself. And he would ask people, ‘Have you heard any new jokes about Chappaquiddick?’ I mean that is just the most amazing thing. It's not that he didn't feel remorse about the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, but that he still always saw the other side of everything and the ridiculous side of things, too. "

    Don't believe me, listen yourself:

    I'm sure Ted Kennedy was a lovable drunk. Many are. Many are just sad caricatures of lives wasted and what could have been. His God, and mine, has forgiven him his sins, so may he rest in peace.

    But, how should he be remembered by the living?

    Ted Kennedy was an Irish Catholic who was pro abortion with a hard-Left voting record which insulated him from any attacks on his Left. He "championed" every Liberal cause that came along for 40 years, and fought the less Liberal members of his own party, including presidents (Clinton, Carter). He was surely an effective legislator for the Left. They will remember him as the "Lion of the Senate" (whatever the hell that means) and the Right will remember him as the poster child for wealth and privilege run amok.

    I will just try NOT to remember him. He has personally destroyed one life, and has tried to destroy the America the Founders created for 40 years.

    Good riddance, Ted.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2009

    Memo to CIA: STOP with the smoke blowing...

    In the latest revelations against the CIA, we learn that interrogators of Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri (according to the 9-11 commission report, the mastermind of the attack on the U.S.S. Cole) not only BLEW SMOKE in his face, but smoked cigars!

    The horror!

    Rather than laughing at the Inspector General's representatives, "This interrogator said he would not do this again based on 'perceived criticism.'"

    So, something that you could still experience first hand in bars in some more free parts of the country is considered an "Unauthorized or undocumented [interrogation] technique" to the CIA IG's office, and, I am sure also to Eric Holder.

    I wonder if Barack Obama has ever blown smoke in anyone's face? He's sure blowing it up our @$$.


    Tuesday, August 25, 2009

    Why Hate Crime Legislation Should be Opposed

    Since nearly most crimes involve some kind of "hatred" I have never felt there was a specific need for "hate" crimes legislation.

    In passing these types of laws, our lawmakers are elevating certain victims to a higher status than others, therefore making a mockery of "all men are created equal."

    While liberal politicians pass these off as applying equally when they are pitching them to the electorate, they are rarely applied equally in practice, regardless of how heinous the crime, nor how obvious the "hatred."

    Furthermore, for most people prosecuted under hate crimes statutes, they usually would have received the same punishment under existing statutes. So, hate crimes legislation does little other than offer DA's an opportunity to grandstand and favored groups an opportunity to decry the hatred of some vile group (more often than not - that reviled group is some form of white, racist, homophobic redneck).

    Anyway, because of the favored status of certain groups, these laws tend to diminish truly horrific crimes.

    I wanted a maximum audience to read about a particularly horrific crime. A crime that is truly borne of hate, but, because it was not committed against one of the Left's favored interest groups, it will never receive any media attention beyond the locality where it occurred.

    I pondered cutting and pasting the details here, but, they are so horrific, I don't want anyone who isn't forewarned to read them.

    For all of you who have children between the ages of 16-24 especially (or will have them), this story will make you sick, and hopefully, make you mad as well.

    Link here, but you were warned.


    Friday, August 21, 2009

    A Quick Thought on Medicare and Health Care Reform

    I spent some time recently talking to my mother-in-law (70ish) about Medicare, since I have no first-hand experience with the program and wanted to find out if she, as a Medicare user, was happy with the experience and a little about how the program works.

    Here are my 2 key take-aways:
    1. She's generally happy with Medicare, but, she still has to pay a healthy monthly premium for her health insurance for Medicare supplements, but, she pretty much has one of those gold-plated policies that covers everything.
    2. The prescription drug benefit passed during the Bush years was a very good deal for her.

    So, I wondered, if seniors are generally happy (and, a sample size of 1 isn't very good), then why can't we just extend Medicare to everyone?

    Well, the answer should be obvious to just about everyone - we just can't afford it. We can barely afford Medicare, Medicaid and S-CHIP now, and to extend such a system to every person in the country would require such confiscatory taxation as to destroy economic growth in this country. In fact, with the government in control of about 50% of the health care spending now, it is more a part of the problem than a part of the solution.

    My personal opinion is that the taxation system that rewards employers for providing health benefits is the biggest problem we have in health insurance. If we instead passed those benefits directly to the consumers of health care, we'd give a much better chance of making health care more portable, which would address some of the pre-existing conditions problems, and we'd make it more affordable, and address some of the uninsured.

    No doubt that this would still leave many uninsured, but, rather than tearing down the system completely, and remaking it in the government's image, this would retain the system of private insurance, which will certainly allow for more innovation, better allocate scarce resources, and not place health care decisions into the hands of a)bureaucrats with no stake in individual's health decisions, and b)elected officials who may be corrupt, incompetent, or both.

    Then, once we start to bound the problem better, we can begin the hard work of dealing with the chronically uninsured, and the poor.

    This is really a philosophical debate. Either you believe that the government can efficiently and effectively run the health care system, or you believe markets are the best way to manage resources. In the current debate, there really appears to be little middle ground, and I side with those who look at what government does, at the hubris of those suggesting that government can do this (if only this group of smart people run it), and agree with them that individuals, operating within a (relatively) free market, can make the best choices about their health care and how to spend their money.


    Tuesday, August 18, 2009

    Southwest not coming to Atlanta after all

    Because Southwest would not revise its offer for Frontier due to provisions regarding pilot seniority and merging the lists, Republic Airways won Frontier in bankruptcy court, for about $60M less than Southwest was offering.  Read more here.
    In other Atlanta aviation news, Airtran is swapping slots at Newark for slots at National Airport and Laguardia.  The net result - no more Airtran flights to Newark.  Want to go on Airtran to NYC, you must go to Laguardia.  You'll get more flights to National and to LGA, though.

    Sunday, August 16, 2009

    Big Brother - Reality TV Update

    It's no secret that we are big Reality TV fans in our house. We don't watch every show, but, American Idol, Survivor, The Amazing Race, The Apprentice, and Big Brother always have a faithful audience at our house.

    We've only recently (3 seasons?) started watching Big Brother, so we don't know a lot of the history of the show.

    This week, though, in BB11, CBS announced that one of the "houseguests," Chima, was evicted for rules violations.

    If you haven't stumbled onto this news yet, and you're a BB11 fan, maybe CBS will enlighten us tonight on what exactly happened. Since BB is broadcast over the Internet to (paying) subscribers 24/7, and runs for 3 hours every night (from 12AM-3AM Eastern) on Showtime 2, many people have seen what's going on in the House that we don't get in the primetime shows.

    It would appear that Chima was extremely abusive and downright rude to the other houseguests, and that Thursday night (I think), she went nuts, after another houseguest used a power that was part of the game ("Coup d'Etat) to change nominations for eviction that Chima had made in her role as Head of Household, and when Chima herself was nominated for eviction. She becamse abusive to the producers of the show and refused to wear her microphone, in fact, she threw it into the BB hot tub and ruined it.

    Anyway, whether she left of her own accord, or was asked to leave, she's gone.

    My view - she was a rude, arrogant woman with a huge chip on her shoulder, and the producers tired of her act. Her exit may have been more mutual than one-sided, but she needs to learn something from this exercise about respect for others.

    Chima composed an email, supposedly, here to the BB Examiner web site.


    Friday, August 14, 2009

    Outlook Bleak for NASA

    The Augustine Panel, commissioned to look at our manned space flight options given current and slightly expanded budget options, has determined that there are "no good options for continuing human exploration of space within the constraints set by the Obama administration's fiscal 2010 budget plan for NASA," according to this Aviation Week article.  There is no way, under the current budget, that we will be able to retire the shuttle, shut down the ISS by 2016, and develop the Ares I/Orion and get to the moon by 2020.  No way.  Sad.
    However, with an increase of $3B/year (now, that's a stimulus I could get behind!), we could get to the moon by 2025, according to subcommittee chair Sally Ride.
    There are some who say it is not a conservative ideal to explore space, and I would say they are ideologically right.  However, inasmuch as it provides benefits to your defense technologies, a nationally funded space program can survive the scrutiny of conservatives. In the Age of Obama, where money is thrown around like rice at a wedding, I'd much rather see an additional $60B spent on returning to the moon and goign to Mars than on whatever social program Obama has it earmarked.

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    Kudos for Obama on India, Africa Policies

    President Obama deserves some credit for a couple of foreign policy efforts that are continuations of Bush policies.

    In India, while Bill Clinton was saving Korean journalists, and despite Hillary getting a lecture from the Indian PM on global warming, the United States was continuing to make India a larger strategic partner.

    In Africa, Obama himself took to lecturing the African nations on the need to stop blaming the West, and instead practice a little good government themselves. While President Bush started the focus on Africa, let's hope Obama, with his background, can convince African nations to lift themselves out of the poverty and despair that grips the continent.

    Both these areas of the world are of vital importance and of strategic interest to the U.S. India can serve as a vital counterweight to the growing Chinese military and economic threat. In Africa, despite the hopes of AGW alarmists, we are beginning to find oil in abundance, particularly in the waters of Western Africa. Additionally, the continent is ripe for militant Islamists and we must tame that beast if we are to ever "win" the War on Terror. The Chinese are also our competitors here, and are making inroads in China. But, unlike the Chinese, we need to prove to Africa that we intend to stay, not rape them and take their resources.

    Anyway, while there is much to dislike about Obama's policies, and his generally statist bent, these are areas where we can applaud his administration's (at least for now) direction.


    Friday, August 7, 2009

    Will Southwest Airlines Come to Atlanta?

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Bob Jordan, Southwest’s executive vice president of strategy and planning, as saying that "Atlanta, Reagan National Airport, and destinations in Mexico as places 'that are very interesting' that Frontier flies to and Southwest does not."

    This on the heels of Southwest topping Republic Airlines' bid (in bankruptcy court) for Frontier Airlines. Aviation Week reports that Southwest would like to expand their operations in Denver.

    For aviation industry watchers, there is the question of what will happen to Frontier's all Airbus fleet, as Southwest only flies 737's and achieves significant cost savings with their homogenous fleet.

    While Southwest might want to add Atlanta to their route structure, they would have to compete with AirTran, another successful discounter who already has a massive Atlanta hub. Still, with only one gate at Atlanta, Southwest would not likely have a lot of flights here, and probably wouldn't make much of a dent, except to open up the entire Southwest route structure to Atlanta metro area residents, which is a good thing for us.


    Wednesday, August 5, 2009

    Russkies Visit Atlantic

    Lotsa talk today about the Navy saying that at least one, maybe two Russian submarines have made a trip into the West Atlantic the last couple of weeks.

    The NY Times has a detailed article . There is some doubt whether the second sub has patrolled much further than Greenland, but the other was believed to have stopped in Cuba for a pretty nice port call for some Russian sailors.

    In the shadow of the Bear flights to Venezuela, it is clear the Russians are trying to show that they are still relevant in the age of China, and, of course, Putin is a bit of a show-off. I happen to think he may be hunkier than The One. Do you think when they get together (Vlad and O) that they flex and pose and do all that cool Hans and Franz stuff...


    Monday, August 3, 2009

    The Audacity of Liars

    So, yesterday, while enjoying (for my wife) the wonderful health care service that is my HMO (basically, a well-run version of the future government run system), I was forced to watch CNN for about 3 hours.
    We left the clinic with a"you're not sick but here are some pain meds" diagnosis (note to pain killer addicts: Obamacare may be just what you ordered), and these observations about CNN:
    1. CNN is pimping the impact of the stimulus bill as part of their homage to Obama, the entire day was filled with stories of massively important work that is being done now because of this.
    2. While pimping the wonderful good works, CNN doesn't mention how much these cost, or really whether any new jobs are being created.
    3. It was funny hearing the anchor/anchorette say (paraphrasing), "Let's hope that some people are getting jobs and that they last."

    Ahhhhh, hope, the elixir of the Obama administration....

    On another note, apparently, the weekend is the time to let slip that you are going to break your "you will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime" promise to 95% of Americans.

    I love Treasury Secretary "Turbo Tax Cheater" Tim Geithner's rationale for health care reform, "If we want an economy that's going to grow in the future, people have to understand we have to bring those deficits down. And it's going to be difficult, hard for us to do. And the path to that is through health care reform."

    So, increase deficits fourfold, and argue that as your reason for needing to slam through a government run health care system!

    This administration truly is audacious...