Saturday, January 15, 2005

Booooooooooooring

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with the Praiseworthy section and still feel that Clint Eastwood dissing Michael Moore is more praiseworthy than pictures of Titan that look like Mars to me. Sorry, David, I just can't get into this space exploration stuff. I have bad childhood memories of watching Star Trek.

As for the Doghouse, I'm with you on that.

Shameful

For those who missed it, last week it was revealed that conservative commentator Armstrong Williams had been paid $240,000 by the Department of Education to promote No Child Left Behind and encourage others to do so.

"Shameful" is the only word I can think of that properly encompasses this. Shame on Armstrong Williams for taking this bribe and for never disclosing it. Shame on Education for using taxpayer dollars to pay a journalist to talk it up. Shame on President Bush for apparently not knowing about this and for letting Ted Kennedy write the legislation in the first place.

Williams has appropriately lost his journalism positions and hopefully some heads are rolling in the Department of Education. Williams nad Rod Paige have apologized but have also started to backtrack and claim no wrongdoing. Refreshingly, Bush has publicly criticized the whole thing, and I'm hoping he was only alerted to this after the fact, but we'll see a more is revealed.

Perhaps the worst part of this whole nonsense, though, is how badly this reflects on other conservative pundits and journalists. Both La Shawn Barber and Michelle Malkin correctly rake Williams over the coals for this. Malkin in particular writes one of the angriest columns I have ever seen from her and I have to wholeheartedly agree. Just look at a sampling of the hate mail she got before this blew up.

La Shawn writes more here and says tha Rush was apparently trying to dismiss this. I haven't been able to listen to Rush since I've been in DC, but if he's defending this, I'll have to say here is one of my rare disagreements with the man. I'd be curious to see if he's picked up on something I missed, though.

I realize that in the blogosphere, posting about this now is the equivalent of Hannity doing a show on the Swift Vets on Monday, but I actually missed it when it happened and only found out by looking around after I saw a day by day about it. So I figured others may have missed it as well. It's important for conservatives to get angry at this stuff so we can be credible when we see the liberals doing it. As usual, though, one of my biggest irritants here is the sheer stupidity of this. Did anyone in DoE actually think that it would look good in any light to be paying Williams with government money? Did Williams think about the consequences for his fellow minority conservatives? Apparently not.

Lefties and Livestrongs

Well, well, well, I knew it was only a matter of time before these would come out. This just adds fuel to my anti-Livestrong fire. Lance has created a monster. I knew they would lead to all sorts of spin-offs as various causes decided it would be hip and trendy to wear support for X, Y, or Z on their wrists 24/7. And no, I'm not buying a Color Me Red bracelet! I think you can tell by the Bush-Cheney t-shirt and my undying love for Ronald Reagan that John F'ing Kerry did not get my vote in November.

A Rare Photo Op

I've added two new albums, as well as some new photos under the CR Club album, to my photo page. Do check them out. There are informative captions and everything! Also, boys, if you have any photos of CR events or other pictures to add, I will be happy to post them, provided they are rated PG-13. David, if you'd like, I'd be happy to add some of the pictures I have that you sent me of your Colorado happenings. But since I am still trying to make up for this week's sleep deficit (and less than 3 hours on Tuesday night did not help at all, though it was well worth it!), I will work on this more tomorrow.

Taking Casual Friday to a Whole New Level

To celebrate next week's inauguration, I declared today to be Bush-Cheney Friday and wore my campaign t-shirt to work. Of course, I wore my old high school sweatshirt over it for part of the day (when one of the supervisors walked in), but it was in plain view for at least five hours. This is not the first time I've worn the shirt to work and most of my fellow employees get a kick out of it. They also especially enjoy my long rambling sessions about my favorite president, God rest his soul.

Today, however, I went into the office next door to ask someone about a chart and was immediately greeted by one of my louder co-workers yelling, "Burn that shirt! Burn that shirt!" It made my day. And no, I'm not being sarcastic. It really did.

I watched most of the Barbara Walters interview with President and Mrs. Bush tonight. For those of you who did not catch it, it was pretty much the same old same old in terms of questioning. G-Dubs was particularly cute for using that goofy, dorky "Heh heh heh" half snicker, half laugh that I love so much. He must have laughed at half of the things she said ("What do you plan on doing about Social Security?" "Heh heh heh.") and almost all of the things he said.

The new Bush puppy is so tiny and cute that I can barely stand it. Barney wouldn't come when called and Barbara got a kick out of that. Laura gave a little tour of a few rooms in the White House that she's refurbished in the last four years. David and Kevin, since we were discussing the Gettysburg Address on Tuesday, I thought I would mention that she pointed out a copy of it in the Lincoln bedroom. Good trivia tidbit for Jeopardy some day: Lincoln hand-wrote five copies of the speech and one was given to the White House in 1959. I wonder where the other four are.

I found the Cabinet Room particularly interesting. I don't know if this was part of her redecorations or if this is a tradition of which I've been unaware, but on the back of all the chairs, there are small plaques that give the title of the cabinet member, as well as all the other jobs they have held in the past. Good old Donnie Rumsfeld's plaques went about halfway down his chair. He's still the most attractive member of Team Bush. :)

At one point in the interview, I had to stifle a groan. Babs pointed out that first there was Bush 41, then Clinton, now Bush again, next, maybe Clinton again, followed by another Bush? Yes, Barbara, I'm sure you'd like that very much. No, not the part about Jeb, but the part about Hillary.

And for the record, W doesn't think Jeb wants to be president. As Matt Drudge would say, developing...

Friday, January 14, 2005

another sweet blog

http://www.chicagoboyz.net/ - any blog with these geniuses at the top is worthy to be read. Long Live Milton Friedman (and Hayek)!!

But... the White House WILLED Him To Do It

We've heard so much from the left about the climate that was supposedly created by Rumsfeld and Ashcroft and was allegedly authorized by memos written by Alberto Gonzales tat supposedly led to the sick and moronic actions at Abu Ghraib. Well, Rich Lowry writes today in the Corner about an article in today's New York Times revealing emails that one of the defendents sent to friends and family describing his unconscionable treatment of prisoners with calling it "cool stuff." He also bragged, "Not only was I the healer, I was the hurter."

It's pretty clear from this article that the guy has a sick mind, and as Lowry says, I'm certain this will receive very little attention from the MSM because it doesn't fit their preferred template. I'm glad the court-martials are proceeding apace and I hope tha we can soon move on to more important things, like the Iraqi elections.

There is an effort, though, attempting to charge the soldiers at Guntanamo with similar abuses, even though there is no evidence of this. It's amazing to me how the Left will endlessly squawk about situations they don't like in the only part of Cuba we control, but is silent about Castro summarily executing people who disagree with him. Thus are the delusions of liberalism, I suppose.

Kudlow's Money Politic$

Kudlow's Money Politic$ - David, add this to my sites please

Natural Disasters

As I finished reading “Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded August 27, 1883” by Simon Winchester it put into perspective all the recent tragedy we are seeing from mother nature whether it is a large tragedy like the Tsunami or a small tragedy like the weather hitting the United States. For those who are not familiar Krakatoa was a volcano in Indonesia that exploded in the Sudna straights. This explosion decimated the island and left nothing but open ocean where an decent sized island once stood. Mt. St. Helens may have blown off the top half of the volcano but this one destroyed the entire island and sent a tsunami 115 ft high. This tsunami was a terrible tragedy at the time and much worse than what we have just seen despite the lower death count of Krakatoa. This explosion was heard as far away as mainland China and measured on the Richter scale (or equivalent at the time) all the way in Great Britain. It was seen by the Muslim people on the island as the coming of judgment day and a sign that there Holy War had begun. Rebellions would break out all over Indonesia against the Dutch colonial masters at that occupied it. Today we have seen reportedly more than 200,000 dead from a part of the world that was not prepared to handle what occurred. The outlook of the planet may be affected by what happened. When Krakatoa exploded the areas temperature was affected by a single centigrade lower which in some places in China caused massive crop failure and famine. Now this was caused mostly by Ash and changing weather patterns because of it so we may not see this effect from the Tsunami. One side note on another book of interest is called “Catastrophe: A Quest for the Origins of the Modern World” by David Keys. This book looks at a volcano that went off in 535 AD and changed the course of the world. Mr. Keys tries to show that this volcano led to the development of china, famine in Europe followed by plague, and the unification of Islam. It is a very interesting look and although in my opinion a little far fetched at times it does provide a fascinating thesis. Regardless of it is now time to look ahead and see what will happen with the victims. Disease is a constant worry and the groups that are currently working to prevent and outbreak of malaria are doing a good job. Indonesia will suffer with its foolish stance that all of us infidels should be out by March. Hopefully these countries will come around but if not we will have to save as many as we can and keep on helping the world as America always has.

All Eyes On Huygens

Forget politics for the moment. The big news of the day is happening 1.2 billion kilometers from Washington, DC. Orbiting Saturn, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has just turned to position itself to receive data from the ESA's Huygens probe. After riding all the way to the Saturnian system with Cassini, it was let go on December 24th on a trajectory that will have it landing on Titan, the largest moon in the Solar System, mere hours from now.

Cassini was launched in October 1997 and only arrived in orbit around Saturn last July, after two flybys of Venus, one of Earth (prompting some psychotic morons to worry it would crash and its nuclear power source would pollute the planet), and one of Jupiter to gain speed. If you haven't seen any of the images yet, Cassini has sent back some spectacular pictures of Saturn and I highly recommend you check out the multimedia gallery. (Go back to July in the archives for some great saturn shots).

Today is especially exciting, though, because for the first time we are landing a probe on the moon of another planet and it is a strange and fascinating moon as well. Titan is larger than either Mercury or Pluto and scientists have long been interested in its dense atmosphere, which is compsoed mostly of nitrogen and methane. There has been wild speculation of what Huygens may find at the surface, but many people think it will find seas of liquid methane, and possibly even a continent rising out of them.

You can find the homepage for the Huygens mission here. Cassini is here. Spend some time reading abot them; it will be well worth your while.

I've loved interplanetary exploration ever since I was in elementary school. I still remember intensely studying the Voyager missions and even waking up at 6 AM on August 24th, 1989 to watch the most detailed images ever of Neptune come in as Voyager 2 made its closest approach to the planet. Believe it or not, they were boradcast live on PBS. I'd much rather see that than Bill Moyers whining about talk radio.

I also remember watching the launches of Magellan, which had a special radar to map the surface of cloud-covered Venus, and Galileo, on its mission to Jupiter. These were especially exciting to me because it was the first time such probes had been launched from the space shuttle. Ultimately, though, they just did not get the boost huge rockets like the Titan IV that launched Cassini give and so that has been discontinued, as far as I know.

We've seen some spectacular stuff on these missions, especially with Galileo. Back in 1994, it recorded the impact of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter, which was just amazing. We were able to watch as the comet approached Jupter, was ripped apart byt the planet's massive gravity, and then as the fragments plunged into the atmosphere. It also launched a probe into Jupiter's atmosphere that sent back data until it was crushed. Another interesting discovery was that Ganymeade has a magnetic field, something no other known moon appears to have. Galileo also discovered evidence that there are oceans beneath the icy surface of Europa, that could possibly harbor some form of life. Unfortunately, Galileo's mission has ended and it was sent into Jupiter's atmosphere to break up, lest it accidentially crash into Europa and possibly contaminate it.

I'm also excited for future missions, including a return to Jupiter's icy moons (Europa, Callisto, and Ganymeade), but most of all the New Horizons mission that would visit Pluto and the Kuiper belt of objects lying beyond the orbit of Neptune. At the moment, it is scheduled to launch about a year from now and head to Jupiter before arriving at Pluto in 2015.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

More Moore

Control your shocked gasping. I suppose spending a day with two of my favorite College Republicans has motivated me to make a post. I had a fantastic time in DC with Kevin and David. I felt like the old team was back together at last.

I checked out Drudge tonight for the first time in weeks, perhaps even a month. Today, I realized how out of touch with news coverage I've been (aside from CNN, which is now the All Tsunami Channel because every night when I flipped it on before bed for about two weeks straight, it was loaded with tsunami coverage). One of my co-workers told me about Prince Harry's Nazi costume and I said, "Huh?" Sure enough, good old Matty Drudge had plenty on that for me.

But the story on the page that caught my eye the most was the one about Clint Eastwood and Michael Moore at the National Board of Review awards.

First of all, Michael Moore is about as deserving of a "Freedom of Expression award" as I am. In fact, I think I'm even more deserving of it for freezing my rear end off down in Washington D.C. every January for nine years to let everyone know what I think of Roe v. Wade. It never ceases to amaze me how much people will praise this man for his propaganda piece and his exploitation skills.

But I would like to shake Clint Eastwood's hand. I don't really care if his comments were made simply to be funny. I just can't recall any other Hollywood bigwigs mouthing off to Moore and I think he's deserving of our Praiseworthy section, though I'm still incredibly proud of those who voted against the intelligence bill.

One of the things that bothers me about Michael Moore is the reaction he tends to get from some of my favorite conservatives. I understand that a lot of people don't want to give him any more attention and legitimacy, but he needs to be openly confronted and conservatives need to take the time to spell out why he is dangerous and why his arguments are faulty. Many conservative commentators are out of touch with college students and seem to dismiss the opinions of young people. I can understand why, most 20 year olds are politically apathetic and many of them change their thinking once they get out into the real world and have to work for a living. But we can't ignore the effect that Michael Moore is having on a lot of college students. That's not going to make him go away.

I give Clint Eastwood two thumbs up for making that comment about Moore. If that slob ever showed up at my front door with a camera, I would probably have a similar reaction.

The New Wave of Business?

In recent readings I have been given a new perspective on the too big to fail concept that has been a centerpiece of American commerce especially in recent business history. The too big to fail concept was called in with Airlines as well as Chrysler in the 1980’s. Too big to fail was used to show that these companies could seriously harm the United States if these companies went under. This logic was also applied to the S&L’s in the 80’s crisis. Sandy Weill who built up Shearson and Citigroup found a way to get around the too big to fail doctrine. By creating a large conglomerate like those formed in the 1960’s he diversified his companies’ holdings enough so that one failure somewhere in the organization could be counteracted by a failure anywhere else in the company. With a large scale diversification companies can achieve the amount of separation in industries. As we know from the stock market every sector has their bad day and with citigroups structure these bad days can be offset. Chrysler used this principle very well to secure the loan that was needed in order to stave off bankruptcy and Iacocca was very good at paying off the loan. This is a rarity though and we are still paying for the S&L scandal that caused so many problems. While I do not support any form of monopoly in business because competition leads to better prices and more efficient use of resources I do not see anything wrong with this diversification plan. Most companies will not pay back the loan anywhere nearly as quickly as Iacocca did and we must be aware that just because a company is large they can fail. When we invest in the stock market we are told to diversify so what is wrong if we apply that same skill to business. This is something I am ordering some more research on and will get back to people once I have read a little more and explored this topic.

“King of Capital: Sandy Weill and the making of Citigroup” by Amey Stone and Mike Brewster
“Iacocca: An Autobiography” by Lee Iacocca
“Taken for a Ride: How Daimler Benz drove off with Chrysler” by Bill Vlasic

In the spirit of Ann Coulter...

For those looking for a little humor and Hyperbole in the Dems party...

The Official 2004 Democratic National Convention Program
5:30pm - Opening anthem "Stand by Your Man" sung by Hillary Clinton
6:00pm - Opening flag burning ceremony.
6:30pm - Antiwar rally no. 1.
6:40pm - Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
7:00pm - Tribute theme to France.
7:10pm - Collect offerings for al-Zawahri defense fund.
7:20pm - Ted Kennedy proposes a toast
7:25pm - Tribute theme to Spain.
7:45pm - Antiwar rally no. 2. (Moderated by Michael Moore)
8:00pm - John Kerry presents one side of the issues
8:25pm - Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
8:30pm - Terrorist appeasement workshop.
9:00pm - Gay marriage ceremony.
9:30pm - * Intermission *
10:00pm - Flag burning ceremony no. 2.
10:15pm - Reenactment of Kerry's fake medal toss.
10:30pm - Cameo by Dean 'Yeeearrrrrrrg!'
10:40pm - Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
10:50pm - Pledge of allegiance to the UN.
11:00pm - Double gay marriage ceremony.
11:15pm - Maximizing Welfare workshop.
11:20pm - John Kerry presents the other side of the issues
11:30pm - 'Free Saddam' pep rally.
11:59pm - Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
12:00am - Nomination of Democrat candidate.

The EPA Building

As I walked around Washington, DC with Kevin and Mary yesterday, I was intrigued by a large building just south of the Mall that was ornately designed in the Greco-Roman theme that dominates in the capital. We soon discovered that this is the EPA building, and it is massive. Like the Capitol, it has center section with two large wings. I would not be surprised if this building rivaled the former in size. Needless to say, we were stunned by the sheer size of this building. Don't believe me? You can see this monument to bureaucracy in all it's glory here. And here. And here. It takes three pictures to get the whole building in.

The EPA building is the ultimate symbol of what is wrong with the government these days. The sheer size of it speaks to the EPA's power and influence over so many aspects of government work and business plans. Want to build a highway? Not without an environmental impact study. Want to hold a military excersize? Not without a similar study. Almost anything built or done in this day and age requires such a study.

The number of employees this building must house is a testament to how much legislation there is on environmental regualation. They have to monitor compliance with every one of the acts and laws that were passed in good faith but have turned into a bureaucratic nightmare in many places. The Endangered Species Act in paticular is in desperate need of reworking.

Again, I am compelled to return to the asinine saga of the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse that has plagued my county, El Paso County, Colorado. It was discovered probably over a decade ago that in the grassland east and northeast of Colorado Springs, there is a species of mouse which at first glance seemed different from the assorted other mice, mostly deer mice, that lived in the area. It was declared an endangered species and the paralyzing sting of ESA protection was soon apparent in Colorado Springs. Unfortunately, there is an intersection in that area of town that happens to be rather dangerous. Now, without question, the traffic engineers who designed the expansion of Colorado Springs since it outgrew General William Jackson Palmer's original design could not have been more incompetant if they had tried. Because of this, many of these poorly designed streets and intersections have required complete overhauls as the city continued to grow. One particular intersection northeast of town has needed safety improvements for some time now. However, it cannot be improved, because the Preble's meadow Jumping Mouse is in residence there. So, the local governments had to spend a great deal of taxpayer money on an environmental impact study, only to find out that they were not allowed to do anything because it would disturb the mice.

With the intersection remaining dangerous, it was inevitable that crashes would occur, and human lives were unfortunately lost. Improvements could clearly reduce the safety problems at this intersection, yet the EPA, acting under the authority of the ESA prohibited them. It's fantastic that mice are more important than people in America, isn't it?

As the county and state governments complained, study of the rodent was ongoing, and not more than a couple years ago it was discovered that the mouse isn't unique after all. It's just another common deer or field mouse. And yet enormous bureaucratic hoops must be jumped through to have the stupid thing de-listed as an endangered species. It will probably take 2-3 years to do so.

This is, of course, not an isolated problem. Things like this happen all over the country, but particularly in the West. One thing I recall is that environmental regulations prohibit the US Marines from using most of the beach at Camp Pendleton, California, for amphibious landing practice. They have to practice landing on a small stretch of beach and then pick up and move everything inland to resume training for beachhead breakouts, lest the ecoology of beach be disturbed. Also in Colorado, ranchers are becoming increasingly uneasy as more wolves are reintroduced into the West. They fear that they will begin preying on sheep and cattle. They would like to be able to shoot problem wolves, but that is prohibited because they are a protected species. In a compromise, the EPA decided that south of Interstate 70, ranchers may shoot problem wolves, but north of that road it is prohibited. So it's okay in Leadville, but ranchers in Craig or Steamboat Springs are out of luck.

No, I'm not advocating doing away with the EPA or ESA, just a reoganization and a tweaking of them. The problem is that, like Social Security, environemental law has become almost untouchable and loathe is the administration or Congress that tries to craft a more sensible envionmental policy. They will be assaulted like the villains on Captain Planet and the bad policy continues unabated. I had hoped for some serious reform from the Bush administration, but much of it was blocked by Tom Daschle and his obstructionists. I'm crossing my fingers that the 109th Congress will be able to get something done.

The EPA serves a noble purpose, but it is bloated and needs to be rethought. The fact that it occupies such a mammoth building that dwarfs even the IRS building is a testament to government grown far beyond its boundaries.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

My own DC reflections

Mary and I braved the venerable I-95 corridor yesterday for a visit with David in DC. It was great to see David again and to roam around the city with people of like-interest. Here are some thoughts on the day...

1. The WW2 Memorial is a pretty decent memorial. The presentation is fantastic - my favorite part is how it appears that the reflecting pool is flowing directly into the fountains at the memorial because you are slightly below ground level inside the memorial. The more I thought about the overall design, however, there are a few things I don't necessarily love. I don't think the stars were necessary. They were 4000 stars, representing the over 400,000 dead. I don't know, the gold stars give the memorial a nice contrast in color, but I generally don't like this type of memorial. Why not 1 star, or 4, or 40 or 342, if there were over 400,000 dead, then that would mean each star represented roughly 104 or 124 dead, whatever the number, and thus doesn't fit in with the symmetry of the memorial. Speaking of symmetry, the Atlantic and Pacific ends were a great idea, as is being ended by the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument on the other sides. The state and territory monuments were OK, they were necessary in the design I would imagine, but my luke-warm feelings to it are similar to the stars - by trying to be all-encompassing you ultimately end up leaving something, somebody, or some place out and the memorial may lose its effect. I don't necessarily think this has happened at the WW2 memorial, but I definitely see it happening at the WTC with this sub-par "Reflecting Absence" design. At WTC however, the all-encompassing effect comes not from the design as much as the foolish desire to get everyone's "approval" for anything done on the site. I think everyone, especially the families, need to back off a little bit and allow the design at WTC to develop. Not everyone is going to agree, yet they are trying to make that happen in New York. I agree with the criticism that memorials built too soon after the event being memorialized tend to lose their effect. I imagine that if the WW2 Memorial was built in 1948, instead of 2004 (which, of course, was 20-30 years too late), it would have been greatly inferior to the memorial we have today - because of the time that is needed to fully understand the history and see how the event in question affected the world long after (not just 3 years after, especially if the event is of the magnitude of Sept. 11).

2. The EPA building is shamefully too large. Why should a government agency like the EPA (questionable of its right to exist), have more space than the president. Why should said agency, which I believe is a subsidiary of the Interior Dept, have such a large building, one I can only imagine is bigger than Interior's itself.

3. I don't like being approached by homeless people asking for money, that's a given. This is not a statement that should be seen as "anti-homeless" or any other derivative leftist label. It merely reflects my belief that an individual has a right to walk down a public street without being made to feel uncomfortable by anyone asking for money, overtly like a homeless person would, but especially covertly like the person we met coming off the Metro at the Smithsonian did. I guess he spotted Mary and David and labeled them correctly as tourists (if I was first up the escalator, of course, he would have said "Good Morning, Congressman"). He then started to explain where everything was, nicely and enthusiastically - but ultimately unnecessarily - and at the end finally said that he was a volunteer for some sort of something and asked if we could help him out with some money (I think it was something medical). I'm sure it was a good cause - everything is a good cause it seems - but one should not be made to feel uncomfortable walking in a city because they know, hundreds of feet away, they are about to be asked to give money to some cause or a homeless person. If you want to raise money, I don't have a problem with it, but it should be done quietly (following the Salvation Army model), allowing people who just want to walk by in peace to do so.

4. The guy I heard talking about the "House Where Lincoln Died" by sarcastically saying "oh lets go visit some house where some guy died" really bothered me. Sorry, you moron, but that's a famous place, and something that should be preserved and open to the public. If you don't want to visit it, fine, I didn't walk in either, but I wouldn't have minded to walk in, and I appreciate that places like this are still preserved within a bustling metropolis.

4a. I was very surprised to see the major construction project next to Ford's Theatre, with demolition etc just a few feet from the building. You certainly like to see old sections of cities preserved if they can be useful, like Old City Phila., but I guess the former buildings were becoming more of an eye-sore than a connection to the past.

5. The Metro is great, and all major cities need to build up mass transportation and bring them into the 21st Century.

5a. It would have been nice to take a high-speed, inexpensive MAGLEV to DC instead of driving, then I wouldn't have feared dying on the drive home from exhaustion-induced sleep at the wheel.

6. The underground visitor's center at the Capitol, if it restores the grounds and allows for more people to visit efficiently, will be a great thing.

7. The American Presidency exhibit at the Smithsonian was great, but I was expecting something entirely different. I was hoping for a more linear path through history, but they laid out the exhibit in general presidential sections (assassination, inauguration, media and the presidency, tech. and the presidency etc). Washington's cane that was a gift from Franklin, the first page of TR's speech that stopped the bullet in 1912, and the case that held the papers from the Continental Congress of Washington's were three of my favorite things - then there was Eisenhower's golf clubs, Lincoln's top hat, and Harrison Ford's suit from Air Force One.

8. I was wrong about National Treasure's depiction of the National Archives. Of course they were right. It was disappointing that the Constitution on display wasn't the original, but the Declaration and Bill of Rights were originals. I'm nearly positive, however, that the Archives' Rotunda used to be different - I know the Declaration was on the wall, plus Nixon's resignation letter used to be in there.

9. I still haven't seen my boy TJ's memorial. The Simpsons remains correct - everyone goes to talk to Lincoln.

10. The White House still awaits my arrival - I could feel it in the air.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Another View

“Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001” by Steve Coll is an excellent summary of not only Afghanistan history from the Soviet invasion to the present but a good history of Al-Qaida. The book focuses primarily on Afghanistan but in its effort to show how Bin Laden became the force that he has it discusses the regions history. There are many books that cover the major terrorist events since 9/11 and I will list those at the end of this post but this book goes into a different sort of detail. Rather than say what the US did wrong it shows what happened and how it relates to the region not the United States. It is a very different look and really shows how important the leaders of the 1990’s were to the fledgling Northern Alliance. For those looking for a different perspective than the American one this is the book I would recommend.

1. “The 9/11 Commission”
2. “American Solider” by Tommy Franks
3. Losing Bin Laden: How Bill Clinton’s Failures Unleashed Global Terror” by Richard Miniter
4. “Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11” by Gerlad Posner

Sunday, January 09, 2005

"Treason"

Certainly, Treason is not Ann Coulter's best work, but I think it is well worth reading. It is an important reminder of how many liberals were eager apologists for the Soviets, the Red Chinese, and other communist regimes during the Cold War. She also brings to light the declassified Verona Project (correct the name if I'm wrong; I don't have my copy with me) which contained decades of intercepts of Soviet espionage and diplomatic transmissions, proving many of the things which were only alleged to be going on during those years. Further, I think it is a necessary re-examination of Joseph McCarthy. In his infamy, it has simply been accepted that he made everything up and was a nutcase. Coulter shows that this is not so, and that he was right about quite a bit. I still think he ultimately went too far, but Coulter, with her critical eye for distortions of historical events in the press and by those who have chronicled the era, shows that what we often take for granted as true today is the same type of historical revisionism that liberals are constantly attempting every day.

I don't think Coulter is saying that all liberals are treasonous, though she's never kind to them. She needs to be read keeping in mind that one of her favorite rhetorical tools is hyperbole. I think she goes too far occasionally, but she never fails to entertain and inform me with her writing. She meticulously researches and annotates her works, so the reader is free t examine the souces for himself and decide whether her characterization is correct or not, and that it always refreshing, unlike the vast majority of liberal pundits and polemicists. I think it is extremely telling that liberals have never found a significant factual error in any of her books. The best they've ever been able to come up with is a mistake in the date for a New York Times article in Slander.

Again, though, I would recommend Slander or her new book, How to Talk to a Liberal over Treason, though I've read and enjoyed all three.

DC Observations

I'm sorry I haven't been writing much lately. Last week was busy with preparations and this week was actually travelling to Washington, DC. Fortunately, Brian and Kevin have been kind enough to pick up some of the slack. I do want to blog some while I'm here looking for a job, but days spent in meetings followed by nights where I'm exhausted don't really lend themselves to blog posts. I've also been suffering a bit of writer's block since Christmas. Hopefully I can get over that and have some time and energy to blog a bit. In that spirit, here are a few notes from my first couple of days in DC.

  • Union Station is nice, but it sort of screams, "I wish I could be Grand Central."
  • For newcomers, foggy days in Washington make navigation very difficult by obscuring the two most important landmarks, the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument.
  • On Thursday, I wound up in the same building as the absurd Alberto Gonzales hearings. I resisted the urge to shout down the hall, "Clear the room you loons! This is ridiculous!"
  • That same day, as I was leaving the above-mentioned building, I noticed a group of people in black overcoats walking quickly into the door I was about to exit. I stepped aside, and it turned out to be Condi Rice and her entourage. Very cool. Amusingly, she was discussing football.
  • Heading back to Union Station, I passed a bunch of hippies protesting the Ohio votes like the idiots they are. I wasn't particularly in the mood to argue with any of them, or shout something about the Washington gubernatorial race, but I was soon accosted by Lyndon LaRouche supporters. After an amiable conversation that included the phrase "Well, Newton was a fascist," I have concluded that these people make up a psychotic cult and would need medication to arrive at the level of insanity demonstrated by the anti-war protesters.
  • I have secured tickets to the 2nd Inaugeration of President George W. Bush. You may commence the consumption of your hearts.
  • Preparations for the inaugeration are well underway and most of the Capitol grounds are fenced off. They've begun hanging flags between the columns on the West Front and I was pleased to see the 13-star Betsy Ross flag included. I love the sense of history and connection to the principles of our Founding Fathers that flag provides. So much so, in fact, that I have a large one hanging on my wall.
  • Also hanging were the current 50-star flag and an intermediate one that I didn't recognize. Squinting, though, I was able to count the stars - 28. Well, that's extremely cool. The 28th state to be admitted to the Union was Texas. W has style, I must say.
  • Sections of the Mall were also getting fences, which I suspect are for the idiot protesters.
  • The Freer Gallery at the Smithsonian is currently featuring a display of East Asian art and I stopped in to see the Japanese section, which was very nice. Included are some amazing screen prints and intricately carved Buddhist figures. If you're in the area, it's worth an hour to see.
  • The Washington Metro system, as I remembered, is very nice. Clean, fast trains that cover the city pretty well (though the suburbs less so). I certainly enjoy riding them. The Metrobus system, however, is horrendous. Perhaps I'm too harsh on city bus systems, but they cannot hold a candle to the convenience, efficiency, and intuitveness exhibited by the bus systems in Japan. Buses always demand exact change, so the Keihan buses had... change machines on each bus! Imagine that. They also had route maps and schedules at every bus stop, in addition to the name of that particular stop. New York has a fair amount. Washington has next to none. That's the way to show off the nation's capital.

Parker Bros.

Another interesting book that I have finished reading today was on the founding and development of Parker Bros the game company. It is titled “The Game Makers: The Story of Parker Brothers From Tiddledy Winks to Trivial Pursuit” by Philip Orbanes. This was an excellent business book and as I said when I read “Toy Wars” a while back I am always amazed at how competitive and cutthroat this industry is. It is one of constant innovation and stealing secrets. Parker Bros had a rough history under its founders despite several hits. The company at one point had to be completely shut down until a game that would become known as monopoly was discovered. This would be the start of a new generation of games that would take the company to the top. It was quickly followed in the 1950’s by Clue (taken from a British Game) and Risk which played off the ideas of World War 2 but was marketed with a Napoleonic style. The game was delayed for a year while they tried to decide what to call it. The game was called Risk because one of the creator’s four grand kids had those initials. Another interesting bit of history was that the German monopoly had the Nazi headquarters as its boardwalk space and the Hitler Youth helped to suppress the game. It did not matter since the storage sight was bombed by the allies during the invasion of Berlin. The gaming industry is now owned by Hasbro and Mattel (see “Toy Wars” for a more complete version of the takeover) which owns Milton Bradley and Parker Bros under one Hasbro title. The original factories in Salem Massachusetts have now been closed down but there is at tribute to the company there including a tour of the factory. The final game of interest that was created was one of my favorites (aside from Risk and Monopoly) is Trivial Pursuit which was a product the 1980’s. Adult games became more popular and spin offs like Clue Jr. and Monopoly Jr. were meant for the younger ages. Trivial Pursuit has undertaken many mutations much like Monopoly to stay current attaching itself to specific genres in time. This has helped to hold the market and made it a very successful product. Finally one of my favorite toys while growing up was the Nerf weapons which were produced by Paker Bros when they were paired with Kenner. The Nerf items were not developed by Kenner even though they were marketed under it but actually were a product of Paker Bros. This company has made many contributions to the modern toy world and this book is well worth the read.

Ann Coulter

I have just finished reading “Treason” by Ann Coulter and was fairly let down (although to be fair I was told by my fellow bloggers to expect that. Both High Crimes and Slander were very well thought and entertaining books. We as conservatives do need to keep an open mind and remember that not every liberal is a traitor or a communist. I agree that many of the visible ones in power do fit that description but the rank and file are simply either dilettantes that feel they should save the world or very deluded people who cannot grasp real life. Of course that is a Coulteresqe definition which I think proves the point. The enemies of America are complex whether they be foreign countries, terrorists and yes even liberals. Strong analysis and good arguments as David has always advocated are the best way to go although I do admit it is fun to read Coulter and Savage from time to time.

French Revolution Reading

For those who have an interest in the French Revolution I have just finished reading an excellent book. For those looking for a quick summary (which I was) this is not the book for you. This is an indepth analysis of the French revolution with analysis about how the rest of Europe was affected. The title is “Reinterpreting the French Revolution: A Global-Historical Perspective” by Bailey Stone. It does run up through the beginnings of the Napoleonic period but sticks mostly to the Ancien regime and the terror/Thermodarian period. It is interesting to contrast this book with Alexander Hamilton and see the ways in which the American and French revolutions were very different. Anyway I highly recommend this book to those looking for a good source on the French Revolution.