Saturday, December 17, 2005

Greta Award

Greta (Hooah Wife) Perry issued a number of End Of The Year Awards 2005 and this blog received the Blogger Considered Techie "Father Time." award. As Greta said "If you've seen the picture of his long white beard and know about his computer background -you'd get it"

I feel honored that this fine blogger, and mother of Hooah Kid, who took third place in WizBang's 2005 Weblog Awards for "Best of the Rest of the Blogs (8751+)". I note that Scott, the Hooah Kid, with 6.72% of the vote, edged out Sensible Mom with 5.82% of the vote (but he is not in trouble, because Sensible Mom is the mother of three living in the suburbs of Chicago, while Hooah Kid's Mom is Hooah Wife, and while to them home is whereever the Army sends them, currently that is right here in Oklahoma (specifically Owasso). See her Frapper Map.


Ramp creates power as cars pass

BBC reported A road ramp that uses passing cars to generate power has been developed.

Flashlights that you shake are not the only way to get power. Now having a car drive over a ramp and push it down generates power.
Dorset inventor Peter Hughes' Electro-Kinetic Road Ramp creates around 10kW of power each time a car drives over its metal plates. More than 200 local authorities had expressed an interest in ordering the £25,000 ramps to power their traffic lights and road signs, Mr Hughes said.
Somehow I suspect the wear and tear of having the ramp bouncing up and down is going to make that uneconomical. Also do you realize that the energy you "create" with this system is going to come from decreased gas mileage by the drivers driving over the ramp. According to Conservation of energy "the total inflow of energy into a system must equal the total outflow of energy from the system, plus the change in the energy contained within the system. In other words, energy can be converted from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed." So the engines in the cars must not only push the cars on a horizontal plane, but must also now provide the energy to push down your ramp, increasing the work they must do to propel the car a certain distance, and therefore decreasing it's gas milage, increasing the petroleum demands in your country, increasing your contributions to the supposed Global Warming. Have you considered solar cells or wind energy devices?
Around 300 jobs are due to be created in Somerset for a production run of 2,000 ramps next year. Plates in the ramp move up and down as vehicles pass over them, driving a generator. "The ramp is silent, comfortable and safe for vehicles," Mr Hughes said.
I really question the silent claim, and think what it would do to tires if someone went the wrong way.
Depending on the weight of the vehicle passing overhead, between five and 50kW can be generated. The prototype was created and tested at Hughes Research unit at the Westland Helicopter base in Somerset, at a cost of £1m. The concept has been developed by Dorset-based Mr Hughes over the past 12 years. He recently approached councils across the country with the final patented project.


Taking Liberties With the Nation's Security

Rudolph W. Giuliani wrote in NYT Yesterday the Senate failed to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act, as a Democratic-led filibuster prevented a vote. This action - which leaves the act, key elements of which are due to expire on Dec. 31, in limbo - represents a grave potential threat to the nation's security. I support the extension of the Patriot Act for one simple reason: Americans must use every legal and constitutional tool in their arsenal to fight terrorism and protect their lives and liberties.

This is the same senate that wants to tie the hands of our integrators, and not only forbid torture, which we do not do, but also forbid use of anything the terrorists find "degrading". We certainly don't want to offend the sensibilities of people who would like to cut off our heads, do we.

When the next terrorist attack occurs in this country (not IF but it is now clear that the proper word is WHEN), let us just hope it is in the Senate Chamber while that body is in session, and in the process of voting, to get as many of those idiots as possible.
The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, made clear that the old rules no longer work. The terrorists who attacked us seek to kill innocent men, women and children of all races and creeds. They seek to destroy our liberties. They willingly kill themselves in their effort to bring death and suffering to as many innocents as they can, here in this country or anywhere in the world where freedom has a foothold.

In October 2001, after six weeks of intense scrutiny and debate, Congress passed the Patriot Act overwhelmingly (98 to 1 in the Senate and 356 to 66 in the House). We had already received clear signals about our enemies' intentions, in the first attacks against the World Trade Center in 1993, the bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the attack on the Navy destroyer Cole two years after that. Despite the abundance of warning signs, it took Sept. 11 to wake us to the dangers we face.


Friday, December 16, 2005

Literacy Falls for Graduates From College, Testing Finds

NYT reported The average American college graduate's literacy in English declined significantly over the past decade, according to results of a nationwide test released yesterday.

If they are not literate, what the heck are they doing in college? They are supposed to read and write in elementary school. They should be improving those skills in Middle and High School.
The National Assessment of Adult Literacy, given in 2003 by the Department of Education, is the nation's most important test of how well adult Americans can read. The test also found steep declines in the English literacy of Hispanics in the United States, and significant increases among blacks and Asians.

When the test was last administered, in 1992, 40 percent of the nation's college graduates scored at the proficient level, meaning that they were able to read lengthy, complex English texts and draw complicated inferences. But on the 2003 test, only 31 percent of the graduates demonstrated those high-level skills. There were 26.4 million college graduates. The college graduates who in 2003 failed to demonstrate proficiency included 53 percent who scored at the intermediate level and 14 percent who scored at the basic level, meaning they could read and understand short, commonplace prose texts. Three percent of college graduates who took the test in 2003, representing some 800,000 Americans, demonstrated "below basic" literacy, meaning that they could not perform more than the simplest skills, like locating easily identifiable information in short prose.


Customize Google

Tech Smores! blogged I spend a lot of time working on other people's computers and one thing I notice is that many of the have Google as their homepage. You can now customize Google to show you local weather and news in addition to the search engine.

I went there to check it out, and I was astonished to see that the example city they were showing the news for was Happy, Texas, a very small town (population 647 on U.S. Highway 87 in northern Swisher County. I know people that live in Happy, and others that farm just outside of Happy. In fact when my mother's will was probated I and my three siblings inherited a very small piece of land in Happy, along with some of that farmland that my Grandfather once owned. We sold the farmland to the tenent farmer who was farming it (a relative of ours), and I think we did a quitclaim dead to the small slice of land in Happy, giving it back to the town, since no one wanted it. I was just surprised to see Happy, TX used in the Google example. I also notice they are expecting light snow, but with the temperature of 37 degrees I guess it won't stay on the ground long.


'Mighty Mouse' robot frees stuck radiation source

Eurekalert reported A Sandia National Laboratories robot recently withstood enough radiation to kill 40 men in freeing a stuck radiation source -- the size of a restaurant salt shaker -- at a White Sands Missile Range lab so that the cylinder could be safely returned to its insulated base. The robot, for its successful efforts, was unofficially dubbed M2 for the cartoon character "Mighty Mouse."

Good for technology


698 Miles of Fences

NYT reported House Republicans voted on Thursday night to toughen a border security bill by requiring the Department of Homeland Security to build five fences along 698 miles of the United States border with Mexico to block the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs into this country.

698 is a good start, but I would like sto see them fence in the entire thing.
The amendment to the bill would require the construction of the fences along stretches of land in California, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona that have been deemed among the most porous corridors of the border.
I guess starting there is the best we can do this year.
The vote on the amendment was a victory for conservatives who had long sought to build such a fences along the Mexican border. But the vote was sharply assailed by Democrats, who compared the fences to the Berlin Wall in Germany.
The Berlin Wall was built by the East Germans (under pressure from Russians) to keep East Germans from escaping. If you want an analogy, this wall would have to have been built by Mexico. This is exactly the opposite from the Berlin Wall, but who would expect Democrats to be smart enough to know that.
Twelve Republicans also voted against the amendment.
Shame on them.
Representative David Dreier, Republican of California, hailed the fences as a necessary tool to ensure border security. Construction of the barriers is to include two layers of reinforced fencing, cameras, lighting and sensors near Tecate and Calexico on the California border; Columbus, N.M.; and El Paso, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, Laredo and Brownsville in Texas. The border security bill, which cracks down on illegal immigration and now mandates the construction of the fences, is expected to pass the House on Friday.


Bush Had More Prewar Intelligence Than Congress

WaPo reported A congressional report made public yesterday concluded that President Bush and his inner circle had access to more intelligence and reviewed more sensitive material than what was shared with Congress when it gave Bush the authority to wage war against Iraq.

Gee, a congressional report says that. I wonder what an Executive Branch report would say?
Democrats said the 14-page report contradicts Bush's contention that lawmakers saw all the evidence before U.S. troops invaded in March 2003, stating that the president and a small number of advisers "have access to a far greater volume of intelligence and to more sensitive intelligence information." The report does not cite examples of intelligence Bush reviewed that differed from what Congress saw.
Maybe the truth is the Congress Critters just did not bother to see what was available to them.


Republicans Risk Losing Key Voting Bloc

WSJ reported While President Bush has high hopes for today's elections in Iraq, his Republican Party faces a different challenge at home: quelling the political insurgency among elderly American voters like Virginia Renfro.

"They should shake [Washington] up a little bit," says Ms. Renfro, 68 years old, a retired school-cafeteria worker in LaPorte, Ind. Displeased with Mr. Bush's Social Security ideas,

which were not supported by many in Congress, but which would not have hurt Ms Renfro, but would have certainly helped her grandchildren.
confused by Medicare's prescription-drug benefit
If you don't like it, you don't have to sign up.
and unhappy with illegal immigration
I agree with her there, but hopefully Congress is about to do something on that, even though it will not be Bush's Guest Worker plan. If Congress comes through with what they have on their plate, they can then complain about the price of lettuce and getting their grass mowed, and then maybe Guest Worker will be more popular.
, Ms. Renfro isn't sure she will vote again for her fellow Republican, Rep. Chris Chocola, in November's midterm elections.

The new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll makes clear that Ms. Renfro has plenty of company. In a period of broad-ranging public discontent, that among senior citizens stands out as most worrisome for Republicans aiming to keep control of the House and Senate in the fall.

"They're a pretty cranked up bunch and they've got to be handled with enormous care by incumbents," says Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who helps conduct the Journal/NBC survey. So far, adds his Democratic counterpart Peter Hart, "the Bush administration has done more to alienate them than to gain their support."

The results can be seen in Americans' attitudes toward Congress 11 months before Election Day 2006. By a 65%-19% margin, Americans age 65 and above disapprove of the performance of Congress; those under 65 are also negative but less lopsidedly, 58%-27%. Moreover, senior citizens say by 47%-37% that they want Democrats rather than Republicans to win control of Capitol Hill. Those under 65 prefer a Democratic victory by a narrower 45%-39% margin.

That disparity, like some other political differences between older and younger Americans, is relatively slight. But it has big implications for the 2006 campaign for two reasons.

One is that older voters, having given Mr. Bush slightly greater support than younger voters in his narrow 2004 re-election victory, have now become the most critical of his job performance. In the Journal/NBC poll, for instance, Americans under 65 disapprove of Mr. Bush's job performance by a margin of 16 percentage points, while those 65 and above disapprove by a margin of 20 percentage points.

The second is that older voters play an outsize role in midterm contests, because they traditionally turn out at higher rates while many young voters tune out campaigns not featuring a presidential contest. Voters older than 60 made up 24% of those voting in 2004, but a larger 28% in the 1998 midterm contest, the last such campaign for which exit-poll data are available.


Media Matters vs Novak

Media Matters for America Delivers Nearly 5,000 Letters Urging CNN Not to Renew Robert Novak's Contract

Novack is still suspended for uttering an obscenity and storming off the set in August, but if they think that getting him kicked off completely is going to silence him, then liberals really don't get it.


In Iran, Arming for Armageddon

Charles Krauthammer wrote in WaPo Lest you get carried away with today's good news from Iraq, consider what's happening next door in Iran. The wild pronouncements of the new Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have gotten sporadic press ever since he called for Israel to be wiped off the map. He subsequently amended himself to say that Israel should simply be extirpated from the Middle East map and moved to some German or Austrian province. Perhaps near the site of an old extermination camp?

Except that there were no such camps, indeed no Holocaust at all, says Ahmadinejad. Nothing but "myth," a "legend" that was "fabricated . . . under the name 'Massacre of the Jews.' " This brought the usual reaction from European and American officials, who, with Churchillian rage and power, called these statements unacceptable. That something serious might accrue to Iran for this -- say, expulsion from the United Nations for violating its most basic principle by advocating the outright eradication of a member state -- is, of course, out of the question.

As long as the state whose eradication is advocated is Israel. But if you advocated eradication of Iran, they woud have a hissy fit.
To be sure, Holocaust denial and calls for Israel's destruction are commonplace in the Middle East. They can be seen every day on Hezbollah TV, in Syrian media, in Egyptian editorials appearing in semiofficial newspapers. But none of these aspiring mass murderers are on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons that could do in one afternoon what it took Hitler six years to do: destroy an entire Jewish civilization and extinguish 6 million souls.

Everyone knows where Iran's nuclear weapons will be aimed. Everyone knows they will be put on Shahab rockets, which have been modified so that they can reach Israel. And everyone knows that if the button is ever pushed, it will be the end of Israel.
To read more about what will happen read this
But it gets worse. The president of a country about to go nuclear is a confirmed believer in the coming apocalypse. Like Judaism and Christianity, Shiite Islam has its own version of the messianic return -- the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam. The more devout believers in Iran pray at the Jamkaran mosque, which houses a well from which, some believe, he will emerge.

When Ahmadinejad unexpectedly won the presidential elections, he immediately gave $17 million of government funds to the shrine. Last month Ahmadinejad said publicly that the main mission of the Islamic Revolution is to pave the way for the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam.

And as in some versions of fundamentalist Christianity, the second coming will be accompanied by the usual trials and tribulations, death and destruction. Iranian journalist Hossein Bastani reported Ahmadinejad saying in official meetings that the hidden imam will reappear in two years.
Pack your bags, we now know when Armageddon will start.
So a Holocaust-denying, virulently anti-Semitic, aspiring genocidist, on the verge of acquiring weapons of the apocalypse, believes that the end is not only near but nearer than the next American presidential election. (Pity the Democrats. They cannot catch a break.) This kind of man would have, to put it gently, less inhibition about starting Armageddon than a normal person. Indeed, with millennial bliss pending, he would have positive incentive to, as they say in Jewish eschatology, hasten the end.

To be sure, there are such madmen among the other monotheisms. The Temple Mount Faithful in Israel would like the al-Aqsa mosque on Jerusalem's Temple Mount destroyed to make way for the third Jewish Temple and the messianic era. The difference with Iran, however, is that there are all of about 50 of these nuts in Israel, and none of them is president.
And al-Aqsa may well be destroyed, but I am content to wait for Christ's return to see it destroyed.
The closest we've come to a messianically inclined leader in America was a secretary of the interior who 24 years ago, when asked about his stewardship of the environment, told Congress: "I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns; whatever it is we have to manage with a skill to leave the resources needed for future generations." But James Watt's domain was the forest, and his weapon of choice was the chainsaw. He was not in charge of nuclear weapons to be placed on missiles that are paraded through the streets with, literally, Israel's name on them. (They are adorned with banners reading "Israel must be wiped off the map.") It gets worse. After his U.N. speech in September, Ahmadinejad was caught on videotape telling a cleric that during the speech an aura, a halo, appeared around his head right on the podium of the General Assembly. "I felt the atmosphere suddenly change. And for those 27 or 28 minutes, the leaders of the world did not blink. . . . It seemed as if a hand was holding them there, and it opened their eyes to receive the message from the Islamic Republic."

Negotiations to deny this certifiable lunatic genocidal weapons have been going nowhere. Everyone knows they will go nowhere. And no one will do anything about it.
Do you know for a fact that no one will do anything about it? Israel is talking about taking action, and everyone assumes they mean targeting the Iranian reactor like they did the Iraqi reactor. But what if they have some other plan. Ahmadinejad is not the ultimate power in Iran. The real power is in the hands of a few Mullahs. I always thought the way to topple Iran would be to separate the small pool of Mullahs into two different groups, ideally based on theological differences (if they have any), but if they have no theological differences, then into Mullahs from the North vs Mullahs from the South, or something like that, and then assasinate at one time all of the ones in one group, and perhaps Ahmadinejad, and then let the supporters of the assasinated group go after the other half. With all of the theocrats gone, Iran should turn democratic from within.
Betsy blogged This is scary stuff. And I don't have any confidence that anyone has a "plan" for dealing with Iran. Because it's not only Ahmadinejad, but all the mullahs behind him who put him in charge.

DrSanity blogged I'm only a blogger (and hence can say some things that the State Department would be unlikely to say), but it seems to me (to quote a well-known source) that "the time has come; the time is now; ; [Iran's nuclear capabiltiy] must go go go; we don't care how." It is really that simple, and even those who habitually put their hands over their eyes and refuse to look at what disturbs them, are able to at least smell the stench of mortal danger that emanates from that country.

MarkInMexico blogged I believe in my heart that George Bush will do something about it. Something, to paraphrase Australian Prime Minister John Howard, "appropriately lethal."

Solomon blogged Everyone's appropriately abuzz over this Charles Krauthammer op-ed today. Read it all, of course (though I think he's a little unfair to James Watt including him in this company)


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Protect symbols of Christmas

DailyPress reports Saying Christmas is under attack, Virginia Rep. Jo Ann Davis sought passage Wednesday night of a resolution expressing support for "the symbols and traditions of Christmas." The largely symbolic resolution, scheduled for a House vote as early as today, triggered a partisan culture clash in the House chamber. Conservative Republicans applauded the measure, but many Democrats criticized it as religiously insensitive.

That is because they prefer to see the US become a secular country like much of Europe.
Davis, an outspoken Christian conservative from Gloucester, said she was spurred to act after seeing news reports of retailers telling their employees to wish customers a "happy holiday," instead of "Merry Christmas," and schools forbidding everything from Christmas plays to Santa Claus. "Christmas has been declared politically incorrect," Davis told colleagues on the House floor. "Any sign or even mention of Christmas in public can lead to complaints, litigation, protests and threats. America's favorite holiday is being twisted beyond recognition." Her resolution, if adopted, would put the House on record as supporting the use of Christmas symbols and traditions, while opposing "attempts to ban references to Christmas."
I agree with her, but will those symbols just be Christmas trees and Santa Claus, or will they include Nativity Scenes, and songs like Silent Night?
"It was just something that was burning inside me," Davis said in an earlier interview. "At what point did Christmas become so offensive?" But many Democrats protested the resolution, saying that Congress has no business praising one religious holiday over others.
No one is asking Congress to praise one religious holiday over others. Celebrate all of them.
"I'm offended by this," said Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., who's Jewish. "You've drawn me out. Why not protect my symbols?"
Which of your symbols are endangered? The Supreme Court has said that Nativity Scenes are ok on public property as long as they are part of a display that includes secular symbols like Santa, and symbols like your Mennorah.
Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y, asked Davis to amend her resolution to include symbols of other holidays, such as Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, but Davis refused.
That is a mistake (although she is right)
"The attack has not been on the menorah or any symbols of the other religions," Davis said, referring to the Jewish candelabrum used to celebrate Hanukkah. "I will leave it as the resolution stands." The divisive public battle appeared to surprise Davis, a Republican and member of the Assembly of God church. "I didn't realize there would be some opposition, but apparently, there is," she said before the House floor debate. An amended version of her resolution, which expressed support for Christmas symbols "for those who celebrate Christmas," did little to dampen the opposition. "You can always tell when the right wing is in trouble," said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., who's Presbyterian. "They invariably cook up some kind of culture war."
And you can tell when the left wing is in trouble because they attack everything, including Christmas.
U.S. Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, D-Newport News, opposed Davis' resolution as a largely meaningless exercise. He said it masked what he suggested were immoral decisions by Congress to cut food stamps and Medicaid for the poor while cutting taxes for the wealthy. "What really needs to be protected is not the symbols of Christmas but the spirit of Christmas," Scott said.
Would that "spirit" include the person whose birth is being celebrated?
"We ought to express our passion for Christmas through deeds, not words."
Do both.
Conservatives insisted that the measure was needed to combat what they described as a growing assault on religious free speech. "There is a war against Christmas," said Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla., who's Catholic. "Our children can't sing Christmas carols. They can only sing holiday tunes." But the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said, "This is possibly the silliest bill ever presented to the United States Congress.
I'm sure that is wrong. Congress passes many silly bills.
"If they honestly think there's some kind of war against Santa Claus or the baby Jesus, they are just not getting out enough."
How many nativity scenes do you see on either government property or on commercial property by companies wanting Christians to buy things in their stores? Some school districts have even outlawed the colors red and green.


Kerry Sticks Foot in Mouth

Hotline reports MA. Sen. John Kerry said last night that if Dems retake the House, there's a "solid case" to bring "articles of impeachment" against President Bush for allegedly misleading the country about pre-war intelligence, according to several Dems who attended. Kerry was speaking at a holiday party for alumni of his WH '04 bid. About 100 campaign vets gathered at Finn McCool's bar in D.C. to hear him.

And it is clear that Kerry is still ticked off that he lost. And even more ticked off to know his party will not let him try again.
In a short speech, Kerry praised Dems who were working on Senate and House campaigns, and then said, according to one listener: "If we take back the House,
Not a snowball's chance in hell.
there's a solid case to bring articles of impeachment against this president." Another listener heard a slight variation: "If we win back the House, I think we have a pretty solid case to bring articles of impeachment against this President." Kerry then quickly added, according to several in the audience, "Don't tell anyone I said that."
Is Kerry dumb enough to think that will keep his statement from getting out?
Kerry Comm. Dir. David Wade, in an email, said his boss was joking.
So in additon to being a bad candidate he has a bad sense of humor as well?
But several in Kerry's audience said the comment made them uncomfortable, in part because they believed the press would discover what Kerry said and twist its context.
What twisting does it take? You may argue that Clinton should not have been impeached for what he did with Monica in the Oval Office, with his wife in the East Wing, but then that was not why Clinton was impeached.
In keeping with Kerry's wishes, several attendees, while acknowledging what he said, declined to comment when asked about the remarks.

Matt blogged I don't believe for a second Kerry was joking. John Kerry knows very well that intelligence was never manipulated, and that several other country's intelligence agencies all concluded Iraq had WMD. Three independent reports have all concluded intelligence was never manipulated. John Kerry himself, as a member of the Senate Committee of Intelligence, said in 2002, "I will be voting to give the president of the United States the authority to use force - if necessary - to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."


Do No Harm

Richard Dolinar & S. Luke Leininger wrote on National Review Online Nearly everyone knows the first rule doctors are taught when learning to treat patients: "Do no harm." As a nation and as doctors, we should also apply this rule to health-care policy. Unfortunately, we don't. The Senate Finance Committee recently reported out major budget legislation that would implement a "pay-for-performance" system for doctors and other medical professionals who treat Medicare patients. The Senate legislation would tie physician compensation to their level of compliance with government-dictated treatment directives. Sounds harmless enough. Why should the government pay doctors for a lack of performance?

They are talking about compliance with government-directed treatment directives. What make you think the government knows more about what treatment a patient needs.
But there's a problem. Not only is there little evidence that the government's version of a "pay-for-performance " scheme would actually work to the benefit of patients, but there is also the likelihood it would do the opposite. Understand that "pay for performance" in Medicare would mean that Congress would pay doctors according to how well they've complied with government-defined medical guidelines. That would create another layer of bureaucracy between patients and doctors, and it would involve federal bureaucrats even more in patient care.
And it would turn Medicare into an HMO like system, but where the government has an even bigger bureaucracy than HMOs do.
Some members of Congress seem to think this latest scheme will help them control rapidly rising Medicare costs while improving patient care. Of course, lawmakers must know that the current Medicare payment system they created is deeply flawed, and it fails to reward doctors for the quality and benefits of their services to Medicare patients. That system consists of rigid price controls and central planning. It has failed to reward quality of care, even as Medicare costs are soaring. If Congress wants to improve patient care in a cost-effective fashion, another layer of bureaucracy and red tape isn't the way to go.
I agree.
Consider the recent work of health-policy researcher Meredith Rosenthal, who published information on "pay for performance" in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Her article was accompanied by an editorial noting that in healthcare there have been "only nine randomized controlled trials of pay for performance ... reported in the literature." A closer look at those trials reveals that there's little unequivocal data to support this approach and, as the editorial goes on to state, "Even these studies are not clearly applicable to current pay for performance." Isn't it ironic that with a growing professional and political interest in "evidence-based medicine," some members of Congress are practically racing to enact a Medicare "pay-for-performance" system, which has no evidence to support it and plenty of evidence that discredits it?
Why don't they first try it out on their own (Congress's) health care package.
Clearly, factors other than the presence or absence of financial bonuses influence the care patients receive. In fact, offering to pay doctors financial bonuses is usually superfluous. They already have plenty of other reasons to treat patients well. These include the desire to help another human being who is suffering, pride in one's work, use of one's skills to meet the challenge of the individual unique medical case and the desire to maintain a sterling reputation in one's community. And if these are not strong enough motivators, let's not forget the medical malpractice attorneys looking over doctors' shoulders as they treat patients.

Lawmakers should focus on what works and not divert the focus of doctors from exercising their best professional judgment in appropriate patient-centered medical care. The superficial financial rewards of Medicare "pay for performance" would likely create incentives to rig the system in several ways that may cause the quality of healthcare to decline, even if a handful of indicators seem to be improving. If Congress really wants to improve patient care, it should reform Medicare itself. It could do so by creating a consumer- and information-driven system, not unlike the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), which covers federal workers and retirees. Federal health plans are competitive, and participating medical professionals provide quality care at a reasonable cost, within an atmosphere of minimal government bureaucracy and light regulation. Patients have wide choices. As doctors know, when a patient takes a hand in his own care, he does better.
I agree, but AFAIK there are a LOT of doctors that a Medicare Patient can choose from. I am on Medicare, and my PCP has sent me to many different specialists, and they have all taken Medicare.
If lawmakers aren't willing to go that far, they should at least abolish current Medicare fee schedules and update payment formulas, allow doctors to charge either more or less than the Medicare fixed price for medical services, and require physicians to disclose the prices they charge for Medicare services.
Allowing the doctor to charge a Medicare patient as much as they want would certainly hurt the Medicare Patient. For example I have bill in front of me for a chest xray from a recent hospitalization. The charge was $23.00. Medicare just paid $7.14, but they required the doctor to make a $14.07 "adjustment" so my bill is only $1.79. If they did what this article recommended, I would have to lay $14.07 plus $1.79, or almost nine times as much, and more than twice what Medicare paid. I don't deny that it seems the doctor is getting reamed, but that is because their fee is so high so they can collect from people not insured and not on medicare to cover discounts like this that the insurance companies and medicare require them to reduce their bills to meet, but merely making Medicare patients pay more will just hurt the Medicare people.
Everyone wants to provide the best possible medical care at the best possible price. The way to do that is by allowing the market to work its magic, not by luring doctors into a bureaucratic obedience school. When Medicare was enacted in 1965, Congress passed a law that federal officials were not to "exercise any supervision or control over the practice of medicine, or the manner in which medical services are provided." Seniors and other citizens ought not to allow Congress to repeal the letter or the spirit of that law through a back-door bureaucratic scheme.


They’re coming, you know. In fact, they’re here

Michael Ledeen wrote in National Review Online The French just arrested 20 people, apparently pretty close to doing some mean terrorist thing. In late September, nine people were arrested in Paris in "what officials said was a crackdown on suspected Islamic terrorist activities." It was later reported that the DST (internal-security service) had learned that members of this group had been trained in Lebanon, and possessed an exotic poison: seeds of the "nigelle" plant, said to be highly lethal. At the end of October, the London Telegraph reported that French authorities had discovered that "an Islamic terror cell has smuggled two surface-to-air missiles into Europe in a plot to shoot down planes at one of France's main airports..." For extras, the terror group, part of the Zarqawi network, had chemical and biological agents including ricin, cyanide, and botulin. In mid-October, the London Times reported that the British had found that everyone's favorite terrorist deus ex machina, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, had created a new terrorist group (Ansar al-Fath, the Partisans of Victory) in Britain, and was recruiting "young Muslim fanatics" to go to Iraq to join the glorious jihad there.

Both the French and the British have major Muslim problems, as do many other countries in Europe.
In the Netherlands, seven presumed terrorists (including one female) were arrested in mid-October in the Hague, Amsterdam, and Amiere. This took place against continued threats against the lives of two members of parliament, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders, outspoken critics of radical Islamic extremists. Dutch authorities say the terror group is called Hofstad." Hofstad is quite interesting to counterterrorist organizations, because one of its supporters, a Chechen identified as "Marad J.," had moved materials from Amsterdam to a very interesting garage in the town of Schiedam. In that garage the Dutch discovered all manner of documents, videos, and audiotapes, all related to jihad. It included instructions for making and moving bombs, how to respond to police interrogations, and various documents — belonging to another Chechen, Borz-ali I — tracking the purchase of helicopters, landmine detectors, listening devices, and (get this) 1,246,000 gas masks.
Obviously the Dutch have major problems as well, and they are not limited to the murder of a filmmaker or author.
Suspected suicide terrorists were arrested in Copenhagen in late October. Islamic extremists have been expelled from Italy in recent weeks. And in our very own sunny Florida, at the Sami al-Arian trial in Tampa last August, an FBI agent by the name of Kerry Myers was asked whether Islamic Jihad had ever done anything mean to the United States. Myers said that there had been threats against America. Al-Arian's attorney, William Moffitt, asked whether any action had followed the threats. "I can tell you there was a plot to commit terrorist acts in the United States," Myers answered. Pressed for further information, he said "it's classified."
This is a good example of why the US Court System is not the proper place to deal with Islamic terrorists.
In Jordan, one of the country's best journalists, Mohammed Abu Rumman, commented sadly that the country's intelligence service — long considered the best in the Arab world — was totally surprised by the bloody attack in Amman. They thought they had the Zarqawi organization effectively penetrated, Rumman said, "we know he moves easily between Baghdad and Kabul, thanks to guaranteed safe passage from the Iranians," but he still surprised the Jordanians.
Europe is not the only area endangered, but a successful democracy in Iraq should go a long way to helping solve the problem everyone has with the Islamic terrorists.

Iraq seems to be quite thoroughly infested with Iranian weapons, agents, and money (and, if Dexter Filkens of the New York Times has it right, with phony ballots as well). At the end of October, the London Telegraph's Con Coughlin reported that "Iran's Revolutionary Guards have set up a network of secret smuggling routes to ferry men and equipment into Iraq for attacks on coalition troops." The information was sourced to the MEK, which, while politically unattractive, often has good information, and Coughlin added that Western intelligence agencies (heaven help us!) "Have reported a sharp increase in Iran's involvement in insurgent operations..."
Weapons and men are indeed coming from Iran, but they are also coming from Syria.
Coughlin also reported, in late November, that "Chechen rebels" (I wonder what's the difference between "rebels' and "insurgents"...) were being trained by Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Iran itself — the Imam Ali camp in Tehran. It's always fun to listen to the spooks try to explain what's going on. Why are the Iranians supporting the Chechens against the Russians, when the Russians are so helpful to the Iranian nuclear program? Well, you see, "the Iranians are growing increasingly suspicious of Moscow's they are trying to put pressure on Moscow by backing Chechen fighters." And why are the Iranians staging terrorist attacks against British soldiers in Basra? "To pressure Britain to drop its opposition to Iran's nuclear programme." All very subtle, you see. Except that the Iranians have been supporting the Chechens for years, maybe even decades. It isn't fine-tuned to diplomatic chitchat. And the domination of southern Iraq is part of the Iranian strategic plan, whatever Britain may or may not do about the Iranian nuclear program. Look at that list of uncovered terrorist operations, and ask yourself how anyone could link the terror war against the West to any specific act by any specific country. Do the spooks think that France has come too close to the satanic Americans? Can anyone take these people seriously?
They want to take over all western countries. They just know that Europe will be easier than America.
Look at the list again. Remind yourself that it is undoubtedly only a small fraction of the terror universe contained in Western countries. Look in the mirror and say "they are at war with us, but we are not taking the war to them anywhere but Iraq. That's a sucker's game." Then call the White House and say "faster, please."


Can tax receipts rise if taxes are cut?

National Review reported Another month, another vindication of the Laffer curve.

The Treasury Department has released its budget report for the month of November. The report shows that federal receipts for the last two months (the first two of fiscal year 2006) amount to $288 billion. This is up from the first two months of fiscal year 2005 ($271 billion), fiscal year 2004 ($254 billion), and fiscal year 2003 ($244 billion). In other words, federal tax receipts have risen over this time period for three consecutive years; a jump of over 17 percent from 2002 to 2005. Despite growing a remarkable 47 percent in all of fiscal 2005, according to, corporate income taxes continued surging upward, hitting $3.31 billion for November. This is almost 19 percent higher than corporate income-tax revenues for the same month of last year, which came in at $2.78 billion.

Now if the Dumb Democrats could just figure that out.
Once again, empirical data bears out the fact that tax cuts (in this case the broad tax cuts of May 2003) can lead to increases in tax receipts.


Holocaust Myth

WaPo reported Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday called the extermination of 6 million Jews during World War II a "myth," bringing a new cascade of international condemnation onto a government that is increasingly viewed as radical even within Iran. "They have created a myth in the name of the Holocaust and consider it above God, religion and the prophets," Ahmadinejad said in an address carried live on state television. The speech in the Iranian city of Zahedan echoed the president's remarks at a conference of Islamic nations in Saudi Arabia last week, when he suggested that if Europeans established Israel out of guilt over the Nazi campaign, the country should be carved out of Europe.

Well since you mention WWII, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union occupied Iran (Persia) from August 25 to September 17 of 1941. Maybe they should not have given it back; it would have made a good homeland for the Jews. Why don't we just ship the current residents to some other Islamic Country; they have plenty. I doubt he will like that idea, so why not leave them in the land God promised them.
But Wednesday was the first time Ahmadinejad declared that the Holocaust had not happened, and the assertion served to further undermine Iran's efforts to persuade other countries that it can be trusted with its nuclear program. In Western countries, "if someone were to deny the existence of God . . . and deny the existence of prophets and religion, they would not bother him," Ahmadinejad said. "However, if someone were to deny the myth of the Jews' massacre, all the Zionist mouthpieces and the governments subservient to the Zionists tear their larynxes and scream against the person as much as they can."


Is Global Warming Killing the Polar Bears?

WSJ reports Is Global Warming Killing the Polar Bears? - It may be the latest evidence of global warming: Polar bears are drowning.

It is not global warming's fault. They are drinking too much CocaCola. <grin> It does not work well with their digestive tracks. CocaCola should switch back to Santa in their Christmas ads, and stop feeding the soft drink to the bears; we know Santa drinks cokes that the boys and girls leave with the cookies.

Scientists for the first time have documented multiple deaths of polar bears off Alaska, where they likely drowned after swimming long distances in the ocean amid the melting of the Arctic ice shelf. The bears spend most of their time hunting and raising their young on ice floes. In a quarter-century of aerial surveys of the Alaskan coastline before 2004, researchers from the U.S. Minerals Management Service said they typically spotted a lone polar bear swimming in the ocean far from ice about once every two years. Polar-bear drownings were so rare that they have never been documented in the surveys.
Maybe they used to sink when they drowned, but all the CO2 bubbles in the Cokes are making the dead bears float.
But in September 2004, when the polar ice cap had retreated a record 160 miles north of the northern coast of Alaska, researchers counted 10 polar bears swimming as far as 60 miles offshore. Polar bears can swim long distances but have evolved to mainly swim between sheets of ice, scientists say.
Evolution causing yet another problem. And this one is not Intelligent Design's fault.


Democrats plan to filibuster Patriot Act

Washington Times reports Senate Democrats say they will filibuster the extension of the USA Patriot Act, which passed the House yesterday on a bipartisan vote,

After seeing how well the election in Iraq is going they fear that they only way they can hurt the US, and cause us to be attacked again on US soil is to disable the Patriot Act
despite some concerns that provisions of the bill trample civil liberties by giving law enforcement too much power. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said he will not demand that his entire caucus support a filibuster but said that he certainly would.
He knows that many Red State Senators would lose in 2006 if they are seen responsible for preventing the Patriot Act from being extended.
"Because of 9/11, we rushed to judgment on a number of provisions in that bill," he said. "We certainly shouldn't do that this time."
You have had 4 years, how much more time do you need?
But Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, said after the 251-174 House vote that the legislation "provides essential tools to protecting the American people and winning the war on terror by detecting, disrupting and dismantling terrorist activity before it occurs." The real fight will be later this week in the Senate, when Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, plans to try to force an end to debate on the bill so it can be voted on before Congress adjourns for the year. The Patriot Act, which was modified in the bill now under consideration, expires at the end of the year.

Jonathan R blogged Always seeking to weaken America, whether it was unilateral nuclear disarmament or opposition to other weapons systems that not only forced the U.S.S.R.'s disintegration but also established the U.S. military as the finest and most lethal in the world, Democrats are at it again. This time, they want to take away the intelligence and law enforcement tools our government relies upon to combat terrorism. Evidently, Democrats want to revert to 9/10/01 and believe that terrorism is no longer a threat, or at least not one more serious than, say, drug dealing. That's why they want to filibuster the renewal of the Patriot Act. By all means, let's have that debate.


We got our purple fingers!

IRAQ THE MODEL blogged The polls closed in all centers 90 minutes ago!
The IECI had a press conference half an hour ago that pretty much summarized today’s events. From watching this press conference and analyzing the reports we received today we can say that the following points represents the most important findings:

Security was much better than last time in January and there were only a few minor incidents.

It was clear that the IECI and its multi-thousand strong staff did a wonderful and exceptional job in such a hard time to make the election go in the best way possible.

The Iraqi Army and police were successful in giving our people the opportunity to vote in a peaceful environment.

The total registered voter-count was 1,000,000 higher than in January after adding Iraqi citizens who were born in 1987.

15, 5 million+ Iraqis cast their votes in more than 30,000 station spread nationwide.

All the assassinations and intimidation that preceded the election could not stop the process.

There have been strict measures to make sure that all ballot boxes and station are in compliance with the standards of the IECI and now it’s their-IECI-duty to make sure that no boxes were replaced or manipulated.

The presence of the press and representatives of political bodies and civil society organizations was profound although there were limitations on the presence of media workers. But however, the process was being watched 600,000 eyes!

The IECI distributed 5,000,000 posters nationwide to educate the population on the process and encourage Iraqis to vote.

2 million brochures were distributed to inform the people on the technical and moral aspects of the election.

Countless numbers of conferences, lectures and workshops were held to educate the people and encourage them to vote.

Almost all the defects that took place in some regions today were basically cases in which voters couldn’t find their names in the voter-lists.

Counting the votes has begun in all stations and the results will be collected and conveyed to the provincial offices to be later conveyed to the IECI HQ in Baghdad.


Even in Fallujah votes beat bullet

Times Online reported The assassin leant from his car at twilight and pumped a single bullet into the chest of Fallujah’s mufti Sheikh Hamza al-Assawi, silencing the cleric who had courted danger by spearheading the drive for Sunnis to vote. A few days earlier the city’s police chief fought off gunmen mounting the fifth attempt on his life in recent months. They have killed 11 of his men. And yet Fallujah, the insurgent stronghold that just 12 months ago was in flames after an all-out assault by US Marines, is today likely to act as a beacon for participation by Sunnis across the troubled Anbar province. Sunni participation will give this election — and subsequent government — a legitimacy impossible for the January poll, which saw widespread Sunni boycott.

Has hell frozen over? I am not surprised that the Iraqis are voting, but the Times Online ran a heading: "Even in Fallujah, votes beat bullet"
Then a tiny percentage of Anbar voted. But, after a change of heart by clerics and political leaders who saw themselves marginalised in the resulting Shia-led Parliament, participation in October’s constitutional referendum increased to 30 per cent across the province, with more than 90 per cent in Fallujah itself. Iraqis expect even greater numbers to turn out in Sunni areas today. Southeast of Fallujah, in the “triangle of death”, Iraqi election officials who risked being run out of polling stations in January now report a surge in demand for election materials.

In Fallujah the fortunate police chief, Brigadier General Salah al-Ani, is confident that his fellow Sunnis recognised their mistake. He is backed by townspeople. Ahmed Abdul Razaq, 37, a store owner, said: “We should have political representation to serve our rights. Even the military resistance here has realised this, and some groups have mentioned that they are going to have their people participating.”
Ballots are definitely better than bullets.
Western diplomats cannot conceal their delight: “This is not just strategic turf for the US, it is strategic turf for al-Zarqawi and the extremists. They remember what this place was a year ago, it was a green zone for Zarqawi and it is no longer,” a US diplomat in Fallujah said. But the question remains whether the ballot will marginalise the bullet in the longer term, or if the Sunni insurgents will simply wield both.
If the Shia are smart they will tell the Sunnis that the insurgency must end, or they (the Sunnis) will not be allowed into the backroom deals to try to form a coalition government


Animated Singing Santa Hack

A Cox user has figured out how to hack the $49.84 five foot singing santa from Walmart.

Gee, this is exactly what everyone needs. NOT!!!


Now churches are targeted

The Australian reported Four churches in Sydney's southwest have been attacked in 24 hours as the city's riots spread from race to religion. A community hall linked to a Uniting church was burned to the ground early yesterday, carol-singers were spat on and church buildings peppered with gunfire. In response, members of the Arab Christian and Arab Muslim communities have called for a curfew for all Lebanese youths over the weekend.

The Aussies need to begin deporting troublemaking immigrants, or they are going to have a terrible mess on themselves.
Police believe the attack on the hall, in the suburb of Auburn, was intended to destroy the Uniting church next door, while nearby StThomas's Anglican Church, which has a primarily Chinese congregation, had all its front windows smashed. Three of the attacks were on churches within minutes of each other. The night before, Molotov cocktails were used in an attack on an Anglican church in Macquarie Fields in the city's far southwest. Arab Christians have suggested the attacks on churches may have been meant as a violent attempt to "shame" the city's Lebanese Christian community into supporting Lebanese Muslims in the race-hate war,
Attacking their churches is not the way to get people to support you.
which began as a battle against young white males over use of suburban beaches.


Saddam's WMD Moved to Syria, An Israeli Says

The New York Sun reported Saddam Hussein moved his chemical weapons to Syria six weeks before the war started, Israel's top general during Operation Iraqi Freedom says.

This is news? I have known that since shortly after we went in.
The assertion comes as President Bush said yesterday that much of the intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was incorrect. The Israeli officer, Lieutenant General Moshe Yaalon, asserted that Saddam spirited his chemical weapons out of the country on the eve of the war. "He transferred the chemical agents from Iraq to Syria," General Yaalon told The New York Sun over dinner in New York on Tuesday night. "No one went to Syria to find it."


An Islamist-Secular Split Is Seen

NYT reported Iraqi voters began streaming to the polls Thursday morning in nationwide elections as Iraqi leaders predicted that the vote would split almost evenly between secular and Islamist parties and usher in lengthy political maneuvering.

Which is very good. If either had a significant majority, it might make negotiations more difficult. Now Iraqi will learn to negotiate.
The elections, which are expected to draw as many as 10 million Iraqis to the polls, will be the last formal milestone in the American-backed political process that was devised to foster a democratic government. The elections are being seen by Iraqi and American leaders as the definitive test of the Bush administration's assumption that a free vote is the best means for reconciling Iraq's vastly polarized ethnic and sectarian groups and defeating the Sunni Arab insurgency that is threatening to break the country apart.
And the Dems and the MSM are both very worried that it might work.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Truth On the Ground

Ben Connable wrote in WaPO When I told people that I was getting ready to head back to Iraq for my third tour, the usual response was a frown, a somber head shake and even the occasional "I'm sorry." When I told them that I was glad to be going back, the response was awkward disbelief, a fake smile and a change of subject. The common wisdom seems to be that Iraq is an unwinnable war and a quagmire and that the only thing left to decide is how quickly we withdraw.

That is because the MSM, who are in the pockets of the Democrats, have been trying so hard to spread that false impression, because they know the Dems need for the Iraq war to be a failure if they have any hope of ever getting back in power.
Depending on which poll you believe, about 60 percent of Americans think it's time to pull out of Iraq. How is it, then, that 64 percent of U.S. military officers think we will succeed if we are allowed to continue our work?
Because you've "Been there, done that, have the T-Shirt to prove it.
Why is there such a dramatic divergence between American public opinion and the upbeat assessment of the men and women doing the fighting? Open optimism, whether or not it is warranted, is a necessary trait in senior officers and officials. Skeptics can be excused for discounting glowing reports on Iraq from the upper echelons of power. But it is not a simple thing to ignore genuine optimism from mid-grade, junior and noncommissioned officers who have spent much of the past three years in Iraq.

We know the streets, the people and the insurgents far better than any armchair academic or talking head. As military professionals, we are trained to gauge the chances of success and failure, to calculate risk and reward. We have little to gain from our optimism and quite a bit to lose as we leave our families over and over again to face danger and deprivation for an increasingly unpopular cause. We know that there are no guarantees in war, and that we may well fail in the long run. We also know that if we follow our current plan we can, over time, leave behind a stable and unified country that might help to anchor a better future for the Middle East.

It is difficult for most Americans to rationalize this optimism in the face of the horrific images and depressing stories that have come to symbolize the war in Iraq. Most of the violent news is true; the death and destruction are very real. But experienced military officers know that the horror stories, however dramatic, do not represent the broader conditions there or the chances for future success. For every vividly portrayed suicide bombing, there are hundreds of thousands of people living quiet, if often uncertain, lives. For every depressing story of unrest and instability there is an untold story of potential and hope. The impression of Iraq as an unfathomable quagmire is false and dangerously misleading.

It is this false impression that has led us to a moment of national truth. The proponents of the quagmire vision argue that the very presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is the cause of the insurgency and that our withdrawal would give the Iraqis their only true chance for stability. Most military officers and NCOs with ground experience in Iraq know that this vision is patently false. Although the presence of U.S. forces certainly inflames sentiment and provides the insurgents with targets, the anti-coalition insurgency is mostly a symptom of the underlying conditions in Iraq. It may seem paradoxical, but only our presence can buffer the violence enough to allow for eventual stability.

The precipitous withdrawal of U.S. troops would almost certainly lead to a violent and destabilizing civil war. The Iraqi military is not ready to assume control and would not miraculously achieve competence in our absence. As we left, the insurgency would turn into internecine violence, and Iraq would collapse into a true failed state. The fires of the Iraqi civil war would spread, and terrorists would find a new safe haven from which to launch attacks against our homeland.

The Anchoress blogged I’d like to just interject here: my best pal’s pediatrician returned from Iraq serving, and she says she wishes she did not have to return, would not have returned were it not for her own children - “we’re doing incredible work there, and we need to keep at it - we’re helping,” is what she has told my friend, “and the Iraqi people are wonderful people who constantly say ‘thank you.’”

My dermatologist’s son is in Fallujah, has been for six months, and he just re-upped. While the reporters in the hotels and the reporters in NY skyscrapers and Democrats (excepting Joe Lieberman) tell you this thing is a disaster, the soldiers in Iraq are re-enlisting in record numbers, and new recruiting keep coming. Why? Because for people who are not blinded by ideology, or deranged by Bush-hatred - they are seeing the vision, and they understand how near we are to victory, and they comprehend that a Democratic Iraq will inspire a Democratic Middle East - something no one ever dared dream about, before, something no one tried to establish in the last 35 violent and terrible years, and they want to be a part of it. Despite all of the naysaying, the non-stop defeatism and the propaganda against the war by our own elected officials and our own press, they see it.

BlackFive blogged I am starting to wonder about the Washington Post, every time I smack them down recently, they pop up with some responsible journalism. Obviously they can't be called fair and balanced, who can? But they have kept on showing signs that they and the rest of the media/left alliance realize they have failed to lose the war through bias. Now they must show that they are a "credible" source for information, and they took another step in the right direction today with a column on the Op-Ed page from USMC Maj. Ben Connable.

BlogsForBush blogged We all know that when it comes to Iraq, the Democrats don't know what they're talking about... They just know that it benefits their party to be negative, negative, negative. Well, Marine Major Ben Connable, on the eve of returning to Iraq for a third tour, reveals the truth on the ground in an article in The Washington Post... He tells us that "The impression of Iraq as an unfathomable quagmire is false and dangerously misleading." Indeed, anyone who has followed our coverage of Iraq knows better than to call it a quagmire.


Cable Relents on Channels for the Family

NYT reports Yielding to pressure from regulators, lawmakers and interest groups, the country's biggest cable companies say they expect to introduce packages of family-friendly channels as early as the first quarter of 2006.

Why did it take them this long?
Kyle McSlarrow, the head of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, which represents cable companies and programmers, told lawmakers yesterday that at least six cable companies, including the two largest, Comcast and Time Warner Cable, were developing packages of channels that would appeal to parents who want to shield their children from potentially offensive shows. Mr. McSlarrow said each cable company would come up with its own family-oriented packages and that they would be purchased like other bundles. He did not say how much the bundles would cost and added that cable operators still must solve some technical problems and revisit their contracts with programmers. The move is the latest effort by cable companies to head off pending legislation that might obligate them to block certain programming or sell channels to consumers on an à la carte basis. The cable industry has long opposed efforts to regulate its offerings and has argued that technology already in place lets parents filter out unwanted shows.
True, but with most systems they are protected by an four digit pin number, and it should not take that long for a kid to try all 10,000 numbers to watch something he is not supposed to watch.


Microsoft Fixes Critical IE Problems

Yahoo! News reported Microsoft this week fixed a widely reported flaw in its Internet Explorer (IE) browser that had been used by attackers over the past few weeks to take over the PCs of unsuspecting users. The flaw was one of four IE bugs fixed Tuesday in Microsoft's regularly scheduled software update. Although attacks based on the vulnerability have not been widespread, it is important that IE users now install the patch, said Neel Mehta, team lead of Internet Security Systems' X-Force group. "It's not of epic proportions," he said. "But isolated attackers here and there have used it to install malware." Security experts had known about the flaw since May, but on Nov. 21 hackers with a U.K. organization called Computer Terrorism posted sample code that showed it to be much more serious than originally thought. Within days that sample code was adapted and being used by attackers, prompting many security experts to erroneously predict that Microsoft would rush a patch ahead of its December update. The bug concerns the way IE processes the "Window()" function in JavaScript, a popular scripting language used by Web developers to make their sites more dynamic. It affects IE users on Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows 98. In order to exploit this problem, attackers must first trick users into visiting a maliciously encoded Web site, which has helped prevent the bug from being more widely used. Microsoft fixed this problem, along with the other three IE bugs, in one of two security updates, released Tuesday. More details on the IE fixes can be found in the MS05-054 Security Bulletin here. This update is rated "critical" by Microsoft.

I encourage everyone to apply the patch, even if you rarely use IE (like me)


O'Reilly falsely claimed....

04_madonna37_d.jpg width=200 height=200 align="right">Media Matters blogged On the December 9 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, a caller asserted that "I was politely told by all the postal workers that I spoke with at the various post offices that the only stamp they offered was 'Holiday Cookies.' "

So it was not O'Reilly saying that, but a caller.
O'Reilly replied, "I think it's the first time in my lifetime that the United States Postal Service has not had a spiritual stamp for people like you who would like them," adding that the purported lack of a spiritual stamp was "insulting you and your beliefs ... because your spiritual stamp is in context to the celebration of Christmas." In fact, in addition to the "Holiday Cookies" stamps the caller cited, the USPS continues to offer the commemorative "Madonna and Child" stamp. The self-adhesive 37-cent "Madonna and Child" is available through the USPS website in individual books of 20, or in larger packs containing five books each.
They may be available on their website, but does that mean that every Post Office has them in stock. As the USPS website makes clear, Madonna and Child was issued 10/13/2004. I.E. it is last year's stamp They may have some left in the shipping area for their website purchases, and possibly even some offices have them, but can you guarantee that all offices have an ample supply?


Police Seize Forged Ballots Headed to Iraq From Iran

NYT reported Less than two days before nationwide elections, the Iraqi border police seized a tanker on Tuesday that had just crossed from Iran filled with thousands of forged ballots, an official at the Interior Ministry said.

Glad they caught it. It shows how Iran does not value a fair election
The tanker was seized in the evening by agents with the American-trained border protection force at the Iraqi town of Badra, after crossing at Munthirya on the Iraqi border, the official said. According to the Iraqi official, the border police found several thousand partly completed ballots inside. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the Iranian truck driver told the police under interrogation that at least three other trucks filled with ballots had crossed from Iran at different spots along the border.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

After 14 Weeks, Evacuees Settle Into 14th Home

NYT reported The small room where Tracy Jackson, Jerel Brown and their four young children share a twin bed and thin mattress on the floor is the 14th place they have laid their heads since Hurricane Katrina struck just over 14 weeks ago.

I felt sorry for these people when Katrina first hit, in fact I listed my house on two different websites as willing to take in Katrina Refugees. But a good friend of mine who is helping Katrina refugees find houses here in Tulsa told me that of 100 families she had helped find a place to stay, and get furnature for it, only one has gotten a job. I am not nearly as willing to help as I once was. There are plenty of jobs here for someone who wants to work, and if only 1 out of 100 wants to work, it sounds like the other 99 and just hoping to live off the government.
Five shelters. Six hotel rooms. Twelve days in the home of a good Samaritan in a tiny Louisiana town where they were the only black people. Six weeks in Durham, N.C., in the two-bedroom apartment that a church found for Mr. Brown's mother after the storm, where no buses ran nearby and a cab to Wal-Mart cost $10. And, since shortly before Thanksgiving, this dark room decorated with a Cinderella princess poster in a shotgun shack, where nearly all they have is packed in a plastic tub and several suitcases stacked on top of each other in the cramped closet. "We don't know when we're going to have to pick up and go again," said Mr. Brown, 24, whose apartment near downtown New Orleans was destroyed by a fire after the hurricane. "It's just surviving, you know. You don't know where your next turn is going to be."


Amnesty or guest worker

Phyllis Schlafly wrote in Townhall President George W. Bush, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and several others are promoting new laws that would grant amnesty or guest-worker status to millions of illegal immigrants living in the United States and to an indefinite number of foreign workers. All these bills should be rejected on moral grounds.

Inviting foreigners to come to America as guest workers is like saying: You people are only fit to work the menial jobs that Americans think they are too good to work. We will let you come into the United States for a few years to work low-paid jobs, but you have no hope of rising up the economic and social ladder.

Not at all. We still have the normal immigration policy of taking a certain number from each country, and if they want to stand in line for that they can. But if they just want a short term job, the guest worker program makes sense.
The various bills differ in whether or when the guest workers will be expelled back to the poverty they came from, but the bottom line is to create a subordinate underclass of unassimilated foreign workers, like serfs or peasants in corrupt countries. That's not the kind of economy that made America great.

America welcomes immigrants who want to be American, who come to the United States legally, obey the laws and the Constitution, and learn to speak English. Most start with entry-level jobs, but they get the opportunity to rise up and realize the American dream. France and Germany have demonstrated the folly of guest-worker economies. In France and Germany, foreigners were admitted to toil at low-wage jobs. Now, both countries host thousands of foreign residents who fail to assimilate, burden the social welfare system, and become more disgruntled and dangerous every year....
Which is why George Bush's proposal is they would only be able to stay here a few years and then would have to go back home. If they want to stand in line to come back and get on a path to citizenship, that is fine.
An amnesty or guest-worker plan would reward lawbreakers. The guest workers would be exempted from punishment for breaking U.S. immigration laws by entering our country illegally, or by using fraudulent documents.
False. The Guest Worker program would assign them special douments that are almost impossible to forge.
And employers would be exempted from punishment for hiring them....Failing to close our border to illegal immigration also means giving up the war on drugs...
No one said anything about failing to close the border. Closing it, but having a way for them to come through and get special documentation is not an open border.
Legal immigrants must be healthy to be admitted, but nobody is giving health examinations to the people smuggled across the border.
But health exams could be given to people officially coming in on guest worker visas.


The media's war

Thomas Sowell wrote in Townhall The media seem to have come up with a formula that would make any war in history unwinnable and unbearable: They simply emphasize the enemy's victories and our losses.

They do that only because they support the Democrats, who are mad that the Republicans control the White House and both houses of Congress. Therefore the MSM is mad at Bush, and distorting the news is their way of showing it. I wish some rich Republican would buy the Washington Post. Not to turn it into a conservative newspaper, but to make it Fair and Balanced.
Losses suffered by the enemy are not news, no matter how large, how persistent, or how clearly they indicate the enemy's declining strength. What are the enemy's victories in Iraq? The killing of Americans and the killing of Iraqi civilians. Both are big news in the mainstream media, day in and day out, around the clock. Has anyone ever believed that any war could be fought without deaths on both sides? Every death is a tragedy to the individual killed and to his loved ones. But is there anything about American casualty rates in Iraq that makes them more severe than casualty rates in any other war we have fought?
Actually deaths have been much smaller than almost any other conflict (with the exception of Gulf War I). And would they prefer our military to confront the Islamoterrists in Baghdad and Basrah or in Boston, Baton Rouge, Birmingham, Bismarck, Boise, Buffalo, Broken Arrow, or Beaumont; in Mosul or in Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Mobile, Memphis, Muskogee, or Mesquite; in Karkuk and Karbala or in Kansas City, Knoxville, Ketchum, or Kilgore; in Tall Afar and Tikrit or in Tulsa, Tallahassee, Tampa Bay, Terre Haute, Toledo, Topeka, Tucson, Tahlequah, Texas City, or Texarkana.
On the contrary, the American deaths in Iraqi are a fraction of what they have been in other wars in our history. The media have made a big production about the cumulative fatalities in Iraq, hyping the thousandth death with multiple full-page features in the New York Times and comparable coverage on TV.


Beyond The War Spin

E. J. Dionne Jr. wrote in WaPo After this week's elections in Iraq, will our national debate be about what the United States should do to salvage the best outcome it can from a war policy that has been riddled with errors and miscalculations?

What makes you think it has been riddled with errors and miscalculations? Is it because Bush ignored what people like you thought he should do?
Or will we mostly discuss how politicians should position themselves on the war? Here's a bet on the triumph of spin. Politicians, especially Democrats, will be discouraged from saying what they really believe about Iraq for fear of offending "swing voters." Slogans about "victory" and "defeatism" will be thrown around promiscuously. The administration's defenders have enjoyed short-term political success by turning attention away from President Bush's Iraq policies and toward divisions in the Democratic Party on the subject. The Republicans particularly enjoy assailing Democrats who have called for the rapid withdrawal of American troops.

The neat summary of the new Republican home-front offensive was the tag line on a Republican National Committee ad: "Our country is at war. Our soldiers are watching and our enemies are too. Message to Democrats: Retreat and Defeat is not an option." Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert helpfully explained: "The Democratic Party sides with those who wish to surrender."

Attacks of this sort on Democrats are effective because Democrats help make them so. Democrats are so obsessed with not looking "weak" on defense
If they did not want to look weak on defense they should not have adopted Murtha's call to withdraw just as we were about to have a major election in Iraq.
that they end up making themselves look weak, period, by the way they respond to Republican attacks on their alleged weakness. Oh my gosh, many Democrats say, we can't associate ourselves with the likes of Howard Dean or Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader who recently called for a troop withdrawal within six months. Let's knife them before Karl Rove gets around to knifing us. Talk about a recipe for retreat and defeat.


Blog Network List

Blog Network Watch reports We have taken each of our individual metrics for blogs and blog networks and ranked them from lowest to highest. We've then averaged those metrics together in order to generate a score for a blog - and then an aggregate score for a network - and used those to generate a set of rankings for blogs and blog networks.

We like this because it provides an overall view of a network - and does so without overly penalizing the networks with a smaller number of blogs than some of the larger networks. As additional metrics become available, we'll add those into the mix as well.

Currently, the blog index is made up of the following metrics:

  • Technorati rank
  • Technorati blogs linking to blog
  • Technorati links
  • MSN Search pages indexed
  • MSN Search links
  • Google backlinks
  • Google pages indexed
  • Yahoo inlinks
  • Yahoo pages indexed

I ranked 326 with an overall score of 410

Some of my favorite blogs were:
The Anchoress 510 with 528
La Shawn Barber 145 with 251

Many of my other favorites were not listed

I was listed as being one of 88 blogs with Pajamas Media, which was second in the blog networks (topped only by Gawker Media)


Bloggers from all over the world

Guardian Unlimited reported The Global Voices conference called to mind a United Nations of blogging: there was a Cambodian sitting next to an Iranian sitting next to an Indian sitting next to a Kenyan sitting next to Richard Dreyfuss... Everyone had a story to tell. The Iranians Farid Pouya and Shahram Kholdi described how all types of people, from homosexuals using pseudonyms to write about their personal lives to pro-Islamic republic Hezbollah supporters, have latched on to blogs as a tool for self-expression. In China, where a new blog is created every two seconds, photographs of a series of mine disasters have appeared on blogs in defiance of the straitjacketed mainstream media, commented blogger Kevin Wen. And Dina Mehta, from Mumbai, explained how a blog set up in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami prompted hundreds of offers of help from people around the globe and published SMS messages and calls for help from people in the affected areas. "It was one of my experiences that changed my life," she said. "It wasn't the television telling you what was going on in some other part of the world; it was real voices."

That makes a lot of sense. I get a lot of my news about Iraq from Iraq The Model and a number of other Iraqi Blogs (including some by soldiers)


You'll never guess who's to blame for 7/7

Dean Godson wrote in The Times Online The latest attempt to erode extremism is doomed to fail. A parallel Islamic society, not assimilation, will result

If the Brits put up with this, they will be committing suicide
I don't know what effect some of the Muslim “moderates” have on the Islamist “radicals” — but, as the Duke of Wellington might have said, by G-d they frighten me. The unerring instinct of the Government in picking many of the wrong partners within the Muslim community finds its apotheosis in the recent report of the Home Office task force, Preventing Extremism Together, which was assembled after the July bombings in London.

As might have been expected from a panel on which the most reactionary strains of Islam, such as Wahhabism and Salafism, were highly over-represented — as well as one member who believes that there is a plot between Freemasons and Jews to run the world — the bulk of the panel came up with, well, some pretty reactionary conclusions. Meanwhile, the concerns of the majority of British Muslims, including theological moderates such as the main Sufi orders, were underplayed. So what, then, does the Home Office mean by the much hallowed-word “moderate”? It is now apparent that “moderate” does not necessarily mean liberal or progressive. In this context, a moderate is opposed to the use of violence in the United Kingdom — although there was no unanimity on the panel about its employment abroad where Muslims are “oppressed”. In other words, such “moderation” is often methodological, rather than ideological.

The tone of the report has much in common with that of dark “Green” constitutional Irish nationalists during the IRA’s campaign: help us or those nasty Provisionals will take over. But the relationship between moderates and extremists can be symbiotic as well as competitive.

Islamist violence has thus provided a wonderful, unexpected opportunity for these moderates to demand more power and money from the State. This will leave them and their favoured co-religionists as the main intermediaries between the state and the Muslim community.

The mood music of the document is one of breathtaking arrogance. The panel makes it quite clear that it is not for Islamists alone to make adjustments after 7/7: rather, it is a two-way process in which the needs of two million-plus Muslims weigh equally in the balance with those of all 60 million non-Muslims. British identity will have to evolve into a much looser concept to accommodate them.
Or they can just send them back to the country they came from.
The events of 7/7 appear, in their view, to be as much the fault of the Government as the bombers themselves: there is a strong flavour of “it woz Iraq and deprivation and unemployment and Islamophobia wot made ’em do it, guv”. To prevent a repeat, they seem to imply, there should effectively be a Muslim veto over counter-terrorist legislation and foreign policy.
That would be absolutely stupid.
Their long-term solution for the ills of society? More of their kind of political Islam. More Islam in the national curriculum, including GCSEs in Islamic studies; more Islamist rapid rebuttal units — that is, propaganda. And what are two of the most important ways of empowering Muslim women? Give them more Islamic education and Arabic lessons. Since a large majority of them are South Asian, the only reason they would need Arabic is for more Koranic instruction. As such, the report endorses a key aim of some radical elements — the “Arabisation” of British Muslims.

The effect of all of this will be to create a parallel society. The natural tendency of most minority groups is to assimilate into the majority culture after several generations. The recommendations in this report would arrest that evolution by pumping taxpayers’ money into a British Leyland-style rescue package, circa 1975, for reactionary Islamist institutions. Thus, one of the key proposals that the Government views favourably is the idea of “co-locating” community centres in mosques — thus forcing secular Britons of Muslim origin into the hands of the clerics if they are to obtain civic amenities.


L.A. Crips Gang Founder Executed in Calif

Yahoo! News reported Convicted killer Stanley Tookie Williams, the Crips gang co-founder whose case stirred a national debate about capital punishment versus the possibility of redemption, was executed early Tuesday. Williams, 51, died at 12:35 a.m.

Tookie's supporters were really opposed to the death penalty. It is amazing how Liberals are so concerned about the sanctity of life, and are opposed to the death penalty (approximately 1000 people have been put to death since the Supreme Court reinstituted the death penalty, yet they are so insistent that a woman has a right to abort her baby (we kill more than 3,000 babies each day through abortion.

A condemed prisoner has been adjudged guilty after a trial by a jury, and then has had numerous appeals, both in state and federal court, and the governor has had a chance to commute the death penalty to life without a possiblity of parole. The babies killed by the abortionists are completely innocent, yet they have not had a single trial, appeal, or the opportunity for a governor's pardon or commutation of sentance.

Which is worse? Killing 1000 murders since the 1970s that have adjudged guilty by a jury, and who had numerous appeals, or killing 1,300,000 innocent babies every year


Monday, December 12, 2005

Broad Optimism in Iraq

ABC News reported Surprising levels of optimism prevail in Iraq

They have not been reading the distorted reports from the MSM in this country; they know what is going on.
with living conditions improved, security more a national worry than a local one, and expectations for the future high. But views of the country's situation overall are far less positive, and there are vast differences in views among Iraqi groups — a study in contrasts between increasingly disaffected Sunni areas and vastly more positive Shiite and Kurdish provinces.
The Sunnis wish for the old days when they dominated the country, although were only 20% of the population.
An ABC News poll in Iraq, conducted with Time magazine and other media partners, includes some remarkable results: Despite the daily violence there, most living conditions are rated positively, seven in 10 Iraqis say their own lives are going well, and nearly two-thirds expect things to improve in the year ahead.

Surprisingly, given the insurgents' attacks on Iraqi civilians, more than six in 10 Iraqis feel very safe in their own neighborhoods, up sharply from just 40 percent in a poll in June 2004. And 61 percent say local security is good — up from 49 percent in the first ABC News poll in Iraq in February 2004.

Nonetheless, nationally, security is seen as the most pressing problem by far; 57 percent identify it as the country's top priority. Economic improvements are helping the public mood.


Stuck On Stupid

Lee Pang sent me this example of Stuck on Stupid.

I can't think of anything to say but post it.


Yahoo offers Movable Type for bloggers

Reuters reported Yahoo Inc. and Six Apart Ltd., creator of Movable Type -- the most popular software used to create professional blogs -- said on Sunday Yahoo will be the preferred supplier of Movable Type for small businesses.

I am not sure I agree with that. There are a lot of Word Press Blogs, but MT is certainly one of the biggies.
The partnership is the latest in a string of deals by the world's largest Internet media company as it seeks to embrace so-called "social media," the new generation of Web sites that encourage Internet users to share written text, photos and videos.

On Friday, Yahoo acquired, a site for users to share their favorite Web links. Earlier this year, it acquired Flickr, which offers a way to annotate and share photos.

Yahoo will effectively act as the preferred provider of Movable Type for small business users, taking advantage of its scale and efficiency, Anil Dash, vice president of professional products for San Francisco-based Six Apart, said in a phone interview. "This is going to be our recommended (sales) channel for small business," he said. Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo said it will offer commercial blogs based on Movable Type as part of its existing small business Web-site management service.

Yahoo provides customers with a unique Web address, blogging tools and business-class e-mail services with spam and virus protections for less than $12 a month.
That is less that MT's current commercial pricing, but higher than their current pricing for personal, education, or non-profit.

Movable Type is commonly used by businesses, Web designers and professional bloggers to create easily updated Web sites. Other blog software such as Google Inc.'s Blogger, WordPress, Xanga and Six Apart's own Live Journal, are more often used to create blogs for individuals.