Friday, May 30, 2008

Our Cap & Trade Future

Perhaps you've seen the pictures released by Brazil of what is purported to be a tribe of people near the Brazil/ Peru border. These folks have never been in contact with the outside world. In other words, they're living in the Warmist's dream world. No nasty, dirty, filthy carbon footprints for these people. Ain't it swell!

Welcome to your future, post "cap & trade." It will be a simpler life. Periodically Al Gore will fly a Gulfstream in to see how you're doing. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Not Much Fun for the Director of Fun

Around the globe Bill Murray is known as a TV and movie star, an amusing amateur golfer, and a die-hard Cubs fan. Around our Palmetto State many people also know him as the co-owner and "Director of Fun" for the Charleston RiverDogs, the Yankees' single A team in the SAL. This morning the story broke in the Charleston Post and Courier that Mrs. Jennifer Butler Murray has sued her husband Bill for divorce. The Murray's bought a home in the Charleston area in 2006 where Jennifer and their four kids live, thus the filing here in SC. (1414 Thompson Avenue, Sullivans Island, SC if you nosey people want to look at it on Google Earth)
The couple's pre-nup is available in the story link above as well as the divorce filing. It ain't pretty. But my question is this, if she filed papers on May 12th why didn't anybody report it until the P&C did today, 17 days later? I mean, Low Country folks are very polite and all but that seems an awful long time to get around to reporting a nasty Hollywood divorce.
In other news, the RiverDogs are home against the Hickory Crawdads in about 30 minutes. Play ball! (The show must go on.)

Cookies with Ahmadinejad

Robert Ferrigno is an accomplished writer of suspense fiction. He's now two thirds of the way through his "Assassin" trilogy set in a future America that has been split into an Islamic Republic and a Christian "Bible Belt." The first "Prayers for the Assassin" has been out in paperback and is a great read to take along on your beach vacation or when you hit the back yard hammock this summer.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It's Tough Trying To Make A Buck On Politics

Three weeks ago I was worried about what I would do with my warehouse full of Hillary Nutcrackers. Thanks to globalism that problem is now solved as a fellow in an unnamed Eastern European country took them off my hands. Exchange rates being what they are today I even made a dime or two per cracker. By the time those beauties see the market again "Hillary" may look more like Merkel or some such but, hey, what do I care. I'm just glad to be out from under Hillary... er, I mean, I'm just glad to be able to end the lease on all that warehouse space.

Now here are some guys who had a better business plan:! Bless them, I hope they make a fortune. Then, if Obama wins in November, they can flee the country--- or at least move their capital offshore like many of the rest of us. Seriously though, don't you want to order an Obama hat and a bottle of Leninade?
As for me, I'm done selling hard goods. I don't want to worry about inventories or leases or production cycles-- I had a career full of that in a former life. My money making activities surrounding the presidential election are simpler: futures trading. How are those futures trading you ask? As of this minute Obama futures are trading at 57.6, McCain futures are trading at 37.7, and Hillary is going for 5.8. Over on Rich Karlgaard's blog a commenter assured everyone yesterday that there was 0% chance that BXO would win the election. Very sweet stuff for McCainiacs to ponder I imagine. Too bad Barack's actually a big favorite in the very real world of futures trading. It's gonna take more than a few cases of Leninade to get through this.

Are You Shorting Crude Oil Today?

Just a little more than a month ago I wrote here about a trading phenomenon called the "climax run." One of the points I was trying to make was that crude oil prices are in a climax run (AKA- "a bubble") just as certainly as housing was a few years back and tech stocks were in 1998-March 2000. The chart above from Thomson (h/t Carpe Diem) depicts this run on oil pretty clearly. Most of the media, including the business media, has been projecting $200/bbl crude and $10+/ gallon gasoline right up to this very morning as if higher prices don't change consumer behavior. Markets don't work that way. They correct. And when they correct after climax runs they usually go down hard.
So why do I bring this up today? Well, in that April post I discussed whether the $120/ bbl price at that time was a top. Of course, my answer was, "who knows?" but I did say it could easily run to $140. Last Thursday (5/22) crude hit $135.09. In little more than two trading days since it's dropped over 6%. When it passed down through $130 lots of selling programs were triggered. Trading curbs? We don't need no stinkin' trading curbs! A great example of how this can work is shown by recent wheat trading. Most people, if asked, would probably say that wheat is going up, up, up in price right now. Wheat certainly was going up in its own climax run but, over the past three months, the price of wheat has plunged over 40%. If crude oil did that we'd have $80 oil by Labor Day. In fact, there may be nothing to stop it from doing just that.
Why is this happening now and will it continue? First off, this 6% drop could just be a head fake and oil could still climb further. But, for the moment, let's look at why it's dropping. First and foremost, the dollar has strengthened against other currencies. It's been my contention (with apologies to the great T. Boone Pickens who says it's only about supply/demand tension) that the run up in commodities has been largely due to the weak dollar. Basically, rather than shorting the dollar a trader can achieve the same thing by going long on commodities. The weak dollar is a sign there are too many dollars, otherwise known as inflation. Secondly, US demand is dropping. That's right, you may not have heard about this on the TV or in the newspaper, but demand for gasoline in the US is falling:
--- March 2008... miles driven in US was 11 BILLION miles fewer than March 2007
--- March 2008 was the 5th consecutive month of year-over-year drop in miles driven
--- March 2008 drop was 4.3%, the largest drop since record-keeping started in 1942 and the first time there was a drop in demand in March since 1979
Is the run on crude oil over? Are you shorting oil today? Are you buying dollars?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

He Sees Dead People!

Courtesy of Powerline we see the latest Barack O'Howler from the weekend:

"On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes -- and I see many of them in the audience here today -- our sense of patriotism is particularly strong."

--Barack Obama, Memorial Day speech in New Mexico 2008

Wow. A few folks were upset that I pointed out how dumb this guy sounds when he isn't reading from an Axelrod/Plouffe script loaded into a teleprompter, but these gaffes are piling up.

Malkin has a nice list going here. It seems to grow daily.

The JammieWearingFool caught another over the weekend.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "I better hurry up and register or so I can get in on the veritable Gold Rush of big money opportunity." I understand completely. There are just a few problems with your thinking my entrepreneurial buddy. First, the dominant legacy media will cover for President Obama just as they've covered for BXO the candidate so Obama Gaffes will never be "mainstream." But, more importantly, has already been registered by a guy, Richard Douglas-- or is that Douglas Richards-- in The Bahamas. Dick Douglas has it up for sale though if you have the coin. was registered by Marc Cohen with a New Zealand registration although Marc's IP address appears to be in Australia.

OK. How about Sorry, someone in Pennsylvania has that one staked out.

But, GOOD NEWS, as of this moment, is still available. Go for it! If he doesn't become POTUS you're only out a few bucks. If he does, it's a GOLD MINE! I smell book deal from the website-- like the guys over at Stuff White People Like.
YIKES! UPDATE, UPDATE, UPDATE: Video here of Barack O'Howler telling another tall tale. This time Barry's "Uncle" liberated Auschwitz. Unless he was in the Red Army that couldn't have happened. And, for the record, I doubt if his "Uncle" refused to come out of the attic and leave the house for six months. As BXO himself says in the clip, "Right?"

Frustration, Not Despair

There's an adage in baseball that goes like this: even a good team will lose 60 games, even a bad team will win 60 games, the final standings are determined by how you do in the remaining 42 games. Detroit's Memorial Day weekend showed just how true this "rule" is.

On Friday the Tigers scored 4 runs but had an uncharacteristic poor pitching performance from Galarraga. Put that one in the 60 games that even a good team would lose. The next night Tigers' bats went on a rampage and clubbed the Twins like baby seals. That 19-3 win goes in the list of 60 games even a poor team would win. Which brings us to Sunday. Staff ace Verlander pitched by far his best game of the year and left with a 1-1 tie. The bullpen, however, couldn't hold it and a game that has to be won falls into that list of 42 games that decide your season. But one game doesn't make a season so it was off to Anaheim for a Memorial Day game. The Ancient Gambler, Kenny Rogers, was masterful in a 7 inning shutout performance. The game went through 11 and a half scoreless innings until the Angels scored the lone run in the bottom of the 12th on a bases loaded walk. Another game goes straight to the list of 42.

Not every loss is the same. Those last two were games a successful team finds a way to win.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Race Unification

A great Formula 1 race at Monte Carlo has just ended. A race run on those narrow streets by the world's greatest automobiles is wild in the best of conditions but today's race started in a downpour and ended in bright sunshine. Teams were switching from rain tires to wet track tires to dry tires-- at least they were doing that when they weren't busy putting new noses or back wings on the cars that were spending all day running into each other. The winner, Lewis Hamilton, ran out of serious trouble for the most part to get a well-deserved win.

Next the greatest race day of the year moves to Indianapolis. This is the first Indy 500 since the unification of America's two open wheel racing leagues. I was a CART or Champ Car fan and hated the Indy Racing League from its formation. Open wheel racing was too fragile a sport to break into two groups, of course, and Champ Cars had the best drivers, best engineering and my favorite courses-- Laguna Seca and Long Beach. But IRL had the brickyard. That track in Indianapolis gave them the edge and over the years Penske defected, Ganassi moved over and Michael Andretti left Mario behind and built a powerful team at IRL. I felt like the guy still using Betamax telling everybody that my tapes were better than their VHS jokes. Time rolls along, everybody's gone digital, the Beta/VHS wars are a distant memory and now so is CART/Champ Car. So, today, it's done. Unification is here and the Indy 500 is back in our annual sports rituals. As much as I'd like to pick one of Chip Ganassi's favorites today I gotta go with Tony Kanaan in the #11 driving for Andretti-Green.

The last of the big three races today will be in our backyard at the Lowe's Motor Speedway. Tonight the guys who have fenders on their cars will be bangin' into each other for 600 miles.

I'll stay away from the massive favorite, Jr. in the 88 Amp car, and take Carl Edwards.

If the Indy500 and Coca-Cola 600 live up to the standards set in Monaco this morning it should be a great day of racing in America.

(pictured are Tony Kanaan and teammate Danica Patrick... above, local Indy color.)

UPDATE: If you watched the Indy 500 you know that my pick, Tony Kanaan, was leading comfortably when he was knocked out of the race by his teammate (and the son of the car owner) Marco Andretti. At the Charlotte race my pick Carl Edwards finished higher than he probably should have. With no chance of winning he gambled by not pitting for fuel in the final 12 laps. It looked like that strategy was going to get him a top 3 finish until his tank went dry on the final lap. All in it was a great day of motorsports across the globe.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Celebrity Endorsement

Kevin Kusinitz over at The Daily Standard has a Friday morning column about celebrity endorsements. His research shows that they started with Al Jolson & Warren G. Harding. The idea clearly reached its zenith in the FDR years and has been in decline ever since. It seems to me that these days a celebrity endorsement for a politician does nothing to move the needle positively for the pol and is more likely to cause fans to lose their enthusiasm for the pontificating entertainer. Kusinitz points out that one Hollywood star who wasn't in the tank for Franklin Roosevelt was the great W.C. Fields. Fields wasn't too thrilled with the idea of capping movie actor's pay as part of the wage and price control mechanisms FDR championed in his socialist economic plans. Fields wrote to a pal about a radio broadcast he had been a part of:

"It would have been a lucrative adventure hadn't [taxes] taken such a bite out of my check-- due, I imagine, to the high cost of Mrs. Roosevelt's travel expenses."

I've always loved Fields but today I love him all the more.

Kusinitz refers to a Jimmy Durante short subject promoting Roosevelt's "National Recovery Act." Give it a viewing right here. The NRA was the horrific attempt by FDR to put the entire US economy under the command and control of the federal government bit by bit, piece by piece. Looking at the Durante film today we laugh... and then realize how close we came to a fascist state. I mean fascist in the true sense of the word-- not in the current meaning which translates to "I don't like your ideas but can't refute them logically so I shall simply call you a bad name I can't properly define."
So this Memorial Day weekend, despite the fact we have way too much government intrusion in our lives, we can reflect on the fact that it could have been worse. Far worse.
Amidst proms, celebrations, and cookouts we'll try to take time this weekend to say a thank you for all those who gave everything to provide this great, free nation for us all.
UPDATE: Speaking of the federal government trying to run the business of America, here's a classic from one of the most economically ignorant members of the US Congress. This week Maxine Waters threatened to nationalize the domestic oil industry. She was making this threat to an executive of Royal Dutch Shell (they deal with dictators from oil-rich countries every day, Comrade Maxine) but couldn't get her brain and mouth to form the correct word. She came up with "socialize". It comes around 1:10 on this clip. Notice the people in the background trying not to burst out laughing.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Still Not On Top Of The Job

San Fran Nan Pelosi and her pals...

Not just wrong.*

They're also incompetent.**

* Yes, that's right, they passed a bill which, if it was ever signed into law, would criminalize the petrophobic behavior of the last 30+ years of US Congress Critters:

"It shall be illegal and a violation of this Act . . . to limit the production or distribution of oil, natural gas, or any other petroleum product . . . or to otherwise take any action in restraint of trade for oil, natural gas, or any petroleum product when such action, combination, or collective action has a direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable effect on the market, supply, price, or distribution of oil, natural gas, or other petroleum product in the United States."

** Yes, that's right, they fouled up the otherwise successful override of President Bush's veto of the bloated, idiotic farm bill. Not just wrong they're also incompetent.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Go Get 'Em, Tigers

It's been about a month since we were as excited about a Detroit Tigers game as we are about tonight's contest. Partly this is because the boys finally showed some life last night with 17 hits, 12 runs and a solid starting pitching performance from Justin Verlander. But it's also because their manager, Jim Leyland, delivered two lectures in accountability last night that go in the annals of salty and to-the-point language. The second lecture was delivered to the team and the first one was to the press and is right here for your edification. (LANGUAGE ALERT!!!)

That's our guy Jimbo from the high school year book of 46 years ago. The following year he was playing minor league catcher in the Tigers' farm system. Some days it seems like yesterday that we were playing Little League ball against his brother, Larry.

And no, that's not the first time we've heard a fastball over the heart of the plate described that way.

UPDATE: Tigers win with 9 runs on 14 hits. The Gambler gets the victory. Dontrelle will work his way backinto the rotation from the bullpen rather than from Toledo. Are we rollin' or are we teasin'?
UPDATE2: Sweep! Another 9 runs; 30 runs in the 3 games since the lecture on accountability. Next up, Twins.

Doublin' Down On The Dumb

James Taranto pointed out in his indispensable Best of the Web Today column last night that the Democrat food police Obama promised us are already hard at work on the menus for the big Dem convention in Denver. According to the Denver Post the local Colorado caterers are having a difficult time dealing with the idiosyncrasies of the Democrats' food needs.

Caterers find eco-standards tough to chew
Fried shrimp on a bed of jasmine rice and a side of mango salad, all served on a styrofoam plate. Bottled water to wash it all down.
These trendy catering treats are unlikely to appear on the menu at parties sponsored by the Denver 2008 Host Committee during the Democratic National Convention this summer.
Fried foods are forbidden at the committee's 22 or so events,
as is liquid served in individual plastic containers. Plates must be reusable, like china, recyclable or compostable. The food should be local, organic or both.
And caterers must provide foods in "at least three of the following five colors: red, green, yellow, blue/purple, and white," garnishes not included, according to a Request for Proposals, or RFP, distributed last week.
The shrimp-and-mango ensemble? All it's got is white, brown and orange, so it may not have the nutritional balance that generally comes from a multihued menu.
"Blue could be a challenge," joked Ed Janos, owner of Cook's Fresh Market in Denver. "All I can think of are blueberries."


...Nick Agro, the owner of Whirled Peas Catering in Commerce City. "We all want to source locally, but we're in Colorado. The growing season is short. It's dry here. And I question the feasibility of that."
Agro's biggest worry is price. Using organic and local products hikes the costs.
"There is going to be sticker shock when those bids start coming in," he says. "I'll cook anything, but I've had clients who have approached me about all-organic menus, and then they see the organic stuff pretty much doubles your price."


So there you go, that's the brave new world that Obama and the Warmists in the D Party have in mind for America. Denver gets to be their little experiment in command and control food rules.

Tomorrow night we are going to an academic awards ceremony. That's going to cut into our dinner preparation/ consumption time so we'll probably just pick up some food from our buddy Ron. Now Ron (pictured above) cooks from the crack of dawn every single day, but rather than serve his great food in a fixed structure he loads it into beautiful big trailers (also pictured above) and heads out into the county. Ron's specialty is Carolina pulled pork BBQ and Thursday afternoon is when he parks his rollin' restaurant about a quarter mile from Monkeydarts Plantation. Oooweee, don't the people come a runnin'! We don't lack for BBQ joints in the Carolinas, so Ron's got him some stiff competition. Hardly a month goes by that we don't get us a big ol' mess of Ron's food-- it's that good.
I reckon we better hurry up and enjoy the food now before the Democrat Food Police are in control. After all, BBQ, sauce, beans, hushpuppies, rolls and sweet tea are pretty monochromatic. Hell, it's all pretty much brown! That will NOT BE ALLOWED, comrade. But, maybe we can switch to Ron's Low Country/ frogmore stew, and his South Carolina mustard based sauce on our Q with lemonade to drink. Nah, still not enough colors.
Please President Obama, have pity on the Carolina BBQ fan!
It's no use... cookin' a pig over hickory smoke for 12 hours, like Ron does, probably breaks a lot of the upcoming Democrat environmental laws too.
UPDATE: Ron reports that he does NOT get up at the crack of dawn to cook. He is up hours before dawn every day to cook pig.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

They Don't Come Much Dumber

“We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times . . . and then just expect that other countries are going to say, ‘OK.’ That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen.”
--Barack Obama, campaigning in Oregon over the weekend
-->In the great hall of stupefyingly idiotic political rhetoric that quote goes in the main display case. Obama's evident assumption that free Americans desire a President who believes we need to go hat in hand to "other countries" for permission to live our lives is so wooly-headed it's almost tragic. Now, I am quite certain that there are many self-loathing people out there, better known as the Democrat base, who find nothing wrong with what BXO had to say to the assembled crowd. But, in the world of getting elected in November that brain fart should come back to haunt him. I say "should" instead of "will" only because the opposition team is so incredibly hapless. But you don't have to be a marketing genius to come up with the TV ad depicting the dark, shadowy, international tribunal (looking suspiciously like Soviet-era communist apparatchiks) that Americans must bow to and beg permission from for transportation, food, and United Nations HVAC approval documents. In triplicate. It becomes more evident every day that this fellow Obama has never had to win over people who weren't already in the tank for him.
-->In a debate during the 2004 campaign Sen. John Kerry droned into a gaffe wherein he proposed that America should have to pass a "global test" of some sort before acting in her own best interests in foreign policy. The Bush team immediately seized on this and exploited the portrayal of a President Kerry always seeking approval from despots and stumblebums around the globe before acting. The theme, as voiced by President Bush was clear and succinct,
"When our country's in danger the president's job is not to take an international poll. The president's job is to defend America."
-->Will the McCain campaign, come September and October, have the ability and inclination to hold BXO accountable for saying that, with Obama as president, American citizens would need to seek the approval of Egypt before buying a pickup truck? Or Pakistan before stopping at Mickey D's? Or a thumbs up from the French before taking a hot shower?
The more he talks, the dumber he gets.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Century Goes By, In the Blink of an Eye

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 is the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Jimmy Stewart. Through the miracles of DVD's and cable/satellite TV, Jimmy Stewart, who died on July 2, 1997, is always with us. What a talent he exhibited in film after film. A great example is the one pictured here, Rear Window, with the incredible Grace Kelly. Hitchcock, Stewart, and Grace Kelly. They don't make 'em like that anymore-- and we're the poorer for it. Happy 100th Birthday Mr. Stewart.
UPDATE: TCM is showing nothing but Jimmy Stewart movies all day today. Philadelphia Story, Vertigo, Rear Window and more... including John Ford's Western Classic: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance with John Wayne as the experienced man with a gun, Stewart as the pacifist attorney who thinks the law is stronger than the gun and Lee Marvin as the S.O.B. who makes Stewart confront his book-learned theory. And, of course, there's a gal (Vera Miles) that both Stewart and Wayne have a hankerin' for... storytelling does NOT get any better.

Back From Texas

Exhausted this morning after our whirlwind hunting trip to Texas over the weekend. Flew out to San Antonio Friday night and met up with two buddies from California for a guided squirrel hunting expedition. Didn't get back to South Carolina until late last night so the markets are opening awfully early today.

Now you might say, "Dart, y'all got squirrels all over your own property, why fly to the Hill Country to hunt squirrels?" Well, have you ever seen Texas squirrels? A picture is worth a thousand words...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Narcissist Protesteth

The big buzz in DC the past couple days has been about President Bush's wonderful speech to the Knesset in Israel. Unfortunately the buzz has not been about the speech itself but about this one section:

"Some seem to believe we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along.We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American Senator declared, " 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

The junior US Senator from Illinois is such a narcissist he was certain this was about him. SanFran Nan Pelosi, Hair Plugs Biden and Lurch Kerry all thought the same thing and droned about how horrible it was. Hey, if the shoe fits, wear it. And take a long hike while you're at it. The only senator the President ever referred to in the speech was a Republican from Idaho, William Edgar Borah. Borah (his statue is pictured here) was Senator from 1907-40 and is most infamous for the quote about talking Hitler out of invading Poland. Borah was a "progressive" and a giant pain in the rump to the conservative Republicans of his day. He earned the nickname "The Great Opposer" in the US Senate because he was so contrary. Today Tim Russert, Don Imus and Chris Matthews would have him on their shows all the time and introduce him as, "the maverick Republican Senator from Idaho, a good friend of our program, William Borah." Sometimes Borah's allies in the Senate would be a group so small they'd be called "The Irreconcilables" -- sort of like the "Gang of 14." You get the picture. (Maybe McCain should have been the one bitching about President Bush using Borah in a speech. We kid because we love.)

We'll leave the summing up of "the Great Opposer" William Borah to one of the two great presidents of the 20th century, Calvin Coolidge. When told of Borah's love for horseback riding back in Idaho, silent Cal replied, “I wonder if it bothers Borah to be going in the same direction as his horse.”

Friday, May 16, 2008

Not A Single Rumor

In the early 90's an aspiring female singer/ songwriter from Canada was trying to make it in Nashville. She met a very successful rock music producer and they were married on December 28, 1993. Although they never tried to fit into the Nashville music scene they set about writing songs and recording them for release to country music radio. That never, ever works, by the way-- Nashville is as political as WashDC. The music was released and much debate followed about whether it was country music or rock music tailored for country radio or pop fluff with a great bass line or, well whatever it was it changed the face of the country music business forever. Why? Because it sold. Man, did it sell.

Here's what these two talented people put together:

1995 album release-- 12 MILLION sold to date

1997 album release-- 20 MILLION sold " "

2002 album release-- 11 MILLION sold " "

2004 Greatest Hits from the 3 albums released-- 4 MILLION sold

And yesterday the word came out from this very private couple that they have separated. This probably won't make much news in New York or Los Angeles but it's big news out here in America. Shania Twain and Mutt Lange are splittin' the dishes after 14 years of marriage.
5/20 UPDATE: Rumormongers have been assuming that young Shania just got tired of ol' Mutt. But, the latest story out of Switzerland is that Mutt was a dawg who got tired of Shania's spirituality. A spirituality that calls for no sexuual activity. Well, that's what the Nashvillians are saying, anyway.

Friday Reviews of the New Video Releases

Released today for weekend viewing is the latest effort from the artist formerly known as "Osama bin Laden." Two of my young associates here in the office took a look at it and their reviews are:
->No Stars- "This video is strictly for completists only."
->No Stars- "Just another in a long series of duds from this guy. I can't imagine that even big fans of his earlier stuff would waste their time."
--So, there you have it. No need to spend time on that. Better to spend the weekend on old DVD's of NCIS, gardening, or sports. Glad to help.
photo taken 12/15/2001 in Tora Bora Mountains, Afghanistan

A Warm Welcome Back to Fred

Yesterday the word got out that our old buddy Fred Thompson has started a blog.
I don't know how much blogging Fred will do, but he has been hired to write a monthly column for Townhall Magazine-- his blog is on Senator Thompson has been in New York this week meeting with publishers, so a book is also forthcoming. All of this is actually just an excuse to say, again, "I miss Fred." And also an excuse to post a couple of the pictures we took when he came by to visit in January.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

John Edwards Comes Out

Last night John Edwards came out and endorsed the elegant, sleek, handsome, nattily-attired, impeccably-groomed, young Democrat Party front-runner. Edwards, you may remember, is the incredibly wealthy ambulance-chasing trial attorney who in 2003 saw that his US senate career would end after just one ineffective term and therefore decided to run instead for the 2004 Democrat nomination for president. He lost. John Kerry picked him for the VP slot, however. Together they lost. Next, former Clintonista operative Erskine Bowles became president of the University of North Carolina and gave Johnny E. a made-up job so he wouldn't have to go back to shaking down insurance companies full time. He got to travel all over the country giving speeches about mill workers, little girls without coats, his dad's flickering B&W TV set, blah blah blah and was paid for this by the benevolent tax payers of North Carolina through the offices of UNC Chapel Hill. Hey, it beats working in the mill! Chapel Hill is, of course, the town near Johnny's huge estate-- built with the money he pocketed while driving up the cost of health care in America. Sweet! Some people create wealth, others are born to confiscate it. Why, it's almost like there are "two Americas."

The phony baloney job Erskine Bowles gave him was, of course, just a way to keep Edwards visible as he prepared a 2008 run for the Dem nom. Hey, what a surprise, he ran. No surprise, he lost. Again. The fact that this oily lawyer who lost all but one time in his entire political career is endorsing the guy who already has a mortal lock on the nomination was apparently a big news event. Right.

Edwards did a riff on his idiotic "two Americas" populist theme-- that same theme that lost him election after election by the way. He said, "There is one man who knows in his heart that it is time to create one America, not two." That one man, I suppose, is not John Edwards but rather Barack Obama. Fine. A few months ago John was telling us he was the only man, now he says Obama is the only man and, after many weeks of decision, he decided Hillary couldn't be that only man who can create America, er, one America, um, or at least an America where little girls can afford a warm coat in winter. Okey dokey, Johnny. But, if that One America is governed by twerps like you two lawyers, you'll find an awful lot of us won't be going along quietly.

The DC Clown Show

The latest Gallup poll (5/8-5/11/08) shows the job approval rating for the US Congress at an astonishingly low 18%. 76% of "we the people" disapprove of what they're up to in Washington DC. ( Apparently another 6% answered, "Cong...wha? I dunno.") And they say President Bush is a lame duck.

>But let's break that down and get inside the numbers as they might say on the worldwide leader in hype, ESPN. We know, from poll after poll, that women tend to approve of government more than men. Single women with children approve of big government far more than anyone else, which skews the numbers. So, it's a safe guess, that among men 18 years old and older the Congress of the United States has a job approval number approaching single digits. I believe it is also safe to say that the NFL is seen positively by nearly the inverse of those job approval numbers by the same group of men. Most of us would gladly go a year without the Congress holding a session. In fact, many of us dream of just that happy event. On the other hand, we know from past history that we would be watching Australian rules football and the CFL if the NFL went dark for a year. Ever hear anyone say, while the congress is on one of their vacations, "Golly, I sure wish the Senate was in session today." Only in the cloistered halls of the capitol building and the cushy offices attached to it could it make sense for the US Senate to attack the National Football League.

>Enter Arlen Specter. You've read and heard about his quest I'm sure. The Senate of the United States is not, nor was it ever designed to be, a law enforcement agency. Now I know they claim some jurisdiction because of anti-trust exemptions, but let's be honest here, somewhere over the years the Congress decided it was their job to haul free citizens of the United States up before them and grill them in public. When it's oil company executives, mortgage lenders, or pharmaceutical companies few people seem to care. I just wish that once someone would answer their demand to come "testify" with, "I'm sorry, I'm engaged in productive work here at XYZ corporation. You'll have to hold your PR event without me this time." But, and I understand this, everyone fears their power over us, so they comply. Well, the fact is, most of that "power" is an illusion and they wield it only because most people don't mind seeing those nasty business types getting grilled. Perhaps trying to take on the National Football League will be a bridge too far. If Specter's absurd overreach into this US institution results in people demanding that the DC clown show mind their own damn business, then it will actually be worth it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Huntin' Pander Bears

One of the delights of an endless and otherwise horrific presidential campaign is tracking the depth and width of the pandering. One particular pander is the proposed federal gas tax holiday this summer. On one side ol' John McCain says "let's knock off with this tax from Memorial Day through Labor Day" because, "people are hurting" out there amongst the great unwashed. On the other side of the issue young Barry Obama believes a gasoline tax reduction is one CHANGE he HOPEs doesn't happen. Because, you see, if the feds don't take their tariff the evil big oil companies will just keep the price the same and collect even more horrible, ill gotten profits through their nefarious, gouging schemes. Well, that's how it sounded to me anyway. I admit, anti-capitalist demagoguery is a foreign language for me so sometimes my translations are a tad off.

But then Hillary! (TM) comes in, with the wisdom of Solomon-in-a-pantsuit, and says, "Suspend the tax but 'pay for it' by increasing taxes on domestic oil companies." You can tell someone who has held office too long when you hear them say that tax rate reductions need to be "paid for." That construction reveals that they believe it is the state's money to begin with. Unfortunately, most of them think that way the day they're sworn in-- certainly true in Obama and Hillary's case. McCain on the other hand took a few years to fit in with that mindset, but he's quite comfortable with it now.

So let's grade the plans: Obama gets a gentleman's C-, he got the correct answer but can't explain why. McCain gets his usual D in ECON. The tax rate reduction, if not permanent, will achieve nothing (like the current rebate checks) and will poison the well for real tax reform. Plus, it's a bald-faced pander. Hillary gets the F for obvious reasons. Clueless that Marx and Lenin are on the stinking dung heap of history, she is.

But here's the real howler when we look at our D and F students. While they are proposing this brief respite from the federal gasoline tax, both of these Warmists are proposing enormous increases to fuel costs in the very near future. In fact, the McCain/ Lieberman bill to "reduce greenhouse gas emissions" will add 26 cents/gallon by 2030 and 68 cents/ gallon by 2050. Those numbers, by the way, are in current dollars-- so they will go up with inflation-- way up. Will somebody please tell Green John and Green Joe that the Earth is currently in a cooling cycle. But that ain't all! Electricity rates will have additional federal add-ons of 22% initially and 25% eventually with McCain's legislation. When asked the "What if?" question, as in "What if 'global warming' is a hoax?" He replies that it doesn't matter 'cause the worst that could happen is that "we give a cleaner world to our children." Conservatives learned many years ago just how much liberal poison can be wrapped in the sweet candy of "for the children." John seems to consider trillions of dollars in worldwide economy-crushing regulation and taxation as "no biggee". I'm changing his grade. He gets an F just like Hill. Speaking of Hillary. Her beef with McCain/Lieberman is predictable: it doesn't go far enough and doesn't punish the energy industry with "windfall profits taxes." Because, you know, paying 40 something percent in taxes and fees is nothing.

Who knows, maybe John McCain's gas tax pander will help get him elected President. Maybe Obama will see his pander and raise him two more in October. One thing is certain no matter who is the next President: taxes and regulations will increase.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The D-Train Chugs Into The Neighborhood

I grew up going to International League (AAA) baseball games at the Lucas County Recreation Center in Maumee, OH. The Rec Center was the home of the Toledo Mud Hens. Somewhere around here there are dozens of autographs from players like Dooley Womack, Joe Foy, Mike Hegan and the like. To get to the field from the clubhouse the players had to walk in an open area where a bunch of Little Leaguers could hound them for autographs as they went to take BP and catch fungoes. It was great fun. I guess I've seen dozens of Mud Hens games over the years including a couple at their beautiful new ballpark in downtown Toledo.
Whenever the 'Hens come south to play the Charlotte Knights we take in a few games. The Knights' home field is actually in Fort Mill, South Carolina and the time from my porch rocker (AKA: office) to a seat right behind the Mud Hens' dugout is about 15-20 minutes. Last night was to be a bit special since Dontrelle Willis was going to start for Toledo. The D-Train is rehabbing from a hyperextended right knee suffered just 5 innings into his Detroit Tigers' career. Willis burst on the baseball scene in 2003 as a Rookie of the Year 21 year-old pitcher on the World Champion Florida Marlins. He compiled a 3.80 ERA over his five years in Florida but last year was not up to his standards due to control issues. Dontrelle came over to the Tigers in the biggest blockbuster deal of this past off season; he and Miggy Cabrera for 4 pitching prospect (including Andrew Miller), a backup catcher, and the young phenom outfielder Cam Maybin. Two of the pitchers are currently playing for the Marlins and Mike Rabelo is their starting catcher. Meanwhile, back in Detroit, Dontrelle is on the DL and Cabrera is not yet showing off his prodigious talents. These are the times that try Tigers' fans' souls. So it wasn't surprising that the Detroit media would look at Dontrelle's pitching line (7 h's, 5ER's in 5.2 innings) from last night's game and think he didn't do well at all. But, I was there, and I beg to differ. It was actually a pretty good rehab start.
The Tigers wanted two main questions answered last night regarding Willis. First, is the knee sound and is he healthy? Compounding this concern was that he "tweaked" the injured knee in his first rehab start ten days ago. Secondly, the Tigers would be interested in his control and how he worked through jams. Was he behind in the count all night? That sort of thing. Well, as to health, Dontrelle looked very mobile all evening. During warm ups and long toss prior to the game he seemed mildly concerned with a soft brace or wrap on the right knee-- the item with the white writing on it in the above picture. In the first inning he seemed to stretch and jump after pitches as though he was having some trouble getting loose, but he went through the Knights three up and three down in the first and never seemed concerned after that with his knee. In fact, in the 5th and 6th innings he picked off base runners and showed good agility. The 6th inning pick off was at 2nd base, which took a nice step-off, spin, and throw. He passed the health issue easily. As for control, he never really struggled to make his pitches. He walked three while throwing 46 strikes and 33 balls. He was not overpowering (struck out 3), but he pitched the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and into the 6th inning with good command. His fastball showed upper 80's on the stadium gun.
In the second inning Dontrelle gave up back-to-back HR's. The first one, to right by Brad Eldred, is a home run in any park in MLB. The second was a double off the left center wall at Comerica-- maybe a single with Granderson out there. So, the second was not a big concern. And, notably, it didn't derail him as he worked out of it with no further damage. Where he got into real trouble was the sixth, even though he picked a man off second in that frame. Dontrelle started to get smacked around pretty well once he passed the 70 pitch count and left after 5 and two thirds innings and 79 pitches. It was a good start for a rehab-- not great-- but hardly a disaster. My guess is that he'll have one more rehab start and then, barring a big setback, he'll be in the rotation in Detroit. Let's face it, the other four guys in the rotation he left usually can't get past 75 pitches these days either. Willis wasn't supposed to come back as the ace of the staff since he went on the DL as the 5th starter. It's only because the Tigers are so desperate now for effective starters that people are hoping the D-Train is The Super Chief.
The Mud Hens, by the way, won the game on a 9th inning HR by catcher Dane Sardinha. Holliman, Hessman, and Larish also homered. Timo Perez had a key 8th inning double. Preston Larrison looked very good in two and a third innings of relief. Another thing though about Dontrelle that wouldn't make the box score; he made himself part of the team. He was out there high fivin' Larish after the homer and thanking guys for good plays in the field. And when Blaine Neal recorded the final out for the save, Dontrelle was out there in the middle of the celebration jumpin' and hip-bumpin' with the rest of the team. He didn't appear to be "big leaguin' " the minor league players one bit. Even in a rehab start in front of just 2,900 fans (and 84 hostile drunken frat boys) he showed that youthful enthusiasm and love of the game that draws fans to Dontrelle Willis. Good luck, Dontrelle. Thanks for stoppin' by.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Legacy Achieved

When the only president in US history to be elected and impeached, William Jefferson Blythe Clinton, was nearing the end of his eight years in office the handmaiden media speculated endlessly about "his legacy." By their accounts it was a preoccupation of Billy's too as he busily pardoned Puerto Rican terrorists, scam artists, drug dealers by the dozens, and others who could funnel beaucoups bucks to the Clinton Library Fund (AKA: the world's biggest house trailer-- have you seen it?) in Little Rock, Arkansas. Now, to be sure, many of us already knew what his true legacy would be: 42nd POTUS impeached and disbarred for lying under oath to federal grand jury whose only memorable oratory was two lies, "I did not have sex with that woman..." "The era of big government is over." But the dinosaur media, the academy, and others perpetually in the tank for the D Party hoped for better things. Oh, how they hoped, as their boy swanned around the world giving speeches and turning out 800 page door stops full of howlers. Seven years and $120 M dollars in Clinton family income later we have the definitive answer to that old legacy question. Much like the Soviet Union they admired, Bill and Hill are on the ash heap of history. Put there not by their Republican rivals but by the base of the Democrat Party. The same people who saved their two behinds time after time have now kicked them to the curb.

Which is why so many people who used to be called "Clinton haters" in the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" by the angry left have taken so much delight in watching a huge portion of the Democrat Party discover just how loathsome Bill and Hill really are. We knew it in 1992 and they figured it out in 2008. Dems always were slow on the uptake. Better late than never I suppose. I wonder how long it will take for them to figure out how empty a vessel Barry Obama is? Four years? Eight? More? We tried to warn them-- this won't end pretty either.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday in the South

Happy Mother's Day

Friday, May 9, 2008

Say It Ain't So

I would link to all of the politicians, pundits and (supposedly) straight news reporters who are urging the once inevitable Democrat nominee to exit the race but it would take too much space. They are out there everywhere begging, demanding, cajoling Hillary to depart, vamoose, pull the chain... to just GET OUT NOW! For the good of the D Party. I can't imagine why "news reporters" have a vested interest in the health of Democrats, but we'll leave that for another day 'cause I got bigger problems this AM.

That "get out, Hillary" stuff is easy for them to say. They don't have a warehouse full of HILLARY CLINTON NUTCRACKERS to unload. What am I supposed to do with 500 case lots of these flippin' things if Hillary bugs out, calls off the dogs, ankles the scene, slips away.....whatever? As Howie "Dizzy" Dean once pithily observed, "AAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!"

Have a nice weekend. How about a Rudy'08 bumper sticker free with every Hillary Nutcracker purchase?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Meet Liu Keli, My New Neighbor

If you listen to the endless gloom and doom media and the economic populists running for President you would have to believe that the majority of Americans are in soup lines or selling pencils and apples down on the corner as tumbleweeds blow by. And populists, like their kin the conspiracy theorist, must have someone else to blame for any perceived woes. Often high on the list of culprits is China. To listen to Hillary and BXO you'd think trading with China has brought nothing but despair and agony to America. Of course reality is about 180 degrees from that, but they seem to be having fun with their fantasies so we'll just let them be for today.

Liu Kelli (pictured) is a successful businessman in Southeast China (Shanxi Province) where he runs plants that manufacture copper printing plates. In fact, Liu Kelli owns and runs about 100 manufacturing plants around the world employing 10,000 people. He wanted to get into the world's largest market, the United States, for the past couple years but didn't think that locating a business in the US could be profitable. Everyone knows it's cheaper to build things in China and send them to the US...right... right? Not so fast. He was persuaded to take a look at South Carolina by the Palmetto State's managing director for China trade, John Ling. He found the seven acres he needed in Spartanburg for a half million dollars. The same property in Shanxi Province would run him over $2 Million. His business requires lots of electricity though. What about that? Well, it turns out that power in Spartanburg is 75% cheaper than in China and has the added benefit of being 99.999% reliable-- no blackouts. (This is the same reason, by the way, that Google is building server farms in multiple Carolina locations-- reliable cheap power from Duke Power's nuclear and coal plants. We were pleasantly surprised moving from Gray Davis's brownouts in CA as well.) But the sticking point was labor costs. The state kicked in a $1,500/ year tax incentive per employee and the deal was done.

According to the LA Times, quoting Thomson Financial, China's overall investments in U.S. businesses rose to $9.8 billion in 2007, up from $36 million the year before. Meanwhile China's Ministry of Commerce reports that US investment in China was $2.6 billion last year, down from $3 billion in 2006. The LATimes article about Liu Keli is here.

While politicians continue to try to demonize free trade in this election year I'll just say, "Welcome to the neighborhood, Liu Keli. May your company expand a hundredfold in our beautiful state."

Capital flows where it's welcomed.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Road From "New Democrat" To "The Kingfish"

After the 2006 mid-term elections our political parties and pundit class spent a great deal of time explaining what the vote meant. They didn't agree, of course. Democrats at that time tended to like the notion that the American public rose up and put them in charge of the House and Senate to "end the Iraq war." Time has proven that to be the lie it always was. If there was a winning constituency for that action Speaker Pelosi would have secured the de-funding of OIF. She hasn't because she and her advisers know that the political consequences of abandoning Iraq to the tender mercies of the terrorists would be a huge liability for Democrats in future elections.

In the 70's a Democrat controlled Congress de-funded aid to the South Vietnamese with a Republican, Gerald Ford, in the White House. The result was literally millions of Southeast Asians slaughtered by Communists, tens of thousands of others sent to re-education (AKA: detention) camps, and still others clinging to anything that floated to get away from the Reds. To this day Democrats see the exit from SouthEast Asia as something great and honorable. That's only because they don't know anyone personally whose skull ended up in a filthy pile in Cambodia's killing fields. They can't risk de-funding Iraq operations and having the next set of skulls piled closer to their door.

Republicans said the 2006 election was a referendum on scandal. In fact, the exact point where futures trading showed the R's losing the Congress was when the Mark Foley scandal was getting full play on TV screens and in the general press. They never recovered from that one-- it was the last brick in the stack. So, the Republicans may have a point although as a "lesson learned" I'm not sure it's very actionable. And in the intervening two years there have been many Democrat scandals and the press never seems to link them to a political party, quite unlike the way they published Dem press releases about "the culture of corruption" in the run-up to the '06 election. Being the party of "fewer, less icky scandals" isn't really a glorious banner on which to run and win.

My view then and now was a bit different than these two streams of thought. I think 2006 was evidence of a populist wave. This economic populism has only strengthened since. There is now much talk of protectionism, restrictions on free trade, taxing profitable companies with extra levies beyond the confiscatory ones already in place, taking money from one group of Americans to bail out others who took out loans they couldn't pay, or to buy them health insurance they can't or won't buy for themselves and on and on. It's not just a Dem thing-- on the Republican side we saw the improbable rise of Gov. Mike Huckabee whose only message outside of his cultural positions was pure Populism worthy of Huey Long. Even one of the most successful capitalists to run for President in history, Mitt Romney, when faced with needing a win in Michigan promised billions in US taxpayer money to bail out an industry nearly destroyed by unionism in a state struggling under the weight of preposterous levels of taxation.

Yes, I think the election in 2006 that saw raging, angry, populist clowns like Sherrod Brown make it into the US Senate from a state won by George W. Bush twice, was the start of a new wave-- hopefully a short one. And now my air tight proof: The Hillary Clinton campaign. Other than her Wellesley/ Ivy League Marxism, Hillary Clinton stands for nothing. The one thing she learned from her husband's political career was "DON'T LEAD, TAKE A POLL AND FOLLOW!" So when you see Hillary saying this to a crowd in Indiana, "Why don't we hold these Wall Street money-grubbers responsible for their role in this recession?" (her campaign later argued that she said, "money brokers"-- that's a lot better) you can be pretty sure that the populist message is poll-tested. Then she laid out this choice chunk of Boob-Bait to a crowd in Indiana: ... OPEC "can no longer be a cartel, a monopoly that get together once every couple of months in some conference room in some plush place in the world" to set the price of oil. She even promised to use US antitrust law to sue OPEC for price-fixing. The USA, although America's biggest supplier of crude oil, is not a member of OPEC but that won't stop Hillary from telling them how it's gonna be. Our second largest supplier, Canada Oh Canada, ain't in OPEC either, by the way. I wrote about this particular bit of petrophobic hysteria earlier. On the trade front she's even turned her back on one of the few successes of Bill's long eight years in the White House: free trade agreements. Populism is in full effect.

An old truism is "Don't listen to what they say, watch what they do." When Chelsea Clinton finished up school she entered the business world eventually taking a six-figure position with a New York-based hedge fund. Thankfully she isn't one of those "money-grubbers" her mom hates. That would lead to all sorts of unpleasant mommy-daughter issues. Almost as unpleasant as a nation in the grip of economic populism.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Yet Another Super Important Primary Election *yawn*

Back in the Disco '70's and the Boomin' '80's there was an adage that went, "Cocaine is God's way of telling you that you have too much money." The last week or so has provided an update to that. While we live in the Palmetto State, we are actually in the media market of the Tar Heel state's largest metro area. Our SC primaries were way back in January but the heavy ad blitz around us is now since North Carolinians vote today. It isn't just the obvious Obama v. Hillary ads but also the primary vote for Governor in both parties and, believe it or not, lots of Ron Paul ads if you know where to listen.
Part of this ad blitz speaks to the incredible fund-raising abilities of the Obama campaign. Reliable reports indicate that BXO's campaign has even started running ads on WBT, the highly-rated talk outlet in Charlotte, and is placing ads during their conservative talk radio shows-- like the noon to 3PM show of the highest rated radio performer in history. Now that's not exactly low-hanging fruit but it is indicative of the fact that they have bought as much advertising on every other format as they can. But wait, there's more. In the past two days I've heard Obama ads on country radio. Bless his heart. I've written before about the phenomenal ability of Obama to raise money and bring people into the system who have never given money to a campaign before. But, as someone who has sold radio advertising and bought millions of dollars worth of it, I can tell you that when Obama is running ads on Rush Limbaugh it means that every other outlet that makes more sense has said to his media buyers, "We're out of inventory. You bought it all!" That is one huge marketing budget.
No matter the outcome, tomorrow will be a great day-- the circus will leave town (again).
UPDATE: For the people who asked why I use "BXO"-- that goes back a couple of months and is due to a request from Michelle "The Angriest Multi-Millionaire in America" Obama. Just trying to comply.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Results of Carter's Outreach to Terrorists: Weak

Back on April 15th and 17th I posted a couple of short items about Jimmy Carter's "Hug a Hamas Terrorist Tour '08." You can find them here, filed under terrorism. Some people didn't like this criticism of the illustrious former POTUS. In other venues he was proclaimed a great statesman for his outreach to Hamas and compared favorably to the current President who, of course, simply wants to bomb everybody in the world.

So, I thought we might want to check in on Hamas TV (Courtesy of the tireless watchdogs at MEMRI) and see if, in the aftermath of The Great Carter's visit to Hamas leaders and the laying of a wreath at the grave of terrorist Arafat, things had improved. Did Hamas TV a week after Carter's visit reflect more warmth to their Jewish neighbors, a thawing that only a super statesman like Jimmy could bring about? Sadly, no. Perhaps the title of this segment gives away the plot: "The Holocaust Was Part of a Zionist Plan to Get Rid of the Jewish Elderly and Handicapped."

Although, since Jimmy still lives in Georgia and Coca-Cola means a great deal to the Georgian economy, maybe Jim's real mission was to ruin Pepsi's market share. (Photo is from happier days when Carter was certifying Hamas election victories in a "free" and "fair" election.)

Note To Avs Fans

There are worse things than getting swept in the 2nd round.

Like, um, this. And, er... ah, this. (Totally legal and absolutely devastating, by the way.)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Master Sgt. Brendan O’Connor

Up the road from here at Fort Bragg a 47 year old Special Forces Sgt. received the Army's second-highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross, for his actions during a 17-hour battle in Afghanistan. He was humbled by this award presentation last week and his local paper over in Fayetteville, NC has the story here. By the way, this presentation came 40 years after Sgt. O'Connor's father was killed in Vietnam when American hero Sgt. Brendan O'Connor was 7.
When you hear some politician or TV thumb-sucker going on about the "kids" in our all volunteer force-- an attempt to make them sound like helpless victims-- think about Sgt. O'Connor. He was a "kid" 40 years ago when his father gave the last full measure of devotion for his country in Southeast Asia. He was a man serving us all as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
And guess what, the 20 year olds serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, OEF, and elsewhere are men and women too. They are somebody's children, sure as hell, but they ain't little kids.
UPDATE: I use the term "all volunteer force" above because, well, that's what today's US military is. But in "Moment of Truth In Iraq" by Michael Yon he writes about our senior-enlisted soldier in Iraq, Command Sergeant Major Jeffrey Mellinger. If you use the term "all volunteer army" in Mellinger's presence he'll respond, "Like hell it is." You see, CSM Mellinger has been in the US military continuously for over 35 years and entered as a draftee. Learning that knocked me out. See, I'm pretty old and the draft ended before I turned 18 years old-- although we still had the selective service lottery just in case. To this day I remember my lottery number. By the way, CSM Mellinger has done about 2 and a half tours in OIF.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Time To Rest Up

It's Friday afternoon here. Knock off and have a beer. This site tells you where to find the most affordable beer in this whole round world. Meet me in Ethiopia, I'm buyin'. And, for the friend of a few years back who e-mailed me after seeing the site, I'm buyin' the best beer in Ethiopia for you! All ya can drink... which, I recall, is a lot!
Hey! Is that our lake tomorrow? It sure looks like it...

Red Wings Roll On

Congratulations to the Red Wings and their fans for advancing to the Western Conference Finals with a sweep of the Avs. A game 4 thumping to boot. That's a mighty impressive hockey club.
You can tell from this picture that they have that steely resolve great hockey teams need.
There is a hockey team in the West who shall remain nameless that is struggling with summoning up the effort needed to play winning, playoff hockey. They get another chance at redemption tonight at 10PM EDT on VS.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Memo To BO'R

I'm not a viewer of Bill O'Reilly's TV show. The last time I watched it was in the summer of 2001 when he seemed unduly alarmed about shark attacks somewhere and the disappearance of Chandra Levy in Washington DC. It was a more innocent time way back then. This morning, however, I saw a clip from his interview with Hillary! (TM). The topic of the snippet was the federal tax rate for individuals. He was questioning her on her plan for raising the top rate from 33% to 39% and she, of course, said she would do that because it's fair or some other socialist blather. (I have a hard time listening to leftists, I admit. It's all just the same old boilerplate Communism-on-the-cheap to me.) The point is that BO'R then said, "So you're gonna raise my taxes 6 per cent?" And then he shrugged. And moved on.

Memo to The Factor. Hiking a tax rate from 33-39% is NOT an increase of 6% it is an increase of more than 18%. The Factor Man might not care about a tax increase of 6%, although many in that tax bracket certainly would, but he might care a bit more about a personal tax hike of 18+%. I don't even want to know if he talked to her about taking cap gains rates from 15% to 20%. He probably thinks that's a 5% increase instead of a 33% tax hike. Oh, and taking cap gains up to the new top rate under Hillary! would be an increase of more than 250%. That, no doubt, sounds "fair" to Karl Marx-in-a-pink-pantsuit.


Addition By Subtraction

The business side of baseball is often very interesting. An example of this took place yesterday with the Detroit Tigers' trade of Jason Grilli (pictured here) to the Colorado Rockies for a chap, Zachary Simons, who played for their Modesto farm team. Simons will report to Class "A" Lakeland where he will be a Flying Tiger. In Modesto he played for the "Nuts." That's correct, he was a Nut. And, yes, their fans cheer, "GO NUTS!" Zach, things are lookin' up, buddy.

These are the interesting, albeit minor, transactions in the game. The big deals (and nobody made a bigger one this off season than Detroit's blockbuster with Florida) get the attention but these small player transactions are interesting for a different reason. They aren't payroll or even performance (up to a point) driven, they're roster driven. Detroit needed to make room for Francisco Cruceta on the 25 man roster. So, a relief pitcher had to go. Many observers guessed it would be Zach Miner heading down to the Mud Hens since he still had an option left. Clay Rapada would have been a guess to go down too except for the simple fact that he's pitching his @$$ off. Grilli was the odd man out and trading him for a minor leaguer gives the Tigers roster flexibility. But there's more movement on the horizon. Dontrelle Willis will likely come off the DL in the next week and at some point Rodney and Zumaya will come back from the DL. That's a starter and 2 relievers needing roster spots currently held by.........? That's the question. Another twist is the rehab of Vance Wilson. If he comes back this year as the backup catcher an everyday player will have to be moved down or another trade will be made. My guess is that there will be as many as a half dozen changes to the 25 man roster (aside from DL stays) between now and the end of the season. Some could be very interesting trades by Dealer Dave.

As for the Rockies' new pitcher, Grilli made 120 appearances for the Tigers since coming up from the 'Hens. He went 8-8 with a 4.31 ERA whilst a Tiger. Not bad. But he was not a fan favorite. He tended to perform better last year on the road than at home. He blew up badly in some key, memorable situations too. But, I thought he was a victim of a circumstance last season. His role was supposed to be long relief. He is capable of giving a team 3-4 solid innings when a starter gets knocked out early. Every team needs that. But last year, with Rodney and Zumaya injured, instead of pitching innings 3,4,5 or 6 he often found himself pitching in the 7th and 8th. Now a fan can say, "hey--he's paid to pitch, what difference does it make..." and that's true. But, it takes a different makeup to pitch in those late inning slots. By being played "out of position" Jason's weaknesses were exposed. We wish him well in Denver-- Coors Field is one of our favorite ballparks-- and we welcome the new Tigers reliever Francisco Cruceta. Oh, and, GO NUTS!