Thursday, July 31, 2008


The Old Codger who wrote in this space, unbeknown to me until this morning, that we were looking for a new place to live should Obama win the presidency was incorrect. Yes, we were traveling and we're always on the lookout for stuff to buy low and sell high but the idea of bugging out is so Alec Baldwin/ Susan Sarandon/Babs Streisand that we patriotic types can't even imagine it. The Ol' Codger gets a little worked up from time to time. He's back on the high fiber diet now and everything seems better although he's quite capable of being a member of the "perpetually perturbed."
Speaking of Old Codgers, I see where Mick Jagger now qualifies for his pension of 91 pounds per week. That's good news you can use whilst chattin' someone up at your local Starbucks (oops, closed) Caribou Coffee this afternoon. While traveling through Uruguay and the lawless Tri-Border area this week our team was listening to Mick and the boys and read of Mick's 65th as well. 65! Such a growing boy. Congrats to all the 'Stones on the new deal with Universal for new releases plus catalog too. What a shock that Terra Firma's EMI botched that one up.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Here's How It Is


This is Grandpa Dart addressing you. The kid who usually types up the hogwash around here is on assignment. Here's the deal. A couple days ago I saw that Obama feller and his speech from Berlin, Germany. Germany! That's where we kicked the Hun's @$$ for you youngsters. Pardon my French, but Mr. Obama says we should start parlay voo en and makin' with the foreign lingo. The two other times since WW2 that an American politician gave a big speech in Berlin they both had the same basic message: "Hey! Commies, back it on down! And if you don't-- America is gonna kick you sideways!" That's what JFK said and that's what Ron Reagan said. They meant it. The commies knew it. And the rest is history.

So I see Mr. Fancy Pants prancin' around Europe sayin' how we're all gonna link arms and sing folk songs if the people of the world just do one tiny thing-- make him Ruler of the World! Holy Benito, I saw that and I says, "Son, I have an assignment for you. Stop workin', stop typin' up the blog baloney, and find us a new place to live!" I told him to get on it TOOT SWEET. So, that's where the boy is and he took the 'Dartlads with him. The way I hear it, the first stop is Belize, but I don't want to know for sure. I just told him to find a good place where we can camp after we bug out of this crazy joint. I've seen this "one world" stuff before, Adolf, and it doesn't turn out real well for freedom. Told the boy that I'll police the area and prepare.

Mare See Bow Koo, Senator.

That is all. Back to your duly appointed work stations.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Welcome Home

Nothing says "Welcome!" quite like a three foot long snake on the front doormat. Like many homes in our part of the world we have a nice big porch with rocking chairs and a cooling breeze. A front porch like that is covered to keep the subtropical sun off one's face whilst one sips refreshing tonics and thinks deep thoughts. From the front edge of the porch roof there are usually decorative hanging baskets of plants. In our case the plants are ferns. But, what does that have to do with a snake on the porch?

Well, early in the spring there is airborne cacophony all across our property. The cardinals, woodpeckers of various types, thrushes, Carolina wrens, and many others seem to stay mainly behind the house where there is a large feeder and the cover of woods. But, in the front we find finches and bluebirds principally. The bluebirds end up building nests in the newspaper tube under the mailbox out by the road. (Another good reason to NOT subscribe to the local fishwrap.) The ferns on the other hand seem to be, every year, finch condos. But what about the snake?

Somehow the Elaphe obsoleta, known around our house as a "big ol' tree climbin' blacksnake" knows when the newly hatched finches are big enough to be a feast, but young enough that they can't fly away from his clutches. Last year we saw about a four foot long BOTCB going straight up one of our porch pillars. How they can just kink their way up a glossy painted vertical surface I can't really understand-- but they can and they do. That was on a Saturday and we went out and escorted him off the property since we figured out his intentions vis a vis the finch babies. However, the next morning the same BOTCB was observed descending from a hanging basket with four distinct lumps in him. Now this year we know for a fact certain that he showed up a day after the finch babies flew away. He hung around a while. Knew, somehow, that he was a day late and a tummy short of finches and eventually slithered away while humans squinted at him and paced endlessly. No doubt next summer another big ol' tree-climbin' blacksnake will come calling. Or, we'll just stop hanging up condos for house finches.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Funny

"Then the Child ventured forth from Israel and Palestine and stepped onto the shores of the Old Continent. In the land of Queen Angela of Merkel, vast multitudes gathered to hear his voice, and he preached to them at length.
But when he had finished speaking his disciples told him the crowd was hungry, for they had had nothing to eat all the hours they had waited for him.
And so the Child told his disciples to fetch some food but all they had was five loaves and a couple of frankfurters. So he took the bread and the frankfurters and blessed them and told his disciples to feed the multitudes. And when all had eaten their fill, the scraps filled twelve baskets."
Gerard Baker pokes a little fun at The Obamessiah in today's must read humor:

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) is a hero to the taxpayer even if most Americans don't know who he is. He has been driving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Area 51) absolutely crazy by blocking nearly 80 spending bills the Democrats want to pass. Of course what happens in situations like this is that the majority party eventually rolls as many of the bills as possible into one gigantic hairball of spending called an "omnibus bill." Stuck in all that mess is usually so much "must-have" spending that the pressure gets terrific on the one or two senators standing up for accountability. Coburn is a rare breed and, quite often, our favorite Senator, Jim DeMint, is right there with him.
According to The Club for Growth blog, Reid's spending hairball is a "398-page, lard-stuffed, omnibus bill composed of more than 30 of those blocked bills. Preliminary estimates suggest that it authorizes over $11 billion in new spending...without any spending offsets. And it would create at least 36 new government programs." Included in this mess o' pork is $17 million for the Captive Primate Safety act-- essentially a ban on the interstate sale of monkeys. Now we love monkeys here. Our entire operation is built on a room full of monkeys throwing darts at a wall covered with stock tables. (Ssshhhhhh, that's called expert analysis you eeediot!-Ed.) But $17 Million might be extreme. Anyway, hang tough Senator Coburn. And give him a hand, Jim.
By the way, that cute little monkey up above? Whiplash the rodeo star. Check him out.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Top 5% of Earners Pay 60% of Tax Revenues

The latest figures (2006 tax year) on personal income taxes came out this week. You may have heard about it on the radio or TV or read about it on a blog. Let's just say the math doesn't support the action line of the media as they pimp for Presumptive President Obama.

Under President Bush the share of tax revenue paid by the wealthiest earners has gone up, not down. In fact, the share of tax revenue paid by the top 1%, top 5%, and top 10% of earners is the highest it's been in decades.

The Top 50% of earners now pays 97.01% of tax revenues generated by the personal income tax. The bottom 50% picks up the tab for 2.99%. Which of course means there is a built-in constituency of 50% for a presidential candidate who promises to raise taxes on the rich. Funny how that works out, huh?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Summer of '01

RedPlanetCartoons has the story.

Shortin' Crude Oil Yet?

Don't look now but last week's sell-off of crude oil futures has resumed in full force this morning. Currently futures are down another $4 per barrel sitting around the $127 per mark. Remember that a week ago we were knock-knock-knockin' on one-fifty's door.

Of course there will be folks long on commodities that will say it's just time to buy on the dip. Is it? Or is it time to see if a support around $120 will hold this week. Break down through that and you just might see a plunge that will make the last week's drop look tame.

In a related area, the 'Darts have never paid $4 a gallon for gasoline. We bought one tank of gas at $3.89 and that was the high to date. Our local stations got to $3.99 last Friday but are now already down to $3.74. A short drive from here the prices were down to $3.67. How strange it is to think $3.67 for a gallon of gasoline is cheap. But we might still escape this without ever buying the dreaded $4/ gallon gasoline. We find our entertainment in odd places.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Red Star Rising

Over the weekend Pope Gore of the Church of Warmism attended a convention of leftists in Austin, TX. This photo was taken of the former Veep and failed presidential candidate leading the congregation in a prayer to the Red Star. Apparently the big Red Star has something to do with Warmism but I'll let someone else figure it out.
On Thursday July 17, 2008 Pope Gore gave a speech to a group back east in the District of Columbia. He urged his disciples to "please use public transit, bicycling or other climate-friendly means" to reach the lecture hall. Gore and his entourage, meanwhile, showed up in two Lincoln Town Cars and a full-sized SUV that sat idling with the air conditioners blasting during the speech.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Told Ya

Like I said, we sent those pirates down to Davey Jones... where they enjoyed everyday low prices on all their fireworks and minor explosive device needs.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Yesterday afternoon we were sailing around east of here when we came across a large group of pirates. We always keep a weather eye out for buccaneers due to the unfortunate episode with Blackbeard. But this bunch surprised us.

We sent every last one of 'em down to Davey Jones. Hope your weekend goes as well!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Look Out! It's Gonna Blow!!

Less than a week ago crude oil futures were pressing close to $150/ b. Thus round 3,566 of the "It's gonna blow through all the way to $200 or $300...there's no stoppin' it... $10 gasoline by Labor Day!!" filled the airwaves and papers of America. Then, after three days of plunging, crude oil futures closed below $130 yesterday. Checking the local paper, The Metrolina Disturber, this morning I found exactly zero stories about this three day drop. Cheer up media types! A good short covering rally going into the weekend and you'll be able to put those big headlines up again: OIL SOARS.

Above is James Dean as Jett Rink, a fella of low means and poor character who gets dipped in oil riches in the half-great movie GIANT. Half-great because the first half is great and the second half only has some good moments. Still, half-great is better than most of the sludge they're pumpin' out in Hollywood these days.

Jett: Everybody thought I had a duster. You all thought Spindletop and Burkburnett was all the oil there was.
I’m here to tell you it ain’t, boy. It’s here. There ain’t a dang thing you gonna do about it.
My well came in big, so big… And there’s more down there, bigger wells.

I’m rich, Bick! I’m a rich 'un. I’m a rich boy.

I’m gonna have more money than you ever thought you could have. You and the rest of you stinkin' sons of Benedicts.
Then he makes a crude pass at Mrs. Benedict and Bick socks him on the jaw. Jett runs away. But, he is a rich 'un. Oh yeah, he's a rich boy, and nothin' but trouble.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dangerous Cartoons

I haven't commented on the goofy New Yorker Obama cover "controversy" because, frankly, The New Yorker is irrelevant outside of Manhattan-- assuming it's even relevant there. However, I will point out a couple of things. First, if one is going to try parody of a political position one doesn't personally hold one might want to study someone who is really good at it first, like Paul Shanklin for example. And, since the medium The New Yorker chose was cartooning they might want to check out the work of the best political cartoonist in America, Michael Ramirez.
Oh, look, he's done a cartoon lampooning your off-point cartoon. Perfectly.
Want something from an equal opportunity lampooner? Try the latest from JibJab. Obama riding a flying white unicorn that farts rainbows? Now that's a good parody of the guy and his, um, message.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Longest Day

Today is, of course, the worst day of the year. Because of the annual MLB All*Star Game we have three whole days without meaningful baseball contests. The first of those days now has the Home Run Derby which is, at times, entertaining. This year it was fun due entirely to the presence of Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers, a prodigious slugger with an interesting back story. Unfortunately ESPN, as is their usual way, decided it took eight commentators (I think it was actually 10 but I knew you wouldn't believe that!) to cover a home run hitting exhibition. So, throughout the entire thing we had at least 8 clowns yammering away. I do NOT include Erin Andrews in this list by the way. She rises above all events and will not be criticized here! But it got so bad at one point as an old magazine writer tried to give us his oh-so-important oral essay about Hamilton's drug problems that an old hippie-dippie newspaper writer from Boston even took a feeble shot at... Nancy Reagan to one-up his younger rival for airtime. Un-frickin-believable! (Memo to Stutterin' Pete: Josh is sober today because of God and quittin' flat cold, as in, he finally "JUST SAID NO!")

The usual cast of dopes was there, Oafish Berman sweating gravy as usual, failed GM Steve Phillips making sure people knew he was there and important, Joe Morgan repeating himself endlessly and suggesting rules changes (?!?), clownish Kruk being dense but loud, the aforementioned pair of writers who, as broadcasters are, um, writers, plus a garden gnome who hosts the unwatchable Baseball Tonight mess. And countless others. Then they invited Reggie Jackson to sit down and talk because, I guess, there just weren't enough guys talking all at once. Sadly, old Reggie was better than the rest of them-- by far. And I don't even like him much. Face it, the boys in Bristol could mess up a date with.......... Erin Andrews. Next year, have her do the whole thing solo and let's enjoy the contest of today's best sluggers without all the self-important pontificating. So what if she mispronounces a few names.

Tuesday night it was time for the game itself, which moved along smartly due to crisp play and tremendous pitching. I don't get to see Ben Sheets pitch often but, my goodness, he has some snap on that breaking ball. And he's a free agent after the season I see. Hmmmm. The players took it upon themselves to improve today's national sporting outlook by continuing the game past midnight. Good thinking, boys. Unfortunately you forgot that Timmy McCarver was doing the game which meant an early tune out for many of us. The highlights this morning looked great, although it would have been better if that double by Carlos Guillen had been a couple feet higher and turned into a walk-off HR.

So, here we are. Wednesday after All*Star Tuesday. The worst day of the year. Worse than the off season because there's no hockey or football to divert our attention from the fact that... the ballparks are all empty today. That's never good.

Pictured) 2 of the 5 best non-pitchers of all time: L- Tyrus Cobb of Royston, GA and R-Joe Jackson of Greenville, SC.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

UpChuck Update

The Wall Street Journal takes UpChuck Schumer to task here for his primary role in the IndyMac failure. It's bad enough that he destroyed the savings of so many depositors and caused unneeded heartache and concern, but he also caused a spate of "which bank will fail next?" stories in the media which could easily lead to more panic which would then feed more panic. This is infuriating stuff and if there was justice in Washington DC he would be held accountable for the damage he has caused and is causing.

The tone of the press reports, if they even bother to report on Schumer's role in the IndyMac failure, is that the whole thing was inevitable. Hardly. The institution was not healthy, but this panic was caused by the intemperate, self-serving remarks of a hack politician.


How can we be so sure that Operation Iraqi Freedom has been a success? Because the "anti-war" candidate for President of the United States has scrubbed his website clean of any mention of his opposition to "the surge." If America and her allies were losing in Iraq he would be trumpeting the defeat loudly for political advantage.

The New York Daily News has the website cleansing story here. There's a long history of erasing the inconvenient (sometimes quite recent) past on the Left.

Keep HOPE alive by making CHANGE to your official website.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Serving The Greater Cause-- The State

Back during the 2000 Republican primary campaign I attended a John McCain speech. This was not an off-the-cuff town hall style campaign talk. It was a podium-with-teleprompter speech of approximately 25 minutes with questions afterwards. At that time I was already pretty certain I wouldn't vote for John McCain in the 2000 California primary, but I thought I'd give him a listen and my oldest son wanted to attend every Republican campaign appearance possible, so there we were at the Reagan Library listening (and my son later speaking with Senator McCain one-on-one) to his prepared speech. There was something that really bothered me about his emphasis on "serving a cause greater than your own self interest"-- in fact, at the end of his speech he said that if we only remembered one thing from his talk it should be that everyone in America should "serve a cause greater than your own self-interest." To this day he hammers on this theme. His opponent does as well.

There is something very troubling to me about a politician who finds any form of public service a "higher calling" than going to work every day in the private sector. It was especially troubling coming from a Republican. Don't get me wrong, I think going into public service can be honorable. I'm not disrespecting public service-- I'm pointing out that it is not inherently more deserving of respect than work in the private sector. Senator Obama touts in a TV ad that he gave up lucrative offers as he came out of law school so he could be a poorly paid (leftist) community organizer in the poorest parts of Chicago. The implication is that he is a "noble fellow with a higher calling" for making this huge personal sacrifice. Of course, my response to that ad is, "that was your mistake, pal, don't blame me for your delusions." But, McCain's core message, still repeated today, is that "service to a cause greater than one's own self-interest" is the highest calling. So, by that standard, young Barack Obama certainly did the right thing.

Frankly, every time I start to think I could actually buy a big enough clothespin to put on my nose and vote for McCain something happens and I remember how much he believes in things I reject. An all-powerful state is at the core of those things I reject. I think about how dismissive he is of people who have been successful in the private sector and think, "there's just no way." Clearly, we are looking at the worst choice between two candidates for President since 1976 this November. Both parties had clean slates to draw on and we ended up with this. It's just sad.

This morning I read a great piece from Andrew Ferguson at The Weekly Standard that gets to this "service to the big cause" issue in his typical, clever fashion. It includes this section:

Whoever wins the White House, the heart sinks to imagine the rhetorical tone of the next administration, thanks to John McCain's regret over his years as a rebellious midshipman and Barack Obama's vanity over the years he spent berating slumlords on the South Side of Chicago. For four long years the rest of us will be hectored about pursuing a cause greater than our self-interest, with the unavoidable implication that as we go through the day getting our kids out of bed, packing their lunches, helping them with homework, dragging ourselves to our jobs, enduring an hour's commute, so we can make enough money to meet our mortgage, attending PTA meetings, feeding the dog, going to church, mowing our neighbor's lawn while he's on vacation, planning a birthday party, saying a prayer for a sick friend, picking up a six-pack for our brother-in-law on the way home, writing a check to the Red Cross, shopping for an old roommate's wedding gift, pretending to listen to the tedious beefs of a co-worker, telephoning an aging aunt, and otherwise doing what it is we need to do to make our lives mean something, we are merely pursuing what our two presidential candidates consider our selfish interest. Because we haven't joined one of their national service programs.

For now, of course, each of the two men, McCain and Obama, points to himself as an exemplar of service--even as he avoids his family, neglects his job, and hands his everyday obligations over to poorly paid subordinates, all so he can fulfill his lifelong ambition of becoming the most powerful and celebrated man in the world. What do you know: They think their self-interest is a cause greater than their self-interest. Funny how that happens.

Andrew Ferguson asks, "Is self-interest bad?"

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Every observer of the Washington DC scene who has a clue knows that Senator Chuck Schumer is a narcissistic, camera-hogging, microphone-grabbing clown who desperately wants everyone to think him to be a very important man. Normally this is amusing-- watching transparent human pathologies and failings play out in the open often is entertaining-- as long as nobody gets hurt.

But, last night after the markets closed, the Office for Thrift Supervision had to move control of IndyMac to the FDIC. The OTS put the blame for the recent run on the Pasadena, CA institution squarely on the slumped shoulders of the gasbag Senator from New York. Because one sad sack politician had to act like he's in charge a bank fails. Will he pay a price? Of course not. Approval rating of Congress: 9%. There's a good reason why bank regulators, federal reserve officials and treasury secretaries, among others, are closed-mouth. Chuck Schumer and his Democrat friends in government and "journalism" have been talking down the economy for some time now in hopes of gaining the executive branch this fall. But to openly promote a bank run is so far beyond normal, venal, politics it is breathtaking.
From the 6PM July 11, 2008 press release:
The OTS has determined that the current institution, IndyMac Bank, is unlikely to be able to meet continued depositors’ demands in the normal course of business and is therefore in an unsafe and unsound condition. The immediate cause of the closing was a deposit run that began and continued after the public release of a June 26 letter to the OTS and the FDIC from Senator Charles Schumer of New York. The letter expressed concerns about IndyMac’s viability. In the following 11 business days, depositors withdrew more than $1.3 billion from their accounts.
“This institution failed today due to a liquidity crisis,” OTS Director John Reich said. “Although this institution was already in distress, I am troubled by any interference in the regulatory process.”

Summer in the South

Friday, July 11, 2008

That's News To Me

This morning I figured I'd watch a little TV news to get up to speed. I needed to find out what had happened in all those important stories they (the hard-chargin' TV newshounds) were watching for me (the viewer in a comfy chair). It was quite illuminating. Apparently Christie Brinkley settled her messy battle with Madonna and has gotten custody of A-Rod. Meanwhile A-Rod's wife has taken up with Madonna's ex, some English movie type I'd never heard of. My advice to Mrs. Ex-Rod, get checked for STD's toot sweet, deary. (I'm trying to work in a little French-soundin' lingo 'cause Presumptive President Obama was laughin' at Americans who only know "mare see bow koo" when it comes to foreign languages.) In other breaking news someone in the upper levels of the Iranian missile program photoshopped Senator Obama's testicles back on after they had been either cut off or cut out (there's powerful debate raging over "off" or "out") by grumpy, old Jesse Jackson.

There, I think that brings us up-to-date on all the essential stuff. Stop at Monkeydarts. Go with confidence.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lots of Nutty Talk Today

There is so much talk about "nuts" today for some strange reason that it got me to thinking, "What goes best with nuts?" As any barmaid will tell you, the answer is "BEER!" The ever prescient George Will was also thinking about beer when he read an article in IBD the other day. Which caused him to write about the beverage here. In a nutshell Mr. Will thinks, "no beer, no civilization." Enjoy, it's 5 o'clock somewhere.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


I don't watch a lot of news on television. I'm awash in news throughout my work day, reading accounts from Europe, the US, Asia, even South America. The business news channels are always running in the corner of my computer screen during work hours, usually with the sound off though, so I don't count that as "watching TV news." The only time I watch local news is when the weather is bad and I need to know if school is closed or a tornado is in the county. I haven't watched a complete network newscast since sometime in the 1980's. "60 Minutes"? The last time I saw that exercise in pomposity was when the great Roger Staubach was leading a 2 minute drill for the Cowboys, the game ran late and, exhausted from the victory, I was too lazy to get up and turn off the B&W set. Hmm... Staubach, no remote, B&W. Yep, it was the 70's. As I recall, Mike Wallace was chasing some doctor down the street and banging on his office door. I assume he still does this sort of hard-hitting brass-knuckles journalism if he's still alive. Good for him. I do try to watch Brit Hume's 6PM newscast most weeknights. It's usually a pretty good roundup of major stories, although I drifted away some this year as it became dominated by the Obama v. Hillary intrigues. If I ever hear the phrase, "but what will the superdelegates do?" once more I'll shoot my flat panel dead. The nighttime shout shows? Never.

Several months ago The Telegraph compiled their 50 Most Influential US Political Pundits list. Lists are fun. Americans love lists about anything. So, being an American who pays close attention to politics I figured I'd take a look through their Top 50 list. Part of the joy of lists is the argument about the rankings. That certainly applied to this Top 50. But what I hadn't counted on was the number of political commentators that The Telegraph ranked in the Top 50 that I had never heard of. I've probably read some of them, but never paid attention to their names. It dawned on me that, by not watching CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS there were a few deep thinkers I'd never come across. One hour of "Special Report" on FNC per day just wasn't exposing me to their prodigious talents. The list of people I had never even heard of included, Rachel, Eugene, Roland, Mike, Chuck and Harris&Vandehei or something like that. Others on the list were people I knew about but didn't think of as current political pundits-- for all I know these people are on MSNBC and CNN every bleeding night: Jeff Toobin, DeeDee Myers, Joe Trippi, David Gergen, Joe Klein and more.

I just had to face it, I was apparently not plugged in correctly to the current punditry scene. Alas. But then I reconsidered. I'm their target market after all. I care about world events, I have voted in nearly every election no matter how small since I first was eligible to vote in 1972, and I read constantly. If these people are so "influential" then why aren't they influencing me? Well, the beauty of our brave new world is that we have choices now unlike back when I started voting. Through the 'net, radio and satellite TV the world is wide open to us. Heck, I've watched far more Egyptian and Iranian TV interviews in the past year than I've watched major network newscasts. How? Through the tireless work of MEMRI. Why on Earth would I sit still for the crap peddled by some of these people from the Telegraph's Top 50: Krugman, Begala, Carville, Zsa Zsa Huffington, Michael Savage, Donna Brazille, Bill Maher, Olby and Chris Matthews? I have as much interest in their opinions as they have in mine. Zero.

So, as I looked through the list I decided I'd put together my Most Influential Political Pundits Top 10 List of People Who Didn't Make The Telegraph's Top 50 List

10. Real Clear Politics- the one-stop clearing house for links to the best punditry

9. Hugh Hewitt- I don't get to hear his radio show much now but I listen to his interviews via podcast-- Lileks, Steyn, Hitchens get to talk about the issues of the day... good stuff

8. Michael Yon- the best battlefield reporter of the decade-- by far

7. James Taranto- his daily wrap-up, Best of the Web Today on WSJ on-line is funny, pointed and complete

6. Victor Davis Hanson- professor of classics, farmer, thinker

5. Ann Coulter- the idea that she is less influential than 40+ people on the list is just silly even if you have Coulter Derangement Syndrome

4. Jonah Goldberg- his columns are well-thought, his NR stuff is first-rate plus he brings the funny... and he wrote one of the 2 most important non-fiction books of the decade

3. Charles Krauthammer- as long as he stays away from economics he's good

2. George Will- as long as he stays away from Iraq he's good

1. Mark Steyn- the winner and grand champion, the one-man global content provider

Remember, to be on this list you had to be left completely off the Telegraph's list. (Even if I used names on their list Mark Steyn would be #1 or 2.) Others that could make my list: The American Thinker, Jack Kelly, Michael Medved, Lileks, MEMRI, DaybyDay, Maggie's Farm, and many, many, more.

My point? There is no Top 50. We all can create our own front page, op-ed page, sports page, cartoon section, business pages, etc. We are our own news editors. Some of my favorite writers on politics and sports are read by less than 50 people a day. So what? As someone who thinks that the most dangerous (and expensive) words in politics are, "We have a bipartisan agreement" I applaud the fact that we all have our own Top 50 and are no longer waiting for Cronkite to tell us what to think. Some wring their hands and worry that we talk past each other. I think it's our greatest strength.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Single Digits? That's Very Hard To Do

The nation's most accurate polling company, Rasmussen Reports (TM), has astonishing news today. The Democrat controlled US Congress has the lowest approval rating in the history of their polling. The way they ask the question is Party-neutral, of course:

How would you rate the way Congress is doing its job? Excellent, Good, Fair or Poor.

Just 2% said Excellent. Good got only 7% for a total positive rating of 9%.

Fair came in at 36% while a majority offered the lowest assessment possible, Poor at 52%. In fact, only 13% of DEMOCRATS viewed the Congress they put in power positively.

One of our favorite Congress Critters, Jeb Hensarling from Texas, noted similar low numbers reported by Gallup thusly, "Not only does Congress have an approval rating below bubonic plague and head lice, I saw a recent poll that as many as 40 percent of people still believe that Congress is in Republican hands. I wish we could get a little accuracy out there about who is in charge – and let those ratings fall where they may."

What If?

What if you won your political party's presidential nomination largely because you were the most "anti-war" candidate and then, by the time the general election campaign came around, you were suddenly the guy who was against a war that we'd already won? What to do, what to do?

What if you were commander-in-chief and had won victories in two major campaigns in a long war, been vindicated in all respects, and were six months away from leaving office with conditions remarkably better than they were on September 12, 2001. Would you talk about it... at all... ever? Would you count on the media to tell the story correctly and in full? Would you leave it to history?
What if we fling a few darts this morning and see who screams?

*- by "we" I mean the US and coalition forces. I'm fully aware that part of the country is made uncomfortable by American exceptionalism. They can pound sand.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Moving Tons of Saddam's WMD

Saturday 1.2 MILLION POUNDS of yellowcake uranium arrived safely in Canada after being shipped secretly from Saddam's Tuwaitha nuclear complex in Iraq. Everyone who thinks Operation Iraqi Freedom was a terrible mistake should at least have to explain how the world would be better off with Saddam, Uday & Qsay having 1.2MILLION POUNDS of yellowcake uranium, among many other things, today.
The American Thinker weighs in here. You probably missed this story over the Independence Day weekend. It doesn't fit the Democrat and handmaiden media storyline. Better that we spend our time on Madonna, ARod et al.
Don Surber just comes out and says it: "George W. Bush saved the world." The Gateway Pundit points out how bad it is to be a fat liar gettin' punked from the grave by Hussein.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Word For The Day Is...

smarmy- \ˈsmär-mē\ adjective
1 : revealing or marked by a smug, ingratiating, or false earnestness 2 : of low sleazy taste or quality

EX.) “Every living soul on this planet has some highly-justified anger. Everyone. If you know anybody who was a P.O.W. for any time, they can be going on for years and all of a sudden something will happen that will trigger all those bad memories.”

-William Jefferson Blythe Clinton, Aspen Ideas Festival, July 5, 2008
Always classy.
Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic was there.

Michael Ramirez Gets The Last Word

As Independence Day weekend draws to a close, Michael Ramirez has his say.

Perspective: The tax tyranny on the colonies was about 10%. Most of that was likely spent to protect the American colonies from enemies. Obama's tax policy is estimated to have a top rate of around 56% combined. That doesn't include state & local taxes on income plus sales taxes, user fees, property taxes etc. That 10% sent off to London with the promise of protection from Indians and foreigners is looking pretty good!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

RIP Jesse

June 13, 2001

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U2 lead singer and activist Bono called Republican Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina a "brave and bold man" for inviting him to lunch Wednesday to discuss the African AIDS crisis. "It's an extraordinary thing, I will admit, to have Jesse Helms to throw a lunch for you," said Bono. "You know it's bad for both of our images."

Bono said he was impressed that Helms "cares deeply about what is happening in Africa right now" and that "there is a move here in the Capitol to do something more historic about it. "I'm very humbled. I'm having my world turned upside down, and I'm surprised that people should be so generous in letting an obvious outsider in."

"You'll never be an outsider. You'll always be a friend here," Helms quickly responded, shaking the singer's hand.

Bono: "When I met with Senator Jesse Helms, he wept."
What exactly did you do to make Jesse Helms weep?
"I talked to him about the Biblical origin of the idea of Jubilee Year, the idea that every 49 years, you were supposed to release people from their debt and slaves were supposed to be set free. It's very punk rock for God, but I think it's in Leviticus. He was genuinely moved by the story of the continent of Africa, and he said to me, 'America needs to do more.' I think he felt it as a burden on a spiritual level."


The Charlotte (NC) Observer, 7/5/2008
On Friday, the singer Bono, who helped expose the senator to the plight of AIDS victims, called John Dodd, director of the Jesse Helms Center in Wingate, NC.
“There are 2 million people alive in Africa today because Jesse Helms did the right thing,” Bono said in a voicemail.


Thunderstorms forced our Independence Day cookout indoors. The fireworks at the lake went on as scheduled but without our attendance due to the weather. Oh well, there's always next year. At least the ones on television were pretty good.

Living in a state where fireworks are legal gets pretty interesting around New Year's Eve and The 4th of July. The explosions were still going off all around us until well after midnight. They started about a week ago with a few salvos every evening. Then, at dusk last night, they were booming in every direction for hours on end. Quite raucous.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Independence Day

Hope your fireworks are electric this weekend. If you want any of us, we'll be watching Episodes 3, 4 & 5 of HBO's John Adams this weekend.

Prez Obama, Attack On Iran Both More Likely Now

Prediction markets are worth a look from time to time even for people who aren't particularly interested in futures trading. There's been a great deal of press attention on the notion that Iran will be attacked by Israel before President Bush leaves office. Well, it so happens that there are prediction markets for this very event. At Intrade the proposition, "USA and/or Israel to execute an overt Air Strike against Iran by_______" is currently being traded with end dates for this quarter and the next two quarters.

So, how does it look for this event? The trade is currently 17.0 by September 30th, 30.0 by December 31st, and a pretty large 49.9 by March 31st. Given that Intrade shows the election of Obama as President to be increasingly likely (Obama futures up to 65.0 now versus 30.0 for McCain) it's pretty interesting that the idea that Israel will take action after Obama is elected and before he is inaugurated is taking hold. Pretty much what John Bolton opined the other day as I recall.
Perspective time-- The US Congress lifting the ban on offshore drilling before the end of 2008 is trading at 20.0 while lifting the ban on drilling in ANWR is trading at a lowly 10.0. Yes, that means an airstrike on Iran is far more likely than the Democrats in Congress allowing the US to exploit her own oil reserves. Related? Beats me.

The government of Iran seems to want to promote the idea that they would close the Straits of Hormuz if they are attacked. They might very well try that. But the Straits wouldn't be closed for long.

In the picture from the space shuttle above, Iran is at the top, Oman is the point into the straits and the UAE is the land by the wing. This view gives one the sense of what a chokepoint it is.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Meet Today's Special Guest

We have a nice wooded area directly behind our back deck. Late in the summer there are so many cicadas singing in those woods that it sounds like an impenetrable jungle at night. If I put a sound file up here you would be in complete awe. Not in awe of what you would hear, which just sounds like the soundtrack from a night scene in an old Tarzan movie, but rather in awe that I knew how to put up a sound file. Of course, I don't. But I do know how to put up a picture, and the one you see above is NOT a cicada.
I better explain. The picture above is of Sphecius speciosus (Drury), the cicada killer wasp. There are various types of cicada killers, but in our corner of the globe, ours are like this one. The males are smaller than the females but both are BIG. I mean, BIG. These are wasps that are between an inch and a half and two inches long. Since they look a lot like the wasps that fly around trying to sting humans for sport, the first time you see them you say, "Holy crap! That thing is huge." And then you run into the house--- quickly.
In July 2006 I first encountered a few of them in the yard and just thought they were normal, albeit very big, wasps. But last summer we had dozens of them so I decided I better figure out what they are and if they could kill an adult male human in his 50's with one swift sting. They are not dangerous to humans. Whew. They hatch out in July (around here-- your mileage may vary) and the males basically have two roles: 1) mate, 2) die. The females, having mated, look for cicadas. They find them on the trunks and lower branches of trees like the ones in our woods. They sting the cicadas. Then they hold the stunned cicadas with their legs and try to fly back to their burrow. They tend to fall to the ground a lot. So they drag the cicadas a bit, fly up to something higher, and launch themselves again towards the home burrow. It is a huge struggle and no doubt the female cicada killer wasp, somewhere along the way, becomes quite envious of her dearly departed mate. Once the gals get the cicada to the burrow, which is about 6 inches underground and about 10-12 inches long, they put it in the back of the home and lay an egg on it. Pretty soon they are dead too. That's the last we see of cicada killer wasps until the next July when the new ones feed on the dead cicada, dig their way out of the ground and do it all over again.
We don't want to kill all of these insects since they do keep the foliage-eating cicadas in check. However, we can't let them take over the front yard. Currently they only have burrows in a raised flower and tree bed. So far a half dozen burrows are in evidence, but it's early. Last year there were at least two dozen in that same bed. Last September I dug up the bed a bit and mulched it heavily trying to suppress them somewhat. I'll know in a couple weeks if it was successful. Meanwhile, I'll keep repeating, they won't sting you, they won't sting you, they won't sting you....
A good report about these odd creatures is found at Critter Zone.
Texas A&M University supplied our picture.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

All Aboard the EAV

With yet another body getting flung under the Obama'08 HOPE & CHANGE express yesterday it's pretty clear a more powerful bus will be needed for the long trip to November. Running over General Clark (failed politician, recent Hillary supporter, and hopeful time machine pilot) is one thing but there are bigger fish yet to be flung. Fitting a couple of Hyde Park neighbors/ domestic terrorists under there is still on the summer agenda. And the MoveOn wackos are half way under already! Yep, it's gonna take a bigger, stronger, less hippiefied bus. The Exurban League is all over the important Electoral Assault Vehicle story right here.