Thursday, May 26, 2005

one more thing

Peggy Noonan wrote something great in response to the 14 nitwits who forged a "compromise" in order to avoid the so called "nuclear option", every newly elected "official" should be read this as they are sworn in.....

Back to the senators. Why did they put on that performance the other day? Yes, it was sheer exuberant egotism; it was the excitement of the TV lights; it was their sly conviction that if they laud themselves they will be appearing to laud the institution; and it was, no doubt, the counsel of their advisers that in the magic medium of television, if you declare you are a "hero" often enough people will come to associate the word "hero" with you. Advisers, you must stop telling them this. Please.
I think everyone in politics now has been affected by the linguistic sleight-of-hand, which began with the Kennedys in the 1960s, in which politics is called "public service," and politicians are allowed and even urged to call themselves "public servants." Public servants are heroic and self-denying. Therefore politicians are heroic and self-denying. I think this thought has destabilized them.
People who charge into burning towers are heroic; nuns who work with the poorest of the poor are self-denying; people who volunteer their time to help our world and receive nothing in return but the knowledge they are doing good are in public service. Politicians are in politics. They are less self-denying than self-aggrandizing. They are given fame, respect, the best health care in the world; they pass laws governing your life and receive a million perks including a good salary, and someone else--faceless taxpayers, "the folks back home"--gets to pay for the whole thing. This isn't public service, it's more like public command. It's not terrible--democracies need people who commit politics; they have a place and a role to play--but it's not saintly, either.
I don't know if politicians have ever been modest, but I know they have never seemed so boastful, so full of themselves, and so dizzy with self-love.

"Major Dad"

So Mr. William Randolph Hurst is played by Major Dad on Deadwood, and I was kind of surprised--he doesn't really pull it off.
Ian McShane as Swearingen is absolutely, unquestionably in character.
Same with Powers Boothe who plays Cy Toliver. Both of those actors seem as though they have been living in character for months.

The plot has gotten a little bit predictable, but all in all, the best show on TV.

EB has just lost his mind, and on previous episodes he was a strange little man who talked to himself, but he certainly wasn't insane...I wonder where that one came from. (I predict cyphillis.)

stem cell confusion

There is nothing I can say about embryonic stem cell research that hasn't already been said by people much smarter than me---so I read this little item in the journal and it sure seemed to bring the whole issue into perspective.

"Recall what the President's August 2001 decision actually did. It allowed federal funding for research on existing stem-cell lines where, he said, "the life and death decision has already been made." But it forbade funding for research into new lines, which entailed both the creation and destruction of human embryos.
Critically, Mr. Bush's decision applied only to federal funding; it did not impinge on the rights of individual researchers, universities, hospitals, private labs, public corporations or states to conduct embryonic research. In other words, the President did not "ban" anything. He simply refused to allow taxpayer money to be spent on a practice millions of Americans consider morally offensive.

So what's happened, research-wise, since 2001? Given the rhetoric of some of the President's critics, you might think the answer is nothing. In fact, federal funding for all forms of stem-cell research (including adult and umbilical stem cells) has nearly doubled, to $566 million from $306 million. The federal government has also made 22 fully developed embryonic stem-cell lines available to researchers, although researchers complain of bureaucratic bottlenecks at the National Institutes of Health.
At the state level, Californians passed Proposition 71, which commits $3 billion over 10 years for stem-cell research. New Jersey is building a $380 million Stem Cell Institute. The Massachusetts Legislature has passed a bill authorizing stem-cell research by a veto-proof margin, and similar legislation is in the works in Connecticut and Wisconsin.
Then there's the private sector. According to Navigant Consulting, the U.S. stem-cell therapeutics market will generate revenues of $3.6 billion by 2015. Some 70 companies are now doing stem-cell research, with Geron, ES Cell International and Advanced Cell Technologies being leaders in embryonic research. Clinical trials using embryonic stem-cell technologies for spinal cord injuries are due to begin sometime next year.
True, many privately funded researchers complain about what they call Mr. Bush's "antiquated stem-cell policy." But we have yet to meet the CEO or entrepreneur who doesn't bridle at government restrictions, or who wouldn't welcome more in government subsidies under the heading of "basic research."
These companies are still raising private equity on the capital markets, and CFO David Greenwood tells us that Geron has been developing its own stem-cell lines, a process he says has only gotten cheaper as they get better at it. "When Bush made those comments in 2001 we applauded," he says. "We thought at the time, 'hey, this is a victory.' There was a minimum sufficiency of material to get the ball rolling."
All of which is to say that if embryonic stem-cell researchers can get this far within the regime Mr. Bush imposed in 2001, then surely they can go further without additional federal help. The same goes for the $79 million the President and his allies in Congress are proposing to spend on umbilical cord stem-cell research. Here, too, the government is spending tax dollars to subsidize a private sector that already has every incentive to invest."

Friday, May 20, 2005

Victor Davis Hanson

Excerpt from his most recent column that I found "spot on."

"There is a sort of arrogance in the liberal West — the handmaiden to our own guilt and self-loathing — that strangely believes we are both to blame for the ills abroad and alone can solve them through handing out money. Almost all of the pathetic rhetoric of al Qaeda — "colonial exploitation," "American hegemony," or "blood for oil" — was as imported from the West as were the terrorists' bombs and communications.
Some Western intellectuals, I think, need a bin Laden to illustrate and confirm their nihilistic ideas about their own postmodern society, just as he needs them to explain why his culture's failure is not its own fault. So just as al Qaeda will always find an enabling Westerner to say, "You lashed out at us in frustration for your unfair treatment," so too a guilty Westerner will always find a compliant terrorist to boast, "Yes, we kill you for your sins." America was once a country that demolished Hitler and Tojo combined in less than four years and broke the nuclear Soviet Union — and now frets and whines that a few thousand deranged fascists want an apology.
Abroad, we battle Islamic fascists who hate us for our success and want to kill us with the tools of the modern world they despise. But at home, we are also at odds with our own privileged guilt-ridden aristocracy, whose very munificence has made them misunderstand why they are hated.
The Islamists insist, "We kill you for being soft." Westerners in response feel, "We are killed because we are not being soft enough."
And so they riot and kill in Afghanistan over a stupid rumor, and we seek to apologize that it somehow spread.
How truly sad."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Could someone ask--

Why would people riot violently in response to alleged mistreatment of the Quran?

I mean, there have been allegations of abusing the Quran for the past couple of years at Gitmo.

Obviously, a rhetorical question, but one that no one seems to be asking--if a devout believer of this religion of peace is upset about an alleged abuse of a physical copy of a holy book, why would the reaction be a violent riot?

Friday, May 13, 2005


One of my friends sent me a transcript of a speech from Mario Cuomo, which is what sparked that little tirade regarding judicial filibusters.

It's not that I am a complete political junkie, it's more like I binge on it. I can go a few days without any politics whatsoever, and then I just immerse myself for a day, and it's all I can think about or write about, or talk about. I'm sure it's an unhealthy pre-occupation, but it's similar to when some of my buddies know the slugging percentages for every Cardinal player. I tend to know the stats about Yalta, or who was the House Majority Whip in 1896, or why didn't the US ratify the Kyoto protocol.

I can't help it.

who you calling a filibuster, chump?

Despite claims from the Democratic Party that judicial filibusters are part a 200+ year old system of checks and balances, the Constitution says otherwise, and debunks their allegations.
The Constitution is a brilliant document, and while the Democrats regularly invoke the Constitution, they seem conveniently ignorant to what it actually says.
There are only seven specific instances where a super-majority vote is required: I can link to them if you would like, but guess what---a supermajority is not required to confirm judicial nominations.
It is the constitutional obligation of the Executive to appoint individuals to the Judiciary, and it is the obligation of the Legislative to “advise and consent,” where they have an opportunity to vote up or down on the nomination. The Senate confirms by a majority vote the president’s choices for cabinet members, ambassadors, federal judges, and many other important government officials. The Senate usually allows presidents free rein in selecting cabinet officers and other members of their own administrations. On the other hand, the Senate often closely scrutinizes nominees for the Supreme Court and other judicial positions, which are lifetime appointments.

By using a parliamentary procedure to prevent an up or down vote, the obstructionists Democrats are violating their oath to uphold the Constitution, and failing to perform their Senatorial duty.



Great little timewaster. Takes one minute, I am an “Enterpriser.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Back to the Future

Students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology "have organized what they call the first convention for time travelers," reports the New York Times:
"I would hope they would come with the idea of showing us that time travel is possible,"said Amal Dorai, 22, the graduate student who thought up the convention. . . . "Maybe they could leave something with us. It is possible they might look slightly different, the shape of the head, the body proportions."
The event is potluck and alcohol-free--present-day humans are bringing things like brownies. But Mr. Dorai's Web site asks that future-folk bring something to prove they are really ahead of our time: "Things like a cure for AIDS or cancer, a solution for global poverty or a cold fusion reactor would be particularly convincing as well as greatly appreciated."

The event is scheduled for 8 p.m. the day before yesterday. As Dorai's Web page notes, "Due to the overwhelming response, no attendees will be admitted who have not already RSVP'd." So if you're planning to attend, make sure you let them know well in advance.
My apologies to James Taranto's Best of the Web, who caught this in yesterday's edition, it was too good not to post.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


With the boy that Bullock is charged with raising (his nephew) now conveniently out of the picture, will Bullock keep his obligation to stay married to his brother's wife?
I would think his obligation to the widow Garrett is also important and that his borther's widow (Bullock's current wife) would allow for a quiet divorce in order to free Bullock to do the right thing and raise his child with the widow Garrett. Then again, Ellsworth could step in and the problem is solved.
I can't get enough of that show, although occasionally Al Swearingen speaks in ways that are too heady, even for Deadwood standards. His rebuke of A W at the beginning of this week's episode for putting too many rumors in his paper is an example, but all in all, the show is superb.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

what the ???

I actually heard a newscast this morning that used a sound clip saying that the Governor and the Republicans want to throw children, old people and the disabled overboard in order to balance the budget. Is that "news?" That sounds a lot like some kook's opinion of some possible future effect of some possible change in a state budget. A factual news piece might actually use facts...like perhaps comparing last years budget with this years projected spending, or comparing historical percentages of the budget that goes to each kind of state project.

Good example: "Last year's state budget allocated XX number of dollars for public roads and highways. This year that number will be decreased by X% to XX dollars. Officials intend to do some cost cuting to work around the decreased funding. "

Bad example: "Republicans plan on cutting the budget for public roads which should cause more people to die on Missouri Highways. Listen to this clip from a class action attorney who regularly sues the state. _______"

Toyota trivia

The new line of cars manufactured by Toyota under a different label, "Scion" is pretty clever. They intentionally market themselves to be basic well made imports with a million different ways to customize them to make them your own.
"Scion" actually means: a detached living portion of a plant joined to a stock in a grafting, or it can also mean a descendent or child.

I have this theory on vehicles that cars with names are inevitably less attractive than cars with numbers. Which would you rather have, a Pontiac Grand Prix or a Chrysler 300? It's even more obvious with imports. Would you rather drive a Taurus or a 540il? (Ford or BMW)

I am a car freak, love them, can identify make and model of any late model (1990 or newer although I like older cars too.) It's not really about materialism, (I drive an 8 year old Nissan with 110,000 miles.) I just like cars.