Saturday, November 10, 2007

Maybe The Sky Isn't Falling

ICECAP has a post by John Coleman, founder of The Weather Channel, sounding off on the topic of Global Warming.
It runs counter to the statements of Saint Albert The Goracle of Music City, and it's worth a look.

In time, a decade or two, the outrageous scam will be obvious. As the temperature rises, polar ice cap melting, coastal flooding and super storm pattern all fail to occur as predicted everyone will come to realize we have been duped. The sky is not falling. And, natural cycles and drifts in climate are as much if not more responsible for any climate changes underway. I strongly believe that the next twenty years are equally as likely to see a cooling trend as they are to see a warming trend.

Most readers of this blog will still be alive in twenty years. I hope to be alive in twenty years. If the Texas Coastline is just south of Waco by then, I'll stand corrected.

Artwork from a blogger called Remember The Midwest

Friday, November 9, 2007

Eminent Domain

It took me a while to find this again, but it's worth reading....

It's got more on the Eminent Domain ripoffs that I wrote about here.

Thank God for iPod

I've spent the last few weeks with my daughter and her music.

We recently spent one evening together in my wife's car, which has no CD player. My kid frantically scanned from station to station, trying to hear just three songs. I could be getting these three titles wrong, but I'm close: "I Lack Drankin' Tea on The Front Porch" by Kenny Chesney, "This Is My Fake British Accent" by Reliant K, and "I Love You Even if You're Fat" from the "Shampoo" soundtrack.

The radio was in perpetual scan unless one of those three songs was playing. Three seconds of seconds of guitar seconds of some kid from Kentucky whining like The Sex Pistols on Estrogen....ahhh, that's Reliant K, singing with their Fake British Accents. We listened to that song until it ended.

I endured this all night.

I grew up in a radio deprived area of Mississippi, where there were only two decent AM stations that could be pulled in from Memphis. If WHBQ was rolling commercials, you listened to WMPS and vice-versa. FM was a static wasteland.

My daughter, on the other hand, had a stupendous number of radio choices, but only those three songs were given their three minutes of glory each,

A few days later we went someplace in my pickup, which has a CD player. My kid spends most of her waking hours downloading CD's. Most of them legal, but she also acquires more bootleg stuff than Junior Johnson.

Between her music and mine, we probably have more than 20,000 songs on disc at our house. She got in the truck with three CD's. I could be getting her CD titles wrong, but I'm close: "I Lack Drankin' Tea on The Front Porch, and Other Hits" by Kenny Chesney, "British Wannabees, Accent Envy and other Hits" by Reliant K, and the "Shampoo" soundtrack, featuring "I Love You, Even if You're Fat".

She put in the Kenny Chesney CD first. We heard the guitar intro to song #1, intro to song intro to song to "I Lack Drankin' Tea"....

Her hand instinctively reached for the click button, but she subconsciously realized that it's ok to listen to a complete song if it's one of The Holy Trinity.

We got to listen to an actual song for three minutes....then, piano intro to song we clicked to the end of the CD, started over, clicked through the first three filler songs and listened to "I Lack Drankin' Tea" again.

I complained until she ejected Kenny Chesney, put in Reliant K, then clicked through some filler songs on that CD until she found "This Is My Fake British Accent".

We listened joyfully for three minutes until the song ended.

Then, Electric guitar solo imitation of a Liverpool Dockworker singing like Princess

I almost pulled the truck over. "Why can't we listen to a whole CD, just one time?"
"This is the only song on here that I like."
"How do you know???? When you've never heard anything but the first four beats of any of them????"
"Just drive, Dad," she"Ok....Did you see 'Shampoo'?"

Tonight, we went to the mall in her SUV.

Her SUV has an iPod-compatible sound system that is the envy of the rest of the world. Her iPod will hold a jillion songs, videos, messages, ringtones, and birdcalls. There's room on that thing for the complete works, including their false starts and time spent tuning up, of every composer and songwriter who has ever lived.

When we got in the car and backed out of the driveway, I was looking forward to hearing the music she had chosen to put on her iPod, rather than what programmers had chosen to put on her radio stations, or record executives had chosen to put on her CD's.

It wasn't meant to be."And yer biscuits never scorch, Yeah, I lack drankin' tea on the front porch...."

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Saddam's Bathroom

Here are photos of Saddam Hussein's bathroom, courtesy of Robert Crump - U.S. Army.

Hey, the South American Trade deal passed (see post below this one), and we're in a slow news cycle.

I think I need another Presidential debate....

Or I need Ann Coulter to say something else goofy....

Ok, I just saw that Reverend Pat Robertson has endorsed Pro-Gay Rights/Pro-Abortion Presidential Candidate Rudy Giuliani. We're back in business ! ! ! God knows that I love being alive in the year 2007 ! ! !

Robert, thanks for the pictures ! !

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Why The Rush On Trade?

Harold Meyerson, of The Washington Post, is wondering why Congress is in a rush to draft another trade bill. This Trade Agreement is going to be with Peru.

I can already detect everyone's eyeballs slowly fogging up with a glaze worthy of a 5 pound Bundt cake, just at the thought of reading something about a Peruvian Free-Trade bill. Read what he's got to say, and then try to get back with me....

Harold Meyerson - Why the Rush on Trade? -

Adam Smith wrote a book in the 1770's called "The Wealth of Nations". It became one of the founding documents in the history of Economics. Smith discovered that nations grow wealthy through trade, not through hanging onto their gold. We've known this almost everywhere for more than 200 years, except maybe at The Washington Post.

Let's assume that Harold Meyerson is running a Groblet factory, called "Meyerson Groblets, Inc".

All Groblets require three components: a Groblet frame, a Widget and a Sprocket. Mr. Meyerson can make the Groblet frames and the Widgets on his own, using material that can be found by digging around in the Meyerson yard. He also has employees who are great at all aspects of Widget manufacturing. Their parents and grandparents all made Widgets, which were always used on Meyerson Groblets.

Sprockets are different. Sprockets are made of a rare substance not found anywhere near the Meyerson back yard. Mr. Meyerson has always outsourced his Sprocket manufacturing to a factory in a neighboring city. This factory supplies Sprockets to almost every Groblet factory in the nation. They have the raw material for Sprockets in good supply, and the workers there just seem to have a way with Sprockets. We'll call this company "Sprocket USA".

But then a Peruvian company opens. They make great Sprockets. And they're cheaper. "Sprocket USA's" customers, including the Canadian, Mexican, and Haitian ones, all start buying their Sprockets from Peru.

Canada, Mexico, and Haiti have no Trade Barriers in place preventing them from purchasing Peruvian Sprockets.

So sales at "Sprocket USA" start to suffer. "Sprocket USA's" owner goes to Trent Lott and Nancy Pelosi, and bribes lobbies them to put protective tariffs in place against Peruvian Sprockets. Trent and Nancy not only do that, but they also put regulations in place stating that only a certain small percentage of our nation's Sprockets can come from Peru. That should take care of the problem, right?

For a moment, yes. Now all American Groblet factories, including Harold Meyerson's, have to buy Sprockets from "Sprocket USA".

But then American Groblet sales start to decline. The Canadian, Mexican, and Haitian Groblets are cheaper, since they don't come with artificially overpriced Sprockets.
After some investigation, Mr. Meyerson discovers that he too needs to bribe lobby Trent and Nancy, this time to keep out all foreign made Groblets.

Keeping out the Foreign Sprockets wasn't enough. It seems that his foreign competitors in the Groblet Industry can get their vital Sprockets cheaper from Peru, while he's stuck sourcing his from "Sprocket USA" at a much higher price.

Mr. Meyerson spends days and days trying to explain the difference between Groblets and Sprockets in Washington. Donations are made. Contributions change hands. Justice, Human Decency, Workers Rights, Apple Pie, and Motherhood are invoked. Trent and Nancy will do the same thing for all American Groblet companies that they did for Sprocket companies, right?

Unfortunately, Trent and Nancy don't need any more bribes lobbying. They've already gotten enough money from the Sprocket, Ethanol, and Sugar industries. The Fair Groblet Trade Bill languishes in a committee and then dies a quiet death.

Eventually, so does "Meyerson, Inc."

You can't protect one thing without hurting something else. It's called The Law of Unintended Consequences.

This is similar to what happened in the late 70's/early 80's, when the Steel Industry bribed lobbied Congress to keep out Foreign Steel, but Congress forgot to keep out products manufactured with Foreign Steel. Steel Manufacturing (where we did have a competitive advantage) took a nose dive, and we lost far more jobs in the steel manufacturing industry than we saved in the steel mill industry.

Here's an excerpt from the Meyerson's Washington Post article....

The Bush administration, of course, supports trade deals with just about anyone, as it has made clear by promoting an accord with Colombia, where murdering a union activist entitles the killer to a get-out-of-jail-free card.

A lot of the journalists writing on this subject like to bring up Bolivia, Columbia, and Peru, with their reputations for corruption and drug-trafficking. Yes, those countries have huge problems. But what's more likely to solve them? An open Free Market with the U.S., or isolating their people inside their borders with no market for legit products? And I realize that two wrongs don't make a right, but our American tobacco kills far more of them than their cocaine kills of us.
A truly just and loving God would use that one fact as a reason to keep our products out of every other nation in the world.

Back to the point. Trent and Nancy will never be able to legislate as perfectly as the market. They aren't fast enough, or accurate enough. The more they legislate, the more they're going to screw things up. And Lord Have Mercy, they could screw up a brass donkey.

Trent and Nancy, by even the most conservative estimates, cost us $400,000 for every job saved in the United States Sugar industry. The liberal estimate is that they cost you $826,000 per job saved in the Sugar industry. That's how much you're overpaying for sugar. Three jobs are lost in the candy factories for every job saved on the Sugar plantations.

Irony warning: The conservative estimates on this issue are usually made by liberals; the liberal estimates are usually made by conservatives.....

So what will these people do, those who used to work for Sprocket USA, or for Big Sugar, if Trent and Nancy don't keep out their competitors?

No one has any idea. Some retrain. Some retire. And unfortunately, some never make the change.

When the buggy whip factories shut down because of Henry Ford, those displaced workers didn't starve.

When Bill Gates almost single-handedly, selfishly destroyed tens of thousands of American jobs in the American typewriter industry, we somehow absorbed the losses. Far more of us have been helped than were harmed.

So, as Mr. Meyerson asked, "why the rush on a trade bill?" It's because the future won't be divided between the "haves" and the "have-nots". The next big split isn't between the rich and the poor.

It's between the fast and the slow. One million people a month are leaving poverty in China because of free trade and Globalization. We're better off because of it.

We just need Harold, Trent, and Nancy to get out of the way.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Senator Charles Grassley Asks Ministries To Turn Over Financial Records Within One Month

The Lord has blessed....

Senate Panel Probes 6 Top Televangelists, Sen. Charles Grassley Asks Ministries To Turn Over Financial Records Within One Month - CBS News

CBS News has learned Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is investigating six prominent televangelist ministries for possible financial misconduct. Letters were sent Monday to the ministries demanding that financial statements and records be turned over to the committee by December 6th.

According to Grassley's office, the Iowa Republican is trying to determine whether or not these ministries are improperly using their tax-exempt status as churches to shield lavish lifestyles. The six ministries identified as being under investigation by the committee are led by: Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn.

Three of the six - Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar - also sit on the Board of Regents for the Oral Roberts University.

Good enough. For more on info on the unrelated scandal going down at Oral Roberts University, click here. Yes, I'm still irritated because Oral Roberts didn't heal my grandmother.
But can you imagine an Oral Roberts University Board of Regents meeting with that ghastly crew?
Has anyone ever had the nerve to call in sick?
Not with all those Alpha-Male Faith Healers taking your illness as an affront to their powers. Oral, Richard, Benny, Kenny, and Creflo would drop everything, fly to your bedside, lay hands all over you, and not cease praying till you were 100% healed.

Otherwise, people would talk.

Here's where it gets interesting, and not for the reasons you might think. There's a Dallas-based watchdog group that has been funneling information to the investigators for years:

The letters sent Monday were the culmination of a long investigation fueled in part by complaints from Ole Anthony, a crusader against religious fraud who operates the Dallas-based Trinity Foundation, which describes itself as a watchdog monitoring religious media, fraud and abuse. "We've been working with them for two years," Anthony told CBS News. "We have furnished them with enough information to fill a small Volkswagen."

Ole Anthony is also publisher of a satirical religous magazine called "The Wittenburg Door". This magazine was hilarious 25 years ago, but has lost something in the interval.

Here's some more info about Ole Anthony, linked here from a Dallas Observer article of about a year ago. I happened to read it shortly after it was published, and maybe that's why I don't think "The Wittenburg Door" is very funny any longer:

....allegations that Trinity is a cult began as early as the late '70s and have surfaced numerous times since, often by members' families, sometimes by the media. In 1989, Jeffrey Weiss of The Dallas Morning News wrote, "there are times when even to its members the foundation looks like a cult of personality."

More than a dozen former Trinity members interviewed by the Dallas Observer agree that Trinity bears many cult-like traits:
• Zealous commitment to a domineering leader not accountable to any authority.
• Discouragement or punishment of dissent and doubt.
• Use of mind-altering techniques such as denunciation sessions--the infamous hot seats.
• Dictation by leadership of how followers should act, sometimes in great detail.
• Breakdown of personal boundaries, such as denying members permission to marry.
• Encouraging a sense of elitism or special status for the group.
• Fostering an "us vs. them" mentality.

There's more. I think Ole Anthony is simply trying to tear down his more succesful role models:
ABC had accused (Robert) Tilton of manufacturing tears; people were noticing Anthony had the same skill. "I think Ole is a classic sociopath," Larry Ferguson says. "I don't think he knows what real emotions are."

But the biggest issue was the far-fetched stories. Anthony always had a new tale: In addition to being a spy, he'd been a helicopter pilot and crashed when he had a backpacking and survival company in Montana, and he was also in Vietnam setting up nuclear test stations and in Colombia trading coca leaves for intelligence and on and on.

The next question: Who is going to investigate the investigators?

Update from November 25, 2007.....You can click here for an update on The Oral Roberts University investigation.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Jack Croddy

You are paying the salaries of 11,500 Foreign Service Officers. Their positions are described in various places on the Net as "Dream Jobs".
But we're having a hard time finding enough Diplomats in the State Department to properly staff our Embassy in Iraq.

Click here for the full article.

One “Google” article on foreign service jobs with the State Department is titled “Dream Jobs.” It describes the income potential ($130,000 for senior diplomats) plus such perks as embassy housing, moving all belongings to and from their assignment, free air travel back to the U.S. during a two-year tour, observance of all U.S. and local holidays while overseas, and “hardship” incentives (extra pay) while serving in a country that creates some sort of privation. For example, diplomats serving in El Salvador received 5% extra pay and extra R&R because of the likelihood of earthquakes in that country. It should be noted that not all diplomats end up in Iraq or El Salvador. During a 20-year career or longer, many can expect assignments in such places as Paris, London, and Rome. Diplomats are also represented by a union, the American Foreign Service Association.

One of the reasons for the high pay is the element of risk. It's nothing like the risk a soldier faces, but there is a risk. Guess which job comes with the most money?

You've been paying a lot of money to someone named Jack Croddy who now wants no part of this risk....

At that contentious meeting of some 300 foreign service officers who oppose the “directed assignment” to Iraq, senior diplomat Jack Croddy said, “It’s one thing if someone believes in what’s going on over there and volunteers, but it’s another thing to send someone over there on a forced assignment. I’m sorry, but basically that’s a potential death sentence and you know it. Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?”

(Addition from November 6th....Yesterday morning, Diane Rehm from NPR was trying to peddle this as "the first non-voluntary conscription of government personnel since the Viet Nam war", or words to that effect. She's mistaken.
When you join the Foreign Service corps, you have officially volunteered for any time, any place, and sign similar paperwork to that signed by volunteering military personnel. End of addition)
I don't agree with everything that's been going on in Iraq. Most people don't.

Most people aren't pulling down 130K a year for possibly assuming the risk of going there, either.

I have an employee in the military reserves, Robert Crump, who recently learned that he has to go back to Iraq in March. (His photographs from Iraq are scattered through this site.) Robert has two sons. He's worried. But he signed up for the job, and he's going. I haven't heard a single complaint from him, and probably won't. This guy is worth his weight in gold.

I need Robert here in March, because he contributes to the success of our operation. I bet he contributes succesfully to the Army also. I'm sure he'd prefer to be sipping espressos in Paris on the left bank of the Seine with Jack Croddy and the Foreign Service Corps, but Robert doesn't have that option. Does Jack Croddy contribute to anything, anywhere? Can someone tell me? Is the State Department going to have a hard time replacing him, if he resigns in protest? What has Jack Croddy done for you lately?

Here's the part that makes me ill:

The ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, said all diplomats have a solemn responsibility to place the nation’s interest over their own, “and those that don’t are in the wrong business.” California congressman Duncan Hunter [R-Calif.] had an even blunter message: the balking diplomats should be fired and replaced by U.S. military troops who were discharged because of battle injuries, but who still want to serve their country. Hunter said there are plenty of U.S. soldiers and marines at Bethesda Naval Hospital and Walter Reed Army Hospital who would love to embark on new careers. Hunter said he met briefly with President Bush and that the president indicated he might consider the idea.

Lordy, what a mess.

Will someone please forward this post to Jack Croddy? If Jack Croddy does the right thing and resigns, we'll be need someone in Robert's job, starting in March. Jack Croddy is welcome to apply. But tell him not to expect 130 grand a year.

And he'll have some big shoes to fill.


"If you have come to these pages for laughter, may you find it.
If you are here to be offended, may your ire rise and your blood boil.
If you seek an adventure, may this story sing you away to blissful escape.
If you need to test or confirm your beliefs, may you reach comfortable conclusions.
All books reveal perfection, by what they are or what they are not.
May you find that which you seek, in these pages or outside them.
May you find perfection, and know it by name."

From "Lamb", by Christopher Moore
Now re-released hardback edition, just in time for Christmas.