Monday, March 31, 2014

Obama administration released 68,000 criminal illegal aliens back into the general American population in 2013

Rick Moran writes that
A recent Homeland Security report reveals that 68,000 illegal aliens who were deportable due to their being convicted of a crime, were instead released back into the general population.
in 2013. Read more here.

Found here.

We're doomed

Found here.

Beware what is done in the name of social justice

I found the video here.

We don't need more things. We need more meaning.

Ann Voskamp writes today about how the extra everybody is looking for is found in the ordinary. Ann tells her kids,
We’re trading in those worn out phrases: “I’m stressed” —- for “I’m grateful…” and “I’m overwhelmed” — for “I’m wowed.”

“I’m wowed here. I’m Grateful here. The Grace is here. The Extraordinary is here. God. is. here.”

We don’t need more things. We need more meaning. God. is. here.

The meaning unfolds in the ordinary Wow. Thank You. Yes.

Read more here.

A man of the right gets some things off his chest

John C. Wright decides to come up with a unified theory to understand leftism. He finds that leftism is characterized by a number of paradoxes.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Liberals need victims like shepherds need sheep

Russell Taylor writes,
You cannot on the one hand state that natural qualities should be irrelevant to people’s opinion of others and then make it the basis of special treatment.

The problems of homophobia and racism are very real, but nowhere are they more serious than in the heads of liberals, who need victims like shepherds need sheep. The last thing they want is to for the victim status afforded to certain groups to be withdrawn, because they have so much invested in it. They want to ring-fence minorities as if they’re protected species, then stand guard over them. It allows them to think of themselves as enlightened individuals in a prejudiced world – part of the thin blue line holding back all those slack-jawed hillbillies and suburban bigots, who are just itching to form a posse and run them queers and darkies out of town. Moreover, it reinforces the idea that our social problems are caused by insufficient control by the Left’s coalition of intellectuals, bureaucrats and caring professionals.

What I find most wretched about all this is that the more tolerant society becomes, the more desperate the race and gender hustlers become. In their determination to keep their pet victims from escaping the reservation, they spread resentment and division, and deny people an opportunity to be treated as equals. As for those of us who decry the creation of designated victim groups, our stock has steadily fallen over the years. As Thomas Sowell put it: “If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labelled a radical 50 years ago, a liberal 25 years ago, and a racist today.”

Read more here.

Thanks to Gerard for linking to Taylor's piece.

America headed for new heights?

Are America's best years behind us, or are we headed for new heights? that is the question posed by PBS's "Making Sense." They feature an article by Joel Kurtzman, who writes,
In my view, the United States is about to undergo a “growth spurt,” just as China, and much of the emerging world, are slowing down.

There are four forces that explain why the United States will be entering a period of very strong growth: our creativity is ahead of all other countries; there is a renewal of manufacturing; we have enormous newly accessible supplies of energy; and we are flush with investible capital.

I hope Kurtzman is right. He makes a very convincing case here.

Thanks to American Digest for linking to this PBS article.

Clever wiring

Gerard Vanderleun has reposted a very clever piece he wrote in 2005 about God and prayer.
As I was saying, prayer -- with or without God -- makes us stronger and our desires and abilities more focused just by happening. As a result, things you pray for tend to happen to you more often than things you don't pray for simply because your abilities are more concentrated on the outcome. Pretty clever wiring for a God who does not exist.

Read more here.

Ukraine: the border between West and East

The Vlog Brothers give us an historical context for Ukraine. "The number of mysterious poisonings has skyrocketed since Putin was elected."

Thanks to Gerard at American Digest.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Walk on by

That's what over 600 people did in Britain when two little girls quietly pretended to be lost in a busy shopping arcade. One person stopped to help. What would happen if this experiment were conducted in America? Read more here.

Children from Central America abandoned on their way to America

Yahoo News has this story from Mexico City:
Authorities in Mexico have found more than 370 children dumped by people smugglers while trying to make their way into the United States.

The National Institute of Migration (INM) said the huge number of children, from different nations in Central America, were discovered in just a single one-week period in March.

Read more here.

Continuing to be strong

A miracle in the making.

"Because of his smile"

Friday, March 28, 2014

America is no longer ready to stand in the defense of freedom?”

Liberal feminist Condi Rice asked that question at the National Republican Congressional Committee's annual dinner in Washington D.C. two nights ago. Stephen Hayes writes about her remarks here.

She hears for the first time in her life

Thanks to Ace, where we learn that
She was born with Usher syndrome, which made her deaf since birth and then struck her blind in her mid-20s.

Usher syndrome is...

a rare genetic disorder associated with a mutation in any one of 10 genes resulting in a combination of hearing loss and visual impairment and is a leading cause of deafblindness.

It is incurable at present. The condition is characterized by hearing loss and gradual loss of vision.

Science abuse

Kate Paulk is a scientist. She writes that science is a way of thinking.
The first important thing is that science is never “settled”. Science is about observing facts, searching for patterns, making predictions from those patterns and then trying to disprove the predictions. If – to take an example – the pro-Global Warming faction was actually engaging in science, they would be searching for data that disproved their theories.

Oh, and a “theory” in science does not mean the same thing as a theory in general discourse. To be a scientific theory, it has to be mathematically rigorous and disprovable. Otherwise it’s a hypothesis (aka educated guess). Scientific laws describe behavior that is sufficiently well understood nobody expects to ever see it disproved – although since Einstein published the Theory of Relativity, it’s become clear that laws need to also specify the environment in which they apply, since Newton’s laws break down under conditions that you won’t find in normal life.

Of course, this is an idealized view, but it’s the ideal that all scientists should be aiming for. Government money – particularly large amounts of Government money – tends to shut down the desire to reach the ideals. So does corporate money, but corporate entities usually don’t have the amount of power a government wields. At the same time, this stuff is expensive, but without it you don’t have things like antibiotics, flushing toilets, internets and so on. It’s not particularly glamorous either, and usually doesn’t look at all like you see on TV. It’s more like Dirty Jobs visiting Mythbusters (the Mythbusters team does good, sound science, but they don’t show the hours of tedium that goes behind what they do screen).

Go here to read some of her examples of science abuse by politicians.

How much is a dollar worth?

How much is a dollar worth, compared to previous years?
we effectively came off the Gold Standard in 1934, and all semblance of precious metals backing our money was dissolved in August of 1971 when Richard Nixon made it official. Tricky Dick said that, going forward, the dollar would only be backed by the full faith and credit of the US government.

That faith has not served us well. A dollar from 1971 is now worth 19 cents. When compared to the dollar from 1934, it's worth 4 cents.

Read more here.

Rescue Christians!

Human slaughterhouses. Bodies being hung like sheep and cattle. Meticulously cutting up bodies. Cooked people alive. Heads decapitated. Hundreds of naked bodies. Who is responsible? Initially it was the Free Syrian Army. Now it is the Levant, Dash, ISIS. Ritualized slaughters. The executioner makes a prayer, "We present these sacrificial offerings for you, Lord." Armenian genocide.

Watch out for the hog virus

While the cost of foodstuffs is greatly outperforming stocks, there is one in particular that stands out: the price of lean hogs. Tyler Durden notes the following reasons,
The same Ukraine story that is helping to keep a lid on equities is fueling a rally in wheat on concerns about Russian crops; the pigs in China are gobbling up U.S. soy, while the hog supply in the U.S. is being hurt by a nasty case of “porcine epidemic diarrhea virus.” The bottom line - Q1 has been the quarter of food inflation and financial asset deflation.
Durden, as usual, provides charts:

Bear market in guillotines

There is a bear market in guillotines in France. Tyler Durden reports that
French auctioneers are disappointed (but the elites may not be). Having sold for 193,000 Euros in 2011 (but unable to be shipped to its Russian buyer due to export license issues) this 'slightly used' Second Empire guillotine failed to reach its minimum bid of 40,000 Euros in an auction today in Nantes, France.

Under the bus?

Chris Christie follows the "throw them under the bus" strategy utilized many times by his buddy Barack Obama. He announced today the resignation of the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Read more here.

Russia's first major economic casualty since Putin's aggression

The world's largets aluminum company, Rusal, has warned that it may default on its debt. Where is the company located? Russia. They posted a 3.2 billion dollar loss. Read more here.

What happens when you're broke and someone takes advantage

Tyler Durden writes that
In a TV address to his divided nation, Ukraine's PM Yatsenyuk stunned the people by first suggesting heating prices would rise gradually, then confirming a plan that will see prices rise 100% in the next 2 years (and almost 200% by 2017) as the cost of imported Russian gas is expected to be around $500 (up from the current $84).

Read more here.

Changing the channel

Since I never watch t.v. at home, unless the Broncos are playing in the Super Bowl, and then the t.v. is turned off by halftime, when I go to the gym I like to see what's on Fox News. The first thing I do is change the channel, which is always on CNN for some reason. My changing the channel has never caused a fight or argument, since I live out in the suburbs, but I can imagine it might be controversial if I did it in Denver or Boulder. Do you do something similar?

Meekness required

Jennifer Rothschild tells us what it like to be 50 and blind since she was a teen.
Most days I need someone to help me with mail, help me find things I’ve misplaced, take me to appointments, shop, walk me into buildings and help with anything eyes usually take care of.

Dependence is one of the toughest parts of blindness – constantly reconciling my inner capabilities with my outer disability is trying.

People often innocently relate to me based on my outer disability, because it’s most obvious, and risk missing the real me that lives behind blind eyes.

That’s what often exacerbates the isolation of blindness; it prohibits real connection.

Over the years, to compensate for the dependence and potential isolation, I’ve tried to prove myself – be more capable, more organized, more whatever it took to make blindness a bridge that connects me to others, rather than a barrier of separation.

So, an ordinary day for me requires meekness.

I’m learning to bridle my strength, humble myself and let others be strong in my weakness.

An ordinary day in the dark challenges my desire to perform perfectly. It demands I reconcile that who I am and what I struggle with are not the same thing.

Blindness causes me to affirm my identity is in God alone – not in what I can or cannot do.

Darkness is benevolent in that way. It is what God uses to keep me acquainted with the liberating truth that I am who He says I am – not what I label myself.

I pray and sometimes cry…but I always leave the momentary mirror confrontation stronger, softer and more determined. Why? Because God really is strong in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12: 8, 9) and if we seek Him, we really do find Him—even in our toughest moments.

The tough things in life teach us, train us and tenderize us. They make us wiser and more equipped to love others like they really need to be loved — with empathy and honesty.

When we’re most acquainted with our needs, we are most drawn to God’s provision. When we feel our tears, we can better feel the pain of others.

Every day in darkness there are a million reasons to get bitter and quit. But, there are also better reasons to persevere. The path, even in the dark, is purposeful.

If we quit, get bitter or arrogant, we miss out on the higher gifts — like dependence on Him, deeper intimacy, meekness and empathy.

Trust that God is just…He has a plan and a purpose.

May He give you the treasures of darkness…Isaiah 45: 3

Read more over at Ann Voskamp's blog.

Self-absorbed thinking: the root cause of addiction?

Bruce Johnson and Maria Pagano have conducted a
longitudinal study of 195 juvenile offenders that will be released in May in Alcohol Treatment Quarterly.

Young people in our study of juvenile offenders seem to lack purpose and are overwhelmed by feelings of not fitting in. Meantime, the legalization of marijuana in several states, the flood of prescription medications, and the availability of harder street drugs gives youth wide access to mind-altering substances.

There are two key elements of the 12-step program AA uses: helping others and God-consciousness. Those who help people during treatment—taking time to talk to another addict who is struggling, volunteering, cleaning up, setting up for meetings, or other service projects—are, according to our research, statistically more likely to stay sober and out of jail in the six months after discharge, a high-risk period in which 70% relapse.

Increasing God-consciousness also appears to produce results. Our study showed daily spiritual experiences predicted abstinence, increased social behavior and reduced narcissistic behavior. Even those who enter addiction treatment without a religious background can benefit from an environment where they are encouraged to seek a higher power and serve others.

Nearly half of youth who self-identified as agnostic, atheist or nonreligious at treatment admission claimed a spiritual affiliation two months later. This change correlated with a decreased likelihood of testing positive for alcohol and drugs during treatment.

A connection with the divine and service to others both seem to enhance sobriety. That's because they provide what young people like Katie have been missing: a deep sense of purpose, opportunities to provide help to other people, connections with others, and the chance to make a difference in the world. This reduces self-absorbed thinking, something AA cites as a root cause of addiction.

Why might this combination work? Neuroscientists, including Andrew Newberg in his 2010 book "How God Changes Your Brain," are beginning to uncover what happens to the mind when the unconscious neurological foundations of addiction are short-circuited by spiritual awakening and a new focus on helping others. Neuronal pathways in the brain appear to be instantaneously realigned.

Research suggests that addicts may be prisoners of the left hemisphere of their brain, which tends to ruminate on problems such as social anxiety. But when their right brains are triggered by an intense emotional experience, unexpected solutions appear. Spiritual experience can be an important catalyst to this kind of brain rewiring.

How does a person rewire their own brain? There are many paths, but some adolescents agree with "Allen," who told us, "I need a power greater than myself to enter my life."
Read more here.

Government picking winners and losers

Does the FCC want some broadcast television stations to go dark, while allowing cable and satellite operators to continue to thrive? Fred Campbell writes,
A big broadcast selloff occurred after the FCC issued a public notice on March 12 announcing new standards for reviewing broadcast transactions. Analysts have since determined that limiting television sharing agreements would weaken the over-the-air television market, especially in smaller markets.

Read more here.

Did Putin do the Euro zone a favor?

Austan Goolsbee writes that
The fundamental weakness of the euro zone is that it relies on hard-hit economies—such as Greece and Spain—to endure austerity packages for years to try to raise productivity and cut labor costs enough to make the fixed exchange rate within Europe sustainable. The skeptics predict that eventually these smaller, weaker economies will just give up—unless Germany, with its booming exports, subsidizes them over the long term, a prospect the Germans vehemently oppose.

Russia's moves are particularly menacing to the many recent additions to the European Union that did time behind the Iron Curtain, such as Bulgaria, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Hungary, Romania, and the Czech Republic. These very same countries are next in line to join the euro zone, but they have resisted the required tough conditions such as meeting inflation, deficit, debt and interest-rate targets.

The political will of these countries to actually bite the necessary bullets to join the euro zone had been nonexistent—killed by the euro zone crises of the last several years. Yet following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, they're back. Poland, after years of delaying conversion to the euro, now says it's seriously considering it.

For European economic integration to succeed, the countries with the weakest economies must be willing to endure pain in order to remain in or join the euro zone. Of the 15 countries in the EU with unemployment rates above 9% in the latest Eurostat statistics, almost half share a border with Russia or Ukraine. Of the 13 countries with unemployment below 9%, only one does (Romania).

The Russians seem to have found the one thing the EU has been searching for all along: a lasting way to convince peripheral economies to endure the sacrifices needed to be part of the euro zone. All it took was a reminder of how bad things can get for countries on their own.

Contrast the news on the banking systems as an example. Last week, Europeans announced a deal on a comprehensive banking plan that will give the European Central Bank resolution authority over all banks in the euro zone. Local authorities will surrender some national autonomy in a crisis and that may be unpopular. Alternatively, the Russians announced that Ukrainian banks will be treated as foreign in Crimea and held to Russian laws. The currency will convert to the ruble, and no one in Ukraine knows for sure whether their assets are safe. Bank runs were widespread in the days before the invasion.

Putin and Obama agree on one thing: America is not exceptional

Peggy Noonan writes that Putin is different than previous Russian leaders in that he is not anti-God; he is pro-God,
pro the old church of the older, great Russia.

Putin gave a speech last week at the Kremlin that Noonan has read and analyzed. Putin said that the world is less stable because of American "rule of the gun," and that Americans think they are exceptional and can "decide the destinies of the nations of the world."

Putin, of course, favors "Eurasian integration," and alleges that the West has opposed that. Noonan believes that we are in a new stage of relations with Russia, one in which Putin is more comfortable in confrontation.

Read more here.

Turkey prepares for elections

Didn't I read somewhere that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is considered to be closest to Obama of all foreign leaders? Didn't Obama host him in Washington last year? Well, Erdogan is facing a new election. To prepare for it, first he shut down Twitter access, now he has shut down You Tube and barred local media access. Joe Parkinson and Emre Peker write in the WSJ that Erdogan's actions have
consolidated Turkey's place in a small club of nations with draconian Internet censorship rules, including China, Syria and North Korea.

Photo by Associated Press

"Another desperate and depressing move in Turkey," Neelie Kroes, the European Commission vice president, said in a tweet. In Washington, senators introduced a bipartisan resolution condemning Turkey for blocking social media sites and stifling free speech.

Reuters photo of a man in Istanbul trying to access You Tube.

The apparent reason for the ban of You Tube is that a high level meeting was bugged, revealing Turkish plans to engage militarily with Syria.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

This is cool

Walmart sues VISA

Did you know that VISA has charged Walmart "swipe fees" amounting to $350 billion dollars over the last nine years every time a customer pays with a credit card? Walmart has filed suit, asking $5 billion in damages.


Guest post
Suzann Darnall

This seems to be the way far too many people in the world think. That the rules do not apply to them. They simply go about doing as they wish. If a law, regulation, or societal convention is inconvenient . . . ignore it! This is the philosophy of most bullies.

This is a problem for the rest of the people in the world. Because others all too often fall victim to what happens after the bully goes ahead and does as he wishes.

Not that all bullies are male. Mean girls are bullies . . . we just generally use different terms for them. Just as there are many different terms to use for male bullies as well. But, for simplification I am going with bully and he. Besides, it is what fits best with my current train of thoughts. He is definitely front and center of what I am thinking right now! He is most definitely a bully!!!

Bullies usually offer justifications for their actions:

I did it because ___ (fill in the blank) ___.
It was ___ (fill in the blank) ___'s fault.
I wanted ___ (fill in the blank) ___.
I have a right to ___ (fill in the blank) ___.
___ (fill in the blank) ___ can't tell me what to do.

The excuses are as numerous as the bullies who proffer them. And, just as useless. I have no use for bullies. I think the world would be a much better place without them. I think bullies are dangerous. Much more dangerous than most people are truly aware. And, part of this is because far too many people are not really aware of what bullies are often doing.

While the kid saying mean things or hitting others on the playground is a bully, he is not nearly so dangerous as the girl who slowly and deliberately intimidates all other girls in her class into kowtowing to her as the queen bee. The mean kid will be seen as a bully by everyone and will be dealt with. The girl using lies and intimidation often glides under the radar because she is well-behaved, a good student, and seen as a leader. But, leadership is easy to obtain when using deceptive bullying tactics.

Hitler was a murderous dictator . . . and a bully. Dictators are one of the most atrocious kinds of bullies. Rapists are bullies. Many criminals are bullies. Most crime is a type of bullying. It is usually about "I want" and power. Two things that drive most bullies to do what they do.

Putin is most definitely a bully. What else would one expect from a former KGB officer? It was Soviet Survival 101 to become a bully. So, I am in no way surprised that he is employing land grab tactics and beginning Russian expansion all over again. It is what he knows. It is how he was raised!

But, what most people seemingly don't realize is that Obama is just as much a bully in his own way. He is just a weaker and less effective bully on the world stage. But, here at home, against those with less power, he is going at it hammer-n-tongs. He is trying very hard to beat the average American into submission with regulation, taxation, and intimidation.

People tend to forget that bullies can oft times be charming. They mostly think about the big ol' kid on the playground beating up smaller children for their lunch money. Hitler was apparently considered to be quite charming by those who knew him personally. Putin can be very charming when it is to his benefit. Obama has charmed an entire nation into electing his ineffective butt into the Oval Office twice. But, all the charm in the world does not make a bully anything less than a bully. It just makes them a charming bully.

A bully might be an elementary school student, a sorority girl, an abusive spouse, an online stalker, a politician, or a dictator. They might be male or female. They might be mean or charming. While they might not always be deadly, they will always be dangerous.

Oh, by the way, I think Hillary is a bully. She might be petite, blonde, and elderly, but I have no doubt she is as dangerous and vindictive as any bully to ever stand on the American or world stage. Possibly even deadly . . . if you consider Benghazi! But, hey, "What does it matter"???

© Suzann C. Darnall, MARCH 2014

Some exciting new Obamacare plans unveiled

Guest post
Curt Dale

I saw Sen Mark Warner (D-Va), on FOX News, proposing a new tier for the Obamacare exchanges. It would be another offering in the ever more silly looking efforts to salvage the worst law ever cobbled in Washington, DC. Previously, there have been Gold, Silver and Bronze plans. Those don't seem to be selling too many folks. So, Warner and Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) have floated a COPPER PLAN. It would cover about 50% of medical costs.

Let me help you two nummy Obama sycophants! I want to give you additional plans to help Obama and Sibelius prove to the non-information citizens and illegals that this disaster is not a disaster.

I think the POTMETAL PLAN would be very helpful to Obama. It would be even cheaper, easier to break, won't last long, and can be polished up to look like it's far more valuable. Then, I propose the SILLYPUTTY PLAN which can be made into different forms within a minute, allowing the OBMACARE NAVIGATORS to always be right in what they offer. What they say will be meaningless, just like now, but that will never be proven, as it will look like a different plan before the person can get to the doctor-if a doctor is even included. Could be a Kenyan medicine man, of course! Now, the PLAYDOUGH PLAN is the least expensive. Actually, it's almost free. You just make up an imaginary plan, and pretend you have one. It doesn't get you any care, but it allows Obama to make the claim that you signed up.

OK, Mark(s), I've made it easy for you. POTMETAL, SILLYPUTTY, and PLAYDOUGH Plans will nearly double the exchanges' offerings.

Oh, let me help you politically, too. There is the DOGCRAP plan. It, like the PLAYDOUGH PLAN, is useless, but is totally free and represented by fake dog droppings. Make it smell like real dog poop, then blame it all on the Republicans and George Bush.

Now, Senators, this is an Obamacare Plan that is just as useful and makes even more sense than what you two, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Hussein Obama pushed down our throats. It's half a page as opposed to 25,000 pages plus departmental directives by the millions of pages.

Is what you just read bordering on insanity? Sure! Of course it is! But you got to read it before it was passed into law and so did we. And, so is everything about Obamacare insane! Well, that's not too precise. EVERYTHING OBAMA HAS DONE,I repeat, EVERYTHING, is insane. Benghazi, Crimea, Ukraine, Syria, Georgia (FSR), Obamacare, IRS, NSA, Cash for Clunkers, all the Bailouts. EVERYTHING he touches turns to chaos.

© Colonel Curtis D. Dale, PhD USAF (Ret), MARCH 2014, Parker, Colorado

God's love for us

Ann Voskamp writes today of the weightlessness of God's grace.
Jesus takes the infinite pain of all of this — because of His infinite love for all of us.

Jesus takes the weight of the Body, Jesus takes the things said and done, the things we wish could take back.

Jesus takes the weight of the regrets of things left undone, the things never done that we wish had been done, the things that weigh heaviest of all.

Jesus takes it all — Jesus takes the infinite pain of all of this — because of His infinite love for all of us.

Governing by executive decree or court-ordered obedience

Daniel Henninger observes that the left wins elections, but they cannot govern! Writing about disasterous policies emanating from theories about global warming and health care, Henninger writes,
This isn't the 1930s, and smart people on the left might come to grips with the fact that the one-grand-scheme-fits-all compulsion is out of sync with the individualization that technology lets people design into their lives today.

Rather than resolve the complexities of public policy in the world we inhabit, the left's default is to simply acquire power, then cram down what they want to do with one-party votes or by fiat, figuring they can muddle through the wreckage later. Thus the ObamaCare mandates. Thus candidate de Blasio's determination, cheered on by the city's left-wing establishment, to jam all its kids through an antique public-school system. The ObamaCare mandates are a mess, and the war on charter schools is an embarrassment.

Making the unworkable work by executive decree or court-ordered obedience is one way to rule, and maybe they like it that way. But it isn't governing.

Read more here.

So now we won't even get to see our teenagers' faces?

You probably heard about Facebook's $2 billion acquisition this week of goggle-maker Oculus? Oculus makes a headset, called Rift, that today is a visual device for playing videogames.

Did you know that the founder of
Oculus, of Irvine, Calif., was founded in 2012 by Palmer Luckey, now 21 years old, who was home schooled and got his start in tech repairing old Apple Inc. iPhones.?

Do we want a farmer to head the Senate Judiciary Committee? Yes!

How is this going to impress Iowa voters?

Iowa Democrat Rep. Bruce Braley made these comments in speaking to a bunch of lawyers in Texas. Supposedly, Braley was the frontrunner to replace retiring Senator Tom Harkin. If this You Tube video is seen by many voters in Iowa, he might not do so well. He thought he could trust a room full of lawyers in the digital age, but somebody had a camera! Now if the Republicans can manage to run someone who won't stick his foot in his mouth...

Who will miss the future?

Who will win the war for the tech ecosystem, the "platform?" Will it be Facebook, Google, Apple, or Amazon? Reed Albergotti and Rolfe Winkler report in today's Wall Street Journal on what these companies are doing to try to compete for the future.

On Facebook's campus in Menlo Park, Calif., the front of a sign shows its signature "like" button, a thumbs-up signal. But the back of the sign, obscured by trees, still displays the name of Sun Microsystems Inc., which used to occupy the campus, and was swallowed by Oracle Corp in 2009. Facebook left Sun's name on the sign to remind it of what happens to companies that fail to innovate.

What does Putin want?

“The jealous and intolerant eye of the Kremlin can distinguish, in the end, only vassals and enemies, and the neighbors of Russia, if they do not wish to be one, must reconcile themselves to being the other.” So said George F. Kennan of Russia in the last century. But, Michale Totten writes that
Russia had been behaving that way long before Kennan figured it out, and it’s still behaving that way today.

So when Ukraine could no longer tolerate being Putin’s vassal and overthrew his proxy Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine instantly moved into the “enemy” column and is being treated accordingly.

What he most fears is that Ukraine might join NATO, removing yet another buffer state between himself and the West and kiboshing his plans for the Eurasian Union, a euphemism for a 21st century Russian empire. (Does anyone seriously believe Kazakhstan will be an equal partner with Moscow?)

Keeping his former Ukrainian vassal out of NATO will be easy now even if a militant anti-Russian firebrand comes to power in Kiev. The Crimean referendum—whether it was free and fair or rigged is no matter—creates a disputed territory conflict that will never be resolved in Ukraine’s favor. It will freeze and fester indefinitely. There isn’t a chance that NATO would accept a member that has a disputed territory conflict with Russia. No chance at all. Ukraine is as isolated as it could possibly be from the West without getting re-absorbed into Russia entirely.

Putin did the same thing to Georgia in 2008 when he lopped off the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and he did it for the same reason.

Totten concludes,
protesting and sanctions and diplomatic hand-wringing will have no effect whatsoever.

Read more here.

Legacy of a leftist child welfare nightmare

Do you know about Romania's history of neglecting children? Meghan Collins Sullivan writes,
The execution of Ceausescu and his wife on Christmas Day 1989 led to the discovery of the country’s most disturbing secret—enough abandoned children to make up a city had been living in squalor for years, packed into unsanitary orphanages without appropriate resources, care, or stimulation.

Under Ceausescu’s deranged despotism, abortion and birth control were outlawed. He demanded that all women bear at least five children in an effort to create a caste of “worker bees” that would labor in the hive of communism. Invasive investigations of women were conducted at workplaces and elsewhere to track their individual progress in making babies. The government pledged to raise the children whose parents were too poor or incapable of caring for them. Some women never wanted the children they had been ordered to conceive in the first place and were happy to offload them. But many thought their babies would have a better life if given up—or that they had the option of collecting them later if they found the means to properly care for them.

The legacy of this nightmare is very much present in Romania today—and is one of the reasons, nearly twenty-five years after the death of Ceausescu and the bizarre and brutal system he created, that so many Romanian children continue to be abandoned while adult survivors struggle to make a life. A lingering social welfare mentality, coupled with lack of progressive approaches to education, a struggling economy, and halfhearted commitment to rule of law, pressurize the situation.

But if institutionalized children are moved into families early enough, some of the ill effects of neglect in these first years of life can be reversible. Children placed in foster care tested higher on IQ tests than those in orphanages, the BEIP study showed. They developed greater attachment to caregivers, exhibited less anxiety and depression, showed improvements in language skills, and had increased brain activity.

Romania had issued a moratorium on international adoption in 2001, finally outlawing it in 2005 under pressure from EU representatives as the country made its bid for entry into the union. Romanian officials at the time said they could not effectively monitor and control the process, as rumors swirled of babies being sold at auction. But adoption inside Romania hasn’t been a success. Annually, between seven hundred and nine hundred children are adopted of the twelve hundred to fourteen hundred considered “adoptable,” a tiny fraction of the orphans within the system.

Mothers have the option of leaving their newborns at the hospital when they go home. They do not have to give up the rights to the child at this point—or ever. And, as the law states, if the parents or relatives don’t renounce their relationship with the child, the child cannot be adopted. Some are eventually moved into foster care, while others remain at the hospital until they are two, when they can be sent to orphanages.

Read more here.

Hillary: An expert at exploiting gender

Few, if any, political observers know and understand Hillary Clinton better than Dick Morris. That is why I subscribe to his newsletter. In yesterday's newsletter, Morris explains how Hillary uses gender to advance her political fortunes.
Clinton's use of her gender as cover was evident when she conceded her battle for the Democratic Party's nomination in 2008. Her line was that her candidacy had made "18 million cracks in the hardest and highest glass ceiling," despite the prize of the presidency eluding her. It was not Barack Obama who beat her, nor her own limitations. She was defeated by the "glass ceiling," and her campaign was a common effort of all feminists to crack it.

Clinton approaches her political career as if it were a class action lawsuit on behalf of all women, rather than an effort by one woman to get elected.

As my wife, Eileen McGann, and I wrote in our book Rewriting History: "When Hillary is attacked, she frequently parries the charges by arguing that it is all women who are under attack rather than just one in particular. ... Criticized for her business dealings as a lawyer, she treats it as an attack on all professional women. Knocked for tolerating her husband's adultery in her bid to hold on to political power, she gathers around her all women who want to protect their privacy. Slammed with allegations of insider trading in the commodities market, she cloaks herself in the garb of every woman seeking financial security for her family."

Now, as she again floats the trial balloon of her candidacy, she gains a key advantage by making her ambition the generic goal of all women -- to elect one of their own as president.

But it is this woman, not all women, who is about to run. It was this secretary of State who neglected the security of her Benghazi outpost. It was this person who naively called for a reset with Russia. She was the one who initially advocated healthcare reform legislation, which served as the foundation of the ill-fated ObamaCare. It was Clinton, as secretary of State, who had to have known about and approved NSA wiretaps on foreign leaders.

Not all women. Just her.

I predict that Hillary's most formidable opponent when she runs again in 2016 will be Dick Morris. Wouldn't you like to know why he is such a foe of hers? Whatever she did to him, she is going to live to regret it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How the Taliban and Pakistan's religious leaders work together

Carlotta Gall writes about how the Taliban and Pakistan's religious parties work together in madrasas in Pakistan to raise an army of militants.
The linchpin in this two-pronged and at times apparently oppositional strategy is the ISI. It’s through that agency that Pakistan’s true relationship to militant extremism can be discerned — a fact that the United States was slow to appreciate, and later refused to face directly, for fear of setting off a greater confrontation with a powerful Muslim nation.
The ISI is Pakistan's main intelligence service.

Read more here.

thanks to Scott Ott for linking to this piece.

He ain't getting by this woman!

FOX 13 News
There is more to this story. After this man left the train, he attacked a police officer, who, along with help from other riders and officers, subdued the man and arrested him.

"If Obama can't lead, can he at least keep quiet about it?"

Victor Davis Hanson writes is a historian who knows a thing or two about military history. He writes that
China and Russia are no more impressed with empty bluster today than Japan was in 1941.

Hanson warns,
Unless the United States in any meaningful way backs up its current flamboyant “pivot” to Asia with additional ships, air wings, and manpower, there is no sense in chest-pounding our resolve to our increasingly orphaned allies, who may soon have to choose between acquiescing to China and going nuclear.

China will not be impressed that we talk confidently even as we cut defense — just as imperial Japan was not awed when aged American battleships were ordered westward to Pearl Harbor as a gesture.

Likewise, in the late 1940s, “containing Red China” meant nothing when the postwar U.S. had canceled new aircraft carriers, even as it still deployed on the cheap vulnerable small garrisons of troops all over Asia.

President Obama’s pivot has now joined his stable of deadlines, red lines, step-over lines, and “I don’t bluff” and “I’m not kidding” assertions. The problem with such rhetoric is not just that it is empty, but that it is predictably empty. If Obama cannot lead, can he at least keep quiet about it?

A Russia, China, North Korea, or Iran is not just unimpressed but encouraged, seeing such sermonizing as an assurance of nothing to follow. Obama’s threats are like a gambler’s involuntary tic, which astute poker players read always as a forewarning of a bluffed empty hand to follow.

The Japanese, Taiwanese, South Koreans, Filipinos, and Australians are more likely to assume their democracies are safe when they see a U.S. carrier that means business than when they hear the president or his secretary of state lecture an aggressor about its unacceptable 19th-century behavior, the Third World about its homophobia, or the world about the dangers of climate change.

Hanson compares Putin with Obama. "Being weak is sometimes dangerous (Putin). Being loud, self-righteous, and weak is always very dangerous indeed (Obama).

Read more here.

How did we end up with these guys rising to the top?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Saying no to your teen

Ann Voskamp has a conversation with her teen daughter.
There are two of you, really. The Short-Term You —- and the Long-Term You. The Now-You — and the Becoming You.

The Immediate You. And the Ultimate You.

And if I only loved the right now Immediate You —- and let The Immediate You come and go and do whatever she wanted, whatever made her Feel All The Good Things, whatever made her happiest, I wouldn’t be loving the Ultimate You.

Please hear what All The Parents finally figure out, what I finally realize my own mama was saying:

This isn’t fun for me.

There isn’t one fibre in my soft, pulsing mama heart that likes seeing the short-term Immediate You Hurt. But I love the long-term Ultimate You too wide and deep and long — the you that can ultimately be —- that I’m willing to take the ire and anger of your Immediate Self right now.

I’m willing to take your anger and your eye rolls and feel the sting of it all on the soft insides of my mother heart. I’m willing to let my own Immediate Me hurt with your Immediate You — us both hurting together —- because I love the Ultimate You and am committed to the Ultimate You and won’t sell out the long-term Ultimate You.

Read more here.

Obsessive compulsive

A man got of prison Friday fifteen years after robbing a show store in Toms River, New Jersey. Saturday he took a bus from Atlantic City 40 miles to Toms River, where he robbed the same shoe store once again. Read more here.

Earthquakes threatening Chile

Do you know which country is the top producer of copper? Chile! Where? In the mountainous northern part, where there have been 300 earthquakes in the last week! Luis Andres Henao reports that
Chile is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries. A magnitude-8.8 quake and ensuing tsunami in central Chile in 2010 killed more than 500 people, destroyed 220,000 homes, and washed away docks, riverfronts and seaside resorts.

The strongest earthquake ever recorded on Earth also happened in Chile — a magnitude-9.5 tremor in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people.

The 2010 quake released so much energy it shortened the Earth's day slightly by changing the planet's rotation.

Read more here.

Did he have this many when he went to Cairo?

The Guardian is reporting that President Obama is arriving in Belgium with a
900-strong entourage, including 45 vehicles and three cargo planes, and attend EU and Nato summits.
He will be there 24 hours! Read more here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Living in this moment

Ann Voskamp writes, that
The best use of time is to freely love.
The best way to love is to spend time.
The best time to love is always right now.

A pail with a pinhole loses as much as the pail pushed right over.
A whole life can be lost in minutes wasted, small moments missed.

When I am present to the Presence of God meeting us in this moment, I am not worrying, I am not regretting, I am not chaffing, griping, fuming, fretting.

Read more here.

Are we overprotecting our kids?

How much have childhood norms changed since you were a kid? Hanna Rosin writes in The Atlantic,
I used to puzzle over a particular statistic that routinely comes up in articles about time use: even though women work vastly more hours now than they did in the 1970s, mothers—and fathers—of all income levels spend much more time with their children than they used to. This seemed impossible to me until recently, when I began to think about my own life. My mother didn’t work all that much when I was younger, but she didn’t spend vast amounts of time with me, either. She didn’t arrange my playdates or drive me to swimming lessons or introduce me to cool music she liked. On weekdays after school she just expected me to show up for dinner; on weekends I barely saw her at all. I, on the other hand, might easily spend every waking Saturday hour with one if not all three of my children, taking one to a soccer game, the second to a theater program, the third to a friend’s house, or just hanging out with them at home. When my daughter was about 10, my husband suddenly realized that in her whole life, she had probably not spent more than 10 minutes unsupervised by an adult. Not 10 minutes in 10 years.

Actions that would have been considered paranoid in the ’70s—walking third-graders to school, forbidding your kid to play ball in the street, going down the slide with your child in your lap—are now routine. In fact, they are the markers of good, responsible parenting. One very thorough study of “children’s independent mobility,” conducted in urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods in the U.K., shows that in 1971, 80 percent of third-graders walked to school alone. By 1990, that measure had dropped to 9 percent, and now it’s even lower. When you ask parents why they are more protective than their parents were, they might answer that the world is more dangerous than it was when they were growing up. But this isn’t true, or at least not in the way that we think. For example, parents now routinely tell their children never to talk to strangers, even though all available evidence suggests that children have about the same (very slim) chance of being abducted by a stranger as they did a generation ago. Maybe the real question is, how did these fears come to have such a hold over us? And what have our children lost—and gained—as we’ve succumbed to them?

Are your kids engaging in any of these six types of play?
(1) Exploring heights, or getting the “bird’s perspective,” as she calls it—“high enough to evoke the sensation of fear.” (2) Handling dangerous tools—using sharp scissors or knives, or heavy hammers that at first seem unmanageable but that kids learn to master. (3) Being near dangerous elements—playing near vast bodies of water, or near a fire, so kids are aware that there is danger nearby. (4) Rough-and-tumble play—wrestling, play-fighting—so kids learn to negotiate aggression and cooperation. (5) Speed—cycling or skiing at a pace that feels too fast. (6) Exploring on one’s own.

Children are born with the instinct to take risks in play, because historically, learning to negotiate risk has been crucial to survival; in another era, they would have had to learn to run from some danger, defend themselves from others, be independent. Even today, growing up is a process of managing fears and learning to arrive at sound decisions. By engaging in risky play, children are effectively subjecting themselves to a form of exposure therapy, in which they force themselves to do the thing they’re afraid of in order to overcome their fear. But if they never go through that process, the fear can turn into a phobia.

The gap between what people fear (abduction by a stranger) and what’s actually happening (family turmoil and custody battles) is revealing. What has changed since the 1970s is the nature of the American family, and the broader sense of community. For a variety of reasons—divorce, more single-parent families, more mothers working—both families and neighborhoods have lost some of their cohesion. It is perhaps natural that trust in general has eroded, and that parents have sought to control more closely what they can—most of all, their children.

Ask any of my parenting peers to chronicle a typical week in their child’s life and they will likely mention school, homework, after-school classes, organized playdates, sports teams coached by a fellow parent, and very little free, unsupervised time. Failure to supervise has become, in fact, synonymous with failure to parent. The result is a “continuous and ultimately dramatic decline in children’s opportunities to play and explore in their own chosen ways,” writes Peter Gray, a psychologist at Boston College and the author of Free to Learn.

Millennials are said to be characterized by an increase in narcissism, depression, and a decrease in empathy. Rosin writes,
Kyung-Hee Kim, an educational psychologist at the College of William and Mary and the author of the 2011 paper “The Creativity Crisis.” Kim has analyzed results from the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking and found that American children’s scores have declined steadily across the past decade or more. The data show that children have become:

less emotionally expressive, less energetic, less talkative and verbally expressive, less humorous, less imaginative, less unconventional, less lively and passionate, less perceptive, less apt to connect seemingly irrelevant things, less synthesizing, and less likely to see things from a different angle.

The largest drop, Kim noted, has been in the measure of “elaboration,” or the ability to take an idea and expand on it in a novel way.

Thanks to Conor Friedersdorf for recommending this piece by Rosin.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

White House control of the press

A CBS reporter from Arizona, Catherine Anaya, reported that Jay Carney told her that at least some of the White House reporters submit their questions to him in advance.

Did you also know that the White House barred the press from covering Michelle Obama's trip to China this week?

Special protection

Donna Miller writes,
“So,” say the liberals to little girls, “you can BE bossy, but we won’t let people call you bossy, because that might keep you from wanting to be bossy a leader.” We won’t ban the behavior, we’ll just ban the speech that is used to describe it. That way, in their reasoning, little girls won’t feel bad about themselves when they are being bossy. After all, little girls need special protection that little boys don’t."

Another mom encourages her child to find her passion

I'm not the only one who is impressed by Jacob Barnett and his mom. Catherine Wilkinson also writes about them at the Victory Girls Blog. Catherine shares her own similar story of helping her own daughter find her passion. She asks,
How do we know that being autistic is NOT a blessing? Maybe it’s a blessing we cannot or will not recognize because we “normal” people focus on what’s “wrong”or not “normal”. Or “different”.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Thanks to Ann Voskamp for posting this video.

Wisdom from a kid

"There's plenty of reasons to dance. You've just gotta look for 'em.

Just treat everybody like it's their birthday.

The biggest mess up? Not forgiving each other's mess ups!

You were made from love, to be love, to spread love!

Remember to let everybody know you're glad their here.

You're awake. You're awesome. Live like it!

Give more people reason to dance!"

Thanks to Ann Voskamp for posting this video.

A marvelous mom and son

This mom is very impressive. God bless her! "Just because it's harder doesn't mean you can't do it!

They had given up hope for Jacob, and I hadn't!

I just followed Jacob, and surrounded him with whatever he seemed to love. The more I did that, the more it worked!

Don't let that label define you! What is he good at? What is he passionate about? Let that define them!

Give people time to create something! Create motivation that is self-driven!"

Thanks to another mom for posting this!

Why Americans are getting fatter

I know very few of my readers will bother to click on this link or learn from it, based on past posts I have done on healthy eating. But hey, it's my blog, and my only responsibility is to post what I think is true.

Thanks to Webutante for linking to this very helpful information.

Supply, demand, and the long reach of a remarkable little pill

How did the market value of sex decline so rapidly?

Thanks to Webutante for posting this provocative little video. Do you agree with the points being made in the video?

In support of courage

My blogging friend Webutante, writing under her real name, Jane Whitson, has written a piece published on the Casper Star-Tribune OP/Ed page. Jane writes here in support of the courageous book written by author Stephen Jimenez about the murder of Matthew Shepard.

Discerning in the moment what's the right thing to do

thanks to Webutante for posting this video.

Envy is getting us nowhere

John Tamney writes,
If China can rebound from Mao, the U.S. can and will surely rebound from Obama.

To be blunt, if the Republicans can't field a candidate in 2016 to beat Hillary Clinton and all her baggage, or another Democratic Party candidate carrying the heavy weight of President Obama's numerous failings on his or her shoulders, they'll only have themselves to blame. Logic dictates a Republican victory in light of Obama's implosion, and if not, a logical answer for why will be the ongoing failure on the part of the GOP to look in the mirror, and wake up to the fact that the electorate got it right in firing an aimless, increasingly statist, and largely anti-growth party in 2006 and 2008.

The late great free-market columnist Warren Brookes long ago wrote that envy "is the single most impoverishing attitude of thought." The Republicans thankfully aren't the Party of envy as their reliably dense competitors in the Democratic Party are, but as evidenced by all their wailing about President Obama and Hillary Clinton, their thinking is similarly impoverishing. Rather than spending so much time obsessing about their opponents, and elevating them in the process, they should rejoice in their failures that are discrediting big government with each passing day, and that will reward the Republicans if they develop a clue about how economies grow.

Thanks to Webutante for reposting Mr. Tamney's provocative post.

Giving in to tyranny

In the early years of this blog I wrote a lot about our experiences being foster parents. I made up fictitious nicknames for the children as I wrote about them here in this blog, but I did post photos of them.

It all started when we discovered that a little boy I nicknamed here in the blog as "Linebacker Dude" was killing one-by-one little kittens in our barn. We told our foster care agency's workers about it, and tried to get him placed at a treatment facility where he would be supervised much more closely than we could here in our family home. An "incident report" was filed, and that brought out the county caseworker to "investigate."

In addition to Linebacker Dude, we were also caring for a severely retarded little girl and a four month old baby. The baby had never smiled. We found out years later the reason: he had a hernia, which was never detected when he was with us, even though we took him to treatment at medical facilities every week. He had also been born with cocaine in his system. Years later Colleen met his adoptive parents, who told us about the emergency surgery the boy had had on his hernia.

When the county caseworker came to our house she interviewed our own children. Later that day my children told me what questions she had asked them. They were grossly misleading questions. As a former child protection social worker myself, I knew that it was completely unethical to ask young children leading questions. When the caseworker left, she made an appointment to come back the next day at 1 p.m., because Colleen had an appointment and could not return to our house until one p.m.

The caseworker showed up at 10 a.m. with a camera. I met her on the front porch and told her that my children had told me the leading questions she had asked, and that I knew that her leading questions were completely inappropriate. I asked her to leave the property and return at one p.m.

When she returned at one p.m., she had obtained an order from a local judge to remove the foster children and also our own children! Flabbergasted, we voluntarily gave up the three foster children, and were allowed to keep our own children.

This event had a terribly traumatizing effect on Colleen. She played the role of the Stockhom Syndrone appeaser to the caseworker, while I would have nothing to do with this monster. Nevertheless, when the foster care agency we were affiliated with found out that I was writing about our experiences with the foster care system, they demanded that I stop, and that I delete all my posts. My inclination was not to comply, but when Colleen realized that the county caseworker would stop at nothing, including threatening to take our own children away, she asked me to comply. Because I saw how traumatized she was, I complied. I don't regret doing what I did for Colleen, but I do regret giving in to tyranny.

The man in this video is telling the truth, folks.

Thanks to Theo Spark for posting Wild Bill's video

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Break

Today was the first day of Spring Break where I live and work. It was also a reminder for moms that the schools do not do a good job of producing well behaved children. I saw lots of frustrated moms today, already seemingly at their wits end. School is out for the next ten days. Will moms and kids survive?

I saw only one mom who seemed to be enjoying her school-aged kids. She stood out so dramatically, that I told her so. Her kids also seemed to be enjoying being with her.

Technology does not equal wisdom

Victor Davis Hanson asks,
What does it matter that millions of American students can communicate across thousands of miles instantly with their iPads and iPhones if a poorly educated generation increasingly has little to say?

To paraphrase Shane of Western movie fame: A laptop is only as bad or as good as the person using it.

People use the self check registers at supermarkets, because they don't want to wait in line for a human cashier to check them out. Too often the result is that the customer leaves the store disgruntled. Some throw outright temper tantrums. These are exacerbated for some males if the voice inside the computer is female.

How Putin defines power

Victor Davis Hanson asks why do weaker states
invade or intervene in other countries that could in theory or in time bring to their defense far greater resources?

Answer? Strength is in the eye of the attacker.

What might prove to be demonstrably stupid in the future, or even seems foolish in the present, may not necessarily be so clear to the attacker. The perception, not the reality, of relative strength and weakness is what guides aggressive states.

Putin sees fickleness and confusion in American foreign policy. He has manipulated and translated this into American impotence and thus reigns freely on his borders.

Red lines in Syria proved pink. Putin’s easily peddled his pseudo-WMD removal plan for Syria. America is flipping and flopping and flipping in Egypt. Missile defense begat no missile defense with the Poles and Czechs. Lead from behind led to Benghazi and chaos. Deadlines and sanctions spawned no deadlines and no sanctions with Iran. Then there was the reset with Russia. Obama’s predecessors, not his enemies were blamed. Iraq was cut loose. We surged only with deadlines to stop surging in Afghanistan. Loud civilian trials were announced for terrorists and as quietly dropped. Silly new rubrics appeared like overseas contingency operations, workplace violence, man-caused disasters, a secular Muslim Brotherhood, jihad as a personal journey, and a chief NASA mission being outreach to Muslims.

Putin added all that up. He saw a pattern of words without consequences, of actions that are ephemeral and not sustained, and so he concluded that a weaker power like Russia most certainly can bully a neighbor with access to stronger powers like the United States.

Putin defines power not by tanks or GDP, but by a state’s willingness to gamble to use whatever power it has. He assumes that others less reckless than he would rather rationalize their unwillingness to use their superior economic and military assets than run the risks of employing them. For an aggressive but weaker belligerent, its sheer audacity, indeed its recklessness is seen as a force multiplier—an unfathomable asset that sometimes makes up the difference in what is lacking in bombers or cash. By that standard, a weak Putin believes that he’s strong and assumes anyone more powerful who disagrees will not prove it. It is up to others to disabuse him of that folly.

Will Obama reverse course?

Victor Davis Hanson reminds us of how tyrannical leaders around the world reacted to Jimmy Carter presidency.
Carter was dazed. He had come as a Light into the world to save it, and now the world had rejected him. Why was his magnanimity sneered at as weakness rather than appreciated and reciprocated with good will? Did these ungrateful countries not realize that they were only making American realpolitikers and reactionaries look good — and thus undermining a rare American internationalist who was more a citizen of the world?

Then all of a sudden Carter flipped. By January 1980 there was a new Carter Doctrine, warning the Soviet Union that the Persian Gulf would be protected by force if necessary. Saudi Arabia may have been a misogynist, fundamentalist, and autocratic monarchy, but human-rights advocate Jimmy Carter declared it was central to Western interests and vowed to protect the Saudi royals.

In an effort to embarrass Moscow, the host of the 1980 Summer Olympics, for the first and only time in history America boycotted the games. Carter stopped the Nixon d├ętente practice of exporting U.S. grain to the Soviet Union. He began arming the rebels in Afghanistan. He hiked defense spending up well over 4 percent of GDP — and well over the levels that had been promised by the hawkish rival presidential candidate Ronald Reagan in 1976. Cyrus Vance and Andrew Young both had left the administration by then. Carter stopped sending appeasing envoys to Iran. He suggested that he would not rule out another effort to rescue the hostages, even though his first attempt had failed miserably.

Will Obama follow the Carter script? His foreign policy, like Carter’s in late 1979, is wrecked. Vladimir Putin saw Obama’s trashing of George W. Bush and loud boasts about “reset” as weakness to be exploited, not as outreach to be matched. Any former Soviet republic that has a large minority of Russian speakers feels that it is next in line for Putin’s bullying — and does not believe Barack Obama’s now-empty “step-over lines,” “red lines,” or “deadlines.”

Obama’s outreach to Latin American Marxists was a colossal failure. Venezuela is now a failed state — with one of the world’s largest reserves of oil. In Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega humiliated Obama with a long public dressing down. Cuba, Ecuador, and Argentina are more anti-American than ever.

Secretary of State John Kerry believes the chief challenge to the world is global warming, although the planet’s temperature has remained unchanged for nearly two decades, even as carbon emissions have soared. The Great Lakes are frozen over as the president claims global warming is “settled science.”

The Middle East is a mess. The United States’ heroic effort to stabilize Iraq was thrown away when Obama yanked out all U.S. troops after the success of the surge. Afghanistan, where more U.S. soldiers have died in Obama’s five years than in Bush’s seven, is on the path of Vietnam in early 1975.

Iran will get the bomb. All the efforts to achieve an effective boycott have been abandoned willy-nilly without any Iranian concessions.

Red lines in Syria only empowered Assad and Putin. The corpses pile up, and the idea of the Russians and Syrians accounting for WMD is a cruel joke.

Libya is Somalia on the Mediterranean, a failed state that looks across to Europe. So does Egypt, where we at one time or another have backed and then withdrawn support from three successive regimes — and tuned out the once lavishly praised Arab Spring.

Relations with Israel are at an all-time low. Our special relationship with Turkey only green-lighted Recep Erdogan’s efforts to undermine democracy and Islamicize his country.

Our efforts to reduce our strategic arsenal in association with Vladimir Putin, together with our new Hamlet-like stance towards China, have terrified our Pacific allies. In the next three years, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan (and perhaps the Philippines and Australia as well) will either make concessions to China or threaten to go nuclear — if their suspicions continue to grow that they are no longer under the U.S. strategic umbrella.

So will Obama try to reverse course, like Carter did? Hanson thinks it is not likely.
More likely we will see a doubling down on reducing U.S. influence — with the end of reshaping a too-prominent global profile, which itself was supposedly a result of unfairly acquired advantage.

Read more here.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Judicially sanctioned extortion rackets

Hannah Rappeleye and Lisa Riordan Seveille write,
In the 1983 case Bearden v. Georgia, the Supreme Court ruled that to jail a probationer for failure to pay a fine without inquiring first into that person’s ability to pay violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The authors write about rural Alabama, and how probation works when you are poor and get a traffic ticket.
Once a means of allowing convicted offenders to stay out of jail on the condition of good behavior, probation had now become a court-sanctioned tool for debt collection.

Go here to read more about the interminable sentences some debtors receive.

Thanks to Conor Friedersdorf for linking to this story.

Astronomers report seeing the beginning of the Big Bang

So what is this news? Dennis Overbye writes in the New York Times about space ripples. The man in the photo below is Alan Guth.

Overbye writes,
One night late in 1979, an itinerant young physicist named Alan Guth, with a new son and a year’s appointment at Stanford, stayed up late with his notebook and equations, venturing far beyond the world of known physics.

He was trying to understand why there was no trace of some exotic particles that should have been created in the Big Bang. Instead he discovered what might have made the universe bang to begin with. A potential hitch in the presumed course of cosmic evolution could have infused space itself with a special energy that exerted a repulsive force, causing the universe to swell faster than the speed of light for a prodigiously violent instant.

If true, the rapid engorgement would solve paradoxes like why the heavens look uniform from pole to pole and not like a jagged, warped mess. The enormous ballooning would iron out all the wrinkles and irregularities. Those particles were not missing, but would be diluted beyond detection, like spit in the ocean.

Overbye continues,
On Monday, Dr. Guth’s starship came in. Radio astronomers reported that they had seen the beginning of the Big Bang, and that his hypothesis, known undramatically as inflation, looked right.

Reaching back across 13.8 billion years to the first sliver of cosmic time with telescopes at the South Pole, a team of astronomers led by John M. Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics detected ripples in the fabric of space-time — so-called gravitational waves — the signature of a universe being wrenched violently apart when it was roughly a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old. They are the long-sought smoking-gun evidence of inflation, proof, Dr. Kovac and his colleagues say, that Dr. Guth was correct.

Confirming inflation would mean that the universe we see, extending 14 billion light-years in space with its hundreds of billions of galaxies, is only an infinitesimal patch in a larger cosmos whose extent, architecture and fate are unknowable. Moreover, beyond our own universe there might be an endless number of other universes bubbling into frothy eternity, like a pot of pasta water boiling over.

Physicists recognize four forces at work in the world today: gravity, electromagnetism, and strong and weak nuclear forces. But they have long suspected that those are simply different manifestations of a single unified force that ruled the universe in its earliest, hottest moments.

As the universe cooled, according to this theory, there was a fall from grace, like some old folk mythology of gods or brothers falling out with each other. The laws of physics evolved, with one force after another splitting away.

thanks to Conor Friedersdorf for linking to this article.

Here is the press conference announcing the findings

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

One of Obama's worst decisons yet

L. Gordon Crovitz writes in the Wall Street Journal about a very disturbing development that took place last Friday. The
Obama administration made the surprise announcement it will relinquish its oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, which assigns and maintains domain names and Web addresses for the Internet. Russia, China and other authoritarian governments have already been working to redesign the Internet more to their liking, and now they will no doubt leap to fill the power vacuum caused by America's unilateral retreat.

This means, effective next year, the U.S. will no longer oversee the "root zone file," which contains all names and addresses for websites world-wide. If authoritarian regimes in Russia, China and elsewhere get their way, domains could be banned and new ones not approved for meddlesome groups such as Ukrainian-independence organizations or Tibetan human-rights activists.

Authoritarian regimes from Moscow to Damascus have cut off their own citizens' Internet access, but the regimes have been unable to undermine general access to the Internet, where no one needs any government's permission to launch a website. The Obama administration has now endangered that hallmark of Internet freedom.

The Obama administration has played into the hands of authoritarian regimes. In 2011, Vladimir Putin —who, as Russia took over Crimea in recent days, shut down many online critics and independent media—set a goal of "international control over the Internet."

Unless the White House plan is reversed, Washington will hand the future of the Web to the majority of countries in the world already on record hoping to close the open Internet.

Anger sells, but anger doesn't win

Ann Voskamp reminds us today that
anger sells, but anger doesn't win. Ask Jesus.

There is the passion of the Christ that begs you to love people enough to suffer with them — not make them suffer.

Closely inspect package labels!

Have you ever checked the sugar content in your low-fat yogurt? It's huge! How about your bacon, tomato sauce, mayonnaise, or ketchup? Sugar is also
in peanut butter, sandwich bread, wine, milk, orange juice and dozens of other commonly consumed products.

Which is more fattening, sugar or fat? Blogger and author Eve O. Schaub writes,
"We had these studies in the 1960s and '70s that said fat was bad. So we removed fat from everything. But then how do you make it taste good? Let's put sugar in it. And it turns out that may have been the exact wrong thing to do."

Special K, promoted as a diet-friendly cereal, has three teaspoons of added sugar per 100 grams.

Go here to read why glucose is okay for you, while fructose is not.

A way to overcome bickering and polarization?

Do you live in a jurisdiction dominated by one political party? Vince Carroll writes a provocative post in today's Denver Post in which he points out that one-third of Colorado's voters are not members of either the Democrat or Republican parties. Yet,
to participate in June's primary, which determines who appears on November's ballot, they first have to register as a Democrat or Republican.

Carroll writes that California has adopted a primary system in which all candidates run against each other, then the top two vote-getters run against each other in the fall election.

Would that be a better idea?

Tea Party "darling"

AP writer Will Weissert, supposedly writing a straight new story, mocks Ted Cruz in this article about him being a "Tea Party darling." What does Weissert call President Obama? Whose "darling" is Obama? Would that be worth looking into?

Cruz was in Iowa for the fourth time "in barely eight months," speaking to home schooling parents. Maybe the real reason Weissert mocked Cruz is that Cruz said that,
"This nation was founded by men and women fleeing religious oppression and coming here seeking the freedom to seek out our lord God almighty with all of our hearts, minds and souls, free of the government getting in the way."

Weissert points out that
The support of home school advocates helped the last two Republicans win Iowa's presidential caucus: former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2008 and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania in 2012.

Jamie Johnson, a member of the Iowa GOP's State Central Committee and former top Iowa adviser to Santorum in 2012, said he spoke with Cruz about tweaking his economics-heavy message to best win over Iowa conservatives.

"You've got to enunciate the moral themes here," Johnson said, "and if you don't, you lose."

Are Iowans more moral than other Americans?

Which group should he pick?

Jesse Jackson is out West today, talking about
Silicon Valley's poor record of including blacks and Latinos in hiring, board appointments and startup funding.
. He is bringing a delegation to the Hewlett Packard annual meeting. He could also be focusing on single parent families, and labor union control of public schools, but those groups would be harder to extort.

They may be cynical, but at least they are not naive!

Gallup says that nearly 8 out of 10 of Americans ages 18-29 do not trust American business leaders. In fact, they don't trust hardly anybody! Three of ten agreed that most people can be trusted.
Junior Achievement, using a model the Rotary Club promotes called the four-way test, puts students through ethical-reasoning exercises that ask whether a course of action is truthful, is fair to all sides, builds goodwill and benefits all concerned.

Pew also researched this trust issue. Here is a graph published in the Washington Post.

Why are millennials less trusting than their elders? One reason is the economic difficulties people are experiencing across age groups.

Read more here and here.

We know who, what, and where, but not how and why

The Denver Post has been writing lots of stories about two issues. One is marijuana. The other is the murder of the Colorado Corrections Chief, Tom Clements.

photo from Denver Post file

Clements was murdered by a former inmate who had spent most of his prison years in solitary confinement. Ironically, Clements had made it one of his goals as the new prisons chief to lessen the frequency of sending inmates to solitary confinement. This irony is rarely mentioned in any of the Post stories.

Another intriguing aspect of the Clements case is the possible role of an inmate from Saudi Arabia. Homaidan al-Turki is serving time because he was convicted of enslaving and sexually abusing a woman in his home. He had been seeking to be sent back to Saudi Arabia, where his behaviors would be seen as normal, instead of criminal. His request was turned down one week before Clements was murdered. Authorities consider him to be "a person of interest" in the investigation of Clement's murder.

The killer was driving a black Cadillac. He escaped to Texas, where he was shot and killed by a Texas law enforcement officer. In the Cadillac officers found a hit list that contained the names of more than twenty public officials in Colorado.

Clements was murdered March 19, 2013. The investigation has been going on for one year, and Clements' widow is angry that nothing is still known about the how and why.

The decency of the American people

Yesterday was a cold, snowy, and windy day here in Colorado. It was a Tuesday, normally not a day flooded with customers. Despite those facts, our store sold many hundreds of the Disney movie "Frozen," on its first day of release in retail stores. That's way more than any movie I can remember in the nearly six years I have worked there. I hope this will be a wake up call for Hollywood. The people of this country are decent, and if you are selling something decent, they will buy it, you idiots!

Pot not as lucrative as Governor Hickenlooper predicted

Last month Colorado officials were widely quoted in the national media bragging about how much money in new taxes the recreational marijuana business would bring in. Estimates ranged from $120 million to $190 million. Now the state's legislative council predicts it will be more like $60 million. The product and the taxes on recreational users is way more expensive than medical marijuana, so many people prefer to purchase it as medical marijuana.

Meanwhile, those who predict the future say that marijuana will become the state's third biggest crop, behind corn and hay, and ahead of wheat, barley, potatoes, and onions. We'll see.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The bullies win again

9-year-old Grayson Bruce is a My Little Pony fan. He liked carrying his Rainbow Dash bag to school. Then he started getting bullied by some boys. What did the school do? School officials told him not to bring the bag any more. Did they tell the other boys not to bully Grayson? Not according to this report from t.v. station WLOS in Los Angeles.

He is bringing a different bag to school now, so the bullies won again.

Ukraine's conflict with Russia moves from a political to a military phase

The Washington Post says that
One Ukrainian soldier was killed and an officer wounded in an incident at a base near Simferopol, the Crimean regional capital. In a statement, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense said the assailants “were wearing military uniforms of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.” The ministry said it had now authorized its soldiers in Crimea to respond with live fire in self-defense.

Citing the storming of the base in Crimea, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that the conflict with Russia had moved from a “political to a military phase.”

Invoking the suffering of the Russian people and a narrative of constant betrayals by the West, President Vladimir Putin declared Tuesday that Russia was within its rights to reclaim Crimea, then signed a treaty that did just that.

Putin, defiant in the face of U.S. and European pressure, dispensed with legal deliberation and announced a swift annexation of Crimea, as if to put Europe’s most serious crisis in decades beyond the point where the results could be turned back.

In a speech to a joint session of the Russian parliament, he compared the move to the independence declaration of Kosovo in 2008 and the reunification of Germany in 1990 — but, in reality, this is the first time that one European nation has seized territory from another since the end of World War II.

The right to keep and bear arms

Eugene Volokh brings us today's decision by the Supreme Court of Delaware on this question: does a citizen who is a resident of a public housing project have a right to bear arms, even in common areas? The answer is yes! Volokh writes,
So holds Tuesday’s Delaware Supreme Court decision in Doe v. Wilmington Housing Authority) (Del. Mar. 18, 2014). The court applied the Delaware Constitution’s right to bear arms provision — “A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and State, and for hunting and recreational use” — and the court noted that this language may justify broader protection than that given by the Second Amendment.

Let it go!

Do you believe lies? Which ones? Have you been told you are not good enough? Ann Voskamp's post today is all about the lies we are believing, and why we need to let them go.

Monday, March 17, 2014

More than one champion that day

Thanks to Jeffro at The Poor Farm for reposting this video.

Let them see your joy!

Do you know what is the "gigantic secret of Christians?" Joy! Is your joy apparent to people who come into contact with you? What is the parent of joy? Gratitude! Want scientific proof? Go here.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Christians who wound Christians

Billy Graham's daughter talks about cruelty. People who get hurt by Christians! Jesus understands. They crucified Him! Who is the church? People who have personal relationships with God. Can we see our own sins? Do we have spiritual Macular Degeneration? Can we forgive? Can we reach out with forgiveness and do something for the person who wounds us? We need to extend that grace to other people.

Commit your ways unto the Lord...when we're faithful in the little things, then God can do bigger things

Anyone who reads this blog knows I am a very big fan of Ann Voskamp and her writing. While looking at some You Tube videos with my daughter Sara today, I stumbled across this interview with Ann.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Democrats scared?

Maureen Dowd notices that
Due to the inability of the president and congressional Democrats to move their agenda through Congress, the president is having to govern through executive order and revising federal regulations.

Republicans have latched on to this to make the case around the country that Obama is a dictator and an imperial president. But governing through executive order isn’t a sign of strength. It’s a sign of weakness.

And it’s that weakness that has Democrats scared to death.