Friday, November 30, 2007

A Word With You Senator

A man with what appears to be a bomb strapped to his chest has taken hostages at a Hillary campaign office. The Wall Street Journal has an AP report.

ROCHESTER, N.H. -- A man who displayed what he said was a bomb was holding two hostages at Hillary Clinton's campaign office Friday afternoon, police said.

Authorities were sending a tactical bomb unit to assist local police, and the area was evacuated, said Maj. Michael Hambrook of New Hampshire State Police.

Mrs. Clinton was in Virginia Friday. She canceled her appearance at a Democratic National Committee meeting because of the situation.
That report is a little sketchy. What does the hostage taker want?
Hillary Project has details.
A young woman carrying an infant ran into a nearby store in tears, saying she had been in the campaign office when a man walked in, opened his coat and showed them a what looked like a bomb strapped to his chest with duct tape. She said the man let her and her child go.

There are reports from the scene that the hostage taker is demanding to speak with Senator Clinton.
This is really terrible for the hostages and can't be too good for Hillary either.

I just hope we are not entering an era of Middle Eastern politics in America. No one should take politics that seriously. Not even against Ms. Hillary.

Dandylion Salad provides this live video link.

Update: no live video is available as of now. Dandylion Salad has this report:
It was not immediately clear what was happening inside the office, and police have asked television stations to stop broadcasting live images of the offices so as not to interfere with their attempts to negotiate with the hostage-taker.
Update: Commenter LarryD informs me that Michelle Malkin has continuing updates and some info on the hostage taker.

Fighting Fire With Criminals

Normally you hear the expression "fight fire with fire". In Califonia they do things differently. They fight fire with criminals.

As the Malibu wildfire nears full containment, it is very worth noting that about 1,100 male and female nonviolent drug offenders normally warehoused in California prisons were called upon to risk life and limb fighting last month’s massively devastating blazes. In fact, nearly one in eight of all firefighters who participated were drug offenders.

After a few phone calls to the state corrections department I learned that about 3,000 inmates helped to fight the wildfires, along with 6,000 non-incarcerated firefighters. Almost 4 out of every 10 inmates involved (about 37%) were nonviolent drug offenders.

Breck Wright, a non-incarcerated firefighter who has worked side by side these inmates on numerous occasions, told The Associated Press, "I think it would be very hard without them. It would really impact us…They are very effective, hardworking and are well-trained. They know what they are doing."
I thought dopers were supposed to be incompetent. If word gets out on this it will ruin the stereotype.

Malice And Stupidity.

By now you have probably heard about the ringers at the CNN debate. If not Glen Reynolds has a few links to get you started. Eric also has some help. The short version: The Democrats had party activists asking questions for the Democrat's debate and they had party activists asking questions for the Republican's debate. So of course the Democrats got softballs and the Republicans got toughies. Which is a good thing. It takes the Republican's minds off of intraparty warfare and focuses it on beating the Democrats.

As to CNN and the Democrats:

It is unwise to attribute to malice alone that which can be attributed to malice and stupidity.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Blind Faith

Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power. - Eric Hoffer

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bill's Revisionism

Even The New Republic notices.

Campaigning for his wife this afternoon in Iowa, Bill Clinton threw an asterisk over his position on the Iraq war:
"Even though I approved of Afghanistan and opposed Iraq from the beginning," said Clinton, "I still resent that I was not asked or given the opportunity to support those soldiers."
Bill still has it going on. Support the wife? Check. Support the troops? Check. Throw an arm’s length up between your team and the war administration? Check. This ‘two-for one’ bit sure has legs. But as much as Clinton may wish it otherwise, these days Bill's extra-credit work cannot go unchecked. Reporters soon rustled up a speech at the war's outset in which Clinton said:
"I supported the President when he asked the Congress for authority to stand up against weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."
It looks like Bill is spinning faster than an Iranian uranium enrichment centrifuge.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Energy Futures

The Energy Blog reports that Google is investing in people and companies who have good ideas for making solar energy cheaper than coal.

Esolar_array_2Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) today announced a new strategic initiative to develop electricity from renewable energy sources that will be cheaper than electricity produced from coal. The newly created initiative, known as RE<C, will focus initially on advanced solar thermal power, wind power technologies, enhanced geothermal systems and other potential breakthrough technologies.

In 2008, Google expects to spend tens of millions on research and development and related investments in renewable energy. As part of its capital planning process, the company also anticipates investing hundreds of millions of dollars in breakthrough renewable energy projects which generate positive returns.
The difficulty here is that the odds of a real break through in this area that can be capitalized on is vanishingly small. The reason? Google is not the only pool of money looking for investments in this area.

The solar problem like fusion problem is tough. In fact the two problems are similar. Fusion is easy. Collecting solar energy is easy. The hard part with fusion is getting the energy output up to commercial usefulness. And by commercial usefulness I mean selling the electricity for a price people are willing to pay. Solar has the same problem.

With solar the odds of a breakthrough are small because so many people have picked over the pieces. In my opinion the odds of a fusion break through are better. Why? The science involved is not as well understood. Any place you have a knowledge hole the opportunities for a breakthrough are better. However, the risks are also higher. Advances in knowledge may prove that what you thought possible is not.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Democrats Will Be Happy

Good news for Democrats. Something like 100,000 American troops will be leaving Iraq over the next few years.

Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, quietly announced that the American and Iraqi governments will start talks early next year to bring about an end to the allied occupation by the close of Mr. Bush's presidency.

The negotiations will bring to a formal conclusion the U.N. Chapter 7 Security Council involvement in the occupation and administration of Iraq, and are expected to reduce the number of American troops to about 50,000 troops permanently stationed there but largely confined to barracks, from the current 164,000 forces on active duty.

"The basic message here should be clear. Iraq is increasingly able to stand on its own. That's very good news. But it won't have to stand alone," General Lute yesterday told reporters in the White House.

Bringing the war to a close by the end of 2008 will ensure that the next president will face a fait accompli in Iraq, a fact that will further remove from the presidential election the Iraq war as an issue of contention.
I think he is wrong about removing the war from contention. I remember it like it was yesterday, the 2004 Presidential campaign where we re-fought the Vietnam War. With Kerry the great war hero and Bush the shirker of duty. With a large side dish of Iraq thrown in to give the meal some potential contrasting flavors.

I think Iraq will be even bigger issue now that the outcome seems to be a good one for the Iraqis and the Americans.

Don Surber is gloating.
Quagmire, eh?

Looks like victory at last is here. The terrorists have been routed and the insurgency quelled.

Wapshott reported: “The negotiations will bring to a formal conclusion the U.N. Chapter 7 Security Council involvement in the occupation and administration of Iraq, and are expected to reduce the number of American troops to about 50,000 troops permanently stationed there but largely confined to barracks, from the current 164,000 forces on active duty.”

This is Korea II, just as I have said in print and on this blog.

I won’t go into the you’re-full-of-crap e-mails I have received over time.

Lute told reporters: “The basic message here should be clear. Iraq is increasingly able to stand on its own. That’s very good news. But it won’t have to stand alone.”
I think the point about not letting Iraq stand alone is very important. That is why you see it here twice. We back up the elected government of Iraq with about two divisions (20,000 troops) and the rest will be logistics, probably including Corps of Engineers type stuff (mostly consulting).

I'm predicting some likely responses from the Democrats. "We told you so", "Not soon enough", and "Where are the contracts for my district?" will be very popular. My vote for the one you will hear most often is: "We were the real fathers of this victory. Bush and the Republicans had nothing to do with it." Which is a pretty good position. As long as no one asks for a paternity test.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Monday, November 26, 2007

Marxist Politicians

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." -- Groucho Marx

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Convenient Fiction

There is a serious misunderstanding about the state of science today. People look at all this shiny new hardware and imagine some unified state of knowledge behind it all. We have no such thing. What we actually have are islands of good enough knowledge.

There is not some great monolithic body of knowledge that can be described in a few equations understood by physics geeks and people with advanced math degrees.

Let me illustrate the problem with a recent personal anecdote. I was designing a gas valve for a fusion test reactor and commenter Brent pointed out that I had not taken into consideration something called the Knudsen Number. It was true. I had never even heard of it. The short version is: if gas pressures are low enough and the holes are small enough, you design the valve with one set of equations. If the holes are big and the pressure high you use another set of equations. In the middle? It is why engineers get paid the big bucks.

So the point of all that is that we don't have a unified knowledge set about gas flow through holes. We know a lot about aspects of this. We have islands of good knowledge and places where all is fuzziness or worse darkness.

Which brings me to a comment I made at Lubos Motl's Reference Frame, where Lubos is doing a very interesting exposition on the philosophy of science.

There is a lot of interesting work going on in the plasma physics area.

There are a lot of previously hidden self organizing principles being either discovered, re-discovered, or given new emphasis. Not just in quasi-static plasmas but dynamic ones as well.

We are starting to look at not just the frequencies of particles, but also the frequencies of assemblages of particles under the influence of various fields.

The tokamak guys are really struggling with this. They want a nice flat Maxwellian plasma and the plasma is not co-operating. It turns out that a true or even-quasi Maxwellian plasma may be impossible.

I think if we start looking at the facts, the idea of a Maxwellian plasma is a total fiction. The slightest deviation from Maxwellian distribution causes forces to build up and currents to flow.

So what we really need to make all this work is to delve into the self organizing principles of plasma and look at it from the point of view that a Maxwellian plasma is a convenient fiction for a certain class of problems.

Kyoto Coal

Australia's new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has promised to ratify Kyoto and pressure the USA to join.

So does getting on the Kyoto bandwagon mean Australia is going to stop exporting coal to China?

Or does it meant Australia is going to stop burning coal so it can sell more to China?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Euros Are Getting Organized

The Europeans have some of the highest gasoline taxes in the developed world. Certainly higher than in America. And yet....

In common with the rest of the world, Europe is now having to face up to the fact that a cheap and plentiful supply of oil and other fossil fuels has led to a long term under investment in energy technologies. Public funding for energy R&D in the EU member states declined between 1991 and 2005 in real terms, when it stood at around €2.2 billion a year. Of this, almost three-quarters is concentrated in only three countries. Private sector investment in energy R&D shows a similar pattern.
We don't seem to have those kinds of problems in the USA. I wonder why?
As a result the process of energy technology innovation is riddled with structural weaknesses, such as long lead times to market, incompatible infrastructures and limited market incentives. In the era of cheap oil, the take up of new energy technologies was hampered because they were inevitably more expensive.

Now, as oil nudges $100 per barrel and the IPCC’s warnings on global warming become yet more dire, the European Commission wants to accelerate low carbon energy development and deployment. The strategy highlights 14 technologies it plans to promote, ranging from wind and solar power, to decarbonised fossil fuel and nuclear fission and fusion.
Dire warnings and $100 a bbl oil and the Euros can't find opportunities? Something must be strangling their economies. What could it be?
The problem is how to jump start energy research from its current low base. Although member states share some priorities, pan European cooperation is low, and until now there has been no setting of priorities at a European level. Yet the capital intensive nature of energy technologies – witness the ITER nuclear fusion project – makes it essential to find synergies and build economies of scale.
Oh yeah. ITER. The great Euro fusion boondoggle that will get us the practical knowledge to build a working fusion power plant in no less than 30 years.

America is a little different. We have lots of fusion projects going on and we are a member of the ITER club too. Let us start with a venture capital start up Tri Alpha Energy.

That is not all, we have Robert Bussard's Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion which is currently being funded by the US Navy.

The above reactor can burn Deuterium which is very abundant and produces lots of neutrons or it can burn a mixture of Hydrogen and abundant Boron 11 which does not.

The implication of it is that we will know in 6 to 9 months if the small reactors of that design are feasible.

If they are we could have fusion plants generating electricity in 10 years or less depending on how much we want to spend to compress the time frame (my best guess is that a crash program could build an operating power plant in 3 to 5 years - if the experiments now underway green light that course of action). A much better investment than the CO2 sequestration non-sense promoted by the EU.

BTW Bussard is not the only thing going on in IEC. There are a few government programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory, MIT, the University of Wisconsin and at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana among others.

The Japanese and Australians also have programs.

So let me ask. How is it the Australians can afford a program which may produce actual energy soon or at the very least is going to produce some knowledge on the cheap and yet the Euros can't afford it? It is a wonderment. It is kind of like they have killed off or driven out a major portion of their risk takers.

Welcome to America. Where all kinds of ideas get tried. Even long shots. Like ITER.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Too Early To Tell

So the question is: "Is the surge working?" Lest you think I'm one of those on the other side, I think I should clarify. I'm not talking about the military surge which is working so well that even our military commanders are surprised.

Jack Keane, the former army general who helped persuade George W. Bush, US president, to increase troop numbers in Iraq, said the decrease in violence was “phenomenal” and had occurred far faster than he had expected.

“When you understand you are dealing with the complexity of a counter-insurgency operation which can take years to resolve, to have this dramatic a success in a short period of time, it’s unprecedented,” he said.

The US military says the number of civilian deaths has also fallen 60 per cent since the surge took effect, with a drop of 75 per cent in Baghdad. According to, the average monthly US death toll dropped from 96 for the first half of 2007 to 66 in the past four months. The average monthly death toll for Iraqi civilians and security forces has dropped from 2,157 to 1,223 in the same period.
So that surge is going nicely.

However, there is a different surge going on. A surge of Iraqis going back to Iraq.
An announcement is posted at the Iraqi commercial attach building in Mezzah, western Damascus on Wednesday Nov. 21, 2007. The announcement reads 'under directives from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, the Transport Ministry calls on Iraqis wishing to return to Iraq to submit to a bus and flight trip scheduled on Nov. 26th.' The Iraqi government is planning free transport convoys for Iraqi refugees in Syria to encourage them get back to their country after security has relatively improved in some areas of Baghdad, official sources said.
How well is the Iraqi surge into Iraq going? Let us see what the Associated Press has to say about the surge from Syria.
With violence down in Iraq, the country's embassy in Damascus is starting to organize free trips home for Iraqis who fled the conflict and now want to return, an Iraqi diplomat said Wednesday.

Free convoys and even airplane tickets are part of a new push by the Baghdad government to reach out to Iraqi refugees in Syria, said Adnan al-Shourifi, commercial secretary at the Iraqi embassy.

Al-Shourifi told The Associated Press that the first free trips are scheduled for Monday, when a convoy of buses and an Iraqi Airways flight will take refugees home. He did not say how many people had registered but added that officials expected hundreds to make the trip.

The diplomat said that the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had authorized additional trips and that 11 offices had been set up in the Syrian capital for Iraqis who want to sign up.

Thousands of Iraqis who had been living in Syria already headed back home in recent weeks.

That exodus was attributed mostly to Syria imposing tougher visa requirements beginning last month making it more difficult for Iraqis to stay here legally, but improved security in Iraq also played a part.

Syria is host to the most Iraqi refugees in the region — an estimated 1.5 million — and says they have strained its education, health and housing systems, leading it to tighten visa rules and call for international assistance. Syria said it spends $1.6 billion a year on the refugees.
I wonder if Syria has done a profit and loss calculation and decided that whatever gains are to be had from destabilizing Iraq are not worth the cost of supporting displaced Iraqis?

Time will tell.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Spiritual Moment

“Fuck it,” I say.

“Fuck it,” agrees Ware.

That settles it. I'm going back in.

You know things are not right with the world when you share a spiritual moment with a damn journalist. But there it is. Mick Ware and I are standing on the street, digesting the finality of the option we've just chosen.
From Michael Totten. Read the whole thing. Or if you really want to read the whole thing read: House to House.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Its Taxing To Make A Buck

Yes it is very taxing to make a buck. Unless you use taxing to make a buck. Then it gets easier. From Bloomberg.

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- When Senate Environment Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, Republican Senator John Warner, the nation's largest environmental groups and General Electric Co. join forces to push a U.S. cap on global-warming emissions, it should be an unbeatable team. Not in the 110th Congress.

The alliance is running into resistance from an unlikely collection of environmental activists, big oil and coal companies, labor unions and Congress's sole socialist. Some opponents say the measure doesn't go far enough; others say complying with it would cost too much and put U.S. businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

The fight threatens to scuttle the first legislation mandating emissions cuts to be approved by a congressional subcommittee. The bill backed by California Democrat Boxer, 67, would create a potential $300 billion carbon-trading market and press the Bush administration to soften its opposition to stricter emission rules at global climate-treaty talks in Indonesia next month.

``I'm worried,'' says Ralph Izzo, chief executive officer of Newark, New Jersey-based Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., owner of the state's largest utility. ``I think there's less than a 20 percent chance that anything will happen in this Congress on climate change.''

Izzo is among business leaders including GE Chairman Jeffrey Immelt who want Congress and President George W. Bush to set federal rules for the carbon-dioxide emissions that cause global warming, so they can make business plans and start profiting from carbon trading and the sale of non-polluting technologies.
So let me see if I got this. Green energy is not profitable (enough) and so these wonderful companies want to in effect put a heavy tax on energy use in order to make their dreams of riches without effort come true. Not make things better, faster, cheaper. Nope, that is hard. Taxing the other guy out of business is easier.

I looked at such questions before in Criminals And Moralists Working Together where I looked at how all this carbon trading stuff was in part related to Enron's business model and how it seems to have influenced science.

The Brits are wise to this scam. Probably because they are already being taxed to help these industrial schemes along.

New Energy and Fuel is looking at a similar Hillary inspired scheme for automobiles.

H/T I Call BS

Cross Posted at Classical Values


There is a useful quotes page at talk.polywell. I'm going to list some of my faves here (you may have seen some of them before - if I find something good I like to replicate it):

"If everyone is thinking alike then somebody isn't thinking." --George S. Patton

"It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us into trouble. It's the things we do know that just ain't so." - Artemus Ward

“The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because philosophy is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.” — John W. Gardner, Saturday Evening Post, December 1, 1962

“Strangely, it is always America that is described as degenerate and ‘fascist,’ while it is solely in Europe that actual dictatorships and totalitarian regimes spring up.” Jean-François Revel

I slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening; I drank and danced all night with doubt and found her a virgin in the morning. Source: The Book of Lies

Change is hard. The universe is full of inertia. And people who are either stupid or not interested. Sometimes both. Unrelenting effort is required. -- Simon

“Physicists dream of Nobel prizes, engineers dream of mishaps.” -- Hendrik Tennekes

"You cannot be sure you are right unless you understand the arguments against your views better than your opponents do." -- Milton Friedman

Some people get all their pleasures from negative emotions. -- Ouspensky

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened. -- Sir Winston Churchill

"Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual." -- Thomas Jefferson

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it. -- Thomas Jefferson

Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness. -- Marcus Aurelius

[L]ook at the characters of your own associates. Even the most agreeable of them are difficult to put up with; and for that matter, it is difficult enough to put up with one's own self. -- Marcus Aurelius

"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

Remember The Warsaw Ghetto

I just got an e-mail from one of my friends at Jewcy repeating in full and providing the url for this article trashing Thanksgiving because of the destruction of the Native Americans. Let me quote a bit of this noxious screed.

After years of being constantly annoyed and often angry about the historical denial built into Thanksgiving Day, I published an essay in November 2005 suggesting we replace the feasting with fasting and create a National Day of Atonement to acknowledge the genocide of indigenous people that is central to the creation of the United States.
That is the first paragraph and you know where this is going. Let me get a little deeper in the muck and see if there is a particularly Jewish angle.
Imagine that Germany won World War II and that a Nazi regime endured for some decades, eventually giving way to a more liberal state with a softer version of German-supremacist ideology. Imagine that a century later, Germans celebrated a holiday offering a whitewashed version of German/Jewish history that ignored that holocaust and the deep anti-Semitism of the culture. Imagine that the holiday provided a welcomed time for families and friends to gather and enjoy food and conversation. Imagine that businesses, schools and government offices closed on this day.

What would we say about such a holiday? Would we not question the distortions woven into such a celebration? Would we not demand a more accurate historical account? Would we not, in fact, denounce such a holiday as grotesque?
The thing is - it was not some round up and mass slaughter of the Indians. There was fighting all the way. Initiated by both sides. It is why we used to like giving our sports teams Indian names. Fierce Warriors. Even famous American Generals. William T. Sherman. You can look up what the T stands for.

Funny thing is when the Indians stopped making war the war stopped. Indians joined the American culture. They fought in our wars. They have even written operas. Surprisingly it was about the attempted extermination of the Jews by the Germans.

In any case it looks like the Hate America Holiday Season is in full force. Columbus Day was just a start. Here is the gist of what I had to say on Columbus Day about the myth of the white man's genocide.
You know "the evil white man destroyed the noble Indians and we therefor wish to atone for the sins of our ancestors" types. Have I got news for them.

The Indians fought wars with each other all the time for territory.

The white man was just a better Indian.

So let us bring this back to the Jews. Here was my response to the person who sent the e-mail.
You know the Indians regularly fought each other for control of territory.

The Euros were just better Indians.

If only the Jews had been better Indians. Remember the Warsaw Ghetto. That is how Jews should die. Expensive, not cheap.
And I might add that had more Jews done that we might have some sports teams (besides the Maccabees) named after us. Which brought up thoughts of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership which is always good.

Then it seemed like a good idea to see if Bad Eagle had something to say on the subject. And yes he does.
I want to see change in Indian country. I'm not talking about new cars, dental work, or even Nikes. I'm talking about attitude. I'm talking about our view of ourselves in American history, and especially in our modern day.

But old AIM (Angry Indian Men) still holds the dominant and destructive image over many Indians today. Casting blame on America's past is still the easiest self-starting motivation for many Indians. They learned to protest in college, and this is still an important part of their lives. But it is a deceptive self-start. It sets forth before our young people that the media is the only goal in life. To hold a protest, to be seen, to be heard, to be in the papers, to be in TV--this is all there is to live for. This is the meaning of being Indian. What is the cost? Psychological disconnect. Negativity, a crippling outlook on life, and a penchant for strife and corruption.
I think that shows there is a big difference between the defeated like Bad Eagle and the demoralized. Note that term de-moralized. Without morals.

So let me see if I can bring this back on topic. Bad Eagle refers to a piece by I. Ahron Katz. Which made me think of a lot of things in a new light.
It started when I noticed that in the escape from Egypt, a strange thing happened. At least it seemed strange to me when I read it. Especially in the context of what I’d learned. When the Hebrews came to the Red Sea, they were confronted with a dangerous and seemingly overwhelming dilemma. The sea in front of them, and the Egyptian army coming up behind. What were they to do?

The Hebrews cried out to Moses saying that they should have stayed in Egypt, rather than dying here like this. Moses told them to stand fast and God would help them. Then something very strange happened. God said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me”?

My first thought was, “Let’s see now. God took them out with miracles. Why shouldn’t they look to Him for help now. That’s a very strange question that He was asking. What’s going on here?” I know that the accepted opinion is that God meant that they should show faith in him and plunge into the water of the sea. Of course, He did split the waters and you know what happened then. It does say “Speak to the children of Israel and tell them to journey forth. And you lift up your staff, etc.”

If we go back a few pages, we see that the children of israel left Egypt “armed”. They built cities. They were construction workers. Did you ever see a weak construction worker?

Let’s review the scenario. Six hundred thousand armed construction workers being chased by the Egyptian army. How many in the army chasing them? Let’s see what the Torah says about it. It says, “He took six hundred elite chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt with officers on them all”. It seems to me that the tenth plague, killing all of the first-born males of Egypt, must have created a significant shrinkage of the men in the army. No matter how I calculate it, I can’t imagine the Egyptians outnumbering the Hebrews. I believe that it’s probable that when God asked “Why are you crying to me?”, he was really asking why don’t you defend yourselves. For goodness sakes, I set you up with weapons and superior numbers, why don’t you stand up and fight for yourselves? But they didn’t. So He had to do it for them. But He was forced to do something to correct the problem of the slave and victim mentality that the Hebrews were afflicted

I believe that forty years in the desert happened in order to accomplish the purpose of having a complete recycling of the nation of Israel. Remember that the census showed six hundred thousand men between twenty and sixty years of age. Those are the fighters that are needed to win wars. Forty years completely eliminated all of the original fighting force and replaced them with a new generation of experienced warriors, that were capable of invading and defeating the Canaanites, with God’s help, of course.

Now let’s look at the stories of Purim and Chanukah. Did you realize that when Haman was exposed to the king, the remedy was to simply decree that the Jews would be allowed to arm and defend themselves? Interesting. I also notice that most people think that the main miracle of Chanukah was that the oil lasted for eight days. But to me, the main miracle was that a small band of courageous Jews fought against overwhelming odds and numbers, and were victorious, with God’s help. That’s the real miracle.

I believe that these experiences show that God wants us to fight our own battles, and He helps us with his might and benevolence. Conversely, I believe that when we don’t do anything to help ourselves, and keep praying for, and expecting miracles, He won’t lift a finger to save us. The holocaust is an example of this.
It is not about might makes right, but right makes might. If you are willing to fight.

So how about a rousing cheer this Thanksgiving for the Indian Warriors. The Comanche, The Arapaho, The Sioux, The Cheyenne. And their great war leaders like Geronimo and Tecumseh. And the white men who brought a better civilization by eliminating all the warring over property by providing a system of secure property rights (excepting for Kelo).

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Supplements For Sex

This is not about keeping a girlfriend for those times when the wife is too busy. It is about the over the counter supplement market.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration yesterday requested a recall of True Man Sexual Energy Nutrient Capsules and Energy Max Energy Supplement Men's Formula Capsules, illegal drug products that contain potentially harmful, undeclared ingredients. The products, often advertised as "all natural" alternatives to approved erectile dysfunction drugs, could interact with medications and cause dangerously low blood pressure. They contain substances that have similar structures to active ingredients in approved prescription drugs.
Well, low blood pressure is the last thing you want if sex is your object.

There is a natural substance on the market that is totally unregulated by the FDA that is Better Than Viagra. It is surprising that most people are unaware of it.


In an e-mail linearthinker notes that low blood pressure in the majority of the body is what you want. Low pressure, high flow. So when you get constrictions in the right places hydraulics does the rest.

Public Speakers Respond To Sex

Its true. And not just any kind of sex either. They require the full Monty.

Forget pretending you are talking to one person or concentrating on a single point in the audience - having sex is good way to calm nerves before giving a speech or presentation.

But Stuart Brody, a psychologist at the University of Paisley in Scotland says it has to be full sexual intercourse to get the best results.
Now this is what I call science in the public speaker's interest.

Wait 'til I tell my mate about my new career as a public speaker. I don't know how well that will go over though. Her favorite porn movie is an old classic "Debbie Does Nothing".

H/T Anxiety Insights

It's Unanimous - They Don't Deserve A State

Steven Erlanger of the International Herald Tribune is doing a review of current conditions in Hamastan and Fatahland. He finds that the youth feel inadequate.

During the first intifada the young were a symbol of the struggle for statehood, leaders of a popular uprising that focused, at least at first, on resistance over violence. But in the brutal struggle of the second intifada, which has been taken over by the militias, many of them controlled from leaders outside Palestine, "now the youth are irrelevant," said Nader Said, a political scientist at Birzeit University in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

More importantly, this generation has lost faith in political solutions. "They haven't lived one moment in a period of real hope for a real state," he said. "And with this internal fighting, there is more and more a feeling that we don't deserve a state, that we're inadequate, which kills the morale of the young."
Low morale is a major sign that a war is lost. So what is the Palestinian reaction? Surrender and ask for terms. Nope.
Some 58 percent of those under 30, the center's polls show, expect a more violent struggle with Israel over the next five to 10 years, and only 22 percent believe that there will be a peaceful negotiated solution between Israel and the Palestinians. Some 48 percent believe such an agreement is impossible, and 20 percent more believe it will only come "in a few generations."
These people are true masochists. You ask a masochist why he beats his head against the wall? The answer is "It feels so good when I stop." That is not the Palestinian way. Their answer is, "Because it feels so good when I beat my head against the wall." There is a real future for people like that. I just don't know where it is.

Here is an interesting view form an Al Aksa militia leader.
Zakariya Zubeidi grew up imbued with what he sees as the heroism of the first intifada, built on hope and the conviction that sacrifice was bringing a state and a better future. Now he runs the Al Aksa Brigades in the tough town of Jenin and is wanted by Israel for carrying out attacks against Israelis.

"It was always our choice to be fuel for the struggle," he said. "But our problem now is that the car burns the youth as fuel but doesn't move. There's a problem in the engine, in the head. These kids are willing to be fuel, but many have been burned as waste."

Zubeidi was a hero of the first intifada. "When I was younger I thought, if I die, that's natural, it's for a cause," he said. "And today I think differently. To die? For what? For these people who can't agree? That's what this generation fears. It's lost, and its sacrifices are meaningless. Is the Palestinian dream dying? In these circumstances, yes."
When a culture sees its own children as waste it is in deep trouble. Deep trouble.

Some of the parents see it. It bothers them.
For the Eid festival, the boys asked for toy Kalashnikovs and Uzis. "They classify the weapons, they want a particular gun. And when you think of the violence, and what future will we have here? It will be a very violent future."

Taher broke in. "The world is moving ahead and we're moving backward," he said. "We're back to 1948."

Najwa said softly: "I feel there is no way I can protect them or hide them. Normally people are happy with a new baby, but when I delivered Salma I thought, 'Oh my God, a third child in this life.' It haunts me - I think, 'What if? What if? What if a rocket hits the house? What if the Israelis have another "accident"? What if Mustafa is 19 and attracted to a group of militants and I don't know, and I hear on TV that this person went to Israel and exploded himself?' You live with this, 'What if?' But there's no inner peace, you get so nervous you want to scream!"

Taher said: "But we can't give them security and safety. They can't live as normal children. When a kid realizes a parent can't supply security and safety, what is the point of these parents?"
Sad story. Very sad. The Palestinians asked for war. They got one. It turns out they really didn't want war. Only its fruits. Now they are stuck with the war and whatever fruits it delivers are bitter in the extreme and yet they see no way out. They are stuck with their heart's desire.
Raed, 30, was arrested in the first intifada, when he was 16. He felt a hero, then, but the political result, the 1993 Oslo accords, "were useless and benefited Israel," he said. "No one can resist with stones or build a nation without violence."
Nations can only be built by violence. How limited is his imagination. Suppose the violence doesn't work? Then what?
Like his comrades, he says he is fighting for the future of his own children, but he has small hopes for them, and large fears. "Hamas and Fatah are so divided, the goal of Palestine disappears," he said. "I talk about willing my children to be martyrs for Allah, but I honestly wish for them to be safe and healthy, that's all."
The culture of martyrdom. Yet he can't figure out where he and his cohorts went wrong.

If they see violence as the only way to reach their goals and violence fails what have they got left? Violence. Or just quitting the place. Here is what one young Palestinian with a computer science degree has to say:
Hussein says he has never spoken to a normal Israeli. "The only Israelis I see here are either settlers or soldiers," he said. "They all have guns."

He hates waiting on people and washing dishes, and says he is still looking for a decent job. But he's also looking to get out of Palestine to the United States, if possible, where his sister lives, but "almost any place," he said, "where I can work and live a normal life." He's a Palestinian patriot, he insists. "But there's no hope here," he said. "You see the situation. It's useless to think it will improve. You see it, it just gets worse."
Which reminds me of the oft quoted remarks of WW2 German General Runstedt when asked what the Germans should do in the closing days of WW2, He replied, "Make peace you fools".

Veterans Angry With Democrats

Well they don't say Democrats directly. It is, however, impossible to miss the hints.

The leader of the nation’s largest veterans organization called on Congress to pass another Iraq funding bill without the political provisions passed by the House yesterday.

The House of Representatives passed a $50 billion Iraq war-funding bill that would require the president to start bringing home troops within 30 days and bar certain interrogation techniques. The bill passed 218-203.

“The White House has already said it would veto the bill, so Congress needs to get on with the business of funding our troops without playing political ‘Gotcha,’” said National Commander Marty Conatser. “I have been to Iraq, visited the troops and met with Gen. Petraeus. They are doing an outstanding job and making great progress in rooting out terrorism. Congress authorized the mission, now it needs to continue to fund it.”

Conatser pointed out that The American Legion unanimously re-affirmed Resolution 169 at its last national convention. “Resolution 169 reminds people that supporting the troops means supporting their mission. You don’t support the troops by denying the funds they need to do their job. Like the resolution states, ‘the global war on terrorism is a just war, aimed at protecting the very foundations of freedom-loving people everywhere.’”

“Unfortunately, this war is still very much in progress. If certain people in the legislative branch are bound and determined to lose it, I’m sure they’ll be able to, but it won’t be lost by us,” Army Sergeant 1st Class Jack Robison recently told The American Legion from Anbar Province. “While they point fingers and manipulate public opinion in our name, we are doing what we came here to do: fight and win.”
Not only do I support winning I Support Democracy In Iraq, which is a big part of winning.

Do you ever hear the Democrats supporting Democracy In Iraq? Me either.

In any case it is unwise to piss of the veterans. They vote.

The Democrats have obviously learned from the successful Republican shut down of government and are repeating that strategy. Good luck to them.

Wake Up America has more.

News You Can Use

The news writers, producers and editors are going on strike. Sadly it is only C BS.

CBS News writers, producers and editors voted to authorize their labor union to call a strike after working without a contract for two years, Reuters news agency reported Monday.

About 81 percent of the nearly 300 CBS members of the Writers Guild of America voted to authorize the strike, the union said in a statement. The union represents 500 CBS employees in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
It's a start.

It is too bad Dan Rather has filed suit against the network. This could have been a golden opportunity.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Engineering Is Scientific

Engineering is scientific in that it compares results to theory and adjusts accordingly. However, in engineering it is not always the theory that gets adjusted.

I was having a discussion with Gerald Browning at Climate Audit about engineering vs science. Two related but very different disciplines. Which brought up this polemic (thankfully short) from me.

In engineering it only has to work. The theory need not be correct. It just needs to bring you in the vicinity of a solution.

Second, a feed back system properly designed will cover up a lot of misunderstanding. I know the valve will be highly non-linear. Its components (O-Rings [pdf]) will have serious hysteresis and material creep problems. The gas flows will be probabilistic (see comments). You servo the system to the desired results and it doesn’t matter. Which is why some of the companion articles deal with feedback and control. Instrumentation. Detectors.There is also a bit about having sufficiently large tanks inserted in the system at convenient places in order to reduce rates of change possible. It is ALL about scale. Try doubling the size of the oceans to slow down the dT/dt (rate of change of temperature with time) for a given energy input. An exercise best left to the reader.

A very bad way to do basic science. A good way to do engineering. The fact that this is engineering in service of basic science is even better.

Of course if your system response is exponential to change and your feedback loop is longer than the system response time you are farklempt. Nuclear reactors would be uncontrollable for this reason if it wasn’t for the approximately 1% delayed neutrons. Even then there is a narrow range of reactivity where the delayed’s help. Get above that range and the reactor self controls - i.e. melts down.

Let me add that what usually happens in these cases is that if you can get a lash-up to work and it has high utility a lot of people get assigned to understanding and improving on the original design and correcting the bad theories.

Read some of Tesla's work. Brilliant in general, but he had some serious and glaring mis-understandings - according to what we know now. The thing is his mis-understandings lead him to dead ends. OTOH he made things work. Like radio controlled boat models in the very late 1800s. An amazing accomplishment for its time.

Now it is good to have so many people studying climate. What is unfortunate is that our minuscule understanding has given rise to orthodoxy that pretends to more understanding than it actually has. This is easy to hide because the time scales are so long and the system itself is chaotic with strange attractors (You want to know the most likely weather for tomorrow? Same as today). Even when the time scales are short (electricity) understanding is some times decades in coming. The real crime in all this is not this prediction or that prediction. It is confidence intervals that do not match the quality of the data and its analysis.

One must take this as a common human failing because we see it in all fields. Predicting the future gains one prestige. Tarot reader or climate scientist. Doesn't matter.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Steam Fusion

There are some really strange fusion reactor designs going around. This is beyond strange. Fusion is going to be ignited by 200 steam pistons all acting in unison. Really. The Financial Post has the story.

Where nuclear fission produces electricity by splitting apart atoms -- a process that can release enough energy to level cities -- fusion is exactly the opposite. It works to join atoms together, a process that also produces enormous energy.

But it is exceedingly difficult to achieve because it involves melding together the protons of two atoms that naturally repel. The only way to do it is to create a shockwave in a sphere that will press together the atoms in the centre with extraordinary pressure and temperatures of 100-million degrees Celsius.

Sustaining those conditions has proven impossible in the nearly eight decades since fusion was first proposed as a theory. The world record is the production of 16 megawatts of power for less than a second, and the most intensive global effort to beat that mark is a hugely expensive one. ITER, a recently formed international research and development project whose partners include the European Union, Japan, China, India and the United States, plans to build a fusion reactor in France with a budget of 10-billion euros, a construction time of 10 years and no ambitions to produce marketable electricity.

Mr. Laberge believes he can build a functioning prototype fusion unit for $50-million in half a decade, and produce commercial electricity with a $500-million reactor. General Fusion has already raised $1.4-million this year, and has pencilled-in commitments for another $5-million to $6-million as part of a financing campaign.

He is not crazy. Although he has not described his successes or methods in refereed publications -- "basically because I really don't like writing papers," he says -- some of Canada's leading fusion physicists say there is no reason to doubt he has achieved fusion.

They do, however, question whether he can succeed.

"What he has done is not enough because everybody can get fusion. It doesn't take anything," said Emilio Panarella, a long-time fusion scientist with the federal government who now runs Ottawa-based Fusion Reactor Technology, Inc., and has his own backyard project to solve the fusion puzzle.

"But the objective is so important that any enthusiastic person that joins this race is to be applauded not reprimanded."

Mr. Laberge himself is strikingly upfront about his own somewhat modest successes. In well over 30 tries, he has created fusion in only seven, and each produced an infinitesimal amount of energy.

Not only that, it now takes him a week between attempts. For fusion power to work, he needs to be able to make an attempt once a second. He figures that a bigger machine that produces compression with steam-powered pistons, instead of the bits of exploding foil he currently uses, will solve those issues.

But for that to work, he will need to make steam-powered pistons act with space-age precision. For atoms to stick together, they need to be hit with a perfect compression wave that will come from all sides of the sphere at exactly the same time. It is akin to compressing a balloon without letting it get misshapen -- except Mr. Laberge has to synchronize the compression from 200 different pistons in one-millionth of a second.
They failed to mention the spinning metal hollow liquid sphere which gets injected with Deuterium before every shot. That is a neat trick all by itself.

As one of the critics in the article pointed out - any one can make fusion. The real trick is to get more energy out than you put in. And not just a little more. It has to be in the 5X to 20X range to make it viable.

Still, as the critic pointed out, such enthusiasm is a good thing.

My favorite these days is still the Bussard Fusion Reactor.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Victory Claims Another Victim

Future Majority notes:

So here's something I just noticed. Senators Jim Webb and Chuck Hagel are proposing legislation for a new "GI Bill" to help veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars go on to college after their service.
As I recall Hegel and Webb have not been exaclty staunch in their support for our efforts in Iraq. As I noted in I Can See It Coming the stabilization in Iraq is making believers out of antagonists. They are going to have to paper over their lack of support with something. Supporting the Troops it is then.

Then the blogger asks, where have the "progressives" been. On the other side 'til now, I'd say.
So here's the thing - why are no progressive youth organizations partnering with IAVA or organizing their own campaigns? Young Democrats, USSA, Student PIRGs, Campus Progress . . . all of these organizations organized around the passage of the Cost of College Reduction Act, so why aren't they supporting legislation that would grant similar reprieve to their peers who have served our country?
And now the kicker. The sad shape our returning troops are in re: opportunities, education, medical benefits, etc. is all the fault of the Republicans.
On a moral level, it's atrocious that so many veterans are now unemployed, unable to pay for school, and even homeless. We should do everything in our power to alleviate that situation. On a political level, this is a fantastic issue to make inroads with young people in the military who may now be disillusioned with the Republican Party.
Welcome to the Victory Party. I appreciate your sincerity. It is not about serving the warriors. It is converting Republicans to "progressives" (translation - soft communists - for now).

Victory Has Another Father

The KOS Kids are going to show the wingers how supporting the troops is supposed to be done.

Today, I'm calling all kossacks with an invitation to show the wingers how to walk the walk by supporting the troops with some good old fashioned care packages. It's a great way to support those men and women who will not be home for the holidays and sending care packages to the troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan is easier than most folks realize. So, here's some specific information on where to find soldiers to support, what to send, and the ins and outs of mailing care packages overseas. I promise, it's easier than you think and you'll feel wonderful walking away from that post office counter.
And you know it a couple of months it will be - "We always supported the troops and the mission. It was the moron Bush's mismanagement that put us off."

Well any way, welcome aboard "The Victory" shipmates, one of the very latest and most modern ships in the US Military.


In a long and rambling comments section (when don't long comment sections ramble?) at Caracas Chronicles a number of commenters say that it is important to understand the grievances Chavez supporters have. The supporters want to participate in the economic life of the country. They should be understood and integrated into the political life of the country.

Here is my answer to that:

I don't see how you can come to an accommodation with the Chavistas.

You go to the doctor and say, "I'm not feeling well."

The doctor says, "Try arsenic."

You come back later and tell the doctor, "I feel worse." "More arsenic" , says the doctor.

Later the doctor gets a report of your death, "Obviously a case of not enough arsenic", says the doctor.

How do you respect such a doctor when you know that in the amounts suggested arsenic is a serious poison?

I added some more:

The transition from a marginal agricultural civilization to one based on high energy consumption is difficult.

The traditional wealthy have electricity and the poor are starving. There is much new wealth and yet, the poor are still starving.

I know of no place or time where this transition was painless.

You have to have the courage in the face of the hungry poor, to let economic forces build.

In Latin America every time the engine starts to run on its own power some one shorts out the electrical system, with the excuse that the battery is not recharging fast enough.

Wrenching inequality must be endured to get to self sustaining at a higher level.

The real heartless bastards are those who want to reduce concentrations of wealth. When you do that you greatly reduce the possibility of creating wealth generating infrastructure.

H/T Instapundit

Friday, November 16, 2007

I Can See It Coming

If things are still going well in Iraq by the beginning of next summer or a little earlier, expect all those Congress Critters who didn't support the war to come out for more dollars for Veterans hospitals, college benefits, pay, and what not to cover for being on the wrong side. Victory will not be an orphan.

When some one brings up the war they can start talking Veterans.

They are going to paper their tracks with our money. In this case it is probably a good thing.

Inspired by this post.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Diamond Encrusted Fusion Reactor

It is ITER time again. They are experimenting with diamond coatings to withstand the high heat loads at the walls of the ITER reactor. One thing to keep in mind. Diamond is good for a few thousand degrees Kelvin. ITER plasma is in the 100 million degree range. If plasma and diamond meet - diamond doesn't have a chance.

I found a press release from sp3 Diamond Technologies, a company involved in the semiconductor industry but with tentacles in many places announce that their technology is being used by Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. The University is using the technology to evaluate the benefits of using diamond-coated reactors for the next generation of fusion reactors due to diamonds’ ability to withstand the intense heat involved in the process.

The University has purchased one of sp3’s CVD diamond deposition tools as part of a €10 billion research project aimed at developing waste-free nuclear energy without contributing to global warming via the Euro International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) program.
ITER may be really good science, the future of low cost energy it is not.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Been Busy

I have been quite busy the last few days working on some IEC Fusion Reactor stuff. If little holes (micro not nano), gas valves, control system theory and other such goodness is as interesting to you as it is to me, head over to IEC Fusion Technology blog and have a look.

I must say the design is coming along nicely.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Arafat Honored In The Usual Way

Honoring Arafat:

What was supposed to be a gathering to remember Yasser Arafat turned bloody...

6 are dead after Hamas opened fire on the massive Fatah gathering.
H/T Gateway Pundit who has pictures and more.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Why Are We Over There?

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
- John F. Kennedy

Any other questions?

I’m still a liberal. My (former) party these days? Not so much.

Prompted by a commenter at Breitbart - Hollywood is casualty of war. Hollywood is a strange battlefield. It is where losses are taken from no INCOMING. From what I can ascertain, losses in that division may actually improve combat efficiency. In fact it seems that a lot of other divisions whose strength reduction would improve our combat capabilities are in fact losing strength.

What happens in such cases is that small losses do not impair combat capability much. However, if the losses continue eventually the division is no longer self sustaining and it breaks. The thing is you can tell that a break is coming but exactly when is hard to predict. A lot depends on morale. If that is high the losses must be severe. If it is low insignificant losses can trigger collapse.

The recent turn around in the fortunes of war will only add to the strain. Will it be a breaking strain? Too early to tell.

The Servant

God is the servant of man.

Now what are we doing to be worthy of such an honor?

Citizen Soldier


To-day we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day,
To-day we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
            And to-day we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
            Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
            Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
            They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
            For to-day we have naming of parts.

You can hear the author, Henry Reed, and Frank Duncan reading "The Naming of Parts". I first read this in high school 40+ years ago. There are more sections and stanzas at the link.

Hard Rock

May I suggest Citizen Soldier by Three Doors Down. About 3 1/2minutes - YouTube.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dumber Than A Dead Fish

Action: Swims against the tide.

Definition: Unable to adapt to changed circumstances.

Prompted by: I Find Your Lack Of Faith Disturbing:

The big fish who were once swimming with the tide are now bucking it. The tide has changed. What is so amazing here is that even dead fish are smart enough to go with the tide.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I Find Your Lack Of Faith Disturbing

I liked it better in the original German. Which you can actually find on YouTube. An amazing bit of work.

This was prompted by one of the most recently honest Democrats in America. As long as we have Democrats like him there will be no orphan victories in America. No surprise there. Well what is my little agitated brain coming up with these days? Gateway Pundit, that's what. Who says:

Senator Joe Lieberman blasted Democrats today for placing politics before protecting America:
Sen. Joe Lieberman on Thursday painted a dim picture of his party, saying Democrats have given up their moral authority on foreign policy because they are more concerned with opposing Republicans than doing what is right.
And, Senator Joe Biden said in an interview that Democrats have lost faith in the American people.

Don Surber thinks Biden is on to something.
So lets track the linkage back. First Senator Joe who is in the know. According to Fox. You know them guys. The people who are always Foxing with the liberals. Heh.
WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Lieberman on Thursday painted a dim picture of his party, saying Democrats have given up their moral authority on foreign policy because they are more concerned with opposing Republicans than doing what is right.

The former presidential candidate and hawkish senator from Connecticut also came down hard on critics of a resolution he and Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., co-sponsored calling on the Bush administration to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.

"For many Democrats, the guiding conviction in foreign policy isn't pacifism or isolationism, it is distrust and disdain of Republicans in general, and President Bush in particular," Lieberman said at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies.

"In this regard, the Democratic foreign policy worldview has become defined by the same reflexive, blind opposition to the President that defined Republicans in the 1990s — even when it means repudiating the very principles and policies that Democrats as a party have stood for, at our best and strongest," Lieberman continued.
But why get your news second hand? Here is Smokin Joe in his own words:
“Iraq has become the singular litmus test for Democratic candidates. No Democratic presidential primary candidate today speaks of America’s moral or strategic responsibility to stand with the Iraqi people against the totalitarian forces of radical Islam, or of the consequences of handing a victory in Iraq to al Qaeda and Iran. And if they did, their campaign would be as unsuccessful as mine was in 2006. Even as evidence has mounted that General Petraeus’ new counterinsurgency strategy is succeeding, Democrats have remained emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq, reluctant to acknowledge the progress we are now achieving, or even that that progress has enabled us to begin drawing down our troops there.”
OK. So Joe notices things. The big fish who were once swimming with the tide are now bucking it. The tide has changed. What is so amazing here is that even dead fish are smart enough to go with the tide.

Now here is another Joe who gets it. Democrat Joe Biden. Joe is from Delaware, not too far from Connecticut Joe. Both are reliably liberal states. Total Blue blood. Here is what Joe from Delaware thinks:
Sen. Joe Biden said in an interview at the New Hampshire Union Leader this afternoon that too many Democrats, including the frontrunners for the presidential nomination, do not have faith in the American people.

“We’ve got to trust the American people more,” Biden said.

“I think they’ve really lost faith in the American people in terms of leveling with them,” he said of his leading rivals.

When he asks groups of Democrats if they think the American people are stupid because they elected George W. Bush twice, most respond that, yes, they do, he said. He said he thinks that attitude is a real problem for the Democrats, who fail to understand how smart and pragmatic the American people really are.

Biden was generally critical of the far left wing of his party and of the strategies the frontrunners are using to win the nomination.
Connecticut Joe always understood the importance of victory in Iraq. His defeat of Ned Lamont in a left leaning state shows that victory was tested in the last election among the left and found to be a winner. Not just on the right, but on the left too.

I remember Vietnam when so many politicos came out and said that the President fooled them about the prospects of that war. I look forward to Hillary saying that the President fooled her. "The war looked so totally unwinable, I was fooled by Bush's incompetence." Or something. It must have been Bush's stupid evil genius. Or something.

Now we get to Don Surber who disects Biden. In a nice way that really slices and dices the Democrats. Or as I prefer Defeatocrats.
Biden said: “We’ve got to trust the American people more. I think they’ve really lost faith in the American people in terms of leveling with them.”

That pretty much nails the problem. Dems don’t trust the people and so the people don’t trust them.

Democrats keep blaming their presidential losses on the stupidity of the American people. They’ve made “swift-boating” a verb, as if John O’Neill somehow ambushed John Kerry in 2004. The 2 first debated Kerry’s accusations of war crimes by all Vietnam vets in 1971. Helen Keller could have seen O’Neill coming.

But nope, dumb voters were duped. Again.

The Democratic Party line since at least 1968 is that the voters are duped by Republicans every 4 years.
Them Republicans have some of the biggest dupers you can find anywhere.

Thanks to Wake Up Americans we find another Democrat who also wants to be the father of an Iraqi victory.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said on Tuesday that the troop surge, which began in June, has had a significant impact on the situation in Iraq and noted that he had always been critical of the Bush administration for deploying an insufficient number of troops in previous years.

"Stability and a decrease in violence, they've done that - God bless them. I'm not surprised that they did," Hoyer told Cybercast News Service in response to a question about steadily declining U.S. casualty rates in Iraq.
Yep. The baby is being born not just from the surge but also a change in tactics made possible by the re-building of the Iraqi army over the last 4 years and Steny was there all the way. Way to go Daddy-O.

The Weekly Standard has gotten Steny to look at where the Democrats need to go now that losing the war does not appear to be a viable option:
Steny Hoyer is one of the sharper members of the Democratic leadership. He's hated by many in the Netroots because he believes that Democrats need to tread a centrist path to keep the backing of a majority of the American people. He understands that the hard-line against the Iraq war favored by the Democratic base is not a winning message while the troops on the ground are winning the war.

This tone of Hoyer's -- recognizing success and arguing that the president made a fundamental mistake in not listening to Democratic calls for more troops -- might be a trial balloon of the next Democratic argument on Iraq.
It looks like the Democrats have given up on the Agony of Victory and the Sweet Smell of Defeat and are edging towards a position more in line with the American people. Who as our morale expert Patton once said "love a winner and will not tolerate a loser". The Chicago Cubs notwithstanding.

Now how about passing the Veterans Bill?

Cross Posted at Classical Values with the nice video of Vader yuckking it up with the troops.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Hillary Scores

I think Hillary is going to do well in Iowa. According to The Hill she is this year's all time pork champion.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) has won tens of millions of dollars more in federal earmarks this year than her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, even though two of them have significantly more Senate seniority.

A review of the first three appropriations conference reports finished by Senate and House negotiators shows that Clinton has successfully requested at least $530 million worth of projects.

Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), Clinton’s chief rival for the nomination, has so far won $40.6 million in earmarked funds for his constituents, despite the fact that his home-state colleague and booster, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), sits on the Appropriations Committee.
The Hill talks about this theft like it was a good thing. Twain was right: “America is a nation without a distinct criminal class...with the possible exception of Congress."

Where is Nixon when you need him? Say what you will about Nixon. He was not a crook. He left that sort of thing to his friends. Hillary's style is more direct. No intermediaries for her. She is in there grabbing with both fists as fast as she can grab. With Hil it is not going to be just a snatch and grab job, it is going to be organized. Pallets of cash carried out to waiting trucks.

We Support The Troops - Democrat Congress Style

Let me start with the good news Congress can pass pork laden water bills over the President's veto.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 — The Senate dealt President Bush the first veto override of his presidency on Thursday, with a resounding bipartisan vote to adopt a $23.2 billion water resources bill that authorizes popular projects across the country.
Let us take a look at some of the most popular projects.
Supporters said the projects authorized under the Water Resources Development Act are necessary to rebuild the Gulf Coast after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, restore the Everglades and Great Lakes fisheries and build flood-control projects nationwide.
However, they seem unable to get a Veterans Affairs bill passed by Veteran's Day.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) issued the following statement today after Democrats once again turned aside a Republican effort to complete work on a veterans' housing, health care and benefits bill before Veterans Day. The vote represented the
10th time Democrats have rejected such a proposal:

"When the House first took up and overwhelmingly passed the veterans' appropriations bill 146 days ago, none of us could've anticipated we'd be standing here today - the last legislative day before Veterans Day - without a final bill. But maybe we should have. After all, Democrats have used seemingly every measure concerning our Armed Forces as an opportunity to induce surrender in Iraq and pass billions of dollars in unrelated pork-barrel spending. This is just the latest example of it.

"But even with all that, many of us thought they'd treat the veterans' funding bill differently. This is, after all, a piece of legislation that honors and serves the men and women who have done so much to protect the country in which we have the privilege to live today. These are the men and women we will honor on Monday - Veterans Day - with parades and accolades. But thanks to Democrats in Congress, we won't be honoring them with the spending bill they deserve.
You have to wonder about their priorities. Theft seems to be #1. Probably it would seem unseemly stealing from veterans so they will steal from New Orleans instead. After all. Who will notice?

Thank the Maker we have the most ethical Congress ever. I'd hate to see the other kind.

Economics In One Big Easy Lesson

Oregon Guy has a nice look at the panic in the financial markets these days.

His take is: look at the value of the kissers. Sally vs Nancy. I like Sally. An almost not work safe picture of Sally can be found at the above link.

Well any way I like Sally. Oh yeah. Where was I. Economics.

Oregon Guy says the only way American currency inflating vs the rest of the world hurts the USA is if inflation starts driving up prices in the USA. If American prices don't go up (say due to increased efficiency) then a lowering of the value of the dollar only hurts our competitors. As long as the dollars match the available goods inflation will not be a problem. And besides I like Sally.

What will be a problem is other countries whose output increases more slowly. The costs of their goods declines more slowly. Thus their currency holds its value relative to the dollar at the expense of lowered output.

Of course as one of my e-mail correspondents points out, our friends in government could be cooking the books. When in which case I still like Sally.

HT linearthinker via email

Cross Posted at Classical Values

The Big Disconnect

Pundit Nation is going on about how House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI), is going to shut down the war by attaching shut down clauses to every appropriations bill. Bush has already vetoed one of these bills. Here is what our Pundit fails to see:

There is a big disconnect here.

If the war is so unpopular why doesn't Congress shut it down?

Could it be that the majority of those unhappy with the war are unhappy with losing?

Southerners just hate losing wars. They just hate it. Three times in 300 years is just too much to bear (1861-65, 'Nam, with Iraq potential for #3).

So who put the Democrats over the top in '06? Southerners. Southerners contribute disproportionately to the military. Whose sons and daughters are in the field in Iraq? Southerners. If the Democrats get too obstructionist about the war they will lose the South.

Do you understand? The Republicans have a majority in the House. Let me repeat: The Republicans have a majority in the House. The war will be a victory for Americans or a defeat for Democrats.

All that Obey stuff is just theater for those who can't count.

Iraq Governing By First World Standards

I think the ideal would be to have the legislatures of America and Iraq equally esteemed.

Does that mean the Iraqis have to fall to the American level? Or would the Americans have to rise to the Iraqi level?

As soon as their Parliament is as effective as our current Congress I think we can safely say the Iraqis have arrived at First World Governing Standards.

Prompted by dday who says: "My optimism is tempered by years and years of history." Who thinks Iraq is lost because its government is behaving no better than ours. d-day wants official reconciliation between Shia and Sunni in Iraq or that will prove Malaki is no good. I have a slightly different proposition: I want official reconciliation between Republicans and Democrats in America or that will prove Bush is no good.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Just A Reminder

It is unwise to attribute to malice alone that which can be attributed to malice and stupidity.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Burning Pu And Other Stuff

It is mentioned quite frequently that burning up excess Plutonium is the best way to restrict its availability. A few days ago I was discussing the use of a Bussard reactor as a proliferation device. I looked at why it need not be a net power producer to be a useful high flux neutron source. I looked at it from the point of turning abundant U238 into scarce (in some places) Pu239. Bomb material.

Now let us look at it from another point of view. A way to safely burn up Pu239.

Reactors with a lot of Pu in them are hard to control for technical reasons having to do with delayed neutrons. There are 1/3rd as many as with U235, which is bad for Pu.

However, with a Bussard neutron generator (as opposed to a Bussard Power Generator which would produce 1/1,000th as many neutrons for a given fusion power output) you could design a reactor that was inherently safe (can not go critical because of the geometry) that could burn up the Plutonium and provide power out. To make the reactor stop you just hit the power switch. To throttle it up or down just control the voltages on the neutron generator (the Bussard neutron generator) at the center of the reactor.

With the possibility of explosions because of fuel loading and geometry (actually steam explosions caused by power pulses) in current reactors because they have to be loaded with several years of fuel to be economical and they have to produce their own neutrons, a complete rethinking of the whole business is in order. With a proper neutron source enriched uranium might not even be needed for nuclear power.

If the Bussard Neutron Generator (burning Deuterium) produced any thing like break even (fusion energy out = electrical power in) its use at the core of a fission plant could be very workable if the fission energy gain was sufficient. With a maximum theoretical gain of 100 or so (neutron energy in + other losses vs fission energy out) this should be very workable.

I want to be very clear here to differentiate between the two types of Bussard Reactors. One would be designed to fuse Deuterium. That reaction produces a lot of neutrons. The other type of Bussard reactor burns an isotope of Boron - Boron 11 and Hydrogen (when stripped of its electron it is referred to as a proton). What I like to call the pBj reaction. proton Boron joules. Which means smash the proton into the Boron and you get energy out.

One of the things we can do to reduce out of the box proliferation is to design the p-B11 reactors to have a lower tolerance for radiation so that if they did get diverted they wouldn't last long. Then you mostly have to keep an eye on the D-D jobs with fusion outputs above 100 Kw or so. Plus the clandestine folks.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Rolling Congress

The other wise extremely intelligent Jeralyn Merritt of Talk Left can't figure out why a Democrat Controlled Congress keeps getting rolled by Bush. I think I can help her out:

Democrats got control of Congress by electing a bunch of Republicans (on the war at least) from the South.

Dean's Southern Strategy. Hailed as a genius move. At the time.

Memories are long in the South and they hate losing wars. They just hate it.

The Democrat Party was never unified on the war issue and the Republicans remain solid that the only way out is victory followed by an Iraqi Army capable of holding Iraq for the elected government.

Why do you think Bush is rolling Congress? The option for the Democrats is a Republican controlled Congress. At least then they can blame it on the Republicans.

British Defeated - Sue For Peace

Pajamas Media's Wretchard has a very interesting bit on how the British were defeated in Iraq. You know, the very same British who had over 300 years of experience with colonialism and whose wisdom on the matter was obviously absolute.

Although considerable coverage has been given to the possible failure of the British strategy in southern Iraq, relatively little has been written about its possible underlying causes. On Oct 29, the Daily Telegraph ran a sensational article which suggested the British Army’s position had declined to the point where it is pinned down in its bases and can no longer persuade interpreters to accompany troops on patrol.
Rather than fight on, they have struck a deal – or accommodation, as they describe it – with the Shia militias that dominate the city, promising to stay out in return for assurances that they will not be attacked. Since withdrawing, the British have not set foot in the city and even have to ask for permission if they want to skirt the edges to get to the Iranian border on the other side. … "We don’t speak Arabic to explain and our translators were too scared to work for us any more. What benefit were we bringing to these people?"
It was a sad ending to a campaign which had been held up as a shining contrast to the U.S. campaign in Iraq. In August of 2007 the Washington Post described the shrunken state of the British influence in Iraq’s oil port.
"The British have basically been defeated in the south," a senior U.S. intelligence official said recently in Baghdad. They are abandoning their former headquarters at Basra Palace, where a recent official visitor from London described them as "surrounded like cowboys and Indians" by militia fighters. An airport base outside the city, where a regional U.S. Embassy office and Britain’s remaining 5,500 troops are barricaded behind building-high sandbags, has been attacked with mortars or rockets nearly 600 times over the past four months.
So where has the success in Iraq come from? The US Marines Small Wars Manual. Semper Fi. I think this goes to the core of the American character and something the British were known for. Muddling through. Or as Churchill put it, "Americans always do the right thing after they have tried everything else". Evidently that is no longer true of the British. Sad.

Which brings us the question of what is the next step? I look at that in Progress Is Our Most Important Product. Let us see what the Pajama's Guy, Wretchard aka Richard Fernandez, has to say on that subject.
The US threatened to reinforce Basra, an act which would have humiliated Gordon Brown.

The US warned that a brigade of troops would be sent from Baghdad to take "appropriate action" to maintain security. … Downing Street deemed it to be politically unacceptable for the Americans to replace British troops in Basra, as it would glaringly expose the growing differences between the two countries over Iraq.
Those highlights between those differences have become more invidious with the comparative success the surge is having even in Shi’ite areas. Recently US Army Colonel Michael Garrett described a process the reverse of Basra in the area south of Baghdad where civilian reconstruction teams were being deployed — not withdrawn — into the provinces with increasing success. Garrett, the commander of the 4th Brigade Combat team of the 25th Division contrasted his previous deployment, when "violence was at it’s highest point" to the current situation where "we really have gained the initiative … attacking al Qaeda and Shi’a extremist militias with much vigor … the attack levels are at the lowest today that they’ve been in our 13-plus months here on the ground". Most importantly, successes were being scored not only against al-Qaeda, but against Shi’ite militias. Garrett pointed out that the Shi’ites were starting to provide crucial intelligence which enabled them to neutralize high-value targets.
So there you have it. Help deliver a better life to the people and they respond by helping to defend not only the improved conditions, but also the suppliers of the improvements. No doubt it will ultimately descend into "what have you done for me lately", but by that time the Iraqi government should be running the show and then Iraqis will only have Iraqis to blame.

H/T Instapundit

Progress Is Our Most Important Product

A while back I did a post called Electricity where I discussed a number of things that would need to be done to stabilize Iraq and advance the welfare of its people.

I pointed out that security was the first order of business. That seems to be coming along nicely.

What is not coming along so well is improvements in basic modern services. Electricity, sanitation (clean water supplies, water borne and solid waste), natural gas heating and cooking.

A government that can't improve the lot of its citizens (at least bringing a country up to second world standards) is not going to last. With the high price of oil to finance such improvements, rolling out such efforts in an improved security situation should get priority.