Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Too Close to Home

When you live in two rural areas, as the DrsC do, you don't expect to see your neighborhood featured in a New York Times story. The following story is about a mini-disaster that happened within 6-8 miles of our California winter home.

CA 149 is a heavily traveled short highway that connects CA 99 with CA 70, two relatively main north-south routes on the east side of California's central valley. It is part of the direct highway route between the two largest cities in Butte County: Chico and Oroville. The route is being improved, with overpasses being built at both ends of 149. This morning, one of these bridges under construction fell down and crushed a FedEx truck. About three people were hurt, so far no one has died.

My limited knowledge of engineering suggests that the design, the execution, or both were faulty.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Barone's "Cheer Up" Questioned

Michael Barone, writing in the National Review Online, has a nice article which summarizes data from a Pew Global Attitudes survey. His conclusion: Americans are pessimistic about the future but shouldn't be. If you'd like to be cheered up, give him a read. I think he has misread the situation.

I suspect we are pessimistic about America's future because it appears that our political apparatus has become almost entirely dysfunctional. Legislatures don't legislate, leaders don't lead, and courts make wrong-headed decisions. Because our politics is so painful, we do not attract high quality individuals to public life. We see a threat from militant Islam and declare it to be a "religion of peace." We are overwhelmed by illegal immigrants, Latin America dumping its surplus population on us, and cannot muster the will to make it stop. We are dependent on foreign oil from nations that hate us and cannot bring ourselves to achieve energy independence. We refuse to give money to political campaigns and wonder why our politicians are owned by those who pay the bills. At the moment our public culture isn't behaving like something in which one can reasonably have confidence.

On the other hand, many of us have managed to carve out a quite reasonable life for ourselves in our slowly sinking Titanic of a nation. We have summer houses, take cruises and fly here and there for work and play. There are 200 channels on the TV, games on the computer, and this medium, the Internet, to entertain us. We eat too much fast food (bread) and watch the NFL on TV (circuses). Life is good for now, and possibly for our lifetimes. Yet we feel that it cannot be sustained through our children's and grandchildren's lifetimes.

I find the data that puzzles Barone extremely understandable, see if you don't agree. Yet the economic good news that he cites is real, a probable consequence of tax cuts. One interpretation is that governmental ineptitude is for the moment a boon in disguise. A government that can do nothing is a government that does little harm. Let's hope we don't suddenly need it to function in an emergency like Hurricane Katrina or worse.

Quote of the Day

James Taranto, editor of the online OpinionJournal of The Wall Street Journal, gives us the following quote from former Republican Congressman Dick Armey:
As Dick Armey observed, borrowing from Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Liberals love humanity but hate people."
That is insightful, and the converse is probably just as true, namely that conservatives take a dim view of humanity but love people.

Study: Women Penalized for Haggling

In an interesting summary of several research studies published by MSNBC online, women are found to be less likely than men to negotiate for raises, etc. This is thought to be a factor in the persistent gender difference in salaries when education, occupation, years of experience and job title are controlled. This difference amounts to about 11%, according to the article.

Further investigation into the question of why women are less likely to negotiate finds that men actively discriminate against both men and women who negotiate. However, they are more than twice as offended by a woman negotiating as by a man doing the same thing. The article concludes that women tend not to negotiate because they understand doing so has, for them, high social costs. The cost-benefit analysis for men often comes out more favorable for negotiating.

Subsequent studies used actors who recorded videos of themselves asking for more money or accepting salaries they had been offered. A new group of 285 volunteers were again asked whether they would be willing to work with the candidates after viewing the videos. Men tended to rule against women who negotiated but were less likely to penalize men; women tended to penalize both men and women who negotiated, and preferred applicants who did not ask for more.

Now if we apply this psychological insight to the political arena, no wonder Hillary Clinton has such high negatives from both men and women.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Nerd = Hyperwhite?

Check out this article from The New York Times which reports research into the meaning of "nerd" and "nerdiness." The author, a linguistics prof at UC Santa Barbara, concludes that the essence of being a nerd is rejecting the usual borrowings from black youth culture that characterize those white youth considered cool. According to the article, this has some interesting implications:

the code of conspicuous intellectualism in the nerd cliques Bucholtz observed may shut out “black students who choose not to openly display their abilities.” This is especially disturbing at a time when African-American students can be stigmatized by other African-American students if they’re too obviously diligent about school. Even more problematic, “Nerds’ dismissal of black cultural practices often led them to discount the possibility of friendship with black students,”

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Proposed Rules for Immigrants

Steve Tefft, writing in the Barnstable Patriot, proposes a set of rules for prospective immigrants. They are very good, but probably impossible to enact. Here is a sample:

8) Do not expect to be covered by any of our “affirmative action” laws. They were established to expunge the effects of prior discrimination within our borders. Because you’ve never lived here, you haven’t been a victim of discrimination and are ineligible for victim status.

Take a look, these rules make a reasonable framework for our future immigration policy. If we could just elect a legislature that would enact them....

Canada Backs Away from Socialized Medicine

Take a look at this article by a Canadian physician which appears in the Investors Business Daily online. His description of a Canadian ER could turn your stomach.

While policy wonks in the U.S. are thinking about moving us to socialized medicine, the author chronicles how Canada and other nations which now have socialized medicine are moving, albeit slowly, to privatize medicine. I am particularly intrigued with his analysis of comparative death rates, he says:

In The Business of Health, Robert Ohsfeldt and John Schneider factor out intentional and unintentional injuries from life-expectancy statistics and find that Americans who don't die in car crashes or homicides outlive people in any other Western country.

In other words, our health care system works very well if you can avoid being murdered and drive safely. Most of us do both.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Less Sanguine View

In contrast with yesterday's Mark Ribbing article, the New York Post's John Podhoretz has a less cheerful view of Republican chances in the 2008 election. Because there has been no dramatic domestic terrorism since 9/11, Podhoretz argues that U.S. voters have pushed the security issue to the back burner. He observes

What if, in fact, we're seeing a restoration of a secular national trend toward liberalism - a preference among voters and the American populace more generally toward liberal solutions to national problems and to the Democratic Party as the repository for those solutions?

This would be the trend that was in evidence on Election Night 2000. If you add up the votes of the two left-liberal presidential candidates that year - Al Gore and Ralph Nader - you come up with 54 million. That's 3 million more than George W. Bush and Pat Buchanan combined.

In other words he believes that, absent a clear and present threat, American voters prefer what Democrats have to offer. Podhoretz offers some current polling statistics to back up this assertion.

What Ribbing and Podhoretz disagree about is the degree to which U.S. voters see Islamic terrorism as the number one problem they want their federal government to confront. I hope for all our sakes Ribbing's view is the correct one.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Heads Up for Democrats

Mark Ribbing writes an excellent article entitled The 'Security Thing' in Opinion section of The Wall Street Journal of Wednesday, July 25, 2007. Unfortunately, the article is only available online to subscribers of the WSJ.

In the article, Democrat Ribbing makes the point that in perilous times, today's voters prefer a Republican in the White House. Since Vietnam, voters have only elected Democrats during periods when threat levels were low. He argues that in order to win in 2008, Democrats absolutely must prove to the voters that they are serious about terrorism and homeland security. He adds that talking about how quickly they can pull troops out of Iraq isn't the way to make this argument convincingly.

If you have access to Wednesday's WSJ, give it a look. I believe he is correct and, like him, I am far from sure that the Democrats can make this sale.

Global Warming in Peru?

The BBC online reports that Peru is suffering an unusual and at times deadly cold snap. Some 70 children have died in weather that got as cold as -4F in the mountains where they lived. The article adds

Many adults have also died during the harsh winter, and thousands of people are suffering from pneumonia and other respiratory infections.

Are these further examples of the global warming that Al Gore and other alarmists keep decrying?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

H. Potter Internal Contradictions

Herein I begin the first formal edition of observed internal contradictions in the seven volume Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I expect internal contradictions to be an occasional series on this blog.

Today's example references book 1: HP and the Sorcerer's (or Philosopher's) Stone and book 6: HP and the Half-Blood Prince. In book 1 Harry rides the Hogwarts Express to school for the first time, on September 1, and as they are arriving in Hogsmead, hears the train conductor announce something like "Leave your luggage on board, it will be brought up to the school for you."

In book 6 Harry puts on the invisibility cloak and sneaks into Draco's compartment to spy on him. Draco catches Harry, puts a full-body bind curse on him, and covers him with the invisibility cloak. Harry lies on the floor of that compartment unable to move or speak. He is eventually found by his "minder" Tonks, when the train starts to leave and he hasn't shown up. The whole time he lies there nobody comes into the compartment to get the trunks of its Slytherin occupants. Anyone who did would have stepped on him and thus felt him although they couldn't see him.

Had someone been doing accio trunks Harry would have heard the trunks whoosh out of the compartment. He reports no such event. Hence, in book 6 student luggage was schlepped by the students themselves, while in book 1 some unseen force (probably the 100+ house elves of Hogwarts) was schlepping the luggage. It sounds like Hogwarts has cut this posh service by his sixth year.

Credit for spotting this internal contradiction goes the the other DrC. Comments on this post are, as always, welcome....

Monday, July 23, 2007

WSJ Review of the Deathly Hallows

Meghan Cox Gurdon reviews children's books for The Wall Street Journal. Go here to read her excellent review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Warning: if you've not read HP7 yet: there are a couple of minor spoilers in her review. On the other hand, if you've not even started HP7, you probably aren't so serious a Potter fan as to mind reading a few plot details.

Quote of the Day

Go here to see a photo of Mitt Romney posing with a woman holding a sign which reads:

No to Obama, Osama, and Chelsea's Moma (sic)

Without endorsing Mitt Romney, those are my sentiments exactly. Unless something better comes along, that will do for the rhyming quote of the day. And, yes, it should be spelled "momma."

Liberal Talk Radio Has No Audience

There has been considerable discussion recently about the success of conservative talk radio (e. g., Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage) and the non-success of liberal talk radio (Air America, etc.) That this gap exists is not in question, the question is why it exists. What follows is my view, and the view of the other DrC is also noted.

I believe conservative talk radio is successful because it articulates the views of many listeners who do not find those views championed in the mainstream media (MSM). The MSM is overwhelmingly liberal in editorial content.

Liberals need only watch or listen to the network news, or PBS or NPR to hear their views reflected in both news and editorial opinion content. Thus, liberal talk radio competes with almost the entire MSM plus the noncommercial broadcasters. Conservative talk radio only competes with Fox Cable News, some online sites and a handful of conservative magazines (e. g., National Review, The Weekly Standard).

In other words, the issue is one of supply and demand. Presumably there is roughly equal demand for liberal and conservative opinion since the electorate is nearly evenly divided politically. What isn't equal is supply; liberals have many more sources of supply than do conservatives. Since conservatives get concentrated into relatively few outlets, those outlets have very high viewer- and listenership. Thus, Fox News channel gets higher ratings than its cable news competitors and the stations with conservative talk shows do well too. Somewhere, I imagine the ghost of Adam Smith is laughing quietly.

The other DrC opines that perhaps hip-hop or rap music is the "talk radio" of the left, with its persistent themes of violence, misogyny and alienation. Perhaps those on the left prefer listening to music lyrics (instead of political rants) with which they agree. I suspect this view has merit too.

Gentle readers, feel free to contribute your own opinions on this topic.

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The DrsC got HP7 on Saturday at about 3:30 p.m. and finished reading it aloud to each other Sunday evening at roughly 11 p.m. In the intervening hours we got some sleep and ate some meals, otherwise it was wall-to-wall Potter. As predicted on June 30, coming to the end of the announced Potter series is both satisfying and sad. I say "announced" because the book ends in a way that would allow additional books to be written, set in Rowling's world of wizards.

Rowling could do for the "world of Potter" what Frank Herbert did for the "world of Dune" or Clive Cussler did for the "world of NUMA," namely, write additional books set before or after the basic work, and/or bring in coauthors to fill out the franchise. If I were a betting person, I'd bet against it. She really doesn't need the money and she could hardly be more famous.

If you are looking for "spoilers" you won't find them here. As Rowling announced long ago, some major characters die in book seven. If you want to find out which characters are killed, go read the book. Book seven has some great plot and character twists, some great battle scenes, and even some times when you wish the three main characters would get busy.

It will be interesting to see what holes people will poke in Deathly Hallows. I think I found one on our first reading: Rowling has bored thestrals grazing in book seven, and "grazing" is herbivores eating grasses. In book five it is established that thestrals are carnivores. Hagrid uses a side of beef to lure thestrals out of the forest so Care of Magical Creatures students can learn about them. Also in book five it is Grawp's blood on Harry and Hermione that lures in the thestrals they ride to London. In movie five you see Luna offer fruit to a small thestral which it rejects, after which she offers raw meat which it eats with gusto. So...maybe a small "hole."

The bottom line: Did the DrsC enjoy the Deathly Hallows? Yes. Do we think Rowling did a good job wrapping up the series? Yes. Now what we have to look forward to is the Jim Dale CDs of book seven, the movies for books six and seven, and the DVDs for movies five, six and seven.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

HP7 arrives today. Blogging may be pretty sparse until the other DrC and I have finished reading it aloud to each other. Then I'll do a review of the book, without serious spoilers if I can manage it.

Congress Implodes

Don Surber, a columnist for the Charleston Daily Mail, writes of the abysmal approval ratings of the Democrat-controlled Congress. The Reuters-Zogby Poll finds that just 14% of respondents approve of the job Congress is doing. That is down from 23% in 2006, just before the Republicans lost control of both houses. Even among Democrats, only 19% approve of the job Congress is doing. Surber's best line is the following:

After six months, Democrats do have one bipartisan accomplishment: Everyone hates Congress.

Everybody complains about the President's low ratings. However, more than twice as many people approve of the job George Bush is doing; his ratings are in the 34% region. I am reminded of Mark Twain's observation about political life in the United States:

It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native criminal class except Congress.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

On Letting Needs Drive Beliefs

The Washington Times reports a Muslim advocacy group in Washington, D.C., has claimed President Bush is stirring up "Islamophobia." The article says

"The new perception is that the United States has entered a war with Islam itself," said Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the national board of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). "The popular discourse in America today remains mired in stereotypical denouncements about Islam. As a result Muslims and their faith remained misunderstood, feared and shunned."
Mr. Ahmed has confused what should be happening with what is happening. Actually, the President repeatedly has gone out of his way to fatuously proclaim Islam "a religion of peace."

Does President Bush have any concept of how silly he sounds when he says this? I hope he knows he is lying, but I fear he has decided that what he wants to be true is true. I'm reminded of Minister of Magic Fudge refusing to acknowledge that Voldemort is back.

Meanwhile, the American people understand that Islam is a problem and are waiting for their leaders to figure it out. It may take another 9-11 to move public policy in a realistic direction.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Americans No Longer Tallest People

This Associated Press article on the Fox News website indicates that average Americans are no longer the world's tallest people. This fact is important because average height is strongly correlated with economic well-being.

One factor the article doesn't mention is the strong possibility that the avalanche of legal and illegal immigrants from poor countries is dragging down our American average height. The article hints at this factor as follows:

Komlos and Lauderdale also found height inequality between American urbanites and residents of suburbs and rural areas. In Kansas, for example, white males are about as tall as their European peers; it's big cities like New York, where men are about 1.75 inches shorter than that, that drag America's average down.

This sounds like another good argument in favor of getting control of our borders and cutting off the illegal immigration of hordes of unskilled, dirt-poor laborers.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday, the Thirteenth

Today is the day the superstitious dread, and the rest of us find mildly amusing. One thing I do know, the MSM has produced no material worth referencing here today. Better luck tomorrow, I hope.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Our Dear Northern Neighbor

Canada's population is roughly that of California, and much of its vast territory is essentially uninhabitable tundra and taiga. Once again the Canadians are agonizing about their relationship with the United States. The author of this article favors an active dialog, while recommending continued vigilance against cultural and political hegemony.

Isn't it interesting that there is absolutely no similar consideration going on south of our mutual border? Exactly nobody in the United States agonizes over our relationship with Canada, which relationship is almost universally ignored in U.S. foreign policy circles and by the American public.

I suppose it is like the mouse that lies down to sleep by the elephant. The mouse sleeps with one eye open in case the elephant rolls over in its sleep with disastrous results for the mouse. Meanwhile, the elephant sleeps soundly with never a care.

Taking the Long View

World War Four is underway. Go here to read historian Andrew Roberts' sobering Christian Science Monitor article about the nature of Islamofascism and the required response by the English-speaking peoples. For example, he says

Countries in which English is the primary language are culturally, politically, and militarily different from the rest of "the West." They have never fallen prey to fascism or communism, nor were they (except for the Channel Islands) invaded.

They stand for modernity, religious and sexual toleration, capitalism, diversity, women's rights, representative institutions – in a word, the future. This world cannot coexist with strict, public implementation of Islamic sharia law, let alone an all-powerful caliphate.

And he adds

We know that Al Qaeda cannot be appeased, because if they could, the French would have appeased them by now.

I love that line about the French. Finally, he concludes

We are told that a future US administration led by President Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would be keen to reorient foreign policy toward France and Germany, which might indeed be in America's short-term, passing, commercial interests.

The US should never forget, however, that in those moments when she is looking for true friends, it is the English-speaking peoples who stand shoulder to shoulder with her, not her fair-weather friends.

This article is a must-read, but you may need to take an antidepressant after reading it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Today the DrsC attended a matinee performance of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, or OotP as the fan sites call it. In a word, it is "excellent."

Book five is not our favorite among the Potter oeuvre, because much of it is downbeat. By shortening the story of year five, the movie actually improves the telling of that year, while sacrificing relatively little that is crucial to the overall story trajectory.

The film leaves out Harry's disastrous date with Cho at Madame Puddyfoot's Tea Shoppe in Hogsmead. Rowling's description of this misadventure is enough to make any man who remembers his own adolescence cringe. At the end of the day, however, that scene does nothing to move forward the basic plot line: the battle with Voldemort.

The film also leaves out all mentions of Quiddich: the episode of Harry being banned "for life" from playing Quiddich as well as Ron's struggles to overcome lack of self-confidence as keeper while listening to the Slitherins taunt "Weasley is Our King." Likewise gone are the visit to St. Mungo's Hospital and Harry's interview in the Quibbler. These add to the great length of the book and are surely fun to read, but their absence does not detract from the film.

The casting of Umbridge is odd. The book describes Umbridge as toad-like and repulsive in appearance whereas the actress cast is nice-looking. However her character is the classic bureaucratic tyrant and she plays it well. The casting of Bellatrix Lestrange is also interesting, again the actress selected doesn't look much like the character described by Rowling.

This series has suffered other episodes of odd casting, most notably the casting of Fleur delaCour, the Beauxbatons champion who the book claims is a haughty part-Veela and drop-dead gorgeous. The young actress chosen to play Fleur in film four - the Goblet of Fire - is pleasant-looking and French but certainly no great beauty. They needed a young Catherine Deneuve and got instead the girl next door in Paris.

On the other hand, the casting of the Luna Lovegood part is excellent, as is the actress who plays Tonks. Both of these are new to the series and great additions.

If you like Potter, you will like the film. Yes, much had to be left out and you can quibble with what stayed and what went, but what stayed is very good indeed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Income Inequality and the Culture Gap

Brink Lindsey of the Cato Institute writes of the impact of culture on educational achievement and therefore on income inequality. The article appears in the July 9, 2007, Wall Street Journal and can be viewed here. He says

...the opportunity cost of failing to develop human capital is now much higher than it used to be. The wage premium associated with a college degree has jumped to around 70% in recent years from around 30% in 1980; the graduate degree premium has soared to over 100% from 50%. Meanwhile, dropping out of high school now all but guarantees socioeconomic failure.

Then he adds:

The problem is not lack of opportunity. If it were, the country wouldn't be a magnet for illegal immigrants. The problem is a lack of elementary self-discipline: failing to stay in school, failing to live within the law, failing to get and stay married to the mother or father of your children. The prevalence of all these pathologies reflects a dysfunctional culture that fails to invest in human capital.

The article is excellent, certainly a must-read.

Quote of the Day

The phone number of Senator David Vitter (R-LA) appeared among those of customers posted online by the so-called "DC Madam," according to ABC News which also reports the following:

In 1999, after designated House Speaker Rep. Bob Livingston, R-La., abruptly resigned after disclosures of numerous affairs, Vitter successfully ran to succeed him representing suburban New Orleans.

Asked whether she could forgive her husband after an extramarital affair, as Livingston's wife had done, Wendy Vitter told the Times-Picayune: "I'm a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary [Clinton]. If he does something like that, I'm walking away with one thing, and it's not alimony, trust me."

Vitter had better lock up the carving knives and buy chain mail undershorts.

Global Warming???

Buenos Aires has experienced its first significant snowfall in 89 years, according to this story from the Associated Press, appearing in Yahoo News. The DrsC were there earlier this year and can attest this is an unusual event. I suspect many subtropical plants didn't survive the atypical cold.

Question for Al Gore:

Is this another example of the global warming you keep warning us about?

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The New Evils of Socialized Medicine

The always entertaining Mark Steyn writes in the Orange County Register about the U.K.'s socialized National Health Service. The NHS was founded right after World War Two.

Sixty years later, no amount of gold can persuade Britons to spend their working lives in the country's dirty, decrepit hospitals (they spend enough of their nonworking lives there, waiting to be seen, waiting for beds, waiting for operations). According to a report in the British Medical Journal, white males comprise 43.5 percent of the population but now account for less than a quarter of students at UK medical schools. In other words, being a doctor is no longer an attractive middle-class career proposition. That's quite a monument to six decades of Michael Moore-style socialist health care.

As a result they've had to hire lots of third-world doctors and nurses, many of them Muslim. Now we have several connected bombing plots maladroitly planned and executed by these Muslim physician/civil servants. I hope for the patients' sakes they were better physicians than they were bombers.

By the way, I suspect this dependence on foreign doctors is fairly typical of governmental health systems. I understand our Veterans Administration hospitals are similarly staffed with immigrants.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Human Nature is Politically Incorrect

Miller and Kanazawa have a provocative article in Psychology Today which puts forward ten aspects of human nature that are definitely not politically correct. These aspects supposedly are supported by research evidence.

Examples include such things as people are naturally polygamous, from which women benefit more than men; having sons reduces the likelihood of divorce while beautiful people have more daughters; and men having a midlife crisis are just trying to replace their menopausal wife with younger women. There are lots more. My favorite is that Muslims are suicide bombers, not because of their religion, but because their societies are polygamous. Go read the article, it is fun and may even be right some of the time.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

RV Sales Are Up Despite High Fuel Prices

USA Today reports that sales of recreational vehicles are up 22% over the last three years. Given that fuel costs are at or near all time highs, and that RVs get relatively poor fuel mileage, this comes as something of a surprise. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised after all.

The DrsC have RVed for 35 years all over the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand. We know something that non-RVers do not, namely, that living in your RV tends to be cheaper than living in your house or apartment. For one thing, you are heating and cooling a smaller living space. For another, you typically don't buy furnishings for your RV as it comes fully furnished. And, as motel prices have doubled and doubled again, the $20-30/night campsite begins to look like a bargain.

RVing beats living out of suitcases in hotel/motel rooms. Plus, imagine how nice it is to travel with your own toilet and not have to use public facilities. Finally, if you use the RV to cook your own meals you rarely get a bad one, something that isn't always true of roadside restaurants.

Malkin on Assimilation of Immigrants

Michelle Malkin, writing in the National Review Online, makes the important point that assimilation needs to be the key issue in immigration. She observes:

We are first and foremost a nation of laws. The U.S. Constitution does not say that the paramount duty of government is to “Celebrate Diversity” or to “embrace multiculturalism” or to give “every willing worker” in the world a job. The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution says the Constitution was established “to provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty.”

As our Founding Fathers recognized, fulfilling these fundamental duties is impossible without an orderly immigration and entrance system that discriminates in favor of those willing, as George Washington put it, to “get assimilated to our customs, measures [and] laws.”

Right on, Michelle! Now that we've put amnesty to rest, it is time to turn up the heat under the often-maligned melting pot, of which most of us are products.

Fabulous Fireworks in Idaho Falls

We just got home from watching the Fourth of July fireworks in Idaho Falls. They were just spectacular, nothing less does them justice. It is billed as the largest fireworks display west of the Mississippi River, and I believe it. For a half hour the sky is continuously filled with coordinated multiple detonations of beautiful display shells, nearly 10 thousand of them in all.

My wife and I have seen the fireworks in many places, including those at Disney World and those on the mall in Washington, D.C. None compare to the fireworks each Fourth of July in Idaho Falls. The local press estimates 100,000 people attended this year, which is twice as many people as live in Idaho Falls.

The fireworks are paid for by the Melaleuca Corporation, which calls itself The Wellness Company, and which is headquartered in Idaho Falls. Melaleuca appears to be a pyramid marketing operation whose product line and business model resemble those of Amway or Shacklee . The firm is named for a family of Australian trees also called "ti trees" or "tea trees" from which is produced tea tree oil, an essential oil with reputed antibiotic and antifungal properties.

I have not tried Melaleuca products. I have watched their fireworks on several occasions and can recommend the fireworks to you without reservation. The place to be at 10 p.m. on July 4 is on the banks of the Snake River in idyllic Idaho Falls.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Fred is Ahead

Rasmussen reports polling results showing Fred Thompson is ahead of Rudy Giuliani in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Mitt Romney is third, just ahead of John McCain who is fourth. Go here to see the numbers and the details.

Ol' Fred is doing pretty well for an unannounced candidate. He is able to write op-ed pieces and appear on radio and TV without triggering an equal-time situation. As a result of his positive experience with holding off on announcing candidacy, I expect many more would-be candidates will try the "Thompson ploy" four years from now.

Frankly, I'd prefer a system in which nobody announced candidacy until six weeks before the first primaries. The current system, which amounts to a perpetual campaign, is the pits. By the time November, 2008, finally rolls around, we will be thoroughly sick of the whole process. Whoever wins, the election will bring a few weeks or months of blessed relief.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Imagined Conversation Between Putin and Bush

The DrsC were in Russia within the last month and asked Russians about their President Putin. President Bush would love to have the popularity that Putin has.

Read this article by Spengler in the Asia Times Online. In it he(?) imagines what Bush and Putin might have said to each other in Kennebunkport recently if both had spoken their minds. To get an idea of what the world must look like from the viewpoint of President Putin, this article is a must-read.

Note: the article permits no quotes so none appear here.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Burger Madness

The place for burgers in Jackson, Wyoming, is Billy's, a part of the Cadillac Bar and Grill on the town square. The burgers feature 1/2 lb. of ground beef, and the fries are cross-cut. You eat at a counter and watch the food prep. Being hassled in a good-natured way by the young men who cook and serve is a Billy's tradition.

I haven't had a Billy's burger for about 9 months but I'll have one for supper tonight and at least once a week for the next two months. That plus the drive up the beautiful Snake River canyon to get there make for a memorable afternoon.