Thursday, April 26, 2007

Franken Funds: Part 1

MNPublius is a blog that likes to style itself as worthy of (or at least aspirant to) The Founders who penned the seminal masterwork, The Federalist Papers. What it actually behaves like is a DFL FAX machine. Democrats good, Republicans bad, to the point of silly invention. There’s no problem with that, just so long as everyone is honest with what’s going on. If they’re claiming ‘Publius’ for inspiration, they’re not fooling anyone except, perhaps, themselves.

Let’s take a look at a recent offering under the heading “Coleman Begs, Andy Barr Zings” regarding the Coleman/Franken Senate race in Minnesota. It starts out with a very strange straw-man rimshot:

“So, Senator Norm Coleman is sending out fundraising e-mails begging for money–not a big surprise:”

Well, of course. He’s running for office. Every politician sends “fundraising e-mails begging for money.” Even MNPublius favorites do, like Klobuchar. Ellison, etc. etc. Sooner or later Franken will be sending them out as well (if he hasn’t already). So why make a normal part of politics sound so suspect, unless there’s intent to create a baseless negative?

The post continues with this non-sequitor slight-of-hand:

“The Senator’s latest angle is portraying Franken as a Hollywood insider with an infinite tap of all that pinko LA money. Funny thing is, the people Al Franken got his money from last quarter were pretty much all people; only around $20K came from PACs.”

Funny thing is, neither the Coleman quote or the linked AP story mentions PACs, just people. Except when quoting Andy Barr’s response. So why bring it up? Probably to deflect from the fact that yes indeed, Franken is the recipient of largesse from "Hollywood's liberal elite." That MNPublius (and the Franken campaign) wishes to hide that fact is evident by their overlooking another AP story that gets more to the point:

Scores of actors, writers, producers and others from the entertainment industry have contributed to Al Franken's Senate campaign, helping the Minnesota Democrat get off to a strong fundraising start.

Franken, a former "Saturday Night Live" star who hopes to take on GOP Sen. Norm Coleman next year, raised the maximum $4,600 from actors such as Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jason Alexander and Larry David…

Other notable contributors include actors Kevin Bacon and Kevin Kline; producers James L. Brooks and Norman Lear; directors Rob Reiner and Jonathan Demme; singers Don Henley and Bonnie Raitt; and actress Jane Curtain.

He also picked up donations from cartoonist Garry Trudeau, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, comedian Bill Maher, Dream Works Studios CEO David Geffen…

Coleman’s e-mail description seems pretty accurate, so the Franken campaign pre-empted the Hollywood observation by saying that Franken “had more donors from Minnesota than any other state.”

Now there’s no way to confirm that assertion for sure, since only certain contributions are detailed in Franken’s donation report (I think the cut-off is $250). So let’s take a quick look at the document.

By my count there are 843 contribution entries from individuals. Duplications from individuals can result as they give more than once, or to different pots (one for primary, one for general elections). But a quick count of “MN” entries yields 216 Minnesota contributions. That’s just over one fourth the total entries (25.6%).

So I tried an alternate method; I looked at the contributor at the top of each page. Since there are three per page, listed alphabetically by last name, I figured this would result in a fairly random distribution by state (although some may object that there’s a plethora of ‘Andersons’ and ‘Johnsons’ in Minnesota and a dearth of same elsewhere).

Given that there are 281 pages in the ‘individual contributions’ section means 281 persons randomly checked. Of these, 69 were from Minnesota for a total of 24.5%. That’s two pretty close percentages from two vary disparate methods of counting. For the record, California had 87, New York 41, and Washington 18. Those three states combined had more than twice the number of reported contributions as those from Minnesota.

Conclusion: Pleading that Franken’s fund raising is a ‘Minnesota-based’ enterprise is a fair stretch.

But stay tuned…we’re not quite done yet…

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

“These families need us here”

Speaking truth on Iraq to the Defeatocrats…er, Democrats, tends to be a very futile effort indeed. But there are those who try, anyway.

A recent shining example comes from Corporal Rock via Pat Dollard’s blog. It comes from someone much braver and more Iraq-wise than any Democrat or journalist in D.C. so it bears full replicating. Everyone needs to read it:

Today, from Corporal Tyler Rock in an outpost in downtown Ramadi. His first sentence is in response to an email from me:

“yeah i know how you feel. its going to be very weird leaving this place and going back to america. weve been here for almost an entire year and have lived in the center of it the whole time. its crazy that when we got here it was so hectic and now its calmed down so much. so it was awesome to be able to see that turn out.

yeah news worth reporting…. well ramadi was once dubbed by everyone as the worst city in the world. but we have done such a great job here that all the families in the area have worked with us on driving out the insurgency and that we work directly with the IA and the IP’s. the city has been cleaned up so well that the IP’s do most of the patrols now and we go out with them to hand out candy and toys to the children. you can tell that the people want us here to protect them from the thugs and gangs (insurgents). granted they would rather have peace and quit but they know that if we arent here they will be thrown around by the insurgents. a good example is this one mission we did. long story short we got blown up in multiple buildings and had to run into a families house. i spent my christmas holidays covered in ash from the mortar fire and the IED’s, sleeping under a dirty rug i found in the house. everyone was sleeping way to close for comfort just to stay warm. anyways. a family was there and they obviously didnt want us there. atleast at first. the daughters were very sick so our corpsman treated them. they didnt have electricity so we got them a generator for power, they were cold so we got them gas heaters, we got them food and water and then we gave them $500. by the end of the week long visit with them we were drinking tea with them. when we left we cleaned their house better than it was when we got there. i even have pictures with the family. they told us that they liked marines and they would help us as much as they could and they gave us some information on the insurgents in the area. we ended up catching a HUGE target down the road from there house because of it.

yeah and i got a qoute for that douche harry reid. these families need us here. obviously he has never been in iraq. or atleast the area worth seeing. the parts where insurgency is rampant and the buildings are blown to pieces. we need to stay here and help rebuild. if iraq didnt want us here then why do we have IP’s voluntering everyday to rebuild their cities. and working directly with us too. same with the IA’s. it sucks that iraqi’s have more patriotism for a country that has turned to complete shit more than the people in america who drink starbucks everyday. we could leave this place and say we are sorry to the terrorists. and then we could wait for 3,000 more american civilians to die before we say “hey thats not nice” again. and the sad thing is after we WIN this war. people like him will say he was there for us the whole time.

and for messages back home. i have a wife back home who is going through a tough time. i just cant wait to be back home and see everyone. haha and i cant wait to go back home and get some starbucks. i love it when those people serve me. hahaha”

Semper Fi, Corporal Rock…Semper Fi.

Pelosi to Petraeus: “I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you! Nya-nya-nyaaa!”

I can only surmise that the news in Iraq must be good.

So good that Democrat leaders were, at first, not going to attend a classified briefing given by General Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq. House Minority Leader John Boehner correctly called them on it (“a dereliction of duty”) and they’ve since decided to attend and learn about what it is they’ve been blathering about these many weeks and months. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has no problem going out of her way to meet with terrorist supporters like Syrian President Bashar Assad, will not attend the Wednesday briefing by the commander of our efforts in Iraq. “Scheduling conflict” and all that….

This is a telling decision. Pelosi has presented Iraq as her top concern and constantly rails on and on about it as though she’s some kind of expert. We’ve heard cry after cry from the Democrats for more ‘oversight’ of the Iraq war effort. So why does she still (and all Democrat leaders initially) choose not attend the briefing?

Redstate culls a revealing remark from Roll Call:

“The [Democratic] aides said that sending Petraeus is an effort to blunt Democratic criticism of the war.”

How could a classified briefing from Petraeus “blunt Democratic criticism of the war” unless the information contained in the briefing doesn’t support what the Defeatocrats…er, Democrats, have been saying?

Roll Call also relates a nice zinger from Boehner:

“…If I were delaying funding for his soldiers, I wouldn't want to look the General in the eyes either…”

Applying Occam’s Razor, it can only be that Democrats are not really serious about the issue, except for whatever political gain can be had. Attending a bi-partisan briefing when you’re not assured of fodder for the evening news is a waste of time if your only true goal is fodder for the evening news.

Bottom line; don’t confuse Pelosi and her party with the facts. Iraq and the War on Terror are about victories for Democrats over Republicans, not victory for the U.S. over its enemies. To quote columnist Debra J. Saunders:

On "60 Minutes" recently, Arizona's Republican Sen. John McCain said, "I'd rather lose a campaign than lose a war." Does anyone believe the same of Nancy Pelosi?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

“Hey! Let’s control THAT! …whatever it is….”

Democrats will seek to control anything in their pursuit of political points. Never mind that they have no clue what it is they’re doing; witness the ‘huge success’ that is public school and medical care as they’ve become more and more the playgrounds of state and federal power.

Here is a more pure, laughable instance of such an impulse. The Democrat in question has no clue what her proposal addresses. To learn what this Congress…“person” wants to ban (but not bother to gain knowledge on) go here.

I’ll bet she even has ideas on the situation in Iraq.

Totally funny. And scary…

Friday, April 13, 2007

Beauty amidst the beast of beaurocratic drudgery

Here's an absolutely brilliant piece of work from the Washington Post. It's made the nightly news so you have already heard about it, but in case you haven't, here's a few opening paragraphs:

HE EMERGED FROM THE METRO AT THE L'ENFANT PLAZA STATION AND POSITIONED HIMSELF AGAINST A WALL BESIDE A TRASH BASKET. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play.

It was 7:51 a.m. on Friday, January 12, the middle of the morning rush hour. In the next 43 minutes, as the violinist performed six classical pieces, 1,097 people passed by. Almost all of them were on the way to work, which meant, for almost all of them, a government job. L'Enfant Plaza is at the nucleus of federal Washington, and these were mostly mid-level bureaucrats with those indeterminate, oddly fungible titles: policy analyst, project manager, budget officer, specialist, facilitator, consultant.

Each passerby had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he's really bad? What if he's really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn't you? What's the moral mathematics of the moment?
It's a long story but well written; you can read the whole thing here. Two particular paragraphs stood out to me:

The poet Billy Collins once laughingly observed that all babies are born with a knowledge of poetry, because the lub-dub of the mother's heart is in iambic meter. Then, Collins said, life slowly starts to choke the poetry out of us. It may be true with music, too.

There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were represented in all three groups. But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.

...and a little child shall lead them...

When cartoonists trump journalists.

It must be embarrassing for the science division of a metropolitan newspaper to be scooped by the funnies page.

When it comes to the declarations of the Church of Global Warming – Evangelical (CGW-E), The Minneapolis Star Tribune will uncritically parrot any doom and gloom assertions that are made, but won’t present any countering science that becomes available. Leave it to the comic strip Mallard Fillmore to clue you in on what the editors don’t want you to be aware of.

Of course, ‘embarrassment’ is contingent upon objective self-analysis, something the STRIB isn’t known for.

Terrorism Awaress Day - April 19th

The indefatigable David Horowitz has launched a new college campus movement called Terrorism Awareness. The goal is two-fold: First, to overcome censorship, at the University level, of the film ‘Obsession’ that sketches the global threat posed by radical Islam. Secondly, to break through the politically correct ‘information ceiling’ constructed by many college campuses that prevents an open examination of the threat posed by Islamic terrorism.

On April 19th more than 100 college campuses will have events surrounding the showing of this film, hopefully followed by large cracks in the collegiate gag order that muffles discussion of the topic. I’ll be watching to see what happens next week, but given the true antipathy for free speech by the professorial left and Hamas-backed Islamist groups I don’t expect to be surprised.

In the meantime, if you haven’t seen ‘Obsession,’ go here and view an 11 minute clip from the film. It is more than worth your time.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Out of the CO2 frying pan, into the Ethanol fire.

A few days ago my ‘significant other’ asked if ethanol was really a less polluting fuel than regular gas. This is a bit of a trick question, since the trump card for ethanol is reduced CO2 emissions, and CO2 is not a pollutant.

A little research shows at best an even trade-off between the two. The Organic Consumers Association states the following:

[Ethanol] gets significantly lower miles per gallon, necessitating more frequent fill-ups. Ethanol's also more expensive than gasoline, and, as a blend, contributes to its high price.

Other downsides: Corn ethanol does reduce atmosphere-warming carbon emissions, but environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club say it actually is worse than gasoline in making smog. Meanwhile, builders of the nearly 200 ethanol manufacturing facilities under construction or planned are being tempted to power their facilities with coal. That's because it's less expensive than their current choice, natural gas. Coal power would wipe out or reduce the greenhouse gains of ethanol.

Ethanol may be a good political pitch to the farm states, but there’s no environmental upside. It might make things worse, in fact. If reducing automobile emissions of CO2 a few percentage points will have no impact on climate (as the science leads me to conclude), ethanol blends could make things worse, not better.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

High Frontiers

Let’s step into the world of aviation for a moment, shall we?

The move in recent years has been to transition to GPS and scrap ground-based systems like VORs and LORAN. GPS is more accurate and cost effective. But recent solar activity has put a temporary halt on total GPS reliance:

Scientists at last month’s Space Weather Enterprise Forum in Washington, D.C. said one of them “produced 20,000 times more radio emissions than the entire rest of the sun, enough to swamp GPS receivers over the entire sunlit side of Earth.” Unusually, even the more robust WAAS signals were affected. Loran advocates have long proposed the system as a necessary backup during GPS outages.

This is interesting for another reason. China has been developing and testing ‘satellite killer’ technology. Imagine the havoc if all flights were grounded due to a number of GPS satellites being destroyed, rendering the system unusable and grounding all commercial flights and crippling the military.

Keeping a ground-based system is an excellent idea. Radical Islam is indeed the enemy of today, but China is setting the chess board so as to someday have us in a checkmate before we even know we’re in a conflict.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Keith Ellison Book of Quotations

Keith Ellison, beginning his 9-day middle-east ‘Terrorist Tour,’ is quoted as saying "I've been part of pushing for peace in the Middle East. I'd like to see the president send an envoy to the Middle East to work on peace,"

This rather sounds in the vein of another famous quote I’ve heard:

“Give me peace or give me death”

Hmmm, that’s not it…

“…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 peace.”

No, no, no…

“Peace in our time.”

Ah! That’s the one.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Media Alter

Michelle Malkin has a wonderful post that points out the MSM’s religious hypocrisy. On the one hand, they portrayed ‘sensitivity’ when Muslims were violently outraged to the point of mayhem and murder over the printing of a cartoon of Mohammad (i.e., no more printing of said cartoon). But the Media has little trouble showing what gets Christians boycotting mad (in this case, the Chocolate Jesus statue).

If some Christian threatened bodily harm to the artist, does anyone think USA Today and CNN would be rushing to 'refrain from offense'?

The envelope, please...

A bit late for last week, but here we are anyway...

Pithy observation of the week: "There was a question whether the Blair government would end up leaving Britain with a navy too small to protect its shores. Now it seems to want a navy that can't even protect its own sailors." Historian Arthur Herman

Cartoon of the week:

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