Wednesday, March 30, 2011

et ceteras

Thanks to Rich Lowry for bringing up what I consider to be the statistic of the week: In the late 1960’s, federal defense spending and federal non-defense spending were equal percentages of our GDP, but today the latter is four times the amount of the former. That shows why entitlements, arts subsidies, etc., must be cut or eliminated if our government is ever going to get its finances straight.

Gas prices have increased a whopping 67 percent since Barack Obama became president. Have you noticed that no one in the MSM has attributed any of the blame to him, even though he has done things that obviously place upward pressure on prices? Things like imposing a prolonged ban on oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico last year, even though that drilling had been contributing to our supply for decades?

Do you remember how when gas prices were on the rise during George W. Bush’s presidency, everybody in the MSM was quick to blame him for the problem even though he took steps to alleviate it? Things like announce an end to the sweeping executive ban on offshore drilling -- an announcement that was followed by a greater than 50 percent drop in gas prices before he left office?

I have been rough on environmentalists in my last two posts, and today I learned something (thanks to Nat Brown) that makes me want to be rough on them some more. Namely, I learned that in those places where plastic grocery bags have been banned because of trumped-up environmental concerns, the use of plastic bags in general has then skyrocketed to the point that the impact of the bans is a net increase in plastic bag consumption. Don’t forget what they say about good intentions and the road to Hell…

For years I have been aggravated by the decline in quality of play when it comes to basketball. But I must say that this year’s NCAA tournament has made me happy with some old-style teamwork on display; a bevy of down-to-the-wire games; and now a Final Four featuring no top seeds and two presumably huge underdogs. It’s not yet on par with Lorenzo Charles’s buzzer-beating dunk to lift NC State over Houston in ’83, or Villanova shooting 79 percent to stun Georgetown in ’85, but this year has all the ingredients to produce a classic like those -- and for the first time in a long time I am eagerly looking forward to watching the Final Four.

And to close this post, what about some pictures? Last month I wrote about some nature preserves where I had been hiking. Since then I have paid three more visits, once to go trail running in Brooker Creek Headwaters Preserve and twice to go mountain biking (such as it is Florida) in Conner Preserve. Below, the first photo shows one of the trails I ran on, while the second shows some wildflowers I encountered while biking.

I will see you back here as soon as I have something worth saying. Until then, keep plugging away at whatever it is you do!

Monday, March 28, 2011

A brief follow-up

In my most recent post, I wrote that the natural migration of barred owls into the preferred habitat of spotted owls is what has caused the latter’s numbers to decline, and I took environmentalists -- supposed nature lovers that they are -- to task for “refusing to accept Mother Nature’s own design.” Well, today I am going to ramp up my rhetoric by pointing out that these environmentalists are not only recoiling at Mother Nature’s design, but are actively rejecting one of the most hallowed scriptures of their liberal faith: Evolution.

Consider the following, taken from a column by Lou Dolinar, formerly of Newsday and now contributing to National Review. Of the relationship between spotted and barred owls, he writes: “…some biologists say that the two species are closely related, since they can interbreed and produce fertile offspring. Some suspect they diverged from a common ancestor during the last Ice Age, when populations were split into East Coast and West Coast versions…Rather than the extinction of a species, it may be that all we’re seeing is a post-glacial restoration of the natural order of things.”

You just know that many of the people who weep for the spotted owl are owners of those car magnets that have the name “Darwin” spelled prominently across the image of the Christian fish. Will they continue to gnash their teeth over the owl’s declining numbers, even if it is their own sacred deity, Evolution, that is authoring the decline? My guess is they will, and that they will be too dense to see the irony.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

et ceteras


For the record, I believe it is good (or at least better than the alternative) that the U.S. is now acting against Moammar Qaddafi by intervening to protect the citizens of Benghazi. However, I also believe that the way our president announced our intervention was so incoherent and meek that it bordered on irresponsibility.

Barack Obama, unlike his predecessor, sent our armed forces into action without input from Congress…and without explaining why he felt it was necessary to send those forces into action.

Further, Obama’s deed of ordering the military into action, especially in this instance, is wildly inconsistent with his many denunciations of past military actions.

And, damnably, Obama spent much of his announcement saying we will leave soon; telling Qaddafi loyalists what we won’t do to oppose them; and neglecting to say whether we have any desire, much less intention, to remove Qaddafi from power. In short, Obama gave our supposed enemies less reason to fear us instead of more…and every military expert knows that is not a recipe for success.

If he is to help our forces succeed, Obama must stop blowing an uncertain trumpet and start acting like a leader.


I can not help but add my voice to the chorus that is expressing admiration for Japan and its people in the wake of their recent tragedy.

On the one hand, it speaks volumes about Japan’s architectural engineering that the nation did not sustain much greater damage and loss of life. The earthquake that struck it was more that 52 million percent stronger than the one which struck Haiti last year, yet it appears to have resulted in only one death for every twenty in the Haitian quake.

On the other hand, the tone the Japanese people exhibited -- one of compete civility and helpfulness toward one another -- is a model for the rest of the world to follow. In many parts of the planet, including some pockets of America, looting and lawlessness would have been commonplace after such a disaster…but in Japan, culturally ingrained nicety prevailed and society benefited as a result.


I have long felt that environmentalists are an addled bunch of malcontents who do not think logically, and who have a psychological defect that makes them incapable of accepting happy facts. For example, they are convinced that Earth is being overrun by people, even though Earth’s entire population will fit inside of Texas with every single person having their own 1,000 square feet of space.

For another example of environmentalist illogic, consider what is happening in the Northwest when it comes to spotted owls. You may remember that about 20 years ago, lumber-related jobs were lost all across that part of America when environmentalists claimed that the spotted owl population was shrinking because of timber being harvested from “old growth forests.” Well, it turns out that the real culprit in the declining number of spotted owls was not habitat loss, but competition from the barred owl -- a more aggressive species that has migrated from Eastern America into the Northwest; taken up residence in the spotted owl’s preferred habitat; and competed with it for food and nesting sites.

This migration and competition is completely natural, but rather than accept Mother Nature’s own design, environmentalists (via the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) are planning to engage in the mass murder of animals whose only offense is doing what Mother Nature dictates they do. Specifically, the environmentalists propose to go into the woods with rifles and use loudspeakers to play owl sounds -- and then use those rifles to kill any barred owls who come to investigate.

These are the same people, mind you, who fill the ranks of the animal rights movement and tend to be vehement in their opposition to hunting, even when the hunter’s purpose is to feed his family. I know it is probably impossible to figure them out, but I can’t stop myself from trying.


…to close on a lighter note, go here and read one of my sister-in-law’s latest posts. It is sure to bring a chuckle!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Equinox

Some thoughts about spring on its first day:

I love how it is often warm and rarely humid.

I love that bright, shimmering shade of green that new leaves give to old trees.

I love how wildflowers turn ordinary roadsides into vivid profusions of color and life.

I love going swimming with my daughter again.

I love sitting outside in the afternoon and drinking a margarita beneath a cloudless blue sky.

I love spring training baseball.

And finally, I am riveted by the most intense pursuit in all of sports: the NHL playoffs.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

She's Gonna Be a Good One

14 weeks and 2 days. That is how long from now it will be when Parker Wasson Stanton leaves Erika's womb and comes out into the wide world. We can be sure of the date because his birth will be by C-section.

Sarah is excited about his impending arrival. Yesterday she rubbed Erika's stomach and spoke to her little brother by name, saying "we'll see you on June 23rd." Last week she made him a baby rattle by filling a plastic Easter egg with sequins, sealing it shut with decorative tape, and using that same tape to attach the egg to a popsicle stick.

In an extra serving of cuteness, when I asked her what she put inside the rattle, she said "they're called sequences."

We are confident Sarah will be an excellent and very attentive big sister, and we can't wait for the day to arrive.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Walker Scores A People's Win in Wisconsin

Thoughts on the Great Badger State Brouhaha of 2011:

Wisconsin's average teacher salary is higher than its median household income. And that does not even take into account the teachers' lavish benefits packages; or that they receive such pay and benefits while not working a full year; or that they are practically impossible to fire, no matter how bad they perform. Given all that along with the fact that Wisconsin's voters elected Scott Walker and a Republican legislature specifically to get the state's fiscal house in order, the protesting conglomerate of teachers/unions/liberals/Democrats should have known from the beginning that they could not prevail this year.

Wisconsin's new law prevents its teachers from collectively bargaining on pensions and benefits, but contrary to what the MSM would have you believe, it does not prevent them from collectively bargaining on salary. Meanwhile, federal workers can not collectively bargain at all; fewer than half the states allow their state workers to do so; and American liberalism's biggest icon, FDR, was of the opinion that no government workers should be allowed to collectively bargain -- period. When you think about that, it is both hilarious and horrible that some people have characterized Wisconsin's law as an attack on civil rights.

Something else that goes in the "both hilarious and horrible" basket is that Wisconsin's Democrat senators, who abandoned their offices and fled the state in an effort to prevent the law from even being voted on, have depicted Republicans of being the ones attacking democracy.

And finally, I am dumbfounded that so many of Wisconsin's teachers seem not to realize (or care) that their protests make them look like petulant preteens throwing a temper tantrum. They sought to preserve their slice of the taxpayers' largess by screaming, scowling, and falsely calling in sick. After Wednesday's vote, they attempted to break the windows of Republican senators' cars as those duly elected senators were driving home. Conspicuously, what they did not do was claim to have produced a crop of above-average students.

Considering the above, it has to be said that the Wisconsin teachers and union reps who descended on the state capital are nothing more than the personification of P.J. O'Rourke's observation that "at the core of liberalism is the spoiled brat -- miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, and useless. Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats."

At the risk of sounding childish myself, and even semi-blasphemous, I have to admit that every time I read that quote I am tempted to scream "A-f'ing-men!"