Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I voted for Obama in 2008. I'm generally satisfied with the job he has done, and I think that it is more likely than not that I will vote for him in 2012. But I want a real choice, so I share Joe Klein's despair regarding the current GOP lineup to face Obama.
And so I plead, as an unflinching American patriot--please Mitch Daniels, please Jeb Bush, please run. I may not agree with you on most things, but I respect you. And you seem to respect yourselves enough not to behave like public clowns.

Please, in the name of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, run.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"The most insane tsunami footage yet"

Via Gizmodo, I thought we’d seen the worst a few weeks ago, but no. The clip at the last link looked like a flood turning into rapids transforming into a roaring river. This looks more like what it actually was — an honest-to-goodness ocean spilling into a city and swallowing it whole. By the end of the clip, if not for that lone building on the right edge of the frame, you wouldn’t know civilization had been there.

UPDATE: This video is even more dramatic, if that is possible. (Can't embed.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Obama on Libya

Nice job, Mr. President.

He went all in. Gaddafi is gone no matter what it takes.

More Syria

It is bewildering to try to keep up with everything in the Middle East right now, but possible change in Syria is really a bigger story than Libya.

“It’s over; it’s just a question of time,” said a Western diplomat in Damascus, speaking on the condition of anonymity in accordance with diplomatic protocol. “It could be a slow burn, or Qaddafi-esque insanity over the next few days. It’s very tense here, very tense. You can feel it in the air.”

More Libya

If you are wondering why President Obama is not going to speak from the White House tonight when he makes his most detailed statement yet on Libya, here is the answer.
The reason why the president is making his speech from the National Defense University and not from the Oval Office is that it’s more of a “policy” speech (which presidents typically deliver from different venues) than an “action” one (which they typically give from the Oval Office).
Meanwhile, let's hope that the good news continues to accumulate.

In the last 48 hours, rebels have blown through 300 miles of Gadhafi-held territory.

This morning, they claim to control the Libyan leader's hometown of Sirte, which is located halfway between the rebel-held east and the government-controlled west.

If reports are true, the development would be a major coup for the rebels who are quickly heading toward the capitol city of Tripoli.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Geraldine A. Ferraro

Rest in peace.

I had the highest respect for her. She was a historic pioneer, and she handled it with grace and intellect, and acquitted herself very well despite the historic nature of Reagan's win in 1984.

Ferraro's existence made everything in this country some degree better for women, and that makes her a historic figure.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lunatics running the asylum

JUNEAU -- Gov. Sean Parnell's appointee for the panel that nominates state judges testified Wednesday that he would like to see Alaskans prosecuted for having sex outside of marriage.


I see a new show: "Law and Order: Consensual Sex Between Adults Investigation Unit". I wonder what it will take under his proposed law to get a probable cause warrant to put a camera in the bedroom of any non-married person?


Another domino? Let's hope.
Thousands of people took to the streets in the southern city of Dara, chanting "Syria, Freedom," a day after a deadly crackdown on protests there, human rights activists said.

The demonstrations Thursday occurred at the funerals for some of those killed when government forces opened fire on protesters the previous day. Initial reports put the death toll at 15, but Reuters news agency, citing a hospital source, said more than 25 people were killed.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I got this video from my brother. When I was a senior in high school, at 6'0", I could barely dunk a volleyball, never a basketball (I couldn't keep control of it with one hand). This guy is 5'11", but his vertical jump is supposedly 50"; mine was probably 20" at its peak.

Credit card fraud


Believe it or not, even a savvy person like me is subject to fraud once in a while. Perusing our most recent credit card bill, I came across three charges that were clearly not ours - small charges made at gas stations in another state. When we called the credit card company, they determined that our card had been duplicated, since the charges had been swiped through a card reader. Apparently, at some point recently our credit card data must have been double-swiped through a magnetic card reader and then transferred to a duplicated card.

The duped card was then used for small-ticket purchases at innocuous locations intended to evade the bank's fraud detection algorithms. The pattern is the fraudsters pilot a couple of small charges, and if the account holder doesn't shut off the card, much larger charges are made.

I'm now part of the group of persons defrauded in this type of scam, but the fraud group at Chase caught it after 3 $20 transactions.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Newt Gingrich is brilliant. He is also a completely hypocritical jerk. When I see him, I think "Lex Luthor."

Leading the fight

Perhaps I was a bit too ready to accept the line that the French and the British were going to take the laboring oar in Libya. I thought that Libya's proximity to Europe would change the ability to project power dynamic in this case, but at least one expert's response is "not so much". See, e.g., here.

There is a lesson here for those who support what are known in international law as humanitarian interventions. Unless the intervention is very small or very swift or both, no country in the world but the U.S. can do it. We alone have the money, the technology, and the trained personnel. We alone have shown the willingness and ability to project power over long distances for a sustained period. Many people, both in America and abroad, are uneasy with this preponderance. But it cannot be wished away. If other NATO countries hope ever again to be equal partners, they will have to increase their defense spending significantly. True, they could wait instead for us to reduce ours. But then the world would be left with no one able to prevent a slaughter—even in those rare instances when the world decides to try.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


110 cruise missiles. That is a lot. I'm just glad that the French are willing to be the face of this operation.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Another performance from the girl who I call Ciao Bella

We had a "Palm Sunday" service at our church last Sunday at the beginning of Lent. I can't explain why because, frankly, I wasn't paying attention. My favorite part of this video was the solo/duet from the girl in the middle in the green sweater.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Wire (real life version)

If you ever watched The Wire, HBO's fantastic series about the drug world of Baltimore, you will find this story quite interesting.
After hundreds of local and federal police fanned out across Baltimore at dawn yesterday, hauling suspects out of homes and off the streets, authorities announced at day's end that they had shut down one of the city's major sources of illicit drugs and violence.

In all, they charged 63 suspects with federal and state drug conspiracy counts — among them Felicia "Snoop" Pearson, whose arrest on heroin-related and aiding and abetting charges echoed the street lifestyle she portrayed as a character in HBO's series "The Wire" and sought to overcome in her personal life.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Earthquake and tsunami in Japan

Horrible stuff.
NAKAMINATO, Japan — Japan on Saturday mobilized a nationwide rescue effort to pluck survivors from collapsed buildings and rush food and water to thousands in an earthquake and tsunami zone under siege, without water, electricity, heat or telephone service.

Entire villages in parts of Japan’s northern Pacific coast have vanished under a wall of water, many communities are cut off, and a nuclear emergency was unfolding near two stricken reactors as Japanese tried to absorb the scale of the destruction after Friday’s powerful earthquake and devastating tsunami.

Japanese news media estimates of the death toll ranged between 1,300 and 1,700, but much of the north was impassible and by late Saturday, rescuers had not arrived in the worst-hit areas. More than 300,000 people have been evacuated, with 90,000 fleeing the zone around the nuclear plant in Fukushima, according to Kyodo News. Most of the deaths were from drowning, but firefighters and Japan’s Self-Defense Forces were rushing to prevent a higher toll, flying in helicopters and struggling to put out fires burning in industrial complexes or tearing through Japan’s many vulnerable wooden homes. Many communities were still scrambling to find the missing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

More in honor of person I never met


“He didn’t have a child and a wife,” Jeff Wilfahrt said. “In a way, he went over so that somebody with a young family wouldn’t die.” . . .

“Andrew told me one of the reasons he wanted to enlist was that he felt guilty as a civilian when so many men with wives and children were separated from their families," one of his comrades posted on Facebook. "He joined the fight so that guys like me didn’t have to. He is my hero, my friend, and I miss him. Sleep well, buddy. You earned it.”
Without informing my wife, I looked into joining the military after 9/11, but I was judged too old. I think that I will go to my grave feeling guilty that I didn't contribute anything but money to the defense of our country. I have been a leacher, and I admit it. Andrew, a man who I never met, is my hero.

Saudi Arabia

Things remain uncertain in Libya, but the biggest story yet might be underway: Saudi Arabia. See here.

Residents say all seems calm, and see no sign that security has been reinforced. But there is a mood of expectation about Friday's Saudi "day of rage" and whether the "Arab spring" will spread to the conservative kingdom.

"Let the chips fall where they may" is my philosophy. We can't control it, and people are entitled to determine their government. If they don't choose wisely, they can try again. But I don't see how any change that is the result of swelling of public opinion is not something that a democratic country like ours can do anything but encourage.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Return home

I'm back home after leaving Friday and returning Monday from 108 holes of golf in Austin, TX, fighting a bad back throughout. The trip was great. The welcome home I received last night from wife, kids, and pets was heart-warming and made me think that I should leave more often, just for the benefit of the return. I'm a very lucky guy.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Real life

The son of a person who I have never met, but who was in a book club that my wife used to participate in, was killed in Afghanistan a few days ago. The StarTribune story is here. All of a sudden awake, I find myself thinking about him at 3:00 a.m.

The debt owed to our armed forces cannot be repaid.