Thursday, April 30, 2009

NOM wants a "Rainbow Coalition"? To stop other people from... having what they have?

Maggie Gallagher's NOM (National Organization for [straight only] Marriage) created this video to promote their cause. I think they're over-stating their case:

While I can be sympathetic to some of their concerns... this is going to be a losing strategy. The Anita Bryant contingent of the religious right is still alive and kicking, and they apparently haven't learned much from Anita's fiasco. Now they want a "rainbow coalition"? Of all the phrases they could have used... the irony is too rich.

Yes, there is a hard core of Leftists who would like to change the definition of marriage. Those folks will use ANY issue to subvert the status quo, to tear down our society so they can replace it with something else. Gay marriage is just one of many issues they are trying to subvert for advancing their agenda.

However, for the majority of gay people who want to be married, they just want to be... married. To enjoy a domestic life similar to that of their married family and friends, with the same legal benefits. Most people understand that.

Life if full of people, places, and all sorts of things that I don't approve of. I can't fight them all, so I tolerate most of them, and chose my battles carefully, like I think, most people do. The people you become most intolerant of, are the most likely to become your enemies. I try to avoid that when possible.

NOM are likely making enemies for themselves, all in the name of a campaign they cannot ultimately win. Even if they win this battle, they will lose the war.

The idea that some same sex couples getting married makes victims out of heterosexuals will likely strike most people as absurd. Just ask the many former Republicans who are now registered as "Independent". Ask the Vanishing Young Republicans. The polls have steadily showed growing tolerance for gay marriage. You can argue with me all you like, but I don't create the polls. That's the reality. You can argue with reality too, but you'll lose.

Do the people who made this creepy advert think it's going to appeal to a majority of Americans? Good luck with that. Anita Bryant, by any other name, is still "The Scary Juice Lady". And she's hardly an example to follow. Unless you want political failure, divorce, and a string of bankruptcies.

When I lived in San Francisco, the leftists would often say "The religious right will self-destruct; just give them enough rope, and they will hang themselves".

This looks like another knot in the noose. I thought Christian's were against suicide? I guess not all of them.

Related Links:

Cal Thomas gets it right once again
He can be brutally honest, and here, he is.

The End of Christian Politics in America?

The "New Humanism"


What!?! AP isn't gushing with Obama praise?

Is the honeymoon over? It may be for some reporters, I was surprised to see this article from the Associated Press:

FACT CHECK: Obama disowns deficit he helped shape
WASHINGTON – "That wasn't me," President Barack Obama said on his 100th day in office, disclaiming responsibility for the huge budget deficit waiting for him on Day One. It actually was him — and the other Democrats controlling Congress the previous two years — who shaped a budget so out of balance.

And as a presidential candidate and president-elect, he backed the twilight Bush-era stimulus plan that made the deficit deeper, all before he took over and promoted spending plans that have made it much deeper still.


A look at some of his claims Wednesday:

OBAMA: "Number one, we inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit.... That wasn't me. Number two, there is almost uniform consensus among economists that in the middle of the biggest crisis, financial crisis, since the Great Depression, we had to take extraordinary steps. So you've got a lot of Republican economists who agree that we had to do a stimulus package and we had to do something about the banks. Those are one-time charges, and they're big, and they'll make our deficits go up over the next two years." — in Missouri.


Congress controls the purse strings, not the president, and it was under Democratic control for Obama's last two years as Illinois senator. Obama supported the emergency bailout package in President George W. Bush's final months — a package Democratic leaders wanted to make bigger.

To be sure, Obama opposed the Iraq war, a drain on federal coffers for six years before he became president. But with one major exception, he voted in support of Iraq war spending.

The economy has worsened under Obama, though from forces surely in play before he became president, and he can credibly claim to have inherited a grim situation.

Still, his response to the crisis goes well beyond "one-time charges."

He's persuaded Congress to expand children's health insurance, education spending, health information technology and more. He's moving ahead on a variety of big-ticket items on health care, the environment, energy and transportation that, if achieved, will be more enduring than bank bailouts and aid for homeowners.

The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated his policy proposals would add a net $428 billion to the deficit over four years, even accounting for his spending reduction goals. Now, the deficit is nearly quadrupling to $1.75 trillion. [...]

Wow. Considering the source, and how most of the MSM has been gushing with praise, this is almost strong criticism. If you read the whole thing, there are more Obama statements, about health-care and Social Security, that are given the "Fact-Busting" treatment in this style.

I could get used to this! Is it an aberration, or a new trend by the AP? I guess we'll see as time goes on.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The "Spanish Flu" of 1918, and Lomatium Root

Back when there were concerns of Bird Flu spreading globally, I did some research about deadly flu strains with similar symptoms. I discovered an interesting treatment that worked for the deadly flu epidemic of 1918. It's an herbal flu remedy that you can get at your local health food store, called "Lomatium". With all the talk about Swine Flu right now, I think it's worth taking a look at this interesting plant extract:

Indian Consumption Plant (Lomatium Dissectum) a powerful antiviral medicine synthesized by nature
(NaturalNews) A powerful antiviral plant used by Native Americans to survive the 1918 influenza epidemic may prove to be a strong modern-day cold and flu remedy, according to a report from the University of California.

The root -- called Lomatium Dissectum, Biscuit Root or Indian Consumption Plant -- was eaten by the Washoe Indians to battle viral illnesses such as influenza. During the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, not a single Washoe tribe member died from influenza or its complications. However, other tribes living in Nevada in areas where the plant did not grow experienced a number of deaths, according to Dr. Ernst T. Krebs, a Nevada physician writing in the Bulletin of the Nevada State Board of Health.

The plant, a member of the parsley family, is wildcrafted, and grows in dry, sandy climates. Krebs says it acts as a bronchial, intestinal and urinary antiseptic, and is also a diaphoretic (causes perspiration) and diuretic. It is usually prepared by cutting up the root and boiling it in water, then skimming off the top and consuming large doses of the broth to treat cold, flu and even pneumonia. [...]

During the Bird Flu epidemic, I had bought some Lomatium root tincture at our local health food store. I forgot how much it cost, but it wasn't expensive, it's made by a company called Herb Pharm. The companies owner, Ed Smith, has an interesting page about Lomatium on his blog:

The Use of Lomatium Root in Treating an Influenza Pandemic
[...] During the pandemic of 1918-19 over 50-million people died worldwide from what was then know as “Spanish Flu” or “La Grippe.” This was the most devastating epidemic in recorded history and infected one-fifth of the world’s population. An estimated 28% of the American population was infected and 675,000 died during the pandemic.


One herb that appears to have been very successfully used by Nevada Native Americans during this pandemic was the root of Lomatium dissectum, which at the time was named Leptotaemia dissecta. This use of Lomatium was observed by Dr. Ernest Krebs and is reported by him below. [...]

Ed gives the full text of Dr. Kreb's report. He then describes how he came to learn about Lomatium, how it's prepared and how it should be used, and a rare but possible side effect:
[...] I was first introduced to Lomatium root in 1978 by the venerable naturopathic physician, Dr. John Bastyr. He told me that for many years he would hike into the Cascade Mountains of eastern Washington to harvest the Lomatium root that he used in his medical practice.


Dr. Bastyr shared with me stories of his successful clinical use of Lomatium as an anti-viral in the treatment of colds, flu, pneumonia, and other related maladies. At the time, very few people knew of Lomatium, but Dr. Bastyr’s teachings kept knowledge of this herb alive among naturopathic doctors and medical students, and I and a few other herbalists (e.g., Michael Moore) spread the word to our herb students, patients and customers. Today Lomatium is well know among American naturopathic doctors and clinical herbalists and is available in many natural foods and herb stores.

Lomatium is a reasonably safe herb to use internally but it can rarely cause a troublesome side effect. Patients who take large or long-continued doses of Lomatium can sometimes develop an annoying skin rash. [...]

Read the whole thing for further details. I've used the product with no problems. I seldom get colds or coughs, but I consider my bottle of Lomatium root tincture a handy thing to have, just in case.



Arlen Specter completes his metamorphosis

No real surprise here, but the worst part is, it may give the Democrats their 60 vote filibuster:

Longtime GOP Sen. Arlen Specter becomes Democrat
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Veteran Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter told colleagues Tuesday that he switched from the Republican to the Democratic Party, Sen. Harry Reid says.

The Specter party switch would give Democrats a filibuster-proof Senate majority of 60 seats if Al Franken holds his current lead in the disputed Minnesota Senate race.

"Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right," Specter said in a statement posted by his office on [...]

He was trailing in the polls as a Republican, so I suspect switching parties mostly expediency. Anything to stay in the game. Thanks Arlen, for Nothing.

Now as for the filibuster predicament we now find ourselves in, I partly blame conservative pundits like Michelle Malkin and the rest of them. They urged conservatives not to vote for moderate Republicans, and they followed that advice. Here in Oregon, many of the conservatives voted for the Constitution Party instead. As a result, we lost Gordon Smith, our Republican senator. If he had been supported and won, we would not be in this predicament.

The "Uber" Conservatives wanted to purge moderates from the party, and they have succeeded. They wanted All Their Way or Nothing, and they got it. Michelle and the rest, Thanks for Nothing.

Welcome to the The Incredible Shrinking Party.

POTUS and the importance of being... "hip"?

For Obama, hipness is what it is
During his first 100 days as president of the United States, Barack Obama revealed how different he is from all the white men who preceded him in the Oval Office, and the differences run deeper — in substance and style — than the color of his skin.

Barack Hussein Obama is the nation’s first hip president. [...]

I often cringe when I hear an adult use that word. I thought only high school kids cared about being "hip". You forgive them for their silliness, because you know they are young and foolish and you expect that they will grow up into adults. But it seems like some people don't grown up after all.

That might go a long way in explaining why the last presidential election was conducted with as much seriousness as a high school popularity contest. Some might even say that we have a high-school government. Oh well.

Monday, April 27, 2009

George Carlin: "Save the F*cking Planet"

This is one of the funniest things I've seen in a while. HT to Neal Boortz.
Just for fun, here's George Carlin's take on Earth Day. Do I need to tell you that there will be bad words in this video? Well, there, I just did.

Carlin jokes about the arrogance of enviro-wackos. Deliciously scathing.

Monday Funnies: 23 Quotes About Government

These are from a recent email:

Wise Sayings: Government

1. In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one
useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more
is a Congress. -- John Adams

2. If you don't read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if
you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. -- Mark Twain

3. Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member
of Congress. But then I repeat myself. -- Mark Twain

4. I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into
prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to
lift himself up by the handle. -- Winston Churchill

5. A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always
depend on the support of Paul. -- George Bernard Shaw

6. A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow
man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.
-- G. Gordon Liddy

7. Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a
sheep voting on what to have for dinner. -- James Bovard

8. Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from
poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.
-- Douglas Casey

9. Giving money and power to government is like giving
whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. -- P.J. O'Rourke

10. Government is the great fiction, through which everybody
endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.
--Frederic Bastiat

11. Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a
few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving,
regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. -- Ronald Reagan

12. I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and
report the facts. -- Will Rogers

13. If you think health care is expensive now, wait until
you see what it costs when it's free. -- P.J. O'Rourke

14. In general, the art of government consists of taking as
much money as possible from one party of the citizens to
give to the other. -- Voltaire

15. Just because you do not take an interest in politics
doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you.
--Pericles (430 B.C.)

16. No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the
legislature is in session. -- Mark Twain

17. Talk is cheap... except when Congress does it. --Anonymous

18. The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a
happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.
-- Ronald Reagan

19. The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing
of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the
equal sharing of misery.-- Winston Churchill

20. The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist
is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. -- Mark Twain

21. The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of
folly is to fill the world with fools. -- Herbert Spencer

22. There is no distinctly native American criminal class...
save Congress. -- Mark Twain

23. A government big enough to give you everything you want,
is strong enough to take everything you have. -- Gerald Ford

With some of these, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

What happened in Morgan Hill, California?

This all happened on April 9th. This is the first I've heard of it:

A Cyber-Attack on an American City
Just after midnight on Thursday, April 9, unidentified attackers climbed down four manholes serving the Northern California city of Morgan Hill and cut eight fiber cables in what appears to have been an organized attack on the electronic infrastructure of an American city. Its implications, though startling, have gone almost un-reported.

That attack demonstrated a severe fault in American infrastructure: its centralization. The city of Morgan Hill and parts of three counties lost 911 service, cellular mobile telephone communications, land-line telephone, DSL internet and private networks, central station fire and burglar alarms, ATMs, credit card terminals, and monitoring of critical utilities. In addition, resources that should not have failed, like the local hospital's internal computer network, proved to be dependent on external resources, leaving the hospital with a "paper system" for the day.

Commerce was disrupted in a 100-mile swath around the community, from San Jose to Gilroy and Monterey. Cash was king for the day as ATMs and credit card systems were down, and many found they didn't have sufficient cash on hand. Services employees dependent on communication were sent home. The many businesses providing just-in-time operations to agriculture could not communicate.

In technical terms, the area was partitioned from the surrounding internet. What was the attackers goal? Nothing has been revealed. Robbery? With wires cut, silent alarms were useless. Manipulation of the stock market? Companies, brokerages, and investors in the very wealthy community were cut off. Mayhem, murder, terrorism? But nothing like that seems to have happened. Some theorize unhappy communications workers, given the apparent knowledge of the community's infrastructure necessary for this attack. Or did the attackers simply want to teach us a lesson?

Although they are silent on the topic, I hope those responsible for emergency services, be they in business or government, are learning the lessons of Morgan Hill. The first lesson is what stayed up: stand-alone radio systems and not much else.


Realizing that they'd need more two-way radio, authorities dispatched police to wake up the emergency coordinator of the regional ham radio club, and escort him to the community hospital with his equipment. Area hams dispatched ambulances and doctors, arranged for essential supplies, and relayed emergency communications out of the area to those with working telephones. [...]

The article goes on about the weaknesses that were exploited, and how the city coped. I learned about this from one of the Ham Radio forums I read.

There was an article about it in the San Jose Mercury News:

San Jose police: Sabotage caused phone outage in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz counties

The title is a bit misleading; it was much more than just phone service affected.

It seems that there is an ongoing union negotiation with AT&T that could have played a part in this, although it's not clear what the union would have to gain by it, and they deny any involvement. They say the negotiation is routine, and that they have a good relationship with AT&T.

Here is more about how Ham radio operators played a big roll in providing emergency communications:

When Vandals Strike Infrastructure, Hams Provide Communications Support

It's surprising how easy it was for this sabotage to occur. The investigation is on-going.

Rick Warren: stuck in the middle - like most?

Warren: From Peacemaker to Lightning Rod
Unlike many evangelical leaders of recent decades, the Rev. Rick Warren doesn't want to be a lightning rod. When I asked him before the last election whether the Christian right had tarnished the image of American evangelicals, Warren didn't blink: "without a doubt."

"I never was a part of it," Warren said of the Christian right. "I'm trying to stake out what I call a common ground for the common good."


After Warren's recent CNN appearance, his critics on the right are as miffed about his warmth toward "all my gay friends" as they are about his specific misstatement on Proposition 8. "I hope he is not intimidated by the tactics of homosexual activists," says Concerned Women for America's Wright. "He has a unique ability to present biblical truth on marriage to a wider audience."

Gay rights groups, meanwhile, have also ratcheted up their criticism of Warren. "Rev. Warren is not a moderate pastor who is trying to bring all sides together," the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights group, wrote in a letter to Obama protesting Warren's inauguration role. "Instead, Rev. Warren has often played the role of general in the cultural war waged against LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] Americans."


But Warren's defenders argue that his critics on the left and right give him credibility with the majority of middle-of-the-road Americans. [...]

It would seem that Warren wants to be a bridge builder, but the extremists on both the Left and the Right want none of that; they have no use for bridges, or people who would try to build them. I can only wonder if he is like the majority of Americans; stuck in the middle, willing to compromise on some things, but being battered by extremists on both sides.

We will never all agree, nor are we meant to; a healthy democratic-republic requires debate and strong political opposition, so it's not wrong or even bad that we have that. But we also need to find common ground sometimes, to keep the extremes on either side from pulling us too far in one direction.

One thing that has allowed the left to steadily gain ground in this tug of war is that they often grudgingly compromise; they take whatever they can get, even as they denounce that it isn't enough. They still TAKE it.

The Right too often draws a line in the sand, and says "ALL or NOTHING". And they often end up with nothing. Thus the Left steadily advances incrementally, and it's gotten them quite far. The Right could do the same, if they would only abandon the all-or-nothing strategy that has not been serving them well.

For years when I lived in San Francisco, I would hear hard-core Leftists say that the best way to defeat the Right in America was to encourage the Religious Right to make demands and to be as loud, vociferous and inflexible as possible. The idea was, that if you give the Religious Right enough rope to hang themselves, they will, AND they will take the Republican party with them.

I would not paint the entire Religious Right with that brush; there are several variations of the Religious Right theme. Yet it does seem that there is at least a segment of the Religious Right that is extra loud and inflexible. If they were to adopt a less strident and more flexible, incremental strategy towards getting what they want, we might all benefit more.

But I don't see that happening; you can't force people to change. That being the case, I don't see that it's wise to let them take the lead of the Republican Party. I don't say kick them out; we need a big tent, not a small one. I just mean, that whoever sits at the head of the table, whoever leads the party, ought to be flexible and moderate enough that a broad coalition can gather around them, and around the issues that most of us can agree on.

Flexibility is a survival asset. Inflexibility often equals death.

Rick Warren may not be someone you agree with. I may not agree with him either, on all issues. I'm just saying, he deserves a place at the table. Our tent needs to be big enough. We need to take what we can get. If growing, and even surviving, as a political force, means anything to us anymore.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

"The Land That Made Me, Me"... days long gone

Got this email recently, it had a lot more pictures, but I only used some of them. It ends with a tribute to Bob Hope, and some of his funniest quotes:

I have no idea who put this together, but, it's wonderful!!

Long ago and far away, in a land that time forgot,
Before the days of Dylan, or the dawn of Camelot.
There lived a race of innocents, and they were you and me,

For Ike was in the White House in that land where we were born,
Where navels were for oranges, and Peyton Place was porn.

We learned to gut a muffler, we washed our hair at dawn,
We spread our crinolines to dry in circles on the lawn.

We longed for love and romance, and waited for our Prince,
And Eddie Fisher married Liz, and no one's seen him since.

We danced to 'Little Darlin,' and sang to 'Stagger Lee'
And cried for Buddy Holly in the Land That Made Me, Me.

Only girls wore earrings then, and 3 was one too many,
And only boys wore flat-top cuts, except for Jean McKinney.

And only in our wildest dreams did we expect to see
A boy named George with Lipstick, in the Land That Made Me, Me.

We fell for Frankie Avalon, Annette was oh, so nice,
And when they made a movie, they never made it twice.

We didn't have a Star Trek Five, or Psycho Two and Three,
Or Rocky-Rambo Twenty in the Land That Made Me, Me.

Miss Kitty had a heart of gold, and Chester had a limp,
And Reagan was a Democrat whose co-star was a chimp.

We had a Mr. Wizard, but not a Mr. T,
And Oprah couldn't talk yet, in the Land That Made Me, Me.
We had our share of heroes, we never thought they'd go,
At least not Bobby Darin, or Marilyn Monroe.

For youth was still eternal, and life was yet to be,
And Elvis was forever in the Land That Made Me, Me.

We'd never seen the rock band that was Grateful to be Dead,
And Airplanes weren't named Jefferson, and Zeppelins were not Led.

And Beatles lived in gardens then, and Monkees lived in trees,
Madonna was Mary in the Land That Made Me, Me.

We'd never heard of microwaves, or telephones in cars,
And babies might be bottle-fed, but they weren't grown in jars.

And pumping iron got wrinkles out, and 'gay' meant fancy-free,
And dorms were never co-ed in the Land That Made Me, Me.

We hadn't seen enough of jets to talk about the lag,
And microchips were what was left at the bottom of the bag.

And Hardware was a box of nails, and bytes came from a flea,
And rocket ships were fiction in the Land That Made Me, Me.

Buicks came with portholes, and side shows came with freaks,
And bathing suits came big enough to cover both your cheeks.

And Coke came just in bottles, and skirts below the knee,
And Castro came to power near the Land That Made Me, Me.

We had no Crest with Fluoride, we had no Hill Street Blues,
We had no patterned pantyhose or Lipton herbal tea

Or prime-time ads for those dysfunctions in the Land That Made Me, Me.

There were no golden arches, no Perrier to chill,
And fish were not called Wanda , and cats were not called Bill.

And middle-aged was 35 and old was forty-three,
And ancient were our parents in the Land That Made Me, Me.

But all things have a season, or so we've heard them say,
And now instead of Maybelline we swear by Retin-A.
They send us invitations to join AARP,
We've come a long way, baby, from the Land That Made Me, Me.

So now we face a brave new world in slightly larger jeans,
And wonder why they're using smaller print in magazines.
And we tell our children's children of the way it used to be,
Long ago and far away in the Land That Made Me, Me.

For those of you too young to remember
Bob Hope, ask your Grandparents!!!
And thanks for the memories............


Tribute to a man who DID make a difference:

May 29, 1903 - July 27, 2003


'You still chase women, but only downhill'.


'That's the time of your life when even your
birthday suit needs pressing.'


'You know you're getting old when the
candles cost more than the cake.'


' I don't feel old. In fact I don't feel anything
until noon . Then it's time for my nap.'


'I ruined my hands in the ring . the
referee kept stepping on them.'


'Welcome to the Academy Awards or,
as it's called at my home, 'Passover'.'


'Golf is my profession. Show business
is just to pay the green fees.'


'I have performed for 12 presidents
and entertained only six.'


'When I was born, the doctor said to my mother, '
Congratulations. You have an eight-pound ham'.'


'I feel very humble, but I think I have
the strength of character to fight it.'


'Four of us slept in the one bed. When it got
cold, mother threw on another brother.'


'That's how I learned to dance.
Waiting for the bathroom.'


'I would not have had anything to eat
if it wasn't for the stuff the audience threw at me.'


'I've done benefits for ALL religions. I'd
hate to blow the hereafter on a technicality.'

Gosh. As I get older, I suppose I'll being seeing things like this lamenting the disappearance of the "good old days" of the '70s, 80's and 90's... hopefully! That would be fun. I've even done a nostalgic rant or two myself.

Of course there were bad things about those times too, but I think it's human nature to remember mostly the good things about the past. Every era has it's pluses and minuses. Even the one we are living now. And the future... well I'm sure there will be some fun comparisons.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Where has all the ammo gone? Not even .22?

We can't even buy .22 ammo anywhere in town, everywhere is out-of-stock. And it seems it's like that all across the country:

OUT of AMMO: Nationwide ammo shortage present here
[...] Much of the demand comes from continued high law enforcement demand, the same demand that led to shortages two years ago. Police agencies around the nation have become more militarized in recent years and two trends within this militarization have led to greater police ammunition demand.


Law enforcement agencies have been rapidly increasing their ammunition consumption because of how they are rearming, causing a permanent increase in demand. Just as ammunition manufacturers began to cope with that increase, a second run, based upon a downward-turning economy and rising fears of laws targeting gun and ammunition, dramatically expanded demand yet again.

Shortages of ammunition and firearms can be expected to continue for as long as it appears our overreaching federal government is a threat to our individual liberties, our economy continues to falter, and our police agencies keep militarizing. [...]

The article does give details to support both of these explanations. It also says manufacturers are struggling to meet the demand. What I want to know is, when will I see ammo on the shelves again?

Nationwide Ammunition Shortage Hits U.S.
Skyrocketing demand has been emptying the shelves of America's gun stores. Here's why.
[...] At Farm & Fleet, notices are posted on the ammunition shelves apologizing for the shortage and saying it is because of high customer demand and the inability of manufacturers to meet orders. A portion of the shelf space usually holding cartridge boxes is now holding other items. Even usually plentiful .22-caliber ammunition is scarce.

Skartveit said he has supplies of shotgun shells and .22-caliber cartridges, but is having problems stocking handgun and assault rifle-type ammunition. Further, he also is finding it difficult to get supplies, such as primers and lead bullets, for those who reload their own cartridges instead of buying factory-made cartridges.

"Last week I called the largest distributor in the country and they laughed at me," Skartveit said. "They said they don't know when they'll get more in. They have 450 salesman in the country who don't have anything to sell. I have people wanting ammo for handguns and I can't get it for them." [...]

I'll bet there are some Democrats who want exploit the situation, by making ammo and ammo materials hard to obtain. If they can't take people's guns away, they will try to stop and/or control the ammo, with creepy things like "Encoded Ammunition" (Bullet and Cartridge Case Serialization).

There are many reasons to strenuously oppose this legislation:

[...] People would be required to forfeit all personally-owned non-encoded ammunition. After a certain date, it would be illegal to possess non-encoded ammunition. Gun owners possess hundreds of millions of rounds of ammunition for target shooting, hunting and personal protection. Consider that American manufacturers produce 8 billion rounds each year.

Reloading (re-using cartridge cases multiple times) would be abolished. There would be no way to correspond serial numbers on cartridge cases, and different sets and quantities of bullets.

People would be required to separately register every box of "encoded ammunition." This information would be supplied to the police. Most states do not even require registration of guns. Each box of ammunition would have a unique serial number, thus a separate registration.

Private citizens would have to maintain records, if they sold ammunition to anyone, including family members or friends.

The cost of ammunition would soar, for police and private citizens alike. The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturing Institute estimates it would take three weeks to produce ammunition currently produced in a single day. For reason of cost, manufacturers would produce only ultra-expensive encoded ammunition, which police would have to buy, just like everyone else.

A tax of five cents a round would be imposed on private citizens, not only upon initial sale, but every time the ammunition changes hands thereafter.

Shotgun ammunition cannot be engraved. Shotgun pellets are too small to be individually engraved. Shotgun cartridge cases are made of plastic, which would be difficult to engrave.

Criminals could beat the system. A large percentage of criminals' ammunition (and guns) is stolen. Criminals could also collect ammunition cases from shooting ranges, and reload them with molten lead bullets made without serial numbers. [...]

In so many ways, these new ammo laws are just another way of disarming private citizens:

No Bullets, No Shooting!.
In the last year, so-called “encoded” or “serialized” ammunition bills have been introduced in 13 states—Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Washington. Their goal: Destroy our Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

All of these bills would prohibit the manufacture and sale of ammunition, unless the bullets and cartridge cases are marked with a code and registered to the owners in a computerized database. Most would also require gun owners to forfeit any non-coded ammunition they possess. For example, Arizonas bill says, “Beginning January 1, 2011, a private citizen or a retail vendor shall dispose of all noncoded ammunition that is owned or held by the citizen or vendor.” Tennessee’s says, “All non-coded ammunition . . . shall be disposed.” And in Pennsylvania, “An owner of ammunition . . . not encoded by the manufacturer . . . shall dispose of the ammunition.”

These bills include no compensation for the loss of millions of rounds of privately owned ammunition. But that’s not the point. Nor is the fact that ammunition encoding hasn’t been tested, let alone proven. Nor is the fact that criminals would easily figure out the numerous, obvious ways to beat ammunition registration.

The point of these bills is to prevent gun owners from having ammunition for defense, practice, sport and hunting. The fact that these bills are not gun bans is a mere technicality because, in practical terms, ammo bans are gun bans.

That isn’t the end of the anti-gunners’ attacks on ammunition in the current Congress and state legislative sessions. Ammunition bans are taking almost as many legislative and regulatory forms as there are types of ammunition to outlaw. [...]

The article goes on with a lot more details, about current legislation, and the people and history behind it all. This is a real fight, folks.

UPDATE 05/06/09:

The "un-sexy" Truth About the Ammo Shortage

The war over coded ammo is still on, for sure, but the actual causes of this current ammo shortage are actually rather mundane and easily explained.

Much thanks to the reader who sent me the link to the article I used in my update.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Miss North Dakota is Under Arrest in Iran

They are accusing the 31-year-old journalist of being an American spy:

Roxana Saberi was born in the U.S.
and grew up in Fargo, North Dakota.

The former Beauty Queen became a journalist, and had been living in Iran for the past 6 years. Her father is from Iran, and she holds duel citizenship in America and Iran. Her mother is of Japanese ansestory.

Roxana Saberi working in Iran

Unfortunately she has become a pawn in the game Iranian President Amadinejad is playing. And as a western woman, it must be difficult culturally.

Iran president urges full defense for US reporter
[...] Saberi was arrested in January and initially accused of working without press credentials. But earlier this month, an Iranian judge leveled a more serious allegation that she was passing classified information to U.S. intelligence services.

She told her father in a phone conversation that she was arrested after buying a bottle of wine.
Her father said she had been working on a book about Iranian culture and hoped to finish it and return to the U.S. this year.

Saberi, who was 1997 Miss North Dakota, had been living in Iran for six years and worked as a freelance reporter for news organizations including National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp. Because Saberi's father was born in Iranian, she received Iranian citizenship.

Her parents, who live in Fargo, traveled to Iran to seek her release. Her father, Reza Saberi, has said his daughter wasn't allowed a proper defense during her one-day trial behind closed doors a week ago. He said no evidence has been made public, and his daughter was tricked into making incriminating statements by officials who told her they would free her if she did.

He told CNN on Sunday that her trial lasted only 15 minutes. "It was a mock trial," he said.

One Iranian analyst said Ahmadinejad's letter was politically motivated and suggested Iran could be using Saberi's case to gain leverage with the U.S.

"Iran can use Saberi's case as a bargaining card in possible negotiations with the U.S.," said analyst Saeed Leilaz. [...]

What they call a "trial" in Iran is often a brief appearance before an Imam, who makes a decision after a few words. Calling it a "trial" would be generous.

Saberi's parents in Fargo, North Dakota

I think the real reason this is happening now is explained later in the article:

[...] Saberi's conviction also comes about two months ahead of key presidential elections in June that are pitting hard-liners against reformists, who support better relations with Washington. Ahmadinejad is seeking re-election, but the hard-liner's popularity has waned and he's been trying to draw support away from reformists. [...]

They are also holding a Canadian-Iranian blogger in custody. Read the whole thing for all the details.

Amadinejad is controversial even in his own country. If the reformists have their way, he would be forced out. Naturally he is doing everything he can to prevent that. Roxana Saberi and Canadian Hossein Derakhshan are being used a hostages.

Free and genuine elections in Iran could fix quite a few things. It's their best hope, but I don't see how that can happen with Amadinejad in charge.

UPDATE 05-11-09

Iran frees U.S.-born journalist accused of spying

The finally released her, but still insist the bogus charges are true. And now for releasing her, they will expect... what? No doubt we'll find out soon.

No word on the status of Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan, who was also being held. This article in fact says that 14 other blogger and journalists are still being held prisoner. It sure isn't over for them.

Related Links:

Iran, under the surface... is it crumbling?

Iranian Fashion Police Publicly Bludgeon Women

Amadinejad talks crazy on Iranian TV, with help from a "Death to Amercia" chorus

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Government and Health Care: What's Next?

Where is it all going? What can we expect? This article breaks it down into three areas of consideration; Costs, Mandates, and a Public Plan:

Health care: Deal or no deal? Senators begin work
[...] Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., sees opportunity. "There is a very appealing philosophical truce within the Senate's grasp," he said.

"Democrats are right on the idea that we've got to cover everybody. Republicans have been right on the role of the private sector, not freezing innovation and staying away from price controls," Wyden said. "You meld those philosophical views and you are on your way to 68 to 70 votes."

Consensus is growing on many points: Changes should build on the current system, not scrap it; hospitals and doctors should be paid for quality, not quantity; insurers shouldn't be able to discriminate against people with health problems; small businesses need special attention.

But huge differences remain. Three of the hardest issues are:


Obama set aside $634 billion in his budget as a "down payment" for health care over 10 years. Many experts believe that represents less than half the cost. Covering the uninsured could cost $100 billion to $150 billion a year, or more.

Liberal Democrats want to follow Obama's example and get half the money from tax increases and half from spending cuts. Upper-income tax increases and sales tax increases on alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and even sugary sodas are being discussed.

But Republicans and fiscally conservative Democrats want most of the financing to come from spending cuts and from making the health care system less wasteful.


Health insurance is based on pooling risk: premiums from the vast majority of healthy people cover care for the sick. For the system to work, economists say, everyone should have health insurance from the outset so uninsured people don't end up going to the emergency room and driving up costs for everyone else.

Because insurance is expensive, requiring people and businesses to pay for it is politically difficult. Most people now get insurance from their employers, but companies aren't required to offer it and as the economy skids more have cut back.

Obama and Democrats are considering a combination of requirements on individuals, parents and employers, with exemptions for small businesses and sliding-scale subsidies for families making as much as $80,000 a year.

Republicans opposed an employer mandate in the 1990s, but have mixed views on an individual requirement. The insurance industry is supporting an individual mandate. Labor unions are pushing for employer mandates.

Public Plan:

Obama and the Democrats want to give middle-class workers and families the option of joining a government-sponsored insurance plan that would be offered alongside private ones through a new insurance clearinghouse.

Supporters say a public plan could be a testing ground for innovations and a check on private insurers. Republicans see it as a thinly disguised step toward a government-run system. Insurance companies say they wouldn't be able to compete with a government plan.

Efforts are under way to find a compromise, maybe by limiting the scope of the public plan. But Rep. Dave Camp, who is playing a leading role in the House, said he doesn't think a deal is possible. "The public plan is a bright line for us," said Camp, R-Mich. [...]

And so the tug-of-war begins. Who knows what we will end up with. At any rate, we SHALL see.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

More poisons from China: poisonous walls?

If the contaminated foods and drugs don't get you, the drywall will:

Not-so-great wall of China: Imported drywall could be toxic
[...] Florida homeowners have complained that the drywall in their homes, which was imported from China, is not only giving off a foul odor like sulfer, but is also emitting corrosive gases that are destroying home appliances. There's one documented case of the sulfide gases from this drywall rotting the copper coils of an air conditioner.

So you can just imagine what it's doing to people's lungs.

In fact, some homeowners with this drywall have already filed lawsuits against builders and suppliers, claiming that they're not only surrounded with walls smelling of rotten eggs, but that they're also suffering from sore throats and headaches as a result.

The rotten egg smell is no surprise. The Chinese drywall has large amounts of sulfer in it. In the U.S., the chief component of drywall is gypsum. It's just a shot in the dark, but I'm guessing the reason there could be high levels of sulfer in the Chinese drywall is that sulfer is cheaper than gypsum.

The Chinese drywall entered the country during a building material shortage from 2004 to 2007 (spurred by the rebuilding boom in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina), so the homes using it were completed recently. [...]

It seems that the heat and moisture in Florida literally bring out the worst in the Chinese drywall. At one point, the writer advises "don't buy anything from China". Yeah right, easier said than done. Practically everything that is manufactured nowadays comes from China.

And the truth is, not all their stuff is bad. But you do have to be careful. I don't knowingly buy any food stuffs that come from China. When it comes to appliances or consumer electronics and that sort of thing, I do some research first. Contaminated drywall was something I had never considered, but I guess I will have to add that to "the list".

We have a trade imbalance with China. They need us to buy their products, and we need to buy them. But if we only buy the good stuff, hopefully they will get the message eventually and only make good stuff for us to buy. Hopefully. For our sake and theirs.

Of course, we could cut our corporate taxes and bring those manufacturing jobs home, but I don't see that happening any time soon. In fact, the opposite is happening. So for better or worse, we are going to be dealing with China for quite a long time, I think. I'm hoping for "better".

CNN's Susan Roesgen; media bias at it's worst

Her "coverage" of Tax Protesters is a good example of many in the Mainstream Media who have contempt for ordinary Americans. And now there is video of what happened after that:

I hope that by now, the name Susan Roesgen is a household name. I hope it is a name that is equated with idiocy. I'm sorry, folks. There is no other way to put it. Her little tirade at the tea parties the other day was an embarrassment for CNN.

A blogger has now released footage of what happened after Susan Roesgen decided that her tea party coverage was "no longer suitable for family viewing" .... It seems as though the tea party protestors had their way with her. Gotta love it. Warning: bad words. [...]

Unfortunately, it looks like CNN has yanked the video from Youtube. But not before her little song and dance got exposed for what it was. [I'll update the video link if I find it reposted]

The Boortz article goes on to show how low CNN news is in the ratings. Gee, I wonder if it's because they do crap like this? I hope it costs them advertisers.

I don't believe that ordinary Americans have become "Fringe", although clearly reporters like Roesgen want to make them that way, by any underhanded means they can manage.

Unfortunately, I agree with Pat, that the tea parties started over 5 months too late. Better late than never? I don't know; sometimes too late is too late. We shall see.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tax Protests were wide-spread and HUGE

Massive: Tax Day Tea Party USA; Updated

I just have one word: Wow. More than 800 tea parties across the country. Here’s your first photo/vid round-up from the events across the country, large and small, every corner of this great nation (hit your refresh button often…I’ll keep updating…11:20pm…just added tons more crowd pix and vid…trying to keep ‘em all in one post to give you the full breadth and scope of the protests — not just the size, but the reach, a true sense of which is missing from the MSM coverage. More coming…): [...]

Follow the link for more, and lots and lots of photos.

Related Link: Why bother to pay taxes?


Deflation, 1955, and Lopsided Tax Burdens

US economy goes back to 1955 as deflation returns
The article gives examples, but the percentages are very small. It claims we are on the "brink" of deflation. Is it hype?

Who pays taxes - and how much?
Our lopsided tax system. People who don't pay taxes voting themselves tax return checks. We once fought a war over no taxation without representation. Do we have to fight another for no representation without taxation?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax Day, Tax Protests, Bi-partisan Outrage

Tax Day Becomes Protest Day
How the tea parties could change American politics.
Today American taxpayers in more than 300 locations in all 50 states will hold rallies -- dubbed "tea parties" -- to protest higher taxes and out-of-control government spending. There is no political party behind these rallies, no grand right-wing conspiracy, not even a 501(c) group like

So who's behind the Tax Day tea parties? Ordinary folks who are using the power of the Internet to organize.


I spoke to an organizer for the Knoxville tea party who said that no "professional politicians" were going to be allowed to speak, and he made a big point of saying that the protest wasn't an anti-Obama protest, it was an anti-establishment protest. I've heard similar things from tea-party organizers in other cities, too. Though critics will probably try to write the tea parties off as partisan publicity stunts, they're really a post-partisan expression of outrage.

Of course, it won't be the same everywhere. There are no national rules, and organizers of each protest are doing things the way they want. And that's the good news and the bad news for Democrats. It's not a big Republican effort. It's a big popular effort. But a mass movement of ordinary people who don't feel that their voices are being heard doesn't bode well for the party that positioned itself as the organ of hope and change.

Will these flash crowds be a flash in the pan? It's possible that people who demonstrate today will find that experience cathartic enough -- or exhausting enough -- that that will be it. But it's more likely that the tea-party movement will have an impact on the 2010 and 2012 elections, and perhaps beyond.

What's most striking about the tea-party movement is that most of the organizers haven't ever organized, or even participated, in a protest rally before. General disgust has drawn a lot of people off the sidelines and into the political arena, and they are already planning for political action after today. [...]

The article goes on extensively about the bi-partisan nature of these protests. RNC chairman Michael Steele wanted to speak at one of the tea party events, and he was denied. For many people it isn't about partisan politics, it's about taking our government back from the "professional politicians" who don't listen to us taxpayers. I doubt these protests are going to be a mere "flash in the pan". We are talking about serious debt here, that will have to be paid off for generations. Dangerous debt that could drag us down. It can't just be swept under the rug.

These protests are happening because politicians on both sides are ignoring the tax payers. And I expect that most of the politicians will continue to do so, for as long as they can. As a result, I predict the protests will continue, and grow stronger. We'll see.

Related Link:

A Tax Day Tea Party cheat sheet: How it all started

Finally, the First Dog... from Ted Kennedy

So that campaign promise was fulfilled. The girls look thrilled:

A good choice, considering that allergies were a concern. They needed a dog with hair, not fur, which meant this breed, or a poodle. Poodles are great dogs, but as an image for the White House... they'd never hear the end of it.

Ted Kennedy is known for his love of Portuguese water dogs, so I guess it's not surprising that it should have come from him. I made a post a while back, mentioning the irony and bad taste of Kennedy naming his dog "Splash". He made a children's book featuring the dog.

Oh well. The Obama's would not have likely found a dog like that from a shelter. And they made a donation to a shelter anyway, a nice gesture. I must say, it looks like a nice dog.


Monday, April 13, 2009

States are raising taxes despite Stimulus Bill

New York is going to top the list, joining states like California and Michigan that are also crippling their economic base, while states including Oregon, Illinois, Wisconsin, Washington, Arizona and New Jersey are also considering huge take hikes. Wasn't the massive Federal Stimulus bill supposed to relieve states from the pressure to raise taxes? It doesn't seem to be working:

The Tax Capital of the World
States are raising taxes despite the 'stimulus'; New York is No. 1.
Like the old competition to have the world's tallest building, New York can't resist having the nation's highest taxes. So after California raised its top income tax rate to 10.55% last month, Albany's politicians leapt into action to reclaim high-tax honors.


One explicit argument for the $787 billion "stimulus" bill was to help states avoid these tax increases that even Keynesians understand are contractionary. Instead, the state politicians are pocketing the federal cash to maintain spending, and raising taxes anyway. Just another spend-and-tax bait and switch.


Mr. Silver says of the coming tax hikes: "We've done it before. There hasn't been a catastrophe." Oh, really? According to Census Bureau data, over the past decade 1.97 million New Yorkers left the state for greener pastures -- the biggest exodus of any state. New York City has lost more than 75,000 jobs since last August, and many industrial areas upstate are as rundown as Detroit. The American Legislative Exchange Council recently said New York had the worst economic outlook of all 50 states, including Michigan. And that analysis was done before these $4 billion in new taxes. How does Mr. Silver define "catastrophe"?


This is advertised as a plan of "shared sacrifice," but the group that is most responsible for New York's budget woes, the all-powerful public employee unions, somehow walk out of this with a 3% pay increase. The state is receiving an estimated $10 billion in federal stimulus money, and Democrats are spending every cent while raising the state budget by 9%. Then they insist with a straight face that taxes are the only way to close the budget deficit. [...]

California did the same thing, and drove out many businesses, ours included. Now Oregon is one of the states talking about large increases. They are spending more money than they have, and instead of cutting the suit to fit the cloth, they keep making plans using money they don't have.

On our local talk radio, people are really fed up that the government keeps spending on things that aren't going to create jobs or stimulate the economy. We already have 11 percent unemployment, and now they want to raise taxes while also saying they have to cut services.

19 percent of the jobs in Oregon are government jobs. Many of those jobs are for activities that limit and restrict jobs in the private sector. The government is spending huge sums of money to rip out dams that generate electricity. They are forcing farm families off of good farmland so the government can un-drain it and turn it back into swamps. They are working hard at expanding limits on fishing and hunting, creating new fees for all sorts of things. All this while also destroying job opportunities and raising taxes while shrinking the tax base.

How will the government's budget ever be brought under control? It's like watching a snake eat it's own tail. They can't just keep expanding their spending while crippling, diminishing and destroying revenue sources. Somethings gotta give.

WikiHow: for the Awkward Questions

I get random wikiHow links on my iGoogle page every morning. Sometimes they are interesting and or unusual topics. Today's wikiHow tackles an awkward topic:

How to Use a Squat Toilet
If you're traveling to Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and some parts of Latin America, you're likely to encounter a squat toilet (otherwise known as a squatty potty). Even though most of the people in the world (and most of the people throughout human history) find squatting to be the most natural way to go, it can be an intimidating (and messy) task if you've never done it before. Sure, the explicitness of these instructions might make you a little uncomfortable, but not nearly as uncomfortable as it'd be to ask someone how to use a squat toilet, or walk away from one with a mess on the floor and on your clothes. [...]

OK, I can see why reading the wikiHow could save you some... trouble. It then goes on thru the 7 steps of the process... and ends with a video on the topic.

Very educational. In some counties, when they say "Public Restroom", they REALLY do mean PUBLIC. Yikes.

And in some areas of rural China... well, see the video. If you dare ;-)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lego Christ for Easter, debuts in Sweden

Swedish church unveils Lego Jesus statue for Easter

It looks better than I thought it would. It took a year and a half to complete. It's design is based on a famous statue, follow the link for more details.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Obama in Europe: did he get what he wanted?

Despite all the praise President Obama received in Europe, this article from the British Telegraph points out how very little of his agenda was advanced. And how empty his speeches are proving to be.

Barack Obama: President Pantywaist - new surrender monkey on the block
[...] Barack is not the first New World ingenue to discover that European leaders will load him with praise, struggle sycophantically to be photographed with him and outdo him in Utopian rhetoric. But when it comes to the critical moment of opening their wallets - suddenly it is flag-day in Aberdeen. Okay, put the G20 down to inexperience, beginner's nerves, what you will. [...]

That was the "nice" part. The rests of the article is scathing in that way the British can be so good at doing. It's a short article, yet is says so much.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Which is more dangerous: Invading Immigrants, or Large Centralized Government?

This article at the Brussel's Journal applies this question to the fall of the Roman Empire, examining two books on the topic:

What Caused Rome’s Collapse: Immigration or Centralisation?

It's a long article, great if you like history. An argument is made that invading immigrants often wanted to uphold the better parts of the Empire and it's culture, and that the true collapse of Rome came from it's large, centralized government.

After examining two detailed books about the fall of Rome, which this article is about, the author seems to lean towards Centralized Government as the greater danger. In the last paragraph he sums up this lesson as a warning for the European Union and the United States:

[...] An ex-KGB officer, Igor Panarin, has apparently argued in a recent monograph that the United States will soon split up, as the Soviet Union did twenty years ago. That spontaneous disintegration of the Stalinist Empire was the best fate that could have overcome the superannuated Bolshevik experiment and its subject peoples. In one of history’s ironies, the European nation-states began their march into lock-step rule by apparatchiks at exactly the moment when their old enemy ceased to exist. The United States, too, under Bush I and Bush II and now Obama, has embraced a new doctrine of centripetal authoritarianism and coercive ideological reconstruction. The much-to-be-hoped-for failures both of the European Community and the socialist-in-fact-but-not-by-name Democrat-Party regime in the United States, followed by the genuine re-federalization of Europe and North America, might be the most providential turn of events as the world lurches stupidly into its Twenty-First Century “Globalist” delusions.

For those who enjoy detailed historical examination, treat yourself to the whole of this article by Thomas F. Bertonneau.

What Europe gave us? Or what they DIDN'T...

From Pat at Tammy Bruce's blog:

No Conflict Too Small - Many Too Big for Our President
Obama tells us it was an unprecedented accomplishment at the NATO summit to receive a pledge for 5,000 more NATO troops to Afghanistan. Golly, he hadn't even asked for them and this really wasn't a pledging session. Baloney. His administration has been pressing for more combat troops for some time now. The amazing NATO pledges are not for combat troops. Some of those troops will be there only for temporary security duty during the Afghan elections. Some troops included in the promised new total are actually part of a contingent already in Afghanistan. NATO countries did pledge $100 million to fund the Afghan army, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Obama is attempting to inflate the significance of getting a commitment to, dare I say it, distract from its meager content. I respect every member of the NATO military who serves in Afghanistan in any capacity and thank them for their service. The painful reality is NATO effectively tossed some coins at Obama as much as to say, "Here, that's all you're going to get now stop bothering me." The much vaunted agreement to the strategy is an acknowledgment that it's important not to lose in Afghanistan. Europe wishes us well in accomplishing that, but holds back on helping. [...]

There's more. When you look at the facts, I don't think this trip has been nearly as successful as the media hype keeps telling us it is.

We've made many concessions, and don't have much to show for it. Unless you think that having Europe "like" us more is important. Yeah, right. Everyone loves a sucker; so easy to take advantage of, and walk all over. That's why I've always preferred respect over popularity.