ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Saturday, February 24, 2007

From the Cojones Files

It takes some big-time cojones to complain about US construction crews walking 10 meters into Mexico.

Mexican anger over US 'trespass'
Mexico's Congress has condemned what it says is a border violation by US workers building a controversial barrier between the two countries.

Legislators say workers and equipment building a section of the barrier have gone 10 metres (yards) into Mexico.

The alleged border violation comes ahead of a high-level meeting in the Canadian capital Ottawa.

US, Mexican and Canadian foreign ministers are to discuss border security and trade issues.

Mexican legislators said they had photographs and video, taken on Monday, of the workers and heavy-duty construction equipment that showed them about 10 metres inside Mexico near the border city of Agua Prieta and the town of Douglas, Arizona.

The Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa said she had complained to the US authorities and that the men and equipment had been withdrawn.

Continental trade concerns

In a statement, the US Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza said: "The US is sensitive to Mexican concerns... [and] has the deepest respect for the integrity of the sovereignty of Mexican soil".

He said US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had not been in the area of the alleged incursion and recent photographs of him welding a section of the fence had been taken in a different part of Arizona on the US side of the border.

The US says it is building 700 miles (1,125km) of fencing along its border with Mexico to stop illegal immigration.

Many Mexicans see the fence as offensive and say it will be ineffective and potentially cause more deaths in border crossings.

An estimated 1.2 million illegal immigrants were arrested in 2005 trying to cross into the US via the border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

About 11 million Mexicans are thought to live in the US, more than six million of them illegally.

Later on Friday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is meeting her Canadian and Mexican counterparts - Peter Mackay and Patricia Espinosa - in Ottawa.

They are to discuss concerns that security measures put in place after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US may hamper trade between the three countries.

The officials will also look at co-ordinating responses to emergencies such as a pandemic outbreak of avian flu.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Jesus & James Cameron

Well, I guess it's about time we got started on carving that golden cow and worshiping our pagan idols. Or, I suppose all those icky, reich-wing Christians can revert to Judaism and wait for their Messiah. At least, I think that's the point of the following...

February 23, 2007 6:55
Jesus: Tales from the Crypt
Posted by Tim McGirk

Brace yourself. James Cameron, the man who brought you 'The Titanic' is back with another blockbuster. This time, the ship he's sinking is Christianity.

In a new documentary, Producer Cameron and his director, Simcha Jacobovici, make the starting claim that Jesus wasn't resurrected --the cornerstone of Christian faith-- and that his burial cave was discovered near Jerusalem. And, get this, Jesus sired a son with Mary Magdelene.

No, it's not a re-make of "The Da Vinci Codes'. It's supposed to be true.

Let's go back 27 years, when Israeli construction workers were gouging out the foundations for a new building in the industrial park in the Talpiyot, a Jerusalem suburb. of Jerusalem. The earth gave way, revealing a 2,000 year old cave with 10 stone caskets. Archologists were summoned, and the stone caskets carted away for examination. It took 20 years for experts to decipher the names on the ten tombs. They were: Jesua, son of Joseph, Mary, Mary, Mathew, Jofa and Judah, son of Jesua.
Israel's prominent archeologist Professor Amos Kloner didn't associate the crypt with the New Testament Jesus. His father, after all, was a humble carpenter who couldn't afford a luxury crypt for his family. And all were common Jewish names.

There was also this little inconvenience that a few miles away, in the old city of Jerusalem, Christians for centuries had been worshipping the empty tomb of Christ at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Christ's resurrection, after all, is the main foundation of the faith, proof that a boy born to a carpenter's wife in a manger is the Son of God.

But film-makers Cameron and Jacobovici claim to have amassed evidence through DNA tests, archeological evidence and Biblical studies, that the 10 coffins belong to Jesus and his family.

Ever the showman, (Why does this remind me of the impresario in another movie,"King Kong", whose hubris blinds him to the dangers of an angry and very large ape?) Cameron is holding a New York press conference on Monday at which he will reveal three coffins, supposedly those of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother Mary and Mary Magdalene. News about the film, which will be shown soon on Discovery Channel, Britain's Channel 4, Canada's Vision, and Israel's Channel 8, has been a hot blog topic in the Middle East (check out a personal favorite: Israelity Bites) Here in the Holy Land, Biblical Archeology is a dangerous profession. This 90-minute documentary is bound to outrage Christians and stir up a titanic debate between believers and skeptics. Stay tuned.

--Tim McGirk/Jerusalem

Course, didn't know that they had a DNA swab from Calvary, but I'm sure Mr. Cameron will provide details.

Calling Mr. Scheck!!!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Friday, February 23, 2007

Extreme Poverty, the Minimum Wage, & Distortions Galore

Saw this story on Memeorandum today. It is a lengthy article on how we're all headed for the soup line:

U.S. economy leaving record numbers in severe poverty

By Tony Pugh
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - The percentage of poor Americans who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high, millions of working Americans are falling closer to the poverty line and the gulf between the nation's "haves" and "have-nots" continues to widen.

A McClatchy Newspapers analysis of 2005 census figures, the latest available, found that nearly 16 million Americans are living in deep or severe poverty. A family of four with two children and an annual income of less than $9,903 - half the federal poverty line - was considered severely poor in 2005. So were individuals who made less than $5,080 a year.

The McClatchy analysis found that the number of severely poor Americans grew by 26 percent from 2000 to 2005. That's 56 percent faster than the overall poverty population grew in the same period. McClatchy's review also found statistically significant increases in the percentage of the population in severe poverty in 65 of 215 large U.S. counties, and similar increases in 28 states. The review also suggested that the rise in severely poor residents isn't confined to large urban counties but extends to suburban and rural areas.

The plight of the severely poor is a distressing sidebar to an unusual economic expansion. Worker productivity has increased dramatically since the brief recession of 2001, but wages and job growth have lagged behind. At the same time, the share of national income going to corporate profits has dwarfed the amount going to wages and salaries. That helps explain why the median household income of working-age families, adjusted for inflation, has fallen for five straight years.

These and other factors have helped push 43 percent of the nation's 37 million poor people into deep poverty - the highest rate since at least 1975.

The share of poor Americans in deep poverty has climbed slowly but steadily over the last three decades. But since 2000, the number of severely poor has grown "more than any other segment of the population," according to a recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"That was the exact opposite of what we anticipated when we began," said Dr. Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, who co-authored the study. "We're not seeing as much moderate poverty as a proportion of the population. What we're seeing is a dramatic growth of severe poverty."

The growth spurt, which leveled off in 2005, in part reflects how hard it is for low-skilled workers to earn their way out of poverty in an unstable job market that favors skilled and educated workers. It also suggests that social programs aren't as effective as they once were at catching those who fall into economic despair.

About one in three severely poor people are under age 17, and nearly two out of three are female. Female-headed families with children account for a large share of the severely poor.

Read the whole thing - if you don't, you'll miss some real shockers.

Ok, now couple of things I'd like to point out.

First, the federal minimum wage used to be $5.15 an hour, with many states having higher minimums. Now that we've got the Dems in power, it's in the process of being increased even higher. As stated in the article, those in "extreme poverty" are individuals making approx. $5,000 or a family of four making $10k. Assumption obviously is that if you've got two working adults, they should be able to pull in $5k a year. What this means is that these individuals - if they were fully employed, but did not work any overtime - would be earning just $2.50 per hour. How can this be? Well, obviously we're not talking about people who have even the barest of skills to be able to qualify for a minimum wage job - and now that the minimum wage is higher, it's even more unlikely that they'll ever land what they would consider to be a high paying job. I personally blame the Democrats for condemning those in extreme poverty to continue in their current condition.

Second, it obviously goes without saying that there are a variety of other issues related to those in extreme poverty, such as drug addiction, mental illness, etc, etc. Those in extreme poverty aren't able to communicate with customers, perform basic tasks, etc.

Third, the study also mentions that 1 out of 3 in extreme poverty are under 17. Now, I don't know the specifics of the study, but I wonder how individuals are considered to be in extreme poverty. Are these kids in families whose total income falls under the extreme poverty line? Or are we talking about high school students who are working part time and/or seasonally...

Fourth, the study does not mention whether the poor from Mexico who are flooding into America were considered in this study. This is important because, as I've mentioned numerous times, our lack of a guest worker program results in these individuals not being able to get the federal minimum. While I'm no fan of the minimum wage, it is the law.

Fifth, the study continues to use demographics of 20 to 65 or 75 when discussing how a certain percentage of us will rely on government assistance of some sort:
Two of three will use a public assistance program between ages 20 and 65, and 40 percent will do so for five years or more.

I'm curious as to whether federal and state college tuition loans or other government assistance are covered by this.

And finally, one little tidbit about the income of those in "extreme poverty" that you should be aware of. It appears in the 50th paragraph and it is the following:
Most researchers and economists say federal poverty estimates are a poor tool to gauge the complexity of poverty. The numbers don't factor in assistance from government anti-poverty programs, such as food stamps, housing subsidies and the Earned Income Tax Credit, all of which increase incomes and help pull people out of poverty.

I think this is a pretty important paragraph and the author obviously does as well - although he probably hated to write it. He sandwiches it between two paragraphs with criticism of this position and drops it down to the final paragraphs, when most readers are tearing their hair out and running for the federal assistance office.

Obviously, being in extreme poverty is not a laughing matter. However, articles on studies like this are curiously devoid of facts or methodologies used in the study. I understand that they don't want readers to fall asleep, but it seems that these articles are written more to scare than to inform the reader.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Fitz Call Your Psychiatrist!

For those of you who haven't been following the almost daily activities of everything Plame related over at JustOneMinute, you may not have known that Fitzgerald gave his closing arguments yesterday in the Libby trial.

As you may recall, has maintained in arguments before the press, the public, and the court that this is all about a small case of whether or not Libby lied to the FBI and the Grand Jury and that by doing so he obstructed the investigation. To use Fitzgeralds metaphor, "throwing sand in the eyes of the umpire". Despite this alleged obstruction, Fitzgerald has maintained that no crime was comitted with the outing of Valerie Plame's name, and has not charged anyone with such a crime, despite evidence that Richard Armitage (Colin Powell's number 2) was the "first to leak".

Fitzgerald reserved a majority of his closing time for the rebuttal phase, which comes after the defenses closing arguments (and therefore without chance for further rebuttal by the defense). The defense team, smelling something fishy, submitted an argument filled with case law to the judge warning him about issues with prosecutors who go far afield in the rebuttal phase of closing arguments (emphasis mine):

The Court has allotted each party three hours for its closing argument. The government intends to use one-third to one-half of its time for rebuttal. Although we do not suggest that the government will engage in deliberate impropriety, the length of its proposed rebuttal raises concern that it may reserve crucial contentions until that argument, when the defense will have no chance to respond. In light of this concern, we submit this brief to alert the Court and the government to the relevant principles that govern rebuttal argument.
Jeralyn Merrit liveblogged the closing at the Huffington Post, as well as the moonbats at FireDogLake, and if there psuedo transcripts are anything close to what Fitzgerald actually said, he has truly revealed himself as a Wilson apologist.

Some excerpts (all emphasis mine) from Merrit:
Fitz starts off yelling "Madness," referring to the defense closing arguments.

Without Tim Russert ever coming to court to testify, they could convict on the Tim Russert charges. If he got hit by a bus last month and died, and went to the great newsroom in the sky before trial, they could still convict by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

When a prosecutor tells you that you don't need to pay attention to what one of his witnesses testified to in the trial because it didn't matter if he was even alive anymore that is not a good sign to the nature of your case.

From the more complete (but full of moonbat snark) FDL:

Cathie Martin, one call or two calls, she knows that when she came back. Do you think for a moment, that the conversation that defendant described, I don't know if it's true, if it happened in front of Martin. She's very careful. When someone discussed NIE on July 8, she got nervous, she left the room, in part for that reason. When VP added NIE to talking point. She got nervous. When Wells asked her, you knew abotu Plame, It wasn't a huge revelation to me, but I knew it was huge deal that he disclosed it. SHe said, that's a big deal. You think she's going to sit there and listen to Libby talking abotu Wilson's wife? Everything corroborates taht it happened at end of call.

One more thing that corrborates. THe VP wrote week before that wife sent him on a junket. THe VP moves to number 1 talking point. You just think it's coincidence that Cheney was writing this.

There is a cloud over the VP. He wrote those columns, he had those meetings, He sent Libby off to the meeting with Judy. Where Plame was discussed. That cloud remains because the denfendant obstructed justice. That cloud was there. That cloud is something that we just can't pretend isn't there.

Fitzgerald is talking about the declassification of the NIE as if that was intertwined with Plame. He's equating pushing back against the lies Wilson was telling with the NIE as criminal activities similar to "outing" Plame. He's trying the "big case", the war itself.

Goes through why the NOvak thing doesn't work. Especially that He couldnt' have told Rove he learned of it from NOvak, too.

He picked someone high up in NBC. He picked someoen they woudl know he talked to.

If he had picked Woodward, he might have gotten lucky.

Remember situation. Interview. FBI interview Bond and colleagues there. WH had said Libby not involved.

Govt exhibit 20, govt guidlelines on dealing with Media.

No subpoena without express authorization from AG. If he can convince Agent Bond, "nothing here," it goes away. If he doesn't convince them to go to the AG for a subpoena. You know what, we would never hve heard Russert's conversation if he wasn't called at home. It could have been enough not to get the FBI to get AG to issue a subpoena. It could have worked if Russert never talked. When you look back, history always looks inevitable. They're talking about firing people. He had planted his feet. He had to come up with someone. He had to make sure to say, Russert, this is off the record.

Fitz is trying to lay a motive here. That Libby picked Russert because he knew that Fitzgerald would never be able to get a story out of him. This despite the fact that Russert told the FBI in the first call, and that no evidence was ever brought into the trial that Libby knows that the government can't force testimony from reporters (which it turns out they can).

The three things they don't want you to focus on. Unique, importance,anger.

We all remember unique. That's why a lot of the witnesses remembered stuff frm their conversation with Libby.

Libby said this was the FIRST TIME he had ever declassified something by virtue of talking to VP. It had never happened before, hadn't happened since.

Importance Remember the others things going on. He had ten conversation with nine people. He's asking Schmall about . He's monitoring Hardball. He's not watching other things. He's remembering Rove telling him. Why is that important? It goes into his brain, bc that's important. VP cuts out column, he makes note on Dowd column. One thing that's really important, Schmall told him, this is a big deal, every intell service, whether innocent or not, they could arrest, torture, kill them. If you're sitting ont eh beach as a 21 year old, and you say, what you did, that can get people killed. If someone brought to your attention, you could get some people killed, that better be important, certainly NSA to VP in time of war.

Fitz believes there was a conspiracy between Libby and the Vice President to protect the VP. Fitz believes the VP lied about the war and was using Libby to leak classified information (specifically the NIE). After an entire trial and investigation about how it wasn't important if Plame was covert enough, he throws in the "people killed" argument to ratchet up the rhetoric. He's figuratively screaming here, "Bush Lied! People Died!"

A great cartoon that sums up the prosecution's operating methods:

My Predictions for the trial.

It's a DC Jury, so most of them (all?) are democrats. The case is just not there for Fitz though. I predict acquital on the Cooper counts, hung jury on the Russert counts. Acquital on the obstruction counts.

Hard to predict jury decisions though.

The next phase will be the most fun to watch the moonbats on though. There are three possible outcomes for this case.

1. Libby is acquitted. The left will go nuts attributing to some sort of conspiracy. Background checks of the jurors will be sought. The media will have problems explaining to the public how although throughout the entire trial they have been predicting conviction Libby walked.

2. Libby is convicted. The left will be demanding Fitz to submitt impeachment referrals. They will demand that Libby is imprisoned before his appeals are through, they will call for John Conyers to start House hearings on the great conspiracy to out a covert agent in a time of war.

3. Hung Jury. The left will be demanding that Fitz retry the case.

In the case of 2 and 3, it will never happen. Fitz is done with this, despite his moonbattery. Any more perjury traps set by this prosecutor will be seen for what they are. The media will not testify to any memories with any conviction. The administration will say they had already been cleared by not being indicted the first time around. And Libby if convicted has nothing to lose but to wait out his time till January 19th, 20009 for the pardon that is sure to arrive.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Monday, February 19, 2007

I Blame Prosperity

Not just a few minutes after posting that organic farming produces more environmental damage than industrialized agriculture, this story from the Christian Science Monitor catches my eye:

Humans' beef with livestock: a warmer planet
American meat eaters are responsible for 1.5 more tons of carbon dioxide per person than vegetarians every year.
By Brad Knickerbocker | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

As Congress begins to tackle the causes and cures of global warming, the action focuses on gas-guzzling vehicles and coal-fired power plants, not on lowly bovines.

Yet livestock are a major emitter of greenhouse gases that cause climate change. And as meat becomes a growing mainstay of human diet around the world, changing what we eat may prove as hard as changing what we drive.

It's not just the well-known and frequently joked-about flatulence and manure of grass-chewing cattle that's the problem, according to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Land-use changes, especially deforestation to expand pastures and to create arable land for feed crops, is a big part. So is the use of energy to produce fertilizers, to run the slaughterhouses and meat-processing plants, and to pump water.

"Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems," Henning Steinfeld, senior author of the report, said when the FAO findings were released in November.

Livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent, reports the FAO. This includes 9 percent of all CO2 emissions, 37 percent of methane, and 65 percent of nitrous oxide. Altogether, that's more than the emissions caused by transportation.

The latter two gases are particularly troubling – even though they represent far smaller concentrations in atmosphere than CO2, which remains the main global warming culprit. But methane has 23 times the global warming potential (GWP) of CO2 and nitrous oxide has 296 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Methane could become a greater problem if the permafrost in northern latitudes thaws with increasing temperatures, releasing the gas now trapped below decaying vegetation. What's more certain is that emissions of these gases can spike as humans consume more livestock products.

As prosperity increased around the world in recent decades, the number of people eating meat (and the amount one eats every year) has risen steadily. Between 1970 and 2002, annual per capita meat consumption in developing countries rose from 11 kilograms (24 lbs.) to 29 kilograms (64 lbs.), according to the FAO. (In developed countries, the comparable figures were 65 kilos and 80 kilos.) As population increased, total meat consumption in the developing world grew nearly five-fold over that period.

Beyond that, annual global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tons at the beginning of the decade to 465 million tons in 2050. This makes livestock the fastest growing sector of global agriculture.

Animal-rights activists and those advocating vegetarianism have been quick to pick up on the implications of the FAO report.

"Arguably the best way to reduce global warming in our lifetimes is to reduce or eliminate our consumption of animal products," writes Noam Mohr in a report for EarthSave International.

Of course, I blame prosperity, too. And like Jerry Seinfeld in the episode where he suggests that Elaine should fly coach because he's been in First Class and she wouldn't know what she's missing, I call for all under-developed nations to stay underdeveloped. Don't start getting wealthy enough to start eating beef. That's only for us rich, fat Americans.

I mean, since you've never eaten a corn-fed, 22oz prime porterhouse steak, you can continue eating your nuts and wheat and not know what you're missing.

Actually, I have the perfect solution!!! We hand over the reins of the world economy to Kim Jong-Il!!! Then we could all become low-impact herbivores, subsisting on grass like our little rodent ancestors.

Just saying...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

It Could Happen To You!!!

You too can be afflicted with Bush Derangement Syndrome.

See its effects in this "article" by Joe Conason, which seeks to include every single anti-Bush blog post from DemocraticUndergroundand DailyKos.

For the first time since the resignation of Richard M. Nixon more than three decades ago, Americans have had reason to doubt the future of democracy and the rule of law in our own country. Today we live in a state of tension between the enjoyment of traditional freedoms, including the protections afforded to speech and person by the Bill of Rights, and the disturbing realization that those freedoms have been undermined and may be abrogated at any moment.

Such foreboding, which would have been dismissed as paranoia not so long ago, has been intensified by the unfolding crisis of political legitimacy in the capital. George W. Bush has repeatedly asserted and exercised authority that he does not possess under the Constitution he swore to uphold. He has announced that he intends to continue exercising power according to his claim of a mandate that erases the separation and balancing of power among the branches of government, frees him from any real obligation to obey laws passed by Congress, and permits him to ignore any provisions of the Bill of Rights that may prove inconvenient.
Everyone knows -- although not everyone necessarily wishes to acknowledge -- that the Bush administration misled the American people about the true purposes and likely costs of invading Iraq. It invented a mortal threat to the nation in order to justify illegal aggression. It has repeatedly sought, from the beginning, to exploit the state of war for partisan advantage and presidential image management. It has wasted billions of dollars, and probably tens of billions, on Pentagon contractors with patronage connections to the Republican Party
not word one about Halliburton's increased role in military operations during the Clinton years.

Given that we're now living in ueber-fascist times, it's a shame that Conason's book will have to burned along with all of the other anti-Bush screeds and polemics.

Oh, wait...

For those not familiar with Conason, he apparently used Linda Tripp as a source for some salacious details to attempt to bring down a president - not Bubba, but George HW Bush. And this article from 6 years ago by Jonah Goldberg sums up Conason pretty well

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Gimme the Processed Chicken, Please

For all of those crunchy-cons & granola tree-huggers out there who enjoy "organic food" with two helpings of smug, could you please stop contributing to global warming and environmental destruction?

Organic farming 'no better for the environment'
By Cahal Milmo
Published: 19 February 2007

Organic food may be no better for the environment than conventional produce and in some cases is contributing more to global warming than intensive agriculture, according to a government report.

The first comprehensive study of the environmental impact of food production found there was "insufficient evidence" to say organic produce has fewer ecological side-effects than other farming methods.

The 200-page document will reignite the debate surrounding Britain's £1.6bn organic food industry which experienced a 30 per cent growth in sales last year.

David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, drew a furious response from growers last month when he suggested organic food was a "lifestyle choice" with no conclusive evidence it was nutritionally superior.

Sir David King, the Government's chief scientist, also told The Independent he agreed that organic food was no safer than chemically-treated food.

The report for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs found "many" organic products had lower ecological impacts than conventional methods using fertilisers and pesticides. But academics at the Manchester Business School (MBS), who conducted the study, said that was counterbalanced by other organic foods - such as milk, tomatoes and chicken - which are significantly less energy efficient and can be more polluting than intensively-farmed equivalents.

Ken Green, professor of environmental management at MBS, who co-wrote the report, said: "You cannot say that all organic food is better for the environment than all food grown conventionally. If you look carefully at the amount of energy required to produce these foods you get a complicated picture. In some cases, the carbon footprint for organics is larger."

The study did not take into account factors such as the increased biodiversity created by organic farming or the improved landscape.

The report said: "There is certainly insufficient evidence available to state that organic agriculture overall would have less of an environmental impact than conventional agriculture.

"In particular, organic agriculture poses its own environmental problems in the production of some foods, either in terms of nutrient release to water or in terms of climate change burdens."

Using data from previous studies, the researchers singled out milk as a particular example of the environmental challenges presented by organic farming. Organic milk requires 80 per cent more land and creates almost double the amount of substances that could lead to acidic soil and "eutrophication" - the pollution of water courses with excess nutrients.

The study found that producing organic milk, which has higher levels of nutrients and lower levels of pesticides, also generates more carbon dioxide than conventional methods - 1.23kg per litre compared to 1.06kg per litre. It concluded: "Organic milk production appears to require less energy input but much more land than conventional production. While eliminating pesticide use, it also gives rise to higher emissions of greenhouse gases and eutrophying substances."

Similar findings were recorded with organic chickens, where the longer growing time means it has a higher impact on all levels, including producing nearly double the amount of potentially polluting by-products and consuming 25 per cent more energy.

Vegetable production was also highlighted as a source of increased use of resources. Organic vine tomatoes require almost 10 times the amount of land needed for conventional tomatoes and nearly double the amount of energy.


In related news, smug levels in liberal enclaves have significantly decreased.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

The 1/2 Hour News Hour - Unbelievably Bad

The Half Hour News Hour debuted last night and it wasn't any better than the teasers released late last week.

Here's a review in the NYTimes which says it's not funny if you don't poke fun of the President (or whoever is in power). I seem to recall an election in 2006 which threw Congress to the Dems - and we've been hearing for weeks how W. is irrelevant and a lame duck, so I'm not sure what Alessandra's point is, but I digress.

I only found myself laughing at two items during the show:
1) The bit about Iran hosting the holocaust denial conference. The Times also liked it:

“After months of being criticized for hosting a Holocaust denial conference in December,” Mr. McNally says, “the Iranian government is now denying that the conference ever took place.” He adds, “Or if it did, that attendance figures were greatly exaggerated by a Zionist-controlled media.”

2) One of the two (or three?) ACLU ads... not because I think the ACLU's position is completely ridiculous (I happen to have a strong libertarian bent and line up with the ACLU on some issues), but because of the writing.

Other than that, the writing was atrocious, the delivery was poor, and the laugh track ruined the show. The Limbaugh & Coulter opening did not go over well with me... nothing to laugh at.

HotAir provides this analysis and I hate to point it out to them, but I don't think I heard much in terms of live laughter during the show - just canned laughs - so don't think the show was some barometer on jokes at the expense of Hillary Clinton.

HotAir also provides some "highlights."

The first question that I had after watching the show was this - Who are the writers?

It appeared to me that the writers were either too "inside GOP" to be funny or were Hollywood leftists who don't know how to make fun of liberals.

Some tips for THHNH:
  1. Drop the two anchor format. It just barely works on SNL and the Daily Show's format is best.
  2. Don't have actors/comedians on the show to play the part of a guest. The funniest thing about Daily Show & Colbert is that they get people to deliver lines that they normally wouldn't - although it often takes special editing.
  3. The goal shouldn't be a funny show that pokes fun of Liberals, but a funny show that deals with both sides equally. There are plenty of things in Republican politics that are funny and we should be able to laugh at ourselves. And the Left is such a big target that having to resort to Kucinich and ACLU jokes is pretty sad.
  4. Move off of Fox News - Not sure what the heck you're doing on that channel. I already have a problem with the fact that most of the people in my age cohort (and below) get their news from The Daily Show, Colbert, & SNL. Let's not continue to blur the lines by putting a comedy show on a news channel.

Oh, and hire better writers.

IowaHawk thought it was awesome...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Will to Lose

Mark Steyn on Murtha's strategy to make sure that our troops are in the field, without the appropriate tools or forces to win.

As always, it's a must read:

Why the Iraq war is turning into America's defeat
February 18, 2007

BY MARK STEYN Sun-Times Columnist

The week's news from Iraq: According to the state television network, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, was wounded in a clash with security forces ''With the new American offensive in Baghdad still in its early days, American commanders have focused operations in the eastern part of the city, a predominantly Shiite area that has long been the Mahdi Army's power base.

''If Mr. Sadr had indeed fled, his absence would create a vacuum that could allow even more radical elements of the Shiite group to take power.''

As my National Review colleague Rich Lowry marveled: ''So now we need to keep Sadr in Iraq because he's such a stabilizing influence!'' Of course! As Hillaire Belloc wrote, ''Always keep a hold of Nurse/For fear of finding something worse'' -- and, even when Nurse Sadr is blowing up the kids in the nursery every day, it's best to cling to her blood-drenched apron strings because the next nurse will be an even bigger psycho. America is a big helpless baby who's blundered into a war zone he can never hope to understand.

According to a report by the New York Sun's Eli Lake last month, Iran is supporting Shia insurgents in Iraq and Sunni insurgents in Iraq. In other words, it's on both sides in the so-called civil war. How can this be? After all, as the other wise old foreign-policy "realists" of the Iraq Study Group assured us only in December, Iran has "an interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq.''

Au contraire, the ayatollahs have concluded they have a very clear interest in fomenting chaos in Iraq. They're in favor of Sunni killing Shia, and Shia killing Sunni, and if some vacationing Basque terrorists wanted to blow up the Spanish Cultural Center in Mosul, they'd be in favor of that, too. The Iranians don't care who kills whom as long as every night when Americans turn on the evening news there's smoke over Baghdad. As I say in my book, if you happen to live in Ramadi or Basra, Iraq is about Iraq; if you live in Tehran, or Cairo, or Bei-jing, Moscow, Pyongyang or Brussels, Iraq is about America. American will. American purpose. American credibility.

There was a TV station somewhere -- was it Thunder Bay, Ontario? -- that used to show a continuous loop of a roaring fireplace all night, and thousands of viewers would supposedly sit in front of it for hours because it was such a reassuringly comforting scene. The networks could save themselves a lot of money by adopting the same approach: Run a continuous loop of a smoking building in Baghdad all night while thousands of congressmen and pundits and think-tankers and retired generals run around Washington shrieking that all is lost. America is way out of its league! A dimwitted tourist in a fearful land of strange people who don't watch "American Idol." Iraq is so culturally alien that not a single Sunni, Shia or Kurd has come forward claiming to be the father of Anna Nicole's baby!

Get a grip, chaps! In Iraq, everyone's a tourist. This al-Qaida honcho, al-Masri, is an Egyptian. His predecessor, Zarqawi, was a Jordanian. Al-Sadr is a Persian stooge. For four decades, the country was a British client. Before that, it was a Turkish province. The Middle East is a crazy place and a tough nut to crack, but the myth of the unbeatable Islamist insurgent is merely a lazy and more neurotic update of the myth of the unbeatable communist guerrilla, which delusion led to so much pre-emptive surrender in the '70s. Nevertheless, in the capital city of the most powerful nation on the planet, the political class spent last week trying to craft a bipartisan defeat strategy, and they might yet pull it off. Consider this extraordinary report from the Washington Post:

"Democratic leaders have rallied around a strategy that would fully fund the president's $100 billion request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but would limit his ability to use the money. . . . The plan is aimed at tamping down calls from the Democrats' liberal wing for Congress to simply end funding for the war.

"The Murtha plan, based on existing military guidelines, includes a stipulation that Army troops who have already served in Iraq must be granted two years at home before an additional deployment. . . . The idea is to slowly choke off the war by stopping the deployment of troops from units that have been badly degraded by four years of combat."

So "the Murtha plan" is to deny the president the possibility of victory while making sure Democrats don't have to share the blame for the defeat. But of course he's a great American! He's a patriot! He supports the troops! He doesn't support them in the mission, but he'd like them to continue failing at it for a couple more years. As John Kerry wondered during Vietnam, how do you ask a soldier to be the last man to die for a mistake? By nominally "fully funding" a war you don't believe in but "limiting his ability to use the money." Or as the endearingly honest anti-war group put it, in an e-mail preview of an exclusive interview with the wise old Murtha:

"Chairman Murtha will describe his strategy for not only limiting the deployment of troops to Iraq but undermining other aspects of the president's foreign and national security policy."

"Undermining"? Why not? To the Slow-Bleed Democrats, it's the Republicans' war. To an increasing number of what my radio pal Hugh Hewitt calls the White-Flag Republicans, it's Bush's war. To everyone else on the planet, it's America's war. And it will be America's defeat.

©Mark Steyn, 2007

It's clear that Chuck Hagel on Meet The Liar Press has joined the sphere of Murtha. I know that it's tough to avoid the gravitational pull of Murtha's jowls, but if you've been listening to John Murtha over the past year and are able to actually say that "Murtha's right on a lot of things," you're clearly no longer sane.

The discussion on Meet Tim Russert this AM was totally focused on the Congress' right to hamstring the military, the Presidents unwillingness to "change strategy" (without a single mention or allusion to the strategy change that the Dems & Hagel want is the strategy of defeat).

This is unbelievable - and the GOP (being the only serious party in foreign policy) had better come to grips with the implications for our country should we lose in Iraq.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler