Thoughts On A Sunday

It was an early evening for this member of the WP team last night. Don't know what it was that caused me to poop out earlier than usual, but I was headed to bed at 10:15 last night.

Then again, maybe it was that I spent a good portion of the day yesterday wandering around the Deerfield Fairgrounds.


The fall foliage will be arriving over the next 10 days, with color almost at peak in the North Country of New Hampshire. I expect peak colors here in the Lakes Region to occur sometime next weekend. Hopefully I'll be able to get some decent pictures of this year's foliage and post them here.

If nothing else I will be out on the lake to take in the fall colors next weekend, weather permitting.


Now this is shameful. But then again, we're talking California. Is it any surprise?

Or maybe not....

Then again, it has been confirmed to be true.


We've got visitors for the next week or so.

The WP In Laws are on the road and we've taken in the feline members of their household until they get back.

I expect that Bagheera the Magnificent will have something to say about that.


Upon reading this earlier in the week, my thought was “How effin' dumb can our youth become?”

Then Jay Tea deconstructs the politically correct Pledge of Allegiance put forward by one of those selfsame deluded and dumbed down teens, which proves they can become extremely dumb when it comes to the realities of this world.


Here's an interesting, but lengthy British documentary that puts forward the idea that the global warming hysteria being stirred up is nothing more than a swindle. It takes a number of swipes at Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth by poking holes in the conclusions made in that film and the 'science' used to come to those conclusions.

The documentary claims that almost all of the global climate change we're seeing is driven by the sun and not by human activity.

I've been one of those that believes it is solar activity that is the main driver of our climate and that human activity has some effect on it as well, but not the level claimed by many of the “We're all DOOMED!” cultists out there saying their It's-All-The-Fault-Of-The-Evil-Humans™ mantra.


Another page from the book of selling stuff to the public that Just Ain't So from James Hudnall.


Bad motivational posters also via James Hudnall.


Newt Gingrich was in Laconia, NH yesterday, spreading the message of his American Solutions project. Full coverage of his visit can be found here.

As Doug at GraniteGrok wrote:

Newt Gingrich pulled the rug out from under the cynics that called his effort at creating and connecting local grass-roots activism nothing more than a veiled front for a presidential campaign.


As Newt says, we have a world that works-- WalMart, Fedex, and UPS, to name a few examples-- and a world that doesn't- FEMA, the INS, etc. If enough people rise up and demand change, armed with examples and solutions, change will happen. We need enough people to tell each and every one of the over 500,000 elected officials here in America:

If you're not for real change, you shouldn't come back.

Amen! And that goes for ALL politicians- Republican, or Democrat.


The New England Patriots won't be playing until tomorrow night. sigh


I can't say I know anything about other parts of the US, but here in central New Hampshire we've seen considerable growth over the past 30 years, with some towns doubling, tripling, or even quadrupling in size over that time.

Even now that the real estate market has cooled off and homes aren't selling anywhere near the rate of two years ago, many of the towns here are still dealing with the effects of the last burst of rapid growth between 2000 and 2006.

Some towns have tried to get a grasp on their growth by declaring a moratorium on new building permits for a year, allowing them some time adapt to what growth has already occurred and to plan for what will come in the future.


With the home-heating season rapidly approaching, many people here in the Northeast are faced with a dilemma: pre-buy to lock in a price now, or gamble that the prices will not change drastically upwards or will go down over the winter.

Many of those that lock in a price are also gambling that the prices will not go down, because even if they do, they will still pay at the price they locked in unless they spent a little extra on their pre-buy for price protection.

Here at the WP Manse we haven't done any kind of pre-buy because we're heating with wood. We'll still use propane for hot water and the clothes dryer, but very little (hopefully) to actually heat The Manse. There may still be those below zero days/nights where we'll need to bump up the thermostat because the wood stove we have won't carry the full heating load, but those days are rare.


A few people have asked my how my experimenting with Linux has gone. Honestly, I really like what I see, both on the Dell laptop (Inspiron 3800, w/600MHz PIII and 320MB of RAM) and the Epiq (900MHz Athlon w/768MB of RAM). While there are a few small conventions that take a little getting used to, I find I can do 95% of what I want to do using Linux. The last 5% that won't work on Linux are business related applications that require Windows 2000/XP. Still, I think that's pretty good.

BeezleBub has been using the laptop and, other than a couple of small tweaks needed to configure a Linux app or two, he's been able to do everything he's wanted to do.

Total cost of the Ubuntu distribution of Linux: 10¢ (cost of the blank CD-R).
Total cost of the Dell Inspiron: $79.87 (256 MB of RAM and a 3COM PCMCIA Ethernet adapter)
Total cost of the Epiq tower: $0.00

So for two machines that I got for free and $79.97 for a few additional parts, I got two fast Linux machines that will do everything that 90% of home users would ever need.

Both machines boot quickly as compared to when W2K or XP was loaded on them. The laptop in particular took up to 10 minutes to boot to usability, even with the additional 256M of RAM. Linux boots in less than a minute.

Very cool.


How does one move a boat that has become landlocked?

It's not a question that we normally hear around here, but it's being asked now.

The water level in Lake Winnipesaukee is lower than normal for this time of year and it's been causing problems for some folks trying to get their boats away from their docks and put away for the winter. Their boats are stranded at their docks with no way to them out. That's not good.

Even I've noticed the problem when coming into the marina where we dock the Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Runabout. Returning from our latest trip out on the lake the skeg on the stern drive dragged on something in the channel leading to our slip. The water is supposed to be at least 6 feet deep through there yet I hit something that should not have been there.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where summer weather is trying to hang on, fall colors are starting to appear, and where the lake level is too damn low.


A Day At The Fair

It was a perfect day for attending a fair. Sunny, warm, and with just enough breeziness to keep things comfortable.

It's the weekend of the 131st annual Deerfield Fair in Deerfield, New Hampshire.

Deb and I attended with some friends of hers, arriving this morning around 10. Our only 'mishap' of the day was parking, where I got separated from Deb and her friends because I had to park our car in the General Parking area rather than one of the 'special' lots which our friends had managed to obtain a pass that gained them admittance. I, on the other hand, was turned away, which meant I had to seek parking elsewhere.

I did manage to find them waiting for me at one of the gates near their parking area, but it took me a while to reach them.

Once we got inside the fairgrounds it was quite obvious that the most common activity there had to be eating. There were food stalls and trailers everywhere. The most common food items available were french fries, hot sausage sandwiches, fried dough, and onion rings. There were also more than enough food vendors selling pizza, burgers, hot dogs, and unidentifiable fried critters on a stick .

As much as I would have liked to, we ran out of time to see many of the exhibits I would have liked to have seen: the tractor pulls, horse pulls, oxen pulls, machinery demonstrations (tractors, portable saw mills, and antique donkey engines) as well as a wealth of carpentry, well drilling, home improvement, and energy products that were spread out all over the fairgrounds.

We did make it down to the amusement rides, though we didn't partake of any of them.

Frankly, it isn't really possible to see everything one might like to see in a single day. I think that next year we'll have to allow two days in order to see all the things that we find interesting.

Well, maybe next year.....


Silence In Syria. Panic In Iran - Another Look

I had no intention of commenting upon Syria's silence regarding the Israeli air strike deep inside that country. I've read a number of analyses about the strike, many of which imply that the attack was to take out either chemical and biological weapons stores shipped in from Iraq by Saddam before we invaded, or a “dirty” bomb factory being used to create weapons that would spread radioactive materials over a wide area.

This same air strike is said to have stricken fear into the heart of the ruling mullahs in Iran, creating a panic amongst them.

Both premises may be true.

On the other hand it may be likely that the mullahs have too many things to worry about without being bothered by an air strike that demonstrated that all of the sophisticated air defense weapons systems that both Syria and Iran spent millions of dollars to acquire are worth bupkis when it comes to defending against Western military technology.

Iran's economy is in shambles, despite their oil wealth. Because of this and the more frequent demonstrations against the mullahs by Iranian citizens, the mullahs biggest fear may be an uprising by their own people.

Considering how often America has threatened Iran with the same “If you kill Americans, you'll pay the price” line over the years, I'm not surprised they might not take us seriously.

Of course they do have the examples of Afghanistan and Iraq, each showing what happens if they push America too far. If nothing else, the Israeli air strike into Syria (undoubtedly with a little help from us) showed the Iranians that they aren't as safe and secure as they had come to believe. Somewhere deep down inside they know that they could end up suffering the same fate as Saddam and his cronies should they finally push us too far.

Maybe they have.....


Ahmadinejad Visit Elicits Responses

It's not surprising that a lot of people have something to say about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinehjad's visit to New York. One of those is Fred Thompson:

“Columbia University gave a public forum today to a tyrant to spread his lies and deceit. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a mockery of free speech by standing in front of an auditorium of academicians and students and denying the existence of the Holocaust and his deadly intentions toward Israel.”

“I find it ironic that Iran's president accepted an invitation to speak at Columbia University, since students who dissent on Iranian campuses are not met with debate, they are met by a gun and imprisonment. A few months ago, eight college students were imprisoned in Iran's notorious Evin Prison for publishing articles and cartoons critical of Iran's government in a student-run newspaper. The Evin facility has been described as Iran's 'most feared prison' and is known to stone women to death. We need to do our best to empower freedom-loving people throughout Iran.”

Cox & Forkum have their own view a Holocaust denier and leader of one of the biggest state sponsors of terrorism.


Thoughts On A Sunday

Here it is, the first official day of Fall, but we're enjoying summer weather. It's been gorgeous all weekend and this will likely continue the rest of the week.

BeezleBub and I were out on the lake just before noon today and, though it's now fall, you'd think it was a typical summer weekend. There were lots of boats out there, including a large number of sailboats. With the windy conditions it was perfect for sailing.

We also saw a number of people pulling their boats out of the water in preparation for storing them away for the winter, so their boating season is done. We, on the other hand, won't be finished for at least another month. The Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Runabout won't be leaving the water until after October 22nd at the earliest. If the Weather Guys™ are right, the weather is going to be warmer than normal over the next three months, making for an extended boating season.

I can live with that.


Glen Reynolds linked to a post on a commenting on protests in support of the Jena Six.

I liked what I've seen so far so I decided that I'm going to add this blog to the links. Say hello to The Field Negro.


The New England Patriots handed the Buffalo Bills a lopsided defeat, 38-7. It didn't help the Bills that their first string quarterback, Losman, was injured during the first quarter and sat out the rest of the game.


Is it just me or does it seem that the upcoming fall season of new TV series has some promise? Unlike the past few years, there seem to be a number of shows that both the Big Three networks and the cable/satellite channels are promoting that look as if they might actually be worth watching.

But then again, maybe it's all fluff. I guess we'll find out soon enough.


Speaking of the new TV season, Amazon is offering free downloads of new series premier episodes.

I've already downloaded and watched Journeyman and The Bionic Woman, both of which I thought were pretty darn good. I have yet to watch Chuck, but I figure I'll get to that some time tomorrow evening.

(H/T Instapundit)


Pssst! Hey buddy, wanna buy a Titan missile base? It comes with 57 acres and 16 underground buildings, including three missile silos!

Yours for a cool $1.5 million. Lease terms available......

(H/T The Happy Carpenter)


Bagheera The Magnificent will soon be ending his posting hiatus. As he explained to me, “I've been too busy making the rounds, defending my realm against intruders. Summer is always the busy season for me.”

I expect his activities will be ramping down once the weather gets a little cooler, allowing him more time to bitch and moan.


And now for a John Stossel twofer:

First, a somewhat more detailed account of how bad socialized medicine has proven itself to be, a follow-up from this post.

Second, John takes on the belief about how gun control lowers violent crime. The fact is, it doesn't.

(H/T for the second goes to Individ)


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where summer refuses to leave, the summer folk have left, and where fall colors will soon appear.


Giving Linux A Try

I've been spending the past few days installing, configuring, and using Linux on two of the Official Weekend Pundit computers – a 900MHz Athlon tower and a Dell Inspiron 3800 laptop, both of which I salvaged from work and resurrected.

The Athlon was originally loaded with Windows XP and the Dell used Windows 2000. Unfortunately the Athlon suffered a power supply failure, which in turn crashed the hard drive. The Dell was as slow as molasses, taking up to 10 minutes to boot.

I figured that the hard drive crash and the tortoise-like performance was a good excuse to try something I've wanted to use for some time. A new hard drive for the Athlon and a little more memory for the laptop and the computers were ready.

I downloaded Ubuntu 7.04 and burned the image onto a CD-R.

The first machine to act as a guinea pig was the Athlon tower. The install went without a hitch. No muss. No fuss. And once it was installed it booted quickly and ran like it had a ton of memory and a 3GHz dual core.

Ubuntu loaded just as easily on the Dell and it ran like it was a brand new machine! It boots quickly and runs like greased lightning. The only glitch was that Linux didn't recognize the 3Com PCMCIA Ethernet adapter. Fortunately the docking station that I picked up with the laptop had a built in NIC and that one worked just fine. I was on my way to exploring the wonderful world of Desktop Linux.

One of the nice things about many distributions of Linux is that they include Firefox and Open Office, both which are included on the disk image and are installed at the same time as Ubuntu. I've used the Windows versions of these apps for quite some time so they were already familiar.

Ubuntu Linux does take getting used to as the interface uses different conventions for performing some of the functions familiar to Windows users, but they aren't all that different. (If someone like me can figure it out, than almost anyone can....but then I am something of a computer geek.)

So far I like what I see. With very few exceptions I can do anything on Linux that I can do on Windows. And if I really do need to use a Windows program, it is possible to do so using an emulator called WINE.

And so the adventure begins.......

Fred And Ground Zero - Another Take

You've gotta love this:

In the Fred Thompson administration, there will be no need for the leaders of terrorist states to visit Ground Zero; Ground Zero will be wherever they live.

(H/T Instapundit)


Fred Versus Mahmoud

After Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad requested to visit Ground Zero during his time at the United Nations, a large number of Americans expressed their opinions of the idea, most of them saying “No way!” One of those was Fred Thompson.

"I know there would be ramifications in the United Nations" if the U.S. refused to let Mr. Ahmadinejad into the country, Mr. Thompson said during a brief news conference at Dallas Love Field. "I would deny this character a visa. What's he going to do, visit there to get pointers for his own activities? I wouldn't let him in the country."

After New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said he would not allow Mr. Ahmadinejad anywhere near Ground Zero, the Iranian president said he would abide by the decision.


Will Hillary Kill Health Care?

When it comes to Hillary Clinton and her proposal to mandate universal health insurance coverage, it is indeed “déjà vu all over again.”

It is her attempt to create in this country the very health care system that doesn't work in Canada, the UK, France, and a number of other nations with socialized medical care systems. It appears she's taking the old “we had to destroy the village in order to save it” strategy in order to ensure that we won't have the health care we'll need.

All socialized medicine has ever done in any country that has implemented it is to make sure that the health care is equally poor across most social lines and cannot be delivered in a timely fashion. Far too often such 'care' results in death sentences for people that, had they received prompt treatment, would have lived quite normal and healthy lives. (Of course the social elites that forced this upon them, because they are elite, will receive top line care unavailable to the rest of the population.)

Of course Hillary will try to convince us that it's for our own good, that we must all sacrifice for the betterment of all. I seem to recall that someone else once said something very similar. Hmm. Who was it? Ahh, yes, I remember now! It was Vladmir Illich Lenin.

By destroying any chance that we can return health care to market driven incentives to lower costs, the costs will only ever go up. And if you think that we won't have to pay for it, you are sadly mistaken. You can count on your federal taxes to go up and up and up just to pay for the institutional inefficiencies and incompetence that will result from the federalization of health care. I don't even need to cite examples of how this will happen as there are plenty of them just north of the border and across the Atlantic.

Let us hope that cooler heads will prevail and that HillaryCare will die aborning.


Thoughts On A Sunday

We went from summer into mid-fall weather over a period of one day. I wouldn't mind that so much if we were in mid-fall, but we aren't. It's still summer, dammit! Even the calendar says so!

It's also NASCAR weekend here in New Hampshire, with the Nextel Cup folks paying a visit to New Hampshire International Speedway. Fortunately the weather cooperated enough to run the Busch Series race yesterday afternoon.

The surge of NASCAR fans has made it a might crowded around here, almost as bad as a summer holiday weekend, but without the all of the summer folk heading out onto the lake. If the weather were warmer that's where we would probably have been.

Well, at least it's supposed to return to summer temps later this coming week.


You can tell that campaign season is fully under way here in the Granite State. The presidential hopefuls are making so many visits that you can't help tripping over them when you head into town.

Recently the folks at Granite Grok got to spend some time with John McCain on his campaign bus the other day, asking him a string of questions while the rest of the MSM wonks sat around scribbling or doodling in their note pads.


At least my home state is doing one thing right – saying “no” to deer contraceptives.


Submarine Tim's boss, Dawn, e-mailed us to let us know that their oldest son, Peter, has graduated from Navy boot camp, following in the footsteps of both his parents. He'll be home for a week to work with one of the local Navy recruiters and then he's off to nuke school.

Go Navy!


At least one more Congressional Democrat has spoken out against MoveOn.org's NYT ad slamming General Petraeus.

Carol Shea-Porter (D - 1st NH), in a letter to the editor to the New Hampshire Sunday News, (Manchester, NH) wrote:

MoveOn.org's recent newspaper ad was too personal and unfair to General Petraeus. He has served our country and has the very difficult job of salvaging the war in Iraq.

While I am in no way a fan of my representative to the House (she's far too left for even some of the Democrats in this state), at least she said something about the smear campaign launched by MoveOn.org. While some parts of her letter were used to slam the Bush administration (she rarely misses an opportunity to do that), she still expressed her personal anger as well as that so many of her constituents were feeling about the ad. For that, I give her (qualified) kudos.


As the baby boomers get older and start retiring, a lot of companies are finding that it's difficult to replace them. It wasn't always that way.

Memories may be short, but it is worth noting it wasn't all that long ago experienced older workers were being shoved out of the work force to make way for young, often untrained workers.

Early retirement — either voluntarily or otherwise — became the rage. Older workers had made their contribution to the free enterprise system, went the argument. Now they had a duty to make way for younger workers who would blaze new frontiers.

It used to be that you retired at age 65. Way back when many workers didn't even live long enough to retire. Now people live longer and 65 may soon become to be seen as early retirement.

As much as I might like to retire at 65, I can safely say it isn't going to happen. I have no doubt that I'll be working to 70 or even 75. Then, when I retire, I'll have a good 20 or 25 years to loaf about before I start yet another career.

Hey, you never know.....


Anal bleaching?

(H/T Instapundit)


Chris Muir decided to tempt fate by inciting the less-than-peaceful members of the Religion of Peace.

Kick ass, Chris!


The New England Patriots met with the San Diego Chargers in Foxboro tonight. At the half the Patriots were leading 24-0.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the last NASCAR race at NHIS this season has been run, boats are starting to disappear from the marinas, and where summer weather looks to return later this week.


Mortgage Lender Bailout By Taxpayers A Bad Idea

The controversy about a taxpayer funded bailout of Wall Street investors and mortgage companies has been making the rounds on the news and the blogosphere. My colleagues, Skip and Doug over at GraniteGrok have posted twice about this as well as discussing it on Meet The New Press earlier today.

Like them, I firmly believe that it is not up to the taxpayers to bail out the firms that played in the mortgage market. They gambled with 'creative' financing and lost. It's their loss to take.

Now some may say that the Feds bailed out all of the banks that were holding bad mortgages back in the early 1990's, but that's not the case. A large number of banks failed when too many of the mortgages they gave out stopped performing. The only parties that were 'bailed out' by the government were the depositors of the banks that failed. They were covered by the Federal Depositors Insurance Corporation, or FDIC. The banks themselves either closed, reorganized, or were bought up by other banks. But the government didn't give them billions in taxpayer dollars to keep them from failing.

Five major banks in New Hampshire failed when the real estate bubble burst back then. A couple of them had been in business for well over 100 years. Hundreds more failed all across the country.

It's no different now, except for the fact that this time around it isn't the banks that are taking the hits for nonperforming mortgages, but mortgage lenders financed by Wall Street. They are no more deserving of a bailout than the banks were almost 20 years ago. They gambled. They lost.

If I went to Las Vegas and gambled my money away, would the government be obligated to bail me out because I lost? Of course not. It isn't any different for the mortgage lenders or their investors because they chose to underwrite mortgages that the banks considered too risky. (At least the banks learned their lesson and weren't involved to any great extent in writing sub-prime mortgages.)

That's the thing with investments, they aren't a sure thing. If you invest in risky ventures then the chances are proportionately higher that they might fail. And that's what the mortgages that the lenders wrote were – a high risk investment. They gambled. They lost.

It's not up to you and me and all of the other taxpayers to make up for their losses.

They gambled. They lost.

So endith the lesson.

Stossel Debunks Health Care Cost Myths

One of my favorite TV debunkers, John Stossel, takes on health care and health insurance in America.

In Friday night's 20/20 he asked why health care in the US is so expensive? He also gets into some of the solutions proposed by many of the Democratic politicians (Universal health care? Don't they mean socialized medicine?), and supported by Michael Moore.

Stossel talks with Michael Moore about his movie, Sicko, and how it gives the false impression that the health care systems in other countries are so much better (they're not).

Even Canadian doctors slam the national health care system in Canada, saying “Sure it's free, but you'll have to wait 6 months to get treatment.” The artificial shortage has created a demand for black market for-profit clinics, which are now popping up all over Canada. Even the head of the Canadian Medical Association has one of those for-profit clinics because he got tired of not being able to treat patients needing care now, not six months from now.

As I've said here more than once, one reason that health are costs so much is because of health insurance. Between the costs of processing insurance paperwork and the time doctors also have to spend dealing with it, is is any wonder that the costs keep going up and up?

Health insurance also has another downside – people demand more and more medical care even when they don't need it because, after all, it's not like they're paying for it, are they? That may be a good reason for high deductibles before insurance starts paying.

One analogy that Stossel uses to illustrate the problem with health insurance is to ask about what food would cost of there was grocery insurance. The answer: more than someone without it could possibly afford. With grocery insurance I wouldn't waste my time buying the hamburger. I'd go for the sirloin steak tips, Why shouldn't I? It's not like I'm paying for it? Of course the grocery store or supermarket's costs will goo up due to all of the paperwork needed because of the grocery insurance. (Yeah, it's not a great analogy, but still it is a decent comparison.)

Another thing that has driven costs up is the lack of competition. If you ask your doctor how much a physical costs, I doubt very much that he or she could tell you. Why? Because they have no idea. It isn't something they think about because most of their patients have health insurance, so they don't need to know.

A perfect example of how competition can help is to look north into Canada again. Costs at the private for-profit clinics are a fraction of what they are in the national health care network.

Need another example?

As costs for almost all fields of medicine have gone up, costs in two have gone down dramatically. Can you guess which two? I'll give you a minute.

(Insert Jeopardy theme here.)

Would you believe it if I told you that LASIK eye surgery and plastic surgery costs have plummeted? The reason – they aren't covered by health insurance. People pay for those procedures out of pocket. They shop around for the best deal, taking into account the reputation of the physicians they'll be dealing with. That ought to tell you something.

To prove that point Stossel visits Doctor Robert Berry, whose practice no longer takes insurance of any kind. He lists his prices for various procedures and takes cash, check, or credit card. His costs are a fraction of what other doctors charge because he doesn't have to deal with the insurance companies or government bureaucracies. He knows exactly what it costs to do physicals or other procedures. Because he is unencumbered by all of the usual overhead, he gets to spend more time seeing patients. He has a smaller staff than a practice like his would normally require because he doesn't have to process insurance forms. Yet, he makes just as much money as he did before he changed over to a non-insurance practice.

The quick clinics popping up in malls, shopping centers, pharmacies, and in some of the larger retailers (like WalMart) also give us an indication that competition may be one of the cures for the ever climbing health care costs. These clinics can usually deal with the smaller medical problems like colds, sore throats, ear infections, and the like, but at a low cost and with little waiting. Like Dr. Berry mentioned above, the clinics take cash, check, or credit card, but not health insurance.

They offer people with sore throats and ear infections convenient care … cheap. Most everything costs $59 or less.

But how can they make money charging so little?

"They're figuring how to do something faster, better, cheaper," said Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute. "They're responding to consumer demand, because they see that they might make some money on this. Profit! And, look who's winning. Moms and dads and kids. Because they now have … easy access to routine health care."

Like any other industry out there, competition lowers prices. However, the medical field has little if any competition, hence prices much higher than they might otherwise be. In those medical fields where competition is taking place, prices have been dropping. That ought to be a big clue that opening the rest of medicine to competition would do likewise. But I doubt that we'll ever see it. It makes too much sense and the medical and insurance lobbies will do their darnedest to make sure it doesn't happen. They have an all-but-monopoly on health care and they want to keep it that way.


MoveOn.Org - Vote The Way We Tell You Or Else

Considering past actions by MoveOn.org against Democrats that don't follow their lead, it doesn't surprise me that none of the present crop of Democratic presidential hopefuls have spoken out against that organization's character assassination of General Petraeus.

It appears that only one Democrat in the Senate has said anything at all against the scandalous ad run in the New York Times – Senator John Kerry.

It's sad when those with presidential ambitions won't speak out against actions that everyone knows are dishonorable because they don't want to lose any funding by this admittedly leftist organization. MoveOn has already ordered Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to vote against any funding for the war in Iraq if the legislation does not include language that mandates a timetable for withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Otherwise they will feel the wrath of MoveOn.org.

Who the hell to these moonbats think they are? The Senators and members of the House represent us, not this political organization. MoveOn.org sure as hell doesn't represent me or my interests. It's about time that we remind them of this truth.

Piling On MoveOn.org - Fred Takes His Shot

And here's yet another slam against MoveOn.org, this time by Fred Thompson.


House Representatives From New Hampshire In MoveOn's Pocket?

And speaking of MoveOn.org, it appears that New Hampshire's two members of the House of Representatives are beholden to this exclusionary leftist organization. It appears that MoveOn funneled quite a bit of election money to the two leftist Democrats (at least it's quite a bit of cash by New Hampshire standards). It appears the organization also bought Carol Shea-Porter's and Paul Hodes' support for trying to discredit General Petraeus and to throw a monkey wrench into the works in order to prevent the US from finishing the job in Iraq.

Hodes received $5,000 from Moveon.org in 2006. The organization also spent $1,749 in indirect expenditures to support Hodes that year and $143,266 to oppose Hodes' opponent, Rep. Charlie Bass.

Shea-Porter received no direct contributions from Moveon.org in 2006, but this year she has taken $17,860.51 in forwarded earmarked contributions bundled by the organization.

Both Hodes and Shea-Porter dismissed Gen. Petraeus' testimony this week. Both said they disagreed with his assessment of the situation in Iraq. But why?

They cannot possibly have better intelligence or a more thorough understanding of the situation than the general. Do they think he is lying? Do they agree with Moveon.org that he was "cooking the books for the White House"?

I doubt we'll hear anything from either one of our House Representatives about this.

If they say they disagree with MoveOn they might end up being targeted for replacement by candidates that MoveOn will find more in agreement with their socialist agenda and Blame America First philosophy.

If they say they agree with MoveOn, they will show that they are truly in the pocket of this organization and are not representing the people of New Hampshire. (I have always thought that they haven't kept the best interests of the people of New Hampshire in their minds, that they would pursue Nancy Pelosi's agenda. They've voted with the Speaker of the House 99% of the time, showing that they aren't as independent as they claimed during their campaigns. Or maybe they are independent, but from the people that actually elected them.)

Either way, our 'representatives' to Congress have shown their true colors. I'm beginning to think that both of them may find that they'll only get this one term in office because they've shown their contempt for the people of New Hampshire by their silence in this matter.

MoveOn Morons

Every time I think that MoveOn.org can't go any lower, they prove me wrong.

It's no secret that they ran a full page ad in the New York Times, maligning General Petraeus. What most people don't know is that they paid far less than the usual $167,000 for such an ad. In fact, they paid only $65,000. Does this mean that the NYT was in cahoots with the MoveOn morons? If so, it shows that what little credibility the Times had left is now gone and that they have become nothing more than a mouthpiece organization for a leftist group that is out of touch with the American people. It also means that both organizations may run afoul of election finance laws. According the FEC's Campaign Guide for Corporations and Labor Organizations, the two may have made a “like kind exchange”, something that is illegal under the existing campaign finance laws.

But I wouldn't expect that to stop MoveOn.org.

Interestingly enough, the New York Sun sees MoveOn as worse than Tailgunner Joe McCarthy, saying that they have "abandoned decency and bersmirched decent people not in pursuit of a more aggressive and broader fight against a vast evil but in pursuit of a capitulation."

Sounds just about right.


Not A Clue

I've listened to the testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker as they addressed both the House and Senate committees. I've listened to the questions and statements of the Representatives and Senators grilling them about Iraq. I've read the various editorials in the papers and on the Web and listened to the 'learned' pundits giving forth their viewpoints and wisdom on radio and TV.

After all of this, and then pondering what I've heard and read, I've come to a conclusion that, quite frankly, leaves me dismayed:

Far too many people in our government, as well as those that blindly follow the radical leftist dogma, haven't got a friggin' clue as to what's truly important.

I keep thinking about how often we have heard that the American people are impatient and want things like the war in Iraq to be finished quickly. But that always makes me wonder of we truly have become a nation filled with people suffering from a short attention span, always expecting every problem to be solved in an hour (excluding the commercials, of course).

As much as it seems we have become like that, I'd like to believe it isn't so.

I don't know of anyone who believed that, as we started the campaign against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, and then against Saddam in Iraq, that it would be something that we could finish in a few weeks or months, and then come home. Yes, we were victorious against the military forces in both countries in a relatively short time, but I knew that these victories would be the beginning of our mission, not the end. So did most of the people planning these campaigns, both in the White House and the Pentagon, and those actually putting their lives on the line.

Some things we did poorly, such as the post-war administration of Iraq. A lot of mistakes were made and both our military personnel and Iraqi civilians have paid the price. We tried to build a government from the top down when we should have done it from the bottom up. It took us a while to learn that and to change our strategies to accomplish it. But just as we seem to be turning things around and finally making some headway into bringing some security and stability to Iraq, the folks in Congress want us to cut and run, leaving the job unfinished.

If we do that, I can guarantee we will have to go back at some point and, because we left the job undone, will have to spend a lot more blood and treasure to put things right. Except that this time we will have to kill a lot more people and, in turn, a lot more of our people will die because of it.

To quote former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, “We broke Iraq. It's up to us to fix it.”

I couldn't agree more. Better that we fix it now while we are already there rather than come back some years down the road to fix a problem that will have grown to many times the size it is now. Like the tag line in the old Fram commercials said, “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.” Later always costs more. Much more.

Should those espousing cut-and-run win the day, we will indeed pay a much higher price than we might have otherwise. The Iraqis will pay an even higher price, making the days of Saddam's brutal dictatorship seem like a paradise in comparison. We cannot in good conscience do that. (We did that once about thirty years ago, and the price was far too high...but then those who died when we did that were merely little brown people that the cut-and-run folks didn't see as real and therefore not worthy of their support or compassion.)

Let us not make the same mistake again.

[/disjointed rant]


Thoughts On A Sunday

It's been a nice summer weekend, only without the usual summer crowds. While plenty of summer folk are still making the trip up here for the next few weekends, there won't be nearly as many as there usually is on summer weekends.

That suits us just fine. It makes for less boats out on the lake which means that we've got some time to ourselves before the weather turns cold.

Of course, today it rained all day, so our planned outing on the lake had to be postponed.


It seems that some Congressional Democrats sharpening their knives, and the worst of the MSM are doing likewise in preparation of General Petraeus's and Ambassador Crocker's report about progress in Iraq. The Dems and the MSM are working hard to discredit any positive report that either the General or Ambassador may make before Congress.

Both these Democrats and the MSM have a lot to lose if the reports are taken at face value. Already some of the anti-war Democrats have “left the fold” after visiting Iraq and seeing that progress has indeed been made. They also know that there's still plenty of work left to be done.

That's a message the staunch anti-war Dems and the MSM want to quash because it leaves them looking like idiots or traitors, and that's something they want to prevent at all costs.


It's the first weekend of the NFL season and the New England Patriots will be playing the New York Jets in New Jersey. The Pats look good this year and, assuming no injuries to their first string players, they may be ready for another Super Bowl appearance.

It didn't hurt that they won their first game, 38-14.


To show the power of the NFL, Republican candidate Fred Thompson will visiting potential supporters at a number of sports establishments in New Hampshire during the Pats game.

Recognizing where much of the population's attention will be this afternoon, Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson will largely confine his tour of the city to destinations with large concentrations of potential voters: local sports bars, where the focus will be on the New England Patriots' season-opening game against the New York Jets.

"There's an old rule in politics: 'Never mess with the NFL,' " said former state Rep. Dan Hughes of New Castle, a Thompson supporter. "You could be giving away $20 bills and have the Dallas Cowboys' cheerleaders dancing at your event, and you'd still not get anybody."

Such is the power of Patriots fans support of their team.


Something we've been hearing about more often – copper theft.

Thieves have been hitting construction sites, stealing wire, pipe, and flashing. They've also hit vacant homes, stripping out the copper pipe used in the plumbing and heating systems.


Rural states like New Hampshire are still struggling to provide high-speed Internet services to some of the smaller, more remote towns. Ironically Alaska, about as remote and as thinly settled as one can get, has better cell phone and high-speed Internet service than New Hampshire.

Lack of such services will lead to missed economic opportunities because most businesses rely on high-speed connections to the Internet in order to conduct business.

A second bit of irony – New Hampshire has the highest number of high tech workers as a percentage of its residents in the US, but has one of the lowest percentages of residents with high-speed Internet access.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the lake is quiet (because of the rain), the number of weekend summer folk is down (because of the rain), and where there's not as much grilling going on (because of the rain).


Embarrassing Assumptions

Lee of Right Thinking From The Left Coast informs us that he's studying Mandarin Chinese as part of his new job.

He also warns us about assuming that someone in a foreign land doesn't speak your language. As he illustrates, it can lead to embarrassing situations.

....what I really want to do is learn enough so I can understand what the Chinese say about me as I walk past. They know that, in general, most foreigners don’t speak Chinese, and if they do it’s only a few words like, “Which way to the bar?” So the Chinese get used to talking about you when they’re standing right next to you, probably saying something like, “Check out this fat bastard.”

What I’d love to be able to do is turn to them, and in Mandarin say, “Every day I earn what you make in three weeks. Eat s**t and die.”

I've run across a situation like that, too, when a couple of young French ladies visiting London assumed I didn't understand French. Were they embarrassed when they found out that this “ugly American” understood every word they said.


Pssst. Hey Buddy, Wanna Buy A Bridge?

And we thought the “Bridge to Nowhere” was bad!

It looks like Diane Feinstein will attempt to outdo that bit of pork barrel spending with some of her own....to the tune of $4 billion. (That's billion, with a 'b'.) Unfortunately it will be the veterans of our nation's armed services that will be getting the shaft on this one.

It takes hard work to come up with an earmark more egregious than that infamous Alaskan bridge, but California's Dianne Feinstein is an industrious gal. Her latest pork--let's call it Rambo's View--deserves to be the poster child for everything wrong with today's greedy earmark process.

The senator's $4 billion handout (yes, you read that right) to wealthy West L.A. (yes, you read that right, too) is the ultimate example of how powerful members use earmarks to put their own parochial interests above national ones--in this case the needs of veterans. It's a case study in how Congress uses the appropriations process to substitute its petty wants for the considered judgments of agency professionals. And it's just the latest proof that, no matter how much outrage the American public might display over these deals--and no matter how often Congress promises to clean up its act--the elected have no intention of reforming the process.

Go read the rest and you'll see why it's business as usual in Congress.

Somehow, I'm not surprised.


Fred's First Day

Now that Fred Thompson has announced it looks like we can relax a little and see how the other candidates will deal with his candidacy and his unusual campaign.

It will be interesting to see if Fred will continue to gain in the polls being second or third before he even announced.

He spent the day today in Iowa, meeting with small groups of supporters and undecided Republicans.

Fred also sat for an interview with one of the local Iowa TV stations, which can be found here.


Breeding The Liberal "Virus"?

This is the first time I've ever heard Massachusetts being described as the breeding ground for the “liberal virus.”

Veteran Boston political reporter Jon Keller also invites us to behold his native state . . . and shudder in dismay. In "The Bluest State," he argues that, although Massachusetts does not suffer alone from its notorious affection for liberalism, it is the incubator for "Massachusetts viruses" that infect the national Democratic Party. The viruses come in many forms: "addiction to tax revenues and a raging edifice complex couched in disrespect to wage earners; phony identity politics without real results for women and minorities; reflexive anti-Americanism in foreign affairs; vain indulgence in obnoxious political correctness; self-serving featherbedding; NIMBYism; authoritarian distortion of the balance of governmental power, all simmered in a broth of hypocritical paternalism."

Does this mean that Teddy Kennedy and John Kerry are the liberal versions of Typhoid Mary?

The GOP Candidates Should Address Health Care

While a number of the Presidential hopefuls are making the rounds in New Hampshire, not too many of them have been talking about health care in anything other than sound bites:

“And when I'm elected I'll work to make health care more affordable and available to every American!”

Unfortunately that's as close as most of them come to discussing the issue. The rest don't mention it at all.

But it is one thing that they all should be discussing, and something that they should be giving a lot of thought about.

I'm not advocating “socialized” medicine, particularly after seeing how well it works in other countries, i.e. not very well. Neither is Charles Arlinghaus, though he does have some ideas of the problems that must be addressed, particularly by the Republican candidates at tonight's debate at UNH.

Simply put, insurance costs more because health care costs more. In the United States we spend about $2 trillion on health care. If you want to reduce the cost of insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, reduce health care spending. It shouldn't surprise us that the bulk of spending is spent not on administration, profits or fees, but on sick people.

Now, half the population doesn't cost anyone much at all. Fifty percent of the people use only about 3 percent of the spending. Costs are driven by the other 50 percent who spend 97 percent of the money. Of total health care spending, 75 percent goes for people with chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Chronic conditions are less likely to be one-time events like a broken leg than something that can be managed over time.

Chronic conditions represent 96 percent of Medicare spending and 83 percent of Medicaid spending.

The payment and management structure used by government programs and many insurance companies does not take into account avoided costs and treatment plans. Rather, it considers sickness as independent episodes. Under this vision, a patient with a broken leg or the flu is typical. You get sick and go get fixed -- one payment to the doctor for fixing you. Managing a patient with a chronic condition doesn't fit into this scenario.

And that may be the biggest problem with the existing health care system, one that should be addressed during this campaign, something that the GOP can use to steal the thunder from the Democrats.

It will be interesting to see the Republican candidates will even address this issue tonight.

(to be continued......)


More On The "Endless Campaign"

It appears I'm not the only one thinking that he severe compression of the presidential primary schedule is a big mistake.

The way things are going, the first votes in the 2008 Presidential election may yet be cast in 2007, more than 10 months before the national elections next November. This is not an improvement.


...this process is both too long and too constricted. It is too long in the sense that it starts the Presidential race more than two years before the actual vote. This shrinks the time for actual "governing," to the extent this still happens in Washington, with Senators like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden having to calibrate every utterance for its impact on their nomination chances. This has only made it harder this year for the parties to find any bipartisan common ground on Iraq, for example. Then once the nominees are all but picked next year on February 5, we will have another long 10 months of campaigning before November. No wonder the political pros call this "the permanent campaign."

But the process is also too constricted, because once the primary voting starts, it will be over in a flash. This makes it harder for a dark horse candidate to break through; even with an early victory, it might be too late to raise enough money to compete in the fast-following giant states.

It also gives Americans less chance to scrutinize the nominees once the actual balloting begins. Sure, voters may know the names of most of those who are running, but average, rational citizens lack the time or interest to focus until an election is nigh. A nominating primary gantlet of three to four weeks is the political equivalent of a blur. This means that crucial facts about a candidate's experience and character may not be discovered until he has already wrapped up the nomination.

'Nuff said.


When The State Kidnaps Your Children

How twisted can things get when it comes to the “State” protecting children? If the UK is any indication, very twisted.

A pregnant woman has been told that her baby will be taken from her at birth because she is deemed capable of "emotional abuse", even though psychiatrists treating her say there is no evidence to suggest that she will harm her child in any way.

Social services' recommendation that the baby should be taken from Fran Lyon, a 22-year-old charity worker who has five A-levels and a degree in neuroscience, was based in part on a letter from a paediatrician she has never met.

This is almost as bad as the case of a woman in New York whose infant was taken away from her by state social services because she asked a question about breastfeeding that offended the person she queried. Had this woman asked a pediatrician, she would have gotten a straight answer. But because she called someone at New York's DYS, her child was taken away because the state figured she was a child molester.

But wait! There's more!

The case adds to growing concern, highlighted in a series of articles in The Sunday Telegraph, over a huge rise in the number of babies under a year old being taken from parents. The figure was 2,000 last year, three times the number 10 years ago.

Critics say councils are taking more babies from parents to help them meet adoption “targets”.

So the UK is taking children away from parents in order to meet the demand for people wanting to adopt? If a private party were to do that, it would be considered kidnapping. But because some of the local councils are perpetrating such crimes, it's perfectly legal? How Orwellian can Britain become? It sounds like something that the old Soviet Union would pull on couples the State considered unreliable.


Thoughts On A Sunday

Deb and I made the shopping rounds this morning, stocking up for the next week or so.

For a Sunday morning the traffic was horrible. It seems that everyone is trying to squeeze a week's worth of 'vacation' into three days. People are driving far faster than they should, leaving less margin for error, and generally behaving as if they were on Boston's Southeast Expressway during rush hour.

Not a good way to spend the Labor Day weekend.


I made the mistake of watching Chris Matthews on TV early this morning, something that got my blood pressure up and darn near had me screaming at the TV screen.

Yet again the pompous windbag was trying to drive home to his audience that all is lost in Iraq and we can all expect General Patraeus to lie like hell about the military progress in Iraq. Supposedly he'll be doing so under orders of the hated George W. Bush.

All of the usual suspects were there as well to bolster his argument. Of course not one of them have been to Iraq and were depending upon reports from the rest of the MSM to form their 'learned' opinions.


A friend of Deb's has come up with a far better term for “summah people” - tourons, or “tourist morons.”

I like it.


It is with politicians such as these that we can bring the conflict in Iraq to a fitting end.


As bad as property taxes here in New Hampshire, they appear to be getting worse just south of the border in Massachusetts. That certainly doesn't help the residents of the Pay State as they also have sales and income taxes they have to pay, too.

Their taxes are going up, yet they're getting less services for what they're paying. That's not a good sign.


On more than one occasion I've written about how rough and choppy it can get out on Lake Winnipesaukee during the weekends. It's even worse when there's a bit of a wind to add to all of the boat wake caused chop. It can get downright dangerous out on the lake when those to elements come together. And so it was Saturday just before noon when a boat with 8 people on board was swamped and sank just off of Rattlesnake Island.

Fortunately all eight people on board were rescued. The boat, however, is still somewhere on the bottom of the lake.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the summah people are running around like they've lost their minds, the last days of summer quickly approach, and where there's still plenty of time for a few more cookouts.