Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

With less that 5 hours remaining in 2006, may 2007 be an even better year for all of you.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Still backing the losers

Guess who is in mourning for Saddam?

Yep, you guessed it: Palestinians mourn execution of their ally, Saddam
Though much of the world regarded him as a tyrant, Saddam Hussein was mourned by Palestinians Saturday as a generous patron who remained one of their staunchest allies -- right up until the moment of his death.

Saddam had rejected peace with Israel, sent money to the families of suicide bombers....

There was at least one parade in his honor in Gaza, where some Palestinians displayed a poster with his image next to that of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

During the first Gulf War in 1991, Saddam attacked Israel in a failed ploy to force his Arab brethren to abandon the U.S.-led coalition arrayed against him and join Iraq in fighting the Jewish state. As Saddam's Scud missiles flew overhead en route to Israel, Palestinians chanted: "Beloved Saddam, strike Tel Aviv."

He further endeared himself to the Palestinians during the recent uprising against Israel by giving $25,000 to the family of each suicide bomber and $10,000 for each Palestinian killed in fighting. The stipends totaled an estimated $35 million.

Saddam's support for the Palestinians -- whose cause is deeply popular with Arabs throughout the Middle East -- was at least partially aimed at cultivating grass-roots support for his regime.

Saddam's downfall -- his defeat by America, his capture in a filthy hole, his conviction and his execution -- dismayed Palestinians.

They just never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, and they never miss an opportunity to back a loser.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Now She Tells Us....

Granholm: Budget deficit huge

Conveniently after the election, no?

From the Detroit News
Gov. Jennifer Granholm warned today that Michigan could face a huge, combined budget deficit of $1 billion or more in the current and upcoming fiscal years, worse than earlier predictions.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

More from the Brits have lost their Minds File: Cop killer escapes by dressing in Islamic women's robes and fleeing Britain by plane

Simply unbelievable: From Little Green Footballs: Murder Suspect takes advantage of UK Dhimmitude
A man who was being hunted for the murder of a policewoman is understood to have escaped from Britain by disguising himself as a veiled Muslim woman.

Mustaf Jama, a prime suspect in the fatal shooting of PC Sharon Beshenivsky, assumed his sister'’s identity --— wearing the niqab and using her passport -- to evade supposedly stringent checks at Heathrow, according to police sources.

The use of the niqab, which leaves only a narrow slit for the eyes, highlights flaws in British airport security. At the time, Jama was Britain's most wanted man, while Heathrow was on a heightened state of alert after the 7/7 terrorist atrocities in London five months previously.

The Times has learnt that British immigration officers rarely carry out a visual check to match a passport photograph with a departing female passenger'’s veiled face.
If you fail to identitfy those boarding an aircraft, you have no aviation security, and if you do not probe the identity of those wearing full coverings, you have absolutely no border control as to who enters or leaves your country, and leaving it open to attacterroristsrists who can move freely while dressed as women.

Slain Police Constable Sharon Beshenivsky deserves far better than for the authorities to let her murderer slip their grasp due to their failure to check the identity of the person beneath the veil due to politically correct concerns.

New Windows, or tax credits and incentives on behavior

Who says tax policy does not provide incentives or disencentives to action.

Thanks to The Energy Policy Act of 2005, I will receive a tax credit for upgrading the windows of my house this year.

The existing windows were original to the house or very close to it - aluminum frame single pane that leached heat like a sieve, complete with winter condensation and frost buildup. Clearly a waste of energy.

Thanks to the Energy Policy Act, I'm going to get a nice $200 tax credit for replacement of the windows, as the credit is for $200 or 10%, whichever is less, and in this case the $200 was definetly less. Regardless, its certainly a nice benefit that certainly encouraged me to spend the money now to get the upgrade, and as a result not only do I get a $200 credit, but I also get the savings from lower energy costs and consumption (which is the point of the Act after all), and the house looks a lot better.

An unanticipated benefit of this Act is because my A/C decided to die off this year, during the hottest part of the summer, I'm going to get a credit on its replacement. The A/C unit was apparently 17 years old and decided it had worked long enough. I replaced it and voila, not only do I garner the efficiency of newer cooling technoogy and lower power consumption, but also a tax credit.

The Act certainly helps incentivize people (at least in my case) to make their homes more energy efficient, which is a good thing, and if people can save on their taxes while doing so - even better!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

President Bush signs civilian nuclear cooperation bill with India

A foreign policy victory for the President and for the USA.

This sharing of civilian nuclear technology - The U.S.- India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act cooperation is certainly a positive step for relations between the two countries.

Given that India is a democracy, has a growing economy, is one of the worlds largest countries by population, and shares many of the anglosphere values, it can and should be a most useful ally of the US.
"The United States and India are natural partners," Bush said at a signing ceremony in the East Room attended by lawmakers, diplomats and Indian Americans. "The rivalries that once kept our nations apart are no more -- and today, America and India are united by deeply held values."
The President is right about that.

The US should continue to work with India to develop and further an alliance between the two countries as India will be a useful bulwark against expansionist Chinese and muslim extremism in the region - and that is good for both India and the United States.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Impressive Shipwreck Found in Lake Ontario

Detroit Free Press: 160-year-old Lake Ontario shipwreck intact
After more than 160 years, the twin masts of the Milan still stand erect -- all the more remarkable because the commercial sailing ship sits in the dark depths of Lake Ontario.

"It almost looks like it could be floated" to the surface, said shipwreck explorer Dan Scoville on Monday.

Scoville and fellow explorer Jim Kennard located the schooner in the summer of 2005 off the southern shore of the lake. They videotaped the 93-foot-long, square-stern vessel this year using an unmanned submersible built with the help of college students.

The ship sits upright on the lake bed at a depth of more than 200 feet. Its masts extend 70 feet upward in the dark waters.

An image of the ship taken by remote operated vehicle can be seen here (From The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle). And a further article with more pictures and sketches of the vessel can be found at Shipwreck World.

A very impressive find on the part of Messrs. Scoville and Kennard.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Talk about Screwing the Pooch

In this case quite literally: Man convicted of dog sodomy fights order to register as sex offender
A 33-year-old man convicted of sodomizing a dog in Eastpointe will appeal an order requiring him to register as a sex offender when he completes his prison term.

Delbert John Holliday was sentenced to 3 1/2 to 15 years in prison Tuesday by Judge James Biernat of Macomb County Circuit after pleading guilty to sodomy and animal torture for an incident in August at his brother's house, where he was staying. Biernat ordered him to register on the state sex offender list when he is released even though sodomy by law does not address instances in which the victim is an animal.

. . .

(one of the home's resident's) said the 7-year-old pit bull that was sodomized suffered serious injuries but has recovered.
(Source: The Macomb Daily)

Certainly this fellow is one sick puppy.

As one would expect, drugs were involved. This fellow probably should be on the sex offenders list, if he'd do this do an animal, who knows what he'd do to kid. If by chance the Judge is overruled, the legislature should quickly amend the law to make it clear that sex with an animal in such a fashion makes one a sex offender (after all, the dog is underage, was violently assaulted and clearly didn't give consent).

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A New Jacksonian Plan For Iraq

For a great article, read The Jacksonian Party's The Plan to Stabilize Iraq.
The *Jacksonian* viewpoint, which is the contrary side to the other strains of thought and reviews the struggle the Nation is in within the context of the actual, real modern world, and thus offers the way out and points out the incorrectness of the other strains lacks, is that: if the game is going against you, then it is time to change the operational parameters of the game itself, and then *play harder*. Jacksonians see that the US has been at war with Islamic Fundamentalism since 1979 and with Islam, periodically, all the way back to Thomas Jefferson. Strange that Jefferson could send the US Marines to 'kick butts and take names' TWICE and modern day Jeffersonians will not stand up for the SAME.

Jacksonians have a simple but not *simplistic* view of Foreign Policy based on HONOR not on things too complex to talk about to the common man. From that I put together a very basic set of Goals on the Global War on Terrorism that depends upon the strengths of the 18th Century Republic of the United States to still EXIST as it was enshrined in writing and we still hold to that to this very day. From that conception comes the plan of enaction which uses the enemies paradigm of 'asymmetrical warfare' against them in a way that *they* cannot combat effectively.
Read the rest of it, for it is very, very, good. Would that it were the course we were pursuing now.

Ah, the first lasting snowfall of winter. . . . . .

Timed of course before, during and after rush hour, resulting in one massive traffic mess.

Only about an inch fell to welcome Detroiters to winter, but it wasn't a nice friendly dusting of snow. Instead it was a sticky slippery snow that quickly turned the roads into parking lots during rush hour. A commute of 25 minutes quickly turned into one lasting over an hour.

Of course the first snowfall means everyone forgets how to drive, which is simple - drive slower and keep your distance from the car in front of you. Still many dirivers forgot this which accounts for quite a few accidents including a car that slid right through a wooden barrier at the entrance to my workplace parking lot(just long 2x4 board painted yellow, but that had to hurt).

Nice of winter to start us off with a slap in the ol' commute. It couldn't snow after rush hour, when most drivers were off the road, oh no, it had to snow before and right through it. Thanks a lot.

On the upside, I got some excercise quickly speed shoveling snow off my driveway and spreading some salt so the wife and kidlets could make it up once they arrived home.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Speaking of Lebanon

It looks like Lebanon is going to hell in the proverbial handbasket, courtesy of Hezballah and its sponsors Iran and Syria.

See the many postings at Michael Totten's Middle East Journal blog for detailed postings on what is going on.

Senators get steamed up about Global Warming

Two US Senators Jay Rockefeller and Olivia Snowe sent a nastygram to ExxonMobil, claiming that Global Warming is a fact and ExxonMobil must cease supporting any scholarship that denies its self-evident truth. As reported in the Wall Street Journal:
Washington has no shortage of bullies, but even we can't quite believe an October 27 letter that Senators Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe sent to ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. Its message: Start toeing the Senators' line on climate change, or else.

We reprint the full text of the letter here, so readers can see for themselves.But its essential point is that the two Senators believe global warming is a fact, and therefore all debate about the issue must stop and ExxonMobil should "end its dangerous support of the [global warming] 'deniers.' " Not only that, the company "should repudiate its climate change denial campaign and make public its funding history." And in extra penance for being "one of the world's largest carbon emitters," Exxon should spend that money on "global remediation efforts."

The Senators aren't dumb enough to risk an ethics inquiry by threatening specific consequences if Mr. Tillerson declines this offer he can't refuse. But in case the CEO doesn't understand his company's jeopardy, they add that "ExxonMobil and its partners in denial have manufactured controversy, sown doubt, and impeded progress with strategies all-too reminiscent of those used by the tobacco industry for so many years." (Our emphasis.) The Senators also graciously copied the Exxon board on their missive.

This is amazing stuff. On the one hand, the Senators say that everyone agrees on the facts and consequences of climate change. But at the same time they are so afraid of debate that they want Exxon to stop financing a doughty band of dissenters who can barely get their name in the paper.
This is simply an amazing intimidation attempt against dissenters from the Global Warming party line, a party line based not on hard science and which is not in fact a foregone conclusion, nor indeed is it "an inconvenient truth".

Put me on the side of free scientific inquiry, not of kow-towing to intimidation or to a consensus that is formed more of politics than science.

Iraq Study Group - Almost Trying to Lose

QAn interesting article by Mark Steyn: Iraq is just test of will for America
Or, as one Baker Commission grandee told the New York Times, ''We had to move the national debate from whether to stay the course to how do we start down the path out.''

An ''exit strategy'' on those terms is the path out not just from Iraq but from a lot of other places, too -- including Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Venezuela, Russia, China, the South Sandwich Islands. For America would be revealed to the world as a fraud: a hyperpower that's all hype and no power -- or, at any rate, no will. According to the New York Sun, ''An expert adviser to the Baker-Hamilton commission expects the 10-person panel to recommend that the Bush administration pressure Israel to make concessions in a gambit to entice Syria and Iran to a regional conference . . .''

On the face of it, this sounds an admirably hard-headed confirmation of James Baker's most celebrated soundbite on the Middle East ''peace process'': ''F - - k the Jews. They didn't vote for us anyway.'' His recommendations seem intended to f - - k the Jews well and truly by making them the designated fall guys for Iraq. But hang on: If Israel could be forced into giving up the Golan Heights and other land (as some fantasists suggest) in order to persuade the Syrians and Iranians to ease up on killing coalition forces in Iraq, our enemies would have learned an important lesson: The best way to weaken Israel is to kill Americans. I'm all for Bakerite cynicism, but this would seem to f - - k not just the Jews but the Americans, too.

It would, furthermore, be a particularly contemptible confirmation of a line I heard Bernard Lewis, our greatest Middle Eastern scholar, use the other day -- that ''America is harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend.'' To punish your friends as a means of rewarding your enemies for killing your forces would seem to be an almost ludicrously parodic illustration of that dictum. In the end, America would be punishing itself. The world would understand that Vietnam is not the exception but the rule.
Steyn offers an excellent idea as to what should have been done, and indeed, should be done:
Three years ago, when it was obvious Syria and Iran were violating Iraq's borders with impunity, we should have done what the British did in the so-called ''Confrontation'' with Indonesia 40 years ago when they were faced with Jakarta doing to the newly independent state of Malaysia exactly what Damascus and Tehran are doing to Iraq. British, Aussie and Malaysian forces sent troops on low-key, lethally effective raids into Indonesia, keeping the enemy on the defensive and winning the war with barely a word making the papers. If the strategic purpose in invading Iraq was to create a regional domino effect, then playing defense in the Sunni Triangle for three years makes no sense. We should never have wound up hunkered down in the Green Zone. If there has to be a Green Zone, it should be on the Syrian side of the border.
Why we haven't already adopted such a course in dealing with the foreign (read Iranian and Syrian) supplied, trained and led insurgency is a great puzzle. Perhaps its a matter of simple incompetence in carrying out policy, perhaps it is due to a hostile domestic and media environment, or perhaps it is as Steyn suggests, a lack of will.

Unfortunately the Iraq Study Group and its report seems not to be focussed not on how to win, but instead how to lose, and apprently its losing formula includes sacrificing both Lebanon and Israel to Iran and Syria to do it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Court rules that Rehabilitation act requires redesign of US Currency

Interesting report and discussion at the Volokh Conspiracy on a Judge's ruling in the United States District Court in DC's court that the Treasury must redesign US currency to accomodate the blind.

The original decision can be read online.

I'm pretty sure the Treasury will appeal this ruling.

Creative Sanctions on North Korea

US bans luxury items to deprive Kim of the goodies.

As reported by the AP: U.S. bans sale of iPods to North Korea
Experts said the sanctions effort - being coordinated under the United Nations - would be the first ever to curtail a specific category of goods not associated with military buildups or weapons designs, especially one so tailored to annoy a foreign leader.

The ban includes Ipods, Rolexes, cognac and sports equipment among other luxury goods.

Certainly the Bush administration gets points for creativity in trying to modify North Korea's behavior with effective sanctions directed at its supreme leader.

Not only will Kim be 'so ronery', he's now going to be bored without the toys.

Monday, November 27, 2006

If they could just make it Practical with 4WD and room...

An impressive write-up of the elctrically-powered Tesla Roadster, possibly the first real high-performance electrically powered production sportscar.

2-place Sportscars have their niches and at $100,000 a copy its a nice that's out of my budget, but also out of my needs and desires for a vehicle.

Make it with 4WD for michigan winters and wilderness, give it a good cargo capacity for hauling the kids and gear and decent range between plug-ins (the 250 miles it currently has isn't a bad start, make it 500 and you've got the practical radius for most serious non-stop day trips).

The Tesla Roadster is a good example of what great engineering can do. Now if the engine and battery design can be turned to a more practical mass-market and affordable direction, it would be extremely attractive indeed.

For those of you with the high-end sports car owner mindset, give it a look as it seems to be very impressive.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Weird Thanksgiving Activity

Driving by a Best Buy today at 3:330pm on the way to the Fine Thanksgiving Meal at Lagniappe's mom's house, we noticed that there were already people lined up in front of Best Buy, presumably for whatever "Black Friday" sales are to be held tomorrow.

On the way back from the meal at about 8:00, we noticed the line was even longed and people even had some tents up.

Thanksgiving is supposed to be about spending time with family and a traditional feast. I can't see waiting in line for whatever it is thats on sale as a good family experience, nor whatever it is as being worth camping out overnight in the cold on a family holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We've just had a fine meal with Lagniappe's family, as Lagniappe and his owner were in town.

A wonderful meal with Turkey and mashed potatoes done to perfection, along with other delectables.

Everyone had a great time and it was good to be together, especially with Lagniappe's keeper in good health and getting around in style. Abby always has a good time with her honorary uncle, but if he keeps teaching her to act up, Natasha is going to give him a severe beating.

Yesterday he and I went to practice some shooting skills and had a great time, and he's even looking at getting back on a motorcycle.

So far its been a great Thanksgiving weekend, with much to be thankful for: a good friend recovering from a terrible accident with style and thankfully still here with us, and family in good health and happiness. When you've got good friends and family, all else can be handled nicely.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Second Major Trial Victory

This time as a Plaintiff's attorney (hourly fee, not contingent
) for a guy who was badly taken advantage of when he sold his businees. Taken advantage of to say the least - the contract was for $210k with 100 due at signing and 110 to be paid by a promissory note, he was paid only 50K and then even sued by a bank personally on a line of credit from the business after the buyer stopped paying on it ashe was never released from liability for the business credit line. That kind of being taken advantage of.

Add to it that our client is not fluent in english, and defendant #1 drew up the contract in english with very nebulous and one-sided terms including that our client acknowledged he received the full 100k at signing, and that defendant #1 has been convicted for multiple violent acts and is now under indictment federally for fraud and other nasty business and that he even defrauded defendant #2 in the case it makes the judgment sweet.

Sometimes you may have a doubt as to who is telling the truth in a he said - he said situation, but here given how he and his defense counsel acted throughout the case, and the multitude of lies he told and how he acted at his deposition, its pretty clear to me that we were on the side of the angels, admittedly an imperfect one, in this case.

Here's an example of their conduct in the case - giving me a stack of documents on the day of trial saying how they "just found it" after I sent them a document request a year ago -- it doesn't wash and the judge was not impressed. In addition, his attorney filed a trial brief on the day before trial, over two weeks overdue with new riddiculous allegations that were contradicted by his filed answer and prior discovery responses and included witnesses that were not on his witness list. This was par for that attorney's and firm's compliance with the court rules and discovery process in this case from day 1.

This win feels real good considering the main defendant was a total, complete and insulting jerk at his deposition, including personal insults of me. One of his memorable insults was "I [him, defendant #1) should have the t-shirt saying my lawyer is better than your lawyer"

We got a $110,000.00 judgment against him and defendant #2 for our client.

Who's got the better lawyer now, baby?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Inspired to Excercise

Lagniappe's Owner comments on his blog that
We (meaning me and him)also went to the gym every day to work out, (Hooray! I finally found someone younger than 60 who is in worse shape than me!)

Simply not fair, and I resemble that remark :-)

After all, a cop better be in better shape than a lawyer right?

However, inspired by his show of grit and determination I am taking up the challenge.

I'm setting myself the following goal, within one year, and preferably less, I will to be able to do the following:

1. Do 50 sit ups in one minute with no stops

2. Running a 300 meter sprint in 45 seconds

3. Do 50 push-ups non stop

4. Run 1.5 miles in 10:34-10:15 minutes

Time to join a gym and get going.

October Trip to West Virginia

Country Roads took me to Lagniappe's Lair in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. Ok, first I was Leaving Michigan on a Jet Plane, but that's besides the point and enough of those country song references.

Harper's Ferry is absolutely beautiful in the Autumn:

At Antietam this line of cannon was a sobering reminder of the carnage that the armies faced. Over 20,000 Americans died in one day during the battle. To put that in perspective, we need to be in Iraq for 17 more years at the current casualty rate to get to the losses suffered in one lone day in the Civil War.
When men charged cannon and rifled muskets that were in good defensive positions, the slaughter was horrendous.

Visiting Lagniappe and his Owner was great. It was good to see him in good spirits and with a determination not to let his injury stop him from anything. As you can see from his bog, on our visit he dropped his crutches and started walking unsupported, including up and down 121 steps, as you can read on his Walking post. He's got more guts and sheer determination than most people will ever have.

Weird netflix Delivery

Yesterday in the mail I received two movies that did not show up in my current Queue.

Strangely enough, I had requested them back in September (they were supposed to have been sent together) and never received them and reported them as missing. I then received a replacement shipment, viewed them and sent them back.

Now I suddenly received them both. I wonder if they were lost in a Netflix Shipping facility and finally found and shipped or if they somehow were hidding in the post office. Both envelopes were unopened when i received them.

Very strange to receive them after a delay of almost 2 months. I sent them back to Netflix today.

Just strange indeed.

Election Campaign Pet Peeve -Electoral Junk Phone Calls

For some reason this 2006 campaign season seems to have been the birht of a tremendous number of unwanted and unsolicited political telephone calls to an unnaceptable level.

During this political campaigns phone I received calls with computer messages and recorded messages at all hours of the day and night. Such calls seemed perfectly timed for whenever I was in the shower, about to eat dinner, far from the phone, or once the baby finally settled down to sleep. Of course such a call would wake the baby up - which to sleep deprived parents is not just infuriating, it could lead to justifiable homicide by said parent against the originator of these electoral junk calls.

The caller ID on most of these calls showed up as "blocked" and given I have friends and family with blocked numbers I would pick them up only to hear these %$!$ messages.

This was extremely annoying, so much so that I'm now adopting a voting policy that whichever candidate calls me the most with such stupid annoyances and wakes up the baby will automatically earn a vote against them and for their leading opponent, regardless of party.

Enough already.

Politicians look, just because you exempted yourselves from the Do Not Call list doesn't mean I want your calls at all hours of the day - you're not persuading me, your annoying me and losing my vote. Quit the blocked numbers, identify the origin of the call and just quit calling. I get enough campaing info through mail, internet and media and your calls do not inform or persuade me to vote for you.

I'm on that Do Not Call list for a reason, I don't want junk calls whether from telemarkers with a consumer product or you with a political product.

More Michigan Results and general Election Comments

Governor: Jennifer Granholm (D) was reelected.
Granholm is not t she's not that bad, and certainly she's much better than many other Democrat governors. Certainly much of the state of the economy in Michigan is her fault (economic policy, tax system, this cool cities initiative to nowhere)and lack of strong leadership for change in business taxes and regulations to improce the economy. But much is not solely her fault due to structural problems with the way the state's economy is focussed on the auto industry and years of neglect of vital infrastructure such as roads. It is somewhat surprising that she was reelected given the one-state recession Michigan is in, but I think she got a boost from the anti-Bush straight-ticket Dem vote that helped her move forward.

Granholm is not rabidly anti-gun and instead seems to be a "way the wind blows" politician on the issue, and for now, the wind is not blowing towards more gun control.

Michigan will not cease to exist due to Granholm's reelection, and hopefully her time in office has seasoned her and she's ready to work with the Republican legislature to move the State forward out of its economic malaise.

Attorney General: Mike Cox (R) was reelected.
This is a positive result. he's been very effective as our Attorney General and good on gun rights in terms of getting reciprocity agreements signed with other states (Although he really needs to hurry up and get the deal through with West Virginia, what 's the delay there?)and on properly interpreting Michigan law to permit Class 3 firearms after a Democrat anti-gun AG did a twisted interpretation to prevent it.

Cox was also very effective in collecting child support from non-payors, which saves taxpayers money from having to support the kids the deadbeat parents should be supporting.

Democrats also took control of Michigan's State House and increased their presence in the Michigan Senate.

At the Federal level, Democrat Senator Debbie Stabenow was reelected and easily beat challenger Michael Bouchard 57% to 41%. There's no doubt Michigan is a blue state now.

As an aside It is funny that Dems are blue and repubs are red. Democrats really should be Red considering they are closer to socialism/communism than Republicans, but perhaps they're blue for all the blurbloods they run such as Kerry and Kennedy.The change seems to be media driven and perhaps has the message of Republicans as red for aggressive or dangerous and Democrats for blue as cool. Sadly the media reality is the reality and given the media's constant bad news about the economy in the nation, even in the face of excellent economic growth and cnstant downplaying of the situation in iraq, its not surprising that many people went for the Dems this time.

I expect the media to soon start reporting how wonderful the economy is once the Democrats take control of the House and Senate. Indeed, on Iraq, had it been a democrat president I'm positive the media would be reporting things are going very well, not to mention playing up the fact that the pre-insurgency stage where Iraq was overwhelmed in short order in Operation Iraqi Freedom was the greatest military victory in the Middle East since the Six Day War.

In many ways this election was the Republicans to lose, and lose it they did. Hopefully they will learn that"

1. You can't be Democrat-lite and try to spend like a Democrat, if you do, there's nothing distinguishing you from "The Real Thing" and people wil vote for the real thing everytime.

2. The corruption must cease. Once again quit being the Democrat-Lite party.

3. Small government Republicans win, Big-Government (ie Democrat-lite) loses. if you turn your back on your principles, expect voters to turn their backs on you.

4. The media reality is the reality. Republicans must work harder to handle a hostile media environment, whether by holding lots more townhall meetings, fireside chats and other direct addresses to the nation and lots more internet-savy activities or some other means, it better be done.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Michigan's Election Results - The Proposals

First The Proposals:

Proposal 1 - Passed 81% to 19%

Proposal 2 - Passed 58% to 42%

Proposal 3 - Failed 31% to 69%

Proposal 4 - Passed 80% to 20%

Proposal 5 - Failed 38% to 62%

All in all, this was an excellent result from a conservative and individual rights perspective. Affirmative action in government was struck down, ensuring more fairness in hiring, contract and University admissions. Property was protected from takings from other more politically connected private takers, and natural resource licensing fees and monies were enshrined to actually protect and improve the natural resources they are collected for. In addition, the teacher's union failed to vote itself largess and a guaranteed income stream from the public purse. While dove hunting failed,hopefully it will not embolden those such as HSUS into thinking that its open season on hunting activities in Michigan.

Four out of five proposals that I advocated for passed, which is an excellent result.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

2006 Michigan Election Results

For Results of the 2006 Mid-Term Election:

Check out's 2006 Election Coverage

For the Official numbers check out The Michigan Secretary of State's Election Page.

Commentary to follow.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Michigan's Proposal 5 - Vote NO

Michigan's Proposal 5 reads:
The proposed law would:
• Increase current funding by approximately $565 million and require State to
provide annual funding increases equal to the rate of inflation for public
schools, intermediate school districts, community colleges, and higher
education (includes state universities and financial aid/grant programs).
• Require State to fund any deficiencies from General Fund.
• Base funding for school districts with a declining enrollment on three-year
student enrollment average.
• Reduce and cap retirement fund contribution paid by public schools,
community colleges and state universities; shift remaining portion to state.
• Reduce funding gap between school districts receiving basic per-pupil
foundation allowance and those receiving maximum foundation allowance.
Should this proposed law be approved?

Sounds noble doesn't it. After all who could be against education "for the children"?

Here's the cath: There are not guarrantees the funding will be felt in the classroom. instead the proposal will guarrantee Teacher's salary increases and benefits. The proposal caps local contributions to teacher pension plans and makes the State put in the future contributions that will occur over time in short having the State fund the Teacher's pensions rather than the school districts, and cause a severe imbalance in the State's budget by guarranteeing increases in funding at least at the rate of inflation or 5% regardlewss of other priorities or needs.

Michigan already pours tons of money into our schools, within many cases, notjing to show for it. As noted in the Detroit News Column on Prop 5
Pay for Michigan teachers ranks fifth in the nation. Spending on education as a percentage of available tax dollars ranks fourth. Per-pupil spending is well above the national average.What do Michigan taxpayers get for that $14 billion education investment?

Nearly a quarter of its students drop out of high school. Its college graduation rate is half that of the top states. Scores on skills tests are falling. A third of public high schools don't meet federal standards. And 20 percent of state residents can't read well enough to function in the workplace.

Those responsible for these sorry results ought to be begging to avoid the firing squad.

Instead the union-led education establishment is trying to con Michigan voters into institutionalizing its failure. Don't buy it.

Don't vote to lock in continued spending increases without accountability and requirments that performance beincreased and that education for our children actually improves.

Vote NO on Proposal 5.

Michigan's Proposal 4 - Vote YES

Proposal 4 reads:

The proposed constitutional amendment would:
• Prohibit government from taking private property for transfer to another private
individual or business for purposes of economic development or increasing tax
• Provide that if an individual’s principal residence is taken by government for
public use, the individual must be paid at least 125% of property’s fair market
• Require government that takes a private property to demonstrate that the taking
is for a public use; if taken to eliminate blight, require a higher standard of
proof to demonstrate that the taking of that property is for a public use.
• Preserve existing rights of property owners.

Proposal 4 comes out of the recent Supreme Court Kelo v. City of New London decision, which, in brief, held that a government entity could take land from one private person and give it to another private entity if it would be beenficial to the publiuc such as through increased tax revenue.

Naturally this outraged many citizens at the prospect that their homes or business could be taken and given to developers or businesses with more influence over the unit of government that could do the taking.

The proposal not only prohibits such private-government-private transfers but also the government must prove it is being taken for public use and if it is a residence being taken, the government must pay 125% of the fair market value of the property.

While the proposal will certainly slow down some government planning and make condemnation of property more expensive, the resulting benefit to property owner's rights and the peace of mind that your property cannot be taken away to benefit those who have influence with the government is worth it.

Vote YES on Proposal 4

Michigan's Proposal 3 - Vote Yes

Continuing with the proposals:

Public Act 160 of 2004 would:
• Authorize the Natural Resources Commission to establish a hunting season for
mourning doves.
• Require a mourning dove hunter to have a small game license and a $2.00
mourning dove stamp.
• Stipulate that revenue from the stamp must be split evenly between the Game
and Fish Protection Fund and the Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund.
• Require the Department of Natural Resources to address responsible mourning
dove hunting; management practices for the propagation of mourning doves;
and participation in mourning dove hunting by youth, the elderly and the
disabled in the Department’s annual hunting guide.
A YES vote is warranted on this proposal.

I'm not a hunter, but I have bo objections to people hunting doves in Michigan. The dove is a prolific bird and studies have shown that hunting them does not place their population in any danger. Apparently doves are a hard and unpredictable bird to shoot and dove meat is also tasty.

Dove hunting is legal in 39 states, including our neighboring states of Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. See this Detroit News Article for a map showing the extent of dove hunting and how it is Michigan that is the abberation in not allwing such a hunt. Given that Michigan is in its very own 1-state recession, we need all the tourist and hunting money we can get from out-of-staters, and we should try to keep more such money in Michigan rather than requiring hunters to travel out of state.

The side opposing the hunt seems to be beased purely on emotion and falsehoods, claiming that hunters will be shooting doves off of powerlines and people's birdfeeders. This is false. You cannot hunt that close to another persons residence in Michigan and no responsible hunter would do so.

Vote YES on Proposal 3.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Michigan's Proposal 2 - Vote YES

Proposal 2 reads:
The proposed constitutional amendment would:
• Ban public institutions from using affirmative action programs that give
preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender,
color, ethnicity or national origin for public employment, education or
contracting purposes. Public institutions affected by the proposal include state
government, local governments, public colleges and universities, community
colleges and school districts.
• Prohibit public institutions from discriminating against groups or individuals
due to their gender, ethnicity, race, color or national origin. (A separate
provision of the state constitution already prohibits discrimination on the basis
of race, color or national origin.)

A YES vote is in order here. Ending affirmative action will not "turn back the clock" on gains made by women and minorities, it will simply ensure that all applicants for Government contracts, jobs and educational spaces will be given equal consideration regardless of race.

An interesting article by Roger Clegg in the Detroit Free Press points out the current inequity under the affirmative action system currently in place.
Admissions data recently obtained from the University of Michigan show that race and ethnicity play a huge role in determining who gets in.

In last year's entering class, a Michigan native with neither parent a U-M alum, a cumulative SAT of 1240 and a 3.2 high school grade-point average had a 9-out-of-10 chance to be admitted as an undergraduate to the University of Michigan -- if the applicant was black or Hispanic.

For whites or Asians, the chances were 1-in-10.

Suppose you were applying to U-M's law school. If you had an LSAT of 162 and an undergraduate GPA a little over 3.5, then you would have a 7 out of 10 chance of admission -- if you were black. But if you were Hispanic, your chance was 3 out of 10, and for whites or Asians, still 1 out of 10.

Medical school at U-M? Well, with an MCAT cumulative score of 41 and an undergraduate science GPA of 3.6, you'd have a 74% chance of admission if you were black. If you were Hispanic, 43%, and for whites or Asians, you guessed it, 1 out of 10.

An interesting comparison is pointed out regarding the chance at admission for the currentl non-favored groups (whites, asians, Jews) based on the data:
The studies also tell the story using the statistical device of odds ratios. To put things in perspective, the odds ratio for a nonsmoker versus a smoker dying from lung cancer is 14 to 1. The chance of a white versus a black getting into U-M's law school is 18 to 1; for med school, it's 21 to 1; for undergraduate admission, it's either 63 to 1 (if you take the ACT) or 70 to 1 (if you take the SAT), the research shows.

Or look at it this way: In the four years analyzed by the studies, there were 8,091 Hispanics, Asians and whites whose undergraduate applications were rejected even though they had higher SAT/ACT scores and high school GPAs than the median black applicant who was admitted. For the law school, the number (based on undergraduate grades and LSAT) was 4,415; for the medical school (undergraduate science GPA and MCAT), the figure was 11,647, or nearly 3,000 students each year. (The four-year total of rejected African Americans was much smaller, especially for the professional schools: 1,539 undergrad, 31 law, and 215 medical.)
Simply amazing, and that dats is from only one school and does not tell us about all the contracts that have been given out preferentially or the admissions data at other schools.

Proposal 2 should be passed to end this clear discrimination and unfairness and have the government of Michigan treat people equally, as it should, without discriminating based upon race or ethnicity.

Vote YES on Proposal 2

Michigan's 2006 Ballot proposals - Starting with Proposal 1

With the mid-term election quickly approaching I thought it would be timely to discuss the five ballot proposals that will be voted on in Michigan this year.

Full disclosure: I am sadly not being paid for any of my opinions or endorsements of these proposals and my opinions are purely my own. If anyone actually wants to pay me for an endorsement (yeah, as if that would happen), please contact me soonest.

The ballot proposals can be read at the Michigan Secretary of State's Website.

Proposal 1 Reads

The proposed constitutional amendment would:
-• Create a Conservation and Recreation Legacy Fund within the Constitution and
establish existing conservation and recreation accounts as components of the
- Use current funding sources such as state park entrance and camping fees;
snowmobile, ORV and boating registration fees; hunting and fishing license
fees; taxes and other revenues to fund accounts.
-• Establish the current Game and Fish Protection Fund and the Nongame Fish
and Wildlife Fund within the Constitution.
-• Provide that money held in Funds can only be used for specific purposes
related to conservation and recreation and cannot be used for any purpose other
Should this proposal be adopted?

A YES vote makes sense for this proposal. After all one of michigan's greatest assets is its natural beauty. Once you're outside of a city core you are surrounded by lakes, forests and other beaurtiful natural areas. Ensuring that the funds raised through licensing and fees for outdoor activities are actually used to promote and protect the great outdoors is a winning idea for Michigan. Such use of the funds will help preserve our natural resources and wildlife that adds much to the quality of life in this state.

After all, the latest Michigan ad campaign is "Pure Michigan" to help highlight the quality of the outdoor experiences we offer both to our residents and tourists. Yes, Michigan is a very nice state to visit if you like the outdoors. Lets use the funds where they should be used - to keep our wilderness and wildlife in good shape for Michiganians and visitors to our state to enjoy.

Proposal 1 - Vote YES.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Terror enabler Lynne Stewart gets a laughably light 28 month sentence

Andrew McCarthy at The National Review comments on a Federal Judge sentencing Lynne Stewart to only 28 Months in prison for assisting terrorists by acting as a willing and eager conduit for jailed terrorist leader Omar Abdel Rahman to communicate with his followers.

Treating this as a law enforcement problem with its resultant slap on the wrist sentence only shows how fundamentaly unserious we are regarding this "War on [dare we say Islamist?] Terror". To put it in perspective, the Justice Department was requesting 30 years.

While a darling of the leftists, Lynne Stewart enabled a jailed terorrist chief to get instructions to his followers to commit terrorist acts. Stewart has sullied her profession as a lawyer by colluding in this criminal act in violation not only of law but also the ethics and canons of professional responsibility for attorneys. 28 months is a joke for such actions.

Apparently Stewart is appealing her conviction. The Justice Department in turn should be appealing this sentence.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A New Blog - The Budget Wino

If you enjoy a glass of wine now and then but don't want to spend too much on it,

If you don't know a chardonay from a pinot noir, and maybe don't even care,

If you want a blog of unpretentious wine reviews written in good humor and with panache,


Get thy browser pointed to The Budget Wino

The blogger there ain't heavy, and he is my brother.

Good for Wayne State University for standing against the "Divestment" Campaign

Wayne State University's President, in a letter to the Detroit Free Press has stated the university will not divest from Israel.
As a public institution that encourages learning, free expression and the exchange of ideas, Wayne State University recently was the site of a speech and protest by individuals opposed to the university's investment in Israel.

Wayne State opposes divestiture and has no intention of divesting itself of stocks in companies doing business with Israel or any other legitimate state.

We encourage our students to use their right to free speech, but accusations, acrimony and demands such as divestiture are counter to the intelligent dialogue and free discourse for which this university stands.

In a complex, international economy, divestiture is by no means a responsible approach to influence political or economic policy. Rather, it is my obligation to pursue legal, rational and productive investments on behalf of the institution.

Irvin D. Reid
President, Wayne State University

It should be noted that the group leading the protest Anti Racist Action was not a student organization but an outside one. They were apparently joined by Wayne State Alumni for Divestment coalition in the protest.

Good for Wayne State University for standing up and saying no to this riddiculous and one-sided demand for disinvestment against an American ally and fellow democracy.

Another example of the British elite loosing their collective mind

From Little Green Footballs:
A teenage schoolgirl was arrested by police for racism after refusing to sit with a group of Asian students because some of them did not speak English
According to Codie [the schoolgirl], the five - four boys and a girl - then began talking in a language she didnÂ’t understand, thought to be Urdu, so she went to speak to the teacher.

“"I said "I'’m not being funny, but can I change groups because I can'’t understand them?"’ But she started shouting and screaming, saying "‘It'’s racist, you'’re going to get done by the police"’."”

Codie said she went outside to calm down where another teacher found her and, after speaking to her class teacher, put her in isolation for the rest of the day.

A complaint was made to a police officer based full-time at the school, and more than a week after the incident on September 26 she was taken to Swinton police station and placed under arrest.
The British ruling elites have turned their back on the English traditions of liberty, thought and speech. It is amazing that the police seem to ignore real criminals yet hammer any English persons who exhibit "anti-social behavior" -- i.e. thoughtcrimes when directed to by a ultra-politically-correct educational system that here has clearly gone nuts. Being arrested because you didn't want to sit next to people, unbelievable.

At this point I'm glad that America's founders had the good sense to revolt and get away from this madness. It was very precognizant of them to do so and to enshrine free speech into the Bill of Rights after suceeding in driving the British elites out.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Triumph of Good Sense Over Revenue

As Reported in the Detroit Free Press Article: Speed limit rises to match habits
The Michigan State Police and the Michigan Department of Transportation have been raising limits on freeways around the state, saying that properly set limits encourage more uniform traffic speeds and, therefore, fewer crashes.

Police say drivers are more likely to obey realistic speed limits, so raising the limits reduces the speed differences between those who obey low limits and those who drive faster. Reducing the differences in turn decreases the likelihood that faster drivers will change lanes, brake suddenly, tailgate slower drivers or otherwise engage in behaviors that can lead to crashes, State Police say.
Bravo to MDOT and the Michigan State police for an excellent decision. Speed limits will rise to where drivers were already going that speed. The change also makes a trip more uniform - Some Highways Here go from 70 to 55 to 70 to 65 in an eyeblink, with all sorts of problems as the limit changes.

A big thank you to MDOT and The MSP for this good traffic management in raising speeds to the new levels rather than chasing revenue from tickets agaisnt drivers who are already driving at that speed.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

And Now for Something Completely Insane.....

The British Judicial System must have truly lost all sense of proportion, not to mention common sense.

From Of Arms and The Law Refering to this UK Daily Mail article:

Mother faces jail for swearing at neighbourhood yobs
(Yobs is a Britishism for "Unruly Yutes")

A mother-of-two faces a possible prison sentence after swearing at yobs who have made her life a living hell
On a daily basis Donna claims her and her two children, James 14, and Holly, 12, have to put up with a 15 strong group of kids aged between 12 and 17 hanging around outside their three-bedroom semi-detached home.

Donna and her neighbours have had to endure paint been thrown on their walls, plants ruined from their gardens, and late night noise from the gang who stay up drinking on the streets.

On a daily basis Donna claims she has to put up with kids jumping over fences, trampling gardens, shouting, swearing, kicking footballs against windows and constant intimidating behaviour.

Things finally came to a head on March 30 when a desperate Donna finally lost her temper and told her tormentors to "please, just f*** off."

The youths ignored her but two weeks later officers called at her home. She was told a 13-year-old girl had made a complaint against her.

Donna was arrested and charged under public order offences.

She was handed an £80 fixed penalty notice but refused to pay and was taken to court last month. Magistrates then upped the sum to £120 pounds which Donna must now pay or face a possible jail term.
"When the police came I thought it was because I had complained. I never dreamed they had come to arrest me."

Donna claims she made countless complaints to police about the gang outside her home but nothing has ever been done about them.
Let's see, we have multiple acts of threats, vandalism, noise violations and no response from police and then this poor lady finally tells them to f-off and she gets charged, apparently for scaring these kids, with such tender feelings, by telling them to f-off.

And for the final crowning touch of insanity:
But Sgt Neil Haley of the Five Towns Neighbourhood Policing Team defended the fine.

He said: "Officers regularly patrol Knottingley. We appreciate that anti-social behaviour can be frustrating but people should not take the law into their own hands.

"We encourage people to report criminal or anti-social behaviour by contacting the NPT hotline on 01924 294518 or email us at
(Apparently You can report and the police will do nothing, but that's apparently besides the point)
Note well, swearing at a malfeasor in Britain is now considered by police to be taking "the law into your own hands". Notice also that crimes against a person's property is now simply anti-social behavior.

Unbelievable how far once proud Albion has fallen.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I Love this Kahr

A Kahr PM9 pistol in 9mm that is.

Weighing under 1 pound and only 5.3 inches in overall length, with a 3 inch barrel and a choice of a flush-fitting 6 round and extended 7 shot magazine this is perhaps the perfect concealed carry firearm. Nice and flat, it can conceal easily in a front jeans pocket in a decent holster or disappear under a shirt with a similarly good inside-the-waistband holster on.

After receiving my Kahr PM9, with the slide in the matte black Tungsten DLC finish and factory installed Trijicon night sights I was eager to take it to the range.

The gun arrived bone dry from the factory, with evidence of it having been fired for the useless ballistics identification program required by two states, and the brass from the test firing was in an envelope that came in the firearm case. The Kahr clearly needed some lubrication before taking it to the range.

Taking apart the Kahr PM9 is relatively simple: Line up the disassembly notch and then push the slide stop out of the frame. This required a bit of work as the slide stop is in tight, and needed a little encouragement in form of taps from a plastic hammer to work its way out. After swabbing the barrel to ensure there were no hidden obstructions, cleaning off the firing marks from the test firing and adding some Tetra lube to the slide rails and barrel hood, it was time to reassemble.

Reassembly took a little work, with lining up the slide on the frame and getting the striker assembly out of the way so the slide stop could be replaced and the slide move freely. With that done it was off to the range.

I brought with me 2 boxes of 100 round Winchester white box value pack 9mm fmj ammo and 1 box of 50 Federal Hydrashock hollowpoints.

As the manual said it takes 200 rounds to break in, I took it at its word. On the first magazine there was one glitch where on the final shot the fired brass failed to eject but sat on top of the magazine and was easily cleared. This did not happen again during the session.

On firing the Hydrashocks I was in for a bit of a shock – the muzzle flash from those rounds was significant, so much so that it appeared that I was using a flamethrower. This would not be good in a night time situation as the flash was very visible in the relatively good light of the indoor range. In addition, of the 50 rounds fired there were two failures where the slide failed to go back into battery and pick up a new round, so I would not consider this batch of Hydrashocks as reliable carry ammo for this gun at this point – maybe it was the 250 round break in. On the upside, the Hydrashocks were as controllable as the white box ammo with similar accuracy.

The PM9, despite its small size was easily controllable with either the flush fitting magazine and even more controllable with the extended seven round magazine, and quite accurate at 10 yards, as can be seen from the accompanying photo of the target below. The trigger pull on the Kahr was a bit long but very, very smooth – certainly the best pocket pistol trigger I’ve ever shot, easily besting my comparably sized Hungarian made Walther PPK-clone and my Russian Makarov. There was no real significant recoil issues and controlled pairs of shots or even rapid strings were easily made and still accurately hitting the target.

The only downside to the Kahr are its array of sharp edges – the magazine feedlips are razor-like in sharpness (as the cut on my finger can attest), presumably on the theory that if you run out of ammunition you can pull out the magazine and use it as a last-ditch knife. In addition the top of the slide release, where you push down to release the slide is likewise sharp, as are the slide serrations for pulling the slide back. A little smoothing of the edges on this not-cheap and otherwise excellent firearm is certainly called for and would be an excellent improvement in the user-friedliness and carryability of the product.

Others at the range also tried it and was impressed with both its controllability and its small size. The firearm is similar in size to many .380 caliber handguns and packs a more effective round and a better trigger as well. In short this is possibly the finest pocket gun available, sharp edges and all, and I highly recommend it for those looking for an easily concealable firearm to accompany your carry permit.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

First Major Trial Victory!

My first large trial took place and lasted for the last two weeks in Macomb County Circuit Court. I did the trial as the second-seat along with a Partner from the firm as first chair. The partner has excellent trial skills that I highly respect and he did a fantastic job.

This case had it all: Plaintiff's multiple claims, Our multiple counterclaims and mountains of email documents, police reports, domain names and websites.

Some things juries never see: The massive amounts of hours that go into preparation both before and during the trial. A 16 hour day was commonplace. In addition, there was lots of evidence that was not admissible at trial under the hearsay rule dealing with police reports, all of which made for very interesting reading in the case and none of which could be seen by the jury.

I handled plaintiff's expert witness on cross examination and almost got him Daubert'ed out and disqualified. But even better, I showed the jury that his value estimate was not based on any real information and he was completely speculating and far outside of his area of specialization. In fact, he even admitted that he never had spoken with the Plaintiff to get an actual estimate of the hours spent or the fact that plaintiff had always represented himself, including during his criminal preliminary examination, as a volunteer. I also did the direct exams for one of our Detectives and our expert.

After two long weeks, the jury, after deliberating for almost 4 hours, gave our side a no cause -- that we were not liable for any of Plaintiff's claims, and found that Plaintiff had committed fraud against us, but the jury awarded no damages.

I believe the main reason why we won and that we got to the right result is that the jury trusted us and saw that the Plaintiff was continually lying and being evasive thoroughout the history of the case and even during trial. This jury was sharp - very focussed even after 2 weeks of testimony and very alert for evasions. Remember - never underestimate a jury - think of it as (in this case we had a jury of 8) 8 fully functioning BS-detectors that will catch you if you lie or prevaricate.

In addition, Judge Miller ran the court like a true gentleman and distinguished jurist, treating the litigants well and respectfully, and keeping everything on schedule.

To read about the results of the trial as reported you can click here for The Macomb Daily's Report

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

How I spent Labor Day: Diving the S.S. Wexford

For my birthday, my wife gave me a fine present: a Wreck Dive Trip. This was no small present, not only was there a cost, but for me to be out of the house with a newborn afoot and a toddler under foot was quite a loving sacrifice on her part.

So thorough my local dive shop Sea The World Scuba, I signed up for many a wreck dive, only to see them cancelled for lack of participation. Finally on Labor Day one was going to go! I immediately signed up.

This was my first Great Lakes Dive, and my first boat dive. The charter was with Rec & Tec Dive Charters, Inc, and it departed from Port Sanilac at 8 am to proceed to the wreck of the SS Wexford.

I made the trip up to Port Sanilac starting at 5:30 am and arrived at 7:30 and found the Sylvia Anne, Rec & Tec's vessel. I then filled out the waiver and started loading my gear, and the 10 divers and crew then departed the shore.

The SS Wexford, built in sank in the Great Storm of 1913 and was discovered in 2000. It is located off of grand Bend in Ontario, on the Canadian side of Lake Huron. The ship is 250 feet long. The wreck lies upright, the only wreck from the storm of 1913 that does so. All 22 of her crew were lost with her. The ship lies in 78 feet of water, on a north/south orientation. For the story of her discovery and excellent photos and images see: The Wexford

For a first wreck dive, it was absolute heaven. While the water at 46 degrees was a touch cool for a wetsuit (I had the only wetsuit on the charter, everyone else dove dry), the visibility was fantastic.

In addition to my dive buddy, the divemaster from the crew kept a close eye on me as I was the newbie on board, which certainly added to the safety factor and was quite comforting. Everyone was very helpful to me as the new guy from showing me how to stow the gear to other necessary things.

The first dive began with a giant stride off the bow and into the cold water of Lake Huron. Of course, it wouldn't go perfectly and my mask was slightly dislodged and I got a face-full of cold lake water as a welcome. 46 degree water in the face caused quite a double take, but I warmed up quite quickly. With the mask issue cleared up and united with my dive buddy and the Divemaster, we went down the mooring line towards the stern. This first dive was on the stern of the ship and we saw some sight glasses used to peer into the boilers, and many other artifacts strewn about. The upper deck has multiple holes in it for easy penetration, and for safe exiting. After about 22 minutes I was back on board after a safety stop at 20 feet.

The second dive, after a one hour surface interval was at the bow. We approached down a cable to the bow and proceeded amidships. It was there my dive buddy and I found a white china plate, mostly buried in silt. The plate on the back read "Royal Ironware Sheffield England". Given the ship was built in England in 1883, this could have even been an original plate. There was no date on the plate sadly so its not possible to tell when the earliest time when it could have come to the ship. We left the plate where it was found for other divers to inspect in the future, and given the good ethics of the divers who visit this wreck, I expect it will still be there on my next visit.

The dives were simply incredible, and the weather cooperated magnificently, with calm seas and a warm sun. It was a fantastic first wreck diving experience, and I certainly plan to dive the Wexford again. Rec & Tec runs a fantastic charter, if you are in the area I highly recommend them.

Why Blogging has been slow Lately...

Leah, Daughter #2, born August 17, healthy and happy.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Jimmy Carter erroneously says Bush is pursuing an erroneous Mideast policy

Jimmy Carter, certainly the worst living president, had this to say about the current crisis in Lebanon. (Quick summary - it's Bush's fault)
From YNet, and previously read in the dead tree edition of the Oakland Press: Former US President Jimmy Carter, who helped broker the historic Camp David peace accord between Israel and Egypt, said US President George W. Bush has pursued an "erroneous policy" that has fostered violence in the Middle East.

"In my opinion, maybe the worst ally Israel has had in Washington has been the George W. Bush administration, which hasn't worked to bring a permanent peace to Israel," Carter told The Grand Rapids Press in an interview Friday.
The mind boggles. If anything Bush has been an excellent ally of Israel and is helping Israel gain a permanent peace to the region by recognising the root cause - Islamic Terror, and refusing to follow the old, time-worn US policy of pressuring Israel into a cease-fire whever they are on the verge of winning.

The Oakland Press article had additional information including this quote:
It depends on whether world opinion is strong enough to get the administration to change its erroneous policy, which has been to encourage the continuation of attacks on both sides"
Again, a mind-boggling and riddiculous statement. Bush is hardly encouraging both sides. Demanding that Hezballah return the kidnapped Israeli soldiers and cease rocket attacks on israel, and for the Lebanese and the World to enforce the Security Council resolution that Hezballah was to be disarmed is hardly encouragment to Hezballah to continue its attacks.

Jimmy Carter folks, making sure he keeps the title of worst living President.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Keeper of Lagniappe's Lair Hurt in Vehicle Accident

The keeper of Lagniappe's Lair was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident while on the job.

While he has suffered very severe injuries he is going to make it, much to my relief as his friend, and the relief of his family.

Your thoughts and prayers for him would be appreciated.

If there is anyone tough enough and good enough to get through this and come out even stronger than before, it's him.

May God bless him in this difficult time.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Now an Advanced Open Water Diver

After sucessfully passing the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Course, I'm now an Advanced Open Diver.

The best part of the Advanced Open Course is that it shows you how much more you truly need to learn to become a proficient diver.

My Advanced course was composed of the following 5 dives: Navigation; Search and Recovery; Night; Deep; and Wreck. All of them certainly helped expose me to new skills and experiences. Diving at Night was very cool, as was the Deep dive. The course was held at Portage Quarry, which is a great place to get wet, practice skills, and learn. The Quarry had excellent visibility and plenty to see such as a school bus, cars, boats, airplane and silo.

In addition, during the weekend I went on two more dives with two divers who were taking their Open Water Course and their friend who was a very experienced diver. Lots of fun, and very good people to dive with.

I'm now booked on a Great Lakes wreck dive for August 11 to see the Regina and Sport. Should be fun.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Attack on Jewish Community Center in Seattle.

Yes the shooter was a member of the "Religion of Peace" - Islam. (Excellent Coverage at Little Green Footballs:
Six Shot, one killed at Seattle Jewish Federation
Six women were shot - one fatally - this afternoon at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle by a man who told a witness he was upset about "what was going on in Israel....When asked at a news conference if that meant the alleged shooter was Muslim, Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said: "You could infer that."...Marla Meislin-Dietrich, a database coordinator for the center, told The Associated Press. "He said 'I am a Muslim American, angry at Israel,' before opening fire on everyone," Meislin-Dietrich said. "He was randomly shooting at everyone.""
it turns out that the suspect is a Pakistani man with a criminal background. He is from the Tri-Cities but his citizenship is unknown.

How long before the local Muslim community half-heartedly "condems" the attack and then loudly worries about a backlash against Muslims?

Oh, they already did.
In a statement, the Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group said:

“We condemn this senseless attack on a religious institution and offer sincere condolences to the loved ones of those killed or injured. The American Muslim and Jewish communities must do whatever is within their power to prevent the current conflict in the Middle East from being transplanted to this country. We also urge local, state and national law enforcement authorities to step up security measures at synagogues, mosques and other religious institutions of both faiths.”

And the police of course buy into it:
Kerlikowske said police officers throughout the city were being asked to step up patrols of synagogues and mosques.
"We are protecting mosques because there is always concern about retaliatory activity," he said.
Yeah right, how many retailiatory attacks have we seen on mosques by Jews? Exactly...none.

This attack technique puts the western democracies in a very bad tactical situation - lots of Muslims within the gates, any of whom can go commit a terrorist act while the Muslim community then "condemns" it and then loudly worries about a backlash runs for protection from the authorities, and then another Muslim goes to perform another attack and the cycle contines with no response, which shows them that the tactic is working, and non-muslims keep dying.

At what point is the West going to wake up that this is not an isolated incident and actually make a response?

It should be announced that if this continues all non-citizen Muslims will be deported as enemy aliens. No, it is not a collective punishment, its self-defense from future attacks and will send a message that this type of attack tactic will not be tolerated and that there will be a response to these acts of terrorism. This is a non-violent and legal response, if "disproportionate". If we truly are in a War on (Islamist) Terror, we owe it to ourselves to protect ourselves from the agents of the enemy from our midst and to show trhat there will be consequences for terrorist attacks.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

When Hezb'allah co-locates with your position, its time to leave

From Little Green Footballs
Retired Canadian Major General Lewis Mackenzie was interviewed on CBC radio, and had some very interesting news about the UN observer post hit by Israeli shells; the Canadian peacekeeper killed there had previously emailed Mackenzie telling him that Hizballah was using their post as cover.

The entire interview is a breath of fresh air:

We received emails from him a few days ago, and he was describing the fact that he was taking fire within, in one case, three meters of his position for tactical necessity, not being targeted. Now that’s veiled speech in the military. What he was telling us was Hezbollah soldiers were all over his position and the IDF were targeting them. And that’s a favorite trick by people who don’t have representation in the UN. They use the UN as shields knowing that they can’t be punished for it.

Not only does Hezb'allah hide behind women and children, they hide behind the UN. The UNIFIL troops have sadly become victims of Hezb'allah perfidy.

In addition, just to show how co-located many of these UN positions are with Hezb'allah, here's a picture of one of them:
I don't know if this was the same post that was hit but it is certainly an example of how close Hezb'allah was to these UN positions before this conflict even started. Today I would not be surprised if they are firing from within UN positions.

Why the UN has not loudly complained about, and condemned, Hezb'allah for using their positions and treoops as shields in this conflict is unknown, but the UN's ingrained bias against Israel is undoubtedly the most likely suspect, and secondly that the UNIFIL troops are essentially hostages to Hezballah likely also makes any condemnation of Hezb'allah's actions a risky proposition for the UNIFIL observers on the ground.

It is a sad loss that the 4 UNIFIL observers were killed, but the fault lies with Hezb'allah, not Israel.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Possibly Interviewing an American Criminal at The Hot Zone - No Exit

At Kevin Sites' blog in his article No Exit American citizens are caught in the crossfire in southern Lebanon while trying to flee the fighting. He seems to have made an interesting choice of an interview subject-
TYRE, Lebanon - For the Chahines, of Dearborn, Mich., spending summers in south Lebanon is a family tradition. It also helps to keep them in touch with their Arabic heritage. But this summer that tradition almost cost them their lives....

"Mr. Chahine, who came to the U.S. 32 years ago, built a business and raised a family there. "

Is this the same Talal Chahine of Dearborn who fled the US to Lebanon under indictment for tax fraud and funneling money to Hezb'allah?

I guess we know why he and his family are there if its the same "Chahine of Dearborn":
Defendant: Talal Khalil Chahine (La Shish Restaurant) OWNER AND FINANCIAL MANAGER OF “LA SHISH” RESTAURANT ARE CHARGED WITH TAX EVASION U.S. Department of Justice Federal charges were unsealed today in Detroit against Talal Khalil Chahine, 51, of Dearborn Heights, Michigan and the owner of the “La Shish” restaurant chain, and Elfat El Aouar, 39 of Plymouth, a “La Shish” financial manager and Chahine’s wife. Chahine and El Aouar are charged by the federal grand jury Indictment with four Counts each of Income Tax Evasion, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7201. Each Count carries a maximum penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Elfat El Aouar was arrested earlier today from her home in Plymouth. A bail hearing and arraignment is scheduled to occur at 1:00 p.m. in federal court. Talal Chahine is presently outside the United States and is believed to be in Lebanon. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

The Detroit News also picked up the story of the indictment.

Now, did Sites know who Chahine was and fail to report this interesting bit of information? Cetainly it is somewhat suspicious as Sites report gives the first name of everyone else he talks with but not Chahine's. Given that Chahine is alleged to have funelled money to Hezb'Allah, his use as an interviewee without disclosing this information makes his story and credibility as an eyewitness quite suspect. Especially since Sites takes Chahine's assertion at face value.that
"I didn't see any Hezbollah fighters in our village," says Mr. Chahine, "so why are they bombing there?"
Hopefully Kevin Sites will be able to clarify if this is the same Chahine and why he did not use his first name in his report.

To The Circus

Last night, we went to the Carson & Barnes Circus held at Millford. The circus was held there to raise money for a bike trail. It was Abby's first circus.

On the way from the parking area, there were a few protestors from PETA on the sidewalk near the entrance protesting the circus. The were on the sidewalk, holding placards and asking if people wanted their literature. The protestors were well-behaved and polite, and the presence of Millford Police probably helped with that. While I disagree with them, it was commendable of the PETA protestors to behave in a proper and civilized manner.

Abby absolutely loved the circus. As a 2.5 year-old, she was amazed at the sight and size of the Elephants and the tricks by the Acrobats. She pointed at the Acrobats while they were at the top of a platform and said "Come down you're going to fall" - a very cute moment.

It was a fun circus and all the children present clearly seemed to be enjoying themselves. Oh, and the animals appeared well fed, healthy, and well treated. Simply a wonderful form of entertainment.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Does the Missile Threat end the idea of Land for Peace?

Given that the land Israel withdrew from in both Lebanon and Gaza is being used as a launching pad for missiles and rockets against israel, to cede further land would likely prove disastrous to Israel. The only reason longer range rockets are not being fired from Gaza is that Israel is preventing their importation through the port of Gaza.

Already, Hezballah is hitting civillians in Haifa with its rockets, 30 miles away from the Israel-lebanon Border. Missiles from Gaza are striking Sderot. If Israel were to complete a withdrawal from the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) to behind the security Fence, all of Israel would then be in range of missiles from the ceeded territory.

Don't beleive me? Then take a look at this map. As you can see, from the West Bank, Tel Aviv's airport is in range of the short-range Qassam rockets, and the entire county is in range of Katyushas, not to mention the longer range missiles.

Land for Peace, and the subsequent creation of a hostile state filled with anti-Israel sentiment with the capability to import Iranian missiles would be suicide for Israel. Until the Arabs learn to accept Israel's existence and cease attempting to destroy it and kill its people, the whole idea of land for peace cannot go forward.

The Nonsense of Proportionality

"The essence of war is violence. Moderation in war is imbecility." -- Admiral Sir John A. Fisher.

The current infatuation of the UN and much of the world with accusing Israel of violating the mythical rule of proportionality in warfare is part of the continuing attacks on Israel where it is held to a standard to which no other nation in the world is held. Indeed no other nation could long survive if it folowed these mythical stanards that the ret of the world blithely ignores - except of course, when they accuse Israel of violating them.

What is the proportinate response when an attacker hurls hundreds of missiles into your territory, all of them deliberately aimed at civillian targets? What is the porportionate response when an attacker crosses your border and kidnapps your soldiers, demanding that you release thousands of convicted criminals or terorist detainees in return for their release? Wouldn't you block roads, airports, and ports, knowing the intention of the kidnappers to move them out of the country? Would you not use as much force as necessary to end the conflict as quickly as possible and to bring security to your borders?

If the proportion of Hezballah is accepted, then for every Israeli killed in this conflict, 1000 Arabs should be killed. After all, Hezballah is arguing that each Israeli soldier os worth a thousand Arab terorrists. Obviously, Israel is clearly behind if this calculation is the correct proportionate response. With 37 Israelis killed and only 381 Lebanese (unfortunately including innocent Lebanese civillians but certainly this number includes a great many Hezballah members), clearly Israel has a lot of catching up to do to ensure its response is "proportionate".

Sadly for those who argue that Israel is disproportionate, it is not adopting the Hezballah calculation for 1000 Arbas for every Israeli. Instead Israel is trying to limit civilian casualties (while Hezballah is actively seeking to attack civillians) while attacking an enemy that hides among civilians and places its weapons and arsenals in mosques, hospitals, schools and private homes. The 'brave' guerrillas of Hezballah hide behind the skirts of their women and the toys of their children

Israel's response may not be "proportionate" but it is moral.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Not an Anti-War Rally

But an Anti-Israel one.

As predicted the Dearborn demonstration was full of textbook seething. Not anti-war, merely anti-Israel.

From The Detroit News
Thousands protest Lebanon bombing

Metro Detroiters, many with relatives caught in the violence, call for an end to Israel's attacks.

Calling for an end to the attacks with such charming chants as:
Along the 1.5-mile trek to the park, protesters chanted "Allahakbar,"
"Hezbollah" and "Stop the killing, stop the bombing" as they walked

No condemnation of the Hezb'allah raid and kidnappings that started the entire current conflict.

The religion of peace seemed a little tense as well:
There were tense moments briefly during the rally when two rabbis joined the
protest. A few of the marchers thought the two Jewish clerics had come to the
event as counter-demonstrators.
Hmm, how tolerant would they have been had they actually been counteprotesting - probably not very.

Instead they were two self-hating Jews.
Many in the crowd were surprised when they saw Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss and a
fellow rabbi joining the protest.

Weiss of Jews United Against Zionism of Monsey, N.Y., a group that believes the
quest for a Jewish state strained Arab and Jewish relations, said he came in
support of the protesters.

"We are here to show solidarity and support for the Palestinian people."

He is, of course, entitled to his wrong-headed, dhimmi-fied opinon, but I will maintain my opinion that 'Rabbi' Weiss is a total moonbat, lower than pondscum and that had he been born in an earlier era, he would have made a fine kapo.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Body of Scuba Diver Recovered From Lake

A sad loss of a Michigan Diver:
Divers recovered the body of a 51-year-old Waterford man Thursday in Maceday Lake, where he had been reported missing about 18 hours earlier.

The man, whose name was not released Thursday pending family notification, was found about 1:30 p.m. in about 100 feet of water in the area where he had been scuba diving with nine others, said Lt. Gordon Pizzini of the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.
I wasn't there, I do not know what happened, and am not about to start guessing. Hopefully the investigation results will be published or made known to the diving community and we can take steps and learn lessons from this accident to prevent others like it in the future.

In Dearborn the Seething begins

In the Detroit Free Press
Muslims attending a memorial service at a Dearborn mosque Sunday evening called upon businesses along Warren Avenue in Dearborn to shut down at 5 p.m. Tuesday to protest Israeli action in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

. . .

Speakers at the service criticized Israel and asked the U.S. government to help U.S. citizens trapped in Lebanon.

With picture slides behind him showing the attacks in Lebanon, Ned Fawaz, chairman of the board of the Islamic Center, urged the crowd to "call Washington, call all your senators ... send e-mails" voicing opposition to Israel's actions.

Mohammad Bazzi of Dearborn Heights said that business owners are planning to shut down at the start of a march scheduled for Tuesday along Warren Avenue -- the main commercial strip in east Dearborn.

Notice that of course, there was no criticism or opposition of Hizb'allah the group that brought this situation upon Lebanon from these Dearborn muslims.

Shutting down at 5pm, oh my, such a protest, they just watched "Working 9 to 5". They must have been inspired by the Cyndi Sheehan fast of the hour.

Their march on Tuesday should provide plenty of examples of Homo Islamicus and Homo Moonbaticus.

From The "You're New At This Aren't You?" File.

Robber Faints during Bank Hold up

From the Oakland Press:
A novice bank robber found out Thursday that he's not cut out for a life of crime.

With cash in hand, the alleged robber, an unemployed automotive designer, was headed out the door of the Lasalle Bank on Maple Road in Troy when he saw two police cars drive by. Lawrence C. Lawson, 60, of Madison Heights passed out. Employees called 9-1-1. "It was just by coincidence," said Troy police Lt. Gerry Scherlinck. "Just randomly, two police officers are driving by." Lawson was arraigned Friday on charges of bank robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
I just really want to know how much the officers were laughing while they arrested him.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

How you can help Israel now

Israel is currently facing a war on at least two fronts against the same enemy the US faces: Islamists.

The Islamists (Hamas and Hizb'allah) are currently using rockets and missiles to attack civillian targets in Israel.

Should Israel be permitted to take the gloves off and fight this war, for it is indeed a war, with fronts in Gaza and southern Lebanon, it will most likely win.

You can help by donating to:

American Friends of Magen David Adom (Israel's Red Star of David - their own Red Cross organization). Funds are needed for medical assistance for victims of the missile and rocket attacks on israeli civillians.

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (provided recreational and religious facilities and scholarships for Israeli soldiers)

Amazing Comments by Putin on the Mid East Situation

In Bush Blocks Russia WTO Bid in Icy Exchange (interestingly enough, the Detroit Free press runs this under the headline: Bush, Putin differ on cease-fire. Putin says something that simply boggles the mind, hypocritical doesn't even come close to describe it, perhaps chutzpah sums it up best:

"At the same time," the Russian leader said, "we work under the assumption that the use of force should be balanced." The European Union - and France, in particular - has condemned Israel's attacks as excessive, putting Bush at odds with key allies.

Speaking to reporters after the summit's opening dinner, Putin stressed that significant efforts were needed to restore peace in Lebanon.

"However complicated the questions are, maximum efforts must be applied to resolve the situation in a peaceful way and I think all efforts have not been exhausted," he said.
The "use of force should be balanced"? I have but one word for Putin: Chechnya.

When did the Russia under Putin use "balanced force" in dealing with the Chechen Islamist issue? Heck, when did Russia ever use balanced force - the Russian way of way is throw as much steel at your enemy as you can, and keep doing it until you win.

Especially given the disregard in which the Russians have used heavy artillery against Islamists causing lots of noncombatant deathsin Chechnya, Putin's sudden belief in proportional force beggars belief.

Yes, Putin wants to keep playing the great power game and suck up to the Soviet Union's old allies, the Arabs, by criticising Israel, but really.

Someone needs to remind Putin that he is fighting a war against islamists today, and toadying up to other islamists will not win him many favors in the long run.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bad, naughty, weight pouch!

So there I was, at 25 feet in Spring Mill Pond just off the bottom, Visibility at less than feet at best, diving with four other divers.

Suddenly, it gets silted up real bad, and visibility drops to zero, I could not see a thing. Then I all of a sudden get flipped onto my left side and start ascending pretty quickly - sideways! A fun ride and I break the surface with what I am sure was a very confused look on my face.

It turns out my weight pouch on my right side in my Dacor Talon BC decided it didn't like me face down and it came zipping out of the BC (so much for the retaining powers of Velcro).

Eventually the other divers noticed I was gone and one came up to see what was going on. Without the 10 pounds in the pouch i was too buoyant to descend, and when I tried, I always got flipped onto by left side, so I couldn't search for the pouch.

One of the divers searched for the pouch but failed to find it. The pouch alas is almost definetely buried in the muck and will not likely be found.

Personal Lessons learned: Even though the velcro quick release should be enough to hold the weights in, use the retaining clip - it prevents an instant release of the weights, by pulling on the release handle, instead to release you unclip the clip and pull with it- but it will save your pouches.

Now to go buy another wieght pouch and 10 pounds of weight...

Monday, July 10, 2006

And now for a completely different a burning.......

Chechen Terror Leader Shamil Basayev Killed in Russia

The details seem to indicate this was an effective Russian take-out
(with some unidentified foreign intelligence agency's help) of a very nasty piece of work, whose death is welll deserved.

Suffice to say after the terrorist outrages of the Moscow theater in 2002 in which dozens of hostages and militants died, the 2004 school hostage taking in Beslan that killed 331, and the seizure of about 1,000 hostages at a hospital in Budyonnovsk that killed about 100 and many other lesser reported atrocities, it is unquestionably good that Basayev is no longer sleeping but has been sent on to meet his maker or more likely is roasting in some dark, hot, pit of hell.