Archive for July, 2008

Newsflash: Obama Can Shoot 3 Pointers

July 30, 2008

Sen. Obama recently took a tour of Afghanistan and Iraq as a Senator on a fact finding mission. Right before he left he told us all the facts of what is going on in those two places, so I guess he was really going on a fact giving mission. It seems like he gave some of his facts to Gen. Patreus, who gave them back.

I heard a lot about how “presidential” Obama looked on his trip, but I guess that depends on what you call presidential. To me he looked like a male model. He was athletic, slim, well dressed, posed well, looked good in glasses, smiled a lot, had that arrogant model look, and could even shoot hoops. He’s obviously in better shape since last year’s McConaughey moment in Hawaii. But is that what “presidential” means?

Obama visited many foreign leaders after his senatorial trip. The feeling I got from listening to most of those leaders was something like this: “Man, you are a superstar. Do you know Angelina Jolie?”

I have noticed one thing “presidential” about Obama lately, his hair seems to be graying.


Warning: Cancer Warnings May Cause Cancer

July 30, 2008

Today there was another “X may cause cancer” scare. This time the culprit was cell phones, or more accurately the use of cell phones. There have been many attempts to find a correlation between cell phone use and cancer, especially brain cancer. The legal profession would love cell phones to be a cancer cause, can you imagine the lawsuit possibilities?

Let me start with a simple to read rebuttal to the cell phone cancer scare found here: LiveScience

All “X might cause cancer” stories end in the same way: better to be safe than sorry. Well, that’s not really correct. For example, in an effort to reduce the effect of radio waves on the brain people are using Bluetooth headsets. Well guess what, Bluetooth is also a radio, but now instead of being an inch from your head they are inside your head. On top of it, Bluetooth uses the same radio frequencies used by microwave ovens, known to actually cook food. Scientifically speaking, however, Bluetooth’s output power is about one-millionth the power level of a microwave oven.

When scared, people often move to eliminate the scary thing even if the alternative is completely unknown. People and governments will even replace a generally known but mild problem with an esoteric and completely unknown potential problem. A good example of that was the replacement of lead in gasoline with MTBE. Turns out MTBE is a lot worse than lead ever was.

We think we live in an age of enlightenment where Science trumps Sorcery, but we do not. Four hundred years ago people might have said that “evil spirits cause cancer”, today it is cell phones.

Why is Obama Speaking in Berlin?

July 24, 2008

Today Obama is going to hold a big political rally in Germany, with perhaps a bigger and more enthusiastic crowd than Adolf Hilter had there, but probably not as large as the crowd that witnessed JFK’s famous speech in 1963. I can understand why Kennedy gave a speech in Berlin in 1963, showing solidarity with the beleaguered population of West Berlin who suffered from the Soviet-built wall around their city. I can also understand why Ronald Reagan gave a speech there in 1987 imploring the President of the Soviet Union to tear down that wall, ending a 40 year cold war between the West and the East.

But why would Obama give a speech there now?

Are there any foreign policy issues in Germany? Any message best given there? Why not pick some place like Poland or the Czech Republic, which would acknowledge the new reality of Europe as being a mix of the West and the East. Or how about Turkey, who aspires to become part of Europe. Surely there are better places than under the Winged Victory statue in Berlin, a statue that celebrates Prussian domination over Austria, France and Denmark.

In fact, why give a speech in Germany at all since he isn’t the President yet and, I’m pretty sure, there aren’t many U.S. eligible voters in Germany, except maybe some college students traveling in the summer. I don’t know what Obama is going to say, but I doubt he is going to give directions to the nearest youth hostel.


Obama has given his sermon to the world today and it fell a bit flat. Now I know why he chose the site he chose: he wanted to pound the “wall” metaphor for all it was worth. My guess is that using this “wall” metaphor was the reason he chose Berlin, not the other way around.

His crowd of 200,000 wanted to hear that the U.S. was going to declare itself a war criminal, retreat from all foreign lands, dismantle its military and ultimately surrender itself to European domination. I think they got about 1/2 of that, but Obama still wants to “win” in Afghanistan. Since this latest Iraq war began 5 years ago, the political “left” in the country has been unable and unwilling to define “winning”. I think the thought of winning a war goes against the philosophy of most liberals. Perhaps they can ask Obama to define it for us.

Does anyone know a good Obama joke?

July 24, 2008

I hear people talking about the lack of good Obama jokes. I agree. I have heard a few, but generally Obama jokes aren’t funny. Why is that? Some blame the fear of being called a racist. Well, if the joke is racist then I can understand that, but Obama is a lot more than just black, or is he? Maybe that is the problem, nobody really knows anything about Obama, so there is nothing really to make fun of. Here is a funny Obama joke (IMHO):

A Christian, a Jew and Barack Obama are in a rowboat in the middle of the ocean. Barack Obama says, “This joke isn’t going to work because there’s no Muslim in this boat.”

The fact that this joke is funny shows that people know there is some confusion about whether Obama is a Muslim or a Christian. But what else to we know about the man? Not much. Maybe his campaign should make up stuff about him so we can laugh about something. If they don’t, someone else might.

Carbon Dioxide Sequestration

July 21, 2008

There is talk about making coal “clean” by sequestering, into the ground, the carbon dioxide produced by coal-burning electric power plants. This reminds me of the Yucca mountain debate about sequestering spent nuclear fuel. The Yucca mountain project, which environmentalists consider one of the most dangerous Government programs ever, would store about 3 Ktons of dangerous radioactive material a year, 2 Ktons of waste from plants operating today, plus about 50 Ktons of waste generated since the inception of nuclear power. For coal we would need to store more than 2,000,000 Ktons of waste per year. If we could find a site to store that much carbon dioxide, then we could certainly store all the nuclear waste we could ever produce.

One other interesting fact about nuclear waste. It turns out a coal burning plant puts out about 100 times more radiation than an equivalent nuclear plant. Here is a reference for those who don’t believe me: CoalNuclearComparison

You ever hear any of this on the news?

60 Minutes of Propaganda

July 21, 2008

I watched 60 minutes (at least some of it) this evening for the first time in years and now I know why I haven’t watched it in years. The first story was about Darfur, a situation that is indeed terrible. After the piece I realized that I knew less about the situation than before I watched. It wasn’t that they opened my mind to the issue so that I saw how ignorant I was, but more that their mangled propaganda filled logic left me confused. Why is this going on? No answer. There was an implication that somehow it is the U.S.’s fault, but I’m not sure exactly how. What is happening? People are getting killed, women are being raped, villages are being destroyed. I knew that. What should the world do about it? The only answer they seem to offer is that we should feel guilty about it, and that is pretty much all that piece did, make me feel guilty. I wish journalists would stick with the who, what, when, where, and how and let me decide for myself. Here is a good question for this political season: should the U.S. send troop to Darfur? Obama? McCain?

The second story was something that I knew a bit more about. It was about “radio waves” and how they can kill cancer. The story, again, was very much propaganda about a “technology” promoter. Curing cancer by killing cancer cells preferentially over normal cells has been a well known technique for many years. Chemo-therapy does just that. So does radiation therapy. What has been missing from these “cancer seeking bullet” techniques is not the bullet part, cells are relatively easy to kill. The hard part is the cancer seeking part, which so far has not, and according to 60 Minutes still has not, been found. I hope that someone does find a cure for cancer, but this story had nothing to do with that.

I remember seeing other stories about this same promoter and his claims that researchers were interested in using his “radio waves” to burn water as a source of unlimited energy. I saw the video on YouTube and laughed when I saw a small flame coming from a test tube full of water being irradiated by his “radio waves”. Accidentally, he also showed the power consumed by his “radio wave” generator: about 2000 Watts. So he was taking 2000 Watts and generating a small amount of hydrogen through hydrolysis and then burning the hydrogen producing perhaps 10W (my estimate). I think it would have been more efficient to just stick a couple of wires into the water, no need for those “radio waves”.

BTW, let me offer my definition of propaganda: if you see or read something and afterwards you feel more than you know, that was propaganda.

Whither Iraq

July 14, 2008

A lot was said this week by Obama on what he would do with troops in Iraq. It started with the statement:

“I’ve always said that the pace of withdrawal would be dictated by the safety and security of our troops and the need to maintain stability.”

“That assessment has not changed. And when I go to Iraq and have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground, I’m sure I’ll have more information and will continue to refine my policies.”

Then he said:

“Let me be as clear as I can be, I intend to end this war. My first day in office I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in, and I will give them a new mission, and that is to end this war — responsibly, deliberately, but decisively.”

“And I have seen no information that contradicts the notion that we can bring our troops out safely at a pace of one to two brigades a month, and again, that pace translates into having our combat troops out in 16 months’ time.”

And finally he said:

“After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces.”

Wow. That’s lots of stuff. Let me summarize what he said. First we have three items that indicate that we will leave regardless of any consequence:

  1. pace of withdrawal would be dictated by the safety/security/protection of our troops
  2. end this war deliberately
  3. end this war decisively

My translation: “RETREAT!!!!!”

Now we have four more items that indicate that the goal is to achieve some actual outcome:

  1. pace of withdrawal would be dictated by the need to maintain stability
  2. end this war responsibly
  3. go after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia
  4. so long as the Iraqis make political progress, train Iraqi security forces

My translation: “Never mind, carry on!”

So he is going to ask the Joint Chiefs to carry on the goals of the war, but without any troops. I think this really is what Obama wants to do. We will end the war, remove the troops, and then we will make Iraq stable, defeat Al Qaeda, and train Iraqi forces by … I don’t know. I guess that’s where his thinking ends.

Update 7/19/2008

I have seen much confusion about Obama’s policy in Iraq versus what is going on there. It seems that the locals might want us out in the time-frame that Obama suggested. But the fact remains that Obama has stated and reiterated that his goal is single-minded: leave Iraq as quickly as possible so that OUR TROOPS remain safe. He has gone out of his way to say that the safety of the local population in Iraq is not relevant to him until after we have left.

McCain insists that the U.S. should win the war first, then remove the troops. In the last couple of days he seems to be saying that we might be there already. Ironically, McCain’s insistence to send more troops to Iraq (the “surge”) is giving more credibility to his opponent’s rhetoric about leaving Iraq. McCain stated this week that he would prefer to lose the election and win the war, than the other way around. He may just get his preference.

Obama’s Real Preacher Problem

July 11, 2008

During the primary season much was made of the preachings of a there-to-fore unknown reverend, the Reverend Wright. His catch phrase, “God Damn America” was all the rage, eventually forcing his favorite son, Barack Obama, to disown his church. You can take the man out of the church, but can you take the church out of the man?

It is clear that Obama was listening during his Reverend Wright’s sermons. What he learned was, first, how to talk like a reverend, second, how to preach a sermon, and third, how to whip up a crowd with inflammatory rhetoric. I doubt he learned any of that at Columbia or Harvard.

Obama has now topped all other former preacher candidates such as the Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Reverend Al Sharpton. Normally I do not agree with anything that Jackson has to say, but for once I think Jesse Jackson got it right. He just didn’t go far enough. I not talking about Jackson’s desire to do some no tool tool removal, I’m talking about his statement that Obama talks down to blacks. In fact, Obama talks down to everyone. He has “advise” for us all: black men, single language speakers, wealthy people, middle class people, Hispanics, women, you name it, he has something to say.

Obama is giving sermons now, in churches and in big stadiums. Most people call it his political campaign, but all I hear is preaching. He tells me how it is. He tells me about my life. He tells me that I am good but that I need to give more. He tells me about my flaws but that I can do better. He tells me that he has seen the way to a better life for all of us. I’m asked to believe in goodness and strength and honor and justice and … vote for him if I like all those things. I can’t imagine four years of listening to these preaches. At least Bush is generally so inarticulate that his speeches aren’t covered by the news.

BTW, I hear Obama is challenging the most famous of black preachers. He now plans to give his acceptance speech for the Democratic party nomination on the anniversary of the Honorable Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech. What Audacity. I hear he wants to preach at the Brandenburg gate in Germany next. If he goes to Israel, we can expect he will be giving a new sermon on the mount.

I thought liberals were against mixing church and state? Oh well, 8 out of 10 amendments is still a pretty good grade at Harvard.

Robert Kennedy on Larry King

July 7, 2008

Today I watched Larry King (a rerun) and he had on Robert Kennedy (son of the late Robert Kennedy). Mr. Kennedy made some pretty outrageous statements, but none was more outrageous than “the oil industry receives a $1 trillion sudsidy from the U.S. Government, and the coal industry receives about the same.”

Calling Kennedy an idiot would be giving him the benefit of the doubt. I’m sure he knows that the budget of the U.S. is $2.9 Trillion and the GDP of the U.S. is $12 Trillion. According to him, therefore, almost the entire U.S. budget is really just a subsidy to the oil and coal companies. Social Security – a subsidy to ensure that old people can buy gas, maybe? I don’t understand why someone didn’t challenge him. There was the CEO of Chevron and John Stossel, both who, I’m sure, knew what he was saying was bullshit. But there was silence.

When Kennedy was asked about why he doesn’t support the windmill farm planned off the coast of his family’s summer home, he answered that he did support the windmills but he wants them moved someplace where they won’t interfere with the fishing industry. Where would that be exactly, Mr. Kennedy? In Saudi Arabia?

After some research I found the document that Mr. Kennedy must have used to inform himself on the issue of government subsidies: . The article essentially makes a case that the true cost of oil is $65 trillion a year, bigger than the GDP of the entire world. The author must have had the same Berkeley Economics professor I had.

The Real Bush Third Term

July 3, 2008

In, what I think is a very dishonest comparison, Obama would like people to think that his opponent, John McCain, will come into office and mimic the presidency of George Bush. Let’s compare Bush, Obama and McCain realistically. This can be difficult because while running a campaign for office a person often takes “positions” that go against their true nature, but let’s try to figure this out.

Bush – known for his religious background, Obama – known for his religious background, McCain – not known for religious background.

Bush – no experience in foreign affairs (not even personal travel) before presidency, Obama – same, McCain – very experienced in foreign affairs – he has seen the world.

Bush – generally inexperienced before presidency, Obama – very inexperienced before presidency, McCain – very experienced.

Bush – supports faith based programs (i.e. government gives money to religious organizations), Obama – same, McCain – no religious connection.

Bush – served part-time and stateside during war, Obama – no military service (did he even apply for selective service? don’t know), McCain – served in war.

Bush – most important decision in his life before becoming president? to run for president. Obama – most important decision in his life before becoming president? to run for president. McCain – most important decision in his life before becoming president? Whether to stay in a POW camp indefinitely (turned out to be 5 years) or go home – he stayed because it was the right thing to do.

Bush – didn’t know that Rumsfeld had the wrong strategy in Iraq, Obama – didn’t know anything about Iraq other than we should leave immediately at all cost, McCain – took the lead in ousting Rumsfeld and implementing what turned out to be the winning strategy in Iraq.

Bush – hangs around with right-wing loons, Obama – hangs around with left-wing loons, McCain – hangs around with everyone.

Bush – thinks that government can solve people’s problems, Obama – same, McCain – government should not try to fix people’s problems.

Bush – seems aloof, Obama – seems aloof, McCain – seems like an angry old man.

Bush – speeches much better than spontaneous talk, Obama – same, McCain – speeches suck.

Bush – spend and spend, Obama – spend and spend and spend and spend, McCain – don’t spend.

Bush – inaccessible to the press, Obama – inaccessible to the press, McCain – extra accessible to the press.

Bush – thinks government should conform to his moral beliefs, Obama – thinks government should conform to his moral beliefs, McCain – government should be pragmatic.

Shall I go on?

Obama, like Bush, would enter the presidency a complete unknown. We don’t really know what he might do, what his liberal instincts tell him, or what is good for the whole country. I don’t think he knows either. If he is anything like Bush, he will do in office exactly what he says he will do, well, if he ever says what that is.

The left, and others, have put their hopes and dreams onto Obama, blindly hoping he will reflect their thinking onto the country. The right did the same for Bush. Nobody is putting their hopes and dreams onto McCain, he is there running all by himself, on his character and his record.