Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top Ten Posts of 2009

top10banner With the year drawing quickly to a close, I opted to undertake a bit of circumspection, and look back at some of the posts we’ve shared over the past year. What follows is my list of top ten posts from 2009.

Unsurprisingly they span the gamut of issues ranging from personal reflections on my wedding day, to thoughts on growing the GOP. For fun, I’ve also added a ‘best of’ category under each, and included a snippet of commentary, and images/videos/links where appropriate.

Thanks for making 2009 a great year around these parts. It has been a heckuva ride. Enjoy!

1. Thoughts on My Wedding Day
Best Ever
"My vantage from the small window in the alcove of the church shows an absolutely perfect day with only wisps of clouds in the sky. A crane of the neck looks out at a field of green behind the church. The warmth of the sun feels a lot like the Father smiling down, and feeling pleased. It's the kind of day made for beginning life anew."

2. Is the Recession Bankrupting Faith?
"Ms. Zoll also goes to great lengths to paint any change in religious practice as a substantive deviation from the spiritual norm.  Ms. Zoll's much touted "profound effect on how people practice their faith...and how they pass their beliefs on to their children" would have occurred regardless of whether "The Great Recession" ensued or not.  Simply put, religious practices have changed since the inception of every single world religion.  We Christians no longer stone witches for example, and the Muslims no longer wage jihad en masse (except in Afghanistan).  And even the Jews have changed their religious practices, no longer condoning marriage and its attendant sexual relationship with children - although this point was lost somehow on Roman Polanski."

3. Obama's Fanny Follies

Best Image

Wandering Eyes

4. Reasoning With the Unreasonable
Most Cynical
"Simply put, bringing peace to the Congo will require the commitment of a significant force, from an international community that seems more interested in bemoaning the atrocity than actually doing anything about it."

5. Parsing Hoffman’s Loss
Best Political
"For starters, Sozzafava’s withdrawal from the race, left the GOP saddled with easily the most the conservative candidate in the race - for a seat in a moderate district to boot. Because Hoffman’s positions were unappealing to the district’s voters, he lost. Shocking, I know."

6. When Stuffed Animal Dog Shows Go Awry...

Funniest Video
"Perhaps the onset of finals has made me jaded at life. But, for whatever reason, the video below is both hilarious, and maliciously addictive."

7. Russia's Energy Oops
Funniest News Piece
"Really? Russia called a joint venture with a Sub-Saharan African Nation, NIGAZ? Wow."

8. Ditching Reagan
Best Title
"The title is a bit of an oversimplification, but I'm encouraged to see that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush understands the GOP's need to move beyond the ghost of Ronald Reagan."

9. Thoughts on American Mobility
Most Intellectual
"My simple point in this now unwieldy post is that traveling to other parts of the country necessarily exposes people to perspectives that are in direct conflict with their own.  (Take a look at the latest break down of red/blue states for more evidence).  As a result, our views are either made stronger, or they fall away depending upon their original strength.  Bottom line: in a time such as this, Americans need more interaction.  Not less."

10. The Politics of Marriage in Iran
Best One-Liner
"At any rate, frustration with the housing situation and Iran's plummeting marriage rate has led to a stronger than anticipated lurch toward President Ahmadinejad's political opposition. As Iranian government officials have concluded, "The sexual bomb we face is more dangerous than the bombs and missiles of the enemy." Tom Jones couldn't agree more."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Digs for 2010

bloggingfordummies It’s a cold winter’s night here in Oklahoma. But your intrepid blogger is scouring the interwebs in search of a new layout for 2010. The present format is admittedly a bit drab, hopefully 2010 will mark the start of a new generation of blogging here at Pax Plena.

Or as my 13-year old friend Tyler likes to say, a blog that has “majestitude” (a word we hope Webster’s will include in its next edition).

At any rate, stay tuned for a top ten posts of 2009, and a few New Year’s resolutions from yours truly.

More to come…

Monday, December 28, 2009

Obama Administration Flip Flops on Airliner Security

Barely one day after proclaiming that the 'system worked', as regards U.S. airliner security, today the Obama Administration concedes that it did not.

"Our system did not work in this instance," she [Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano] said on NBC television's "TODAY" show. "No one is happy or satisfied with that. An extensive review is under way."

Given that the system, in fact, failed, why was the Obama Administration so slow in reaching this fairly obvious conclusion? Why was a narrowly avoided terrorist attack ever an example of the system working?

Naturally, the President is never one to shy away from the cameras. In a press conference only moments ago, President Obama discussed this very topic.

After concluding his remarks, as he walked away from the podium, a lone voice bellowed above the horde of reporters, asking if the had system failed.

The President ignored the query.

America deserves better.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

When Senators Get Drunk

Everyone gets a bit loose-lipped after a drink or two. But most of us do not air our inebriation on CSPAN.

Since the video below hit the Drudge Report, I suspect Sen. Max Baucus will think twice before he drinks and manages floor debate again.

Listening to him, it's amusing to hear the voice of someone who is drunk, but trying hard not to sound like it...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Politics and Metaphor

The left-wing blog Think Progress (how's that for an oxymoron?), ran a provocative piece this morning excoriating Sarah Palin for calling her 'death panel' reference earlier this year a metaphor for low quality service, and bureaucratic control over health care.


I have been fairly quiet in discussing anything at all related to Alaska's former Governor. I know as much about her as I know about the Frontier State itself. 'Going Rogue' was a Christmas present, however, so I hope to post some reactions soon. Suffice it to say, the left's vitriol toward Gov. Palin alone, is enough to make her a compelling figure.

That said, the Think Progress piece prompts a few quick points of order.

The real problem Think Progress has with the phrase 'death panel' is that it is, in fact, a perfect metaphor for Obamacare.

Each health care bill that has been passed in Congress substantially expands the scope of federal authority over health care. That was the point of the legislation. And this expansion of authority was the reason the Democrats fought so hard to pass something - anything, even.

But to the extent that the federal government has expanded it's role into the health care orbit, bureaucratic control cannot help but be expanded as well.

Accordingly, some bureaucrat somewhere will make a life and death decision regarding someone's health care at some point.

How then is the notion of a death panel anything but a tremendous metaphor that captures brilliantly the sentiment of the majority of Americans who are deeply concerned about the authority of bureaucrats to make exactly these sorts of life and death decisions? The bottom line is that the phrase is a great metaphor used in a politically effective way.

A more questionable use of metaphor that Think Progress (conveniently?) neglects to mention was Secretary Napolitano's ruminations on the Christmas Day airliner bombing.

Just two days after an Islamic terrorist tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said, "The system worked."


Given that reasonable people know the system does not work when a terrorist attempts to bomb a flight while it is in midair, Think Progress would have to agree that the Secretary's obserations are either metaphors or lies.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sen. Tom Coburn on the Dems Health Care Reform Bill

After a brief Christmas hiatus, it is time to get back to the political grind. Unless you've been stuck on Oklahoma's Interstate 44, you probably heard about the Democrats' efforts to play Scrooge and pass their Health Care Reform bill in the U.S. Senate.

But what you may have missed yesterday was Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn's pithy summary of the Democrats' plans in the Real Clear Politics op-ed below:
This vote is indeed historic. This Congress will be remembered for its arrogance, corruption and stupidity. In the year of 2009, a Congress ignored the coming economic storm and impending bankruptcy of our entitlement programs and embarked on an ideological crusade to bring our nation as close to single-payer, government-run health care as possible. If this bill becomes law, future generations will rue this day and I will do everything in my power to work toward its repeal. This bill will ration care, cut Medicare, increase premiums, fund abortion and bury our children in debt.


The piece really speaks for itself. My only reaction is that, of late, it is rare for a Senator to be so correct and prescient at the same time.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Yesterday found the wife and I making the 900 mile trek from Tucson to my home town here in Walters, OK.

This morning we awoke to blizzard-like winds, swirling snow, and freezing rains. There is something to be said for a white Christmas, but this is fair ridiculous. Oklahoma's I-44, which spans the breadth of the state, was closed from from central Oklahoma to the Red River.

All in all, though, ours was a fairly uneventful trip. Naturally, we feel blessed to share the holiday with family- particularly when others are stranded in sundry places across the country. One cannot help feeling for those in a fix. Just last year, I was nearly stranded in St. Louis. The experience is frustrating, and disappointing to say the least. I would rail against the evil that is American Airlines, but the point would be redundant.

Interestingly, yesterday also marked the fifth birthday of Pax Plena. Reflecting upon the past few years, it was amusing to see our blog's evolution - from its misspelled inaugural title, to our shift from personal anecdotes to political and social commentary, to (hopefully) a better written product. Blogging lo these many years has been an exercise in consistency. As in life, exercise has been spotty, but the act itself is self-validating.

In all, blogging has been a true privilege, and the many conversations here have become as much a part of my life as my morning coffee. I suppose this contradicts the myth that all fun habits are bad.

And so, on this cold, wintery, circumspective day, here's wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas. To celebrate the Lord's birth, please enjoy Bing Crosby's "The Littlest Angel."

The Littlest Angel
By Bing Crosby

Let me tell you a tale that is often told
In the great Celestial Hall
All about an angel only four years old
The littlest angel of all

How all day he would play with a little box
That to others had no words
Oh, but there were treasures in this little box
The treasures he brought from Earth

Just a butterfly with golden wings
A little piece of a hollow log
Two shiny stones from a river bank
And the worn out strap of his faithful dog

Then the angels all heard that the holy child
Would be born in Bethlehem
And they all brought present for the holy child
And each gift was a heavenly gem

Then the littlest angel put his little box
With the presents fine and wrapped
And the littlest angel sat alone and cried
For his gift was so meager and bad

Just a butterfly with golden wings
A little piece of a hollow log
Two shiny stones from a river bank
And the worn out strap of his faithful dog

But the Lord chose the gift of the little box
That the child had blessed with love
And it started glowing that very night
It became the star up above

When you see that star as it shines on high
In the great Celestial Hall
You will know the proudest angel in the sky
Is the littlest angel of all

With his butterfly with golden wings
A little piece of a hollow log
Two shiny stones from a river bank
And the worn out strap of his faithful dog

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, December 21, 2009

Climate Change Credibility: Going to the Dogs

Bulldog The AFP had an amusing piece today, reporting on a new book by ‘sustainable living’ proponents that identifies pet dogs as among the chief offenders of ‘green’ sensibilities.
Man's best friend could be one of the environment's worst enemies, according to a new study which says the carbon pawprint of a pet dog is more than double that of a gas-guzzling sports utility vehicle.

Studies like the one above only do harm to the credibility of climate change true-believers.

Consider the implications. What family would willingly give up their household pet? After all, this means putting Fido down. The only way to eliminate the animal’s carbon footprint is to eliminate its life.

Is it a very responsible position to advocate death in lieu of using our resources to sustain life? Are not the implications of this calculus slightly askew?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saints and Sinners, Dallas Upsets New Orleans

DoubleJ Surprise! Dallas, TX actually has a professional football team that plays games in December. Last night's win against the New Orleans Saints marks the first big win the Cowboys have had when it matters since Gen. Santa Anna crossed the Rio Grande in 1836 - and we all know how the Battle of the Alamo ended...


But what makes this win all the more entertaining is that it came after a week-long cloud of gloom and doom hovering over DFW Metroplex. Sports writer after sports writer after sports writer had all but escorted head coach Wade Phillips out of town (even after the win, some are STILL trying to escort Wade Phillips out of town). Adding to the pressure was team owner, Jerry "Double J" Jones, who seemed less than effusive about his team's chances against the mighty Saints only moments before the teams took the field.

Heck, count yours truly among those who thought Dallas had a better chance of hosting a presidential parade than winning in New Orleans.

The irony is that things have not changed substantially in Big D. Wade Phillips is still about as inspiring as the Democrats health care bill, and winning out the remainder of the season is far from a given.

But the funny thing about winning is that it is more incestuous than an Tennessee family reunion. Winning breeds winning, and more winning breeds, well, things the Cowboys haven't thought about in quite some time.

But for now, all the Cowboys need to do is bask in having accomplished the impossible. One columnist summed up the win aptly after last week’s loss to the Chargers in his weekly "Five Questions" post:

2. We all know what happens if the Cowboys lose this game. But what if the improbable happens and they WIN? I know! That would be so weird! You wouldn’t even know what to think then, would you? If the Cowboys beat the Saints, the matter-of-fact fallout is that they will retain at least a one game lead for the NFC’s final Wild Card spot. And should the Eagles lose to San Fran (which they certainly can do), the Cowboys would be back on top in the East. They’ll have also beaten a 13-0 team at home. Now, do you take a win like that and convince yourself that this Dallas team has what it takes to follow in the footsteps of the ’07 Giants and ’08 Cardinals and go on a late season sweep through the conference to the Super Bowl? Hey, you may as well. GO NUTS. GET DRUNK. STEAL BEADS FROM A SAINTS FAN AND SPIT IN HIS EYE. It would be a good win like that.


So Dallas Cowboys, steal those beads, and enjoy the week-and-a-half off, for the sinners have toppled the Saints. As Double J’s glamour shot indicates, it’s all smiles in Big D.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Democrats’ Health Care Blues

Hospital Apologies readers for a delayed post. Finals, papers, and a newly acquired addiction to the computer game Sim City 4 have all hampered my ability to post regularly.

National news has, of course, been focused for weeks on the now-stalled Senate Health Care Reform Bill. The latest hitch in the Dems' giddy-up comes from Democrat Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska whose opposition to federal abortion funding highlights some of the perils of compromise inside the Democrats' camp.

According to the AP, Nelson is said to oppose the Democrats’ language in the bill that would provide any federal funding for abortions – a position that the left-wing of the party finds anathema.


The matter boils down to our oft repeated musing about the Democrats abortion quandary. If abortion is a constitutionally protected right that ought to be safe and legal, then why should it be rare? Given the same logic, one could also question, why it should not also be federally funded?

But really the abortion debate is only the latest in a series of compromises that have thrown the health care reform roller coaster for loops.

The first impasse came from Sen. Lieberman’s opposition to the left-wing’s public insurance option. Once Majority Leader Harry Reid killed this provision, Sen. Lieberman then opposed the Dems' Medicare expansion.

Just yesterday, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont was obliged to pull his plans for a single-payer health care system once Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma forced a floor reading of the amendment’s 767 pages.

Now, New York Magazine lists at least four Democrat Senators who could join Republican opposition to the Democrat Health Care Reform bill, and even former DNC Chairman Howard Dean has said that the Democrats’ health care reform legislation crossed the “line beyond which you think the bill is bad for the country.”

For once, Howard Dean is right.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Left Prepares for Obamacare Collapse

If the Huffington Post is preparing itself for the worst, then perhaps the bell will soon toll for the Democrats ill-conceived plans to reform health care.

HuffPo is reporting that a low CBO score on the latest health care reform bill could require an additional return to ye olde drawing board, sparking a bill re-write of indeterminate duration - or death by attrition.

HuffPo laments:
Under normal legislative circumstances, the desire to tinker with legislation until it is right would be a relatively inconsequential and even welcome development. But health care reform is on a different political clock. And it is easy to see how the prospects for passage worsen if Senate Democrats begin to demand more time to consider even more options. All of which makes the upcoming CBO score that much more significant.


Put differently, the longer the process takes, the less likely the Dems will be able to ram through a wildly unpopular bill that the public doesn't want.

Here's hoping that the wheels of big government turn ever so slowly.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Cowboys’ December Curse

Wade Phillips

With the ‘Boys loss last weekend to the Giants, the internets are awhirl with reports of the Cowboys looming December collapse.  

At least one sports writer seems to think that the talk is a bit overstated, and I’m not inclined to disagree.  Dallas has consistently lost to better teams in December, and it’s no mystery that this year’s schedule promises to be a bruiser as the season winds down.

But for those who can barely stomach another December implosion, NBC’s DFW affiliate ran an helpful list of suggestions for how to survive “the Inevitable Cowboys December Collapse.” Below is my personal favorite after seeing Wade Phillips looking particularly asinine in his puffy winter coat last weekend:

Make Love: See, now there’s a worthy pursuit. Who’s gonna turn down sex for watching the Cowboys at this point? Sex is great. It feels terrific. And your partner is so warm and soft. It’s nice. It’s nothing like SEEING STUPID WADE ON THE SIDELINES IN HIS PUFFY JACKET, LOOKING LIKE THE DUMBEST KID IN THIRD GRADE WHO WET HIS SNOWPANTS BECAUSE HE GOT HIT WITH A SNOWBALL IN THE FACE BECAUSE HE HAS NO SENSE OF AWARENESS!


Too funny, if only it weren’t also too true…

Happy Hanukkah!

From me and Orrin Hatch, here’s wishing my Jewish readers a Happy Hanukkah!

And, yes, the song below titled Eight Days of Hanukkah actually was written by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). He’s a real mensch.


The official Tablet Magazine music video is affixed for your viewing enjoyment. And if you’re a fan of the video, just download the free mp3 of the song here. Lyrics, as transcribed by yours truly, also appear after the jump. Enjoy!

Eight Days of Hanukkah from Tablet Magazine on Vimeo.

Eight Days of Hanukkah
by Sen. Orrin Hatch

Hannukah, O Hannukah
The Festival of Lights!

In Jerusalem
The oil burned bright
They lit the Menorah
In that holy place.
What a miracle
to last eight days!

Eight days of Hanukkah
Come lets celebrate
Eight days of Hanukkah
Let’s celebrate tonight. Hey!

Eight days of Hanukkah
Come lets celebrate
Come lets celebrate
Let’s celebrate tonight. Hey!

A small band of people
Led the way
Through the darkest night
They prayed

Seeking religious freedom
Did more than just survive
They defeated a mighty empire
Free to believe
Just the way they wanted to
It made history

Eight days of Hanukkah
Come let’s celebrate
Eight days of Hanukkah
Let’s celebrate tonight. Hey!

Eight days of Hanukkah
Come let’s celebrate
Come let’s celebrate tonight

La, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la

La, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la

Eight days of Hanukkah
Come lets celebrate
Come lets celebrate tonight. Hey!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Lolcat of the Week

With only one final to go, this is my message to 3L finals...  Or perhaps its a message from finals to me…

 funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Song of the Week: Jingle Bells

With finals beginning tomorrow morning, now seems the perfect time to resurrect the Pax Plena Song of the Week! 

The tune this week will be a familiar one to most.  Written in 1857 by Boston's own James Lord Pierpont, the tune was featured prominently atop Diana Krall's creatively titled Christmas album, "Christmas Songs" in 2005.

But do not let such a blasé album title fool you.  This Jingle Bells track boasts an up-tempo rendition of the popular holiday song as sung by one of Jazz's most popular and sultry vocalists. It's enough to make one wish for a sleigh and snow - even in the middle of the desert.

Besides some pretty sweet accompaniment from the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Krall's version also features the elusive last verse of the song, imploring youngsters to give life a go. Not bad advice this finals week.

As always, lyrics follow after the jump, and a video of Krall's performance appears below. Enjoy!

"Jingle Bells"
by Diana Krall

Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh,
Over the fields we go,
Laughing all the way;
Bells on bob-tail ring,
making spirits bright,
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight,

O Jingle bells, jingle bells,
jingle all the way!
O what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh


Now the ground is white
Go it while you're young,
Take the girls tonight
And sing this sleighing song;
Just get a bob-tailed bay
two-forty as his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack! You'll take the lead.

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle all the way!
O what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.


[Vocal Improv]

Hey, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle jingle all the way!
O what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle jingle all the way!
O what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

Jingle bells, jingle all the way!
O what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

Jingle bells, jingle all the way!
O what fun it is to ride

In a one-horse open sleigh.

I'm just crazy about horses!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Salute the Troops Bowl

I had not heard anything at all about the 'Salute the Troops Bowl' being planned in Iraq until perusing the Daily Oklahoman after tonight's Big 12 Championship.

Apparently, coaching greats Bobby Bowden of Florida State (until this week), and OU's Barry Switzer will square off, coaching opposing teams made up of College football legends and members if our armed forces.


Sponsored by Tostitos, the event is aimed at bring college football to the troops.

Even if Barry Switzer werent coaching, this strikes me as a pretty classy thing to do.

Lamenting The Late Great Dubai

The Times of London ran a fascinating piece this morning detailing the colossal economic bust besetting the United Arab Emirates's City of Dubai.


The piece underscores the misadventures of British investors who saw profits dry up faster than an Obama jobs plan. With the lion's share of the Dubai economy rooted in tourism and financial services, the global recession caused the City of Dubai and it's entire emitlrate to take a major hit. Today, the bulk of it's burgeoning skyline remains untenanted, making the world's tallest building, quite literally, an empty shell.

From my position, what makes the situation sad, aside from the obvious debt, poverty and latent social costs, is the ghost of what might have been.

By most accounts, Dubai was positioning itself to become a moderate oasis in an alarmingly extremist Islamic world. Specifically, its cultivation of religious tolerance was a model for other Islamic countries, and its concerted effort at attracting tourists had situated it to become a travel destination for the region, and the world.

Consider that in Dubai, there were no religious police trolling the streets as in Iran. There were no Taliban combing the hillsides as in Afghanistan. And there were certainly no faux murder trials to get back at promiscuous Americans as in Italy.

Simply put, unlike the places above, Dubai was a fairly civilized, Western-friendly place. A town where investor dollars, euros, and pounds were all welcome with equal affection.

Given the seeming dearth of such places in the Middle East, Dubai's loss may now be the world's loss too.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, December 4, 2009

Lolcat of the Week

It's a week late, but the Lolcat of the week below reminds us that there is nothing wrong a little thanksgiving.

I should be so fortunate if my prayers regarding finals are as effective.

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lang Sias for Congress

Lang Sias With 2009 all but in the books, attention will soon turn toward the 2010 mid-term elections. By most accounts, Republicans are poised to do well as centrist voters become increasingly alarmed by the President’s radical agenda.
Perhaps, no place typifies this more than the suburbs of Colorado’s 7th Congressional District. Nestled just outside the Denver City limits, Republicans lost CO-7 with the Democrat election wave in 2006. Since then, however, Democrats and Congressman Ed Perlmutter, in particular, have seen their poll numbers fall even as President Obama’s big government agenda continues to grow.

Fortunately, the Republicans have landed an eminently qualified candidate who can defeat Congressman Perlmutter, and the Obama Administration on the issues.

While the rumblings have been in the works for weeks, only yesterday former Vets for McCain National Coordinator, Lang Sias announced his race for the GOP nomination in CO-7. 

As a veteran of both Gulf Wars, an active Lt. Colonel in the Air National Guard, and an Attorney, Sias is a veritable foreign policy expert. Bringing his substantial  expertise to bear on the Adminstration, Sias recently discussed the President’s half-baked plans for Afghanistan at length on the blog of former Congressman Bob Beauprez.

In his remarks, Sias forecasted:
The President was clearly entitled to time for careful deliberation before deploying additional resources. But the glacial pace of those deliberations, especially for an administration committed to “the fierce urgency of now” in its domestic agenda, suggests that prudence is becoming a smokescreen for procrastination.
Sadly, this assessment remained spot on nearly one month to the day from when Sias penned his column. After nearly three months of ‘deliberations’ (dithering?) the President’s latest comprehensive strategy commits our armed forces to fighting terrorism in Afghanistan, but only for the next 18 months.

Not exactly a steely resolve.  

The point, of course, is that Lang Sias had the foresight to call a spade a spade all along. As America copes with the remainder of the Obama term, it will be essential to have a Congress full of people like Lang Sias who can balance, and temper the views of a radical administration. But this can only be accomplished when voters elect representatives who possess an abundance of commonsense that this Administration seems to lack. In CO-7, that candidate is Lang Sias.

The Sias campaign is barely up and running, having had their initial roll out only yesterday.  But it will be interesting to hear sensible points of order injected into the 2010 Congressional debate. Naturally, Pax Plena will follow the race closely and hope for a win by Team Sias.

For more information, check out the Lang Sias campaign website here.

Democrats Vote to Slash Medicare

Senate Democrats rejected an Amendment to strip cuts to Medicare from the mammoth health care reform bill trudging its way through the Senate.

Republicans found themselves aided by Democrat Senators Jim Webb and Bill Nelson, but the votes proceeded mostly along party lines, 58 – 42 in support of stripping funding from Medicare.

Senators voted 58-42 to reject an amendment by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that would have stripped more than $400 billion in Medicare cuts from the nearly $1 trillion measure. It would have sent the entire 2,074-page bill back to the Senate Finance Committee for a redo.

Republicans said the proposed cuts to health insurance plans and medical providers mean seniors in the popular Medicare Advantage program will lose benefits. And they predicted lawmakers will ultimately back away from the cuts, once seniors start feeling the brunt.

"Medicare is already in trouble. The program needs to be fixed, not raided to create another new government program," said Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.


For a party claiming to promote fairness for all, the votes strikes me as an astonishing hypocrisy. It makes little sense to cut the funding of seniors who actually need health care coverage in order to create a government program aimed at foising coverage upon those who do not. 

It will be interesting, going forward, to see exactly how the AARP tries to justify such an indefensible position. It will be equally interesting to see the GOP attack ads run once they’ve identified which ‘moderate’ Democrats voted to slash Medicare and seniors’ benefits…

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lessons Learned?

The photo below was circulated on the Drudge Report this evening, and was presumably on the AP wires earlier in the day.


I suppose it’s good that the cadets are reading this now. Only, it’s too bad the book wasn’t required reading sooner.

Facebook Axes Regional Networks

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday his company’s intent to axe the ‘regional networks’ that helped fan the rise of Facebook over five years ago.

Facebook's current privacy model revolves around "networks" — communities for your school, your company or your region. This worked well when Facebook was mostly used by students, since it made sense that a student might want to share content with their fellow students.

Over time people also asked us to add networks for companies and regions as well. Today we even have networks for some entire countries, like India and China.

However, as Facebook has grown, some of these regional networks now have millions of members and we've concluded that this is no longer the best way for you to control your privacy. Almost 50 percent of all Facebook users are members of regional networks, so this is an important issue for us. If we can build a better system, then more than 100 million people will have even more control of their information.

The plan we've come up with is to remove regional networks completely and create a simpler model for privacy control where you can set content to be available to only your friends, friends of your friends, or everyone.


The move strikes me as one made by a company lacking clear vision.

Vision-oriented companies tend to craft a company plan apart from those pursued by competitors.  The goal is to develop a product that is inherently desirable, and sell it to consumers based upon its merits.

Given the constant layout changes, quarterly ‘new’ privacy settings, and now the removal of its networks, Facebook seems to hone its vision in reaction to its competition. The goal is not so much to set Facebook apart as it is to reach the lowest common denominator of Myspace.

Unfortunately, this time it seriously misjudges the desire of users.

Regional networks were one of the features that fundamentally set Facebook apart from the competition. People could connect, and reconnect through the shared life experience of a network, and this was a service that none of the competitors could provide. 

Sadly, removing this basic node of connectivity means that the only thing setting Facebook apart from Myspace is its lack of html editing.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Volokh: Is Facebook So Ubiquitous That No Explanation is Needed?



(I couldn't resist).

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