NRO takes on the birthers

The editors of National Review Online wrote “Born in the U.S.A.” to guide those who stray into the fever swamps back onto the path of the right-thinking.

We are used to seeing conspiracy theories from the Left, for instance among the one in three Democrats who believe that 9/11 was an inside job conducted with the foreknowledge of the Bush administration. We’ve seen everything under the sun blamed on Dick Cheney and Halliburton, and Rosie O’Donnell has given us much mirth with her metallurgical expertise, while Andrew Sullivan has beclowned himself and tarnished the good name of The Atlantic with his investigation into the “real” parentage of Trig Palin.

And there is a fair amount of crossover between those fixated on Obama’s birth certificate and the 9/11 “truthers” — lawyer Phil Berg, for instance, is a player in both worlds. There is nothing that President Obama’s coterie would enjoy more than to see the responsible Right become a mirror image of the loopy Left circa 2003.

If you’re a birther, then I consider you to be as credible as a 9/11 truther.

Black Swan Hollandia

Taleb’s ‘black swan theory’ refers to “high-impact, hard-to-predict, and rare events beyond the realm of normal expectations”.  The term ‘black swan’ comes from the early European belief that ‘all swans are white’ which became a symbol for the impossible – that is, until the discovery of black swans in Australia. 

As a statistics person, this kind of stuff fascinates me (‘what ifs’) – and as a history enthusiast, the following story (from U.S. Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific: The Approach to the Phillipines)  is interesting to me:

On April 22, 1944 in Hollandia New Guinea (now Jayapura Indonesia), assault units of a force of 50,000 US troops made surprise landings at Humboldt Bay and Tanahmerah Bay with the objective of capturing Japanese airfields.  Taking Hollandia is the first step in the march back to the Phillipines.   The Japanese are unprepared for the invasion and their light resistance is quickly overcome.  The Americans even find tons of Japanese supplies on the Humboldt Bay beaches, much of it still on fire as a result of the naval bombardment. 

Prior to the invasion, Japanese airfields in the region were attacked by Army and Navy air forces – destroying hundreds of Japanese aircraft – achieving air dominance.

However, US commanders don’t have good intelligence on the ground conditions around the invasion beaches and the road (not much more than a jungle track) leading inland.  Engineers find that trying to construct a road off the beach is tougher than anticipated due to rugged terrain and swamps.

Supplies pile up on the beaches – there is no road to transport supplies inland to advancing forces.  Vehicles have no place to go.  Some artillery units are tasked with hand-carrying supplies to support the advance.

Shortly after dark on the second day, one Japanese aircraft, guided by the smoldering supplies on the Humboldt Bay beaches, drops one stick of bombs on the beachhead.  One of the bombs hits a Japanese ammunition dump, which starts a conflagration that spreads to an American fuel dump and then spreads over most of the supplies sitting on the beaches.

Dozens of American troops are killed, hundreds are injured (about 10% of the casualties suffered during the operation).  More than 60% of the American supplies are destroyed, about 11 LST loads.  The fires rage for days. 

As a result of the supply shortage, combat troops must limit their operations to patrol and defense and subsist on half rations for about two weeks.

Adding insult to injury, the Tanahmerah Bay beachhead terrain is even more rugged and swampy than Humboldt Bay, so all reinforcement and resupply efforts are run through Humboldt Bay.

Fortunately for the US, the Japanese had recently changed their command structure and were reorganizing their forces.  Somehow, Hollandia was left relatively unguarded (about 11,000 mostly support troops instead of the 18,000 mostly combat troops expected).  The Japanese had recognized their mistake and several combat regiments were en route to the area at the time of the invasion.  Also, the Japanese had been having the same logistical problems as the US encountered (evidenced by the Japanese supplies sitting on the beaches) and engineer units were en route to improve the Hollandia base.

The operation was a major success for the US, despite the hardships encountered.  The US forces suffered 1 casualty for 4 Japanese.   The invasion cut off Japanese forces in eastern New Guinea.   The US improved the Hollandia base (air, naval, supply) and used it as a major staging area for the invasion of the Phillipines. 

History is rife with these types of unusual events (not so unusual then, are they?).  Just thought I’d share this story…

Sue Schmitz sentencing

Sue Schmitz (D – sentenced to 30 months in prison after her conviction on seven felony fraud charges) has a Facebook page.  Thanks to Dale Jackson of WVNN for pointing this out.

Here are some comments from our neighbors about this Democrat politician who stole money from our children:

Kristen Hilliard DeGurse calls Schmitz a “role model”.  Hide your purses and wallets…

Darlene Ehinger is “impressed with (Schmitz’) personal integrity” and believes that her prosecution was “reprehensible”.  Speaking of reprehensible, Ehinger is one of those disgusting peace action leftists…

Political and PR consultant David Driscoll (clients include the HHA) calls this “a great injustice by our legal system”.

Pam Miles vows to “fight for JUSTICE for you and Don until my last breath”.  Miles seems to have a thing for convicts…

Marisa Ikstrums says “the injustice of situation breaks my heart” and credits Schmitz with her “strong understanding of government”.   She must have missed the part about public corruption and the legal system…

Rose Norman says “Schmitz deserves a medal for what she’s done for Alabama politics”.  Looks like she earned ze ‘Iron Bar’ (unlike das Iron Cross)…

Andree Reeves says “everybody who knows you knows that all those accusations are NOT TRUE! Hang in there, and know that a lot of people love you–and we all feel worse about our government today”.  Note to Reeves – a conviction is more than an accusation – it is a finding of FACT.

Judy Shannon Sizemore says “all the crap doesn’t change a thing”.  Sadly she’s right, Democrat politicians still refuse to pass ethics reform…

State Representative Randy Hinshaw (D – 22) signed up as a “fan” of Schmitz (D – soon to be an inmate under the supervision of the Federal Bureau of Prisons).  The Democratic Party is abiding corruption rather than working to eliminate it – costing our children tens of millions of dollars (not an exaggeration).


Challen Stephens of The Huntsville Times showed some uncharacteristic sloppiness in his article “Schmitz’s prison home won’t be anywhere close”.  Stephens wrote:

Federal prosecutors argued she had used her influence in the Legislature to collect a paycheck from the state’s two-year college system while doing little or nothing to earn it.

Yes, prosecutors did ‘argue’ that Schmitz was guilty, but then the jury ‘convicted’ her – Stephens should have stated that she was convicted rather than minimizing it.  IMO this sounds a little bit too much like the commenters on Facebook…

HHA Board Meeting Report 20 July 2009

I attended the Huntsville Housing Authority Board Meeting today, along with more than 50 other citizens and over a dozen HHA officials.  Representative Mike Ball,  Huntsville City Council members Sandra Moon and Will Culver, City Brenda Martin, South Huntsville Civic Association leader Jennifer Steele, and Huntsville Community Rights leader Linda Lawrence attended the meeting, as well as the Huntsville Times’ Challen Stephens.  Here’s my summary of the 1 1/2 hour meeting.

I’m not always the biggest fan of the HHA, but Chairman Charley Burruss deserves notice for responsiveness by changing the meeting place to accomodate more people.  CEO Mike Lundy and his team also deserve notice and congratulations for earning the HUD ”High Performer” award for three consecutive years, this year scoring 97 out of 100 points (past scores = 92/100 and 96/100).  Board member Dick Fountain noted that Lundy has turned the HHA into an award-winning agency and that the HHA was “near troubled” when he started.

On to the meeting – it started with the Finance Report – which was presented as a percentage variance from the plan – in other words it was about as meaningless and opaque as possible and provides no real information or insight into the finances of the HHA.

Bereavement Changes to the Personnel Policy Manual were approved to include ‘unrelated persons who lived with the deceased full-time’, or in other words, bereavement leave for same-sex couples (ed. – or other couples living without benefit of marriage).

The Gateway Place senior living development floor plans and artist drawings were presented by the architect (didn’t get his name but here is a website).   Gateway Place will be built at Gallatin Street and Lowe Avenue alongside Fagan Creek (the guy even mentioned that the development would be built to accomodate the hoped-for Fagan Creek Greenway).  Gateway Place is more than 90,000 square feet with 86 units (81 1 BR, 5 2 BR) built around a central courtyard (80′ x 80′) to serve “elderly only” residents.  Lundy expects to break ground before mid-Autumn.

The HHA has a plan to buy foreclosed homes with $4 million (20 houses) in Federal money and $500k (6 houses) in City / State money.  The City seems to be getting a better deal at $83,000 per house, compared to the $200,000 per house from the Feds.  The funds include the cost to purchase and renovate houses – they will all be within Huntsville City limits.

The HHA also said that they are trying to refinance the Stone Manor development in order to provide mixed-income housing.  The current financing of the development only allows for low-income housing.

Jennifer Steele of the South Huntsville Civic Association asked the HHA to reconsider charging fees for information requests.

Dee Johnson of the Northwoods Residents Council asked the HHA to improve safety at the complex.  She said that Northwoods had reviewed a plan presented by Councilman Culver and the HPD to close Yukon Street (at University Drive) - and that the residents didn’t agree with closing Yukon.  Johnson also asked for better lighting and off-street parking to improve safety.  She also called for a curfew on kids hanging out late at night “doing mischevious things”.  She noted that there have been several burglaries and that a City car had been broken into. Note that the South HSV Civic Association has made the same kind of complaint lately about vandalism in South HSV.

Will Culver spoke about how Huntsville had helped put a man on the moon and asked that we “live together in peace and harmony”.  My impression is that he’s been a good Councilman and a hard worker so far.

Sandra Moon asked for 1) a status report on Stome Manor with numbers of residents, how many stayed, how many moved in, etc.;  2) more information about the purchase of the foreclosures; and 3) assurance that the HHA will notify Council members of foreclosure purchases in their districts.

The Board went into ‘Executive Session’ becuase of pending litigation, so I skipped out rather than wait the additional 30 minutes.

Peeling back pavement

I can’t believe I’m linking to the New York Times because they suck, but they published an article “Peeling back pavement to expose watery havens” (article found via Instapundit), which could apply to Huntsville.  Here are some excerpts:

The restoration of the Cheonggyecheon is part of an expanding environmental effort in cities around the world to “daylight” rivers and streams by peeling back pavement…
By building green corridors around the exposed waters, cities hope to attract affluent and educated workers and residents who appreciate the feel of a natural environment in an urban setting…
Open watercourses handle flooding rains better than buried sewers do…
The streams also tend to cool areas overheated by sun-baked asphalt and to nourish greenery that lures wildlife as well as pedestrians…
Data show that the ecosystem along the Cheonggyecheon (pronounced chung-gye-chun) has been greatly enriched, with the number of fish species increasing to 25 from 4. Bird species have multiplied to 36 from 6, and insect species to 192 from 15…
summer temperatures are now often five degrees cooler than those of nearby areas…

The NY Times still sucks because they blame ‘global warming’ and cars and highways for paving streams, but the article accidentally includes some facts as well.

Huntsville has peeled back the pavement over the past few years, and the greenways have proven to be successful and popular projects.  I’d love to see a greenway linking Downtown to the Joe Davis stadium.

HHA Board Meeting 20 July 2009

The Huntsville Housing Authority Board meeting is Monday at Noon:

HHA’s regularly scheduled board meeting will be held on Monday, July 20, 2009, at 12:00 noon at the Oscar Mason Center. 

The Oscar Mason Center is located in Mason Court off Holmes Avenue:

149 Mason Court
Huntsville, AL 35805

The agenda includes:

1. Presentation of Gateway Place Architectural Drawings.
2. Act on Resolution Authorizing Executive Director/CEO/Contracting Officer to Enter into Contract for Real Estate Services.
3. Stone Manor Refinancing Status Report.

BTW the “Contract for Real Estate Services” is to replace Sam Givhan, who resigned his position with the HHA.   Here’s some useful links to more:

South Huntsville Civic Association

Huntsville Community Rights

CORRECTION:  The “Contract for Real Estate Services” is a different contract – but Sam Givhan did decide to end his association with the HHA.

MCGOP Troy King – 18 July 2009

Alabama Attorney General Troy King was the guest speaker this morning at the Madison County Republican breakfast.  He has a comfortable and confident speaking style, and told a couple of good stories.  The main point of his address was serious: protecting Alabama’s children from predators.  King highlighted the improvements in protective legislation (treating computer images as illegal just like printed images, allowing police to conduct stings), as well as speaking about efforts to investigate abortion clinics that treat minors without parental consent or police notification of statutory rape.  Great speech, well delivered.

I got a chance to speak with King after the breakfast, so I asked him about gambling and slot machines.  I’ve made a couple of, uh, investigatory trips to the Wind Creek casino in Atmore (got my players card this last time).  So I’m generally supportive of gambling (King is not).  What was funny is that King was in the position of defending the bingo machines, while my position was that they are basically slot and video poker machines.  I commented that only a lawyer could look at those machines and make that argument, which may have pissed him off a little (but he handled it well).  I guess what I took away from the argument is that I was mistaken when I said previously that the bingo runs in the background – King basically insists that it runs in the foreground (as the main game) and is therefore legal.  King believes that the citizens of Alabama should be able to vote on gambling – I do too, as long as it’s not a special interest gambling bill that benefits half a dozen people.  I think it was a fun five minute discussion.

As for the Attorney General’s race – I like King and I like Luther Strange.  It’s nice to have two good candidates from which to choose.

Speaking of two good candidates… I met Dorman Grace of Jasper, who is running for Agriculture Commissioner against John McMillan.  Grace is chairman of the 4H.  Nice to have good choices.

More luminaries attended the breakfast, including State Representatives Mike Ball and Howard Sanderford, County Commissioner and Congressional candidate Mo Brooks, Judge Dick Richardson, District Attorney Rob Broussard, Mayor Tommy Battle, Councilman Bill Kling, and Gurley Councilman Robert Sentell.

Troy King made a point to acknowledge new Madison County DA Rob Broussard, saying that he was competent and a man of  integrity.  Having known Rob for years and knowing how well-respected he is in the DA’s office, I’d say we’re blessed to have such a dedicated crime fighter in Madison County.

I was wearing a Free the Hops t-shirt, so I asked State Senate District 9 candidate John Wilson what he thought about FTH – he gave the right enough answer: generally supportive but would need to look at proposed legislation (the kind of answer you would expect an Army officer who was stationed in Germany to give).  I also got to speak with candiate for the new judgeship Alan Mann – I did some asking around after the last time we met and he seems like he would make a fine judge.  And while we’re talking about judges, in addition to the open bench we may have some retiring judge’s benches to fill – I hear that Buddy Little, Jim Smith, and Laura Jo Hamilton may be retiring soon.

On a different topic – it seems that the Bridge Street to RSA rail project is growing their team in a good way, getting local transportation planning guru-in-training Chris Stuckey on board.  I’ve been impressed by Doug Gooch’s team since his first proposal, even if I harshed on the overly rosy parts of it.  Gooch is the visionary and champion of what could be a good project for Huntsville (depending on the cost and benefits and effectiveness).

BTW, the food at the breakfast  is good. The menu is pans of eggs with mushrooms, green peppers, and red peppers; bacon or link sausage, grits, biscuits, white gravy, and bananas.

Deer in the Elk River

I took this picture of a Deer in the Elk River last Friday.  The picture was taken just off Old Railroad Bed Road (but over the border in Tennessee).












The picture loses a lot with resizing, but it was a great moment.  We are blessed to live in such a beautiful area.

Rant mode = 1

I’ve been saving this RANT up for awhile and here it comes…

Obama is on track to be the worst President ever.  He’s a Marxist attempting to overthrow the U.S. capitalist system, and so far he’s been very successful.  People who wonder “how can he be so stupid” are missing the point.  We already have a socialized mortgage system, socialized car companies, and health care and energy are next.  It will take a generation (and national will) to undo this mess, and we have to start today!

If you liked Enron, you’ll love cap and trade.  Cap and trade creates a fake market for a make believe product to solve a hoax of a problem.  It will eventually fail just like Enron – except that this time we all get suckered and stuck – and it will have been legal. And in the meantime, groups like Goldman Sachs and its Democratic Party cronies will have made off with billions.

If you like the health care provided by the Veterans Administration, you’ll love Obamacare.  Socialists kill people:  sometimes on purpose, sometimes as a result of failed policy – the bottom line is still that socialists kill people. You old folks are just going to have to die because it’s not cost-effective to treat you.  Same for you smokers, and drinkers, and overweight people, and Down syndrome kids – eventually it will include everyone but the party faithful and those whose pathology is politically-correct.

GM is dead.  Or maybe more like undead, in that it will still wander around eating brains (and wads of cash), but I don’t think it will ever thrive under Government control.  The union bosses and Democrat politicans WILL thrive however…

Why are we allowing illegal immigrants into this country when we have Americans out of work?  Why are we importing legal immigrants into this country when we have Americans out of work?

Why do Democrats hate, smear, and try to destroy people like Joe the Plumber and Frank the Firefighter?

Why does the Government fund Democrat Party groups like ACORN?  Next time there is a GOP Congress – I want that funding gone.

Democrats in Alabama need to quit complaining that their politicians get caught and start cleaning up their corrupt party.  Business as usual in the Alabama Democratic Party too often involves kickbacks and fraud, usually at the expense of children.

Citizens of Alabama need to pay more attention to State politics – it really does matter who represents you, and no they are not all corrupt.  There are some honest Democrats and almost every Republican is honest – the difference is that when a Republican gets busted, they’re gone – the Dems keep stealing.

Alabama ethics laws are a joke.  IIRC the Board of Cosmetology has subpoena power, the Ethics Commission does not.

Alabama PAC laws are a joke.  Candidates do not have to file accurate or timely reports and the reports are not audited (or even reviewed) by the State.  If you’re trying to hijack a primary and forget to mention that you received $100,000 from some shady group – no problem.

Obama throws like a girl – scratch that – I know girls with stronger pitching arms. The fact that he’s a lefty comes as no surprise…

Bush screwed up with TARP 1.  He also screwed up by not defending the Iraq War.  I still love him.

Jeff Sessions is awesome.  Sonia Sotomayor is not.

Man-made global warming is a hoax.  Just like the man-made ice age scare was in the 70s.  The Earth’s climate changes – we’ve had ice ages and meltdowns before (I saw the movies, I know it’s true).  Mars and Venus also have had climate shifts – I’m pretty sure modern mankind had nothing to do with that.

Obama hasn’t met a tyrant he won’t support.  When the people of Iran are dying for their voices to be heard – Obama is silent.  When the Marxist President of Honduras attempted to defy their Constitution and become another lifetime dictator like Hugo Chavez – Obama supported him.  He probably sent a get well soon card to Kim Jung-il…

Why do people move here to escape their miserable Governments (and taxes and oppressive regulations), then vote for more of the same?

Michael Jackson doesn’t deserve the national media attention he’s getting.

Shifty Powers doesn’t deserve to die unnoticed by the national media.

Obama has more czars than the Russians.

I’m glad that Florida has the Death Penalty.  Some people need killin’.

I hate litter, probably more than I despise liberals.

Rant mode = 0

Instant Tea Party 17 July 2009

The Tea Party movement is sponsoring an Instant Tea Party at Noon this Friday across from the Post Office on Clinton Avenue.  Protestors will deliver petitions and letters to Congressman Parker Griffith on the issue of health care.

At the recent Health Care Town Hall Griffith stated he does not support the Kennedy health care bill “AS IS”, but also stated that he believes health care is a right and that he is for comprehensive health care reform by the government. He needs some serious reminding about the Constitution, where we stand, and what the people in his district want for our country.

If you don’t like cap and trade, now would be a good time to inform Congressman Griffith of that too.