February 2009 Archives

So Guinness World Records has compiled a list of the most influential video games in history, but wow, they're dead wrong.

First, there are only a few options for the top spot: Pong, Super Mario Brothers, Tetris, Legend of Zelda. So which was it? Super Mario Kart! Come on. How can a derivative game be more "influential" than the game that inspired it? That's stupid.

Tetris ranks in at number two, according to the list, and the original Grand Theft Auto is in the number three spot. Where does Super Mario Bros. turn up? Way down at number 17, beneath Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Legend of Zelda itself isn't even on the list, but several of its sequels are. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is on there, but not the original. Super Metroid but not Metroid. Etc.

The list was made by people who either don't know anything about video games, or don't know what the word "influential" means.

(HT: LM.)

Lego business cards. That's all kinds of awesome.

(HT: JV and Wired.)

But really, who wouldn't take the dare?

A SEX-MAD Russian died after guzzling a bottle of Viagra pills to keep him going for a 12-hour orgy with two women pals.

The women had bet mechanic Sergey Tuganov £3,000 that he wouldn’t be able to satisfy them both non-stop for the half-day sex marathon.

But minutes after winning the wager, the randy 28-year-old dropped dead with a heart attack, revealed Moscow police.

(HT: The Pirate.)

Bill Hennessy has organized a St. Louis Tea Party this Friday (2/27) at the Arch at 11am. Gateway Pundit is on it.

Is it over the line to suggest that the exercise of our First Amendment rights might get more attention from our megalomaniacal elites if we peacefully and visibly exercise our Second Amendment rights at the same time?

Here's a neat plan by Ricardo Caballero to recapitalize banks without direct public expenditure: guarantee share prices for future dates.

Here is a “simple” proposal: The government pledges to buy up to twice the number of shares currently available, at twice some recent average price, five years from now. (Obviously the specific numbers are only an example.)

While the policy is about future (and unlikely) interventions, the immediate impact would be enormous. In particular, it would turn around the negative stock markets dynamics, and it would allow banks to raise private capital.

The most direct effect would be an increase in the price of banks’ shares by much more than 100 percent, as the pledge puts a floor on the price five years from now, but the upside potential is huge once we get over the crisis hurdle. That is, buying equity from these banks would become like buying Treasury bonds plus a call option on the upside. By the strong forces of contagion, this rise would immediately spread to non-financial shares. Consumers, especially retirees, would see some of their wealth replenished; insurance companies would see their balance sheets improve; destabilizing short-sellers and predators would be wiped out (a la Hong Kong in 1997); and we would have the foundations for a virtuous cycle.

Amplifying effects and taxpayer costs

The second and reinforcing effect would be the stabilization of the financial sector, as banks would now possess the conditions necessary to raise private capital. Until now, banks have not wanted to raise capital because this would be highly dilutive at the current prices. Potential investors have no interest in injecting capital either because there is an enormous fear of further dilutions, especially through public interventions and, worse yet, outright nationalizations. A pledge to support the shares in the future, instead of the threat of nationalization in the short run, would reverse these bad dynamics and quickly recapitalize the banking sector.

How much will this cost the taxpayers? Most likely nothing. It is highly unlikely that the crisis will last five years, especially in the presence of an aggressive policy response, and most banks’ shares are likely to trade for many times current prices. In fact, I wrote “twice the recent prices” in my proposal to reduce the shock effect, but it may well be better to go for four times (and perhaps lengthen the period to ten years).

Best plan I've heard so far.

The strength of the democratic system is that lots of people get a say in how things are run which reduces the power of tyrants and kleptocrats. The fatal chink in the armor is that some people are so dumb they shouldn't be let anywhere near a voting booth.

I've written before that voting is not a right and our society is foolish if we don't keep the idiots among us away from the levers of power.

A month ago President Obama lifted restrictions on taxpayer money paying for abortions, and now Congressional Democrats are upping the ante: let's pay to force abortions on unwilling women!

Congressional Democrats have unveiled their new omnibus spending bill that will fund federal government programs through the Autumn months. The measure, H.R. 1105, contains language that would restore the money President Bush withheld from the UNFPA because of its abortion activities.

Sending taxpayer dollars to the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, has been controversial because the group both advocates for abortion and has been involved in China's population control program.

Several investigations have shown the UNFPA to work hand-in-hand with the family planning officials in China that enforce its coercive one-child policy with forced abortions and sterilizations as well as other human rights abuses. ...

The omnibus bill adds language that makes it so the president or his administration is not required to sign off on the funding and make sure the UNFPA is not violating the Kemp-Kasten law which forbids funding groups involved in forced abortions.

The term "forced abortion" is subtly disingenuous, of course, because abortion is always a forcible act committed against the primary victim: the baby. But maybe the idea that even the mother isn't willing will propel various women's rights groups into action? (*Holds breath*)

(HT: Gateway Pundit.)

The public employment system in the United States needs a significant overhaul. In California, you've got public employees who make far more than their private-sector counterparts.

As has become well known at this point, since 2000 public employee pay in general has skyrocketed above private company wages in California. This is part of the reason for the structural imbalance that rarely gets talked about. Logic tells us that if you continuously raise the pay of public employees higher than the pay raises of private employees whose taxes go to pay for it all, you are going to hit a point of unsustainability. There is just no way around it.

The average salary for a CalPers employee in 2004 was about $46,000 and the average per capita income for all Californians was $35,000. Since then the gap has gotten bigger.

Except for the bottom fifth of employees, state worker pay has increased from 20 percent to 45 percent in less than five years. The top 20 percent’s median salary is now over $94,000 a year. Everyone has heard about the boom in State workers making over $200,000 by now, and in the UC system close to 10% of the employees make over $100,000 annually.

In 2000, local government wages in Sonoma County — including teachers' pay — were 1 percent higher than private-employer wages, according to the state Employment Development Department. By 2006 that gap was 11.5 percent. It is even higher today.

On the other hand, the US Postmaster General's relative pittance has provoked a Congressional investigation.

Congress will hold a hearing next month into why Postmaster General John E. Potter has gotten a nearly 40 percent pay raise since 2006 and was awarded a six-figure incentive bonus last year, even as the U.S. Postal Service faces a multibillion-dollar shortfall that threatens a day of mail delivery.

ALLISON SHELLEY/THE WASHINGTON TIMES REWARDED: Postmaster General John E. Potter received a compensation package totaling more than $800,000 for fiscal 2008.

"Last year, the Postal Service took a loss of nearly $3 billion and recommended that the public take austere cuts in service to allow it to operate, including cutting a day of mail delivery and raising the price of stamps," Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Massachusetts Democrat, said Friday.

"All things considered, I think most postal customers feel that the huge increase in pay for Mr. Potter is incongruent with the post office's recent performance. I assure you that our subcommittee will look into this matter at a hearing in March," said Mr. Lynch, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee that oversees the Postal Service.

Sounds bad? But:

On Tuesday, The Washington Times reported that Mr. Potter had received nearly 40 percent in pay raises since 2006 and about $135,000 in incentive bonuses last year. For fiscal 2008, including increases to the value of his two pensions, Mr. Potter's entire compensation package totaled more than $800,000, according to Postal Service financial records. ...

Postal officials defend the pay packages, saying their counterparts in private industry earn far more money. The chief executive of FedEx, for example, earned more than $10 million last year, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

So low-level employees are paid far too much and executives are paid far too little. In the name of "equality" -- which decrees that the ratio of salary between the bottom and the top must be minimized -- we're strangling our public sector.

If we're fortunate, this present financial crisis will dislodge the logjams on both ends of the spectrum. If low-level employees want to earn the same (or more) as private sector workers, then they need to sacrifice their job security and gilded pensions. When the worst can be fired and the best promoted, the public sector as a whole will begin to attract better people than the merely mediocre.

At the top-end, why should the President of the United States earn a pathetic $400,000 per year? That's insane. Navy's college football coach made almost three times as much! If we want to attract the best people to high-level public sector jobs, then we need to quit acting like people don't care about money.

As a starting point, lets bump the President up to $20 million per year. Cabinet secretaries, Congressmen, Senators, Supreme Court Justices, Joint Chiefs: $10 million. Top generals, department heads: $5 million. Work down from there. Low-level employees should match their private sector counterparts (in pay and pension) and should be easier to promote and fire.

Revive the meritocracy and eliminate mediocrity!

How do I get in on this research? Apparently men's brains light up when they look at pictures of nearly-naked women.

New research shows that, in men, the brain areas associated with handling tools and the intention to perform actions light up when viewing images of women in bikinis.

Uh, yeah. There's no way that was written with a straight face.

What other groundbreaking results has this research come up with?

Previous research found that people tend to similarly dehumanize those who are homeless or drug addicts, although the phenomenon in this case is somewhat different, Fiske said. People have reactions of avoidance toward the homeless and drug addicts, and the opposite for scantily clad women.

Wait, men are more attracted to scantily clad women than to homeless drug addicts?! I'll need to research this myself.

This article about the link between gestures and future vocabulary is interesting, but fatally flawed.

Vocabulary size tallies strongly with a child's academic success, so it's striking that the lexical gap between rich and poor appears when children are still toddlers and can continue throughout their school life. What is it about a family's socioeconomic status that so strongly affects their child's linguistic fate at such an early age?

That's not striking to me. It seems very likely that socioeconomic status and "linguistic fate" are both effects of the same underlying cause-that-shall-not-be-named: smarter genes.

(HT: NW.)

Saint Louis University has unveiled a new lab with robotic patients that train military medics to handle injuries more serious than the medics typically see while working on real patients.

Saint Louis University has opened a new teaching laboratory that will give medical service men and women heading to Iraq and Afghanistan the chance to practice lifesaving procedures on several robotic patients with many injuries.

Students will show how they treat the kinds of injuries typically seen on battlegrounds and at busy trauma hospitals at the grand opening Tuesday of the new Saint Louis University School of Medicine Emergency Medicine Trauma Simulation Lab, the university said Monday.

Apparently the idea I mentioned last week about a financial terrorist attack on September 11th, 2008 is not viewed very credibly, and there's finally some solid information on its pedigree. Seems like there's a variant Kanjorski meme that's also not likely to be true. Whew!

The giveaway should have been the massive conspiracy that would have been required to keep news of such attacks quiet.

Harvard Professor Greg Mankiw pithily explains my solution to the broken banking industry.

If the government is to intervene in a big way to fix the banking system, "nationalization" is the wrong word because it suggests the wrong endgame. If banks are as insolvent as some analysts claim, then the goal should be a massive reorganization of these financial institutions. Some might call it nationalization, but more accurately it would be a type of bankruptcy procedure.

Bankruptcy could become, in effect, a massive bank recapitalization. Essentially, the equity holders are told, "Go away, you have been zeroed out." The debt holders are told, "Congratulations, you are the new equity holders." Suddenly, these financial organizations have a lot more equity capital and not a shred of debt! And all done without a penny of taxpayer money!

There's no reason for banks to go out of business, but their shareholders need to be wiped out. (Including me, I guess.) Bankruptcy is the normal way this sort of thing happens, but if we need to use different magic words then let's get on with it. Instead of spending trillions of dollars over the past several months trying to bail the banks out, we could have been done with bankruptcy reorganization by now!

As you watch this satirical video about NASA's stifling bureaucracy, just imagine the same thing happening to our health care system and pharmaceutical industry once the government socializes them.

(HT: RB.)

I know this is old news from Friday, but here's a good article that explains why the Democrats released the stimulus bill as a non-searchable PDF instead of a regular text file.

Instead of publishing the bill as a regular internet document -- which people can search by “key words” and otherwise, the Dems took hours to convert the final bill from the regular searchable format into “pdf” files, which can be read but not searched.

Three of the four .pdf files had no text embedded, just images of the text, which did not permit text searches of the bill. That move to conceal the bill’s provisions had not been remedied this morning at the time of publication of this article. (You can find the entire bill on the House Appropriations [http://appropriations.house.gov] website.)

So, what are they hiding? A lot.

We searched the bill randomly -- the only way possible -- to see what’s being hidden from the public and the members of Congress who will be voting on the bill today. We found one provision that may be a good example of why the Democrats are desperate to stop any exposure of what is in this bill. Like this gem:

SEC. 1607. (a) CERTIFICATION BY GOVERNOR -- Not later than 45 days after the date of enactment of this Act, for funds provided to any State or agency thereof, the Governor of the State shall certify that: 1) the State request and use funds provided by this Act , and; 2) funds be used to create jobs and promote economic growth.

(b) ACCEPTANCE BY STATE LEGISLATURE -- If funds provided to any State in any division of this Act are not accepted for use by the Governor, then acceptance by the State legislature, by means of the adoption of a concurrent resolution, shall be sufficient to provide funding to such State.

This provision -- apparently aimed at conservative governors such as South Carolina’s Mark Sanford who does not want the federal money -- would overturn state laws and constitutions, intervening directly in the state’s government to give the legislature the power to overturn a government’s decision.

This provision probably violates the U.S. Constitution, a matter which will be of no concern to Congressional Democrats.

Who knows what's hidden in the almost 1100 pages of the bill that no one has read? I guess we'll be finding out over the next couple of years, and I have a hard time believing that the drip drip drip of discovery will be beneficial to the Democrats.

Capitalism Gone Wild found some startling video from CSPAN dated January 27th, 2009. Congressman Paul Kanjorski (D-PA) told a caller that the United States barely survived an enormous financial terrorist attack on September 15th, 2008, and that the original TARP bailout was designed to counteract this attack.

Rep. Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania explains what former Treasury Secretary Paulson and Fed Chairman Bernanke told congress during the September 2008 closed door session. During the first third of the video an enraged caller is ranting to Rep. Kanjorski about how wasteful the first $700 billion bailout was. The best part is 2 minutes and 15 seconds into the tape where Rep. Kanjorski reveals what Paulson and Bernanke told congress that shocked them into supporting the first $700 billion bailout.

On Thursday Sept 15, 2008 at roughly 11 AM The Federal Reserve noticed a tremendous draw down of money market accounts in the USA to the tune of $550 Billion dollars in a matter of an hour or two. Money was being removed electronically.

The Treasury tried to help, opened their window and pumped in $150 Billion but quickly realized they could not stem the tide. We were having an electronic run on the banks. So they decided to closed down the accounts.

Had they not closed down the accounts they estimated that by 2 PM that afternoon. Within 3 hours. $5.5 Trillion would have been withdrawn and the entire economy of the United States would have collapsed, and within 24 hours the world economy would have collapsed.

As Atlas Shrugs notes September 15th, 2008, was a Monday, not a Thursday. The previous Thursday was... September 11th, 2008.

Do you understand what this means? Congress knew that the financial crisis was the result of an attack on America, but they didn't tell us. The financial crisis was the determining factor in the presidential election and directly led to victory for Barack Obama.

What else is going on right now that we don't know about? Who was behind this? When will our political leaders address this matter or explain it to us?

(HT: Gateway Pundit.)

Not one member of Congress has read the stimulus bill that's about to become law.

I'm glad the Democrats think this is funny.

When CNSNews.com asked members of both parties on Capitol Hill on Thursday whether they had read the full, final bill, not one member could say, "Yes." ...

Both Republicans and Democrats told CNSNews.com they were eager to read the unseen bill--once they could get get their hands on a copy of the final legislation.

Nonetheless, members from both sides of the aisle in both the House and Senate admitted they doubted they would have adequate time to read the bill before they actually voted for it. ...

Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), President Barack Obama's successor in the Senate, seemed baffled by the thought of actually reading the entire bill--as did his press secretary.

“I think it’s about 800 pages,” Burris's press secretary said before laughing lightly. “We’ll do the best we can.”

Screw you, Congress. If this doesn't piss you, you don't deserve to be an American citizen.

Well, here's a trillion pennies.

(HT: RB.)

Here's one of the best potentially habitable extra-solar planets: Gliese 581 d.

Although Gliese 581 d orbits outside the theoretical habitable zone of its star, scientists surmise that conditions on the planet may be conducive to supporting life.[4][5] Scientists originally believed that Gliese 581 d would be too cold for liquid water to exist, and therefore could not support life in forms as existing on Earth. However, since Earth's temperature would be about -18°C[6] without any greenhouse gases, and due to a theorized greenhouse effect of Gliese 581 d, research now suggests that atmospheric conditions on the planet could create temperatures at which liquid water can exist, and therefore the planet may be capable of supporting life.[7][8][9]

More extrasolar planets.

Money phrase: "is it only a person when it's wanted?"

(HT: Allman's Electric Stove.)

Johan Huibers built a life-sized Noah's Ark. Here's the Ark's website (with pictures). Amazing.

Man Builds Noah's Ark (exact scale given in Bible)

Working Replica of Noah's Ark Opened In SCHAGEN, Netherlands . The massive central door in the side of Noah's Ark was opened the first crowd of curious townsfolk to behold the wonder. Of course, it's only a replica of the biblical Ark , built by Dutch Creationist Johan Huibers as a testament to his faith in the literal truth of the Bible. The ark is 150 cubits long, 30 cubits high and 20 cubits wide. That's two-thirds the length of a football field and as high as a three-story house. Life-size models of giraffes, elephants, lions, crocodiles, zebras, bison and other animals greet visitors as they arrive in the main hold. A contractor by trade, Huibers built the ark of cedar and pine. Biblical Scholars debate exactly what the wood used by No ah would have been.

Huibers did the work mostly with his own hands, using modern tools and with occasional help from his son Roy. Construction began in May 2005. On the uncovered top deck - not quite ready in time for the opening - will come a petting zoo, with baby lambs and chickens, and goats, and one camel.

Visitors on the first day were stunned. 'It's past comprehension', said Mary Louise Starosciak, who happened to be bicycling by with her husband while on vacation when they saw the ark looming over the local landscape.

'I knew the story of Noah, but I had no idea the boat would have been so big.' There is enough space near the keel for a 50-seat film theater where kids can watch a video that tells the story of Noah and his ark. Huibers, a Christian man, said he hopes the project will renew interest in Christianity in the Netherlands, where church going has fallen dramatically in the past 50 years.

(HT: SS.)

It used to be that liberals wanted to free us from paternalistic authority, but President Obama's new regulatory chief, Cass Sunstein, is explicitly in favor of more paternalism.

The basic premise of libertarian paternalism is that the government should use its power to “nudge” people into acting in their best interest, while leaving them the choice to “opt out.” If the government decides that saving money is good, it would automatically divert a percentage of your paycheck into a savings account in your name unless you explicitly declined. Supporters claim that this preserves freedom because government is only changing the default, while leaving individuals the final choice. It is merely a gentle “nudge,” not a hard push.

However, nudging represents an assault on freedom, because it undermines man’s basic tool of survival — his mind. By creating a default, libertarian paternalism in essence says, “Don’t worry — we’ll do your thinking for you.” Sunstein’s book explicitly compares Americans to a bunch of Homer Simpsons in need of such guidance. If Americans surrender their minds to the government, they become easy prey for demagogues and dictators.

Once we concede the legitimacy of “nudging,” nudges will inevitably escalate. Over time, libertarian paternalism will become less “libertarian” and more “paternalistic.” The government that initially nudges you to save 5% of your income may next nudge you to save 25%. Or buy more vegetables. Or drive fewer miles. And once a default is set, government could make opting out increasingly difficult, then impossible.

Plus all the time you've got to waste keeping track of and undoing these "nudges". Can't they just leave us alone?

A regular home internet user may not realize it, but current technology allows data to be transmitted much faster than it can be processed. Your home network connection sends data far slower than your desktop can handle it, but at the top end of the technology spectrum the bottleneck is processing, not data transmission. Fortunately, techniques for faster signal sampling are improving!

Electrical engineers at the University of California, San Diego have achieved world-record speeds for real-time signal processing in an effort to meet ambitious goals set by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop the first Terabit-scale technology for optical processing. The technology could have widespread ramifications for networking, computing, defense and other industries.

UC San Diego electrical and computer engineering professor Stojan Radic and his team have demonstrated the first real-time sampling of a 320 Gigabits per second (Gb/s) channel, setting multiple records in the process. ...

“For the first time we have been able to process signals as fast as 320 Gb/s by making more than eight copies of the signal and simultaneously sampling all the copies – thereby allowing us to do real-time processing,” said Radic, a professor in UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering. The aggregate speed was a record, as were the number of copies simultaneously sampled. The demonstration also registered a five-fold improvement in a published optical delay demonstration." ...

The goal of the four-year project is to reach one Terabit per second processing with a single technology platform,” said Radic. “A little over one year into the project, we have achieved one-third of that speed, which is about an order-of-magnitude faster than the advanced commercial optical transport at 40 Gb/s.”

Very cool. It will be years before this technology gets into your home, but just imagine downloading your entire harddrive in one second.... DVD and BluRay won't be able to compete in a world where that much data can be streamed to users so fast.

I've mentioned Voice of the Martyrs before and the great work they do bringing attention to Christians being persecuted around the world. Well now there's a way for you to support a worker of the underground church by making a $35/month contribution. Check it out and pray about giving.

Wikileaks is an awesome new site where you can download public domain Congressional reports that your Congressman doesn't want you to see. Over $1 billion worth of reports online now. It's hard to stop reading them....

Buy your own Tim Geithner "TAX CHEAT!" stamps. Thanks to Gateway Pundit for the mention.

I'm printing out this bingo card for our next trip to Wal-Mart.

(HT: RD.)

Just watched President Obama's spa speech and he must have forgotten his contact lenses or something. There were a few obvious mis-reads from his teleprompter, the most egregious of which was (paraphrase): "we must pass this stimulus so our school won't keep falling." I'm pretty sure that should've been "failing".

My wife just sent me this story and it makes me absolutely furious. As if abortion isn't bad enough, now babies that manage to survive abortions are being murdered.

Eighteen and pregnant, Sycloria Williams went to an abortion clinic outside Miami and paid $1,200 for Dr. Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique to terminate her 23-week pregnancy.

Three days later, she sat in a reclining chair, medicated to dilate her cervix and otherwise get her ready for the procedure.

Only Renelique didn't arrive in time. According to Williams and the Florida Department of Health, she went into labor and delivered a live baby girl.

What Williams and the Health Department say happened next has shocked people on both sides of the abortion debate: One of the clinic's owners, who has no medical license, cut the infant's umbilical cord. Williams says the woman placed the baby in a plastic biohazard bag and threw it out.

Police recovered the decomposing remains in a cardboard box a week later after getting anonymous tips.

First off, how often do you think this sort of thing happens? I bet it happens a lot without anonymous tipsters raising an alarm.

Secondly, this is exactly the kind of murder that Barack Obama refused to criminalize when was an Illinois state legislator.

The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA) both in the Illinois and Federal legislatures was meant to make illegal death by neglect of born but unwanted infants. These bills were opposed by the bulk of the Democrat Party because of the fact that the original bills could have been construed to say that a pre-birth fetus was a "person" that was protected by law. So, the bill in Congress was altered to address that concern by adding a "neutrality clause" that made it clear that the bill would not protect a fetus in utero.

As Obama continues to tell the tale, as a State Senator he said he voted against the Illinois bill because the Federal "neutrality clause" was not included and that therefore he could not support the Illinois bill. Turns out he is not telling the truth about this fact. Even worse, he knows better because he was part of the legislative committee that added that very "neutrality clause" to the very bill he voted against in 2003.

Revolting. Renelique and Belkis Gonzalez, the clinic's owner, should both be executed.

I'm stealing daveg's idea and am selling "TAX CHEAT!" stamps for use on bills bearing the name of our new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Shoot me an email (plasticATgmailDOTcom) if you'd like one. $12 each, including shipping.

Fewer kids means fewer teachers, so why aren't teachers' unions pro-life? This data is as-of 1995:

In this sense, abortion-on-demand already has produced a negative economic effect. In his book, "The Cost of Abortion," researcher Lawrence Roberge correlates the legalization of abortion with a slowdown in the production and sales of child-related items. He also estimates that the loss of millions of children to abortion thus far has precluded creation of between 950,000 to 1.2 million teaching jobs.

Considering how fiercely teachers' unions fight to protect their members, it's strange that they dropped the ball on this one.

President Obama has replaced "Hail to the Chief" with "Desert Rose". Seriously. Is the guy lampooning himself?

On Day One of his presidency, everywhere Mr. Obama went they played "Hail to the Chief" for him – but not since. In fact the U.S. Marine Band's duties at the White House over the last 10 days appear to have been dramatically downsized.

Instead of the usual contingent of trumpets, tubas and drums, a single piano player now provides musical interludes before and after the president's appearance.

And the tunes have little connection to the military marching music of John Phillips Souza that is the usual accompaniment to presidential appearances. These days the pianist's repertoire includes Cole Porter's "Night and Day" and Sting’s "Desert Rose."

I feel sorry for the Marine pianist who must have to leave his balls back at the barracks before reporting for duty.

I, and many conservatives, have gone out of our ways to proclaim our support for the Presidency even though we don't care for the President. It would be nice if Obama showed the same respect for the office he holds.

Also: A Gateway Pundit commenter points out appropriate "Desert Rose" lyrics:

Lyrics from the song. "I realize that things are not what they seem."

I'll say!

It was pretty impressive that the milquetoast House Republicans managed to unanimously oppose the Democrat's "stimulus" bill, and here's the how it happened. It sounds like the Republicans respect President Obama a lot more than they do their Democrat colleagues.

“We gave the president what he asked for, a temporary stimulus bill,” said a senior Republican, “at half the cost of what the Democrats wrote. He knows it. They handed him a monster of spending. Rahm did this, and now he takes this to the Senate. Does Rahm want to be an honest broker, or does he want to be the guy who socks Republicans in the face? He isn’t helping with the Democrats, and he’s hurting with the Republicans.”

“Polling showed us that when we took the vote, independent support for the bill was collapsing,” a senior Republican said. “Democratic support was climbing while the independents ran away.”

“What does Rahm do? Is he going to go to the Democrats and say ‘no’ to this? Or is he going to make his president sign it?”

Obama isn't a fool. I have a feeling (hope! change!) that the bill will be moderated in the Senate.

Charles Krauthammer has written a brutal take-down of President Obama's apologetic stance towards Muslims.

Every new president flatters himself that he, kinder and gentler, is beginning the world anew. Yet, when Barack Obama in his inaugural address reached out to Muslims by saying "to the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect," his formulation was needlessly defensive and apologetic.

Is it "new" to acknowledge Muslim interests and show respect to the Muslim world? Obama doesn't just think so, he said so again to millions in his al-Arabiya interview, insisting on the need to "restore" the "same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago."

Astonishing. In these most recent 20 years — the alleged winter of our disrespect of the Islamic world — America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them. It engaged in five military campaigns, every one of which involved — and resulted in — the liberation of a Muslim people: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The two Balkan interventions — as well as the failed 1992-93 Somalia intervention to feed starving African Muslims (43 Americans were killed) — were humanitarian exercises of the highest order, there being no significant U.S. strategic interest at stake. In these 20 years, this nation has done more for suffering and oppressed Muslims than any nation, Muslim or non-Muslim, anywhere on Earth. Why are we apologizing?

Maybe there's some "failure to communicate" that has prevented the world's Muslims from appreciating our sacrifice on their behalf, but I doubt it. I think the root of the problem is that the Muslim world is weak, and Islam hates weakness. Self-loathing drives the radical Islamofascists to bite the hand that feeds their civilization.

America has nothing to apologize for with regards to our treatment of the Muslim world. We haven't done everything perfectly, but we've done a lot better and a lot more than any other nation. Muslim dead-enders will never accept this, which is why they're fighting to the death and trying to take out as many of us as possible in the process.

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