Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The First 100 Days

Everybody is talking about it. The left is singing the praises of Obama, and how much he has accomplished in such a short time while the right is calling him the worst president ever bar none. SO really, how has he done in his first three months as president?

Well, let's see.
  • He's nominated more tax challenged people to his cabinet than any other president.
  • He passed the largest piece of corporate welfare ever seen, without reading it or understanding it.
  • His proposed budget produces deficits as far as we can project.
  • His early tax refund scam will give us an average of $300-400 but his budget will cost each of us around $46,000.
  • The economy this quarter contracted far more than expected, but not as much as last quarter. Economists say this means the recession is continuing to deepen at a rapid pace. The White House says this means that we're coming out of it.
  • Swine flu has broken out in several US states after crossing the Mexican border. He said he was not concerned.
  • Chrysler has declared bankruptcy despite the bailout package Obama voted for.
  • He fired GM's CEO.
  • He genuflected before a king.
  • He apologized to everyone who would listen for America.
  • He utterly failed to build any international support for our efforts in Afghanistan, or to convince any other nation to drink the Kool Aid of massive public spending leading to massive debt as a solution to carrying too much debt.
  • He did pretty well on his March Madness picks.
  • He failed to notice a large grassroots demonstration against government overspending and arrogance.

So, how do you think he's doing?

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Okay, FIne.  Let’s Talk About the Swine Flu.

First, a few facts from theCenter for Infectious Disease Research And Policy, along with some simple explanations.

This new strain of swine-origin influenza A H1N1 is substantially different from human influenza A H1N1 viruses; therefore, a large proportion of the population might be susceptible to infection and the seasonal influenza vaccine H1N1 strain likely will not provide protection

Calling this the H1N1 virus, as the Obama administration has decreed, is inaccurate, because this virus is not the same as the human H1N1 virus. It also muddies the waters since some will believe that the flu shot they got last year might offer some protection. According to CIDRAP and the CDC, it won't.

Infected persons are assumed to be shedding virus from the day prior to illness onset until resolution of symptoms. Persons with swine-origin influenza A H1N1 virus infection should be considered potentially contagious for up to 7 days following illness onset.

This means that you could be feeling perfectly fine, but be contagious. That makes containment nearly impossible to achieve. We can expect to see cases of this flu spreading for quite awhile yet.

Available data suggest that airborne transmission does not play a major role in the spread of influenza viruses

A mask will only help you if you are close enough, within 3 feet, for an infected person to sneeze or cough on you. And in that case, direct transfer of the virus may still take place. ON the other hands, masks work very well for the already infected person, containing the virus from sneezes etc. So runningdowm to Home Depot for a face mask isn't going to help you, but if it makes you feel better, go for it.

An outbreak of swine-origin influenza was recognized in early 1976 among military personnel at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Thirteen clinical cases occurred with one death; the cause of the outbreak remains unknown, and no exposure to pigs was identified (see References: Gaydos 2006). Retrospective serologic testing subsequently demonstrated that up to 230 soldiers had been infected with the novel virus, which was an H1N1 strain. The outbreak did not spread beyond Fort Dix.

Morbidity and mortality rates are difficult to determine since many cases of the flu go unreported as the symptoms are very mild. Speaking very roughly, morbidity describes the percentage of the population that has the disease while mortality describes the percentage of the affected population that will die from the disease. Without knowing the manning levels at Fort Dix, it's hard to determine morbidity, but out of 230 soldiers known to have been exposed to swine flu, only 13 cases were serious enough to need medical treatment, and only 1 died. That gives us a mortality rate of 0.4%. That sounds comfortingly small; the problem is that the garden variety of flu we battle every year has a mortality rate of somewhere around 0.1% or so, and it still takes out over 50,000 people annually. If the two types of flu are transmitted similarly, as the CDC believes, then we can expect as many as 200,000 deaths in the US from a widespread outbreak of the swine flu, jumping from the eighth to the third leading cause of death, just behind cancer and ahead of stroke.

This brings up the question, How come the mortality numbers from Mexico are so much higher? The answer is simple. They haven't done the testing to discover the hundreds or thousands of people who were exposed but didn't get sick enough to go to the hospital. Consider that if we used the 13 soldiers from Ft. Dix who got sick enough to go to the doctor in our mortality calculation, we'd show a rate of about 7.7%, which is very close to what we are seeing in Mexico right now.

So, let's put this all together. If the current patterns hold true, then the worst case scenario is that 200,000 people die from this flu that wouldn't have died otherwise. Given that 2.5 million people die each year (rough approximation using data from 2005), we're looking at an increase in the US death rate from 0.83% to 0.90%. 3 times as many people will die fron heart disease. 2.5 times as many will die from cancer. Accidents will claim almost half as many. Going another step, 200,000 is the worst case right now; it's very likely that the outbreak will not be as widespread as the standard seasonal flu. Our behavior patterns are different during the warmer months, and our immune systems are under less stress, accounting for the seasonal variations in flu infection rates. I'm guessing that we won't see anywhere near 200,000 deaths from the swine flu in the US. I doubt we'll even reach the seasonal flu number of 50,000. Yes, we need to take action to minimize these numbers, but the panic and hysteria we are seeing from governmental agencies is ridiculous. The swine flu simply isn't that dangerous.

If something changes, if we start seeing infection rates far above what we expect for the seasonal flu, or for some reason the mortality rate spikes, then there will be cause for alarm, but right now, talk of closing borders and shutting down travel and wearing masks in public is fear driven over-reaction.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu?  What Swine Flu?

I guess Rahmbo needs another crisis that he can capitalize on, so we're going to generate one over the swine flu outbreak. Give me a break, please! Here's a question for you. How many people in America have died from this national emergency? 1,000? 100? 10? Has anybody in the US died from the swine flu?


Then this is not a crisis.


Yes, I know contagious diseases spread geometrically, meaning we have to nip an outbreak in the bud, but good night! The media's all out running around like Barney Fife crossed with Chicken Little screaming about the Swine Flu Pandemic, presenting special reports and interviewing bemused epidemiologists who all basically say the same thing.

"Yes, we have some cases of Swine Flu, but nobody has died, and we're concerned, but not alarmed."

Even Obama isn't alarmed. Of course, he wasn't overly concerned about the pirates/hostage situation either, but that's just because he's so cool.

Here's the deal. Swine flu is most contagious during the first five days of infection. What this means to you and me is that the folks who present the greatest risk of transmitting the disease are likely to be the folks who don't even know they are sick yet. In other words, they are still running around, riding airplanes, subways and going to Dollywood, despite waking up this morning with a bit of a headache. When the flu really hits its stride along about day 3 or 4, they've already exposed hundreds or thousands of people. In other words, by the time an outbreak is spotted, and remember, it takes a lab test to confirm that the patient has swine flu and not a garden variety cold. Given transit time and culturing, 2 to 3 days may go by before the diagnosis is confirmed. The point I am making is that by the time doctors recognize that there is a swine flu outbreak, it's too late to contain it.


Bobby and Becky spend spring break in Mexico, and while they are there, they get exposed. Three days later, while flying back to Mainstreet USA, Bobby is sneezing and running a low grade fever. When they change planes in LA, 50 of the two hundred passengers aboard their flight, and 2 of the flight crew are now carrying the virus. The next day, Bobby still feels tired and achy, so he goes to the hospital. Here, we catch a break, because we're going to assume that a very smart ER physician notices that Bobby is too young and healthy to be battling the flu this hard, and he gets suspicious and sends a culture off to the CDC. Meanwhile, Bobby transmits the virus to 20 other people in the emergency room. By the time our bright young ER doc gets the results back, the 2 members of the flight crew have been flying for 3 days, but they've only been infectious for one day, so they;ve only infected 150 passengers travelling all over the US. At the same time, the 50 people Bobby infected on the plane have each infected 50 more, and they have no idea they have anything more serious than a cold.

What I'm saying is very simple. It's already here. And it doesn't matter where you are when you read these words; wherever you're at, it's there. That's the bad news. Forget the google maps and tracking the spread of the disease. The information you're looking at is days out of date.

On the other hand, there's very good news. Swine flu is relatively hard to catch, requiring some form of contact with the infected fluids. Additionally, while it is serious, it is by no means always or even often fatal.

In September 1988, a previously healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman was hospitalized for pneumonia and died 8 days later. A swine H1N1 flu virus was detected. Four days before getting sick, the patient visited a county fair swine exhibition where there was widespread influenza-like illness among the swine.

In follow-up studies, 76% of swine exhibitors tested had antibody evidence of swine flu infection but no serious illnesses were detected among this group. Additional studies suggest that one to three health care personnel who had contact with the patient developed mild influenza-like illnesses with antibody evidence of swine flu infection.

76% had been infected, with no deaths among the folks handling the infected pigs. It's just not that deadly.

The worst thing we could do would be to allow a media desperate to draw attention to itself tp overhype a non-event, and to indulge in some kind of mass panic, or allow ourselves to be stampeded into making a rash decision. Sadly, there are always people who look to take advantage of fear, like Rahm Emmanuel, who never wants to let a good crisis go to waste. And it isn't just the nannies on the left who will want to use this. For every one of them crying that this proves we need socialized medicine, there will be a righty shrieking that we need to be able to close our borders to illegal immigrants.

As for me, well, I went to Dollywood on Sunday where I mexed with people from all over the country, and a good chunk of the world.

I feel just fine.

Posted by Rich
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Who Said It?

A system of limitless individual choices, with respect to communications, is not necessarily in the interest of citizenship and self-government

The man's name is Cass Sunstein.

Why should we care?

Because President Obama just nominated him to lead the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. That's right; the guy will be in charge of regulations governing the internet and all other information sources and according to him, if you have a choice of what to watch, listen, or read, that's a bad thing.

So much for the liberal infatuation with pro-choice. Apparently, it's okay to choose to kill a baby but not okay to choose to listen to Rush Limbaugh.

So, how does President Obama describe Sunstein?

As one of America's leading constitutional scholars, Cass Sunstein has distinguished himself in a range of fields, including administrative law and policy, environmental law, and behavioral economics," said Obama at his nomination of his regulatory czar. "He is uniquely qualified to lead my administration's regulatory reform agenda at this crucial stage in our history. Cass is not only a valued adviser, he is a dear friend and I am proud to have him on my team.

"...uniquely qualified to lead my administration's regulatory reform agenda..."

Wow. Our government is seeking to take control of what we can see, hear, and learn. I wish I could say I'm surprised, but I'm not.

I'm just terribly disappointed that so many otherwise intelligent Americans will go along with this garbage just because the guy in charge has their letter behind his name. How pathetic.

Posted by Rich
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Friday, April 24, 2009

Too Much Fun Not to Share…

But too annoying to leave in the main block

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

pest toast

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Releasing Memos is not the Same as Reading Them

When President Obama released the secret memos on the enhanced interrogation techniques and claimed that they "didn't make us any safer," his teleprompter must have skipped this bit reported in the Washington Post:
Consider the Justice Department memo of May 30, 2005. It notes that "the CIA believes 'the intelligence acquired from these interrogations has been a key reason why al Qaeda has failed to launch a spectacular attack in the West since 11 September 2001.'

And this bit:
Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques "led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the 'Second Wave,' 'to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into' a building in Los Angeles." KSM later acknowledged before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay that the target was the Library Tower, the tallest building on the West Coast.

And this bit:

The Office of Legal Counsel memo states "we discuss only a small fraction of the important intelligence CIA interrogators have obtained from KSM" and notes that "intelligence derived from CIA detainees has resulted in more than 6,000 intelligence reports and, in 2004, accounted for approximately half of the [Counterterrorism Center's] reporting on al Qaeda." The memos refer to other classified documents -- including an "Effectiveness Memo" and an "IG Report," which explain how "the use of enhanced techniques in the interrogations of KSM, Zubaydah and others . . . has yielded critical information."

In other words, contrary to the President's statement, and the slobbering coverage by our national media, the enhanced interrogation techniques yielded valuable information.

Now here's the thing; I do not support or condone the use of torture in interrogation, regardless of the subject, and techniques like water boarding come awfully close to crossing the line. In all the debates I've seen and participated in over torture, nobody on the left has been willing to give a definition of torture beyond the old chestnut "I know it when I see it," and that makes any reasonable discussion difficult if not impossible. Adding outright fabrications and lies to the table as the President and his lapdogs are doing doesn't make things any better.

Posted by Rich
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So, Do You Like What I’ve Done With the Place?

My first post in my new home. Did everybody get here? What do you think of the makeover? There are still a few kinks to be worked out, like some of the links to the left, but we're still working on it.

Expression engine has some neat features that weren't available on Moveable Type that should cut down on the admin load, leaving me more time for writing.

That may or may not be good news depending on your point of view.

Anyway, there's still some housekeeping to do here, plus a completely new site to design and build.

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Dangerous Indifference

For the last two days, the DHS Threat level for Nashville Tennessee has been elevated due to a gathering of some of the most dangerous potential terrorists the country has ever seen. Compared to these desperate and obsessed people with their fixed perspective and unyielding sense of right and wrong, the September 11th hijackers don't even get mentioned in the same breath. In fact, this group is so dangerous that the US DHS issued a special report, helping local law enforcement identify members of this dangerous group.

Yes, there was a conference in Franklin for a bunch of conservative evangelical Christians. We gathered in Franklin to hear some of the top BiblicalProphecy experts talk about the current situation in the world and in America.

All kidding aside, (you did know I was kidding, right?), one of the speakers uttered the words guaranteed to make a Congress critter's blood analog run cold...

"As Christians,we don't need politicians. They are irrelevant because we follow a King, the King, the King of Kings, and He outranks any politician on earth! Now you can call a politician a lot of things without repercussions, but irrelevant ain't one of 'em. The idea of an entire class of people, evangelical Christians,not just thinking, but knowing that politicians are irrelevant to them is enough to cause political heads to explode. Politicians feed off of dependency the way a vampire feeds on blood, (I'm sure that's not the first time that comparison has been made!) without a vampire's socially redeeming side.

Yet in this church just south of Nashville, over 1000 people were being reminded that when you serve a King, congressmen, judges, and even presidents can pale into insignificance.

Of course such arrogance cannot be tolerated by the federal government, and I fully expect some kind of backlash against these most dangerous people.

Who do they think they are, anyway?

Posted by Rich
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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Taking Sides vs Taking Over

I just spent the last hour or so listening to a former member of Hamas explain why there will be no peace deal in the Middle East, at least, not as long as the international politicians are in charge.

Lissa and I are at a conference just outside of Nashville and the guest speaker tonight was Mosab Jousef, son of Hamas co-founder Hassan Yousef. Mosab, or Joseph as he was called tonight, became disenchanted with the use of terror as a means of removing Israel, and in the process, began to question Islam as well, a process that led to his conversion to Christianity about 3 years ago.

Joseph opened up with a very provocative statement, one which cast the two sides in the struggle into a very different light than that usually presented to the American public.

"There are two sides in this struggle; the Palestinian side and the Israeli side. Jesus is not coming back to take a side; he's coming back to take over!"

For a Biblical Christian, this is unquestionably true, but it is an odd feeling to see the conflict from that perspective because all of the sudden, we're not seeing the struggle as Israel struggling to survive against the evil Arab,and waiting for the Messiah to wipe out the bad guys. Instead, we're seeing the Messiah coming back to lay down the Law for both sides, and that's really cool because if you think about it,that's exactly what he did the first time around.

He didn't kick the Romans out of Jerusalem; he gave everyone, Jew and Roman, a path to salvation, which was a much greater gift.

As I listened to Joseph speak, he taught me something very important about the terrorists and suicide bombers, something at once reassuring, and deeply chilling.

"The terrorists are people," he said. "They are good people who have good lives. They love their families, their country,and their god. The problem is their ideology, which teaches them that the most holy thing they can do is to kill infidels for their god."

That's a hard concept for us to grasp because it means that we have to accept that these people doing monstrous things are not monsters or animal, but people like us, with hopes and dreams and families. While this seems incomprehensible to us, it is also a hopeful thing, because monsters must be slayed; people can be changed. The chilling part is what I alluded to earlier.

The Arab Israeli conflict is not about land or money or geopolitical power any more than the American Civil War was about slavery. In both cases, the conflict was ideological at heart. Joseph explained that the goal of Islam was the complete eradication of Israel. He also abolished the notion of the moderate Muslim. As he put it, the Global Caliphate is in the Koran, therefore every good Muslim must be working to bring that about. Even the so-called moderates, who might never touch a gun or an explosive, were part of the struggle, by providing funding or political cover for the jihadists. A territorial struggle ends when one side gains control of the territory. An ideological struggle is a war to the knife; the fight goes on until one side is destroyed.

I've heard words like this before, but always from analysts and columnists,or people who've studied the Middle East, and I've always taken them with a grain of salt. But now I've heard them from a man who literally grew up in the center of it all, going to the mosque with the leaders of Hamas, and that makes it much more difficult to dismiss. Joseph said flat out that the chance for peace in the Middle East died when the conflict was Islamized by Hamas. A true peace will only come when the Prince of Peace returns to take over.

Posted by Rich
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Friday, April 17, 2009

Never Send an American to do a Frenchman’s Job


Meanwhile Wednesday, French naval forces launched an early-morning attack on a suspected pirate “mother ship” 550 miles east of Mombasa and seized 11 men, thwarting an attack on the Liberian cargo ship Safmarine Asia, the French Defense Ministry said. No one was injured.

Yes, you read that right. The French are actually fighting the pirates. While the Obama administration seeks to understand the problem and tries to figure out how to end piracy, the French are out there ending it through the simple tactic of allowing their military to attack pirate ships whenever they find them.

It's a provocative concept.

Since President Obama is such a fan of Europe, maybe he will decide that we can do that too.

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Impotence of Hope and Change

American citizens cannot count on their government to provide for their safety and security at home or abroad. Considering that pirates in a lifeboat are able to hold off the US Navy, including the vaunted Seal teams, it is glaringly apparent that the current administration is unwilling to take the steps necessary to fulfill their duty. It has nothing to do with capability; our Seal teams are trained for exactly this type of mission. It has everything to do with will; the Obama admiistration lacks the will to act.

I never thought I'd see an American President weaker than Jimmy Carter, but President Obama is proving he is worthy of consideration as one of the weakest Presidents in our history. He's too busy bowing to Muslim kings to protect the Americans who elected him.

Of course, the silver lining to this cloud is that the Obama administration, like Carter before him, looks to be one and done, leading to a Republican resurgence in 2012.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, April 09, 2009

A Spoonful of Hypocrisy Helps the Narcicism Go Down

Remember when the American Media lambasted Sarah Palin for running for Vice President because as a mother, she had more important things to do?

Remember when that same media blasted Sarah Palin for her campaign wardrobe that was valued at around $150,000.

Isn't it funny how those same voices are gushing with praise for Michelle Obama, who left her daughters behind on her whirlwind tour of Europe, while dressing to the nines for all occasions, including riding an airplane.

Yet we're supposed to take these folks seriously when they talk about the issues of the day.

Bah. If I want to read a liberal circle jerk, I'll read KnoxViews.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, April 06, 2009

Dysfunctional Robots at Disney

I just spent a week honeymooning at Walt Disney World, and one of the things I was most eager to see was the Hall of the Presidents. Unfortunately it was closed this week for a refurbishment. They are adding the animatronic version of our newest President, Barack Obama to the display,and they've been having some problems with it. The problem is with the speech the Obama robot is supposed to deliver after being introduced by the last President, George W. Bush. There's a programming bug somewhere, because the Obamabot keeps losing track during the speech and starts to sputter and hiccup.

Disney Imagineers couldn't find a problem with the recording or the programming and were stumped for awhile until one bright young lady had the idea to place a teleprompter in the back of the hall and program it with the speech.

The Obamabot performed flawlessly after that and they expect to open the exhibit soon.

Posted by Rich
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President Obama Pays His Respects to a King

I don't want to make too much of President Obama's obeisance to King Abdullah; after all, Obama has shown that he is very awkward when faced with matters of protocol, and tricky things like, say, selecting an appropriate gift for a world leader.

That is a very tricky part of the job of President.

And when you're greeting a foreign leader, it's hard to know what the exact protocol should be. I mean, all of those countries have different customs and things, so it's understandably difficult for a new President to grasp all these details immediately. You know, it would be a smart thing for our government to have a group of people whose job it was to brief the President on protocol and things like that to prevent him from embarrassing himself and us.

Oh wait...They do have one of those, don't they?

In that case, either President Obama is deliberately slighting our allies and showing subservience to other leaders, or he's too intellectually challenged to manage to understnd a simple protocol briefing.

Maybe he should have his teleprompter along with him at all greeting ceremonies.

Posted by Rich
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