Rule 5 Blogging: From down under!

It’s the weekend and time, once again, for THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL’S version of Rule 5 Blogging. Robert Stacey Stacy McCain described Rule 5 as posting photos of pretty women somewhat déshabillé, but, on this site, our Rule 5 Blogging doesn’t put up pictures of Elle MacPherson in her summer clothes, but women, in full military gear, serving their countries in the armed forces. The terribly sexist authors on this site celebrate strong women, women who can take care of themselves and take care of others, women who have been willing to put their lives on the line in some not-so-friendly places, women who truly do have the “We can do it!” attitude. This week: Aussies!


Continue reading ‘Rule 5 Blogging: From down under!’ »

From Around the Blogroll

Will Mayor Bill deBlasio be barred from their funerals? From The New York Times:

Two Police Officers Are Fatally Shot in Brooklyn; Suspect Is Also Dead
By Benjamin Mueller and Al Baker | December 20, 2014

Two police officers were killed after they were shot in their patrol car in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon, according to a law enforcement official.

The shootings took place near Myrtle and Tompkins Avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

“It looks like they were shot in the upper body,” Deputy Chief Kim Royster said.

She said that a suspect fled into a subway station after shooting the officers from the patrol car’s passenger side, and that the police had recovered a gun from the scene.

Chief Royster said the suspect opened fire on the police officers, ran up Myrtle and went into a subway station. The man died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Chief Royster said.

More at the link. But this is from just six days ago:

NYC police union wants de Blasio banned from funerals
Published December 14, 2014 |

New York City’s rank-and-file police union is urging cops to tell Mayor Bill de Blasio not to attend their funerals in the event that they are killed in the line of duty.

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association posted a link on its website telling members not to let de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito “insult their sacrifice” should they be killed. The union posted a “Don’t Insult My Sacrifice” waiver officers can sign requesting the two politicians not attend their funerals due to their “consistent refusal to show police officers the support and respect they deserve.”

The waiver says that attendance of the two elected officials “at the funeral of a fallen New York City police officer is an insult to that officer’s memory and sacrifice.”

The New York Post reports the mayor and council speaker are calling the effort “deeply disappointing.”

“Incendiary rhetoric like this serves only to divide the city, and New Yorkers reject these tactics,” they said in a joint statement.

Sources told the Post the union is angry that the mayor did not show more support for the NYPD after a grand jury decided not to indict the officer involved in the death of Staten Islander Eric Garner.

In a press conference about the grand jury’s decision not to charge the officer, de Blasio announced that he had warned his 17-year-old, mixed-race son, Dante, to be careful around police officers, which caused PBA President Patrick Lynch to claim de Blasio had thrown NYPD officers “under the bus.”

More at the link. We don’t yet know if either of the two officers killed today had signed the purported waivers.

Now, on to the blogroll!


The graduate with a science degree asks, “Why does it work?”
The graduate with an engineering degree asks, “How does it work?”
The graduate with an accounting degree asks, “How much will it cost?”
The graduate with an arts degree asks, “Do you want fries with that?”

Is there a worse state Attorney General, in any state, anywhere, than Kathleen Kane?

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s editorial board endorses Democrats in virtually every electoral contest; there are a few exceptions, in the case of a moderate Republican in a heavily Republican district, but in any actually competitive race in which the Democrat is not an absolutely certifiable loon, the Inquirer will endorse the Democrat. From today’s editorial page:

The truth about Kane
Inquirer Editorial Board | Posted: Thursday, December 18, 2014, 1:08 AM

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane | Michael S Wirtz, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Photographer

The truth can be bent, obscured, or even, to use Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s felicitous phrase, “half-assed.” But Kane’s assessment of the case against five Democratic officials from Philadelphia could not have been more plainly untrue.

In March, when The Inquirer revealed that Kane had aborted an investigation that caught the officials taking money and jewelry from an informant, the state’s top law enforcer flatly declared the matter unprosecutable. Nine months later, however, it’s being prosecuted.

With charges this week against State Reps. Ron Waters and Vanessa Lowery Brown, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has revived a majority of the cases Kane deemed beyond the law’s reach. And Williams has made it clear that this isn’t exactly catching Capone: His office even released snapshots of the meetings at which Waters and Brown allegedly took the money.

Another defendant, former Traffic Court Judge Thomasine Tynes, became the first to plead guilty in the case on Wednesday. So much for Kane’s assertion that “the prosecution would have failed – no doubt.”


The First Street Journal has not been particularly charitable to the Commonwealth’s Attorney General, but that is understandable: we don’t suffer fools gladly, and having a fool for an Attorney General is not a good thing.  If she were just another ambulance-chaser, no one would care, but she is, supposedly, the chief law enforcement officer in Pennsylvania, and she’s not doing the job she asked the voters to give her.

However, this site is very publicly run by conservatives, and we might be expected to oppose Democrats; when the editors of a Democratic newspaper like The Philadelphia Inquirer start publishing editorials telling their readers that Mrs Kane is a liar and just plain unfit for her job,1 that is something else entirely.

  1. The Editors did mince words, saying that she has a “pattern of misrepresentation” rather than just calling her a liar, and that “Such episodes have raised serious doubts about whether Kane can continue to carry out a job that requires maximum public confidence and trust” rather than saying that she is unfit for her job, but we don’t mince words here.

Even when President Obama gets something right, he gets it wrong

From The Wall Street Journal:

U.S. Restores Cuba Ties in Historic Deal
Obama Thaws Half-Century Freeze; Opponents Vow to Fight End to Embargo
By Carol E. Lee, Jay Solomon and José de Córdoba |Updated Dec. 17, 2014 8:03 p.m. ET

The U.S. and Cuba agreed to restore diplomatic ties after a half century of hostility, ending one of the world’s last Cold War standoffs and launching a realignment of the politics of the Americas.

President Barack Obama and Raúl Castro, in synchronized announcements Wednesday, said that their long-estranged countries would restart cooperation on a range of issues and reestablish an American embassy in Havana that closed in 1961 after the Cuban Revolution.

The leaders agreed to a series of landmark diplomatic steps after reaching a deal to free U.S. aid worker Alan Gross, who was imprisoned in Cuba for the past five years. The White House also agreed to return three Cuban agents jailed in the U.S. in exchange for Cuba’s release of one unnamed American intelligence operative who had been held for nearly two decades.

The policy changes fall short of fully lifting the 54-year U.S. embargo against Cuba, which would require an act from Congress. But they forge significant economic ties between the two nations by allowing American financial institutions to open accounts with Cuban counterparts, easing restrictions on the export of U.S. agricultural and telecommunications gear to Cuba and permitting Americans to use credit and debit cards there. U.S. residents will be allowed to send up to $2,000 every three months to relatives on the island—four times the current limit.

More at the original.

I am not at all opposed to changing the status of our policy toward Cuba, even up to the point of full diplomatic relations, for one obvious reason: our current policy toward Cuba, begun during the Cold War to try to make Communist so unpalatable for the Cuban people that they’d somehow overthrow it, has not worked. In the meantime, we’ve had end-runs around the policy, allowing little breaks for individuals, but the Castro regime is still in place. Fidel Castro is no longer in power, due to the infirmity of age, but his brother Raul is now President, and he’ll rule until he croaks.

Unfortunately, getting the policy right doesn’t mean that the way he did it was wise.

President Nixon, with his strongly anti-Communist reputation, was able to change our relationship with the people’s Republic of China, enabling President Carter to later establish full diplomatic recognition. Something along those lines would have worked better. Given that there is no conservative Republican President on whom President Obama could have built a change in the policy, his better option would have been to go to people like Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), both descendents of Cuban immigrants, and tried to get them on board with policy changes. Since congressional approval is required to lift fully the embargo, the President will need some help, and with the Republicans taking control of both Houses of Congress on January 3rd, he needs Republican help. Taking his proposed policy changes to some congressmen before he just announced his policy changes might have gotten him that; the way he did things guarantees that he won’t.

I sure hope that the police officer wasn’t white . . .

. . . and that the perp wasn’t black, or we’ll have Al Sharpton in Pennsylvania!

Man fatally shot by police in Mayfair
Aubrey Whelan and Emily Babay | Last updated: Monday, December 15, 2014, 6:09 AM

A Frankford man was shot and killed by a Philadelphia police officer early Monday, police said, during a traffic stop and struggle in which the man tried to get to a handgun in his vehicle.

Several witnesses were being interviewed at the department’s homicide unit Monday morning after the 2:45 a.m. traffic stop in Mayfair that led to the struggle.

Police said two uniformed 15th District officers stopped the man, 26, on the 6700 block of Frankford Avenue because he was driving without headlights on, police said, citing preliminary information.

When the officers approached the car, a Dodge Charger with Florida plates, they saw a handgun on the center console of the car, police said.

The officers asked the man to get out of the car, and when he did so, the struggle began, police said.

The man was able to break free from the officers and forced his way to the passenger side of the vehicle, police spokesman Lt. John Stanford said, and tried to retrieve the gun.

That’s when one of the officers fired his own gun, hitting the man once in the head, police said. The man, whose identity has not been released, was pronounced dead at the scene at 3:05 a.m.

Police said the gun in the car, a .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol with eight live rounds, had been reported stolen in July 2013.

The man has four prior arrests, two for attempted murder, police said.

A bit more at the link, but no indication concerning the races of either the police officers or the dead thug.

We do know that, if the dead thug isn’t black or the police officers aren’t white, this will be an entirely local Philadelphia story.

Frack, baby, frack!

One thing I love about the internet is that it is forever! Here’s the tweet that put me on the right path:


Which I followed to the story, in Time magazine:

Why Michele Bachmann’s $2-a-Gallon Gas Promise Is a Fantasy
By Bryan Walsh @bryanrwalsh | Aug. 18, 2011 | 2 Comments

Since virtually the entire field of Republican presidential candidates has decided to abandon science— with the exception of Jon Huntsman, whose negligible support has to be measured with an electron microscope — I could easily spend the next 15 months shooting down every false statement they make about climate change, energy policy or evolution. I’ll pass, though — Climate Progress has that thankless job pretty much covered. One of the reasons I eventually migrated into science and environment writing — after an early career profiling Filipino boxers — is that I find politics and political reporting utterly maddening. So I’ll mostly remain a spectator.

But on Wednesday Michele Bachmann said something that’s just very, very wrong. Which isn’t unusual in and of itself but is something that needs to be debunked. At a campaign stop in South Carolina, the Minnesota Representative took on the high price of gasoline:

The day that the President became President, gasoline was $1.79 a gallon. Look at what it is today. Under President Bachmann, you will see gasoline come down below $2 a gallon again. That will happen.

So Bachmann has promised to bring gasoline below $2 a gallon — a 56% decrease from the current average price of $3.58 a gallon.

Now, there are a few things wrong with this. For one, the $1.79-a-gallon figure that Bachmann cites is from December 2008, before Barack Obama actually took office. (When Obama was inaugurated, gas cost $1.81 — not a big difference, I know, but how hard would it have been to get the right figure? The data are right here.) More important, though, is the reason that gas was — comparatively speaking — so cheap a few years ago. It wasn’t because the U.S. was suddenly pumping more oil, or because the Saudis had decided to flood the market, or because the head of ExxonMobil lost his mind and started to give all Americans a 2-for-1 deal on gas. The U.S. — and the world — was in the depths of the worst recession since the 1930s, depressing demand for everything from data centers to electricity to driving. It’s Econ 101: precipitous falls in demand usually trigger precipitous falls in price, which is what happened to gas prices, dropping from a high of $4.05 a gallon in mid-July 2008 to a low of $1.69 a gallon at the end of December that year. If you see sub-$2-a-gallon gas again, I strongly suggest that you stock up on bottled water and canned tuna, because the economic end times may be at hand.

Of course, the other way to cut prices is to increase supply, and Bachmann and other politicians argue that we could do so by opening up more territory for oil exploration in the U.S. — a policy known in 2008 as “Drill, baby, drill.” She’s right — up to a very, very, very small point. For one, the U.S. under Obama is already producing more oil than it did before he took office. Thanks in part to new shale oil deposits, the U.S. produces a million and a half barrels of oil more today than it did in 2005 — yet during that same time period, gas has gone from about $2 a gallon to $3.50, with large spikes in between. And even if we opened up everything to drilling, it wouldn’t make much difference at the pump. A 2009 study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that opening up drilling areas off the East Coast, West Coast and the western coast of Florida would yield 500,000 extra barrels of oil a day by 2030. That might sound like a lot — except the world consumes 89 million barrels of oil a day, and by then will almost surely be using much more. Five hundred thousand barrels is a drop in your gas tank. Assuming OPEC simply reduced its own production to account for increased American drilling — which it would — prices at the pump might drop a whole 3 cents a gallon.

More at the link. But it’s great seeing a liberal proved wrong! :)

For some, gasoline has fallen below $2
By Chris Isidore @CNNMoney December 3, 2014: 6:59 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) Remember how excited you were when the price of gasoline dropped below $3 a gallon? Now, for a few lucky drivers, its price has fallen below $2.

A gallon of regular unleaded gasoline drops below $2 at this OnCue in Oklahoma City. (Photo: Vince Voit)

The lowest gas in the nation could be found at the OnCue gas station on 44th and Shields in Oklahoma City. Regular gas was selling for just under $2 there on Wednesday. According to Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service and, other parts of the nation will soon see similarly cheap gas prices.

Rural Virginia, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas and maybe New Mexico could be joining Oklahoma in having some gas prices drop below the $2 mark, he said. A smattering of gas prices below $2 could be seen in those states by the weekend.

More at the link.

Naturally, CNN Money tells us that falling gasoline prices is a bad thing, because, heaven forfend! Russia and Vladimir Putin depend on $100 a barrel oil prices for the government budget, and now they will have to cut spending . . . perhaps on things like invading Ukraine? Venezuela, another nation which depends on oil sale revenues, but in which the socialist government can’t even keep toilet paper in decent supply, will lose money. Apparently Margaret Thatcher was right, and the socialists really are running out of other people’s money!

Of course, the dramatic decline in oil prices has led to lower profits for the oil companies, which has led to a drop in the stock market. That impacts middle class Americans, who are seeing a drop in the value of their 401(k) retirement plans,1 but one the opposite side of that equation, the middle class, like everyone else, is spending less at the fuel pump, which makes up for some of the stock value losses. For poorer Americans, it’s a net win all around.

Of course, for the environmentalist whackos, it’s a horrible, horrible thing, and that pleases your Editor no end.

Hydraulic fracturing technology, or “fracking,” has proved the wisdom of Sarah Palin’s “drill, baby, drill” statement. The increase in supply, along with lowered demand due to higher efficiency technologies, has led to dramatically decreasing fuel prices. Had we been smart enough to have elected John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008, and added new drilling areas, along with the Keystone XL pipeline, and hydraulic fracturing to get more out of existing oil and natural gas fields, the drop in prices might have come a couple of years earlier, and the US might have become the world’s number one oil and gas producer sooner.

Michele Bachmann was right in 2011, and Bryan Walsh was wrong.

  1. Full disclosure: this impacts your Editor, too, but since he cashed out in September, at a market high, to buy our retirement property, there was far less in our funds to lose. Further, I look at a drop in stock prices as a buying opportunity.

#COP20Lima : The seriousness of unseriousness

Via William Teach of The Pirate’s Cove, I found this article in The New York Times:

Climate Deal Would Commit Every Nation to Limiting Emissions
By Coral Davenport, December 14, 2014

Representatives applauded at the approval of an agreement reached in Lima, Peru, on Sunday to reduce the global rate of greenhouse gas emissions. (Credit Cris Bouroncle/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

LIMA, Peru — Negotiators from around the globe reached a climate change agreement early Sunday that would, for the first time in history, commit every nation to reducing its rate of greenhouse gas emissions — yet would still fall far short of what is needed to stave off the dangerous and costly early impact of global warming.The agreement reached by delegates from 196 countries establishes a framework for a climate change accord to be signed by world leaders in Paris next year. While United Nations officials had been scheduled to release the plan on Friday at noon, longstanding divisions between rich and poor countries kept them wrangling through Friday and Saturday nights to early Sunday.

The agreement requires every nation to put forward, over the next six months, a detailed domestic policy plan to limit its emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases from burning coal, gas and oil. Those plans, which would be published on a United Nations website, would form the basis of the accord to be signed next December and enacted by 2020.

That basic structure represents a breakthrough in the impasse that has plagued the United Nations’ 20 years of efforts to create a serious global warming deal. Until now, negotiations had followed a divide put in place by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which required developed countries to act but did not demand anything of developing nations, including China and India, two of the largest greenhouse gas polluters.

“This emerging agreement represents a new form of international cooperation that includes all countries,” said Jennifer Morgan, an expert on international climate negotiations with the World Resources Institute, a research organization.

More at the link. I included the photograph from the Times article to emphasize just how unserious this was; serious negotiators wear suits and ties, not jeans and wrinkled shirts at international conferences. Thomas Friedman, an Op/Ed columnist from the Times, wrote:

Continue reading ‘#COP20Lima : The seriousness of unseriousness’ »

Rule 5 Blogging: Vive la France!

It’s the weekend and time, once again, for THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL’S version of Rule 5 Blogging. Robert Stacey Stacy McCain described Rule 5 as posting photos of pretty women somewhat déshabillé, but, on this site, our Rule 5 Blogging doesn’t put up pictures of Vanessa Paradis in her summer clothes, but women, in full military gear, serving their countries in the armed forces. The terribly sexist authors on this site celebrate strong women, women who can take care of themselves and take care of others, women who have been willing to put their lives on the line in some not-so-friendly places, women who truly do have the “We can do it!” attitude.

The Wehrmacht rolled over the main French armies in a blitzkrieg attack in the spring of 1940, but some Frenchmen and women continued the fight in the only way available to them: an underground resistance. Here are some of the French resistance fighters.


Continue reading ‘Rule 5 Blogging: Vive la France!’ »

From Around the Blogroll

Kentucky basketball whips North Carolina to pass first test without Poythress
By Jerry Tipton | December 13, 2014

Kentucky’s Marcus Lee battled for a rebound in the first half against North Carolina. (Mark Cornelison, staff photographer, Lexington Herald-Leader)

When Karl-Anthony Towns stepped to the foul line to try to extend a 16-point lead Saturday, a Kentucky fan could be heard calling out to Roy Williams.”Hey, Roy!” he yelled at the North Carolina coach. “How about ‘dem Cats?!”

By then (4:56 left), No. 1 Kentucky was well on the way to a heady 84-70 victory over the Tar Heels and, maybe more importantly, showing that the sudden loss of Alex Poythress less than 48 hours earlier might not be problematic. It certainly wasn’t in game one of the post-Poythress portion of the season.

But even with a convincing victory over No. 21 North Carolina, UK Coach John Calipari advised the Big Blue Nation to proceed cautiously.

“I’m going to tell you, the biggest issue (remains) with us missing Alex,” Calipari said. “And it doesn’t go away. Don’t think, well, they played well without Alex.”

Somewhere, sometime, maybe against UCLA next Saturday or at Louisville the following Saturday, Kentucky will need an athletic play that can’t be scripted or taught.

“Trey doesn’t do that,” Calipari said of Trey Lyles, who started in Poythress’s place against North Carolina. “Trey’s a totally different player. Karl does some of it, but not like Alex does.”

Poythress could do that. But he’s gone after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament in practice Thursday. To compensate, Calipari said, Kentucky must become more efficient on offense and even better on defense.

“So we’re not in the position to have to have that play,” he said. “Because it’s not there anymore.”

Read more here:

UK is undefeated and ranked number one in the nation, with one more currently ranked team on its schedule, the #4 University of Louisville Cardinals on December 27th.

And now, on to the blogroll!