Friday, July 30, 2010

A $613,000,000 Judgment Calls For Massive Tort Reform

A well-respected California health care provider may soon vanish overnight.

This paragraph says it all:
Here we had a company that was going about its business, and by all accounts has a good reputation in its industry yet found itself with a multi-million dollar award levied against it because of some trial lawyers that went ambulance chasing to float a class action lawsuit. And now thousands of people’s healthcare and livelihood is in jeopardy.
There were no complaints from patients about the care they received in these California nursing homes. Then the lawyers found a regulation violation. The verdict could displace 32,000 nursing home patients and put several thousand people out of work.

Warner Todd Huston has the story at Gateway Pundit.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Jeffersonian Prairie Republic

There was a time when I didn't think much of what people today call flyover country, the vast American experience between the Eastern Seaboard states and the West Coast. It's never been an active dislike for that territory on my part, but more like a subject lost to other interests. If anything, the story should have been different long before I married into a Midwest and Great Plains family in 1981. As a historian and geographer, I was immersed in Frederick Jackson Turner's frontier hypothesis and its iterations by Ray Allen Billington, and a host of professors schooled at the history department Turner made famous at the University of Wisconsin. A decade after formal education ended, a new learning began as I made frequent and extended trips into that region to meet my new family and know the American interior they called home.

We could debate endlessly about the merits of the work by Turner and his students, but there is no question that the evolution of settlement in the Heartland has stamped it with a distinctive personality. In his new book, Prairie Republic: The Political Culture of Dakota Territory, 1879-1889, Jon Lauck explores a surprising aspect of that personality that flourished in one part of the inland nation. It is all about republicanism and the English legal system that a century earlier bound the colonies in a new venture called the United States of America. It is about a civic society rivaling and often exceeding that found in many of the much older Eastern states. Today, the cultural remnants of that period make for interesting politics in the Age of Obama.

Travis Kavulla reviewed this book in the August 3 issue of National Review. Unfortunately, the review is available only through purchase - online at - or your local library. I'm happy to report there is an excerpt available at NRO's The Corner, along with some comment, thanks to a post by Denis Boyles.

I have a feeling this is going to be an important book in spite of what may appear to be a rather dreary and esoteric subject.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

One Giant Leap For Mankind

Forty-one years ago, I worked the night shift at a resort hotel in Ocean City, Maryland. The staff on duty - probably half a dozen folks - and several owls who had just arrived from a night on the town watched the event on a television we hoisted onto the front desk. Only yesterday.

Thanks to Instapundit and BoingBoing for the video tip.

The Cancer We Know As The Liberal Media

Here's one story that will never make broadcast news!

Was there ever any doubt that our leftist traditional media protected candidate Barack Obama from the destructive revelations of the true nature of his Black Liberation Theology minister, the Rev Jeremiah "God damn America" Wright? If you had any doubt, it was erased today by the blog, The Daily Caller.

Caller has obtained records of a Journolist "alliance" to ignore the Wright story beginning as early as mid-April 2008 following an ABC New debate moderated by Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopolous. Both moderators posed pointed questions to Obama about his relationship with Wright as well as doubts about the minister's love of country. The alliance persisted throughout the campaign and was a significant contribution to the success of the Obama campaign. It was also a remarkable - unforgivable - disservice to the American voting public.

Here's the scope of the cover-up:
Employees of news organizations including Time, Politico, the Huffington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian, Salon and the New Republic participated in outpourings of anger over how Obama had been treated in the media, and in some cases plotted to fix the damage.
You can read the full post here. Read more about the reaction to this story in the blogosphere here, here, here, and here.

UPDATE: John Hinderaker (Powerline) shares his take on the story here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Count The Money For Retirement Now

In the U.S., living like a king - for most folks, a king well beyond his means - isn't as easy as it was a decade ago. We know economic times are tough these days. It's especially rough for those starting their careers as members of Generation Y, the children raised in prosperous Boomer households.

How rough is it? For starters, a Bloomberg Business Week article on retirement planning notes that the average salary for workers aged 25-34 has DECLINED 19% over the past thirty years to $35,100 after adjustment for inflation. Gen Y is already saddled with plenty of student debt and an unemployment rate over 15% for its younger members. No wonder retirement and the need to prepare for it doesn't seem to register with this group. More frightening, is the fact that Gen Y folks will be the first "do-it-yourself retirement generation." Those old defined benefit plans from a lifetime of work with one employer are history.

I think this article speaks to far more than just younger workers. How many readers were actually aware of the steep decline in average salaries over the last generation? I would have guessed stagnation or a much smaller decline. It seems the great American economic engine that produced a remarkably prosperity for two generations following World War II (1945) may indeed have peaked. This raises a host of questions for Americans as the nation moves into post -industrial maturity and, some would say, the inevitable decline of aging nations.

But who is to say this is a time for despair? Not I. Though this nation and its people are bound to change over time, we still have opportunities to make the right choices. For younger workers, the Bloomberg Business Week provides some basic information and sound advice: 1. pension plans are history; and 2. open and contribute to a retirement savings today.

Thanks to Instapundit for the tip.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Now I Am Become Death, The Destroyer Of Worlds

Today marks the 65th anniversary of the Trinity Test, the world's first nuclear explosion and the beginning of the Atomic Age. Expectation among the scientists that morning in the New Mexico desert ranged from a dud bomb to a world-devouring atmospheric explosion. Luckily, the result was reasonable and the success allowed the United States to pursue a quick and definitive ending to war with Japan. I am sure the debate on using nuclear weapons against civilian targets in Japan will be an endless one. Also, I am sure that President Harry Truman's decision to use those weapons saved Japan and the United States and its allies millions of additional casualties. Regardless of your position on this question and the Atomic Age, the greater reality is simply that our world has been transformed. Our ability to choose between creation and destruction has always been with us. The events of July 16, 1945 tell us that we must be even more careful to choose wisely.

The Department of Energy has a fine mixed media post on the Trinity Test and its context within the Manhattan Project. Access the article here. The Wikipedia entry for Trinity provides additional information, including several illustrations, and many interesting external links. Access Wikipedia:Trinity here.

The title of this post is a quote taken from the Bhagavad Gita by J. Robert Oppenheimer on the realization of what he and his fellow scientists accomplished in the Trinity Test. In the Gita, the speaker is Vishnu, a supreme god in the Hindu tradition. Perhaps Oppenheimer's pessimism and quote was justified. I like to recall that Vishnu, as supreme god, had many avatars or incarnations. One of them is Krishna, also known as the Lord of the Cosmic Dance. As such, the Dancer is the creator, sustainer, and destroyer of the world as he stands on the Dwarf of Ignorance. I wasn't at Trinity that morning. Didn't see the flash or feel the heat or wind from the blast. Still, I'd like to think that Krishna did the talking that day.

Friday, July 16, 2010

This Engine Earth

The physical world is a fascinating place open to study through science and scientific methodology. What science reveals is rarely an answer and never an absolute. Rather, it is a journey of accumulated knowledge that often asks more questions than it can possibly answer. I think that's the joy of science, very much akin to the freedom and curiosity of the open road and no destination. That bring me to our home planet and its enormous complexity that we are only beginning to understand. It also brings me to the study of climatology, to climate change, and to some very good lessons about truth, a value that is beyond the scope of science but an essential ingredient in scientific understanding.

A good illustration of the contents of the paragraph above appeared in a recent NASA news release. The story explores a totally unexpected observation in the earth's thermosphere, the largest layer - a very active one - of our atmosphere. Like everything in our world, the thermosphere has its cycles. Historically, low solar cycles coincide with a shrinkage of the thermosphere, but something happened during this last low cycle. The thermosphere collapsed to its lowest point in 43 years of observation. Obviously, there is a new variable at work. Scientists may have part of the answer, but the rest of the story is a bigger question. Read more about it here.

Thanks to for the tip.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vampire Mis-En-Scene

The Children of the Night have been in the news lately having descended from a long line of cinema portrayals dating from as early as 1896. It has been an interesting transformation as Brian Cherry has described in the first part of his Big Hollywood series on vampires in film.

Who among us doesn't enjoy being scared out of our wits occasionally by a first-rate film? I've been enjoying movie frights since 1953 when I watched George Pal's The War of the Worlds huddled on a blanket at a drive-in under a deeply suspect dome of night sky. Some folks may say it was no place for an eight-year-old. What were his parents thinking? Actually, they were there with me, and it helped immensely to be surrounded by many aunts, uncles and older cousins. Besides, it got cold in those West Virginia mountains before the film ended and ducking into those extra blankets provided all the protection one needed from alien death rays.

The evolution of film since that night has witnessed an equally interesting change in what and who terrifies us these days. We have come a long way from Nosferatu (1922) or an attack by super-sized, irradiated ants. Could we be witnessing a twilight of sorts?

Time will tell.

I trust you will enjoy Cherry's post and look forward, as I will, to his series on the cinematic vampire.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

To Kill A Mockingbird Turns Fifty

We can only imagine how many millions of American high school students have read Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird since its publication fifty years ago this summer. I graduated from high school in 1964 and don't recall if the book was required reading; however, it did make the list in college. In fact, I still have my paperback edition, scuffed, tattered, dog-eared, and browned by age after several readings by me and my children.

A tip to Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) for bringing this anniversary to our attention. There isn't much at his post, but his link to the story in The Huffington Post has four defenses of this enduring work. There's also a link to a more critical review by Allen Barra that appeared late last month in The Wall Street Journal. Barra's observations are brief and well worth reading.

Earlier this month, I found an unusually good article in Southern Living magazine on Lee and her hometown, Monroeville, Alabama. Lee published a few essays after her bestseller and nothing more, choosing instead to lead a reclusive life with the help of locals when in Monroeville. Apparently she's there often and you could encounter her if you're at the right place at the right time. You can read a short version of the article here at the Southern Living website. Better yet, pick up a copy of the July issue and enjoy the whole story.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Species Of Insanity

The writers at Powerline are wonderful with words, so on point, just enough copy, faultless logic, and a nice diversity of interesting topics, among other positives. Today, John Hinderaker writes about how Iran, as a newly "elected" member of the UN Commission on Women's Rights, has faced the stoning sentence of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. If anything can drive a stake through the heart of multiculturalism, this post and its link should do it.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Why Legacy Media Is In Decline

From Byron York in the Washington Examiner regarding the NASA mission shift toward Muslim self-esteem:

From a Nexis search a few moments ago:

Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program in the New York Times: 0.

Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program in the Washington Post: 0.

Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program on NBC Nightly News: 0.

Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program on ABC World News: 0.

Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program on CBS Evening News: 0.

Here's a link to the article. Tip to Instapundit for the story.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Revisiting Obama And The Cloward-Piven Strategy

The heart of Jim Hoft's post is this:

Either Barack Obama is the worst economic president in American history or he is working an intentional Cloward-Piven strategy to bring this great nation to its knees. There really is no other explanation.
Here's the link to the post and its scary graph, in addition to several informative links.

Loony White House Leadership Reaches NASA

There was a time when NASA accomplishments focused on objectives in aeronautics and space. At the direction of Barack Obama and his new administrator at NASA, the mission has been changed to social engineering and the raising of self-esteem among Muslim nations. I don't know whether to call this incredible, loony, or both. You can read Paul Mirengoff's take on this matter here at Powerline and watch an amazing Al Jazeera interview with the new administrator, Charles Bolden, a former astronaut. To cut to the chase, just watch the video below.

Bolden seems like a genuine guy, a Naval Academy graduate with a distinguished career in the United States Marine Corps as well as at NASA where he flew four space shuttle missions . So sorry he had to enter this leadership role at the calling of such a wacky administration. Somehow, I think Bolden would be so much happier pursuing aeronautics and space instead of social work.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day 2010

1909 postcard from the family archives

Saturday, July 3, 2010

SS United States: A Temporary Reprieve From The Scrap Yard

For seventeen years, the SS United States carried passenger across the Atlantic Ocean as the Queen of the American Merchant Marine. This magnificent liner still holds the westbound Atlantic crossing record set - at an average speed of almost 40 mph - on her maiden voyage in 1952. Now merely an empty shell, she has been weathering away since the late '70s, and at her last destination, Philadelphia, since 1996. With her interior furnishings gone, some may say that she is a vessel we can afford to lose. But instead of decoration, the SS United States was noted for her innovation, performance, and adaptability as a military as well as civilian vessel. She is, therefore, a most suitable example of American industrial and engineering history.

Her reprieve by a group of preservationists came at the very last hour. It represents a very small step in a restoration that will take many years and millions of dollars. Plans at this time are to preserve the liner as a hotel in either New York or Philadelphia. As a preservationist, OTR is heartened to learn that this beautiful piece of maritime history may some day grace a proud harbor and share her history with future generations.

The link above provides readers with additional information and suggests several links for more in depth exploration of the Queen of the American Merchant Marine. One of those links, Richard April's American Flagship SS United States, should not be missed.

NRO Summer Reading: Part Two

The second installment of NRO's Summer Reading List has appeared. The list includes an often overlooked work of fiction by C. S. Lewis, a 1938 biography of Fanny Kemble, an exploration of everyday life in the Middle Ages, a shelf of new and old novels, and much more. Here's your link.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Steele Away?

I had high hopes for Michael Steele when he took over the senior position at the Republican National Committee. He had a rather short apprenticeship. And it hasn't been a happy marriage for the outspoken Marylander. Not that we should expect a completely spotless performance from any leader, still, there should be an awareness that leadership demands discretion as a means of managing a national organization. That brings us to Steele's latest statement yesterday at a Connecticut fundraiser that the Afghan war was of "Obama's choosing." Furthermore, Steele remarked that the war was likely "a lost cause." Personally, I find both statements odd given that the Afghan war had its roots in 2001. As for the "lost" war, conservatives traditionally have no issue supporting our troops under fire once they are committed to a conflict.

This personal conflict for Steele may blow over, but calls for his resignation by party members are already starting to appear. It's early on this one, but the baggage gets heavier with every potentially negative action. You can read the details on the latest flap her from Fox News.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

NRO's Summer Reading List

These past few years, NRO has asked a panel of distinguished individuals what they plan to read over the summer. It's always an interesting list with something for everyone. The first installment of titles, along with entertaining commentary, is available here. Happy reading!