Friday, May 04, 2007

Blown F350 Ford engine: Because of Biofuel or Ford's own injector problem?

I am going to defer to my mechanically inclined engine guru writing partner, whose occupation involves all sorts of grease-monkeying, but this poor chap, who is a member of the San Francisco Biofuels group, blew up the engine in his brand new Ford F350 and was told he voided his warranty using biofuel. Later Ford changed their tune and he found out Ford had issued a major recall for injector problems - the symptoms of which he claims were exactly the same for his engine.

"To my understanding, biodiesel has a higher flash point and I can't understand how one blows up an engine on a vegetable-based fuel. Ford markets the ultra-low-sulfur engine as the cleanest in the industry. I ran B100 in my 2004 F25- for 2 years-a similar, high performance PowerStroke."
Skip several interesting exchanges later, Ford scrambled and is now covering everything-and has even offered to take the truck back and sell me a new one (mine had only 200 miles on it). Next, I found out that Ford just offered a massive recall for injector problems that create a hydrolock that produces white smoke and can cause a massive bang-exactly what happened to me.... The whole things seems to have been a ploy to cover up something they eventually had to admit to on a massive scale. Go Ford."

Hat tip to PajamasMedia.

Capitalist America: We don't know how good we've got it

I've often commented to bewildered friends and acquaintances how rich Americans are and how all Americans should be thankful everyday that they live in this fantastic country, including those considered poor or living under the official poverty level. I tell them how the majority of the rest of the world would give their right arm if they could live as well as our so-called poor do. America's economy is so strong, so developed, that even our poor are rich by most other countries' standards.

With that in mind, Arnold Kling's recent TCS Daily article is a must read:

In the United States, the poverty threshold for a family of four is just under $20,000 a year in income. However, consider what would happen if you were to force every family of four all over the world the world to live on $20,000 a year. The majority of families would say, "Thank you." Outside the United States, there are more people living under our poverty threshold than over it. Perhaps as many as one billion people are living on less than one-tenth of our poverty threshold, or less than $2000 a year for a family of four.
Overall, as David R. Henderson and Charles L. Hooper wrote three years go for TCS, virtually every American alive today is in the top one percent of income, if one takes a worldwide historical perspective. It would be better to live on $20,000 a year in America today than to be a relatively wealthy person living here one hundred years ago.

He also quotes Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation who points out that:

Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 30 percent own two or more cars.

Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions; Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception; Seventy-three percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.

Rector would not deny that there is real poverty in the United States. The point is, however, that the standard definition of poverty includes many families who are far from destitute.

Hat tip to PajamasMedia.

"Keep your stinking nukes!"

Gateway Pundit has lots of notes and pictures on the latest protests in Iran and quips:

It's crunch time for the mullahs.
The masses are restive and the economic future does not look promising.

Hat tip to Instapundit.

"...conjure up the image of 40 or 50 thousand Muslim mothers smiling into the faces of healthy babies."

Fred Thompson notes some very good news on women's access to health care and infant mortality rates in Afghanistan, and points out that none of this would have been possible without the help of U.S. and Coalition soldiers.

A new study from Johns Hopkins University indicates that, since the Taliban was ousted five years ago, Afghan infant-mortality rates have improved dramatically. Every year, more than 40,000 babies live that would have died under Islamofascist tyranny — and the statistics are still improving. The main reason, according to the study, is improved women’s access to medical care.

Some people, including World Bank health specialists, say infant-mortality rates have improved far more than the Johns Hopkins study shows — because the data used is several years old. We know, for example, that the number of Afghan children who are getting vaccinations has doubled and redoubled in just the last few years. Similarly, the number of pregnant women receiving pre-natal care went up six-fold between 2003 and 2006.

Hat tip to Instapundit.

Romney's government health care disaster

I haven't had time to digest all the feedback and commentary on yesterday's Republican candidates debate, but from many accounts it sounds like Mitt Romney did the best, or at least looked and sounded presidential. I think Romney is a polished politician and very professional and so far sounds like he is running a smart campaign. As an Independent I won't be participating in the primary, but if I was I would not be voting for him, nor will I vote for him for President. And one of those reasons is because I am very uncomfortable with his eager embrace of government controlled health care.

This morning Cato-at-Liberty reminds us of some of the elements of Romney's health care plan in Massachusetts:

  • Imposes an unprecedented individual mandate, requiring everyone in Massachusetts to purchase a government-designated insurance product or face thousands of dollars in tax penalties.
  • Significantly increased Medicaid eligibility and provided taxpayer-funded subsidies for a family of four earning as much as $62,000 year, effectively extending welfare well into the middle class.
  • Creates a Hillary Clinton managed-competition-style regulatory authority called the Massachusetts Health Care Connector. This new regulatory body has already mandated that every health care policy sold in the state must cover prescription drugs and has outlawed policies with deductibles of more than $2,000.
  • Imposes a penalty on businesses that do not provide health insurance to their employees (although in fairness, this provision was enacted over Governor Romney’s veto.)
  • Greatly expands the state’s health care bureaucracy, creating at least 10 new boards, commissions, and other institutions to study and regulate health care.
The folks at Cato-at-Liberty have a lot more on Romney-care here, here, and here. There is a health care problem in this country, but universal, government sponsored or controlled health care is not the answer.

Bill Roggio's Daily Iraq Report 5-3-07

Bill Roggio reports some welcome news from Iraq as one of Al-Qaeda's staunchest supporters in Anbar has now turned against them and joined the Anbar Salvation Council:

Sam Dagher of the Christian Science Monitor reports on how the Anbar Salvation Council, led by Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Rishawi, turned the Albu Fahd tribe against al Qaeda. The Albu Fahd was one of the six original Anbari tribes to support al Qaeda and its Islamic State in Iraq. These six tribes are known in some military intelligence circles as the "Sinister Six". The Albu Fahd [described as the Bu-Fahed] has now joined the Anbar Salvation Council and pledged to throw its weight behind the fight against al Qaeda.

"Winning over the Bu-Fahed tribe was a coup," said Mr. Dagher, who covered the tribal meeting where the Albu Fahd moved into the camp of the Anbar Salvation Council. "It had been one of Al Qaeda's staunchest supporters, and traces its lineage to the birthplace of the puritan form of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism in the Saudi Arabian province of Najd. It formally threw its lot behind Sheikh Abdel-Sattar Abu Risha." the pickup of the Albu Fahd comes as the Anbar Salvation Council has made gains outside of its home province and is expanding in Diyala, Salahadin and Baghdad.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

British midterm elections

Today is the day of the mid term elections in Britain, and no one has dared to predict an outcome. Labor is expected to lose power dramatically, and rightly so in my opinion, they have by and large failed Britain. The big question in Scotland is: will Labor hang on? or will the SNP gain power? Labor hanging on will mean business as usual, as it will send the message to Labor that no matter how much they suck, they still have power and know that people will still vote them into power no matter how poorly they run the country. If the Scottish National Party gets in, there's no telling what will happen. I will give a run down in the next few days of the outcome, and what I think it means for Britain.

Peshmerga Colonel Salahdin

Michael Totten posts his transcript of his discussion with a Peshmerga Colonel. Key excerpt:

I ask [Americans] not to leave us. All the time we have been frustrated from the pledges and help from America as we saw in 1974, 1920, and…from 1920 until now we have been frustrated and disappointed from their pledges and promises. Eight times we have been disappointed. I ask the American people, not make it nine times.

Victor Davis Hanson: The Crazy Middle East

VDH's latest is chock full of good stuff. Some excerpts:

On Iraq:

The war will be won or lost, like it or not, fairly or unjustly, in the next six months in Baghdad. Either Gen. Petraeus quells the violence to a level that even the media cannot exaggerate, or the enterprise fails, and we withdraw. For all the acrimony and hysteria at home, that in the end is what we face—the verdict of all wars that ultimately are decided by the soldiers, and then either supported or opposed by the majority at home with no views or ideology other than its desire to conform to the narrative from the front: support our winners, oppose our losers.

On why a majority of Muslims are anti-American:

Their prejudice apparently is chalked up to our omnipresence—like saving Kuwait, feeding Somalia, stopping Muslims dying en masse in the Balkans, ridding Afghanistan of the Soviets, paying astronomical prices for their oil, and giving nearly $100 billion over the years to the Egyptians, Jordanians, and Palestinians. Our prejudice surely could not be due to 19 Muslims slaughtering— to the delight of millions—3,000 Americans, nor to the news almost every hour of Christian-Muslim violence, Hindu-Muslim violence, Buddhist-Muslim violence, or secular-Muslim violence.

Read the whole thing.

Yes, women do actually commit mass murder

Dr. Helen quickly dispels the notion that women never commit mass murder:

Perhaps Dr. Schlesinger has a poor memory, because if she thought about it, she would know that the famous song by the BoomTown Rats entitled, "I Don't Like Mondays" was written about "non-existent" (at least to some experts) Brenda Spencer. Spencer was a seventeen-year-old high school senior in San Diego who in January of 1979 opened fire into a crowded elementary school across the street from her home. She killed the principal and a janitor and injured a police officer and eight children. Her reason? "I don't like Mondays. Mondays always get me down."

In the Lillelid mass murder that I have mentioned here numerous times, three of the perpetrators were women, but I guess women just don't do serious crimes like mass murder. Maybe someone should tell that to the victims of Jennifer San Marco who last year killed her neighbor and then six people at a mail processing plant. Do women kill less often than men? Of course, but to say that you can't think of any women who commit mass murder means that you must not be looking too hard.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Sheer idiocy from the military

Glenn's post says it all: "Bullet, meet foot."

Frankly, the "official" communications efforts on this war have been largely lame and ineffective, and most of the good stuff has come from milbloggers. I understand the importance of security, but this is going to do much more harm than good. Lots of stuff at the link above, and also read this post from Blackfive.

UPDATE: Still more here. Really, this is a bad idea.

Powerline's candidates forum

This is pretty cool.

The candidates for the Republican presidential nomination engage with you in these special Power Line forums.

Interestingly, McCain has the largest number of topics, currently at 14.

French have been voting with their feet

Notes Cato-at-Liberty, in reference to an Anne Appelbaum column in the Washington Post:

Anne Applebaum’s Washington Post column discusses the upcoming French election. But most relevant for fans of tax competition, she notes that two million French have fled the high taxes and economic stagnation of their home country. Not surprisingly, a poll reveals that the overwhelming majority of French expats are happy in countries with more opportunity. Applebaum also explains that Europe’s less competitive nations have been trying to export their anti-growth policies in an effort to “make life equally difficult everywhere.”

Bush vetoes Iraq bill

Those who know me know I was against the Iraq War from the start, for reasons I don't have time to explain in this brief post. But once we got into Iraq, I have always believed that we have an obligation to finish the job. What matters is not whether we should have gone into or Iraq or not, whether the planning was flawed, the mistakes that were made or not made, nor whether "the polls" say the war is popular or not. What matters is : do we want to win or lose? And the Democrats plan gives the enemy a timetable for victory and a loss for the Iraqi people and our troops. Everything that our troops and the Iraqi government have worked and died for would be in vain.

So I was quite pleased to see President Bush do the right thing in vetoing the Iraq bill. Key Quotes from his veto speech:

...members of the House and the Senate passed a bill that substitutes the opinions of politicians for the judgment of our military commanders. So a few minutes ago, I vetoed the bill.


It makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing. All the terrorists would have to do is mark their calendars and gather their strength and begin plotting how to overthrow the government and take control of the country of Iraq.

I believe setting a deadline for withdrawal would demoralize the Iraqi people, would encourage killers across the broader Middle East, and send a signal that America will not keep its commitments.


Third, the bill is loaded with billions of dollars in non- emergency spending that has nothing to do with fighting the war on terror. Congress should debate these spending measures on their own merits, and not as a part of an emergency funding bill for our troops.


In January, General Petraeus was confirmed by a unanimous vote in the United States Senate. In February, we began sending the first of the reinforcements he requested.

Not all these reinforcements have arrived in Baghdad. And as General Petraeus has said, it will be the end of the summer before we can assess the impact of this operation. (Which is when the Democratic plan would have troops begin leaving Iraq - ed.)

All emphasis mine. Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

New disease targeting adults in China accused of corruption

Simon from Simon World sheds light on a new and terrible disease that recently hit a judge in China accused of corruption: SADS - Sudden Adult Death Syndrome!

The Chinese judge accused of corruption died of SADS, not cuts to his face, gashes across his lip, mistreatment by China's police, torture or stubbing his toes. "There were no reports that torture was used to extract a confession, or bodily harm caused by guards, or an assault by cellmates."

Of course not.

I expect this terribly contagious and alarming disease to spread rapidly amongst other freedom-loving, democratic societies such as those found in Egypt, Iran, Syria, Russia, and Zimbabwe.

Fred Thompson on criticism of the U.S. from abroad

Via NRO. Key line:

So I wouldn’t worry too much about the criticisms we receive. We make mistakes and at times the “carping” may even be on target, but it seems to me that we ought to look at a lot of the complaints as a badge of honor.


We’re also hopeful that, eventually, our ostrich-headed allies will realize there’s a world war going on out there and they need to pick a side — the choice being between the forces of civilization and the forces of anarchy. Considering the fact that the latter team is growing stronger and bolder daily, while most of our European Union friends continue to dismantle their defenses, that day may not be too long in coming.

In the meantime, let’s be realistic about the world we live in. Mexican leaders apparently have an economic policy based on exporting their own citizens, while complaining about U.S. immigration policies that are far less exclusionary than their own. The French jail perfectly nice people for politically incorrect comments, but scold us for holding terrorists at Guantanamo.

Outstanding photo-journal from Michael Yon

Part II of Michael Yon's photo journal can be found here. Part I is here.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Frank Miller: The Next Big Thing in Hollywood

Thanks to the box office success and acclaim of 300 and Sin City, Frank Miller is now the next big thing in Hollywood, having been now asked to write and direct his own film based on Will Eisner's "The Spirit".

Now there's a sweet satisfaction in the fact that the new Hollywood approach is to hire fan-boy directors and show fawning respect for the source material. "Sin City's" Robert Rodriguez even insisted on sharing director credits with Miller on those films (a maverick stand that cost Rodriguez his membership in the Directors Guild), and that led directly to a somewhat shocking development: Miller has now been tapped to write and direct his own film based on Will Eisner's classic noir hero "The Spirit."

One of the producers, Michael Uslan, also the producer of "Constantine" and executive producer of "Batman Begins," said the filming will start this year and that there already is intense interest from distributors given the splashy success of "300," which grossed $70 million in just its first weekend. Uslan was an executive producer on more than half a dozen superhero movies, including the Tim Burton "Batman" films, and he said Miller's relative newcomer role to Hollywood is not a problem.

"Honestly, to me, there's nobody else that could do this film. I saw him at Will Eisner's memorial service last year and I told him that I'd been turning comic books into movies for years, but that with 'Sin City' he's doing something better: He was making movies into comic books. I told him he had to make 'The Spirit.' He said there was no way he could do it. Then after three minutes he said, 'There's no way I can let anybody else do it.' "

Asked about the change of heart in town, Miller smiled like the Catwoman who ate the canary. "It's gone from being an abusive relationship to a torrid affair. And it is very satisfying. I think I have everybody fooled now."

I've been a Frank Miller fan for as long as I can remember. I first fell in love with Frank Miller's art in the outstanding Wolverine short-series penned by Chris Claremont, where Frank Miller also helped come up with the base storyline. Soon after I got ahold of the equally outstanding Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, to this day the best Batman story ever told, in my opinion. Then along came 1992 and the issue of Dark Horse Presents that presented the first dark vision of Frank Miller's Sin City creation. I was instantly hooked and couldn't wait for the next issue of Dark Horse Presents to come out so I could devour the next short installment of Sin City and Marv. Sin City was such a success that Frank Miller and Dark Horse Comics began publishing more Sin City stories, only this time under their own dedicated title. While the original Sin City story has a special place in my heart, the other stories are just as good. Soon I had bought and digested Ronin, an early Frank Miller masterpiece that I had somehow missed in my youth, and was introduced to Frank Miller's Daredevil years through his work on Elektra. He is one of the most gifted and talented writers in the comics industry and his work as an artist is equally impressive. From this same LA Times article:

He got to New York by 21, and within three years he was a fan favorite with a style that was jolting. It was dark and gritty, with bold brushwork and empty spaces that defied the marketplace conventions of the time, in which the bright, clean intricacies of John Byrne and George PĂ©rez were the perceived ideal. That era too belonged to superhero teams with cosmic adventures and bulging, spandex-clad anatomies that defied physics, but Miller was writing and drawing violent operettas for the mean streets with mere mortals such as Daredevil and Batman, who have no powers. The inner spirit was more Bernard Goetz than George Lucas.

"The main reason was I didn't draw good spaceships," he said with a shrug. "I drew tough guys in trench coats, and I liked using black and shadows." The mid-1980s brought the shift of comics toward more mature ambitions and Miller (along too with Alan Moore, writer of "The Watchman") was at the center of the renaissance. His defining characters — Daredevil, Elektra, the aging Batman of "Dark Knight," the disgraced samurai of "Ronin" — were solitary, haunted, honor-bound and extremely efficient at hurting other people. Reading Miller, Mickey Spillane and Clint Eastwood sprang to mind, especially when one Daredevil cover was an overt homage to "Dirty Harry."

Frank Miller was a welcome change to the spandex-clad, muscle-bound, reality-free superhero universe of the modern age. He brought grit and dark realism to the table and gave us flawed heroes who still managed to uphold justice and punish those that would do evil, as well as the brutal anti-heroes from his Sin City line. It's only fitting that such a talent has finally found his way to the big screen, doing things his way, and I can only hope for more from the gifted author and artist. What has endeared him even more to me, in this world of political correctness and hyper-sensitivity, is his no-nonsense assessment of islamo-fascism post-9/11:

MUCH has been made of Miller's politics in the wake of "300." The deliriously violent and stylized sword film is based on a Spartan battle in 480 B.C., and although Miller wrote and drew the story for Dark Horse comics a decade ago, in film form it was received by many as a grotesque parody of the ancient Persians and a fetish piece for a war on Islam. Miller scoffs at those notions. "I think it's ridiculous that we set aside certain groups and say that we can't risk offending their ancestors. Please. I'd like to say, as an American, I was deeply offended by 'The Last of the Mohicans.' "

Still, Miller gets stirred up about any criticism of the war in Iraq or the hunt for terrorists, which he views as the front in a war between the civilized Western world and bloodthirsty Islamic fundamentalists.

"What people are not dealing with is the fact that we're going up against a culture that finds it acceptable to do things that the rest of the world left behind with the barbarians in the 6th century," Miller said. "I'm a little tired of people worrying about being polite. We are fighting in the face of fascists."

The director of "300," Zack Snyder, chuckled about the portrayal of Miller as a conservative on the attack or a "proto-fascist" as one pundit called him. "I don't think he really has politics, he just sees the world in moral terms. He's a guy who says what he thinks and has a sense of right and wrong. He talks tough and, after Sept. 11, I think he's mad." Snyder said Miller is a throwback and that he approaches his art with a bar-fight temperament, like a Sam Peckinpah. "His political view is: Don't mess with me."

Thank you, Frank Miller.

April Federal Receipts: Will it smash records?

BizzyBlog says he is "...not absolutely, positively, totally, 100% sure (but awfully close)..." that Federal Receipts in April will smash records:

So, unless I’m not correct to be absolutely, positively, totally, 100% sure (but awfully close), our unfortunate liberal economist friends will have to answer some very uncomfortable questions after it all becomes official at 2:00 PM on May 10. Some of them will include:

  • How can tax collections be going up so much when GDP growth during the past year hasn’t been anything special?
  • Why haven’t the Bush tax cuts, especially the investment-related ones of 2003, led to the decreases in collections we predicted back then?
  • Since Income and Employment Taxes Not Withheld have increased so dramatically, and because we know that this collections in this category primarily come from “the rich,” how are we going to break it to our friends in Congress and the Formerly Mainstream Media that we don’t have to “soak the rich,” because they are allowing themselves to get soaked already?
  • What are we going to tell those soon-to-be-former friends in Congress and Old Media when they come to us and ask for projections of how much additional money can be collected if tax rates are increased, when we now know that what will increase revenues even more is another tax-rate CUT (see Ireland, Iceland, Hong Kong, and Estonia [third item at link])?

Greatest movie car chase of all time?

Via Michael Silence of KnoxNews No Silence Here. The nominees are Bullitt, The French Connection, The Seven-Ups, Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, The Blues Brothers, The Road Warrior, To Live and Die in LA, Ronin, and The Bourne Identity.

I voted for Ronin, one of my favorite movies, although it wasn't an easy decision - Bullitt and The Road Warrior were my other considerations, I could have gone with any of them but settled with Ronin for sheer, gutsy driving and superb editing. I liked The Bourne Identity but was surprised to see it as a nominee in this list, that was a nice car chase scene but I've seen better. And not a single nomination from any of the Bond movies? Sure, most of them are pretty unrealistic, but what about the famous chase scene from From Your Eyes Only where Bond and Melina escape the bad guys in a beat up Citroen after Bond's Lotus is blown up. Or the car chase through the streets of Bangkok in The Man With the Golden Gun? One of the most memorable chase scenes in Bond films is the boats through the waterways of Louisiana in Live and Let Die, but then again those are boats and not cars.

Anyways, just surprised to not see a single Bond movie mention in this poll.

Currently Bullitt is the clear favorite at 36% of the vote. The Blues Brothers is in at number 2 and Ronin at number 3.

Hat tip to Instapundit.