Free Markets, Free People


GOP Candidate Thumbnails

After watching last night’s debate, I think I’ve finally nailed down my final impressions of the candidates.

I can’t help it, but every time I see Michelle Bachmann, she strikes me as being minutes away from boiling a bunny. But she hides the whole Fatal Attraction vibe pretty well.

Newt Gingrich seems to have a high opinion of himself, and the massively weighty thoughts that spring from his Olympian brow. He seems to content to let other people follow up on those ideas, as he’s too busy producing new deep thoughts to craft the old ones into reality. Thank God.

When Ron Paul starts his inevitable tirade against the Freemasons/Jews, I can’t say I will be surprised.

Mitt Romney almost convinces me that he does have core conservative principles. Almost.

If I close my eyes when Rick Perry speaks, the foremost image in my mind is George W. Bush. A slightly more eloquent one, of course.

A Rick Santorum/John Edwards ticket would have been the prettiest campaign team EVER. And talk about a "big tent"!

What can I say about Jon…um…Hunter? Hu….mmmm…Huntsman! Yes. Huntsman—that hasn’t already been said? Very distinguished hair.

Gary Johnson is a way friendlier face for libertarianism than Ron Paul. Or would be, if anyone outside New Mexico had ever heard of him.

If Jeb Bush could change his last name to "Rogers" or something, and jump into the race, he would probably lock up the nomination in days.

Dale Franks
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Axlerod on Gingrich

What is it with these guys that they feel they have to come up with stuff like this?

"The higher a monkey climbs on the pole the more you can see his butt."

Good thing no one has said something like this about our black president.  However, Axlerod should know that his man is waaaay up that pole and his posterior has been hanging out there for all to see for years.  And it is not a pretty sight, politically speaking.


Twitter: @McQandO

This is just funny

Thanks to looker for the link. No telling how long it will remain up so view it while you can:



Looker says the South African friend who sent it to him says Zimbabwe is demanding an apology.

Oh those wacky homicidal dictators.  Apparently the one still living doesn’t have much of a sense of humor.  Go figure.


Twitter: @McQandO

The Deniers rear their ugly heads again

Researchers at CERN, the big European physics laboratory, have released some interesting findings that, if true,would  cast doubt on a fundamental conclusion made by Einstein’s theory of relativity.

From 2009 through 2011, the massive OPERA detector buried in a mountain in Gran Sasso, Italy, recorded particles called neutrinos generated at CERN arriving a smidge too soon, faster than light can move in a vacuum. If the finding is confirmed by further experiments, it would throw more than a century of physics into chaos.

For over a century, since Albert Einstein published the Special Theory of Relativity (SRT)—buttressed further in 1916 by the General Theory—it has been settled science that the speed of is nature’s ultimate speed limit.  As an object approaches the speed of light, its mass increases. At the speed of light—were it possible to reach it—the object’s mass would be infinite. That would require, of course, an infinite amount of energy to propel the object.  Hence, moving faster than the speed of light is a physical impossibility.

Since 1905, through direct experimentation, mathematical modeling, and, later, measurements taken during the space program, as well as computer models, science has time and time again proved that the Special Theory of Relativity does, in fact, accurately model the way the universe works. The entire foundation of modern physics is built upon SRT. It has been proven correct over and over again. Clearly, SRT is settled science. An attempt to overturn it is, essentially, an attempt to overturn the entire body of physics that has been so painstakingly established over the past century.

Obviously, SRT is true.  Its conclusions are beyond questioning. Again, the science is settled, and there is almost universal scientific consensus about the truth of SRT.

Since that is so, one wonders what purpose the experiments at CERN might be. SRT needs no further validation, so there must be other motives. Who is funding this experimentation? Why are they so interested in denying SRT? If SRT is overturned, the implications throw cosmology in general into disarray. Out would go the Big Bang theory. Is this new experiment real science, or is it just another ploy of Big Plasma to overturn the settled view of cosmology?

These "scientists" at CERN say that more experimentation is needed to validate these results. But, they are so clearly wrong, it’s difficult to see what purpose further experimentation along these lines would serve. This transparent attempt to return physics to the limited and primitive world of physical experimentation, rather than the modern use of sophisticated mathematical models, is deeply subversive.

Now, there are calls for trying to replicate this experiment—at US taxpayer expense—at the Fermilab, here in the US. I see no reason to risk the scientific integrity of our premier physics laboratory pursuing the dreams of these SRT deniers at CERN.

SRT’s proof is incontrovertible, and any attempt to prove otherwise is a perversion of science. The science is settled. Consensus is almost universal. So, let’s not pursue these silly, pointless experiments. The important thing to remember about science is that, once you question the received wisdom proven repeatedly in the past, the result is chaos. It is vitally important that we do not throw all of modern physics and cosmology into disarray over some odd experimental results that really have no real-world application.

That would just be silly.

Dale Franks
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Blackout diary

You may have heard that, at about 15:38 Pacific time yesterday, an APS worker outside of Yuma, AZ, accidentally tripped a fault that shut off power to parts of Arizona, California, and Baja California in Mexico. So, one guy, apparently, can shut down power to 3 states in 2 countries. That really fills me with confidence about the robustness of the electrical grid.

Anyway, I was one of the 6 million people who lost power during this horrific crisis. In an instant, we were thrown into the stone age by the loss of modern technology, living in a world lit only by fire. I kept a diary of this  frightening experience. Below are my diary notes, written contemporaneously during the collapse. I append it here so that historians can know how it really was.

1538: Crap! I just lost all electrical power at my house! So much for liveblogging tonight. My netbook and 4G modem work though.

1550: Can’t get to the SDG&E web site, or through on the phone. Odd.

1605: Liveblogging president’s jobs speech. Streaming video from White House via 4G modem on my netbook with its tiny screen. Inconvenient. Like being a settler in a covered wagon. Will the power ever come back?

1724: I’m learning how people lived in Oldy Days without electricity. This sucks. Why do these things always happen to me?

1745: Power outages throughout San Diego County, reports of outages in Mexico, AZ, NM. Millions without power. Trolleys dead. Massive traffic.

1840: Went out on my motorcycle for a pack of smokes. Stores closed, smokes hard to acquire. Had to go to 2 stores to find them. Civilization is breaking down. Loading my rifles now.

1930: Darkness is falling. Dinner time approaching. Must resist cannibalistic urges.

2018: So, ONE GUY can cut off power to three states in two countries? One guy? Seriously?

2100: SDG&E says, "If you have a personal family emergency plan, activate it now." My personal family emergency plan is to kill my neighbors for their food. Too soon? Or do they already suspect my plans?

2140: No power for 6 hours. Veneer of civilization crumbling away. Typing on a netbook via 4G in candlelight like some sort of animal.

2230: 7 hours without power. My white wines are perilously close to room temperature. We’re just living like wild beasts now.

2316: Must go to bed and try to sleep now. All windows are open to try to cool the house. Temperature must be approaching 80°. May start sweating at any minute. Physical torture affecting my thought processes.

2330: With the candles out, it’s pitch black. Strange noises outside the windows. What was once civilization may now be infested by wolves and mountain lions. Or possums.

2340: Must try to sleep. Thank God for the protection offered by my four large dogs. If I am alive in the morning, it is thanks to them.

0230: Am awoken by lights, television. Air conditioning back on, so I have to get up and close all the windows. That sucks, ’cause I have to be up at 0700. Will this horror never end!?

0231: Oh, wait…

Some may try to trivialize this blackout in the future. But now you know how it really was.

Dale Franks
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Scene from a modern American newsroom

{Reporters and editors staff meeting, Metropolis Times-Post-Globe-Tribune, Monday, August 8, 2011}

“OK, people, this looks like a big week. There’s a lot coming down this week, so we all need to do some serious, in-depth work to stay ahead of the curve. First, we’ve got the downgrade and the associated fallout. I need someone who can look at the aftereffects, and make a guess about what it means.”

“Chief, I’ve been doing some analysis on this, and…”

“Stop right there, Beth. This is another one of those ‘Obama made a mistake’ pieces you want to do, isn’t it? When I hired you last spring, I thought I made it clear that we take a balanced approach here. We need to look for fault on all sides, and respect the office of the presidency. Walt, how about you?”

“Chief, do we have to use the word fallout? On this weekend’s talk shows, everyone was using the term ‘Tea Party downgrade’. I think that’s the right analysis. Why, with that approach, the piece practically writes itself.”

“Perfect. Since that’s the new factor in DC, it’s clear that the Tea Party is the biggest factor in this. Get to work. Beth, what is it?”

“Uh, sir, how does a faction that only controls 1/3 of the majority party in one house of Congress cause this problem in only seven months? Don’t we need to go back further in time for a better analysis?”

“No, this is a newspaper, not some right-wing think tank.”

“But, sir, the articles I read about the Tea Party that we put out last year claimed they were just a bunch of whackjobs who would never have any significant effect on Washington because of their extremism. Don’t we at least need to examine how that changed over the last year?”

“No. Our readers understand how the Tea Party has morphed into a national threat. So the Tea Party downgrade is one direction we’ll go. But we need something with some math in it to explain the whole thirty year future thing. I know we don’t normally do math stuff, but with the stock market dropping like a rock, people need some reassurance on this so they don’t panic. Did anybody in here take calculus? Destiny, I seem to recall that it’s on your transcript.”

“Well, um, yeah, but I don’t remember much of it.”

“Your transcript says you made an A. And it was only two years ago. What gives?”

“Well, see, the teacher and me, we had a sort of arrangement. He was real cute, and I really needed to pass calculus, so…. I really didn’t expect the A, but we hit it off better than I thought we would.”

“OK, anybody else want to tackle that? Not you, Beth.”

“Chief, I know a guy over at MoveOn who is good with charts. I can probably get something good from him.”

“OK, Hunter, that will do. Of course, you’ll want to attribute the original source instead of MoveOn. You understand.”

“Certainly, sir.”

“Moving on, this whole gun running thing just won’t go away. Personally, I don’t see why our readers would be interested in it, but we’ve been taking some flack on the right-wing extremist talk shows at Fox. So we need to do some real investigation here, and find out the real story. It’s pretty clear that those extremists at Fox are trying to gin up a controversy that makes the Obama administration look bad, so we need to counter that with some objective analysis. Who’s up for it? Jeremy, you wrote a couple of articles on it early on. You want to go deep on it?”

“Not really, sir. I can’t get anybody in the Justice Department to talk about it, so I can’t get any balance. They’re scared by the way the whole Scooter Libby thing turned out.”

“Yeah, yet again, the Republicans ruined it for everybody. Can’t you get anyone to talk?”

“The only people I can get are field people, who seem to have an agenda here to push this as a controversy. I think they’ve been influenced by the Fox people. I don’t want to give them a soapbox. All they want to talk about is some dead agent from last year and memos from Obama’s people.”


“Yes, Beth, what is it?”

“Sir, I think we have to take into consideration that there’s a real conspiracy here, something that would take us to very high levels. This could even be Pulitzer material.”

“Beth, I think you’re absolutely right. Why, given the phone hacking scandals in Britain, who knows what these Fox people are capable of. This might go all the way to Rupert Murdoch.”

“That wasn’t exactly…”

“OK, Jeremy, there’s your angle. Go back to your sources and see if any of them are interested in talking about the Fox conspiracy side of things.

“What do you want me to do about the rumors that the FBI and DEA were involved?”

“They’re just rumors.”

“Yeah, but they have some emails that look a bit incriminating.”

“Probably faked. You know how those right wingers are. First they’ll claim that Rather’s memos were faked to cover up for Bush, then they’ll turn around and fake stuff up themselves. You can’t trust anything you get from them. So stick to reliable sources. Eric Holder says the feds didn’t do anything wrong, correct?”

“That’s what he says.”

“Then you can take it to the bank. We all know there are people out there who would attack Holder just because of his race. He’s an embattled public servant. So let’s make sure the truth gets out, shall we? Now, let’s see what’s next. There was apparently a riot in Wisconsin. A flash-mob thing. I think there was also one in Philadelphia a while back. This looks like a great opportunity for some serious cultural analysis on problems in the inner city. Estelle, didn’t you minor in black studies? You want to work on this?”

“I only glanced at it this weekend sir. Were any of the victims black?”

“I don’t know, I didn’t look at it much either. I’m so tired of Wisconsin. Yes, Beth?”

“Sir, the blogs say all the victims were white, and the mob was black.”

“How many times do I have to tell you to ignore those right wing extremist blogs? We need some primary sources. Estelle, can you get facts on this?”

“What if it turns out the blogs are right and there are no black victims? I don’t know how to handle such a case. Anything I write could be used to attack underprivileged minorities. I thought that was against our mission statement.”

“Well, if that turns out to be the case, just leave race out of it completely. You can at least get some numbers of people arrested and people hurt and so forth. Remember to leave all the names out so people don’t draw any erroneous conclusions and inappropriately make this a racial thing. You can fall back on the underage confidentiality thing for that if you need to. OK, the final big subject is the crash of that helicopter that killed a bunch of SEALs. Clearly, this is a great opening to talk about what Bush did wrong in Afghanistan that has made it a quagmire. Who wants to work on that?”

“I do!” “Me, me!” “Please, can I do that one?” “No, I want to do it!” ….