Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ready for a Bus Ride to Heaven?

Climb on board as some of [C. S.] Lewis' most provocative and fiercely funny characters take a day trip from Hell to Paradise. Heaven awaits them . . . but will they like it?
Next month Max McLean and the Fellowship for the Performing Arts (FPA) open a stage production of C. S. Lewis' intriguing novel The Great Divorce in New York City. Tickets are now on sale.

The FPA is known for high quality imaginative theatrical productions. Their stage version of The Screwtape Letters played in Portland this June.

Here's a bit from the FPA on their production of The Great Divorce:
Ready for a bus ride to Heaven?

Fellowship For the Performing Arts—producers of the nationwide smash hit play THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS—invites you to take a celestial journey in the highly anticipated theatrical adaptation of C.S. Lewis' THE GREAT DIVORCE.

Climb on board as some of Lewis' most provocative and fiercely funny characters take a day trip from Hell to Paradise. Heaven awaits them . . . but will they like it?

"This is Lewis at his imaginative best," said Max McLean, FPA artistic director. "In THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, Lewis gives a 'demon's eye view' of the world below. But with THE GREAT DIVORCE, he explores a heavenly landscape of angels and spirits."

On the bus ride are characters drawn with Lewis' trademark wit and piercing understanding of human nature. This collection of self-satisfied day trippers includes a belligerent bully who only wants his rights, an old woman who can't stop grumbling long enough to question whether she has anything to grumble about, a bishop too "wise" to actually believe, and a famous artist more focused on his reputation than his art.

As celestial spirits welcome each of these ghosts—often someone they knew on Earth—THE GREAT DIVORCE brings to vivid clarity the gulf fixed between Heaven and Hell—the "divorce" of the title.

"There are only two kinds of people in the end," Lewis writes, "those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'"

Will the ghosts stay? Or will they go back?

Get on board and take the journey—a trip that leaves no one unchanged.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Brazil Seeing Extreme Cold Weather

Max has noted that the Farmer's Almanac is predicting a "bitterly cold" winter for the U.S. this year.

Well, Brazil has already received a taste of it. Every so often Rio Grande do Sul the southern most state in Brazil has a light snow fall. But, today residents of Caxias do Sul woke up to find an extreme weather condition for them--the ground was covered with snow. The soccer club there had a great time playing in it and even having snowball fights.

Brazil's winter is during our summer. So, we've been doubly warned.

Friday, August 23, 2013

NPR: Obamacare Will Force Millions to Change Health Insurance Coverage or Give It Up

NPR reports that Obamacare will force millions of people to change their health care insurance contrary to President Obama's promise that "if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan".

NPR focuses on the need for millions of Americans to upgrade their current health insurance coverage and pay considerably more per month. But the end of NPR's report hints that millions of people who cannot afford significantly higher health care costs may be forced to completely drop insurance coverage and pay the minimal penalty instead.

In California (which has about 12% of the nation's population), 2 million people buy their own insurance. Of those, 1.3 million will not meet the standards to get a tax subsidy and will have to choose whether to pay lots more per month for health care or give up health care insurance entirely and pay a small fine.

Add the millions of people buying their own insurance in the rest of the nation to California's 1.3 million, and you have the specter of millions of Americans actually losing health care coverage under Obamacare.

H/T Byron York

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sarah Palin Receives Begrudging Acknowledgement from the Left

A touch of humor underlining a serious point from Sarah Palin's facebook page:

Max has a good post on major people on the Left (Howard Dean and Noam Chomsky) acknowledging that Palin has been right on crucial issues.  Following on Chomsky's interview last year (video here), Howard Dean called for abolishing the Independent Payment Advisory Board last month in a Wall Street Journal op-ed arguing that it has the dangerous ability to deny medical treatment--a point Palin made in her "death panel" charge in 2009.
"The IPAB will be able to stop certain treatments its members do not favor by simply setting rates to levels where no doctor or hospital will perform them," wrote Dean, who is also a physician. "Getting rid of the IPAB is something Democrats and Republicans ought to agree on."
Then there was praise for her leadership in fighting crony capitalism in the New York Times in 2011.

When is the last time you heard any leading lights on the Left give similar "they were are right" treatment to other Republican leaders. To Mitt Romney? To John McCain? To anyone in the Bush family? Or how about Chris Christie?

It looks like Sarah Palin is smarter than all of them, and has more courage because she didn't cave even when receiving incoming fire from liberals and establishment (and sometimes conservative) Republicans.

That these admissions are not big, hat eating news to "conservative" commentators who have been so quick to criticize and dismiss Palin, tells a lot about the lack of insight and character of those commentators.

Month by month and year by year Palin looks more and more like she wears the mantle of Reagan's style of courage and leadership in the face of unwarranted criticism from their own side.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ichiro Suzuki's 4000th Hit

Today is a great day for baseball. Ichiro Suzuki got his 4000th hit in professional baseball (1,278 in Japan's Pacific League and 2,722 in the American League of Major League Baseball). He's now in a class with Ty Cobb (4,191 hits) and Pete Rose (4,256 hits). In classic Ichiro style he demurred on the achievement:
“[Mine] is a record that is from two leagues,” Ichiro told reporters before last night’s game. “Those guys did it in one league. I don’t think you have to put me in that same category as them.”

Being congratulated by his teammates and manager, Joe Girardi.

Acknowledging the cheers of the crowd.

Ichiro is not only a great baseball player, but a man of character with true class.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

18 Heroes Who Died July 2 to August 18, 2013

July 2 - Spc. Hilda I. Clayton, 22, of Augusta, Ga., died in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, of a non-combat related incident that occurred in Qaraghahi, Afghanistan. The incident is under investigation.

July 3 - 1st Sgt. Tracy L. Stapley, 44, of Clearfield, Utah, died at Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar, in a non-combat related incident. The incident is under investigation.

July 4 - Pvt. Errol D.A. Milliard, 18, of Birmingham, Ala., died in Farah province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with a rocket propelled grenade while on dismounted patrol.

July 14 - Lance Cpl. Benjamin W. Tuttle, 19, of Gentry, Ark., died at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center following a medical evacuation from the aircraft carrier the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) during a scheduled port visit in the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility.  This incident is under investigation.

July 16 - Staff Sgt. Sonny C. Zimmerman, 25, of Waynesfield, Ohio, died in Mushaka, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his vehicle was attacked by a rocket propelled grenade.

July 22 - Spc. Anthony R. Maddox, 22, of Port Arthur, Texas, died in Landstuhl, Germany, of a non-combat related incident that occurred in Andar, Afghanistan. The incident is under investigation.

July 23 - They died in Soltan Kheyl, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device. Killed were:
- 1st Lt. Jonam Russell, 25, of Cornville, Ariz.,
- Sgt. Stefan M. Smith, 24 of Glennville, Ga., and
- Spc. Rob L. Nichols, 24, of Colorado Springs, Colo.

July 27 - They died in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device and small arms fire.  Killed were:
- Sgt. Eric T. Lawson, 30, of Stockbridge, Ga., and
- Spc. Caryn E. Nouv, 29, of Newport News, Va.

July 28 - Sgt. Stephen M. New, 29, of Bartlett, Tenn., died in Bagram, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by small arms fire in the Sarobi District of Kabul Province, Afghanistan.

July 30 - Spc. Nicholas B. Burley, 22, of Red Bluff, Calif., died in Pul-E-Alam, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with indirect fire.

Spc. Nick Welch
August 6 - Spc. Nickolas S. Welch, 26, of Mill City, Ore., died in Bethesda, Md., of injuries sustained July 23, when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device in Soltan Kheyl, Wardak Province, Afghanistan. From the Statesman-Journal:
Spc. Nick Welch, 26, was critically injured when a suicide bomber rode up to his unit on a donkey and detonated an improvised explosive device July 23 in Soltan Kheyl, Afghanistan. Three members of his unit died immediately in the attack, the defense department said.

Welch was flown to a hospital in Germany where his parents, Lorria and Barry Welch, and his brother, Zack Welch, met him before he was flown to a Bethesda, Md., hospital.

Welch was a 2005 graduate of Santiam High School. His friends and neighbors gathered at the school’s football field to light candles and share stories about Welch’s childhood during a July 25 vigil.

“Being a small school and a small community, we have very tight bonds here. The whole community is mourning his loss,” said Santiam Canyon School District Superintendent Todd Miller. “We’re very proud of his service, but we feel very sorry for him and his family.”

Friends at the vigil described Welch as a funny guy who was prone to playing pranks. They also described him as a star football player and a loyal friend.

Welch enlisted in the U.S. Army about three years ago after he and childhood friend Chris Downey struggled to find work. Downey never joined the military, but Welch enlisted and was sent to Fort Stewart, Ga. He deployed on his first overseas tour about six months ago, Downey said.

Welch was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
August 11 - They died of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with indirect fire.  Killed were:
- Staff Sgt. Octavio Herrera, 26, of Caldwell, Idaho,
- Sgt. Jamar A. Hicks, 22, of Little Rock, Ark., and
- Spc. Keith E. Grace Jr., 26, of Baytown, Texas.

August 18 - 1st Lt. Timothy G. Santos Jr., 29, of Helena, Ala., died in Fort Bliss, Texas, from a non-combat related illness diagnosed on March 24, in Kuwait City, Kuwait.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ryan Dempster Plays the Bully and Sinks the Red Sox

Last night's Red Sox / Yankees game was interesting on a number of counts.

First, was the about as clear as it gets intentional hitting of Yankee Alex Rodriguez by Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster.  After a near miss in hitting A-Rod by throwing behind his feet (about as inside as you can get), Dempster hit him squarely on the 4th pitch.

Dempster hits at A-Rod

Ryan Dempster after 1st attempt to hit A-Rod
Whatever one thinks of the charges against Rodriguez, a professional pitcher intentionally throwing a 92 mph fastball at another player to hurt them is despicable.  Most of us would much rather live in the same household with someone who cheats on tests than with a bully who beats up other kids when they have no defense.  The one comes from understandable character flaws of wanting to succeed.  The other comes from cruelty at worst and mob justice at best.

Second, plate umpire Brian O'Nora was hit by a pitch that glanced off Yankee catcher Chris Stewart's mitt.  The ball hit O'Nora in the throat area though it glanced off his throat protector.  O'Nora had a few uncomfortable moments, but continued the game just fine.  O'Nora was the umpire who didn't throw Dempster out (but did throw complaining Yankee manager Joe Girardi out) after Dempster hit Rodriguez. One couldn't help but think that it was a reminder to O'Nora of how much even a deflected pitch can hurt and how physically dangerous a fastball that hits you can be.

Umpire Brian O'Nora watches as A-Rod scores on home run off Dempster
Third, Alex Rodriguez got a home run off Dempster in the 6th inning.  It was a sweet come back just like the game should be played.

Fourth, Red Sox pitchers hit three other Yankee batters in the game (though it was through bad control not intentionally).

Fifth, the Yankees' won a 9 to 6 victory over the Red Sox after playing the game right and not retaliating by intentionally hitting Red Sox star David Ortiz or another Red Sox player with a fastball.

Finally, the Yankees won two out of three on this series due as much to Dempster's igniting the Yankees by his bullying tactics as anything else.  Nice that Dempster lost the game after leading 2-0 before intentionally hitting Rodriguez.  Sad for the rest of the Red Sox who have real class to have to play the rest of the season with a guy like Dempster.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Post World War II Economic Growth Didn't Take Off Until the JFK Tax Cuts of 1960's

Larry Kudlow, via the New York Sun, quotes economic historian Brian Domitrovic on the anemic U.S. economy after WWII until the Kennedy tax cuts of the 1960's raised an under 2.5% annual growth rate from 1944 to 1960 to more than double that average in the 1960's. It wasn't Europe's need for rebuilding or U.S. hunger for civilian goods after the severe rationing of war years that powered a roaring U.S. economy. It was President John F. Kennedy's tax cut policy.
However, speaking in Galesburg, Ill., this summer, Mr. Obama served up a convenient historical fairy tale: “In the period after world War II,” he said, “a growing middle class was the engine of our prosperity.” Presumably he was thinking of a time when high taxes on the rich and industrial-union rule had the middle class soaring. The trouble is, Mr. Obama’s history is wrong.

From 1944 to 1960, with a top tax rate of 90%, the U.S. economy expanded at an anemic 2.1% annual pace, according to economic historian Brian Domitrovic. And during the Eisenhower years, the economy grew at a subpar 2.4% yearly rate, including three recessions, which Mr. Domitrovic says made for “the worst growth of any post-war president until George W. Bush and Barack Obama came along.”

So much for post-war prosperity.

But then came the 1960s, the decade liberals love to hate. Why? Because the path-breaking supply-side tax cuts of John F. Kennedy generated one of the greatest booms in economic history.

Actually, according to Domitrovic, it was two big tax cuts that delivered that prosperity. The first was a business tax cut put in place in 1962, and the second was an across-the-board personal tax cut that began in early 1964.

The result? Domitrovic reminds us that the eight-year expansion from 1961 to 1969 saw growth of 48% — a third more in an eight-year period than in the 16 years ending in 1960. So the post-war prosperity of 1944 to 1969 did exist at roughly 3% per year. But only because the 1960s lifted everything up. Tax rates were reduced by Kennedy for top-to-bottom income earners.

Conveniently, John Kennedy’s powerful tax-cut slashing on business, individuals, and investors doesn’t exist in the Left’s post-war, economic narrative. It’s been rubbed out of history, replaced by a liberal vision of powerful unions and high tax rates on the rich, which is supposed to create growth. And expectedly, Obama and the Left never make the connection between the Kennedy tax cuts and the Reagan tax cuts 20 years later, which essentially copied the JFK model.

Not only did Reagan copy JFK’s across-the-board rate reduction, he even dusted off his rhetoric. Reagan frequently talked about a rising tide lifting all boats, after-tax incentives to keep more of what you earn, and how lower tax rates produce higher tax revenues. In fact, Reagan credited Kennedy when the 1980’s tax cuts got the economy moving again.
H/T Steve Brawley for the photo

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Associated Press Again Shows Its Incompetence as a News Source

If you ever look to the Associated Press for real news, you might want to consider that they do "creative" misreporting. Like inserting creative phrases in the President's statements to hide problems with those statements. They only correct when there is significant public pressure applied by those who have access to the original statement.

President Obama made a number of gaffes (e.g., not knowing the difference between the summer and winter olympics; and not knowing where major U.S. ports are) in his Leno appearance.  Had they been made by a Republican president (remember how George W. Bush's gaffes were played up by the press?) you can bet the Associated Press would have headlined them rather than making up an explanation and inserting it as part of the original quotation.

Then there is the Associated Press bias:

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham Receive Egyptian Put Down While Carrying Obama Administration Water

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham were key in the Gang of 8 to pass the Obama Administration's deeply desired immigration bill in the Senate.  Now they are acting as Obama administration emissaries demanding that Egypt include the Muslim Brotherhood in its new government and release Muslim Brotherhood prisoners.

Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain meet with Egyptian Vice President Mohamed Elbaradei (Egyptian Presidency)

Egyptians are not only refusing to cave to U. S. threats,  but have called out McCain and Graham for interfering in Egypt's internal affairs, being foolish and, in McCain's case, for being "a senile old man."  Ouch. This appears to be a case where foreigners are willing to do work Americans won't do.

From the New York Sun
Spokesmen for both the [Egyptian] presidency and the prime minister immediately took umbrage, joined by an array of press commentators, who accused the two Americans, Senators McCain and Graham, of “manufacturing facts” and of “unwelcome interference in Egypt’s internal affairs.” The flagship Egyptian newspaper, Al Ahram, said the senators engaged in “foolish statements that are unacceptable.”

Following a press conference in which Mr. McCain threatened sanctions, the leader of the Egyptian Popular Current party, Hamdeen Sabahi, who is a co-leader of the ruling National Salvation Front, described Mr. McCain as “a senile old man.”
. . .
With the second most powerful army after Israel, Egypt is a major factor in the search for peace, as is being demonstrated by the second revolutionary government, which, recognizing the danger of the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremist Islamic factions, is moving to isolate Hamas in the Gaza district.

A sense of how Egypt sees things came yesterday from a scion of the fallen Hosni Mubarak old guard, Amr Moussa, who served a decade as Egyptian foreign minister and another as secretary general of the League of Arab States. Addressing via a television interview Senators McCain and Graham he said: “Neither of you are delegated to open the dictionary on our behalf to designate a coup from a revolution. Of course we did choose Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood companions via the ballot box, but that does not exempt them from consequences of criminal behavior.”

Recalling the Richard Nixon episode, Mr. Moussa noted that ‘’The United States was the first to remove its elected president when he faced lesser charges that those now weighing over the leadership the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The McCain-Graham-Obama ham-handed interference in Egypt bodes ill for U.S. interests.
To America the loss, if the confrontation gets out of hand, would be larger than Egypt’s. It could plunge America into an era like that which obtained between 1952 and 1970, when Gamal Abdel Nasser used Egypt’s clout to fan Arab Nationalism and anti-Americanism across Africa and the Arab world.