Monday, June 30, 2008

Ahmadineja Goes to 3D Movie While in Rome!

Actually the crazy guy from Iran has claimed that he was attacked by his enemies who used some sort of X-Ray weapon. The entire story is just strange, first the paranoid nut claims that he is being attacked by x-ray beams from Lord knows where and in response he dons cheap paper glasses with different colored celephane lenses. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and those around him are a very backwards group, the glasses make them look like the casting call for an Iranian version of the Gods Must Be Crazy.

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New Lies Seared, Seared Into Liberal Memories


After falling for the lies of John Kerry like a bunch of pre-teens hoping for a kiss some Democrats are now lying about John McCain's military record. The losers over at some trash site named America blog are incorrigible, they just can't help their juvenile selves. Where, one must ask does the "new politics," hopey-dopey-changey guy stand on this latest Democratic lie? Where indeed Barry?

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Some Chicagoans Take Up Civil War Again Today

The Chicago Cubs take on the Chicago White Sox this weekend at the new Comiskey Park that is named after some phone company.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Glen Reynolds Gets It - Bill O'Rielly, Not So Much

Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit had this to say about Bill O'Reilly of the Bill O'Reilly Show, "JEEZ, I'M WATCHING BILL O'REILLY TALK ABOUT OIL 'SPECULATORS' and he's making a fool of himself. He absolutely doesn't understand futures markets." Yes Professor, Mr. O'Reilly is clueless when it comes to the futures markets and many other economic issues. Occasional Flying Debris commenter MPW (who like me is a futures trader) and I regularly shake our head in the pit in amazement at what O'Reilly said the night before. Sometimes the man (O'Reilly) is pretty sensible, however his certainty is often very misplaced on many (very many!) economic issues. Another trading floor person, Phil Flynn no longer appears on the O'Reilly show after he took O'Reilly to task for the fact that O'Reilly believes some pretty strange things about the machinations of our economy (btw, that is my take on it, I have no idea what Phil's take is). Very weak Bill. If it matters I have known Phil Flynn for at least five years and consider him a friend, he gave me some good advice when I started to make more regular media appearances.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"New Direction Congress" Throws Energy Policy Under Bus

My congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) was part of this morning's "Abandoned Democratic Press Conference on Energy - 2008" at which the leaders of the "Wrong Direction Party" were to outline their "Excuses For Not Doing Anything Useful About Energy Since 1972", which I guess is why they threw the press conference under the bus. The announcement for the then soon to be abandoned press conference described the 110th Congress as the "New Direction Congress", well considering that the majority Democratic Party has deemed that "Thou Shalt Not Drive - Unless Your Car Is A Prius or You Are Rich" it would seem like a new direction. This lack of meaningful policy is not a "New Direction" for the Democratic Party, rather it is "The Same Old Thing".

What they were prepared to tell the nation concerning their obstructionist policies that have exasperated the recent rise in gasoline prices is anybody's guess, however my instincts tell me that the EPA may have had a hand in the cancellation, the Capital simply is not prepared for that much manure.

Hat Tip: Powerline

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

In Defense of Speculation

"Speculators" have traditionally gotten a bad rap but the word has practically come to mean "baby killer" as fuel prices have spiralled higher during the past few months. What people don't realize is how much "speculation" we all partake in during our lives, anytime a person buys something due to expectation of higher prices or lack of availability or holds off selling expecting higher prices, or conversely sells or waits to buy expecting lower prices, that person is speculating.

The role of speculators in markets like the current oil market has a few facets, the first is one that seems counter intuitive, speculators smooth out volatile markets. That seems hard to swallow considering some of the intra-day moves that we have seen in oil, however my experience has been that futures markets are almost always deeper and more liquid than the underlying cash markets and even more so when markets go crazy. One reason is that futures contracts deal with the market in the future giving a hedger or trader more time to deal with the market as opposed to the underlying cash markets that deal with the market in the here and now. It is not unusual for the volume traded in a futures market to represent many times the volume traded in the underlying cash market. It is completely reasonable to say that the addition of speculators helps to make markets less volatile than they otherwise would be.

Another advantage that speculators bring to markets is foresight, professional speculation involves looking at the world as it may be in the future given what is known at the time. It is a very interesting exercise that does a great service even when incorrect. Working out scenarios for the future can make markets and interested parties aware of potential problems and also of potential advantages so that market participants are less likely to be taken by surprise. The exercise also smooths out market moves, a market move will occur as more participants become aware of a scenario, the likelihood of it's occurrence and the scenario's time frame. The alternative is dramatic moves in very short time periods, instead of seeing dime changes overnight in the price of a gallon of gas we could see 50 and 75 cent increases overnight.

Another advantage that speculators bring to markets is the transference of risk, the liquidity that speculators help bring to markets help both users and producers lower their own exposure to the risk of price movement. Commercial users of futures markets use those markets to hedge against either increasing or decreasing prices and often times those commercial users market interests do not occur at the same time or price and that is where the speculator often steps in. The fact that there is trade between the areas where commercial users want to trade increases the attractiveness of using the markets to insure against risk. Speculators help businesses large and small protect themselves from a major risk, that of price.

When I hear politicians and others talk about the need to raise the margins of oil futures to 50% I am shocked at their ignorance, I wrote about futures margins here and I should stress that margins are simply a down payment that insures that a party to a trade is good for any losses that could ensue from a particular trade. The reason that the level seems so low is that markets are primarily used by entities looking to insure against future price movement and it is unreasonable to force them to leave such large amounts of money on deposit, especially if their position is backed by a position in the underlying cash market. The reason that it is unreasonable to levy 50% margins on speculators is that they serve some very important roles, some of which I have likely missed in the above paragraphs. Congress or a government bureaucracy taking over the decisions on margin levels is the same as having the government take over the setting of insurance rates, it would lead to less use of and usability of futures markets and more risk for American business. Bottom line, it is an ignorant idea.

This deserves it's own post but a short synopsis fits well here. I have been doing some investigation of the now infamous "Enron Loophole" that allows energy markets that exclusively trade electronically to avoid US governmental oversight. The Clinton era loophole for energy markets clearly exists but surprise, surprise much of the commentary is misinformed. The story is that the West Texas Intermediate oil trade that takes place on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) is all electronic thus it is beyond all American regulation. Due to the current political posturing as the Feds deal with issue all of those I spoke to chose their words carefully, a friend who runs a US trading firm just rolled his eyes when asked about the level of federal oversight and replied that the US government regulator the CFTC definitely oversees the trade on ICE. One issue is that the oil trade on Atlanta based ICE takes place on ICE Europe because ICE bought the International Petroleum Exchange in London in 2001. When they closed the London trading floor in 2005 ICE retained the London market designation, meaning that they are overseen by British regulators. The CFTC has been in very close contact with the British regulators and they have open access to ICE Europe trading screens and open position books. Don't get me wrong, it is a good idea to correct the "Enron Loophole" but is just height of silliness to suggest that the demand led oil rally that we have seen has been due to a regulatory loophole.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Speaking Democrat - level 101

  The Ace of Spades has linked to a fantastic You Tube featuring Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mi.) giving an apparently much needed lecture to the (likely empty) floor of the US House to explain what Democrats really mean when they use their special words and phrases. It all depends on the meaning of the word "rich", here's a hint, you look at the rich when you look in the mirror. 

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cubs Win First Half of Civil War

 The Cubs swept crosstown rivals the White Sox this weekend in what has come to be known as the Crosstown Classic. That is the name used by what was an early season exhibition charity game that was played in Wrigley Field one year and Comiskey Park the next year. While playing for the White Sox in 1988 Steve Lyons played all nine positions during the exhibition game. The Sox head out to L.A. for three games against the Dodgers and the Cubs have three home games against the Orioles this week before renewing the rivalry down at Comiskey next weekend. 

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

New Obama Presidential Seal...Gabba Gabba Hey!

Copyright: Ramones
Johnny, Joey, Tommy and Deedee or Barack? Gabba Gabba Hey.

Photo Copyright: Alex Brandon/AP

Update: More on the Ramones/Obama theme: Obama has spent the last year and a half singing I Wanna be Your Boyfriend and with all of the swooning women on the campaign trail some young men have latched on to the campaign thinking I Just Want to Have Something to Do, those men ignored the fact that many Obama followers have had a Teenage Lobotomy. The Obama campaign started out against Hilary Clinton singing Sheena is a Punk Rocker and Judy is a Punk but in the end they just Beat on the Brat.

 Because I don't view the world as sound bites and bumper stickers I don't appreciate those who campaign as if we are dealing with Rock and Roll Radio. If the Obama folks get their way I won't even be able to hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach because nobody will be able to afford the gas. If Obama gets elected they might have to Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment at which time I may follow the lead of the Obama supporters and insist that I Wanna Be Sedated.

 Of course throughout the campaign Obama's mentor and former minister Jeremiah Wright has been sitting in his gated community mansion lamenting that The KKK Took My Baby Away.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

First the Cougar - Now an Alligator Found in Chicago!

 A five foot long alligator was found in Bubbly Creek this afternoon. Bubbly Creek is the South Fork of the South Branch of the Chicago River, it got its name because for decades it was the sewer for the Chicago Stockyards. The gator was found at 37th and Racine, that is just a few blocks from Comiskey Park, I mean, US Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox. As I posted this morning the Sox are playing the Cubs this weekend (the Cubs currently lead the series 1 game to none). Okay Cub fans, fess-up, who let their gator loose down in Bridgeport? 

Some Chicago cougar posts from last Spring here, here, here and here.

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Chicago's Civil War Starts Today

No, we will not be fighting it out with the forces of Fr. Pfleger and Rev. Wright, rather the Cubs play the Sox this weekend at Wrigley Field. The series starts this afternoon.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Democratic Lies on Oil Leases

These people are shameless and they believe that their fellow Democrats are just dimwitted, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass) got the ball rolling last week and since then others have jumped on the BSers Bandwagon including my congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL).* They are telling the world that Big Oil is trying to game the lease system and that they have ample acreage to drill on but that they are refusing to drill, for some unknown, conspiratorial reason. Maybe Rahm's brother can get a movie made about evil oil executives not using oil leases. This does go along very well with the Democratic manner of looking at the world, not as complex often intertwined systems but rather as various conspiracies often featuring great and powerful invisible hands, just not the Adam Smith types of invisible hands.

It should not really take much to imagine why any certain leased land may not be drilled on, the most obvious being dry holes. While looking around the internet for a more complete answer I ran across American Anachronism, the blog of Lt. Col. Mark Ward, US Army (Ret.) and the good Colonel had the good sense to contact one of his fellow Heritage Foundation members and former Oklahoma Congressman Ernest Ishtook who wrote a very interesting response that includes the following:

Believe me, with oil at $130 per barrel, they would drill on those lands if it made sense to do so! No, not all oil and gas leases are “being used”, because not all of them have production-worthy quantities of oil or gas. Lots of people have property that is not being used, but government doesn’t use it as an excuse to take it away, or to forbid the owners from buying other property.

First, a company may lease property, but never have the funds to properly explore it or drill an exploratory well. Second, after paying for further tests (such as seismic), they often decide the lease isn’t worth the high, high costs of drilling after all. Or they may hold onto the lease for years until either higher oil prices or new technology makes it feasible to drill. Third, a company may lease property but drill on another tract (which drains a “pool” that covers multiple leased tracts), so perhaps they’re counting it as “not used” if no well is sunk on that particular piece of property. Fourth, they may try to drill and be blocked by government bureaucrats, environmental lawsuits, etc.

Finally, not all acres are alike. Some have lots of oil. Others have virtually known (sic). Saying they’re not drilling for oil everywhere is like faulting them for not digging a gold mine on every acre.

*The linked article includes an argument for new educational funding and relies on the idea that this nation does not contain a large number of underemployed engineers.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Obama Clicks Heels 3 Times and Finds Magical Motor!

Last weekend in Pennsylvania Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) made a speech that touched on all sorts of ignorant liberal delusions, he said that with the investment of $250 Billion 4 or 5 years ago that we could now have automobile engines that would not require fossil fuels. Was he high? Is he ill? Seriously, what the hell is wrong with the guy? Sure, I have been hearing such nonsense from some of my more liberal friends for decades, but those clowns aren't running for anything but a taxicab.

This sort of nonsense has been rife among leftists for years. I have been hearing that the "oil companies" have stopped dramatic advances in engine technology by buying patents and by other means since I was a child in the 1960s. Earth to liberal lawyers, patents expire. That bit of reality is often met with icy stares and talk of how I might be part of the conspiracy.

I am an avid sport car nut and not only have I built automobile engines but I even once blogged about building an engine to run on E85, ethanol. Over the years I have even read information from the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) on the subject of new engines and I have absolutely no idea what this unprincipled politician is talking about. Well, I must confess that I do know what he is talking about, as an old theology teacher used to say, "Lies, All Lies!"

Here is what the Black Rand McNally had to say, "if we had tried to look at how are we going to create a new engine that doesn't run on fossil fuels. Imagine that. Over the last five years, we could be in a position now where we could have perhaps sliced our energy consumption by a third, and if we had done that gas prices would be low because people wouldn't be using gas." Where do these people get this silly stuff? Hey Hopey, try that line in Michigan, a place where folks actually work on their cars and know about such things.

I should add that this bit of dishonesty fits perfectly with many of Obama's economic ideas, they rely on Jack's Magic Beans.

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Obama Campaign on Vote Fraud - Yes We Can!

It seems that "busloads of Illinois residents and downstate Indiana students who weren't registered to vote in East Chicago or Whiting appeared at those communities' polls" according to Indiana poll watchers. Lake County, Indiana officials heard that testimony yesterday. Dear America, welcome to Chicago's crooked politics. Is this that the type of "community organising" that Barack Obama and his acolytes specialize in? Yes they can!

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Speculative Margins

As the title bar states I am a trader in Chicago, I have spent years on the floor of one of Chicago's futures exchanges. The exchanges are not very well understood and have been blamed for high prices and low prices, shortages and surpluses, we just can't win. The subject of futures margins has been noticed by the media of late and that has brought a whole new level of ignorance to the subject. In an effort to help bring some reality to the debate here is a very quick overview: we trade standardized contractual agreements to buy or sell the product at the trade price during the future month specified in the contract, corn (5000 bushels of #2 yellow corn deliverable on a barge on the Illinois River) for July delivery settled at $7.42 and 1/4 cent per bushel today. The standardized months for corn are as follows: July, September, December, March, May, next July... Minimum margin level is generally about what you could lose in a day, today it is $2,025 for a 5000 bushel contract of corn. If you lose enough money you have to put up more money by the next day or your firm will liquidate your position, or "blow you out." That is why (good) firms demand more than the minimum margin to trade a given contract, the firm is on the hook if you can't make good on the contract. During unusual periods margin calls will be made multiple times during the day, a difficult proposition to those on the wrong side of the market but it keeps financial integrity in those markets.

Here is an important note, extremely volatile markets like the current oil and agricultural markets hold a great amount of risk (thus the possible rewards) not the least of which is "limit moves." The grain markets all have limits of how far prices can move from the previous day's settlement and during volatile times the markets can "lock limit", meaning that liquidation of a losing trade could be impossible. The limit situation is often a good circuit breaker or cooling off mechanism but it has also sometimes had the effect of feeding on itself. The threat of possible large losses that cannot be liquidated and the fact that the brokerage houses are on the hook for losses that their customers cannot make good on means that those brokerage houses make sure that their customers aren't trading on a shoe string. They are in the business to clear trades with the least amount of hassles possible not hire lawyers to sue their former customers.

 The primary use of these markets is to hedge price risk, they are used as insurance. Improperly priced insurance markets do not help the participants or society and efforts to impose government price controls on futures contracts should be opposed by all reasonable people. Unfortunately at least one of my Senators is not reasonable. Hat Tip on the Durbin article:Backyard Conservative.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Gore Family Leaves Aspen - Heads to Spokane

 After a June ski weekend in Aspen the Gores must be headed to Spokane. The Gateway Pundit reports that it has been snowing in Spokane, Wa!

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Audi Wins Le Mans

 Again. The Peugeot 908s, also diesel race cars are fast, faster than the Audis but after 24 hours and 3200 miles the Audi was ahead by 2 1/2 minutes. Aston Martin beat Corvette by 4 minutes and Porsche never had a chance against Ferrari after the Flying Lizard 911 went into the gravel. Mc Nish, who grabbed third on the start but was passed on the first lap was in the winning car.

24 Hours of Le Mans - Audi Leads With 53 Minutes Left

 When I woke up Audi had taken the lead from Peugeot and the 2nd place Peugeot decided to not change to intermediate rain tires from slicks while in the pits, with the tires waiting to be put on. The Peugeot just spun, part of the circuit must be dry enough for the driver to make the call but it was a bad call, he is losing time and he did do the 360. 2 minutes and 40 seconds separate the Audi and the Peugeot with 45 minutes remaining. The Peugeot is starting to get enough grip on the dry sections of the circuit that he is starting to post faster lap times but 2:40 is a lot of time to make up and they both have to pit for gas, meaning that Audi can change tires if they need to while losing a minimum amount of time to Peugeot. 

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Le Mans Coverage Over for 8 1/2 Hours

 The Speed Channel is now showing NASCAR rather than their superb 24 Hour of Le Mans coverage. Bummer. Well, it's a beautiful day here in Chicago, I got a weeks worth of laundry done while watching the start so its off to enjoy the rest of the day. I'll check out the night-time coverage of the race before I go out this evening.

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Race Leading Peugeot 908 In Pits For Repairs

Photo Copyright: Jalopnik

 One of the three factory Peugeot 908s is in the pits with an unknown electrical problem. Another Peugeot has taken the lead.

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Class Leading Flying Lizard Porsche GT3 Out!

Photo Copyright: kptyson
Flying Lizard Motorsport Porsche GT3 RSR

 The IMSA and Flying Lizard Porsche GT3 RSRs have both gone off of the road. Disaster for Porsche. They now have to limp back to the pits, repair the cars and start over again from many laps down.

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Ferrari Crash?

 It looks like one of the Ferraris was involved in a crash with a prototype car at Arnage. A video taken at Arnage at 1:00 AM during last years race. The two cars are in the gravel at the far side of the corner. 

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Le Mans 2008

Photo Copyright: Flying Debris

 The Porsche RS Spyder is racing in LMP2. This Spyder raced by the Penske team was photographed at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wi. during last year's American Le Mans Series race.

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Le Mans Goes Green for Start

They're Off! McNish and his Audi in third!

Update: The Peugeots are fast, McNish cold not hold third.
GT1: Corvette, Corvette!
GT2: Porsche, Ferrari!

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Le Mans Starts This Morning!

Photo Copyright: Sideline Sports Photography
My '66 911 was restored as a 911R (the type of 911 that ran in the '68 Le Mans) with the engine out of a wrecked Le Mans racer from '69.

 The start of the 24 hour race at Le Mans, France is just an hour away. Break out the crepes and champagne. Due to the fact that I am not Stephen Green, the Vodkapundit I will not spend the 24 hours drunk-blogging the race as he did for the much shorter Presidential Debates. Btw, the race starts this morning Chicago time, it will take off at 3:00 PM local time.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

24 Hours of Le Mans - This Weekend

This Saturday marks the start of the 24 Hour race at Le Mans, a race run on the Circuit de la Sarthe through the beautiful French countryside outside of Rheims. The race winds almost 8 1/2 miles over very well prepared public roads and non-public roads dedicated to racing. Le Mans is the world's premier race for closed-wheel (non Formula) prototype and grand touring cars. The race starts at 3:00 Saturday afternoon local time and ends when the overall race leader crosses the start/finish line after 3:00 Sunday afternoon.

Here is a killer lap of the Cicuit de la Sarthe in a 1983 Porsche 956, which along with the longer wheel base 962 were world-beating race cars. The long straightaway, Mulsanne has been tamed with a chicane.

The race has four races within it, the four classes and their speed differences make for some dangerous racing, especially at night. The fastest class, Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) has been dominated by Audi for years, initially the R8 (the race car not the new street car) and now the turbo-diesel R10 TDI, this year the Peugeot 908, another turbo-diesel aims to give Audi a run for their money. The Peugeot 908 is not to be confused the fantastic Porsche 908 of yore. The Porsche 908 had a racing career that astoundingly covered parts of three decades, the 1960s to the 1980s. Peugeot is favored and in fact they hold the pole position and the next two spots. What has been dubbed the battle of gasoline powered cars in LMP1 will likely be lead again by Pescarolo Sport, the team of local favorite son and former Le Mans winner Henri Pescarolo and their Pescarolo-Judds. The second prototype class LMP2 features heavier, less powerful cars and has been dominated by the Porsche RS Spyder (check out this video of a test drive), in America the Porsche has frequently beaten the Audi like a drum but the Le Mans course with it's 200+ mph sections and the fact that Roger Penske didn't enter his Porsches from the American Le Mans Series mean that barring problems with the entire LMP1 field the Porsches will not battle for the overall lead. The RS Spyder took the first two slots in LMP2 after qualifying.

Here is the circuit at night run by a Peugeot 908 and an Audi R10 in last year's race, the Audi is the, ah, convertible and the Peugeot is the hardtop.

The non-prototype, converted street car classes feature what should be the most intense races within the race, the Aston Martin DBR9* versus the Pratt & Miller prepared Corvettes in Grand Touring 1 (GT1). Classic America versus Europe, blue collar car versus the $160,000 car, on top of that toss in the American super-car the Saleen S7R which qualified second in class and you have a real shootout. This year like last year, Aston is considered the favorite but Corvette has the pole in that class. In GT2 it will be the Porsche GT3 RSR versus the Ferrari F430 GT, this is a class that was once so dominated by the Porsche Carrera (911) offshoot GT3 that they were sometimes the only cars entered in the class, the name GT3 is derived from name that this class once went by. Ever since they overcame reliability issues the Ferrari's eight cylinder engine has given the Ferrari F430 offshoot the F430 GT an edge over the Porsche and it's classic flat-six cylinder engine. This year's Porsche factory offering, the RSR can put up better lap times than the 430 GT but is out numbered 6 to 3 and the Ferraris probably have better drivers, although the Ferraris are favored the Porsches hold 3 of the first 5 spots on the grid, Virgo Motorsports slipped their Ferrari into third place.

Here is a video of the old circuit from 1969, the video notes say that it is from 1967, that is wrong. The great Vic Elford is interviewed and he compares the performance of the then world-beating Ford GT40 with the soon to be world-beating Porsche 917, there was not a single 917 on the planet until the spring of 1969 and the last year that the GT40 competed at Le Mans was 1969. I'm going with 1969 on this video.

So within the four classes three look to be very competitive, the Audi R10 versus the Peugeot 908 in LMP1, the Aston Martin DBR9 versus the Chevrolet Corvette versus the Saleen S7R in GT1 and the Ferrari F430 GT versus the Porsche GT3 RSR in GT2. Large portions of the race will be on Speed again this year.

Here is a video of the awesome Mazda 787B 4-Rotor Le Mans Prototype car. It can be intimidating to be near these cars on the track, even at lower speeds.

Here's a lap of Le Mans with the great Stirling Moss from 1968, probably driving a Ford GT40. Moss gives a fantastic running turn-by-turn dialogue of the circuit. The circuit has changed since those days, mostly for safety. I think that this is Part 1 of an old Castrol promo film.

Here is Part 2 of that Castrol video, it shows the April 1968 practice and the pre-race preparation on race day. The 1968 race was run in September rather than the usual June due to student unrest during that summer.

Here is Part 3, the 1968 race.

*Flying Debris commented on the 2006 Aston Martin effort here.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mark Kirk's Iranian Idea Gets More Notice

North Shore Republican Congressman Mark Kirk's idea for dealing peacefully with Iran is getting more notice as the world starts to get their collective minds around the fact that Israel will not allow Iran to become a nuclear power. It can be assumed that Israel would act with extreme prejudice. In this New York Sun piece Mark said "(e)ither we leave this to the United Nations and that is a slow path for Iran getting a nuclear weapon; or the second option is an Israeli attack which is unpredictable and expensive." That is a very sober and realistic assessment of Iran's nuclear ambitions and outside reactions to it.

Mark's idea is to cut off gasoline shipments to Iran, it sounds very counter-intuitive due to Iran's membership in OPEC, they are sizable crude oil exporters. However Mark wants to exploit the fact that Iran does not have the refinery capacity to supply their own gasoline needs, Iran only supplies 40% of their own gas, they even had riots over an abandoned gas rationing plan earlier this year. The linked article is an interesting read.

Mark's opposition in this year's election is the same lightweight he beat 19 months ago, while Mark Kirk has been doing the heavy thinking Dan Seals has been standing on the corner of Milwaukee and Half Day giving away gas and campaign literature while causing a lunchtime traffic jam. The choice between the two is a no brainer.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Obama: Just Making It Up As He Goes Along

This You Tube video shows Obama doing an awful job of what he seemingly does best, bamboozle. The tendency of some liberals to say anything at all to try to win a public political argument gets very tiring, it seems very important for some of them to not let reality enter their worlds. That would just wreck everything. The internet is slowly but surely ruining that little game, once was the time when one needed to spend an afternoon in a library to prove a liar wrong, today, thanks to Al Gore, a lie can be exposed with a few keystrokes. One must of course bear in mind that liars are also on the internet.

This video of a befuddled, fumbling, telepromterless Barack Obama has made the rounds with the very reasonable observation that if McCain had done this the press would be in high cotton going on and on about how senile John McCain is. Just as the press would have done if it had been McCain rather than the Black Rand McNally who thoughtfully announced that he had campaigned in 57 states or when he actually based an argument on the idea that Arkansas, rather than his home state of Illinois borders on Kentucky. On Obama's confusion with Kentucky being across the Ohio River from Illinois one should remember that Obama spent eight years in the Illinois legislature in Springfield, Illinois. That would be Springfield, Illinois in southern Illinois, two-hundred miles from the Ohio River.

No, I think that Obama and his campaign strategist David Axelrod are just making it up as they go along. You be the judge.

Welcome RezkoWatch readers.
More on Obama:

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Gore Family to Summer in Aspen

How else to explain this news, Aspen will open "45 acres of mostly intermediate terrain that is accessible from the Ajax Express chairlift." Skiing in Aspen one week before the Summer Solstice, now that's global warming!

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Monday, June 09, 2008

the Black Jesus?

Yep, my reaction to the last line of this Chicago Tribune article was also a little, let's just say, a little shocked. Here is what a St. Sabina parishioner had to say about the ranting racist Catholic Priest, Fr. Michael Pfleger, "He's a black Jesus stuck in a white man's body". That is not Catholicism.

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Obama and the Dirty Chicago Way

Check out this CNN video that has made it's way to You Tube. It is sort of shocking that CNN would broadcast anything about Obama's 1996 State Senate race and the methods that he employed to keep incumbent South Side activist Alice Palmer off of the ballot. The Tribune's John Kass is interviewed in the piece and he points out that Obama's campaign strategist is David Axelrod, the same guy who is Mayor Daley's go-to guy, Kass also repeats that there are no coincidences in Chicago politics. I guess that Daley sent Obama. Does America really want the Daley machine in the White House?

Hat Tip: Little Green Footballs

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Seiche Warning on Southern Lake Michigan

The National Weather Service in Chicago has issued the following:

a Lakeshore Flood Warning... also known as a seiche warning... which is in
effect until 9 PM CDT this evening.

A 2 foot drop in lake water near Chicago this afternoon indicates
that a seiche is in progress across Southern Lake Michigan. This
is a very dangerous situation for waders along the Chicago
Lakeshore. Water levels may fluctuate rapidly... taking
unsuspecting waders out to more open waters.

A Lakeshore Flood Warning means that flooding is occurring or
imminent along the lake. Residents on or near the shore in the
warned area should be alert for rising water... and take
appropriate action to protect life and property. Evacuate docks...
piers... and breakwalls now.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Omaha Beach Chapel

Photo Copyright: KL in England

 This photo was just sent to me by a friend in England (KL) and I am sure that he wouldn't mind me shamelessly putting it on my blog. He is very well read on that war and he went across the channel last to visit Normandy. The chapel is about a quarter mile from Omaha Beach and the soldiers pictured are from the 1st Infantry Division, "The Big Red One". 

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D-Day 64 Years Ago Today

 64 years ago this morning American boys landed on the Normandy coast to start their fight to free Europe from the grip of tyranny. An old family friend Art Barton always said that the proudest day of his life was D-Day, he flew two missions in support of the landings and was shot-up during the second one.

 Publia of the Wilmette blog put up a great D-Day post and Little Green Footballs has this post on Google, they are celebrating Spanish painter Diego Velasquez rather than freeing Europe. However this You Tube parody of today's media covering the landings in "D-Day: Crisis on Omaha" is absolutely fantastic, it just rings true.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Robert F. Kennedy - Assassinated 40 Years Ago Today - RIP

Robert Kennedy campaigning at BYU in 1968
Robert Kennedy and Mickey Mantle in Yankee Stadium New York, NY
Robert Kennedy lay shot in a kitchen hallway outside of the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, Ca. June 5, 1968

Forty years ago this morning Robert F Kennedy was assassinated in a hallway leading from the ballroom of the (since torn down) Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles Ca. Although I was quite young at the time that is a morning that I will not forget, I had shook the man's hand weeks before in Indiana. My father was a long time Democratic precinct captain in Chicago and he took me to an Indiana campaign stop, I think that was the day that I met our future Senator, Paul Simon. Simon would become somewhat of a friend of my father's and an occasional guest in our home. That morning was the only time I recall watching television in a classroom at St. Giles Catholic School in Oak Park, we probably watched it on other occasions but that is the only instance that I recall.

Senator Kennedy's last public words were (if memory serves correct) "and it's on to Chicago!" My father always said that not only did Sirhan Sirhan take the life of a wonderful man but he took the votes of millions of Americans. That is a horribly selfish act. To a young boy who had met the man who's late brother's portrait hung on the wall in our family home that was a very shocking day. Rest in Peace, Joseph, John and Robert Kennedy.

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LaRouchies in Chicago

Photo Copyright: Flying Debris
This sign really isn't one that strikes me as a good selling point.

 You can see this guy and his whacked-out LaRouchie buddy (yes, there are just two of them) at the corner of Ashland, Lincoln and Belmont in Chicago (on Ashland, southbound lanes) on most temperate Saturday afternoons. You can also see those people at the corner of Clark and Peterson, also in Chicago.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Tiananmen Square Massacre - 19 Years Ago Last Night

Lady Liberty in Beijing's Tiananmen Square
Photo Copyright: Matt Groening
The Simpsons on Tiananmen
End Result
Students and Soldiers before the real violence broke out
Iconic image of man standing up to the tanks
Students and soldiers
A couple hide from tanks in the square above them early on the morning of June 4, 1989

 During the month of May 1989 the world was treated to the televised spectacle of a freedom protest/sit-in/festival in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. The Chinese government brutally cleared the square during the night of June 3 - June 4 1989. I wrote about meeting two student leaders from the Tiananmen protests at the end of this post

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10 Cent Beer Night in Cleveland - 1974

Well I guess that it is anniversary day today at Flying Debris, on a much lower scale than the anniversary of the Battle of Midway, tonight is the 34th anniversary of the infamous 10 cent Beer Night Riot at the old Municipal Stadium in Cleveland. The Cleveland Indians were averaging 8000 fans per game when they hit upon the idea of offering unlimited 8 oz. cups of Strohs Beer for 10 cents a cup. The Indians were playing the Texas Rangers who they had been involved in a bench-clearing brawl in Texas just the week before during "Cheap Beer Night". Descriptions of the game are hard to imagine this day in age, the Baseball Library entry on that night include this paragraph:

After the Rangers took an early lead, the alcohol-fueled frenzy that had pushed fans through the turnstiles began to push them onto the field. In the second inning, a large woman jumped into the Indians' on-deck circle and lifted her shirt; in the fourth, a naked man slid into second as Rangers outfielder Tom Grieve circled the bases with his second homer of the game; and in the fifth, a father-and-son team welcomed Hargrove to Cleveland by leaping into the infield and mooning the crowd. From the seventh inning onwards, a steady stream of interlopers greeted Burroughs in right field. Some even stopped to shake his hand.

Things got ugly in the 9th inning when the Indians tied the game and put the winning run on third, that's when fans stole the hat and glove of Texas right fielder and that year's eventual AL MVP Jeff Burroughs. When he retrieved his hat and glove fans started throwing beer, rocks, seats, parts of seats, golf balls and reports noted that many fans were armed with knives. Texas manager Billy Martin told his players to grab bats and go out to save the Texas outfielders, Cleveland manager Ken Aspromonte ordered his players to do the same. All hell had broken out and the umpire crew forfeited the game in favor of the Rangers.

Here is the Wikipedia account of the game.

Former Cub and then future Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins started the game for Texas.

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66th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway

Copyright: US National Archives
The deck of the USS Yorktown after being hit by three Japanese bombs on June 4, 1942
Photo Copyright: US National Archives
Dauntless Divebomber from the USS Hornet approach the urning Japanese cruiser Mikuma for the third set of attacks June 6, 1942
Jap Cruiser Mikuma, Midway, 6 Jun 42
Photo Copyright: US National Archives
The Japanes cruiser Mikuma after being bombed by the guys above

Today marks the 66th anniversary of the commencement of the Battle of Midway. The WWII Pacific battle over the tiny island of Midway was a major turning point in the Pacific Theater of WWII and was likely one of the most important events of the twentieth century. Ensign George Gay (the link is to a long an informative interview done during the war) had a ringside seat after his Douglas Devastater Torpedo Bomber was shot down. The classic Hollywood take on the battle Midway, starring Charlton Heston and Henry Fonda (plus just about every male lead in Hollywood at the time) is fantastic and well worth watching.
Chicago's Midway Airport is named after the Battle of Midway and Chicago's O'Hare Airport is named after Congressional Medal of Honor winner Edward "Butch" O'Hare.

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Rezko Guilty!

The Chicago Sun Times and WLS Radio is reporting that political fixer and Obama pal Tony Rezko has been found guilty on four of the first five counts. Obama and Blagojevich are now officially sweating.

Update: Guilty on 16 of 24 counts. Here is the ABC Chicago account with video.
Hat Tip on the video: Anne at the Backyard Conservative.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Fr. Michael Pfleger: the Bully Becomes the Victim

That's right, the constant bullying that has marked the career, for good or bad, of Chicago Catholic Priest Michael Pfleger has turned to victimhood and paranoia. The paranoia may be well placed but the victimhood is as predictable as day turns to night. Sun Times religion reporter Cathleen Falsani had an exclusive interview with Pfleger on Monday that generally sounded like a pity-fest, it included this piece of nonsense from Pfleger "(t)his is a dangerous time in America, the freest country in the world, where you have to whisper your thoughts."

Just like a schoolyard bully, when the bullying stops working the victimhood starts. It is also worth noting that the problem here according to Pfleger was his own imperilling of the Obama campaign rather than overt racism that underpinned Pfleger's "conversation."

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Bo Diddley Dead at 79 - RIP Bo

Bo Diddley from the Big TNT Show in 1966 with the Bo-ettes

The pioneering guitar player Bo Diddley has died in his family home surrounded by 35 family members while listening to gospel music. Seems appropriate. The song Hey Bo Diddley was occasionally sung by the late great Jerry Garcia in the middle of the Grateful Dead's version of Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away. Bo Diddley, Rest In Peace.

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