Sunday, July 31, 2005

Another Supreme Court Justice to Lose Land in NH?

This is just starting to make NH look a bit nutty.

Libertarians upset about a Supreme Court ruling on eminent domain have proposed seizing Justice Stephen G. Breyer's vacation home and turning it into a park, echoing efforts aimed at another justice who lives in the state.

The state's Libertarian Party is trying to collect enough signatures to go before the town next spring to ask to use Breyer's 167-acre property for a "Constitution Park" with stone monuments to commemorate the U.S. and New Hampshire constitutions.

The plot mirrors the party's ongoing effort to get the town of Weare, about 45 miles to the southeast, to seize Justice David Souter's home after a California man suggested the town turn the farmhouse into a "Lost Liberty Hotel.

I'm going to say that hopefully this is only happening because they both have property in NH. But, why do they have to go about protesting the eminent domain finding in such a childish way?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Energy Bill

They finally passed the Energy Bill. Not that it's a good one, but at least it's a start.

I was thankful that this bit didn't get in.

House Republicans also abandoned a provision that would have given the makers of the gasoline additive MTBE protection against lawsuits stemming from the chemical's contamination of drinking water supplies in at least 36 states.
Though I'm uncertain why the manufacturer would be liable when it was the government that required the use of MTBE and only MTBE. I suppose that would take a lot more research.

There of course is the ravings of the Representatives from the People's Republic of Massachusetts just in case you need a laugh.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said it falls far short of what is needed by not addressing climate change and including nothing that would increase the fuel economy of automobiles, the biggest guzzlers of oil. Just this week, Kerry said, a report was made public from the Environmental Protection Agency showing a decline in automobile fuel economy.
Yes, we always see such wonderful success when legislating these types of requirements. Gas Guzzlers will be punished by the price of fuel. Reaction there after will be for movement to more energy efficient vehicles. I honestly don't believe that legislation is a better path than market forces. That attitude has caused the price of new refineries and power plants to be so high that there hasn't been a new refinery built in 25 years. Let's not mention the fact that there hasn't been a new nuclear power plant in the country in at least that long. God forbid that any new technology be used when the government can punish the user because the old technology wasn't very efficient.

The one that irks me is Ed Markey:
Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said, "This bill is packed with royalty relief, tax breaks, loan guarantees for the wealthiest energy companies in America even as they are reporting the largest quarterly profits of any corporation in the history of the United States."
The reason he irks me is that he's actually right this time. Funny thing is that I saw a segment on the news where Bush spoke against these tax breaks, but I can't find a quote.

This article has more on what was proposed and what succeeded. You'll need to get in.
The Burr Amendment - named for its sponsor, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. -— would reverse a 13-year-old U.S. policy banning exports of weapons-grade uranium unless the recipients agreed to start converting their reactors to use less-dangerous uranium. The Senate rejected the measure last month after critics in both parties warned that it would accelerate the worldwide proliferation of nuclear materials, but a House-Senate conference committee agreed this week to include it in the final bill.
Now there is a bloody foolish proposal.
Other major provisions in the legislation include:
Subsidies and tax breaks for wind, geothermal and solar industries and for technology aimed at making coal more environmentally friendly.
New efficiency standards for many commercial appliances.
A requirement for utilities to meet federal reliability standards for the electric transmission grid, in hopes of avoiding blackouts like the one in the summer of 2003.
Easing the way for more imports of liquefied natural gas by giving federal regulators final say over terminals.
Spurring construction of new nuclear-power reactors by offering loan guarantees and "risk insurance" against regulatory delays for the initial units to be built.
A nationwide inventory of offshore oil and gas resources. Critics said theyÂ’re concerned the inventory may lead to drilling in areas now off-limits.

I think the nuclear power incentives are a good idea, though no one will act on them. Nuclear power is probably one of the best ways to get out of the odependencyncy problem. The risk insurance isn't likely to be enough. I'm betting that it doesn't cover all the frivolous law suits that would be issued against any company just trying to plan a plant.

Well at least it's a start.

Cisco Systems: The 800lb. Mangy Gorilla

To put it nicely, I dislike Cisco Systems. I could go on about their sales techniques or other unpleasantness about them, but you don't really have to when you read things like this.
The Michael Lynn story keeps getting more interesting. The computer security researcher lost his job at Internet Security Systems today after he briefed Black Hat conference attendees about a flaw in the software that powers Internet routers made by Cisco Systems. The latest is that Lynn has been served with a temporary restraining order designed to prevent him from discussing any more details about the flaw.

In the order, which was jointly filed by ISS and Cisco, Lynn is said to have illegally reverse-engineered Cisco source code and that he stands to profit from this research. A copy of the document, obtained by, reads: "Cisco believes that Lynn is also disclosing ISS and Cisco proprietary information outside of the context of a formal presentation as well."
Cisco routers are used on nearly every major segment of the Internet infrastructure. By exploiting the flaws described in his talk today, Lynn said attackers could crash those systems or intercept Internet communications. An automated attack against the router flaw -- delivered through an Internet worm, for example -- could effectively darken much of the Internet, he said.
You see, Cisco claims to be this wonderful security solution, but then when they show up having big security flaws, they first try to brush it aside, while they scramble to provide a fix, then they sue whoever happens to have found the flaw to prevent disclosure. I'm a bit surprised that ISS is taking the wrong side of this, though likely it's because they have a big juicy contract with Cisco to provide security analysis. Not to mention they don't want to get into litigation if they can avoid it.

The primary issue it that to the best of my knowledge Lynn did break the law. Though contextually, most of what he found could be arrived at from other sources. Cisco had some of their code stolen earlier this year and it was posted on a website. You don't honestly think that it didn't fall into the wrong hands many many times while it was posted.

The issue with disclosure of these flaws is fairly obvious. Cisco doesn't want to have its reputation harmed, but people in the security field want the information on major flaws made public so that they can be fixed. When a flaw is found and Cisco tries to squash the reports of it, that will ensure that not all of the flawed systems will be fixed. If they don't all get fixed, someone will find a way to exploit them.

The end result is that Lynn gave the speech, but now has to remain silent on the topic.
Cisco Systems and a network security firm reached a settlement with a researcher who quit his job so he could deliver a speech on a flaw in Cisco software that routes data over the Internet. Michael Lynn, who left his job at Internet Security Systems hours before his speech, agreed never to repeat the information he gave at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday. He also must return any proprietary Cisco source code in his possession. A Cisco representative was supposed to join Lynn on stage. But Cisco and ISS changed course and tried to substitute an alternate presentation. When the firms were blocked by Black Hat, they canceled. They also hired workers this week to yank related pages from handouts and substitute conference CDs. After Lynn quit his job and gave the presentation, they sought a court order barring him from discussing the matter further. (AP)
You kind of hope Lynn finds some real good job after this. I'm betting this is a decent resume point for a security investigator.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Fat Complacent Democracy

From QandO:

Its been evident to me that much of the western world hit the snooze button not long after 9/11, prefering the mask of sleep to the reality that terrorism was here, had an agenda, and wasn't in the mood to stray from it. We've referred to those people many times as still living in a 9/10 world.
VDH has a related piece, And Then They Came After Us We’re at war. How about acting like it?

More on Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act

Seems that the CCRKBA are miffed at a WaPo editorial. Can't blame them really.

The Washington Post editorial board is staffed with world-class hypocrites who demand a federal shield law for journalists, while at the same time condemn the idea of legislation that would shield law-abiding firearms manufacturers from junk lawsuits, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) said today.

In a Tuesday editorial, the Washington Post whined that the proposed Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act would provide an "unfair and irrational special-interest shield from civil justice."

"Many American citizens, and at least one federal grand jury, might argue that a shield law to protect reporters from disclosing sources, even in criminal investigations, is also an unfair and irrational shield for a special-interest, in this case, the press," observed CCRKBA Chairman Alan M. Gottlieb. "Yet the Washington Post recently editorialized that 'Almost all states recognize some form of privilege for reporters.' It clearly appears that the Washington Post is quite comfortable with a special privilege for the media industry that it does not care to share with the firearms industry.

Hypocrites? I guess they have a point.

Stupid Judicial Statements

The Millennium Bomber (Ahmed Ressam) was sentenced to 22 years. Kind of light I thought, but that isn't the point of this entry. Hugh Hewitt quotes the Judge (Coughenour) who sentenced him with the following statement:
The message I would hope to convey in today's sentencing is twofold:

"First, that we have the resolve in this country to deal with the subject of terrorism and people who engage in it should be prepared to sacrifice a major portion of their life in confinement.

"Secondly, though, I would like to convey the message that our system works. We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, or detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant, or deny him the right to counsel, or invoke any proceedings beyond those guaranteed by or contrary to the United States Constitution.

"I would suggest that the message to the world from today's sentencing is that our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set our nation apart. We can deal with the threats to our national security without denying the accused fundamental constitutional protections.

"Despite the fact that Mr. Ressam is not an American citizen and despite the fact that he entered this country intent upon killing American citizens, he received an effective, vigorous defense, and the opportunity to have his guilt or innocence determined by a jury of 12 ordinary citizens.

"Most importantly, all of this occurred in the sunlight of a public trial. There were no secret proceedings, no indefinite detention, no denial of counsel.

"The tragedy of September 11th shook our sense of security and made us realize that we, too, are vulnerable to acts of terrorism.

"Unfortunately, some believe that this threat renders our Constitution obsolete. This is a Constitution for which men and women have died and continue to die and which has made us a model among nations. If that view is allowed to prevail, the terrorists will have won.

"It is my sworn duty, and as long as there is breath in my body I'll perform it, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. We will be in recess."

Apparently judge Coughenour is trying to make a point about GITMO and the Military Tribunal process. I'd say that the judge should actually know what he's talking about or STFU.

Here's the problems that I see with his bench-side pontification.
  • First: Ahmed Ressam was captured on US soil trying to kill US citizens. That put him in the jurisdiction of genius' like Coughenour. The GITMO detainees were captured in a theater of war as illegal combatants. I think Coughenour believes that his ilk should have jurisdiction here, but plainly the Supreme Court has stated otherwise.
  • Second: The military tribunal system is not the horror that he seems to view it. The GITMO defendants will be allowed counsel. I pointed this out previously with this link to the DOD Military Commission Order No. 1. As to any of it being contrary to the Constitution, I suppose that he missed the Supreme Court findings, again.
  • Third: Secret, in this case doesn't mean unjust. Nor does it mean without review. See the linked order. I suppose he has an interesting view of what constitutes "indefinite." I would wager that there have been US citizens detained for trial longer than some of the GITMO detainees. But for context he should maybe look to the detention periods of some of those war criminals held at the end of WWII.
Hugh has a decent piece there. I'm especially enamored with the fact that this jerk is a Reagan appointee.

London Bombs

These guys were definitely out to make major mayhem.

"When you put the X-ray machine on it [the bomb], you see what is bulging on the sides of the bottle are nails — many, many nails," said Ayers, while examining the photo. "And the nails are put there so that when the bomb goes off, the nails will tear tissue and kill people in the area. Bombs don't kill by concussion. Small bombs, they kill by the blast effects of fragments of glass or metal, and this is designed to kill people."

Photos of the damage and some of the recovered bombs can be found here.

Briton Extradition on Hacking US Military Computers

This guy is a gem. Hopefully they'll get him for trial here in the US.

A Briton facing extradition to America for perpetrating "the biggest computer hack of all time" left a message criticising American foreign policy on an army computer, a court heard yesterday.

Gary McKinnon, 39, is accused of accessing 97 US government computers, causing damage estimated at $700,000 (£370,000).

An extradition hearing at Bow Street magistrates' court was told that McKinnon, of Wood Green, north London, deleted files that shut down more than 2,000 computers in the US army's military district of Washington for 24 hours "significantly disrupting governmental function".

It was claimed he left a note on an army computer in 2002 saying US foreign policy was "akin to government-sponsored terrorism". The note allegedly said: "It was not a mistake that there was a huge security stand down on September 11 last year. I am Solo. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels."

On the other side of this, when is the friggin' military going to learn how to secure vital systems? Sorry, but if it is a vital system, there shouldn't be any access to the web, period. Intercommunications between the systems can be secured using IPSec and all networks secured to only allow encrypted incoming traffic. This isn't rocket science here, this technology exists and can be easily implemented.

As for the human factor, that can be worked on as well. Anyone creating an illegal back door into the system should be tried and sentenced to making big rocks into little rocks in Kansas.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Domestic Terrorism

The "Intelligence Report" is a periodical issued by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The article is quite interesting, but is oddly focused just on the "right-wing" radical groups. Though I believe the site is primarily focused on "hate" crimes. Though I would have thought that the Eco-terrorism that has been seen could fall into the hate crime category.
Ten years after the Oklahoma City bombing left 168 people dead, the guardians of American national security seem to have decided that the domestic radical right does not pose a substantial threat to U.S. citizens.

A draft internal document from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that was obtained this spring by The Congressional Quarterly lists the only serious domestic terrorist threats as radical animal rights and environmental groups like the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front. But for all the property damage they have wreaked, eco-radicals have killed no one — something that most definitely cannot be said of the white supremacists and others who people the American radical right.

I guess I have an issue with them being so upset concerning a draft internal document. Being a draft doesn't mean it was or, was ever intended to be, policy. Am I in error calling this an over-reaction?

Read the article. It provides data that is very indicative of how dangerous the Wing-Nut Right really are. I honestly believe that there are far more violent radical groups on the right. That would likely be the reason that the SPLC has few articles on eco-terrorism.

Though the Eco-terrorism articles are there. Check them out.
Extremists within the environmental and animal rights movements have committed literally thousands of violent criminal acts in recent decades — arguably more than those from any other radical sector, left or right.

Although these extremists have yet to kill anyone in America, they have carried out arsons, firebombings, assaults, and attacks on animal-based businesses and laboratories.

"Have yet to kill anyone" is accurate. I would also point out that they have likely pulled back from the more radical violent actions due to new American legislation and policy on terrorism. No longer will their actions be viewed under the simple actions with the related penalties. Now there will be the addition of terrorism charges with all the extra penalties.

Children Friendly State

So, which state ranks best for children currently? Guess. California? Nope (17th). Massachusetts? (Close, but no. (6th)

New Hampshire ranks number 1. Strange, the state has been ranked #1 for several years.
Imagine if the state could actually fairly fund schooling.

The criteria are interesting. Take a look at the stats per state and the stats per individual topic.

The End of Tolerance?

Granted passed this to me, and I thought it was funny enough to share.

For four years, much of the western world behaved like Bryant. Bomb us, and we agonise over the "root causes" (that is, what we did wrong). Decapitate us, and our politicians rush to the nearest mosque to declare that "Islam is a religion of peace". Issue bloodcurdling calls at Friday prayers to kill all the Jews and infidels, and we fret that it may cause a backlash against Muslims.
Until the London bombings. Something about this particular set of circumstances - British subjects, born and bred, weaned on chips, fond of cricket, but willing to slaughter dozens of their fellow citizens - seems to have momentarily shaken the multiculturalists out of their reveries.

Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act

The WSG editorial on the legislation to protect gun manufacturers from the most recent style of lawsuits.
Senate Republicans say they have 60 votes to pass the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which would protect gun makers from lawsuits claiming they are responsible for crimes committed with their products. The support includes at least 10 Democrats, which speaks volumes about the political shift against "gun control" in recent years.

The "assault weapons ban" expired with a whimper last year. State legislatures have been rolling back firearm laws because the restrictions were both ineffectual and unpopular. Gun-controllers have responded by avoiding legislatures and going to court, teaming with trial lawyers and big city mayors to file lawsuits blaming gun makers for murder. Companies have been hit with at least 25 major lawsuits, from the likes of Boston, Atlanta, St. Louis, Chicago and Cleveland. A couple of the larger suits (New York and Washington, D.C.) are sitting in front of highly creative judges and could drag on for years.

I truly hope this gets passed. Though I must say I'm still dismayed that this legislation is so narrowly focused. If the legislation had been broader to include all legal products whose illegal use prompts lawsuits, it would likely have been bullet proof. (yep. pun intended.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Economics of Student Loans and Higher Tuition

Economics is a subject (one of many) which I know very little about, so I found this article informative.

the federal government has now become the co-signer on nearly every student loan, even paying the loan's interest while the student is in school, and guaranteeing to lenders at least 98% of their principal should the student default. The government also guarantees private banks that they will turn a profit on student loans no matter how low interest rates fall.

The non-free-market economics of student loans affect tuition - I guess that is no surprise.

Unfortunately, by footing these bills and turning higher education into an entitlement, Congress itself is primarily responsible for isolating academia from normal consumer pressure by shielding most students (and their parents) from the true cost of higher education. That's why schools can keep ratcheting up tuitions beyond what any middle class family can reasonably afford to pay--because they know taxpayers stand ready to take up the slack.

Hmmm... I'm still learning about all this stuff.

AFL-CIO Falling Apart

The massive AFL-CIO is flying apart. Two of the largest unions, the Teamsters and SEIU are leaving.
"What was being done at the AFL-CIO was not working, and we are going to do something new," said Teamsters President James P. Hoffa as he and SEIU President Andy Stern explained their unions' departure at the start of the AFL-CIO's four-day convention in Chicago.

From high-ranking AFL-CIO officials to heads of local union labor councils, the departure of the two powerful unions and the precedent-setting rift among unions brought anger, frustration and fears that their exit will lead to a heap of problems.

Together, the two unions account for $20 million, or about one-fifth, of the dues collected annually by the AFL-CIO. The federation will lose 3.1 million members, falling to just below 10 million rank and file.
The article doesn't go into the reasons why they are splitting though. Various commentary I've heard relate the problems to how service union people are not truly represented. There also appears to be a large amount of dissatisfaction with how political funding is used to support union causes.

The LATimes has an interesting article with this bit related to politics:
Sweeney, the AFL-CIO president who is expected to be reelected to a third term this week, lambasted the defection in his Monday keynote address.

"At a time when our corporate and conservative adversaries have created the most powerful anti-worker political machine in the history of our country, a divided movement hurts the hopes of working families for a better life," he said.

On Monday, numerous labor experts, union leaders and Democratic politicians said the spin-off could undercut unions' bargaining power and undermine their political sway.

Although unions' financial support is important for Democrats, labor's ability to tell its workers why they should support the party is far more vital, particularly in close races, said Steve Elmendorf, a political strategist and deputy campaign manager for Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, last year's Democratic presidential candidate.

"If we have a divided labor movement in 2008, if they are distracted or divided, that's not going to be helpful to us," Elmendorf said. "This is bad for Democrats, and good for Republicans."
Maybe they are missing the message. Influence that is limited to the minority party doesn't get you very far. Nor does it appear that they understand that not all union members support the democrats.

It will be interesting to see where this all goes in the next few years.

Return of Hanoi Jane

Just to ensure she pisses of at least two generations of military veterans Jane Fonda has decided to call for the end of the Iraq war.
Actress and activist Jane Fonda says she intends to take a cross-country bus tour to call for an end to U.S. military operations in Iraq.

"I can't go into any detail except to say that it's going to be pretty exciting,"” she said.

Yippee. Maybe we can get her a one way ticket to Bagdad.
Prompted by a question from the audience, Fonda said war veterans that she has met on a countrywide book tour have encouraged her to break her silence on the Iraq war.

"“I've decided I'm coming out,"” she said.

Hundreds of people in the audience cheered loudly when Fonda announced her intentions to join the anti-Iraq war movement.

"“I have not taken a stand on any war since Vietnam,"” she said. "“I carry a lot of baggage from that."”

Oh, I'm certain she's been encouraged by veterans. More likely they meant she drop dead. As to her carrying a lot of baggage, well, it's obvious she didn't learn anything the first time.

Another Call for a Draft by the Left

Kennedy starts out with calling our present military "Mercenary."

THE United States now has a mercenary army. To be sure, our soldiers are hired from within the citizenry, unlike the hated Hessians whom George III recruited to fight against the American Revolutionaries. But like those Hessians, today's volunteers sign up for some mighty dangerous work largely for wages and benefits - a compensation package that may not always be commensurate with the dangers in store, as current recruiting problems testify.
And he ends with the call for a comprehensive draft to ensure that the military is "fair" to all the citizenry.
The life of a robust democratic society should be strenuous; it should make demands on its citizens when they are asked to engage with issues of life and death. The "revolution in military affairs" has made obsolete the kind of huge army that fought World War II, but a universal duty to service - perhaps in the form of a lottery, or of compulsory national service with military duty as one option among several - would at least ensure that the civilian and military sectors do not become dangerously separate spheres. War is too important to be left either to the generals or the politicians. It must be the people's business.
This individual, beyond being completely clueless, should be forced into service and put in Iraq to ensure he understands what he's stating. He completely misses the point of the modern volunteer military and the professional requirements for those in service.

I wonder how he would justify the higher numbers of deaths that would be seen from a military whose members are forced into service and don't have a professional attitude.

Telling Quotes of the Swampies

Here's a link I saw at Greenie Watch as well. Some very startling remarks.

"The right to have children should be a marketable commodity, bought and traded by individuals but absolutely limited by the state. -Kenneth Boulding, originator of the "Spaceship Earth" concept (as quoted by William Tucker in Progress and Privilege, 1982)
I'm betting he'd already procreated, unfortunately.
We have wished, we ecofreaks, for a disaster or for a social change to come and bomb us into Stone Age, where we might live like Indians in our valley, with our localism, our appropriate technology, our gardens, our homemade religion-guilt-free at last! -Stewart Brand (writing in the Whole Earth Catalogue).
Yes, you have your idealistic little Indian village, and I'll be the Mohawk raider killing and enslaving your idealic little world. Talk about a lack or historical understanding.
The only real good technology is no technology at all. Technology is taxation without representation, imposed by our elitist species (man) upon the rest of the natural world. -John Shuttleworth
Elitist species? Not sure where to take that bit.
I suspect that eradicating smallpox was wrong. It played an important part in balancing ecosystems. -John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal
Really? I think we can find something to expose you to that will help balance the ecosystem. Though I'm sure you think that your statement shouldn't apply to you.

Go read some of these jewels just for laughs. Makes you want to Stomp out Swampy in a big way.

Global Warming Fraud

Here's an entry from Greenie Watch on Michael Mann finally releasing his source code that he used to generate "his "hockey stick" reconstruction of the earth's climate."

They seem to give him a bit of an out that the original program was lost, but I don't accept that. If he was using that program to generate data he then published, he should have retained the original program or not used the data. Essentially this "loss" makes replication of the data impossible and should by all rights nullify the data.

Here's the crux:
However, the newly-archived source code demonstrates clearly that MBH did calculate the cross-validation R2 statistic (pages 28-29 in my printout). Accordingly, I can now assert that the information was withheld in the original SI.

At this point, we also know that the values of the cross-validation R2 were very insignificant (~0.0) in the controversial 15th century reconstruction. One can reasonably surmise that this information would have been very detrimental to widespread acceptance of the MBH98 reconstruction had it been disclosed. The IPCC assertion that the MBH98 reconstruction "“had significant skill in independent cross-validation tests" is obviously not true for the withheld cross-validation R2 statistic. I previously discussed this inaccurate disclosure by IPCC as illustrating the potential conflict of interest between an author in his capacity as an IPCC review author and in his capacity as the author of the underlying study.
I'll agree with GW that it sounds like fraud to me.

Please note, I'm not saying that there is no likelihood that there is global warming at present related to industrialization. I'm saying that the report that provided most of the major backbone for the argument is likely scientifically unsound.

Sign the Damn Petition

Damn, I've already signed the Eminent Domain Amendment, why haven't you?

Monday, July 25, 2005

What Happens When the Good Guys, er Democrats, Run Things

This is maddening. When are the freaking liberal morons in this state going to wake the hell up and vote the Dems out, at least long enough to shake their corrupt hold on this state's government?

The Mary Cheney Strategy: John Roberts

Must be something about relative morals. Seems some on bloggers (I'm guessing those leaning Left) are conjecturing that John Roberts is gay.

You can read Ravenwood's entry. I just find it all so pathetic, even if they are just trying to be funny.

PC Policy Gone Mad

I'd like to say this is hysterical, but given that it is likely absolutely true, it's really pathetic.

1. Does rolling your eyes when someone says something stupid constitute harassment?

2. How would anyone know what eye-rolling was based on?

I wonder how many institutions of higher learning are this stupid?

Tour de France: French Still Sour

Lance wins his seventh and of course the French press still have to put out suspicions of drug use on his and his teams part. No facts mind you. Just suspicions.
The final Tour de France victory of Lance Armstrong has left a legacy which may takes years to beat, but France's AFP wire reports, Armstrong's domination of the race since 1999, 18 months after he had recovered from cancer, has always aroused suspicion.
If Armstrong was found to be doing illegal enhancement drugs, fine, hang him out as a loser, but spouting suspicions without proof shows just how much of a sore-loser these people are.

Of course natural talent and well paid team mates must be irrelevant to the win.
Jalabert, who raced for the Spanish ONCE team and ended his career with CSC manager Bjarne Riis, claimed that some teams hold the magic formula to avoid being caught by the doping inspectors.

"Someone asked me, 'why is Armstrong and his team superior to all the others?'. I said, 'because they've got the recipe that works'.

"I don't want to go into all the medical details. All I'm saying is that people who watch cycling are not stupid."

Boyer feels that Armstrong, despite his seven Tour victories, has left some unconvinced.

"The doubt remains as to whether there's something hiding behind his success. A lot of people who work on the Tour feel something's not quite right.

"History shows us that we'll end up finding out in the end. My passion is cycling and I hope we find out that everything that Armstrong has achieved is the fruit of his hard work and his quality. Not the contrary.
Note that last sentence well. We'll find out. And if there isn't any evidence, someone will make up that evidence. I'll put money on that happening in the near future. Oh, and just in case you don't know, Jalabert is French.

Kerry on Armstrong


Sen. John Kerry thinks Lance Armstrong would make a terrific politician _ but fears he'd be running for the other party.

Environmentalists Propaganda: Chemical poisoning of Children

Environmentalists are one of the MSM saints. Them and Gun-Controllers, Abortion Rights Activists, and any other apparently PC related nut case.

This article talks about that wonderful Environmental Working Group report on chemical compounds that were found in umbilical cord blood samples. It is a body burden report, which I'm a bit skeptical about after looking at the methodology. Ten samples? That's a pretty miniscule sampling. The title linked article give some brief relevant discussion after their rhetorical rant.
The current EWG study is called "Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns," and it is another bonanza of junk science. Dr. Gilbert Ross of the American Council on Science and Health states, "EWG has taken substances known to be a toxin or carcinogen in high-dose animal experiments, disregarded the actual concentration, and used it for a scare campaign. They've ignored one of the sound principles of toxicology: the dose makes the poison. Any substance can be toxic at a high enough dose."

The actual data in the report makes this clear. For example, EWG claims methyl mercury at 58 parts per billion (ppb) in the mother's blood during pregnancy "causes measurable declines in brain function in children." Yet the tests EWG ran on umbilical cord blood found no level of methyl mercury higher than 2.3 ppb.
From the report's own methodology you get this jewel:
The American National Red Cross obtained ten umbilical cord blood samples from live births in U.S. hospitals in August and September 2004. Besides each child's birthday, the Environmental Working Group obtained no identifying information, either personal or geographic, regarding the samples. [emphasis mine]
So that allows for no understanding of the environment of the sampled child or how representative that sample should be considered of the population as a whole.

You can find the detailed results here. You may wish to remain skeptical though of their conclusions. They fail to provide comparisons as to what levels of the chemicals are known to be dangerous for the found chemicals. They do give a page of references, but parsing the data would have been much more effective rather than just spouting the effects.

You can look at the CDC body burden report which is at least scientific not to mention less inflammatory. They don't give any risk comparisons either. I'm coming to believe that that may be a fairly large effort. Considering the variations for acute exposure and systemic exposure.

Personally, I think that there should be some in depth study of the nature of these chemicals and the related effects. But the conclusions put forward by the EWG study strike me as being knee jerk reactions. Some are likely warranted.
  • Remove from the market chemicals for which tests demonstrating safety are not conducted.
  • Eliminate confidential business protection for all health, safety, and environmental information.
  • Provide strong incentives for green, safer chemicals in consumer products and industrial processes.
  • Grant the EPA clear and unencumbered authority to demand all studies needed to make a finding of safety and to enforce clear deadlines for study completion.
Others are extreme and by their definitions would likely have a devastating effect on the industry.
Require chemical manufacturers to demonstrate affirmatively that the chemicals they sell are safe for the entire population exposed, including children in the womb. In the absence of information on the risks of pre-natal exposure, chemicals must be assumed to present greater risk to the developing baby in utero, and extra protections must be required at least as strict as the 10 fold children's safety factor in FQPA.
"Demonstrate affirmatively" would come down to extremists arguing that the industry didn't test broadly enough or didn't research long enough to provide useful data. Who would then be in charge of deciding what is reasonable testing?

In any case, this specific case I at first assumed was from a non-propagandist group and was based on clear scientific results. Again, the MSM has lead the public astray with giving voice to a group that uses junk science and fails to perform studies that could at least provide useful information. The results provided in the EWG report should be evidence for a call for a study, not a call for actions against the chemical industry.

Souter's Supreme Stance on Kelo

I don't understand this. Souter voted with the majority on Kelo, yet here is a case when he was on the NH Supreme Court where he ruled that the City of Manchester couldn't sieze open space.
Souter's role then Manchester attorney William H. Craig represented the Manchester Housing Authority, the entity authorized to conduct eminent domain proceedings in the city. To this day, he hasn't changed his view of the Merrill case. "I think you need economic development," Craig said. "People need jobs, we need a good tax base, and I think the first place we should be allowed to look, if other circumstances are proper, is open space. Then, failing that, then you go to people's homes."

Craig said he was not at all surprised with the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, noting it was "perfectly consistent" with other court decisions in recent years. In fact, he said, "The New Hampshire case almost stuck out like a sore thumb, compared to the cases in other jurisdictions."

"The only surprise to me was Judge Souter's position, because he sat on the New Hampshire Supreme Court when the Merrill case was decided," Craig said. "And as far as I can see, the Merrill case stands for the proposition that you can't take open space for economic development but it's OK to take people's houses."

He calls that "absurd."

"It created a bad precedent if you're interested in development at all. God knows I like open space. I'm going to spend the weekend mowing a hayfield I've got. Nevertheless, I think the priorities have to be straight. If people said to me OK, take open land or people's homes, first I'd take the open land."

Very odd stance.

Captain's Quarter also has a piece on the proposal for taking Souter's NH property in Weare for a hotel and discussion of how strongly NH citizens feel on the topic of eminent domain. Strange that they feel so strong, yet there is not a hint of legislation to limit the use of eminent domain in the state.

Disgusting Political Games

Another Anti-War Politician pissing on a Marine's funeral.

The family of a Marine who was killed in Iraq is furious with Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll for showing up uninvited at his funeral this week, handing out her business card and then saying "our government" is against the war.
Knoll was traveling yesterday, away from the Capitol, and couldn't be reached. But an aide said she "extends condolences to all families who have lost loved ones" serving in the military.
Yeah, away. Hiding.
Condolences my ass. I can never quite figure out why these people aren't quickly invited to piss off when they show up. If she was there just to console the family, then she should have STFU about "our government" and it's stand on the war.

I guess I'll vote for her as jackass of the day.

Preparing for Obstruction

No, I don't know what they are going to ask for in the Roberts hearings, but you don't have to when you hear quotes like these.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to ask for such material for its hearings. But some Democrats, including Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, have urged the White House to release "in their entirety" any documents written by Roberts.
Yeah, and the press asked for your military folder in its entirety, but only two papers were given access. Does that make you a hypocrite Senator Kerry?

Next in the wigged out demosprats quotes:
"It's a total red herring to say, 'Oh, we can't show this,'" Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont told ABC's "This Week."

"And of course there is no lawyer-client privilege," he said. "Those working in the solicitor general's office are not working for the president. They're working for you and me and all the American people."
Ah yes. Let's have a look at some of your personal legal documents. Funny that he missed that many of those documents are beyond the solicitor general's. Let's not forget that the solicitor general works from the executive branch of the government and not the legislative. Ignoring the separation of powers senator?

Gonzales was actually quite reasonable in his responses to what should occur when the call for documents comes.
"Generally, that's not something that the administration or any White House would be inclined to share because it is so sensitive and ... does chill communications between line attorneys and their superiors within the Department of Justice," Gonzales said on "Fox News Sunday."

"That would be something that we'd have to look at very, very carefully," he said. "Rather than prejudge the issue, let's wait for the Judiciary Committee to make its requests, and then we can evaluate the requests and hopefully reach an appropriate accommodation."

I suppose all we can do is wait and see what they ask for, but if you haven't already caught a whiff of obstructionism, you should really take a closer look.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

NY Subway Searches and Civil Liberties

Been looking at some discussions about the NY City Subways and the new random searches of people using the subways. The reactions to the London bombings strikes me as a waste of time. The link to Schneier pretty much goes along the same thought.

Without using profiling, which I think is ineffective, the searches are likely to be ineffective. The number of subway users in NY is astounding. (I've seen several sites quoting 4.5 Million users a day.) What percentage of riders will actually be searched? I'm betting it will be miniscule. Then there is the "If you don't want to be searched you can just turn around and leave." So a potential bomber just turns around and tries another time or subway.

I'm not certain that the civil liberties arguments are justified. Subway use must have some legal restrictions to start with. Police can stop vehicles for search in NY prior to use of tunnels or other restricted areas. I haven't found anything that would indicate that people are suing to stop those searches.

I also wonder if the complaints aren't more related to inconvenience rather than civil liberties.

There is the profiling complaint also. This is a difficult system to discuss. Stopping Granny to search her purse is a waste of time. Profiles of the known bombers makes the searches more effective. But, searching only Arab/middle eastern looking males will not likely find anything either. The terrorists would know to avoid the obvious link of physical features to acts of violence. There is also the issue of the Arab/middle eastern population in NY. I'm thinking it likely that there are quite a large population, and random searches then become even more ineffective.

The searches are a show piece security measure. Low effectiveness isn't sufficient to negate their use. Unfortunately, the public needs to see and feel that something is being done, even if it is highly unlikely that the something they see will actually help.

Schneier does state where the most effective of money for security would be though.
Stop searching bags on the subways, and spend the money on 1) intelligence and investigation -- stopping the terrorists regardless of what their plans are, and 2) emergency response -- lessening the impact of a terrorist attack, regardless of what the plans are. Countermeasures that defend against particular targets, or assume particular tactics, or cause the terrorists to make insignificant modifications in their plans, or that surveil the entire population looking for the few terrorists, are largely not worth it.
Hopefully, there is money already there for those plans.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Tour de Lance

He's almost there. Won the time trial.

But Armstrong's choice of politicians is suspect.

Massachusetts senator and losing 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry rode in the Discovery Channel car with team director Johan Bruyneel. Armstrong's girlfriend, singer Sheryl Crow, and his mother, Linda, joined Luke and his 3-year-old twin sisters, Grace and Isabelle, at the finish line to hug the 33-year-old from Austin, Texas.
You'd think a Texas native would have better taste.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Patriot Act Politics

Yeah, I know it's an article from the Boston Globe. But it contains relevant information.

The Patriot Act appears to be getting closer to renewal. The debate has been crashing about on amendments to restrict some of the provisions and vary sunset dates on others. I'm glad to see that some of these provisions are still locked into sunset clauses.
Sixteen of the act's most sensitive provisions were given four-year life spans, however, and yesterday marked the first time that either the House or the Senate debated extending those provisions. The Bush administration has lobbied extensively for making all of the act's provisions permanent.

But since 2001, the law has come under criticism from liberals as well as conservatives for giving federal authorities increased powers without adequate safeguards on civil liberties. Two provisions have proved particularly controversial: the power for a secret court to authorize access to library and other personal records, and the ''roving" wiretaps that allow snooping on a range of communications devices used by a suspect.

I keep hearing that the "library" provision isn't a problem because it's never been used. God, am I tired of that argument. Availability doesn't negate the ability for use. Personally, I don't even see any issue with using that provision as long as it is clearly bounded by the court issuing the subpoena. No fishing trips should be allowed.
The GOP-controlled House Rules Committee refused to allow votes on a series of Democratic amendments that would have imposed shorter time limits on the controversial provisions.

The committee also shut down an amendment that would severely limit access to library records.

A similar amendment passed the House a month ago but is considered unlikely to become law because the Senate version of the same bill did not include that provision. Representative Bernard Sanders, the Vermont Independent who offered the amendment, blasted Republicans for ducking a move that the Bush administration opposes.

''It is unconscionable that the same Republican leadership that is asking us to trust them not to abuse the powers granted by the Patriot Act has so blatantly abused their power to undermine the democratic process in Congress," Sanders said.

I always love this argument. Congress is controlled by a majority, and that majority uses the rules of that body to limit or stop amendments that it dislikes. This is then termed "abuse of power" by those who don't get their way. They used the democratic process, not abused it. Sounds like the logic of a four year old. "It's not fair!"

Of course, the stupidity isn't limited to the left. Frist opened his mouth and as usual made an ass of himself.
''With this vote, all members, from both sides of the aisle, will have an opportunity to show the American people how seriously they take the ongoing threat of terrorism and how they intend to combat it," said House majority leader Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas.
Politics at its finest. Yes, Bill it will show the public just how willing they are to fight terrorism and to what level you are willing to go to restrict civil liberties. Thank you Mr. Frist for again affirming what a complete jack-ass you really are.

But why am I not surprised when a Democrat pulls similar tactics.
But some Democrats accused Republicans of seeking to inject politics into an issue where most House members agree on the broad outlines. GOP leaders could have drafted a measure that would have drawn unanimous support and included most of the Patriot Act provisions, but instead chose to include items they knew many Democrats would oppose, said Representative Michael E. Capuano, a Somerville Democrat.

''It's an intentional attempt to drive a wedge here," Capuano said.

''There's plenty of room to make agreements . . . But they don't want people like me to vote for it. The whole approach is totally political."

Yes, its only about politics Mike. None of the debating congressmen are trying to ensure that useful and effective legislation comes out at the end. The provisions were only included to irritate democrats. Thank you for confirming that you to are a jack-ass.

The House Resolution #3199 can be viewed at the link. I'm a bit irritated that, to my understanding, amendment #54 wasn't allowed. I'm very reticent on secrecy, and even more so on gag orders.
5. Flake/Delahunt/Otter/Nadler #54
Specifies that the recipient of a national security letter may consult with an attorney, and may also challenge national security letters in court. Authorizes a judge to throw out the national security letter request by the government “if compliance would be unreasonable or oppressive” to the recipient of the national security letter. Allows the recipient to challenge the non-disclosure requirement (gag order) of the national security letter request. Permits a court to modify or remove the non-disclosure requirement of the national security letter request “if it finds that there is no reason to believe that disclosure may endanger the national security of the United States, interfere with a criminal, counterterrorism, or counterintelligence investigation, interfere with diplomatic relations, or endanger the life or physical safety of any person.” Modifies the non-disclosure requirement so that recipients may tell individuals whom they work with about the national security letter request in order to comply with the national security request. Contains penalties for individuals who violate the non-disclosure requirements of a national security letter. Requires that reports on national security letters by federal agencies to Congress must also be sent to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. [emphasis mine]
I find this completely reasonable. I fail to see any argument that can justify negating one's right to detail to one's own lawyer information related to these "National Security Letters." The use of which can be used to stop individuals from telling their legal representation that they have been served with search warrants or other actions of the government. No one will ever be able to take action on such a case when abuse occurs, because you can't tell anyone. Nice pocket logic there. That is secrecy that treads very close if not completely into tyranny.

The Senate version is better:
    (d) Prohibition on Disclosure- Section 501(d) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1861(d)) is amended to read as follows:
    `(d)(1) No person shall disclose to any other person that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has sought or obtained tangible things pursuant to an order under this section other than to--
      `(A) those persons to whom such disclosure is necessary to comply with such order;
      `(B) an attorney to obtain legal advice or assistance with respect to the production of things in response to the order; or
      `(C) other persons as permitted by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the designee of the Director.
    `(2)(A) Any person having received a disclosure under subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of paragraph (1) shall be subject to the prohibitions on disclosure under that paragraph. [emphasis mine]
Now look at #12. I'm not certain what the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act has to do with the Patriot Act. Seeing this type of amendment really torques me.

Then there is the Narco-terrorism amendment (#11 Hyde). Now we're pushing things to ridiculous. There are laws for illegal drugs, there is no reason to tag them into the penalties related to terrorism.

You can see the rest yourself.

And if you're really in need of sleep, here is the Senate version.

J. Edgar Hoover's Personal FBI Files

Not surprised at all. President's abused the use of FBI investigations for political purposes. I just found this section of the article quite funny.
Only a few weeks before the 1964 election, a powerful presidential assistant, Walter Jenkins, was arrested in a men's room in Washington. Evidently, the president was concerned that Barry Goldwater would use that against him in the election. Another assistant, Bill Moyers, was tasked to direct Hoover to do an investigation of Goldwater's staff to find similar evidence of homosexual activity. Mr. Moyers' memo to the FBI was in one of the files.

When the press reported this, I received a call in my office from Mr. Moyers. Several of my assistants were with me. He was outraged; he claimed that this was another example of the Bureau salting its files with phony CIA memos. I was taken aback. I offered to conduct an investigation, which if his contention was correct, would lead me to publicly exonerate him. There was a pause on the line and then he said, "I was very young. How will I explain this to my children?" And then he rang off. I thought to myself that a number of the Watergate figures, some of whom the department was prosecuting, were very young, too.

Other presidents, according to those files, misused the bureau, although never Truman and Eisenhower. But Johnson clearly was the most demanding. This discovery was particularly painful for me. Although I was a life-long Republican, I had not only voted for LBJ, I had signed an ad supporting him, which got me ejected from the Hawaii Young Republicans.

For all Moyer's railings against the republican administration, you'd think his own involvement is such corruption would make him less vocal on the topic. Though I would also think this makes him out as a bit of a hypocrite.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

More Bombings in Britain

Just great. This won't stir up any problems.

Now I wonder when the tin-foil beany set will start claiming the Bush administration is the perpetrators of these bombings. I haven't found any indications yet, but since so many people claim that Bush directly caused the 9/11 attacks, I'm certain we'll be hearing this is his fault too.

Krauthammer on US Foreign Policy and NeoCon Philosophy

A thoughtful and educational piece on US foreign policy in recent history.

Over the past 15 years, each of the three major American schools of foreign policy--realism, liberal internationalism and neoconservatism--has taken its turn at running things.

On the Clinton administration's Liberal Internationalism:
It is hard to be charitable in assessing the record. Liberal internationalism's one major achievement in those years--saving the Muslims in the Balkans and creating conditions for their possible peaceful integration into Europe--was achieved, ironically, in defiance of its own major principle. It lacked what liberal internationalists incessantly claim is the sine qua non of legitimacy: the approval of the U.N. Security Council.

On the current administration:
The remarkable fact that the Bush doctrine is, essentially, a synonym for neoconservative foreign policy marks neoconservatism's own transition from a position of dissidence, which it occupied during the first Bush administration and the Clinton years, to governance. Neoconservative foreign policy, one might say, has reached maturity.

A long but fascinating read, IMHO.

Weekly Check on Bias: Alphecca

A collection of some information regarding media bias and guns. Good place for some quick looks at the gun bias environment.


This post on the National Education Association is a bit disturbing. It's from the Louisiana Libertarian.
The National Education Association, the largest union in the country and certainly the largest government employee union recently held its annual meeting in Los Angeles from July 1-6. At the meeting, according to their press release, the delegates discussed ways to strengthen public education. In fact, they came up with a "Six-Point Covenant with the Nation" that outlined their goals.
However, if you read the New Business Items or NBIs which is the new agenda for the NEA, you'll find that these government school indoctrinators were more interested in promoting a far-left wing agenda than in teaching Johnny to read. The most offensive items to liberty can be placed into two categories: the stupid and the horrendous. (Note: all of the below were adopted)
You can go and read the NBI BS that the NEA put out. I'll agree on just how stupid many of them are.

But let's look at those six points, since they aren't a covenant at all but a list of demands.

#1 – Parental involvement: " If the nation calls on us to transform students into citizens who are prepared to make a true contribution to the workforce…then we call on the nation to give us more parental involvement." Children need parents who are involved in their education, come to parent-teacher conferences, show interest in what's going on in the classroom, and do everything it takes to get them prepared for school and reinforce their learning at home, Weaver explained.

#2 – "No Child Left Behind": If the nation calls on us to support the rhetoric of the so-called No Child Left Behind Law, then we call on the nation to elect politicians and policy makers who will vote to provide the resources -- both human and fiscal -- that will turn the rhetoric of the law into reality, not sanctions that do the most harm to schools and students who are in the most need.

#3 High-quality school employees. "If the nation calls on us to provide high-quality education support professionals, those who will ensure that the standards for student services are high, then we call on the nation to stop privatizing [their] jobs." Research shows that privatization leads to poor quality at a higher price, and it'’s bad for schools and bad for children, Weaver said.

#4 High-quality classroom instruction. "If the nation calls on us to provide students with lessons that enrich their minds, with experiences that enable them to grow into well-rounded, lifelong learners, then we call on the nation to provide…small class sizes, up-to-date textbooks, updated labs and modern technology." Weaver also emphasized that educators need support for music, art, physical education and foreign language programs that are vibrant and engaging.

#5 Educators who give their best to every child. "If the nation calls on teachers and education support professionals to care for children with the most severe physical challenges…then we call on the nation to recognize these dedicated men and women as the backbone of our public education system." To recruit and retain high-quality teachers and other educators, they must be paid fairly and according to the requirements, skill and worth of their jobs, Weaver explained.

#6 A high-quality teacher in every classroom. "If the nation calls on us to have a qualified teacher in every classroom, then we call on the nation to stand beside us and insist that we have work environments that are conducive to good teaching and learning." With almost half of teachers leaving the profession after five years, we also need ongoing professional development, healthcare and retirement benefits that are secure, Weaver said.
"We call on the nation" is not forming a covenant with the nation, it's the "terms of surrender." Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but one typically doesn't build a covenant by stating "If the nation calls" and then demand action.

I especially love the union stance on privitization of jobs in #3. Talk about your left wing stupidity. Would anyone venture to believe that the NEA is strongly LIBERAL? Pay me what I want, give me better benefits, give me all the money and resources that I want. Imagine a company in the real world funtioning under those types of demands. I'd also love to see the evidence that shows privitization leads to "poor quality at higher prices." I'm betting that study has some interesting insights.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

China's War Posture: Stealth

Very interesting article by Max Boot. Discusses China's military posture, but not that of the open military strategy. It's in regard to their stealth strategy.
The Pentagon on Tuesday released a study of Chinese military capabilities. In a preview, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a Singapore audience last month that China's arms buildup was an "area of concern." It should be. But we shouldn't get overly fixated on such traditional indices of military power as ships and bombs — not even atomic bombs. Chinese strategists, in the best tradition of Sun Tzu, are working on craftier schemes to topple the American hegemon.

In 1998, an official People's Liberation Army publishing house brought out a treatise called "Unrestricted Warfare," written by two senior army colonels, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui. This book, which is available in English translation, is well known to the U.S. national security establishment but remains practically unheard of among the general public.
You can find selections from the book Unrestricted Warfare at this link. [pdf] Being the out of control bibliophile that I am, I probably will order it after reading the excerpts.
"Unrestricted Warfare" recognizes that it is practically impossible to challenge the U.S. on its own terms. No one else can afford to build mega-expensive weapons systems like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which will cost more than $200 billion to develop. "The way to extricate oneself from this predicament," the authors write, "is to develop a different approach."

Their different approaches include financial warfare (subverting banking systems and stock markets), drug warfare (attacking the fabric of society by flooding it with illicit drugs), psychological and media warfare (manipulating perceptions to break down enemy will), international law warfare (blocking enemy actions using multinational organizations), resource warfare (seizing control of vital natural resources), even ecological warfare (creating man-made earthquakes or other natural disasters).
Frightening. Sounds like a very interesting read.

Frank/Conyers Calling for Impeachment

Caught this from Ravenwood's Universe.

They seem to think that the president should have impeachment processes started related to the "Leakgate" investigation. I'm confused. What exactly could justify impeachment related to this? Frank/Conyers don't appear to say anywhere.

I can't find it in any other news, so I guess I'll just have to wait for more info.

Military Tribunals

The link is to an article on Slate that is yelping about the Roberts nomination for the Supremes. [H/T CQ] For some reason Emily Bazelon seems to be implying that the Roberts nomination is a quid pro quo from Bush to put Roberts on the Bench. You can look at the CQ link for that bit.

I'm more interested though in the statements related to military tribunals that Bazelon takes.
This tribunal isn't like the courts-martial that are used for prisoners of war. It goes by rules that cut back the rights of defendants even more drastically than the tribunal that the United States has helped establish in Iraq to try Saddam Hussein has. Hamdan has no right to be present at his trial. Unsworn statements, rather than live testimony, can be presented as evidence against him. The presumption of innocence can be taken away from him at any time; so can his right not to testify to avoid self-incrimination. If Hamdan is convicted, he can be sentenced to death.
The implicaton sounds like to me as if there are no rules at all. I did some searching and found this page at FindLaw that has all sorts of links about tribunals.

I also located the DOD Military Commission Order No. 1. My understanding is that these are the rules for these upcoming commissions. The procedures seem to contradict some of Bazelon's implications.
The following procedures shall apply with respect to the Accused:
DoD MCO No. 1, March 21, 2002
A. The Prosecution shall furnish to the Accused, sufficiently in advance of trial to
prepare a defense, a copy of the charges in English and, if appropriate, in another
language that the Accused understands.
B. The Accused shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
C. A Commission member shall vote for a finding of Guilty as to an offense if and only
if that member is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, based on the evidence admitted
at trial, that the Accused is guilty of the offense.
D. At least one Detailed Defense Counsel shall be made available to the Accused
sufficiently in advance of trial to prepare a defense and until any findings and sentence
become final in accordance with Section 6(H)(2).
E. The Prosecution shall provide the Defense with access to evidence the Prosecution
intends to introduce at trial and with access to evidence known to the Prosecution that
tends to exculpate the Accused. Such access shall be consistent with Section 6(D)(5) and
subject to Section 9.
F.The Accused shall not be required to testify during trial. A Commission shall draw
no adverse inference from an Accused's decision not to testify. This subsection shall not
preclude admission of evidence of prior statements or conduct of the Accused.
G. If the Accused so elects, the Accused may testify at trial on the Accused's own behalf
and shall then be subject to cross-examination.
H. The Accused may obtain witnesses and documents for the Accused's defense, to the
extent necessary and reasonably available as determined by the Presiding Officer. Such
access shall be consistent with the requirements of Section 6(D)(5) and subject to Section
9. The Appointing Authority shall order that such investigative or other resources be
made available to the Defense as the Appointing Authority deems necessary for a full and
fair trial.
I.The Accused may have Defense Counsel present evidence at trial in the Accused's
defense and cross-examine each witness presented by the Prosecution who appears before
the Commission.
J.The Prosecution shall ensure that the substance of the charges, the proceedings, and
any documentary evidence are provided in English and, if appropriate, in another
language that the Accused understands. The Appointing Authority may appoint one or
more interpreters to assist the Defense, as necessary.
K. The Accused may be present at every stage of the trial before the Commission,
consistent with Section 6(B)(3), unless the Accused engages in disruptive conduct thatjustifies exclusion by the Presiding Officer. Detailed Defense Counsel may not be
excluded from any trial proceeding or portion thereof.
L. Except by order of the Commission for good cause shown, the Prosecution shall
provide the Defense with access before sentencing proceedings to evidence the
Prosecution intends to present in such proceedings. Such access shall be consistent with Section 6(D)(5) and subject to Section 9.
M. The Accused may make a statement during sentencing proceedings.
N. The Accused may have Defense Counsel submit evidence to the Commission during
sentencing proceedings.
O. The Accused shall be afforded a trial open to the public (except proceedings closed
by the Presiding Officer), consistent with Section 6(B).
P. The Accused shall not again be tried by any Commission for a charge once a
Commission's finding on that charge becomes final in accordance with Section 6(H)(2).
Well, you get the picture. Read the procedures though. To me it doesn't sound like the screaming travesty of justice that it has constantly been made out to be.

Been looking further at Bazelon's analysis of the tribunal method.
Their claim is a fairly limited one—not that Geneva gives the detainees a ticket to challenge the conditions of confinement or to sue for money damages, but that it sets the parameters for their trials. Since 1804, it's been a basic principle of statutory interpretation—called, of all things, the Charming Betsy principle—that federal laws authorizing the government to do something have to be read so that they're consistent with international law.
Problem with the section highlighted. Here is what the linked Amicus Curiae actually says:
Specifically, as further set forth herein, under the "Charming Betsy" canon - requiring courts, "whenever possible," to construe federal law so that its application "will not violate international law," In re Application to Enforce an Administrative Subpoena of the CFTC, 738 F.2d 487, (D.C. Cir 1984)...
Consistency is not the same thing as "will not violate." Could be that making the assumption that they are the same is truly poor logic. Since the finding was unanimous, I would be willing to bet that they believed that the Geneva conventions were not being violated. The Amicus Curiae itself argues that the Geneva convention on the treatment of Prisoners of War is relevant. I believe that argument has already been found false.

After all of the flaws in Bazelon's argument, I think her conclusion that Roberts is flawed as a candidate, is itself flawed.

John Roberts Nominated for Supremes

This is from Captain's Quarter. Pretty interesting detail of what occurred during and after the nomination. He also shows some of the half-wits comments that are coming out. (I'm of course referring to the Leahy/Schumer vaudeville act.)

How Appealing has a quite large sysnopsis on the press reporting on the nomination.

The Supreme Court Nomination Blog has quite a bit of info as well. They have a "Nutshell" analysis of Roberts that is informative for those that don't want to wade through all the press BS.
I thought I'd give my sense of the answer to the question of what I think John Roberts will be like as a Supreme Court Justice. The answer is that he will be like William Rehnquist, his former boss.

Judge Roberts, like the Chief, is an institutionalist - he has worked for essentially his entire professional career before the Supreme Court.

I also have the sense that they have a similar ideology. For example, I get the sense that he (like the Chief) simultaneously believes in strong Executive Powers (see the D.C. Circuit's recent Hamdan decision, which he joined) but also limited federal powers (see his dissent from the denial of rehearing en banc in the Rancho Viejo case).

One difference may be that Judge Roberts's opinions show him to be more of a judicial craftsman than the Chief, who tends to write as concisely and directy as possible. But in analyzing cases, the two are similar, as Judge Roberts explained in his hearings that it may be appropriate to rely on different sources of meaning -- e.g., text and history -- depending on the precise context.

Yeah, a little thin, but more than any place I've seen so far.

Eminent Domain Amendment - Petition

A petition is being started for this. Please go and sign when the petition is available. There are some technical difficulties that they are working on.

The final wording goes like this:

The right to ownership of property being the cornerstone of liberty, no government, or agency thereof, within these United States shall have the authority to take property from any person, corporation, or organization through exercise of eminent domain for other than a public use without just compensation.
Public use shall be understood to be property the government owns or retains the paramount interest in, and the public has a legal right to use. Public use shall be understood to include property the government owns and maintains as a secure facility. Public use shall not be construed to include economic development or increased tax revenue. Public use of such property shall be maintained for a period of not less than 25 years.
Just compensation shall be the higher of twice the average of the price paid for similar property in the preceding six months, or twice the average of the previous 10 recorded similar property transactions. Compensation paid shall be exempt from taxation in any form by any government within these United States.

Another Body Count

Here's a new body count by anti-war groups. You can probably add the editorial comment on the validity of the statistics considering that the groups have an obvious objective. Failing to be objective in this case also shows in the articles. (shocking)
Key findings in the report include:
  • Women and children accounted for 18% of the civilians killed.
  • Nearly half the deaths occurred in Baghdad.
  • 30% of the deaths occurred during the invasion phase.
The study's authors used the term "unknown agents" for killers whose identity could not be determined from news reports. For instance, when three people are fatally shot outside a mosque, it is difficult to say whether it represents the act of an insurgent, a common crime or sectarian violence.

Of those killed by insurgents, criminals or unknown agents, 9.5% were clearly slain by insurgents and 36% by criminals and unknown agents, according to the report.
I had to edit the quote a little for formt since the cut/paste from the article failed to move the formating correctly.

Aren't you fascinated that the LATimes fails to actually innumerate those directly attributed to the US war effort? Yes they point out those during the invasion, but not the total. The Boston Globe gives you that statistic, but none of the others.
Of the total, nearly 37 percent were killed by US-led forces, the group said.
I'd almost suspect that the LATimes and Boston Globe were trying subtle propagandizing of these statistics, but that would sound paranoid. They really only want to give us the right information to make decisions on our own. (yeah, right.)

It's also funny that the MSM don't say that the report has a minimum side. They only report the maximum number possible. I noted that the differences between the max and min are several thousand casualties. At least the authors of the report are trying to be honest about the accuracy.
We acknowledge that many parties to this conflict will have an interest in manipulating casualty figures for political ends. There is no such thing (and will probably never be such a thing) as an "wholly accurate" figure, which could accepted as historical truth by all parties. This is why we will always publish a minimum and a maximum for each reported incident. Some sources may wish to over-report casualties. Others may wish to under-report them. Our methodology is not biased towards "propaganda" from any particular protagonist in the conflict. We will faithfully reflect the full range of reported deaths in our sources. These sources, which are predominantly Western (including long established press agencies such as Reuters and Associated Press) are unlikely to suppress conservative estimates which can act as a corrective to inflated claims. We rely on the combined, and self-correcting, professionalism of the world's press to deliver meaningful maxima and minima for our count.
I believe this is the actual report. The link is to the background/methodology page that links to the data. The methods I would say are interesting, though it is a third party sourced report. They get their information from the MSM. You can read the section on methodology.

The report overall probably isn't too bad as long as you understand the methodology and the failings of such reports.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

How to Make A Super Hero Movie

This is actually a pretty good article on Salon for what does, and doesn't, make a good super hero film. Luckily, this guy, unlike the last one on Salon, actually knows what he's talking about (and appropriately belittles Schumacher).

Worth the read.

A Reason for Anonymity

The link is to AnarchAngel. Seems he was fired because of his Blog entry related to shooting the Koran. Read the Update at the bottom of the page.

I originally got there by this entry at SayUncle which also has other interesting info on the whole shooting the Koran thing.

I seem to recall a discussion about doing this (shooting the Koran and photographing). Now, I'm thinking the failure to act on that thought probably was the right thing to do. Not to mention not using your real name on these things gives you some defense against the PC morons and the Religious nut-jobs.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Logic of Suicide Terrorism

I believe I've seen an interview with this gentleman.

The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign over 95 percent of all the incidents has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw.
Most of the analysis appears to center around the idea that suicide bombings are for military strategy to remove invaders. Though I would say that the denial of a link to Islamic fundamentalism is being overly simple.

His first argument is that there are suicide bombers from non-Islamic groups. That I would argue doesn't disprove the fundamentalist argument in specific theaters. It does say that calling suicide terrorism a fundamentalist Islamic problem the cause is an over generalization, but doesn't eliminate the Islamic causal factors that are seen.
The evidence shows that the presence of American troops is clearly the pivotal factor driving suicide terrorism.

If Islamic fundamentalism were the pivotal factor, then we should see some of the largest Islamic fundamentalist countries in the world, like Iran, which has 70 million people three times the population of Iraq and three times the population of Saudi Arabia —with some of the most active groups in suicide terrorism against the United States. However, there has never been an al-Qaeda suicide terrorist from Iran, and we have no evidence that there are any suicide terrorists in Iraq from Iran.

"Pivotal factor" is not a lone factor. Nor does it eliminate other causation. Again this fails in over generalization. Iran being used as an example should prompt some direct questions. If Iran hasn't had suicide bombers, why? What is different between Iran and the countries where many suicide bombers are coming from? Might there not be a cultural factor on top of the Islamic one? Remember that many of the suicide bombers in Iraq are Sunni. There is also suicide bombers that are specifically Batthist and Wahabi.
Our best information at the moment is that the Iraqi suicide terrorists are coming from two groups —Iraqi Sunnis and Saudis —the two populations most vulnerable to transformation by the presence of large American combat troops on the Arabian Peninsula. This is perfectly consistent with the strategic logic of suicide terrorism.
Note that he generalizes with the Sunni analysis. He doesn't give a break down of the ethnic relationship. There are Sunni Arabs and Sunni Kurds in Iraq. I'd wager that the Kurdish level of suicide bombers is nearly non-existant.

He does finally come down to the point of stating that there is a relationship to religion related to suicide bombings.
I not only study the patterns of where suicide terrorism has occurred but also where it hasn't occurred. Not every foreign occupation has produced suicide terrorism. Why do some and not others? Here is where religion matters, but not quite in the way most people think. In virtually every instance where an occupation has produced a suicide-terrorist campaign, there has been a religious difference between the occupier and the occupied community. That is true not only in places such as Lebanon and in Iraq today but also in Sri Lanka, where it is the Sinhala Buddhists who are having a dispute with the Hindu Tamils.

When there is a religious difference between the occupier and the occupied, that enables terrorist leaders to demonize the occupier in especially vicious ways. Now, that still requires the occupier to be there. Absent the presence of foreign troops, Osama bin Laden could make his arguments but there wouldn't be much reality behind them. The reason that it is so difficult for us to dispute those arguments is because we really do have tens of thousands of combat soldiers sitting on the Arabian Peninsula.

This makes more sense. Causation of such thing is rarely a simple single factor. I would still state that his analysis is too simple as he states it at the start of the article. His use of Lebanon as an example of the decrease of suicide bombers when an occupying entity of different religious views leaves makes my point.
In Lebanon, for instance, there were 41 suicide-terrorist attacks from 1982 to 1986, and after the U.S. withdrew its forces, France withdrew its forces, and then Israel withdrew to just that six-mile buffer zone of Lebanon, they virtually ceased. They didn'’t completely stop, but there was no campaign of suicide terrorism. Once Israel withdrew from the vast bulk of Lebanese territory, the suicide terrorists did not follow Israel to Tel Aviv.
I think he has missed the point that there was another occupier of Lebanon just at the time of the withdrawl. Syria. And the analysis of the Lebanese suicide bombers is interesting.
TAC: There have been many kinds of non-Islamic suicide terrorists, but have there been Christian suicide terrorists?

RP: Not from Christian groups per se, but in Lebanon in the 1980s, of those suicide attackers, only eight were Islamic fundamentalists. Twenty-seven were Communists and Socialists. Three were Christians.

I'm a bit baffled by the designations. Communist/Socialist doesn't tell you anything about their religious affiliations. The groups that claimed responsibility may have been designated as such, but it fails to provide useful analysis. Unless you wish us to believe that Communist/Socialist terrorists are secular, which I'm going to bet against.

The discussion on the IRA methodology and lack of suicide bombings I think takes a wrong turn in analysis. He seems to want us to believe that there were no suicide bombings because the IRA received concessions through the normal terrorist bombings and attacks. I think that argument is laughable. The culture/religious relations are totally ignored. Christianity sees suicide as having no redeeming value or reward in the afterlife. There is even specific places in Hell for those that commit suicide.

From the limits of this interview, I think that the author over simplifies the system that causes suicide bombers.

VDH: Our Wars Over the War

As usual Hanson comes to the point rather vigorously.

Ever since September 11, there has been an alternative narrative about this war embraced by the Left. In this mythology, the attack on September 11 had in some vague way something to do with American culpability.

Either we were unfairly tilting toward Israel, or had been unkind to Muslims. Perhaps, as Sen. Patty Murray intoned, we needed to match the good works of bin Laden to capture the hearts and minds of Muslim peoples.

The fable continues that the United States itself was united after the attack even during its preparations to retaliate in Afghanistan. But then George Bush took his eye off the ball. He let bin Laden escape, and worst of all, unilaterally and preemptively, went into secular Iraq — an unnecessary war for oil, hegemony, Israel, or Halliburton, something in Ted Kennedy’s words “cooked up in Texas.”
Overall an excellent piece on the reason why the left's reasoning on the whole problem is wrong.