Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Spiked Helmet for Every Young American?

This is a pretty shocking little article to publish on Memorial Day. I do like HNN, but this pretty horrifying stuff. It opens with:

It is difficult to realize that thirty years have gone by since Saigon was liberated and the Vietnam war was over.

Liberated? Liberated! Was that before or after the executions, rapes and fires? Did the liberation continue with the concentration camps and mass executions? I'm falling back on Inigo Montoya here, "I do not think that word means what you think it means."

That, and the domino theory, provided the flammable mix for our invasion of Vietnam.

Another good one. So, the South fell to the north, but no other countries in Southeast Asia became communist. Right? Can anyone sing 'Holiday in Cambodia' along with me? That's one of the worst canards on the war in Viet Nam.

I think HNN's standards may have slipped a bit too far this time. Is it a private blog or could we lobby for a new editor because that was a pretty offensive article.

Oh, but if we are going to start handing out genuine pickelhelm's, I'd like one please.

Further comments on that article here:
50th Star (I like his name!)

Expelled From Pre-School

Having a sometimes problematic little boy, I identified with this story, but in the end, it felt like they were failing, not the school system (private or otherwise). The wive's complaints at the end really freaked me out AND, if a kid inflicted that kind of violence on my wife, a spanking would follow.

Don't give me that it only teaches violence BS. It teaches consequences. The real world has consequences. Sometimes those consequences are painful and humiliating. Maybe this kid needs to feel some pain in order to develop some empathy.

I feel the need to mention, I'm not suggesting beating him bloody, far from it, been there, done that, got the scars and the t-shirt, but a couple of non-damaging swats to the rear end are real attention getters.

All that said, I love hearing about other children behaving worse than mine because it gives me hope that mine aren't that bad and that I'm not screwing them up too much.

When All Else Fails, You Can Still Blame America

Pakistanis killing each other in sectarian violence, and who is to blame, why America of course.
A bomb kills worshippers at a Shiite Muslim shrine, and some mourners shout "Down with America!" Days later, a suicide bomber strikes a Shiite mosque and an angry crowd torches a nearby KFC restaurant.

Sectarian violence is nothing new in Pakistan, where a small minority of Sunni and Shiite militants keep up a torrid pace of atrocities each year. Now, however, anger over the bloodshed is being vented at a seemingly unrelated target -- the United States.
Does this make any sense at all?
Muslim kills Muslim, blames the US, has a riot, and kills more Muslims.
Mobs are such wonderful things.
As expected, it's because someone failed to treat a book perfectly.
Hatred of America is running high in the wake of allegations in Newsweek magazine -- since retracted -- that U.S. interrogators desecrated Islam's holy book, the Quran, at Guantanamo Bay prison, said Allama Hassan Turabi, a senior Shiite leader in the southern city of Karachi.

Anger over America's treatment of Muslims bubbled over following an attack on a mosque in Karachi on Monday, when three assailants clashed with police before setting off a bomb that killed two attackers, two policemen, one worshipper and wounded 26.
Of course, it isn't all about the US:
"Everybody condemns the bombings," said Qazi Hussain Ahmed, a lawmaker and leader of the six-party religious alliance Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal, or United Action Forum. "Sunnis and Shiites come together to condemn them."

He stressed that protests are not only directed at the United States, and said the elimination of Muslim-on-Muslim extremism is a major concern cited at rallies.
I'm amazed that the US isn't the one at fault for the Muslim-on-Muslim violence.

Oh, and just by the way, the bombing of the Shiite mosque has been linked to al-Qaeda.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Weaponization of Space

Here is an interesting piece on placing military assets in space. I personally think calling "Weaponization of Space" just a moronic negative spin on distribution of legitimate military armaments.

This quote is very interesting:
Michael Krepon was quoted in a recent article in The Washington Post as stating, ‚“Space was to be used for peaceful purposes, but if someone messed with us, we couldn‚’t allow that to happen.‚”
Lovely rhetoric. Just imagine if the US had done such things with nuclear weapons after WWII. Letting potential enemies get the lead in any military context is a recipe for disaster.

Read the article. I think it's a bit thin in places, but the over all argument is on target.

This website is a further discussion on the topic. The links on the site are for articles on the topic and government reports.

This article from the Stimson Center is an argument against deployment. I'm not really convinced in this case, mainly because it makes the assumption that other countries will not be moving into military deployment and are the countries that we will need to help us prevent such proliferation. Considering historical conflicts, I would say that this assumption is an extreme flaw.
The Stimson report concludes that U.S. military and economic security is best served by avoiding the flight-testing and deployment of space weaponry. The pursuit of space dominance could impair global commerce, produce long-lasting, environmental debris in space, and harm alliance ties as well as relations between the United States and Russia and China, the two countries whose help is most needed to stop and reverse proliferation. The quest to dominate space could prompt low-cost, low-tech countermeasures in the form of space mines and other anti-satellite devices. Potential adversaries in space would be faced with the dilemma of shooting first or risk being shot. The quest to secure dominion over space would therefore elevate into the heavens the hair-trigger postures that plagued U.S. and Soviet officials during the Cold War.
They have a point that deployment of such technologies would upset certain rivals on the world stage. Would this lead to an arms race? Could be. The costs are very expensive, and that will likely slow even the US implementing such systems, but it shouldn't eliminate research and development. This doesn't mean that other countries won't do their own R&D either. Does this make a race though?

It is a complex issue, but I'd rather fault to being prepared than having to catch up in crisis. The US has far too many examples of having to catch up, and it cost lives that could have been saved had the politicians had tried to be ready instead of popular.

Lebanon Elections

Saad Hariri's party has swept the elections in Beirut district.

Interior Minister Hassan al-Sabaa read the results on Monday.

He announced the names of the candidates who secured the 10 seats still being contested during Sunday's vote. The Hariri ticket had already secured the nine other seats for the Beirut district, which were uncontested. Minister al-Sabaa says Saad Hariri's party secured the most votes overall and all 19 seats in Beirut.

The election had very low showing though.
Less than 30 percent of the 400,000 registered voters in the Beirut district cast their ballots on Sunday.

Many supporters of Christian politicians boycotted the elections, declaring that a 2000 electoral districting law still in use did not properly represent them. The Free Patriotic Movement, led by former General Michel Aoun, who returned from exile earlier this month, posted "no vote" signs throughout the Christian suburbs in Beirut.
I have seen some conjecture that the vote is also more related to sympathy for the murder of Rafik Hariri, rather than a logical choice of candidates. With many of the seats uncontested, I don't think this has quite as much value as an argument. I do think the low turn out is a mar on the election result though. Maybe there will be better results in the later votes.

France Says No

55% of the French voters said no. This is more than I saw predicted. The Euro took a dive because of the vote as well.

I saw some quaint statements from French voters yesterday, including one that chose to vote with a blank ballot so she wouldn't feel bad the next day. There was also those that said it was to complicated an issue to say yes or no. Fascinating.

Looks like the Netherlands probably will vote no as well. Running rate is ~60% against.

Makes you wonder where this all goes after theses failures.

I especially want to know what happens with Chirac's government. Hopefully, he'll be going out.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

EU Resistance

Interesting piece by George Will on some of the reasons that France and likely the Netherlands will vote no on the EU constitution.

Still waiting for some results from France, but still nothing official.

German Jobless Rate

Still looking for that liveblogging in France (don't they have the internet at the center of the universe in the most enlightened and benighted country on the planet home to all things good). Found this. It was funny. Funnier still were some of the comments. Like this gem:

This could be self-correcting:

1. Germans get restless
2. French white flag factories can't keep up with demand
3. Germans emigrate to fill the extra positions
4. Employment returns to acceptable levels

I don't think we have anything to worry about this time.

More than 100% Voter Turnout

My mother-in-law, an avid Boston Globe worshipper, uh, I mean, reader, loves to point out to me that the last election was really close because if only a few thousand votes had swung in Ohio... Lordy I get sick of it. I always liked to point out that I'd trade her vote for vote in Pennsylvania since it was closer there, but it just confuses her since the Globe doesn't report information like that. Well here's more information that the Globe isn't likely to report. Apparently there were more votes than voters in Wisconson as reported in the link. This kind of stuff just makes you crazy.

Ban the Knives

Oh this is rich. I mean really, really rich. Beautiful old Great Britain has all but banned private gun ownership. Which means, of course, that they have a virtually crime free society. What? Oh, they have a higher crime rate than in the US. Murder is on the rise (overall murder rate is still below the US) and they aren't using guns. They're using knives. Great big Rambo style survival knives with hollow handles and wicked saw backs that we can ban based on their appearance? Nope. Kitchen knives. Best of all, doctors are calling for a ban on overly pointy kitchen knives.

After they ban the kitchen knives, assuming the nanny state wins, they'll need to ban hammers. I've got a couple of those downstairs that'll put down a bull, let alone a human being. Then they'll need to ban sticks and rocks and... Oh, what's the point. Face it guys. It doesn't matter what you ban, people will find a way to kill each other. We've had 50,000 years of practice and we're quite good at it.

French EU Vote

I'm trying to find someone that is live blogging the event. I haven't yet, but I did find a pretty good discussion & summary of what's wrong with the EU Constitution on the EuroPhobia site. As a wise man once said, keep scolling.

Friday, May 27, 2005

ACLU Demand for More Abu Ghraib Photos

Yes, that moral pillar, that defender of freedoms, the ACLU is looking to get their greasy lawyer mitts on more photos from Abu Ghraib. The gods know that we the American public need to have our noses rubbed in this scandal again. Must remind the world that some American military did some bad things.

Of course, try and find a picture of the WTC on 9/11 in the MSM and you're going to come up very very empty.

Splitting Hairs with a 2x4

H/T Glen Reynolds.

Another MSM member spouting about journalists being targeted in Iraq.

Newspaper Guild President Linda Foley made a public statement on May 13 that journalists are “being targeted for real in places like Iraq.” She has been trying to slide out of it ever since. Pressed by E&P’s Joe Strupp, Foley offered a clarification on who specifically was doing the targeting: “I was careful of not saying troops, I said U.S. military.”

There is that fine art of splitting hairs. Only problem is that Foley is using a 2x4 to do the splitting. Does anyone really believe this clarification is any better than the original statement?

This one has been carefully buried as Reynolds points out.

So, Does This Count as Defiling the Quran?

A suicide bomber set off explosives Friday in the midst of Shiite Muslims reciting the Quran, killing at least 20 and wounding dozens gathered for a religious festival at a shrine near the capital.

No mention about whether or not a Quran was harmed in the explosion. Or does it not matter, because the intent was only to destroy Muslims, not the Muslims' holy book? I'm just looking for a little clarification as to how outraged I can expect the MSM and the folks in Afghanistan to be about this. If these guys had actually tried to flush people down the toilet, would THAT set off major protests? Hmmmm....

Balfour Declaration at Auction at Sotheby's

Saw this link at Gindy.

The document is a handwritten draft of the Balfour Declaration which promised to seek a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Interim Nuclear Waste Repositories

The topic is a bill in the House to establish several "interim storage sites for commercial nuclear waste." These sites would likely be in South Carolina, Washington, and Idaho.

But first, let's start with the actions of that nuclear mental misfit Edward Markey.
An attempt by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., to strip the bill of $10 million for the interim storage program failed 312-110, according to the AP.
Yes, block out the funding of the bill that establishes the DOE's ability to form these storage sites. Anything else you want to do Markey? Require that the fuel is no longer radioactive before they move it? Ensure that no microbes will be disturbed in the transfers? This guy is a complete and utter moron.

There is a need for these interim sites, mainly to isolate the more distributed repositories that are sitting near closed sites at this time. The safety of the fuel could be assured more easily at these sites. It would also lessen the costs of storage that the government has agreed to take on. Not to mention that they already took the money for the storage from the commercial plants. The costs of final storage can be expected to continue to rise. Especially since every crack pot anti-nuke group has to bring suit against movement of fuel or the storage facility at Yucca Mountain.

I can understand the concerns of the states about the fuel being left for prolonged periods in this interim storage. The argument being that once they are in interim storage, the pressure to get the final solution in place is relieved. The sites, Savannah River and Hanford, are already radioactive waste dumps, so the problem of storage isn't that big a deal.

And as usual you get the anti-nuke groups coming out with spin against Yucca Mountain.
Glenn Carroll, coordinator of Georgians Against Nuclear Energy, said the waste could stay at Savannah River Site permanently because there's no clear plan of dealing with it.

"Yucca Mountain is a failure, but they haven't admitted it," she said.

Ah yes, its a failure when it hasn't even been used yet. This rhetoric is pathetic. Even if they set up Yucca Mountain as an interim style storage facility, it could easily satisfy the storage needs for a short term. I wonder what this group would propose we do with the facility since billions of dollars have already been invested in it. Or what they would suggest to do with all the nuclear waste stacking up. Obviously, they don't intend to ever allow it to be reprocessed for fuel. That would make too much sense. But can't have those nasty, highly controllable, ecologically non-polluting energy sources around. To dangerous. "REMEMBER CHERNOBYL!!!"


Here's a report on the military's investigation of the Koran "desecration" allegations. Still much ado about nothing.
Devout Muslims consider it blasphemy for a non-Muslim to touch a Koran or otherwise show disrespect to it. Of the 13 alleged mishandling incidents investigators identified, Hood said, most were ''inadvertent" touching of the Koran by military personnel. Ten instances involved guards and three involved interrogators, he said.

''We found that in only five of those 13 incidents, four by guards and one by an interrogator, there was what could be broadly defined as mishandling of a Koran," Hood said.
I'm sorry, but this is utter rubbish. The military is affording such extreme respect to a book that they are being hindered in the duties. This level of care isn't afforded to any other religion's texts and all this walking on eggs just gives the terrorists more inflammatory rhetoric to splash around. This should never have been news and allegations like this should just have been ignored.

Where were the Islamic prisoners during these incidents any way? Don't they have a responsibility to their own religion to ensure that a Koran in their keeping isn't placed in the way of potential desecration?

Let's take this desecration BS a step further. If it's of such dire importance to be respectful of Islamic texts, what are we doing about those that are in libraries and book stores? Shouldn't they be given the same protections? What about other religious texts? Don't they deserve protection at the same level? Or is this just something that must be done by our military?

Not to mention the outrage by individuals who have fighters that intentionally fight from mosques or stash weapons in mosques because they know that the US military will bend over backwards to avoid bringing fire on to a place of worship.

I watched this press conference. It was amazing just how bent the reporter's questions were. The scent of inquisition was wafting through the room for most of the time. And the obviously Islamic reporter asking if the US was going to apologize for the mistreatment of the Koran just topped it off.

CNN in this article quotes the rantings of the ACLU.
ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero criticized U.S. treatment of detainees Wednesday.

"The United States government continues to turn a blind eye to mounting evidence of widespread abuse of detainees held in its custody," he said in a news release.

"If we are to truly repair America's standing in the world, the Bush administration must hold accountable high-ranking officials who allow the continuing abuse and torture of detainees."

The ACLU is almost as laughable as Amnesty International in this case. Mounting evidence? More like mounting rhetoric. Thank the gods that we have such moral guardians like the ACLU.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

New Original Blog

Here's a laugh brought to you by the Jawa Report.

Just take a look. The site name is all I'm referring too.

Academic Bill of Rights - RI

Here's a jewel. RI is proposing an Academic Bill of Rights. Essentially to ensure that students have some recourse in situations where there view opposes that of the professor.
The bill includes a clause directing the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education to "adopt an academic bill of rights designed to ensure the academic freedom of students and faculty at the state's institutions of higher learning, such that grading and hiring will not be tainted by consideration of the political, religious, or nonreligious beliefs of students or faculty, and designed to ensure that the state's educational campuses are an environment of open discourse lacking any quality of indoctrination."
Of course the professors are flipping out about it:
One organization opposing the bill is the American Association of University Professors. The AAUP released a statement in December 2003 condemning SAF's draft legislation as a threat to academic freedom.

Frank Annunziato, executive director of the University of Rhode Island chapter of the AAUP, said the bill would curtail the very freedoms it claims to protect. "We oppose this bill, because it's not what it says it is. It is designed to create academic chaos and invite attacks on professors," he said.

He cited the clause "quality of indoctrination" in the bill as something that could be misconstrued to "prevent professors from raising tough questions."

Annunziato also said there was no need for additional legislation, as most universities already have internal policies governing academic freedom. "Every institution has policies in place to protect students. We don't need more legislation enshrining this. We do not need to be monitored in this way. This bill is designed to make everyone into milquetoast," he said.
Oh, I see. Raising the tough questions. Failing students who disagree with you, even when they have valid reasoning is raising tough questions? "Academic chaos and inviting attacks on professors?" Not a knee jerk reaction?

I saw a report on the idiot box on the topic and there were professors advocates stating that this would instill fear in the professors and thus limit their right to academic freedom. I love that. In any other business, if you take exceptional actions against a co-worker that you disagree with, you get sanctioned or fired. Only in academia is repression of opposing views justified as being academic freedom.

I don't know the full details of the bill, but from this reaction I'd say they may be on to something.

Prisoner Allegations From Gitmo

Llama Butchers just kill me sometimes. In the sense that their humor is great, not that I'm a Llama.

Here's their post:

Oh, The Humanity!

Following up on Michelle Malkin's and INDCent Bill's columns today about the Left's and the MSM's apparent blind desire to believe anything alleged by the prisoners at Guantanimo Bay, we Llamas present for your consideration (with apologies to Dave):


10. Camp cinema charging full price for matinee showings of Star Wars III.

9. Forced to milk 100 cows every morning before walking four miles to holding cell and back. In the snow. Up hill. Both ways.

8. Took my liver even though I was still using it.

7. Head held under water for three hours straight before every meal.

6. Forced us to move entire island of Cuba six feet to the left. Then forced us to move it back.

5. You think photos of Saddam in his undies are disturbing? They're showing us Fidel in a thong!

4. Beaten by guards whenever we ask to buy a vowel during camp "Wheel of Fortune" tourney.

3. Forced to cut down a tree with a herring.

2. They've killed me five times already, but my insurance company will only pay out the benefits once!

1. Routinely shuttling us to Klingon Home World for some serious ass-whuppin'.

Number 3 almost got me to snarf my iced tea.

Bravo, More!

What's Wrong With Popular History?

Interesting article. Sitting in a room filled with popular histories and few heavier scholarly works my answer is, not much. The real issue to me is how informative is the history vs. how much of it is about pushing a point of view. There were two recent popular histories on WWI. The first was, as near as I can tell, a cataloguing of poets that took part in the war. The second was a good overview of the war. I'm sorry. I'm sure a good catalogue of poets in WWI is important. Can it be labeled as such rather than trying to maski it as a general history? But seriously, such tripe as "A People's History of the United States" and the "Politically Incorrect Guide to US History." need to be seperated from the serious, though "middle-brow", works such as Keegan's "First World War."

Historians Against Bush

I enjoy reading the History News Network. I'm not an historian, but I do enjoy reading historical works. The articles posted on HNN are frequently very informative. This is not one of those. It's long, it's filled with facts, and it's operating from a horrifingly flawed premise. These guys seem to think that they can intrepret history based on current opinion of the intelligentia. Are they nuts? Current opinion of FDR was that he was a monster (despite winning election after election) but now he's one of our more revered Presidents. Current opiniion of Teddy was that he was an idiot (because he was an overt populist, but he too one an election or two) despite his published works, some of which are still studied today (unlike say, Wilson's tripe). Current opinion of Reagan was that he was an idiot and a monster. Yet, twenty years later, as passions cool, and the results of decisions made during his administration become clearer, his reputation is growing.

For historians to think that they can accurately judge the success of this presidency based on current events is nuts. Let's speculate for a moment. What if the insurrection in Iraq gets quelled (as it probably will)? What if the seeds of democracy take root in the Middle East and some pretty horrible regimes such as Syria and Saudi Arabia become functional democracies taking an active constructive role in the world? Yes, it may take ten or twenty years for that to come about, but just like the fall of the Soviet Union (largely hastened by Reagan, despite the hectoring he received at the time from some of these same historians), it will be seen as a great thing and the person who largely brought it about, despite the derision of these otherwise highly intelligent people, will be George W. Bush.

VDH on Blitzkrieg (and WWII Revisionism)

Here's a VDH article from his website, but part of a series from Historically Speaking: The Bulletin of the Historical Society.

I guess I'm going to have to try that magazine. The article looks very interesting and I'd love to see how the other commentators view the subject.

History or Politics

Here's a piece (of $%^#) from the History News Network. (H/T Glen Reynolds)

I'm trying to honestly decide if this is really about history or just another political hack job. The latter is coming out quite clearly in my view. The "informal" survey they discuss has people answering sarcastically and flippantly, but yet they still are using it as a driver for this piece of "news."

Read the article. It reads like an eloquent session at the Democratic Underground.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Amnesty International in Need of a Dictionary

Amnesty International doesn't sensationalize there statements do they?

Amnesty International castigated the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay as a failure Wednesday, calling it "the gulag of our time" in the human rights group's harshest rebuke yet of American detention policies.
Hmmm. Gulag?
  1. A network of forced labor camps in the former Soviet Union.
  2. A forced labor camp or prison, especially for political dissidents.
  3. A place or situation of great suffering and hardship, likened to the atmosphere in a prison system or a forced labor camp.
Nope, I just don't see it.

Forced Labor - Nope
Soviet Union - Nope
Political Dissidents - Nope
Hardship - Yup
Atmosphere in a Prison - Damn Right

Key here is it's a prison. Not a place for a spa, casino and lounge.

But then the article continues:
But one of the biggest disappointments in the human rights arena was with the United States, Amnesty said, "after evidence came to light that the U.S. administration had sanctioned interrogation techniques that violated the U.N. Convention against Torture." [emphasis mine]
Another interesting bit of sophistry. Must have missed the evidence showing that sanction from the president. You can make your judgment as to whether there were actual violations by going to the link I provided in the quote. (It wasn't original to the article.)

As to the disappointment, don't they think they should be looking at countries that have substantial problems with human rights and torture. They could start by looking at the UN's Commission on Human Rights.

If you want to actually look at Amnesty International's report go here.


Here is an interesting section of Amnesty International's report.
Prisoners of conscience

Conscientious objectors Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejía Castillo and Sergeant Abdullah William Webster were imprisoned; they were prisoners of conscience. Both men remained in prison at the end of the year.

Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejía Castillo was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment for desertion after he refused to return to his unit in Iraq on moral grounds relating to his misgivings about the legality of the war and the conduct of US troops towards Iraqi civilians and prisoners. His trial in May went ahead despite a pending decision by the army on his application for conscientious objector status.

In June, Sergeant Abdullah William Webster, who had served in the US army since 1985, was sentenced to 14 monthsÂ’ imprisonment and loss of salary and benefits for refusing to participate in the war in Iraq on the basis of his religious beliefs. He had been ordered to deploy to Iraq despite submitting an application to be reassigned to non-combatant services. His application for conscientious objector status was refused on the ground that his objection was not to war in general but to a particular war.
Now tell me how deserters are having their human rights violated?

The moral objections and questioning of the legality of the Iraq war is a fascinating argument by Castillo. Strange how your military contract doesn't give you an out if you think the war illegal.

I love the religious beliefs reasoning for Sgt. Abdullah Webster. Funny that he hadn't had that objection when he joined the Army.

Not that they are just cowards deserting from a service that they joined. Is AI trying to convince us that people should be able to jump ship if they have some little qualm about a conflict? Maybe AI should also learn that these men volunteered. They weren't drafted or forced in any other manner.

Why oh Why Won't Socialism Just Roll Over and Die Already?

On the Central American Free Trade Agreement

In the post-World War II years trade rebuilt the economies of France, Germany and Japan, and the U.S.-backed General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade helped rebuild global economic growth over half a century. The 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement created more than a million new jobs in America and our exports to Mexico more than doubled.
and the Dems

Today's Democratic Party is virulently protectionist. John Kerry promised to rethink Nafta, while John Edwards boasted that "I campaigned against Nafta. I voted against the Chilean trade agreement, against the Caribbean trade agreement, and against the Singapore trade agreement." And last week the House's New Democratic Coalition came out in opposition to current trade expansion efforts in Central America because, in the words of co-chairman Ellen Tauscher of California, "trade liberalization has not lived up to [its] rhetoric."
and the Sugar Industry fighting against it.

American sugar imports would depress sugar prices, they say. Well, American sugar prices today are about three times the world market's, so some price reduction would be good for Americans, just as lower gasoline prices would be.
Some things never change, I guess.

Star Wars Morons

Here's one from mASS BACKWARDS.

Not smart enough to be Jedi, not smart enough to be Sith.

Oh, and before anyone goes and tries to say "boys will do dumb things," one of them is a girl.

Wonder when they'll start the law-suit against Lucas for making them do this?

Stem Cell Research Bill

The bill to allow further governmental funding of stem cell research has made it through the House and is gone to the senate. A second bill related to funding adult stem cell research made it through almost unanimously.

Bush has stated he will veto the embryonic stem cell bill. Personally, I think this is in error, but have to credit Bush with making a decision based on his personal belief system rather than what the polls show as popular. Can the same research be accomplished with adult stem cells? I've heard conflicting attitudes toward this, the loudest stating embryonic stem cells are more likely to be the ones successful in creating cures.

Then there are those that want to execute any politician that stands in the way of the use of embryonic stem cells. (Ok, not "execute," but remove. But doesn't execute sound more sensational? Maybe I can get a job writing for the MSM.)
A pioneer of grass-roots internet movements is mobilizing a campaign to oust any legislator who opposes embryonic stem-cell research.

John Hlinko, the brains behind DraftWesleyClark.com, one of the most successful online grass-roots political movements so far, is creating a political action committee to raise funds and galvanize support for embryonic stem-cell research.
Ousting a politician related to a single topic is just stupid. No matter what you feel about the topic. Nice to see another group of unbalanced opinion raising the battle flag.

The article does have this to point to:
"I cannot imagine the first veto of his presidency will be on medical research," said Michael Manganiello, senior vice president of government relations for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. "The American people are for it, so we'll see."
Though as I stated above, the polls are irrelevant when you have a president that actually has beliefs and is willing to do what he feels is correct.

In some ways this works against Bush, because he doesn't appear to have sufficient separation of his belief system to make a completely analytical judgment. Though this may be unfair, in that moral judgments are being made here and should be weighed on the topic.

Queen Anne's Revenge

Still pulling cannon out of the water, but no real proof that this is Blackbeard's flag ship. Just some "strong clues."

This site has video footage of the site.

Chinese Dog Adoption

Here's one that just makes my blood boil.

It's not often that dogs get a new life, especially in a country where they can end up on the dinner table, but 30 canines from Beijing emigrated to the United States for a fresh start.

They are the first to leave China as part of a program by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to relieve crowding at Chinese animal shelters and highlight the growing problem of abandoned pets.
Yes, the IFAW is importing abandoned Chinese dogs, because god knows that there aren't quite enough abandoned dogs in the US to start with. So while these select few Chinese dogs are put up for adoption, how many inconvenient dogs in the US will be put down? Hundreds?

And while these 30 dogs will no doubt be fought over, the adopters could have, and should have, waddled their fat asses down to the local SPCA and adopted a dog that some moron found inconvenient. Perhaps one of those Dalmatians that were so popular when the kid's movies came out.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

So They Didn't Go Nuclear

The compromise did make it in finally. The demosprats seem to be declaring victory much more vociferously than the Rethugs.
Reid said the agreement sent President Bush, Vice President Cheney and what he called the "radical arm of the Republican base" the "undeniable" message that "abuse of power will not be tolerated."
Compared to:
Frist was less enthusiastic, saying the agreement "falls short" of the principle that all judicial nominees should receive a vote on the Senate floor.

But he said he was "very pleased" the nominations of three Bush appointees will finally come to a vote.

"It has some good news, and it has some disappointing news, and it will require careful monitoring," Frist said.
Frist obviously wanted all votes to occur, but is forced by the compromise to live with what he can get. Reid on the other hand seems to think he's won the whole ball of wax. He should tread lightly here. There was no abuse of power anywhere in this scenario. None of the proposed changes to the senate rules ever required that a filibuster be allowed and it is not a constitutional requirement for the filibuster.

Personally, I think this has only pushed back the fight until a later date. I honestly believe that this will all come around again if and when there is a supreme court justice to be placed.

Also note that the compromise came from the political centrists from both parties. Both parties should keep that in mind. It shows that some are concerned about abuse of power by the majority, but that just as many are concerned about abuse of power by the minority.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Corporate Advertising and the MSM

I've been a bit disturbed by articles and blog entries like this one vilifying GM over its withdrawal of advertising from the LA Times.

Unsurprisingly, the editors of the LA Times are afraid of coming out with any sort of editorial or op-ed piece on the situation, but I'll say it instead: grow up, General Motors. Last I checked we lived in a nation that celebrated freedom of the press, the right for individuals to have and share their opinion and perspective with others, and a review, whether of a car or a motion picture, is inherently the subjective opinion of the writer and everyone knows that. Except, perhaps, some sensitive GM salespeople.[emphasis original]

This paragraph alone baffles me. They seem to be taking GM to task for removal of funding for advertising in the LA Times when GM objects to subjective opinions that are negative against their product. If the argument had been against GM for factual reporting, I'd have said they have a point.

The country does in deed have the freedom of the press, but it also has other freedoms that this blogger seems to be missing. Now, where a large company spends chooses to spend it's money isn't implicitly stated, but I'd wager that they do have a right to move it where they like. Last I saw this was still some what of a capitalist country.

Then there is the argument on financial pressure:

By pulling their advertising, GM is trying its darndest to breach that fifth wall, to apply pressure on the editorial team at the LA Times where it hurts most, in their income stream. Let's hope that the LA Times editorial team can stand up to the pressure and retain its editorial integrity.

Interesting. GM can indeed use its finances as pressure against the editorial staff. I don't see any problem with that. It's up to the editor to show sufficient integrity to make the correct decisions related to that pressure. If the truth is being used in reporting, then I don't see where they have any problems in letting the money go. But, since it's not about facts, but about opinions, they have a great deal more leeway in which opinions get used. If they fail to show integrity relating to real hard facts, that shows poorly on them, not on GM.

Remember, GM is a company that's primary purpose is to make money for it's share holders. Money is the primary driver in the MSM as well. Just as GM is required to make a safe (by law), enjoyable, (by market) and useful vehicle, the MSM is there to provide a product (news) that has integrity and balance. They aren't forced by regulations to be 100% factual. They can indeed have opinions which they can decide on what is appropriate. Just as what is useful and enjoyable is defined and controlled by the car market.

Morgan Stanley seems to be in a similar situation, which really does appear to be just bad timing.

The story, appearing Wednesday in Ad Age, said Morgan Stanley (nyse: MWD - news - people ) has told key publications it has new guidelines that would require its ads to be pulled whenever negative stories about the bank are about to be published.

This is fairly common practice in many large companies that the article calls "pull-adds." Essentially it is to pull adds when a substantially negative event occurs and will be reported against your advertising. Like Airlines pulling flight adds when there is a large air plane crash. Some interesting bits in the Morgan Stanley article.

There is a difference between MS and GM though. It is very obvious that GM is doing it for retaliation. They do have the right. But, it makes you wonder if they understood the negative contexts that that decision would bring about.

Supremes Bar Use of Shackles in Court

Not a very good idea, but I suppose there is technology out there that could supplant the obvious chains. I think the concern for the safety of the court personnel is completely valid in this case. But I think it can be easily overcome.

Just think of a combination of that taser and a chastity belt. You can guess where the electodes would go. All you need is to have the bailiff with the hot switch and the violent defendant will wish he were dead.

Darth Vader and the Black Knight

Now you're asking, what possibly could these two have in common? Well, I had a strange neural interconnect during Return of the Sith at the end of the fight seen between Darth Vader and Obi-wan.

Obviously, Obi-wan wins and all I could think of was Obi-wan asking Darth Vader is "What are you going to do, bleed on me?"

Maybe I'm not quite right, but I got a hell of a giggle out of that scene.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

MSM and According Terrorist Moral Superiority

This one is from Wretchard at the Belmont Club. The blog starts with this:

Glenn Reynolds notes that the New York Times coverage of prisoner abuse in Afghanistan may not really be about prisoner abuse or even Afghanistan, but about maintaining the prestige of Newsweek. He calls it "circling the wagons", the idea being to teach press critics an object lesson in how expensive it is to humiliate the mass media by catching them at sloppy reporting by flooding the zone with stories similar to the one which was discredited . That may or may not be the case, but it is nearly undeniable that the effect of the media's coverage of American misdeeds has been to make the slightest infraction against enemy combatants ruinously expensive. Not only the treatment of the enemy combatants themselves, but their articles of religious worship have become the subject of such scrutiny that Korans must handled with actual gloves in a ceremonial fashion, a fact that must be triumph for the jihadi cause in and of itself. While nothing is wrong with ensuring the proper treatment of enemy prisoners, the implicit moral superiority that has been accorded America's enemy and his effects recalls Rudyard Kipling's The Grave of the Hundred Dead.

This made me stop for a moment. I hadn't thought to this depth on the whole topic. Not only has the Newsweek issue caused deaths and mayhem, but the implications that the Koran is such a sacred thing, and not just a book, gives the Islamofascists an implied moral superiority. Though this same press rails against any legislation protecting the American flag or any symbols of Christian faiths. Doesn't anyone else find this suspicious? It strikes me as sensationalizing the issue in a seriously warped context.

I also found the idea of the MSM lashing out at the critics an interesting point. The defense of sloppy reporting by pointing to other similar stories on desecration and/or abuse is an important point. Again the press stirs up the problem and blows it out of proportion. And by doing so, they appear to be defending poor practices of their own. Imagine if any other profession tried this. Police beat up an innocent unarmed person and then defend themselves by saying other beatings of unarmed people had been known to have proved the right thing to do. You don't believe there wouldn't be an investigation and related suspensions/firings or criminal charges?

This all really strikes me as though the press is defending their unprofessional behavior and then telling bloggers/critics that they shouldn't criticize the professionals.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Saddam's Photos

Well here is another Who Cares?

So just to make a couple of points, why are people being allowed to bring cameras into areas like this who have no official need? I just don't understand how an environment is allowed to exist where this happens.

Also, will an investigation really find anything? I'm getting really tired of military and government classified information getting out to the press continuously. When I worked for a government agency the warnings about release of materials that were sensitive in some manner were quite dire. All the various leaks I keep hearing about strikes me as strange, especially since you never hear about anyone being punished related to these.

Lastly, the Red Cross spouting about Saddam's right to privacy is pathetic. He's a prisoner of the Iraqi government. There is also no indication that the photos were officially taken by the US government, so why all the screeching about the US violating his rights. Funny how so many were so quiet when ole Saddam was murdering thousands of people in his country. If he's lost a little privacy, who cares? Monsters at his level never valued anyone else's "rights," so why should anyone value his? And don't give me the argument about policy or morals, that just doesn't float. Saddam should receive the same treatment he officially dealt out while he was in power.

Friday, May 20, 2005

America, the Evil Suppressor of all things Muslim

Once again, more tidbits from reality that should be all over the MSM but sadly aren't. This gives a little sense of proportion to the flushing of the Quran story.

I'm finding myself more and more infuriated these days about the stuff that gets blown out of proportion and reason, and the details that are ignored.

I just heard on FoxNews that Al-Sadr is calling on Muslims to bring US flags to mosques and step on them! Hmmm... we will see the right-wing fundies taking to the streets here in America and stoning each other in protest riots? No doubt the MSM will be similarly outraged about that treatment of a sacred symbol... or not.

Illegals, the Minutemen Project, and the Media

This editorial contains a lot of details about what life must be like for those citizens who live at the border that I just hadn't thought about. Big shock, of course, that the MSM isn't painting that particular picture.

It used to be that one or two would ask a local resident for water and a sandwich, and, once fed, be on their way with a polite "Gracias, Señorita." The new breed now comes in groups of 50. They demand to be driven to their pickup spot, and if you refuse they flip you off. Sometimes they poison barking ranch dogs or cut their throats to quiet them. How long do you suppose such outrages would go on in Fairfield, Conn.? Or Greenwich? It'd be a day and a half before some kumbaya-liberal flipped sides and founded the Merritt Parkway Minutemen. Or the BlackBerry Brigade.

Somehow, I have a hard time picturing a gun-hating Connecticut leftie looking hard and mean enough to scare off an illegal. "Turn back now or I'll call you a politically-incorrect name!" But I guess they'd just call the cops and then insist the cops not arrest the illegal too roughly.

14 Rules of Reality

From QandO.

I found these quite interesting. Nothing new to me, but they do touch me as a bit heavy handed. Though, that may not be a bad thing.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


Yes, this was posted by the Instapundit and surely the ~15 people a day that look at this blog are already reading Instapundit, but if three or four of you are not, you must follow this link and read this article. It's great. These are the kinds of thoughts that should be going through more peoples heads. Why are we the good guys? Why are they the bad guys? What are the differentiators? Read this.

Is humiliation the same as torture? It is not -- that's why the words are spelled differently.

There's more and more. Scads of it. Take the time, and to quote a phrase, read it all.

Nuclear Filibuster and the Constitution

Harry Reid is at it again. Not surprising, since Frist isn't playing nice either. Why can't the parties find reasonable people for their leadership?
"The Senate is not a rubber stamp for the executive branch," Reid said. "Rather, we're the one institution where the minority has a voice and the ability to check the power of the majority. Today, in the face of President Bush's power grab, that's more important than ever."
Reid says that the Constitution does not require that judicial nominees get confirmation votes, allowing the minority to block them. Bush and other Republicans who argue otherwise "rewrite the Constitution and reinvent reality," he said.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said he will call a vote next week on whether Republican senators are willing to let the minority Democrats continue to block the White House's judicial appointments through filibusters.

"The principle is that judicial nominees with support of a majority of United States senators deserve a fair up-or-down vote on the floor of the United States Senate," Frist said.
I'm going to guess that the original creators of the constitution didn't intend it either way. Though Reid is making things up with his statement on rewriting the constitution. More rubbish rhetoric. The constitution does say (where "he" referred to is the president):
Clause 2: He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
A bit vague but in reality just a simple statement. I don't see how else you can see this. Doesn't say anything about any committee, nor that the minority can block advice and consent. Nor does the constitution have anything in it about filibusters.

I think the senators that are working for the compromise have the right idea. It should be an honest discussion on procedure. It should be held in control by the moderates. The only part I'm a bit queasy with is this statement:
But more importantly, both sides would have to operate on "good faith" when it comes to future nominations. Republicans would be bound not to ban judicial filibusters only if Democrats forswear judicial filibusters on court nominees except for extraordinary situations, aides said.
Who is defining what is an extraordinary situation?

I really hope the compromise is accepted. Either side of this will end up with situations that are unreasonable in the end.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Huffington Post: Steven G. Brant

Saw this multi-linked starting at Ravenwoods universe to RightWingNews.

Essentially, Brant wants you to believe that Karl Rove is behind the Newsweek article. This silliness really makes it sad that they don't have comments. The melee there would have been hilarious.

It's short, just go read it.

Deep Blue Campuses


Is it me, or is this just a bit extreme? While the very idea of diversity as a driving force is a bit abhorrent (exactly how many Nazi's should be in a given group? Zero seems like a good starting point to me), I'd say that our leading campuses are a little less than adequately diverse when one considers their mission. After all, they're supposed to educate, not indoctrinate.

Newsweek: Salon's POV

It's actually a good read and provides a different, albeit leftist, point of view on this issue with some really good points and only a little bit of smoke & mirrors. It does, unfortunately, include the usual vitriol about Bush.

Newsweek, the MSM, and navel-gazing

Interesting comments on the story that's NOT being covered in all the Newsweek hubbub.

Galloway's Credibility

Galloway's rant yesterday in front of the committee investigating the oil for food program was to say the least, interesting. His statements read like an entry at the DU.
Galloway, an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, called the Senate panel's investigation the "mother of all smokescreens" used to divert attention from the "pack of lies" that led to the 2003 invasion.
Does anyone else think perhaps Mr. Galloway protests just a little too much? Of course, vouchers for 20 Million barrels of oil and being found out can make one quite shrill.

Galloway, an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, called the Senate panel's investigation the "mother of all smokescreens" used to divert attention from the "pack of lies" that led to the 2003 invasion.

"I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims, did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11, 2001," he told Coleman.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong. And 100,000 people have paid with their lives -- 1,600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies, 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever, on a pack of lies."

He added, "Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported."
I'm going to guess that not all of the senators present supported the Iraq war, but that would be knit picking.

Though I must say that interesting bit of data on the civilian deaths is going to continue to live irrelevant of the further evidence that shows that the number of deaths was substantially less. An Article in the Times references a UN document which attributes only 24,000 deaths of civilians to the US led invasion and its aftermath. (I'm seeing arguments now that the number is irrelevant, which strikes me as odd since the same commenters are the ones which trumpeted the 100,000 victims number originally. That data was from the Lancet and is now very much in question, though very much out of the MSM.)

The information that the senate holds is obviously not 100% bullet proof. Though the documentation and testimony of the Iraqi officials appear to make a case stronger than Galloway made for his innocence. If that is the case that he made. From what I've read and seen, it looks more like he is using deflection on the topic making it appear that it is the US covering up and not him.

Being a politician, I'm not particularly surprised by Galloway's tactics. Though, I'd have given him more credence had he just answered the questions and not sat there bellowing conspiracy at the senators.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Liberals - the New Fundamentalists?

This is an interesting piece comparing the fervor of the extreme left to that on the extreme right.

American liberalism has traditionally derived much of its energy from a volatile mixture of emotion and moral superiority. The liberal belief that one's policies would on balance accomplish something indisputably good generally made opposing arguments about shortcomings, costs or unintended consequences unpersuasive.

WWII Revisionism

VDH on the recent blathering about WWII and the related revisionist tilt to all the discussions.

His closing lines summarize it all quite appropriately:
If there were any justice in the world, we would have the ability to transport our most severe critics across time and space to plop them down on Omaha Beach or put them in an overloaded B-29 taking off from Tinian, with the crew on amphetamines to keep awake for their 15-hour mission over Tokyo.

But alas, we cannot. Instead, the beneficiaries of those who sacrificed now ankle-bite their dead betters. Even more strangely, they have somehow convinced us that in their politically-correct hindsight, they could have done much better in World War II.

Yet from every indication of their own behavior over the last 30 years, we suspect that the generation who came of age in the 1960s would have not just have done far worse but failed entirely.
I think his overall discussion is quite proper considering the recent discussions related to the US failures of WWII.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Dean Again

So get this one.

"I think Tom DeLay ought to go back to Houston, where he can serve his jail sentence down there," Dean told Massachusetts Democrats at their state convention.

And it must have been offensive if this reaction comes out:

Dean's comments drew a sharp rebuke from Rep. Barney Frank, who told the Boston Globe, "That's just wrong."

Now Delay is an ASS. But Dean is definitely giving him a run for the money.

Just Too Funny

Here's one I saw on MassBackwards.
Just Too Funny.

Fascism in America

This is one sad collection of "facts" about the fascism in America. I especially like the website distributing this valuable information, for free, over the internet built by the US government, without censorship or fear of arrest, that I'm free to read without censorship or fear of arrest, telling me how the government is controlling the media.

Oh, and it just keeps going, fraudulent elections (irregularities in Florida and Ohio, but none in Pennsylvania, go figure), cronyism and corruption (but no mention of the pardons for money, huh...), cutting government funding for the arts (yes, we need more films of people staring at vegetables & roots), protecting corporate power (pay no attention to those prosecutions in Enron & elsewhere), suppressing labor (yeah, it's not like organized labor screwed itself over in any way), religion & government (ok, they have a point, proof that a broken clock can be right twice a day)... On & on & on...

Exactly what planet do these guys live on?

Go read it. It's like bad science fiction.

Newsweek Lied; People Died

Sorry. Just had to jump on the meme. The link is to the first reference I found to the story on the DU. Nothing on their front page (shock) about the biggest story on blogosphere. But the discussion group had it and it only took two posts for someone to say that even if it wasn't true, it was true. Those guys brains go in such tight little loops...

Anyway, I didn't hang around long there (although I did find another link that I'll share) because the place leaves me sad & confused.

Discovery Channel's 100 Greatest Americans

This one is a Professor Bainbridge blog entry.

I have to agree with his analysis that the nominees put forward by the Discovery Channel are pretty much abominable. Though I think the professor adds a couple sour notes in his list. (Julia Child and Robert Mondalvi don't rank in the top 100 greatest. Sorry.)

Pretty pathetic that that is the best that they could come up with. Personally, I don't see how any athlete or actor should have made this list. From what I see, they almost make up a majority of the list. Not to mention that the list is very much centered around the 20th century.

Why should we be surprised with this when we see distortions of history like the Nickelodeon History piece.

UPDATE: This is even worse than I originally thought. The Discovery channel didn't do the picks, it was done by a poll of 500,000 people. Really bloody stupid people apparently.

More Accurate Reporting - And the Consequences

Nice that these journalists are so careful about verifying their sources and the information that they print. Seems like their Koran desecration source isn't certain where he read (or misread) the info on the desecration.

Before publishing the item, reporters Michael Isikoff and John Barry sought comment from senior defense officials, Newsweek said. One declined to respond, and the other challenged another part of the story, but did not dispute the Quran charge, Whitaker said.
I hope they're not trying to say that not disputing the Koran charge is the same as verifying it.

How many people have died for this bit of sensationalized reporting?

UPDATE: Ah Yes. The Newsweek debacle continues. Now that they have apologized for their shoddy work, no one will believe them. Obviously this is an American cover up of the truth.
But Muslims said they suspected that pressure from Washington was behind the magazine's climbdown, Reuters reported Monday.

"We will not be deceived by this," Islamic cleric Mullah Sadullah Abu Aman told Reuters in the northern Afghan province of Badakhshan.

"This is a decision by America to save itself. It comes because of American pressure. Even an ordinary illiterate peasant understands this and won't accept it."

On Sunday, a group of clerics led by Aman vowed to call for a jihad, or holy war, against the United States in three days unless it handed over the interrogators reported to have desecrated the Quran.
This is exactly the reason why news sources have to be careful. Newsweek decided to do place a sensational report, even though there was no corroboration from anywhere. Now it's a conspiracy and the extremists want more heads. Nice not having to be responsible for deaths or injuries.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Evil Bush at it Again

Ah, when will he ever learn that America is bad, BAD, to want to spread democracy?

If only we were more like the diplomatic Europeans.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Base Closure List

Looks like New England has a couple of hits in the list.

New England took a major hit, and Connecticut suffered the biggest loss in terms of jobs with the proposed closure of the Submarine Base in New London, Conn. Shuttering the installation would result in the loss of 7,096 military jobs and 952 civilian jobs.

Another facility that barely made it through the previous rounds but showed up on the latest hit list was Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine, whose shutdown would affect 201 military jobs and 4,032 civilian jobs.

The Portsmouth loss will probably be painful in the seacoast area of NH and Maine. More than 4000 jobs is a big hit to this cluster of small communities. The problem with maintaining this base though is that the facilities are expensive to maintain during the winter and the types of ships that can be worked on are very limited. I worked at Portsmouth for about 6 years when I first graduated from college. Unfortunately, I don't see a lot to justify keeping this base open.

As for New London/Groton Naval base, I'm a bit surprised about this one. It is a smaller base, but it is presently the farthest north nuclear submarine base on the east coast. I'm not certain, but I think that would limit sub bases on the east coast to two. Wouldn't that be putting too many eggs in too few baskets? Not to mention, this base is very close to Electric Boat who builds and repairs these subs.

The closings are said that they will occur in 2006, but for these bases, that would probably be a little later. Nuclear facilities must go through a rather detailed survey and sample process to ensure they can be released to the public. More likely than not, this will also require the removal of some of the standing facilities on the base due to systemic low level contamination.

UPDATE: Here is a complete list [in PDF] of the closures/realignments/gains for bases by state.

Harry Reid Oversteps...Again

I've seen this topic at a bunch of places today, so I grabbed a news article to try and get away from the commentary.

Seems Reid has been blabbing about Henry Saad's appropriateness to be on the appellate court based on an FBI file that Reid shouldn't have had access too. Allegedly, Reid got access to the unspecified information from a microphone left open during a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee that was secret.

Of course, there is a lot of political yelling going on. I'm going to guess that if this had been on the other side of the aisle, the screaming would be just as loud. From the analysis I've seen about in the blogsphere, it sounds like what he did wasn't illegal, but was probably sensorable in the senate.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Reporting Terrorism

Schneier blog entry. Interesting point of view on a NYT Op-ed related to the level that the press is presently reporting terrorist acts in Iraq.

I think Schneier has some good points here. Unfortunately, he ends with his obvious dislike of the Bush administration and again calling the terror threat levels "propaganda" that keeps Americans in fear. This is a bit short sighted in that even the Bush nay-sayers are using terrorist attacks and Iraq to set fear in the public. The Vietnam syndrome is not brought into the discussion at all, so I find the discussion a bit warped.

Knowing that, the point still comes down to that allowing the information on terrorism keeps the public knowledgeable on what is occurring in the world that will affect their lives. On the other hand, the press fails to be balanced and report the successes of the military in the theater of war. For every report of a homicide bomber or a car bomber in Iraq, you only hear a snip about Operation Matador. I've watched several MSM stations today and the time is obviously benefiting the terrorists.

Well, read it all for yourself. It's an interesting point of view.

Lifestyle Discrimination

I've seen this topic in a couple of places today. Remember the Weyco firing of smokers to lower medical costs? That's the topic again. The title link is the ACLU's posture on the topic.

This USA Today article discusses some companies that have been practicing lifestyle discrimination against smokers. The article states that 29 states have some form of law that limits what companies can do relative to lifestyle discrimination. I've definitely have had trouble finding any evidence of this on-line, but I'm probably not looking in the right places or looking for the right things.

Some of what I have found is actually older than I expected. Some of the documents I've looked at are dated 2002 from Berkeley. Well, here is a case where I definitely agree with the ACLU.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Military Justice

Title link is on Col. Thomas M. Pappas being punished related Abu Ghraib.

This one is on Petty Officer 3rd Class Pablo Paredes who was found guilty of missing his ship so that he wouldn't be involved in "war crimes" in Iraq. Sodding Navy Petty Officer concerned about being involved in war crimes. The most they can do to him is a year in jail, a forfeiture of pay, reduction in rank and a bad-conduct discharge. Hopefully he'll get the whole load.

Cathy Seipp on Dennis Miller

I love that show, but I don't watch it much. This sounds like a wild segment. I wish I'd seen it.

Morality Quiz

Found this pole at Professor Bainbridge. Pretty interesting.

The professor scored:

Your Moralising Quotient is: 0.83.

Your Interference Factor is: 0.60.

Your Universalising Factor is: 1.00.

My score was:

Your Moralising Quotient is: 0.03.

Your Interference Factor is: 0.00.

Your Universalising Factor is: 0.00.

So the professor is highly moral and I'm highly amoral. Heh.

This is the first thing in the explanation of the results:

You see very little wrong in the actions depicted in these scenarios. However, to the extent that you do, it is a moot point how you might justify it. You don't think an action can be morally wrong if it is entirely private and no one, not even the person doing the act, is harmed by it. Yet the actions described in these scenarios at least seem to be private like this and it was specified as clearly as possible that they didn't involve harm. Possibly an argument could be made that the people undertaking these actions are harmed in some way by them. But you don't think that an action can be morally wrong solely for the reason that it harms the person undertaking it. More significantly, when asked about each scenario, in no instance did you respond that harm had resulted. Consequently, it is a puzzle why you think that any of the actions depicted here are of questionable morality.

They got it wrong. I didn't think that the actions were of questionable morality. I found some of the depicted acts as revolting due to ingrained norms that I grew up with. Just because I don't rail against those actions and condemn them doesn't mean I'm confused or immoral. Personally, I think it is very indicative that I don't see any reason to make excessive judgements on situations that are, in my view, completely personal.

Try the quiz. There is a lot of explanation of the results at the end. I don't necessarily agree with them, but it is interesting.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Conyer's Call for Action: Blair Memo

I'm confused as to why this issue hasn't hit the MSM.

Conyer's and 88 democrats are screeching for answers related to an allegedly leaked secret memo from Blair's government. The memo discusses various aspects of planning and positioning for a regime change in Iraq. I've read the memo a couple of times, and I don't see anything that is either illegal or not easily explainable. I suppose if you want it to read that Bush was just going to war and don't look at anything else, it can look bad. But the details are very thin. Not to mention that planning for a conflict doesn't require congressional permission. Bush did get congressional approval for action prior to actually starting the conflict. There also was all the time spent in the UN trying to get Saddam to comply with the UN resolutions on WMD.

Most of the posturing in the Times original article makes it out that Blair supported an illegal regime change with Bush and that they then went to figure out how to justify it. I'd say that's drawing a conclusion from some very thin evidence.

I'm not even certain whether this memo is real. TimesonLine is claiming it is, but I'm going to remain a bit skeptical on that.

I'd be interested in seeing an answer to Conyer's letter, though I don't see anything that is overwhelmingly indicative of wrong doing. Of course, look at the democratic tin-foil cap sites and you'll see the screams starting for impeachment.

Permanent US Bases in Iraq?

This blog entry, again from Huffington, is an interesting, though brief, discussion on a Gary Hart entry. O'Hanlan has some good points but I think doesn't go far enough. I also think Hart is ranting without making sufficient, intelligent, comment on the topic.

Obviously, it isn't the time to make that decision.
First, the country hasn't become stable enough to even project whether the US will be welcome when the country is stable. The stability of the country is our first concern.
Second, the occupation may well go on, at various levels, for a decade to come. So some semi-permanent base is probably justified at this time. Whether they come to be permanent isn't really relevant to the endgame at this time.
Third, the time for the decision may come under a different administration. They should be the ones that should make that decision, not the present one.
Fourth, are these bases necessary? Will the cost/benefit analysis in the end justify the investment? I'd say that we can't make those determinations now, and with the political instability in Iraq now, the answer is not likely to be valid in even the near future.

Rumsfeld has commented on this subject previously:

American officials have tried to make the point that the US presence in Iraq will not be a permanent or long-term one. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a 21 April 2003 press conference said that any suggestion that the United States is planning a permanent military presence in Iraq is "inaccurate and unfortunate." Rumsfeld said "I have never, that I can recall, heard the subject of a permanent base in Iraq discussed in any meeting. ... The likelihood of it seems to me to be so low that it does not surprise me that it's never been discussed in my presence, to my knowledge. Why do I say it's low? Well, we've got all kinds of options and opportunities in that part of the world to locate forces, it's not like we need a new place. We have plenty of friends and plenty of ability to work with them and have locations for things that help to contribute to stability in the region. ... Rumsfeld: I think there is a down side. I think any impression that is left, which that article left, that the United States plans some sort of a permanent presence in that country, I think is a signal to the people of that country that's inaccurate and unfortunate, because we don't plan to function as an occupier, we don't plan to prescribe to any new government how we ought to be arranged in their country."

That strikes me as quite clear. Maybe Mr. Hart should try doing a simple google search on the topic before yipping about the topic. He obviously wants a straight up yes or no answer from the president. What is his reason? Politics?

But let's say that the building of concrete and steel bases for our troops is in process, is this an issue? My point is that having more permanent and safe bases for our troops, in a theater of war, would not only make it safer for saving life and limb, but would also help them psychologically. I can't see anyone saying this is wrong. The Global Security link above does discuss FOB (forward operating bases) and other forms of bases as well. Not to mention that many of the bases that are being used are those that were created by Saddam and are now being utilized by US troops.

The US military has hunkered down, moving into the isolated compounds and bases that Saddam Hussein's security forces used to protect themselves from internal enemies. Thus, US forces are most readily attacked when they leave those bases to go out on patrol or in convoys.

Maybe Gary Hart should ask Algore for a lesson on how to use the internet. He may actually be able to get answers to his questions.

Jerry Brown: Still Clueless

Yeah, Jerry is showing himself out of touch with the modern and is railing against it:

Long ago, America's founders assumed an educated electorate and the deliberative discussions and reflections that a slower age invited. Then it was an Age of the Book. Now it is the Age of the Screen and its attendant attention deficit. One report has it that email, web surfing and cell phone use dull the mind more than marijuana.

In Oakland, I have learned the power of neighborhood politics and face-to-face democracy. Democracy lives where citizens have the time and the place for reading and conversation--without the debilitating distortions of electronic transmissions.

Thanks for the warning Jerry, we are all so debilitated by the ability to find information on any subject at any time that we can no longer figure out what is real and what isn't.

Funny. Jerry is using a blog with no comments to spread the word. So much for conversation.

Could we take this as elitists calling the world too stupid to understand, again?

The Huffington Post

Don't know if you've seen this place. Kind of a Mega-blog. Sort of.

From my view of the entries, it does look mainly liberal, but there are a smattering of conservative commentators as well. The number of entries is quite large, and most are worth ignoring. But, I do like that I can look at commentators of all sorts without surfing around. I'll probably go there periodically.

No comments in the blogs though. Found that a bit pathetic. No debate at all. But then, I'd bet the resources to handle the comments would be very difficult to handle.

Got a good laugh seeing the Democratic Underground blog rolled (but not FreeRepublic).

Kerry's Form SF-180

Via half the blogosphere (the conservative half) comes this link to Polipundit.

No one knows what's in Kerry's record except Kerry, but the fact that he absolutely will not sign this thing seems, at least, suspicious.

Mileage Tax in Oregon?

This is very scary, both from a financial and a privacy perspective.

Tainted Victory

Here is a VE day commentary by Niall Ferguson.

I think his analysis of the war are accurate, but his conclusion is completely wrong.

For all these reasons, the victory we commemorate needs to understood for what it was: a tainted triumph.

Personally, I think this is an incredibly foolish statement. His logic is that the allies performed atrocities that they stated were unacceptable during the times of peace. They then tried the Nazis and Japanese perpetrators of war crimes and were sanctimonious. Well, that's funny, generally the victor does get to feel justified in their victory and its means.

I also find it bizarre that Ferguson doesn't understand that war is incredibly liquid in moral and ethical aspects of the use of force.

And yet the moral cost of this strategy, whatever its military benefits, was appallingly high. What happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki is said to have ushered in a new atomic age. It also represented the extent to which the Allies threw moral restraint aside in their pursuit of victory.

"Threw Aside" moral restraint in pursuit of victory. Or more likely the governments were trying to do something to preserve the lives of their citizens. He makes it sound like we should be ashamed that the military did what was necessary. You must recall that the estimations of deaths of combatants to take Japan were in the Millions. I see no reason to be ashamed or even concerned with the tactics that were used. I'm amazed that his commentary seems to show a complete lack of perspective for the people living the war.

War is ugly. Chivalry has been gone, if it ever truly existed, for many years. Being nice in war doesn't get you victory, it gets you dead. Obviously, there was no way to win these major conflicts without playing by the rules that the Japanese and Germans chose to use. The allies were fighting against countries that were technologically ahead or equal to them. Not fighting by the morally unacceptable methods that politicians stated that they wouldn't perform before the war, would have been assured failure.

Tainted or soiled victory? The war was for survival, and the means, in this case, justified the ends.

Monday, May 09, 2005

More On Cosby

Via Austin Bay, Via Instapundit. More on Cosby's campaign to help, yes, I said help, the poor. It's all still very interesting. Add in this article from Salon where a very successful lady talks about being kept down because of her skin color. I'm kind of confused by it all.
Was He White Or Black
Her kids sounded like mine sound now. They have various ethnic groups in their classes and just don't refer to them as the black/indian/chinese/japanese/hispanic/martian kid. It's just another kid to them. Silly me, I thought that was the right way to be. Judge them by the content of their character, not the color of their skin I've heard, wisely, said.

It's OK to be progressive

The head of MoveOn.Org is interviewed over at Salon. It makes me crazy, because except for the fiscal conservatism and the military, I agree with these guys more than I agree with the Repugs. That said, it's statements like this that confirm me in my stances:

What you believe about how the world should be is something that a lot of other people believe as well.

And there's the problem. The world, to a very large degree, has to be addressed based on what it is, not what it should be. Should we be able to live in utopia so that every person gets exactly what they need without impacting any other person negatively without violence, prejudice, pollution, poverty, disease, suffering, death or too many rainy days (unless you like rain and then you'll get that too)? Sure. Back on planet Earth, death, taxes, poverty, war and want seem to be a part of the human condition. We should do everything we can to address as much of that as possible, but it must be done in a realistic manner.

I mean, he's still saying crap about if only the votes in Ohio had switched we'd have President Kerry. Fine, for every vote he wants switched in Ohio, let's switch one in Pennsylvania. Before "President Kerry" gets elected, we'd have President Bush again since Kerry's margin of victory in that state was more narrow than Bush's in Ohio. When will the Dems give up this kind of nonsense?

The one thing he does get right is talking about how the Dems approach everything strategically. Instead of just going with their gut. He thinks it's because they over-analyze. I think it's because they know that if they really say what they want, they know that a healthy percentage of the center will run screaming into the arms of the Repugs. For example, there's an entire discussion about 2004 and the only time war is mentioned is when they bring up that 57% of people in a recent poll don't believe the Iraq War was worth the price we're paying for it. That's it. No discussion on how maybe, just maybe, the Dems need to sac up a bit on the War on Terror and recognize the fact that this isn't Vietnam (hell, I'd love to see them recognize that their perception of Vietnam isn't reality, but that'd be asking too much).

Detroit Fat Tax

Heard about this during the weekend.

Taxing fast food. Not, in this case, to fund obesity or health incentives, they just want more money. This is just low. It's bad enough when they tax to force behavioral changes or ethical changes, but this is just another form of sin tax, like taxing alcohol or cigarettes. Why not tax all food more?

What's next?

Kerry Ranting Against the Establishment

Saw this linked at QandO.

Kerry is at it again.

Washington seems more and more out of touch with the difficulties the average family is facing," Kerry told the crowd of about 150 last week in Baton Rouge. ''Go out of here, take some anger and a little bit of outrage at the fact that Washington is not dealing with the real concerns of our country."


'They think it's all about them," the ad states above pictures of Bush, House majority leader Tom DeLay and Senate majority leader Bill Frist. ''Don't let them forget about what really matters to you. . . . Make Washington stand up for the needs and values of America's families."

Now I think his first statement is probably correct. There is a slight problem with who is delivering the call to arms. How can one honestly take the word of a senator, who in my opinion, is likely one of the most out of touch people in the senate?

I also would have less difficulty with the statements if he wasn't railing so clearly against the rethugicans alone. I can't see the demosprats as having clean hands here at all.

What is Kerry trying to do here? The article [Boston Globe] clearly states that Kerry is trying to rehabilitate his public image as a Washington insider. Yeah, that will work, and Hillary is a moderate. Give me a break. How can he believe that someone that is so heavily entrenched in following the liberal democratic line, as seen by his record, can change the view that he's an insider?

Sugar and Spice and a Nice Pair of Brass Knuckles

Not surprised by this study at all.

Makes you wonder about this statement:

Researchers have long known that adolescents, particularly girls, engage in this sort of behavior, called relational aggression, to maintain their social status.

In fact, a number of books and movies have come out recently exploring this phenomenon, including the best-selling "Queen Bees and Wannabes" and the movie "Mean Girls."

"But it is striking that these aggressive strategies are already apparent ... in preschool," Nelson said. "Preschoolers appear to be more sophisticated in their knowledge of social behaviors than credit is typically given them."

Hart said other research has found that about 17 percent to 20 percent of preschool and school-age girls display such behavior. It also shows up in boys, but much less frequently.

Interesting. Wonder how much of bullying actually occurs from girls.

Malt Whiskey as Cancer Preventative


Well, maybe. Not exactly a study proven statement, but maybe it does follow since the chemical in red wine [ellagic acid] that is claimed to help in cancer prevention.

Of course, the spokesman of Cancer Research UK is nay saying this and states soft fruit would be a better source. Funny though that wine is ok, but whiskey is still deemed in a bad light.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Carnival of Cordite

Another Carnival. Pretty good one with a bunch of links discussing the Californian bill (357 - heh heh) for serialization of ammunition. Look at the "Congito Ergo Geek" link.

I've been thinking of interesting ways to make this law impossible to enforce, not that it isn't already impossible to do. Things like:
Have 10 accomplices each by a box of identical ammunition.
All report ammo stolen.(optional)
Poor all cartridges into a box.
Add stolen bullets.(optional)
Hand out bullets randomly from the box.
Use cartridges in crime.
Always use spray method in crime.

Police find all bullets from one gun, but come from multiple purchasers.
And what about the Police? Do they have to have serialized ammo? If I was an Ammo manufacturer, with police contracts, the first thing I would do is refuse to sell anything but the serialized ammo to the police. I would also ensure that the ammo had a nice new "California Approved" price tag to go with it.

Will it require each bullet be serialized individually or all in a box have the same number? Will the cartridge casing also have a serial number? How much will a box of ammo cost after the manufacturer has made all of these specific changes?

Stupid Bill.

Kansas Monkey Trial

Not technically a trial, just a public shaming of Darwin's theory. Seems that all of the scientists that have a qualm with any little portion of evolution theory or related theory get to come and take a whack at the theory.

Oddly, there are three Kansas board of education members who will be hearing the "evidence." Though I'm uncertain as to what makes them qualified to make the judgment. Not to mention that the scientists that support evolution theory are refusing to participate seeing this whole 'debate' as being clearly rigged against them. To ensure a truthful and realistic result, you'd think that they'd require both sides be debated. Nice that they aren't trying to get some balanced debate. Hell, they don't want debate, they want a trial with an assured outcome.

I'd also like to know why "Intelligent Design" theory isn't being given the same level of debate. I suppose if you desire a certain outcome, there is no reason to actually debate.

Friday, May 06, 2005

McCain Lectures Kerry

Now this is the kind of stuff I want to see in the news. I can't believe the kinds of shenanigans that Kerry is up to. That's on top of the fact that for about 18 months we only had a single representative in the Senate. I can't believe this guy is popular in this state.

Another view of the Parton subpoena

Let's hope that these predictions don't pan out. I really, really want the whole Oil-for-Food corruption brought out into the open for all the world to see. I want Kofi Annan gone. I want more reasons to hate the French! (Because you can never have too many.)

Reasons to root against the Religious Right

Or more accurately, MORE reasons to root against the Religious Right. I'm happy to root against them 99% of the time. And I find Christopher Hitchens an interesting read 100% of the time.

Marine Cleared in Mosque Shooting

This article was linked in one of the previous article, and I thought it worth posting since the MSM has been fairly quiet on this.

The Marine was cleared in the shooting. Unfortunate that it occurred, but the actions are those that one takes during war.

ICC Commentary

A very interesting blog entry that I found linked at Professor Bainbridge.

The discussion is on the ICC. The linked piece is a response to another member's blog entry about the US atrocities where a Marine was cleared of killing a wounded Iraqi combatant in a mosque and how the US isn't joining the ICC because it would unfairly target American's. Read that linked entry as well, the guy is obviously out to lunch. The comments section rips him up pretty well.

Roadless Lands Rule Removed

This 'Rule' is one of those presidential decrees that are so abominable. This one happens to be a Clinton era rule that removed any local control, or input for that matter, on park lands that are in a roadless area. The original rule was to make it so no new roads are allowed, thus no use of the parks areas could occur, well, unless you walked in.

The rule has been a big issue in western states where millions of acres of land was taken out of local control and the state governments had no further say in how that land is used. President Bush has now given control and use back to the state level governments. This means that if the local government should choose to open those lands to commercial uses, they can do so.

Inevitably, the swampies are up in arms.
"The Wilderness Society is not at all ready to swallow this new Bush rule," said Mike Anderson, a senior resource analyst for the Wilderness Society in Seattle. "We think that this rule is probably illegal."
Makes you wonder why they think this presidential rule is any less legal than the rule that closed off the use of the land. Let's be precise here, this rule just negates Clinton's rule and, I believe, just puts things back to where they were before Clinton started meddling in local control.

This also should allow the logging of areas decimated by fires in the past few years. The article talks about the environmentalists working in court to block logging of the Biscuit fire area that burned 8000 acres of Oregon in 2002. If the logging doesn't occur shortly, the dead trees will be worthless for anything, but will continue to stand for decades to come. Yes, the land will recover naturally, but it will have an extra level of danger with tree fall hazards that may very well justify the closure of that park.

Personally, I'm surprised this took as long as it did. I'm also glad to see that local control has been restored. Far too much environmentalism has been forced down the throats of those who live in an area by those who have no vested interest in the area. I've seen this occurring in Maine quite frequently, where outside (non-resident) environmental groups come into the state and start large media campaigns to stop logging in the Maine woods. To date, I believe they've failed. What makes this scenario worse, is that all the woods that are being utilized are privately owned by the paper companies. These are not even national parks.