Thursday, June 30, 2005

Ego and buffoonery in Washington

Okay, so this article isn't a must-read. But I had to share, if only because this section is such a hoot:

This week comes the previously careful Sen. Barack Obama, flapping his wings in Time magazine and explaining that he's a lot like Abraham Lincoln, only sort of better.

Actually Lincoln's life is a lot like Mr. Obama's. Lincoln came from a lean-to in the backwoods. His mother died when he was 9. The Lincolns had no money, no standing. Lincoln educated himself, reading law on his own, working as a field hand, a store clerk and a raft hand on the Mississippi. He also split some rails. He entered politics, knew more defeat than victory, and went on to lead the nation through its greatest trauma, the Civil War, and past its greatest sin, slavery.

Barack Obama, the son of two University of Hawaii students, went to Columbia and Harvard Law after attending a private academy that taught the children of the Hawaiian royal family. He made his name in politics as an aggressive Chicago vote hustler in Bill Clinton's first campaign for the presidency.

You see the similarities.

Too much.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Gang Deterrence and Community Protection Act of 2005

Saw this on TriggerFinger.

Seems that this Gang crime bill is out of control. Let's start here:

Let's assume that you and your family are on your way home from church. You have a gun in the glove compartment that is there for self-protection.

After driving within 1,000 feet of a school (which is almost unavoidable), you stop by the grocery store to pick up a few items for lunch.

As you are exiting your car, you are approached by a gang of teenagers, armed with long screwdrivers and wrenches. Realizing that you are about to be mugged, you brandish your firearm in order to scare them off -- although this act on your part is a violation of state law which requires that you first retreat, rather than defend yourself.

Congratulations. Under legislation that recently passed the House, all the members of your family are now subject to a MANDATORY MINIMUM sentence of ten years in prison -- and up to life imprisonment.

Ok Ok so the church thing isn't likely for me, but the rest of the scenario isn't far fetched.

Consider this statement from the ACLU on the same legislation:

People Could Be Convicted Of A "Gang"” Crime Even If They Are Not Members Of A Gang.

This bill would impose severe penalties for a collective group of three or more people who commit "gang" crimes. Even more disconcerting is that a person could receive the death penalty for the illegal participation in what would be considered a "criminal street gang"” while having no idea or intention of being a part of a so-called "gang."” [2] H.R.1279 revises the already broad definition of "criminal street gang"” to an even more ambiguous standard of a formal or informal group or association of three (3) or more people who commit two (2) or more "gang"” crimes. The number of people required to form a gang decreases from five (5) people in an ongoing group under current law to three (3) people who could just be associates or casual acquaintances under this proposed legislation.

Under the Gang bill a "continuing series"” of crimes does not have to be established to charge a person with a gang crime. Presently, the government has to establish that criminal street gangs engaged "within the past five (5) years in a continuing series of offenses."”[3] The continuing series of offenses under current law is essential to preserving the concept of gang activity that the law is trying to target, i.e. criminal activity that has some type of connection to a tight knit group of people. This broader definition of gang crime in H.R.1279 would result in people being convicted of
"“gang"” crimes that are neither ongoing in nature nor connected to each other, and could occur 10, 15 or 20 years apart.

Sounds like it exactly supports the point of the GOA.

This does sound like a poorly crafted bill in that it doesn't specifically state an exception for legal gun possession. It just lumps all acts into one pile and ensures that the legal handler of the firearm will be prosecuted. I would hope that that would cause some heart burn in the legislature, but it didn't.

If you want to see how your reps voted you can find the results here.

Blow to Free Speech?

I've been reading some on the topic of the contempt case against Miller/Cooper related to the "outing" of Valerie Plame. Most of the Op-eds I've seen take this as a diminution of the freedom of speech. That is always fascinating. Especially as the freedom of speech is the most unregulated of any of the "freedoms" that are stated in the Bill of Rights.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I think it's a stretch to believe that there is no allowance for regulations related to the freedom of the press or of speech. We know that you can't print or speak lies without the allowance for the speaker being held accountable.

There are also those yelling for shield laws for the press.
"Clearly there's a reversal of the trend on upholding reporters' privilege," said Denver First Amendment attorney Tom Kelley. Federal courts are split on the issue. The high court's denial of review may be "simply a reluctance to take on a constitutional case when a legislative solution \[a federal shield law\] is in the works," Kelley said.

"It is important that we ensure reporters certain rights and abilities to seek sources and report appropriate information without fear of intimidation or imprisonment," says Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., the federal shield bill's top sponsor in the Senate. "This includes the right to refuse to reveal confidential sources."

I truly have an issue with granting anyone rights above the rest of the public. If a private citizen had the information he wouldn't be protected. Should a blanket shield be allowed? Would it be a benefit? What if it's a national security case? I see the benefit of allowing the press a great deal of freedom, but a line must be clearly defined or there will be clear allowances of abuse.

One would think something was learned related to the CBS fiasco with the Bush National Guard documents. That unnamed source was clearly providing falsified documents. Yet his veracity was never completely questioned.

Then there is the case where we should ask why we should trust the press on unnamed sources when they can't be trusted with named sources.
An internal investigation into the published work of former Bee columnist Diana Griego Erwin found 43 cases in which individuals named by the writer could not be authenticated as real people.
I guess I don't understand how the press works, but shouldn't someone have verified that these people at least existed prior to putting out these columns?

The focal point of the topic does seem a bit absurd when you come down to this statement:
It is important to understand, however, that the two reporters pursued for months by Mr. Fitzgerald, Matt Cooper of Time magazine and Judith Miller of The New York Times, did not have any role in the original leak. In fact, Ms. Miller never wrote about it at all. Time lawyers suggest that ''there is reason to believe'' that the disclosure of Ms. Plame's name did not violate the law, possibly for technical reasons.
This does push the bounds of reason if no law was truly breached, why are Cooper/Miller being held in contempt. If there is no reason for the inquiry, then there is no reason for the view that they are in contempt. If the case was never brought, they would never have had to refuse to specify the source.

Oh, Wait, The reason for the inquiry is because some Democrats have been screeching that President Bush or some official in his administration outed Plame for revenge against the lies her husband, Joseph Wilson, broadcast during the election. The lies were revealed in the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA.

But if outing Plame wasn't illegal then why the investigation? Oh Oh I know, Politics.

The Twain Option: Captain's Quarters

This is just far too funny.

CQ's Captain Ed quoted Mark Twain related to the Eminent Domain finding of the Supreme Court. Now he shows a press release from Freestar Media LLC that is calling for the town of Weare, NH to take Souter's home there for the purpose of putting in a hotel.

You can actually email the town of Weare to support this endeavor.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Bernie Ebbers: Life Sentence?

You'll need bugmenot to get in. And if you haven't added the firefox bugmenot extension from, you should.

The article is about the Bernie Ebbers trial and how the prosecution wants him to get 85 years in prison.
This morning, they asked the court to sentence Ebbers to 85 years in prison. That would amount to a life sentence for the 63-year-old. I can't say I'm too sympathetic.

Listen to this, from the same petition made by Ebbers' lawyers earlier this month: "Although Mr. Ebbers stands by his testimony and is deeply disappointed by the jury's verdict, Mr. Ebbers is profoundly sorry that fraudulent activity took place at WorldCom during his tenure as the company's CEO and for all the harm suffered by WorldCom's investors." Translation: I got rich and you got screwed, not that I really meant for it to happen that way.

Bernie may indeed have been a good buddy to some, but shareholders weren't on the list. The $11 billion they lost through Ebbers' fraud probably explains the prosecution's hard-nosed approach.

Will Ebbers get all 85 years at his July 13 sentencing? I doubt it. Indeed, if the recent convictions of John and Timothy Rigas -- who received 15 and 20 years, respectively, of the 215 years prosecutors sought for each -- are any indication, Bernie ought to receive somewhere near six years. That's too bad. In my opinion, the life sentence the prosecution has asked for is exactly the sort of justice the victims of Bernie's sad song deserve.

ELEVEN BILLION DOLLARS! If that doesn't deserve a big sentence I don't know what does. If this guy gets 6 years, its a bloody travesty.

Shelby Foote Obituary

Shelby Foote has died at the age of 88.

Foote died Monday night, said his widow, Gwyn.

The Mississippi native and longtime Memphis resident wrote a stirring, three-volume, 3,000-page history of the Civil War, as well as six novels.

"He had a gift for presenting vivid portraits of personalities, from privates in the ranks to generals and politicians. And he had a gift for character, for the apt quotation, for the dramatic event, for the story behind the story," said James M. McPherson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War historian. "He could also write a crackling good narrative of a campaign or a battle."

Supreme Decision on Internet Access

Here's a bit from QandO.

I agree with him on his article. Cable companies should be allowed sole use of their systems since they are the ones that funded and implemented those networks.

The only issue that I have still comes down to most cable companies having localized monopolies on access. McQ points out that this is indeed unfair, but that there are other technologies that you can use to bypass this injustice. For cable he says get satellite TV. For internet get DSL or dial-up. I have a bit of an issue with that though.

First consider a renter who has no allowance for adding a satellite dish. No choice. Or the person who doesn't live where DSL is available. Dial-up isn't an equivalent alternative. Try working at home through a dial-up. Can't do it. You can't just assume that in all cases internet access is a nicety. Some people need that bandwidth.

My biggest complaint is still the monopoly of the cable companies. Primarily in that they nearly always get the rate hikes that they demand, and I rarely have seen any additional benefits from those hikes. No additional programming or services. That strikes me as flawed.

Mounties and Affirmative Action

Here is one via Western Standard. [h/t Outside the Beltway]

The RCMP is crying about not getting enough qualified recruits. Get this bit:

If too few well-qualified applicants are seeking admission to the RCMP's academy in Regina, it is likely because the Mounties have done all they could in the last decade to scare off young white males. While brass deny it, for a time in the mid-1990s the RCMP had a "no white males" policy. Some recruiters admitted to applicants that the force had a five-year backlog of Caucasian men and wouldn't consider any more until it had reached its gender and racial hiring goals. Just to get an interview, white males needed a score of 115 on the police aptitude test, women needed a 96 and visible minority candidates an 86.

Such quotas are said to permeate promotions, too. For instance, although the RCMP has a comparatively small number of officers in Quebec, bilingualism is a key to selection for command, which has left many serving male, anglophone members embittered -- understandably so.

Best and the Brightest?

Global Warming Study and Scientific Ethics

From Outside The Beltway.

This reports that there are some serious questions related to the Mann (et. al) study on global warming. Mostly triggered by a Wall St. Journal article where Mann refuses to be "intimidated" into releasing the algorithm that he used to produce his findings.

My understanding of the Mann findings are that they are related to indirect measurements of temperature, such as tree rings or coral growth, and that the research sounds reasonable. The problem is that they refuse to allow peer review of their methodology especially related to the mathematical model that the used.

I think ethically they have a problem. All science requires that the results and methods be open for review so that proper debate can take place. The results of the Mann findings have had indirect review, but since Mann refuses to release his algorithm there has been no peer that has been able to independently verify his methods. I'd say that this makes his results highly questionable.

The letters to Mann and his associates question other things, like who paid for the research etc. That is a separate topic, but a good one. If the funding was from any governmental body, why is the research being held secret? Technically, if the government paid for this research, shouldn't the results and methods be in the public domain?

It is all rather odd. One can make several conclusions based on the refusal. They may not be justified, but then Mann and the rest really should answer the questions and open his methods to scrutiny. Otherwise they should be considered irrelevant to any discussion on global warming.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Supreme Split Decision

Interesting how they split closely on both decisions and found differently on the same topic in both cases.
Sending dual signals in ruling on this issue for the first time in a quarter-century, the high court said that displays of the Ten Commandments - like their own courtroom frieze - are not inherently unconstitutional. But each exhibit demands scrutiny to determine whether it goes too far in amounting to a governmental promotion of religion, the court said in a case involving Kentucky courthouse exhibits.
I think that the rulings were quite reasonable from what I read in the MSM. Rehnquist has a very clear and reasonable statement on the topic.
"Of course, the Ten Commandments are religious - they were so viewed at their inception and so remain. The monument therefore has religious significance," Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for the majority in the case involving the display outside the state capitol of Texas.

"Simply having religious content or promoting a message consistent with a religious doctrine does not run afoul of the Establishment clause," he said.

I think the case by case judgment is a bit awkward though. Scalia's statement strikes me as a bit unreasonable, if I'm reading him correctly, in that the court's decisions were inconsistent because they didn't apply the exact black and white findings to rulings.
Justice Antonin Scalia released a stinging dissent in the courthouse case, declaring, "What distinguishes the rule of law from the dictatorship of a shifting Supreme Court majority is the absolutely indispensable requirement that judicial opinions be grounded in consistently applied principle."
I'd say grey is sometimes more reasonable.

Comet Bombing

Don't know whether to be irritated or just laugh at this bit of stupidity.

The 45-year-old mother of two is so upset about the scientific assault on the celestial body that she has taken the unusual step of suing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Moscow courts. Her lawsuit seeks to block the launch of the probe and to recover $311 million in "moral" damages.
"Moral" damages. For hitting a comet with a 770 lb. copper projectile.
"Somewhere deep inside me a voice told me the whole mission had to be stopped," she said. "I fear that it could have an impact on all humanity." In court papers, Bai asserts that Deep Impact will "infringe upon my system of spiritual and life values, in particular on the values of every element of creation, upon the unacceptability of barbarically interfering with the natural life of the universe, and the violation of the natural balance of the universe." Dolores Beasley, a spokeswoman for NASA, said it would be "inappropriate" to comment.
So nobody can do anything that may infringe on her system of spiritual and life values. She must be suing the world for every little thing that hurts her feelings. Since NASA's spokesperson wouldn't say anything, I will. What a DINGBAT.

I think we should be suing her for violating the natural balance of intelligence in the universe. The black hole of stupidity coming from her is dragging the universal mean IQ down.
Plans call for Deep Impact to launch a 770-pound copper projectile at the 2.5-mile-wide comet on Independence Day. The 23,000 mph impact is expected to generate a force equivalent to almost 5 tons of TNT and could blast a hole in the comet's icy surface the size of the Colosseum in Rome.

Cameras and sensors on board the spacecraft will record the event in an effort to help scientists determine the structure and chemical composition of Tempel 1. Comets are thought to be bits of ice, dust and rock left over from the formation of the universe 4 billion years ago.

Scientists have dismissed fears that the collision might break up or divert the comet, comparing the impact to a mosquito striking a Boeing 747.
2.5 mile wide comet. Just a little thing. But get her fear:
But Bai says she fears the bombardment could disrupt mystical forces. More practically, she added, it might create an open season on celestial objects by the world's spacefaring nations.

"If the Americans can study comets with the help of bombs, why not the Chinese?" she asked. "Americans want to be ahead of everybody. And maybe that's good; but not in this case. It's a barbaric method, to study the universe with bombs." Bai's attorney, Alexander V. Molokhov, said the damage claim was calculated under Russian law, which allows plaintiffs to recover an amount equal to the cost of the undertaking that allegedly does the harm. No trial date has been set.
I'm really hoping that the US government is just ignoring this. I'd really hate to see them addressing this stupidity.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Politics in Eminent Domain

With the results of Kelo, there is the requirement that local and state level politics will have to force a definition and legal restraints to eminent domain. SimianBrain speaks to this in the linked article. I don't believe the first actions of the Kelo plaintiffs should have been political, but through the courts, which is where they went. Now it's time for the political options.

Let's consider though the problem with this. Governor Rowland of CT recently plead guilty on corruption charges related to real estate developers. This should be a major warning for the citizenry. Eminent domain cases where private property is handed through the politicians to a second private entity is just asking for corruption.

Corruption could come in many forms. Open seizure and handing over won't be the case ever. That will be a certainty. They'll make a plan and then try moving it through proper channels. If it fails, they will then have the threat of eminent domain to hold over the reluctant home owner. That threat could be enough.

Then there is the political support that these large companies could provide to the right politician. Not all layers of government have the same rules controlling funding. One should also consider that in local politics, it takes very small amounts of funding to alter who receives votes. Something as simple as name recognition can help certain politicians gain office. I'm not stating that it will happen, but I will say that the possibility is very likely.

The problem I have with the political solution is the difficulty that will probably be experienced. First there is the complacent public, which will slow the issue. Next is the politicians that are in office who will not want to legislate away a tax providing policy, nor lose control of a tool that they could use for control/power. Lastly, there would be a need to have this legislation emplaced at several levels in order to ensure protections from all levels of government.

This may be more difficult in some venues than in others.

Seeking a more light hearted look at this BS, here are entries from Cox & Forkum and Curmudgeonly & Skeptical.

TCS: Bainbridge on Kelo

Here is the best thought out and argued article on the Kelo finding that I've seen.

The discussion wraps around the public use definition. There is the public possession definition of public use, and now the supreme court has defined it as "public purpose." I think a rather illogical change in the meaning.

There also is the discussion about profitability that seems to have been completely ignored in all the articles supporting this travesty. The whole argument based on utilitarian ethics fails greatly here. It wouldn't provide the most good for the most people, it would provide the most good for the private entity that was handed the property.
If this new development increases the value of the property, all of that value will be captured by the new owner, rather than the forced sellers. As a result, the city will have made itself richer (through higher taxes), and the developer richer, while leaving the forced sellers poorer in both subjective and objective senses.
This argument makes a strong case against the "just compensation" portion of the fifth amendment's Takings Clause. If the taken property is vital to the profitability of the venture that is for the "public purpose" of taxes, shouldn't just compensation include monies related to the profits that the original owner will be denied as a result of the eminent domain seizure? What is that property really worth? The cost of a housing lot? According to this finding that is exactly the cost. Now the owner has lost his voice as to what is "just compensation." If it had been placed into public possession, that would likely be fair, but seeing that the property will be given to an independent private entity for the purpose of making profit, that cost is no longer "just."

This re-interpretation of what "public use" is proves to me that Bush now needs to place an originalist into the Supreme Court to force the balance back to a just reading of the constitution.

I wonder if the Kelo Plaintiffs have any civil court control on the topic. Could they sue to obtain that "just compensation" as discussed above? One can hope, though I will bet the government will try blocking such a suit.

Batman Begins: A Review from the Peoples Republic of Cambridge

Read this review. It's frigging excellent. He doesn't like the Batman movie. Oh boy, he doesn't like the Batman movie. Funny thing is, he makes me want to see it more than ever. His problems with it? Batman is far too individualistic and not nearly collectivist enough. Um... Duh! The directors dared to suggest that it's even remotely possible that a corporation might do good instead of simply be all things evil. How dare they... actually portray reality. Reading this kind of thing made me want to see this movie more than before. Actually, every bad review of it has reinforced my interest. Go and track down the review in Salon (posted below) for how Schumacher's Batman was better.
Assuming we make the decision sometime this decade on what to do with our kids (see it, not see it) I'll write up a review when I finally get to the flick.

Friday, June 24, 2005

More on the Eminent Domain Fiasco

QandO has another good entry on the topic today.

In the meantime, there are three possible political solutions.

1) If the Supreme Court has ruled that States and localities can set their own Eminent Domain laws, then we ought to demand that our State Legislatures impose harsh restrictions on the applicability of Eminent Domain.

2) Instead of the current, risible "flag burning amendment" nonsense, Congress should be pressured to look at an amendment clarifying the nature and extent of Property Rights, and the limitations of Eminent Domain.

3) Originalists appointments to the Supreme Court.
I think there is one more to be added as I pointed out yesterday.
I suppose this really forces everyone who is appalled by this to go to the extreme in politics to solve such problems. If local politicians try this stunt, then it will be required that the public make an extreme response assuring them that they will lose their office and any further prospect of being in politics.
I think the amendment to the constitution is an excellent idea. Far better than foolish actions about the flag.

Now, how does one force the state government to enact draconian laws forbidding such stupidity?

The NYT has an Editorial that congratulates the Supremes on the Kelo decision.
The Supreme Court's ruling yesterday that the economically troubled city of New London, Conn., can use its power of eminent domain to spur development was a welcome vindication of cities' ability to act in the public interest. It also is a setback to the "property rights" movement, which is trying to block government from imposing reasonable zoning and environmental regulations.
Being totally out of touch with the topic they seem to think a finding on eminent domain is relevant to "property rights" groups trying to block government regulation. Well, yes in the most extreme it may be a set back since the government now has no restrictions on what they can take from the private citizen.

Let's not forget that the NYT is a big winner in a similar case where NYC took private property to give to NYT. Another travesty of justice.
In a blistering dissent, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor lamented that the decision meant that the government could transfer any private property from the owner to another person with more political influence "so long as it might be upgraded." That is a serious concern, but her fears are exaggerated. The majority strongly suggested that eminent domain should be part of a comprehensive plan, and Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing separately, underscored that its goal cannot simply be to help a developer or other private party become richer.
Oh yes, O'Connor is exaggerating. Though this dolt seems to have missed that the former restrictions as assumed based on the "public good" meaning "public possession" are no longer in place. Her warning is more than apt. It will also require popular local legislation to prevent those local governments from using this finding to abuse this finding. It may not occur often, but the potential of abuse is there. Just remember that you could be the target.
Connecticut is a rich state with poor cities, which must do everything they can to attract business and industry. New London's development plan may hurt a few small property owners, who will, in any case, be fully compensated. But many more residents are likely to benefit if the city can shore up its tax base and attract badly needed jobs.
Ah yes, the Utilitarian Ethics analysis. Utter rubbish. The most good for the most people. That wonderful philosophy that fails to reach the level of reality. To hell with a couple of people as long as it gives the city more taxes and adds a few jobs. Wonder if this editor was on the losing end of this scenario if he would chirp so smugly.

And more conservative Supreme Court Judges would be bad why?

Scary, scary, scary. And just plain wrong.

The Court's four liberals (Justices Stevens, Breyer, Souter and Ginsburg) combined with the protean Anthony Kennedy to rule that local governments have more or less unlimited authority to seize homes and businesses.

In his clarifying dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas exposes this logic for the government land grab that it is. He accuses the majority of replacing the Fifth Amendment's "Public Use Clause" with a very different "public purpose" test: "This deferential shift in phraseology enables the Court to hold, against all common sense, that a costly urban-renewal project whose stated purpose is a vague promise of new jobs and increased tax revenue, but which is also suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation, is for a 'public use.'"
Hmmm... I wonder what the Boston Globe will have to say about this.

Patriot Act and Gun Control

TriggerFinger has this up on his site related to the Patriot Act.

The topic is the allowance by the act of seizure of business records. I believe this is the same topic as the library controversy, though I may be wrong. I'm a bit confused by this, since I believe, like the library controversy, the law enforcement agency is not allowed just to go fishing through records. They must have a reason.

I don't think the Patriot Act is adding anything new though. In fact I seriously doubt that if they issued it again that the portion on blanket seizures wouldn't again be found unconstitutional. I also recall that the BATFE could always view those records. I believe all they need to do is "audit" the company and they would have open access to the records.

I am a bit worried about TriggerFinger's statement on reports of the BATFE scanning all of a company's 4473's. That doesn't sound proper. I've done a bunch of searches and come up empty on any reports of this in the news. I left a comment with questions at TriggerFinger, and hopefully he has better access to an information source than I've been able to find.

Top 100 Movie Quotes

This is amusing. These were selected by "A jury of 1,500 film artists, critics and historians."

I love the fact that Bogart had the most quotes(10) on the ballot. And, thankfully, the Marx Brothers had six. (Though they didn't get many on the actual list.)

Oh and Peter Sellers had four. Including my favorite (which made the list):
Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!
That quote always makes me laugh.

Flag Burning

Here's a compilation of bloggers on the "Flag Burning Amendment." Brought to you by mASS BACKWARDS.

I especially like the comment by Xlrq:
The House has passed a constitutional amendment to prohibit America-hating assholes from publicly identifying themselves. Dumb, dumb, and double-dumb.
Who the hell is running that place? Don't they have an agenda or something? Wasn't there something more important to talk about? Social Security, Iraq, National Debt, anything?

Karl Rove: Politics as Usual

The link is to Captain's Quarters. I think he pretty reasonably analyzes the Rove kerfuffle.

I personally didn't see any reason to make the comments, but don't find them as outrageous as the BS spouted by Dean, Durbin, or Reid. I don't have any problems with the Dems being offended and calling for retraction, though when Schumer opened his mouth I almost lost that.

Rove was speaking of liberals in general and over generalized. But from the tactics seen lately in politics, I don't see that he's gone over any line. Dean drew the line pretty far out, so I can't see any reason for Repugs not to go at least that far (though I don't see Rove's comments anywhere near to what Dean has said).

Politics as usual. (Standing knee deep in the #$%&.)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Another Religion Test

Hmmm. This one makes more sense, but still misses the mark. I view myself more in the pseudo-Taois than any of the Budhist sects.

Newage (rhymes with Sewage) isn't a religion you twit.

1. Mahayana Buddhism (100%)
2. Neo-Pagan (97%)
3. New Age (92%)
4. Unitarian Universalism (91%)
5. Sikhism (91%)
6. New Thought (87%)
7. Theravada Buddhism (87%)
8. Hinduism (86%)
9. Jainism (81%)
10. Liberal Quakers (80%)
11. Taoism (78%)
12. Scientology (77%)
13. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (77%)
14. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (73%)
15. Bah�'� Faith (68%)
16. Reform Judaism (60%)
17. Secular Humanism (50%)
18. Orthodox Judaism (47%)
19. Orthodox Quaker (45%)
20. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (41%)
21. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (39%)
22. Islam (33%)
23. Nontheist (31%)
24. Eastern Orthodox (25%)
25. Roman Catholic (25%)
26. Jehovah's Witness (20%)
27. Seventh Day Adventist (16%)

Ted Kennedy: Jackass

I saw a recording of Kennedy's statement. Calling him a Jackass is an insult to Jackasses world wide. (But I couldn't put anything ruder in the title.)

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, called the war a "quagmire" that had been "consistently and grossly mismanaged" by Mr. Rumsfeld. He also accused the defense secretary of making a series of misleading comments before and during the war.

"In baseball, it's three strikes you're out," Mr. Kennedy said. "Isn't it time for you to resign?"

The question that pops immediately into my mind is "Senator, by your own criteria, shouldn't you have left years ago?"

Of course the NYT couldn't bother and quote Rumsfeld's rejection on Kennedy's characterization of Iraq. But Reuters does have the complete exchange.
"This war has been consistently and grossly mismanaged," Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, told Rumsfeld. "And we are now in a seemingly intractable quagmire."

"Our troops are dying. And there really is no end in sight. And the American people, I believe, deserve leadership worthy of the sacrifices that our fighting forces have made, and they deserve the real facts. And I regret to say that I don't believe that you have provided either," Kennedy added.

"Well, that is quite a statement," Rumsfeld, flanked by top U.S. commanders, responded. "First let me say that there isn't a person at this table who agrees with you that we're in a quagmire and that there's no end in sight."

"The suggestion by you that people -- me or others -- are painting a rosy picture is false," Rumsfeld.

"The fact is from the beginning of this we have recognized that this is a tough business, that it is difficult, that it is dangerous, and that it is not predictable," Rumsfeld added.

Wonder why Teddy is so grumpy? Probably just politics as usual.

Supremely Bad Decision

The Supreme Corpse has today moved the country another step toward communism.

The Supreme Court ruled today, in a deeply emotional case weighing the rights of property owners and the good of the community, that local governments can sometimes seize homes and businesses and turn them over to private developers.

Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens said, "Promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted governmental function, and there is no principled way of distinguishing it from the other public purposes the court has recognized."
The decision totally baffles me. The dissent by O'Connor states what I can't. Mainly, because she's at least polite about this travesty.
In a bitter dissent, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said the majority had created an ominous precedent. "The specter of condemnation hangs over all property," she wrote. "Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory."

"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private property, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," she wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.

"As for the victims," Justice O'Connor went on, "the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result."

I suppose I should calm down a bit and find/read the full decision. Though from this article, I don't see that they have set any bounds on when it is justifiable to seize private property for an alleged good for the public. Just who will make that decision?

I suppose this really forces everyone who is appalled by this to go to the extreme in politics to solve such problems. If local politicians try this stunt, then it will be required that the public make an extreme response assuring them that they will lose their office and any further prospect of being in politics.

Here is a link to How Appealing that links all of the relevant documents including all of the opinions.

Here are the opinions of Volokh, Captain's Quarters, Will Collier, and Bainbridge on topic.

The funny thing is that, in Kelo v. City of New London, it is the (mostly liberal) majority's test that would give the government flexibility to serve public goals by taking property and selling it to private parties, when the government thinks the private parties will be better positioned to provide the public benefit. And it is the conservative dissenters' test that would give the government a strong incentive to own and operate various enterprises itself, or insist that whoever owns and operates them labor under the burdens of being a "common carrier."

Under the dissenters' view, if the City of New London wants to take property to run a shopping mall, which would presumably provide more jobs and government revenue, it's free to do so. But if it wants to take property and resell it to a private shopping mall owner, it may not. True, the latter solution isn't the pure free market: The mall owner would be getting a government benefit in the form of property taken from the original owners (albeit with compensation), just as school choice programs get a government benefit in the form of money taken from taxpayers. Still, it seems better than the City running retail stores -- yet the dissenters' approach would give the City an incentive to do that, rather than lining up more efficient private businesses to do it.

Captain's Quarters: (Make sure you read the Mark Twain letter that he quotes, bloody brilliant.)
Unsurprisingly, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority that they had deferred to legislative action in this case, a position with which Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer agreed. However, the other four justices argued -- correctly, in my opinion -- that eminent domain should not be used to transfer property from one private owner to another. The power of the government should not overrule the private marketplace unless the land goes for a specific public -- i.e., not private -- use. Not surprisingly, the court relied on a 1954 Warren Court decision which broadened the term "public use" to include blighted areas that required public funds for urban renewal.

This does a tremendous injustice to the property owners of New London and everywhere in the United States. This puts the entire notion of property rights into jeopardy. Now cities can literally force people off their land in order to simply increase their tax base, which is all that New London accomplished in this smelly manuever.

And Bainbridge:
... the requirement to pay fair market value is a grossly inadequate safeguard on government power for two reasons in Kelo. First, it fails to take into account the subjective valuations placed on the property by people whose families have lived on the land, in at least one case, for a 100 years. In other words, if the Supreme Court rules for the city, the government will be able to seize land at a price considerably below the reservation price of the owners. Second, unlike the prototypical eminent domain case, in which the land is seized to build, say, a school or road, in this case the city is using eminent domain to seize property that will then be turned over to a private developer. If this new development increases the value of the property, all of that value will be captured by the new owner, rather than the forced sellers. As a result, the city will have made itself richer (through higher taxes), and the developer richer, while leaving the forced sellers poorer in both subjective and objective senses.
Will Collier:
This is a dreadful decision. If politicians have the right to take your private property and give it to somebody else just because the other guy claims that he can generate more taxes from it, then property rights have ceased to exist in the US.

The localities are still required to pay "a just price" when one of these takings occurs, but the price even a willing seller would be able to get from his property just took a huge hit. All a developer has to do now is make a lowball offer and threaten to involve a bought-and-paid-for politician to take the property away if the owner doesn't acquiesce.

I think the common theme is that the finding permits for seizure of one's property to give to another private party. Just compensation, not being defined, is a scary bit here. Especially in that the loser of the property not only loses their homes but any potential profit that could have been available from the property. I also fail to see any protections from abuse of this. I know, I know that isn't what they're there for. That said, who will provide those protections from those that can't afford to drag these suits for years and years through the courts?


I've been giving this some thought relating to the relationship to taxes. With this ruling, wouldn't this open up the door for companies to push the seizure of properties they desire because they would pay more taxes? Say you own a farm or a timber lot that is in "current use" (property that isn't in use and thus taxed at a lower price to benefit open space or green spaces). Wouldn't the City gain more taxes by seizing those lots? Wouldn't they have the incentive to grab that property from a select few and give it to a private company who will be a bigger tax provider?

I think this thought should really knock the priority of taxes in the argument completely off the table.

In the New London case they state that the seizure would allow for the creation of 1000 jobs. Couldn't these jobs been created with out taking these peoples homes? Did they even try to modify the plans to address this? What of those 80 residential spaces that are to be created? Why do these residences have priority over the pre-existing ones?

This smells worse all the more I read about it.


Grumbles has a listing of various takes on the topic.

QandO has a good write up on the topic as well.

Solar Sail Project Fails

This would have been so very neat if it had at least gotten to be attempted.

The Cosmos 1 vehicle, a joint Russian-American project, was intended to show that a so-called solar sail can make a controlled flight. Solar sails are envisioned as a potential means for achieving interstellar flight, allowing spacecraft to gradually build up great velocity and cover large distances.
Unfortunately, the rocket blew up during launch.
But the Volna booster rocket failed 83 seconds after its Tuesday launch from a Russian nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea, the Russian space agency said.
They launched from a Russian Nuke? That sounds quite odd.

USS San Francisco Collision Findings

OK this is just bloody foolish. Here's the article by James Dunnigan quoted in its entirety below.

The U.S. Navy investigation of the submarine USS San Francisco'’s collision with an uncharted undersea mountain revealed the basic cause, and then blamed the victim. The sea mount the San Francisco hit had been spotted by survey satellites in 1999 and 2004, but the intelligence agency responsible, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, said it didn't have the money to update naval charts. Neither did the navy, or anyone else. Someone made a decision to let American submarines continue moving around amidst all manner of uncharted hazards, but that angle was not pursued by the navy investigation. Instead, the sailors on duty when the San Francisco hit the sea mount were punished for not having taken more frequent depth soundings (which would have indicated they might be approaching an obstacle), or consulting another map (than the one the originally used) that showed a possible sea mount five kilometers from where theactually collided with one. Whatever happened to responsibility at the top? The U.S. has been using expensive survey satellites to map the oceans for over a decade. What's the point of spending all that money if you don'’t get vital information to the people in the submarines and ships who can use it? But this is not a unique situation. The troops have been complaining, with increasingfrequency and anger, that the $40 billion a year we spend on intelligence is not getting much to the end user. After the 1991 Gulf War, you had generals saying this in blunt testimony before Congress. After September 11, 2001, the same complaints were made. Same thing after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. And the complaints continue to come in. Blaming the victims is pretty lame, and disrespectful of the hardest working and diligent sailors in the U.S. Navy. Will anything change? According to the navy investigation of the USS San Francisco accident, it's unlikely. The intelligence community has enormous power to spend their billions, but no responsibility for the results.
So, don't bother updating the maps, but blame the sailors for not checking maps that don't show the obstacle or didn't take soundings frequently enough. I bet taking soundings is a really good way of letting everyone know exactly where you are.

Super Shotgun

Oh, this sounds like fun.
Well, I mean, it sounds like the military could put these to good use.

American troops are testing a new 12 gauge automatic shotgun in Iraq. Weighing 10.5 pounds unloaded, the Auto Assault 12 (AA12) has a rate of fire of 360 rounds per minute, and uses either an 8-round box magazine (adding 12 ounces to weapon weight) or a 20 round drum magazine (adding 2.5 pounds). Recoil on the system has been reduced to that of a light rifle, due to a sophisticated recoil system. The low rate of fire makes it possible to easily fire bursts of one, two, or three shots and is capable of using and mixing all types of 12 gauge ammunition, from shot to solid slugs, as well as non-lethal rounds.
The ammo sounds even more useful. I especially like the 12 gage firing HE shaped charge rounds.

This Describes American Liberals Perfectly

...even though she's describing Europeans.

"You cannot survive if you do not know the past. We know why all the other civilizations have collapsed--from an excess of welfare, of richness, and from lack of morality, of spirituality." (She uses "welfare" here in the sense of well-being, so she is talking, really, of decadence.) "The moment you give up your principles, and your values . . . the moment you laugh at those principles, and those values, you are dead, your culture is dead, your civilization is dead. Period."

I hope it's not as bad as she says.

More on the new Social Security Privitazation Idea

I think this is a good idea. I like the idea of keeping Social Security solvent longer, since I don't see Congress making any headway on "reform" any time soon. And this will get personal accounts in the door, which will help people warm up to the idea.

Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan and South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint are calling for legislation to bring an immediate halt to the ongoing political raid on the surplus payroll taxes collected by Social Security. Congress now spends that cash on current programs--from cotton subsidies, to defense, to the Dr. Seuss Museum. Every day that Congress fails to act, another $200 million is spent rather than being saved for future retirement. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once called this "thievery," and if corporate America were engaged in this type of accounting fraud Eliot Spitzer would be hauling CEOs to jail.

Instead of spending this retirement money, the reformers would allow individual workers to divert every surplus Social Security dollar--from now until the extra cash runs out in 2016--into personal retirement accounts.
Since this is taking Gore's idea of a "lockbox" and applying it to individual taxpayers, it'll should be palatable to the Dems. They should maybe even embrace it. But they've already come out screaming against it, so it'll be interesting to see if the public buys into their rhetoric, or sees them as hopelessly obstructionist.

Democrats Report Voting Problems in Ohio 2004 Election

This might have been a useful report, except that it was done by the Demosprats.

Democrats said the analysis by election experts was not designed to question the results in Ohio, but to determine the extent of the problem and possible solutions.
Yeah, sure.

The report is called Democracy at Risk. The issue of race seems to be very central to the report. Just in reviewing the Executive Summary you find that nearly all the findings relate to minority and low income voters having more issues than other voters. I'll have to look at the details, but something strikes me as odd on this issue. How is it that minorities voted at such large levels using provisional ballots? Is there a correlation between registering to vote and the vote performance seen?

I also enjoy the "feelings" statistics.
Statewide, 16 percent of African Americans reported experiencing intimidation versus only 5 percent of white voters.
I wonder what the statistics look like for a different though common experience and the racial variations on the feeling oh, excuse me, "experiencing" intimidation.

The voting machine issue pops up as usual. I still find this one bizarre. Every type of machine is called flawed by someone. The DNC chooses to rail against the DRE. They still come to this conclusion though:
While there is no reliable evidence of actual fraud in the use of these machines in Ohio in 2004, our expert advises that DRE (touchscreen) machines are not sufficiently safeguarded against fraud and are less usable for the broad population of voters than earlier simpler technologies; and that existing standards and practices for certification are insufficient to ensure the security requirements of DRE (touchscreen) systems.
This will be an interesting section to look through to see what they base this on. If they are expecting perfection with any voting machine they can forget it. It just won't happen.

I find it interesting that the DNC doesn't appear to analyze the political affiliations of the Election officials. I've not found it to this point, but I would really like to know what the make up is based on the areas that they studied.

The last point in the Executive Summary is:
The statistical study of precinct-level data does not suggest the occurrence of widespread fraud that systematically misallocated votes from Kerry to Bush.
It is interesting that they have only studied Ohio, a state where Bush won. Why is there no mention of identical studies in Pennsylvania? Answer is simple, the results in Ohio were wrong and the results in Pennsylvania were right.

I'll bet there is some real data in the report. But it will take some time to ferret it out of the politics.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Another Cherished Liberal Truth Questioned

This makes a good point about women's wages on average being less than a man's being based on choices rather than a male-chauvenist conspiracy.

"No matter how hard women work, or whatever they achieve in terms of advancement in their own professions and degrees, they will not be compensated equitably!"

In other words, men so love their fellow men that they are willing to pay a premium of, say, $10,000 on what would otherwise be a $30,000-a-year job, just for the sheer pleasure of employing a man. Nonsense. It's market competition that sets wages.

While he makes an interesting point, in larger companies the people making decisions about hiring and promoting are not usually the same people who are concerned about the salary cost. And you could make an argument that men may tend to hire other men, and women tend to hire other women, and there are more men in power, so they keep more men in power, thereby paying that $10,000 premium without consciously doing so. But I think that argument is pretty hard to back up with anything beyond anecdotal evidence and gut feelings.

Patriot Act: Expert Advice Section Unconstitutional

Here is one of those spots that I agree (so far) that a portion of the Patriot Act is Unconstitutional. Specifically this portion is very vague.
In a ruling handed down late Friday and made available Monday, U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins said the ban on providing "expert advice or assistance" is impermissibly vague, in violation of the First and Fifth Amendments.
Since there is no discrimination between advice that is related to peaceful activities and terrorism, I don't see how this can be enforced.

I still haven't found any argument that justifies this section of the act.

Librarians Report on Law Enforcement Requests

From the Volokh Conspiracy.

Intersting analysis of the report. I agree with their skepticism on the results of the report, which hasn't been issued to public review.

The keys to the problem:
1) The report is based on Anonymous librarian reports. (Get this, They were told by the group doing the study to act anonymously.)
2) Details of the requests are completely lacking. No indication of what the law enforcement groups were asking for.

The NYT article, that is part of the original topic, does cite specific instances of subpoenas related to specific activities.
One library reporting that it had received a records demand was the Whatcom County system in a rural area of northwest Washington.

Last June, a library user who took out a book there, "Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America," noticed a handwritten note in the margin remarking that "Hostility toward America is a religious duty and we hope to be rewarded by God," and went to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Agents, in turn, went to the library seeking names and information on anyone checking out the biography since 2001.

The library's lawyers turned down the request, and agents went back with a subpoena. Joan Airoldi, who runs the library, said in an interview that she was particularly alarmed after a Google search revealed that the handwritten line was an often-cited quotation from Mr. bin Laden that was included in the report issued by the Sept. 11 commission.

The library fought the subpoena, and the F.B.I. withdrew its demand.

"A fishing expedition like this just seems so un-American to me," Ms. Airoldi said. "The question is, how many basic liberties are we willing to give up in the war on terrorism, and who are the real victims?"

Now, let's look at this statement. The FBI received a report related, if a bit vaguely, to an activity that relates to terrorism. I'm agreeing that the reason for the information request is a bit vague, but not non-existent. So Ms. Airoldi is wrong about "fishing." They didn't just randomly show up to look randomly through the records. That would be fishing.

And as for giving up civil liberties, the FBI could always subpoena library records. The could before 9/11 they can now. The obvious outrage of this librarian is foolish.
The survey also found what library association officials described as a "chilling effect" caused by public concerns about the government's powers. Nearly 40 percent of the libraries responding reported that users had asked about changes in practices related to the Patriot Act, and about 5 percent said they had altered their professional activities over the issues; for instance, by reviewing the types of books they bought.
"Chilling effect" is interesting, though no quantification of the effect is provided. Note they are relating it to "government powers." If the librarians altered their pattern of buying because of a conceived change in government policy, then shame on them, not on the government.

I think the thing I find most offensive here is that the ALA seems to think that libraries should be exempt from law enforcement practices. The things they are railing against have been legal for a long time. I agree that law enforcement shouldn't be allowed to perform fishing expeditions, but I also believe that libraries should not be exempt from searches.

Go Read.


Darwinism Strikes

Here's one from Captain's Quarters that I find just odd. Not his response, but the topic.

Get this as the reported obituary:

An avid atheist, he studied the bible and religion with more fervor than most Christians. He had strong political opinions and followed Amy Goodman's radio broadcast "Democracy Now." Alas the stolen election of 2000 and living with right-winged Americans finally brought him to his early demise. Stress from living in this unjust country brought about several heart attacks rendering him disabled. Cory, a great man, so very talented, compassionate and intelligent, dedicated to the arts and humanities and the environment, will be greatly missed by his wife, family, and friends.
You think that family's grief made them write this? Or are they as imbalanced as apparently Cory was? I so love the "unjust country" portion of the obit.

I'm going to be a touch harsh, like usual, and say "you don't like it, do something about it, or leave." [Apparently Cory did both.]

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Durbin Actually Apologized

Watching this on CSPAN.

He is apologizing. He actually got choked up during his apology.

McCain speaks to the apology, telling him he did the right thing.

Lieberman also talking to how many politicians have mispoken and that people should understand that it was just that. (I don't agree.) Then asking for everyone to move on. (I expect everyone will.)

Reid wants to speak also before getting back to topic.
Blah blah blah.
Now he's speaking about McCain for some reason.
Oh, he's stating thanks for McCain's statement on topic. (Yawn)

Oh, god, Feinstein.
"Oh we have all made mistakes" speech.
Now she's getting up tight that people would think Durbin actually would mean what he said.
Then the move on comments. Blah Blah Blah.
Someone's Cell phone is ringing. (shouldn't those be shut off?)

Oh, now the politicians across the aisle demonized Durbin for making a mistake. Making a not "artful" statement is how he phrased it.
Now Durbin cares for veterans (fuzzy puppies and grandmothers I'm certain as well).
Oh, and the move on comments. Blah Blah Blah.

Thank god that's over. What a steaming pile.

Acceptable Private Social Security Accounts?

This sounds like a good idea. It makes the "risky" argument null and void from what I can see. It will be interesting to see if it gets any traction.

Kennedy Jabs at Romney's Credibility for Presidential Run

Heh heh.

Sen. Kennedy, in a pointed jab at his old GOP foe, says Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney still needs to prove he has the right stuff to be a credible contender for the White House in 2008.

"The real kind of question and challenge is whether he has the vision and the ability to mobilize both his party and the country in terms of national leadership,'' Kennedy said. "I think that's the big question.''
Please note that Teddy the Tick has already proven that he doesn't have the right stuff to be a credible contender. Hell if Kennedy was representing a sane state, he'd already be retired and drunk on the beach somewhere.
But the Senate's most prominent liberal said the Republican still has a lot to prove on the national stage to be a viable presidential candidate.
"It will now be the question as to whether the governor has the kind of ability to do it,'' Kennedy said. "It's a very high, fast track when you run for president. We just have to sort of wait and see.''
Teddy must be speaking from experience, since he failed so miserably while trying to ride the coat tails of his brothers.
During the interview at his Senate office, Kennedy said he expected to support colleague Sen. John F. Kerry should he run again for president in 2008.

The senior senator also said Kerry's 2004 experience as the Democratic nominee would prove to be a boon should he decide to run again for the White House. "He'd have a wealth of experience, knowledge from running the last campaign,'' said Kennedy. "He'd be a very, very strong contender. I'd expect to support him.''
Where's that breathalizer?

If I were Romney, I'd just ignore Teddy. Advice like that isn't worth the oxygen expelled to say it.

Andrew Sullivan Cheering on Durbin

Not that I'm particularly surprised by this bit of sophistry, but Sullivan shows his extreme leanings.
It is this administration that has brought indelible shame on America, and it's people like Dick Durbin who prove that some can actually stand up against this stain on American honor and call it what it is. Good for him. Thank God for him.
Yes Andrew, under this administrations some very poor decisions were made and some are most definitely criminal, but how can you defend equating this with regimes that tortured and killed millions of people? That isn't appropriate comparison, it's political incitement. The brush that Durbin used is so wide that it paints all personnel in the military as murderers and tortures. Is that appropriate?

In general this country is made up of reasonable people, and the reactions to Durbin's statements are reasonable for the most part. I'm just surprised that Sullivan has proven himself to be so unreasonable.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Latest French Surrender

Not that anyone here is a racing fan, but here is a really winner.

French tire company Michelin advised the 14 drivers who were using their tires for the US Gran Prix, that they shouldn't race because of tire saftey.

Sparking a fiasco for a series desperate to capture the American audience, Michelin advised the 14 cars it supplies that its tires were unsafe for the final banked turn at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Unable to forge a compromise, all 14 Michelin teams ducked off the track after the warmup lap Sunday, leaving Schumacher and the five other drivers who use Bridgestone tires to race among themselves.

Michelin knows Indianapolis, since they make tires for various races every year, but since their tires were of such high quality they were unsafe this year.

So they advised the drivers to surrender.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Downing Street Memo

So get this. There is no way that these memos can be ever verified.


Smith told AP he protected the identity of the source he had obtained the documents from by typing copies of them on plain paper and destroying the originals.
So these could be completely fake, and there is no evidence other than this reporter's word, that these are real. Should we be at least skeptical of their veracity? I think so. This action is just unfathomable.

See the Captain's Quarter link above.

LA Times Wakes Up

Holy cow. This little piece published in the LA Times actually makes sense. It tries to intelligently place our modern times within a context of history. It questions the perceived status quo using facts and well thought out logic. I'm stunned. What next, sense from the Boston Globe, honest reporting from the NY Times?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Gun Grabber Hypocrisy

This is just incredible, and kind of funny.

An anti-gun campaigner today criticized police as ?heavy handed? after she was arrested for having a pump-action sawn-off shotgun in her home.

Grandmother Sheila Eccleston said she was locked in a police cell for 12 hours after she attempted to hand in the weapon.

Mrs Eccleston, of Martindale Crescent, Longsight, Manchester, said she was given the gun by a youth six months ago and hid it in her bedroom in a suitcase above her wardrobe.

She criticisms police saying her arrest sent out the wrong message to those wanting to hand in weapons.

She said: ?If people see a person like me being arrested despite all the work I do to get guns off the street, they are even less likely to hand them in.

?I called the police. I told them about the gun. Yet they still arrested me and kept me locked up for hours.

So, let's see. She was in possession of a sawed off shotgun (which is illegal in the UK by the way) and she claims she was trying to turn it in (at 1:00 AM while reporting a burglary in progress in a neighbor's house). She's upset that she was arrested. Now if I had a kilo of cocaine and tried to turn it in, do you suppose I'd be arrested? I would. DingBat!

The Smallest Minority has a nice blog entry on the topic and a bunch of links to other gun grabber hypocrites.

Another Quiz: Political Party

This one is wrong also. Haven't these people ever heard of a libertarian?

You scored as Anarchism. <'Imunimaginative's Deviantart Page'>

















What Political Party Do Your Beliefs Put You In?
created with

Which is the Right Religion for You

Unexpected, but fascinating. Of course, they are missing some that are probably more appropriate to my responses, such as Taoism.

You scored as Satanism. Your beliefs most closely resemble those of Satanism! Before you scream, do a bit of research on it. To be a Satanist, you don't actually have to believe in Satan. Satanism generally focuses upon the spiritual advancement of the self, rather than upon submission to a deity or a set of moral codes. Do some research if you immediately think of the satanic cult stereotype. Your beliefs may also resemble those of earth-based religions such as paganism.



















Which religion is the right one for you? (new version)
created with

This site has some pretty interesting quizzes that I have been playing with.

Dick Durbin: Jackass

So, here is non-apology:

On Friday, Durbin tried to clarify the issue. "My statement in the Senate was critical of the policies of this Administration, which add to the risk our soldiers face," he said in a statement released Friday afternoon. "I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood. I sincerely regret if what I said caused anyone to misunderstand my true feelings: Our soldiers around the world and their families at home deserve our respect, admiration and total support."
This just irritated me yesterday.
Translation: "I have learned that you are to stupid to understand what I meant."

I'm not the only one that thought this.

Jeb Bush: Jackass

I think the title pretty much sums up my sentiment on this.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush reopened Terri Schiavo's case yesterday by asking a prosecutor to review a perceived delay by her husband in seeking medical help after her collapse 15 years ago.

Two days after an autopsy appeared to put allegations against Michael Schiavo to rest, Bush asked Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernard McCabe to look into what the governor called an unexplained 40- to 70-minute gap between Terri Schiavo's Feb. 25, 1990, collapse and her husband's call to 911.

Fifteen years later, Jeb Bush decides that there needs to be a criminal investigation. He bases his concern on conflicting information from a Larry King Live interview and the 2000 end-of-life trial statements by Michael Schiavo. Strange, I don't see how the statements from Larry King Live has any relevance to the topics.

You think Michael Schiavo has a case for a Harassment suit against the governor?

Military Sniper Video

Got this off the Carnival of Cordite and just had to share.

Friday, June 17, 2005

I Gitmo


NH Libertarians Picking Fights

QandO has an excellent piece on a Loony Libertarian in NH. Get this:

A Keene Libertarian who tried to board a flight carrying nothing but a Bible and a copy of the Declaration of Independence was arrested yesterday at Manchester Airport.

Russell Kanning, 35, was arrested after refusing to comply with security screening procedures and refusing to leave the screening area, according to the Rockingham County sheriff's department. He was charged with criminal trespassing and was being held at the Rockingham County jail.

Kanning's wife, Kat Dillon, said her husband has refused to have his bail posted and will remain in jail until his arraignment tomorrow. She said sheriff's deputies were very kind in handling the incident.

"He went in with his Bible and his declaration, and when he refused to be patted down and all that, the sheriffs led him off and arrested him," she said in a phone interview yesterday afternoon.

Kanning, an accountant and staunch Libertarian, said last week he hoped his actions would highlight what he considers overly burdensome state intrusion.

"What he was trying to get across is that people need to be able to travel with dignity," said his wife. "They've just gotten to a point where security is ridiculous."

"We want people to think about it: Do you want to give up all your rights and live in a police state?"she said. "I don't think they can make us secure if they're bombing other countries . . . To be perfectly honest, I'm in far more danger from my own government than from any terrorist."
Seeing that QandO is quite libertarian, this piece should be very informative. The discussion goes several directions, but starts with the specific statement that you don't have a "right" to transportation.

Some of the arguments they discuss with commenters are a bit strange in the assumptions of rights. People seem to think they have a lot of rights that just don't exist.

Personally, I think this guy has fallen off the edge of libertarian and into the cesspool of Anarchism.

How You Will Die Test

This is just way too fun. [h\t Heartless Libertarian]

You scored as Disappear. Your death will be by disappearing, probably a camping trip gone wrong or an evening hike you never returned from.







Natural Causes












Cut Throat








How Will You Die??
created with

Almost fitting I think. The death by bomb placement is almost funny.