Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Jackson and Chavez

I was frankly surprised at how difficult it was to find any real news on topic. There are a bunch of Venezuelan news cites, but they are a bit scary on the topic.

In any case, Jesse is out playing diplomat again. In the world of crack-pot diplomacy he ranks right up there with Jemma.
"“U.S. and Venezuela must be good neighbors,"” said Jackson, pointing out how important commercial relations are for the two countries and how geographically close they are to each other. "“I hope there would be a detente on hostile rhetoric. We need each other,"” added Jackson.

“I would hope the talk of isolation, name-calling, hostile rhetoric, threats of assassination and kidnapping give way to aggressive diplomacy."” "“I hope that weÂ’ve done something to facilitate a detente on threatening rhetoric," Jackson said. "We're not going to have an oil war."

Makes you wonder what Jackson actually thinks on the governments support of Robertson's moronic statement? He's even come out asking the president to condemn Robertson's statement. That is a nice sentiment, but should a sitting president have to condemn any foolish statement that is stated by a citizen? I don't think so.

Not to mention the official denials related to use of assassination.
The United States quickly distanced itself from the comments, calling Robertson a private citizen who does not speak for the administration. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld added that assassination is illegal and not a policy of the United States.
Well, assassination may be sort of illegal, unless you are using cruise missiles. I'd say that illegality isn't based on legislation, but upon an Executive Order (11095 later continued by Reagan as 12333) put out by Gerald Ford. I've seen a couple of web-sites stating that Bush rescinded that EO, but I can't find any real evidence of an EO that he issued saying such.

In any case, Jackson has been playing the old "can't we all play nice" horn again. It of course lets Chavez get in the injured party rhetoric.
Chavez emphasized that his government was interested in having good relations with the U.S. and pointed out that during the Clinton administration relations were "“very cordial, normal, and constructive,"” even though many of the same differences existed between the two countries. "“We never lose hope that we'll regain a good tone with Mr. BushÂ’s government," said Chavez.
Just makes your heart bleed doesn't it? Too bad his actions with respect to the US don't prove out his desire for cordiality. Don't forget the expulsion of the DEA agents who were "spies."

They also got in their offer to "assist" the poor in the US.
Jackson also spoke about Chavez's offer to provide discounted oil and perhaps gasoline to low-income communities in the U.S. Jackson called the proposal a "“good idea,"” whose details still needed to be fleshed-out. Jackson also pointed out that there is a program in the U.S. to provide assistance to low-income families for heating oil, known as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
That's wonderful, just as long as it remains an NGO and has no official sanction by the US government. You think that can happen? I don't. Chavez wants the program to be utilized and sanctioned by the US government for a propaganda device in Latin America. It would be typical of his actions to date.

Well, I suppose Jackson needs to get out into the world once in a while to make sure he can appear to be a major political entity in the US.

Effect of Terrorism

No bomb was needed, just someone stating there could be a suicide bomber.

Brig. Gen. Khalid Hassan said that many of the people had died in the crush or were drowned after falling off the al-Aima Bridge.

Hassan, who commands the police in the capital's Azamiyah district, said the accident occurred due to the immense crowd that tried to cross the bridge.

Police confirmed that that someone in the crowd said there may be a suicide bomber among the crowd, sparking a panic.

Kind of like yelling fire in a crowded theater. The Shiites are obviously effected by the terrorism and something like this proves the effectiveness of the tactic on locals. For all that is known, this could have been sparked by a terrorist, but the complete facts will never be truly known.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Cost of War

The Christian Science Monitor has this little bit on how the Afghan/Iraq war is now the third most costly war in US history. Bainbridge commentary led me to this site. I will say that I completely agree with his standing on this. The cost/benefit analysis really shows the argument is poor.
Despite the relatively small number of American armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan (140,000), the war effort is rapidly shaping up to be the third-most expensive war in United States history.
Now let's stop for a second and think about why the force levels are low. And why the casualty rate of both the military and civilians is low. Oh, and why technology is expensive. Think hard. Even the writer accepts that the casualty rates are low.
That's in money, not in blood and tears. Fatalities from the combined Afghanistan-Iraq conflict now exceed 2,000. American participation in 1917-18 in World War I, a war infamous for its trench-warfare slaughter, resulted in 53,513 US deaths.
And that's all that he says. So compare 53,513 deaths to just over 2000. I think the argument focused on cost alone is fallacious. Bainbridge has additional arguments.

Personally, I think money is a poor ruler to go by. It is an interesting perspective, but doesn't really provide an argument with any strength. The end game for the use of this money is to secure stability in a region where the US has interests. Indeed those interests include oil, which the US is very dependent. Of course, we get no oil from Afghanistan, and only a very small percentage from Iraq. So the Iraq campaign was indirectly due to oil. It was more directly related to stability in the region where we get a lot of our oil. It's also the region where we get most of our terrorists. So, stability again will help with our security.

The reasons for Afghanistan were far different than Iraq. Both ended with a more stable climate in the region. The end stability though will be something that we will have to wait and see.

Monday, August 29, 2005

A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words

The first two words that come to my mind are "oh barf" but your mileage may vary.

What he said

Is the title enough of a comment? Because really, to try add anything would simply be rehashing what was already said, and no doubt better than I can say it. This is must read blogging.

Suffer the Children

I'm sure the woman that wrote this article would be apalled to find our children talking about what an idiot John Kerry was. However, I don't call it indoctrinating my children, I call it teaching them. One of the things that we try to teach is that everyone can contribute. Not that the Democrats are EVIL and Republicans are good (or, for this lady, vice-versa). Rather, that lots of people from all sides of the political spectrum honestly feel they're right and you need to listen to them and accept or dismiss their arguments on the facts, not emotions or labels. It's harder to position yourself this way because you actually have to think about things rather than accept a stance that's patently knee jerk, like this from the article:

They have learned to blame George Bush and the Republican Party for everything from the war in Iraq to global warming to the vilification of their favorite television shows.

Statements like this result from turning off the brain and cranking up the emotion. We constantly teach our kids that people don't think and use stuff like this as the example. That said, language matters and our constant references to Kerry as an idiot filtered right down to the kids.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Moonbats Hard At Work

The post is loony. The responses are pretty interesting. Read and enjoy.

Political Tampering with Science

The article is a discussion of the political tampering that has been so heavily reported with respect to the Bush administration. I've continually been angered by political tampering with the results of scientific works, and the Bush administration has been especially manipulative. The article does bring it all into a reasonable conclusion.
We don't have to postulate a nefarious conspiracy, then, to explain the war on science that has manifested itself during the Bush administration. We need only point to an army of political appointees in government agencies who are going about their jobs the only way they know how--i.e., talking a lot to their industry or religious right allies and frequently rewarding their lobbying attempts in scientific areas. In short, it's a politico-scientific spoils system. And as this particular spoils system proceeds to allocate rewards, it simultaneously undermines, cheapens, and compromises federal agencies as reliable, public-oriented sources of scientific analysis and information.

But if we're looking at a government-wide problem based on staffing and a culture that has developed within federal agencies, that suggests it won't be easily solved. In fact, the damage done could long outlast the Bush administration, because the integrity of the federal government will have been compromised and because taxpayer-funded agencies may not recover quickly (or at all) from the traumas they've been put through. Here's where the political abuse of science becomes a core issue for the nation's future: The crisis promises to leave Americans with a less reliable, less effective, less professional, and ultimately less respectable government. The consequences will be felt in a wide range of areas, ranging from public health to the environment.

This statement makes one wonder just how long the manipulation of government scientific research has been going on. The political appointee system is far from new. I'd conjecture that there has been tampering going on for quite a long time and from all political parties.

You can also note that the author of the article has a book specifically on the republican tampering with science. I'm going to conjecture that he's not completely innocent of political favoritism himself. You can come to that conclusion through the fact that he doesn't even discuss such a possibility of the same tampering having occurred in other administrations. That said, I believe that he has a good point overall.

Fixed the link to the article. Not sure why it wasn't working.

Rev. Fred Phelps: Jackass

Phelps and his group of religious morons are getting more offensive by the day. The protests at soldier's funerals just irritates me beyond belief.

Fortunately, it appears that counter-demonstrations are shutting down these classless jackass.'
The Rev. Fred Phelps, founder of Westboro Baptist, contends that American soldiers are being killed in Iraq as vengeance from God for protecting a country that harbors gays. The church, which is not affiliated with a larger denomination, is made up mostly of Phelps' children, grandchildren and in-laws.

About 10 church members protested near Smyrna United Methodist Church and nearly 20 stood outside the National Guard Armory in Ashland City. Members have demonstrated at soldier funerals across the nation, including the Aug. 11 service for Sgt. James Dustin "Dusty" Carroll in McKenzie.

"The best venue is the funeral of an IED- (improvised explosive device) killed son or daughter," Phelps said, adding "The righteous will rejoice when he seeth the vengeance."

Hundreds of Smyrna and Ashland City residents and families of other soldiers turned out at both sites to counter the message the Westboro Baptist members brought.

So many counterdemonstrators were gathered in Ashland City that police, Cheatham County sheriff's deputies and state troopers were brought in to control traffic and protect the protesters.

The church members held protesting permits, and counterprotesters in Smyrna turned their backs to Westboro Baptist members until time expired on the protest permits.

I'm surprised that there hasn't been any large scale violence against these imbeciles. If there was any group that deserved an over the top thrashing it would be the Westboro Baptists.

I'm not condoning violence in this case. Oh, wait, yes I am.

I was reading the comments to the above article when I ran across one stating that Phelps and his group are associated with the democratic party and has campaigned for Clinton/Gore. I found this a bit odd, since the sounds that they make are definitely from the fever-swamp right. So I took a look at Wikipedia and found this.
During the 1992 presidential election, Fred Phelps and Fred Phelps Jr. led the members of Westboro in campaigning around the state of Kansas for Bill Clinton and Al Gore; Fred Phelps Sr. would later state in fliers that he did so with the belief that Gore would fall under WBC's political influence should he and Clinton win the election.
Though it did continue as where I expected.
In the ensuing four years, Phelps (and consequently Westboro) turned against Gore for his and Clinton's decided pro-and-neutral stances on homosexuality. Gore nevertheless invited Fred Phelps, Marge, Fred Jr., and Betty back for the 1997 inauguration; they responded by bringing the entirety of Westboro to the White House and picketing on the front lawn during the ball, (report on Phelps' ball picket) with signs proclaiming that Gore, Clinton, and both mens' families were going to hell not necessarily for their stances on homosexuality, but because they had "betrayed" Westboro.

In 1998, Westboro picketed the funeral of Gore's father, screaming vulgarities at Gore and telling him "your dad's in Hell."

But he still is a democrat. A really "screw-ball jackass peice of crap" form of democrat.
Rev. Phelps has run in numerous Democratic primary elections for governor of the state of Kansas in 1992, 1994, and the last time in 1998, when he came in last with 15,000 votes out of a total of over 103,000 votes cast, or 15%.
15% is more than what I would have expected though.

Iraq as Spanish-American War

I had too look after seeing today's theme.
It's a bit old and from Salon, but on theme.

Once again we are led by a man whose presidency is adrift. Once again we have a country in deep economic hardship. Once again we have a compliant media that stands to benefit from war. (Ignore the caterwauling about the expense of covering war. War is the very best way to attract an audience and establish your brand.) And once again we have a war that seems to be conceived less in terms of policy than in terms of aesthetics.
In retrospect, Salon really was wrong.

I was surprised that there aren't any recent articles using the Spanish-American War theme.

Getting Answers From the Monitor

One of the survivors of the wreck of the Monitor told stories about where he placed his new hat & boots and what he did with a cat. These don't seem to be holding up the evidence unearthed as they reclaim the wreck of the Monitor. Cool stuff. I'm glad to see it get headlines.

Iraq Not Viet Nam

What did I just say in the previous posts? Now the paper to which we must all bow, The Boston Globe, has said it too. OK, I suppose technically, although Jeff Jacoby writes for the Globe, he really isn't of the Globe. Still. He closes with this:

Things have gone wrong in Iraq as they go wrong in every war. Bush's strategy of defeating Islamist terrorism by draining the swamps of dictatorship and fanaticism in which it breeds carries a high price tag. Nearly 1,900 US soldiers have been killed and more than 14,000 wounded in Iraq so far. There are more casualties to come.

But another Vietnam? No -- not when such strong support for the war comes from the very soldiers who are in harm's way. Their high morale, their faith in their mission, their conviction that we are doing good -- those are the signals to heed, not the counsels of despair on the TV talk shows. It will be time to give up on Iraq when the troops give up on Iraq. So far, there's no sign they will.

It's the thing that I'm constantly harping on when I have these discussions with my mother-in-law. Yeah, mistakes happen. That's a part of war. The issue is to complete the mission despite the mistakes rather than pull back & run away. In other words, to toss in a historical parallel, we want to be General Grant, not General Maclellan.

Iraq as the Boer War

Today seems to be the day to ignore Viet Nam (hallelujah) for a while and concentrate on other wars. First, Iraq is compared to the US Civil War (see the post below). Now it's compared to the Boer War. This is a much more interesting comparison. The article itself is one litany of doom for America. Our time is over. I remember when America's time was over in the 70's. Then our time was over in the 80's. It was definately over in the 90's. Now it's over in the 00's. Anyone else see a pattern. Oh, the article. They don't spend as much time developing the comparisons between the Boer conflict and Iraq as I would have liked, because you could see some parallels. Most of the time is spent on pointing out how badly everything is going for the US. A missed opportunity here. Maybe one of the real scholars over at HNN will pick up on this and develop it.

American Civil War Parallels in Iraq

Being a history geek, I thought that seeing parallels between Iraq & the American Civil War could be interesting. I finished this piece with a slack jaw. Is it me, or did this guy just argue that the "regime change" in the South lead to over a hundred years of violence with no positive rewards? Yep. I just read it again. The implications here are that freeing the slaves was a waste of time, money and lives. Wow! 145 years after the fact, and only bad things can be seen in the American Civil War and its aftermath. Did all the slaves buckle under during reconstruction so that when the troops pulled out in 1877 slavery was the de facto situation? No. There was a mass exodus of slaves to the north and out of the country. These were a freed people who spread out from the South, doing and building and creating. Was everything wine & roses, did every person get 40 acres and a mule (a promise by a general, not the government btw)? No. But by and large they were a free people and able to do what free people do. I can't imagine what this guy thought would be a better outcome.
Just like the Civil War, America has freed a people through our blood and treasure. They may go through trials & tribulations, but it will be as freed men and women, not oppressed by the fascists. It was the right thing to do. It remains the right thing to do. Just because its hard doesn't mean we should cut and run, just as we didn't during the Civil War.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Virginia Gunshow and the ATF: Pictures

The pictures are pretty poor, but apparently the promoter was worried about confication of the camera. It's hard to see much, but there does appear to be a lot of law enforcement vehicles. I count nine obvious police vehicles. I've never seen that many at any gun show I've ever gone too.

Surgeon General's Warning on French Fries

Here we go with another bloody moronic regulation out of California.

California Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer sued nine snack- and fast-food giants Friday, saying the law requires them to tell the public that their potato chips and French fries contain a toxic chemical.

In a suit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Lockyer sought a court order compelling the companies to place warnings on their cooked potato products because they contain higher levels of a suspected carcinogen, acrylamide, than other foods.
So I guess I should take it that the state of California will be testing every single food that may be served in any conceivable manner in the state to ensure that they don't have chemicals that may have to be warned against.

VDH on the Meeting Between Extreme Left & Extreme Right

Good arguments that left & right are misnomers and the whole positional nature of politics isn't a line, but rather a circle. You have to admit, when you find yourself in agreement with David Duke, don't you need to reassess your position? If I found myself in agreement with Duke on whether or not the sun was shining, I'd go and get another couple of opinions. Doesn't it say something that Cindy Sheehan and her support structure (MoveOn & ANSWER) are in 100% agreeement with Duke?
It's VDH. Go and read.

Maureen Dowd

I know the world is filled with people wittier than me and better able to write than me. I just hate having my nose rubbed in it. This opening over at Instapunk on a great article on Maurren Dowd is one of those nose rubbing affairs that just aren't right. I'll bet I brew better beer than he does. There, now I feel better.

Like many people, I suppose, I used to read Maureen Dowd's columns and think, "What the hell is she talking about?" She makes references to current events, but the landscape is always rearranged in ways that make it oddly remote from reality, as if she were living in some alternate universe. At that point, I could have taken the wise course followed by thousands of other readers and simply shrugged, turned on my heel, and walked away. But there was something about her that gnawed at me, as if, contrary to superficial appearances, there really was a sentient human being lurking inside her delusionary world of mangled quotes and malicious mixed metaphors.

Read it all. Hell, read all of Instapunk, every day and then I won't have to link to him. In fact, why are you here at all. Stay over at a blog that's better written by wittier people (except for Nyarlathoteps posts of course, you have to stay here and read those).

Michael Moore is Sean Bean

Oh boy did that image scare the Geekwife. She's got a thing for ole Seany. Seeing Moore's face morph into Bean's pretty much put her on her heels. Anyway, apparently Moore is going to get an extreme makeover. Pardon me while I puke. Good little article over at the Instapunk. Read it.

Boston Globe Reports Economy Improving

It's official. The Globe has said it. The arguments in our house are over. Even my mother-in-law will now be forced to admit that economy is doing well. After all, it said this in the Boston Globe:

Boston Duck Tours, in many ways, illustrates why the US economy has managed to digest record energy prices and keep on chugging. While spiking gasoline prices undoubtedly add to costs of businesses and households, in the broader picture they have been offset by expanding employment, rising incomes, and still-low interest rates that have kept consumer spending strong, economists said.

Of course, it's still the Globe, so they go right into all the horrors that still possibly await us down the road.
If more employers share Brown's caution, job growth will slow. When costs rise, employers often prefer to pay employees overtime rather than absorb the additional expenses of new workers, such as taxes and benefits.

But the news is finally so good, even the Globe has to report more of it.
In the last year, noted James O'Sullivan, senior economist at UBS AG in Stamford, Conn., consumer spending on energy products and services rose about $70 billion; salaries and wages jumped $400 billion.

They still try to end it on a sour note, but as far as I'm concerned, this is the "in your face" moment. Bush's tax cuts didn't hurt the economy. They helped it.

Quills Awards

Book awards on TV... Based on this article in the globe, since this will be mainly best sellers the show can't possibly introduce new, different, or interesting authors or books to those who are already into books. That's what C-Span2 on weekends is for. I love my BookTV.
But anyway, back to the Quills show. Have they seen what authors look like? Apparently they have because Al Roker and John Stewart are advertised to be on the show. I thought it was about books, not television personalities. But this is all about expanding the book market:

That's where the Quills come in. The FAQ page on the website describes the award as ''a prestigious well-branded consumer selection of a title that adds marketing value to the title and author."

It looks like JK Rowling is going to take the first prize for the new Harry Potter book. I'm going to swing by the website and try to skew the voting slightly.

Friday, August 26, 2005

NYTimes Spinning Good News to Bad

This one I found on SayUncle.

Colonel Thomas Spoehr is annoyed with New York Times reporter Michael Moss, for what I think is a good reason.
Spoehr is the director of materiel for the Army staff. He had a good news story to tell Moss, which Moss converted into a bad news story.
Its all about the improvements that the Army has made to the bullet proof vests for the soldiers. The apparently found a better insert resistant to rifle rounds and quickly put it into production and have started deployment.
Last year, senior leaders of the Army became aware of technological developments which make it possible to improve the "Interceptor" body armor worn by our troops.`

The "Interceptor" consists of a vest, two SAPI (small arms protective insert) plates worn in the front and the back, and "backing" material around the plates. The plates are made of boronic carbide, the second hardest substance known to man (only diamonds are harder) but fairly light weight.

The plates will shatter a standard rifle bullet, and the backing catches the bullet fragments to prevent injuries from shrapnel.

The "Interceptor" is the best body armor manufactured in the world today, and represents a remarkable improvement over the protective vests worn by our troops in the first Gulf War, and Somalia in 1993. Those vests could protect against shrapnel, but a rifle bullet would cut right through them.

Those vests weighed 24 lbs each. The interceptor ensemble — which can stop an AK-47 bullet fired from just 10 feet away — weighs just 16 lbs. But the best isn't perfect. There are some special types of ammunition that can penetrate the boronic carbide plates. Last year Army leaders became aware of improvements that could be made to the SAPI plates that would protect against most (though not all) of these special types of ammunition.

There is little evidence insurgents in Iraq are using the special types of ammunition that can defeat the "Interceptor." But the Army wanted to be proactive, to defeat a potential threat before it emerged.

"We're taking what we think is a prudent step to guard against a step (the insurgents) could take, but that's a step that really hasn't developed yet," Spoehr said.
The problem with the NYTimes report is that they make it sound like the armor that has been in use is a complete failure.
Here's how the story was presented by Moss in the New York Times Aug. 14th: "For the second time since the Iraq war began, the Pentagon is struggling to replace body armor that is failing to protect American troops from the most lethal attacks of insurgents.

"The ceramic plates in vests worn by most personnel cannot withstand certain munitions the insurgents use. But more than a year after military officials initiated an effort to replace the armor with thicker, more resistant plates, tens of thousands of soldiers are still without the stronger protection because of a string of delays in the Pentagon's procurement system."

Spoehr told Moss all the things he told me, but there is not a single positive quote in his story.

"You would get the impression that our soldiers were in harm's way or at risk," Spoehr said. "That is not true."

Just got to love them for warping the news.

Comparative Outrage

Ravenwood has a couple of interesting little pieces comparing the outrage seen now to a couple of political issues.

First is on Pat Robertson compared to a similar call by a Clinton aide.

The Second is on Bush's gas utilization. I saw this one in my local rag and just found it pathetic. I hadn't realized that Clinton actually traveled more.

Just a little context for the topics.

Michael Yon in Mosul

Here's a good read. Action in Mosul by Michael Yon. Pictures and all.

Combat journalist, obviously. It's long, but very interesting.

Politics and the CIA

Way too many anonymous sources for my liking in this article. But since it's the LATimes it must be the truth. (right.)
Following a two-year review into what went wrong before the suicide hijackings, Helgerson harshly criticizes a number of the agency's most senior officials, according to people familiar with the report. Among those singled out for criticism are former CIA Director George Tenet, former clandestine service chief Jim Pavitt and former counterterrorism center head Cofer Black.

The former officials are likely candidates for proceedings before an accountability board, which could take a number of actions, including letters of reprimand or dismissal. The proceedings also could clear the former officials of wrongdoing.

Those who discussed the report with the AP all spoke on condition of anonymity because it remains highly classified and has been distributed only to a small circle in Washington.
So which congress person is the anonymous source? Better question, is when are they going to start investigating and crucifying these sources? Classifications have their meaning.

Discussion of the existence of the report is one thing, but if you need to be anonymous, I'm betting you're going somewhere you shouldn't be.
Despite public outcries for accountability, many in the intelligence community believe Goss would be loath to try to discipline popular former senior officials and cause unrest within the agency.

He may not want to go after less senior people still in the CIA's employ. Intelligence veterans say these CIA employees are the government's mostly highly trained in counterterrorism and before the Sept. 11 attacks, devoted their time to trying to stop al-Qaida terrorists. The hearings would force them to defend their careers rather than working against extremist groups.

In addition, the numerous investigations after Sept. 11 determined that an intelligence overhaul was essential to attack Muslim extremism.
He may not wish to go after former officials, because it wouldn't provide anything useful. Punishing someone who is outside of the CIA is not likely to benefit anyone. If there is criminality involved, then I think its justified to punish them, but if it's reprimand or other BS, then why bother?

Here's the politics:
Some members of Congress, including California Rep. Jane Harman, the Intelligence Committee's senior Democrat, are pushing for the CIA to produce a declassified version of the report so the public can debate these and other issues. Some family members of 9/11 victims have also called for the report's immediate release. "The findings in this report must be shared with all members of Congress and with the American public to ensure that the problems identified are addressed and corrected, thus moving to restore faith in this agency," a group called Sept. 11 Advocates said in a statement Thursday.
I'd suggest letting the repairs/punishments take place prior to release of the report. I also find it unlikely that a "declassified" report would have many words in it. Any secret material on procedures would be eliminated, and any person's names would be eliminated related to the 1974 Privacy Act.

Politics have been played in the CIA for a long time. We've all heard about the politics played there relevant to the Iraq WMD data. Personally, I'm betting on the Demosprats pushing hard for the release of the report and release of any info on whose head rolls. The spin will be to make sure that the chop will have occurred to clean up Bush's mess in the CIA, irrespective of whether the person was appointed by Bush or not.

Stay tuned. Same Bat time. Same Bat channel.

WireTapping and VoIP

Ok, for the Neanderthals out there VoIP is Voice over IP, which is the new technology for sending phone calls over the internet instead of through the MaBells. The article is discussing the wire tap regulations being pushed onto VoIP vendors and shows that the people writing the laws may not have a clue about the technology.
The DOJ'’s point person for CALEA, Laura Parsky, has implied that wire-tapping VOIP is crucial to national security. Parsky said as much in a Congressional hearing that explored the idea that VOIP providers must be connected to the PSTN in order to be subject to CALEA:
Limiting law enforcement's ability to obtain assistance from a provider to only a particular type of wires (the PSTN), never mind one that is quickly being overtaken by new innovations, can significantly diminish law enforcement's ability to protect public safety and national security.

Parsky declined comment on this story, but spokesman Bryan Sierra says the DOJ has 'unfinished business' with the FCC on CALEA (see VOIP Fans Raise Regulatory Issues).

"I believe that the FBI and DOJ want to extend CALEA as far as possible,"” says Kurt Opsahl of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The DOJ's intentions are ambitious, but not surprising. By making "interconnection with the PSTN" the qualifier for being subject to wiretapping rules, the Commission seems to have drawn a somewhat arbitrary line in the sand. If anything, tech-savvy bad guys would probably avoid such public modes of communication.

You can understand why they want wire tap ability, but they have some problems in that VoIP doens't require a vendor or provider, and that some forms of VoIP, the provider doesn't participate in the transfer of the call. No wires are involved and the provider just tells the caller and callee how/where to go to make the call.
Skype argues to the FCC that it facilitates peer-to-peer communications, but does not employ switches and other network equipment to actually transport call traffic. Skype says it merely facilitates VOIP calls, but does not have access to them.

The company also says it would have to re-architect its entire model in order to comply with CALEA, but declined comment on the costs of such an undertaking (see Nuvio Appeals FCC Order).

Complete CALEA compliance might do to Skype what viruses and copyright lawsuits did to KaZaa. If Skype refuses to bring its systems into compliance, calls to or from the US -- and the revenues they bring to Skype -- could cease (see Acme Packet Supports CALEA).

Skype is a VoIP software provider, obviously. And they want to make VoIP free. In fact, at this time their software is free and you can make point to point internet calls for free to anyone that has the software installed. (I'm thinking of trying it myself, just I need someone to install it so I can have someone to call.)

Of course, It makes you wonder how CALEA will keep up with technology. I know of new technology for VoIP that will be using encryption for the internet link and it will be stronger than what the government can crack. In fact the encryption uses the new AES encryption standard that is accepted by the US government for secure traffic.

It is a security quandry. Though I doubt that destroying the Skype technology model will be helpful. Not that there isn't ways around wire tapping already. I have a bad feeling that the DoJ is going to get heavy handed in this one.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

More on the ATF Story

I still think it may be total male bovine excrement, but here is a bit more information about the supposed heavy hand of the ATF. Not that I'm a fan of the ATF, but I sure do prefer facts to hyperbole, even if the hyperbole is emotionally satisfying. According to this information though, it's 17 officers, not 500. Slight difference. The thing is, if they're doing straw-man checks, as someone suggested, it may not be that big a deal. After all, most of us on the pro-gun ownership side of things have often requested that instead of adding new laws we simply enforce the one's in place. Maybe they're starting to do that. Now of course, repealing a few (hundred) laws would also be a good idea. We could start with the 1998 Massachusetts law. This is the "news" report that everyone is getting the 500 number from (H/T Instapundit yeah, yeah, I know, posting from him is spitting into the ocean, but I needed to spit.)

Pleasure Police and the Use of Shock Quotes

Ravenwood on a really bizarre study suggesting zoning to prevent fast food restraunts from being placed near schools. But get this quote:
In the study's conclusion, the authors compare fast food to the danger of guns to minors. Given legal precedents with regard to "firearms vendors," the study suggests the government should "impose stricter controls on fast-food restaurant sites."
I haven't found the actual report that says anything like this, but I do find it quoted at The Center for Consumer Freedom who is apparently the origin of all of this.

I looked on the website of American Journal of Public Health and didn't find the report. Guess we only have these quotes to base this on. Pretty strange stuff to say the least.

NCAA PC and Pat

The link is to comedian Jay Mohr on the NCAA's PC twitching and flopping. I don't generally give an flying flamingo about college sports, other than finding them a complete and utter waste of money that could be used on, say, education? But this practice in PC for no real reason just made me laugh when I thought of the new mascot for these teams.

It's Pat from Saturday Night Live. They would have to change the color of the mascot though. Pat is just far to caucasian. I think if they made it gray, they could call it PC Pat and no one could be offended.

The article is pretty amusing in spots:
Apparently the rich white men whose forefathers tried (and nearly succeeded) to commit genocide against the Seminole tribe of Florida now deem Florida State's Seminole logo "hostile and offensive." Come again?
The student who rides Renegade, Chief Osceola's Appaloosa, through Florida State's stadium on game day, only earns that honor after studying the heritage of the tribe. The Seminole Nation is happy the university is using its name for its sports teams -- so much so that it actually designs the team's costuming and rigging. So what's the problem with using the name Seminole? Why are rich white men putting their noses in business that Native American Seminoles find honorable and fitting?
It just makes you wonder what these people would do if they actually had something offensive to be offended by. I'm guessing stroke or coronary. Hopefully, a massive one, or both.

More Roberts Bashing

Another fine article from the Boston Globe. Please note that this is NOT an Opinion piece.
''Confirming John Roberts would endanger much of the progress made by the nation in civil rights over the past half-century," Neas said at a news conference where he announced his group's decision to oppose Roberts. ''John Roberts devoted himself to finding problems with solutions, not to finding solutions to problems."

Also yesterday, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, a leading moderate Democrat, vowed to press Roberts on whether he believes in a constitutional right to privacy, the underpinning for the Roe v. Wade court decision that established a right to abortion in 1973.

What a shock, the People for the American Way and Feinstein have come out against Roberts. I thought they were supposed to report news. If anyone didn't believe that this was going to happen, then they are either children or mentally damaged.

But it gets better:
Roberts's record suggests that he is skeptical of the right to privacy, though he may sidestep questions in hearings so as not to be seen as prejudging cases. As the only woman on the 18-member Senate Judiciary Committee, Feinstein said she has a ''role to play in representing the views and concerns of 145 million American women during this hearing process."
Suggests? You mean, this is how you are interpreting the information put out by the groups opposing Roberts, don't you? Also note that "he may sidestep," though as a good reporter they completely fail to point out that Ginzberg refused to answer any questions in the same scheme. But when would we expect reasonable reporting from the Boston Glob.
''It would be very difficult for me to vote to confirm someone to the Supreme Court whom I know would overturn Roe v. Wade and return our country to the days of the 1950s," Feinstein said in a speech in Los Angeles.
Nice rhetoric Diane. Though the vote on the court even with Roberts would still be 5 to 4 in support of RoevWade. Let's not also mention that such a change would not send the country back to the 1950's, but would in fact leave it to the individual states to decide on those controls. From all I've read, it is highly improbable that a vast majority of states would make abortion completely illegal. There is also previously cited documents where Roberts stated that RoevWade is settled law. But, why bother stating that in this wonderful piece of propaganda.

They do sneak in a couple of pale support references, but then they jump right into the fever-swamp left jackass' remarks.
Yesterday, two other Democrats on the committee, Senators Charles E. Schumer of New York and Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, sent a letter to Roberts asking him to explain his participation as a judge in a case brought against the Bush administration by Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni man who was once a driver for Osama bin Laden. The case was being argued and decided this spring and summer, at the same time Roberts was being interviewed by White House officials for the Supreme Court post.

Roberts sided with the Bush administration in the case, which involved a challenge to the administration's use of military tribunals to try terrorist suspects. He interviewed with officials including Vice President Cheney, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and Karl Rove, the president's deputy chief of staff, after oral arguments were held but before a decision was handed down by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

''Because of the timing of your interviews and court's consideration of the Hamdan case, several leading ethicists . . . have recently suggested that you should have recused yourself from the case," Schumer and Feingold wrote.

As soon as you see Schumer mentioned, you know it's going to be stupid. So what's wrong with their statement? Well, let's start with the interview was not an offer for the nomination. Next, I wonder why there is no mention that the Appelate court has a 3 judge panel deciding the case. And that the panel was unanimous on the decision. I'm still trying to find out who these "leading ethicists" are.

And get the balancing of the statement:
In response, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter's office released two letters from law professors arguing that Roberts did nothing improper by staying on the case.

''He clearly did not violate" the law, wrote Thomas D. Morgan, a law professor at George Washington University. ''He did his job."
Just for perspective, look at the WaPo article on the topic. It's not wonderful, but it isn't quite so obviously warped. Neither is the article in the Washington Times, which is twisted conservative. You can note that the Schumer/Feinstein rant was not reported until the last paragraph and then only partially.

Shameful thing is that if you want to get an balanced view, which sadly I doubt many people really want, you have to read articles on a topic from diametrically opposed news sources.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Portsmouth and New London off the Base Closure List

I'm actually quite surprised that PNSY got off the list. I just didn't see that continuing on the books.
Overruling the Pentagon on two of its biggest requests, a commission reviewing base closings voted to keep open a shipyard and a submarine base in New England that military planners wanted to shut down.

The panel also spared three other major facilities, in Texas, California and Louisiana, against the Pentagon's wishes.

But it was New England that got arguably the biggest victories of the day: The commission voted to save two of the Navy's oldest facilities -- the Portsmouth shipyard at Kittery, Maine, and Submarine Base New London in Connecticut. Together, the bases are considered economic engines of their region and elected officials from Maine, New Hampshire and Connecticut lobbied intently for months to save them.
But it's not a final deal.
The panel must send its final proposal to Bush by September 8. The president can accept the report or order the commission to make changes.
Well, we'll see.

Another "Where is the MSM" Topic

NY Post, so you'll need BugMeNot to get in.

Article is on re-enlistment levels in the army.

Remember last spring, when the Army's recruitment efforts fell short for a few months? The media's glee would have made you confuse the New York Times and Air America.

When the Army attempted to explain that enlistments are cyclical and numbers dip at certain times of the year, the media ignored it. All that mattered was the wonderful news that the Army couldn't find enough soldiers. We were warned, in oh-so-solemn tones, that our military was headed for a train wreck.

Now, as the fiscal year nears an end, the Army's numbers look great. Especially in combat units and Iraq, soldiers are re-enlisting at record levels. And you don't hear a whisper about it from the "mainstream media."

You'd think since it is the "slow" news month of August, that something like this would be better addressed. But, since the MSM isn't blatantly liberal, not reporting this seems completely reasonable. What?

Here are some of the numbers reported.
* Every one of the Army's 10 divisions -— its key combat organizations -— has exceeded its re-enlistment goal for the year to date. Those with the most intense experience in Iraq have the best rates. The 1st Cavalry Division is at 136 percent of its target, the 3rd Infantry Division at 117 percent.

Among separate combat brigades, the figures are even more startling, with the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division at 178 percent of its goal and the 3rd Brigade of the 4th Mech right behind at 174 percent of its re-enlistment target.

This is unprecedented in wartime. Even in World War II, we needed the draft. Where are the headlines?

* What about first-time enlistment rates, since that was the issue last spring? The Army is running at 108 percent of its needs. Guess not every young American despises his or her country and our president.

* The Army Reserve is a tougher sell, given that it takes men and women away from their families and careers on short notice. Well, Reserve recruitment stands at 102 percent of requirements.

* And then there's the Army National Guard. We've been told for two years that the Guard was in free-fall. Really? Guard recruitment and retention comes out to 106 percent of its requirements as of June 30. (I've even heard a rumor that Al Franken and Tim Robbins signed up -— but let's wait for confirmation on that.)

Of course, we'll hear stammering about an "army of mercenaries"- naive, uneducated kids lured by the promise of big retention bonuses. That's another lie told by the elite to excuse themselves from serving our country in uniform.

The article goes on, with the obvious "conservative" bend, but the numbers in themselves are fascinating. Not to mention the fact that this so very very under-reported. Do a Google News search on the topic and you'll be surprised at how very few news article show up. I found one from Fox that has more information, and only two others actually on topic.

[H/T Ravenwood's Universe]

Another UN Power Grab

Another well hidden UN agenda for seizure of power over the individual countries in the UN. Not terribly surprising, but frightening in how carefully hidden all of this is from the public.
This year it will be very significant indeed. For the plenary session will almost certainly pass an obscure document, now circulating in draft form among U.N. delegations, that calls on the assembled governments to reaffirm their support for the U.N.'s Millenium Declaration Goals and the other declarations of U.N. conferences over the last 30 years. It will ask them to support the achievement of these goals in a co-ordinated and integrated manner, to renew their commitment to . . .

Falling asleep already, are you? Well, that is precisely the intention of those who composed these anodyne phrases. When bureaucrats seize power, they do it not with swords but with chloroform. And this document is a power grab by people of whom you have never heard, the officials of the U.N. Secretariat, working in tandem with the diplomats of those countries and international organizations that would like to expand the power of the U.N. and its various agencies.

Its main thrust is to extend the U.N.'s power directly into countries and over the lives of citizens, corporations and private bodies. Most of the language used is mildly benevolent in tone. For instance: "We recognize that development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing and cannot be enjoyed without each other." Sounds nice, doesn't it? Of course, it's not true. China today is enjoying economic development of almost unprecedented rapidity under a government that has only a limited regard for such human rights as free speech, freedom of association and freedom of religion.

The article goes on to describe some specific abominations that such a signature would lock us into. Things that the Executive and Legislative branches have made clear we have on intention to being party too. Such as the Kyoto Protocol and the ICC.

What I find most offensive is the tactic to get agreement by a single signature, when in reality such a treaty would require, at minimum, a senatorial agreement.

Let's not even get into discussion about putting ourselves in the hands of an organization that has shown itself to have tendencies toward corruption, and control of committees by countries who are the largest violators of the concepts they are supposed to be protecting. (i.e. the Human Rights committee)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Huffington vs. Hanson

Vodkapundit compares it to "Bambi Meets Godzilla." Appropriate.

Poison Dust: More Narrow Focus Foolishness

Here we go again with the Gulf War Syndrome being blamed on depleted uranium.

The military is using depleted uranium as ammunition and warheads, the so-called Gulf War syndrome is actually radiation sickness, and nobody is doing anything to stop it or to help the ill service people.

That is the message in "“Poison Dust,"” a film by the Peoples Video Network shown Sunday during the ongoing Confronting the Issues program at the Town Hall. The films are sponsored by Women Making a Difference, a local nonpartisan group bringing various issues to the public.
This statement is just foolish. Uranium in any form is weekly radioactive. In fact most exposure to uranium will have effects related to the chemical toxicity rather than to radiation. Don't believe me? Read what the World Health Organization has to say on topic.

And just in case you don't like those results, read this paper from the Royal Society. I'll give you the quick conclusions so you don't have to hurt your brain. Part 1 of the paper deals with radiological effects of DU exposure from military munitions.
Except in extreme circumstances any extra risks of developing fatal cancers as a result of radiation from internal exposure to DU arising from battlefield conditions are likely to be so small that they would not be detectable above the general risk of dying from cancer over a normal lifetime.

The greatest exposures will apply only to a very small fraction of the soldiers in a theatre of war, for example those who survive in a vehicle struck by a DU penetrator. In such circumstances, and assuming the most unfavourable conditions, the lifetime risk of death from lung cancer is unlikely to exceed twice that in the general population.

Any extra risks of death from leukaemia, or other cancers, as a result of exposure to DU are estimated to be substantially lower than the risks of death from lung cancer. Under all likely exposure scenarios the extra lifetime risks of fatal leukaemia are predicted to be too small to be observable.

Many soldiers on a battlefield may be exposed to small amounts of DU and the risks of cancer from such exposures are predicted to be very low. Even if the estimates of risk for these conditions are one hundred times too low, it is unlikely that any excess of fatal cancer would be detected within a cohort of 10,000 soldiers followed over 50 years.

Epidemiological studies complement assessments of actual exposures and radiation risks. Although epidemiological studies of occupational exposure to uranium are not sensitive enough to detect small increases in overall risks of cancer, they nevertheless tend to confirm the calculations of the risks derived from estimates of actual exposures to DU.
The problem with the type of propaganda in the title article, is that it fails to understand the complete environment to which Gulf War Veterans were exposed too. The commonality of DU is not the only likely factor for the military or civilians in Iraq. There were known releases of WMD toxins in several areas where munitions dumps were destroyed. The effects of exposures to these agents is far less understood than exposure to DU. Could DU be a factor? Certainly, but with present analysis and research it doesn't appear likely that it is the primary cause.

This is all speaking to legislation before Congress. HB 202 and HB 2410. Unfortunately, both bills are too narrowly focused just on DU. A more reasonable proposal would have required a study on exposure to DU and any/all other hazardous agents in the theater. It also appears to me that they are asking for research on specific exposure scenarios that will be nearly impossible to detail. From HB 2410:
    (b) Uranium-Exposed Veterans- In this section, the term `uranium-exposed veteran' means a member or former member of the United States Armed Forces who handled, came in contact with, or had the likelihood of contact with depleted uranium munitions while on active duty, including members and former members who--
      (1) were exposed to smoke from fires resulting from the burning of vehicles containing depleted uranium munitions or fires at depots at which depleted uranium munitions were stored;
      (2) worked within environments containing depleted uranium dust or residues from depleted uranium munitions;
      (3) were within a structure or vehicle while it was struck by a depleted uranium munition;
      (4) climbed on or entered equipment or structures struck by a depleted uranium munition; or
      (5) were medical personnel who provided initial treatment to members of the Armed Forces described in paragraph (1), (2), (3), or (4).
    These scenarios won't be able to make any form of exposure estimates that are anything but SWAG. (scientific wild ass guesses) Bio-assays today won't provide you with sufficient information on actual exposures when they occurred. And studies of the exposed areas where DU munitions were used probably won't give any useful data either considering there have been 2 wars fought in that theater with DU munitions and that more than 10 years have passed since the first exposures in Iraq.

    An interesting site discussing DU and Gulf War Syndrome doesn't have any evidence for DU being the cause, but does outline other hazards that the military were exposed to.
    While multiple federally funded studies of the role of stress in the illnesses have been done, basic toxicological questions regarding the substance to which they were exposed remain unanswered. To date there are no clear indications of what may cause the collection of symptoms appearing in veterans who served in the Persian Gulf. However, it is known that the troops were exposed to a variety of toxic agents and hazardous substances, any one of which - alone or in a combination with the others - may be responsible for the illnesses reported by thousands of veterans. Those agents and substances include, but may not be limited to:
    • multiple vaccinations again anthrax and botulinum toxoid
    • medical treatment with pyridostigmine bromide to counter effects of potential chemical exposure
    • petroleum from oil fires
    • pesticides and insect repellents
    • tropical parasites such as leishmaniasis
    • depleted uranium dust and shrapnel from DU ammunition and armor
    There are more details on the numbers of personnel exposed to some of these agents and some of the known effects.

    Since Gulf War Syndrome is a prevalent disease for veterans, you'd think that the least that the military/government could do is make a reasonable and scientific study of the issue rather than going off half cocked on one of the toxic agents. The reports that are being called for in these bills will more likely provide little or no comprehensive understanding of what caused the syndrome, and will thus just be a waste of time and money.

    Pat Robertson: Jackass

    Get this from a conservative Christian minister:

    "If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson told viewers on his "The 700 Club" show Monday. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war."
    Oh, that's bloody BRILLIANT.
    Robertson accused Chavez, a left-wing populist with close ties to Cuban President Fidel Castro, of trying to make Venezuela "a launching pad for Communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent."

    "This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen," he said.

    Maybe ole Pat should look at some of the things happening in south/central America. Note that CAFTA has passed and that ALBA is failing. To date ALBA only has one signatory other than Venezuela, and that's Cuba. Not what I would call a resounding show of solidarity.

    Chavez is throwing money around massively, and has little to show for it in his country. The returns for his actions have not benefited Venezuela to any major extent. The best thing for the US to do is sit back and let Chavez hang himself. Loud mouths like Robertson only give people ideas in places where those ideas could take root. How much damage would occur to the US economy if an Islamic terrorist type decided to assassinate Chavez?
    Chavez has said he believes the United States is trying to assassinate him, vowing that Venezuela, which accounts for more than 10 percent of U.S. oil imports, would shut off the flow of oil if that happens.
    Even if the assassination fails, it could easily prompt Chavez into action that could be damaging to the economy.

    Let's not mention that I find it unlikely that Jesus Christ would have approved of a minister of his religion preaching murder for any reason.

    Monday, August 22, 2005

    Bring Back the Viet Nam Protest Ethos

    I don't usually post anything that was previously posted by Instapundit (H/T) because, really, what would be the point. However, this is so much more coherent than my rant below, and yet, in the same vein, that I figured, this time, I'd post from the IP in order to have more complete, and clear, communication on this topic.
    Althouse talks about the implications and efficacy of bringing back the good old days of protest. Nixon won... twice. That's despite Joan Baez (crunch, crunch, grind) being against him... twice. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to bring back Tricky Dick. I just want to point out that, while the anti-war protesters back them got some of what they wanted (we pulled out of Viet Nam, prematurely and disastrously), but actually lost a lot of other things that they marched for as well. For example, 7 out of 10 of the presidential elections since 1968 have gone for the counter-counter-culture candidate. Something to think about. Althouse lays it out much better than I can.

    Changing Minds in the Muslim World

    This opinion piece by Michael Barone refers to the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

    But the most important changes occurring -- not just in Iraq, but across the Muslim world -- are changes in people's minds. These are harder, but not impossible, to measure.

    George W. Bush has proclaimed that we are working to build democracy in Iraq not just for Iraqis, but in order to advance freedom and defeat fanatical Islamist terrorism around the world. Now comes the Pew Global Attitudes Project's recent survey of opinion in six Muslim countries to tell us that progress is being made in achieving that goal.

    Minds are being changed, and in the right direction.
    You can read the research in detail here.

    Joan Baez at Camp Casey

    Can you hear that sound? That's my teeth grinding. Saying the name Joan Baez in my presence causes it. Even when I was a completely crunch granola tin-foil wearing moonbat (as close as i got to being one anyway), Joan Baez crawled up my spine. See, when she & her husband were out protesting the troops as part of their war in Viet Nam, my father was in a hospital recovering from a grenade wound. I'll never get out of my head the image of this rich little child or privilege protesting, not just against the war, but against those "baby killers." You know who they were right, the middle class and poor guys that didn't get deferments because Momsie & Daddems sent them off to college. Who did this swine think she was to attack those men. You're against the war? Fine. Protest the war. Leave the troops alone.
    Luckily (unluckily?) the moonbats have learned that lesson anyway.
    So, now Baez was at Camp Casey. As far as I'm concerned, this story has now jumped the shark. I heard a quote from her this morning on the radio that I tried to find online but couldn't. My (probably incorrect) recollection of it was this:

    Like, it's like, the like glass, was you know like shattered. At the front of a, like, bus, by Michael Moore. And like, Cindy Sheehan like stepped through, you know.

    Oooh, my teeth ache.

    Vietnaminization of Iraq

    So Chuck Hagel is on board with forcing Iraq into the Vietnam mold. The terrorist/insurgents must just be loving this.
    "We should start figuring out how we get out of there," Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska said on ABC's "This Week." "I think our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East. And the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur."
    I'd love to know why he thinks the presence of the US military is destabilizing the area. I'd also like to understand what he thinks on the potential for a Sunni/Shia sectarian civil war should the US withdraw as he is demanding.
    "It seems that the ice is cracking in a bipartisan way in terms of congressional dissatisfaction with President Bush's policy in Iraq. The silence in terms of directly criticizing the administration's handling of Iraq — its mismanagement — has come to an end," said Marshall Wittmann, a senior fellow at the Democratic Leadership Council. Although his independent centrist organization is affiliated with the Democratic Party, Wittmann formerly served as a senior aide to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and in the administration of President George H.W. Bush.
    I'm so very tired of the "mismanagement" gripe. I keep hearing it, but never hear them present any real information that shows irrefutable evidence of mismanagement. But then, I also fail to understand a group calling itself "independent centrist" and being affiliated with a single party. Doesn't strike me as being quite honest.
    Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), the former majority leader, said that his constituents, despite their "very pro-military" feelings, were beginning to question whether the United States was doing enough to help establish an independent Iraqi government and make enough progress to allow troop withdrawals anytime soon.

    "They still believe very strongly in President Bush," Lott said on NBC's "Meet the Press," citing recent conversations with frustrated constituents. "But they have a right to ask their elected officials, you know, 'What is the plan?' "
    The plan, the plan, what is the plan. Do you really think there is no withdrawl plan? Just take a second and think about the military. They rarely have any situation without a plan of some sort, and a huge theater most definitely has one. The problem I see in telling the plan is that people demand time-tables with plans. With the situation being rather fluid in Iraq at the moment, I find it unlikely that there is a defined time-table.

    Personally, I believe we have already been told the withdrawl plan. The problem is that the plan that is known is vague. Iraq needs to get it's military/police establishments self standing and in place. They need a constitution and an elected government. They require a more stable environment between the Islamic sects, which should come with the government stabilization.
    Hagel, however, said that it was the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq that was causing the destabilization, and that the administration needed to start articulating its long-range plans for withdrawal immediately or risk having Iraq become as politically costly as the Vietnam War.
    The only destabilization that is occurring, which is caused by the US military, is related to the insurgents. Note that 14 or 15 of the providences of Iraq are stable. Also note that most of the insurgents are attacking Iraqi citizens more than they are attacking the US military. Odd that don't you think?

    Politically costly? What? Oh, wait. Hagel is looking to run for president in 2008. He's posturing a centrist position and worried that because he's republican he'll be branded with the results of Iraq. Bloody politician.
    "We are locked into a bogged-down problem not unsimilar or dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam. The longer we stay, the more problems we are going to have," Hagel said. He was particularly harsh in his criticism of Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, for saying in an Associated Press interview a day earlier that the Pentagon was making contingency plans for having more than 100,000 U.S. troops in Iraq through 2009.

    Such plans, even if they are a worst-case and unlikely scenario, are "complete folly," Hagel said. "There's no way America is going to have 100,000 troops in Iraq, nor should it, in four years."
    Hagel demands to be told about withdrawl plans, but when he hears of plans for staying, he starts screeching. Plans don't indicate intentions. Plans are put in place to ensure you know what you need and where you need resources should an issue arise. You'd think being an adult that Hagel would understand such a concept. But then, it doesn't sound as good politically.

    Saturday, August 20, 2005

    Rewilding of North America: Crack Pot Ecology

    Why is it if you have an especially stupid idea you get so much press?

    The "rewilding" of parts of North America's heartland could restore some balance to an ecosystem that lost a slew of similar species around 13,000 years ago, according to a commentary in this week's issue of the journal Nature. Although conceding that "huge cultural obstacles" would have to be surmounted, lead author and Cornell University ecologist Josh Donlan argues that the long-range plan also might help preserve animals in danger of extinction elsewhere.
    Cultural obstacles aside, releasing dangerous carnivores into the wild may not be the smartest action. Especially since the environment has changed just a little in 13,000 years. What balance would this restore? Or more properly, what ecology would this act be frigging up?

    This from the country where sections are plagued with pests like deer who decimate crops or the local gardens. Then you hear the screeching about coyotes killing pets or just being seen near a home. In many of these areas it's nearly impossible to hunt these pests. What do you think will happen when lions start wandering around the neighborhood?

    Look at the poll further down on the page. The majority think that this is a good idea.
    But Donlan said he and his colleagues are merely hoping to provoke a much-needed debate over the future course of wildlife conservation and ecology. Conservation biologists, he said, "are easily characterized as purveyors of gloom and doom." By putting forth a proposal, albeit one with big obstacles, he said his field can move from a largely reactive stance to one that is more proactive.

    True, the current American landscape now includes humans who would very much prefer to be left out of any Pleistocene-like food chain. "We envision perimeter fencing probably playing a large role," Donlan concedes, adding that establishing elephant and lion populations may take 50 years.
    Yeah, that's the way to provoke debate, come out with some crackpot idea and believe you won't be branded as an idiot. As for perimeter fencing, how much will that cost? A fence that can restrain an elephant isn't a cheap item. The problems with this concept are just huge.

    But, hey, think of the environment. Almost as foolish a statement as "think of the children."

    BTK Killer gets 10 Life Sentences

    Ten life sentences.

    Confessed Kansas serial killer Dennis Rader was sentenced on Thursday to 10 life sentences for a 17-year murder spree that Rader, a former church leader and dog catcher, said was driven by demons and sexual fantasies.

    Sedgwick County District Court Judge Gregory Waller said the 60-year-old Rader will not be eligible for parole for at least 40 years because at least one murder qualified as "especially heinous."

    Parole? Parole?

    What am I missing here? What would justify the death penalty? Kansas has the death penalty.

    If you can't find someone to do it, I'll volunteer. Hell, I'll even bring my own club.

    Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

    More Red on Red

    For those who have nothing but despair & despondancy about Iraq...

    Al Qaeda's Plan

    Fascinating read over at the Fourth Rail. You'd think those guys were at war with us for reasons other than our occupation of Iraq. Has anyone told Cindy?

    George Orwell on War, Fascism and Pacifism

    I started at the link above, and then I kept going. I was trying to find some sources for what Orwell said about Fascism and the people who protested against the Second World War (yeah, the "greatest generation" had moonbats too). I've seen quotes & excerpts, but I wanted to know what the web actually had on this topic.

    Conservatives: All Conservatives, appeasers or anti-appeasers, are held to be subjectively pro-Fascist. British rule in India and the Colonies is held to be indistinguishable from Nazism. Organizations of what one might call a patriotic and traditional type are labelled crypto-Fascist or ‘Fascist-minded’. Examples are the Boy Scouts, the Metropolitan Police, M.I.5, the British Legion. Key phrase: ‘The public schools are breeding-grounds of Fascism’.

    Holy cats. Things haven't changed much in 60+ years.
    There's quite a lot of his work published out to the internet. Anyway, that's about all the scholarly work I can stand at the moment, let's get to the meat. This web site quotes Orwell several times. Which led me to search out the source of some of these quotes, which led to this interesting paper written by a pacifist. He attempts to lay out how and why Orwell can be used as a tool to support pacifism despite the fact that Orwell was virulently opposed to pacifism. The quotes most used by the anti-war crowd are from the 30's, when Orwell was opposed to war, but was still against fascism. A very sensible approach, summed up as, let's not fight, but if we do, you'll know I was there. The paper is extremely well written, but, I suspect due to my own prejudices, it had the opposite effect to that which it intended. I came to see Orwell as right more often than not. For example, here, the author agrees with Orwell, just not the methods that Orwell approved:
    Orwell’s right: there’s no choice between resisting Hitler and surrendering to him. That doesn’t mean, though, that resisting Hitler, that resisting evil generally, needs to be violent. What Orwell is contemplating in Gandhi is the idea that certain nonviolent practices can be formidably resistant, as uncompromising as battle. (This is an idea that western pacifists learned from Gandhi, and often didn’t like learning; Gandhian resistance seemed to them excessively coercive, too close to violence for comfort.29) The sit-ins and jail-ins and boycotts of the American civil rights movement, which was strongly influenced by Gandhi, are forms of coercion. When Denise Levertov writes of peace as being “an energy field more intense than war,” it’s perhaps this Gandhian mode of nonviolent resistance that she has in mind.

    But the author himself notes that in truly repressive regimes, Gandhi would have been shot out of hand (see the articles on AQ killings of voting workers, etc., below). But the real gist of the Orwell/Anti-War movement, as I see it, is here:
    A courageous pacifist would not simply say “Britain ought not to bomb Germany.” Anyone can say that. He would say, “The Russians should let the Germans have the Ukraine, the Chinese should not defend themselves against Japan, the European peoples should submit to the Nazis, the Indians should not try to drive out the British.” Real pacifism would involve all of that: but one can’t say that kind of thing and also keep on good terms with the rest of the intelligentsia.7 It is because they consistently avoid mentioning such issues as these, while continuing to squeal against obliteration bombing etc, that I find the majority of English pacifists so difficult to respect.

    So when we get these yahoos get on about the evils of the US, yet call the terrorist thugs "Minutemen", they're allowing for one kind of violence, but not another. When the tinfoil crowd goes on about the evils of Israel, but wears a chalabah in support of Hamas, they're saying that this violence is OK, because I like it, but that isn't. When they rise up in riteous anger over the abuse at Getmo, but aren't getting equally, or more, freaked over the AQ torture chambers found in Iraq (or Saddam's torture chambers for that matter), they've decided that this violence is OK.
    Anyway, Mr. Rosenwald goes on to write about how pacifism could work and how Orwell was wrong. He cites the German women's protest in 1943 when thier husbands, Jews, had been arrested. It worked. An amazing story, but a very rare instance. The thing to remember is, that there were a lot of people working against the Nazis from within Germany, but it was the war that stopped them. In fact:
    Those who attempted to rescue Jews and others from the Nazi death sentence did so at great risk to their own safety. Anyone found harbouring a Jew, for example, was shot or publicly hanged as a warning to others.

    Passive resistance, hiding a Jew, got people shot & hanged. Funny how a successful act of passive resistance can be trotted out but the myriad failures, and their bloody consequences, aren't mentioned. If Hitler had stayed mostly within his own borders, basically hadn't invaded France, sparking WWII, does anyone doubt that the Third Reich may have lasted 30 years? And like Sadam's Iraq, that would be a nasty 30 years.
    Back to Orwell. The most amazing thing is that Orwell was fairly prolific (although known primarily for two works today, 1984 and Animal Farm) so he wrote enough that either side can take quotes and put them to work. So, while Orwell was anti-war until Germany went too far, he was never an absolutist and was, in fact, anti-fascist. The anti-war faction can use his quotes, but they usually have to be taken out of context or ignore later statements. Even those in support of the war have used Orwell, probably appropriately. His books are so misused. The left frequently quotes 1984 and just as frequently tries to change the meaning of words from the dictionary. Newspeak anyone? Anyway, Orwell's time and ours are not that different. In this age of sensitivity, are not all cultures equal?
    Till recently it was thought proper to pretend that all human beings are very much alike, but in fact anyone able to use his eyes knows that the average of human behaviour differs enormously from country to country.

    As recently as right now in fact. There are plenty of anti-war protesters that can't see any difference between the US and AQ (Cindy Sheehan's "Bush is the bloodiest terrorist on Earth" statement certainly comes to mind).
    Enough rambling. I learned a few things and shared them. Time to go & bottle some beer. I'm probably going to brew up a batch of Barley Wine today too.

    More On Iraqi "Minutemen"

    What a lovely bunch of fellows. When the "anti-war" people get their way, these are the types of people that will attempt to fill the power vacuum we'd leave in Iraq. Say what you must about the USA, but we don't do this type of thing. These are barbarians. They're at the gate. Could we please fight them there rather than in the streets, in front of our homes, next to our children.

    Friday, August 19, 2005

    Spam Bots

    Cool little rant about the spam we've been receiving lately. Plus an analysis of they work. Fun reading while waiting for the blood pressure to go down.
    H/T Althouse

    Iraqi Minutement

    That brilliant Michael Moore was right. The insurgents in Iraq are JUST LIKE our own minutemen, true patriots rising up against tyranny to spread democracy.

    Gunmen seized three Sunni Arabs hanging posters urging people to vote in the constitutional referendum, drove them to a mosque and shot them dead Friday.

    Just like when OUR mintuemen were fighting their own countrymen, kidnapping and murdering those who were trying to participate in their new gov... wait, er, what was I saying?

    Oh, never mind.

    More on Cindy Sheehan - She's driving Dems to the Right!

    Well, at least one of them. This is a fun read.

    I actually felt myself become a republican today. It was around 10am, when I read the latest update of the Cindy Sheehan saga in

    Gotta love sentiments like that. Plus, he includes an interview with her in which she makes it clear she was against going into Afghanistan too. So this isn't about "Bush lied", it's about "I'm a leftie chickendove unable to stand up to the terrorists until they show up at my door, and I'm using my dead son to get some media mileage." Absolutely pathetic and despicable.

    Hat tip to Nidanwife for pointing me to this.

    After Cindy Sheehan

    Salon Magazine.

    What more needs to be said. OK, I'll say more anyway. The sub-head on the article reads:

    The antiwar movement was dominated by lefties and ineffective -- until a grieving mother from California became its symbol. With Middle America now asking the same angry questions she is, will the movement finally take off?

    Now maybe I'm wrong, but someone that speaks at places like this and makes statements outlined here, is not exactly from "Middle America." As a matter of fact, since these are basically the extreme left talking points ("war for oil","constantly changing reasons for war", blah, blah, blah), then this is not really someone from "Middle America" is it? Didn't most of America, especially the middle, support the war in Afghanistan? Not Ms. Sheehan. Come on. She's a lefty. A total moonbat lefty. And everyone and there brother is going on and on about her and it's getting thick. Stop already.
    Anyway, back the Salon article:
    House, Sheehan and dozens of other members of military families opposed to the war represent the new face of the American antiwar movement -- a movement that has, over the past two years, managed to stage a few massive street demonstrations, but has otherwise had little success convincing Democrats, not to mention Republicans, to take up its cause.

    Oh, well if dozens of people are against the war, it's shocking that they haven't convinced everyone to be on their side. And let's face it, these are not new faces. Cindy Sheehan, for example, was against the war from the start, but it was her son who volunteered for the Army and switched his MOS so that instead of being a non-combat role, he was in a direct combat role. So, all this junk about her being against the war because of her son... He was the adult that volunteered to go, not her. It just doesn't really matter that she's against it. He supported it.
    Many of the more polarizing voices of dissent -- like Michael Moore or International ANSWER -- have been drowned out by a larger sea of opposition.

    If true, that's going to have a real impact on the war.
    That Sheehan's protest has caught on with the media now is not so much a testament to the power of her story as it is to the caprice of the national media, they say, which has long ignored opposition to the war and only now -- when Americans seem finally ready to oppose the war -- is changing its tune.

    Or, it's August and not much is going on in the world at the moment and since they're down there in Texas with Bush anyway...
    Sheehan herself has made her position crystal clear. "We're over there and we need to come home," she said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. What happens in Iraq after we leave isn't a worry of ours, she added. "We need to let the Iraqi people handle their own business."

    Like we did the people in Rawanda & Somalia? Like the Europeans did the people in the Balkans? Like the world did for 30 years of Sadam's rule (how many graves were there again?). Whatever did happen to "never again" anyway?
    To say the least, Sheehan is a bomb-thrower, which many on the right hope will knock her from her new perch as the head of the antiwar movement. During the past couple of weeks, Matt Drudge has put forward a constant barrage of some of her most impolitic statements about foreign policy -- her criticisms of Israel, or the "foul-mouthed tirade" she delivered at San Francisco State University in April, in which Sheehan called members of the Bush administration "fucking hypocrites" and declared, "We are not waging a war on terror in this country. We're waging a war of terror. The biggest terrorist in the world is George W. Bush!"

    OK, it's actually an almost balanced article, which, since this is Salon we're talking about, makes it balanced. But this last bit, to me, is the main problem I have with the anti-war people, becuase, as George Orwell so ably pointed out, being against a war on Fascism means being a supporter of fascists.
    One lingering question is the movement's position toward Iraqi insurgents, which is undefined, and which may leave the people who are against the war vulnerable to the charge that they are comforting terrorists in calling for a withdrawal from Iraq. According to Leslie Cagan, the national coordinator for United for Peace and Justice, the group has adopted no formal response to Iraqi insurgents because there is a wide range of opinions about the matter among UFPJ's member groups. Cagan says that within the group there is "a general feeling that we understand why people are using many tactics to fight against the occupation by the U.S. military, but we do not support terrorists or organized paramilitary groups."

    Until this question is answered, then the "anti-war" people, as far as I'm concerned, can be safely labeled "pro-terrorist."

    Is Europe Dying

    There have been a number of this type of articles published recently. Although most of them thought that Europe was dying because it failed to ratify the constitution, this author thinks it's dying because of the constitution that it wrote. The whole article is blatant and intentional in its support of Christianity (a minus), but is a really fascinating read. The comments are worth perusing as well.

    Martha Stewart Taglines

    Very funny blog at SayUncle. They're looking for taglines for Martha Stewart to use in her show. I just cracked up on the second one.
  • Why don’t you just knit yourself a nice little doily that says Shut the Hell Up.
  • Mmmmm, tasty soul of the unbeliever
  • If I were still in prison, you’d be my bitch.
  • It beats house arrest.
  • How about a nice little you-suck-ass-themed flower arrangement for the centerpiece?
  • You’re getting short-sold.
  • I got sent to prison for lying about a crime the government couldn’t prove I committed. And you want to talk to me about tough breaks?
  • Time to tidy up
  • pwn3d

  • Hard to Believe, But Probably True

    Found this linked at TriggerFinger. I can't find any confirmation, but it strikes me just strange enough to be true.
    I had reports from members of police going to their houses while the member was waiting for their approval to purchase a gun at the show! The police asked the spouse and other family members questions about the purchases and filled in a survey! "Did you know your husband was going to a gun show today?" "Did you know your husband was going to buy a gun today?" and many other such questions.

    If no one was home at the gun purchaser's house, the police went to the neighbors! "Did you know that your neighbor was buying a gun today? How do you feel about him doing so?"

    One member, who was carrying a personal gun to sell, was approached by BATFE and taken to a car while they checked him out. The officer said in front of Showmasters' management, "Did you know you need a business license to sell a gun at this show? I have seen you at a lot of shows - are you in the business of selling guns? I think you are." That's called a fishing expedition and intimidation. In the end they let the VCDL member go because their fish hooks came up empty.

    I guess I'll leave this in the 'rumor' category since I can't find any other source. I'd love to assume it was some crack-pot report, but it rings just a little to close to likely for me.