Wednesday, November 30, 2005

New Firefox

Firefox 1.5 is out. Looks to have a new privacy feature that looks excellent if it works.

Firefox 1.5 also sports a new tool, dubbed "Clear Private Data," that lets users remove personal data such as the browser history, saved passwords, cookies, and authenticated sessions with a single click or menu pick.
For those that don't care about this type of security, you should.

Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England

The abortion combatants are headed for the battle field today. Reading on the topic in the MSM, you'd think this was a simple case. And like usual, that is incorrect. The Boston Globe, like usual pushes the topic to spotlight Judge Roberts' stand on abortion. But from here on, we'll ignore them and go to a post at SCOTUSblog on the topic.

Like usual it's complicated. The post gives a brief of the basic arguments to be heard.
Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, which will be argued tomorrow, asks whether abortion regulation statutes must contain exceptions for when pregnancies threaten a womanÂ’s health or life, and if so how narrow those exceptions can be. Perhaps more importantly, the case also raises the question of what hurdle opponents of abortion statutes must clear before making facial constitutional challenges to those statutes. Respondents argue that they should only have to show that the law might endanger the lives or health of some hypothetical women in some hypothetical circumstances; petitioner claims facial challenges should only be allowed if the challenger can show that the law would endanger the lives or health of every pregnant woman, and thus be unconstitutional in every circumstance. Challengers who can only show that a law is dangerous to some women in some circumstances must wait until those circumstances actually arise, and then only have the law declared unconstitutional as applied to them.
It's a long post, but you can scan through and check out the important points. It's quite interesting how these cases have little to do with a right to an abortion, but with other various legal and health standards.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Military Spying on American Citizens

Originally found this linked at Schneier.

Now here is something to make you uncomfortable.
The Defense Department has expanded its programs aimed at gathering and analyzing intelligence within the United States, creating new agencies, adding personnel and seeking additional legal authority for domestic security activities in the post-9/11 world.

The moves have taken place on several fronts. The White House is considering expanding the power of a little-known Pentagon agency called the Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, which was created three years ago. The proposal, made by a presidential commission, would transform CIFA from an office that coordinates Pentagon security efforts -- including protecting military facilities from attack -- to one that also has authority to investigate crimes within the United States such as treason, foreign or terrorist sabotage or even economic espionage.

The Pentagon has pushed legislation on Capitol Hill that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information gathered about U.S. citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies, as long as the data is deemed to be related to foreign intelligence. Backers say the measure is needed to strengthen investigations into terrorism or weapons of mass destruction.

The proposals, and other Pentagon steps aimed at improving its ability to analyze counterterrorism intelligence collected inside the United States, have drawn complaints from civil liberties advocates and a few members of Congress, who say the Defense Department's push into domestic collection is proceeding with little scrutiny by the Congress or the public.

So mixing the Military Intelligence department with Civilian intelligence starts to sound suspicious to me. The military really shouldn't be involved in internal investigations of citizens and giving them access to information on regular citizens also leaves open that privacy issue.

I wouldn't have so much of an issue if there was a civilian institution that works as a go-between for the military to civilian information. The more people that have access to civilian information, the more likely that your privacy will be violated.

Each of the services apparently have an intelligence group that would be allowed access to the FBI databases. With access to this data, what could the military do to mine information that they don't technically have an allowance to? Also, could these intelligence organizations be used to bypass the intelligence protections that prevent abuses by certain authorities.

The CIFA was set up to allow the military to protect their local assets. Personally, I think that should be a job for the FBI. Even if they need to work in cooperation with the military, the investigation of citizens should be by an agency that is answerable to the citizenry.

If there is a need for additional intelligence assets inside the US, then they should be civilians. What comes next? Weakening of Posse Comitatus?


Immigration has made it back onto the Bush rostrum of topics. About time too.
"We're going to secure the border by catching those who enter illegally and hardening the border to prevent illegal crossings," he said. "We're going to strengthen enforcement of our immigration laws within our country. And together with Congress, we're going to create a temporary-worker program that will take pressure off the border, bring workers from out of the shadows and reject amnesty." He added, "Rewarding those who have broken the law would encourage others to break the law and keep pressure on our border." Bush also stressed the need for greater workplace enforcement, which the business community staunchly opposes. "Listen, there's a lot of opinions on this proposal. I understand that. But people in this debate must recognize that we will not be able to effectively enforce our immigration laws until we create a temporary-worker program," he said.
The amnesty issue is the hardest one to deal with. The numbers I've seen state more than 11 million illegals in the country. That's a huge number of people to have to ferret out and remove, especially when many of them are likely already part of communities with families. The difficulty of allowing those that have broken the law to become citizens is a real one. The amnesty proposed by McCain/Kennedy would be another on the pile that fail to make any legal boundaries and make enforcement even more impractical. But what would be a good solution?

The temporary-worker program is a good idea, in that it will document the resident aliens coming in for work, just like those coming in legally from all other countries. The specifics of such a program are still unknown though. Especially since they would need to get through congress.

I'm hoping that at least a start of this discussion will begin the move forward.

Greenpeace Disruptions

Greenpeace again protesting the suggestion of more nuclear power in the UK. I'm still trying to figure out how they got the climbing gear into the event. More good security for the Prime Minister.
Greenpeace protesters climbed into the rafters of the CBI conference in North London this morning and disrupted a major speech in which Tony Blair was to make the case for the construction of a new generation of nuclear power plants.

Two Greenpeace members passed through security checks unnoticed only to don fluorescent jackets and use lightweight climbing equipment to clamber into the roof of the Business Design Centre in Islington some 15 minutes before the Prime Minister was due to take to the podium.After a 40-minute stand-off - during which the two protesters dropped yellow 'nuclear fallout' confetti on the delegates and Mr Blair went off and had a cup of tea - the CBI's boss emerged to say that the speech would go ahead in another room.
Funny thing, there were Greenpeace representatives at this conference. You'd think that the fact that they were already there as a member of the conference that that would be enough.

I also commonly wonder what is an acceptable energy source for Greenpeace? Obviously Nuclear and fossil fuels are out. I'd bet bio-mass is out. Solar and wind are probably out since they would mess up some part of the environment sooner or later. (Not to mention they couldn't provide sufficient energy for a technological society.)

I have to love the Times last line. You'd think that they would either not report this or keep their own commentary to themselves.
One CBI press officer joked, unwisely perhaps, that snipers might be the best solution. "There are plenty of munitions firms here - two shots to the head should do it," he said.
If it's a joke, why would it be unwise? Especially since the Greenpeace people made such a mess of the speech that the members came to see. The CBI members and officials were majorly ripped about this, so can you blame them for such comments?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Modern Day Xenephon

It never occurred to me. I love the movie "The Warriors" and it never even crossed my mind that it was basically the story of the greek warriors battle-march home through the length of Persia. Too cool. Another reason to love it.
I do catch a certain amount of guff around here because I read Salon, but it's articles like this one that keep me coming back again and again.
Oh, and the GeekWife and I used to take karate at the same dojo as the psycho in the movie.
I'm going to have to rent the game... Warriors come out to play...

Pew Poll

Yeah, I know it's Powerline, but I also know not a lot of people were reading blogs during the holiday. Well, at least those of us away from our computers.

It's related to the Pew Poll and where various groups fall relative to Iraq and the War on Terror. No big surprise where many of the groups fall. Journalists are the one that I find most telling though. This from the Washington Times article quoted:
The public is evenly divided on whether the war in Iraq has helped or hindered efforts to combat terrorism, 44 percent thought the conflict has helped the effort and the same number thought it has hurt. In the press, 68 percent said the war had hurt the effort, and 22 percent said it had helped.
Funny thing is, with the press opinions and how they completely fail to provide a balanced report of the situation, it really looks like they are trying to make Iraq into another Vietnam scenario. In fact, wouldn't the recent calls for immediate withdrawal by some democrats also fit in that scenario?

Krauthammer on Torture

Krauthammer has an interesting piece on torture that I read through yesterday. I was just too lazy to post on it, until now. He pretty much demostrates a view on torture that I'm pretty much in full agreement with. Though I would probably extend a couple of the definitions into battlefield scenarios.

I'm not sure I agree with his stand on McCain having great moral authority on torture because he was himself tortured. In fact I would say that he loses that authority due to his experience.

Krauthammer breaks combatants into three sorts, Legal Combatants defined under the Geneva conventions, Terrorists, and Terrorists with information. If you're interested, there is a long article in Parameters on the legal quandary we are presently facing with regards to these "detainees." [In fact there is quite a lot of interesting articles in the summer issue that have relevance to the present conduct of modern war.]
Third, there is the terrorist with information. Here the issue of torture gets complicated and the easy pieties don't so easily apply. Let's take the textbook case. Ethics 101: A terrorist has planted a nuclear bomb in New York City. It will go off in one hour. A million people will die. You capture the terrorist. He knows where it is. He's not talking.

Question: If you have the slightest belief that hanging this man by his thumbs will get you the information to save a million people, are you permitted to do it?

Now, on most issues regarding torture, I confess tentativeness and uncertainty. But on this issue, there can be no uncertainty: Not only is it permissible to hang this miscreant by his thumbs. It is a moral duty.

And even if the example I gave were entirely hypothetical, the conclusion--yes, in this case even torture is permissible--is telling because it establishes the principle: Torture is not always impermissible. However rare the cases, there are circumstances in which, by any rational moral calculus, torture not only would be permissible but would be required (to acquire life-saving information). And once you've established the principle, to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, all that's left to haggle about is the price. In the case of torture, that means that the argument is not whether torture is ever permissible, but when--i.e., under what obviously stringent circumstances: how big, how imminent, how preventable the ticking time bomb.

That is why the McCain amendment, which by mandating "torture never" refuses even to recognize the legitimacy of any moral calculus, cannot be right. There must be exceptions. The real argument should be over what constitutes a legitimate exception.

I think this takes us to the point of making torture rare, but not totally illegitimate. Unfortunately, I think this will only run into the "relative harm" arguments. That is when you have the dissenters begin questioning at what level would torture not be allowed. Krauthammer quotes a million people in his question, but what if it's only a thousand? Personally, I think that is something that needs to be defined, loosely, by those agencies that may have to perform the action. This should be a cold and calculated equation.

Read the rest, it's quite interesting.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Saddam's New Lawyer

Great. Saddam has attracted some quality defense from the US.

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ex-Qatari Justice Minister Najeeb al-Nauimi told Reuters in Amman they were on their way to the Iraqi capital to join chief Iraqi lawyer Khalil Dulaimi when proceedings resume on Monday for the first time since Saddam's trial began on October 19.

The trial was postponed for 40 days to give the defense more time to prepare.

"Our plan is to go to court in Baghdad on Monday morning representing the defense counsel as defense support. A fair trial in this case is absolutely imperative for historical truth to justice obviously," Clark told Reuters.

Both Clark and Nauimi backed suggestions by some human rights groups that a fair trial was impossible before a U.S.-backed court in Iraq and the case should be moved abroad and tried before an international tribunal.

I'd really like to know why they think it so imperative to protect Saddam's human rights when they did nothing to protect the human rights of the thousands that Saddam tortured and murdered. The assumption is that he will have his rights violated. But, by only broadcasting how the trial will be unfair, all they do is undermine the potential for the trail to be fair and just.

Of course Clark is known for his Vietnam war activities and his defense of Slobodan Milosevic. But that shouldn't tell you anything about the man. Or should it?

Of Course It's Not My Fault: More Blame Game From Boston

This has been really gnawing me for a week. It doesn't seem to be getting any better either. During Thanksgiving I caught an AP report very similar to this Boston Globe bit of sophistry. (h/t Wizbang)
Guns are being brought into Boston from Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine at a stepped-up pace, according to city officials, who are grappling with a significant rise in shootings and firearms arrests this year.

The guns from northern New England tend to be old and hard to trace. And as long as buyers have enough cash, they can purchase as many handguns and shotguns as they like, authorities say.

In the early 1990s, people trying to circumvent tough Bay State laws that required a state permit to buy a handgun would travel to North Carolina or Georgia in search of guns, police said.

But in the past six months, police have recovered more and more weapons from New England states, Mayor Thomas M. Menino said.

So the start of the article is pointing out that more illegal guns appear to be coming from Northern New England. So, obviously, the gun violence is the fault of those states. It gets even better:
''The proximity of New England states with less restrictive [gun laws] makes firearms more accessible to people here in Massachusetts," said Sergeant Thomas Sexton, a Boston Police Department spokesman. He said illegal guns are still coming from other states.

No official statistics are available on how many guns are coming from northern New England. Police said they are still trying to understand exactly how the weapons arrive on the street and why many are coming from there.

More pointing of fingers, and no evidence at all. But the infuriating bit is yet to come.
Officials say more lenient gun laws in other states pose an ongoing problem.

''Massachusetts has excellent gun laws," said Larry Mayes, the city's chief of human services. ''But . . . if the neighboring states around us are lax, then we need to look at some strategies to strengthen our state borders."

Federal law requires a five-day waiting period in all 50 states for anyone seeking to buy a handgun from a federally licensed dealer, to allow for a criminal background check. In Massachusetts, in addition to passing the background check, a resident who wants a handgun must also pay $100 for a state-issued permit. Such permits are not required in New Hampshire, Vermont, or Maine, where people buying handguns need only identification that shows they are state residents.

Oh, it's the laws in other states that are the problems, not the lack of enforcement or some other issue. The other states are the reason for the violence. Where did these people learn to think? No data on the guns or how they are getting there, but it's the other states poor laws. Oh, and the statement of Federal Law is incorrect. But why bother researching the NICS system which allows for quick background checks that then circumvents the five day waiting period. But why bother putting out the complete facts?

They go on to discuss straw purchases and the "loop hole" of private sales not requiring a background check. Straw purchases may be an issue, but with no data to show where the guns actually are coming from, this is again conjecture. But the implication is that you shouldn't be allowed to have private sales.

Well, there is more, but with no actual data to back up their statements, this is just an editorial. Why should I be surprised by this from the Boston Globe?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Why do I care about stuff like this? It's not some kind of turkey fetish, I assure you. I just hate seeing history used as a bludgeon... unless I'm the one wielding it. Over at HNN is a nice little article refuting many of the points of the one I posted below using actual facts & stuff instead of snide comments. While I do like this approach better than the one I used, every once in a while, just snarking off at someone feels like the right thing to do. If that's not your cup of tea, follow this & enjoy the more high-minded approach.

Exit Strategy Discussions

The link is a QandO commentary on Ed Koch's take on the arguments.

Naturally Koch has his own plan for Iraq, and naturally it focuses on withdrawal instead of success:
I believe that Democrats and Republicans who are unhappy with the current state of affairs should rally around my proposal on how to leave Iraq. I propose we put our NATO and regional allies on notice that unless they come to Iraq and place boots on the ground and bear their share of the casualties and costs of the war, the U.S. and its allies in Iraq will leave within six months.
Sorry, I can't agree with this one either. Again the arbitrary and artificial timeline. First of all NATO isn't going to do this. So we put ourselves in a corner with little hope of success (in terms of getting NATO to commit troops) and we hold as hostage success in Iraq. If they're not ready in 6 months, then what? Do we pull out anyway to show NATO we're "serious"?
I'll have to agree, Koch's plan is poor. I personally don't see how you can have a strategy which merely is abandoning Iraq unless those fellow NATO countries choose to take over. Sounds like a plan for assured failure to me.
But then Koch says something with which I can completely agree:
In the meanwhile, until we reach a consensus, letÂ’s stop destroying the country we all love. The Democrats and their leaders, Senator Harry Reid and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, should stop calling the President a liar. The Republican Party, with the President, joined by Speaker Hastert and Acting Majority Leader Roy Blunt, should apologize to Jack Murtha for their outrageous attack upon him. The recent praise of Murtha by the President and Vice President Cheney is not adequate.

This is the time to understand that we are at war, and young people we sent into harmÂ’s way in defense of our country are dying on the battlefields.
A common sense plea which has been largely ignored. There is a time and place for recriminations, attacks and partisan politics, but it isn't while we're at war. And it is here Koch makes a good argument. Everyone should take a breath, step back, acknowledge that we're at war and we shouldn't be sending mixed signals to our troops or their enemies.
Can't really argue on that. But expecting the politicians in the fever pitched fights we've been seeing as of late, to step back and calm down is probably just too much to expect.

There is also this on the Historical Folly of "Exit Strategy" for Iraq. It starts with Jane Harman's call for a strategy, though I still haven't found anything indicating that she is suggesting any strategy.
The title is "“Needed: An Exit Strategy from Iraq."” It is written by Rep. Jane Harman (D. Calif) and its lede includes these paragraphs.

There is now a strong bipartisan consensus that we need an exit strategy. But yet to emerge is the content of that strategy.

We have two overriding objectives in Iraq: to facilitate a viable power-sharing agreement among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds and to turn over responsibility for security to the Iraqis on a steady basis.

Any exit strategy must address both issues in order to leave post-Saddam Iraq in better shape than we found it, to honor the sacrifices of more than 2,000 troops and to justify the expenditure of billions of dollars.

There has never been an "“exit strategy"” for any major war in American history. Until the Battle of Trenton, there were serious questions whether the Americans could even continue the Revolutionary War beyond 1776. Until the French fleet trapped General Cornwallis at Yorktown, there was no end in sight, no "“exit strategy"” for that war.

They are pretty much correct from my understanding of American Military history. I don't think you could even show that the Powell doctrine has ever truly been used as described. Note that the last point of the doctrine requires an exit strategy.

The point of the article is:
The only type of "“exit strategy"” that can exist in any war is a strategy for defeat. We had an "exit strategy"” in Vietnam, and hundreds of thousands of people were murdered as a direct result of that strategy. Because of the vagaries of war, there is not, there cannot be, any preset "“exit strategy"” that will lead to victory. There is only one strategy: Win, and then come home as soon as possible.
We've heard a lot of spouting that we can't win on the ground. I think that is essentially incorrect in that it doesn't separate the original defeat of Saddam's army and the conflict with the insurgency. They are not parts of the same conflict. And, if we can get Iraq mostly stable and under a control of their own government, then I think we will have reached a victory in the battle for the peace.

The real issue, in my opinion, is to stabilize the Iraqi goverment sufficiently as to allow them to take on the terrorists and insurgents, and then leave. The true insurgents will then have a choice of continuing fighting their own country, or becoming a part of a peaceful solution. The Terrorists don't intend to ever stop, so there isn't really any reason to think they will stop bombing mosques or innocents. They want civil war or the equivalent, and that shouldn't be what stops us from leaving when things are close to stable.

No Thanks To Thanksgiving

I can only quote the great man who said, "Lighten up Frances."

h/t Instapundit

Hide Away Those Evil Guns

Caught this at Ravenwood's Universe.

Pretty insulting to anyone that collects firearms. The article is related to an unlawful gun possession in the People's Republic of Massachusetts.
His comments come two weeks after Templeton Police arrested Scott Tardiff, 37 , after he turned over 16 firearms, ammunition, and an expired license to police when they served him with a restraining order.

Tardiff was charged with firearm possession without an firearm identification card, possession of a large capacity firearm, improper storage of a firearm, and improper storage of a large capacity firearm.

Tardiff, a former Leominster resident, was arrested within yards of Baldwinville Elementary School.

This concerned many parents, who said they were upset by the fact that the guns were not locked away.

While not talking about this case, area hunters and gun collectors said it is not unusual for a person to have more than one gun.

Different guns are needed to hunt different types of animals, shoot different targets and collected.

Hiding their guns away

"I think the stigma is somewhat caused by the laws," said Jim Wallace, the executive director of the Gun Owners Action League in Northboro. "By law we have to hide our guns away."

The guy was arrested within YARDS of a school! YARDS! What's that, 10, 100, 1000? And as to those concerned parents - You're bloody IDIOTS! If the guns were locked in his house, how were your kids going to be affected? If the person wanting those guns would be willing to break into the house, what makes you think they wouldn't be willing to break into the gun safe?

I have certain friends with a very good gun safe in their basement, but I'd be willing to be I could get into it within a couple of hours with just the tools sitting beside it. It wouldn't be easy, but I think it is possible. All it takes is time and effort.
State laws require all firearms to be "secured in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device, properly engaged so as to render such weapon inoperable by any person other than the owner or lawfully authorized used."
Note it's a tamper-resistant mechanical lock. Tamper-resistant doesn't mean it can't be removed. Again, if you're willing to steal the weapon, what is going to stop you from removing the tamper-resistant lock?

I feel bad for the guy that starts off the article. He must have a nice collection and has to worry about the state curtailing his collecting.

Obama: Political Opportunist

This speech is just Political opportunism in the extreme. Not only is he putting out false accusation, but he's riding on statement that military leaders in Iraq have been proposing in the past few weeks. Shameless? Certainly looks that way to me.
As he scolded the White House for what he called "shameful" attempts to silence dissent about the war, Obama urged President Bush to look beyond politics and admit that mistakes were made in Iraq. He said the U.S. should seek to accelerate its training of Iraqi troops and seek political solutions that are more practical than striving to create a "Jeffersonian democracy" in Iraq.

"During the course of the next year, we need to focus our attention on how to reduce the U.S. military footprint in Iraq," Obama said in a luncheon speech to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, a forum he had requested. "Notice that I say `reduce,' and not `fully withdraw.'"
Shameful attempts to silence dissent? Really? I watched the Cheney speech and Bush in China and the both clearly stated that the debate is a good thing.

Here's what Cheney stated:
One thing I've learned in the last five years is that when you're Vice President, you're lucky if your speeches get any attention at all. But I do have a quarrel with that headline, and it's important to make this point at the outset. I do not believe it is wrong to criticize the war on terror or any aspect thereof. Disagreement, argument, and debate are the essence of democracy, and none of us should want it any other way. For my part, I've spent a career in public service, run for office eight times -- six statewide offices and twice nationally. I served in the House of Representatives for better than a decade, most of that time as a member of the leadership of the minority party. To me, energetic debate on issues facing our country is more than just a sign of a healthy political system -- it's also something I enjoy. It's one of the reasons I've stayed in this business. And I believe the feeling is probably the same for most of us in public life.
And here's what Bush stated:
This is a debate worthy of our country; it's an important debate. It does not have to be a partisan issue. Fine Democrats like Senator Joe Lieberman share the view that we must prevail in Iraq. Bipartisan majorities in the House and the Senate rejected calls for immediate withdrawal. My decisions in Iraq will continue to be guided by the sober judgment of the military commanders on the ground in Iraq. Those elected leaders in Washington who do not support our policies in Iraq have every right to voice their dissent. They also have a responsibility to provide a credible alternative. The stakes are too high, and the national interest too important, for anything otherwise.
Sound like they are putting down dissent?

Then there is the discussion on withdrawal.
"During the course of the next year, we need to focus our attention on how to reduce the U.S. military footprint in Iraq," Obama said in a luncheon speech to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, a forum he had requested. "Notice that I say `reduce,' and not `fully withdraw.'"

Obama, who vigorously opposed the war during his Senate candidacy, made his first major foray into the escalating public debate as Congress and the White House wrestle with the past and the future of U.S. involvement in Iraq and as American military deaths in conflict neared 2,100.

"The administration has narrowed an entire debate about war into two camps: `cut-and-run' or `stay the course,'" Obama said. "If you offer any criticism or even mention that we should take a second look at our strategy and change our approach, you are branded `cut-and-run.' If you are ready to blindly trust the administration no matter what they do, you are willing to stay the course."
Seems Obama has been missing that the discussion of when and how that has been going on for a while. It's also interesting that he characterizes the administrations discussion as being only between "cut-and-run" or "stay-the-course." Not only has General Peter Pace been discussing gradual withdrawls openly, but the Iraqi government has as well.

While critics of the war in Iraq continue to assail the Bush administration and push to bring U.S. troops home, a top U.S. military official told FOX News on Tuesday that the training of Iraqi forces is going "extremely well" and could help pave the way for a pullout timetable.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace outlined goals for U.S. forces six months from now on the same day that Iraqi leaders said their troops will be ready to take over in a year.

"Things have gone extremely well with regard to training the Iraqi armed forces and to getting that country up on its feet," Pace told FOX News in an exclusive interview. "There is absolutely no way that we can fail. The only way we can fail is if we lose our will or lose our patience."

And the Iraqi government:
On Tuesday, Iraqi leaders called for their own timetable to withdraw foreign forces in their country.

About 100 Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders signed a closing memorandum at a reconciliation conference in Cairo, Egypt, that "demands a withdrawal of foreign troops on a specified timetable, together with an immediate national program for rebuilding the security forces.

"The Iraqi people are looking forward to the day when foreign forces will leave Iraq, when its armed and security forces will be rebuilt and when they can enjoy peace and stability and an end to terrorism," according to the statement backed by the Arab League.

Maybe I'm just interpreting this, but I could swear that withdrawal on a time table is a gradual withdrawal. The Washington Post even has an article related to the start of withdrawal as proposed by Military leaders in Iraq. But it must be all original from Obama since he is such an all-star of the democrats.

Does anyone honestly believe that the democrats, and the republicans for that matter, want an honest debate on this subject?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Steyn on Cut-and-Run

He states it quite clearly.

In war, there are usually only two exit strategies: victory or defeat. The latter's easier. Just say, whoa, we're the world's pre-eminent power but we can't handle an unprecedently low level of casualties, so if you don't mind we'd just as soon get off at the next stop.

Demonstrating the will to lose as clearly as America did in Vietnam wasn't such a smart move, but since the media can't seem to get beyond this ancient jungle war it may be worth underlining the principal difference: Osama is not Ho Chi Minh, and al-Qa'eda are not the Viet Cong. If you exit, they'll follow. And Americans will die - in foreign embassies, barracks, warships, as they did through the Nineties, and eventually on the streets of US cities, too.

As 9/11 fades into the past, that's an increasingly hard argument to make. Taking your ball and going home is a seductive argument in a paradoxical superpower whose inclinations on the Right have a strong isolationist streak and on the Left a strong transnational streak - which is isolationism with a sappy face and biennial black-tie banquets in EU capitals. Transnationalism means poseur solutions - the Kyotification of foreign policy.

So, just as things are looking up on the distant, eastern front, they're wobbling badly on the home front. Anti-Bush Continentals who would welcome a perceived American defeat in Iraq ought to remember the third front in this war: Europe is both a home front and a foreign battleground - as the Dutch have learnt, watching the land of the bicycling Queen transformed into 24-hour armed security for even minor municipal officials. In this war, for Europeans the faraway country of which they know little turns out to be their own. Much as the Guardian and Le Monde would enjoy it, an America that turns its back on the world is the last thing you need.

Well, doesn't that make it quite clear why we need to stay until they are ready?

More Sentencing Injustice

Don't know if many have heard of this, but I ran across it lately and I'm still baffled how this could come to be. Well, except in the People's Republic of Massachusetts.

The crux is a relative of the Saudi royal family, Al-Saud, killed a Massachusetts man in a drunk driving incident. Al-Saud has been sentenced to a year in jail and will be imprisoned in a jail on Martha's Vineyard.
It'’s no secret that justice favors the wealthy. Like Al-Saud. Here is a guy who spent his time out on bail earning expensive college degrees while his pricey team of lawyers dug up dirt on his victim.
And when they weren'’t trying to defame the dead man, the lawyers toured jailhouses to find one suitable for the prince, settling on the picturesque surroundings of Martha's Vineyard. Dukes County Sheriff Michael McCormack welcomed Al-Saud on Thursday, explaining that he made the decision to accept the prince because it was MarthaÂ’s VineyardÂ’s duty to keep him safe from all city folks who hate Saudi Arabians.
I'd love to give the Sheriff a swift kick in posterior. Welome the killer? What kind of a dumb-ass is this guy? Justice served here? Not a friggin' chance.

Chris Matthews Big Mouth

I don't like most loud mouths in news. Chris Matthews is pretty close to the top of the list.

"The period between 9-11 and (invading) Iraq was not a good time for America. There wasn't a robust discussion of what we were doing," Matthews said."If we stop trying to figure out the other side, we've given up. The person on the other side is not evil. They just have a different perspective.

"The smartest people understand the enemy's point of view, because they understand what's driving them."
Should we have given them a big hug Chris? and tell them we feel their pain? Hasn't this stupid argument gone by the wayside long ago. They don't give a damn about us, they just want us and our way of life dead. To what level should we go to understand what's driving them? Should we continue to be inactive in order to understand them? Sorry Chris, when someone aims a gun at me, I shoot first and ask questions later. I don't care why he was pointing the gun at me. The fact that he was aiming a gun at me gave me sufficient data to decide what reaction is required.
When asked what caused the U.S. to invade Iraq, he said it was a combination of factors.

"I think the father-son relationship with the Bushes is part of it. I think the oil thing is part of it," Matthews said of the current president and his father, George Bush Sr., who was president during the Gulf War more than a decade ago.

"Our friendship with Israel (is part of it) and 9-11 created a kind of crazy Zeitgeist in the country. Bush wanted to do something big. It couldn't just be tracking down al-Qaida. He wanted a big bang. I think it's a mixture of these things."

Matthews said the current president is guilty of not knowing enough about the world and not keeping up with current events, as was evident in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina and the slow reaction to the crisis in New Orleans.

Yeah, the oil thing rears it's ugly head again. Boy those gas prices are getting so much better for all the oil we got out of it. Matthews answer is almost a pile of cliches. The Israeli connection is just baffling. You'd think Matthews being part of the fourth estate would have a more astute understanding of the workings of his own country. I especially love the criticism relate to Katrina and keeping up with current events. Matthews crystal ball must ensure that he has a perfect vision of all the world all the times. What a jack-ass.

Cindy Sheehan Redux

Let's hear a rousing cheer of "WHO CARES!"

Ms Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq last year, plans to spend Thanksgiving outside the Texas ranch to press for a meeting with the President. It is the second protest at the ranch this year by Ms Sheehan with members of Gold Star Families for Peace, Vietnam Veterans for Peace, and the Crawford Peace House. The mother started her campaign against America’s involvement in Iraq outside the ranch in August.
Ah, just think of the fascinating clap-trap that will be coming out in the news on this.

Another Case of Justice for Statutory Rape

So another teacher who commits statutory rape gets off with virtually no punishment.

Debra Lafave, 25, whose sensational case made tabloid headlines, will serve three years of house arrest and seven years' probation. She pleaded guilty to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery.
I've been watching the arguments about this on the news and I'm continually surprised that the female lawyers in the argument continually make out that there really wasn't any crime here. No one was really hurt, so no crime. Funny that such a double standard so easily comes out so easily.

The sentencing is a joke. She could have seen 15 years, but she was given a plea deal that let her off with a slap on the wrist. If this had been a male teacher and a 14 year old girl, do you honestly think he wouldn't have seen many years in prison?

Monday, November 21, 2005

WWI Veteran Dies, Fox News Messes Up History

I was just watching Fox news when I saw on the chiron that the last survivor that took part in the famous Christmas Truce of 1914 died today. That leaves only 10 veterans of the Great War alive in Britain. Interesting news.

The most interesting part was that the chiron went on to explain that the Christmas Truce of 1914 effectively ended WWI... WHAT? I started laughing, then thought to hit pause and rewind it. I checked it twice. Yep, unbeknownst to us, the war ended in 1914. I wrote them a quick note:


I just saw the chiron displaying news about the death of the last survivor of the WWI Christmas Truce of 1914. Interesting information, thanks for sharing it. The chiron then went on to explain that the truce effectively ended WWI. Unfortunately, the war kept going until November, 11th, 1918 (not counting the fighting between the Allies and the Communists in Russia that continued into 1919) resulting in millions more deaths in horrific battles like Gallipoli, Passchendaele, Meuse-Argonne and Verdun. You might want to fix that one.

I can't wait to see the response, if any.

McCain Amendment

Torture doesn't work, in general. There are situations though where torture will work.

Personally, I don't like the systematic use of torture on detainees. I find it unlikely that this would produce any viable useful information. The use of torture also lowers the US ability to take a moral stand in many arenas.

But then, there is the issue with eliminating a tool that can, in limited circumstances, provide valuable information. The definition of what is disallowed is amazing.
d) Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Defined.--In this section, the term "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment'' means the cruel, unusual, and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as defined in the United States Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment done at New York, December 10, 1984.
By this definition, you couldn't use any means to gather information from detainees. This essentially gives the detainee the same protection of a citizen of the US. The definition is still sufficiently vague so as to allow hindsight reintepretations of actions that may be clearly justified in dangerous situation.

The usual vagueness of a political act makes this completely worthless. It doesn't provide protections to anyone but the detainee. It also ties the hands of anyone in the field who may need to use unpleasant means to obtain desperately needed information.

I also find this objectionable:
(a) IN GENERAL.--No person in the custody or under the effective control of the Department of Defense or under detention in a Department of Defense facility shall be subject to any treatment or technique of interrogation not authorized by and listed in the United States Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation.
Just how stupid is that? Codifying what isn't allowed and publishing it will ensure that the enemy will know that they have no worries when coming into custody by the military. Let's also remember that the people that we are presently fighting have no reason to provide our military any protections at all.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sony Music CD Malware/Spyware

The story is something you'd expect to hear of with a criminal case at the end.

Sony music CDs load a spyware root kit on you Windows PC if you play the CD there. The Spyware calls home and leaves your IP address there. They code also hides itself and can't be removed with out destroying your system.

Someone finds that spyware, and informs the public. Sony says it's not something to get upset about. Then they offer a "fix" that doesn't remove the spyware. They then offer a "fix" that leaves a huge gap in your systems security.

Oh, worst of all, your anti-virus software won't detect the problem.

Now, the question is, will anyone at Sony be seeing jail time for violating the cybercrime laws that are on the books?

Go read the blog at Schneier for yourself. He points out many things that the press in general has ignored.

Another Poor Security Device

This is the GK-1 walk through lie detector.

A new walk-through airport lie detector made in Israel may prove to be the toughest challenge yet for potential hijackers or drug smugglers.

Tested in Russia, the two-stage GK-1 voice analyzer requires that passengers don headphones at a console and answer "yes" or "no" into a microphone to questions about whether they are planning something illicit.

The software will almost always pick up uncontrollable tremors in the voice that give away liars or those with something to hide, say its designers at Israeli firm Nemesysco.

"In our trial, 500 passengers went through the test, and then each was subjected to full traditional searches," said Chief Executive Officer Amir Liberman. "The one person found to be planning something illegal was the one who failed our test."

What limitations to what can be asked will be required?
What are the reactions to a failure?
What actions happen to a failure that produces no evidence of an ability to actually perform the task?
Those that fail are taken aside for more intensive questioning and, if necessary, searches. Liberman said around 12 percent of passengers tend to show stress even when they have nothing to hide.
12% false positive is pretty high. Strikes me as unusable when you literally have thousands of passengers each day. What do they mean by more intensive questioning?

Then there is the thoughts on what happens to the data on people that fail the tests. Who retains the information, and what information do they keep? If you're not found to be a security risk, will your name and basic information be stuck in some federal database in any case? That thought makes me paranoid right away.

And, will a lie in this machine be considered a crime? How does the false positive relate to the criminal issues?

Nova Lounge has a blog entry for this topic as well.

Iraq Intelligence Amendment

Not sure why there is a fight over this. Well, other than Kennedy is the source.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) worked yesterday to attach to the fiscal 2006 intelligence authorization bill an amendment that would require portions of Presidential Daily Briefs (PDBs) from Jan. 20, 2000, to March 19, 2003, that referred to Iraq to be submitted to the appropriate congressional committees by the CIA Director Porter J. Goss.
Portions, even the vast majority of the brief should be available. I fail to see any reason why the appropriate committees shouldn't have identical access to the information. The only argument I can think of relates directly to politics. By giving the intelligence reports to congress gives them direct access to activities that have obvious political consequences. Not to mention that the congress has the same ability to retain intelligence as a sieve has of retaining water.
Kennedy yesterday described as "plain wrong" the statements by Bush and Cheney that Congress "had the same intelligence about Saddam's development of weapons of mass destruction as they did."

His amendment would give the Senate intelligence committee access to relevant PDBs as it conducts its "phase two" inquiry into prewar intelligence. That controversial probe will focus in part on how administration officials used intelligence in public speeches and testimony.

I'd like a different question asked here. Did any of the politicians that are denying having access to the intelligence actually seek any further information beyond what was provided to them? Not asking for the information isn't the same as not having access to that information. I find it very disturbing that I can't find any evidence of anyone in the MSM has asked the loudest voices this question.

I ran a google news search on the topic and came up with only one article from OpinionJournal on the topic. Do these politicians wish us to believe that they didn't use due diligence in getting correct information, when they were obviously in a politically divisive situation? They obviously didn't like Bush and wanted his failure to start ASAP. Especially when he got a great lift from his actions at the time of 9/11.

Here are some great quotes that are lined out in the article:
Here is his Secretary of State Madeline Albright, also speaking in 1998:

Iraq is a long way from [the USA], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risk that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face.
Here is Sandy Berger, Clinton's National Security Adviser, who chimed in at the same time with this flat-out assertion about Saddam:

He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983.
Nor did leading Democrats in Congress entertain any doubts on this score. A few months after Mr. Clinton and his people made the statements I have just quoted, a group of Democratic senators, including such liberals as Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, and John Kerry, urged the President "to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons-of-mass-destruction programs."

Nancy Pelosi, the future leader of the Democrats in the House, and then a member of the House Intelligence Committee, added her voice to the chorus:

Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons-of-mass-destruction technology, which is a threat to countries in the region, and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.
Pelosi's voice, being especially shrill, should be held responsible for this statement. She being on the Intelligence committee had every access to the information that Bush used. She can make no claims that she didn't. Unless she's willing to state that she just didn't bother looking at the data. Or is she trying to say she trusted the information from the President's analysis? I don't believe that for one minute.
Sen. Carl Levin also reaffirmed for Mr. Bush's benefit what he had told Mr. Clinton some years earlier:

Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations, and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed, speaking in October 2002:

In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical- and biological-weapons stock, his missile-delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaeda members.
Senator Jay Rockefeller, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, agreed as well:

There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. . . . We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction.
Hillary has been fairly quiet on the topic from what I can see. I actually find that fascinating, but strategically pretty astute. But then there is Rockefeller, another Intelligence committee, and again the same access to information as the President. But Rockefeller has stated that he shouldn't be held responsible for his Iraq vote, because the information he was given was intentionally flawed. Personally, I would think that he should be seen as negligent for performing the work that his constituents voted him in to office to perform.
Now to John Kerry, also speaking in 2002:

I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force--if necessary--to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.
Perhaps most startling of all, given the rhetoric that they would later employ against Mr. Bush after the invasion of Iraq, are statements made by Sens. Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd, also in 2002:

Kennedy: "We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."

Byrd: "The last U.N. weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical- and biological-warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons."

Well, you get the picture. I'd love to see this list answer the question I ask above on access requests for intelligence data. I bet that is a question that won't get a straight answer.

Withdrawal from Iraq

Murtha's plan isn't quite "cut-and-run," but the effects look to me to be essentially the same. The screaming of the politicos over the proposals and the various name calling was just fascinating. I find it especially interesting that Democrats can criticize the present methodology, but state that no one can criticize them. The screeches over patriotism is just pathetic.
On the floor of the Senate Friday, Senator John Kerry, who lost the 2004 election to President Bush, lashed out at what he called disgusting efforts by Republicans to discredit Mr. Murtha in particular, and label Democratic criticism on Iraq unpatriotic.

"We have seen the politics of fear and smear too many times," said John Kerry. "And whenever challenged, there are some Republican leaders who engage in the politics of personal destruction rather than debate the issues. It doesn't matter who you are."

This response came from Arizona Republican Senator John Kyl.

"I don't think anyone is trying to crush debate or dissent, or prevent questions from being asked," said John Kyl. "But it is a fact when the president of the United States is accused of deliberate manipulation of intelligence to bring us into war, some have even said lied, in order to bring us into war, that deserves a response. That is part of a healthy debate."

Emotions about Congressman Murtha's statement were evident in the House of Representatives, where South Carolina Republican Joseph Wilson and Massachusetts Democrat Jim McGovern spoke.

"Instead of proposing winning solutions for the global war on terrorism, some Democrats are throwing up their hands and waving the white flag of surrender," said Wilson.

"The American people want this Congress to debate the war in Iraq. We should have had a debate before we entered into this war, instead we rushed into it," McGovern claimed.

"Politics of personal destruction." That is just pathetic. What has Kerry been doing with wide spread speeches calling the President a liar? Is this a campaign of reasonable dissent or political mud throwing? Kerry's glass house is a touch cracked.

Beyond the political crap, Murtha's whole plan is amazingly flawed for someone who was a leader in the military. Here's the crux:
My plan calls:

To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
To create a quick reaction force in the region.

To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.

To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq

Think about this. Would you move the forces and limit them in the area where violence and/or civil war could break out? What logistics and support would you destroy by having all supply and intelligence out of the country? He claims that they could respond within a couple of days. Yes they could, and when they did they would be the most vulnerable to attack. Tanks just don't appear in a theater of war, the related support doesn't either. Quick reaction forces are fine for small conflicts, but when the action could require response to multiple areas all at one time, you're asking for chaos when responding.

As for diplomatic pursuit of security and stability, can you honestly tell me that the people that make up the insurgency would be open to this? Some people need to pull their heads out of their back sides.

QandO has an interesting bit related to how this whole topic is spinning.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Dissent and Limited War

This is a truly amazing piece of writing. The logical processes seem pretty accurate to me. I really do respect people who are honestly opposed to war out protesting against Iraq. I really do disdain the rest, especially their "support the troops" crap even as they actively campaign against the troops. Their loathing for troops, a willingness to believe every atrocity, every sign of weakness, every suggestion that they insurgency will "win", betrays the idea that large portions of the dissenters "support the troops." Information like this can help to poke holes in that particular bubble.

h/t Instapunk

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Democrats on Iraq

Ok, it's a video from the RNC (ugh) showing quotes from many Democrats on action on Iraq.

Pretty telling though.

PBS: Fairly Unbalanced

OK, this tops all the political crap at PBS.

The corporation's former chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, who was ousted from the board two weeks ago when it was presented in a closed session with the details of the report, has said he sought to enforce a provision of the Public Broadcasting Act meant to ensure objectivity and balance in programming. But the report said that in the process, Mr. Tomlinson repeatedly crossed statutory boundaries that set up the corporation as a "heat shield" to protect public radio and television from political interference.
Yeah, protect it from political interference that demands an equal opinion from both halves of the public that pay for it.
Mr. Tomlinson, in a statement distributed with the report, rejected its conclusions, saying that any suggestion that he violated his duties or the law "is malicious and irresponsible."

"Unfortunately, the inspector general's preconceived and unjustified findings will only help to maintain the status quo, and other reformers will be discouraged from seeking change," said Mr. Tomlinson, who has repeatedly defended his decisions as part of an effort to restore balance to programming. "Regrettably, as a result, balance and objectivity will not come soon to elements of public broadcasting."

You can read the rest. Personally, I think this is the final proof that all funding for PBS should be ended. If PBS is so worth while, it should be able to stand on its own merits.

The Dems and Revisionist History

Well said piece on the Dems's current stance in general and Chris Wallace's interview of Jay Rockefeller last Sunday in particular.

Wallace noted that before making that statement and voting to authorize force in Iraq, Rockefeller had seen the national intelligence estimate, which "indicated there was a disagreement among analysts about (Saddam's) nuclear program." Rockefeller's primary non-answer to the undeniable point that he knew of this disagreement before voting was, "You know, it was not the Congress that sent 135,000 or 150,000 troops to Iraq."

This is sheer dissembling by Rockefeller, following the lead of Sen. Kerry, who during his presidential campaign concocted the creative canard that his vote to authorize the use of force against Iraq didn't mean what it said. No, we're expected to believe the Democrats understood that President Bush would continue to negotiate ad infinitum and demand more useless U.N. resolutions.

Hmmm... Once again, the left has confused me. I thought the constitution prevented the President from waging war without Congressional approval. Am I wrong in that understanding? This sounds to me like a kid whining "he MADE me do it!" to get out of trouble. I can't believe this is their best strategy for winning the next elections. It sure oesn't have me thinking, "ooh, I can't wait to vote them into power first chance I get." Quite the opposite.

France, Economics, and the US

I found this interesting because it addresses both part of the problem in France and gives a partial reason for the black slide into unemployment and family dissolution that began in this country in the 50's.

People who are less in demand -- whether because of inexperience, lower skills, or race -- are just as employable at lower pay rates as people who are in high demand are at higher pay rates. That is why blacks were just as able to find jobs as whites were, prior to the decade of the 1930s and why a serious gap in unemployment between black teenagers and white teenagers opened up only after 1950.

Prior to the decade of the 1930s, the wages of inexperienced and unskilled labor were determined by supply and demand. There was no federal minimum wage law and labor unions did not usually organize inexperienced and unskilled workers. That is why such workers were able to find jobs, just like everyone else, even when these were black workers in an era of open discrimination.

The first federal minimum wage law, the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, was passed in part explicitly to prevent black construction workers from "taking jobs" from white construction workers by working for lower wages. It was not meant to protect black workers from "exploitation" but to protect white workers from competition.
Even aside from a racial context, minimum wage laws in countries around the world protect higher-paid workers from the competition of lower paid workers.

One could make the argument that it's all very nice to be on the books as "employed" but if you don't earn a living wage then it's not terribly meaningful. I don't know if that's the case, I'm just speculating. And how ironic is it that unions, which are ardently supported by liberals, might actually hurt the underclasses? I'm starting to have a mental picture of the left going through life pouring gasoline on fires, then blaming the right when the fire expands. They seem incapable of processing information.

In any case, this article shows that nothing is every wholly good or wholly bad, and the best intentions can have unexpected ramifications.

Kerry Krowing

The Boston Globe's favorite son is at it again. Of course, the BG is helping with the promotion of this very sour apple.
President Bush's Veterans Day broadside against Senator John F. Kerry, delivered in a major speech on the war in Iraq, was greeted with quiet cheer by those in the senator's camp who are laying the groundwork for his possible run for the presidency in 2008.

By singling out Kerry as the Democrats' leading Iraq war critic, aides to the Massachusetts Democrat said, the president confirmed Kerry's continuing prominence in national politics, something the senator and his aides have fought hard to maintain.
Being pointed out as a loud mouthed crack-pot is of course a good thing for the Kerry campaign. Kerry's continual braying about quagmires and failures in Iraq is usually just entertaining, especially when he can't ever seem to be consistent. But then, I suppose he enjoys being noticed in any form.
''It makes him a bit of a hero among Democrats to have George Bush attacking him," said Don Fowler, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Yeah, I suppose it does, but then, they aren't the votes that didn't choose him during the 2004 election. This is no different than singing to the choir. It doesn't make him any more attractive to the votes that are most important to win a national election. Remember the centrists and independents didn't vote for him last time. Screaming about Bush distorting the truth will get him little mileage with the groups that matter.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Wonderful World of Dr. Dean

I generally avoid actually watching MSM Political shows on Sunday. So when I saw this at Wizbang I was especially glad I chose to change the oil in my truck instead.
MR. RUSSERT: Let's talk about the Democrats and some of the polling data. Congressional Democrats have the same priorities as you: yes, 26 percent; no, 54 percent. So the Democrats aren't perceived as the answer. And look at this, Chairman Dean. We asked independent voters: Do you believe that Democrats have a clear message, a vision for the future? Fifty-two percent of independent swing voters say no. One in four Democrats say you have no clear vision, no agenda, no clear message. Joe Trippi, your former campaign manager said, "Obviously, the results" from Election Night "are great for us Democrats. But given the GOP's problems, the tightness of the results suggest that people aren't happy with either party right now. Democrats have got to push an alternative agenda."

DR. DEAN: We have an alternative agenda. We made it very clear. We want a strong national security based on telling the truth to our people at home, our soldiers and our allies. We want jobs in America that'll stay in America, and we believe that renewable energy is one of the areas where we can do that. We want a health-care system that covers everybody, just like 36 other countries in the world. We want a strong public education system. And most of all, we want honesty back in government. I think that's a pretty good agenda.

MR. RUSSERT: But those are words that will appeal to people. But when you go behind them, for example, what is the Democratic position on Iraq? Should we withdraw troops now? What do the Democrats stand for?

DR. DEAN: Tim, first of all, we don't control the House, the Senate or the White House. We have plenty of time to show Americans what our agenda is and we will long before the '06 elections.

MR. RUSSERT: But there's no Democratic plan on Social Security. There's no Democratic plan on the deficit problem. There's no specifics. They say, "Well, we want a strong Social Security. We want to reduce the deficit. We want health care for everyone," but there's no plan how to pay for it.

DR. DEAN: Right now it's not our job to give out specifics. We have no control in the House. We have no control in the Senate. It's our job is to stop this administration, this corrupt and incompetent administration, from doing more damage to America. And that's what we're going to do. We're doing our best. Look at the trouble they're having putting together a budget. Why is that? Because there's still a few moderate Republicans left who don't think it's OK to cut school lunch programs, who don't think it's OK to do some of the appalling things that they're doing in their budget. I saw a show last night which showed a young African-American man in California at the UC of Davis who hoped to go to law school. The Republicans want to cut $14 billion out of higher education so this kid can't go to law school. We're going to do better than that, and together, America can do better than that.

MR. RUSSERT: But is it enough for you to say to the country, "Trust us, the other guy's no good. We'll do better, but we're not going to tell you specifically how we're going to deal with Iraq."

DR. DEAN: We will. When the time comes, we will do that.

MR. RUSSERT: When's the time going to come?

DR. DEAN: The time is fast-approaching. And I outlined the broad outlines of our agenda. We're going to have specific plans in all of these areas.

MR. RUSSERT: This year?

DR. DEAN: In 2006.

Maybe the Demosprats should look for someone else to speak for them. Can anyone think it reasonable that they can block all congressional work and provide no alternatives until 2006? Would calling that obstructionism be too strong?

Mary Mapes Twisted Logic

Found the link to this transcript at Ravenwood's Universe.

I find this bit, quoted by RU, just a little disconcerting.
KING: But there's nothing about the story you would change? In other words, even though they've said the documents were forged and...

MAPES: But no one has been able to prove they were forged...


KING: Do you believe right this moment they were not false?

MAPES: I believe no one has proved to me that they were false after more than a year.

KING: So you believe they were true ...

MAPES: I believe -- I know. It's an odd situation. I'm perfectly willing to believe they're false if somebody will just prove it.

KING: No one has proven it to you?

MAPES: No, they have not. Their criticisms last year really didn't reach the bar of proof at all.

No one has proven them false to her standards. But, I could have sworn that journalist were supposed to be the ones vetting the information for validity prior to reporting. I still haven't found any references to those documents being authenticated.

Then there's this:
KING: But wasn't the commission that investigated it, weren't they fair, weren't the independent?

MAPES: Well, I don't know, Larry. I mean if your work was being judged, wouldn't you like your work to be judged by people who did the kind of work you did? I mean I don't know what Dick Thornburgh knows about journalism.

I suspect he knows as much about it as I know about being a securities analyst or attorney, which is what the other attorneys were, securities specialists or internal corporation investigation specialists.

I think it was a very legalistic approach. You know they even said we had put Ben Barnes and his story on that he had gotten Bush in the Guard and he was sorry and they ruled that I shouldn't -- we should not have put that on because we couldn't prove it.
So let me get this straight, no one but a journalist can review your behavior, because they don't know anything about journalism? I suppose that could be a valid point if it was a journalist judging whether a mathematical proof was valid. But when reviewing process and reporting of facts, I don't see any validity in her statement. If you can't prove the information, it's just conjecture. Conjecture is for editorials, not news.

Or am I just expecting too much from the MSM?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Graham Amendment

Here's an interesting bit attached to the Defense Appropriations Bill. This is a quote from SCOTUSblog. I'll leave the links intact.
The Senate yesterday by a vote of 49-42 passed an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill, offered by Lindsey Graham, section (d) of which would eliminate the statutory right of habeas corpus for alien detainees held by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo. This would, in effect, overrule the Supreme Court's June 2004 decision in Rasul v. Bush.

This amendment, if enacted, would by its terms appear to eliminate the jurisdiction of the courts -- and thus make meaningless the habeas petitions at issue -- in pending cases, such as, most importantly, the Hamdan case the Court decided to hear this week, and the extremely significant Rasul cases on remand, which are presently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. As Bobby Chesney explains in further detail, this would be a very momentous development, and would probably mean that most or all of the Administration's decisions on, and conduct regarding, detention, interrogation and abuse at GTMO, would be impervious to judicial review and oversight.

The belief is that this will pass the House and be signed by the President.

I haven't found much on reasonable arguments against the Amendment. Obsidian Wings calls it an evil amendment, but doesn't make much of an argument against it.
This would be bad enough if we did not have any reason to distrust the administration. But now, when people have been held for years without any sort of trial or review, when there have been stories of abuse and mistreatment, and when the administration is asserting its right to do whatever it wants with detainees, bound by neither laws nor treaties, is the worst possible time to propose a bill like this.

The right of habeas corpus -- the right to challenge the legality of your detention -- is one of the foundations of our legal system. As Justice Stevens wrote in Rasul v. Bush:

"What is presently at stake is only whether the federal courts have jurisdiction to determine the legality of the Executive'’s potentially indefinite detention of individuals who claim to be wholly innocent of wrongdoing. Answering that question in the affirmative, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand for the District Court to consider in the first instance the merits of petitioners'’ claims."

In Rasul, the Supreme Court held that detainees do have the rights Senator Graham now wants to strip them of. And the Court was right: our system of justice does not and should not countenance the indefinite detention, without any right to appeal, of anyone at all.

I don't see any relevance of their distrust of the present administration. The whole question appears to me to be more related to whether congress can change who has oversite in these cases. The Stevens quote is spot on though. Leaving detainees in limbo, especially if they are innocent, isn't justice.

I have found this article from Opinio Juris that states why the amendment is reasonable and one entry on a tenative defense. Which rather amusingly are the same post under different titles.
(1) Congress plainly has constitutional authority to regulate the scope of federal court jurisdiction over the Guantanamo detainees. As Bobby pointed out, those detainees may certain have constitutional habeas rights, but the scope of those rights are somewhat uncertain and courts will certainly give Congress broad discretion to regulate those rights.

(2) The amendment would create congressional oversight over the procedures governing the detention of the Guantanamo detainees because the Defense Department would have to submit their procedures for determinations as to the legal status of those detainees to Congress as well as any changes in the procedure.

(3) The most controversial part of the Amendment is the part removing the jurisdiction of the federal courts from "any action" based on the DoD's new policies on detention or "any action challenging any aspect of the detention of an alien who is detained by the Secretary of Defense as an enemy combatant."
Here is the congressional oversite part.

I suppose we'll have to wait and see if this stands a constitutional test before the SCOTUS.

Oak Island For Sale

Ministry of Minor Perfidy.

At seven mil, this sounds like a bargain. If there is in fact two million pounds of gold at the bottom, that would more than recoup the initial investment. And if it really was the Knights Templar hiding their gold from the French King, just think how cool that would be.
Need anything more be said?

Rhetoric and Reality


Just go and read it. My commenting won't add anything.

Armistice Day

Just a touch of history.

Most people don't ever learn that Veteran's Day is a celebration of the end of hostilities for World War I.

Of course, if you're like me, you think that the hostilities didn't actually end, they were just delayed for a couple of decades.

Other wars have seen temporary periods of peace. Take the Pelloponnesian war, which had the Peace of Nicias. That period lasted about 6 years, depending on what you consider the actual return to conflict, if it really ever stopped.

Yeah, I'm reading A War Like No Other. So far, I highly recommend it.

Deficit Reduction Act and ANWR

Sometimes politics really ties my nerve-endings in knots. Okay, it always does.

For some reason, the Deficit Reduction Act is being held hostage for a provision to allow oil development in ANWR. Why these have to be stapled together boggles the mind.

Let's start with the Deficit Reduction Act being very important, and not a single Democrat is willing to support it. None. So the Republican majority has to come to agreement on this to get it to work.

ANWR, though not the nicest of concepts, does allow the use of energy resources in federally owned property that isn't used for anything. (Ok some caribou use it rarely, but that's pretty much it.) The vast amount of property would only have a very very small section utilized for oil development.

Here's a quote from my state Representative (jerk).
"They understand this thing won't go anywhere with ANWR in it,'' said Representative Charlie Bass, a New Hampshire Republican. Bass wrote a letter Nov. 8 that was signed by 25 other Republican lawmakers to House leaders asking that the Alaska provision be stripped.
"Rather then reversing decades of protection for this publicly held land, focusing greater attention on renewable energy sources, alternate fuels, and more efficient systems and appliances would yield more net energy savings,'' Bass said in the letter to House Republican leaders.
Ok, the ANWR provision should be stripped. Get the Deficit Reduction Act finished, it's more important.

But then, Bass needs to get his head out of his back side and realize that renewable energy sources aren't going to be of any help unless they are implemented. While oil is in present use and will be needed for some time to come. Both need to be used and the technology advanced. But sitting around denying access to a resource because of utopian hopes is a plan destined for failure.

Got to write my Rep. Hate doing it though. I usually only get a form letter response six months after the topic is irrelevant.

Same Fiddle, Same Sour Tune

The People's Republic of Massachusetts Senatorial Comrades are still playing the same obnoxious tune. You'd think they'd think of some new arguments.
"150,000 American troops are bogged down in a quagmire in Iraq because the Bush administration misrepresented and distorted the intelligence to justify a war that America never should have fought," Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., said Thursday.
"An open-ended declaration to stay 'as long as it takes' lets Iraqi factions maneuver for their own political advantage by making us stay as long as they want," Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said Thursday.
Not quite saying cut and run, but really close. You think with all their money they could get someone to write them some new material.

Then there is Sessions. His tune sounds like a replay as well.
With so many different ideas and so much criticism about how the war should be carried out, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., wondered aloud how it must look to America's enemies.

"It's undermining our nation's position in the world, encouraging the enemy to falsely believe that this nation is divided and leading the enemy to believe we may quit if they just kill a few more soldiers and Marines," he said.

The nation is divided on the war, let's be realistic on that. This won't lead the enemy to the Vietnam syndrome, they already believe that scenario is possible. I see no way to dissuade them from those ideas other than sticking it out.

Makes you wonder if they just read from the previous minutes of the Senate when these "debates" were held.

Clintonian Self-Promotion - Defense of His Presidency

Slick Willy is complaining about the impeachment thing again. (or is that still?) In his speech at Hofstra University he complains about the abuse of the constitution related to the impeachment. It wasn't an abuse, though it was a waste of time. There is a difference.
"One of the American historians I most admire, Mr. [Douglas] Brinkley, sitting out here, was quoted in the paper as saying that I would be viewed as a great president, except for the fact of impeachment," Clinton said. "I completely disagree with that," he said. Clinton gave a one-hour address late yesterday afternoon at Hofstra University, part of the school's presidential conference focusing on his eight years in office. "I think you can say you think I was not a great president [BINGO, give that man a cigar], never mind impeachment," Clinton said before nearly 5,000 people in the Hofstra Arena, who interrupted him often with applause and cheers. "Or you can agree with the statement [by Brinkley], but only if you think the impeachment was justified. Otherwise it [impeachment] was an egregious abuse of the Constitution and the law and history of this country, and I should get credit for standing up to it. "Now, if you want to hold it against me that I did something wrong, that's a fair deal," Clinton continued. "That has nothing to do with this impeachment. Then if you do that, then you have a whole lot of other questions: How many other presidents do you have to downgrade?"
Egregious abuse? I don't think so. Politically motivated action? No doubt in my mind. Credit for stand up to it? You had no choice, it was a trial brought against you, your only alternative was resignation. Willy's a sodding hero now because he wasn't found guilty! Congratulate him? Not likely.

Albright also spoke there. Here's what I call a bit of softening of the mistakes.
Albright said during the morning's opening session that the Clinton administration's foreign policy strategy was "neither overly idealistic nor narrowly cynical." She acknowledged mistakes, saying, "We acted too slowly in Bosnia, too inconsistently in Somalia and too late in Rwanda," the latter a regret Clinton mentioned as well. She said the administration was "determined to do the right thing, but in a pragmatic way. We defended human rights."
Oh, don't you just love that "neither overly idealistic no narrowly cynical" line? How could it be either when most policy decisions were based upon polling data?
Too slow in Bosnia? Yep, and then really ineffective in the aftermath.
Too inconsistent in Somalia? Yep, premature withdrawal when the going got tough ensured that the Moslem world would view the US as weak and continue the Vietnam syndrome view of the US. Ya think that had some effect on the 9/11 attacker's mentality or the insurgent's mind set in Iraq? You bet you back side it did.
Too late in Rwanda? Blessed Brighid, that is just revisionism. How about, not at all in Rwanda? Why even mention that?

Then the next cheerleader, Panetta:
Panetta, who served as Clinton's chief of staff from 1994-97, provided insight into Clinton the man. "In my view, President Clinton is one of the most complex individuals to ever occupy the Oval Office." Panetta called Clinton "extremely bright," charismatic, caring and volatile. "Because he wants to embrace so much of life, he often resists any constraints and discussion that might inhibit his ability to do those things," Panetta said.
Sounds like a eulogy. That statement lacks any real content, so there isn't really anything to comment on.

Personally, I'd give Clinton average marks as a president. His domestic policy was ok, but had many portions that removed state and personal rights that I found especially repugnant. His foreign policy was weak. Very weak. His inaction with regards to Iraq and the middle east did nothing to stave off known dangers which culminated in the present situation. He was complacent in a world that needed action to shield the US from a growing threat that he inherited. His inaction or poor reactions led the whole terrorist scenario further into the mess that he left for the next president to deal with.

Great president, not likely.