Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Alito In

So it's over. Alito just needs to be sworn in.

A sharply divided U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, backing a second conservative nominated by President George W. Bush in his effort to move the nation's highest court to the right.

The largely party-line vote was 58-42 to replace the more moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor with Alito, a federal appeals judge since 1990, and came four months after the Senate approved Bush's first Supreme Court nominee, John Roberts, as U.S. chief justice.

I was going to guess this was an Op-Ed when I read that first line, but it's not.
Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, said, "I must say that I wish the president was in a position to do more than claim a partisan victory tonight."

"The union would be better and stronger and more unified if we were confirming a different nominee, a nominee who could have united us more than divided us," Schumer said.

Now tell us truthfully Chuckles, are you saying the partisan thing because Bush won, or because you lost? An interesting view if you're willing to look at the topic from both perspectives. I'd also guess that Chuckles would have voted against any nominee for the exact same reasoning he uses here. The difference for the nominee to get Chucky's vote would be that the judge would have to be a liberal Democrat.

With luck they can move on to actually doing something reasonable. I won't hold my breath in expectation though.

Going Postal

Hadn't heard of anyone in the USPS going postal in quite some time.
A former postal employee went on a rampage in a mail sorting facility Monday night in Goleta, where she killed six people before turning a weapon on herself and committing suicide, authorities said this morning.

She? Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later.

Of course, they haven't listed which evil gun did all the killing nor have they pointed out how well Californian Gun Control worked in this situation.

I suspect that California needs to implement a few more gun laws to ensure this doesn't happen again.

Historical Perspective of Going Postal.

Probationers and Paroles Getting Hunting Licenses

Here's an article from the AssPress trying to make an issue out of nothing.

Hundreds of people barred from having guns because they are felons on parole or probation are still able to get hunting licenses in Montana with no questions asked, an Associated Press investigation found. Montana may not be alone. While nearly all states ban felons from possessing guns, only a handful _ including Rhode Island and Maine _ keep them from receiving hunting permits, and just a few others _ such as Illinois and Massachusetts _ require hunters to show both a hunting license and a firearms license.

"Our license dealers have no way of checking," said Lt. Rich Mann, with the enforcement program for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. "If someone wants to play with the system and beat you at it, they will."

I started reading and thought "who cares?" They can hunt with Bow, so why do you care? And why shouldn't they be allowed to hunt within the legal alternatives allowed to them? Well, the article just doesn't seem to want to say.
The AP examination of Montana hunting and corrections records shows at least 660 felons on parole or probation received tags in the past year. The findings are based on a comparison of unique first, middle and last names, along with other identifiable information, that appeared in databases of both hunters and felons.

A state probation official said the findings likely would prompt the state to consider its own records search to see if parolees are violating terms of their release.

"Obviously that's a big concern, and it makes me want to look into each of these cases," said Ron Alsbury, Montana's probation and parole bureau chief.

Why would you bother? 660 felons got a tag, but no one states how many violated their parole by using a firearm for hunting. So, again, How is this a problem?
Jason Beaudoin of Frenchtown, on probation for a 2002 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, got a series of hunting tags last year, but said he used only a bow and arrow.

"I know I can't own a firearm or be in possession of one. They made that very clear ... and I agree with the policy," Beaudoin said.

"There are plenty of ways people can hunt even though they are barred from using conventional weapons," added Gary S. Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association. "My guess is that there are a lot of them that are being perfectly decent citizens."

The problem is, no one knows for certain.

So you don't know to what level this is a problem, but you're probably going to propose that the state require background checks to get a hunting license.
"The result in Idaho is that you could theoretically be a convicted cannibal and still have a hunting license," said Ed Mitchell, a spokesman for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game in Boise. "But if you are a convicted cannibal, you cannot legally own a bent BB gun in the state of Idaho."
I think Mitchell may not have wanted to be part of this interview.
With millions of hunters in the U.S. _ nearly 270,000 in Montana alone _ authorities in many states say it simply would be too difficult to check if felons are getting hunting tags.
The AP review found that roughly 8 percent of 8,732 people on parole or probation in Montana had obtained hunting licenses in the past year.

Many hunters with felony convictions had no listed phone numbers, while others did not return calls seeking comment.

I wouldn't have called you idiots back either. Look at the math on this one. 8% of 8732 is 699, which confuses me as to that 660 number listed above, but I'll just go on with this. So 699 paroles or probationers is what percentage of 270,000 Montana hunters? That's .26%.
Alsbury said his agency did a spot check of its records about five years ago to see if violators had hunting tags. Officers confiscated some guns.

Alsbury said the AP investigation suggests it may be time to search again.

"With the technology we have now we should be routinely checking that," he said.

That's right, the number of violations is unknown, but because some tin-foiler thinks they should be checking, they start reporting on this abomination of a law enforcement failure.

Don't these people have anything better to do?

Who Voted For the Filibuster: List of Obstructionists

I haven't found a full list, but I've pulled some of the names together. I don't see any other way to define the people who voted for the filibuster. Obstructionist is pretty accurate, especially considering that they knew from the start that they didn't have the votes.

It also makes you wonder how Kerry gets off throwing stones at Bush for pandering to the far right, when Kerry's filibuster dance is an obvious pandering to the far left. Isn't his actions rather hypocritical in light of his statements?

John Kerry
Ted (the Hutt) Kennedy. (I thought his head was going to explode during the debate.)
Dianne Feinstein
Barbara Boxer
Jim Jeffords
Harry Reid
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Evan Bayh
Lincoln Chafee (RINO or worse)
Mark Dayton
Christopher Dodd
Richard Durbin
Russ Feingold
Tom Harkin
Frank Lautenberg
Patrick Leahy
Carl Levin
Robert Menedez
Barbara Mikulski
Patty Murray
Barack Obama
Jack Reed
Paul Sarbanes
Chuck Schumer
Debbie Stabenow
Ron Wyden

I find the funniest part of all of this is the statements about moving the court to the right.
"If confirmed," blustered Kennedy, "Alito could very well fundamentally alter the balance of the court and push it dangerously to the right." Sen. Hillary Rodham-Clinton (or is it just "Clinton" these days?) concurred: "The fate of the Supreme Court hangs in the balance." Chuck Schumer added, "Alito is a controversial nominee for a pivotal swing vote on the High Court who could shift the balance of the court, and thus the laws of the nation, for decades to come."
It's quite humorous because there seemed to be no issue with the balance when Breyer replaced Blackmun. That's a liberal replacing a conservative by the way, not a conservative replacing a less conservative judge.

Another goofy test

This time, it's what kind of sports car are you.

I'm a Lamborghini Murcielago!

You're not subtle, but you don't want to be. Fast, loud, and dramatic, you want people to notice you, and then get out of the way. In a world full of sheep, you're a raging bull.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Kind of accurate. Sometimes these things are a bit scary.

(h/t: Instapunk)

Monday, January 30, 2006

Funding the Palestinian Authority: How Do You Ensure You Don't Fund Terrorism?

This is a major quandry. With Hamas holding the majority of the seats in the government, how does the international community continue to provide funding and not support terrorism? I just don't see any way.
As American and European diplomats gathered in London today to discuss Hamas's recent victory in Palestinian elections, a senior member of the group called today for a continuation of foreign aid to the Palestinian government.

"We call on you to continue moral and financial support, and to direct all aid to the Palestinian treasury so it can be used in keeping with the priorities of the Palestinian people," said Ismail Haniyah, one of the most prominent members of Hamas in Gaza, according to news agencies.

But the early indications were not hopeful for Hamas, which won a landslide victory in last week's parliamentary elections but may take over a nearly bankrupt state. The Palestinian Authority has depended heavily on aid from the European Union and the United States, along with tax revenues collected and delivered by Israel.

All those sources of funds are now imperiled, as the countries involved have recoiled from giving assistance to a government led by a party they regard as a terrorist group.

The problem with Fatah was corruption. The vote for Hamas was apparently a reaction to that corruption. But, it also has the appearance of wide spread support for a terrorist organization.

Will Hamas change its MO? I'm not certain they will, and I'm not certain that they should be trusted even if they say they will.

The problem comes to where will they get their funding? If the world stops paying them their welfare checks, will that cause further alienation and more support for the terrorists?

Outsourcing or Multilateralism

Here's a cogent bit of logic:

Senator John Kerry has recently opined, "Why hasn't Osama Bin Laden been captured or killed, and how will he be destroyed before he next appears on tape to spread his disgusting message?"

Then the senator argued that bin Laden lives "because Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon didn't use American troops to do the job and instead outsourced the job of killing the world's #1 terrorist to Afghan warlords, this cold blooded killer got away."

About the same time, Senator Clinton intoned of Iran, "I believe we lost critical time in dealing with Iran because the White House chose to downplay the threats and to outsource the negotiations. I don't believe you face threats like Iran or North Korea by outsourcing it to others and standing on the sidelines."

This liberal saber rattling is born of an understandable desire to restore their lost credibility on national security, but they have failed to notice two problems with their newfound approach.

First, if the United States did seek to engage mostly indigenous Afghan troops or Pakistani soldiers, or if we did allow Britain, France, and Germany to run negotiations with Iran, then such "outsourcing" might be better described as "multilateralism."

Part of his analysis points to the problem that the Democrats continue to fail at; they are willing to call an issue a problem, but then refuse to provide an alternative action plan. This tactic is nearly systemic in that party. I can understand pointing to a problem, but if you have no alternative, you are providing nothing of value to the solution.

Hanson gives a bit of analysis on the available alternatives, and they aren't pretty in either case.

Chavez and the Fever-Swamp Left

Always good to see the tin foil crowd unifying under a single banner.
Ms. Sheehan was the latest American activist to appear on Mr. Chavez's Sunday program, where he discusses topics ranging from baseball and his life in the army to Venezuelan history and oil prices. Ms. Sheehan said she agreed with Harry Belafonte, the singer and activist, who recently called Mr. Bush "the greatest terrorist in the world" on Mr. Chavez's show.

"The war in Iraq will end, our troops will come home, Bush will be impeached and he will be brought to justice," said Ms. Sheehan, who held a vigil outside Mr. Bush's Texas ranch after her son was killed.

Impeached? Well, I suppose she can have a dream.

I wonder when she'll condemn what her son chose to do when he died. Maybe it will come when she runs for the senate.
Sheehan also said over the weekend she is contemplating challenging a primary challenge against Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. Sheehan contends that Feinstein has not enough to bring American troops home.

Sheehan accused Feinstein of being out of touch with Californians on the war in Iraq. Feinstein's campaign manager said the senator did not support Bush and felt she had been misled by his administration.

Sheehan told the Associated Press in Venezuela that will decide on a run after consulting with her family. She lives in Berkeley, California.
You also have to get a laugh when she starts spreading the blame around.
Sheehan also said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., were responsible for the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq because of their support for the war. "These so-called women have no maternal instinct or compassion for the people that their policies have killed," Sheehan said.
Wonder when she'll get around to blaming herself.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Vodkapundit Knocks one out of the park

All I can say is "YES"

Where is the party that is truly, really, in favor of individual rights? That means the right smoke a weed (as long as its done at home & doesn't involve driving cars, operating heavy machinery, etc., just like alcohol), sleep with the consenting adult of your choice (note the key word here, adult), own a firearm (including those scary hand guns & "assualt weapons"), whatever, that involves no harm or foul to your fellow man. Of course that party also has to have a Jacksonian approach to foreign policy; don't mess with us and we won't mess with you, mess with us and we'll jack you up proper.

Give me that party and I'll vote for them.

To quote a Tom from a comment below, I'm now going to pee into the wind and expect to not get wet.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

HNN Communists

Just a quick one. This is supposed to be a review of a book by a man jailed for being a Communist, back the in the good old days when they were an active power in the world and were trying to kill us. Anyway, read it and tell me that it's not a book review and instead it's an apology for the mistakes made by the American Communist Party in their attempts at taking over our country. It goes on, considering the length of the piece, for quite a while about the good that the Party (note the capitalization) did with black & poor people. Then it talks for a while about how, they really shouldn't have defended all the purges in the Soviet Union (note, not that the purges shouldn't have happened, but that they should be defended). You really get this sense of "Ah, if only... Then we could be living under the kind of good government that Pol Pot brought to Cambodia..."


No Bush Please, We're Canadian

A little late, I realize, but I was busy at work this week.

Salon's answer to the change in government in Canada for the first time in 12 years is to shrug and say "No big deal." The letters are the best part. The foaming, slathering, eye-rolling crazed jumps between "It doesn't matter" and "It's the end of the world."

I find it interesting that the USA, Britain, Australia, and now Canada, have all gone conservative recently. Does it say something about the state of the world, the state of the Anglosphere, or, as the panting lefties who keep losing elections would have it, nothing at all? When we toss in the German election and the direction that France seems to be moving in, it's starting to look like a global phenomenon. Cool.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Kerry Posting @ Kos

John Kerry posting at the Daily Kos.

No comment, just a link. Take a look for yourself. The comments section makes any point I would make superfluous.

Gun Rights or Property Rights

This post at QandO has some interesting commentary. The issue is related to the Georgia Bill HB 998 whose topic is the right to carry and hold a firearm in a personal vehicle which is legally parked on another person or entities property.

The summary of the bill:
A BILL To be entitled an Act to amend Part 3 of Article 4 of Chapter 11 of Title 16 of the O.C.G.A, relating to carrying and possession of firearms, so as to provide a short title; to provide for legislative intent; to provide a definition; to provide that it shall be lawful for any person who may lawfully possess firearms to park a motor vehicle on any property set aside for the parking of a motor vehicle when the person is lawfully transporting and storing a firearm or firearms in the motor vehicle and the firearm or firearms are locked in or locked to the motor vehicle; to provide for certain civil immunity for occurrences which result from, are connected with, or are incidental to the use of a firearm which is being lawfully transported and stored in a locked motor vehicle on any property set aside for the parking of motor vehicles; to provide for an exception to such immunity; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.
From what I've read, this is a very broad law. McQ at QandO essentially argues that the legislation is government overreach in forcing private citizens to allow firearms on their property when they don't want them there. I see his point to a certain extant. Though the discussion in the comments goes other places, I'll stick with a utilitarian argument, which appeared to be undesirable in the comments. (Note: philosophical discourse without any reasoning related to the real world is at best mental gymnastics and at worse mental masturbation.)

The crux of the real world issue is employers denying access to employees who choose to carry firearms for self-defense. I have rarely ever read a justification that is reasonable for denying a person the right to defend themselves. The parking lot is not the place of work and there is no allowance in the legislation for allowing carry onto the work premise.

Employers take a certain level of liability for the safety of the employee while they are on the premise. The action of disallowing firearms in a vehicle goes beyond the reach of that liability. By forcing the employee to be unarmed at work (and the parking lot) and not being capable of rearming before they leave the site of employment the employer has forced the employee into a risk situation where the employer has no liability.

In fact the legislation provides for liability protection:
(e) No person or business entity shall be liable in any civil action for any occurrence which results from, is connected with, or is incidental to the use of a firearm which is being lawfully transported and stored in a locked motor vehicle on any property set aside for the parking of motor vehicles as provided in subsection (d) of this Code section, unless such person or owner of the business entity commits a criminal act involving the use of such firearm.
I'd like to hear a logical reason for disallowing the storage of the firearm in a vehicle parked on a company premise. I won't accept that this will encourage violence at the work place. That argument assumes that the person couldn't return home to get a firearm or ignore the rule in the first place. The reason, "just because I don't like guns" isn't an argument. I don't particularly like not being unable to defend myself either.

There is the argument of "find employment elsewhere if you don't like the rules." But I find that disingenuous. Where does one draw the line with making a reasonable living and providing themselves with self-defense? Especially when the companies reasoning is non-existent and by this legislation the company would have no liability.

As to private citizens, I just don't see this law as being enforceable. Then again, I don't see a person demanding that no one have vehicles in their parking spaces as enforceable either. I would say that the legislation goes over the top in some of the workings on this part.

Walmart Wonder

I saw this article at QandO and was stunned. Get this:
Eighteen months after the Chicago City Council torpedoed a South Side Wal-Mart, 24,500 Chicagoans applied for 325 jobs at a Wal-Mart opening Friday in south suburban Evergreen Park, one block outside the city limits.

The new Wal-Mart at 2500 W. 95th is one block west of Western Avenue, the city boundary.

Of 25,000 job applicants, all but 500 listed Chicago addresses, said John Bisio, regional manager of public affairs for Wal-Mart.

"In our typical hiring process, you're pretty successful if you have 3,000 applicants," he said. "They were really crowing about 11,000 in Oakland, Calif., last year. So to get 25,000-plus applications and counting, I think is astonishing."

Those low paying jobs are certainly in very very high demand.

I suppose that the people railing against Walmart may want to consider that maybe a Walmart job isn't the greatest, but it's better than nothing at all.

Right Method, Wrong Results

Hamas taking 76 of the 132 seats of the new Palestinian government isn't a good thing for peace. Though it is understandable from the point of view that the Fatah party has shown corrupt control and no results for a very long time. But my question is, do they think Hamas will do better? It's an interesting message to send to the politicians at least.
The result stunned many, and looked likely to freeze or worsen the prospects for peace in the short term. Israel's acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said he would ignore a Hamas-led government and thereby render it irrelevant. Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the right-wing Likud Party, said a "Hamastan" had been created next door to Israel.

Animosity toward the Islamist militia is high in Israel, which faces its own elections on March 28. Hamas has orchestrated more than 50 suicide bombings over the past decade, killing some 430 people. Israel has responded with a series of "targeted assassinations" that killed many of the Islamist movement's senior leadership.

U.S. President George W. Bush said yesterday he would not deal with a group that, according to its 1988 founding charter, remains dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

"If your platform is the destruction of Israel, it means you're not a partner in peace. And we're interested in peace," he said.

This too much strikes me as cutting of your nose to spite your face. Israel won't even come back to the dance floor with Hamas out there. And it looks like that wall they've been building was an especially good and timely idea.

Read what the leader of Hamas had to say:
Although Hamas had moderated its image during the election campaign, co-founder Mahmoud Zahar insisted yesterday that the onus was on Israel to first end its 39-year occupation of Palestinian land.

"We are not playing terrorism or violence. We are under occupation," he told BBC World. "The Israelis are continuing their aggression against our people, killing, detention, demolition and in order to stop these processes, we run effective self-defence by all means, including using guns." He said Hamas would be willing to extend a ceasefire agreed to a year ago if Israel did the same.

Yep, thems the words of reason. I find it unlikely that he is refering to "Palastinian lands" as those laid out under the 1947 UN Partition plan. I'm pretty sure he means all of the area of present Israel. Not like Israel will be giving up land to the limits of the 1947 partition either. But then, they probably do have some claims on victories in war.

Then you have Abbas calling for the re-institution of another terrorist organization, the PLO.
He suggested that negotiations with Israel would be handled in the future by the Palestine Liberation Organization, a tactic that could allow him to bypass a Hamas-controlled legislature. The PLO led the Palestinian independence struggle until the foundation of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, but has since faded from prominence. "We are going to reactivate the role of the PLO," Mr. Abbas said.
Another clever plan.

I'm going to look around for some more learned commentary on the topic. I'll link whatever I find that is worth looking at.

Comic Strip

I won't copy it, since I don't want to tread on copyright stuff.

This one just tickled me.

Massachusetts Senators: Pride in Abusurdity

Kennedy and Kerry Circus is about to take stage once again.

Alito's opponents need 41 votes to prevent the Senate from ending debate on his nomination by President Bush, a number that appeared out of reach. Still, Democratic Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry, both of Massachusetts, were attempting Thursday to rally support for a filibuster.

In turn, Majority Leader Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) scheduled a vote for Monday to cut off debate on Alito's nomination, which could clear the way for a confirmation vote on Tuesday — hours before Bush is scheduled to give the annual State of the Union address.

Kennedy called the filibuster effort "an uphill battle at the present time."

But Kennedy said he and other Democrats would "make a good fight of it," hoping to focus more attention on their concerns that Alito would tilt the high court too far to the right.

Alito's confirmation would represent "an ideological coup," Kennedy said in a statement. He termed the federal appellate judge "a far-right ideologue."
For crying out loud. Even Byrd said he'd vote for Alito. Nice to see that the tin foil crowd is so well represented in the senate.

Hmm. Captain's Quarters refers to this as The Massachussetts Comedy Duo Call For Filibuster. And QandO has Kerry’s attempt to marginalize himself with the center. Both quite humorous.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

VT Judge Changes Sentence

He upped the sentence, but still seems to be completely missing the point.
A judge who was widely vilified for giving a child molester a 60-day jail term imposed a new sentence Thursday, increasing the man's prison time to three to 10 years.

Judge Edward Cashman said he felt he could now impose the longer sentence because the state had agreed to provide treatment to the man while he is behind bars. The state had initially said such treatment would not come until after the man served his time.

At the original sentencing, Cashman said the best way to ensure public safety was to get Hulett out of prison so he could receive sex offender treatment. Because the Corrections Department concluded that Hulett wasn't likely to reoffend, he wouldn't be eligible to receive sex-offender treatment until he reached the end of his jail term.
This guy is just broken. How can putting a convicted child molester back on the street ensure public safety? I also can't see how the Corrections Department could come to the conclusion that he wouldn't reoffend.

I would really love to know the logic involved on this one. Especially since child molestation has such high recidivism, I can't see the logic.

Ninth Circuit Holds That Possession of an "Assault Weapon" Isn't a "Crime of Violence":

Go and read the SayUncle comment on this as well.

This is from the Volokh Conspiracy. Law stuff about guns. And about the 9th curcuit court.

Judge Kozinski's opinion on this issue — a matter of construing the Sentencing Guidelines, though informed by an understanding of what "assault weapons" are like and how they may be used — was just handed down yesterday. It struck me as an interesting example of how courts make decisions that rely on statutory text, precedent, action by other government bodies, and understanding of the world, and one that laypeople may find especially interesting because it's tied to (though not squarely a part of) the Great American Gun Debate.
Having said that, go and read the whole thing. There are some, uh, interesting points.

More Screaching About "No-Retreat" Bills

The link is to the "Gun Guys." Bloody losers. They seem to be synchronizing messages with the Brady bunch. Check out the post at SayUncle on the Brady Bunch's inability to use original postings. They seem to have a nearly identical posting for three different states.

These guys are just irritating in their complete lack of intelligence. But please, screach along with me:
You'’ve got to be kidding us. "“They won'’t have to fear any legal repercussions"”?? So there are no, we repeat no, legal repercussions to pulling out a weapon and firing it at someone? What if the shooter is near a playground, and kills a child? WeÂ’re all for self defense, and there are laws currently on the books in every state that protect people who choose to meet force with force when there are no other options, but letting people shoot away without "“any legal repercussions"”?? That is literally a license to murder. It'’s unnecessary, and it'’s just plain terribly dangerous.
I find it unlikely that they are all for self defense.

Get this line of argument on the Indiana bill.
-The bill has shown up in Indiana, tacked onto another NRA-sponsored bill that would allow possession of weapons in firearms. Does the NRA have something against Hoosiers? Road rage is a prime example of where "Shoot First"” could be used to let a killer go free! Imagine accidentally cutting someone else off on the highway– if they "feel threatened" by your actions (and "shoot first" puts the responsibility on the person "“threatening,"” not the shooter), they could legally jump out of their car and shoot you.
They seem to be missing that the law will still require an understanding that a "reasonable" person would feel that their life was threatened. Not just someone saying that they felt that way.
To prove that point, here is the relevant text of the bill.
Specifies that a person: (1) is justified in using deadly force; and (2) does not have a duty to retreat; if the person reasonably believes that force is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to the person or a third person or the commission of a forcible felony. Specifies that a person: (1) is justified in using reasonable force, including deadly force, against another person; and (2) does not have a duty to retreat; if the person reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent or terminate the other person's unlawful entry of or attack on the person's dwelling, curtilage, or occupied motor vehicle.
Looks to me that this isn't at all what the "Gun Guys" are characterizing. Being cutoff on the highway isn't a felony, nor is it unlawful entry. But why actually read the bill when you can flip-out nonsensically?

Too bad they don't have comments. I'd have liked to inform them of NH's bill so that they can make more moronic mis-statements on the facts of the legislation.

Oh and don't miss their piece on protecting children.
Here'’s the deal: it doesn'’t matter how you lock your guns away. You can keep them locked up, unloaded, keep the ammunition in a different place, lock up both ammunition and gun, even put your gun behind a big scary picture of John Lott (lots of kids run from that guy, but, surprisingly, not all of them). No matter how much you lock a gun up, it still represents a danger to anyone in the same house. Especially (and unfortunately) children. The only way to completely keep children safe from guns is to get rid of the gun entirely.
There is exceptional logic. But let's not forget that getting rid of the gun entirely will also protect the serial rapist and murder, or choose the violent felon of your choice.

Say it with me:

"Think of the CHILDREN!!!!!"


Hillary's Presidential Aspirations and Democratic Worries

Captain's Quarter linked and commented on this article. I'm a bit surprised at the poll numbers. I would have expected Hillary to be doing better. (Though I'm pretty much gleeful at her rating.)
Recent polling underscores some of those worries. In a CNN/USA Today/ Gallup poll made public yesterday, 51% of voters said they would definitely not vote for Mrs. Clinton if she chooses to run for president in 2008. In a separate nationwide poll conducted this month for a spirits company, Diageo, and a political newsletter, the Hotline, 44% of all voters and 19% of self-described Democrats said they viewed the New York senator unfavorably.

According to Democratic Party insiders, such numbers are adding to skittishness about Mrs. Clinton's potential candidacy.

Heh. Go read the rest. It's fascinating how they see why Hillary is disliked.

15 Questions

The Judiciary Committee is going to start soon on it's hearings on the NSA terrorist spying related to domestic callers. Yeah, it's a long description, but far more accurate than the MSM or the Administration uses.

Specter has sent Gonzales a list of 15 questions that he wants answered in the hearing. You can see the letter here from NationalReview.com.

Some of the questions have interesting press:
• When foreign calls are made through U.S. switches, isn't such monitoring against the law or a violation of regulations that restrict the NSA from conducting surveillance inside the United States?

The last question goes to the heart of an argument McClellan has made in recent days that takes issue with calling the program "domestic spying."

The administration has said it allows the surveillance only when at least one end of the phone call or e-mail traffic is outside the United States and one person involved is a suspected terrorist.

"I think it leaves an inaccurate impression with the American people to say that this is domestic spying," McClellan said. "You don't call a flight from New York to somewhere in Afghanistan a domestic flight. It's called an international flight."
Very interesting. You could also point out that there is a very large amount of internet traffic that flows primarily through the US, because there is no direct data links between some foreign countries. If the NSA viewed these "conversations" while physically inside the US wouldn't mean that they are spying domestically. I'm going to guess that this is a clarification question, not one looking to provide new information.

Personally, I like number 6.
Didn't President Jimmy Carter's signature on the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the statement Carter issued at the time, amount to a renunciation of presidential authority "to conduct warrantless domestic surveillance"?
Maybe you can phrase it differently. How about "Did Carter's signature mean that he was renunicating the presidential power of gathering foreign intelligence from sources within the US?" There is an analysis of the war time and security powers in a Volokh Conspiracy piece looking at the NSA program.
The Supreme Court also left this question open in the so-called "Keith" case, United States v. United States District Court, in 1972. Justice Powell's opinion in the Keith case concluded that there was no national security exception to the Fourth Amendment for evidence collection involving domestic organizations, but expressly held open the possibility that such an exception existed for foreign intelligence collection:
Further, the instant case requires no judgment on the scope of the President's surveillance power with respect to the activities of foreign powers, within or without this country. The Attorney General's affidavit in this case states that the surveillances were "deemed necessary to protect the nation from attempts of domestic organizations to attack and subvert the existing structure of Government." There is no evidence of any involvement, directly or indirectly, of a foreign power.
And let's ask a question. One that I don't have an answer to. Is the Congress over reaching it's constitutional powers by establishing laws that restrict the President's constitutional powers? The contention being missed is that there are powers intrinsic to the various branches of government, and only the power of the President is under scrutiny here. All the assumptions made by the MSM have been that the Congress is right. An assumption that I'm not willing to accept without some better facts.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Did Reagan Win the Cold War?

Salon asks the question, so the answer is pretty obvious, "F' NO!" However, this is a very interesting review of a book that looks like it might be a good read. One part of the Salon review stuck out for me. From a single paragraph we have this, referring to supporting Iraq against Iran (arguably pretty stupid) or the mujahadin against the Soviets (arguably pretty smart):

Today, suffering the blowback from these and other short-sighted interventions, it's easy to write off such foreign adventures as stupid mistakes. Most of them were.

Followed by:
But as Gaddis reminds us, the authoritarian governments of the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China were truly monstrous; each killed millions of their own citizens through outright repression or atrocious mismanagement. The quantity of human suffering they caused is unimaginable. Knowing what we know now -- that the credibility and appeal of authoritarian communism would eventually wither away and the Soviet Union disintegrate from within -- it's easy to dismiss the threat as illusory, but people then did not know what we know now.

So the conclusion should be that maybe the people living under the threat had a better grasp of what was right & what was wrong than we do currently. Nope. We next get this:
And, it should be said, we do not know now what we will know 50 years from now...

The implication I get out of it is that because, while basically getting the big picture right, stopping the aggression of monstrous regimes in their attempt to spread their horrors to the rest of the world, small mistakes were made that have grown up to bite us on the butt. Therefor, we need to back off fighting the big fight because, while defeating Islamo-Fascists may be a good thing, we may accidently create some small problem that will hurt us down the road. Um, no sorry, BS.
While Islamo-Fascism, to a degree, can be traced back to mistakes made during the Cold War, the take away here, is that as bad as it is, it isn't as bad as things were, so fighting this fight NOW before it grows into something worse is like stopping Hitler when he only had Germany instead of waiting until he had Austria, Czechoslovakia, Alsace, Sudatenland, all of Poland... So, are we going to make mistakes? Yes, every war is filled with them. However the winners aren't the ones that run & hide, but the ones that make the fewest number of mistakes.
The suggestion is that if only we had left the Soviets alone, they would have collapsed completely on their own doesn't take into account that a big part of the collapse was because of the pressure we put on them. Playing this into, if only we left the Islamo-Fascists alone can be completely proven wrong by modern events. For example, we were doing little to nothing to Afghanistan when Osama ran his operations from there and it resulted in the loss of the World Trade Center, damage to the Pentagon and 3000 dead in America. Ignoring the problem won't make it better.

The Left's Campaign Against Free Speech

Very bothersome stuff. I find it hard to believe our First Amendments rights could really go away, but then again, I was absolutely sure that McCain-Feingold would be struck down as blatantly unconstitutional. And it was upheld. So now I'm not so sure.

Instead of fighting back with ideas, however, today's liberals quietly, relentlessly and illiberally are working to smother this flourishing universe of political discourse under a tangle of campaign-finance and media regulations. Their campaign represents the most sustained attack on free political speech in the United States since the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts.

I found this shocking:
Campaign-finance reform has a squeaky-clean image, but the dirty truth is that this speech-throttling legislation is partly the result of a hoax perpetrated by a handful of liberal foundations, led by the venerable Pew Charitable Trusts. New York Post reporter Ryan Sager exposed the scam when he got hold of a 2004 videotape of former Pew official Sean Treglia telling a roomful of journalists and professors how Pew and other foundations spent years bankrolling various experts, ostensibly independent nonprofits (including the Center for Public Integrity and Democracy 21), and media outlets (NPR got $1.2 million for "news coverage of financial influence in political decision-making")--all aimed at fooling Washington into thinking that Americans were clamoring for reform, when in truth there was little public pressure to "clean up the system." "The target group for all this activity was 535 people in Washington," said Mr. Treglia matter-of-factly, referring to Congress. "The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot--that everywhere they looked, in academic institutions, in the business community, in religious groups, in ethnic groups, everywhere, people were talking about reform."

One ray of hope:
This week, in Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC, the Supreme Court declined for now to rule definitively on a new challenge to McCain-Feingold. This may be excellent news, since it means the court is likely to decide a future appeal once Sam Alito has replaced Sandra Day O'Connor, who in McConnell cast the deciding vote in favor of McCain-Feingold. If neither Congress nor the Supreme Court does away with this unconstitutional, un-American travesty, we can expect election regulations, in the grim words of Justice Antonin Scalia's McConnell dissent, "to grow more voluminous, more detailed, and more complex in the years to come--and always, always, with the objective of reducing the excessive amount of speech." Thus will our most effective real protection against "the actuality and appearance of corruption"--the First Amendment itself--be nullified.

Internet Hunting

Internet Hunting? You have got to be kidding. This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. Though looks like some states are making it illegal.
A Texas man's plan to let people hunt through the internet, shooting live animals on his ranch with an on-site rifle controlled by their home computers, didn't get very far in his home state. By the time Texas lawmakers banned the practice last year, just one of two customers had bagged game electronically.

Now New Hampshire officials are trying to stop the practice from taking off here before it even starts.
Yeah, someone already had a site up to do the hunting.
Some critics say the technology numbs people to the idea of killing, the same way video games in which the player shoots other people could. Nowe says internet hunting goes against the principles of the sport and puts animals at an unfair disadvantage. He worries that, as the state population grows and open space shrinks, internet hunting would be seen as an alternative to the real thing.
Well, that's rubbish. The desenitizing argument is pretty much BS as far as I'm concerned. If it's fantasy, it's not real. This is real, something actually does die in this. A certain amount of respect and involvement should be required. It's not a sodding video game. What next?, let people drive a Porsche around LA via their computer?
Lockwood said he has been criticized for creating a game that lets the rich hunter shoot from his office or the lazy one play from his couch. He said instead, he wanted to create something to bring hunting to people who can't get out in the woods - people with disabilities, those who live in places where it's not possible to hunt or soldiers deployed overseas.

"The people having a reaction to it don't know the truth," he said. "They've read so much sensationalized stuff and have some preconceived notions."

Lockwood said opinions vary on what a hunt should be. But to those who are pushing for the ban in New Hampshire, internet hunting is unethical. They say the practice violates the principle of "fair chase" that dictates hunting as a sport.

Ok, this guy pegs the loser scale. Hunting is a physical sport and requires skills. It also requires an understanding of the consequences of the hunt. Bambi will die. Bambi will bleed, a lot. Bambi will need to be dressed and hauled out of the woods. I do feel badly about the disabled who can't experience the hunt. But you know, life isn't fair. Get used to it.

As for the Soldiers overseas, I'm going to seriously doubt that they have much desire to hunt over the internet, when they have the abilities to do it for real.
"It's my perception that fair chase is accomplished when an animal has a fair chance of escaping the hunter," said Steve Weber, chief of Fish and Game's wildlife division. "It's a matching of wits, if you will, between the hunter and the animal. It's the skill of the hunter which allows the hunter to be successful, rather than limits being put on the animal's ability to escape."

Weber said the animals don't have a fair chance when enclosed in a park and when the hunter has access to advanced technology. He said the state wildlife division opposes big game parks altogether. He said both the parks and the concept of internet hunting tarnishes the image of hunting and diminishes the respect that the non-hunting population has for the sport. For the same reasons, Weber opposes another bill in the House that would allow people to go to elk and red deer farms to shoot the corralled animals. Those animals can only be killed in approved slaughterhouses.

I'll agree with Weber to a point. By Lockwood's logic, he may as well set up the virtual abattoir so that the web user can cut the throat of the animal. There is no skill used here at all. But as for advanced technology, Weber forgets that is how humans got to be the dominant species. The rifle, the bow, even the pointy stick were advanced technologies that allowed man to hunt and survive.

CIA Secret Prisons: Where's the Evidence?

Yeah, WaPo. Imagine them actually responsibly reporting this story. I've been listening to this for two days now. "CIA has outsourced torture to eastern Europe." That's the limit of the report. Take a look at the Boston Globe "article" on the topic. They trumpet the Swiss investigator's report. But seem to miss a little point that is rather important.
A European human rights investigator on Tuesday accused the United States of "unacceptable and appalling" tactics in the fight against terrorism but said he was unable to independently confirm reports of secret prisons run by the CIA in Eastern Europe.

In an interim report presented to the Council of Europe, the continent's official human rights watchdog group, Dick Marty, a Swiss parliamentarian, also accused European governments of either collaborating or looking the other way as U.S. intelligence officers abducted or secretly detained terrorism suspects on European soil.

So why all the screaming? This is a report of noise and no substance.
"We can say that there is a great deal of coherent, convergent evidence pointing to the existence of a system of 'relocation' or 'outsourcing' of torture," he wrote in his report, the product of a two-month investigation. "Europe must clearly and unambiguously declare that it refuses outright to tolerate such doings in its territory, or anywhere else."

Marty has only limited powers to compel individuals and governments to cooperate. His report offered no fresh evidence to support his allegations, and he relied primarily on media reports and previously documented cases to draw his conclusions. In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack dismissed the findings as the "same old reports wrapped up in some new rhetoric."

So what has Marty proven? Well, firstly, that he is pretty much a propaganda shill, and secondly that he's never going to be able to provide a non-biased report should he actually find some form of evidence.
Marty said he could not find any "formal, irrefutable evidence" of CIA detention centers in Eastern Europe. He said he had recently obtained satellite data and flight logs from European agencies that could offer clues, however, and cited other "reliable" sources that justified his ongoing investigation.

"I know it will be a long and difficult path," he said in a telephone interview from Council of Europe headquarters in Strasbourg, France, when asked if he expected to find concrete answers. "But as far as the truth is concerned, I am fundamentally optimistic."

So with no formal or irrefutable evidence, what does he have? What should prompt him to cry damnation against the US? Well, he needs more time, of course.

But I really need to quote the BoGlo article on this:
Marty released an interim assessment in Strasbourg, France, yesterday that said he needed more time to determine whether secret CIA prisons had ever existed in Europe, as the Washington Post reported in November. But he said there was reason to continue the probe. Marty said he needed time to analyze flight logs of private planes used by the CIA in Europe and satellite imagery of airbases in Romania and other locations that were allegedly used as secret prisons, which he just received on Monday.

He also cited the need to find out more about allegations published this month by Switzerland's SonntagsBlick newspaper, that detention centers had existed in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Ukraine, as well as Romania and Poland.

Note the complete lack of mention the part about no evidence. The closest they come is this quote.
Denis MacShane, a British member of Parliament and former minister for Europe, told reporters Marty's assessment ''has more holes than a Swiss cheese," according to Reuters.
Fair reporting of the facts, I'm sure.

And no BoGlo article is complete without a comment by Comrade Markey:
''It's embarrassing that the Council of Europe is investigating practices of the United States, of the CIA," said Representative Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, who has asked the House International Relations Committee to set up a probe into the alleged secret prisoner transfers. ''The United States should be leading the effort to investigate violations of human rights, not being dragged by Europe to acknowledge the outsourcing of torture, which has been the US policy."
That's right, need another commission. Well, he should go right ahead, not like there is anything useful that he can do in any case.
Yesterday, Marty urged his European colleagues to ''go beyond" simply determining whether the CIA -- or its allies -- had broken European laws. He said they must decide whether Europe should partner with the US war on terror at all. ''The current US administration obviously considers that the traditional instruments of the democratic state governed by the rule of law -- justice, constitutional guarantees of a fair trial, respect for human dignity -- are inappropriate for facing up to the terrorist threat," he wrote. ''Is Europe prepared to accept such an approach?"
I suppose I must say the partnership so far has been pretty lacking from one partner. And that's not the US. I suppose in the end Marty would prefer that we all sit down and negotiate the problem away.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Trust Me, Your Privacy is Non-negotiable.

Oh this just kills me.

Microsoft has a message for consumers who use its search engine: Don't worry, your stuff is safe.

Any information the computer giant hands over as a result of a Department of Justice subpoena will contain "absolutely no personal data," according to a statement posted on a company blog over the weekend by Ken Moss, general manager of MSN Web Search. "Privacy of our customers is non-negotiable and something worth fighting to protect. We tried to strike the right balance in a very sensitive matter."

Oh, that's good.

This is all part of the COPA system that is trying to work out how to identify child pornography and those that use/disseminate it.
The federal government's requests--which amount to a list of one million random Web addresses and a week's worth of search queries--is supposed to help the government build a case that Internet porn is readily accessible to minors, thus creating a need for its once-denied Child Online Protection Act (COPA).
Google's fighting the whole thing, but I find it highly unlikely that it's about privacy. The data requested can easily be cleansed of identifiers.
Google's claim that the subpoenas could reveal trade secrets is up for debate: Aitan Goelman, partner with the Washington, D.C.-based law firm of Zuckerman Spaeder, says he doubts the data the government is looking for would reveal how Google executes its searches, but allows that a clever competitor could sift through the reports and might "be able to get from Point A to Point B and have insight into Google's methodologies."

But it's more likely that Google is worried about the results of its search queries and not the technology that powers them. The compromise the Department of Justice has worked out with Google's rivals calls for the search engines to let the government see how often certain search terms were used, but won't let it look up specific IP addresses to what individuals looked for.
I'm still betting on the issue of trade secrets though. Other companies have found ways to cleanse the data, so you can be certain that Google could do the same. The other part could very well be that porn searches are a significant amount of Google's bandwidth and providing such data would show just how much there is.
Google and its competitors all benefit from porn sites, which help generate search queries and page views. But Google is the only portal company that makes nearly all of its revenue from click-thru advertising. Restricting porn and porn advertising--the likely aim of COPA's sponsors--could hurt Google disproportionately.

And filtering in general would also hurt Google more than its competitors. The Google brand is built on the notion that the engine gives users the clearest picture of the Web, without playing favorites. Restricting content in any way could hurt Google's carefully burnished image, its 60% market share for search queries and its share price.
Google has a lot of self-interest in this whole query. User's privacy is much lower on the scale compared to keeping their piece of the market share and keeping up the stock price. Not that that motivation is wrong. It's just that making it sound like they're sole motivation is protecting user's privacy is a joke. If that was so, they wouldn't drop cookies into your browser every time you used their system. If you're a Firefox user, go to the Tools drop menu on the browser and click on options. When the window opens, click on the privacy label (little lock). Then click on the cookies tab and then click on "view cookies." If you use google you'll find their cookie on your system.

Oh and if you don't know what a cookie is:
An HTTP magic cookie (usually called simply a cookie) is a packet of information sent by a server to a World Wide Web browser and then sent back by the browser each time it accesses that server. Cookies are used for authentication, tracking, and maintaining user-specific information (preferences, electronic shopping cart, etc.)

Cookies have been of concern for Internet privacy, since they can be used for tracing the browsing of a user. As a result, they have been subject to legislation in various countries such as the United States, as well as the European Union. Cookies have also been criticized because the identification of users they provide is not always accurate and because they can be used for network attacks. Most modern browsers allow users to decide whether to accept cookies, but rejection makes several Web sites unusable. Some alternatives to cookies exist, with different drawbacks and features.

So your privacy is not really that much of a concern to the company that uses them.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Courage in Face of a Gun: Moronic Editorial

Caught this at SayUncle where the editor was taken to task for inaccurate reporting on the type of the gun. Please go and read.

I'll take them to task for their blatant distortion of facts regarding the politics of the gun.
The gun forces will stop at nothing to keep the pipeline open, and nothing shows their political muscle more dramatically than a legislative dirty trick that stripped New York City of its last great hope for holding the gun merchants to account.

Mayor Bloomberg, who has made fighting illegal weapons a centerpiece of his second term, Sens. Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton and the state's entire congressional delegation were played for suckers when someone - no one takes responsibility - slipped poisonous language into a federal budget bill in November.

Largely unnoticed until recently, the 45-word provision all but kills New York's chances of successfully suing gun manufacturers and distributors who allow their wares to leak into the black market. How so? By barring city lawyers from using their most powerful evidence: federal records identifying the worst of the death merchants.

The law in question originated with former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was kept alive by Bloomberg. Thanks to Brooklyn Federal Judge Jack Weinstein, the case appeared likely to become the gun industry's worst nightmare. So the NRA turned to Washington.

Pardon me, but what do you mean by "death merchants?" Are you referring to the firearms merchants or the criminals?
Late last year, the Republican-led Congress voted to immunize the industry from such legal action, but Weinstein ruled the city's case could continue anyway. That now turns out to be a hollow victory because at the very end of the legislative process, without public discussion, an NRA lackey sneaked a clause into the budget bill forbidding the use in court of data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that trace the origins of guns used in crimes.

The statistics are devastating. In 1998, for example, 57% of the crime guns were traced back to just 1.2% of all gun shops. No wonder the NRA is desperate to keep such damning numbers from a jury.

The city's lawyers must now fight with both hands tied behind their backs. We wish them luck. If New York is to win the larger battle for safer streets, however, our representatives in Washington must learn from this slimy episode, keep a sharper eye on the NRA's operatives and ensure that nothing like this ever happens again

Oh, he means the Firearms merchants. Note, that licensing of the dealers and audit is in the ATFE's scope of responsibilities. Why they haven't come down on thost 1.2% of dealers is something I don't know. But, access to those records would merely open the lawyers another opportunity to create litigation to punish the firearms industry for selling a legal product rather than focusing on stopping the crime at its cause.

Funny though, this federal law is based on the beliefs of the American people, not the NYCity Gun Grabbers. Laws for the whole country must take into account all citizens, not just the few that whine the loudest.

"Slimy episode?" Stupid editorial.

Eminent Domain NutJobs

Sorry, but I'm tired of this BS. You don't like the SCOTUS finding, then change the rules by local legislation or federal legislation. The problem with this Souter Farm thing is that the biggest mouths have no say in it.
The group, led by a California man, wants Justice David Souter's home seized to build an inn called the "Lost Liberty Hotel."

They submitted enough petition signatures _ only 25 were needed _ to bring the matter before voters in March. This weekend, they're descending on Souter's hometown, the central New Hampshire town of Weare, population 8,500, to rally for support.

"This is in the tradition of the Boston Tea Party and the Pine Tree Riot," Organizer Logan Darrow Clements said, referring to the riot that took place during the winter of 1771-1772, when colonists in Weare beat up officials appointed by King George III who fined them for logging white pines without approval.

Fine, you've been heard, now go away.

At least the local State Rep. is making sense:
State Rep. Neal Kurk, a Weare resident who is sponsoring two pieces of eminent domain legislation in New Hampshire, said he expects the group's proposal to be defeated overwhelmingly.

"Most people here see this as an act of revenge and an improper attack on the judicial system," Kurk said. "You don't go after a judge personally because you disagree with his judgments."

I'd bet the judge would even have legal recourse if he could show that the whole thing was punitive and not related to the needs of "the people."

Latest in the British Spy Arsenal: The Rock

Ok, so the spying isn't funny, but reading the details just kept me laughing.
A report made jointly with Russia's FSB intelligence service and broadcast on the Rossia channel Sunday evening said four British agents used a transmitter hidden in an imitation rock on a Moscow street to gather data from a local operative.

'We caught them red-handed,' FSB spokesman Sergei Ignatchenko said Monday, adding that the fate of the diplomats named in the report would now be decided at a senior level.

At his monthly news conference in London Monday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair refused to comment on the affair.

Hidden camera footage appears to show individuals walking up to the rock, affecting casualty but showing signs of agitation.

One man identified as a secretary-archivist at the embassy is shown returning to the rock and kicking it gently after it apparently failed to download successfully.

Another man is caught on camera carrying the rock away, implying that more than one such device was in use, since the Russian report showed one rock that FSB agents eventually removed and opened.

One British intelligence expert in London said the case offered a 'fascinating insight into the modern world of espionage.' The electronic devices used were a 'perfect spying machine.'

Ok, I can just see "Q" out there kicking the rock to try and get it running. Especially if it's the John Cleese version of "Q" as "R".
In The World Is Not Enough an assistant to Major Boothroyd (Q) was introduced, teasingly called "R" by Bond and played by John Cleese. His real name has yet to be revealed, but he is initially credited as R in The World is Not Enough stemming from a joke in which Bond asks the elder Q: "If you're Q does that make him R?" (Cleese's character responds, "Ah yes, the legendary 007 wit. Or at least, half of it")
But back to the topic.
However, some excerpts drew skepticism about the authenticity of the footage, like close-up shots of the supposed diplomat tapping instructions into his palm-top computer.

Alex Standish, editor of Jane's Intelligence Review in London, said the allegations should be treated with caution.

'In this business nothing is unlikely. It could be a KGB staged story to put pressure on the British, or it could be completely true', he said.

You know, I really am of the opinion that this could be real. It just strikes me as odd enough to match reality.

Reading List

This is from The Smallest Minority.

The list is from the Marine Corps Commandant's Reading List that he got from American Dinosaur. It's got some pretty good books on it, though I'm thinking there are a bunch there I wouldn't bother with.

Have a gander in any case.

Sniper Shot Record

Confirmed kill by a sniper in Iraq.

A U.S. Army sniper set a new distance record (1250 meters) for a kill with a 7.62mm sniper rifle. Staff Sergeant Jim Gilliland made the shot on September 27, 2005, during fighting in Ramadi. The Leupold sight Gilliland used is only accurate out to a thousand meters, so the chest shot was partially guesswork, and luck. Gilliland aimed 12 feet high, to adjust for the drop the bullet would make over that distance. Gilliland later found out that the Iraqi he dropped had just killed a friend of his, Staff Sergeant Jason Benford,.
That's one hell of a shot with .30 caliber. Makes me wonder at what distance that round becomes ineffective.

Oh and if you're interested here's a clip of a test of the M60E41. They fire 850 rounds (8+ belts) in one trigger pull. (It takes 1 minute and 45 seconds.) The shooter obviously had a good time.

Why can't I get jobs like that?

Cool Technology: Diver Suppression Systems

This is pretty cool. I wonder if the Navy is using these things at Navy Yards and Bases.

One of the more recent of the detection systems is the Cerberus360 swimmer detection system. This is a (large) refrigerator size device that is lowered to the ocean floor in the middle of the area you want to guard. Cerberus360 uses sonar to detect anything, large enough to be a threat, up to 800 meters out. Actually, during tests, it was able to detect an approaching underwater scuba swimmer at 900 meters. Cerberus360 works well in shallow water, and can be tweaked by the operator, once emplaced, to be even more accurate.
Al Qaeda groups are know to have bought scuba gear and trained for attacks like this, but none have been attempted yet. But last year, Raytheon Corporation got a patent for a sonar type device that can disable divers as well. The Raytheon "swimmer denial" uses sound waves that are tuned to cause severe gastric distress in humans. Makes you heave into your scuba mask. This makes further underwater operations difficult, if not impossible. However, Raytheon has not announced any timetable for the delivery of these systems.
That sounds quite effective to me. Though I wonder what it does to the local wild life. Sonar is known to screw up cetacean life, so these various systems aren't likely to be eco-friendly.

Titan Rain: Chinese Espionage

Here is a worrisome bit of information. From what I've found, it sounds like this internet activity out of China is a bit scant on details, at least as far as the public is concerned.
There'’s a Cyber War going on between China and the rest of the world. The problem is, thereÂ’s enough proof to know that China is behind an increasing number of Internet based attacks, but not enough to call China out on it. It began about five years ago, with an increasing number of very well executed Internet attacks that appeared to be coming from China. At first, it was thought to be adventurous computer science students, or criminals out to steal something they could sell. Then, in 2003, came the "“Titan Rain"” incident. This was a massive and well organized attack on American military networks. The people carrying out the attack really knew what they were doing, and thousands of military and industrial documents were sent back to China. The attackers were not able to cover their trail completely, and some of the attackers were traced back to a Chinese government facility in southern China. The Chinese government denied all, and the vast amounts of technical data American researchers had as proof was not considered compelling enough for the event to be turned into a major media or diplomatic event.
I found this article at Wikipedia for a definition of Titan Rain.
Titan Rain is the U.S. government's designation given to a series of coordinated attacks on American computer systems since 2003. The attacks are believed to be Chinese in origin, although their precise nature (i.e., state-sponsored espionage, corporate espionage, or random hacker attacks) is uncertain.

In early December of 2005 the director of the SANS Institute, a security institute in the U.S., said that the attacks were most likely the result of Chinese military hackers attempting to gather information on U.S. systems. [1]

Titan Rain hackers have gained access to many U.S. computer networks, including those at Lockheed Martin, Sandia National Laboratories, Redstone Arsenal, and NASA.

Schneier had a post on this back in December as well.
There seems to be a well-organized Chinese military hacking effort against the U.S. military. The U.S. code name for the effort is "Titan Rain." The news reports are spotty, and more than a little sensationalist, but I know people involved in this investigation -- the attackers are very well-organized.
I hope Schneier is correct. Though I'm going to guess that if this wasn't Chinese Military Espionage, there probably is something of the kind in the process.

Makes you wonder though, if security is such an important part of all of these "sensitive" companies and government agencies, why haven't they taken steps to secure this infrastructure.

John Moses Browning Birthday

Seems to be a bit of conflict in the information on line. I've found the date as being the 21st from Wikipedia and a couple of other places as the 23rd.

In any case, hears to the creator of the m1911, BAR, and the M2.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Swampies Indicted

Alledged members of ALF and ELF have been indicted.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 - A federal grand jury in Eugene, Ore., has indicted 11 people on charges
that they committed acts of domestic terrorism on behalf of two shadowy environmental groups, the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front.

Federal officials said Friday that the defendants were responsible for 17 incidents in five Western states from 1996 to late 2001.

The indictment, which was returned on Thursday and unsealed on Friday, listed 65 charges, including arson, sabotage and conspiracy in attacks against government facilities, research centers and private businesses.

This will be interesting to watch. The descriptions of ALF and ELF as cell groups.

The Earth Liberation Front, or ELF, describes itself as an anonymous, leaderless cell organization and says on its Web site, "Any individuals who committed arson or any other illegal acts under the ELF name are individuals who choose to do so under the banner of ELF and do so only driven by their personal conscience."

People identifying themselves with the Animal Liberation Front, or ALF, often convey information through a separate organization called the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, whose Web site says actions carried out in ALF's name may be "illegal under a current societal structure that fails to recognize the rights of nonhuman animals to live free of suffering."

Jerry Vlasak, a spokesman for the press operation, said that because ALF was "an underground organization" of no known members, "law enforcement is rounding up known activists."

I'd say that Vlasak is probably deceiving himself if he really thinks that the government would just round up innocent activists rather than those that they probably have actual evidence against. Seeing that the government doesn't in general get away with arresting innocents for the fun of it.

NH No Retreat Legislation

This is very interesting. I'm really liking some of the legislation on the board for this year.

1 Physical Force in Defense of a Person. Amend RSA 627:4, II(d) to read as follows:

(d) Is likely to use any unlawful force in the commission of a felony against the actor within such actor's dwelling [or], its curtilage, or in any place where the actor has a right to be.

2 Physical Force in Defense of a Person. Amend RSA 627:4, III(a) to read as follows:

(a) Retreat from the encounter, except that he or she is not required to retreat if he or she is within his or her dwelling [or], its curtilage, or in any place where he or she has a right to be, and was not the initial aggressor; or

3 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2007.

Not really much by way of news, but I did find this:
Milford Sen. Peter Bragdon has proposed changing the law so a person under attack could respond with deadly force, even if an escape route is available. The only exception under the current law involves deadly threats made in a person's home.

Bragdon, a Republican, said his bill would make it clear that people have the right to defend themselves without first having to retreat.
Associate Attorney General Ann Rice said changing the law increases the potential for deadly encounters in the streets. She said deadly force should only be used in self-defense when there is no other reasonable alternative.
Bragdon isn't quite right. I believe the law would still require that only "like" force be used. If you didn't think your life was in danger you couldn't just shoot an attacker.

As for Rice, her contention of the increase of deadly force is the usual crap we expect from the "don't defend yourself" crowd. I'd be very surprised if the State Police and police organizations overall don't come out with this type of statements. This law is very similar to the one in Florida and I've yet to hear of any "Dodge City" gun battles in Florida that have come about due to their law.

I think the law may have a tougher time than the No-Confiscation law. But I think NH has shown that it's previous gun laws have not changed the environment of violence in any negative way.

Friday, January 20, 2006


I'm voting for there being 4.

The 7-continent model is usually taught in Western Europe, the United States, and Australia. In Canada, the government-approved Atlas of Canada names 7 continents and teaches Oceania instead of Australia. The 6-continent combined-America model is taught in Asia and Latin America. The 6-continent Eurasia model is preferred by the scientific community, and as such is commonly found in all parts of the world, but is especially used in Russia and other countries of Eastern Europe, and in Japan. Historians may use the 5-continent model in which North Africa is separated from Sub-Saharan Africa and attached to Eurasia (Jared Diamond) or the 4-continent Afro-Eurasian model (Andre Gunder Frank).

NH Gun Confiscation Law

Well, this is very interesting:

1 New Paragraph; State of Emergency; Confiscation of Firearms Prohibited. Amend RSA 4:46 by inserting after paragraph VI the following new paragraph:

VII.(a) Any law enforcement officer, person acting as a law enforcement officer, or other public official who confiscates or attempts to confiscate lawfully carried or lawfully owned firearms in this state during a declared state of emergency shall be charged with a class A felony.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of RSA 651:2, any violation of this paragraph shall be punishable by a fine of not less than $5,000, a letter of reprimand by the violator’s chief presiding law enforcement officer, and imprisonment for not less than 30 days in a state correctional facility.

2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

Something to watch for the results.

Now why can't they move any faster on the Eminent Domain law?

Blackwater Mercs Film

Caught this at Vodkapundit linking to The Officers' Club.

Caution. This is not something you want to be playing at work. Some rough language.

I have to agree with John Noonan's commentary.

Quote of the day "Jesus Christ, it's like a f*cking turkey shoot!"
At Vodkapundit the comments are, uh, interesting. One mentions that the mercs only remark on one hit. But after you watch the film, you'll probably think this to be foolish. The amount of shooting they're doing and the "turkey shoot" comment tells me that they really didn't have to chalk up the hits.

I have to say, I thought, "what cold blooded bastards." And I don't mean that in a derogatory manner. If that sniper is as good as it appears, his kill count was probably really high.

Edgar Allan Poe at 197

One of my favorite writers. Another Birthday worth celebrating. I think a large glass of cognac will do. I don't have any Amontillado though.

Unfortunately, the jack-ass sector of the public is screwing with the man who has been leaving flowers and a bottle of cognac at Poe's grave since 1949.
Some of the 25 spectators drawn to a tiny, locked graveyard in downtown Baltimore for the ceremony climbed over the walls of the site and were "running all over the place trying to find out how the guy gets in," according to Jeff Jerome, the most faithful viewer of the event.
Having some respect for other's seems to be sorely lacking. Makes a strong point that society hasn't gotten better with progress.

No cognac. Guess I'll have to use Scotch.