Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Self-defense and Pacifism

Here's a baffling discussion at SayUncle. Armed Pacifist?

Take a read.

mAss Backwards on NH Signs

The best part is the sign that he thinks should be posted on the Massachusetts border with NH.

Oh, that is just too fun.

Kissinger on Hamas

Long Op-Ed, but worth reading.

A serious peace process assumes a reciprocal willingness to compromise. But traditional diplomacy works most effectively when there is a general agreement on goals; a minimum condition is that both sides accept each other's legitimacy, that the right of the parties to exist is taken for granted.
The emergence of Hamas as the dominant faction in Palestine should not be treated as a radical departure. Hamas represents the mind-set that prevented the full recognition of Israel's legitimacy by the PLO for all these decades, kept Yasser Arafat from accepting partition of Palestine at Camp David in 2000, produced two intifadas and consistently supported terrorism. Far too much of the debate within the Palestinian camp has been over whether Israel should be destroyed immediately by permanent confrontation or in stages in which occasional negotiations serve as periodic armistices. The reaction of the PLO's Fatah to the Hamas electoral victory has been an attempt to outflank Hamas on the radical side. Only a small number of moderates have accepted genuine and permanent coexistence.
Unfortunately, I just don't see peace coming. With the recent (vague) agreement by Iran to provide funding for Hamas, umm, Palestine, there is an obvious confederacy of terrorist regimes. This doesn't appear to be a step forward. But then, Hamas has to make up for the money that their political involvement has caused. And, as expected, the EU is already caving in to provide money for some reason.
The European Union agreed Monday to grant $144 million in urgent aid to the Palestinians before a government led by the Islamist militant group Hamas takes power, a move aimed at preventing a financial collapse that could add to the chaos in the Middle East.

But the EU kept silent on what it would do once Hamas assumes control of the Palestinian government.

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said the aid was required to avoid "economic chaos'' from paralyzing the Palestinian Authority. It was also designed to show European support for the Palestinians remains undiminished at least until Hamas establishes its control.

The EU's decision was welcomed by the U.S. State Department.

I would have thought that chaos is the desired effect for the witholding of the funds. The "cause and effect" reality of politics seems to be missing here. If the US State Department supports this scheme, I'm thinking they are missing this point.

I'd say that the EU decision would have some effect to sway Palestine/Hamas to play nice, except for the involvement of Iran. I find it unlikely that Hamas would prefer funding from the EU. I'd think they'd take funding where ever they can get it, as long as they can maintain their control and agenda. Right now, they are having it their way.

UN Human Rights Council

Another lame council from the UN. Shock.

The draft aims to create a body to replace the current Human Rights Commission, flawed because it allows countries that violate human rights - like Cuba and Sudan - onto the panel. The new council is a lynch-pin to moving ahead with UN reform, and was intended to be in place by next month.

But the proposal falls short of standards set by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the US and several Western nations, who wanted to require a two-thirds majority for admission, and who wanted more clear standards for measuring whether countries are upholding the highest human rights standards.

Instead, the draft requires only a simple majority for admission, and makes it more difficult to eject someone from the council for human rights violations by requiring a two-thirds majority. It also fails to specify how a country's human rights performance would be measured.

Bolton last week rejected the draft, while Annan expressed disappointment but decided to go along with it.

Why would you make a council that is easy to get onto and difficult to get off of? (Other than allowing the dictatorial regimes an easier entry into the council thus watering down its usefulness.) That is completely backwards. Of course having no method to measure human rights performance makes this another feel-good group.

But Annan is calling for the US to support this half-assed council.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on the United States to give rapid backing to plans to set up a human rights council, while admitting the plan was not perfect. The councils aimed at replacing the largely-discredited UN Human Rights Commission, tarnished by the presence on it of states with bad rights records.
The council doesn't have to be perfect, but reasonable would be a nice start.
"We are a country that puts high value on human rights. We wouldn't vote in favor if we weren't sure it was going to be an improvement," said Chile's U.N. ambassador, Heraldo Munoz, a former dissident who was jailed under former Chilean ruler Augusto Pinochet.
I'm fascinated by people who only want to fix things part way. Especially those that yell loudest about human rights. Amnesty International and Jimmy Carter like this so it must be good. The problem is that this isn't even adequate. What happens when you do have a member that is obviously off the edge on human rights, but you can't get the super-majority to get them off the council? I'll tell you. Nothing. Then you have a council that is meaningless.

How is it that so many countries state that they want the UN to be effective, but they continually emplace councils that are heavily flawed and ineffective? With councils like this there is the continuation of the view that the UN is still following the wrong path.

Complete waste of time.

Monday, February 27, 2006

House Gun

I saw the post over at mAss Backwards and I thought I'd take part too. Mine is the Sig Sauer P245, which at the time I bought it, was the only .45 I could get new in the People's Republic of Massachusetts. I've been pretty happy with it, although the last time I went shooting with Nyarlathotep, it jammed on both of us. At this point, I'm blaming the Wolf ammo. Anyway, here's a picture.
GeekWife has a S&W Chief's Special in .40SW. I hate the damned thing, but as she constantly reminds me, it's her gun, not mine.
For a Katrina gun... We've got options. I'd say it depends on the current status of ammo in the safe.

What. The. F***?!

I'm at a loss for words.

Never has an article made me blink with astonishment as much as when I read in yesterday's New York Times magazine that Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, former ambassador-at-large for the Taliban, is now studying at Yale on a U.S. student visa.

I don't believe Mr. Rahmatullah had direct knowledge of the 9/11 plot, and I don't think he has ever killed anyone. I can appreciate that he is trying to rebuild his life. But he willingly and cheerfully served an evil regime in a manner that would have made Goebbels proud.

UAE and Port Security

Yeah, I missed the commentary at the start of this mess. But then, It hasn't gotten any better. I find Krauthammer's take on all of this fairly interesting.
And we hapless Americans -- already desperately trying to mediate, pacify and baby-sit the ruins of Churchill's Empire: Iraq, Palestine, India/Pakistan, Yemen, even (Anglo-Egyptian) Sudan -- would not be in the midst of a mini-firestorm over the sale of the venerable P&O, which manages six American ports, to the UAE.

This has raised the obvious question of whether we want our ports, through which a nuclear bomb could come, handled by a country two of whose nationals flew into the South Tower on Sept. 11 and which has a history of laundering money and nuclear secrets from bad guys to worse guys.

There is a point on security and control. It's difficult to determine if the UAE could ensure that none of the management personnel of the company were terrorist operatives. Even minor tampering with the port system could allow for the entry of weapons that could be used against the citizenry. Not to mention the fact that many of these managers would be given access to information directly concerning port security. Both are things that are very worrisome.

Seeing that these ports are vital infrastructure, I don't see how the Bush administration could have approved this. I understand that the UAE has been an ally of good standing for some time, but then, that doesn't justify handing a company controlled by a foreign government the controls of vital infrastructure.

The politics of this whole thing have been pretty disturbing.
Congress is up in arms. The Democrats, in particular, are in full cry, gleeful to at last get to the right of George Bush on an issue of national security.

Gleeful, and shamelessly hypocritical. If a citizen of the UAE walked into an airport in full burnoose and flowing robes, speaking only Arabic, Democrats would be deeply offended, and might even sue, if the security people were to give him any more scrutiny than they would to my sweet 84-year-old mother.

Democrats loudly denounce any thought of racial profiling. But when that same Arab, attired in business suit and MBA, and with a good record of running ports in 15 countries, buys P&O, Democrats howl at the very idea of allowing Arabs to run our ports. (Republicans are howling, too, but they don't grandstand on the issue of racial profiling.)

Can't put it more clearly than that. And Krauthammer does point out that they are also right on this subject.
That is the danger, and it is a risk, probably an unnecessary one. It's not quite the end of the world that Democratic and Republican critics have portrayed it to be. After all, the UAE, which is run by a friendly regime, manages ports in other countries without any such incidents. Employees in other countries could leak or betray us just as easily. The issue, however, is that they are statistically more likely to be found in the UAE than, for example, in Britain.

It's a fairly close call. I can sympathize with the president's stubbornness in sticking to the deal. He is responsible for our foreign relations, and believes, not unreasonably, that it would harm our broader national interest to reject and humiliate a moderate Middle Eastern ally by pulling the contract just because a company is run by Arabs.

This contract should have been stopped at an earlier stage, but at this point doing so would cause too much damage to our relations with moderate Arab states. There are no very good options. The best exit strategy is this: (1) Allow the contract to go through; (2) give it heightened scrutiny by assigning a team of U.S. government agents to work inside the company at least for the first few years to make sure security is tight and information closely held; (3) have the team report every six months to both the executive and a select congressional committee.

The Bush administration has definitely blown this one. The immediate refusal to put a hold on the deal and allow a review was idiotic. I understand that the president is in charge of foreign policy, but this isn't solely a foreign policy issue. The investigations made by the administration could very well have been sufficient, but it still doesn't strike one as they faulted toward security.

Krauthammer's option sounds reasonable, but I would still prefer that vital infrastructure be controlled solely by entities fully accountable to the US.

"You're Going to Love it Here"

Proposal to replace the bloody ridiculous "You're Going to Love it Here" signs with the state motto sounds good to me. Those new signs are cloying and idiotic.
New signs on New Hampshire's borders tell visitors, "You're going to love it here."

The only problem is the governor and other top officials hate them.
Along with most of the citizens.
"Right now, every time I go past those things I'm embarrassed," Senate Majority Leader Robert Clegg said Thursday.

Gov. John Lynch acknowledged that he, too, can't wait to get rid of the beige signs that depict a small village along with the "love it" slogan.

"It's true. I want to be there when they take out the first one," he said. "Those signs could be put up in any state in the country."

Personally, I'd prefer they just pull the damn things down and leave them off, but the government has other ideas.
The Senate passed a bill Thursday to require the state motto, "Live Free or Die," on highway welcoming signs. The motto could replace the "love it" slogan on the beige signs, or, more likely, appear on new signs.

Sen. Robert Letourneau, R-Derry, who sponsored the bill, favors the latter.

"I don't think adding the motto to an ugly sign will do any good," he said.

At $10,000 to change them, I say just take them down. And then hunt down who designed the signs and give them a hell of a good beating. Them and anyone involved that approved of these friggin' signs.
The motto honors the state's most distinguished Revolutionary War hero, Gen. John Stark. According to the state Web site, Stark used it in a toast in 1809 when poor health led him to decline an invitation to a reunion of the 1777 Battle of Bennington in neighboring Vermont. Stark said, "Live free or die; death is not the worst of evils."
I think the quote in full is far more indicative of the attitude of NH than the clipped version. At least it used to be.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

If You're Not Doing Anything Wrong, Why Should You Worry?

Caught this at Schneier. This tops out the extreme in statements that make me angry.
HOUSTON -- Houston's police chief on Wednesday proposed placing surveillance cameras in apartment complexes, downtown streets, shopping malls and even private homes to fight crime during a shortage of police officers.

"I know a lot of people are concerned about Big Brother, but my response to that is, if you are not doing anything wrong, why should you worry about it?" Chief Harold Hurtt told reporters Wednesday at a regular briefing.

Why should I worry? Well, because I don't want you having access to my life in any aspect. Not to mention that these cameras don't actually prevent crime, but they certainly help the police with cleaning up the mess later. Personally, I'd prefer being protected before hand. But then, the police aren't responsible for protecting you, so why should they.
Building permits should require malls and large apartment complexes to install surveillance cameras, Hurtt said. And if a homeowner requires repeated police response, it is reasonable to require camera surveillance of the property, he said.
Ah, I see, so a person has problems with criminals, so they are the ones that must go under constant surveillance. Doesn't that strike you as being a bit ass-backwards?

I've a suggestion. If we as citizens shouldn't have any objection, let's start the pilot program by installing cameras in the houses of ALL police officers and ALL politicians. Hey, why should they have any reason to worry about the cameras, right?

Other worries about this type of idea come down to why should we the citizens trust the government to protect the information gathered by these cameras? The film footage could easily be abused by those controlling it. Never see anyone's private film footage getting onto the internet have we? This is also a case of the police saying "trust me." Police never do anything wrong do they? I suppose Internal Affairs departments are only there to comfort the public.

Really bad idea.

Not In My Backyard: Cape Wind Park

Here's a shocker, Ted Kennedy and Mitt Romney are supporting legislation that will effectively shutdown the wind energy park off of Cape Cod.
A proposal before Congress that would limit the construction of wind turbines near shipping lanes could effectively doom plans to build the country's first offshore wind farm near Massachusetts, the project's supporters say.

Officials at Cape Wind Associates LLC say that the rule, being considered as an amendment to a bill in a House-Senate conference committee, would rule out so many crucial sections of Nantucket Sound that there would not be enough space for their 130-windmill complex.

The Cape Wind project, begun four years ago, has proved consistently controversial: Though environmentalists have praised it for providing a renewable source of energy, Cape Wind has determined opponents who are concerned about its impact on fishing, navigation and beachfront views.

Those against it are a powerful and bipartisan group, including Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.)
Their basis for legislation is:
He said the ban was based on research in Britain, which found that the turbines' massive blades could interfere with shipboard radar. In the letter, Young singled out the Cape Wind site -- which is surrounded by sea routes between Cape Cod and the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard -- as particularly unsafe.
Funny that they are ignoring previous research that found no issues though.
Officials at Cape Wind call the concerns about navigation a pretext for killing the project. They noted that a risk assessment completed by a contractor for the Army Corps of Engineers in 2003 found that "the presence of the Wind Park . . . is not expected to create negative impacts to navigational safety."
This makes no sense to me at all other than it's a bunch of fat-cats getting their perfect views maintained with the aid of the fat-cat politicians. How convenient that they went out and found a report to support their view, even if a professional engineering group in the government stated that there isn't a problem.

So, instead of allowing a windmill park that could provide enough energy for the Cape and Islands and maybe help in that little dependency on oil issue, we have the rich having their pristine views. Maybe they should get an additional tax on their energy to pay for those views.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

New Taser: Non-Lethals and Amnesty International

Caught this at Gun Watch.

The leading taser manufacturer in the US has developed a taser that can be fired from a shotgun.
The nation's largest stun-gun manufacturer is working on a new way to deliver electricity to the human body: through 12-gauge shotgun shells.

Though it's still being developed, Taser International Inc. says the new product will allow police officers and U.S. troops to hit someone from a much greater distance than its current line of Tasers, which Amnesty International has cited in more than 120 deaths.

The eXtended Range Electro-Muscular Projectile, or XREP, will be a shotgun shell designed to combine the blunt-force trauma of a fast-moving baseball with the electrical current of a stun gun.

"It will truly cause incapacitation," company spokesman Steve Tuttle said.

Fascinating that the article starts out with a statement from Amnesty International. The group that just doesn't get the concept of the non-lethal weapon. I'll get to this more below.
Tasers shoot two barbed darts that deliver 50,000-volt jolts to the human body using a special electrical wave form that overwhelms the nervous system and temporarily paralyzes people.

But the weapons, considered by the company to be low-level-force devices, can hit a target only about 25 feet away.

Test models of the XREP shells currently reach 100 feet, though the military has challenged the company to extend the range to 330 feet, the company said.

"It's going to give you a pretty good thump when it hits," said Taser President Tom Smith, "but our design goal is to make it safe even at the muzzle."

Now that is cool. This should increase the police's ability to take down dangerous criminals from a distance with less risk. The military applications are even better. I wonder how accurate the round is though.
Already, the product is drawing criticism from human rights organizations, who have accused law-enforcement agencies of using the existing Tasers when more humane options are available. Amnesty International has called for independent studies on their safety.

"Amnesty's concern with this product would be similar to those with Tasers being used currently," said Amnesty International spokesman Edward Jackson. "Where is the independent comprehensive medical testing? In the absence of that testing, we run the risk of turning private citizens into guinea pigs."

Well I'm going to guess that testing is done, though I think AI completely misses the point of the use of non-lethals. The concept shouldn't be the assurance that the non-lethal won't hurt or kill, but that it is much less likely to. Here's a comparison. Taser or 9mm round. Do you use the non-lethal or the lethal on a criminal? I suppose AI would prefer that the police merely allow the criminal to go there own way rather than risk injuring them. Personally, I'd rather they be tasered and arrested rather than having me put a .45 hollow point into them.

I fully understand that there have been misuses of the taser, but that doesn't negate the appropriateness of such a weapon in the police's arsenal.

Home from Perdition

Dallas was pretty much horrible. I love when business trips have nothing go right. I remarked about poor planning when I was notified about having to go, and that poor planning made things go from bad to worse.

Of course, having a "partner" company decide that your company must provide the tools to validate your competitors solution is a touch insulting. Having a pompous jackass to interface with doesn't help either. I suppose I was lucky that he only threatened my supervisor and not me. I don't like the thought of having to be bailed out of jail in Texas. (I'm not fond of people jabbing a finger in my chest and screaming in my face, so having my supervisor go through it was probably advantageous. I did get that fight-or-flight adrenalin rush, but there was no flight part.)
Well, I hope never to go there again. We got orders on Thursday, from our CEO, to pack up and ship all the equipment home. Our "partner" now has no method to validate their solution, so hopefully this will screw them pretty hard.

Had the worst Sushi I've ever had in my life in Dallas.
I did get to experience Fogo de Chao. If you're a large carnivore and have someone else paying for it, it's outstanding.

I also spent the week in shirt sleeves while everyone else was wearing winter clothes. I suppose living in New England has some advantages.

I suppose the worst part of it all was spending 14 hour days with my supervisor, who I don't care for. Having to listen to him continuously saying it was a "good experience" when it was a lousy experience just made me mad. Over and over again.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Salon: Still Cowards

So Salon publishes a great article by the cartoonist for the Tulsa World. He outlines, in ways I never could, the depth of the stupidity & cowardice of the media in not covering the cartoons. Hurrah for Salon for publishing this article.
But... where are the cartoons in Salon? No where to be found. They explain in another article that they don't have to publish the cartoons since they can be found in other venues. Well, can't the newspapers & news shows, so correctly chastised in the article they just published say the same thing?
Cowardice still rears it's ugly head at the offices of Salon.com.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Ray of Hope?

Reading this gave me a little sense of hope that maybe academia is not hopelessly lost to the left. This piece regarding the resignation of Harvard's president Larry Summers had this to say regarding the current students of Harvard.

But student response to the ouster suggests another long-term outcome. Although the activists of yesteryear may have found a temporary stronghold in the universities, a new generation of students has had its fill of radicalism. Sobered by the heavy financial burdens most of their families have to bear for their schooling, they want an education solid enough to warrant the investment. Chastened by the fall-out of the sexual revolution and the breakdown of the family, they are wary of human experiments that destabilize society even further. Alert to the war that is being waged against America, they feel responsible for its defense even when they may not agree with the policies of the current administration. If the students I have come to know at Harvard are at all representative, a new moral seriousness prevails on campus, one that has yet to affect the faculty members because it does not yet know how to marshal its powers.

That would be good news indeed.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

David Gregory, I revoke my proxy

I have to agree.
H/T: Transterrestrial Musings by way of Instapundit
Now, does it work like a vampire, will he just fly out the door now?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

New Wardrobe Time

Based on this news report through Yahoo, I'm pretty sure I need to go to MetroSpy and buy this shirt. These guys have guts and should be supported by everyone who really does believe in the Freedom of Speech, even when it offends someone. Try though I might, I just can't find that "except when it offends non-white, non-christians" clause the First Amendment. I'll keep looking.
Yo! Geekwife. Too late for another birthday present?

Monday, February 20, 2006

SS-190 on Wikipedia

So much for the vaunted "armor piercing" of this scary new gun. As noted below, it's the ammunition, not the firearm, but it's not all the available ammo, but a single variant that has made the list. But the real kicker is:

All game hunting cartridges, and even several pistol cartridges, are capable of such penetration.

Followed by:
The ammunition was not restricted for civilian sales, since it is not legally recognized as armor piercing by the ATF.

I'm so glad that the responsible agencies like the Boston Police Department aren't helping to propogate completely incorrect information... [/sarcasm off]

Boston Police Research

Looks like the Boston Police do their research in the same manner as does Mayor Menino. Ignore the facts and just go with the knee jerk propaganda of the gun grabbers.
The Boston Police Department is sounding the alarm that a new type of high-powered handgun is on the streets that fires rounds police say can pierce many kinds of bulletproof vests worn by officers.

The department issued a safety alert to officers after two men were shot with the gun in Dorchester and Mattapan last week. The alert, obtained by the Globe, warned that the FN Five-Seven handgun fires the bullets at such a velocity that they ''will punch through your vest, PLATE included."

Yesterday, officers of all ranks expressed concern that the weapon has surfaced in Boston.

''These aren't recreational weapons," Police Commissioner Kathleen M. O'Toole said in an interview. ''This is an example of a gun designed to kill people."

Added one rank-and-file officer: ''The ability to go through a vest . . . it's just way too dangerous. It's real scary."

They seem to have missed that the ammo that can do this (armor piercing) isn't legally purchased by the public. But then, maybe the ATF made a mistake. Or maybe these people know more than those that allowed the importation of these handguns. I doubt it though.

Slow Week From Me

Got a call yesterday telling me I have to be in Dallas tomorrow. So this week will probably be sparse for posting.

I'll be very happy when this company hires some Sales Engineers and learns how to plan.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Clinton on Cartoons

Well, Bill Clinton gets a small portion of the topic correct, while completely ignoring the majority of the conflict.
Mr Clinton made his comments in Pakistan where he was launching an HIV/Aids project.

"I strongly disagree with the creation and publication of cartoons that are considered blasphemous by the Muslims around the world," the AFP news agency quotes him as saying.

"I thought it was a mistake."

But he lamented the escalation of differences over the issue.

"I had no objections to Muslims who were demonstrating in a peaceful way their convictions.

"I thought [the cartoons issue] was also a great opportunity which I fear has been squandered to build bridges," AFP reports.
Missing a bit. I'd say that there must be something missing of his statements, but I'm going to doubt that. No mention of the demands for censorship of the Danish free press or the hypocrisy of the Moslem world caricaturing of other religions. But then, Bill isn't out there to make relevant social commentary, he's just trying to be popular.


Krauthammer has a reasonable look at the controversy.

I'm just glad he didn't shoot Scalia.

Well, everyone's entitled to one Quailgate joke, so that's mine. Although the best one, occurring at the Monday White House news briefing, was only inadvertently funny: Reporter's question to Scott McClellan, "Would this be much more serious if the man had died?

''This news briefing got famously out of control (as a psychiatrist, the groups I ran for inpatient schizophrenics were far more civilized) over the new great issue of our time: Why was there a 14-hour delay in calling the press?
Excellent bit of humor there.

I've had the discussions with the famously liberal citizens of the People's Republic of Massachusetts that I work with on the blame game. Most of their howling has been from their analysis of people pointing out that Whittington walked in unannounced onto a firing line and thus accepts some of the blame. (They then go and completely ignore that Cheney stated, quite clearly, that Whittington is blameless.)

My first question is whether they have ever hunted wild birds before. Which the answer, to no particular surprise, is no.

Next I ask, do you teach your children to stop and look both ways before crossing the street, and then not cross if a car is coming? (Answer is Yes)

So, Let's compare Whittington's actions to a child crossing a street. The car's driver has the ultimate responsibility not to run down a pedestrian who steps out into the street, but if one does and is struck, then the driver has had an accident to which the pedestrian participated. The fault of the accident still primarily lies with the driver. Whittington walked into the end position of the shooting line which was being worked by Cheney. The shooting angle that Cheney had been using would have been greatly decreased if he had known of Whittington's presence, as that is how shooting lines work if you know what you're doing. By announcing himself, Whittington would have been stopping and looking both ways before crossing the street. It's that simple.

Doesn't get Cheney off the hook for not ensuring a clear shot. That was still a bad error. But like the pedestrian, you don't step in front of a car from a self-preservation point of view.

I don't see anything wrong with having a joke about Cheney's mistake. Politics fairly demand that. But then the Democrats have really stretched this all into strange little knots. Conspiracy theories on Cheney covering up being drunk (which has no evidence but really sounds good) to Reid and Pelosi making this out to be an indicator to every Administration problem from Katrina, Abu Ghraib, to Iraq. Pretty long stretches for all of that.

It really is quite informative to the machinations of the Political machines to watch how this accident has been turned around for political gerrymandering.

George Will Gets it Very Wrong

I caught this piece by George Will yesterday and was a bit surprised that he appears to have gotten quite a bit of the NSA eves-dropping argument related to the AUMF completely wrong.

Fortunately I can aim you at Mark Levin at NRO who goes about the specifics on Will's flawed analysis. (That way I don't have to do any real work like finding links and stuff like that.)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Abu Ghraib, Salon, Cartoons, Pictures

Salon.com, which never published the infamous Mohamed comics, has now published a bunch of previously unpublished, and possibly top secret, photos of Abu Ghraib. I wish I was as able to comment on these acts as well as this letter that was posted on their web site:

You have published new photos of the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison, conducted by U.S. military personnel at the scene. You have claimed this abuse and torture was "done in our name," implying that it was a part of official administration or military policy, despite the fact that (I quote from your own main essay) "No high-ranking officer or official has yet been charged in the abuse scandal that blackened America's reputation across the world." That these things were done in our name is certainly a theory, but it has yet to be proven as the assertion you make.

You should now publish photos of restored public works in Iraq, of rebuilt cities and towns, of opened schools, of emptied prisons, of a nascent democratic process, as these things also were "done in our name." To do otherwise is rank hypocrisy.

You should publish the cartoons which have fueled riots in Europe by those who believe their existence has blasphemed their religious leader, since you have published reports on the riots and the unrest and we have a "right to know" what started this mess. To do otherwise is rank hypocrisy.

You should publish images or video released by terrorist groups in the Midde East who have kidnapped and murdered Westerners as well as their own people, including the scenes of beheadings which are included in communications from those groups. You should also publish images or video of the aftermath of the many attacks terrorist groups make in the region, not excluding the dead and injured, young and old alike, because we have a "right to know" what's going on in the area besides those things done by US troops and to know that US soldiers are not the only targets of these criminals. To do otherwise is rank hypocrisy.

In my opnion, that's what you should do. What you will do is, I'm afraid, something else entirely.

-- Brett

The cowardice that, to my mind, is being displayed by most journalists is pretty shocking. I'm not even going to go into whether or not they've got a bias left or right, but they are abject cowards. Let's face it, in publishing these photo's, what do they risk? Losing a subscription or three (I may let mine lapse)? But if they had actually published the infamous comics of Mohamed, they might have risked actual physical harm for the publication of drawings. I used to honestly believe that journalists were brave individuals who did risk their skins in order to get to the bottom of a story. Not any more. I find it interesting that fear of physical harm will shut down a free press in a free country, not just in horrifying despotic third world countries. Clearly, our ability to avoid becoming one of these nasty places is about as wide as one or two beheaded reporters with a few death threats tossed in. I do find this back door loss of our First Amendment freedoms to actually be scary.

Cheney Coverup

The linked article is a OpinionJournal piece. I'm going to guess that it's satire.

Lawrence O'Donnell has a Conspiracy theory brewing.
How do we know there was no alcohol? Cheney refused to talk to local authorities until the next day. No point in giving him a breathalyzer then. Every lawyer I've talked to assumes Cheney was too drunk to talk to the cops after the shooting. The next question for the White House should be: Was Cheney drunk?

I have never gone hunting with ultra-rich Republicans on a Saturday afternoon, but I have seen them tailgating at Ivy League football games, so it's hard for me to believe that any of their Saturday lunches are alcohol free.
Nice. No facts, but if he can start a rumor that Cheney was pissed out of his mind then that's just as good. And because a lawyer assumes it, there must be factual basis for conjecture. But then I suppose you know my feelings about lawyers in general.

I understand he goes on a tirade at Hewitt's talk show as well. (Here's the Transcript. )

Terry McAuliffe and Kelly McBride are also trying to make news of a cover up for this incident.
But Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, accused Cheney of a "cover-up."

"This is the vice president of the United States of America who shot someone in the face," McAuliffe said. "This is about personal responsibility. He hid. He didn't get the facts out."

Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute said Cheney still hadn't adequately explained why it took so long for news of the shooting to reach the public.

"The fact that he didn't have press people traveling with him is a pretty lame excuse," McBride said. As for Cheney's explanation that he was more immediately concerned with Whittington's well being and notifying his family: "Dick Cheney wasn't tending to him personally. He wasn't down there tending to this guy, dressing his wounds."

In many ways, the shelf life of the story was much dependent on Whittington's recovery, McBride said.

"They're trying to put a very optimistic spin on his outlook, but he's 78 years old and he's got a BB in his heart."

Does McBride really think that the public believes Cheney was tending Whittington's wounds? With that in mind, does that statement actually seem reasonable? I have a feeling McBride is probably going to be very disappointed if Whittington doesn't die.

Tony Blankley shows some rather appropriate derision for the MSM in this article.
As I understand the profound concern of the ever-alert White House reporters, they smell a constitutional crisis because the shooting party failed to alert the media of the accidental shooting down in Corpus Christi, Texas. Well, actually, they did alert the Corpus Christi media -- but that didn't count. Unless the exalted ones have been formally informed by an official government press secretary, no public communication has technically occurred.

I checked the bylaws of the White House press corp, and they are right. It seems that the bylaws refer to Article XXIII of the U.S. Constitution, which expressly designates that White House reporters with a minimum annual income of $375,000 (plus minimum stock options equal to not less than two-thirds their yearly salary, plus use of driver and long sedan during business hours, of which hours must include post-deadline dinner engagements of a semi-social nature) are the exclusive recipients of all government information.
It fascinates me that the press seem to feel violated over this. Politically, the delay didn't help Cheney, but then again, does anyone honestly think he wouldn't have gotten run through the MSM ringer if he had notified the press instantly? Of course, you have to admit that the Fourth Estate is ENTITLED to that information.

There is also this Op-Ed by Thomas Sowell on the Spoiled Brat Media.

Islamic Cartoon Jihad

I've been wondering how long this firestorm over the Mohammed Cartoons has been going on. Did the riots against the Koran Flushing, or the Abu Gharib prisoner abuse go on this long?

Max Boot has the linked Op-Ed on the West being scapegoat for the problems.
I got an earful of those views last week in Kuala Lumpur while attending a conference sponsored by New York University and the Malaysian Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations. The ostensible subject was: "Who Speaks for Islam? Who Speaks for the West?" We never did answer those questions, but the infidel attendees did get a red-hot blast of indignation from the Muslim participants, who hailed not only from East Asia but also from Europe, North America, Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

Even though all of the Muslim delegates were intellectuals, activists, politicians and other movers and shakers, they resonated with the rage of the dispossessed. With considerable justification, they fulminated against the backwardness of the Islamic world compared to the West. With considerably less justification, they blamed their frustrations on the West.
Must have been a wonderful place to be for a conference when there was so much discontent over the cartoons.

David Pipes has a piece at RealClearPolitics on the harm that will come to Muslims due to this issue.
What are the long-term consequences of the Muhammad cartoon furor? I predict it is helping bring on not a clash of civilizations but their mutual pulling apart. This separation, which has been building for years, has dreadful implications.
Some of the effects that he lists I think will have poor consequences here in the West as well.
These developments suggest what the prime minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, has called a "huge chasm" between the Muslim world and the West. Or, in the more bellicose wording of the influential Sunni imam Youssef al-Qaradawi, "We must tell Europeans, we can live without you. But you cannot live without us."

Should the chasm widen, with its concomitant lessening of human interaction, commercial relations, and diplomatic engagement, the Muslim world will likely fall further behind than it already has. As I wrote in 2000, "Whatever index one employs, Muslims can be found clustering toward the bottom – whether measured in terms of their military prowess, political stability, economic development, corruption, human rights, health, longevity, or literacy."
Jonathan Gurwitz has commentary on this topic being news throughout the world, except for here in the US.
Have you actually seen any of the cartoons extremists have used to foment violence across the Islamic world? If you have, you almost certainly saw them on the Internet, not in print. You might ask yourself why that is so.

As I have previously written, one need not subscribe to Islamic theology to understand or deplore the offense caused by some of the 12 cartoons originally published last September in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten. A few of them are plainly in bad taste. Others are sophomoric. Others, in my opinion, are simply poor representations of the cartoonist's art.

I've seen them. Posted on the internet only. I do believe that the Weekly Standard published them. (That's a link to commentary on the topic at the Weekly Standard if you're interested.)
About the fascists claiming to speak for a rich and varied Islamic tradition, Taheri says, "They are not the sole representatives of Islam, just as the Nazi Party was not the sole representative of German culture. Their attempt at portraying Islam as a sullen culture that lacks a sense of humor is part of the same discourse that claims 'suicide martyrdom' as the highest goal for all true believers."

With the myths of Islamic iconoclasm and humorlessness dispelled, why wouldn't American newspapers publish at least some of the cartoons? In Europe, a handful of newspapers have reprinted all 12 in acts of solidarity with the imperiled journalists in Denmark, while also acknowledging their offensiveness.

But in the United States, where the press is usually highly sensitive to the mildest perceived chill of censorship, far fewer newspapers have published a single Jyllands-Posten cartoon — even the ironically appropriate one I describe above.

Let's postulate that all the cartoons are so tasteless as to be beyond the pale and that the sincere desire not to offend religious sensibilities has caused the American media to suppress the images. Has the same care been exercised in the past, for instance with regard to Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ" or Chris Ofili's "Holy Virgin Mary?"

In this context it is quite humorous to see how many American flags and protests against America are being noted in the MSM. You'd think if the US is being so shy about this that they wouldn't be blamed for it. But I suppose any reason to blame the US for some offense must be taken up by the Islamic protestor.

Then Gurwitz pretty clearly points to the MSM's clearly identifiable hypocrisy on religious symbols.
Even as America's newspaper of record, the New York Times, sensitively editorialized last week that "people are bound to be offended if their religion is publicly mocked," its Arts page ran a picture of Ofili's dung-covered Madonna.

This raises the issue of newsworthiness alongside the principles of journalistic freedom. Doesn't the public, as in the Serrano and Ofili cases, deserve to see and judge images that release religious furies?

The Times editorial page said the cartoon blackout was "a reasonable choice for news organizations that usually refrain from gratuitous assaults on religious symbols, especially since the cartoons are so easy to describe in words."

Really? I wonder how many editors considered that it might have been easier or more prudent to describe a human pyramid rather than publish the handiwork of a few miscreants from Abu Ghraib they knew would elicit a lethal response directed at American servicemen and women.

I suppose there is no relation to cowardice on the editorial staff of the Fourth Estate. Since patent Hypocrisy is enough to deserve derision in these cases.

I personally don't see why this has had such wide-spread offense. But then, it's not my ox that has been gored.

It also strikes me that this topic has an interesting progression. The cartoons were printed and then nothing happened for five months. Then the Muslims began protesting in Europe over the topic, and tried to strong arm the press into censorship. (Which appears to be working in several EU countries.) Because of their actions, the European press reprinted the cartoons, for the reason of solidarity. This caused further reprinting and posting on the web, because now it was news. So, could I make the leap of logic, that part of the problem was caused by the Muslims protests in the first place?

This is all further proof that reality is far stranger than fiction.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Guns, Violence, and Society

Kevin at The Smallest Minority has this tome on violence and the causes. It's a pretty detailed and reasoned piece. I won't comment, just spend some time and read it.

What Are Senate Committee Meetings Really For?

I've looked at a couple of articles on Condoleeza Rice's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I'm still trying to figure out what exactly the reason for her testimony. Read this article and tell me, other than giving the Senators someone to flog publicly, what was the purpose of this?
"I don't see, Madame Secretary, how things are getting better. I think things are getting worse. I think they're getting worse in Iraq. I think they're getting worse in Iran," Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., told Rice as she appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Rice also had a tense exchange with moderate Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., over the pace of progress toward Israeli-Palestinian peace and the implications of the Hamas victory in Palestinian legislative elections last month.

Typically soft-spoken, Chafee tersely questioned whether the United States could have prevented Hamas from coming to power. "Opportunities missed," Chafee lamented after rattling off a list. "Now we have a very, very disastrous situation of a terrorist organization winning elections."

Rice said she agrees it's a difficult moment for the peace process, but responded: "I don't think the United States of America is responsible for the election of Hamas. No I don't."

At one point, Rice and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., interrupted one another as they argued about U.S. policy in the Middle East, where the Democrat accused the Bush administration of having a "tin ear" to Arab views.

Boxer, who was one of Rice's most persistent critics during a contentious confirmation process last year, also recalled Rice's warning before the 2003 Iraq invasion that the world could not afford to let the "smoking gun" of Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction become a "mushroom cloud."

"That was a farce and the truth is coming out," Boxer said.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., challenged Rice over whether she was involved in leaking classified information or authorized the leak of such information to the press. "I have always acted lawfully within my duties as national security adviser and now as secretary of state," Rice said. "I believe the protection of classified information is our highest, one of our highest duties."

And, Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, top Democrat on the panel, said "I'm not hopeful" of a unity government in Iraq.

"The policy seems not to be succeeding," he said.

Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., pressed Rice on an issue related to her previous job as Bush's national security adviser: the president's domestic spying program.

Does this sound like random questions looking to make Rice look bad. I've seen some recordings of the testimony, and it's quite obvious that the Senators are just being nasty.

Oh and the reason for the testimony:
The money Rice wants for Iran, to be included in an emergency 2006 budget request the White House is expected to send to Congress as early as this week, would be used for radio and satellite television broadcasting and for programs to help Iranians study abroad.
Interesting questions.

Where Do You Dump an Aircraft Carrier?

Well, in India. I've seen some of the disposal methods and they are pretty frightening. But then again, I'm pretty certain that they are the cheapest as well.

Unfortunately, the disposal of this one includes all of the hazardous materials.
When it first took to the seas nearly 50 years ago, the Clemenceau was the crown jewel of French naval prowess. Today, the decommissioned aircraft carrier is an albatross for France amid an uproar over the toxic waste the hulking ship carries.

The saga underlines the trouble many countries face in getting rid of retired vessels. It has also become an embarrassment for the French Defense Ministry, which environmentalists criticize for not addressing the potential risks of sending the ship to India for dismantling.

The problem with all of this is, you really don't know how the disposal came about. I'm betting like most governments they put it out to bid.
Environmentalists insist the Clemenceau should have been cleaned up before leaving port and say France's transfer of the vessel violates the Basel Convention, an international accord on trade in potentially hazardous waste.
I wonder if the intact ship is considered waste by that convention. I know in the US the laws wouldn't call this hazardous waste. I've worked with nuclear and hazardous materials that were moved into a waste stream. That's when the material had to be treated as hazardous waste.
French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said France had few options other than sending the ship to India.

"There's no solution for dismantling thousands of warships now rusting in certain places in the world, which is extremely harmful to the environment," she said Tuesday on Europe-1 radio. "There are no dismantling yards in Europe; none in the United States."

Wrong. The US does have shipyards that does disposals.

I'm betting this will be a very expensive disposal, and France really shouldn't have tried to pass this off on a company in India.

India doesn't have an asbestos compensation trust. Oh, well, neither do we.

National Forest Land Sales

So the environmentalists are flipping out again about the release and sale of some parcels of national forest properties.
A U.S. Forest Service plan to sell nearly 15,000 acres in the Carolinas could undermine efforts to link the fragmented pieces of the states' national forests, conservationists say.

The service late last week proposed the biggest sale of public forests in decades. While the proposal lists the acreage to be sold -- more than 300,000 acres nationwide -- maps showing precise locations won't be out for weeks.

Conservation groups fear tracts around the ragged edges of the forests, valuable to wildlife and plants, will go on the block.

"It just goes completely against what common sense would tell you needs to happen," said Dr. David Jones, director of the N.C. Zoo in Asheboro. "Instead of selling off land, they need to be stitching it up."

Of course, the criteria for sale isn't exactly unreasonable.
The Bush administration's 2007 budget plans to raise $800 million by selling the national forests acreage and other public land. Carolinas' parcels range from less than an acre to more than 500 acres. Terry Seyden, a Forest Service spokesman in Asheville, said the Washington and regional offices identified which N.C. tracts to sell.

The criteria: isolated tracts, surrounded by private land, that were difficult to manage.

The money would temporarily continue a program that helps pay for schools and roads in rural counties thick with forests. N.C. counties got about $1 million from the program last year, South Carolina $3.2 million.

Read "difficult to manage" as being "expensive to manage" or "not managed." There is nothing restricting state or local government buyers from bidding on the property either. If there is a local interest in preservation than there should be local investment.

But then you have this interesting statement.
"As long as the money from the sale goes back to the community, we wouldn't have a problem with it," said Swain County manager Kevin King. "We wouldn't want the money going to California or Nevada, put it that way."
Local municipalities have been given a say in how properties are utilized since Bush yanked out the Clinton era executive order disallowing new roads into the parks. But King seems to miss that the funds that come to maintain these parks come from all the states, including California and Nevada.

This initiative seems more than reasonable to me. If the local citizenry have a strong concern about the property, then they can invest in its preservation.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Long War

I found this interesting because this stuff just hasn't been covered before, at least, not that I've stumbled across.

At a luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington recently, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sized up the progress of the war on terror, compared it to the struggle against Nazism and communism, and noted this struggle will take years to win. It was similar to remarks the president, the vice president and other top administration officials have been repeating for years. And it also is the line of reasoning that the press corps has largely dismissed as hyperbole. Many in the media simply don't accept the comparison of Osama bin Laden to Hitler.

Ah, the analytic brilliance of the press corps.
And this:
The military is laying the groundwork in other countries as well, in hopes of turning indigenous populations away from bin Ladenism. One area that has largely escaped media attention is the Horn of Africa, and in particular the small country of Djibouti. Bordering Somalia to the north, Ethiopia to the east and directly across the Red Sea from Yemen, Djibouti has an impoverished population that may find terrorism appealing if it promises the glory involved in helping build a grand Islamic state. And Djibouti historically has served as a passageway for trade into the heart of Africa. Shortly after 9/11 the U.S. set up a base of operations in Djibouti to help stabilize the region and build schools as well as infrastructure. At one point nearly 2,000 Marines were on the ground there. Military officials tell me Djibouti is a success story that hasn't made it into the news because U.S. soldiers aren't getting killed there.

I guess I should be happy the press hasn't covered it a being more evidence of our "imperialistic" policies. Anyway, the article convinced me, once again, that the current administration "gets" the war on terror far better than nearly everyone in the Democratic party.

Jim Brady and the Blogsphere

Interesting Op-Ed by Brady. Seems his blog got flamed by the left hemisphere of the blogsphere. He still defends blogs as being useful, but he's upset with the vitriol thrown at him by the tin-foil set.
My career as a nitwitted, emasculated fascist began the afternoon of Jan. 19 when, as executive editor of the Post's Web site, washingtonpost.com, I closed down the comments area of one of our many blogs, one called post.blog. Created primarily to announce new features on the Web site, the blog had become ground zero for angry readers complaining about a column by Post ombudsman Deborah Howell on the newspaper's coverage of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. If I had let them, they would have obliterated any semblance of civil, genuine discussion.
I do like his point on incivility being related to anonymity and the ease of the instant gratification for people's rudeness.
This all raises a question: Why are people so angry? It was a mistake, it was corrected. Part of the explanation may be the extremely partisan times we live in. For all the good things it has brought our society, the Web has also fostered ideological hermits, who only talk to folks who believe exactly what they do. This creates an echo chamber that only further convinces people that they are right, and everyone else is not only wrong, but an idiot or worse. So when an incident like this one arises, it's not enough to point out an error; they must prove that the error had nefarious origins. In some places on the Web, everything happens on a grassy knoll.

Another culprit in Web rage: the Internet's anonymity. It seems to flick off the inhibition switch that stops people from saying certain things in person. During the Howell flap, many of the e-mails I received that called me gutless, a coward or both were unsigned.

Well, you came to play in the blogsphere. If you don't like the results, you don't have to play. Personally, I don't take much to heart from vitriolic comments. Not that I get many. Usually those that go to the point of name calling have no point to make in the first place.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Cheney and the Bird Hunt

This has gotten beyond silly. QandO has a pretty strong point.

Ok, this is the last attention I'll give to the already over-remarked-upon Cheney Shooting, but this is getting sillier...
I really have nothing against hunting, but Dick's love of hunting pen-raised animals for fun is really actually quite sick. It's not hunting, it's just mass slaughter.
Says Atrios - and PZ Myers, and others -— all of whom eat only meat that stood a sporting chance.
Most of the blog entries I've been reading are so completely obviously by people that haven't hunted bird that it's sickening. Yes, Cheney made a mistake in his shot, but then Whittington made a very bad mistake as well. If you leave the hunt line, you have to let those on the line know you're returning. Especially if you're the end man. That's the prime spot for bird hunting because you have the largest field of fire. It's also an enlarged zone for the hunting partner if you walk away.

Bird hunting isn't easy. And the concentration to know the target and the background is very difficult. Seeing that Cheney has been doing this for a very long time with no reported incidents, I'm going to guess he's very disciplined.

Accidents do happen. And that sucks. Mostly because every crack-pot and know-nothing is now chiming in on what a fool Cheney is. Unfortunately this news will be another stain for gun rights, but it's far from the devastation that some make it out to be.

Why oh why can't more senators be like this?

This guy is about as far as one can get from the two buffoons that are forced upon me by the "intellectuals" of my state.

When Coburn disparaged an earmark for Seattle -- $500,000 for a sculpture garden -- Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., was scandalized: ``We are not going to watch the senator pick out one project and make it into a whipping boy.'' She invoked the code of comity: ``I hope we do not go down the road deciding we know better than home state senators about the merits of the projects they bring to us.'' And she warned of Armageddon: ``I tell my colleagues, if we start cutting funding for individual projects, your project may be next.'' But Coburn, who does not do earmarks, thinks Armageddon sounds like fun.

Smearing "Midwest Heroes"

Why am I not particularly surprised. Powerline blog with a piece related to an Op-Ed maligning Midwest Heroes.
It's hard to imagine a less controversial exercise of freedom of speech than this message of support, by three servicemen who have returned from active duty in Iraq, for their mission there. But to liberal Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman, their defense of their own service in Iraq was out of bounds. Coleman's column today attacks the ad and the servicemen who made it as "devoted to political spin more than truth." Coleman writes:
The news [from Iraq] was grim: There were 2,500 insurgent attacks in December, and although there are peaks and valleys in the numbers, each peak is said to be higher than the peak before.

But for those devoted to political spin more than truth, there was a positive development in the war, a development which, oddly, took place on TV sets in Minnesota.

A commercial featuring veterans of the war in Iraq began airing here, telling viewers that the war in Iraq is against the terrorists of 9/11 and that it is going swimmingly.

These are dubious assertions, given that the war was billed as a war against Saddam Hussein and that it had cost the lives of 2,267 Americans as of Friday (almost 1,800 since the president said the mission was accomplished).

Of course, the video doesn't say the war is "going swimmingly;" it says our soldiers are "making real progress." Do the statistics that Coleman quotes refute that assessment? Not at all. If there were 2,500 insurgent attacks in December, that was below the monthly average for 2005. More important, the terrorists' attacks are becoming less effective. Currently, fewer than 10% of the attacks on American troops result in casualties, down from 25% to 30% a year ago. American casualties and fatalities declined last year, compared to 2004.

Coleman's article is pretty much the usual. Can't argue the message, so throw mud at the messengers. Have a look.

What is Algore Talking About?

Here's a report on Algore's speech at the Jiddah Economic Forum. I've been looking for a complete transcript, but haven't come up with it. So the context of the quotes is a bit difficult to ascertain without a bunch of assumptions.
JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia -- Former Vice President Al Gore told a mainly Saudi audience on Sunday that the U.S. government committed "terrible abuses" against Arabs after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and that most Americans did not support such treatment.

Gore said Arabs had been "indiscriminately rounded up" and held in "unforgivable" conditions. The former vice president said the Bush administration was playing into al-Qaida's hands by routinely blocking Saudi visa applications.

"The thoughtless way in which visas are now handled, that is a mistake," Gore said during the Jiddah Economic Forum. "The worst thing we can possibly do is to cut off the channels of friendship and mutual understanding between Saudi Arabia and the United States."

Gore told the largely Saudi audience, many of them educated at U.S. universities, that Arabs in the United States had been "indiscriminately rounded up, often on minor charges of overstaying a visa or not having a green card in proper order, and held in conditions that were just unforgivable."

"Unfortunately there have been terrible abuses and it's wrong," Gore said. "I do want you to know that it does not represent the desires or wishes or feelings of the majority of the citizens of my country."

Who exactly was indiscriminately rounded up? If they were "rounded up" for overstaying visas or not having green cards, then that's not indiscriminate. And where were they held in "conditions that were just unforgivable?" You mean they were held in jails where those arrested in the US are normally held. Treated in the same manner as an American citizen?

What in the hell is he talking about? This is just further proof that I voted correctly in that election.

Then there is the Oil company mouthpiece:
Also at the forum, the vice chairman of Chevron Corp., Peter Robertson, said President Bush's desire to cut U.S. dependence on Mideast oil shows a "misunderstanding" of global energy supply and the critical role of Saudi Arabia.

In his State of the Union address this month, Bush pledged to cut U.S. dependence on Middle East oil by 75 percent by 2025.

"This notion of being energy independent is completely unreasonable," Robertson said at the economic forum, which opened Saturday.

"I believe Middle Eastern oil can and must play a certain role in the system," Robertson said. "Saudi Arabia's massive resources will continue to promote international energy security and serve as a moderating force in balancing supply and demand."
Yeah, it's a misunderstanding. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more! How is energy independence unreasonable? Of course, he is the representative of the industry that would think having economic and political independence from an oil rich repressive regime is a bad idea. Unfortunately he speaks for a business that is far to popular with the present administration.

I'd truly love to see one of these "wise" men make these same statements before an American audience. We can also be assured that this will get fairly little coverage in the MSM.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Midwest Heroes

Not much to say about this one.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Recruiting Numbers Are In

Looks pretty good for January.












Marine Corps




Air Force







Army National Guard




Army Reserve




Navy Reserve




Marine Corps Reserve




Air National Guard




Air Force Reserve




[h/t QandO]

New Quiz: Which SF Crew Do You Belong In

This quiz is actually kind of interesting, but I almost puked when I got my results:

You scored as Deep Space Nine (Star Trek). You have entered the dark side of the Star Trek universe. The paradise of Earth is far from you and you must survive despite having enemies on all fronts. But you wouldnâ??t have it any other way because you thrive in conflict and will know what needs to be done to take care of those around you. Now if only the Founders would quit trying to take over the galaxy.

Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)


Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)


Serenity (Firefly)


SG-1 (Stargate)


Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)


Moya (Farscape)


Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)


Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)


Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)


Enterprise D (Star Trek)


Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)


FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)


Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with QuizFarm.com

Militarization of the Police

Here's an article to make you nervous.
On Jan. 24, a SWAT team in Fairfax shot and killed Salvatore J. Culosi Jr., an optometrist who was under investigation for gambling. According to a Jan. 26 front-page story in The Post, Culosi had emerged from his home to meet an undercover officer when a police tactical unit swarmed around him. An officer's gun discharged, killing the suspect. Culosi, police said, was unarmed and had displayed no threatening behavior.

It's unlikely that the officer who shot Culosi did so intentionally. But it's also unlikely that the investigation into this shooting will address why police sent a military-style unit to arrest an optometrist under investigation for a nonviolent crime and why the officers had their guns drawn when approaching a man with no history of violence.

This isn't the first time a SWAT team in Virginia has killed someone while serving a gambling warrant. In 1998 a team in Virginia Beach conducted a 3 a.m. raid at a private club believed to be involved in organized gambling. Security guard Edward C. Reed was sitting in a parked car outside the club, which had been robbed a few months earlier.

That doesn't exactly make one feel comfortable does it. I have an extreme problem with the notion that this officer accidentally killed Culosi. If part of the Police's job is to handle weapons professionally, why did this cop even have his finger on the trigger? It's not like this was a violent criminal or an arrest commonly associated with violence. Is the use of SWAT units in this type of arrest really appropriate?
During the past 15 years, The Post and other media outlets have reported on the unsettling "militarization" of police departments across the country. Armed with free surplus military gear from the Pentagon, SWAT teams have multiplied at a furious pace. Tactics once reserved for rare, volatile situations such as hostage takings, bank robberies and terrorist incidents increasingly are being used for routine police work.

Eastern Kentucky University's Peter Kraska -- a widely cited expert on police militarization -- estimates that SWAT teams are called out about 40,000 times a year in the United States; in the 1980s, that figure was 3,000 times a year. Most "call-outs" were to serve warrants on nonviolent drug offenders.

That statistic is troubling enough, but it is compounded by the raids, particularly in drug cases, being based on tips from notoriously unreliable informants, often with no corroborating investigation. This leads to the "wrong address" raids we frequently hear about in the news.

I understand that police work can be dangerous, but making the police into military units isn't the solution. I also find this particularly disturbing in cases of accidental shootings where the family has no recourse due to police departments having protections against civil liabilities.

Putin and Hamas

What is Putin up to?
"We need to recognize that Hamas has come to power as a result of a legitimate election, and we need to respect the will of the Palestinian people," Putin said in Madrid after meeting with Spain's prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

"To burn bridges would be the simplest action, but it lacks perspective."

Perspective like the majority of the Palestinian government are members in an organization that calls for the elimination of the Israeli state, have advocated violence to obtain that end and have funded and organized such violence?
Hamas, which has carried out dozens of suicide attacks on Israeli targets, won last month's Palestinian legislative elections and may form the next government.

The United States and the European Union classify Hamas as a terrorist group, but Putin said Russia does not.

"We have never considered Hamas a terrorist organization," he said.

Could it be that Putin only views groups as terrorists if the attack Russia or their interests? What would Putin say if the US started recognizing Chenyen terrorist groups?

Hamas is a terrorist organization by all the facts on the books. The Palestinian government is a majority held government by Hamas. I will agree that they were legitimately and democratically voted into office. Still doesn't mean that they should be funded or considered a world partner when they obviously have no intention of "playing nice" with their regional neighbor.