Wednesday, May 31, 2006

More Reasonable Voices on the Jefferson "Raid"

I'd have thought that this would have cooled down by now. But it appears that more Congressmen are twisting up their little tin-foil caps and charging into the fray.
The House intends to summon Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller before the Judiciary Committee to justify its search of a congressional office, the panel chairman said Tuesday.

The chairman, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., called the search "profoundly disturbing."

Sensenbrenner also said he planned a legislative response to the search on May 20 of the office of Rep. William Jefferson, DLa. The bill would be patterned on a law limiting searches of news media offices.

"I think this law will help the Justice Department get it right next time because they didn't get it right this time," Sensenbrenner said as his committee heard from legal experts and a former lawmaker.
Yep, let's make a law that gives us special protections from obeying the law. I hope that people are taking note of these voices and decides on voting for more intelligent and honest people in the next election. Of course, finding an honest politician is like finding a talking rock.
All four witnesses, appearing Tuesday at an unusual hearing held during a congressional recess, described the search as a damaging breach of the constitutional separation of powers. They said it warranted an aggressive reaction from Congress, including subpoenaing material from Gonzales if necessary.
Ah, they'll subpoena documents from the AG! The AG subpoena'd documents from Jefferson, but he ignored the subpoena. You think the AG will be allowed to do the same?
"Some people have said you guys are just defending Jefferson, and I agree, if they're talking about Thomas Jefferson," Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas and a former state judge, said of the Founding Father's fears of potential intimidation of the legislative branch from elsewhere in government.
OK. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that this person is completely clueless. I would love to see their historical documentation that states that Thomas Jefferson thought the congress was above obeying the laws. They still seem to be looking at this as though the executive branch is tampering with the activities of congress and not trying to prosecute criminal acts. But then the legislative branch using intimidation tactics against officers of the other two branches seems to be an acceptable tactic for these politicos.
In a filing Tuesday, the Justice Department said returning the material to Jefferson, the subject of a criminal investigation, would subvert the principle that no one is above the law. Quoting a Supreme Court ruling, the department said that returning the material, which includes two boxes of documents and items copied from a computer hard drive, is "inconsistent with the bedrock principle that ‘the laws of this country allow no place or employment as a sanctuary for crime."’
I'd say that's reasonable. But what do I know? Obviously I don't know the secret handshake or have a special pin that gives me privileges above those of any other citizen. But our congressional overlords shouldn't be subject to criminal investigations I suppose. At least that's the logic that seems to spring from this discussion.

Then you get to hear the best logic, and almost not reported quote.
One lawmaker on the Judiciary Committee said Gonzales’ refusal to explain why he authorized the search may be grounds for impeachment by Congress.
"All options have to be left open," Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told reporters after the hearing. Gonzales must "explain to our satisfaction how this is not going to happen again or how it was somehow justified."
Issa said at the hearing that Congress has the power to impeach Gonzales and U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan, who issued the search warrant. He said that if Sensenbrenner had raised the impeachment possibility, "more members would quickly be here."
"Not yet," Sensenbrenner said. Later, he told reporters there were no plans to consider impeachment of Gonzales.

I only found one article in a google news search that had this quote. Maybe there will be more, but this is the only one I've seen.

So how is calling for the impeachment of the AG to be viewed? Reasonable? I'd like to know the legal basis for such a call. Doesn't there require some illegal activity for an impeachment? I haven't seen proof of illegal actions on the part of the the AG or the judge. It almost sounds like congress is threatening the law enforcement agencies of the country.

I can't wait to see where all this goes. I'm certain there will be some committee meeting where the congressmen will get to belittle and screech at the AG and the judge in public and prove beyond all shadow of a doubt that they are completely out of their minds.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Geek Moment

Just sharing a bit of geek news. 40% of Americans are technology buzzword literate. Wow. I didn't realize that 40% of Americans were literate, full stop. Still, why would Mom & Pop, or for that matter, Timmy & Suzie need to know what RSS feeds are? Shouldn't they be able to plug into something ("Click here to get live updates" no mention of RSS) and use it without knowing exactly what it is? OK, apart from Nyarlathotep & myself, who that reads this blog can describe how a toaster works? I rest my case.

Der Spiegel Interview with AHMADINEJAD

I've been hearing about this over the weekend and found it this AM. Pretty much what I was expecting. This guy is really way out there.
SPIEGEL: There was great indignation in Germany when it became known that you might be coming to the soccer world championship. Did that surprise you?

Ahmadinejad: No, that's not important. I didn't even understand how that came about. It also had no meaning for me. I don't know what all the excitement is about.

SPIEGEL: It concerned your remarks about the Holocaust. It was inevitable that the Iranian president's denial of the systematic murder of the Jews by the Germans would trigger outrage.

Ahmadinejad: I don't exactly understand the connection.

SPIEGEL: First you make your remarks about the Holocaust. Then comes the news that you may travel to Germany -- this causes an uproar. So you were surprised after all?

Ahmadinejad: No, not at all, because the network of Zionism is very active around the world, in Europe too. So I wasn't surprised. We were addressing the German people. We have nothing to do with Zionists.

SPIEGEL: Denying the Holocaust is punishable in Germany. Are you indifferent when confronted with so much outrage?

Ahmadinejad: I know that DER SPIEGEL is a respected magazine. But I don't know whether it is possible for you to publish the truth about the Holocaust. Are you permitted to write everything about it?

SPIEGEL: Of course we are entitled to write about the findings of the past 60 years' historical research. In our view there is no doubt that the Germans -- unfortunately -- bear the guilt for the murder of 6 million Jews.

Ahmadinejad: Well, then we have stirred up a very concrete discussion. We are posing two very clear questions. The first is: Did the Holocaust actually take place? You answer this question in the affirmative. So, the second question is: Whose fault was it? The answer to that has to be found in Europe and not in Palestine. It is perfectly clear: If the Holocaust took place in Europe, one also has to find the answer to it in Europe.

On the other hand, if the Holocaust didn't take place, why then did this regime of occupation ...

No one should be surprised by that logic. Mort Kondracke had a great thought on Fox's Special Report. He wanted to know how Ahmadinejad could question the Holocaust and continuously bring up the Crusades as a relevant historical context. (I'm paraphrasing obviously.) I like that point. The Holocaust was only 50 years ago and the Crusades were nearly 1000 years ago. So which is more relevant, and which is better documented?

Go read the interview. It's not going to give you any comfort that the EU, Russia, and China are dragging their feet regarding the Iranian Nuclear intentions.

Long War Articles

This quarters release of Parameters is out and it has several articles about the "long war" on terrorism.

I found the article "Challenges in Fighting a Global Insurgency" to have some interesting perspective on the war on terror that people still seem to be missing. The idea that this conflict is in reality a global insurgency is rather apt.
The strategic nature of war has changed, and our military and government are striving to adapt to fight and win in this new environment. Today we are engaged in a global counterinsurgency, an unprecedented challenge which requires a level of original strategic thought and depth of understanding perhaps comparable only to that of the Cold War. Our ongoing political-military actions to achieve success in Iraq and Afghanistan are simply subordinate efforts of this larger, complex world war.

Our enemies today clearly understand the value of asymmetrical approaches when dealing with the overwhelming conventional combat power of the United States military. Unfortunately, our unmatched conventional capability has slowed the US response to the changing, asymmetrical nature of modern war. We as a military are at risk of failing to understand the nature of the war we are fighting - a war which has been characterized as, a war of intelligence and a war of perceptions. We must confront this dilemma and take our thinking to a new strategic level in this era to understand the tools and strategic approaches required to create victory in this very different 21st-century environment.

I've started reading through the articles, which is an interesting change from reading just history on strategy and war. It's a shame that the present administration hasn't been effective in making the public understand the nature of this conflict. I personally am convinced that the Islamic Insurgency that we are seeing isn't going to go away, and ignoring it will be at our own peril. The belief that this should now change to a police like response is a dangerous thought. Policing will likely be a major tool in anti-terrorist activities, but it can't be the only tool. Far too many countries support terrorists either openly or surreptitiously.

Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans Fear Vietnam Syndrome

The veterans for Iraq and Afghanistan are worried about the present outlook of war affecting how the public treats them. They should be. The MSM seems to have more time to report atrocities, real or otherwise, while completely ignoring the good that is being done. Then there are the politicians who are playing the topic for personal gain. Not that I think that is something new, it's just another indicator of how Iraq is slowly turning into Vietnam on the home front.
Veterans of Iraq and Vietnam share some similarities. Public support for the Iraq invasion is steadily on the wane as the conflict enters its fourth year and US casualties climb. As with Vietnam, which lasted more than a decade, there probably will not be a clear victory over Iraqi insurgents; communal violence is expected to continue long after American troops leave. And both conflicts have been linked in the public consciousness with the abuse of prisoners and civilians, contributing to public anxiety.

As a result, some Iraq veterans worry they could be unfairly blamed for a quagmire.

I think that this is less of a worry than in Vietnam. There has been a great deal of shaming of those that abused the military during and after Vietnam. I think that the voices supporting the troops will rise if there is any systemic affects on the veterans. The passage of a funeral protection bill is a good indicator of this. It has been used to protect veteran's funerals from the likes of scumbags like Phelps and his ilk. There are also state level laws being enacted to take the protection to even greater levels.
"I think about how the Vietnam veterans were mistreated in basically every facet of life," said Richard Gibson , a 25-year-old former Marine corporal living in Kansas City , Mo . "I don't want the same result that happened in Vietnam. Everybody thought the battles were lost in Vietnam, but no battle was ever lost. It was the politicians back home that lost it for them."

Gibson helps publish "War of Words," a newsletter that is funded by the conservative political group America's Majority and is designed to highlight what troops are accomplishing in Iraq . He said he is speaking out about his experiences in part out of fear some of his fellow Iraq veterans "are going to go into hiding."

"I don't want to be ridiculed," he said an interview. "I speak out because the full story isn't being given. In the war on TV, American soldiers regularly mistreated civilians. But in the war we fought, American forces consistently restrained our overwhelming firepower superiority in order to save lives, even at our own risk."
These reaction groups are trying to help themselves, but from what I can see, they are generally written off as being tools of the president rather than being self-defense mechanisms of the veterans. That's too bad, because the veterans are the ones that saw what was really going on and are putting out a message that isn't controlled by an editorial board in the MSM. You think my message is wrong? When was the last time you heard something that happened in Iraq? Was the report about a death or a car bomb, or was it good news?
But leaders of the veterans movement are concerned that the challenges facing this new generation are not well understood by Congress and Americans. They point out that less than 1 percent of the population will have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, making it a war far removed from the everyday lives of average Americans or members of Congress, very few of whom have served in uniform.

"This is the first war that has become an issue rather than a national experience," said Paul Reickoff , president of the nonpartisan Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America in New York. "How many soldiers were killed this week while we were obsessed with 'American Idol'? But when the war winds down, the veterans' issues are going to be here for decades. We need to make sure both political parties make veterans a priority."

Rather appropriate analysis. The problem with Vietnam and now Iraq/Afghanistan is the lack of personal involvement. The vast majority of the country is still fat, dumb and happy and unconcerned with the effects of the world on their lives. The complacency is sickening. Unfortunately, the anti-war/pascifist crowds have really big mouths and get lots of air time. Previous conflicts like the World Wars had a lot of personal interest. Everyone had someone they new in the conflict. The vast majority of the population had some sacrifice demanded of them. That made the population an interested body. That doesn't exist today.
But perhaps the biggest challenge, say recent veterans, is educating the public and government leaders about the needs of veterans who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Danelo, the Marine captain, said he was taken aback during his recent book tour at how quickly Americans are losing interest in the Iraq war .

Said Danelo: "Talking about the war is not in vogue in a lot of places."

No real surprise there. I'll conjecture that the ability to discuss Iraq will go down-hill even more in the future. That doesn't bode well for veterans, nor the "long war" against terrorism.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day Editorial Award

I've been scanning around the editorials on Memorial Day and I have to say I find Hitchen's piece to be the most noteworthy.
A memorial to, and for, all is certainly an improvement on the Arc de Triomphe/Brandenburg Gate style, which was regnant until 1918 and which asserted national exclusivity. Kemal Ataturk did a noble thing when he raised a monument to all those who fell at Gallipoli, and informed the British and Australian peoples that their "Tommies and Johnnies" would lie with his "Alis and Mehmets." But there are also disadvantages to a memorial that is too "inclusive." Not even President Reagan's fine speech at the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc has erased his crass equation of the "victims" at Bitburg cemetery with their victims. Bitburg is not Gettysburg: Some wounds cannot and perhaps should not be healed. The opposite danger also exists: Our "Memorial Day" is now the occasion of a three-day holiday weekend (over the protest of the Veterans of Foreign Wars) and has become somewhat banal precisely because it seems to honor nobody in particular.
The overall sentiment is valuable on the day that most people just have a barbecue and a beer and think of this as the step-off to the summer.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Appeasing Hastert

I'm certain this is just another political play. I'm not certain that this wouldn't have been a justified fight.
President Bush yesterday ordered records seized by the FBI during last Saturday's raid of a congressman's office to be sealed for 45 days, hoping to avert a court battle over separation of powers.

Bush acted in response to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who has said the raid was an unconstitutional intrusion of the executive branch into a congressional office and has demanded that the papers be returned.
Some fights should be fought. By avoiding this they merely allow this to sit in the unresolved queue so that future conflicts over the same issue will cause delay and confusion. Did I mention my dislike for politics?
The raid prompted Hastert and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi to issue an unusual bipartisan statement on Wednesday saying that, despite obtaining the warrant, the FBI had violated the separation of powers. Hastert and Pelosi demanded the return of Jefferson's papers.

With the two leaders refusing to back down yesterday, the stage was being set for a possible landmark court battle over separation of powers that legal scholars said would be analogous to President Nixon's unsuccessful effort to claim executive privilege to avoid handing over tapes of Oval Office conversations during the Watergate investigation. Bush then announced his order to seal the documents, issuing a statement in which he tried to appease both sides without providing a specific solution.

Bush said he hoped the 45-day respite would "provide both parties more time to resolve the issues in a way that ensures that materials relevant to the ongoing criminal investigation are made available to prosecutors in a manner that respects the interests of a co-equal branch of government." Hastert and Pelosi responded by ordering that House officials begin negotiations with the Justice Department over procedures under which criminal evidence could be obtained from Congress.

The problem with such tactics is that they end up with a negotiated truce which doesn't bring out what the law actually is. Agreements like this become psuedo-law that will muddle the topic should there be a more pressing need to enforce the actual law in the future.

Hastert's bellowing about the act being unconstitutional will also proceed to be considered accurate to those strongly opposed to the power of the executive branch. In fact it provides no actual standing in the law. Just as Nixon was forced to hand over his secret tapes, these documents were legitimately seized when Jefferson, a member of congress, ignored a subpoena.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Jesse Macbeth: Confessed War Criminal

You must have caught this crap floating in the blogsphere. I've linked Malkin's Op-Ed at RCP, not because I like Malkin, but mainly because it's fairly concise. Here's some of the things he's claimed:
In his 20-minute Internet video interview at, which promises that watching the video "will change your life," MacBeth (who also claims to have served in Special Forces) says:

--Superiors told him "our job over there is to strike fear in the hearts of the Iraqis . . . to be brutal and to not feel" and that "the Geneva Convention doesn't mean crap." He would "do night raids, pull people out, on their knees and zip-tied," and if a man didn't answer the way he wanted him to, he "would shoot his youngest kid and keep going."

-- "By my hand alone . . . almost 200 people were taken out by me. That's just a rough estimate. A lot of them at close range . . . they would actually feel the hot muzzle of my rifle on their forehead . . . we'd do stuff that would scare them first . . . beat 'em up or kick 'em or hit the wife . . . slaughtering 30-40 people a night sometimes, women and children . . . I was trained, you know, in all the Ranger school, 18 months of that crap . . . I got disappointed in my country . . . but I didn't say anything because I would have been locked up."

Funny. I haven't found anyone stating that this guy should be arrested and charged with war crimes. He openly admits to having performed them. I say we get him a one way ticket to the Hague and see how many more former "special forces" soldiers report their activities.

Bush Wrong on Immigration

Obviously, Bush's plan is completely wrong with regards to dealing with illegal immigration. Here's pretty much concrete proof:
Former president Carter, a Democrat and frequent critic of President Bush, sees eye-to-eye with him on immigration.

Carter on Wednesday called the Republican president's commitment to immigration reform "quite admirable," saying he agrees with Bush's support of a system that would eventually grant citizenship to some illegals.
If Carter likes it, there must be something wrong.

After that bit of humor, see VDHanson's latest with regards to the immigration issue.

Also check out George Will on the "English as the National Language" debate.
This part is informative:
Fifty-six House Republicans have sent a letter, instigated by Rep. Steve King of Iowa, asking that Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act be allowed to expire. When the VRA was enacted in 1965, it said nothing about bilingual ballots. Section 203, requiring bilingual ballots in jurisdictions with certain demographic characteristics, was added in the 1975 extension of the VRA. The King letter was sent to Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He favors extending Section 203 and the rest of the VRA until 2032 because it helps facilitate "the participation of language minority citizens in the political process.''

But what public good is advanced by encouraging the participation of people who, by saying they require bilingual assistance, are saying they cannot understand the nation's political conversation? By receiving such assistance, they are receiving a disincentive to become proficient in English.

It takes political bravery to propose pruning the VRA, given the predictable charges of racism that are hurled so promiscuously nowadays. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, for example, has a liberal's reflex for discerning racism everywhere and for shouting "racist'' as a substitute for argument. During Senate debate last week on a measure to declare English the national language, he said: ``While the intent may not be there, I really believe this amendment is racist.''

I'm really getting tired of hearing Reid pronounce everybody is a racist. It's nearly become his tag line. Will places the perspective very well. The argument I highlighted is the one overwhelming argument I see in this whole debate. If you can't understand the language, you don't understand, nor hear, the debate on any issues.

Nuclear Power: Hard Sell or Impossible

This LATimes article on the President's speech with regards to Nuclear Power clearly shows the up-hill battle the country can look forward to when it tries to build new Nuclear Power stations.
Bush's brief tour of the Limerick Generating Station, about 35 miles west of Philadelphia, reflected his stepped-up effort to encourage the nation to move forcefully into the construction of nuclear power generating facilities, on hold since the Three Mile Island incident.

"Nuclear power is abundant and affordable," Bush told plant workers gathered in a tent at the base of two giant cooling towers, which emitted plumes of steam while he spoke.

As the price of gasoline has passed $3 a gallon in many parts of the country, Bush is putting a spotlight on one of the most controversial elements of the environmental and energy equation.

On March 28, 1979, a malfunctioning valve at Three Mile Island, about 50 miles west of here, led to a partial meltdown of the reactor core and releases of radioactive gases into the air. Coming within days of the release of the movie "The China Syndrome," a fictional version of a similar incident, the accident at Three Mile Island made the facility - now run by Exelon Corp., which also operates the Limerick site - synonymous with the risk of contamination posed by nuclear power plants.

No deaths or injuries of workers or area residents were reported, but the incident, which allowed what the Nuclear Regulatory Commission called "only small off-site releases of radioactivity," led to widespread concerns about the safety of nuclear power - and a halt to the construction of new plants.
You really have to appreciate the insertion of "China Syndrome" and TMI into the report. I'm fairly surprised that Chernobyl isn't leading off the story. Note how the ensure to point out that Exelon runs both Limerick and TMI. Almost making it sound like Exelon ran TMI at the time of the partial core melt-down event. Of course, they didn't.

Bush's speeches won't make much progress. First, there is just too much Bush Derangement Syndrome in the public to make his speeches effective. Then there is little support from other politicians. And the public has too long swallowed the propaganda, put out by the Swampies and propagated by the MSM that Nuclear power is dangerous, to start listening to the reality of the situation.

Then you have wonders like Hillary making remarks like this:
Nuclear now is very much in the news as a potential power source because of its lack of contribution to global warming. If you look at nuclear energy, which currently provides 20 percent of our energy with virtually no emission of greenhouse gases, we do have to take a serious look. But there remain very serious questions about nuclear power and our ability to manage it in a world with suicidal terrorists. So I have real concerns, specifically about a plant in my state near where I live, Indian Point, which has had a number of problems, and more generally, with the capacity and quality of the oversight provided by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. So we need to resolve problems with the NRC, as well as questions of cost, safety, proliferation and waste before we go forward with nuclear power.
If these power stations were that vulnerable, you'd think that a terrorist agent would have made some attempt to actually attack one. But they haven't. In fact, I'd call that line more proof that politicians seem only to live in a world where movie-script threats are the only concern.

I'm not enthusiastic about the chances of seeing more nuclear power in the country in the next few decades. I'm betting on the status-quo and lots of bitching about global warming.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

ACLU Stifling Dissent from the ACLU Board Members

Heh. I'm just not getting this, but it's striking me as ironic in a funny way.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which prides itself on its defense of free speech, is considering new standards that would discourage its board members from publicly criticizing the organization.

"Where an individual director disagrees with a board position on matters of civil liberties policy, the director should refrain from publicly highlighting the fact of such disagreement," the committee that compiled the standards wrote in its proposals. The reason?

"Directors should remember that there is always a material prospect that public airing of the disagreement will affect the ACLU adversely in terms of public support and fund-raising," the proposals state.

Censorship? Nah, couldn't be.
Nat Hentoff, a writer and former ACLU board member, declared:

"For the national board to consider promulgating a gag order on its members - I can't think of anything more contrary to the reason the ACLU exists."

Muriel Morisey, a law professor at Temple University and another former board member, said the proposals were an effort to stifle dissent.

"It sets up a framework for punitive action," she told the Times. The proposals state that "a director may publicly disagree with an ACLU policy position, but may not criticize the ACLU board or staff."

That's just so interesting. We'll defend your right to dissent, unless you are on our board.

NPR on Troops on the Border

I couldn't find a link to the NPR story that I heard this morning, but this is the same one they were covering. It had a dramatic lead about how Marines shot & killed an innocent young shepherd under the belief he was a drug runner. It included the scary sound of a bolt-action rifle being cycled as part of the Marine shooting (with an M-16, not a bolt-action rifle, don't think about it, just go with it). It was highly emotional and we got to talk to the brother of the young man (boy according to the report), a sheriff against the deployment of troops & lots of discussion about the military being unsuited to the mission since they're taught to "kill" (again, no mention of the engineering & policing & cleanup & surveilance, etc., etc., that is part of the military and has been for the last several thousand years). There was exactly one, and only one, mention of the fact that the poor, innocent shepherd shot & killed by the stupid, ugly, incompentent, blood-thirsty, no doubt impotent Marines, shot first...
That's right! They returned fire! They didn't initiate the encounter, the poor innocent shepherd opened fire, but it's somehow the Marine's fault that he died. I was cursing so loud & long at the radio I almost drove off the road. It's off the wall reporting like this that makes me question my own sanity.

Searching Congressional Offices

I'm a bit amazed that the politicos are posturing this way. I can understand that they are upset that the FBI has gone into their house to get evidence that they think should be immune to search.
(Washington, D.C.) Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) issued the following statement today regarding the recent Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) search:

"It is the duty of the Justice Department to root out and prosecute corruption wherever it is found, including in the U.S. House of Representatives. I believe that all Members of the House should cooperate fully with any criminal investigation.

"That being said, I am very concerned about the necessity of a Saturday night raid on Congressman Jefferson's Capitol Hill Office in pursuit of information that was already under subpoena and at a time when those subpoenas are still pending and all the documents that have been subpoenaed were being preserved.

And so on. I have a bit of sympathy since I don't think you'd want those disruptions in the government, but then, they are denying the fact that the subpoena for this information has been ignored by Jefferson.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales tried to strike a conciliatory tone, saying, "We have a great deal of respect for the Congress as a coequal branch of government."

But he also defended the search: "We have an obligation to the American people to pursue the evidence where it exists."

Justice Department officials said the decision to search Jefferson's office was made in part because he refused to comply with a subpoena for documents last summer. Jefferson reported the subpoena to the House on Sept. 15, 2005.

Makes you wonder by what standard Hastert is working. How long does a congressman get to comply with a subpoena before it becomes unreasonable? I'd also like to know how Hastert has come to the conclusion that the records in question were being preserved.

I still can't find anything in the constitution that gives the congressman's documentation protection from warranted search.

QandO points out the question that the politicos are waving about with respect to the speech and debate clause providing them protections. Though I looked it up and I don't see anything saying that there is a protection of their documents.
Section. 6.

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

Maybe I have the wrong section?

I wonder what exactly is meant by "Breach of the Peace?" Sounds pretty light to me.

Guess I'm going to say that Hastert got his tin-foil hat askew on this one.

Algore's Documentary

Once again grasping attention we have Algore and his new "Documentary." I'm certain that we'll be seeing that its a balanced look at the scientific evidence and will provide all perspectives as to what may be causing increased global temperatures. (And Pigs will fly and politicians will be completely honest and cooperative.)

The one line that caught me in the article is the only thing that I really wanted to point out.
So here's what Al told Grist Magazine about global warming: "I believe it is appropriate to have an overrepresentation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience."
Now, I'm seeing some double-speak there, but I could swear that he's trying to say it's okay to distort in order to make the audience more receptive to your message.

Said like a true politician.

FTC: No Gas Price Gouging - Again

Surprise Surprise Surprise.

Despite suspicions among consumers about rapidly rising gasoline prices and record oil industry profits, a federal investigation concluded Monday that the jump at the pump over the last year had not been the result of unlawful price manipulation.

The Federal Trade Commission said the sharp increase in fuel costs was attributable to market forces - namely big drops in supply and production and runs on inventories after major damage to refineries, ports and pipelines. In a report that Congress ordered last year after hurricanes struck the nation's refining hub on the Gulf Coast, the commission found no evidence of price collusion or improper reductions of inventory or supplies to increase company profits.

"The evidence collected in this investigation indicated that firms behaved competitively," the commission said.

They did find 15 circumstances that showed individual retailers, refineries etc had pricing that appeared to be gouging, but could be explained, and justified by specific local trends.

Of course, Democrats couldn't stand the results.
But Democrats in Congress, who have been the biggest critics of the commission for the way it monitors the industry, challenged the report's conclusions.

"The F.T.C. white paper on gas price gouging is a whitewash," said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon. "They find substantial numbers of refiners engaged in anticompetitive practices. They don't like the remedy Congress is proposing, namely a law on price gouging. But they just walk away from responsibility and don't propose a remedy themselves."

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, also criticized the commission.

"It just defies belief that they didn't find price gouging because there is simply no price competition," he said. Mr. Schumer said that the Senate "could do a lot if it had the backbone."

"We could issue subpoenas, we could call in the executives, we could get to the bottom of this," he said. "The problem is that the Senate leadership believes, as the president does, that what's good for big oil is good for America."

Yeah, Chuckles pulling the usual BS. Note that he makes it out that the republicans are for high prices. I'm certain we'd get what we usually do out of a Senate committee investigating the problem. Absolutely nothing. That is unless you've found a way to harness hot air.

Wyden's whining is humorous as well. I would like to know how the refineries managed to raise prices and still sell their product if this was an anti-competitive tactic. No one forced anyone to buy the fuel. They could have bought it from another refinery and had to pay the shipping charges. I don't understand how that is anti-competitive. Still simple supply and demand was functioning. But you can't make political hay with logic.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

D.C. Gunmaker Lawsuit Dismissed

Well it's about time.
A lawsuit in the District against gunmakers was dismissed yesterday by a D.C. Superior Court judge who ruled that the suit was precisely the sort of claim that a new federal law was intended to block.

In a 37-page opinion, Judge Brook Hedge wrote that the city and the federal government had two competing policies, and only one could prevail.

The D.C. Council, she wrote, had determined that assault weapons have "little or no social benefit but at the same time pernicious consequences for the health and safety of District residents and visitors." Congress, however, "has trumped local law by passing legislation to protect the profits of such manufacturers," she wrote.

The suit, filed by the city and by victims of gun violence and their families, aimed to hold gun manufacturers liable for the flow of firearms into the District and for the carnage created by the sale of illegal weapons.

And now we get to wait for the appeal. Might as well punish the gunmakers with as many legal fees as they can while they can.

Monday, May 22, 2006

NSA Access to the Net

I saw this linked at SayUncle. I'm kinda thinking most of the invective regarding the illegality of this is just so much hot air, considering that there still has been no call for the NSA wiretaps. Unless the writer is stating that this is something more, and fails to detail exactly what that is and why it's illegal.
I wrote the following document in 2004 when it became clear to me that AT&T, at the behest of the National Security Agency, had illegally installed secret computer gear designed to spy on internet traffic. At the time I thought this was an outgrowth of the notorious Total Information Awareness program, which was attacked by defenders of civil liberties. But now it's been revealed by The New York Times that the spying program is vastly bigger and was directly authorized by President Bush, as he himself has now admitted, in flagrant violation of specific statutes and constitutional protections for civil liberties. I am presenting this information to facilitate the dismantling of this dangerous Orwellian project.
The normal work force of unionized technicians in the office are forbidden to enter the "secret room," which has a special combination lock on the main door. The telltale sign of an illicit government spy operation is the fact that only people with security clearance from the National Security Agency can enter this room. In practice this has meant that only one management-level technician works in there. Ironically, the one who set up the room was laid off in late 2003 in one of the company's endless "downsizings," but he was quickly replaced by another.
I'm thinking he's pretty certain of himself, though I still haven't found anything in the article stating what law was broken or what exactly the facility in place does.

If the system is as he describes, it's a fairly powerful TIA remanent system that can draw line rate content information. That could be. I'm not certain that that information provides any relevant data as to the actual activities of the NSA. Just because I have a truck that can haul half a ton of material doesn't mean that I always haul half a ton of material. There are also a couple of laws that could legally use this type of traffic. Remember FISA and CALEA?

I'm not the fond of the fact that the government has these systems in place. But, making the assumption that the people running the systems, the legislative oversight groups, and all other people involved are willingly committing a crime strikes me as a bit paranoid.

The technical description is interesting. Though I doubt that anyone with any technical knowledge couldn't have conjectured as to what was being done.

Bloomberg's Lawsuit Stunt Causing Criminal Justice Problems

Found this linked by alandp at The Gun Blogs.

Nice to see that law enforcement is paying attention.

Mayor Bloomberg's decision to hire private investigators to conduct undercover stings at Southern gun shops has potentially jeopardized several criminal cases, law enforcement sources charged.

Four cases were compromised and an additional 14 were put at risk by the six-week sting aimed at gun stores in Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia, the sources said.

The sources argued that several suspects being watched by authorities had frequented some of the 15 gun shops - but are now cleaning up their acts or lying low because of the publicity. None of the ongoing cases was linked to New York, the sources said.


"The goal is to lock up gun criminals, not file civil lawsuits with publicity stunts," the source said.

But the city's criminal justice czar dismissed the complaints.

"What we did can only complement any ongoing investigation," said Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt, adding his office had received only positive feedback, as well as requests to share the evidence gathered. The NYPD was not involved in the sting.

"Agencies will marry the video evidence we gathered with other evidence to make a far richer, far stronger and far more airtight case," Feinblatt said.

Makes you wonder how the BATFE or the Justice Dept. will be able to use this evidence. Considering that the Bloomberg "stings" were of questionable legality to start. If you haven't read about it, the Private Investigators performed straw purchases, or attempted to in many of the cases that Bloomberg cites as evidence of wrong doing on the part of the firearms dealer.

I also wonder if the BATFE or other federal agency is looking at the legality of the acts. I also wonder how these Private Investigators came to the conclusion that the Mayor of New York could authorize them to perform illegal activities in other states. Here is an article that states that the PIs were performing straw purchases.
For the sting operation, the city singled out about 45 dealers based on gun trace data that links weapons sold in those shops to hundreds of shootings and other crimes in New York City from 1994 to 2001.

Private investigators wore hidden cameras and attempted "straw purchases," where one person fills out the legal forms and makes the purchase for someone else. The scam, prohibited by federal law, is typically used by people who cannot own firearms, such as convicted felons.

The city said the undercover investigators entered stores in teams of two, usually a man and a woman. While the woman roamed the store and acted uninterested, the man made all the inquiries about the gun and made it clear he was the buyer, the city said. When it came time to make the purchase, the woman would step up to fill out the paperwork.

The majority of dealers refused the sale, Bloomberg said. In a video from one such attempt, the man behind the counter shrugged his shoulders, apologized and said it would be against the law for him to sell to the woman because she was clearly not the intended user.

Doesn't this also implicate Bloomberg for conspiring to perform these illegal acts?

Prediction. None of these actors will see any investigation, never mind prosecutions.

Prosecuting Journalists

Gonzales is of the opinion that it can be done with respect to the release and publication of secret information.

"There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility," Mr. Gonzales said on the ABC News program "This Week."

"That's a policy judgment by the Congress in passing that kind of legislation," he continued. "We have an obligation to enforce those laws. We have an obligation to ensure that our national security is protected."

Asked whether he was open to the possibility that The New York Times should be prosecuted for its disclosures in December concerning a National Security Agency surveillance program, Mr. Gonzales said his department was trying to determine "the appropriate course of action in that particular case."

"I'm not going to talk about it specifically," he said. "We have an obligation to enforce the law and to prosecute those who engage in criminal activity."

Though he did not name the statutes that might allow such prosecutions, Mr. Gonzales was apparently referring to espionage laws that in some circumstances forbid the possession and publication of information concerning the national defense, government codes and "communications intelligence activities."

I get nervous when a lawyer starts with that "if you read the language carefully" statements. It probably is necessary, but it doesn't make you feel very confident in their choice of interpretations. The ACLU is going to ricochet around the walls on this one.
Some legal scholars say that even if the plain language of the laws could be read to reach journalists, the laws were never intended to apply to the press. In any event, these scholars say, prosecuting reporters under the laws might violate the First Amendment.

Mr. Gonzales said that the administration promoted and respected the right of the press that is protected under the First Amendment.

"But it can't be the case that that right trumps over the right that Americans would like to see, the ability of the federal government to go after criminal activity," he said. "And so those two principles have to be accommodated."

I don't like the press double standard of full protection of any speech irrespective of the consequences. I find it highly unlikely that that was the intention of those who penned the constitution. On the other hand, I really would like to know the legal precedence on this, and I'm betting it's really messy. I checked at a couple of Blawgs and came up empty. Probably still too early.

Now, is this a warning shot or a threat? I'm going to give the AG the benefit of the doubt and go with warning. I'm going to go out on a limb and state that prosecutions on this are going to be rare and will have a low conviction rate. (And they will be defended and viciously attacked by the likes of the ACLU.)

Yugoslavia's Final Fracture

Not really surprising that Montenegro has decided to break away from Serbia. Though from the numbers it looks like it's pretty close.
Montenegrin voters Endorsed a plan to split from Serbia and make the Adriatic Sea nation an independent state in the final breakup of the former Yugoslavia, preliminary data shows.

Independence was supported by 55.4 percent of voters, according to preliminary results by the state Referendum Committee. It said 44.6 percent of voters backed a continued link to Serbia. A 55 percent majority was required for adoption.

Serbia hasn't exactly been helpful in cleaning up the issues with the dissolution of the former communist country. Not to mention all those little country's desire to get into the EU.

The Montengrin's aren't exactly playing nice either.
Montenegro has offered to preserve the free flow of people with Serbia and offer Serb citizens, who make up 32 percent of the population, all rights except the right of vote. Serbs living in Montenegro would be able to choose between Montenegrin and dual citizenships, according to the Montenegro government's April 13 decision.
Seems a shoddy deal to me. I suppose we'll be seeing some new violence because of this. Though I doubt that Serbia will try to strong arm Montengro.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Air Marshal Anonymity

Why isn't this a surprise that a bureaucracy has dress rules and standards that make the marshals obvious.
The draft report, "Plane Clothes: Lack of Anonymity at the Federal Air Marshal Service Compromises Aviation and National Security," cites the service's dress code, which is supposed to prevent marshals from drawing attention to themselves.

In practice, the report found, "many federal air marshals indicate that the dress code actually draws more attention to the identity of the federal air marshals because of its rigid requirements that prevent federal air marshals from actually blending in with their surroundings."

If it's obviously the wrong thing to do, the government will ensure that they enforce it. Don't we all feel so much safer knowing that the Air Marshals have a required dress code and a required check in procedure that will ensure that terrorists can find them with little trouble?

This report gives even more irritating points.
Thomas Quinn, FAMS director until his resignation in February, told the committee he "cannot substantiate that probing activities are occurring."
Mr. Quinn told investigators that only a small percentage of "disgruntled amateurs who bring down the organization" opposed a dress code, hotel policy or boarding procedures.

But investigators discovered "numerous" complaints and suggestions had been documented within the agency.

"It is unacceptable for FAMS management to be oblivious to the problems facing their organization, either because there is no established system for managing requests for policy modifications or because there is a deliberate effort to ignore such requests," the report said.

Numerous agents have been investigated or fired for questioning the agency's policies, including Don Strange, former special agent in charge of the Atlanta field office who was fired after openly rebelling against the dress code.

"Disciplinary procedures at FAMS can be called disparate and, on their surface, can be characterized as unfair and even retaliatory," the report said.

Mr. Quinn became so obsessive with dress code enforcement agents nicknamed him "Commander Queeg" after the character played by Humphrey Bogart in "The Caine Mutiny," who becomes so obsessed over a missing quart of strawberries that his men think he is mentally unstable.
Mr. Quinn sounds like a complete buffoon. Well, at least he's not continuing to screw up the service.

Reporters and History: Never the Twain Shall Meet

I wish I had lots of pithy comments to make about this, but the only thing I can honestly say is, reporters are morons. Their complete disconnect from reality, their inability to look any further back in time than 1968 and their total lack of understanding of matters historical, or worse, military history, make them sound like total simpletons. That said, they do fit in with mainstream America in this complete lack of reference. I love asking people at work, when did the civil war take place? Let's put it this way, my eight year olds get the answer right (not all the time) more often than my co-workers do.

New Evidence Dismissing T.E. Lawrence's Rape Charges

An interesting investigation into whether or not the Turks tortured & raped Lawrence. Further, and probably more important, whether or not he was betrayed by an Arab. The evidence seems a tad slight to me. Since we only have his word that the incident occurred, this more "on the spot" bit of information may carry more weight. The political motivations for attributing his betrayal to an Arab are interesting. There are several fairly recent histories of Lawrance and the desert war. Time to track one down.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Stupid Girls

Modern Music and I are, at best, nodding acquaintances, but this song by Pink and the video that goes with it are great. Watch, enjoy, laugh. First chance I get I'm taking my girl shooting again.

UN on GITMO Again

You'd think that they'd have many more pressing things to work on in the human rights commission. For some reason the time and effort to argue about GITMO is more important than the major human rights violators in the world.
The United States should close its jail at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and any secret prisons it may be running, a U.N. panel said Friday.

"The state party should cease to detain any person at Guantanamo Bay and close this detention facility, permit access by the detainees to judicial process or release them as soon as possible," the U.N. Committee Against Torture said in an 11-page report issued in Geneva, Switzerland.

The report concluded that detention of suspects without charges being filed runs counter to established human rights law and that the war on terrorism does not constitute an armed conflict under international law.

Of course we don't expect to hear anything else from the MSM on what the commission is doing. Though I have to give the chairmen some credit for being reasonable and making this statement.

Andreas Mavrommatis, a Cypriot rights expert who chaired the committee's review of the United States, told the AP the report should not be blown out of proportion because overall the United States has "a very good record of human rights."

He told the AP the committee had identified some problems in the U.S.-led war on terror. "We are telling them we hope to have a dialogue, and we trust that they might take the necessary measures to improve."

That's a bit unexpected. Usually all you hear is how bad the US is. At least from a bureaucrat in the UN.

Funny that they don't consider terrorism to fall under the laws of war. If it's not an "Armed Conflict" what exactly is it? I don't see the issue falling under any specific law at this time. Though I shouldn't expect them to actually say where it fits. That would be too convenient.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Schumer's a Jackass

I'm linking the Alphecca blog on this one. He pretty much pops a vein on this one. I guess I usually do as well. Schumer just always rubs a nerve wrong with me. Here is the statement that is so very very irritating:
"This shows the NRA at its worst, at its most extreme," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a longtime advocate of gun control. "To put handcuffs around police officers who are doing their jobs for some crazy way-out-there view that police officers want to confiscate guns of law-abiding citizens is to make a mistake. If I were Mayor Bloomberg or [New York] Police Chief [Ray] Kelly, or any other law enforcement officer, I'd say to the NRA, 'Make my day.'"
Alphecca says:
How anyone in NY can vote for a creep like Schumer is beyond me. And of course, he's the same hypocrite who doesn't support concealed carry for "us ordinary folks" but, like SF hypocrite Diane Feinstein, has a CCW permit himself!

[Jeff, your blood-pressure...relax... -ed.]

"Serenity now...serenity now...serenity now..."

Lastly, if Schumer is SO SURE that mayors and cops don't want to confiscate legal firearms during emergencies, then what the hell is so "extremist" about simply asking those mayors and police chiefs to pledge not to do so? Go on, Chucky, make our day by answering that one?
I can sympathize. I commonly wish I could "put the knee in" when I see Chuckles speak. In this case he seems to not give a damn about the citizen.

Nice to see that Chuckles is consistent. Once a jackass always a jackass.

California Gun Bills: More Legislation to Punish the Law-abiding

Glad the Fed isn't helping these idiots along.

Here are the bills that are on the move in The Socialist Republic of California.

Klehs' AB 2728 -- approved by the Assembly Public Safety Committee in April and now pending in the Assembly Appropriations Committee -- would require newly licensed gun dealers to pass state Justice Department compliance inspections before opening for business.

The other Lockyer-sponsored bill, AB 2521 by Assemblyman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, would subject firearms dealers to more Justice Department oversight to reduce trafficking from out-of-state vendors. The Assembly approved it May 11 on a 51-26 vote; it's now before the state Senate Rules Committee.

Tuesday's speakers also called for passage of AB 352 by Assemblyman Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood, which would require "microstamping" of semiautomatic handguns, giving police a new way to track the buying and handling of guns later tied to crime. The Assembly passed this bill last year on a 41-38 vote, but the state Senate rendered it inactive last fall.

So the first two are for the discouragement of gun merchants. The first probably isn't too bad, but is simply another way to make it impossible to become a firearms dealer.

I don't quite get the second one. The dealer has to have an FFL and can only buy interstate from another FFL. So what is the difference in that bill from what exists now? Does it mean that they won't be able to purchase guns from in-state manufacturers?

The micro-stamping is just a giggle. I guess the sale of wheel guns will be going through the roof in CA. What a joke.

Anyone know any reason to consider any of these as legitimate legislation?

What is Murtha Doing?

Ok, I LOATHE Salon. This article about the alleged Marines war crimes in Iraq isn't bad in limiting the writers opinion. But then, they didn't have to put out much since Murtha is spewing wildly. Not that this story wasn't already in the MSM. Time broke the story originally, now Murtha is broadcasting for personal gain.
"Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood," said Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania, a decorated Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam and is among the most influential Democratic voices on military matters. "This is going to be a very, very bad thing for the United States."

Asked about his sources during a midday briefing on Iraq policy in the Capitol, Murtha confidently replied, "All the information I get, it comes from the commanders, it comes from people who know what they are talking about." Although Murtha said that he had not read any investigative reports by the military on the incident, he stressed, "It's much worse than reported in Time magazine."

The civilian deaths are under review by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which is also responsible for the Marine Corps. A Navy spokesman declined to comment on Murtha's claims, saying that the matter is part of an ongoing inquiry. He would also not comment on when the investigation into the incident would be completed.
Translation is pretty easy. It's the wrong war for the wrong reason and thus it's the President's fault. He's not saying this to forward justice by any means. This is politics plain and simple.

There have been war crimes similar to this in all wars. That doesn't excuse it. It just means that it happens and must be dealt with. It also gives you a bit of context on the reality of war. Violence is what it's about. Stress in combat is an environmental norm. People in that environment make bad decisions and kill people.

There are more than a few tales of prisoners being murdered by troops in both world wars, not to mention killing civilians that don't cooperate with the military or work against them. In past wars it was commonly overlooked as a part of war. Just the facts. The NCIS is investigating and you can be assured that the military will punish those responsible.

As for Murtha, maybe he should stop riding the political wagon dragged by those that are defending the country. He isn't helping them or the country.

Anti-French Quotes

The Ministry of Minor Perfidy has a bunch of great French hating quotes/jokes. Here's a taste.

  • "The last time the French asked for ‘more proof ‘ it came marching into Paris under a German flag.” --David Letterman
  • "I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me.” --General George S. Patton
  • "War without France would be like ... World War II.” --Unknown
  • "What do you expect from a culture and a nation that exerted more of its national will fighting against DisneyWorld and Big Macs than the Nazis?” --Dennis Miller
  • "It is important to remember that the French have always been there when they needed us.” --Alan Kent
  • "Do you know it only took Germany three days to conquer France in WWII? And that’s because it was raining.” --John Xereas, Manager, DC Improv
  • "Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion.” --Norman Schwartzkopf

Another Quiz

Saw this one linked at ProfessorBainbridge. I find the results rather amusing.

Are you Addicted to the Internet?


Newbie (21% - 40%)
You've started to learn that there is more to the internet than AOL. You've recovered from that email virus that wiped your hard drive and are thinking of getting DSL. You still tend to forward too many jokes and inspirational thoughts via email to your entire address book.

The Are you Addicted to the Internet? Quiz at Quiz Me!

Yeah. Let's see what's wrong with that statement. I work in the Network Security industry. I've never had a virus, mainly because I work in the Network Security industry. I don't tend to forward emails except to a very few people. I work on computers for a minimum of 10 hours a day. (I have to maintain around 25 computers, not to mention routers, security gateways, switches and test tools. Not to mention testing security devices and working on customer issues.) So I want to go home and play on the internet for what reason?

New Whitehouse Press Secratary

I've been looking for a transcript of this and finally found it. Tony Snow is going to be much more interesting in dealing with the press. I particularly enjoyed this encounter he had with the lunatic Helen Thomas.

Thomas: The president today denied he'd ever broken the law in terms of wiretaps. He also indicated that anything that was looked into, any calls, had some sort of foreign aspect either to or from. And he has said he's always obeyed the law. Are all of these stories untrue that we've been reading for the last several days that millions of Americans have been wiretapped?

Snow: Well, let's--

Thomas: Are the phone calls turned over to the government?

Snow: Okay, let's try to segregate the stories here. What he's said about the terror surveillance program is that these are foreign-to-domestic calls and they were all done within the parameters of the law. He has not commented on the--

Thomas: He, himself, has said he didn't obey that law.

Snow: No, he didn't. What he said is that he has done everything within the confines of the law. The second thing is, you're mentioning a USA Today story about which this administration has no comment. But I would direct you back to the USA Today story itself, and if you analyze what that story said, what did it say? It said there is no wiretapping of individual calls, there is no personal information that is being relayed. There is no name, there is no address, there is no consequence of the calls, there's no description of who the party on the other end is.

Thomas: Privacy was breached by turning over their phone numbers.

Snow: Well, again, you are jumping to conclusions about a program, the existence of which we will neither confirm, nor deny.

Thomas: Why? Don't you think the American people have a right to know--

Snow: Because--what's interesting is, there seems to be a notion that because the president has talked a little bit about one surveillance program and one matter of intelligence gathering, that somehow we have to tell the entire world we have to make intelligence gathering transparent. Let me remind you, it's a war on terror, and there are people--I guarantee you, al Qaeda does not believe--

Thomas: He doesn't have a right to break the law, does he?

Snow: No, the president is not talking about breaking the law. But al Qaeda doesn't believe in transparency. What al Qaeda believes in is mayhem, and the president has a constitutional obligation and a heartfelt determination to make sure we fight it.

Does anyone else wish she'd just retire. I have a feeling that her antics in the press room are going to get some serious challenges with Snow.

Net Neutrality Op-Ed

Opinion Journal is generally a fairly informative place for opinion. Today on the other hand, they came out with this piece on Network Neutrality and how the left is whining about it. The problem is, they completely and utterly fail to discuss Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Efficiency Act of 2006 ( COPE - Barton-Rush Act). We previously discussed this issue here.

This particularly bothers me, because this is a discussion with no context.
It's worth putting this zealotry in a broader historical context. In the decade or so since the commercialization of the Internet began in earnest, the number of users, the speed of their connections and the variety of things they can do on the Net have all rushed forward. Blissfully, but not coincidentally, all this has been accomplished with a light regulatory touch. Excepting pornography and gambling, no bureaucrats have decided what services could be provided over the Internet, or who could offer them or how they could charge for them.

The result has been rich and diverse. Web surfers can make phone calls--sometimes free, sometimes for a fee. They can legally listen to music, either free, by subscription or by paying per song. They can watch some network television shows online--again, some are free and supported by ads; others charge per program.

Some of the service ideas have been bad, and failed. Some are wonderful. But many would never have been tried if the Federal Communications Commission had been able to tell businesses whom they could charge, how much or how little, or what they could or couldn't sell on the Net. Freedom, in other words, has been the Web surfer's friend.

Enter Net neutrality, which has so far found its only official expression in a nonbinding policy statement issued by the FCC last year. The FCC statement says, "consumers are entitled" (our emphasis) to the "content," "applications" and "devices" of their choice on the Internet. They are also "entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers."

Take a moment to pause over this expansive list of "entitlements." If we take the FCC at its word, access to online pornography is now a right, even though in a different context the FCC is increasingly preoccupied with policing "decency" standards on television. We'd have thought FCC Chairman Kevin Martin would find all that entitlement talk a little embarrassing, given his campaign for decency standards.

No mention of COPE anywhere. I'd also argue that their contention that this is about entitlements is just foolish. In fact, for the most part it's about not buggering up a system that already works by giving the big core providers another means to charge even larger fees for preferential treatment. Well, preferential treatment for traffic within your service providers scope of influence. Once it gets into the realm of another service provider, all bets are off.

I'd say that this Op-Ed fulfills the description of Zealotry far more than most of the "lefts" crusade for Network Neutrality.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

HNN Publishes Anti-Gun Screed... Again

For every good article on history over at HNN, we get about 8-10 horrifying screeds about the evils of the modern right wing and their birth in some old terror from America's (usually EEEEVIL) past. This time it's guns. See, the Second Amendment is really all about gun control, not individual rights.

There is much to be learned from America's first gun violence crisis and the first gun control movement. It is not surprising that during that struggle gun rights supporters tried to lay claim to the Second Amendment by reinterpreting it as an individual right of self defense. This argument continues to be effectively employed by opponents of gun regulation.

Modern gun control proponents have generally been embarrassed by the Second Amendment, viewing it as an anachronism. Early proponents of gun regulation did not make the same mistake. Rather than dismiss the Second Amendment as a remnant of America 's revolutionary past, they venerated it, reminding their opponents that the Second Amendment was about an obligation citizens owed to their government and communities to contribute to public defense. They also staked out another right that has not been much talked about recently in this debate: a right to be free from the fear of gun violence.

See, argument over. Except for a few sticky points. First, the author doesn't really show us ANY quotes or references to early proponents of gun regulation being an obligation to the state. Second, he just washes over that whole "right of the people" statement in the second amendment that, as we all know, every where else it's used within the Constitution means and indivual right. Lastly, where is that "right to be free from the fear of gun violence" written exactly. As a matter of fact, where does it say anywhere, in any form, the "right" to be free from fear of any kind. Come on. Hoplophobes like this are scared of guns. Myself, I'm scared of the uber-nanny-state trying to put foam padding around everything in sight that it hasn't already found a method of outlawing. Fear runs in a lot of ways, and freedom from fear is just not a part of the Constitution.

Mexican Lawsuits

While looking around the blogsphere concerning the below entry, I came across QandO's entry on the EEOC and then this one related to the Mexican lawsuits. I'm having real trouble having any sympathy for the illegals on this one.
Mexican border officials also said they worried that sending troops to heavily trafficked regions would push illegal migrants into more perilous areas of the U.S.-Mexican border to avoid detection.
Mexican officials worry the crackdown will lead to more deaths. Since Washington toughened security in Texas and California in 1994, migrants have flooded Arizona's hard-to-patrol desert and deaths have spiked. Migrant groups estimate 500 people died trying to cross the border in 2005. The Border Patrol reported 473 deaths in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

In Ciudad Juarez, Julieta Nunez Gonzalez, local representative of the Mexican government's National Immigration Institute, said Tuesday she will ask the government to send its migrant protection force, known as Grupo Beta, to more remote sections of the border.

Sending the National Guard "will not stop the flow of migrants, to the contrary, it will probably go up," as people try to get into the U.S. in the hope that they could benefit from a possible amnesty program, Nunez said.

For some reason I'm betting that there'll be a lawsuit if there is any legislation that requires border enforcement. By the logic here, I'd say they think that the US government must be held responsible for the actions of those trying to enter the country illegally.

Read the QandO entry, it gets into some of the other interesting logic.

Testimony Shouldn't be Offered Before the Hearing

I guess the first lesson I'd learn from this is to never give your testimony to the committee before you have a chance to testify.
Last month, I received an invitation to testify before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about affirmative action and diversity in U.S. companies. The testimony was scheduled for today, and I was asked to share my written statement to the commission beforehand, last Thursday, which I did. Late Friday afternoon I received a phone call from the commission, telling me that because of what I had to say, my invitation had been withdrawn by its chairman, Cari M. Dominguez.

I urged the commission to reconsider this decision because it would put the commission in general and the chairman in particular in a bad light. Yesterday I was notified that the entire meeting--not just my panel, but two others--has been "indefinitely postponed."

The problem is that my testimony told the unwelcome truths that (a) American companies, in their "celebration of diversity," frequently discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity and sex, (b) this violates the law, and (c) the EEOC is not doing anything about it. I was told that it would lead to a "mutiny" among the career people at the commission if I was given a "platform" to say such things. It might even turn the proceedings that morning into a "circus," and Ms. Dominguez, I was told, did not want the EEOC "to look like the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights back when Mary Frances Berry headed it."

The irony is that the effort to silence a witness because of his political incorrectness is exactly the sort of thing that Ms. Berry might have done. Actually, it's worse. Ms. Berry, whatever her considerable shortcomings, actually did allow me to testify on more than one occasion.

Well imagine that. Berry was definitely out of control, but this is the other extreme. Don't like what they have to say, well, we'll just not have the hearing.

I hope this gets a lot of MSM play. I'd really be interested in hearing the logic behind this. Another debate with no discussion. Almost makes you think of some sectors of the blogsphere.

More Revisionist History on HNN

Another propaganda piece at HNN. No real surprise there, but these people should do a little better job at providing "history." This one I've seen elsewhere in gun blog discussions.

First there's the data from polls.
Polling data for decades have shown that most Americans favor stronger gun laws. Indeed, surveys demonstrate that such policies are even supported by most gun owners. Yet pundits and political soothsayers have written off this issue because it is perceived to be a loser at the polls.
That's all. They don't bother to include information about how polls have shown that the citizens of the US also overwhelmingly believe in the individuals right to bear arms.

I'm not going to bother going into this since Alphecca and the Smallest Minority both have looked at this article and have some very good commentary in relation. The "historian" of this piece even responds to the Smallest Minority's blog on topic, but quite condescendingly. I love this bit:
I am in the midst of grading essays so I can't respond to all of the errors in your blog.
Jerk. But hey, what's a debate if someone holds you to your "facts" and you refuse to play.

Has anyone else noticed that there seems to be a lot more gun-control yelping going on just now? I suppose there is a lot of spill over from Canada and their desire to dump their long-gun registry, but I've been seeing a lot of other whining.

Synthetic Marijuana Returns to Market with FDA Approval

Color me confused.
Seventeen years after it was withdrawn from U.S. markets, a synthetic version of the active ingredient in marijuana is going back on sale as a prescription treatment for the vomiting and nausea that often accompanies chemotherapy, its manufacturer said Tuesday.
Synthetic THC acts on the brain like the THC in smoked marijuana, but eliminates having to inhale the otherwise harmful smoke contained in the illegal drug, Valeant said.
The FDA last month said it does not support the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Does this make any sense? If marijuana has no medical purposes, then how is it that an artificial form of its active ingredient is ok?

Is this about medicine or politics? Or maybe it's about pharmaceutical company profits?

I'm catching the foul smell of hypocrisy over here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Hmmm... I may need to augment my martial arts training. Yeah, sai, tonfa, escrima, bo, nunchaku, katana, knives and guns are all OK. But really, look at that. Those kabuchi look great!

Reactions to the Immigration/Border Security Speech

Personally, I wasn't impressed. He's proposing something, which is more than can be said for his Democratic opposition. Did Bush gain anything with his political base? I'm thinking maybe a little, but only for those of more centrist values. Which means this speaks was probably a failure.

I always enjoy finding these reports on quotes by the political noise makers.
Dana Rohrabacher
Rohrabacher, a leading immigration critic in the House, said on CNN's "Larry King Live" that he was "very disappointed" by the speech.

"He's playing these word games about massive deportations again, which no one is advocating and does not do anything to further an honest debate," said Rohrabacher, who also took issue with Bush's distinction between a legalization process for illegal immigrants and amnesty.

"If they are here illegally and you make them here legally, that is an amnesty," he said.

Well he got the amnesty part right. Though he mustn't be listening to people in the Alkaline Desert of the Right.

Dick Durbin
"We know where the House Republicans stand. They want to criminalize undocumented immigrants and the nurses, volunteers and people of faith who help them. The president told us tonight that he is for comprehensive reform: Now he must lead. The president has the power to call up the National Guard, but now he must summon the power to lead his own Republican forces in Congress to support a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform."
Translation: The President must force the Republicans to do it our way or we'll block any legislation that isn't "bipartisan." Not an unexpected response.

Tom Tancredo
Tancredo said on Fox News that Bush's plan to give some illegal immigrants a way to work their way to citizenship is "not fair" to those who have "been waiting for years outside the country to come in."

"I hope to God that we do not, in fact, pass anything in the House that resembles anything that is coming out of the Senate or that they were even talking about. ... The card for employers -- great idea. All for it. Putting the troops on the border -- great idea. All for it. But what absolutely bugs me, when the president starts talking about this false dichotomy ... where it's either round up and deport 12 million people or give them amnesty -- no, no. There is another way to do it. And that is, in fact, to make sure that they can't get jobs and, through attrition, millions will go home."

Now, I'm thinking he's not quite saying "massive deportation" but that is what he wants. Whether they collect them all right now or just badger them out of the country. Maybe we should put him in a room with Rohrabacher and see if they can understand some reality of what is happening in the politics.

The Governator
The Republican governor blamed the federal government for its "failure ... to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation" and complained that "border state governors were not consulted about this proposal in advance."

"It remains unclear what impact only 6,000 National Guard troops will have on securing the border," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "I am concerned asking National Guard troops to guard our nation's border is a Band-Aid solution and not the permanent solution we need.

"One thing is clear -- we all agree we must secure our borders, and I commend the president for speaking so passionately about the need for comprehensive reform tonight."

Sadly he and Gov. Bill Richardson seem to be on the same page. From what I heard the use of the national guard is indeed a band-aid fix. It's being proposed because nothing is being done to plug the holes and getting more Border Security trained and into the field is taking a long time. I'm uncertain why they are upset about not being consulted in advance. This is a proposal at this point. Hopefully it will be implemented quickly.

Anthony Romero (ACLU)

"Our government and people have long recognized that federal law enforcement officers are the best equipped and trained to deal with these kinds of civilian law enforcement needs. Soldiers are trained to kill the enemy, and they lack the training to conduct proper law enforcement. Furthermore, they lack training to respect and protect border community residents' civil liberties and safety. History has shown the dangers of using the military to engage in domestic law enforcement activities."

Wonder what he thinks of using the National Guard in places like New Orleans? Probably was against that as well. But hey, they're just mad-dog killers, they can't possibly do any other type of work. They might upset the feelings of some criminal trying to enter the U.S. illegally. I'm certain his "border community residents" isn't limited to those who legally reside in the area on the U.S. side of the border.

John Sweeney (AFL-CIO)
"Deploying the National Guard to the border does nothing to end the economic exploitation that is driving illegal immigration. Our laws must include uniform enforcement of workplace standards to ensure a more just and level playing field. We must reject outdated guest-worker programs that relegate all future immigrant workers to an indentured, second-class status with substandard wages and rights, and undermine standards for all."
I'm uncertain of which side of the game this guy is on. On the one hand I'd say he should be against immigration since dilution of the work force will cause wage decreases. But then his "level the playing field" comment really sounds like he's trying to get new union recruits.

QandO pretty much come down that the speech was a flop. They don't like the idea of the high-tech green card by comparing it with forged social security cards. An interesting comparison, but not one that should be held to firmly. They must have forgot about the RealID program. Though that has very similar weaknesses in that getting a RealID card will still require that forgeable SSN and Birth Certificate.

Power Line's John Hindraker gave it a big thumbs down.
...and he blew it. He should have given the speech I told him to. As soon as he started talking about guest worker programs and the impossibility of deporting 11 million illegals, it was all over. President Bush keeps trying to find the middle ground, on this and many other issues. But sometimes, there isn't a viable middle ground. This is one of those instances.
Hmm. Maybe we should get Rohrabacher together with Hindraker.

Overall it's a mixed bag of reactions. I'm not even going to look at the Fever Swamp left's reactions. That is far to predictable.