Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Coming Storm

Looks like Bush will have to use that Veto. Something he's not done in many cases where he should have. I'm sure the political banter will peak when it happens. The LATimes actually has a reasonable stance on this.
THE SENATE has now joined the House of Representatives in setting a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops in Iraq. Its date is a year from now — March 31, 2008. The House's deadline is Aug. 31, 2008.

The dates are arbitrary. The Senate's language is nonbinding and more likely to be part of the war-funding legislation that reaches the White House. But because President Bush vows to veto any measure with a timetable attached, passage is purely symbolic. Amid all this political gamesmanship, however, some clarity may yet emerge.

The withdrawal language is wrongheaded. As we have argued before, it is bad precedent and bad public policy for Congress to attempt to micromanage military operations in Iraq. As Bush said Wednesday: "It makes no sense for politicians in Washington, D.C., to be dictating arbitrary timelines for our military commanders in a war zone 6,000 miles away."
The point is that the Dems should at least give the surge a chance. Not that they really can, seeing that they have made so much noise about their being in charge now. The LATimes editor at least clearly indicates that they are being unreasonable. I believe beyond that that there is also the issue of taking responsibility for those actions that the legislature has taken. The Dems will deny it until the end, but their activities are staging the grounds for a higher risk of failure, even if Bush gets his way on the funding in the end.

Of course, Pelosi, the biggest mouth and smallest brain has stepped forward to chastise Bush on his veto threat.
Calm down with the threats. There is a new Congress in town. We respect your constitutional role; we want you to respect ours. This war must end. The American people have lost faith in the President’s conduct of the war. Let’s see how we can work together. This war is diminishing the strength of our military, not honoring our commitment to our veterans, and not holding the Iraqi government accountable.
What a steaming pile. Note the complete failure to address consequences of her desire to run away. Not that I expect her to be reasonable, or looking to those consequences. Maybe Pelosi should calm down herself, since her rhetoric since coming to the leadership role has be quite shrill.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Webb's Irresponsible Gun Handling

Obviously I think Webb should have every right to carry a gun. Especially for self-protection. I don't have any issue with that. I do have issue with the fact that he was extremely careless in his care for his firearm.
A Congressional official briefed on the case said Monday that the aide told the police that Mr. Webb had given him the pistol as Mr. Webb was being dropped off at the airport, and that the aide had inadvertently taken the weapon with him to the Capitol complex, which has stepped up security since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and a 1998 episode in which a gunman killed two Capitol police officers.

But Mr. Webb said Tuesday that he “did not give the weapon to Phil Thompson.”

He said his aide “completely inadvertently took the weapon into the Senate yesterday” and that it probably had happened in the scramble among his staff members as they were preparing for a trip that Mr. Webb took to New Orleans on Friday.

“We had three cars on Friday that were being moved about because of my trip,” Mr. Webb said, “and that is probably a reason that this inadvertent situation developed.”
There's a responsible gun owner. He didn't know where his gun was and left it where anyone could access it if his aide had left the doors unlocked. Seeing as Thompson likely didn't even know the gun was in the car. Not only is that irresponsible gun ownership, but a damn nasty thing to do to a friend.

On the other side, Thompson was pretty stupid not to check the contents of the bag he was carrying prior to taking it into a security area. Having worked in security areas, I know you do a thorough inventory before trying to access the area. That ensures less jail time, especially when you're handling someone else's luggage.

Senate's Runaway Section

This pork laden piece of crap legislation is pretty much the same as that piece of crap the house passed. Here's the runaway clause.
SEC. 1315. REVISION OF UNITED STATES POLICY ON IRAQ. (a) Findings- Congress makes the following findings:

(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or have served bravely and honorably in Iraq.

(2) The circumstances referred to in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243) have changed substantially.

(3) United States troops should not be policing a civil war, and the current conflict in Iraq requires principally a political solution.

(4) United States policy on Iraq must change to emphasize the need for a political solution by Iraqi leaders in order to maximize the chances of success and to more effectively fight the war on terror.

(b) Prompt Commencement of Phased Redeployment of United States Forces From Iraq-

(1) TRANSITION OF MISSION- The President shall promptly transition the mission of United States forces in Iraq to the limited purposes set forth in paragraph (2).

(2) COMMENCEMENT OF PHASED REDEPLOYMENT FROM IRAQ- The President shall commence the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, with the goal of redeploying, by March 31, 2008, all United States combat forces from Iraq except for a limited number that are essential for the following purposes:

(A) Protecting United States and coalition personnel and infrastructure.

(B) Training and equipping Iraqi forces.

(C) Conducting targeted counter-terrorism operations.

(3) COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGY- Paragraph (2) shall be implemented as part of a comprehensive diplomatic, political, and economic strategy that includes sustained engagement with Iraq's neighbors and the international community for the purpose of working collectively to bring stability to Iraq.

(4) REPORTS REQUIRED- Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 90 days thereafter, the President shall submit to Congress a report on the progress made in transitioning the mission of the United States forces in Iraq and implementing the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq as required under this subsection, as well as a classified campaign plan for Iraq, including strategic and operational benchmarks and projected redeployment dates of United States forces from Iraq.

(c) Benchmarks for the Government of Iraq-

(1) SENSE OF CONGRESS- It is the sense of Congress that--

(A) achieving success in Iraq is dependent on the Government of Iraq meeting specific benchmarks, as reflected in previous commitments made by the Government of Iraq, including--

(i) deploying trained and ready Iraqi security forces in Baghdad;

(ii) strengthening the authority of Iraqi commanders to make tactical and operational decisions without political intervention;

(iii) disarming militias and ensuring that Iraqi security forces are accountable only to the central government and loyal to the constitution of Iraq;

(iv) enacting and implementing legislation to ensure that the energy resources of Iraq benefit all Iraqi citizens in an equitable manner;

(v) enacting and implementing legislation that equitably reforms the de-Ba'athification process in Iraq;

(vi) ensuring a fair process for amending the constitution of Iraq so as to protect minority rights; and

(vii) enacting and implementing rules to equitably protect the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi Parliament; and

(B) each benchmark set forth in subparagraph (A) should be completed expeditiously and pursuant to a schedule established by the Government of Iraq.

(2) REPORT- Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 60 days thereafter, the Commander, Multi-National Forces-Iraq shall submit to Congress a report describing and assessing in detail the current progress being made by the Government of Iraq in meeting the benchmarks set forth in paragraph (1)(A).
Looks like they're telling the president how to run a war. Funny, last I saw the constitution left that to the commander in chief, and he isn't a senator.

I like the "United States troops should not be policing a civil war, and the current conflict in Iraq requires principally a political solution" statement. Principally doesn't mean solely. And if they don't understand that the military portion of the solution is the only way that the political solution will ever solidify, then they are bigger imbeciles than they make clearly evident every day.

Rumsfled Suit Dropped by Court

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and three high-ranking U.S. military officials accused of ignoring allegations that U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan tortured prisoners.

"Despite the horrifying torture allegations," wrote U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan in a 58-page opinion, "the plaintiffs lack standing to pursue a declaratory judgment against the defendants."

The charges were brought by human rights groups on behalf of nine former detainees.

Hogan said there was nothing in federal case law that would allow officials such as Rumsfeld to be held personally liable for actions related to their government service.
Hogan rejected the arguments on a number of legal grounds, including the fact that liability in such lawsuits would hamper the military's ongoing war on terror.

"The court cautions against the myopic approach advocated by the plaintiffs," wrote the judge, "which essentially frames the issue as whether torture is universally prohibited and thereby warrants a judicially created remedy under the circumstances.

"There is no getting around the fact that authorizing monetary damages against military officials engaged in an active war would invite enemies to use our own federal courts to obstruct the armed forces' ability to act decisively and without hesitation in defense of our liberty and national interests."

Hogan also noted that foreigners seeking legal redress in U.S. courts are limited in asserting violations of constitutional rights afforded U.S. citizens.

Legal precedent generally protects individual federal officials from these kinds of lawsuits.
Sounds logical to me. That's why I find it interesting.

Taking the Fifth...

I've been pondering this one. I wasn't sure I liked the fact that someone at the Justice Department would be taking the fifth on something that is clearly a political game with no real ethical issues. I pondered it right up until I heard this quote:
“It is disappointing that Ms. Goodling has decided to withhold her important testimony from the Committee as it pursues its investigation into this matter, but everybody has the constitutional right not to incriminate themselves with regard to criminal conduct.

“The American people are left to wonder what conduct is at the base of Ms. Goodling’s concern that she may incriminate herself in connection with criminal charges if she appears before the Committee under oath.“
Why thanks for that perspective Senator McCarthy Leahy. Posturing Goodling's concern as a dodge on criminal activity is perfect. Your methods are pretty much as expected.

Let's look at why she chose to go with the fifth.
Goodling’s counselors at Akin Gump, John Dowd and Jeffrey King, sent a letter to Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) explaining their advice to Goodling, arguing that the committee’s process “is politically charged and lacks fundamental fairness.” Dowd and King also alleged that a senior Justice official told Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) that he inadvertently lied to the Judiciary panel after being improperly briefed by Goodling and other aides.

“The hostile and questionable environment that has been created by the members of the Judiciary Committee in the present proceedings, including the accusations by Department of Justice officials to members of the committee about Ms. Goodling, is at best ambiguous; more accurately the environment can be described as perilous for Ms. Goodling,” Dowd and King wrote.
I wonder if McCarthy Leahy read the letter before or after making his statement. Not that it probably would matter, since the excessive poor judgment on making the statement will place him right in that row of jackasses who can twist someones testimony like origami and bring prejury charges if he doesn't like the testimony.
“The potential for legal jeopardy for Ms. Goodling from even her most truthful and accurate testimony under these circumstances is very real,” Dowd and King continued. “One need look no further than the recent circumstances and proceedings involving Lewis Libby.”
Nice little game of assassination that McCarthy Leahy is playing here. It's good to see McCarthyism alive and well in the US capital.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Terrorist Database, If You Can't Do It Right...

I am not a DBA nor do I claim to play one on TV, but I certainly know that this is a complete avoidance of doing things intelligently.
But in addressing one problem, TIDE has spawned others. Ballooning from fewer than 100,000 files in 2003 to about 435,000, the growing database threatens to overwhelm the people who manage it. "The single biggest worry that I have is long-term quality control," said Russ Travers, in charge of TIDE at the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean. "Where am I going to be, where is my successor going to be, five years down the road?"

TIDE has also created concerns about secrecy, errors and privacy. The list marks the first time foreigners and U.S. citizens are combined in an intelligence database. The bar for inclusion is low, and once someone is on the list, it is virtually impossible to get off it. At any stage, the process can lead to "horror stories" of mixed-up names and unconfirmed information, Travers acknowledged.

The watch lists fed by TIDE, used to monitor everyone entering the country or having even a casual encounter with federal, state and local law enforcement, have a higher bar. But they have become a source of irritation -- and potentially more serious consequences -- for many U.S. citizens and visitors.

In 2004 and 2005, misidentifications accounted for about half of the tens of thousands of times a traveler's name triggered a watch-list hit, the Government Accountability Office reported in September. Congressional committees have criticized the process, some charging that it collects too much information about Americans, others saying it is ineffective against terrorists. Civil rights and privacy groups have called for increased transparency.

This is almost systemic Garbage In Garbage Out. If the information is wrong or unconfirmed, don't you think that it would be better not to be used? Or maybe flagged as such. And the fact that there is essentially no method of getting off the list makes this abomination particularly insane.

How does one justify the money for a broken tool? Especially at the extreme cost that this one must run at.

More Surge Success

Looks like the surge has caught up to some of the car bombers.
US forces say they have captured the leaders of a major car bomb cell responsible for attacks which have killed around 900 Iraqis.

The military said the two men were caught during operations in Adhamiya, a mainly Sunni Arab area in northern Baghdad, last week.

Two statements released by the military estimated that, since November, the car bombs from their group had killed approximately 900 Iraqi citizens and wounded another 1,950.

The first of the two suspects was captured when US forces noticed his vehicle weaving in and out of traffic and his driver ignored signals to stop.

The second was detained later after forces received information that led them to stop a passing vehicle, the statement added.

Let's hope this is highly disruptive to the insurgency. They have continued to strike with car bombs, which is more disruptive than other types of attacks. It also is a terrorist action primarily aimed at the non-combatant population in Baghdad.

Makes you wonder if Harry Reid has noticed the change in tactics yet.

Senator Webb's Handgun

Looks like the Senator set up his aide for failure on this one. Not sure why he chose to hand over responsibility for his weapon to his aide, but it certainly started the aide down the road to a felony. Well, that is only if he gets treated like the rest of us.
A top aide to Sen. James Webb was charged yesterday with trying to carry a loaded pistol and extra ammunition into a Senate office building, U.S. Capitol Police said.

The staffer, Phillip Thompson, told police that the gun belonged to Webb (D-Va.), authorities said. Thompson also said he forgot that the gun was in a briefcase and meant no harm, they said.

How did he forget that the gun was there? I still don't understand that. Every time I carry or have a gun with me I know where it is and that it's secure. I don't understand how someone, especially someone that isn't the owner, could carry a hand gun into a place where it will most assuredly be found.
A Senate official familiar with the incident said Webb gave the gun to Thompson as Thompson drove the senator to an airport earlier in the day. When Thompson arrived at the Senate building, he forgot he was carrying the weapon, the official said.

Another source said that Webb's gun was in a briefcase that was supposed to be dropped off at a location in Virginia before Thompson came into the District.

D.C. law bars people from carrying handguns and concealed weapons without licenses.

Wonder if Webb handed him the gun at the airport. Since they don't actually say which airport they used it's hard to say if it was in D.C. or not. Wonder if Webb has a carry permit for Washington?

CNN's article sounds like Webb handed it to him in Virginia, not in Washington D.C.
A congressional official who has been briefed on the incident by law enforcement told CNN that the handgun belonged to the senator. Thompson was driving Webb to a Washington-area airport, located in Virginia, earlier Monday morning, the official said, when Webb remembered that he had the gun on him. It is legal to carry a concealed handgun in Virginia.

He gave the weapon to Thompson, the official said, and asked him to take care of it. Thompson subsequently put the gun in a briefcase and returned to Capitol Hill where "he spaced, he literally forgot" that he had the gun, the official said.
Well that's as clear as mud.

I'll wager that Thompson gets off with nothing and Webb won't be held responsible for any of this either. Since Senators are obviously more equal than the rest of us.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Anti-War Protestors (Anarchists?) Burning Effigy of Soldier

Caught this linked at Drudge.

Brilliant bit of theater. Listen to the chants and commentary. It's actually quite amusing.

I especially liked the point when they talk about putting down the ballot and picking up a gun. They may want to reconsider. I'm betting that they would lose that gun fight quickly.

Why Didn't They Fight

I didn't understand why the Brits didn't fight the Iranians. First I thought that they just were overwhelmed, but now I'm not so sure. Wasn't anyone watching for other combatants? Where were reinforcments and the bigger guns?
Lt-Cdr Erik Horner, who has been working alongside the task force to which the 15 captured Britons belonged, told The Independent that his men would have fired on the Iranian Republican Guard rather than let themselves be taken hostage.

"I don't want to second-guess the British after the fact, but our rules of engagement allow a little more latitude. Our boarding team's training is a little bit more towards self-preservation," he said.

"The unique US Navy rules of engagement say we not only have a right to self-defense, but also an obligation to self-defense. They (the British) had every right in my mind and every justification to defend themselves rather than allow themselves to be taken. Our reaction was, 'Why didn't your guys defend themselves?'" he added.

It was also reported that British intelligence had been warned by the CIA that Iran would seek revenge for the detention of five suspected Iranian intelligence officers in Iraq two months ago but refused to raise threat levels in line with their US counterparts.
I'm just not certain I would have put down my arms. I'm thinking that there isn't a party in the middle-east that I'd feel any safer as a hostage than I would as a participant in a live fire incident. I wish there was more information on exactly the circumstances, because it's pretty damn hard to tell what the options were.

Captain Ed points out that the Iranians claims that these Sailors and Marines will be tried as spies is in direct conflict with the Geneva Conventions.
The Iranians cannot try the men for espionage if they captured the sailors in uniform. Article 46 of the Geneva Convention states this clearly:
2. A member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict who, on behalf of that Party and in territory controlled by an adverse Party, gathers or attempts to gather information shall not be considered as engaging in espionage if, while so acting, he is in the uniform of his armed forces.

The indictment of British sailors in uniform as spies will violate the GC. Can we expect the same level of outrage over this explicit violation as the supposed violations of the US government?

I pretty much expect that the international community and the MSM don't understand that Iran should be held to the same measure as the US or any other country. I'm sure you won't be hearing a peep from any human rights group either.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

So Much for Pork Reform

Not that I was expecting any spending reform, but the Demospratic screeching for reform seems to have gotten the amount that I expected. Essentially none at all.
The final version worked out to about $742 million a page. Brian M. Riedl, a fellow on budgetary issues at the conservative Heritage Foundation, wrote recently that the bill “could be the most expensive emergency legislation in American history.”

Just what is all this stuff? You can read the details for yourself on the 87-page printout, or nosh on this Top 10:

--$165,200 to the widow of Rep. Charles Norwood (R-Ga.), a promoter of patients’ rights legislation who died of cancer and lung disease in February, three months after he was reelected.

--$4 million for the Office of Women's Health at the Food and Drug Administration.

--$5 million for tropical fish breeders and transporters for losses from a virus last year.

--$25 million for spinach that growers and handlers were unable to market, up to 75 percent of their losses.

--$50 million “for asbestos abatement and other improvements” to the Capitol Power Plant.

--$60.4 million for the National Marine Fisheries Service, “to be distributed among fishing communities, Indian tribes, individuals, small businesses, including fishermen, fish processors, and related businesses, and other persons for assistance to mitigate the economic and other social effects caused by” a commercial fishery failure.

--$74 million “for the payment of storage, handling, and other associated costs for the 2007 crop of peanuts to ensure proper storage of peanuts for which a loan is made.”

--$120 million for the shrimp and menhaden fishing industries to cover consequences of Hurricane Katrina.

--$283 million for the Milk Income Loss Contract Program.

--$400 million for “wildland fire suppression.”
So much for a clean bill. You'd think the Dems would want to minimize the reasons that will make this bill a non-starter in the senate and a certainty for veto by the president. Especially if they are determined to make this about ending the war. Seeing that the bill has to many payoffs to various Dems to get their votes, I'm guessing this is more of the usual political bull shit.

I love this bit of argument:
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) contended that while some (although certainly not all) of the items have merit, they have no business in an emergency war spending bill and should be considered through the normal appropriations process. Kevin Smith, Boehner's communications director, said: "Republicans insisted on a clean war-spending bill last year, free from pork. We don't think it's asking too much from Democrats to focus on our troops first and consider the needs of spinach farmers and tropical fish later in the year."

Sarah Feinberg, communications director for the House Democratic Caucus, replied: “It’s a disingenuous argument being made by the very same members of Congress who were wholly incapable of producing legislation last year that would meet the needs of those farmers and veterans who are so desperate for assistance now. For Democrats, being in the majority sometimes means cleaning up the messes of the Republicans who came before us. If Republicans felt so strongly, one would expect them to make some attempt on the floor to take the spending out. Instead they chose to bluster.”
Boehner's comment is correct, even if hypocritical from how the Repugs have been running the legislature. As for Feinberg's statement, she appears to have forgotten that the Dems promised in an exceptionally shrill tone during the elections, and now to completely ignore those promises is truly telling. And as for cleaning up republican's messes, what a surprise that she would be blaming issues on the Repubs and then argue that they could have attempted to change the bill. If the republican's messes exist, what did the dems do to fix them other than provide obstructions? It's just wonderful to see each group blaming the other, and not taking any responsibility for their own part of the "mess."

Again we see another reason why a third party is really needed and what really is broken in Washington.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

El Duce's Gun Control History

For those concerned about the next presidential election and gun-control rights, this is a must read article. It makes you realize that Rudy is much worse than he would like you to believe.

HatTip Of Arms and the Law.

Anti-War Protestors Over the Line (even further)

Saw this posted at QandO. McQ's comments are spot on.

Get this:
But then there was a smaller group of demonstrators — if they can even be called that — who engaged in numerous actions that violated the sensibilities of ordinary people and damaged the very cause the activists claimed to endorse.

This splinter group of protesters showed its support for “peace” by burning a U.S. soldier in effigy. It exhibited its supposedly pacifist nature by knocking a police officer off his bike — an action that brought out the police riot squad.

Perhaps the most disturbing scene of the afternoon, however, involved the man who pulled down his pants in front of women and children and defecated on a burning U.S. flag. This disgusting act actually elicited cheers from some members of the crowd, but we hope that the emotion it produces in the community is one of revulsion.

The article goes on to point out that such behavior alienates the public whose support they need to stop the war. Personally, I already find them loathsome. This on the other hand is absolutely repulsive.

I love this comment in response to the article:
It is pretty obvious that a very organized small group was intent on disrupting Sunday’s anti-war march with behavior that was meant to be disgusting as possible. There only aim was to “destroy the message of peace” that thousands of other marchers brought with them to downtown Portland.

It makes you wonder who paid them to do this.

Right "Marilyn" it must be a right-wing conspiracy because the fever-swamp left has never gone beyond good taste. No evidence of that with protests at the WTO or other events that the left hates to the point of dementia.

McQ points out this:
Naturally, reading the comments which followed the argument, one of the first posted wondered if it had been a right-wing group which paid this guy to do that to discredit the protesters. She said nothing about those who cheered among the protesters witnessing the act. A little further on in the comment thread, another questioned the authenticity of the event, which was quickly shot down by the on-line editor who said they not only had multiple witness accounts, they had pictures.

Me? If I were the paper, I'd turn the pics over to police, help in an effort to identify the person and ask them to press the two charges I've mentioned. Inexcusable, rude and excessive behavior doesn't need to be rewarded by ignoring it. At some point a community just say "that crosses the line and will not be tolerated" for any reason or they can expect increasingly worse behavior in the public venue to be the result.
I agree completely. I'd like to see the photos posted on-line with sufficient evidence to show the perps face. This is definitely a case where shaming on the internet would be more than justified.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Feminist Koran

Caught this at Drudge. I'm going to guess it's going to go over like a fart in an elevator.
A new English-language interpretation of the Muslim Holy book the Koran challenges the use of words that feminists say have been used to justify the abuse of Islamic women.

The new version, translated by an Iranian-American, will be published in April and comes after Muslim feminists from around the world gathered in New York last November and vowed to create the first women's council to interpret the Koran and make the religion more friendly toward women.

As soon as I saw that "American" part of the description, I was pretty much convinced this will be going no where. Hell, it gives the Imams all the more reason to reject it.
In the new book, Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar, a former lecturer on Islam at the University of Chicago, challenges the translation of the Arab word "idrib," traditionally translated as "beat," which feminists say has been used to justify abuse of women.

"Why choose to interpret the word as 'to beat' when it can also mean 'to go away'," she writes in the introduction to the new book.

The passage is generally translated: "And as for those women whose illwill you have reason to fear, admonish them; then leave them alone in bed; then beat them; and if thereupon they pay you heed, do not seek to harm them. Behold, God is indeed most high, great!"

Instead, Bakhtiar suggests "Husbands at that point should submit to God, let God handle it -- go away from them and let God work His Will instead of a human being inflicting pain and suffering on another human being in the Name of God."
I'm going to guess that is a pretty radical interpretation. It will be interesting to see it put into context of the culture and time that it was written. I'm guessing that that Arab society where the religion of Islam originated probably didn't intend it as she's suggesting. But being no expert on Islam, I'll leave that for others.
She said she agrees with the imam that 'miswak' means twig and that the Koran does not encourage the harm of women. But she also said that men can interpret that passage to justify their own behavior.
That's a bit baffling. If they can interpret the passage for their own purposes, why does she think they care about her interpretation. Not to mention the fact that in all likelihood the Imams will likely condemn her translation which will make it illegitimate in the eyes of the faithful.
Bakhtiar writes in the book that she found a lack of internal consistency in previous English translations, and found little attention given to the woman's point of view.
Ah, so it's not really meant for the faithful. But for those who only read in English.
Bakhtiar has been schooled in Sufism which includes both the Shia and Sunni points of view. As an adult, she lived nine years in a Shia community in Iran and has lived in a Sunni community in Chicago for the past 15 years.

"While I understand the positions of each group, I do not represent any specific one as I find living in America makes it difficult enough to be a Muslim, much less to choose to follow one sect or another," she writes.
Must be rough. Hard to be a Muslim in America and hard to be a Muslim woman anywhere else.

Algore - Tirades That Make Me Laugh

Bruce at No Looking Backwards (mAss Backwards) is on a role with this Algore horse shit. He's got a new bumper sticker. Go look.
I was going to go with "I just paid some guy five bucks on the internet for some carbon offset credits and all I got was a lousy bumper sticker!", but there were some minor layout issues.
That's not all.
...the more I think I should have just gone with "Al Gore Can Go Fuck Himself" for the new batch of bumper stickers.
Don't hold anything back Bruce. Let us know how you feel. (Because I get a laugh and agree with you.)

Then he gives vent to carbon offsets.
I don't know what's worse, the fact that people are buying into this feel-good, do-nothing horseshit, or the fact that I didn't think of it first, and get a cut of the action.
I thought the same thing when I heard people were paying for this BS. Is there any indications that these companies are in any way legitimate, or proof that they actually offset anything but the feelings of wealthy imbeciles?

I've been thinking that I don't understand the logic, nor the morals of carbon offsets. When did it become morally correct to pay others to do contrition for your sins rather than not sinning in the first place?

Then there is the question of whether these carbon offsets are anything more than a scam. Who verifies that anything these people do actually reduces carbon usage?

NH Legislative Silliness

I complained about the waste of time on NH resolutions on Iraq, but that is nothing compared to this level of stupidity.
By a vote of 215 to 111, the House approved a bill that treats balloon releases as a form of littering.

HB 62 originally barred the release of two dozen or more lighter-than-air balloons.

The version that passed yesterday could bring a $250 fine for even a single balloon let loose. A second offense could bring a $500 fine. The bill specifically exempts hot air balloons, weather balloons and others released as part of scientific research.

The bill does not penalize accidental releases.

Nothing relevant to work on? Balloon littering. They're spending their legislative time on intentional release of balloons. You have got to be fucking kidding me.

Now let's consider the implications of enforcement. How is that going to occur? Police see a bunch of balloons floating up and rush around trying to figure out who released them? Or do they count them first to understand the number of violations? Maybe there will be a balloon release tip line with rewards for narcing out releasers.
Those who favored the bill said the balloon materials, including the attached strings and ribbons, pose a serious threat to wildlife. Whales, turtles and seabirds that live along New Hampshire's coastline mistakenly eat floating balloons thinking they are food, and then are unable to eat real food.

"Do we now get balloon police?" Rep. Randolph Holden, R-Goffstown, asked.

Rep. Kevin Waterhouse, R-Windham, said police officers would be given enforcement responsibility.

A move to give the job to Fish and Game officers was rejected, since the department is under budget pressure already.

He said people need to be aware that balloon releases cause real harm to wildlife.

Yep, the police have the responsibility. Not that they are doing anything more important, like investigating crime or anything, balloons seems like a grand thing to have them rushing about investigating.

I couldn't find any studies on wildlife impact, just information on the fact that sea life in particular is affected. Maybe we can get NH to pay for a study on the world impact of balloon releases. I'm sure the University of NH would take that on. I'm betting a couple of million dollars will satisfy the need.

You'd think the information of the impact of releases would be something to leave to the public to voluntarily control. This legislation is just a waste of time, and forces the police to enforce when frankly they have better things to do.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

AlGore's Testimony - More Waste

Make no mistake, this wasn't a debate, just more shrill testimony and screaching political brinksmanship. Sadly, this is something that should be worked on, but because neither side is willing to even approach reasonable, it will continue down the path of inaction.

I was especially irritated by the Repugs on this. It's one thing to hold Algore to his statements, but this goes beyond that.
"You're not just off a little -- you're totally wrong," Joe Barton (Tex.), the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told the former vice president at a hearing on global warming yesterday morning.

"One scientist is quoted as saying, 'This is shrill alarmism,' " said Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.). The reviews only grew more savage when Gore crossed over to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in the afternoon for a second hearing. "You've been so extreme in some of your expressions that you're losing some of your own people," announced Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), the committee's ranking Republican and the man who has called man-made global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."
I agree with the point that Gore is an alarmist. But that doesn't really matter when the right thing to do is begin actions to solve a problem that may indeed become a major issue in the future, if it isn't already.
Barton informed Gore that some of his ideas "are just flawed." Under Gore's plan, Barton said, "we can have no new industry, no new cars and trucks on the streets, and apparently no new people."

But this was no match for Gore. "The planet has a fever," he lectured Barton. "If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor. If the doctor says you need to intervene here, you don't say, 'Well, I read a science fiction novel that tells me it's not a problem.' If the crib's on fire, you don't speculate that the baby is flame-retardant. You take action."
Right Algore, the problem is that the action you take isn't to dump the baby in an ice bath either. This is where the arguments start to diverge on the "scientific consensus." There most scientists state that there is a man-made part in global warming though quantification of the effect is still debated, but Algore has taken that to the extreme stating that the changes are nearing catastrophe. This over-reaction is causing lots of resistance, because most of the proposals to fix the problem require an economic disaster for this country. Self-interest is something that resists change, and Algore isn't helping by playing chicken-little.

And in conclusion, I'll snipe at a favorite target:
Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) called Gore a "prophet" -- and his Democratic colleagues treated him as such. Gore got a hearty ovation when he visited the House floor during a lunchtime vote.
Prophet? What a buffoon. Markey and his ilk prove the contention that global warming has become a religion and has fallen away from scientific responsibility.

British Sub Problem

Now this must have been several variations on sucking.
The men died in the accident aboard the nuclear submarine HMS Tireless during a joint Anglo-American operation beneath the Arctic icecap.

The US military said on Wednesday that an emergency oxygen device was responsible for an explosion that killed the two submarine crew members on a training exercise.

The Trafalgar class submarine was forced to surface through the polar ice after the explosion damaged a forward compartment.

A piece of air-purification equipment, known as a self-contained oxygen generation candle, was the source of the blast, the US authorities said.

A third sailor was airlifted to a hospital at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, by the Alaska Air National Guard. He is expected to make a full recovery.

The nuclear reactor of HMS Tireless was unaffected and the ship itself was not in danger, the Ministry of Defence said. It does not carry nuclear missiles.
I'm glad I wasn't on that boat when that happened. Bet that made life really suck for a time.

I also love how they always have to give details of the reactor not being affected. If an explosion occurs on a diesel boat, no one is informed on the extent of damage to the fuel tanks or the engine itself. Nice to know that people still are panicky over nuke subs.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

NH Legislature Debates Iraq Resolution: Moron's in Politics

What a complete waste of time. Can't be binding, doesn't affect foreign policy, just pissing in the wind.
More than 30 residents and lawmakers spent the anniversary of the war's beginning in Representatives Hall debating a proposed resolution that, if passed, would express the Legislature's opposition to Bush's handling of the conflict. The resolution urges Bush and federal lawmakers to begin the "orderly withdrawal" of U.S. troops from Iraq, and it calls for the government to "fund fully" all veterans' benefits.

"We're in a civil war over there, trying to referee at the cost of American lives," said Rep. Paul McEachern, a Portsmouth Democrat who co-sponsored the proposal. With the conflict still raging, Bush decided earlier this year to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq. But McEachern blasted the proposed fix: "There has to be a political solution," he said.

Pre-empting criticism that the resolution - which deals with national policy - isn't fit for state legislative debate, McEachern deemed the House "the town square of New Hampshire."

McEachern is a MORON. Coming from that bastion of liberal stupidity, Portsmouth. The bellowing of these blowhards will have no effect and they puff themselves up trying to make it seem like it will.
The resolution's supporters acknowledged that the proposal won't force any policy change. But several residents expressed hope that similar resolutions throughout the nation could spur a change in course at the national level. Since November's election - when Democrats won control of the U.S. Congress - didn't bring an end to the conflict, a state resolution could help strengthen the chorus of anti-war voices, some said.

"It is my hope that a resolution calling for the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq . . . will perhaps be the tipping point whereby the legislative and executive branches in Washington, D.C., might actually listen to the people," said Tom Barker of Laconia.

And New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary could add to the resolution's import, said Rep. Jim Splaine, a Portsmouth Democrat who sponsored the proposal. "We in New Hampshire through the years have an unusual and very direct impact on national and international events."

The first primary in the country doesn't mean diddly except for those who are making money off the media and politicians who swarm here to get easy press time.

And like the good defeatists you get comments like this:
The resolution's supporters - who outnumbered opponents at yesterday's hearing - argued that Bush set in motion a failed strategy that only served to inflame anti-American sentiment overseas. Any solution to the conflict would be political, not military, some said.

"No matter how brave and noble and strong our military is, there is no way to confront this threat militarily all across the globe," said Janet Ward of Contoocook.

Pretty clear proof that they are clueless. The solution in Iraq requires multiple parts to the solution. Diplomatic, Informational, Military, and Economic solutions. Known as DIME. Thinking that the military portion is impossible is foolish in that it is the most necessary portion which provides security to the people of Iraq and allows them to move into the other portions of the solution. Of course, after reading this article, it is quite clear that these people haven't any idea, and aren't looking for one. As for Janet Ward, she clearly has proven that she is an idiot. I'd love to know what she thinks the solution to global terrorism is.

The reason that this debate is occurring should be obvious. This is political grandstanding and clarifying where you stand for the next election. Not that it is relevant to NH politics at the state level. And this is from a legislature that still can't figure out how to fairly fund public schooling. Nice to see they are spending so much time on state business instead of screwing off on something completely irrelevant.

Private Space Flight Failure

After a year-long series of delays and last-minute aborts, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) finally launched its Falcon 1 rocket at 1:10 pm local time on a demonstration test flight, but about three minutes into the flight, the mission control lost its charge, and the rocket failed to reach the intended orbit.

The privately-funded, 70-foot long, 2-stage rocket, powered by liquid oxygen and kerosene, lifted off from Omelek island in the Kwajalein Atoll, a republic Marshall Islands, where SpaceX has launch facilities at 6:10 Pacific Daylight Time (9:10 Eastern Daylight Time / 0110 Greenwich Mean time).

The first stage engine, which had experienced a shutdown on the launch pad earlier tonight, because of low chamber pressure readings, powered the rocket skyward for nearly three minutes. The spent stage then separated for a planned parachute-aided splashdown in the ocean for recovery. The second stage ignited and the rocket's nose cone jettisoned as the ascent continued.

About two minutes into the second stage firing, the rocketship had reached an altitude of 161 kilometers (about 100 miles). One minute later, telemetry was lost, and the live webcast provided by the company stopped. The last bit of video seen from a camera mounted on the second stage showed, according to reports, what appeared to be some oscillations just before telemetry was lost.
A little strange that they used one of the atolls that was used for nuclear tests.

Just When You Thought They Couldn't Get Worse

Very disturbing:
Iraqi insurgents appear to have adopted a new tactic since the start of a security crackdown in Baghdad, using children in a suicide attack on Sunday, a senior Pentagon official said Tuesday.

Maj. Gen. Michael Barbero, deputy director for regional operations on the Joint Staff, told reporters that a vehicle was waved through a U.S. military checkpoint because two children were visible in the back seat.

"Children in the back seat lowered suspicion, (so) we let it move through, they parked the vehicle, the adults run out and detonate it with the children in the back," Barbero said. "The brutality and ruthless nature of this enemy hasn't changed."
Wonder whose children those were. You'd think this would be impossible for a parent, but then these fanatics probably don't see anything wrong with such a tactic.

Not that this hasn't occurred in similar situations elsewhere.
Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, in the al-Aqsa Intifada, Palestinian militant groups have used children as "messengers and couriers, and in some cases as fighters and suicide bombers in attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians." Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) have all been implicated in involving children in this way. The issue was first brought to world attention after a widely televised incident in which a mentally handicapped Palestinian teenager, Hussam Abdo, was disarmed at an Israeli checkpoint.
Anyone want to try justifying this tactic? Or should we just come to the conclusion that stopping these types of terrorists is the right thing to do?

Russia's Stand on Iran

Interesting how Russia waited until the Bushehr reactor was approaching completion before they had this convenient change of mind. Well, that and the problems they appear to be having with Iran paying for the reactor. But of course, the Russians deny that any of this has any relations to the happenings in the UNSC.
The Bush administration Tuesday applauded a Russian ultimatum to Iran that it will not supply fuel for Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant until Iran agrees to suspend uranium enrichment.

A senior Bush administration official confirmed the Russian stance and said it will help ratchet up pressure on Iran to end its push for nuclear weapons.

Iran denies its nuclear program is intended for anything but peaceful purposes. Iran's state-run media said Tuesday that Moscow was an "unreliable partner" in nuclear cooperation, The Associated Press reported.

The senior administration official said the move came because Russia has "rising concerns about Iran having nuclear weapons on their southern flank."

The report of the ultimatum first appeared in Tuesday editions of The New York Times.

Russian and Iranian officials denied there had been any ultimatum issued.

"There have been no Russian ultimatums to Iran of any kind," Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said

He added, "Our deal with the Iranians is on track; it's intact; it's still there. We're still working on it."

Churkin said, though, that Russia is "strongly in favor of limiting nuclear proliferation."

Asked about a report that Russia is pulling its engineers from the Iranian nuclear reactor site in Bushehr, he said, "I have not heard that report."

"People rotate personnel and stuff, so be very careful about those matters," Churkin said.

Russia seems pretty unhappy with everyone recently. Pretty much like the US, though for different reasons. I would say that this is an interesting place to start to try and enforce nuclear non-proliferation, but it most certainly is an inconvenient time to start.
The New York Times reported that the ultimatum was delivered last week by Igor Ivanov, Russia's national security adviser, to Ali Hosseini Tash, Iran's deputy chief nuclear negotiator.

Tash, who is also deputy secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said in a Reuters News Service report there had been no ultimatum.

"I deny this news, and the situation was completely the other way around," he said on state-run radio. "Mr. Ivanov was trying to convince us that these issues are not related, meaning the Bushehr issue is not related to the nuclear issue."

In Moscow, the Kremlin's deputy press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, also denied that Russia has issued an "ultimatum" to Iran to withhold nuclear fuel for the Bushehr power plant if Iran does not suspend uranium enrichment.

Peskov told CNN the "language of 'ultimatum' is not appropriate," but several problems do exist.

Wonder if it's less than an ultimatum because they want the money they are owed for the plant. I'd say that I'd hope this was related to the high level of concern for Iran's apparent desire for the bomb and the likelihood that sooner or later the risk of it being used against Russia now has them worried. Well, we can only hope.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Fairness" Doctrine Again on the Move

This QandO piece really does worry me. Mostly that I don't particularly see much in the MSM standing against this foolishness.

McQ makes a point that should be appreciated:
Notice who is going to tell us what is or isn't "balanced". Is that the standard we prefer? Or instead, shall we, the viewing public, make those sorts of choices with our remote control?

Hinchley and his henchmen prefer their arbitrary definition of "balanced" to your ability to choose what you prefer and punish shows which don't meet those preferences by not watching them. Instead, they prefer to decide what does or doesn't constitute balanced coverage and force it on you.

The first amendment is a prohibition against government making laws which abridge freedom of speech or the press concerning political speech.

It is very unambiguous in its language:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

I continue to wonder what part of "make no law" Congressman Hinchley and his supporters don't understand.
It makes me wonder who will be at the complaints department if this comes into law. I'm wondering if fair hearings would be made for complaints against those approved liberal portions of the MSM as opposed to those that come against the more conservative portions.

Iraq Poll

Interesting poll. A pretty big one to compared to most that have been taken.
Carried out amongst a nationally representative sample of 5,019 Iraqi adults aged 18 years+ and coming just days before the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, the poll reveals that despite the large number of civilian deaths each month, largely as a result of militia activity, only 27% believe that their country is actually in a state of civil war. Opinion here is clearly divided, as 22% feel “we are close to a state of civil war but not yet in one” while 18% argue that the country is “still some way from civil war”.

Regionally, 43% of those in the Shia dominated South believe “Iraq will never get as far as civil war”. The corresponding figure in the Sunni dominated North plummets to 5% where the strongest sentiment (voiced by 42%) is that the country is already in a state of civil war.

Regionally there are also significant differences in attitudes regarding the security situation and the influence of Multi National Forces (MNF). Nationally a small majority (53%) feels that the security situation in Iraq will get better in the immediate weeks following a withdrawal of the MNF. A quarter (26%) believes the situation will deteriorate with the remainder predicting no change or answering "Don't know."

It is in the South where people most strongly believe that the withdrawal of the MNF will see the security situation improve. By a ratio of nearly seven to one the Shia dominated South feels that the situation will get "a great deal/little better" (69%) rather than "worse" (10%). In the Sunni North however opinion is more evenly divided – 46% feel it will get better and 37% feel it will get worse.

What about talk of creating a federal Iraq? With the exception of the Kurdish population in the North of the country a majority (64%) support Iraq remaining as a single country run by a central national government. On this point Sunnis (57%) and Shias (69%) agree that the country should continue as one nation.
There is a pdf of the final tabulated results. I'd say the results are a bit better than I would have expected and substantially better than one would expect if you read the MSM. It's a good starting point, and will be interesting information to have when comparing the results after the surge has been fully implemented.

Internet Election

I linked the FoxNews article due to it's linking to the YouTube film on the subject.

If this is an indicator of where politics is going in the next election, I'm thinking it's not an improvement.
The ad, an example of a "mashup," in which old and new elements are combined to create a new message, uses footage from the "1984" Super Bowl ad produced by Ridley Scott for Apple Computer but splices in footage from Clinton on the presidential campaign trail.

Borrowing the themes in George Orwell's book in which Big Brother forces conformity among the masses, the updated ad shows Clinton's face on a large video screen as she talks about holding conversations with the public. Human drones mindlessly watch until a female athlete carrying a sledgehammer races into the room and smashes the screen.

The end of the ad takes some of the language from the original commercial but changes part of it to say, "On January 14th, the Democratic primary will begin. And you will see why 2008 won't be like '1984.'" The screen then fades to an updated Apple logo showing a rainbow colored O and the Web address at the bottom.
Of course all the usual suspects deny any knowledge of this. Funny how Hillary isn't bellowing for Obama to condemn the add like she wanted him to part ways with Geffen when he made the comment about the Clintons being liars.

It's an interesting piece. I'm wondering why it hasn't been pulled for copyright infringement. You'd think Apple would want to stay out of the political game, unless they approve.

Personally, listening to Hillary on the big screen with the setting is a bit creepy.

Monday, March 19, 2007

KSM Trial

Bob Kerrey makes a rather foolish presumption that KSM should be tried in the US judicial system. And completely ignores that KSM would get off immediately on technicalities.
By now, we all know the basics. Last Saturday, KSM told a Combatant Status Review Panel that he was responsible for more than 30 terrorist attacks and plots, including the 1993 and 2001 attacks against the United States. It is likely that - because, among other things, KSM basically announces that he is a sworn enemy of the U.S., at war with us, in the transcript - the panel will decide he has been properly designated as an enemy combatant, setting the stage for a trial before a military commission.

This would be a big mistake, for three reasons. First, our civilian criminal courts are well equipped to handle an accused mass murderer like KSM. The 10-year history of terrorist prosecutions in federal and state courts has established procedures that protect national security while speedily bringing those accused to justice. This has happened without weakening the rule of law, making the accused international heroes or damaging the case against other terrorists.

Two of more than 20 successful prosecutions are worth noting. On Jan. 25, 1993, Mir Aimal Kansi shot five CIA employees as they waited in their cars on their way to work. Two of them died. Kansi was captured in Pakistan in 1997, brought back to the United States, tried for capital murder in Virginia courts, and executed by lethal injection in 2002.

Ramzi Yousef, suspected of having led the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, was arrested in Islamabad, Pakistan, in 1995, extradited to the United States, and tried in New York City in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York. In 1996 he and two others were convicted and sentenced to 240 years, during which they can have no contact with the outside world.

Both of these cases should give President Bush, the Congress and the American people confidence that justice can be secured and national security protected inside U.S. courtrooms.
So, you think the US judicial system would suddenly ignore things like Miranda rights? Where would the prospect of his interrogations be placed? I would bet that much of the evidence is good for the average reasonable person, but seeing as Lawyers will be involved, I'm thinking that the twisting and spindling that will occur with that evidence would make it irrelevant.

Kerrey completely misses many points on law that frustrate the police and the public so extremely with normal law enforcement in this country. How many technicalities would you think exist in a case like this? The cases he states as proof of our judicial system being capable are of a completely different scope. Those terrorists were taken with in the country and within the legal system from the start. KSM was not.
The second reason to try KSM here is that he is a most important source of information about the details of the conspiracy that led to the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the United States. The independent 9-11 commission on which I served, which produced the definitive report describing the details of that conspiracy, was denied direct access to KSM and other important detainees. The families of the victims and the people of the United States deserve to know more about what is true and false about his "confession" before U.S. military personnel. Right now, all we have is a 26-page transcript released by the Department of Defense.
"True and false" about his confession? And why is there quotes on confession? Is Kerrey trying to position KSM as the victim here of our evil military? Or is his little quip on conspiracy trying to move this to a different point? Instead of looking at the monster that the military has restrained, Kerrey appears to be positioning the military in the role of antagonist. This is another reason why it shouldn't be placed in US courts, because it will be a certainty that the MSM and the lawyers will be making us out as the monsters, and not the one on trial.
The third reason is that a military tribunal in Guantanamo, which by its nature would withhold from public scrutiny many critical pieces of evidence and deny the accused the rights usually afforded to defendants, could make this murderer into the kind of hero to the Sunni Muslim world that Saddam Hussein became following his hanging. This is not an academic matter. The sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia is taking a terrible toll on innocents, not only in Iraq but across the Muslim world. We do not want to risk making matters worse. These three reasons are cause enough for President Bush to intervene and ask Congress to modify the Military Commission Act so that the alleged 9/11 mastermind can defend himself - and, quite likely, find himself convicted - in a U.S. court.
This one is just blind to reality. Kerrey seems to think that KSM's trial by the military will make him more of a martyr than if he was condemned in court in New York. KSM is already on the martyr's list for those that want to use it that way. In fact KSM would be afforded a very loud voice in the US judicial system to move his own propaganda desires forward. Does Kerrey honestly believe that KSM wouldn't claim extreme tortures and other violations just for propaganda purposes?

And Kerrey seems to believe that KSM deserves the rights afforded to citizens of this country. How that is is beyond me. He willfully planned the mass murder of US citizens and for some reason should be afforded the safety of constitutional protections? Should all enemy combatants be afforded the evidence rights that Kerrey seems to be demanding for KSM? How would that even be possible, since no doubt many of those who were involved in their confinement could be questioned and doubted due to time and circumstances.

The Congress has legislated a method of prosecuting these enemies of the US. There is no need to bring them within the US judicial system to satisfy the whims of those who believe that the victims will get a fair shake by protecting the aggressors.

Can the Parker Finding be Good for the GOP?

George Will discusses the recent history around the gun control debate and how the Parker decision may be a political boost for the GOP in coming elections.
Increasingly, however, some constitutional scholars and judicial rulings argue that several restraints the Bill of Rights puts on government can be disregarded if the worthiness -- as academics or judges assess that -- of government's purposes justifies ignoring those restraints. Erwin Chemerinsky, professor of law and political science at Duke University, argued in The Post last week that even if the Second Amendment is construed as creating an individual right to gun ownership, the D.C. law should still be constitutional because the city had a defensible intent (reducing violence) when it annihilated that right.

Sound familiar? Defenders of the McCain-Feingold law, which restricts the amount, timing and content of political campaign speech, say: Yes, yes, the First Amendment says there shall be "no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech." But that proscription can be disregarded because the legislators' (professed) intent -- to prevent the "appearance" of corruption and to elevate political discourse -- is admirable.

If the Supreme Court reverses the appeals court's ruling and upholds the D.C. gun law, states and localities will be empowered to treat the Second Amendment as the D.C. law does: as a nullity. This will bring the gun control issue -- and millions of gun owners -- back to a roiling boil. That is not in the interest of the Democratic Party, which is supported by most ardent supporters of gun control.

You'd think that D.C.'s law is proof positive that the gun control legislation didn't work. Seeing that they have one of the highest gun crime rates in the country, the prohibition appears to be more of a hindrance to safety than otherwise.

The only problem I see with the argument is that there isn't any GOP presidential candidate that has enough popularity and a good rating on the topic. McCain is a certainty to restrict rights even more as he has with political speech. Romney enacted legislation in Massachusetts that limited access to guns at a completely new level. And El Duce (Giuliani) is pro-gun control.

Parker may have made the topic of gun control more prevalent in the debate, but it will not aide the presidential campaign. The campaigns for the congress on the other hand may see some assistance.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Dems and the Wilson/Plame Love In

If this were theatrical, it would be farce.
WAXMAN: The meeting of the committee will come to order.

Today the committee is holding a hearing to examine how the White House handles highly classified information.

In June and July 2003, one of the nation's most carefully guarded secrets, the identity of a covert CIA agent, Valerie Plame Wilson, was repeatedly revealed by White House officials to members of the media. This was an extraordinarily serious breach of our national security.

President George W. Bush's father, the former President Bush, said, and I quote, "I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who expose the names of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors."

Today, we'll be asking three questions. One, how did such a serious violation of our national security occur? Two, did the White House take the appropriate investigative and disciplinary steps after the breach occurred? And three, what changes in White House procedures are necessary to prevent future violations of our national security from occurring?

For more than three years a special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, has been investigating the leak for its criminal implications. By definition, Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation had an extremely narrow criminal focus. It did not answer the broader policy questions raised by the release of Miss Wilson's identity. Nor did it seek to ascribe responsibility outside of the narrow confines of the criminal law.

As the chief investigative committee of the House of Representatives, our role is fundamentally different that Mr. Fitzgerald's. It's not our job to determine criminal culpability, but it is our job to understand what went wrong and to insist on accountability and to make recommendations for future -- to avoid future abuses.

Fitzgerald didn't find any wrong doing, because there wasn't any, not because the focus of his investigation was narrow. This hatchet job by Waxman is ludicrous beyond bounds of reason.

Read this thing. Waxman continuously postures Plame's position as being covert. I'm still trying to figure out how that could be if she was listed in Who's Who as Wilson's wife and as working for the CIA. You'd think a covert op wouldn't have that knowledge in the public realm.

Get this from Wilson (Plame):
WILSON: It was a terrible irony that administration officials were the ones who destroyed my cover.

Furthermore, testimony in the criminal trial of Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, who has now been convicted of serious crimes, indicates that my exposure arose from purely political motives.

Within the CIA, it is essential that all intelligence be evaluated on the basis of its merits and actual credibility. National security depends upon it.

The tradecraft of intelligence is not a product of speculation. I feel passionately, as an intelligence professional, about the creeping, insidious politicizing of our intelligence process.

Fascinating. Though not supported by any facts. The serious crime Libby was convicted of had nothing to do with the outing of Plame. Anyone with an attachment to reality will be able to view the conclusions of Fitzgerad's investigation and clearly conclude that nothing was done that was criminal. And the first outer of Plame was in fact not a White House insider.

Nice to see that the change in political powers in Washington has not changed any lack of contact with reality by the players.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Flying Imams Use Legal Intimidation

You know this really makes me irritated.
The "flying imams' " federal lawsuit, filed this week in Minneapolis, has made headlines around the country. The imams are demanding unspecified damages from US Airways and the Metropolitan Airports Commission, both with deep pockets. But their suit includes other defendants, as yet unnamed. These people, unaffiliated with the airline industry or government, are among the imams' most vulnerable targets.
Their lawsuit appears to be the latest component in a national campaign to intimidate airlines and government agencies from acting prudently to ensure passenger safety. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is advising the imams, is also calling for congressional hearings and promoting federal legislation to "end racial profiling" in air travel. If the legislation passes, airport personnel who disproportionately question passengers who are Muslim or of Middle Eastern origin could be subject to sanctions.

But the most alarming aspect of the imams' suit is buried in paragraph 21 of their complaint. It describes "John Doe" defendants whose identity the imams' attorneys are still investigating. It reads: "Defendants 'John Does' were passengers ... who contacted U.S. Airways to report the alleged 'suspicious' behavior of Plaintiffs' performing their prayer at the airport terminal."

Paragraph 22 adds: "Plaintiffs will seek leave to amend this Complaint to allege true names, capacities, and circumstances supporting [these defendants'] liability ... at such time as Plaintiffs ascertain the same."

In plain English, the imams plan to sue the "John Does," too.

Who are these unnamed culprits? The complaint describes them as "an older couple who was sitting [near the imams] and purposely turn[ed] around to watch" as they prayed. "The gentleman ('John Doe') in the couple ... picked up his cellular phone and made a phone call while watching the Plaintiffs pray," then "moved to a corner" and "kept talking into his cellular phone."

Tell me, if you saw these assholes acting strangely, taking seats in pairs spread out to various parts of the plane and acting oddly, would you really not complain? Why is it that their actions, that apparently were intentional, should be ignored even if they scare the hell out of the rest of the people on the plane? The Imams do indeed have to right to act the way they did, but, they also must be held responsible for those actions. If they were so stupid to think that their loud praying and strange behavior on the plane wasn't reason enough to take action, they may want to find some place else to live.
The imams' attempt to bully ordinary passengers marks an alarming new front in the war on airline security. Average folks, "John Does" like you and me, initially observed and reported the imams' suspicious behavior on Nov. 20. Such people are our "first responders" against terrorism. But the imams' suit may frighten such individuals into silence, as they seek to avoid the nightmare of being labeled bigots and named as defendants.
That's completely right. I personally can't afford to be sued in this type of suit. I would probably be more likely to be quiet and move my seat a couple rows behind them. I'd then take out my laptop and anything that is nearly a weapon, and keep a close watch. Not being a minority, thats about all I could do. But if they so much as yawn wrong, they would find the short guy in the next seat getting really ugly really fast.

Lawsuits may make these jackasses happy, but it will ensure that the people they make nervous quieter, and much more violent.

Political Distortions: Walter Reed

An excellent bit fromOpinionJournal.
Last week, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came forward to announce the speaker's perspective on the manifest problems at Walter Reed: "The American people spoke clearly in the November elections that they wanted accountability and oversight. Under the Republican Congress it has been almost nonexistent, and you can certainly see that with what occurred at Walter Reed." No, you cannot see that. Rep. John Tierney, a Massachusetts Democrat, added that "we should have known all this before."

But all this was known before, though not by Reps. Pelosi and Tierney.

On Feb. 17, 2005--two years ago--GOP Rep. Tom Davis and the government reform committee held a public hearing on the maltreatment of wounded soldiers. The hearing was the culmination of an investigation, begun in 2003, by the committee and the Government Accountability Office. Virtually everything of substance in that Washington Post story was described, in numbing detail, at that hearing two years ago. Two soldiers, Army Sgts. John Allen and Joseph Perez, appeared before the Davis hearing and described their tours through the same hell painted by the Post last month.

Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, described the problems at Walter Reed in words that should be inscribed on portals across every bridge leading into Washington: "Life every day in this system is like running in hip boots in a swamp." He called it a "bureaucratic morass."

The core of the problem has been the peacetime administrative system's difficulty in handling wounded or disabled soldiers from the reserves and National Guard. In the words of the system itself, they have "fallen off orders." Here's how that happens:

To enter treatment, a wounded reservist would ask to have his "active duty orders"--i.e., the order that called him up for Iraq or Afghanistan--extended for 90 days, what is called an active duty medical extension, or ADME. But some soldiers would fall off their active orders before the ADME came through. Others, often with complex injuries, would use up their three-month ADME and again fall off orders before receiving a renewal.

Sgt. First Class Allen told the Davis committee in laymen's terms what this means: "When my orders expire, it creates a multitude of problems for me and my family: no pay, no access to the base [such as Walter Reed], no medical coverage for my family and the cancellation of all my scheduled medical appointments."

Someone should make a movie called "National Lampoon's Federal Government." The dialogue would include this line from the GAO's Gregory Kutz describing the soldiers' problem: "overall, we found the current stove-piped, non-integrated order-writing, personnel, pay, and medical eligibility systems require extensive error-prone manual data entry and re-entry." That's right--"and re-entry."

Despite the public record, the committee's new Democratic chairman, Henry Waxman, has rebooted the focus of the "mice-and-mold" scandal, from the obviously dysfunctional government to "privatization" at Walter Reed. Maintenance at Walter Reed collapsed in 2005, when the BRAC base-closing commission, whatever the merits and with President Bush's approval, ill-advisedly listed Walter Reed, amid a major war. So of course the civilian workforce went looking for permanent work elsewhere.
The real point of the article is that the general (Maj. Gen. George Weightman, M.D.) that the just fired for this happens to be the guy that was put into the position 6 months ago to fix the whole mess. Too bad they didn't actually give him any time to complete anything. Especially for a military system that was on the base closure list. Anyone want to take a swipe as to why in the hell it was proposed for closure at all during a war?

Pelosi's blatant lies about the failure of oversight shouldn't be a surprise. She like all politicians want to assure the public that they are going to fix things that are already in the process of being fixed. And Gates and the Administration proceded to start their repairs with a flame thrower. Let's not bother to discuss what was happening or even point out that the facts of the case are far different from what the MSM has been telling the public.

Lastly, does anyone actually believe that the Big Government Dems will fix this? I'm betting on it just getting worse. Nothing like big government to make more red tape and make everything more difficult for those that need help.

Nuclear Subs Good at Hiding

Good Lord. You'd think they'd know that these subs are good at hiding. The ABC news headline:
Billion-Dollar U.S. Sub Disappears Overnight for Several Hours
I'd hope it was capable of disappearing. They spend enough money on the damn things, I'd hope they'd be effective. Hard to say why they got this nervous this fast.
The Navy mobilized a search-and-rescue operation Tuesday night after it believed one of its submarines, the USS San Juan, had gone missing off the coast of Florida with 140 crew members aboard.

Communications were re-established early this morning, and it all appears to have been a case of miscommunication.

The concern was so high that Defense Secretary Robert Gates was notified of the situation overnight, as was White House national security adviser Stephen Hadley, who was preparing to brief President Bush with the news when communications were re-established with the missing submarine.

The Navy had also begun notifying the families of the 140 crew members that the submarine was missing. The incident is under investigation with the focus being on why the ship missed a pre-established communications period with surface ships.

Communications with the submarine were first lost at 7 p.m. Tuesday and were finally re-established by 5 a.m. today. The ship reported no problems, and both crew and officers were unaware of the effort under way to locate them.
I'm thinking they over-reacted. Though it is pretty hard to say these days. If they hadn't started notifications, I'm certain the press would have flipped out about how callous the military is.
Navy officials say the search was launched after surface ships spotted what appeared to be a red flare in the vicinity of where the submarine had been operating. A red flare is an indicator that a ship is in distress. With the loss of communications, a search-and-rescue effort was immediately launched.
Apparently it was actually a yellow flare, but someone couldn't tell the difference. Maybe they should find another color for these exercises. Something a little less likely to be mistaken for the real thing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

300 Still Causing Stir

I don't recall this much stir when Stone offered his lame-ass telling of Alexander the Greats story. And this story is based on a comic book, not on history. These articles were linked on Drudge.

The Iranian official response is almost too funny.
An Iranian official on Sunday lashed out at the Hollywood movie "300" for insulting the Persian civilization, local Fars News Agency reported.

Javad Shamqadri, an art advisor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, accused the new movie of being "part of a comprehensive U.S. psychological war aimed at Iranian culture", said the report.

Shamqadri was quoted as saying "following the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Hollywood and cultural authorities in the U.S. initiated studies to figure out how to attack Iranian culture," adding "certainly, the recent movie is a product of such studies."

The movie's effort wound be fruitless, because "values in Iranian culture and the Islamic Revolution are too strongly seated to be damaged by such plans", said the Iranin official.
I'm thinking the movie was produced to make money, and not to attack Iran. I'd bet that a large percentage of those seeing the movie probably haven't a clue that the Persians under Xerxes were from a culture that is common that in modern day Iran. If this is a psychological warfare piece, it certainly is pretty lame.

We have cultural authorities in the US? If that were true, they are doing a really poor job. These guys obviously haven't seen US television offerings.

Here's a historian's look at the movie. At least he seems to get that it's not history. He points out some of the inaccuracies in the stories background.
And had Leonidas undergone the agoge, he would have come of age not by slaying a wolf, but by murdering unarmed helots in a rite known as the Crypteia. These helots were the Greeks indigenous to Lakonia and Messenia, reduced to slavery by the tiny fraction of the population enjoying Spartan "freedom." By living off estates worked by helots, the Spartans could afford to be professional soldiers, although really they had no choice: securing a brutal apartheid state is a full-time job, to which end the Ephors were required to ritually declare war on the helots.

Elected annually, the five Ephors were Sparta's highest officials, their powers checking those of the dual kings. There is no evidence they opposed Leonidas' campaign, despite 300's subplot of Leonidas pursuing an illegal war to serve a higher good. For adolescents ready to graduate from the graphic novel to Ayn Rand, or vice-versa, the historical Leonidas would never suffice. They require a superman. And in the interests of portentous contrasts between good and evil, 300's Ephors are not only lecherous and corrupt, but also geriatric lepers.

Ephialtes, who betrays the Greeks, is likewise changed from a local Malian of sound body into a Spartan outcast, a grotesquely disfigured troll who by Spartan custom should have been left exposed as an infant to die. Leonidas points out that his hunched back means Ephialtes cannot lift his shield high enough to fight in the phalanx. This is a transparent defence of Spartan eugenics, and laughably convenient given that infanticide could as easily have been precipitated by an ill-omened birthmark.
OK, so he goes overboard forgetting that comic books, and a lot of movies, don't generally tend to be real subtle. Making the bad guys clearly bad is typical. I understand in the world where Bowling for Columbine and An Inconvenient Truth are considered documentaries that facts are not generally required to be, well, factual, that some people may take this movie to be history. Oliver Stone and his ilk flash Docu-Dramas perpetually to the cheers of Hollywood. You'd think that a movie based on a comic book might actually get a bit more of a pass.

Victor Hanson (a classicist) even defends the film for what it is.
Recently, a variety of Hollywood films — from Troy to Alexander the Great — has treated a variety of themes from classical Greek literature and theater. But 300 is unique, a sui generis in both spirit and methodology. The script is not an attempt in typical Hollywood fashion to recreate the past as a costume drama. Instead it is based on Frank Miller’s (of Sin City fame) comic book graphics and captions. Miller’s illustrated novelette of the battle adapts themes loosely from the well-known story of the Greek defense, but with deference made to the tastes of contemporary popular culture.

So the film is indeed inspired by the comic book; and in some sense its muscular warriors, virtual reality sets, and computer-generated landscapes recall the look and feel of Robert Rodriquez’s screen version of Sin City. Yet the collaboration of Director Zack Snyder and screenwriters Kurt Johnstad and Michael Gordon is much more of a hybrid, since the script, dialogue, cinematography, and acting all recall scenes of the battle right from Herodotus’s account.

300, of course, makes plenty of allowance for popular tastes, changing and expanding the story to meet the protocols of the comic book genre. The film was not shot on location outdoors, but in a studio using the so-called “digital backlot” technique of sometimes placing the actors against blue screens. The resulting realism is not that of the sun-soaked cliffs above the blue Aegean — Thermopylae remains spectacularly beautiful today — but of the eerie etchings of the comic book.
Strange that so much breath is being spent on a movie based on a comic book.

Hillary Calls for Gonzales' Head

Shock. Again.
In an exclusive interview to air Wednesday morning, March 14, on "Good Morning America," Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, for the first time called for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

"The buck should stop somewhere," Clinton told ABC News senior political correspondent Jake Tapper, "and the attorney general — who still seems to confuse his prior role as the president's personal attorney with his duty to the system of justice and to the entire country — should resign.

Hmm. Funny that she calls for Gonzales to go away. Wonder why this is any different than when Saint Bill fired 93 US Attorneys when he started his presidency? Well, other than the Democrats are screeching loudly about it.

It was very interesting watching the news coverage of this. I watched Hardball's amazingly unbalanced coverage, and CNN's coverage was a bit better, but was still lead by someone decrying that politics may have been involved. FoxNews was on par with CNN, but less whiny and leaning right.

I've only caught one instance where claims of impropriety could be an issue. Though as only pointed out from FoxNews, that was only a part of the complaints against that US Attorney.
"I'm deeply disturbed by what we have learned thus far," Clinton said, "and I join those who are calling for a full and thorough investigation to try to get to the bottom of these very political decisions that interfere with prosecutorial responsibility by U.S. attorneys, and I think that the attorney general should resign."

Clinton said the evidence so far pointed to "direct interference with the way U.S. attorneys are supposed to operate — to be impartial. There's evidence of political interference and political pressure being put on them to engage in partisan political activities." Clinton added there were "so many examples of an abuse of power, of going in and removing people not on the basis of performance but, in fact, because they were performing well, they were fulfilling their responsibilities as a U.S. attorney, and that wasn't within the political agenda of the administration."

I'd love to know what evidence she has that isn't in the news.

In fact, I'd say the Bush administrations handling of these attorneys was quite light handed and careful not to be disruptive. They've only remove eight, while Clinton removed 93. I'd say they carried continuity in the justice department to a level that indicates a responsible nature not seen by Saint Bill.
When Clinton's husband took office in 1993, one of the first actions his attorney general took was to remove every U.S. attorney. Clinton was asked how this was different from the termination of eight U.S. attorneys last December.

"There is a great difference," Clinton said. "When a new president comes in, a new president gets to clean house. It's not done on a case-by-case basis where you didn't do what some senator or member of Congress told you to do in terms of investigations into your opponents. It is 'Let's start afresh' and every president has done that."

A fresh start I'm sure couldn't have disrupted any cases or the continuity of the justice department. Nope, no politics were involved either. You can be sure that none of the attorneys that took those jobs were given the positions for political reasons.

If the system is to allow political appointees, the allowance has to be the same irrespective of who has the Oval Office. If the President wants all the attorneys gone for no reason but politics, then that is allowed. If he wants them gone for political reasons including political complaints, and those complaints aren't done to specifically block investigations or prosecutions, then it should be allowed as well.

Frankly, the Dems are showing their systemic hypocrisy on this issue.