Sunday, March 30, 2008

Freedom of Information vs. Right to Privacy

Been reading several editorials on the topic with respect to newspapers receiving FOIA lists of Concealed Carry Permit owners. This is one of the best because it really shows the complete stupidity of the press in many places. Take this example:
Pitts said he was incensed by a column last March in The Roanoke Times that focused on concealed weapon permits as a way to highlight Sunshine Week, the annual observance of open government and public records laws. The Virginia newspaper's online version included a link to the state's more than 135,000 permit holders and their street addresses.

"I can hear the shocked indignation of gun-toters already: It's nobody's business but mine if I want to pack heat," wrote columnist Christian Trejbal. "Au contraire. Because the government handles the permitting, it is everyone's business."

The reaction was immediate. The newspaper pulled the link the next day, citing concerns that it might have included names that should not be public, according to a follow-up Roanoke Times article. An editorial noted the paper received complaints - some threatening - from thousands of readers.

"Prior to posting the database, we did not give sufficient thought to the possibility that the safety of certain individuals on the list, like law enforcement officials and crime victims, could potentially be compromised," Debbie Meade, president and publisher of The Roanoke Times, said last year in a statement that the newspaper rereleased Friday.

That last bit is complete horse-shit. They didn't think PERIOD. And there actions endangered many people. But they have the right to publish, so they must be right. Jackass.

By this paper's own standards people who had their information published should seek a FOIA request for tax information and addresses of all of those involved with this article and publication and post them on line. It would be their right, as the journalists claimed. Since obviously taxation and residency permits are within the government scope, the people have to right to ensure that they did it right. Wonder how they would take such actions when they were the ones whose privacy was violated. It certainly would be much less dangerous for them since no one would at risk would be exposed to a threat, but it would expose them to scrutiny that they probably don't want.
Though the Virginia newspaper is the one Pitts cites as fuel for his measure, NRA spokeswoman Ashley Varner said there have been at least partial listings of gun owners by newspapers in Tennessee, Ohio and New York in the past three years.

"We believe it's very important that law-abiding citizens in this country have their rights to privacy protected," Varner said.

Dalglish counters that she doesn't understand why concealed carry permits should be singled out for privacy when all other licenses - whether for beauticians, bars or barristers - are public.

Right, thats comparable. Bars, Beauticians, and Barristers are licensed to perform their profession. They want their licensing known as a proof that they are legitimate and thus will attract business. My having a concealed carry permit is meant to be something quietly allowed. The police don't seem to like open carry in a lot of places, so concealed carry is the only alternative.
"It's just dangerous to seal up state licenses," said Bill Rogers, executive director of the South Carolina Press Association, who has protested the bill at legislative hearings. "It's an argument on principle. Nothing good happens in secret when it comes to government."
Again, how is your right to know more important than my right to privacy and safety? How is it that you posses a right that is should be given credibility than my most basic rights. This is an appalling lack of perspective.

There is an argument that the publishing of a list of concealed carry permit holders opens them up to a threat of thefts. But in states where you require a permit to purchase or posses a gun this could be a different threat. Criminals could use such lists to look for targets that are less likely to be a threat by comparing their cased house with the list of gun owners. Take that even further with sexual predators. Talk about enabling the criminal. But hey, why should we worry.

Seeing these type of activity happening in SC, PA, NY, TN and VA as well as elsewhere, you'd think there would be more of an outcry.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What Do Ya Know....

Seems those Dems that went to Iraq in 2002 had their trip arranged and funded by Saddam. I can't wait to hear how they twist this into being "not an issue."
The Justice Department said Wednesday that Saddam Hussein’s principal foreign intelligence agency and an Iraqi-American man had organized and paid for a 2002 visit to Iraq by three House Democrats whose trip was harshly criticized by colleagues at the time.

The arrangements for the trip were described in the indictment of an Iraq-born former employee of a Detroit-area charity group who was charged Wednesday with accepting millions of dollars’ worth of Iraqi oil contracts in exchange for assisting the Iraqi spy agency in projects in the United States.

The indictment did not claim any wrongdoing by the three lawmakers, whose five-day trip to Iraq occurred in October 2002, five months before the American invasion.

Two continue to serve in the House: Jim McDermott of Washington State and Mike Thompson of California. The other, David E. Bonior of Michigan, has since retired from Congress.

“None of the Congressional representatives are accused of any wrongdoing, and we have no information whatsoever that any of them were aware of the involvement of the Iraqi Intelligence Service,” said Dean Boyd, a Justice spokesman.

No wrong doing, but between the incompetence of the state department approval and the obvious run against the standing Administrations policy, this just looks like no one bothered to enable a brain cell. Thompson certainly didn't enable any.
Mr. Thompson said in a statement that the trip was approved by the State Department and that “obviously, had there been any question at all regarding the sponsor of the trip or the funding, I would not have participated.”

The three-man Congressional delegation was criticized on its return to Washington as having undermined the Bush administration’s campaign to gather international support to disarm and later invade Iraq.

I'd say that Saddam's intelligence agencies succeeded magnificently in their plan to use these politicians. It didn't have the desired outcome, but they certainly were used.
Mr. Hanooti is suspected of having gone to work for the Iraqis in 1999 or 2000, specifically by publicizing efforts in the United States to lift international economic sanctions on Iraq. As part of that effort, the indictment said, he organized the October 2002 visit and accompanied the three lawmakers to Iraq.

In December 2002, the indictment said, the Iraqi government secretly arranged to allocate two million barrels of oil to Mr. Hanooti; he then turned over the rights to the oil to a company incorporated in Cyprus for an amount of money that was not identified in the court papers.

Wonder if any of that oil came from the "food for oil" program? That would make this even more humorous.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Obama's Foriegn Policy Stupidity

This WSJ Op-Ed pretty much lays it out.
The Obama campaign said it may be necessary to balance the Bush administration and the way it isolated hostile countries and alienated allies.

"I don't think [what Obama's proposing] is that much of a difference from what U.S. policy used to be." said Anthony Lake, a senior foreign-policy adviser to Sen. Obama and a national-security adviser to President Bill Clinton. "It's just different from what the other candidates are saying."

Sen. Obama has sought to cast his candidacy as a rebuke of the hawkish foreign-policy line he sees as having led to the Iraq invasion and the diplomatic stalemates undermining U.S. efforts to end Iran's and North Korea's nuclear programs.

Really? That's a pretty neat trick in ignoring even recent history. Maybe I'm not nuanced enough or smart enough to understand what he means.
In speeches, Sen. Obama has said Washington's global standing has plummeted in the past eight years, in part because of President Bush's unwillingness to directly engage leaders such as Mr. Ahmadinejad or North Korea's Kim Jong Il. Sen. Obama has said he would be willing to directly hold talks with these leaders during his first year to underpin efforts to stabilize the Middle East and Northeast Asia, provided proper preparations were made.
"The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to ridiculous," Sen. Obama said in a debate last year. "One of the first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria."
Nope, I got it right.

The article further discusses how freely given talks with the likes of Ahmadinejad will in fact give him a boost for his next election.
Middle East experts said Obama's strategy holds potential pitfalls. In Iran, they said, Sen. Obama could strengthen Mr. Ahmadinejad if as U.S. president he moves too quickly to hold direct talks with Tehran's leader. They note Mr. Ahmadinejad is facing presidential elections in 2009 and could use a summit with Sen. Obama as proof of his enhanced stature. They said Mr. Ahmadinejad also could seek to sell to his people that talks with Washington were a direct result of his hard-line stance.

"If Obama comes into office in January 2009, I wouldn't advise him" to hold talks with Mr. Ahmadinejad quickly, said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran specialist at Washington's Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who said he is generally supportive of Sen. Obama's agenda. "Only two things can rehabilitate Ahmadinejad politically: bombing Iran or major efforts to engage" him ahead of the vote.
The article doesn't discuss the fact that such talks would also boost the terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda because it would boost Iran's standing in the region rather than balancing the power structure. The ability to stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan would become even more problematic. But then, there isn't much need to have concern on that since Obama just wants to play the Abandonista and pull out of Iraq.

Another reason not to vote for him.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Geek Vote

Color me surprised:
Security moms are so 2004; if you're looking for a trendy swing demographic in the 2008 election cycle, consider those politically-engaged, online donation-making IT professionals. A new survey from the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) plumbs the views of the IT crowd and finds John McCain and Barack Obama in a dead heat for the geek vote.

According to the survey of 600 IT workers, which was conducted for CompTIA by Rasmussen Reports, McCain and Obama would each have won the support of 29 percent of respondents had the presidential election been held in early March. Hillary Clinton, at 13 percent, only narrowly edged out Mike Huckabee (11 percent) and scrappy libertarian Ron Paul (9 percent). A further 9 percent declared themselves undecided.

I work with a lot of geeks and most of them are flaming liberals. Maybe that has more to do with working in the Peoples Republic of Massachusetts than they being geeks.

It is a micro-poll, but interesting none the less.

This is thought provoking as well:
On the other side, a recent Pew poll found that Democratic-leaning voters who support Hillary Clinton were more likely than Obama voters to cross the aisle and support John McCain if their preferred candidate lost the nomination—though given the skewed racial and economic composition of the IT sector, inferences from general population polls should be drawn cautiously.
I wonder how many other professional sector polls occur.

Heller vs. DC was Really About...

You know when you really want to see what the fever swamp is thinking there is nothing like looking at Mother Jones. These people are precious.

But during oral arguments, Justice Anthony Kennedy and his conservative brethren seemed to fully embrace the gun lobby's favorite romantic myth that the founders, inspired by the image of the musket in the hands of a minuteman, wrote the Second Amendment to give Americans the right to take up arms to fight government tyranny. But what the founders really had in mind, according to some constitutional-law scholars, was the musket in the hands of a slave owner. That is, these scholars believe the founders enshrined the right to bear arms in the Constitution in part to enforce tyranny, not fight it.
Yep, the only reason Libertarians are looking to have the Second Amendment reviewed is because they must be racists.

Go read it if you really want laugh.

Over at Reason apparently it's a gay-rights case.

Gun Shot Detectors

Schneier thinks these are a good idea. Personally I think they are a waste of money.
They hope a new tool will help get them to the scenes of shootings more quickly and with greater accuracy.

The tool is a gunfire detector gadget. Its wireless sensors pick up the sound of gunshots and differentiate from other loud noises, such as fireworks.

When a gun goes off, a sound wave registers on the device, which sends a message within seconds to the police dispatch computers. It can detect gunfire as close as 10 feet away in a two mile range.
Yeah, that and the gun shot was fired outside of a building. So if you're attacked in your home you're out of luck. From their own website:
ShotSpotter utilizes the principle of acoustic triangulation to locate gunfire across wide areas. Because of its patented spatial filter technology, ShotSpotter systems are not fooled by noises which sound like gunfire but are misleading (like car backfires, firecrackers, etc.). Similarly, the technology filters out echoes and other acoustical anomalies. Using a continuous feedback loop which constantly adjusts sensor trigger and other parameters, ShotSpotter is able to deliver instantaneous system reports to dispatchers within seconds of a weapon being fired.
So gun shots in a house are substantially muffled and altered, so this won't be of any effect.

Back to that article:
"We want to create the impression, if not the reality, that if you fire a gun in Minneapolis, you are going to get caught," Reinhardt said.
Yeah, nice propaganda, but completely false with regards to reality.

Recently, I was asked about this system on Winnipeg radio. Actually, I kind of like it. I like it because it's finely tuned to one particular problem: detecting gunfire. It doesn't record everything. It doesn't invade privacy. If there's no gunfire, it's silent. But if there is a gunshot, it figures out the location of the noise and automatically tells police.
I suppose it's a wonderful solution to outdoor crime like drive by shootings, but it's so limited in use for other issues that it's questionable as to whether the cost is justified.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

MSM Still Supporting Terrorists

I guess they still can't read, or just can't be bothered. From Powerline's report:

The Bush administration long ago gave up trying to tell the truth about the issue, as it has on so many others where it has been beaten into submission by the elite media. And so when the Pentagon recently released its 59-page report confirming Hayes's reportage, the media have been left free to misrepresent it with impunity, as McClatchy's Warren Strobel does here, as the New York Times blog does here, and as the ABC blog does here.

Steve has now obtained and reviewed the report in its entirety. In a post previewing his article in the forthcoming issue of the Standard, Steve writes:

A new Pentagon report on Iraq and Terrorism has the news media buzzing. An item on the New York Times blog snarks, "Oh, By the Way, There Was No Al Qaeda Link." The ABC News story that previews the full report concludes, "Report Shows No Link Between Saddam and al Qaeda."

How, then, to explain this sentence about Iraq and al Qaeda from the report's abstract: "At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust"? And how to explain the "considerable overlap" between their activities which led not only to the appearances of ties but to a "de facto link between the organizations"? (See the entire abstract below.)

And what about this revelation from page 34? "Captured documents reveal that the regime was willing to co-opt or support organizations it knew to be part of al Qaeda -- as long as that organization's near-term goals supported Saddam's long-term vision." (The example given in the report is the Army of Muhammad in Bahrain, a group the Iraqi Intelligence Service describes as "under the wings of bin Laden.")

And there is this line from page 42: "Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al Qaeda (such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led at one time by bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri) or that generally shared al Qaeda's stated goals and objectives."

Really? Saddam Hussein "supported" a group that merged with al Qaeda in the late 1990s, run by al Qaeda's #2, and the New York Times thinks this is not a link between Iraq and al Qaeda? How does that work?

Anyone interested in the "strong evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism" -- that language comes from this report, too -- should read the entire thing for themselves, here.

Get the redacted report yourself and see for yourself.

I went to the linked ABCblog and NYTimes blog and they are stunningly clueless. Or maybe they need to start reading for comprehension. Or maybe they need to do a little research on how Al-Qaeda works. You know, that cell based structure with no hierarchical command structure.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Great New Flashlight

PentagonLight has made a fantastic new flashlight. Unfortunately it's a bit out of my price range. Still, I'd love to get one.

But the interesting thing is not the light, but the comments it engendered over on Gizmodo, linked above. Specifically:

"I've got no idea who'd carry this creepy thing around: I guess you'd have to be pretty scared indeed if something like this in your bag made you feel safer."

I just don’t get the idea that carrying a weapon means that you're scared. Are you living in fear of having a flat because you have a spare tire? Are you scared of having a dead battery because you carry jumper cables? Are you actively horrified of cutting yourself because you have band-aids? Are you in fear of heart-attacks because you learn CPR? Or do all these things represent common sense preparations for the things that life might throw at you? Honestly, is being prepared for bad things in life a sign of fear or a sign of common sense?

I like to hike. I like to go deep into the woods. I carry a GPS most of the time. I also carry a compass, and depending how far into the woods I'm going, a map. Why the map and compass? Why even learn how to read a map or use a compass once you've got a GPS? Am I SCARED of getting lost? No. Not at all. Quite the opposite in fact. I don't get lost. I'm simply prepared.

So what is it with this attitude? Does it really come down to the fact that some people are sheep and anything that reminds them of the wolves in the world is "creepy"? I try to understand the point of view, but it just doesn't make any sense to me.

Since I left home, a long time ago, I’ve had one flat tire and one encounter with a pair of muggers. I was happy I had a spare tire and a weapon in each incident respectively.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

It Costs Too Much

Here's a detailed article on the unreasonable costs of the Iraq war by a couple of Abandonistas. Note this is merely further whining in the same tune that Obama and the liberals in congress continue because now the political and social stabilities are being achieved.
There is no such thing as a free lunch, and there is no such thing as a free war. The Iraq adventure has seriously weakened the U.S. economy, whose woes now go far beyond loose mortgage lending. You can't spend $3 trillion -- yes, $3 trillion -- on a failed war abroad and not feel the pain at home.
Fascinating to see that these morons still have missed the news coming out of Iraq for the past 6+ months. It also makes me wonder what their solution is? Should we just abandon Iraq and throw that money away completely? Or should we consider leaving the state of Iraq stable and aid a world economy that we still lead?

Of course the writers go on to try and make the economic problems we've seen lately as being caused by the Iraq war.
The end result of all this wishful thinking? As we approach the fifth anniversary of the invasion, Iraq is not only the second longest war in U.S. history (after Vietnam), it is also the second most costly -- surpassed only by World War II.

Why doesn't the public understand the staggering scale of our expenditures? In part because the administration talks only about the upfront costs, which are mostly handled by emergency appropriations. (Iraq funding is apparently still an emergency five years after the war began.) These costs, by our calculations, are now running at $12 billion a month -- $16 billion if you include Afghanistan. By the time you add in the costs hidden in the defense budget, the money we'll have to spend to help future veterans, and money to refurbish a military whose equipment and materiel have been greatly depleted, the total tab to the federal government will almost surely exceed $1.5 trillion.

So, we should withdraw from the world entirely? Run away and hide under a rock because that would save us money but would end up with the US in economic ruin because isolationism has always been a major stiumlous for economies?

And the argument continues that the money could be used to pay for healthcare or social services.
The long-term burden of paying for the conflicts will curtail the country's ability to tackle other urgent problems, no matter who wins the presidency in November. Our vast and growing indebtedness inevitably makes it harder to afford new health-care plans, make large-scale repairs to crumbling roads and bridges, or build better-equipped schools. Already, the escalating cost of the wars has crowded out spending on virtually all other discretionary federal programs, including the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and federal aid to states and cities, all of which have been scaled back significantly since the invasion of Iraq.
Yep, let's get in place those social services and ignore the world stability and security issues. God knows if you ignore the bad guys they'll ignore you. That's how the world works right?

Fascinating how the world always would be so much better for this brand if we all just ignore the rest of the world. Ignore that our economy is nearly global in reach and thus requires stability. Forget that the islamofascist have set their sites on the US as the cause of all ills in their world. Taking an active part in the world at least gives you a say in the outcome. Hiding under you rock pretending that everything beyond the horizon can't hurt you is nice, if really stupid way to live.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Nuttier Than California

Morons in Vermont:
Voters in two Vermont towns on Tuesday approved a measure that would instruct police to arrest President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for "crimes against our Constitution," local media reported.

The nonbinding, symbolic measure, passed in Brattleboro and Marlboro in a state known for taking liberal positions on national issues, instructs town police to "extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them."

Vermont, home to maple syrup and picture-postcard views, is known for its liberal politics.

State lawmakers have passed nonbinding resolutions to end the war in Iraq and impeach Bush and Cheney, and several towns have also passed resolutions of impeachment. None of them have caught on in Washington.

Almost makes me hope Bush takes a big Secret Service contingent and go to Vermont for a weekend. It would be interesting to see if these morons would put there money where their mouths are.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Who is Playing the Race Card?

This apparently started on that piece of crap Daily Kos. No link, because I find them excessively offensive. But the Wonkette covers it and I don't feel like taking a hazmat shower after reading her.
Did you know this new Clinton ad proves algebraically that Hillary Clinton is a racist? Neither did we, until we read the liberal Internet this morning! One of those insightful cinematography experts at Daily Kos noticed that Obama appears to be even blacker than usual in Clinton's new ad. Is that even possible? Nothing is impossible when BILLARY DOWNHILLARY HITLERY ROD-SHAM CLINTON's 60-year-old plan to win the Democratic nomination is at stake, the blogs say.
Personally I'm not convinced. First, if they got caught the blow back would be extreme. Second, She may be slimy, but she isn't that stupid. (Though whoever made the film may have been.)

So isn't this an Obama supporter trumpeting racism?

I wonder if anyone has looked at other adds for Obama and whether they change the "darkness" of Obama.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Steinem - Jackass of the Day

Wow. This Bitch needs a kick in the face.
Steinem raised McCain’s Vietnam imprisonment as she sought to highlight an alleged gender-based media bias against Clinton.

“Suppose John McCain had been Joan McCain and Joan McCain had got captured, shot down and been a POW for eight years. [The media would ask], ‘What did you do wrong to get captured? What terrible things did you do while you were there as a captive for eight years?’” Steinem said, to laughter from the audience.

McCain was, in fact, a prisoner of war for around five and a half years, during which time he was tortured repeatedly. Referring to his time in captivity, Steinem said with bewilderment, “I mean, hello? This is supposed to be a qualification to be president? I don’t think so.”

Personally I don't see his experience in a POW camp as a qualification for being president. I see it as being prominent indicator that he has performed things in his life that give him extra understanding what the world is.

Get this extra:
“I am so grateful that she [Clinton] hasn’t been trained to kill anybody. And she probably didn’t even play war games as a kid. It’s a great relief from Bush in his jump suit and from Kerry saluting.”

To The Observer, Steinem insisted that “from George Washington to Jack Kennedy and PT-109 we have behaved as if killing people is a qualification for ruling people.”

Historically that has been a big aid in getting to the presidency. No doubt. People in the military learn how to make hard choices. Even distasteful choices. But that hasn't happened in a long time, as can be noted by the very limited military men that have made the presidency in the past few decades.

And of course Steinem played the gender card. No shock there. Read the rest. This isn't a person I'd be having stump for me in Texas. Maybe California, but not Texas.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Okie in History

Not a big thing, but I found this cool little article in the St. Mihiel Tripwire, a WWI newsletter I subscribe to from Trenches on the Web. Nothing profound to say about it, I just like little stories like this about the homeland (especially when I'm sitting under a blanket of freakin' snow).