Friday, April 28, 2006


More proof that minority groups get away with violating the law.
Eighteen "grannies" who were swept up by the New York City police, handcuffed, loaded into police vans and jailed for four and a half hours were acquitted yesterday of charges that they blocked the entrance to the military recruitment center in Times Square when they tried to enlist.

After six days of a nonjury trial, the grandmothers and dozens of their supporters filled a courtroom in Manhattan Criminal Court to hear whether they would be found guilty of two counts of disorderly conduct for refusing to move, which could have put them in jail for 15 days. The women call their group the Granny Peace Brigade and said they wanted to join the armed forces and thus offer their lives for those of younger soldiers in Iraq.

So an anti-war group now are offering their lives for younger soldiers is the facts? Why do I find this claim disingenuous?
The women -— from 59 to 91, many gray-haired, some carrying canes, one legally blind, one with a walker -— listened gravely and in obvious suspense as Judge Neil E. Ross delivered a carefully worded 15-minute speech in which he said his verdict was not a referendum on the Police Department, the defendants' antiwar message or, indeed, their very grandmotherhood.

But, he said, there was credible evidence that the grandmothers had left room for people to enter the recruitment center, and that therefore they had been wrongly arrested.

Next time you want to protest remember to leave space for other people, that way your protest won't be considered disturbing the peace or trespassing. This judge has got to be smoking something real good if he thinks this isn't a pass.
The women, sitting in the jury box at the invitation of the judge, to make it easier for them to see and hear, let out a collective "Oh!" and burst into applause, rushing forward, as quickly as women their age could rush, to hug and kiss their lawyers, Norman Siegel, the former head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, and Earl Ward.

"Listen to your granny, she knows best," crowed Joan Wile, 74, a retired cabaret singer and jingle writer who was one of the defendants.

Yeah, if granny is a crack-pot she's still right because she's sodding OLD. I'm certain experience as a cabaret singer helps in those decisions on national defense strategy.
If Mr. McConnell stuck to prose, Mr. Siegel did not hesitate to offer poetry. The defendants, he said in his closing, "tried to alert an apathetic public to the immorality, the illegality, the destructiveness and the wrongness of the war in Iraq." The grannies could not be punished for failing to obey a police command if that command violated their constitutional right to protest, he said.
That's right. Nor should they be punished for disrupting other people's rights or any violation of the law. Protests and first amendment rights trump all other law.

Double standards at their finest.

NH No Retreat Legislation Revived

I thought this one was down for the count, but it looks like it's now going to the governor.
The gun owners lobby scored a surprising reversal Wednesday, winning final approval of a bill that lets anyone use deadly force when attacked in public -– even if retreating from an attacker is an option.

Under current law, deadly force can be used only if people are threatened in their home, or if in public they are the target of a deadly attack, a kidnapping or attempted rape. In other situations, retreat is required.

After a campaign by gun rights groups, House membersWednesday embraced expanding the deadly force law, on a vote of 193-134. Only five weeks ago, they had cast a lopsided measure against a similar bill.

The Senate already approved the bill, which goes now to Gov. John Lynch. The governor has "concerns"” about the bill, but has yet to decide if he'’ll sign or veto it, according to his communications director, Pamela Walsh.
No doubt the spineless Gov. Lynch will veto. He has "concerns." Then there are the morons:
Opposing the bill, Dover Democratic Rep. William Knowles said this would be an invitation for people to become vigilantes.

"This bill is unnecessary and creates the potential for people to use deadly force when they otherwise would not use deadly force or would have retreated from the incident," Knowles said.
Maybe Knowles should actually read legislation before commenting.

AN ACT relative to the use of deadly force to protect oneself.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

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

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

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

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

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

Sounds like their allowing the wild-west to me. Where does that state anywhere the allowance to do anything but defend ones self? I don't see anything even mildly like vigilantism allowed. Or maybe the writer is going overboard. That wouldn't be a surprise either. But then, Knowles and his ilk think that running away is the safest thing in all situations.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Lynch will sign this.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

United 93: According to Salon

How funny. Nyarl & I both post on the same topic on the same day. I've got bad news. A substantial amount of Americans are not going to see this as a wake-up call. A substantial number are going to walk away from the film:

...I wish I could stamp out of my mind. What's the value of artistry that sucks the life out of you?

They're going to have "atavistic" reactions to the attack by the passengers on the hijacker and find these emotions unpleasant as opposed to ennervating. I read an article on this film a while back where the reviewer felt that this film would be a dividing line between those who clearly get what the war on terror is all about and those who don't. Clearly, Stephanie Zacharek doesn't. Still, from the sound of it, she gave the film a fair watching if she let her own emotional baggage get in the way of a fair reading.
The really bad news is the fever-swamp left and the alkali-desert right (I like those comparisons, they seem apt) have latched on to the film and are reading it the way they want to read it. Read the letters which follow the review. Which, from my film school background, has basis, but it's sad that they can't simply take it for what it is.

United 93

This film further reminds us of the nature of the enemy we face. An enemy who will stop at nothing to achieve world domination and force a life devoid of freedom upon all. Their methods are inhumane and their targets are the innocent and unsuspecting. We call this conflict the "War on Terror." This film is a wake-up call. And although we abhor terrorism as a tactic, we are at war with a real enemy and it is personal.

May the taste of freedom for people of the Middle East hasten victory. The enemy we face does not have the word "surrender" in their dictionary. We must not have the word "retreat" in ours. We surely want our troops home as soon as possible. That said, they cannot come home in retreat. They must come home victoriously. Pray for them.

A brief review of the film by Todd Beamer's dad. Well said. Let's hope most Americans feel this way, and that this film reminds those who might be moving toward complacency that we can't afford to falter; we're going to need clear-eyed determination for a long time to come.

Gun Summit Ending: Another Steaming Stinking Mass

Yep, just what you'd expect, lots of hot air and promises to punish the law abiding.
DESPITE THE roughly 200 million firearms in private hands, mayors of major cities believe there are supply-side solutions to the problem of gun deaths that total 30,000 a year in the United States. Armed only with a statement of principles and fresh from a Tuesday summit in New York City, 15 mayors appear ready to recruit their colleagues to take on the gun lobby and its abettors in Congress.
I've looked for that 'statement of principles' but came up empty. I love the part about taking on the gun lobby. Totally missing the point that they are taking on the countries constituency that for the most part doesn't reside in their urban areas. I wish you luck.
This is a good fight, one that every mayor, and especially those from states with loose gun controls, should step right into. It is not an attack on the right to bear arms. Only one in six guns used to commit crimes is obtained legally, according to a major study by Northeastern University criminologist Glenn Pierce published in the June 2004 issue of Justice Quarterly. The rest are stolen, trafficked, obtained through straw buyers, bought off the books, or obtained from kitchen-table sellers or outright corrupt dealers.
That is something to give you pause. If the majority of guns used illegally are obtained illegally, then why are the vast majority of the proposed laws on the issue only going to restrict those who will abide by the law? And being from one of those "states with loose gun controls" I'm feeling especially guilty that your urban criminals are breaking state and federal law. But then, how about trying enforcing your own laws rather than bitching about the laws in my state?
The most important thing to emerge from Tuesday's summit was the mayors' resolve to press the gun violence issue with or without federal help. ''We put the days of waiting for Congress to act behind us," said Bloomberg, flanked by mayors from Dallas, Seattle, Philadelphia, and 11 other major cities. Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee and several of his counterparts spoke of the dreaded phone calls that come with the shooting of an innocent child or law enforcement officer. But congressmen are often insulated from the direct impact of firearms violence and can't envision running cities where 2-year-olds die from bullets meant for a gang member standing a few yards away.
Ah yes, the "think of the children" gambit. How about thinking about the 2-year old that loses a parent in a home invasion or assault because they didn't have the means to protect themselves? Oh, well, I'm sure that isn't a valid argument.

You can also be certain that the mayors themselves are pretty well insulated from the violence, since they have police protection being paid for by the citizens who aren't allowed a means of defense.

The rest of the article is a loud and obnoxious BoGlobe whine about laws restricting the uses of the BATFE gun crime database. Nothing new there.

This article has a great quote:
"If the leadership won't come from Congress or from the White House, it will have to come from us," said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who led the summit with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

The mayors -- from cities including Washington, Philadelphia, Dallas, Milwaukee and Seattle -- gathered to exchange ideas, consult with experts and promote law enforcement cooperation among their cities.

Well, at least with the fed and most state level governments not assisting these gun grabbers, you can at least have some relief that their actions will have lesser impact. The 'consult with experts' line is hilarious. Don't bother to mention that they refused to hear from gun-rights experts. But hey, you can make a learned decision by only hearing one side of an argument.

Here's another good one:
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, one of the co-hosts of the summit, said that he believes that 90 percent of the children know where to find guns.

"Why aren't Americans outraged that 30,000 people are dying because of guns each year?" he asked.

He "believes." I "believe" Menino is an imbecile, and I have more proof that that is true than he does on his 90% statement. Americans are outraged about the high level of deaths, but atributing the problem to an inanimate object is showing a definite indication of being out of touch with reality. Imagine if the mayors did more to enforce or even inhibit crime. That would reduce even more deaths. No outrage over killings that happen without a gun?

Haven't we learned quite a bit about extreme gun control in places like Great Britain and Australia. Gun control didn't reduce crime, it increased it. Yep, there were less gun crimes, and less gun deaths, but the numbers of deaths and crimes with other weapons and means increased.

Here's one that I didn't expect, just because it's so easy to turn around.
Surrounded by 14 mayors attending an unprecedented Gracie Mansion gun summit, Mayor Bloomberg charged yesterday that legislators who "vote against getting guns off the street" share responsibility for the death of the 2-year-old boy killed by a stray bullet on Easter Sunday.

"The only thing that would have helped that child is if we had the courage to stand up and get the guns off the street," Bloomberg declared at a press conference following the four-hour summit.

"And those who vote against getting guns off the street really are the ones as much responsible as the shooter, because if the shooter didn't have a gun, that child would still be alive."

Yes, and by the same logic, if you asshats had been doing your job on law enforcement and not bitching about guns, maybe the 2-year old would be alive as well. Or does Bloomberg think that only by adding new laws do we get the illegal guns off the street? One law or fifty won't stop the criminal from violating the law. Maybe it's time you realized that adding legislation doesn't work. Adding further restrictions hindering legal ownership doesn't stop thefts or other illegal possessions.
Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer suggested that Congress members join him when he has to inform a family about the shooting of a child, as he was forced to do four weeks ago.

"I had to call that mother that night," Palmer recalled.

"Believe me, it wasn't pleasant. Maybe some of the people in Congress that are so far removed from this issue and listen to all the lobbying groups need to come with mayors as we make calls with those families."

How does this guy deal with telling the children of a victim of rape or murder that their parent could have saved themselves if they had been allowed the means to defend themselves? I'm sure that isn't said. I have no sympathy for this dolt. If anything, this tells me he's too close to the issue to make a logical decision and thus shouldn't be given the ability.

What a complete waste of oxygen.

mAssBackwards and the Ten Ring have more on topic.

Hillary's Scare Tactics

So Hillary is screeching illogically again. What a shock.

Sen. Clinton, D-N.Y., said Gregg's cuts would "take money from troop pay, body armor and even joint improvised explosive device defeat fund. Now that is a false choice, and it is a wrong choice."

Gregg responded heatedly, arguing that the cuts eventually would come from other parts of the massive Pentagon budget rather than U.S. forces in Iraq.

"To come down here and allege that these funds are going to come out of the needs of the people on the front lines in Iraq or Afghanistan is pure poppycock," he said.

In fact the amendment doesn't specify where the funding would come from, and contention that it would come directly out of soldier's pay is ludicrous. Should we even discuss the body armor issue? I don't like the vagueness that Gregg's amendment is showing, but it may be better to let the Pentagon decide where the funding actually gets cut.

Gregg also has an additional point:
"Yes, fighting the war in Iraq is critical to this war on terrorism," Gregg said on the Senate floor Tuesday. "Fighting the war in Afghanistan is critical to this war on terrorism. But I have to think equally important is making sure that our borders are secure."
This is showing some fiscal responsibility at least. Instead of just tacking on extra spending he's trying to stay within a budget. Imagine that, a politician that tries to stay within budget. From what I've been seeing the border security issue is pretty much orphaned at this time. The illegal immigrant issue has pushed it off the table because far too many politicians are worried about offending those people who are in our country illegally. That and the political stall-and-block tactics of the democrats.

This part of the article then had me banging my head on the desk.
In its veto statement, the White House said the bill contains too many items that are "unrelated to the war or emergency hurricane relief needs." It said a final House-Senate compromise on it "must remain focused on addressing urgent national priorities while maintaining fiscal discipline."

The move is likely to force senators to drop most of their $14 billion in add-owns for farm aid, highway repairs, aid to the Gulf Coast fishing industry and other projects. The additional money had won the ire of the White House and GOP congressional leaders and scorn from conservative allies whose support is crucial on Election Day.

Oh shock! Politicos packing on the pork. Say it isn't so. Imagine if they were more concerned with the $1.9 Billion for border security instead. Bloody leaches.

There is a certainty here to be predicted. If this pork-laden bill comes as is, and is vetoed, you know who will be blamed. Not the fat-back earmarkers for certain.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Bush Being Fiscally Responsible?

He's even threatening a veto!

President Bush asked Congress yesterday for $2.2 billion in new spending to rebuild the hurricane protection system for the New Orleans area, even as he threatened to veto the overall spending bill if Congress did not remove a cornucopia of non-emergency items.

In an unusually blunt message to Senate leaders, the White House demanded that lawmakers eliminate $14 billion in domestic provisions and "remain focused on urgent national priorities."
Wonder how pork laden this bill has gotten. I mean in number of earmarks, not money. Glad to see those reforms are moving so well in the congress.
The flood protection money, added to a request already before Congress for $1.4 billion for rebuilding the levees, would be used to replace 36 miles of flood walls around the city with higher walls of a stronger design. It is part of a $19.8 billion request from the administration for work in Louisiana in a $106 billion emergency spending bill that was originally intended for the Iraq war and hurricane recovery.

The levee request immediately angered members of the Louisiana delegation, however, because it called for the state to pay 35 percent of the cost of raising the flood walls.

"It's a very bad precedent," said Representative Bobby Jindal, a Republican. "The state's not in a position to pay. We're talking about rebuilding levees that were not built properly in the first place. This is a clear federal responsibility."

I suppose it is a federal responsibility, but not sure I like the fact that it is. No doubt with the urgency of an emergency spending bill the pork is flying on by the truck load. I'd say Jindal should be shaming his piggish colleagues to try and force some restraint.

I'll still be surprised if Bush doesn't sign the bill even if it's packed with pork.

Isn't Secrecy Wonderful

The CIA leak investigation probably won't end up with any prosecutions if this article is correct.
Cobb said McCarthy "didn't have access to the information attributed to her," meaning knowledge of the locations of those prison facilities and other details about their operation. But other former CIA officials said that McCarthy was involved in an inspector general's review of agency detention operations that was triggered by the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq, and that she would have had access to a great deal of sensitive information about the CIA's prison facilities.

That knowledge may now afford her some protection from prosecution, current and former officials said, because a trial would risk spilling other secrets and require the government to prove that information she disclosed was classified.

The CIA routinely videotapes polygraph sessions, meaning it probably has a record showing whether she confessed to disclosing classified information. But officials said it was unclear whether her statements during the examination, or under subsequent questioning, could be used in a trial.

"A court might say that anything derived from the polygraph is poisoned fruit," said a former CIA attorney who asked not to be identified.
Fascinating how a crime, which could have been of far greater magnitude, can go unpunished due to the requirement of keeping the information secret and the Constitutional protections against secrecy in prosecutions. Can you imagine trying to pick a jury for this trial? Circus wouldn't even rise to the correct description. Fair trial is pretty much out because of it. The polygraph and subsequent statements may not be admissable in criminal court, but they at least were sufficient to purge her.

I also find it interesting that some of the more liberal politicos have been calling Bush a hypocrite about his release, or "leak" if you must, of information on Wilson's report on Iraq's seeking Uranium in Niger, and yet they have come out and are trying to justify McCarthy's actions as a whistleblower. Who's the bloody HYPROCRITE now? Look at Harmon and Kerry twisting and spinning:
As you might expect, Democrats instantly came to McCarthy's defense. On "Fox News Sunday" Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, came out and said the leaking was wrong, but added, "...I think it is totally wrong for our president in secret to selectively declassify certain information and empower people in his White House to leak it to favored reporters so that they can discredit political enemies."

In case you thought it was only House Democrats making complete fools of themselves on national television, perennial Presidential candidate and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry also weighed in, this time on ABC's "This Week." Kerry's statements not only echoed Harman's, but added a new twist. Kerry said, "A CIA agent has the obligation to uphold the law and clearly leaking is against the law, and nobody should leak... But if you're leaking to tell the truth, Americans are going to look at that, at least mitigate or think about what are the consequences that you, you know, put on that person."

"Discredit political enemies" is an interesting charge when he released the truth about what Wilson actually lied about to the press.

Then you have people like Stephen Kohn, who is Chairman of National Whistleblower Center. They seem to think McCarthy has whistleblower status and protections.
Stephen Kohn, chairman of the National Whistleblower Center, said he believes McCarthy could have a strong case to contest her firing.

"If she was blowing the whistle on something that's illegal, it's our position you cannot classify the illegal conduct of government. You can't say that's a secret," Kohn said.

Of course, I'll jam a fact into this ludicrous contention. Remember that thing called the Whistleblower Protection act? Let's keep it simple from the article related to the same discussion about the NSA "whistleblower."
The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 and the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998 set out mechanisms for employees to report wrongdoing if they "reasonably believe" there's misconduct. Most whistle-blowers can go to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and the US Office of Special Counsel. Those in the intelligence communities are supposed to go to their agencies' inspectors general or members of the congressional Intelligence Committees.
Oh, and here is the actual wording from the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989.
Sec. 1213. Provisions relating to disclosures of violations of law, gross mismanagement, and certain other matters
    `(a) This section applies with respect to--
      `(1) any disclosure of information by an employee, former employee, or applicant for employment which the employee, former employee, or applicant reasonably believes evidences--
        `(A) a violation of any law, rule, or regulation; or
        `(B) gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety;
      if such disclosure is not specifically prohibited by law and if such information is not specifically required by Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or the conduct of foreign affairs; and
    (i) Except as specifically authorized under this section, the provisions of this section shall not be considered to authorize disclosure of any information by any agency or any person which is--
        `(1) specifically prohibited from disclosure by any other provision of law; or
        `(2) specifically required by Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or the conduct of foreign affairs.
      `(j) With respect to any disclosure of information described in subsection (a) which involves foreign intelligence or counterintelligence information, if the disclosure is specifically prohibited by law or by Executive order, the Special Counsel shall transmit such information to the National Security Advisor, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives, and the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate.
      I'm going to guess that working for the CIA in the Internal Affairs office probably has legal restrictions against public disclosure that are codified in the law. I've heard of no evidence that shows she tried any of these things to bring the 'wrong-doing' to light.

      I find it frustrating to see violators in some of the most dangerous positions for gaining information that can actually harm the security of the US and there being no clear way of prosecuting them.

      Tuesday, April 25, 2006

      Bunker Buster

      Maybe Iran should be a bit nervous:
      Boeing's Phantom Works is leading the effort to demonstrate the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP). The three-phase technology demonstration builds on design studies that Boeing had conducted for the laboratory. Flight testing is envisaged around 2006. The 6 m [20 feet] long MOP features short-span wings and trellis-type tails. The 13,600 kg [30,000 lb] weapon contains a 2,700 kg [6,000 lb] explosive charge. MOP is designed to go deeper than any nuclear bunker buster and take out 25 percent of the underground and deeply buried targets. It is expected to penetrate as much as 60 meters [200 feet] through 5,000 psi reinforced concrete. It will burrow 8 meters into the ground through 10,000 psi reinforced concrete. Northrop Grumman is working on with Boeing to develop this conventional bunker buster. They are under contract to Air Force Research Laboratory's Munitions Directorate at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, and Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
      What the hell do they use to drop this thing? The article isn't the clearest, but I'm thinking the B-52 or the B-2 would carry this.

      I still would prefer Rods from God.

      Gun Grabber Summit -or- Summit of the Asshats

      Nothing like having 10 of the biggest gun-grabber mayors in the country getting together.
      The mayors of 10 major U.S. cities gathered at a summit on gun violence Tuesday, with organizers saying the federal government is not doing enough to stop the spread of illegal weapons.

      "If the leadership won't come from Congress or from the White House, it will have to come from us," said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who headed the summit with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

      These two jack-asses make my blood boil. Especially when you get them putting out deceptive statements like this:
      "Gun crime is a national problem that needs a national response," Menino said, noting that many guns used in Boston murders last year came from other states.
      Yes moron, but most of them came from within your own exceptionally restrictive state and the vast majority were being used by your own home grown criminals. But, it still must be the fault of other states.

      The NYTimes at least has a bit more equitable of an article.
      Representatives of the gun industry accused the mayor of political grandstanding and asserted this morning that he should focus on enforcement, prosecutions and penalties rather than on gun makers and dealers.

      "The policies of the Bloomberg administration on guns reek of elitism," Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, said in a telephone interview. "The city hands out thousands and thousands of carry and home permits for celebrities, rich Wall Street executives, politicians and judges. The average citizens are told to take a hike, while the criminals skirt the system."

      The National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry group that represents gun manufacturers and retailers, said Mr. Bloomberg's office had denied its request for a chance to make its case to the mayors.

      Nothing like silencing those that have a different opinion. I'm sure they were strategizing on how they can vilify or incrementally cut the gun industry to death.

      This quote is just cute:
      Douglas A. Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at Baruch College, said Mr. Bloomberg's power may be largely limited to moral suasion.

      "The mayor has two things working against him: one is the overwhelming power of the N.R.A. and two is the lack of a perception of a gun crisis," he said, referring to the National Rifle Association. "If gun violence were out of control in the cities as it was in the cowboy days of the late 80's and early 90's, he might have a better chance. That said, it might be good politics for the mayor to hold such a high-level meeting. It could crystallize the opinions of urban constituents who disproportionately suffer from gun violence."

      That's quite clever. Urban areas have the most gun control regulations, and the most gun control crime. The math is simple to this guy, 2+2=3. Calling the crime levels a 'gun crisis' is distortive. Crime crisis is more correct. Would he be willing to look at the levels of crime in the urban areas rather than just gun crime? I doubt it. It doesn't follow his bent reasoning. 'Cowboy days' is fascinating as well. But we've discussed that stupidity before.

      Alphecca has more in his weekly check on bias. Including this editorial which is just astounding in it's myopic understanding of reality.
      What do people even need handguns for? Protection, right? However, if no one could buy or carry a handgun legally, no one would need a handgun to protect themselves. Also, it is a lie for anyone to say he or she needs a handgun in case of being shot at. The shooter would pull out a gun and shoot before the victim ever could get a gun out of his or her pants and shoot back to protect him- or herself. People who buy handguns likely are people who will use them in ways that affect others‚’ safety.
      Jeff calls this person a child, I guess I agree, but someone must have dropped this child on their head a couple times too many. The whole editorial is stunningly simplistic. I'm guessing that Granted's and the geekwife's spawn could do this well, or maybe even a touch better.

      This part just gives me a headache in the demonstration of a total lack of understanding of federal law.
      Minnesota'’s Personal Protection Act, also known as the conceal-carry law, is very controversial legislation that allows people to carry a handgun in public with a permit. This permit is given to anyone who has not been convicted of certain violent crimes or those who have finished a prison sentence 10 years prior to applying for a permit.

      This means that someone who killed someone and served time potentially could be given a gun to carry in public legally 10 years later and that the state says this is perfectly fine.

      Maybe I missed the change to the federal law. I'm going to bet that the vast majority of violent crimes that get 10 years in prison are considered felonies. Maybe I'm wrong. Anyone know of a prison sentence that long for a violent misdemeanor? So, if it's a felony, then federal law makes it illegal for that person from owning a firearm. And a state regulation can't bypass that law.

      Go and give Jeff a visit. The Bias Check is very interesting.

      As to the mayoral assholes, I think they are pretty much a lost cause.

      Speaking of Al Gore and Global Warming

      Fascinating stuff from the UK Telegraph.

      Consider the simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase.

      Yes, you did read that right. And also, yes, this eight-year period of temperature stasis did coincide with society's continued power station and SUV-inspired pumping of yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

      In response to these facts, a global warming devotee will chuckle and say "how silly to judge climate change over such a short period". Yet in the next breath, the same person will assure you that the 28-year-long period of warming which occurred between 1970 and 1998 constitutes a dangerous (and man-made) warming. Tosh. Our devotee will also pass by the curious additional facts that a period of similar warming occurred between 1918 and 1940, well prior to the greatest phase of world industrialisation, and that cooling occurred between 1940 and 1965, at precisely the time that human emissions were increasing at their greatest rate.

      What's going on here? What's of real concern and what isn't? If there really isn't anything to worry about, why are some scientists raising an alarm? I hate to ignore this issue if it's real, but it's incredibly stupid to put ourselves through economic hardships (and make stupid political decisions) if it's not.

      The Politics Behind the Rumsfeld Griping

      I found this very interesting.

      On Sept. 10, 2001, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld held a town hall meeting at the Pentagon and identified what he saw as the gravest threat to national security: the Pentagon's own bureaucracy. "With brutal consistency, it stifles free thought and crushes new ideas. It disrupts the defense of the United States and places the lives of men and women in uniform at risk," he said. He may have underestimated both the size and tenacity of this foe.

      In the opening pages of their new book about the Iraq war, "Cobra II," Michael R. Gordon and Gen. Bernard E. Trainor quote the Sept. 10 speech to frame the battle that has raged inside the Pentagon for five years. As the nation has weathered the most deadly terrorist attack on its soil in history, fought a global war on terror and liberated two countries, there has been a battle inside the Pentagon over the size, organization and weaponry of the U.S. military. And that battle has only intensified as the bureaucracy that Mr. Rumsfeld chastised for being stuck in a Cold War mindset has picked up allies in Congress, the military and in some quarters of the administration. It is this coalition that is now pushing for Mr. Rumsfeld to be fired.

      I'm shocked, shocked! that this should be at its core about politics and power, rather than doing the right thing.

      MSM Mistake?

      I really hope that the MSM (Newsweek) hasn't buggered this up.

      The lawyer for a Central Intelligence Agency official dismissed last week after being accused of leaking classified information said on Monday that his client denied disclosing any classified information and was not the source for newspaper articles about secret C.I.A. prisons abroad.

      Ty Cobb, a Washington lawyer recently retained by the official, Mary O. McCarthy, who was fired last Thursday and escorted out of agency headquarters, said his client had never been granted access to the information she was accused of leaking, referring to material used in Pulitzer Prize-winning articles in The Washington Post about C.I.A. prisons.

      I'll remain skeptical about the contention of not having access to the information. She worked in the agency's Inspector General's office and likely had access to lots of information that was in review.

      The question is, has the reporting gotten it correct? This article starts by stating that she was the person accused of leaking the information, but the CIA never revealed who that was.
      Mr. Cobb, whose comments about Ms. McCarthy's denials were first reported on the Newsweek Web site, said his client had also told him that she never admitted leaking any classified information before she was terminated. She believes she was fired solely because she failed to report contacts with journalists to her superiors, he said.

      Yet Mr. Cobb said he did not believe that Ms. McCarthy, who has not spoken publicly since her dismissal, intended to fight her termination either in court or in the public arena.

      Failure to report contacts is a rule violation as well. And if this has been a long term issue, she certainly could be justifiably fired over it.
      A C.I.A. spokesman said Monday night that the agency stood by its statement of Friday, which said an employee had been dismissed after acknowledging unauthorized contacts with journalists and disclosing classified information.

      The agency has not named the employee who was fired, but intelligence officials have said that it was Ms. McCarthy and that she was dismissed for a "pattern of conduct" and not for a single leak. The agency has not specified the nature of the leaked information or the news outlet where it appeared.

      I'm thinking that the MSM have it right, but that since Ms. McCarthy isn't in jail, the CIA is taking the whole situation in a go slow and careful mode. Especially considering:
      Administration officials and Congressional Republicans have called for prosecution of government officials who knowingly leak classified information, in part to deter future leaks. But former intelligence officials and legal experts said Monday that prosecuting Ms. McCarthy for disclosing classified information might not be easy.

      Polygraph evidence would not be admissible in court, and any confession that followed a polygraph might also be excluded, they said. In the likely event that journalists refused to testify about confidential sources, it might be difficult to prove that Ms. McCarthy was the source of a particular classified fact.

      In addition, Department of Justice officials, who would have to make a decision about whether to pursue a criminal case, might consider the impact on the agency of months of inquiries and possible testimony.

      "A criminal trial would be devastating for Langley," said one former C.I.A. officer, referring to the agency's Virginia headquarters. He spoke about a possible prosecution on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the case.

      Personally, I think if they have any evidence beyond the polygraph and the confession, they should prosecute. I'm doubting that they do though. But then, having fired her, they have pretty much stripped her of any ability to work in any profession requiring a security clearance. That doesn't mean she won't get a job. There are plenty of political "think-tanks" that will hire her just because she was part of this, and even more so due to her apparently clear-cut affiliation with Democratic politics.

      Algore's Academy Award

      The Academy Awards have proven themselves to be a farce ever since Michael Moore won the Oscar for Documentary. But now they have a chance to really put all contention, to the contrary, to a final end.
      "The talk in Hollywood circles is that [Gore's movie] is textbook Oscar-bait," reports Canada's National Post.

      Hollywood blogger Jeffrey Wells is convinced that the film is the odds on favorite to win the best feature documentary Oscar in March, 2007.

      "It may or may not emerge as the year's finest doc," writes Wells on "But what it says is so damned important . . . and it makes its case so persuasively that any Academy member with a smidgen of concern about the perils of global warming is going to want to give it the Oscar so that more people browsing in video stores will be inclined to rent or buy it."

      I'm certain that it's on par with documentary study with Michael Moore as well.
      Gore himself predicted earlier this month that if the U.S. doesn't stop global warming, "we will destroy the habitability of the planet."
      Does anyone actually think this documentary will have a balanced discussion of the topic? Is there any doubt that the US is going to be cast as the villain? Should anyone have any expectations that the alternative causation theories will be completely ignored?

      Of course, Michael Moore has his film "Sicko" coming out this year. But I find it unlikely that he'll get the nod since he was saddled with so much blame for Kerry's losing the presidency. Not that his movie will be any less distortive of the facts than Algore's to push a political issue.

      Algore has slowly wandered into the fever-swamp of the far left. Next thing you know he'll be joining ELF and blowing up refineries or burning down car dealerships.

      Monday, April 24, 2006


      That is one stupid moniker. However, it's an interesting crime, if for no other reason than the fact that I'm finally wireless at work. I see two aspects to the crime and they both have to do with situation awareness. As anyone who's attended self-defense seminars, read books on the subject, studied at a good martial arts school, etc., knows, being aware of your surroundings and what's going on around you is one of the most important parts of self defense. So this crime has two aspects to it. First, and most obvious, are the habitual victims who simply don't have any situational awareness. They walk across the room leaving their laptop (and purse and wallet and whatever) laying on a table top. Shock of shock, someone stole it. On the other hand, I'm normally fairly conscious of what's going on around me until I'm focused, like when I'm working on a computer. Then, the world falls away. In that state, I'd be a good target for a snatch & grab. Of course, you better run FAST because you don't want me to catch you.
      So what can you do? Best advice I have is choose your seat carefully and orient yourself so it's not easy for someone to grab stuff & run. Same reason you put bags & stuff to the inside of a booth, rather than outside. I don't know that I have much to add past that. Look up once in a while? I'd personally find that hard to do.

      Crypto Geeks

      Damn, I love my geek brethren. Even if I couldn't possibly keep up with the math with these guys, I support them in their geek efforts to solve this puzzle. Who knew the CIA was cool enough to both have a sculpture like this AND let the world see it?

      Excusing the Leakers and Blaming the "Liars"

      Captain's Quarters has a couple of pieces taking the MSM and John Kerry to task for excusing the McCarthy leaks. I still don't understand how anyone can logically excuse these actions. Especially with the details of where she could have gone to protest the issue.
      In fact, McCarthy had several options, none of which it appears she used. First, as Kerr mentions, she had the option of raising her concerns with senior CIA officials, up to Porter Goss. She could have then gone to the State Department to discuss it with their intelligence liaisons, especially since the information she revealed had the potential to damage relations with key allies -- which it did when she released it to the press. McCarthy could have gone to the White House as well. Perhaps she considered that a waste of time, but without having attempted it, she wouldn't have any idea whether the White House would have addressed her concerns.

      At the end of all those options, if she still couldn't get her concerns addressed, she could have gone to the ranking members of the two Congressional committees on intelligence or the Armed Services committees. Congress has oversight responsibilities for intelligence and the military, and both houses of the legislature had been publicly bristling over the way the administration had supposedly sidelined them. The Democrats would have been especially receptive to McCarthy's entreaties -- especially given her financial support of John Kerry. The issue could then have been hashed out with the administration and the CIA behind closed doors.

      The fact that the NYTimes goes to lengths to find excuses is as nauseating as the WaPo article justifying the actions. The Old Grey Mare works quite hard in finding people who swear that she worked by the rules, when there is very strong evidence that she didn't try at all. In fact, the whole article reads like a resume. Or a character witness. They end the article with a push to blame Bush for the whole thing.
      But some former C.I.A. employees who know Ms. McCarthy remain unconvinced, arguing that the pressure from Mr. Goss and others in the Bush administration to plug leaks may have led the agency to focus on an employee on the verge of retirement, whose work at the White House during the Clinton administration had long raised suspicions within the current administration.
      So does that mean that leakers who are near retirement and worked for Clinton are immune from the legal requirements on disclosure of secrets? How is an investigation of McCarthy illegitimate if she did illegally disclose information? Sorry, that just doesn't make sense.

      I recommend reading both articles and the CQ piece. The perspective is a bit baffling, though the papers are obviously running blocker for their own interests rather than reporting the facts.

      Then there is our second favorite Massachusetts wind-bag spouting off on Sunday on the topic. CQ again has a related piece.
      ABC 'THIS WEEK' HOST GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: On another -- on another front, excuse me, CIA official Mary McCarthy lost her job this week for disclosing classified information according to the CIA probably about a WASHINGTON POST story which reveal revealed the existence of secret prisons in Europe. A lot of different views. Senator Pat Roberts praised action but some former CIA officers described Mary McCarthy as a sacrificial lamb acting in the finest American tradition by revealing human rights violations. What's your view?

      SEN. KERRY: Well, I read that. I don't know whether she did it or not so it's hard to have a view on it. Here's my fundamental view of this, that you have somebody being fired from the CIA for allegedly telling the truth, and you have no one fired from the white house for revealing a CIA agent in order to support a lie. That underscores what's really wrong in Washington, DC Here.

      STEPHANOPOULOS: That's one issue of hypocrisy but should a CIA officer be able to make decisions on his or her --

      KERRY: ... Of course not. Of course, not. A CIA agent has the obligation to uphold the law and clearly leaking is against the law, and nobody should leak. I don't like leaking. But if you're leaking to tell the truth, Americans are going to look at that, at least mitigate or think about what are the consequences that you, you know, put on that person. Obviously they're not going to keep their job, but there are other larger issues here. You know, classification in Washington is a tool that is used to hide the truth from the American people. Daniel Patrick Moynihan was eloquent and forceful in always talking about how we needed to, you know, end this endless declassification that takes place in this city, and it has become a tool to hide the truth from Americans.

      STEPHANOPOULOS: These --

      SEN. KERRY: So I'm glad she told the truth but she's going to obviously -- if she did it, if she did it, suffer the consequences of breaking the law.

      I love the attempt to make the statement on hypocrisy. That's just entertainment at it's best. Except that the facts show, over and over, that the release of information, not leak, related to Wilson's actions in Niger, were to disprove a lie, not support one. Not to mention that no one has yet proven that any illegal action was taken in revealing Plame. Kerry twists that one so out of shape that it's no wonder the public doesn't know up from down.

      Mitigation of disclosure of classified information because it was the truth? I don't get that either. One would assume that revelation on any classified information would be release of the truth, that still doesn't make it right in any way.

      And while we're on Kerry, his Huffington Post blog entry is hot-air at its finest. Not really on topic, but just read this bit:
      In recent weeks, a number of retired high-ranking military leaders have publicly called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. And from the ranks of this administration and its conservative surrogates, we've heard these calls dismissed as acts of disloyalty or as a threat to civilian control of the armed forces. We have even heard accusations that this dissent gives aid and comfort to the enemy. That line of attack is shameful, especially coming from those who have never worn the uniform.
      Is he trying to say that the General's public accusations aren't giving comfort to the enemy? I'd think this would be an obvious PR win in Vietnam style for the insurgents. How is an attack on the General's shameful? They can question and blame Rumsfeld for actions that many of them were actually part of, yet no one can question their tactics or motives? And then how is it that non-military personnel can't question their motives either? Sorry, a uniform does not an expert make. Nor does it make one above review.

      Saturday, April 22, 2006

      WaPo On the CIA Leaker

      I find this quite offensive.

      Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. said people who provide citizens the information they need to hold their government accountable should not "come to harm for that."

      "The reporting that Dana did was very important accountability reporting about how the CIA and the rest of the U.S. government have been conducting the war on terror," Downie said. "Whether or not the actions of the CIA or other agencies have interfered with anyone's civil liberties is important information for Americans to know and is an important part of our jobs."

      In an effort to stem leaks, the Bush administration launched several initiatives earlier this year targeting journalists and national security employees. They include FBI probes, extensive polygraphing inside the CIA and a warning from the Justice Department that reporters could be prosecuted under espionage laws.

      The effort has been widely seen among members of the media, and some legal experts, as the most extensive and overt campaign against leaks in a generation, and has worsened the already-tense relationship between mainstream news organizations and the White House.

      So, people who violate the law that they are fully aware of shouldn't be held accountable if the MSM sees it as good? Sorry, I really would prefer not to have the decision as to what is appropriate for release to the MSM. Funny how this editor thinks that holding the government accountable seems to allow letting others be unaccountable. So I have only one question, where do you draw the line? And what gives you the right to make that decision?

      I think that Will at Vodkapundit has it right, they should just convict her and throw away the key.

      HR 2631 - Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act

      I ran into this gem of a bill through a letter to the editor in the local liberal paper. I think I'll write my Representative to vote against this. This is being pushed by the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund. Here's the declaration of the act:
      To affirm the religious freedom of taxpayers who are conscientiously opposed to participation in war, to provide that the income, estate, or gift tax payments of such taxpayers be used for nonmilitary purposes, to create the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund to receive such tax payments to improve revenue collection, and for other purposes.
      Nice sentiment in a utopian world, but just bloody foolish in this one. Let's look at the premise in the bill regarding conscientious objectors:
      Conscientious objection to participation in military service based upon moral, ethical, or religious beliefs is recognized in Federal law, with provision for alternative service; but no such provision exists for taxpayers who are conscientious objectors who must labor for many weeks each year to pay taxes and to support military activities which violate their deeply held beliefs.
      Personally, I find conscientious objectors to be questionable at best. The premise isn't far off the concept of pacifism. It also provides an interesting excuse not to defend yourself or the rest of your country. Alternate service means you don't have to put your ass on the line to protect the freedoms and benefits that you so happily take for granted.

      But beyond the obvious, the formation of an alternative fund that doesn't go into supporting of the military is just astoundingly short sighted. First, why should individuals get to decide where their taxes are spent? Does this also allow for the individuals who don't want to pay for the military won't benefit from the protections? Not likely. I'd expect that they will still demand all the protections.

      What about the other special interest groups that will want their taxes placed in restricted fund pools? What about groups who don't want to fund welfare, social security, or medicare? Should they get a special funding pool? What about those people that don't support Planned Parenthood? How about people that don't want their taxes spent in California?

      Taxes aren't pleasant, but they fund the government and the society that it represents and organizes. If micro-minorities get a choice of where to spend or not to spend their taxes, then the country will stop functioning smoothly. This is why the country is a republic where the representatives of the majority get to decide where funding is spent.

      Overall, this is a bill that should be stomped out ASAP.

      Friday, April 21, 2006

      Here We Go Again: Another Investigation on Gas Prices

      Chucles Schumer is at it again, and if you think this isn't another political play, you need to crawl out from under that rock.
      U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is asking for an investigation into claims of possible price-fixing by oil companies.

      On Tuesday, the New York Democrat publicly suggested that companies are deliberately under-producing.

      Schumer says, “The bottom line is they are producing at 85 percent capacity when they should be producing over 90 percent. Are they scaling back production? Only by subpoenaing the companies and looking in their books will we get that answer."

      Does anyone really think this will find anything new? How many investigations have actually found wrong doing in the oil industry?

      Then there are those calling for a gas tax for a solution. Yeah, that's clever. Wonder where those taxes will end up?

      You don't like the prices of gas? Don't use it. Get a more fuel efficient vehicle. But by Blessed Brighid's Bright Blue Bloomers, stop whining about it!

      CIA Leaker Fired

      Hope that this moves to big jail time.

      The Central Intelligence Agency has dismissed a senior career official who disclosed classified information to the Washington Post for its Pulitzer Prize-winning stories about the agency's secret prison network for high-ranking terror suspects, the agency announced today.

      The identity of the leaker was not immediately disclosed, but several officials said they believed it was a veteran intelligence officer. The dismissal followed a long internal inquiry at the agency and was accompanied by a notification to the Justice Department.

      But instead of asking for an immediate criminal inquiry, the C.I.A. asked to retain jurisdiction over the ongoing inquiry into the matter. Even so, government officials said it was possible, even likely, that the investigation could lead to criminal charges against the leaker.

      It makes me nervous to see a delay in criminal prosecution. This makes you wonder the reasoning that the CIA is using.

      Finally: Iraq May Finally Form a Government

      About friggin' time.

      Jawad al-Maliki, deputy leader of a Shiite Muslim religious party, was confirmed as the sole nominee to become prime minister in Iraq's first permanent government since the toppling of Saddam Hussein.

      "Al-Maliki is just an individual who happens not to be Jaafari, and therefore he's acceptable to Kurds and Sunnis,'' said Peter Khalil, who was director of national security policy for the U.S.-led occupation administration known as the Coalition Provisional Authority.
      How I hope this runs quickly and smoothly.


      This is great stuff. The story is, protesters put their contact information in a press release. Michele Malkin publishes said press release. Lefty bloggers & fans flip out at her fascist tactics. In response, Democratic Underground fans decide to start looking up searching out private information and post it on the internet to prove how much better than Ms. Malkin they are (I guess that was the goal).
      Problem is, these simpleton's are getting the private information wrong.
      Also, read the comments & responses. You get the sense that the "right wing" bloggers aren't exactly nervous about a visit from DU followers? My only thought is how vulnerable I'd be should a bunch of neo-hippies show up at my house. Seriously. It's scary. I'd be laughing so hard I might not be able to defend myself.

      UPDATE: From Nylarthotep

      I caught this from a link at SayUncle. He points to the blog LeanLeft's entry on topic. The topic relates to the interesting choice of invective that the left used at Malkin's site. You can read it yourself, since I see no need to quote the really vile but obviously far more intelligent and realistic liberals and their ability to be extremely sexist and racist.

      I will quote Balloon Juice on the topic though, since I thought it quite reasonable.
      The run-down:

      Students protest military recruiters, include their personal information in a press release.

      Right wing pundit links the press release.

      Some knuckle-draggers make threatening comments to the protestors, sending the left-wing of the blogosphere into a tizzy. The protestors achieve exalted victim status!

      The left-wing knuckle draggers man their keyboards, and begin the threats against the pundit. Pundit achieves exalted victim status!

      Just another week in the circle of stupid that online punditry has become. If you will excuse me, I am going to go read more so I, too, can get outraged about something.

      Pretty clearly right on just how worthless so much of the reactions in the blogsphere really are.

      Salon: Useful Suggestions for Iran

      Joe Conason has outlined everything we can't do in Iran. We can't bomb the nuclear sites, not because it won't work, but because we'd look bad. We can't invade because it would be really, really hard. In fact, Conason predicts a withdrawal under fire.
      I've been trying to find any indications that Conason has a record of accurate military predictions. I can't find any except that he's predicted, several times, that Afghanistan is crumbling into ruin. He has said when it will crumble into ruin since it sure hasn't yet.
      Anyway, he does offer an alternative. We can talk to them. Which has worked so well in the last few years.

      About Freakin' Time

      The 'crack-down' on employers who knowingly hire illegals started yesterday. I just want to know what took so long.
      The apprehension on Wednesday of more than 1,100 illegal immigrants employed by a pallet supply company based in Houston, as well as the arrest of seven of its managers, represented the start of a more aggressive federal crackdown on employers, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday.
      Why hadn't this started earlier?
      An examination of the company's payroll of 5,800 employees found that just over half of them had Social Security numbers that were either invalid, belonged to a dead person or did not match names on file, the department said.

      The investigation started in February 2005, when agents received a tip that IFCO Systems workers in Guilderland, N.Y., were seen ripping up federal tax-related employment verification forms, and then an assistant manager present explained that they were illegal immigrants who did not intend to file tax returns.

      No senior executives at the company were arrested, but officials filed criminal charges against seven current or former lower-level managers and a foreman. The supervisors, from New York, Massachusetts, Ohio and Texas, were accused of conspiring to transport, harbor and induce illegal immigrants to come to the United States, charges that carry maximum sentences of up to 10 years in jail.

      I've heard that part of the reason for the problem with enforcement was related to access to IRS records which would show fraudulent workers. I wonder how true that is and what has changed to allow access now.

      I'm also wondering why only low level managers are being prosecuted. You'd think by how the Democrats yelp about the President's failures on policy when a soldier does something out of whack that the company CEO should have been arrested. But then, take a look for Democratic responses to this in the MSM. I only found one related to Reid and none for Obama who on a Fox News report attributed only 10 arrests to the actions. (A google news search returned a bunch of hits on topic but only one on Reid's comments and no hits on Obama at the time of this post.)
      Reaction to the raids reflected the well-drawn lines in the debate. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement, "A photo-op crackdown by [the Bush administration's Homeland Security Department] to prove a political point won't erase its failed record."
      Sorry Harry, this is a good thing irrespective of when it happened. I'm certain though that you'll be seeing this called the oppression of immigrants shortly.

      It's a start, now let's hope they actually keep up the enforcement.

      Thursday, April 20, 2006

      Scary. Iran. Scary.

      This piece is long and scares the bejeezus out of me, because I believe he's most likely right.

      Anyone who spends half an hour looking at Iranian foreign policy over the last 27 years sees five things:
      1. contempt for the most basic international conventions;
      2. long-reach extraterritoriality;
      3. effective promotion of radical Pan-Islamism;
      4. a willingness to go the extra mile for Jew-killing (unlike, say, Osama);
      5. an all-but-total synchronization between rhetoric and action.


      The cost of de-nuking Iran will be high now but significantly higher with every year it's postponed. The lesson of the Danish cartoons is the clearest reminder that what is at stake here is the credibility of our civilization. Whether or not we end the nuclearization of the Islamic Republic will be an act that defines our time.

      We know some sort of strike coming... the questions seem to be who will actually do it, and which countries will be arranged on which side?

      Screaming Angry Liberal Left

      I wish I had profound statements to make about this. I don't. I'm just amazed and hopefully someone else has something deep, serious, and important to say about this level of insanity.
      BTW, this is said as someone who is registered as an Independent and has voted for people in the Republican and Democratic parties (as well as one time for a Green and several times for Libertarians and one time, when I was in a really foul mood about the world, for an out & out Communist) in recent elections.
      But at least these are well-balanced people who are reality based and open, free thinkers:

      The cigarettes are because of a personality that she describes as compulsive.

      The nonalcoholic beer is because for several years she drank to excess.

      The note that says "Why am I/you here?" is because she is in constant search of an answer.

      Keep looking lady.

      Russian "Neutrality"

      Maybe I'm just missing what 'neutral' means.
      Russia’s military will not intervene on one side or the other, should the current Iran crisis lead to an armed conflict, the chief of the Russian general staff said, AFP reported Thursday.

      "You are asking which side Russia will take. Of course Russia will not, at least I as head of the general staff will not, suggest the use of force on one side or the other. Just as with Afghanistan," General Yury Baluevsky told reporters, referring to the 2001 U.S.-led intervention to oust the Taliban.

      The general, who heads the Russian armed forces, stressed that he did not think a military scenario was likely in relation to Iran and said that diplomacy was "“the proper course."

      "In my view a military solution to the Iranian problem would be a political and military mistake,"” Baluevsky said.

      He also confirmed that Russia planned to go ahead with fulfilling an order by Iran for a consignment of Tor-M1 mobile air defense systems, despite U.S. concerns about the deal.
      How is it that they contend they are neutral while supplying Iran with a missile defense system, especially with the level of saber rattling that is going on at the moment?

      The Strategy Page has this bit of commentary.
      China and Russia are not eager for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. But both nations are making a lot of money selling stuff to Iran. With oil selling for $70 dollars a barrel, Iran has lots of money, and wants lots of military and industrial equipment that Russia and China can provide. Iran is well aware of this relationship, and is pressuring China and Russia to continue stopping the UN from imposing sanctions. If the UN did impose sanctions, Russia and China could expect to lose billions of dollars of sales each year. Such a problem. China and Russia apparently realize that it could be five years or more before Iran actually have working nukes. In that time, a more rational government could show up in Iran. It's a long shot, but a lot better than trying to strong arm the religious fanatics in Iran to give up their nuclear weapons research.
      The conjecture on a more stable government coming to Iran is worrisome. It may truly happen, but then again if you follow the 50/50/90 rule the more likely scenario is that a more radical government will be in place when they get the bomb.

      With the level of yelping over the India nuclear treaty and its relevance to Iran getting a nuke, I have a sick feeling that this all just pushes the US further toward taking preemptive military action. The reason that it's a sickening feeling is that I'm not certain that the result will be any less threatening than Iran having a nuke.

      Say the US acts and destroys a major portion of the Iranian's present research and development structure for nuclear weapons, what would be the result? First would be the obvious in that they would be pushed back a certain amount of time, but would have even stronger resolve to obtain the weapon. Say they are pushed off by a decade, they will still get the weapon. Until then there will be a substantial increase in the threat of terrorist acts against the US and US interests. No matter how good your shield, at some point an attack will be successful. Also, the mentality of the Iranian regime will harden and the ability to change that hard-core fundamentalist group will likely disappear.

      If instead, Iran is allowed to get the bomb, what are the consequences? The first weapons that they have will be large and difficult to deploy, though making them deployable on rockets will likely be the first strategy. Still sets them in the low risk of deployment scenario. A "suit-case" bomb is very improbable in that such technology is substantially more expensive and difficult to create. So timing is still likely a decade away. Though that weapon could be much more of a threat in the end. Will the regime in Iran at that time be more stable? I'm fairly skeptical.

      I'm just not sure of what is the better resolution. I'm thinking that in either case they will get the bomb. In one case they will be more likely to try to use it against the west, though I'm uncertain if the regime changes will make it any better in either case. Especially when a more radical form of Islam is involved in controlling the country.

      It's odd that I'm leaning on the "not-doing-anything" scenario. I'm usually on the "beat-it-with-a-really-big-stick-and-then-set-it-on-fire" tactic. I wish I had a clearer understanding of the present leadership mentality in the ruling council. The president over there is still pretty much just a mouth piece. Also odd is that I think France had it right to just say, "you nuke us, we're going to burn you into the ground." Not sure it will help, but it makes it completely clear where we stand, though I'm pretty certain that we don't actually have to say the words for that to be understood.

      I suppose I'll change my mind as time goes on, since I'm not really strong on either side of the argument at this time.

      Wednesday, April 19, 2006

      Generals and Civilian Control Argument

      Outside the Beltway has a piece discussing Rumsfeld and the Generals on the point of whether the Generals should be criticizing. (Personally, I'm getting tired of the topic, since it is quite clear that the various sides of the argument don't care to actually debate. This piece is much more reasonable than most.)
      Kevin Drum, reflecting on the recent spate of retired generals speaking out both both for and against Donald Rumsfeld's being replaced as SECDEF, remarks, "Regardless of whether or not we agree with the generals‚’ criticism, I think it'’s wise to be uneasy about something that has a bit of a sense of a palace revolt against the current civilian leadership of the military."

      Steven Taylor thinks this concern odd, arguing that that “employing the ‘civilian control of the military' card in this context is a non sequitur, because the generals in question are retired, and therefore are civilians and are exercising their rights as such to critique the sitting government." In follow-up posts, he notes that guys like Wesley Clark have spoken out without similar criticisms and, citing an Explainer piece noting that there are "about 4700 retired generals," the pronouncements of a few of them will hardly undermine civilian control.

      While I am sympathetic to the 'civilian control' argument and would like to see retired generals (and, indeed, public officials period) be silent, I ultimately agree with Taylor on this one. As I've noted before, we've had much more aggregious cases at even more inauspicious times without undermining the Republic.

      Check out the comments section as well.

      It does come down to the former Generals are civilians now and can freely speak their piece. One needs to investigate to some measure their motives though. The majority of them have bellowed that they are only doing it for the troops in the field, but I find that disingenuous. Between the politics, former grudges to repay, and the book deals, I find that their motives aren't so pure. It doesn't make their comments irrelevant, but it does make one pause in how much value one should place on them.

      I've yet to find a decent analysis of each General and their motives. Their complaints in some cases are clear, but for the majority I can't find anything but vague critiques. Not enough soldiers, bungled the insurgency, etc. They may all have a valid point, but the specifics are lacking, and in fact, many of these points are arguable. Especially the troop size argument that keeps being batted around.

      You can also view another point of view at the so-called Moderate Voice.

      Hopefully this whole topic will go away soon.

      Tuesday, April 18, 2006

      Chernobyl: GreenPeace's Perspective

      So GreenPeace is now reporting on the dire consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. And bad-mouthing the IAEA report. I'd be more convinced if the entity reporting wasn't known for unreasonable analysis and tin-foil hats.
      A new Greenpeace report has revealed that the full consequences of the Chernobyl disaster could top a quarter of a million cancers cases and nearly 100,000 fatal cancers. Our report involved 52 respected scientists and includes information never before published in English. It challenges the International Atomic Energy Agency Chernobyl Forum report, which predicted 4,000 additional deaths attributable to the accident as a gross simplification of the real breadth of human suffering.

      The new data, based on Belarus national cancer statistics, predicts approximately 270,000 cancers and 93,000 fatal cancer cases caused by Chernobyl. The report also concludes that on the basis of demographic data, during the last 15 years, 60,000 people have additionally died in Russia because of the Chernobyl accident, and estimates of the total death toll for the Ukraine and Belarus could reach another 140,000.
      I'll take a look, but the numbers they are reporting make me pause. If the IAEA underestimated the numbers, then GreenPeace has likely overwhelmingly overestimated.

      Monday, April 17, 2006

      Mommy Addendum

      I've read both these essays before, but I forgot how they applied. Rereading them, I was reminded of the freaked out Mommy of the post below when she found that a large number of people from her little town were ex-military. Oooh, scary sheep-dogs.
      Anyway, if you bother to read the essay over on Salon, be sure and read the letters section too. There were some great responses.

      Salon: Rich Mommy Freaks When Confronted with Middle America

      Anyone who reads this blog regularly (all four of you), knows that I read and occasionally bring back some of their insanity to share. Well, this one is HUGE. The lead in blurb where a mom starts crying because her son learned the Pledge of allegiance, and no, they weren't tears of joy, pretty much guaranteed that I would read it.

      Our family first arrived in Narrowsburg in 2000, as city people hunting for a cheap house. For barely $50,000 we were able to buy the "weekend house" we thought would complete our metropolitan existence. But soon after we closed on the home, we moved to Paris, spurred by the serendipitous arrival of a book contract. When our European idyll ended after two years, and with tenants still subletting our city apartment, we moved into the Narrowsburg house. After growing accustomed to the French social system -- with its cheap medicine, generous welfare, short workweek and plentiful child care -- life back in depressed upstate New York felt especially harsh. We'd never planned to get involved in the life of the town, nor had it ever occurred to us that we might send our son to the Narrowsburg School. But suddenly we were upstate locals, with a real stake in the community.

      TRANSLATION: We're friggin' rich, can live where we want, but circumstances forced us to rub shoulders with real people in, of all places, a small town in the United States. Life is just awful.
      I'll bet if life in Upstate NY is harsh when compared to her life in Paris, that she was not living in the Paris burbs that so recently were going up in flames on a nightly basis.
      Still, for the first few months, we felt uneasy. Eighty of Narrowsburg's 319 adults are military veterans and at least 10 recent school graduates are serving in Iraq or on other bases overseas right now.

      TRANSLATION: Oh crap. Evidence that there are other people in the world that might just have a point of view that disagrees with ours.
      The school's defining philosophy was traditional and conservative, starting with a sit-down-in-your-seat brand of discipline, leavened with a rafter-shaking reverence for country and flag. Every day the students gathered in the gym for the "Morning Program," open to parents, which began with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a patriotic song, and then discussion of a "word of the week." During the first few weeks, the words of the week seemed suspiciously tied to a certain political persuasion: "Military," "tour," "nation" and "alliance" were among them.

      TRANSLATION: And they're patriotic... and they're Christian... we're in Hell.
      Crap lady, do you really think that all of America looks just like the Upper West Side? Honestly? I'll bet you think of yourself as a member of the "fact based community" too.
      Shortly afterward, another parent casually told me that she wanted to bring her daughter's religious cartoon videos in to share with the class, but couldn't because "some people" might object. When we later learned that the cheery kindergarten teacher belonged to one of the most conservative evangelical churches in the community, we were careful not to challenge anyone or to express any opinion about politics or religion, out of fear our son would be singled out. Instead, to counteract any God-and-country indoctrination he received in school, we began our own informal in-home instruction about Bush, Iraq and Washington over the evening news.

      I have to admit, I wouldn't be crazy about a fundamentalist teaching my kids, but based on all of this author's carping so far, the "most conservative evangelical" church in the area was probably Episcopalian or Presbyterian (for those who don't know, they're about as benign as it's possible to be and still call 'em Christian). But I'm sure her "instruction" about Bush was based on facts... No really.
      That November, at the school's annual Veterans Day program, the children performed the trucker anthem "God Bless the USA" (one of the memorable lines is "Ain't no doubt I love this la-aand, God bless the USA-ay!"), as their parents sang along. About a dozen local veterans -- ancient men who had served in World War II, and men on the cusp of old age who had served in Korea and Vietnam -- settled into folding chairs arranged beneath the flag. When the students were finished singing, the principal asked the veterans to stand and identify themselves. Watching from the audience, I wondered if anyone would speak of the disaster unfolding in Iraq (which was never a word of the week).

      No one did. The men rose and stated name, rank and theater. Finally, a burly, gray-bearded Vietnam veteran rose and said what no one else dared. After identifying himself, he choked out, "Kids, I just hope to God none of you ever have to experience what we went through." Then he sat down, leaving a small pocket of shocked silence. No one applauded his effort at honesty. On the contrary, the hot gym air thickened with a tension that implicitly ostracized the man, and by extension -- because we agreed with him -- me and my husband.

      Oh, and you take the statement that he hopes the kids never have to go through what he did as anti-war? Wake up lady. Everyone hopes their kids never have to go through bad stuff. Some of us are capable of acknowledging that, hope though we may, bad stuff will come. Some of us are even capable of preparing for those bad things by doing crazy stuff like choosing to join the military which can, does, and will, defend this country that, despite your view of it, really is one of, if not the, best places on the planet right now.
      In simple language, I told my son that our president had started a war with a country called Iraq. I said that we were bombing cities and destroying buildings. And I explained that families just like ours now had no money or food because their parents didn't have offices to go to anymore or bosses to pay them. "America did this?" my son asked, incredulous. "Yes, America," I answered. He paused, a long silent pause, then burst out: "But Mommy, I love America! I want to hug America!"

      You go kid. By the way lady, we're not raining bombs from the sky in Iraq. For the most part the fighting is between the elected, representative Iraqi government and hard core Jihadists who would kill you and your son. Which side are you on? By your statements, I'm pretty sure it's the side of the Jihadists. Your child, thankfully, isn't.
      Now it has been almost a year since my son scampered down the steps of Narrowsburg Central Rural School for the last time. We've since returned to the city, driven back to urban life more by adult boredom than our children's lack of educational opportunities. Our son is enrolled in a well-rated K-5 public school on Manhattan's Upper West Side; not surprisingly, the Pledge of Allegiance is no longer part of his morning routine. Come to think of it, and I could be wrong, I've never seen a flag on the premises.

      And she's happy about it... No wonder the country is going to hell in a hand-basket. Lady, teaching your kid to love this country doesn't mean teaching him to be blindly obediant to anyone that happens to wrap themselves in a flag. It means that you can be proud of the things this country stands for despite the fact that it isn't perfect. Let's face it, no country on the planet is perfect. France is a pretty messed up place to be unless you're a native or a rich American.
      My husband and I realized, though, that Narrowsburg did more than mold our boy into a patriot. He can, it turns out -- despite the warnings of other city parents -- read at a level twice that of his new peers. Since we returned to the city, he has learned how to ride a bike, long for an Xbox, practiced a few new swear words and, somehow, learned the meaning of "sexy." He has pretty much stopped favoring red, white and blue.

      He'd have learned all that stuff in Narrowsburg, but he'd probably still "favor" red, white & blue.
      This story made me very sad, but it does help explain why I'm having such a hard time understanding people like this lady. It really does seem to be breaking down to a divide between rich & poor, between those who can afford one house and those who can afford something on the Upper West Side (which, I jokingly referred to earlier, but which is where she actually lives) and a "weekend" house, and occasional sojourns in Paris.

      Rumsfeld and the Generals News

      The weekend produced a bunch of commentary on topic.

      The Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal has a decent discussion, especially with this comment:

      If their complaint is that Mr. Rumsfeld has since fought the insurgents with too few troops, well, what about current Centcom Commander John Abizaid? He is by far the most forceful advocate of the "small footprint" strategy--the idea that fewer U.S. troops mean less Iraqi resentment of occupation.

      Our point here isn't to join the generals, real or armchair, in pointing fingers of blame for what has gone wrong in Iraq. Mistakes are made in every war; there's a reason the word "snafu" began as a military acronym whose meaning we can't reprint in a family newspaper. But if we're going to start assigning blame, then the generals themselves are going to have to assume much of it.

      They have other pointed opinions that really must be considered on the topic.

      Then there is the Chicago Sun-Times that comes out and just asks:
      But the question really isn't whether Rumsfeld should resign. He has already resigned several times and had President Bush tear up his letters of resignation. He clearly is taking responsibility for his actions on a continuing basis.

      But now that a galaxy of flag officers are raining down on Rumsfeld demanding his resignation, no one seems to have bothered to ask which, if any, of these generals had ever submitted his own resignation in protest against the conduct of the Iraq war, or the bumpy transition we are locked in now. The demands for Rumsfeld's resignation began with Gen. Anthony Zinni.

      Personally I think this is a good question to ask, but not of the highest value in the discussion. It does give you perspective though. If Rumsfeld was so impossible and unreasonable, why put up with it?
      Newsweek has an article on the issue. They point to Shinseki as a case of a general not taking part in the "revolt."
      Gen. Eric Shinseki, former chief of staff of the Army, says he is "at peace." But reached last week, he didn't sound all that peaceful. In the winter of 2003, alone among the top brass, Shinseki had warned Congress that occupying Iraq would require "several hundred thousand troops." Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, had rewarded Shinseki for his honesty by publicly castigating and shunning him.
      Shinseki, who has retired to Hawaii, was clearly uncomfortable with the role of martyr. He had no desire to join the chorus of retired generals calling for Rumsfeld's resignation. He was circumspect about criticizing Rumsfeld at all, but he seemed to be struggling to disguise his feelings. He pointedly said that the "person who should decide on the number of troops [to invade Iraq] is the combatant commander"—Gen. Tommy Franks, and not Rumsfeld.
      I find it interesting how the writer goes to such details on Shinseki's emotions and discomfort. It strikes me that they are trying to build more into Shinseki's responses than we the reader can hear for ourselves. But then, I don't see Newsweek as being a balanced source of news.

      Read the rest for yourself. The Opinion Journal piece gives you the most to think about.