Tuesday, December 20, 2005
This may be the best one yet. Sure it's outlandish, but as Ledeen writes at the end, "...it does somehow explain everything."
So, don't listen to the Democrat's newest "useful idiot", John Murtha, or - crikey, I can't even think of adjectives that quite convey what a moronic demagogue Howard Dean is (oh, wait, I think I just did) - Howard Dean about how the things are in Iraq. Let the Iraqis themselves tell you.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Quite simply it's devastating. Reading it, I am completely baffled as to why anyone would want to extend such magnanimity and mercy to our enemies. McCarthy goes one better and shows how such a ban would be unconstitutional and dangerous.
John McCain, of all people, who suffered genuine torture at the hands of his Vietnamese captors during his imprisonment at the Hanoi Hilton (reportedly he can't even comb his own hair since he can't raise his arms above his shoulders), knows what real torture is.
McCain, of all people, should know that the abuses which took place at Abu Ghraib hardly constitute torture. In fact, I would hazard a guess that given the choice between enduring the torture they did and enduring the "torture" of the sort seen at Abu Ghraib, the "guests" at the Hanoi Hilton would have jumped at the latter.
What's even worse is that McCarthy shows how the adoption of McCain's amendment (which was tacked on to a defense appropriations bill so that those opposing the amendment could be accused of not "supporting the troops") would lead to the extension of Miranda protections to terrorists. With the extension of Miranda rights to enemy combatants would come court-appointed attorneys, paid for by the American taxpayers. It would also mean the right against self-incrimination.
All this means that non-American enemy combatants, captured on the battlefield, outside the United States, would have the same rights as you or I if we were accused of a crime.
Indeed, McCarthy shows how this has already happened. In the case of one of the Nairobi embassy bombers, a judge ruled that the perpetrator's confession should be supressed on grounds that he wasn't Mirandized.
Wait, it gets worse. The terrorist in question wasn't even in the United States at the time. He was in Kenya. Nor was he in U.S. custody; he was in Kenyan custody. The Kenyans (in this instance, better allies than the French) had agreed to allow FBI investigators to interrogate him. The judge ruled that this was enough to guarantee him Miranda protections.
Those of you under the erroneous impression that perhaps the Founding Fathers intended for such protections to apply to our enemies, McCarthy demostrates how this is not the case. McCarthy writes that "the very purpose of forming government was to secure...[our] rights from such enemies. It is impossible to separate the substance of the Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment protections from the fact that those protections are designed to benefit only people who have joined the fabric of our society."
These are the likely results of the passing of the McCain amendment. I expect this kind of crap from Barbara Boxer or Diane Pelosi, but not McCain. (Although ever since the 2000 primary he has seemed to delight in his role as a gadfly.)
I can't believe that Bush can't even bring himself to veto this affront to our security. I despair that Bush will never learn this basic lesson: those on the Left don't hate him because they don't support his policies; they don't support his policies because they hate him.
How about with all the Arab high dudgeon over the Crusades? Osama Bin Laden has cited the Crusades as one of the reasons for his own jihad (really just an Arabic word for - wait for it - a crusade!)
Let's leave aside for a moment perhaps the most salient fact - namely that the Crusades happened ALMOST A THOUSAND YEARS AGO and were not launched by any entity even remotely resembling any of today's nation-states.
Instead, let's concentrate on the hypocrisy inherent in Arab protestations over the injustices suffered at the hands of the Crusaders. I say inherent because I want you to think about the answer to a simple question:
How do you think Islam spread from its beginnings on the Arabian peninsula?
That's right - it was a crusade. Mohammed didn't charge his followers with going out and spreading his word and convincing other peoples to follow those teachings. Nope, ole Mo' told his followers to put other peoples to the sword to convince them. Those who "chose" not to convert in this method faced two choices: death or permanent second-class status (dhimmitude).
Islam has never been spread by proselytization. It has always relied on force and coercion for its spread. This seems a strange way to spread the "word of God". I will grant you that Christianity has had its share of forced converts, but that was a perversion of Christ's true intent. Christ charged his disciples with spreading his teachings and setting an example. In fact, most religions rely on some form of proselytization. Mormonism is perhaps the most recent example of this phenomenon.
The Arab crusade was only halted by Charlemagne's grandfather, Charles Martel (Charles the Hammer - I love that name), at the Battle of Tours (also known as the Battle of Poitiers, but not to be confused with the 1356 battle of the same name, fought between the English and the French during the Hundred Years War) in 732 A.D. It was there near the French town of Tours that Martel defeated an army of Muslims and forever halted their northward advance up from the Iberian Peninsula. After that, the Moors were contained in Spain until they were driven out by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1492.
In a sense, the European Crusades could be seen as a reaction to the Arabs' earlier one as well as a, well, crusade to retake the Holy Lands (i.e., Jerusalem) from the Saracens (Arabs).
Think about that the next time you hear someone getting their panties in a bunch about the Crusades.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
However, I find this explanation less than satisfactory in the case of present-day Western Europe. It does nothing to explain why the Europeans seem determined to act the obstructor in our efforts to fight Islamist terrorists.
This really puzzles me since the Europeans have nearly as much to fear as we Americans do. While we may be "public enemy number one", they have much larger numbers of Muslim immigrants in their midst which makes them more vulnerable. You would think that after the terror attacks in Spain and England, wilding Muslim youths in France, and foiled terror plots in Denmark and Germany, that the Europeans would be more supportive of the War on Islam.
You would think that. But you would be wrong. Witness the latest brouhaha over the CIA's operation of secret prisons in Eastern Europe. Leave aside for a moment the fact that, given the European's vulnerability to terrorism, they should be with us. But aren't those countries which helped us to operate this network of prisons sovereign? Don't they have the right to decide for themselves whether or not to assist us in this endeavor?
I am convinced it is not a coincidence that those countries with the most recent experience under authoritarian governments are our most faithful allies in this effort.
The Europeans, on the other hand, spent nearly 50 years enjoying the aegis of American protection from the Soviet threat. I think this is the prime cause that has bred the resentment to the United States; the fact that they were unable to stand up to the gravest threat of the latter half of the 20th century.
Israel is a "cancer" in the Middle East and its peace deal with Egypt should be submitted to a referendum, the leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood (MB) said in an interview published in Ahram weekly Dec. 15. Mohammed Mehdi Akef said the MB would not recognize Israel, and that he expected its demise soon. Akef stopped short of saying that the peace deal should be scrapped, but he did suggest it should be voted on.
I am most intrigued by Mr. Akef's assertion that he expected Israel's "demise soon". I find it intriguing since the Israelis have whipped the Arabs in every stand up fight they've had with their neighbors.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
A new bill has been introduced in the House which all American should support. Rep. James Sensenbrenner has proposed the Border and Immigration Enforcement Act of 2005 (H.R. 4437). This proposed law is a long overdue change to our nation's immigrations law. Among its provisions the children of illegal immigrants and resident aliens born in the United States are no longer entitled to American citizenship.
I searched Google and couldn't find one example of a country with a similar policy. This policy used to have a purpose in the early years of the United States' founding, when we were encouraging unfettered immigration. But now that expansion of our country is settled and the nations of the world have recognized the value of regulating the process of immigration and citizenship, this provision is an outdated loophole that is being exploited by illegal immigrants and those who wish to abuse the privileges of citizenship.
Predictably, immigration rights groups, civil rights groups and unions are opposing the bill. They have taken to using the same hyperbolic language to urge opposition to it, calling the bill an "unprecendented attack" on the "rights of undocumented immigrants" (if you know anythin about the history of our country, you'll know it's not). The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, an offshoot of the AFL-CIO, says that "[i]t offers only harsh measures meant to punish immigrants". (Note how they omit the fact that the bill targets illegal aliens not legal residents.) Civilrights.org says that the bill "takes a harsh and unfair approach to reforming our nation's immigration policies".
I am continually mystified by people who don't seem to value their American citizenship and who wish to offer it to any illegal alien who manages to break our laws and sneak into the United States. After all, no-one would suggest that if I broke into your house, I would have any right to take up residence. Yet, that is the logic that is at work under the current policy.
I urge everyone to go to the www.house.gov and www.senate.gov web sites and write your congressional representatives and urge them to support this bill.
Apparently Hawaii is preparing to enforce a 12-year-old law that requires owners to pay all unpaid parking tickets before registering a car. In Hawaii, parking tickets are attached to a car, not a driver. Now, on the one hand, it's easy to see the logic in such a law. The state has a vested interest in trying to punish scofflaws.
That being said, it's absolutely ludicrous, and probably unconstitutional, to punish one person for the crimes of another. Let's take an extreme example. Suppose I legally buy a gun and later it's discovered that the previous owner had committed a murder with it. Would it be permissible for the state to punish me for that crime? Of course it's not. Most people would scoff at the idea. Yet, the rationale behind such an action is that same logic at work in the Hawaii case.
I can only hope that some outraged Hawaiian will challenge this ludicrous law. Of course, I don't have much faith in the Hawaiian courts. Hawaii is the same state that is trying to make native Hawaiians a protected group with special status and privileges under the law.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
"On Tuesday, in Southern California's Orange County, Minutemen co-founder Jim Gilchrist lost his bid in a special congressional election. Gilchrist had widespread media attention for his hard-charging call to close the border. He had the backing of the Tombstone-based Minuteman group, which has created chapters and copycat groups across the country. And he had the support of national conservative commentators who dominate radio and cable television.
"Yet Gilchrist, a retired accountant from Orange County who made illegal immigration his only campaign issue, could not seal the deal in one of California's most conservative counties and the birthplace of the close-the-border movement. Gilchrist...placed third behind a Democrat, who had 28 percent, and the winner, a Republican state legislator who received nearly 45 percent of the votes. Gilchrist's supporters hailed his showing as a moral victory of sorts, but he didn't come close, despite all the fanfare over the Minutemen's supposed popular appeal."
This is what they call a logical fallacy. Portillo's reasoning goes like this: Gilchrist lost and his main issue was illegal immigration ergo Californians don't have any problem with illegal immigration.
They call it a fallacy for a reason: it's wrong. If you followed this race at all, you would know that Gilchrist didn't perform well in the debate, didn't heed his advisors in trying to get out the vote, and didn't heed his advisors in reaching out to absentee voters. Any of these reasons, and indeed all three of them taken together, offer a more likely reason as to why Gilchrist finished third in this race.
Try to guess which side of the illegal immigration issue Mr. Portillo falls on.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
This movie has a fair amount of starpower behind it. It's directed by Ang Lee, written by Larry McMurtry and stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger and Randy Quaid. Critics are already falling all over themselves to praise it. It is the top Golden Globe nominee with seven nods. It was the big winner at the New York Film Critics Circle awards, nabbing awards for best picture, best director (Lee) and best actor (Ledger). It will certainly contend for many of the major Oscars.
I was struck by how delusional some of the breathless comments were from some critics about "Mountain". This one really jumped out at me:
"A lot of people among critics are responding to it because it is so daring," said Gene Seymour, chairman of the New York Film Critics Circle.
Daring? A sympathetic treatment of gays by Hollywood is daring? Uh, in a word, no. "The Passion of the Christ", a production about the last hours of Christ's life in Aramaic and Latin, THAT was daring.
Now, compare the box office of the two.
Critics are a bunch of iconoclasts whose main function is to extol movies that most people either haven't seen, hate or can't relate to, in order to make themselves seem smarter and more sophisticated than Joe Six-Pack. Probably to compensate for the fact that they have no real creative talent of their own. Deep down they realize what a meager gift it is to be able to eloquently piss in someone else's corn flakes. (And yes I realize the inherent irony in making such a statement on a blog.)
This situation reminds me of 1999's "Boys Don't Cry" another critical darling that no-one saw. According to Box Office Mojo, "Boys Don't Cry" grossed $11 million dollars at the box office. Let's assume an average ticket price of $5. I know that is likely a fairly conservative estimate but I'm trying to factor in the variance in ticket prices (even though probably most of the people that saw "Boys" did so in major media markets like New York and Los Angeles) and matinee prices. At a ticket price of $5, that means just a little over 2 million people saw the movie. That's not very many in a country of almost 300 million people.
Let's be honest here. "Boys Don't Cry" is a film about a transsexual. Do you know a transsexual? Does anybody you know know a transsexual? Most Americans simply can't relate very well to the issues in "Boys Don't Cry". And yet it was a critical darling. I think one can detect a similar parochialism in last year's "Sideways". Most of Americans don't know "Merlot" from moonshine; most of us aren't frustrated novelists. And yet this movie was nominated for "Best Picture"! I think this will be the case with "Brokeback Mountain". Do you know [m]any cowboys? If you do know any cowboys, are any of them gay?
France sent a resolution to the U.N. Security Council lateDec. 13 that would expand the scope of the investigation into the deathof former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri to include terroristattacks in Lebanon since October 2004. The resolution, co-sponsored bythe United States and Britain, was requested by the Lebanese government,which is investigating a string of car bombings.
This is all well and good, but I just have one question: what are they going to do when they find out that some Syrian or Iranian-backed terrorist group is responsible? Pass another resolution? Goodness me, no! That would be too judgemental. Perhaps they'll threaten to pass another resolution. Or maybe they'll pass a resolution threatening to pass another resolution.
I got in an argument with an acquantaince of mine who is Dutch. Natch, he was against the war. I asked him, why, when every government of every power agreed that Saddam Hussein was a threat and a murdering tyrant? How many U.N. Security Council resolutions did he have to violate? You Europeans are the ones insisting that we get U.N. approval, I argued, so we sent Colin Powell and called your bluff.
His retort to most of my arguments was to ask why the U.S. couldn't have waited six months to invade. My reply to this was, how many people die at the hands of the Hussein regime in six months? He kept repeating, "Six months! Six months!" like this was some kind of argument instead of the nonsensical mantra he was turning it into.
This is why I think the U.N. should be scrapped: the dither while people die.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
In the last several years, Williams had become something of a cause celebre among Hollywood's elite. Luminaries such as Snoop Doggy Dogg, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Joan Baez and Bianca Jagger (do the last two really count as celebrities?) had embarked on a campaign to try and win clemency for Williams. They had even gone so far as to nominate Williams for Nobel Peace Prizes over the last several years. Now, I'll admit that with recent prizes having gone to Jimmy Carter and Mohamed El-Baradei, the Nobel Peace Prize has lost some of its lustre. Luckily, however, the Nobel committee retained enough good sense to not award a prize to this monster.
The reason the illuminati cited for wanting Williams' sentence commuted was that he had been reformed. They cite as proof the work Williams had done and the books he had written trying to educate California's and America's youth on the dangers of gang membership.
Such arguments are laughably easy to refute.
First, for having murdered four people in cold blood and then having boasted of the murders and joked about the pain and cruelty he had inflicted, one could argue that trying to make a lesson of his own sorry example to succeeding generations was the very least Williams could do. But it hardly diminishes the monstrosity of his crimes, nor does it merit a reprieve.
Second, a cynical sort might argue that "Tookie's" conversion was calculated to save his own hide. How lucky we are that we have the Susan Sarandon's and Bianca Jagger's of the world to remind of us of the potential for redemption in us all!
Stanley "Tookie" Williams, 1954-2005. Good riddance.
I can understand why some people would want to peddle a story like this. It gets them a microphone and a camera in their face; it gets their picture in the paper. The attempt is to portray one's own group as victims of a nefarious conspiracy. The effect is to cloud any honest investigation of what actually went wrong.
What I can't understand is why a supposedly reputable news organization like MSNBC would want to give a pulpit to such fringe groups as are peddling these fantasies. Likewise I can't understand why the United States Congress would want to humor such dangerous fantasies.
They do a grave disservice to many of those most harmed by Hurricane Katrina. It absolves those involved from any reflection on their own role during the disaster. It hurts precisely those victimized the most.
Take Spike Lee (please). “I don't find it too far-fetched,” Lee said in a recent television interview, “that they try to displace all the black people out of New Orleans.” Now were I the one interviewing Spike Lee my next question would be a simple one: why? Frankly, statements like these exaggerate the importance of race.
Of course, I haven't conducted in-depth research on the attitudes and motives of the white community of New Orleans. Nevertheless (as Katherine Hepburn tells Humphrey Bogart in "The African Queen"), I feel confident in asserting that white people in New Orleans did not displace black people out of New Orleans. What possible motive would they have for doing so? It's absurd, plain and simple.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I thought the headline ("Albright criticizes war in Iraq but says U.S. must stay") was the typical, talking-out-of-both-sides-of-their-mouth carping that we hear from Democrats these days. However the real howler in this article was this line:
She said Clinton had so impressed the Arabs that he "could be elected president of any country" in the Middle East.
Now, correct me if I am wrong, but there are only three countries in the Middle East to which Bill Clinton could be elected to the presidency - Israel, Turkey, and Iraq. And the third one only because of the determination of the man Albright was bitching about.
Now, why couldn't he be elected president of the rest of them again? Oh, that's right. NONE OF THE REST OF THEM HAVE ELECTIONS!
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Cuban President Fidel Castro is suffering from Parkinson's disease, according to a CIA
assessment issued Nov. 16. Cuban officials declined to comment on the assessment.
Monday, December 05, 2005
A story from thanksgiving Day's Albuquerque Journal reports that, in fact, Richardson was not drafted by the A's.
Now, I am not going to waste a lot of words on why people embellish or flat-out lie on their resumes. What I am more interested in is how public figures, politicians especially, attempt to explain their actions when they are caught.
In this case, Richardson's admission is the usual incredible - as in hard to believe (mainly because it's not true) - mea culpa. Not only is it hard to believe; we all know that it is disingenuous and insincere. A six year-old could listen to it and tell you it's a lie. Here's what Richardson had to say:
"After being notified of the situation and after researching the matter ... I came to the conclusion that I was not drafted by the A's," he said.
He had to research the matter to come to the conclusion that it wasn't true? Now, I willingly admit that I wasn't drafted by the A's - or anybody else for that matter - but I would have to believe that if I had been (in my late teens or early twenties), I have to believe that that would stand out a little. I have to believe this would stand out among the events of my life. I have to believe that it wouldn't require any "research" on my part to remember.
So, why do public figures go through the motions of pretending that they didn't know they were lying?
I can only believe it is because they think we, the public, are stupid and complacent.
They know that most of us have short memories and that we have more important things to do than wonder which politician is honest and which one is not. They count on it. So they go through the motions of pretending that the indiscretion in question was an honest mistake.
See, they also count on one other thing, and that's the weariness of the public. We have been so conditioned to believe that politicians are dishonest, that it doesn't surprise us when we are confronted with evidence of it. We shrug our shoulders and repeat the mantra, "They all do it."
Bill Clinton didn't invent this kind of behavior; he perfected it. Again and again he was caught out in scandal after scandal after scandal. And again and again he pretended to be contrite. He pretended these were honest mistakes. And we continued shrugging our shoulders. (Well, I didn't, but a lot of you did.)
So the next time a politician gets caught out on some howler, just remember we have only ourselves to blame. It's our complacency that lets them off the hook.
We should demand better. Unless, that is, you don't think we deserve it.
"(I)f the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American. . . . There can be no divided allegiances here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag. . . . (W)e have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people." - Teddy Roosevelt, 1907
Friday, November 18, 2005
The online news site SFGate.com has this hot item on the contents of (as Dave Barry says, "I'm not making this up") Karl Rove's garage:
Click here for story.
And the following letter to the editor appeared in the Olympia, Washington Olympian:
Yes, Peg. It is a sad day. But not for the reason you think. The fact that a reputable newspaper in the state capital of one of our fifty states would print such drivel is what's really sad.
Martial law could follow plan to fight Asian bird flu
I read with trepidation the news article regarding Bush's plans to combat possible Asian bird flu by calling in the troops. His comments brought to mind 1930s Germany, with the Gestapo (Homeland Security) and storm troopers (Rumsfeld's Pentagon) in the wings.
I wonder, could a sitting president, twice elected, and supposedly the epitome of patriotic manhood, consider consolidating his ebbing power by bringing an epidemic to his own people?
Would he use this ploy to institute martial law?
If he would give funds to Halliburton to organize the hurricane recovery in the South -- the same Halliburton that scammed millions of dollars in Iraq -- then I suppose, with the enthusiastic support of his moneyed power base, he would.
The fact that Congress voted funds, not for public health but for Homeland Security, strengthens this suspicion.
This is a sad day for our United States of America.
Peg Davidson, Olympia
In reference to the anti-Wal-Mart campaign Mr. Blank said, "The average associate at Wal-Mart makes $8.23 an hour. That's not a job that can support a family."
Pardon me, but, Duuuh!
The point that I think advocates of so-called "living wages" and advocates of raising the minimum wage miss is this: not all jobs are meant to support a family. If you want to have a family, then you need to make sure that you have a job that pays considerably more than the minimum wage, ideally with benefits. If you can only earn the minimum wage, then you really have no business starting a family.
Such benighted advocates who ignore basic economics do a grave disservice to those people for whom a job at such wages would be ideal. Take a spouse who is the primary caregiver for his children but would like to earn some extra money while the children are at school. Or a retired senior who just wants to get off the couch and out of the house several days a week. By advocating a higher minimum wage or a "living wage" these so-called advocates (I think they are really suffering a bad case of white guilt and want to assuage their own consciences) depress the demand for labor.
This is simple economics, folks. And I think it's damned irresponsible for Mr. Blank to tell Wal-Mart how much they must pay their associates, and how much those associates should sell their labor for.
If you can't chuckle over this, you just aren't trying.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
What the heck is a “fourth-and-a-half” column, you ask? Well, Merriam-Webster Online defines a fifth column as “noun: a group of secret sympathizers or supporters of an enemy that engages in espionage or sabotage within defense lines or national borders”. I deducted half-a-point from the Democrats because they don’t operate in secret. Quite the contrary, the publicly tout their sabotage of the war effort as something for which they should be lionized.
I got to thinking about this as I was reading Andrew McCarthy’s essay on the Senate’s deplorable decision to undermine the war effort by granting to federal judges the power to determine who is and who is not an “enemy combatant”. (See my last post for a link to Mr. McCarthy’s excellent essay.)
I started to think that the situation which obtains in Congress today bears almost no resemblance to our nation’s experience during WWII or
The actions of the so-called “loyal opposition” are beyond the pale. They constitute, in my opinion, a calculated effort to sabotage the war effort. And need I remind you that most of the Democrats voted to authorize this war. Plenty of columnists have written on the effort of weasel-like Democrats to lie about why they voted for the war. For good dissections of this behavior see Jonah Goldberg’s “Speak, (Selective) Memory” or Rich Lowry’s “The Gullible Party”.
What we see now are Democrats (and a few RINOs) who hate President Bush so much that they are willing to risk our security to discredit him and damage his effectiveness. How else to explain the efforts of Senators to tie the hands of intelligence operators trying to gain valuable information from captured enemy combatants (Sen. McCain’s anti-torture legislation)? Does Senator McCain think harsh language will do the trick? Is he that stupid or merely obtuse? Can he not see that without any coercive measures at interrogators’ disposal detainees will merely remain silent? How else to explain Senator Carl Levin’s efforts to extend to non-American enemy combatants the protections of our courts?
How else do you explain the phenomenon of hundreds of Left wing lawyers descending on
What about the behavior of the media? This has been so well-documented that I won’t take up too much space rehashing old news (pardon the pun). The media’s hostility to the conservative movement in general, President Bush in particular, and especially the War in
But, you know something? At least they are consistent. They’ve always been against conservatives, this President and the war. Democrat representatives and senators are the most reprehensible as they twist their words and logic trying to explain why they voted the way they did. To add to John Kerry’s ridiculous “I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it,” we can now add a new leader in the weasel sweepstakes.
I am referring here to Senator Jay Rockefeller, Democrat from
In addition, he revealed that he traveled to the
I'm talking about Tuesday's decision by a margin of 84-14 to grant federal judges the authority to ultimately determine what constitutes an "enemy combatant".
Again, this seems like such a bad idea as to be axiomatic, but let me make a couple of points. First, is that judges are trained in civil and criminal procedure. I think they will likely attempt to hold the military to an unrealistic standard in the courtroom (where there is generally less lead flying about). Second is that most judges have little or no military expertise. So, just what the heck makes them qualified at all, much less more qualified than battlefield commanders, to make this determination?
Andrew McCarthy has a good essay on why this decision makes no sense. One of the points he makes in this essay with which I strongly agree is that this is another symptom of the disease of litigousness that is eating away at our society.
Mr. McCarthy is a former federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York. Among other high-profile cases he has participated in, he helped to prosecute and convict the plotters in the first World Trade Center bombing case. If you are interested in the legal aspect of the Global War on Terror, I highly recommend his writings to you.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
If you aren't familiar with it, "Deadwood" is set in the 1870s in the camp of Deadwood, before it became part of the United States, in modern-day South Dakota. So, from that standpoint it is a Western but it is probably a Western unlike any you've seen before. "Deadwood" depicts frontier life in all its gritty detail.
One thing that distinguishes "Deadwood" from most other shows is the quality of the writing. While I am hardly an expert on this period in our history, the characters' dialogue has a ring of truth about it. For the most part these are hardy, uneducated people and their speech reflects this. The speech patterns are a curious mixture of formal, almost Victorian-sounding speech, and the most hair-curling profanity. In the interest of keeping this blog PG, I won't go into detail. Just remember this, if and when you decide to watch it. The language is very graphic. However, I am sure that it's not done gratuitously. I think this is just the way people in that part of the country at that time talked.
However, the real reason to watch "Deadwood" is the acting - and specifically that of English actor Ian McShane. McShane is not the protagonist of "Deadwood". To the extent that "Deadwood" has a protagonist, that role is ably filled by Timothy Olyphant. Olyphant plays Seth Bullock, a former lawman who comes to Deadwood to make his fortune.
Now, I like Olyphant as Bullock, but it's McShane as Al Swearengen that really makes "Deadwood" worth watching. At first, Swearengen, the proprietor of "The Gem", Deadwood's first saloon and brothel, seems like the antagonist - i.e., the bad guy. But as you get deeper into the show you start to realize that Swearengen is much more complex than that. Self-interested and greedy to be sure, but you also realize something surprising about Al - he's honest.
For McShane, who heretofore was not particularly well-known to American audiences, this has to be the role of a lifetime. Like Jack Nicholson's Melvin Udall in "As Good As It Gets", Al says what's on his mind and he doesn't care who may be offended. And the things he says will have you staring gape-jawed at your TV from time to time and, more often than not, chuckling if not laughing outright.
McShane was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. He lost to "Boston Legal's" James Spader. Now, I am also a big Spader fan and his Alan Shore is a great character, but he really can't hold a candle to McShane's Al Swearengen. Lord only knows why awards show voters vote the way they do. If I knew that, then I'd know why "Titanic" won Best Picture in 1997.
The second season just finished and my roommate Pete and I are eagerly awaiting its release on DVD. The third season is in production now and it looks like other, high-caliber actors are jumping on board. I just read on IMDB that Brian Cox has joined the cast for the third season.
Do yourself a favor - watch "Deadwood".
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
This got me to thinking. What are the obligations, if any, of immigrants to their new country?
First, a disclaimer. I work in the field of immigration. I am a technical expert on the computer systems the U.S. Department of State uses to issue immigrant and non-immigrant visas. So, I have a vested interest in the U.S.' policy of controlled, legal immigration. That aside, however, I sincerely believe that immigration should be tightly controlled. First and foremost is that in a post-9/11 world, having secure borders is a matter of national security. Second, and I say this very tongue-in-cheek but with a kernel of truth at its heart, we want to keep out the riff-raff.
However, to return to the original question, once we decide to admit an immigrant, what duty does he or she have towards their chosed country?
I think it boils down to two obligations: language and loyalty.
Immigrants to another country must learn that country's language. This seems so axiomatic as to not require further elaboration, but I will anyway since there will be those who will disagree with me.
The United States is a very advanced, complex society. How can anyone expect to function (like being able to read road signs, maps, job applications or any other myriad examples) if one doesn't speak the local language? Such a person would be at the mercy of strangers (to paraphrase Blanche Dubois).
Functionality aside, how can one expect to prosper if one doesn't speak the local language? If an immigrant speaks no or just rudimentary English, he will likely have a hard time securing anything but the most menial employment. This doesn't bode well for his upward mobility.
Loyalty, in my opinion, boils down to one thing: the abolition of "dual citizenship". A legal resident (i.e., a "green card" holder) who chooses to become a citizen of the United States must take an oath to "absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen". This, in and of itself, seems to render the entire concept of dual citizenship a moot point. How can one remain a citizen of Bolivia, say, when one has sworn an oath to forever renounce such ties? It is mutually exclusive.
As one who has worked in over 40 U.S. consulates and embassies, I have seen too many people who treat a U.S. passport as an accessory. To them, U.S. citizenship is merely an ace-in-the-hole so that they can send their children to U.S. universities, go to New York, Miami or Los Angeles to shop and to help them avoid civic obligations. Take the example of South Koreans for whom their children's U.S. citizenship is a tool to help them avoid compulsory military service. In their hypocritical opinion it is fine for U.S. soldiers to keep watch on the DMZ as human canaries in the coalmine of the Korean peninsula but certainly not their own children.
I think the question of language and loyalty are intertwined. For how can a person who can't fully function in American society, since they can't speak the language, feel much loyalty towards it? Without speaking the language how can anyone hope to get to know people of other cultures and ethnicities in the American melting pot? Without the binding element of language, that melting pot becomes a salad bowl of tossed together ingredients that remain separate.
And by allowing newly minted U.S. citizens to retain their original citizenship, should the going get rough, they can simply return home. I always liked the story of Cortez burning his ships upon arriving in the New World. Renouncing one's ties to one's birth country is the immigrant's equivalent of burning his ships. He is saying, "I chose this place to make my new life and I mean it."
Is this too much to ask? I don't think so. After all, by choosing to immigrate and then become a citizen, he is asking for all the rights and protections that native-born Americans enjoy. The new citizen is accepting a contract. The United States lives up to its end of the bargain, so I think it is only right that we ask immigrants to do the same.
First, the reason that Indian figures and tribes were chosen for team names and mascots is because our society generally admires and reveres their physical and martial virtues. Second, these are not "cigar-store" Indians or caricatures. These are faithful representations of American Indian figures. Calling them "hostile" and "abusive" is just untrue. Third, there are like 47 people of American Indian descent that object to these protrayals. Half of them are probably lawyers and the other half are probably school guidance counselors.
If they were really so concerned about the image of American Indians in our society then maybe they should try doing something about the real and serious problems American Indians face: low life expectancy, rampant alcoholism and drug abuse, domestic violence, and chronic unemployment. That's hostility and abuse.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
That being said, how tickled am I at the almost two weeks of "Eurofada" in France?
For more than two decades the French have been bending over backwards to accommodate the growing population of mainly Muslim Arabs and Africans in France. France consciously courted the regimes of the Middle East with economic and military deals. In addition to MiGs, Saddam's air force flew Mirage fighters. The hope was that France would become the vital link between the Middle East and the West.
And what has it gotten them? Night after night of skirmishes with the police, stores and cars looted and burned. This is the proverbial being hoisted by one's own petard, n'est-ce pas?
Instead, France, with a Muslim population that resists assimilation and has a high birth-rate, is poised to become the first "Islamic Republic" in Europe. Is their room on the tri-color for a crescent, and maybe a scimitar (you know, to denote how "peaceful" Islam is)?
Hats off to Interior Minister Nikolas Sarkozy for calling the rioters what they are - scum. (The actual word he used - racaille - carries much more connotation that is hard to translate.) Sarkozy is an almost certain candidate for President in 2007. His opponent will almost certainly be Jacques Chirac protege, Prime Minister Dominique De Villepin. (I qualify these predictions since no-one knows what the fallout of this episode will be. After all, Bill Clinton was the one who cheated on his wife and lied, and yet it was Bob Livingston and Newt Gingrich who lost their jobs.)
While you can't call one liberal and one conservative, in this case, "Sarko" has been advocating a much tougher course of action, while De Villepin sounds like he has been given talking points by CAIR or the NAACP. You know, the usual crap about "understanding", "root causes", "discrimination".
What's worse is that le racialle are second- and third-generation French. These [mostly] young men are Frenchmen. If things are so awful in France, why are so many Arabs and Africans immigrating there, both legally and illegally?
When will the Left learn? Actually it's le racaille that has learned. They know that the liberal establishment is going to strain the bounds of reason to blame everybody but the rioters.
Every once in awhile, I think maybe, just maybe, there is such a thing as cosmic justice after all.
Monday, November 07, 2005
This is political farce. I mean, it's almost not even worth it to explain why this is unfair, un-American and a waste of legislators' time and our tax dollars, but here goes. (It's like Josh Mostel tells Billy Crystal in "City Slickers", "Scoop of chocolate, scoop of vanilla. Don't waste my time.")
First, do we hold hearings every January, after the Christmas shopping season, so that the CEOs of K-Mart, Wal-Mart and Macy's can explain just why it is that they make so much gosh-darned money every Christmas? Do we stigmatize umbrella salesmen as profiteers when it rains? Of course not.
Look this is simple: right now, the cost of oil is high. So gas costs more than normal. So oil companies make more money than normal. This is a good thing. This means they have more money to invest in their and others' businesses. They can pay larger dividends to their shareholders. Whatever. The point is companies exist to make money. That's what they do.
Second, and this is the ugly little secret that several columnists have pointed out - and this is really what makes the prospect of hearings so ridiculous, the government is making even more money (in the form of gas taxes) from the high price of oil and gas than the oil companies!
So, who is going to call them to the carpet?
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Well, this morning I woke up and logged on to ESPN.com to find that all is right with the world. My number five-ranked Miami Hurricanes dismantled the previously unbeaten and third-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies - at Virginia Tech - 27-7! (And that 7 of Virginia Tech's was a garbage touchdown late in the fourth quarter.) So much for Tech's national title hopes. Now all I need is for the ground to open up and swallow either USC or Texas and we have a real shot at the Rose Bowl.
I'd like to have a shot at USC. Yeah, yeah, yeah. They average 49 points a game - but they haven't seen a defense like ours (the number one-ranked defense in the country). And, on the flip side of those 49 points a game, their defense gives up a lot of points. They gave up 21 to Arizona, 28 to Arizona State, 31 to Notre Dame and 24 to Washington. The fewestnumber of points they've given up this season is 13. Take my word for it. The Trojans can be gotten to. Not by Texas, but by us!! I'm sure the Trojans are praying for Texas to win out. I know they don't want any part of us. I would bet any amount you care to name that Miami is the one team that no-one wants to play right about now.
And we're doing it the old-fashioned way - with defense. Our offense doesn't feature the deep threats we have in years past, but our defense will keep us in any game.
Go UCLA! Go Texas A&M!
And I can't wait for our rematch with FSU in the ACC title game on Dec. 3rd. Drew Weatherford is going to have nightmares about Javon Nanton, Baraka Atkins and Thomas Carroll for weeks!
Friday, November 04, 2005
Ever since the excesses of the Agency in 1960s and 1970s the Left in America have done every thing they can to hamstring the CIA. Take, for example, the investigations by the Pike and Church Committees, the investigative reporting of Seymour Hersh and Daniel Schorr, and the de-emphasis on human intelligence gathering by the CIA under Stansfield Turner.
When Congress was considering the Intelligence Identities Protection Act in 1982, many Democrats voted against it. Of course, now that Democrats think they have found a brickbat with which to beat the Bush administration, they are enamored of this little-known law (even though it doesn't apply in the Plame kerfluffle).
Even worse is the indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Basically, Libby is being charged with perjury in a case of "he said-she said". Libby remembers his conversations with Time's Matthew Cooper and The New York Times' Judith Miller differently than they do. So, of course, Libby - who works for arch-villain Dick Cheney - must be lying. Never mind that he hasn't been charged with anything remotely resembling revealing Valerie Plame's name. The Left will point to his indictment (indictment - not conviction) as proof-positive that the Bush administration cooked the books on intelligence leading up to the Iraq War. (Never mind that it is mostly Joseph Wilson's claims regarding Iraq's efforts to obtain uranium from Niger that have remained unsubstanatiated.)
I am also curious about where the indignance has gone over out-of-control special prosecutors. During the investigation into the Paula Jones case the media demonized Kenneth Starr as some kind of closet pervert, while lionizing Bill Clinton as some kind of modern-day John of Arc.
And where is the Left's blase attitude about perjury? When Bill Clinton did it, we were told it was "no big deal" since it was about private (albeit reprehensible) behavior. Again, now that the Left thinks it has a "gotcha" on the Bush admininstration, perjury and making false statements are again cause for concern.
And people wonder how I can call myself a Republican. I am more mystified how anyone can align themselves with the likes of Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry.
During my absence I have failed to comment on what passed for news this summer: Hurricane Katrina, Leak-gate, the failed Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Meiers. I, for one, am grateful. While I do have an opinion on all these topics, most of them bored me to tears.
So, let's skip all that crap and get to a really good story - the President's nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court to replace Sandra Day O'Connor.
First, let me backtrack a bit and say that I was profoundly disappointed with President Bush's nomination of Ms. Meiers. As some pundit or other pointed out, I am sure she is an able attorney but was she really the best person the President could find? Not by a longshot. In fact when I first heard the name of the nominee my first reaction was, "Who?" (And being a political geek I knew many of the names on the so-called "short lists" - Lutig, McConnell, Wilkinson, Alito, and Garza, to name a few - and Meiers' name was nowhere to be found.)
I am much more enthusiastic about the nomination of Judge Alito (or "Scalito" as he has been dubbed for the resemblance his judicial philosophy shares with that of Antonin Scalia's - a facile comparison).
First, he possesses the sterling academic credentials we have come to expect of a Supreme Court justice (Princeton undergrad, Yale law, editor of the Yale Law Review). While earning a law degree from SMU is nothing to sneeze at, it hardly carries the same weight as a degree from a more prestigious institution.
Second, he has experience as a federal prosecutor. Alito served four years as the Assistant United States Attorney in New Jersey during which he prosecuted organized crime figures. He then spent four years as the assistant to the Solicitor General at the Department of Justice. Later, he returned to New Jersey as United States Attorney. Ms. Meiers had no such experience as a government lawyer. Outside of her experience as White Counsel, all Ms. Meiers' experience was in the private sector.
Third, he has 15 years experience as a judge on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. This was probably the most damning criticism of Ms. Meiers. She had no experience as a judge at any level. Never having been a judge, Ms. Meiers had no "paper trail". Judge Alito, on the other hand, has written more than 700 opinions on many of the top issues of the day: abortion, federalism, sexual harassment, and discrimination to name a few. The left will not be able to criticize Alito for a lack of a paper trail.
Of course, criticize him the Left will. One argument is sure to be that he is more conservative than the Justice he is replacing. This is preposterous as if the ideological composition of the Supreme Court is some kind of zero-sum game. This argument is also baldly disingenuous since no Democrat proffered this as a reason for voting against Ruth Bader Ginsburg who is clearly more liberal than Justice Byron "Whizzer" White, whom she replaced.
The rest of the Left's criticisms will be of the pedestrian, "he's-an-extremist" variety which can (and should) be easily dismissed.
I have already written Sens. Allen and Warner urging them to vote to confirm Judge Alito. You should, too!
Thursday, September 01, 2005
First of all, let me just say that I am sick to death of reading about, hearing about and seeing Matt Leinart and USC. I was just perusing ESPN's [so-called] experts' picks for the Rose Bowl (this year's BCS Championship game) and all 12 picked USC as one of the contestants. Now, this could happen - because USC's highest-ranked opponent this year is #19 Cal. USC doesn't play anybody. Because the PAC-10 sucks. They didn't play anybody last year - except Cal, who came within a play of beating USC (they did beat the Men of Troy two years ago). But it's as least as likely that USC won't make it to the title game as that they will.
Second, USC are not going for a "three-peat". LSU were National Champions in 2003 NOT USC. Yeah, I know. The AP voted them champs in their poll. Guess what? Nobody cares. Everybody knows that - for better or worse - the winner of the BCS championship game is the National Champion. Punto. End of discussion.
I guess I should widen my scope here a little bit and say that, while I love college football, I hate the pre-season polls.
Take this year's poll (please). Texas is the consensus number two team. Texas? Based on what? The fact that Mack Brown had to lobby to get them into last year's Rose Bowl (over a far more deserving Cal team) and even then they only beat Michigan by one? I wouldn't even think of putting Texas in the top 10 until they've beaten Oklahoma. Or how about even making it a game. The last time the 'Horns won the Red River Shootout it didn't matter. Texas is turning into the Michigan of the college polls - perenially overranked.
Except that Michigan is this year's Michigan. What the hell are the Wolverines doing ranked number four? They have promising sophomores at quarterback (Chad Henne) and running back (Mike Hart) and a great junior wide receiver (Steve Breaston - you can keep Ted Ginn, Jr.; I'll take Breaston) to make up for the sting of losing Braelon Edwards. On the other hand the Maize-and-Blue lost a lot on defense. And let's not forget Edwards, too. Michigan will be lucky to finish in the top 10.
I think that college football should ban anything resembling an official pre-season poll until at least October. It's too hard for teams to live up to or live down to a particularly high or low ranking. Take last year's Auburn Tigers. They started the preseason ranked at something like 17th. Now we all know how this story ended. Auburn finished the season undefeated but because of their low preseason rank, they really stood no chance of catching Oklahoma in the BCS standings. (Conversely, you can pick almost any Michigan team from the '80s and '90s and see how much of a crutch their high preseason rankings were to them.)
What this all really boils down to is that not enough sportswriters recognize and pay tribute to the dominance of...
Greetings from Gaborone! (That's in Botswana, dontcha know?) I just wanted to put up a quick post to let everyone know that I am still alive.
I think I last posted from Frankfurt which was quite some time ago. Since then, I took a short vacation to Brazil and then traveled to Luxembourg (again) for work.
I left Luxembourg on Saturday and flew to Frankfurt. In Frankfurt, I picked up a connection to Johannesburg and then in Jo'burg connected to get to Gaborone on Sunday afternoon. I'll be here until next weekend which puts me home on Sept. 10th.
Gaborone is all right. We are trying to organize a visit to a small game park near town. We've got to work some this weekend, but we'd still like to get out and do something fun.
In other news, I found out that I passed the Foreign Service Written Exam that I took back in April in Albania. The Written Exam is merely the first step in the hiring process. Next I have to do the Oral Assessments. That is basically a day-long practical interview during which you work in groups and do some role-playing. All during the assessment you are being observed and scored by a reviewer. Their score determines whether or not you pass and where you are "ranked" on the list of candidates.
Once you are placed on the list of candidates, you must complete your security and medical clearances and then wait. You wait for State Department to start up a training class and hope that they need enough people that they call you.
So I'm still very early in the process, but I did clear the first hurdle.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
In today's edition, Taranto appears to have proved that neither Karl Rove nor anyone else in the Bush administration violated the Intelligence Identities Act when Rove casually mentioned (when asked by Time reporter Matthew Cooper - who was ostensibly interviewing Rove about domestic policy) that Plame had been at least partly responsible for the selection of her ineffectual husband by the CIA to conduct a mission to Niger to determine if the Iraqis had tried to buy "yellowcake" uranium from the Nigerienes.
(You'll recall that by Wilson's own account he spent the entire time "drinking sweet tea" with members of the Nigerien government in his leave-no-stone-unturned effort to get to the bottom of the Iraq-Niger WMD connection.)
What would I do without James Taranto? I'll have to remember to send him a fruit basket come Christmas.
Unless we're missing something, Joe Wilson has disproved his own accusation that someone in the Bush administration violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. USA Today reports:
'The alleged crime at the heart of a controversy that has consumed official Washington -- the "outing" of a CIA officer -- may not have been a crime at all under federal law, little-noticed details in a book by the agent's husband suggest.
'In The Politics of Truth, former ambassador Joseph Wilson writes that he and his future wife both returned from overseas assignments in June 1997. Neither spouse, a reading of the book indicates, was again stationed overseas. They appear to have remained in Washington, D.C., where they married and became parents of twins.'
This meant that Plame would have been stationed in the U.S. for six years before Bob Novak published his column citing her two years ago today. As USA Today notes:
'The column's date is important because the law against unmasking the identities of U.S. spies says a "covert agent" must have been on an overseas assignment "within the last five years." The assignment also must be long-term, not a short trip or temporary post, two experts on the law say.'
All the Democrats who are braying for Karl Rove's head can't be very confident that he's committed a crime. If they were, they would wait for an indictment, which would be a genuine embarrassment to the administration.
By the way, for those of you keeping score at home, this was my 100th post.
MSNBC had this story about an R&B singer named Omarion. (Yeah, I'd never heard of him either.)
Anyway, this cretin had been in England for the pointless, feel-good event, Live 8. (You do know that this eight-city mass navel-contemplation didn't raise one single penny for Africa, right? The whole thing was designed to "raise awareness". Excuse me while I retch.) I guess after the concert young master Omarion went to London (probably to shop for more "bling"). He just so happened to be in London on July 7th.
Oh my goodness, you exclaim. Is he all right? Rest easy, he's OK. (I know I will!) Come on. Did you really think a celebrity, even an E-lister like this twit, would be caught dead on, or even near, public transportation?
But that didn't stop this dolt (who probably couldn't find London on a map) from asking his fans to pray for his safe trip home. Here's an excerpt from the MSNBC story:
Is there really any need for me to get up on my soapbox and comment on the self-centeredness and vacuity of the modern celebrity?
“Omarion was in London during the tragic bombings that struck this morning,” a statement by the singer’s publicist AR PR Marketing, released hours after the bombings, said.
Making no mention of the fatalities or casualties of the blasts, the singer’s statement concluded, “He would like his fans to pray that he has a safe trip and a safe return home. He appreciates your support.”
Most risible was watching the head of the British Muslim Council as he whined about how Muslims feel separated and alienated from the rest of British society. Gee, that couldn't be because Muslims choose to separate themselves from the rest of society by encouraging a separate identity, language and education, could it? He became even more flummoxed when he tried to explain why sending your impressionable young son to a madrassah in Pakistan is still an okay thing to do. Sure, just ask John Walker Lindh's parents how he turned out.
I feel like I am in the old SNL skit about the murder of Buckwheat. In it reporters interview friends, neighbors, schoolteachers and relatives of the killer. To a man, they describe a well-mannered, helpful, respectful young man. Yet when asked if they thought he could have killed Buckwheat, they invariably reply, "Ohhh, yes. It was all he talked about" There's even a shot of a high school yearbook page in which the killer-to-be had been named "Most Likely To Kill Buckwheat".
Hey, Jim, want to know how it's possible these fine, upstanding young men could have killed 50 people?
HELLO! THEY'RE MUSLIM!
We as a society have a problem with enemy identification and it is forcing us to fight this war with one hand tied behind our backs.
Perhaps more retch-inducing is the stories of trauma of the survivors. First of all, you want to know about trauma? Try getting blown up! That's trauma. And if CNN were really that interested in survivors' stories they've been missing a big scoop for the last 20 years not interviewing Israelis.
And, this being CNN, we couldn't have a story about terrorism without tossing a little blame on the War on Iraq. But that was to be expected.
Oh, that's right. My remote has an OFF button.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Well, if you do happen to be that dim-witted or naive, allow me to introduce you to:
Mohammed Bouyeri, a baby-faced 27-year-old with dual Dutch-Moroccan nationality, broke his vow not to co-operate with the Amsterdam court by admitting shooting and stabbing his victim last November.
"I take complete responsibility for my actions. I acted purely in the name of my religion," he told its three-strong panel of judges.
"I can assure you that one day, should I be set free, I would do the same, exactly the same." . . .
Bouyeri then turned to the victim's mother, Anneke, in the public gallery, and told her he felt nothing for her. Mrs van Gogh watched as he read out from what appeared to be a statement: "I don't feel your pain. I have to admit that I don't have any sympathy for you. I can't feel for you because you're a non-believer."
Charming fellow, isn't he?
And then I would still nominate whoever I darn well please!
Bush is already doing more than is required by the Constitution. The Senate's "advice and consent" duty only kicks in after the President has nominated someone. Bush is already dangerously close to establishing a precedent for prior Senate approval of Supreme Court nominees. (Of course, any such precedent would be quickly repudiated by Demos the next time a Democrat President has a chance to nominate a Supreme Court justice.) Republicans, President Bush included, are displaying a really short memory in this [one-sided] effort at collegiality. How quickly they forgot how Democrats ran roughshod over Republicans when they were the minority in Congress. Does anyone else remember how Hillary froze out all Republicans during her ill-fated health care reform effort?
Saturday, July 09, 2005
The story on MSNBC included comments from Defense Department spokesmen. The DoD claims to know about the report but has no information leading them to believe its authenticity. They say that they are continuing their search in the hopes that the remaining SEAL is still alive.
I hope they're right. I really would like to hear that they found that guy. Good luck and God be with you, whereever you are!
First, the similarities. Well, for one, for the last thirty years, pretty much every time there's been a terrorist attack, suspicion has fallen on Muslims because for, oh, about the last thirty years Arab Muslims have been responsible for a lot of terrorist attacks. Second, there are the statements by an obscure Arab group, boasting of links to al-Qaeda, claiming responsibility for the attacks. Now, CNN just had a story on the bombings and they claimed that the high level of casualties was another similarity. This got me thinking about the attacks in general, and that got me here blogging.
Anyway, I don't agree with the high casualty argument. 50 people, with all due respect to the dead in London, just isn't that many victims. 9/11 numbered near 3,000 dead. Madrid, 192. Bali, some 200 dead. 50 is mild by comparison. This got me thinking about another dissimilarity between this attack and other 9/11 attacks. Yes, there is the simultaneity of the attacks (another similarity), but using electronic timers, not human detonators. Of course, I am sure the terrorists would have wished for more casualties, but the fact that they used timers and not people increased the odds of decreasing the lethality of their strike.
The other big problem I have with this (well, that and the fact that the guys who are getting paid to investigate this attack haven't yet confirmed that this was al-Qaeda) is the timing. The timing seems just awful to me, especially for a group that, let's give it to 'em, has had pretty good timing. They struck on 9/11 at a time when they knew air security has dangerous cracks that could be exploited. If I'm not mistaken, Bali coincided with an election in Australia (October 2002). And then the expertly timed Madrid attack, which has, so far, yielded the greatest effect, cowing the Spanish out of Iraq.
So, I can't quite figure out the timing of this attack. Or, the location. Why London? You would think they would want to target Scotland. I mean, if the catalyzing event is Gleneagles, why attack London so far away? Was the security too tight at Gleneagles? Perhaps leaving London vulnerable? But, then, why disrupt Gleneagles? The G-8 meeting was going to accomplish nothing while talking mainly about Africa and climate change. Big deal. Who cares if you disrupt that yawn-fest?
I mean, you would think a terrorist would want to keep a low profile until the opportunity for a decisive strike arose. Don't draw attention to yourself until you're ready to really do some damage. Well, nobody ever said terrorist were smart. Perhaps, these aren't. I hate to sound like I am making light because I am serious when I say this: this has the feel of a terrorist attack by a really smart, disgruntled teen, rather than Islamic terrorists. Some aspects of it just seem unpracticed, almost amateurish, with flashes of technical competence.
What's the symbolism here? I'm missing it. Because if the idea is to send a message to America's staunch ally in the Global War on Terror, then why attack now? The British just had elections in May. That would have been the time to strike, especially with one of candidate Blair's big weaknesses being Iraq. A terror event in London, during the campaign, and we could have a different resident at Number 10 Downing Street.
1429 GMT - A U.S. Navy SEAL missing in Afghanistan since June 28 hasbeen captured and will be executed, Taliban spokesman Mulla LatifHakimi said July 8. Hakimi said the SEAL is being held in a house in Kunar anda video would be released of his death. Two of the four SEALS have been found dead and one has been rescued.
I tried finding other reports on this story on CNN.com, Google's news page, MSNBC.com, BBC.com and Drudgereport.com but couldn't find any other sources on this. Unfortunately, the Sitrep doesn't include sources for the items.
However, if this story turns out to be true, just remember this the next time someone talks about an "exit strategy" or troop withdrawals. Just remember who we are fighting here. These guys have captured one of our guys and are going to execute him. And then make that grisly scene public. That's their idea of an exit strategy - for us!
And Dick Durbin compares our own men to Nazis and Cambodian killing fields soldiers? Let's be clear what we are talking about here. Some terrorist detainees had to crouch in uncomfortable positions for hours. Some dogs barked at them. Some had to listen to Christina Aguilera non-stop. No-one was filmed being beheaded. Certainly, millions didn't die. Statements such as Durbin's are perfidious. And his weaselly quasi-apology only compounded his error, as far as I am concerned.
Friday, July 08, 2005
Chuck Muth had this in his today's News 'N Views newsletter:
"The hot rumor yesterday was that Chief Justice William Rehnquist would resign from the Supreme Court today. The hot rumor today is that Justice John Paul Stevens will join him."
This would give George Bush an unprecedented three nominations at once. I haven't checked, but in my readings on the vacancies - and there have been plenty of pixels killed on this subject already - I don't get the feeling that a single president has had the opportunity to nominate three justices at once. I'll do some more checking and update as I learn more.
Three nominations would give George Bush the chance to really put his money where his mouth is. With Scalia and Thomas two of the younger remaining six, Bush has the chance to install an "originalist" bloc on the Court. During his campaign in 2000, the only two names out of his lips were Scalia and Thomas. But does he have the guts to do it?
Probably not. And this leads me to my next point(s). Where did this idea come from that each justice had to be replaced with a justice of equal judicial temperament, thereby maintaining the ideological balance of the Court? This is a recent phenomenon, I'm sure. And I'm sure it started with Thurgood Marshall's retirement, when it seemed George H. W. Bush was compelled to fill Marshall's seat with an African-American. Of course, the last laugh was on Papa Bush on that one.
Anyway, Bush the Younger should bear that nomination in mind. And not because he promised to nominate more judges like Thomas, but because it would give him a chance to pull a Thomas, on the court. You want a judge that "looks like America"? The first female justice on the Court just retired? Gotta replace her with another woman? Meet Judge Janice Rogers Brown. (I'll admit to cribbing this idea from Chuck Muth but I think it's great.) She's fresh off a Senate confirmation hearing, so it would make it harder for Democrat obstructionists (and their muckraking partners) to derail her.
Thomas Sowell recently wrote a very candid column that sounded his (and echoed many others') genuine anger at the Democrat's judicial obstructionism and the Republicans almost willful inability to do anything about it. I mean, it's been one defeat after another. First the filibusters of highly-qualified men and women who were punished for their supposed (and, in some cases, genuinely-held) views and not being judged on their abilities as jurists. Then the Republicans long non-campaign against the obstructionism, during which Bill Frist threatened endlessly to invoke the "nuclear option". Indeed, Frist was able to keep the conversation on the "nuclear option" going for so long that the left had time to organize and mount a media campaign against it.
Then came the "Gang of Fourteen"'s deal to avert the "nuclear option". In this episode, seven brave Senators from each party broke from the ranks to the middle (if you believe the conventional media's portrayal) - led by one of the only Republican that the mainstream media likes, John McCain, but only because he's continually putting his thumb in his own party's eye - and brokered a deal to, well, to not use the filibuster again....unless we really, really need to, to block someone we really, really don't like (this being the Democrat's side of the deal). And in exchange the Republicans got floor votes on, like, three nominees that should have had floor votes in the first place.
Of course, this deal does nothing for eminently qualified nominee Miguel Estrada who withdrew his name after twisting in the wind for two years for being, what? Too Hispanic? (I thought that would be a good thing. You know, diversity.) Not having a paper trail? Having the cojones to be a conservative Hispanic? It's still not clear.
And, I can't let pass without comment (as others have already commented) the revulsion I feel upon hearing Ted Kennedy's thoughts on the judicial nomination process. For those of you that don't recall, Ted Kennedy is basically the reason that Robert Bork's surname is now a verb denoting an unfair, often scurrilous, attack against a presidential nominee. Back in 1987 Ted Kennedy launched his almost instantaneous attack on what he called "Robert Bork's America", an America where abortions will be relegated to back alleys, blacks and whites will return to separate lunch counters, the sun won't shine any more, birds will stop singing. You get the picture. All bad things. Kennedy offered not one passage of Bork's writings, not one public statement, nothing in Bork's considerable "paper trail", not one shred of evidence, much less proof, that Bork held anything even remotely close to such views. And yet that fat windbag still sits in the Senate, and Robert Bork commutes to and from the AEI building, working in relative obscurity, instead of on the High Court on which he was eminently qualified to sit.
By the way, all the usual suspects in a confirmation fight, People for the American Way, Alliance for Justice, NARAL, et al., swear that they won't automatically oppose any nominee sent to the Senate by Bush. Yeah, and if you believe that insert your favorite joke implying massive gullibility here. While they all say they won't, as a matter of course, oppose any nominee, they've been buying up domain names like: stopgonzales.com, stopluttig.com, stopalito.com, and stopgarza.com. And not content with merely (perhaps) using these domains to launch websites designed to coordinate effort to defeat potential Bush nominees, they've also bought up domains like: confirmgonzales.com, confirmluttig.com, confirmalito.com, and confirmgarza.com. Now, why would they do such a thing? Perhaps they weren't lying when they said they might support a Bush nominee. Yeah, and if you believe that insert your favorite joke implying massive gullibility here.
I really hope that George Bush has the same kind of courage in making these choices as he's shown in fighting the Islamists. I really do. I hope he realizes that they are going to attack and put through the meat grinder any nominee he sends up, and so you might as well get one up there you want.
The Democrats aren't going to like you or praise you, no matter what you do. So, screw 'em! No matter whose name gets sent up, they're going to be an "extremist", someone out of "Bork's America (a place, which if it did exist as Ted Kennedy described it, certainly doesn't now). And when it's the Democrats' turn to govern again, they will not hesitate to nominate and confirm another Breyer or Ginsburg. And they certainly aren't going to pull out any stops to derail your nominee, so pick a good one! This is too important to screw up.
Thursday, June 30, 2005
"City officials use the power of eminent domain very selectively and very carefully," said Indianapolis, Ind., Mayor Bart Peterson, who is also the vice president of the National League of Cities.
"Generally, property is taken only in the context of an overall economic development project that will provide significant benefits to a neighborhood. This usually involves public hearings or some other type of public process," Peterson added. "In addition, the Constitution's 'just compensation' requirement ensures that cities treat property owners fairly, as do state and federal laws that govern the use and limits of eminent domain."
So, in essence, Mayor Peterson is saying, "Trust us. We won't use this newly-enshrined power too often." Yeah, right.
Well, if property owners have nothing to worry about since they will be fairly compensated, why does the state has to use its coercive power to wrest property from private citizens to benefit private developers in the first place? Why don't developers just pay homeowners a fair price for their homes? Why not pay homeowners a little above market value to ensure their cooperation? After all, the developers generally stand to make so much more off the development of property, shouldn't they make it worth the property owner's while? This would be akin to the practice of paying shareholders more than the current value of their shares during a buyout of a publicly-traded company.
Why? Because, in fact, homeowners aren't paid what their property is worth to the private developer. Just who do you think determines the compensation paid to homeowners whose properties are taken? The Keebler Elves?
Minister Costa announced recently that Abbott Laboratories of Chicago, maker of the anti-retroviral drug Kaletra, has until the end of the week to offer an acceptable price for it. Otherwise he will order a Brazilian state-run laboratory to begin making a generic version of the drug.
No matter what Costa says, this is patently illegal. It violates the WTO's TRIPs (trade-related intellectual property rights) agreement. Of course, Costa doesn't quite see it that way. He believes he has found a loophole which permits this practice.
Dr. Roger Bate, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, writing on Tech Central Station, thinks this practice "appears to be legal". I disagree. The loophole Costa is using to justify this theft is one which allows developing nations to suspend IP protections in times of health emergencies. An admirable clause indeed, since it allows the world's poorest quick access to life-saving medicines.
However, I think this clause doesn't apply to Brazil in this case for two reasons. First of all, it is a stretch to call Brazil, with the world's eighth-largest economy (larger than Canada, Spain, Australia, or Russia), a "developing" nation.
Second, the spread of HIV/AIDS in Brazil has hardly reached the stage where it can be called a health emergency. According to the Population Research Bureau, 0.1 % of the population between ages 15-40 is infected with HIV. Brazil doesn't even rank in the top 15 countries outside Africa in terms of the spread of HIV.
What Minister Costa is proposing is out-and-out theft. It's too bad such an educated person as Dr. Bate can't see that.
It's no secret that the Chinese are working to acquire a "blue-water navy" (i.e., one that can project power beyond its littoral). Now, one reason they may be seeking such a capacity may be to defend their Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOCs). With China's voracious and growing appetite for oil, they are jumping into bed with any and all regimes that can help provide energy resources. Sudan, Nigeria, Chad, Turkmenistan. Anyone. Doesn't matter who as long as they can provide oil or gas. Just look at the Chinese National Overseas Oil Corporation's (CNOOC) $2 billion dollar raise on Chevron's bid for Unocal.
So, one could look at this test and say that the Chinese are merely seeking to keep their trade routes open, especially the vital Strait of Malacca between Indonesia (a volatile, almost unstable country) and Malaysia, through which much of China's imported oil passes.
But does anyone think for a second that it hasn't occurred to the Chinese that an SLBM with a range of 6,000 miles might also be a useful tool in countering USPACOM's ability to project power in the region and defend Taiwan from Chinese threats?
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
In the column, entitled Veiled Praise, Ms. Abdrabboh, a student at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, recounts a recent episode at the gym where she works out in Cambridge. In her column, Ms. Abdrabboh writes that she felt "more self-conscious than usual" that day. She attributes this to the fact that she works out in her hijjab (head scarf). During her workout she writes how "[e]very television in the gym highlighted some aspect of America's conflict with the Muslim world: the war in Iraq, allegations that American soldiers had desecrated the Koran, prisoner abuse at Guantánamo Bay, President Bush urging support of the Patriot Act".
Ok. Let's stop right there. America's conflict with the Muslim world? Sorry, Ms. Abdrabboh, but it's the Muslim world that has the conflict with America. America has done more to help Muslims than any other government - including the governments of all the Muslim nations. Lebanon, Kuwait, Somalia, Bosnia, Iraq. Americans died helping, or trying to help, all these countries stop the bloodshed within their own borders. To that list I would add Turkey's membership in NATO, and billions in military and foreign aid to Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Don't even get me started on the Koran "abuse" incident. The whole thing was completely overblown and let's leave it at that. And what the heck has the Patriot Act got to do with anything?
Oh, one other small point: it was Muslims that attacked America on September 11, not the other way around.
Ms. Abdrabboh continues on with a case of the vapors a la Nancy Hopkins (the MIT biologist who was so offended by Lawrence Summers' suggestion that innate differences between the sexes might explain women's lack of achievement in the sciences). Ms. Abdrabboh writes that the "stares just intensified my alienation as an Arab Muslim in what is supposed to be my country". She says she was "not sure if the blood rushing to my head was caused by the elliptical trainer or by the news coverage." (An aside: that is just crappy writing. How the heck did she get into Harvard?)
She goes on to relate how she finished her session on the elliptical trainer and moved on to the treadmill, where, unbeknownst to her, she dropped her keys. Her workout is interrupted by none other than Al Gore, who had interrupted his own workout to pick up her keys and hand them to her. Ms. Abdrabboh's reaction?
"It was nothing more than a kind gesture, but at that moment Mr. Gore's act represented all that I yearned for — acceptance and acknowledgment.
There in front of me, he stood for a part of America that has not made itself well known to 10 million Arab and Muslim-Americans, many of whom are becoming increasingly withdrawn and reclusive because of the everyday hostility they feel."
I'm sorry but the nerve of some people never ceases to amaze me. Here is a young woman, studying at the one of premier universities in the world (which happens to be American), with a bright future ahead of her, and all she can do is resort to imagined victimization. Notice, she never says that anyone physically or verbally assaulted her. Just that she "felt" that people were staring at her. I don't know. Maybe she had toilet paper stuck to her shoe.
Personally, I think Ms. Abdrabboh feels guilty for being a citizen of the country that has been targeted by her co-religionists. Rather than speak out against their crimes, she turns herself into the victim to dampen her own guilt. If she didn't, she might have to accept the fact that she comes from a part of the world with a lot of bad people and accept the fact that she herself is not doing anything to change it.
Maybe if she and her 10 million (a figure that is exaggerated; I believe America's Arab-American population numbers around 7 million) fellow Arab-Americans wouldn't feel such hostility (if indeed it does exist - a big if) if they stood up and denounced terrorism instead of talking out of both sides of their mouths on the issue.
Or perhaps Americans are hostile to hyper-sensitive twerps that seem to live only to tell us what awful people we are, all the while enjoying the freedom and opportunity found only in our society. She's like a freeloader that shows up at your door, enters without knocking, goes straight for the fridge and grabs a beer - only to complain that you don't have any Heineken.
Plenty of other bloggers and columnists - notably Jonah Goldberg on National Review Online - have lampooned this garbage far better than I ever could. A simple Google search of "Fatina Abdrabboh" will yield plenty of results. Ankle Biting pundits exposes Ms. Abdrabboh's past efforts at claiming victimhood. It's quite a list. Hey, Fatina, if things are so bad in America, leave! I'm sure Canada or France would love to have you.
But, to return to the title of this piece, the fact that the New York Times printed this drivel on their op-ed page says as much about the Times as it does about Fatina Abdrabboh. I mean, this column might (and I stress might) have been worth printing if Al Gore and his Secret Service detail had rescued Ms. Abdrabboh from a pack of wilding skinheads.
But, all that happened is that this privileged twit dropped her keys during a fit of self-induced paranoia and anxiety, and a nice man picked them up and handed them to her. She then tries to turn this into some kind of metaphor for her own American experience. The whole episode is hardly worth a diary or blog entry, much less a spot on the Times' op-ed page.