Thursday, August 28, 2008

Just Another Black Flag Day at TQ

I had put my thermometer outside last night to see how hot it was after I'd finished running. I never did go back to check it, and left it outside all night. There it was when I got home at 4:30 this afternoon.

Just another lovely Black Flag day at TQ...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

File Under: With Friends Like These

The Clintons are the ultimate in political 'good cop, bad cop'. While she is out giving a lukewarm endorsement of Obama (wrapped in a speech about her favorite subject - herself!), Bill is there questioning a putative President Obama's effectiveness.

The latest big news in Democratic presidential politics is that Bill Clinton won't attend Obama's coron - I mean, acceptance speech tomorrow night. And in a not so subtle swipe at Obama, Clinton questioned 'Candidate X's' effectiveness even though voters might agree with his policies. Purely hypothetical, don't you know.

I know it's wrong to wish people dead, but, come on, wouldn't we as a country be better off without them? Haven't we had enough of their tawdry, power-grubbing orgy of the self? I know I have. And then some.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Just How Hot is it?

The military uses a flag system to alert personnel to the risk of heat injuries. Green flag means no restrictions on physical activity. The index goes from green to yellow to red to black. Today was a black flag day.

Today when I got home from work, power was out in the trailers. Since it was dark and getting very still in the trailer, I put my camp chair outside and started reading my book. On a whim, I stuck my little thermometer on the outside of my trailer.

That picture was taken at 4:30 pm.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Comment from Anonymous

It's Sunday morning in Iraq and today is my one day off. I slept in late and woke up and checked email like I normally do. I saw that someone had posted an anonymous comment on my blog. Here it is:
SAW WHAT YOU WROTE ABOUT HEATH LEDGER. GO F*CK YOURSELF, HOMOPHOBE!!!!! [The rest of the comment is a statement from Heath's family about what a perfect specimen of homo sapiens he was, so I axed it.]
Let's take this apart quickly as I need to shower and go get lunch.

I vaguely recalled having written something about how the media would begin to canonize Ledger after he died so young. In fact, this is true since there is now a lot of talk about Ledger being nominated for an Oscar for his performance in 'The Dark Knight'. It took me about a half-hour to find what I wrote about Heath Ledger. Here it is in its entirety:
"I say it here... comes out there." That's one of Albert Brooks' line from "Broadcast News" and I use it pretty often to refer to my predictive powers.

A few nights ago I wrote in an email to a friend, "[S]o begins the canonization of Saint Heath."

Am I right or what? If you've even skimmed some of the articles about Ledger in the last couple of days maybe you noticed this trend towards hyperbole in the quotes from friends and coworkers. However, I think this quote from director Todd Haynes (I know, I know, consider the source) takes the cake:

Heath was a true artist, a deeply sensitive man, an explorer, gifted and wise beyond his years. There was no finer person on this earth. (emphasis added)

Really, Todd? There was NO finer person on Earth? Not one? Well, in that case, the rest of us should just kill ourselves since obviously human-ness has been done to perfection.

Pardon me while I wretch.
So, that is the sum total of what I wrote about Heath Ledger. What puzzles me is why this cretin that left the comment refers to me as a 'homopohobe'?

A phobia is an irrational fear of something. I don't have an irrational fear of homosexuals, I just find their conduct distasteful and don't want to have to be made to approve of it. This is something the left does quite well in the culture war. They mischaracterize the right. For example, if you are against affirmative action, you are a racist, against gay marriage a homophobe, etc.

Also, if you go back and read that post nowhere do I mention sexuality. And for a very good reason - Heath Ledger wasn't gay!

So, 'Anonymous', next time try having a coherent point. And if you are so sure of the veracity of what you are trying to say, try putting your name next to it, like I do, coward! Something tells me he won't be back. He knows he doesn't have a leg to stand on.

Oh, one more thing, I try to keep this blog PG, so no profanity, please.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Pendulum is Starting to Swing Away from Obama

MSNBC has this item about John McCain now holding a five point lead over Barack Obama. About three weeks ago I wrote a long-ish post on Obama-mania. At the time, I thought that the American electorate would start to get fed up with the hubris of the Obama campaign and the overly adulatory coverage of the junior Senator from Illinois.

Every account I have read of the candidates' performance in front of Pastor Rick Warren's congregation scored the night a victory for John McCain. I expect that Obama will get a bump from his announcement of a running mate and the Democratic convention. I doubt McCain will get the same bump since the coverage for him won't be nearly so flattering. But McCain is slowly building momentum. Now he needs a solid veep pick and I think the election will be his.

Expect the media to launch an 'October Surprise' against McCain like they did with the 'news' of George Bush's drunk driving arrest (circa 1972) in 2000. That one didn't work. I do recall that the Iran-Contra special prosecutor, Lawrence Walsh, also handed down indictments against figures in that scandal (Cap Weinberger and John Poindexter, if memory serves) in October of 1992. But I think that Ross Perot cost Bush 41 the election, not Lawrence Walsh.

I hope that my prediction holds because I sincerely believe that Barack Obama is a dangerous choice for president.

Also, to put things in perspective, here's an item I cribbed from Chuck Muth's News 'n Views:

Number of years of military service:
John McCain: 22
Barack Obama: 0

Time in Congress:
John McCain: 9,490 days
Barack Obama: 143 days

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Buried Treasure at Taqaddum

As I mentioned previously, Al Taqaddum (TQ) used to be an Iraqi Air Force base. Before the start of the war in 2003, Saddam Hussein had most of his most advanced aircraft flown out of the country, mainly to Iran. The remaining aircraft were buried in the sand at various bases. Here are some pictures I took of some of the aircraft that have been unearthed here at TQ.

These first pictures are of Ilyushin-28 Beagle bombers. The Beagle is a jet bomber first introduced into service in 1950. (This Wikipedia page has a picture of these same abandoned Beagles at TQ.)

These next pictures are Sukhoi Su - 25 Frogfoots. The Frogfoot is a close air support/ground attack aircraft. This is apparent by the number of hardpoints under the wings for carrying large amounts of ordnance.

These next pictures are MiG-29 Fulcrums. Fulcrums are among the most advanced fighters in the world. They are 4th generation fighters like the Russian Su-27 Flanker and the American F-15 Eagle and the F-16 Falcon. Why on earth Saddam Hussein would bury them in the desert is beyond me. Waste of damn fine aircraft.

These next two pictures are MiG-21 Fishbeds. The Fishbed first introduced in 1959 is a 1960s era fighter aircraft that was exported to over 55 countries in the 60s and 70s. As you can see, these have not been completely excavated. Also, in all the pictures, you can see that the aircraft have been cordoned off with barbed wire. This is because an American serviceman was killed when he was trying to retrieve the parachute from one of the MiG-21s and accidentally triggered the ejection seat which he assumed was no longer operational.

I have more pictures of these same aircraft but those I will post on my Kodak Gallery, as Blogger's layout tools for posting photos are cumbersome and not very flexible.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Prince Charles Is A Real Wanker

Today's Drudge Report had a link to this article on the British newpaper, The Telegraph, in which Britain's Prince Charles goes on a long diatribe about genetically-modified (GM) food.

Ole Chuck has had a bee in his bonnet about the environment and GM foods for awhile. He's also a big global warming nut. But this is his strongest - and least substantiated - temper tantrum yet. In this instance, Mr. Princess Diana is succumbing to the same syndrome that affects many American Hollywood celebrities. Namely, he is using his celebrity to go spouting off on a topic about which he knows next to nothing.

This one is particularly bad since, without offering a single fact beyond anecdotal evidence of having seen the consequences ("I have been to the Punjab where you have seen the disasters that have taken place as result of the over demand on irrigation because of the hybrid seeds and grains that have been produced which demand huge amounts of water...Look at western Australia. Huge salinization problems. I have been there. Seen it. Some of the excessive approaches to modern forms of agriculture") he claims that great calamities have already taken place because of GM food.

Uh, no. Sorry, Charlie. The real calamity is that because of similar paranoia from the EU about GM foods, countries in Africa won't accept food that would save I-don't-know-how-many thousands from starvation.

Stick to what you know, Chuch. Polo, or something.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Did You Know...

...that as far back as 1950 the Supreme Court of the United States had already determined that aliens have no right to habeas corpus protections in the US courts?

In the 1950 Johnson v. Eisentrager
decision the court ruled that "[a] nonresident enemy alien has no access to our courts in wartime." In fact, that sentence is the first holding of the whole gosh darn opinion. How much clearer can it be?

In order to counteract the Rasul v. Bush ruling (in which the justices granted habeas protections to Guantanamo detainees), Congress passed the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA) of 2005. This law gave exclusive jurisdiction to all habeas petitions from Guantanamo detainees to the D.C. Circuit Court. This basically precluded any court from hearing habeas appeals from detainees.

However, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld declared that the DTA did not apply to cases pending when the DTA was enacted. So, Congress responded with the Military Commissions Act (MCA) of 2006. The MCA "(1) denie[d] jurisdiction with respect to habeas actions by detained aliens determined to be enemy combatants, ... [and] (2) denie[d] jurisdiction as to 'any other action against the United States . . . relating to any aspect of the detention, transfer, treatment, trial, or conditions of confinement' of a detained alien determined to be an enemy combatant."

Pretty clear cut, huh?

As Lee Corso says, "Not so fast, my friend!" In Boumediene, the Court reaffirms its holding in Rasul v. Bush.
Petitioners have the constitutional privilege of habeas corpus. They are not barred from seeking the writ or invoking the Suspension Clause’s protections because they have been designated as enemy combatants or because of their presence at Guantanamo.
How exactly do they square this ruling with Johnson v. Eisentrager? Not well, I am afraid. If my reading of the syllabus is correct, the Court holds that Eisentrager's holdings rest on the practical considerations of dealing with habeas petitions. In other words, it seems that Kennedy et. al. conclude that Eisentrager doesn't reject the concept of habeas rights for aliens, but merely responds to the practical difficulties of responding to such petitions.

Unfortunately, that is not what Eisentrager says in the first holding. Here is is. (Sorry for the length.)
1. A nonresident enemy alien has no access to our courts in wartime. Pp. 768-777.
(a) Our law does not abolish inherent distinctions recognized throughout the civilized world between citizens and aliens, nor between aliens of friendly and enemy allegiance, nor between resident enemy aliens who have submitted themselves to our laws and nonresident enemy aliens who at all times have remained with, and adhered to, enemy governments. P. 769.
(b) In extending certain constitutional protections to resident aliens, this Court has been careful to point out that it was the aliens' presence within its territorial jurisdiction that gave the Judiciary power to act. P. 771.
(c) Executive power over enemy aliens, undelayed and unhampered by litigation, has been deemed, throughout our history, essential to wartime security. P. 774.
(d) A resident enemy alien is constitutionally subject to summary arrest, internment and deportation whenever a "declared war" exists. Courts will entertain his plea for freedom from executive custody only to ascertain the existence of a state of war and [339 U.S. 763, 764] whether he is an alien enemy. Once these jurisdictional facts have been determined, courts will not inquire into any other issue as to his internment. P. 775.
(e) A nonresident enemy alien, especially one who has remained in the service of the enemy, does not have even this qualified access to our courts. P. 776.
I really hate Anthony Kennedy. We could have had Robert Bork, instead we are stuck with this schmuck.

Another PC Nightmare from Across the Pond

Here's another one from The Telegraph's 'Expat Bulletin'. I had no idea the Brits were so far gone. Scary. I think the conventional wisdom in the colonies is that the Brits are more level-headed than we.

Thoughts on China

I spent a month in Beijing in January of 2007. While I was there, I spent a good amount of time composing a blog post in my head (that I never did get around to writing) about why I didn't think China was going to become a superpower to rival the United States any time soon. My thoughts can be boiled down to these few key points.

China's economy is able to overcome structural inefficiencies with a vast amount of cheap labor. China is able to maintain a super-heated export economy by virtue of an undervalued currency that doesn't float on the international market and deflates the price of Chinese goods. China has a large butcher's bill coming due for its despoiling of the environment in the form of modernizing its industry and the looming health costs to its citizenry. China still has 900 million people living in rural poverty.

In the July 27th Outlook section of The Washington Post I found this excellent article which makes several of the same points and which goes into great detail about the demographic time bomb lurking in the Chinese population. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Obama's 'Lost Years'

The inestimable Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and long-time commentator on the ongoing culture wars, has a fantastic essay in The Weekly Standard on Obama's writings in two Chicago newspapers, the Hyde Park Herald and the Chicago Defender, from 1996 to 2004 while he was a state senator in Illinois.

Not surprisingly, an analysis of these writings paints a very different picture than the post-racial Obama the media is trying to sell the electorate. It's a long read but well worthwhile, especially for those considering voting for Obama based on his pithy rhetoric.

Read it here.

Pipe Dreams of the Left

This past Sunday The Washington Post ran an article in the Outlook [weekly opinion] section entitled 'McCain's Problem Isn't His Tactic. It's GOP Ideas.' by Greg Anrig.

Mr. Anrig seems to think that the pendulum of public opinion has swung back in favor of Big Government. Basically it's a load of bollocks. What I found most risible was this paragraph:
So they advocated creating health savings accounts, handing out school vouchers, privatizing Social Security, shifting government functions to private contractors, and curtailing regulations on public health, safety, the environment and more. And, of course, they pushed to cut taxes to further weaken the public sector by "starving the beast." President Bush has followed this playbook more closely than any previous president, including Reagan, notwithstanding today's desperate efforts by the right to distance itself from the deeply unpopular chief executive.
Look at the conservative ideas that he claims have been advocated and discredited. Not one of them ever saw the light of day! Numerous Republican politicians have tried to get the federal government involved in school vouchers. But the Democrats, most notably Ted Kennedy, deeply beholden to the NEA, block any and all attempts at a meaningful school voucher program.

Privatizing Social Security? This was an idea that President Bush tried to tackle but again was blocked at every turn by Democrats, deeply beholden to elderly voters. I still don't have a private retirement savings account and I still see those taxes taken out of my paycheck every two weeks. President Bush even tried to compromise on Social Security reform, promising no reduction in benefits for those who elect to keep traditional Social Security benefits. Nothing!

'Starving the beast'? What planet is Mr. Anrig from? One of the biggest critiques that conservatives have of President Bush is that he spends like a, well, like a Democratic congressman. The tax cuts worked. They led to increased tax revenues, but then the President and Congress blew it all!

This is one of the most infuriating aspects of the Bush administrations. It seems like he is trying to spend his way (prescription drug benefit anyone?) to winning praise from the Democrats. But like the kid who tries to buy friends, all it gets him is contempt. Small government conservatives want desperately to like and believe in President Bush but he has snubbed us in favor of profligate spending. He just doesn't seem to understand that Paul Krugman is never going to write nice things about him.

If anything conservative ideals are as popular today as they every were. It's just that those of us that believe in them see little hope of their achieving fruition under any likely Republican presidents. As for Mr. Anrig's claim that more people believe that the public sector should do more to help those in need, is it any wonder after the past three generations have been brainwashed by public school education and the mainstream media? What's amazing is that there is still a large segment of the population that knows that they know what is best for their families and neighborhoods and wish politicians would take their hands out of our pockets so we could act in our own best interests.

Pelosi Takes Obstructionism to New Heig - Make that Lows!

This is excerpted from Chuck Muth's 'News 'N Views' e-newsletter. It's quite simply outrageous.

As I'm on the road traveling, I'm a bit behind in my reading and writing. But a "big deal" happened last Friday, as House Republicans staged a revolt against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who desperately wanted to adjourn the House and go on her summer vacation.

But Rep. John Shadegg - Honorary Chairman of the 2008 Conservative Leadership Conference - and Republicans refused to leave despite Pelosi turning off the lights and ordering the House Chamber cleared by security. Instead, Republicans demanded that Congress stay in session and deal with the nation's energy problems and challenges. That's pretty much what happened in a nutshell, but here's Rep. Shadegg's first-person account of the revolt which he sent to supporters last Friday afternoon...

To: Shadegg Friends
From: John Shadegg

History was made today. Congress just recessed for a month-long summer break, leaving any solutions to high gas and energy prices to wait until September. But, while Republicans were on the floor to try to talk about energy solutions, Nancy Pelosi adjourned the House and then ordered the C-SPAN cameras off, turned of the microphones and turned out the lights.

After the microphones went off, I was determined to get them back on and actually guessed right on the code to turn them back on. However, Pelosi ordered them off again.

Then, Pelosi order all reporters out of the Press Gallery, so I immediately went there to talk to the press, which enabled the press to stay there, since a Member of Congress was in the gallery.

My Republican colleagues and I stayed on the floor to continue the debate on why we need to have more domestic production and why we need to move forward with alternatives like solar, wind, and nuclear. In my speech on the floor of the House, I said that this was our Boston Tea Party. (My full comments are at the end of this email).

As we continued to talk on the House Floor, more and more of our Republican colleagues joined us and demonstrated our commitment to the American people in finding solutions to lower gas and energy prices.

Republican leaders just sent out a notice looking for a bullhorn and leadership aides are trying to corral all the members who are still in town to come speak on the floor and sustain this one-sided debate.

Also, Republicans can thank Shadegg for turning on the microphones the first time. Apparently, the feisty Arizona conservative started typing random codes into the chamber's public address system and accidentally typed the correct code, allowing Republicans brief access to the microphone before it was turned off again.

"I love this," Shadegg told reporters up in the press gallery afterward. "Congress can be so boring...This is a kick."

My comments on the House floor this afternoon are below.

Shadegg's Comments on House Floor

Ladies and gentleman, all of you who are here in the House Chamber today, listening to us speak without the TV cameras on, and without the microphones on, are watching history. How many of you remember the Boston Tea Party? This is the Boston Tea Party! How many of you remember the Orange Revolution when they tried to repress free speech behind the Iron Curtain? This is that revolution!

In this great nation, powerful leaders cannot repress the right of the Minority to speak out. And, that is what this is about. This is about the right of the Minority to be heard on this floor, of this House, today, in this debate on the single most important issue facing this nation and that is energy policy! It's affecting the lives and livelihoods of every single American.

Now, make no mistake about it. Those of us who are here speaking want more production of American-made energy. But we haven't said it's our way or the highway. We haven't said we only want more production of oil. We haven't said we only want oil produced from the outer continental shelf. We haven't said we only want more oil produced from the Intermountain West, or more oil from ANWR, or even oil shale. We have said we want all of the above! We want solar! We want nuclear! We want wind! We want America to have the power it needs to get the job done.

Why would they turn off the microphones? Why would they turn off the television cameras? Because, the truth is, a majority of Americans want more American-made, American-produced energy. They are tired of being blackmailed by our enemies like Hugo Chavez. They are tired of being dependent on foreign oil when they know we have American petroleum we can use to power our economy.

You are watching history. You are watching an effort by the Minority to express itself. And you will go home someday, those of you who are young, and remember the day that you stood here. Because in America, freedom of speech rules. I will make a prediction for you right here, right now. We will, in this nation, produce more American-made energy in the very near future, notwithstanding Nancy Pelosi!

It is important to understand, that on this floor, both majorities and minorities get to speak. Typically bills come to the floor, and the Minority can offer amendments. We wanted to offer amendments for the last four months, amendments to look at the issue of where we can get more American-made energy. An amendment perhaps to allow drilling on the outer continental shelf for the thousands of barrels, tens of thousands of barrels, hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil that are off our coasts! We wanted to offer an amendment to allow us to drill on the outer continental shelf for the trillions of cubic feet of natural gas.

Now why do we want that? We want that for the average American because if we start producing our own oil and our own natural gas, prices would come down today and people would stop suffering! Please understand we didn't want to be here today. We wanted to debate these things in regular order. We wanted a chance to offer those amendments when the bills were offered.

We wanted the chance to offer one of those amendments just two days ago, when the Majority took up a bill they thought would affect energy prices. You know what the Majority did? They said "No, not a single amendment will be allowed." They bring the bills to the floor and the rule says no amendments. So no amendment could be offered. For three months, for three months, the Majority has suppressed the rights of the Minority to have a single vote on more American-made energy, and that's just dead wrong.

Let me end by thanking you for being here and for witnessing this moment in American history - this Boston Tea Party for America's energy. Today, we can overcome Speaker Pelosi with your help.

Great Krauthammer Op-Ed

This op-ed by Charles Krauthammer does a great job of exposing Nancy Pelosi's hypocrisy when she explained her refusal to allow a vote on more drilling as, "I'm trying to save the planet; I'm trying to save the planet."

It's getting harder and harder for me to contain my disgust with Madam Speaker and her ilk. As Krauthammer shows, this is nothing more than NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) writ large.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Template Change

As you will no doubt notice, I selected a new template. I did this primarily because the new one makes more effective use of the full width of the screen. I am sure it will take some getting used to (for me as well as my readers), but I hope you like the change.

What Part of 'Representative' Do They Not Understand?

It occurs to me that far too many Congressmen have forgotten the operative part of their job title, namely to represent the views of their constituents. Most polls show that nearly three-quarters of Americans favor tapping more domestic sources of oil. Americans are feeling the pinch at the pump and are tired of sending billions of dollars to places like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Nigeria.

Yet Nancy Pelosi in the House, and Harry Reid in the Senate (supported by the likes of Dianne Feinstein and Barack Obama) remain willfully obstinate on this issue. They must think we are pretty stupid; that we don't understand the basic economic law of supply and demand. They claim that drilling for more oil will not lower prices; that it will take too long for the oil to reach consumers. Hello! Every day you put off exploring for more domestic oil just extends the time for it to reach consumers that much longer. Not to mention that there are several fields that could be brought on line with in two years.

Democrats love to blame the speculators. Yet they don't seem to understand that speculators are betting on the supply of oil tomorrow. If they hear that US oil companies are going to start drilling for more oil in ANWR and the Outer Continental Shelf, they will start betting that the supply in the future will increase and hence the price will drop.

These so-called leaders are infuriating in their condescension towards Americans! They think that you and I are too stupid to understand these issues and that they and their staff know better.

Say A Prayer for...

...Morgan Freeman. CNN reports that he is in serious condition after a car accident in Mississippi.

Freeman is certainly one of our greatest character actors. Please keep him in your thoughts and let's all wish him a full and speedy recovery!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Well, We Can Hope, Can't We?

CNN had this teaser for a story: 'Is al Qaeda No. 2 wounded or dead?' My first thought was, 'Well, I f*cking hope so!'

As I eagerly clicked on the link, I was greeted by this headline: 'No evidence of al Qaeda No. 2's illness or death, U.S. says'

CNN! Bunch of c*ck-teases!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Shape of Things to Come?

Earlier this week I posted some links to some stories from a British newspaper that gives you an idea of the PC run amok there. Below is a passage I cribbed from a National Review Online essay. Given the Supreme Court's Boumediene decision, how much longer before American taxpayers will be shelling out for the upkeep of those who wish to destroy us?

As an example of where we might be headed after Boumediene, consider the situation in Britain. In June, Abu Qatada, a radical imam wanted in connection with bombing conspiracies in several countries, was released from jail after seven years of fighting his deportation. Qatada, whose recorded sermons were found in the Hamburg apartment of the 9/11 hijackers, was described by an immigration appeals commission as a "truly dangerous individual" who was "heavily involved, indeed at the center of terrorist activities associated with al-Qa'eda."

But judges in Britain will not extradite him to Jordan, where he was convicted in absentia, because his lawyers allege that the evidence against him might have been obtained by torture. Sending him packing under these circumstances, the court ruled, would violate the European Convention on Human Rights.

The result is a perverse situation in which, to protect the human rights of the man who issued a fatwa to kill the wives and children of Egyptian police and army officers, the British public pays a yearly tab of $1.1 million to cover Qatada's round-the-clock police surveillance, housing and welfare assistance for him, his wife and five children.