Sunday, July 31, 2005

Public funding of stem cell research gets Frist behind it

Senator Frist isn't making many friends in the socially conservative side of the conservative side this week. He spoke out in favor of public funding of embyonic stem cell research.

::::::::WASHINGTON — Breaking with President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Friday threw his support behind legislation to expand federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research so long as it stays "within ethical bounds."

"It's not just a matter of faith, it's a matter of science," Frist, R-Tenn., said on the floor of the Senate.

Frist's announcement of support for the House-passed legislation immediately dented his support among Christian conservatives but won praise from Democrats, as well as from former first lady Nancy Reagan, whose husband, the late former President Ronald Reagan, had Alzheimer's disease for years before his death.

"Embryonic stem cell research has the potential to alleviate so much suffering," Nancy Reagan said. "Surely, by working together we can harness its life-giving potential."

President Bush has said that he doesn't support such funding and would veto any legislation that came to him authorizing it. He argues that life should not be created for the purpose of being destroyed to provide research material. My stance on that is that these 2 positions are not exclusive of each other. There are embryos at fertility clinic across the nation that get made for the purpose of allowing a couple to conceive. The fact of the matter is that it's not an exact science and there are almost always embryos left over after the successful conception has occured. As it stands today, those embryos are simply destroyed. They were not made for the purpose of providing research material. But they were made and they will continue to be at clinics such as this.

Unless someone is suggesting that each and every embryo so created must be implanted into the womb of a woman, I must ask why it is a better thing to just throw them away? As Senator Frist has said, we can do this with a clear conscience as long as we stay in the ethical bounds. Strict oversight of these clinics to ensure that only their true clients are having procedures done there (in other words that someone's not paying women to provide eggs for the express purpose of making embryos that will be turned over for research) will be required. I don't think that's an onerous requirement if we're going to go down this path.

I think Senator Frist is doing the right thing in this regard.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

We've got Hummers!

I mean Hummingbirds, of course. I was so surprised to see them out our back windows since I've lived in Virginia for several years without ever knowing we had some indigenous hummingbirds here. A couple of days ago I saw one; yesterday we saw 2. I put up a hummingbird feeder this afternoon and saw one taking a drink within 5 minutes. My kid's having a blast with it and they're fascinating for the old folks in the house, too.

Think I'll wait until morning...

I've got some work to do in the attic of my home. There's some electrical work I'm going to do and I need to lay down some new insulation in a few spots where it's not quite up to spec. At about 9:30 am it wasn't too bad up there, probably in the high 80's to low 90's. Every time I went up there, however, it seemed like it was getting hotter. I figured it might be a nice experiment to drop a thermometer up there and see what the temperature actually was. I did just that before I came downstairs for lunch.

By 1:30 pm it was 101° up there. (I'd pretty much decided to not go up there again until after sundown by that point.) I just happened to go past the temperature display down here (it's reading the probe upstairs via radio) and it's showing 112.3°.

I'm pretty much thinking I'll be waiting until tomorrow morning, now.

10th planet discovered... maybe.

I note several reports of astronomers claiming to have discovered a 10th planet in our solar system. For me, it was deja vu since I distinctly recall there being a big ballyhoo about another "10th planet" discovery back in 2002. The object discovered then was named "Quaoar" (pronounced kwah-o-wahr) and the announcement immediately sparked a debate about whether it was a planet or a large "object" in the debris field just outside our solar system called the Kuiper Belt. This, in turn, started a discussion about whether or not Pluto was really a planet, or just another Kuiper Belt object like Quaoar.

This recent discovery is basically following the same path. I note that, unlike Quaoar, no one's rushing to name this one. Perhaps they want to wait to see how this debate falls out.

Press ignores assassination attempt

Would American media outlets virtually ignore an attempt to assassinate President Bush? Haven't you heard? That's not a hypothetical question. Power Line notes the near-complete silence on the matter.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Senate passes S. 397, the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act"

The Senate today passed S. 397, the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" on a vote of 65-31 in favor. The House version had passed earlier this year, so it goes to President Bush who had indicated he will sign the bill into law. This has been a long time in coming and I've done quite a bit of work on it myself.

The law protects the manufacturers of firearms from the kinds of lawsuits several municipalities filed seeking to hold gun makers legally accountable for crimes committed with guns. Such lawsuits make as much sense as suing Ford if someone uses an Explorer as a getaway car in a bank robbery or suing Sears when some guy stabs someone with a Craftsman screwdriver. The lawsuits were attempts to impose a ban on firearms ownership by removing the source of the guns, that's all. The Senate has joined the House in seeing that truth for what it is and putting a stop to it.

My thanks to my Senators and my House Rep for their efforts in passing this bill.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

No use complaining now

Power Line has a pointer to a letter at the Washington Post this morning that bings up a good point.

::::::::*If Judge Roberts's nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in May 2001 had not been blocked by the Democratic-controlled Senate, we'd have two more years of judicial opinions to review.::::::::

It gets better. Go have a look.

Cover ups and civic responsibility

OK, moral dilema time. I've got a situation for you to ponder and I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Imagine that a researcher discovers a way to send a signal to the computers installed in the engines of all models of a specific manufacturer's cars. (Doesn't matter which one, just that it's a specific car company with a lot of cars out there on the road.) In sending this signal, he instructs the computer to take actions that result in a lot more electrical current being applied to components of the fuel management system than should be. The result is a 90% probability that the car will immediately catch fire and the gas tank will explode. He has the opportunity to disclose that information to the car maker so they can produce a fix for the problem. He also has the opportunity to present the information in a conference comprised of people some of whom have anarchist ties, some histories of illegal activity, and some who are outspoken critics of corporations and law enforcement. In short, a conference of people some of whom will absolutely make use of his information to perform the action this researcher has discovered is possible.

Should he disclose the information to the company or present the information at the conference? If he chooses to present the information at the conference, is he in any way responsible when one of the attendees uses his technique against some 3rd party's car?

Think about it. Leave a comment and let us all know how you feel on the matter.

As you've likely guessed, this is not a completely hypothetical exercise. I note a situation going on that's very near and dear to my techie heart. A researcher named Michael Lynn, until recently an employee at ISS in their "X-Force" research team, has apparently discovered a method of using a previously detected vulnerability in Cisco's IOS, the operating system on Cisco routers. Lynn's technique allows an authorized user to gain access to the router's operating system and configuration. (Please note that this isn't a new "hole" but a different use for one that had already been reported. The security problem has been fixed in recent versions of the code but not all of Cisco's customers had been advised of the particulars yet, nor had they had the chance to update all the routers.) When the details of Lynn's presentation was made known to Cisco and ISS, Cisco asked that the details of how to perform this exploit be withheld from the audience of the Black Hat Briefing conference going on in Las Vegas until they had the chance to disclose the exploit to their customer base using their procedures for this task. ISS agreed and removed the material from the binder being given out at the conference. Lynn resigned his position in protest and presented the information anyway. As of yesterday afternoon, Vegas time, an unknown number of technically very clever people were given detailed instruction on exactly how to gain access to the routers that comprise a huge majority of the Internet's infrastructure and provide the internal networks of the vast majority of America's corporations. I can absolutely guarantee that there will be companies, agencies, and public entities taken off-line as a result of this technique. The mass of groups using Cisco's routers is simply too large to perform updates fast enough to stop it.

Cisco has initiated a lawsuit against Lynn to get a restraining order on his further divulgence of this data.

Some members of the techie community are calling that action a "cover up" with Cisco trying to "silence" this researcher. The various technical reporting outlets are painting this fight as a valiant member of the research community desperately trying to expose a corporation deliberately putting out a defective product and the faceless, monolithic corporation trying just as hard to keep us all in the dark. Allow me to put this into a different light.

Picture this: a member of your family has just fallen very ill with a heart arrhythmia and is having trouble breathing. On his way in from the patio out back, staggering in to attempt to call 911, his drug allergy bracelet catches on the doorjam and breaks off. He manages to dial 911 before he collapses and the paramedics find him on the floor when they arrive. On the way to the hosptial, your family member starts going into cardiac arrest. The parameds have 2 medications they can treat him with, 1 of which he's lethally allergic to. They radio in to the hospital asking if he's got a known allegery. The nurse at the hospital goes to check the database - and can't. That database is on the other side of a Cisco router that some script kiddie in South Korea just took down on a lark using Lynn's technique. So sorry to inform you that these caring, professional medical people just pumped 10 cc's of what might as well have been ricin poison into your family member and he died.

I will be keeping an eye on this situation to see if there was some kind of mitigating circumstance in Lynn's disclosure. Right now, it just looks like a case where some researcher thinks his right to recognition for his work outweighs the public good of maintaining our information systems integrity. Cisco has, by all accounts, already dealt with the problem and is advising its customers to apply the fix as fast as they can. It seems to me that Lynn just didn't want to miss the chance to play to an audience at Black Hat and decided to just quit his job rather than give Cisco the time to disperse the fix. And this guy was a member of a team supposedly dedicated to helping us all stay safe in cyberspace. Nice. Real nice.

House bill introduced to address eminent domain

A new bill's been introduced on the Hill that seeks to repair the damage done by the Supreme Court's ill-considered Kelo ruling. There are several being considered already in Congress and they face a unique challenge that was summed up nicely by one of the Reps involved in the efforts:

::::::::Some voters have even asked lawmakers to draft a constitutional amendment, which one lawmaker said seems redundant.

"What are we going to do? The constitution is very clear — re-adopt the 5th Amendment? It specifically says you can't do this and somehow they found ... that it was OK to do it," said Rep. Richard Pombo ( search), R-Calif., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Excellent point. When the highest court in the land looks at the highest law in the land and says that this phrase:

::::::::"nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."::::::::

...means that the government can take your house and give it to me because I can develop something on it that will - excuse me, might - generate more taxable revenue than you can, then you've got a real problem with writing a law. What can you say that preserves the ability to apply eminent domain in the case of a road, a bridge, or a school as has always been done and yet keep something like Kelo from happening?

The current efforts are centering around the purse strings, which is where Congress generally turns to bring States in line with their philosophy. If that's what needs to be done to protect peoples' homes, then do it. And get this issue back before the court after the doddering fools who ruled for the majority in Kelo are gone so this horrendous error can be corrected.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

University cracks down on free speech

Here's the complete, unedited text of the response to an unsolicited e-mail sent to a university student and employee which touted a film about a lesbian relationship:

::::::::"Do not send me any mail about 'Connie and Sally' and 'Adam and Steve.' These are perversions. The absence of God in higher education brings on confusion. That is why in these classes the Creator of the heavens and the earth is never mentioned."::::::::

William Paterson University in New Jersey calls this "threatening." I agree with the author of the column this is reported within. Read all about it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Quick update from Yon

Michael Yon, who I mentioned in an earlier post regarding his ride-along on a spectacular weapons-cache discovery, posted this quick note today:

::::::::Special Note: American experts who examined the 26 Surface to Air Missiles captured in "The Devil's Foyer," say 23 of those missiles could have been used to attack aircraft.::::::::

Emphasis mine. I don't think I need to go into extraordinary detail about what happens when these things get used. Our troops over there are doing a tremendous job under exceedling difficult circumstances to find and secure these weapons to protect both the Coalition troops and the Iraqi populace. What they're doing matters, and it matters a great deal. Good job, guys.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Soldiers' Angels update

About a month ago I decided I needed to start doing something more active to show my support for the troops in the field. Over on Blackfive and Mudville, they have spoke highly of the Soldiers' Angels and I decided to go over and have a look. I put in for a name of a soldier to write to and got one back in a few hours. Writing that first letter was hard to do but I kept thinking about the soldier at the other end and how it might help lift some spirits over there to hear from an average American who supports them and what they're trying to do. One of the things they tell you over at the Angels' site is that it's possible you'll never hear from your soldier. They're busy, after all. The Angels' site assures participants that the troops appreciate it.

After sending 2 letters and a care package, I was preparing to write a third and "scheduled" myself to have it done tonite. In today's mail, I found a small envelope with my name on it coming from my soldier. I had a huge grin on when I saw that and found that my efforts were, indeed, appreciated. My soldier had never heard of Soldiers' Angels, but he told me he's glad someone put him on the list. Toward the end he commented on it specifically:

::::::::Before I close this letter I will say that I don't know anything about this Soldiers' Angels program. And had never heard of this before your letters, and I did some research. But I will say that I am so glad it exists because with the support of families such as yours we are sure to be victorious in the LONGGGGG run. And of course getting mail in itself is a real morale booster. Thank you for all that you do to support us!::::::::

(That's a verbatim copy, by the way. I like the way people write by themselves when MS Word's not trying to correct grammar!) In reading this fine letter, I never thought when I started this effort that it would be such a morale booster for me, too. Interestingly enough, my soldier left Iraq 3 days ago to come home for 2 weeks' leave. I plan on having a letter ready to send to arrive back there as this soldier returns. It's a long run, indeed, and I'm going to be there for them each step of the way.

Trackback to CQ temporarily blocked

Ed over at Captain's Quarters has put a trackback block on all Blogger URL's because he's getting seriously spammed from outfits using Blogger as their commercial sites. Just an FYI.

Targets indicate Al Qaeda not concerned with Iraq

So, there's this terrorist who was caught after he and his team attempted to pull off a terror attack and kill as many non-combatant civilians as they could. (What went wrong, I'll go into in a moment.) This guy is interrogated by law enforcement and intelligence people and during all that admits to the particulars of his planned attack. Now, tell me if this sounds familiar.

The terrorist says his planned mode of attack was to hijack commercial aircraft in 3 major cities around the world and fly them into the House of Commons and the Tower Bridge in London, the Rialto Towers in Melbourne, Australia (this link loads Java&trade so give it a minute), and into the Indian Parliament building. The target date to execute the attack was September 11, 2001.

Is this an "alternate history" piece of fiction? No, it's not. (Hat tip: Captain's Quarters, see his post for more detail.) From a story in the Times:

::::::::AN INDIAN man was jailed in Bombay yesterday for plotting to fly passenger jets into the House of Commons and Tower Bridge in London on September 11, 2001.

Mohammed Afroze was sentenced to seven years after he admitted that he had a role in an al-Qaeda plot to attack London, the Rialto Towers building in Melbourne and the Indian Parliament.

His lawyer has claimed, however, that the confession was “forcefully taken” and that Afroze was tortured by Indian police.

Afroze admitted that he and seven al-Qaeda operatives planned to hijack aircraft at Heathrow and fly them into the two London landmarks. The suicide squad included men from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Afroze said. They booked seats on two Manchester-bound flights, but fled just before they were due to board.

I'll clear out one point right now: the "torture" claim is a standard playbook maneuver of Al Qaeda and anyone who takes this lawyer's word on the matter is simply looking for an excuse to blow this story off. If you're going to just buy into that concept, the rest of this post will be useless to you. Fair warning.

There are 2 parts of this that are interesting in the extreme. First, note that the terrorists Afroze teamed with had booked the seats and were apparently good to go. Something scared them off. While I'd dearly like to know what that was, I must conclude that except for that something, they'd have been able to pull off the attacks with the same success rate as here in the US. One of the stories mentions that these attacks were "called off" after the 9/11 attacks in the US. Perhaps the immediate increase in airport security that occurred in every major airport in the world made the plan unworkable? More detail would be greatly appreciated.

Second, have a look at something strange in the target list. I'll turn the floor over to Ed Morrissey since he hits it squarely:

::::::::Let's take another look at that target list for 9/11. The British had allied with the United States in our work in Iraq, of course, and helped us enforce the no-fly zones over the northern and southern parts of the country. That would fit in with the supposition that AQ intended on doing nothing more than forcing infidels off the Arabian peninsula, the current meme that blames the string of bombings in London this month on the Coalition presence in Iraq.

However, Australia didn't have troops in Saudi Arabia in 2001, although they supported the US and UK diplomatically. The Aussies had not even sent troops in the first Gulf War, sending a support contingent instead. However, in 1999 they did help liberate East Timor from the grip of Islamist terrorists, which apparently caused the inclusion of Melbourne on the al-Qaeda's hit list.

But the final target raises the most questions about the supposed causality between American/Western interference in Southwest Asia and AQ operations. Afroze, an Indian, had targeted the Indian Parliament. Why India? India opposed the American intervention in Iraq later, and before 2001 had not maintained terribly friendly relations with the United States. India also had no troops in the Middle East, especially in the Arabian Peninsula, where US troops supposedly provoked the AQ response.

So why plot to attack India -- a plot only subverted by the failure of the "courage" of the terrorists assigned to strike it?

Why indeed? Ed goes on to mention the Muslim-Hindu tension in India and that's a factor that continues to this day. But if that's the reason for flying a plane into the Indian Parliament - and because India never once had troops in the Middle East there is no other reason - then the concept that American foreign policy is to blame for all the terrorist attacks made against us makes no sense at all. A larger reason is in play here and bin Laden's commentary about forming a new World Caliphate tells you what it likely is.

As usual, however, you would never know this rather critical piece of the terrorist puzzle if you relied on the US media for your information. A search of Foxnews, CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times will get you absolutely nothing - zero - on this entire issue. This story was filed in the Australian over 22 hours ago as of my writing of this post. The Times article was printed Saturday, their time. And from the US media on this story that shows a broader "root cause" for terrorism than that America is entirely to blame? Nothing. Two days later and not a peep. I've been told that I appear to consider the media to be one of the major problems our country faces today. Insofar as their bias in reporting the news, that's correct. I do consider them a problem, and it's a bigger problem than most that we're dealing with.

A well-informed public is critical to the operation of a democracy and, let's face it, blogs are still minnows swimming with whales when you're talking about the subscriber base. We need - critically need - a reliable and ethical news media in order to stay informed. That requires a news-reporting organ that is willing to tell us the facts of the situation regardless of their personal feelings on the matter. Editorials are one thing. Editors are basically bloggers, when it comes down to it, and they should feel perfectly free to expound on a subject on their page to their heart's content. Opinion columns are in the same boat. But news reporting should not be held in the same regard and editors should also not use their power of inclusion and denial to keep stories out of print that don't happen to support their message. This is one of those stories and it's information that could be critical to some of our citizen's decision-making process. By not reporting it, our media has let us all down.

Pearl of Wisdom?

Heard over the weekend:

::::::::A midlife crisis is when you reach the top of your ladder and realize it's leaned against the wrong wall.::::::::

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Next draft of Iraqi Bill of Rights shows progress & promise

I wrote earlier to point out the write up over at Publius on the draft of the Iraqi "Bill of Rights" and I thought everyone should know that there's another draft out. Publius highlights areas where progress is clearly being made.

The drafting of a document as momentous as a Constitution has never been easy, but I have to believe the process is even harder today than it was over 200 years ago when our Founding Fathers managed that first one. Bear in mind that there were only 55 delegates in the Congress that met in Philly in 1787. Those 55 men had been chosen from among their various state's best minds and most compelling speakers. There was no internet, no mass media, no access to the monstrous amount of information we have today. And, lest we forget, there was no predecessor to measure progress against. There were prejudices aplenty but, with travel and communication being what it was, they were fairly isolated and local in nature.

Lastly, it is my considered opinion that these men were all far more capable of rational, analytical thought than is found in the majority of our modern population. Howling aggression and unyielding stances in argumentation weren't considered positives like they appear to be today. The common honor and ethics required a man to be able to back up his statements and accusations with real facts and compelling arguments. This is no longer the case today, even here in America. What does 40 years of living in a totalitarian regime do the people's ability to argue effectively and compromise? How does one do either of those things living in a culture that is still very, very beholden to a given tribe, with all the blood feuds and offenses collected throughout the years?

To quote a line from one of our favorite movies, "this is advanced citizenship." It ain't easy and that's without all the baggage of the last 40 years of brutal repression that went on over there.

Still, the Afghani's had it every bit as tough and they've made wondrous progress in 3 years. I have faith in the process and I have hope for Iraq.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Next version of Windows&trade announced

The next-gen operating system by Microsoft formerly known as "Longhorn" was unveiled today along with its new name: Windows Vista.

::::::::Microsoft (Research) has promised that the new system will have several improvements, including better security features, more comprehensive search capabilities and a friendlier user interface.

Specific features include a new way to manage files involving the use of virtual folders, which will make storing and finding information easier, Sullivan said.

Several privacy capabilities, such as protected user accounts, have also been built into the new system, he said.

In a Microsoft video of the name announcement, the new system is described as "Clear. Confident. Connected."

Well, we'll see. As a long-time Windows user and a DOS geek before that, I've seen a number of these O/S roll-outs that promised much. It's a long way to "late next year", which is the scheduled release timeframe, so we'll just have to watch as this one unfolds.

ICE Protocol

Just got an interesting e-mail here. Please understand this is not a hoax and I'll explain more after the text of the e-mail. It reads:

A campaign encouraging people to enter an emergency contact number in their mobile phone's memory under the heading "ICE" (for "In Case of Emergency"), has rapidly spread throughout the world as a particular consequence of last week's terrorist attacks in London. Originally established as a nation-wide campaign in the UK, ICE allows paramedics or police to be able to contact a designated relative / next-of-kin in an emergency situation.

The idea is the brainchild of East Anglian Ambulance Service paramedic Bob Brotchie and was launched in May this year. Bob, 41, who has been a paramedic for 13 years, said: "I was reflecting on some of the calls I've attended at the roadside where I had to look through the mobile phone contacts struggling for information on a shocked or injured person. Almost everyone carries a mobile phone now, and with ICE we'd know immediately who to contact and what number to ring. The person may even know of their medical history."By adopting the ICE advice, your mobile will help the rescue services quickly contact a friend or relative - which could be vital in a life or death situation. It only takes a few seconds to do, and it could easilyhelp save your life. Why not put ICE in your phone now? Simply select a new contact in your phone book, enter the word 'ICE' and the number of the person you wish to be contacted. For more than one contact name ICE1, ICE2, ICE3 etc. It's so simple that everyone can do it. Please do, and please pass this may save a life.

I checked the extremely valuable Snopes database on this and found that this is true. Bob Brotchie in the UK is a paramed and has started this protocol. What you'll also find is that some hoaxers are claiming that doing so allows hackers to drill into your phone. Ridiculous. That's a hoax, but the ICE protocol is not. I've just now done it myself. Terrorists or tornados, it's good advice. Please pass it along.

The left and homosexual inconsistency

In the extremely few true hate mails I've received the term "homophobic" has been one of the terms I'm usually described with. (In fact, every single one of the few has said so.) I'm convinced it's just part of the rant since it was included with a long line of epithets that included "right-wing", "warmonger", "greedy", and various terms synonymous with "unthinking puppet." Like I said, it's been very few and they're easily deleted and ignored. It wouldn't have come up at all were it not for the lunatic actions of the left in professing to be the tolerant ones fully accepting of a person's sexuality without judgement or castigation. If these people are who they claim to be, then a person's homosexuality should never come up as an issue, and certainly not as a negative, right?

So how does one explain John Edwards' pointed use of Mary Cheney, the Vice President's lesbian daughter, as a negative factor against his opponent in the Vice Presidential debates last year? It was a big deal, all right, in that it cost Edwards dearly. It was so obvious that he was trying to paint Mary Cheney as a black mark against Dick Cheney because she was gay. Cheney's supporters basically said, "Yeah? So what?" and were, in fact, joined by many in the gay community in that question. For a party that prides itself, as I said, on their tolerance and acceptance of gay folks, this was a strange tactic. After it literally blew up in their hands, you'd think they'd know not to try this again.

Fast forward to today. The left isn't opposing a presidential election - they lost that one decisively - they're opposing the confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice. John Roberts has impeccable credentials, there's no attacking those. His actions both on the bench and advocating in front of it have also been impeccable. There's no way for them to attack his education, his ethics, or his record with any strength. I expected attempted character assassination, for certain, but I can't say I expected their latest tactic.

It all started with the commentary about President Bush's facial expressions during his announcement of Roberts' nomination. Daily Kos and other lefty blogs as well as one well-known center-right blog, Instapundit, thought the President was smirking during the nomination. What they didn't know - because it was off-camera - was that Robert's little boy had stepped away from his Mom and started a little break-dancing session in front of the audience. The President wasn't smirking because he thought he "had it in the bag" with the nomination, he was trying to keep from busting up in the middle of his announcement. (Instapundit was corrected on the issue and posted his correction on his blog.) When it started getting around that the President had had a perfectly good reason for doing what he did (and, in my opinion, showed some real control at being able to keep speaking) a rather unusual idea started to get floated.

OK, it's not unusual, it's stupid. Confederate Yankee had the goods and once again Daily Kos posters delved new depths. Out of nowhere, they began to surmise that Roberts' son might be gay.

Yes, that's right. Lacking any real, honest method of attacking Roberts' nomination, they decide to manufacture the idea that a four-year-old boy is probably gay. Gay. Four years old. Well, I'm going to float my own theory about the evil bastards who came up with this one. I think they must gay themselves, or harbor some real serious gay fantasies, and in either case are probably pedophiles. Who else thinks of four-year-olds having sexual identies well enough defined to claim that a little boy must be gay? Classic behavior of pedophiles; to project their own sexuality onto children in an attempt to justify their own behaviors. Sick? No, not sick. Evil. There's a difference.

Oh, but it doesn't stop there. Perhaps realizing what kind of shitstorm they were conjuring for themselves, they decided to shift targets, if not ordnance. And so, when the New York Times ran a story on John Roberts, ostensibly to provide background on the nominee, the left found little nuggets within to build their story upon. Yes, you see where I'm headed. The left is now proposing that John Roberts himself is likely gay. And their reasons for advancing such a suggestion? He attended a boy's Catholic high school, he wrestled on the team there, he played the role of Peppermint Patty in a high school production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown", and - pay attention, now - he wore plaid pants. TV's favorite lefty blogger and perennial cutie Wonkette wonders:

::::::::We're not making any conclusions here -- we wouldn't want to comment on an ongoing investigation -- we're just laying out the facts: He is a graduate of an all-boys Catholic school where, as a member of the wrestling team, he regularly grappled with other sweaty, repressed boys. That is when he wasn't the drama club playing Peppermint Patty, for God's sake.::::::::

Oh, sure, wouldn't want to draw any conclusions. Calling this witch-hunt an "investigation" is just an attempt to lend some sort of credibility and it's ludicrous on the face. I wonder if she'd make the same observation about practitioners of other grappling combat arts, such as aikido? I'd love to see her walk up to Steven Segal and make the claim that he's probably gay and justify the comment by alluding to his art form.

All of which just brings us around to the question again: Why is it that the oh-so-tolerant left is wildly pointing at Roberts and basically screaming, "He's a FAG! He's GAY! And his little boy, too!" Why should that be a problem? As Charmaine Yoest says, who's homophobic now? The man's credentials and performance on and before the bench are the important factors. Will the man use the Constitution as his guiding principle in ruling on the cases that come before him on the highest court of our land? These are the questions that need answering and it's the right that wants them to be the focus. The left seems to think we care about his sexuality or, even less likely, that we find their accusations on the matter the least bit credible. This little firecracker went off in Kerry's and Edwards' hands already, so you'd think the singed fingers would have taught them not to light this one again.

Information insecurity: County government assisting ID thieves

In a topic near and dear to my heart for a couple of reasons, I read where an ID thief managed to acquire the data on his victim from an interesting source - the web site of the county government. Hamilton County, OH apparently started scanning in speeding tickets and posting them on-line. Apparently, the web site wasn't too discriminating in who it gave those scanned images out to because a woman whose ticket was so posted found that an ID thief managed to rack up $20K in spending on her information. The reason? The woman's name and social security number were listed on the ticket.

This is just stupid. Every single information officer these days is fully aware of the sensitivity of certain data items and the social security number is the absolute worst of the bunch. It shouldn't be, because that number is only supposed to be used to track income for the purposes of handling social security benefits. It's not supposed to be used for anything else. Its use has blossomed into far, far more, as we all know, becoming a virtual "national ID" on its own. The fact that so many private enterprises also use the number to identify customers only compounds the problem. In fact, it's the use by financial institutions like banks and credit reporting agencies that allows someone to do what this thief did.

The fault, however, is primarily on the IT/IS systems and staff of Hamilton County, OH. We can even take a step back further and ask why a person's social security number is listed on a speeding ticket. The only info needed to ID a person for that purpose is name, address, and driver's license number. (If she was an out-of-state driver and her state uses social security numbers as driver's license numbers, then her state needs to fix their program to avoid exposing its citizens to this risk.) Under no circumstances should it have been posted on the damned internet. If the management there at Hamilton County are that clueless and out-of-touch, then they should be demoted to working the desktop support line and more qualified personnel should be brought in. It's Ohio - they're available.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

London bombings again

I've been in meetings most of the day and hadn't had the chance to catch the news updates. If you have been, too, then be advised there were more bombing attacks today in London, although far less severe than those on 7/7. According to the stories so far, literally none of the 4 devices that exploded detonated properly, which indicates that the blasting charges went off without blowing up the actual explosive. If that part of the story bears out, it indicates either a severely amateurish crew or a severely impaired attack capability on the part of the terrorists. I haven't had time to stay up with it but I hope to post more soon.

Michael Yon reports

I've been reading Michael Yon's reports from Iraq as he has traveled with the troops and they've been an excellent window on the war. Yon isn't sitting poolside in the green zone in Baghdad writing like he's out in the trenches. Yon's recent series "Walking the Line" was nothing short of brilliant, especially in that he managed to hook up with Jeffrey Mellinger, the Command Sergeant Major for Coalition Forces in Iraq. Hanging onto Mellinger's belt as the Command Sergeant Major went from end to end of Iraq is literally reporting that this war hasn't seen, ever. (See "Walking the Line", Parts One, Two, Three, Four, and Five at Yon's site.)

Today, Yon takes us along on a raid and discovery of a weapons cache and gives us a narrative of how our soldiers and our bases there aren't the clay pigeon targets the MSM would have you believe they are:

::::::::Our bases have something called Counter Battery Radar (CBR), and when a mortar or rocket is launched, the computers on the CBR can calculate the POO before the bomb lands. The enemy knows this, and they know we can fire “counter battery” cannon or mortars, or that we might have jets and helicopters just moments away, or forces on the ground nearby. Lately, Iraqi police have joined the list of options for killing mortar teams. It’s increasingly dangerous to be a terrorist here.

And so the enemy plays a game of fire and flee, hauling the mortars around town, setting up the tubes (or rockets), firing a few shots, and moving out quickly. To buy a little more insurance, the enemy often picks a POO close to a school or a mosque, knowing that Americans will be reluctant to shoot at schools, and usually will not fire at mosques. In fact, mosques are off-limits without higher approval unless you are clearly taking fire from them. But this isn’t a case of giving the enemy a safe haven for launching bombs at our soldiers. Insurgents have learned the hard way that higher approval is not a high hurdle when the same mosque is used for a shield more than once. If a man does not respect his own sacred ground, he should not expect others to. A man should never hide behind religion like he’s hiding behind his momma’s leg.

The CBR is effective. The enemy shooters can only strike briefly. If they take one extra shot, or take a few extra seconds scrambling away, they will die. Our cannons, our helicopters, US soldiers and snipers, the Iraqi police, or some combination of these, will kill them. As frustrating as it can be to have an enemy firing two or three round volleys at Coalition and Iraqi forces, the fact is we can take those punches. It helps knowing that every time an insurgent sets up he’s like a buck drinking at the river. Our hunters are always looking for tracks and laying ambushes. Sooner or later, bam! Head on the wall.

Very good stuff, indeed. Take the time to read Yon's stuff. He's no cheerleader for the war effort but he's sure not a doomsayer convinced that virtually everything that's happening there is blowing up in our faces, either. Definitely worth your time if you want to stay informed.

Sudan not making friends in US State Dept.

I see the new Sudanese government is no better than the old one in Diplomacy.

::::::::Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held a congratulatory round of meetings with officials of the new unified Sudanese government Thursday, but expressed outrage after security forces manhandled aides and reporters accompanying her.

"It makes me very angry to be sitting there with their president and have this happen," she said. "They have no right to push and shove."

Rice made her remarks to reporters after she and her entourage board an airplane to fly from the Sudanese capital to a refugee camp in the Darfour (search) region.

After landing near the camp, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the Sudanese foreign minister had responded to Rice's demand for an apology by telephoning her aboard the plane to say he was sorry for what had happened in Khartoum.

"Diplomacy 101 says you don't rough your guests up," Rice senior adviser Jim Wilkinson had said earlier as he and reporters were facing off with guards at the ultra-high-security residence of Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir (search).

The guards elbowed Americans and tried to rip a tape away from a U.S. reporter. At another point, Rice's interpreter and some other aides accompanying her were blocked at a gate.

Ambassador Khidair Haroun Ahmed (search), head of the Sudanese mission in Washington, attempted to smooth over the situation on the spot.

"Please accept our apologies," he told the reporters and aides. "This is not our policy."

Yes, I'm sure. I've already been made aware of Sudan's policies on a number of items. The most immediate reply to this "not our policy" statement came literally moments later as a US TV reporter asked President el-Bashir about his involvement in the atrocities so well reported in Sudan of late. His guards responded by grabbing the small woman and literally dragging her to the back of the room as members of Rice's staff yelled at them to release her. Certainly sounds like they're following normal policy to me if that's their immediate response to someone asking the Prez a question.

The really galling point is that the whole time they were there in Sudan, the Sudanese officials were pestering Rice to lift the sanctions being held against Sudan. I'm no diplomat but I have some advice for the Sudanese: if you want someone's help, you need to get seriously improved manners going. Put a leash on the guards who can't seem to do anything but rough people up and prove you're not the gang of thugs you've been looking like for the past few years. Then we can talk about lifting scantions.

Raptors enter service

I took note of a couple of stories yesterday (thanks to the Greyhawks) that the first operational squadron of F/A-22 Raptor is now on-line and flying. The 27th Fighter Squadron based at Langley, VA was chosen for the role.

::::::::The 27th Fighter Squadron -- the Air Force’s oldest continuous fighter squadron -- will be the first unit to transition to the Raptor. It is a job the squadron knows well. The squadron was the first to switch to the F-15 Eagle, the Air Force’s premier fighter since the early 1970s.

Langley, located on the shore of the Back River just off Chesapeake Bay, is home to the 1st Fighter Wing. When base officials learned they would get the Raptor, they ordered the construction of maintenance and operations buildings to support the cutting-edge fighter jet.

The Raptor stands unmatched in the air superiority arena. She is faster and more maneuverable than any other fighter in the sky. Her systems provide the crucial first look/first shot capability that usually results in a kill being scored. The fact that she's a lot more stealthy than the F-15 Eagle she's slated to replace doesn't hurt. She's definitely not a cheap date, but her presence will allow the US and her allies to literally rule the skies over any battlefield and that's a critical need even today.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

One to beam up...


It is with great sorrow that I read of James Doohan's death today. He died as a result of pneumonia and complications from Alzheimer's, according to the story. Doohan is best-known to the public for his role as Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott in the classic Star Trek television series and movies. "Scotty" was one of the four primary characters on the show, renowned for his engineering prowess and his ability to pull technological rabbits out of the warp engines' hat. He is the second of those original four to pass, preceded by DeForest Kelly in 1999.

I went to see Jimmy Doohan a few times at Star Trek conventions some years ago when I was into attending those events. He was an incredibly engaging speaker, full of stories of the days of the original series production and a range of ethnic accents that was truly astonishing. Seeing the comsumate "scottsman" speak well-known lines from his acting on the show in a Mexican or French accent was funny and wierd at the same time.

Less commonly known is that Doohan was a combat veteran in his home country of Canada. He joined the Canadian forces in WWII, serving in the artillery until being injured. (That injury resulted in the loss of a finger on his left hand, something that the camera crews and directors in his many appearances managed to hide from the general audience.) He finished out his service as pilot-observer and, according to his bio, became known as the "craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Force." I wonder if that still holds true today.

So, tonite I'll hoist a wee dram to his memory, saluting to another passing part of my youth. Godspeed, Jimmy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Woman raped by father-in-law; ordered to marry him.

While writing the title to this post, I actually stopped and erased it because I thought it sounded way too much like some supermarket tabloid crapola. I wish it were just as bogus, but it's not. It is absolute fact that a woman is being ordered to marry the man who raped her:

::::::::BOMBAY -- Hard-line Islamic clerics in a northern Indian village have declared that a woman's 10-year-old marriage was nullified when her father-in-law raped her -- and ordered the mother of five to marry the rapist.

The fatwa, or religious edict, was issued by Darool Uloom Deoband, South Asia's most powerful Islamic theological school known for promoting a radical brand of Islam that is said to have inspired the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Oh, it gets better. The woman has also been ordered to treat her now-former husband as her son because she has now "had sex with" his father. I'll pause for a moment while you wipe your computer screen off.

The summary of the story is this: the husband, Mr. Noor Ilahi, was away on business when his father decided it would be OK to rape his own daughter-in-law. When Mr. Ilahi returned and found out about the rape, the village ordered him to divorce his wife. Want the money quote about the correctness of the decision? You'll love it:

::::::::"She had a physical relationship with her father-in-law, and it nullifies her marriage," said Mohammad Masood Madani, a cleric at the theological school. He said it made no difference whether the sex was consensual or forced. The village council then decreed that Mrs. Ilahi would have to marry her father-in-law.

Feminists and liberal Muslims reacted with fury, staging nationwide street protests.

But Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh on June 29 supported the fatwa, saying: "The decision of the Muslim religious leaders in the Imrana case must have been taken after a lot of thought. ... The religious leaders are all very learned and they understand the Muslim community and its sentiments."

Yeah, it sounds like the decision was "taken after a lot of thought." Actually, I thought it must've been taken after a lot of beer. To his credit, the husband told his wife that he believed his father to be the unclean party in all this and said his devotion to her remained true. Sneaking out of their village in the middle of the night, he took his family to the village of his wife's family - whereupon the All India Muslim Personal Law Board weighed in endorsing the decision made by the husband's village elders. The insanity of this situation got even deeper with their statement on the matter.

::::::::"The fact that the woman was 'used' by her husband's blood relative makes her [unclean] for her husband and there is no way she can be allowed to live with him," the law board said::::::::

"Used." I like that. Shows a real value placed on the woman as a member of their society. How about these geniuses explain something to all of us? If the act of "being used" by a blood relative makes her "unclean" for the husband to live with, would not the 10 years of marriage that produced 5 children have exactly the same effect with regard to the father-in-law? "Unclean" for the husband, who has done nothing wrong by the metrics of any legal system, but A-OK for the father-in-law who was the guilty son-ofa-bitch that started this whole tragic tale to begin with?

The "Women's" variant of the AIMPLB has denounced the decision even as their more man-oriented counterpart endorsed it. The Indian Police have arrested the father-in-law and charged him with rape, but the fact that the Islamic agencies took 2 weeks telling this woman that she had to marry her rapist will make proving the charge difficult, at best. And we all know which of the two, the father-in-law or the woman, will be given the benefit of the doubt in any court of law that uses Sharia law as a basis.

Iraqi Bill of Rights?

Instapundit flagged a post over at Publius that goes into a leaked document (yeah, yeah - another leak...) that might be the draft copy of the Iraqi Bill of Rights. I haven't had the chance to look at it but if you haven't seen this, you might want to take a look.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Tancredo's nuclear threat Updated

I stood, literally, agape at reading the words on the screen when I clicked the link to this story:

::::::::A Colorado congressman told a radio show host that the U.S. could "take out" Islamic holy sites if Muslim fundamentalist terrorists attacked the country with nuclear weapons.

Rep. Tom Tancredo made his remarks Friday on WFLA-AM in Orlando, Fla. His spokesman stressed he was only speaking hypothetically.

Talk show host Pat Campbell asked the Littleton Republican how the country should respond if terrorists struck several U.S. cities with nuclear weapons.

"Well, what if you said something like — if this happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their holy sites," Tancredo answered.

"You're talking about bombing Mecca," Campbell said.

"Yeah," Tancredo responded.

I scarcely know where to begin in denouncing any idiot that would make a suggestion like this. So some Jordanian or Syrian jackass manages to pull off what we're trying very hard to prevent and lights a nuke off in New York or Washington or Los Angeles, and this Congressman's best idea is to drop a nuclear warhead onto Mecca, wiping out not only whatever people have the misfortune of being nearby but also obliterating the holiest site of Islam?

Will someone slap this moron upside the head and read this slowly to him? We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with a very specific sect of Islam that chooses to view non-combatant civilians as legitimate targets for destruction. I have no words to adequately describe how stupid and thoughtless I find Tancredo's comments. Even if he didn't mean it - and he better have not meant it - his fat mouth has now provided a wonderful sound bite for the Arab media to use. Does he think that the people recruiting people into terror organizations are going to use his comments in full context? They're going to have a US Congressman saying - on tape - that America is planning to nuke Mecca.

Don't take my word for it, Abdul, listen to one of the infidels' leaders speak in his own voice.

Tancredo's comments should be denounced loudly and clearly by the other members of Congress - and that means all you Republicans, too! - and I'm calling on every blogger who busted Dick Durbin's chops to get in there and speak up about this one, too. It's ludicrous, we should not stand for it, and we should make sure everyone's clear on where we stand.

Update: I see this issue is being addressed by Hugh Hewitt and Captain Ed Morrisey. We'll wait to see some more.

News flash: the media know Nadagate's a fantasy

I just got a chance to take a look over at LGF and noted with interest this post on an article written by Andrew McCarthy in National Review. McCarthy has read the friend-of-the-court brief authored by 36 news agencies in their attempts to save Matt Cooper and Judy Miller from jail time over their contempt of court charges. What that brief says about what the news media knows on the topic is simply stunning:

::::::::With each passing day, the manufactured "scandal" over the publication of Valerie Plame's relationship with the CIA establishes new depths of mainstream-media hypocrisy. A highly capable special prosecutor is probing the underlying facts, and it is appropriate to withhold legal judgments until he completes the investigation over which speculation runs so rampant. But it is not too early to assess the performance of the press. It's been appalling.

Is that hyperbole? You be the judge. Have you heard that the CIA is actually the source responsible for exposing Plame's covert status? Not Karl Rove, not Bob Novak, not the sinister administration cabal du jour of Fourth Estate fantasy, but the CIA itself? Had you heard that Plame's cover has actually been blown for a decade — i.e., since about seven years before Novak ever wrote a syllable about her? Had you heard not only that no crime was committed in the communication of information between Bush administration officials and Novak, but that no crime could have been committed because the governing law gives a person a complete defense if an agent's status has already been compromised by the government?

No, you say, you hadn't heard any of that. You heard that this was the crime of the century. A sort of Robert-Hanssen-meets-Watergate in which Rove is already cooked and we're all just waiting for the other shoe — or shoes — to drop on the den of corruption we know as the Bush administration. That, after all, is the inescapable impression from all the media coverage. So who is saying different?

The organized media, that's who. How come you haven't heard? Because they've decided not to tell you. Because they say one thing — one dark, transparently partisan thing — when they're talking to you in their news coverage, but they say something completely different when they think you're not listening.

You see, if you really want to know what the media think of the Plame case — if you want to discover what a comparative trifle they actually believe it to be — you need to close the paper and turn off the TV. You need, instead, to have a peek at what they write when they're talking to a court. It's a mind-bendingly different tale.

I'll say. The briefing they wrote shows that the media believes Plame was outted a decade ago and the deed was done by the CIA, not by any member of the current administration. Read the whole thing for the details, but here's my question: Why is the media acting like they don't know what they clearly knew to write that brief? And why should anyone not consider their actions and reporting on this issue to be such a clear-cut case of lying as to defy imagination?

Chrenkoff reports: Good news from Iraq

Here's part 31 of Chrenkoff's Good News from Iraq and, as has become the norm, there's a pile of underreported stuff in there. Grab a cup of coffee and have a read.

I find the section on Security to be especially telling. If you're listening to the MSM these days, you'll get the impression of a rapidly spiralling violence cycle where common Iraqi's and American soldiers get picked off by the mighty "insurgents" at will with little they can do about it. From conversations with soldiers who are or have actually been there, I know that's not the case. But until you see how many stories there are of the terrorists getting thwarted and of the comptence and heroism of our troops, you can lose sight of the bigger picture. Leading off the section, Chrenkoff writes:

::::::::Despite the perception of spiralling violence, the official Iraqi count of civilian and security casualties indicates that violence has actually decreased in June. While the numbers are still high, "in June, data provided by the Iraqi ministries of defence, health and the interior showed that 430 people had died in attacks and 933 were wounded, a drop of more than one-third from May's death toll of 672 dead. The number of wounded was down by 20%."::::::::

Reports of the former Baathists (who are Iraqis) and their terrorists allies fighting one another are becoming more common. The Iraqi elections in January has made the goals of the former nearly unattainable and unjustifiable, even in the eyes of the Baathists. They mean not a single thing to the primarily foreign terrorists who couldn't care less what government Iraq has so long as the people bow to the new Caliphate. Their tactics of killing supposedly fellow Muslims are making it hard for even the most virulient anti-American Arab press to support them. The people themselves are holding protests against them, marching openly in opposition. (I mentioned this protest last week. I'd point you to a news article on one of the American news agencies, but they're too busy with Nadagate to cover things like Iraqi people protesting the terrorists instead of America.)

Iraqi civilians are helping Coalition and Iraqi forces in increasing numbers. Just a sample from the report:

::::::::"An Iraqi army unit captured five suspected terrorists June 28 after an Iraqi citizen told the soldiers about a terrorist safe house in northern Baghdad's Rabi district. The Iraqi soldiers found two rocket-propelled grenade launchers and two RPG rounds in addition to the five suspects." As Lt. Col. Clifford Kent, a Task Force Baghdad spokesman says: "The Iraqi people are tiring of the insurgency. Both hotline and in-person tips have increased greatly... A big reason for the increase in tips is because of the Iraqi soldiers taking the lead during raids and operations. The Iraqis will talk to their own soldiers much more readily than to coalition forces."

Thanks to a tip from a local who led the soldiers to the location, the 116th Armor Regiment has secured the biggest weapons cache in the Kirkuk province on June 29. Says U.S. Army 1st Lt. John Thew, B Company, 3rd Battalion 116th Brigade Armor Regiment: "We have found in one day, what usually takes four months";

In two separate incidents on June 29 and 30, Iraqi locals have helped the American troops find more than 4,000 pounds of high explosives located near Kirkuk Air Base;

"An Iraqi citizen’s tip helped Task Force Baghdad Soldiers find and disarm a roadside bomb in east Baghdad before terrorists could use it. The civilian told the Soldier he’d seen a five-gallon gas can lying in the median of a major highway at 9:30 a.m. July 2... The team investigated, found a 122-millimeter mortar round wired to a radio, and safely detonated the bomb"; another tip on the same day led soldiers to a suspicious vehicle which turned out to be a car bomb;

"On July 5, an Iraqi citizen told U.S. Task Force Baghdad soldiers he'd seen three men digging holes in the area of a subsequent roadside bomb attack against coalition forces. The man offered to lead the patrol to the attackers' houses and identify the men. Just before midnight, the soldiers searched two houses in the Risalah district of southern Baghdad and captured three men the Iraqi citizen identified as the men he had seen placing the bombs";

On July 7, a local resident in east Baghdad informed the troops about a roadside bomb. A day later, in two separate incidents also in east Baghdad, Iraqi citizens having observed terrorists placing a roadside bomb tipped off Iraqi police, and provided information leading to an arrest of an illegal weapons dealer;

A civilian walked to the gate on a US base in Baghdad on July 9, and informed and the led the personnel to four unexploded rounds;

"Task Force Liberty soldiers detained 13 people suspected of making and emplacing improvised explosive devices during a pair of raids in north-central Iraq July 10 and 11. Nine people were detained near Tikrit after soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team received a tip from a civilian. Three of the people tested positive for contact with explosives, and the group was in possession of weapons, ammunition and IED-making materials".

Links to all these stories are available at Chrenkoff's. And this is just 1 section of this huge report. As Jack Kelly over at Irish Pennants said a few days ago, why can our own news professionals not find any of this to report? Some of this is most certainly pertinent and newsworthy, even if some people think parts of it are just more "rah-rah" language. It's balance to the overall story and you'd think everyone would want to be as well informed as they can be. Fortunately, Chrenkoff is helping.

Follow-on attacks

A "follow-on" attack refers to an attack made not at a primary target but on responders moving to handle the effects of a primary attack. Example: military forces launch a bomb attack at an airbase which damages the runway. When the repair teams show up, they launch an attack intended to kill, disable, or disrupt the repair teams and their efforts. In the war on terror, the terrorists' are using the same tactic only they target first responders like firefighters, medics, and police forces after setting off one of their bombs. The attack last week that saw the deaths of so many children gathered around the American humvee was such an attack. The Humvee and its crew were where they were precisely because they had responded to an earlier attack. Only when the area had "cooled off" enough to allow the children to feel safe in approaching did the terrorists launch their second attack which was aimed squarely at the people who had shown up as a result of the first. The children were not accidental casualities or collateral damage. They were targets of a follow-on attack.

Of course, there's nothing that says you can't make a follow-on to a follow-on attack. In a circumstance like this, however, where the targets of the 1st follow-on are all dead, that implies that you're hitting at people responding to those dead children. Beyond justification, yes. Unthinkable for the terrorists? Not hardly.

::::::::Buried right at the very bottom of a "New York Times" piece - if terrorists in Iraq were digging, they would have already emerged on the other side of the globe (link requires registration):

'On Saturday, during a funeral for children who died in the bombing on Wednesday, a unit of the Iraqi police stopped a suspicious-looking man approaching the funeral procession and discovered that he was wearing a suicide vest filled with explosives and ball bearings, the American command reported Sunday.

An explosives team disarmed the man, a Libyan, and no one was hurt, according to the American military.

"The bomber was high on drugs and is being treated for the potential overdose," said Col. Joseph DiSalvo, an American commander. The bomber, he said, "came here to kill the grieving parents of the children who were killed on Wednesday."

"I cannot imagine a worse crime." '

Really, it's all about the American occupation of Iraq, which has inflamed feelings in Iraq itself and across the Muslim world. Which is why foreign Sunnis are coming to Iraq to join an organization led by a Jordanian so they can blow up children, and then blow-up their parents, while drugged up to their eyeballs. Clear?

There is no conceivable tactical objective to slaughtering parents grieving over the deaths of their children. Any strategic objective that might be attained cannot be justified by these actions and, let's be clear about this, there were no Coalition forces present at the funerals. The common Iraqi has become a fair target not because of proximity to Coalition forces, but because the Iraqi public has dared to think they should be free to make their own decisions. Al-Qaeda and their ilk hate the idea and that's their motivation for this kind of attack.

On the cusp of metamorphosis

New Sisyphus is a blog I found several months ago and liked to follow for a variety of reasons. The quality writing and the insider's insight into the workings of our own foreign service as well as into that of life in a foreign nation made it a real pleasure to read. A family medical issue has forced the proprietor to leave the foreign service and return to the States. This past week was the actual departure from the foreign lands to return home.

Life forces change, for the good or ill. New Sisyphus will be undergoing a metamorphosis on two fronts: one on returning to life in the United States and one on returning to the life and work of a private citizen as opposed to a government official. Whatever awaits, we'll have to wait for the writing there to continue on 1 August as they make their transition. See you on the other side, indeed, New Sisyphus. We'll be waiting.

Nadagate on CNN

OK, I've not mentioned much on the supposed "outing" of Valerie Plame, a.k.a. Plameout, a.k.a. Nadagate, primarily because the Grand Jury investigation is still underway. Investigator Fitzgerald is still digging up dirt and the direction he's going has suddenly become very unclear. With the testimony of Matt Cooper that Rove didn't give him Plame's name and clearly believed Plame wasn't a covert agent in any case, that appeared to be the end of the line for the investigation. It's still going, however, which is making everyone involved behave like a bunch of fighter jets who've just discovered a heat-seeking missile in their midst that's looking for a target. Jack Kelly over at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette thinks Fitzgerald might have his eye on a leak at the CIA who, apparently, gave up classified info to perennial liar Joe Wilson. That's a good theory. I'll wait to see what he does next.

What is not a theory is:

  1. Cooper called Rove, not the other way around.

  2. Cooper called Rove about something unrelated to Joe Wilson. He brought up Wilson to Rove during the call.

  3. Rove did not tell Cooper Plame's name.

  4. Neither Rove nor Cooper indicated anything as to Plame's status regarding being covert or not.

All the caterwauling being done in the lefty press and by the Democrats screaming for Rove's head has been that Rove outed a covert CIA operative. On the obvious and freely available facts, this is bullshit.
  1. Rove never mentioned Plame's name. (See above)

  2. Plame had been at CIA HQ in Langley for over 5 years when Cooper called Rove. Even Wilson says she was not a covert agent.

  3. Absolutely none of the requirements to qualify for a violation of the law are present in this case.

So there I am this morning getting coffee in the company break room and listening to Carol Costello on CNN as she interviews 2 guys, one each from the Democratic and Republican parties. Mr. Republican gets asked, basically, "what's going on" and he gives a recap of what I've given here. Her lead-in to Mr. Democrat and the answer he gives ignore completely the facts of this case. The Dem sits there talking about this as though Rove called up reporters everywhere and said, "Hey, know Joe Wilson? His wife, Valerie Plame - that's P-L-A-M-E, so spell it right - is a secret agent! Shhhh! Don't tell anyone I told you!" How can you even begin to make the assertion that "the administration" outted Plame by way of revenge and to discredit Wilson if you acknowledge the reality of the facts I've stated above? And as a reporter, how do you let someone do that without challenging them?

Oh, and by the way, it would seem to be a given that you don't whine about someone being discredited when that person has been proven to be a liar thrice over on the very topic you're whining about. All this hue and cry I hear about how the media is supposed to be questioning everything only seems to matter to the Democrats and their defenders when the challenges are directed at the President and his staff. When it's someone making an assertion that's damaging to the administration, the media gives them a pass. Nice going, Costello. The Lions would be proud.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Cpt. "Chuck" Ziegenfuss update

Seems Chuck Ziegenfuss is improving nicely, albeit with a long road ahead. His wife, Carren, has posted a new update for him for today, the 17th. Go have a look.

One of the things they'd like to try and do is to fill up that P.O. box they've rented with cards and notes from people who've been keeping up with him. They're looking for your jokes, folks, so send Chuck something that'll make him laugh. (Personally, I think Carren and his sister, Alice, are looking to make him laugh hard enough to snort, but that's just me.)

Anyway, send those cards to:

::::::::CPT Charles W. Ziegenfuss (or Carren Ziegenfuss or Alice Ziegenfuss)
PO Box 59051
Washington, DC 20012

Saturday, July 16, 2005

A little editorial commentary

Found a link to this little bit of editorial commentary over on Instapundit. Nice catch to the folks over at Crooks and Liars! Listen carefully to the hand-off from Lou Dobbs on CNN as he introduces a piece by Danna Bash. VERY clearly at the handoff some woman in the studio with an open mic says "That's bullshit" in response to Lou's hand-off.

So far, I haven't seen any indication of evidence supporting either version of the story in question, that Karl Rove called Novak or the other way around. Strikes me as a little close-minded of someone with a microphone at CNN to be that judgemental that fast. I wonder if that kind of predisposition might slant their news coverage? Hmmm.

Dallas Morning News: calling it like it is

I applaud the decision at the Dallas Morning News announced on their editorial page. Now if we could just see more like it around the country.

:::::::: Two words not uncommon to editorial pages are "resolve" and "sacrifice," especially as they relate to war.

Today, this editorial board resolves to sacrifice another word – "insurgent" – on the altar of precise language. No longer will we refer to suicide bombers or anyone else in Iraq who targets and kills children and other innocent civilians as "insurgents."

The notion that these murderers in any way are nobly rising up against a sitting government in a principled fight for freedom has become, on its face, absurd. If they ever held a moral high ground, they sacrificed it weeks ago, when they turned their focus from U.S. troops to Iraqi men, women and now children going about their daily lives.

They drove that point home with chilling clarity Wednesday in a poor Shiite neighborhood. As children crowded around U.S. soldiers handing out candy and toys in a gesture of good will, a bomb-laden SUV rolled up and exploded.

These children were not collateral damage. They were targets.

The SUV driver was no insurgent. He was a terrorist.

Doing this takes no small amount of bravery, either, considering the environment that is today's newsroom. I feel certain they're going to take quite a bit of flak over the idea and some on the left will call it "knuckling under" and worse. But the editor who wrote this has hit the nail squarely and decisively. Language is a newpaper's stock in trade, the toolbox of their craft. For too long, the media has settled for turning out a flawed product precisely because they allowed themselves to buy into the argument advanced by many today that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Or, as the perennially dead wrong Michael Moore put it, they aren't terrorists, they're "minutemen." The Dallas Morning News appears to understand that engaging in this kind of equivalence exercise isn't noble, it's craven.

I recommend reading the whole thing.

Hat Tip: LGF

Friday, July 15, 2005

Happy Birthday to us

It's my birthday today. What's different from most folk's birthday's is that this is also the birthday of my brother, Bob who preceded me into this world by 21 minutes some (cough, cough) years ago. We have not been agreeing much, lately, but I still miss him a great deal. He doesn't read the blogs any more, he told me during our last exchange, but I'm wishing us both a happy birthday anyway.

Until tomorrow, folks.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

This is what an apology looks like

Heads up for Dick Durbin, Brian Williams, and Maggie Gyllenhaal: Molly Ivins has a lesson for you. Ms. Ivins made a statement in an articule she wrote on June 28 wherein she asserted that the US-led Coalition in Iraq had now killed more Iraqi civilians than Saddam Hussein did in 24 years. Observe how she handles the situation once she realizes how wrong she is:

::::::::In a column written June 28, I asserted that more Iraqis (civilians) had now been killed in this war than had been killed by Saddam Hussein over his 24-year rule. WRONG. Really, really wrong.

The only problem is figuring out by how large a factor I was wrong.


There have been estimates as high as 1 million civilians killed by Saddam, though most agree on the 300,000 to 400,000 range, making my comparison to 20,000 civilian dead in this war pathetically wrong.

I was certainly under no illusions regarding Saddam Hussein, whom I have opposed through human rights work for decades. My sincere apologies. It is unforgivable of me not have checked. I am so sorry.

I recommend strongly that you read the whole thing. (Scroll down once you get there, it's at the bottom of the column.) Note what's missing. It's called "qualification." There's no "if" in there. There's no "Well, yes, but..." in there. She asserted something. She was wrong. She showed she understand she's wrong. She recognizes what she should have done to avoid the problem.

Most importantly, she apologies for making the error. Blunt, succinct, to the point, nothing but net. Just an apology. This is how someone apologizes when they're really sorry. Ms. Ivins's original comment was incorrect, yes. But she owned up to it and demonstrated that she knows the right answer now. That is all anyone has been asking for with regard to comments like these. Molly Ivins can still think the invasion is a mistake. That's OK. She has the honor to admit when she's wrong and the grace to do so without slinging anything at anyone nearby. I applaud, Ms. Ivins. You've shown everyone how it's done.

Santorum's mouth is getting him in trouble, again.

I was planning on writing about Senator Rick Santorum's attempted defense of his idiotic comments a few years ago that Boston's local culture was somehow responsible for the child-abuse scandal within the Catholic Church. However, two very fine writers have already done so and I can't do much to improve on their takes. Ed Morrisey of Captain's Quarters and Michelle Malkin have both weighed in on the Senator's remarks.

Malkin writes:

::::::::This week, Santorum defended the comments and his spokesman added yesterday:

The abuse..."was particularly worse in Boston and the reason why, according to the senator, is because of some of the social institutions that call Boston home. When you take a look at Harvard University and some of the other universities in Boston, I think it's an open secret that there is a liberal bias, unfortunately."

What?! I'm all for discussing "No Guardrails" theory and there are thoughtful critiques of liberalism's corrosive impact on the Catholic Church, but Santorum does not bother to explain how sexual promiscuity at Harvard Law is to blame for pedophile-sheltering by Cardinal Law. He ignores the facts, which do not support his theory that abuse was "particularly worse in Boston" because it is liberal.

Indeed. A liberal culture base has absolutely nothing to do with the Church's hierarchy acting as it did; moving the offending priests around to other parrishes and thereby exposing more of us to the dangers. Captain Ed agrees and his honor requires him to do something he obviously dislikes:

::::::::As a Catholic and a conservative, nothing would please me more than if we could blame the sexual-abuse scandals of the Church on a permissive society. Unfortunately, it simply isn't true. Pedophilia has nothing to do with liberal sexual mores. The sexual abuse of children involves illnesses without cures, and the scandals have to do with a church hierarchy that refused to recognize that and keep sick priests away from vulnerable boys and girls.

Normally I would rather eat raw squid with mushrooms and beets than agree with Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. Neither of these men conducted themselves with much honor during their political careers. Both owe so many apologies to so many people that hearing them call for someone else to apologize almost makes me spit out my beverage over my laptop screen.

In this case, however, they're right.

I feel much the same way about the 2 Senators from Massacheussetts but, again, Ed's correct. Read 'em both.

1000 Iraqis march in protest in Qayarrah

About 1000 Iraqis marched in protest in the town of Qayarrah. You might be wondering why you heard not a single word of this in the MSM, considering that the event took place on July 5th, nearly 10 days ago. Well, that's because of who and what they were protesting:

::::::::QAYARRAH, Iraq: Citizens of the southern city of Qayarrah, of the northern province of Ninewah, gather to demonstrate their defiance against terrorism during the March Against Terror. Over 1,000 Iraqi citizens, including several influential political and religious leaders, marched alongside Iraqi Army and police officers in this first of several such demonstrations planned for the northern region of Iraq.::::::::

Blackfive has this story along with pictures taken by Army Specialist David Nunn. There's some video here that was taken by the 366th Mobile PA Detachment.

Now, tell me again about the non-bias of the MSM? 1000 Iraqis march in protest against terrorism and the terrorists who are, by the way, living and operating there in their midst, not across a sea somewhere, and that's not news? I've noted before that you can tell something about these protests by the signs they carry. While there are signs there in English, there's a pretty significant number of them that have not a single English word on them. They're all in Arabic. Protest signs that are in English carried by Iraqis are generally aimed at the international audience. Signs in Arabic are aimed at either Iraqis (urging them to denounce terrorism) or to the terrorists (urging them to get out.)

Still, the big point for me is the absolute silence from our media on this kind of news. They ignore this kind of event totally, but if those same 1000 Iraqis came out protesting Coalition troop presence, you can bet the MSM would have been playing that up to the hilt.

Building collapse in New York

Head's up from Smash. A former supermarket in New York that was undergoing preparations for demolition has collapsed. The NY Times has a small story on their page:

:::::::: At least five people, including a child, were injured Thursday morning when a former supermarket building being razed in upper Manhattan collapsed, police said.

It was not immediately known how much of the building, at West 100th Street and Broadway, came down shortly after 9 a.m.

"I stepped out of my building and I heard a loud boom," said Racquel Gayle, who said she was about a half a block from the site when the collapse happened.

"Everything rocked. I thought it was a terrorist bomb, people were running everywhere. I saw them pull a baby out of the debris; everyone was pitching in and helping, but I stood frozen in fear. I've never seen anything like this."

The former Gristedes supermarket was being demolished to make room for a hi-rise when part of the remaining structure collapsed, said Fire Department spokesman Frank Gribbon. He said fire officials believe there were no others trapped in the debris, but dozens of rescue workers and a number of dogs continued sifting through the rubble.

Police said 5 people, including 1 child, were pulled from the debris. Sounds like an industrial accident, folks, but let's wait to hear the results of the investigation.

Where's the open-minded liberal debate?

Mark in Mexico had a post pointing to an interesting article by John Stossel about the lack of open-minded debate in the liberal world these days. There were 2 gems in that story I found fascinating. The first was the comment he made about conservative vs. liberal media:

::::::::But where was the "open debate" the liberals like to praise? Mostly on the conservative broadcasts.

Conservative hosts had me on their programs even though some loathed my hard-core libertarian ideas. Maybe it's because conservatives in media are used to people disagreeing with them. In fact, if they live in New York City, they are used to liberals shrieking at them. Few conservatives wanted to spend much time debating drug prohibition (Sean Hannity was a rare exception), but at least they heard me out.

I had thought liberal shows would have me on their programs to trash my arguments. I looked forward to a spirited debate. But debate rarely happened. Nearly every media invitation came from people who already shared my belief in the free market. Those who didn't, didn't want to talk about it.

(Emphasis mine.) You know, he might have something there. It's a given, a default, that a conservative expressing his views on-air these days is going to have either 1) a host with a liberal slant arguing with him or 2) a liberal guest paired with him on the air arguing with him. For all practical purposes, a conservative going on-air knows he's going to have someone disagreeing with him - arguing with him - during his air-time. Liberals do not always have this kind of situation facing them. You have to wonder if that's what's making the debate (true debate) nearly non-existant on that side of the aisle these days.

The second one comes right near the end:

::::::::I thought I'd have a shot at a fair debate with Al Franken because we're acquaintances; our kids went to school together. No such luck. He invited me to his studio, but he barely let me make an argument; instead he ranted about a "lie" on page 305.

I did have had a wonderful time on Air America's "Morning Sedition," with a host who was furious that government doesn't stop Americans from eating too many Big Macs. I treasure the moment of silence that followed my saying that government that's big enough to tell you what to eat . . . is government big enough to tell you with whom you can have sex.

I imagine he does treasure it, and so would I. The fact that the silence was there shows in glorious detail that the thought of such a thing never crossed his opponent's mind. Why? Why would someone who thinks it's such a grand idea to have the government telling you what you can and can't eat not be able to see that it's just a small step sideways to regulating other personal behavior? Simple: because in all the expounding he's done on the topic, no one's ever debated him. Not unitl Stossel, anyway. Nice catch, John.

Kelly's primer on the "Rovegate" affair

I must admit to disliking intensely the term "Rovegate" since it implies Karl Rove has done something illegal in this whole Valerie Plame outting thing. I'd prefer something like "Plameout," but I'm afraid Rovegate is sorta like tar. Once it's used, it sticks like crazy. In any case, if you're interested in the entire event structure leading up to where we are at present, you need to go have a look at Jack Kelly's Irish Pennants. In this post, he brings you up to date on the events that led us here starting way back with the 1st inkling that Saddam was trying to buy uranium from Niger. The sequence of events is very telling - and is part of public record, I might add - in that the sequence itself shows that many of the claims made in this whole affair are, shall we say, erroneous. I recommend it highly if you're interested in knowing the facts before taking a position.

A feminist take on the Supreme Court Gonzales case

At the end of the last Supreme Court term, there was a flurry of rulings. I wrote on several of them, including that of Castle Rock v. Gonzales, a case where the Supreme Court ruled there is no Constitutional right to police protection for individuals who have obtained a restraining order. Today, I took note of the iFeminists column over on Fox where Wendy McElroy has some good advice for members of NOW.

::::::::The post-mortem discussion on Gonzales has been fiery but it has missed an obvious point. If the government won't protect you, then you have to take responsibility for your own self-defense and that of your family. The court's ruling is a sad decision, but one that every victim and/or potential victim of violence must note: calling the police is not enough. You must also be ready to defend yourself.


Of course, the Gonzales case — in and of itself — presents difficulties for the use of armed force by private citizens. Would the same police who believed Simon Gonzales was not dangerous have believed Jessica to be justified in picking up a gun to protect her children from him? Would the police have charged her for use of a weapon? Regardless, these sticky debates would probably be taking place in the presence of three living children and not three dead ones.

Nevertheless, most anti-domestic violence advocates strenuously avoid gun ownership as a possible solution to domestic violence. Instead, they appeal for more police intervention even though the police have no obligation to provide protection.

When groups like the National Organization for Women (NOW) do focus on gun ownership, it is to make such statements as, "Guns and domestic violence make a lethal combination, injuring and killing women every day."

In short, NOW addresses the issue of gun ownership and domestic violence only in order to demand a prohibition on the ability of abusers — always defined as men — to own weapons.

That position may be defensible. But it ignores half of the equation. It ignores the need of potential victims to defend themselves and their families. Anti-domestic violence and women's groups create the impression that guns are always part of the problem and never part of the solution.

The current mainstream of feminism — from which most anti-domestic violence advocates proceed — is an expression of left liberalism. It rejects private solutions based on individual rights in favor of laws aimed at achieving social goals. A responsible individual holding a gun in self-defense does not fit their vision of society.

In the final analysis, such advocates do not trust the judgment of the women they claim to be defending. They do not believe that Jessica Gonzales' three children would have been safer with a mother who was armed and educated in gun use.

NOW's position on guns and gun ownership has never made sense to be. Taken as a whole, it can be said with confidence that men are more capable fighters than women. We are larger, stronger, usually faster, and hardwired with more aggression and less restraint in its use. Up against an opponent like that, you either train better - something you'll never know you've achieved until it's too late to do anything about it - or you arm yourself. Even equally armed, there's a lot less difference in fighting ability between men and women when the key skill is marksmanship and the strength of your back is immaterial. Feminist groups like NOW should be allies with the NRA, not enemies, but there's that whole "private citizen with gun = bad" thing the liberal left seems to be saddled with. They need to break away from that particular component and start thinking on the matter rationally, especially in light of what that Supreme Court ruling has done to their protective barrier.