Monday, November 28, 2005

Liberals ousted in Canada as no-confidence vote dissolves government

It hasn't been my particular focus but when a government scandal the likes of which the Liberals in Canada have created culminates in a no-confidence vote ousting the ruling Liberal party, you have to take notice. For the absolute best coverage of the issue outside Canada - and better than most inside Canada - I direct you to Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters. He was the sole avenue of information in the early stages of the scandal when the ruling Liberals managed to put a gag order on the Canadian press. Welcome to the 21st century, boys. They've got this thing called the Internet, now.

Read all about it.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

High School pulls paper for article

I saw this story on-line earlier and wondered what the article actually said to get the school to want to run around cracking open lockers and desks to get all 1800 copies that had been printed. Fortunately, it appears someone was able to get their hands on a copy and transcribe it. Have a look.

by Krystal Meyers
According to a poll taken in 2001, if applied to ORHS today, then there would be
34% of ninth graders = 143 sexually active students
41% of tenth graders = 147 sexually active students
52% of eleventh graders = 195 sexually active students
60 % of twelfth graders = 207 sexually active students
**This information was provided by Dr. Charles E. Darling, an obstetrician with the Anderson County Health center. **
If these figures hold true, 692 ORHS students have had sexual intercourse. There are many concerns for these teens, including emotional health, STD’s, and pregnancies. I want to discuss how to lower the risk of unwanted pregnancy.
While complete sexual abstinence is certainly an option, these statistics say that many teens aren’t choosing that option.
My opinion is, if you’re going to have sex, then be safe. There are so man things out there that can keep you safe. These methods include:

I'm sorry, I can't see what the problem is with the article. The figures used are publicly available, so it's not like the article was not truthful. In fact, it seems well researched and relatively devoid of any political leanings. Perhaps the WaPo and NY Times could take lessons?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Can you use "bias" and "indocrination in a sentence?"

So your kid comes home with the vocabulary quiz given in class and here's an example of one of the questions:

"I wish Bush would be (coherent, eschewed) for once during a speech, but there are theories that his everyday diction charms the below-average mind, hence insuring him Republican votes."

The correct answer is, according to the teacher, "coherent." And no, I am not making this up. This is just 1 example of the actual questions being presented to actual students by an actual, honest-to-goodness, position-abusing liberal teacher who feels it's just fine to embed his political views into the lessons the local children are mandated to sit through by law. Of course the teacher sees nothing wrong with his behavior.

Chenkin, 36, a teacher for seven years, said he isn't shy about sharing his liberal views with students as a way of prompting debate, but said the quizzes are being taken out of context.

"The kids know it's hyperbolic, so-to-speak," he said. "They know it's tongue in cheek." But he said he would change his teaching methods if some are concerned.

If this man is convinced that children of an age where a vocabulary class is part of the normal curriculum are up to the challenge of debating their teacher - an authority figure they are conditioned to not argue with - then he's so completely disconnected from reality the school district should seriously consider whether he should be teaching at all. The question given as an example is so rhetorically "loaded" it's inconceivable that any group except a bunch of elementary school students would consider it anything but flaming invective. Just read it: not only is Bush not "coherent", but Republicans are all of below-average mind and charmed into zombies by "everyday diction." Here we are back to asking how can 59 million people be so stupid.

I would like to ask this teacher what his take would be on his students being presented with a question that paints all Democrats as whiny, morally bankrupt adulterers who run from any fight that so much as bloodies their noses. He shouldn't do that, either, just like he should keep his friggin' politics to himself in class. If he needs to spout off about his liberal views, start a blog. Keep the kids out of it.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Ward Churchill: plagiarist, imposter, and now: chicken

Hat tip to LGF, Ward Churchill is eviscerated by Grant Crowell, a former cartoonist for the Hawaii-Reporter. Let's listen in:

You claim that every word out of your mouth is copyrighted. Well, you may want to sue Webster as well. That’s since you know some English but apparently no actual Indian language. (That’s not only acting like a male diva demagogue, it's called being a poser.)

I, on the other hand, know copyright law very well. So does my attorney, who specializes in copyright law, intellectual property law, entertainment law, and Internet law; he’s not some burnt-out hippie representing another burnt-out hippie. Here’s some free legal advice for you from my attorney, David M. Adler, Esq. & Associates: “Copyright only extends to creative works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression. Speech, in and of itself, is simply not copyrightable.”

I know all the rules about what is fair use and in the public domain online. You, on the other hand, have problems saying the word ‘Google.”

And that's the light-hearted part. Mr. Crowell is exactly correct as regards his upcoming documentary on Ward Churchill; he can make use of any quotes spoken aloud by Churchill at any setting provided or paid for using public funds as a fair use and he can't be touched. Churchill's threats to sue him are nothing more than attempted extortion and a blatant try to use the legal system as his own personal cudgel. I'm looking forward to seeing more from Mr. Crowell and I'll be definitely keeping everyone as informed about his progress as I can.

Jordan's King orders "All out war" against Islamic Militancy

I would imagine that the sight of 200,000 Jordanian citizens calling for Al Qaeda and Zarqawi to burn in hell followed by the proclamation of the King to make war against their cause would make for a rather bad week for Zarqawi and his buddies.

In a letter to newly appointed Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit, Abdullah said the Nov. 9 bombings "increase our determination to stick to our reform and democratization process, which is irreversible."

"At the same time, it reaffirms our need to adopt a comprehensive strategy to confront the Takfiri culture," Abdullah said, referring to the ideology adopted by Al Qaeda and other militants who condone the killing of those they consider infidels.

Is anyone else fascinated by the fact that the Jordanians have no issue calling the enemy exactly what they are - Islamic militancy and Takfiri culture - when Americans are still getting all palsy over even the barest mention of them? Good to see our affliction isn't global. The extremely bad move of bombing non-combatant civilians and, especially, muslim civilians is continuing to cost Zarqawi. He's now got no friends in Jordan left and any safe houses there have got to be suspect. More people are perfectly willing to provide intel for finding him and his minions. The world is getting a lot smaller for him. Here's hoping it gets too small for him to stand on real soon.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

All cultures are equal?

No, they're not. Check out the Makaha Surf Report.

Major K: Thanksgiving in Iraq

Major K's got the short tip of the Thanksgiving list up. He also notes the terrorists have taken to blowing up civilian hospitals to make their point. That's sure to make more friends for them.

To any Detroit fans out there...

Here's hoping you've counted your blessings already. 'Cause that game your NFL team just lost 27-7 against the Atlanta Falcons was one of the most pitiful displays I've ever seen.

I'm certainly thankful I'm not a Lions fan!

Mardi Gras to go on

New Orleans has come up with a plan to go on with Mardi Gras albeit with a shortened schedule.

City officials on Wednesday announced a scaled-down plan for next year's Mardi Gras celebration that will still cover both of its traditional weekends but be four days shorter than usual.

The hurricane-battered city's plan is to allow eight days of festivities for the annual pre-Lenten party, and to consider corporate sponsorships to help defray the city's cost, said Ernest Collins with city's Office of Economic Development.

New Orleans badly needs Mardi Gras, for their pocketbooks, their honor, and their souls. There is nothing that better evokes the thought of New Orleans than Mardi Gras and having it go on as scheduled after Katrina's effects almost completely destroyed the city offers the hope and promise that life can return to normal there. Lord knows the city needs the money tourists would bring in. I wish them luck and hope that the government there can keep their corrupted grip off the event.

That drinking's gonna kill ya

This time, that was meant literally.

According to a district court in the southwestern city of Hokksund the bartender, whose name was withheld, pleaded guilty to serving 34-year-old Leif Henning Nilsen 19 shots of the strong Mexican liquor in 90 minutes at the Spiseriet restaurant in May 2004.

Nilsen lost consciousness and died three days later.

Thanksgiving wishes

To my fellow Americans, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. We have much to be thankful for.

My wife and I planned our trip to Grandma's house a bit over 2 months ago. Aside from putting in for the vacation time to extend the weekend off a bit, we didn't need to ask anyone's permission nor did we have to notify anyone of our travel plans. We got in the car yesterday, gassed up, and hit the road completely uncontrolled by anyone save our particular desires as to speed and direction. We passed by numerous police cars on the way and hardly noticed them at all.

No government agents stopped us to check our papers. No borders between our states halted our travel. No one questioned our purchases or confiscated our property. The fact that these issues never even crossed our minds shows us the nature of the country we live in: a free one. We are thankful for that.

My wife and I have jobs that pay pretty well. So well, in fact, that the travel out here was a concern only in the matter of how long it would take and how bad the traffic would be. We never worried about having enough gas or food or that taking the time off work would make it hard to pay the mortgage. The money we'd spend on this trip wasn't the issue in making decisions for the trip. We are thankful for that.

My wife comes from a loving home with parents who remain loving to this day. My own parents were the same, and my mother remains so today. We are thankful for that. The holidays remind me of my father, now departed almost 3 years. I miss him, but he gave me the tools necessary to be a good man. Thankful, indeed...

I am writing the last latter I'll send to a friend in Iraq before he comes home. He's an MP there and has pulled over 10 months of convoy protection duty. His unit, I've heard, has the highest number of purple hearts per capita of any MP unit over there and he has told me of some grisly situations he's had to endure. I worry about him quite a bit. I am thankful for his safety so far, but I am more thankful for his service. He's got 17 years in the Army and that's a long, long time for someone to serve. He's voluntarily handed his fellow citizens some of the best years of his life and he has stood between many, many sharp knives in the darkness and we who sleep in peace. I am deeply thankful for that.

I would also like to make the same wish for a Happy Thanksgiving to old allies: the Brits, Australians, Poles, Japanese, and all those countries who have stepped up alongside us to take the fight against terror to the enemy. And also to new friends: the Afghans and Iraqis, and all those in countries less friendly but who work for liberty nontheless. May you all have a safe holiday season and count your blessing well.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Hayabusa successfully lands, departs asteroid

Pretty cool.

JAXA officials had said on Sunday that the Hayabusa probe, on a mission to briefly land on the asteroid Itokawa, collect material, and then bring it back to Earth, had failed to touch down after maneuvering within yards of the asteroid's surface.

On Wednesday JAXA said that data sent from Hayabusa confirmed that it had actually landed on the asteroid on Sunday for about half an hour. However, the probe failed to collect material, JAXA said.

Before landing, Hayabusa dropped a small object as a touchdown target from 130 feet above the asteroid and then descended to within 56 feet of the surface, at which point ground control lost contact with the probe for about three hours, JAXA officials said earlier.

But after analyzing data later sent by the probe, the agency confirmed that it landed on the asteroid within about 100 feet of the landing target, JAXA said in a statement.

Thanksgiving travel

Well, we're at Grandma's house for Thanksgiving again, a topic I'll revisit tomorrow on Thanksgiving day. Today, I'll just touch on the topic of driving. Specifically, drivers. More precisely, bad drivers. As in: there's way too damn many of them. I have always believed that getting behind the wheel of a car makes you more than a "driver." It makes you a pilot of the vehicle you're now in control of and a pilot is responsible for both the safe operation of his ship and the actions that ship takes in response to his controls. That responsibility does not stop outside of a 120° arc centered on the nose of the vehicle.

I am, apparently, severely in the minority in this opinion. On open highways today as I traveled at 65 mph with clear spaces as large as a mile in front of me I counted a dozen instances where drivers of other cars passed me and then cut over into my lane at distances of less than 2 car-lengths. At the speeds we were travelling, we cover nearly 100 feet per second. At a range of less than 50, a quick brake reducing the speed differential by just 20 mph or so would cut the reaction time of the trailing driver to between 1 and 2 seconds.

All unnecessarily.

Excessive speed (highway speed limit +15-20 mph), erratic and unpredicatable behavior, failure to maintain a safe distance, failure to maintain a consistent speed, and one example after another of a driver far more interested in their cell phone keypad than in what was going on ahead of their car. Fun driving, to put it sarcastically. Here's hoping you, gentle reader, are safe this holiday, and not one of the aforementioned "drivers."

Occupation has turned into a real quagmire...

Yeah, you know I'm not talking about Iraq. I'm talking about the other occupation. No, not Afghanistan, an exercise in liberation that ought ot be spoken of as a model of the art. I'm talking about Bosnia. You remember them, right? Bosnia? Care to take a guess at how long we've been there with troops on the ground? Ten years. That's right, 10 years. Capt. Ed Morrisey over at Captain's Quarters speaks of the matter with his usual clarity:

Let's make clear what happened here. We occupied a primarily Muslim state for the last ten years, trying to separate three different ethnic factions from each other. We initially went into Bosnia to quell a civil war and a genocide in progress, and then waited ten years for the kind of political progress that would make our presence unnecessary. Despite this quagmire, we kept our troops in the country and continued to work on a political construct based on democracy -- and we gave it ten years without loud demands for precipitous withdrawal prior to an effective resolution.

Now compare this with the hysterics over our position in Iraq. We have spent a year after the toppling of the Saddam regime fighting an insurgency while establishing a democracy designed to bring together three ethnic/religious factions at each other's throats. In two years, we have progressed much farther than Bosnia and will have the first elected, constitutional government at least a full year ahead of Bosnia's. Three elections will have been held before the Bosnians hold one.

So where have the anti-war crowd critics been over this one? Can't say we didn't invade Bosnia. We did, and we did it without a Congressional Mandate, I might add. The Bosnians never once sent terror groups over here and their leadership was never even suspected of having WMD's available. And yet the critics have remained silent for a decade in the face of worse conditions than exist today in Iraq.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Yon's photo album

Michael Yon's got a new dispatch up with some pictures he's not had the opportunity to run yet. Good shots and a good reminder at the bottom.

OSM gets back into the PJ's

A change (back) for the better, I believe.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Intelligent design not science, says Vatican astronomer

After writing on the issue myself a few days ago, it's nice to see I'm getting some backup from a source that should pretty much render this discussion settled and done. As reported on OSM, the Vatican astronomer says I.D. ain't science:

::::::::The Vatican's chief astronomer said Friday that "intelligent design" isn't science and doesn't belong in science classrooms, the latest high-ranking Roman Catholic official to enter the evolution debate in the United States.

Rev. George Coyne, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, said placing intelligent design theory alongside that of evolution in school programs was "wrong" and was akin to mixing apples and oranges.

"Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be," the ANSA news agency quoted Coyne as saying on the sidelines of a conference in Florence. "If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science."

Exactly what many of us have been saying. Take note, Pat Robertson, and while you're at it take a hike.

Headline bias

The story headline reads, "Insurgent Ambush Kills 24, One U.S. Marine Among Dead." So, get the picture in your head. "Insurgents" - which really means "terrorists" - jump out from behind cover and gun down 24 people including 1 U.S. Marine, right? Wrong.

::::::::An ambush on a joint U.S./Iraqi patrol northwest of Baghdad left 15 civilians, eight insurgents and a U.S. Marine dead from a roadside bomb and the firefight that followed, a U.S. military statement said Sunday.

The attack began with an improvised explosive device detonating next to the Marine's vehicle in the town of Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, on Saturday, the U.S. command said.

Fifteen Iraqi civilians were also killed by the blast, which was followed by an insurgent attack with small arms fire, the statement said.

"Iraqi army soldiers and Marines returned fire killing eight insurgents and wounding another," the statement said.

Emphasis mine. OK, when the AP decides to mention the body count, it appears that they think the higher the number, the better it is. Skip lightly past the fact that this was an IED attack which was, ostensibly, aimed at an American and then count up the innocent Iraqi civilians that had the bad form to be actually standing nearby and you have 16 dead. When the terrorists decided to actually engage the targets themselves, the Iraqi military and other Marines returned that engagement and killed 8 of the attacker. While it's true that the attackers died as a result of their ambush, you don't incude them in the body count "success rate" of their action. A proper headline would have read "15 Civilians, 1 Marine Killed In Terrorist Ambush; 8 Terrorists Got What Was Coming To Them."

The real story here is that 15 people who were simply going about their lives trying to improve things for themselves and their neighbors were killed by the actions of people who cannot bear the notion that others are living their lives out from under their thumbs. The terrorists have no care for who gets killed, it's just a matter of killing people to get the AP to write glowing stories. And, please note, that the muted mention of the response to the terrorist attack pays as little attention as possible to the fact that once the Iraqi Army and Marines were engaged, the terrorists got routed badly and no mention of any IA or USMC casualties is seen. The IA has become a force the terrorists cannot now match and they know it. We're winning. We - us and the Iraqis - are winning.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Photoshop of the Week

Hat tip to Michelle Malkin for this one. Sums it up nicely.

Dem plan - cut and run.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Oh, the weather outside...

Monday morning I stepped outside to get a sense of the weather since I was deciding not only what coat to take with me to the office but what clothes to lay out for my kid for daycare. It was actually a bit muggy out there at 0700. (That's 7:00 am for you non-[para]military types.) The temperature was about 74° F so it wasn't hot but it wasn't chilly by any stretch. November 14 and it was "golf-shirt and no coat" weather.

Then the front came through here last night and it rained like crazy. This morning's temperature at 0700? 41°. Three days past and 30 degrees gone. Today's high temperature is supposed to be 46° with a low tonite projected at 25-26° out here in suburbia. There are actually bets that the DC area will see snowfall this year before Thanksgiving. The mere talk of such a bet resulted in a run on bread, milk, and toilet paper at the local grocery store.

OK, that last line was... an exaggeration. OK, it was fake - but accurate! I've lived out here for 18 years now (and I'm suddenly feeling damned old for saying that) and I can honestly say I'm still amused/amazed/mildly disgusted at the reaction of people around here to snowfall of any amount at all. They start talking on the radio about how there might be snowfall the day after tomorrow and the supplies of milk start flying off the shelves. People stock up around here like they're going to be buried up to the rafters in their houses from December to April. They act like there won't be any more food delivered to the stores until the icebreakers come in and chisel out a passage to the store. We haven't seen that level yet, but my money's on seeing it before Pearl Harbor day.

The only thing that will put a smile on my face when the snow starts coming down is watching all those proud owners of humongous SUV's sliding all over creation trying to drive while I, in my new Toyota Matrix, go slowly by in total control. I learned to drive on snow and ice from one of the best, so go ahead. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

Decision time. A revocation of trust?

A couple of weeks ago I got a phone call from the Republican National Committee doing their fundraiser thing. I've donated money to them in the past, specifically during the 2004 campaign cycle and to the local Committee chapter here, so they've certainly got no qualms about coming back for another round. This time, however, it's different.

Ì've got a well-paying job and I have some funds set aside for just this purpose. It's not like there aren't things I could do with the money. It's just that I recognize how important it is for conservatives to get their message out to the American people and that we can't rely on the media to do so in a reliable and unbiased fashion. Broadcast messages cost money. It's that simple. So where I had never given a penny to political parties for years, these past 5 years have changed my mind on the matter. The question these days, however, is this: to what end am I funding this conservative party?

Since the 2004 elections I have grown increasingly frustrated with the actions of the Republicans elected to office in the federal government. Everything else aside, the fact remains that the Republican Party holds majorities in both the House and the Senate and there's a Republican in the White House. They aren't acting like they know that, however. I've written before about the judicial nomination process and how I consider it to be broken. One of the overarching themes of the 2004 campaign was how we could fix that if we just put our backs to it and got clear majorities elected in both houses. Well, we did that. Yet the problem remains - filibusters of judicial nominees are still threatened and the Republican leadership doesn't move to handle it. They wring their hands and some of them even moved to make sure the opportunity to use the filibuster remained intact. Good people, well qualified, have hung in limbo for literally years waiting for Congress to get off their asses and simply vote yea or nay on their nomination. Some have withdrawn in disgust so they could get on with their lives.

Our nation's energy policies were also held up as a serious issue that needed a clear majority in both houses to get movement on. One of those items was the drilling in the ANWR, which is another topic I've written on recently. Finally passed in the Senate, the House Republicans - who hold a much larger majority than their Senate brethern - balked and backed down on it. Another issue they told us was critical and needed our support to get forward motion on just dropped to ground with little to no explanation on their part as to why they decided to side with the minority on the matter.

And now the vote to pass an amendment that as much as says the White House isn't doing the right thing in their pursuit of the war on terror. The President is taking what I see as a rebuke with a great deal more grace than I would and there are others (Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters) who see wisdom in the move. I don't. The implication that Congress isn't supremely informed about the status of the war and that it doesn't have enough access to the information is ludicrous. The Pentagon sends a veritable blizzard of reports to the Hill, I know this for a fact. Any member of Congress can, with a single phone call, get access to any unclassified report they like and most of them can get access to reports that have been classified at various levels. As with any group, there are differences in what level of clearance the members have, but that's a clearance issue that the Intelligence Committees in the 2 houses themselves deal with. The Pentagon isn't in the position to deny clearance to a member of Congress who's been authorized to get it.

To say nothing of the continued issues with spending I see. That vote on the pork redistribution spoke loud and clear about the committment of some of these Republicans to fiscal responsibility.

These and many other events over the past several months lead me to question what my efforts last year were good for. The one legislative victory I've seen for my efforts was the Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, for which I am grateful, but it's hardly an issue that was brought up as a major one in the campaigns.

Which brings me back to the pledge request I received. When I opened that envelope up and saw the reference to the call I received I couldn't help but think of the actions that have taken place since that call. The ANWR. The "cut-and-run lite" amendment. Added to the judicial nominee debacle of the so-called "Gang of 14" it adds up to my putting money into an organization that talks big but apparently can't get it done. I've mentioned the Not One Dime movement that has been started and followed by some of my conservative blogger colleagues and I'm wrestling with the decision whether now's the time to put my money where my mouth is. I wonder if it has come time for a revocation of the trust I've placed in the Party, or at least in the people they've put up for election. Do I write the check or write a note?

Decision time.

Rockefeller attempts a rebuttal

I note that Senator Jay Rockefeller, who I wrote about recently with regards to his 2002 Middle East Tour, has issued a release regarding his Sunday appearance with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.

::::::::It is ridiculous to suggest that any sensitive information was revealed during my January 2002 Middle East trip. Every aspect of this trip was sanctioned by and coordinated with the State Department and the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. I was accompanied in each country by either our U.S. Ambassador or our Deputy Chief of Mission, and each of our U.S. officials specifically praised my meetings and the message I delivered. I conveyed my belief that President Bush was very serious about taking action in Iraq. I had no knowledge of specific Bush Administration plans to invade Iraq, and I certainly never suggested that I did. I raised this issue on Sunday to make the point that while I hadn’t made up my mind until October of 2002, I believe the president had decided to go to war long before, and continued down that path into 2003 – even as some of the intelligence was being called into question. Once again, it appears that Republican defenders of the president are trying to distract from the real issue – whether the president was straight with the American people about the war in Iraq.::::::::

This release raised more questions for me than it answered, and I note I'm not alone in that feeling:

::::::::1. While Senator Rockefeller stated on Sunday that he took his trip to Syria "by myself," he now claims that it was "sanctioned and coordinated" by the State Department, as well as the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Intelligence Committees. Which was it? Did he act alone or did he act with approval and coordination of his committee and the Department of State? If the latter, who approved the trip?

2. Senator Rockefeller now claims each of the public officials involved "specifically praised my meetings and the message I delivered." Really? To whom? And if this is true, is Senator Rockefeller saying that it was State Department policy to allow and approve of individual Senators to visit with certified state sponsors of terror (who in this case were allied with Saddam) in order to convey the message to Saddam's ally that we were going to war with Saddam -- all before Bush made any public case at all? If so, we should know that too. The State Department should confirm or deny this.

3. To repeat the facts as we know them: Syria is and was a state sponsor of terror, on the Department of State's list as being so; Syria was an ally of Iraq; Syria is a place now contemplated by serious people as a haven for Iraq's WMDs; and a known place from whence terrorists travel into Iraq. Just why would a respected United States Senator tell a sponsor of terrorism and an ally of the regime we were to liberate something they otherwise had not heard, something the President had not said? And just what might that ally of the Iraqi regime have done with that information? In sum, what business of Senator Rockefeller's was it to speculate openly to the head of an enemy regime, and a sponsor of terror (when we were at war with terror), that the President was to go to war with that enemy's ally?

The Senator can well speak of attempting to distract from the real issue. Neither I nor anyone else I've read has accused the Senator of revealing "sensitive information", as that term is understood in diplomatic and secure environments. No one's saying he gave up timetables and troop movements. What I said, and what many others have said, is that the Senator apparently told the "head of state" of Syria that the President "had already made up his mind" to invade. Our point is that the Senator, by virtue of his position, is clearly someone who should know whether the President had made up his mind or not. To say that to someone who, as I mentioned, is on the DoS terror sponsor list and is an ally of the supposedly targeted country is a serious issue and there should be an investigation. Sunday the Senator said he went on this trip alone. Now he's saying he had an entourage of officials and sanction for the trip from the Senate intel committee and the State Department. See Power Line's question #2 above.

Patriot Act Compromise items

I haven't personally had the chance to read the new compromise language for the Patriot Act but I note, via Instapundit, that Orin Kerr has.

DuPont hid chemical risk studies?

Did you know that there's a chemical named Zonyl that's used on the inside of candy wrappers and popcorn bags? Did you know that the chemical is related to Teflon? Me neither. If you're also hearing about this for the first time, then it's a safe bet that you didn't know the maker of the chemical, DuPont, stands accused of hiding reports that might indicate the chemical is very likely to be a carcinogen.

::::::::DuPont Co. hid studies showing the risks of a Teflon-related chemical used to line candy wrappers, pizza boxes, microwave popcorn bags and hundreds of other food containers, according to internal company documents and a former employee.

The chemical Zonyl can rub off the liner and get into food. Once in a person's body, it can break down into perfluorooctanoic acid and its salts, known as PFOA, a related chemical used in the making of Teflon-coated cookware.

The Environmental Protection Agency has been trying to decide whether to classify PFOA as a "likely" human carcinogen. The Food and Drug Administration, in a letter released Wednesday evening by DuPont, said it was continuing to monitor the safety of PFOA chemicals in food.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Pic Test


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Senator gave advance warning on Iraq war to foreign powers?

The story of Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday shredding Senator Jay Rockefeller over his backpedalling on his vote to authorize the Iraq invasion is making the rounds of the blogosphere, and well it should. The Senator was quite clear long before the invasion was launched that he considered Saddam Hussein:

  1. A threat

  2. Possessed of WMD

  3. A key supporter of international terror groups

  4. In flagrant violation of both his Gulf War cease-fire agreement and numerous UN resolutions

  5. ...and...
  6. A valid target for action in the face of his failure to comply with that agreement or the resolutions

Chris Wallace did what journalists are supposed to do and held the Senator's feet to the fire over his attempts to now re-write history on what he said and why he voted the way he did. Rockefeller can't even rely on the "Bush Lied" lie since he was privy to intel as good or better than the President's Brief on the matters of the day. This is commented upon very well by the blogs I've linked and others they link. That's not the issue I have with the Senator's remarks. Take note of this exchange during that interview:

WALLACE: Now, the President never said that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat. As you saw, you did say that. If anyone hyped the intelligence, isn't it Jay Rockefeller?

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: No. The — I mean, this question is asked a thousand times and I'll be happy to answer it a thousand times. I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq — that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11.

Take a real good look at that comment. Senator Jay Rockefeller, vice-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has stated on international television that a year before the President's 2003 State of the Union address wherein the President discusses the possibility of invading Iraq, Senator Rockefeller revealed his assessment that the President was going to launch an invasion to 3 foreign powers. One of those was and remains on the Department of State's terrorism sponsor list and was absolutely an ally and friend of Saddam Hussein. This isn't some political activist shooting his mouth off. This isn't the head of an international relief organization tossing out a casual lie to get attention. This isn't some left-wing web site spouting off about stuff they have no credentials to know. This is a highly-placed Senator of the United States who is one of only 6 with access to one of the Nation's most highly classified intelligence briefs. When this guy says something, he's got the position and credentials to be very believable.

And he made that credibility available to the head of a state that is very reasonably considered an enemy of the United States.

Someone want to explain to me why there's no investigation going on about that? Why this Senator isn't being ordered - not asked, but ordered - to step down off the Committee while the investigation runs?

William Bennett of the National Review writes very eloquently on the subject and makes the same suggestion:

::::::::If Syria — or elements in Saudi Arabia — began acting on this information before we even went to war in Iraq (more than a year later), then Senator Rockefeller may have seriously harmed, impeded, and hindered our war efforts, our troops, and the entire operation in the Middle East. This should be investigated immediately; and perhaps Senator Rockefeller should step down from the Intelligence Committee until an investigation is complete.::::::::


Cell phone bank robber apprehended Updated

You might have seen this on the Web: a young woman walked into at least 4 banks and robbed the place and, apparently, had a cell phone up to her ear while she did it. A manhunt (pardon the term) ensued. This is of special interest to me because the latest robbery took place less than 5 miles from my home. This is a hometown deal for me.

I am advised through an e-mail from one of our County Supervisors, Eugene Delgaudio, that she's been caught. From the e-mail:

::::::::The so-called cell phone bandit was taken into custody early Tuesday morning by local and federal authorities.

Candice Rose Martinez, 19, was apprehended in a residence at approximately 3:40 AM in the Centreville area of Fairfax County, VA. Loudoun and Fairfax Counties had issued warrants for her arrest this weekend in connection with a two of bank robberies in Northern Virginia. The apprehension was made roughly an hour after law enforcement issued a lookout for a car that Martinez and another man were believed to be traveling in.

I don't see a story posted on any of the major local MSM's but as soon as I do, I'll try to get an update to this post.

Good work by the Fairfax and Loudoun law enforcement teams!

Update: Here's a link now: WTOP News. Looks like the break came as a result of a single FBI agent following up a lead. Nicely done, Bureau!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Op-Ed in L.A. Times asks the right questions.

It only remains to be seen if he'll get any answers for the rest of us. As Charles over at LGF asked, has something happened over at the L.A. Times that they would allow this kind of op-ed to run? Hopefully yes, and hopefully it'll continue.

Dennis Prager has 5 questions for law-abiding Muslims that non-Muslims would love to have the answers to. Here's 2 of my favorites:

:::::::: (1) Why are you so quiet?

Since the first Israelis were targeted for death by Muslim terrorists blowing themselves up in the name of your religion and Palestinian nationalism, I have been praying to see Muslim demonstrations against these atrocities. Last week's protests in Jordan against the bombings, while welcome, were a rarity. What I have seen more often is mainstream Muslim spokesmen implicitly defending this terror on the grounds that Israel occupies Palestinian lands. We see torture and murder in the name of Allah, but we see no anti-torture and anti-murder demonstrations in the name of Allah.

There are a billion Muslims in the world. How is it possible that essentially none have demonstrated against evils perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam? This is true even of the millions of Muslims living in free Western societies. What are non-Muslims of goodwill supposed to conclude? When the Israeli government did not stop a Lebanese massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982, great crowds of Israeli Jews gathered to protest their country's moral failing. Why has there been no comparable public demonstration by Palestinians or other Muslims to morally condemn Palestinian or other Muslim-committed terror?

(2) Why are none of the Palestinian terrorists Christian?

If Israeli occupation is the reason for Muslim terror in Israel, why do no Christian Palestinians engage in terror? They are just as nationalistic and just as occupied as Muslim Palestinians.

Why, indeed.

Dover, PA's intelligent design flap shows intolerance, inflexibility

Readers of this blog will know by now that I am no friend of the hardline "intelligent design" crowd. Those folks that want religious creationism taught in the same class and literally side by side with the theory of evolution are simply wrong in my book and for a simple reason. The concept of intelligent design is not science. It's not really even a theory. It's an article of faith taught by priests and other believers from written and spoken accounts handed down from evangelists and, eventually, God. There's rub, you see. How do you test such a "theory?" You don't. The concept is accepted as a matter of faith or it's not. There's no scientific method you can apply to the claims and determine whether or not they are valid. You can't observe the effect in any kind of record available and make the determination that it's more or less likely to have occured. You accept that it's the right explanation based upon your granting of the authority to make the claim to someone you trust to make the claim. You trust your clergy or your own relationship to the Divine enough that when you hear or read the details of creation as your religion tells them, you accept it.

Can you imagine approaching medicine in the same way? Sure, you may trust your doctor, but there's a whole host of metrics available to tell you whether that person is worthy of the trust. Medical degrees, certification boards, medical audits and the like all combine to give you the sense of trust required to stand still and allow someone to actually inject a foreign substance into your veins. Withdraw all the evidence available to you that your doctor is actually capable in the field of medicine - all the diplomas, all the certifications, all the assurances of people you trust who have had good experiences, medically, with this person - and tell me how likely you are to act the same way. Me? Not so much.

Evolution, however, is a theory. There's evidence suggesting its presence as a process in life and information available in the fossil record that can be examined for patterns. It suggests rules that would apply to life and the formation of the varied forms we see on this planet. Most importantly, it begins to suggest predictable patterns in how a species changes over time and in response to environment in order to survive and thrive. This is the crux of Darwin's theory and it is most certainly scientific in nature.

Evolution, however, is a theory. The fact remains that while considerable research has been done and lots of information collected, we still don't have observable evidence of evolution. When you consider the timeframe we're discussing, this isn't surprising. Evolution is theoretically an extemely long process with literally tens of thousands of years and generations passing before even the smallest of changes will surface. When you take into account the fact that we've only been studying this process for a couple of hundred years - and less, with any great effort - it's not unreasonable to be where we are. Reasonable or not, however, it's still a theory. It deserves to be taught, yes, and science is where it needs to be taught. It is not unreasonable to teach that it is a theory.

Which brings us to the intelligent design vs. evolution conflict, specifically the one in Dover, PA. The media accounts are giving everyone the impression that the former board was going to basically replace the evolution discussion with a chapter on creationism. This was not the case. Direct from the Board's web site is this copy of what was going to be spoken aloud in class before the evolution material was discussed.

::::::::"The state standards require students to learn about Darwin's Theory of Evolution and to eventually take a standardized test of which evolution is a part. Because Darwin's Theory is a theory, it is still being tested as new evidence is discovered.

A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.

Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students to see if they would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.

As is true with any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind.

The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life up to individual students and their families. As a standards-driven district, class instruction focuses on the standards and preparing students to be successful on standards-based assessments."

Let's address the 1 problem I have here before I go on: "the" reference book. All the material available regarding evolution and, as an alternative being held up as an equally viable theory, we have a suggestion that students wanting to know more should go to the library and see "the" reference book. One. This viable alternative has just one book that explains it? Doesn't sound like a widely-held theory to me, and I've not even read the book. It would have been far better to suggest that numerous religions hold intelligent design as the truth of the origins of life and encourage the student to ask their families for more information. Period. I'm skipping lightly past the commentary I've seen on the book, Of Pandas and People. If even a quarter of what I'm reading on the subject is true, it's not looking good for the intelligent design crew.

Be that as it may, I need to ask just what the harm is in telling students this before embarking on a study of a scientific theory? Sure, it's not science. So what? It's pertinent to the discussion and the entire spiel would take about 20 seconds to perform. It might - Darwin forbid - actually get students interested in inquiring about the theory and the related controversy as a whole. For the evolutionists to be basically screaming that it shouldn't even be mentioned in front of the children, let alone discussed sounds more like the typical secularist's view of the church. Blasphemy shall not be allowed within the walls of the temple (of education) and transgressions shall be punished with swiftness, in Darwin's name!! (Let us not pray...)

As I've said, repeatedly, I'm not for discussing intelligent design, creationism, or whatever label we're using this week in science classes. The concept is not scientific and does not belong in a science class eating up time and effort that most curricula don't have available anyway. But the reaction from the secular crowd shows a complete intolerance for people getting the whole story even when it's not taking up any of the time they use to push their theory. It makes us look bad; like we're every bit the pulpit-pounding, wild-eyed fundamentalists we claim to abhor.

I've lost the link to the story now, but I read that the new board is planning a pre-topic caveat of their own and will direct students to want to know more to take an elective class on comparative religions that is to be offered at the school. More on that will follow if I can re-locate the bloody link. Stay tuned.

I can't resist: Pat Robertson is an ass

When I first read this story I was sorely tempted to blog about it but decided the man had enough free press and didn't need me plastering his name all over the place. So I decided to let the story pass. Every so often since then it's crossed my mind and I keep thinking about the depths of stupidity. Makes me wanna blog. But I told myself I was sticking to my position on the matter.

So I'm weak. What's your excuse?

A few of days ago, the Dover, PA school board was up for re-election. Eight of the group had tried to introduce the concept of intelligent design as an alternative to the theory of evolution into the school curriculum and, as a result, were voted out on election day. Now, when the community at large takes a good look at something your group is trying to accomplish - on their behalf, remember - and they vote your entire group out en masse, there's a message there. Clearly, the community does not feel that the inclusion of intelligent design as proposed by the former board was a good idea. One might think that the next move on the part of the people who wanted that addition would be to figure out what, precisely, the opposition was against and try to, you know, actually work out a solution.

I'm thinking the best approach would not be to suggest that the community was going to be forsaken by the Almighty and that they should just go ahead and make themselves a golden calf in time for the next natural disaster to strike.

I have never considered Pat Robertson to be the brightest bulb on the tree but when a man purporting to be one of God's more articulate speakers gets up and says, "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city," that's taking crass idiocy to a new low. I'm sure God would be real pleased with someone claiming membership in his clerical inner circle telling people to just take their business elsewhere.

When someone tells me they want to include intelligent design "as an alternative" to Evolution, I'd like to know what they mean by that. Does that constitute a quick 30-second intro in the biology class mentioning that religious faiths have other ideas as to how living things came into being? Or are they suggesting that the class take a week off from fossils and phyla and discuss Genesis? Or is the suggestion that a new required class be taught that addresses religious creation stories? It makes a huge difference in whether the idea is laudable or laughable, a visionary step forward or a dangerous stab to the eyes of enlightenment. I'm going to address these issues in another post, primarily because the subject deserves its own discussion and secondly because I don't want to lose the focus here.

Which is, namely, that Pat Robertson is an ass. Why anybody still gives this clown the time of day is beyond me. All he has to do is spew some trash about impending disaster and equating the removal of a school board that was obviously out of touch with the community with forsaking God and he gets plastered all over the front page. The issue was apparently whether or not the community wants their kids taught about religious topics in their science class or not. The Board didn't listen to the community sufficiently and the community did what a good democracy does in that situation: they elected new representation. And that is all they did. Suggesting that some cataclysm is now going to visit Dover over this is witch-doctor theatrics at its worst (with apologies to witches and doctors - you know what I meant.) I'd like to suggest that Robertson shut his pie-hole for a bit but I know how far that's going to go. In the meantime I will take it as further evidence that Pat Robertson is just an ass. And that's no theory.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

DoJ prepares to sue Southern Illinois U for racial discrimination

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Department of Justice is preparing a lawsuit against Southern Illinois University for racial discrimination. The interesting part of this is that they're being accused of anti-white, anti-asian, anti-male bias.

::::::::"The University has engaged in a pattern or practice of intentional discrimination against whites, non-preferred minorities and males,'' says a Justice Department letter sent to the university last week and obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.::::::::

Hat Tip to Instapundit. I've written about racial quotas before, and I do indeed consider most "affirmative action" programs to be nothing more than those cleverly clothed. I'd like to defer tonight to LaShawn Barber who has captured my thoughts on this latest development so well.

::::::::Skin color-based scholarship programs in public universities can’t be defended legally or morally. If blacks advocate skin color preferences because they’re afraid of getting left behind socially, educationally, and economically, they need to improve performance and generate opportunities for themselves rather than using public funds to “level the playing field,” which is nothing more than a moronic baseball analogy that didn’t make sense 40 years ago and makes less sense now.

As long as we have eyes, we’ll never be colorblind. That sentiment is just as laughable as any liberal’s dream of a socialist utopia. But public policy ought to be colorblind, and there’s no good reason why it shouldn’t be.

Well said. And before anyone simply dismisses her as some conservative angry white woman, take a close look at her credentials.

Post finally concedes the point

In making my rounds of the sphere this morning, I note a post over on Power Line that's especially fascinating. One of my "hometown" papers, the Washington Post, isn't known for its balanced reporting where conservative or Republican officals are concerned. So imagine my surprise to hear none other than Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus make this admission in print:

::::::::The administration's overarching point is true: Intelligence agencies overwhelmingly believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and very few members of Congress from either party were skeptical about this belief before the war began in 2003. Indeed, top lawmakers in both parties were emphatic and certain in their public statements.::::::::

One might ask Kennedy and Kerry how one is "manipulating" intelligence when the intel agencies were all saying exactly what one is claiming they said. Answer: you aren't. Another question would be to Milbank and Pincus regarding why the Post is just now getting around to making this concession, considering that none of the facts in the matter have changed.

The point to the Post story is not, of course, flattering to the administration and the above admission is more of a "Yeah, but..." moment for the Post. I would counter their points myself, but Paul Mirengoff at Power Line has already done so, well and proper. Go have a read if you're interested.

Reaction to the President's speech merely proving the point

I note that the reactions to the President's speech being reported are largely proving the points the President and others have made. Senator Ted Kennedy managed to become the poster child of the President's primary point in commenting almost immediately after the speech:

::::::::"The president reverted to the same manipulation of facts to justify a war we never should have fought," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat.

He called Mr. Bush's speech an "attempt to rebuild his own credibility by tearing down those who seek the truth about the clear manipulation of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war."

Once again, directly from the President's speech:

::::::::Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.::::::::

That'd be you he's talking about, Teddy. What's clear is that there are multiple investigations that have concluded that there was no "clear manipulation of intelligence" by the Bush administration at all. Simply saying that there was, absent any evidence to suggest it, doesn't make it so. If he's got a problem with the bipartisan Senate investigation, perhaps he should take it up first with the Democrats on that panel and ask why they signed off on it.

The President also quoted John Kerry in his speech referencing Kerry's remarks on providing Congessional approval for the Iraq invasion. This apparently isn't sitting well with Mr. Kerry. However, the best he could do was play the same card as Kennedy and loudly shout about Bush misleading the nation into war by - you guessed it - manipulating intel. I refer you back to the multiple investigations that have found nothing to suggest that's the case.

In short, the reactions to the speech are proving the points of the speech. Not that I expect Kennedy or Kerry to listen, but the American people will. So long as they get to hear about.

President's Veterans' Day Speech

I missed watching the President's speech yesterday but I've read the transcript and some commentary on the topic. Like most others who have been standing fast against the "Bush lied" myth and revisionists, I greatly approved of the President finally getting back in their faces with the facts and doing so publicly. I hope it's a harbinger of more of the same to come from the President.

One of the items I noted in the speech was a direct contradiction to the often-repeated lie that the Bush administration cuts veterans' benefits and the budget of the VA. Simply not true as the numerical facts will readily display to anyone who bothers to actually look at them. Both the budget for the VA and the committment of dollars for benefits have increased in this administration, not decreased. Veterans have access to more services and funding than before George Bush was elected, not less. The claim that administration has cut funding is the old perspective shift trick. During these past 5 years there have been suggestions to increase spending on veterans by more than what was actually done. Raising the budget for the VA by 51% instead of 75% is not a cut in benefits or spending, but that's the story critics try to sell. Their claim resonates with people, however, and only the repeated telling of the facts will fight that. The President made the right move in getting that out there.

I am also heartened by the identification of our enemy and the clear distinction drawn regarding their acts. I'll quote the President there for this one:

::::::::All these separate images of destruction and suffering that we see on the news can seem like random, isolated acts of madness -- innocent men and women and children who have died simply because they boarded the wrong train, or worked in the wrong building, or checked into the wrong hotel. Yet, while the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology -- a set of beliefs and goals that are evil, but not insane.

Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; and still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it's called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism, subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Hindus and Jews -- and against Muslims, themselves, who do not share their radical vision.

Emphasis mine. This has long been a contention of mine in talking with people who, in the wake of terrorist attacks and criminal behavior like murder, rape, and kidnap, immediately say something to the effect of, "they're sick." No, they're not. They are not insane. There's a difference between sick and evil and what these terrorist organizations are doing when they blow up innocent people is evil. There is no honor in it, there is no excuse for it, and there is no sense in empathizing with it. The President also calls out the enemy clearly here: "Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; and still others, Islamo-fascism." He is correct in saying that it's not the same as the religion of Islam. I know muslims, and the ones I know are all good people who, while confident in their faith, do not threaten the lives and well being of people who don't pray the way they do. That said, it's important to realize that while not all muslims are terrorists, the overwhelming majority of terrorist acts in the last 5 years have been perpetrated by those claiming Islam as the impetus for their acts. Muslims everywhere need to stand up and help us in fighting these people. They need to not condone the actions of terrorists and they need to speak out against these actions loudly, publicly, and often. I would urge them to not let their silence be consent. The President also reminds those of us who aren't muslims to not allow the terrorists to draw us into condemning all muslims. As I said, I know plenty of these folks and I'm proud to call them fellow Americans.

Most importantly, in my eyes, the President addressed the debate on the topic here at home, if you want to call it a debate.

::::::::And our debate at home must also be fair-minded. One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war. When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support. I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn't support the liberation of Iraq. And that is their right, and I respect it. As President and Commander-in-Chief, I accept the responsibilities, and the criticisms, and the consequences that come with such a solemn decision.

While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. (Applause.) Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate -- who had access to the same intelligence -- voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power. (Applause.)

The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. (Applause.) These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. (Applause.) Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. (Applause.) And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory. (Applause.)

This is the lynchpin of the argument and it's a point I've made on numerous occasions. In spite of the fact that multiple investigations have found that the Bush administration did not manipulate intel leading up to the war and that the available intel supported a conclusion that Hussein's government had WMD at their disposal, the cries of "Bush lied! Bush lied!" still go on today. That very point also belies the fact that WMD was only one of almost a dozen reasons explicitly stated by the President, publicly, supporting the decision to invade. The debate has most certainly not been fair-minded and the unfairness is largely coming from the anti-war crowd. They ignore evidence when it suits them. They dismiss the notion of having to prove their own points rationally, relying on strawman and ad hominem attacks in place of true argumentation. They create the offense of someone calling them "unpatriotic" and substitute righteous indignation over the perceived slur for rational debate. And make no mistake, I think some of them are, in fact, acting damn unpatriotic. When people openly support the actions of the enemy and call for our own troops to "frag" their officers - that'd be American citizens, those officers - then that's unpatriotic and I have no issue calling it that. If they don't like it, they shouldn't act unpatriotically.

There are good reasons to have done what was done in pursuing this front in the war on terror. The President needs to get out there in front of the American people and remind them of the facts more often. I am hopeful this speech marks the beginning of such an effort.

Paris riots and media inattention

Via LGF, here a look at a map of the rioting in Paris and France over the past 2 weeks. Fausta at Bad Hair Blog hits the question dead on and at ramming speed:

::::::::Now ponder that map, and ask yourselves what kind of European (and American) media noise would we be hearing if we've had fifteen continous day of rioting and arson not only in every major city in the country, but coast-to-coast? Would the press be clamoring 24/7 for the Président de la République's head on a platter, or at least for his ousting? Can you think of one, just one, of the 3 networks and cable TV stations that wouldn't be on this all the time?::::::::

Go have a look at that map. The attacks in Iraq are taking place in an area far, far smaller than where the rioting is burning in France. The riots are literally coast-to-coast in France, as Fausta says. Yet Iraq's the quagmire and the violence is portrayed as widespread and intensive. Muslims are rioting every night for over 2 weeks in France and the story literally disappeared from our media 2 days ago. I note it's back now that, as Fox headlines it, "French Muslims Demand Reform."

(Thanks to the Economist [subscription req'd] for the raw data the map is based upon and Fausta for a good analysis.)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Document expert Emily Wills speaks out on Mary Mapes' latest work

Mary Mapes, the former CBS producer in charge of the report last September wherein CBS relied on obvious forgeries in an effort to "prove" the allegations about George Bush's National Guard service, has put out a book on her efforts in that story. Amazingly, she continues to assert the documents are authentic in the face of repeated and overlapping proof to the contrary. Now, one of the document experts that Mapes decided to ignore is setting the record straight as to allegations Mapes has made in her book. Emily Will was one of the experts Mapes contacted in an effort to authenticate the "Killian documents", as they were called. Will had several issues with the documents - issues that were certainly germane to the authentication process but not useful in any sense to Mapes' desired narrative. Since Mapes has now gone public, Will is doing the same.

::::::::On Friday, September 3, 2004, I was closing down my office and thinking about the Labor Day Weekend ahead when the phone rang and the caller asked whether I would be willing to work over the weekend on some important, time-sensitive documents. This was the beginning of my involvement in the examination of documents in the Bush National Guard Document/Memo-Gate news story.

This week, the book "Truth and Duty" by Mary Mapes, former CBS producer, was released. The book contains several inaccuracies in the description of my participation. Because the book is a public document, I see it as my duty to publicly state the truth about what I said and did.

Will goes point-for-point on her involvement in this story. Given the credibility issue Mapes now has (and continues to exacerbate), I know who I believe.

Hat tip: Power Line

Veterans' Day

My thanks, my prayers, and my admiration all go to the vets out there today. Kevin, Clay, Chuck, and the rest of you guys who have popped me a note or two, my special thanks goes to you. You, particularly, have offered great insight and I appreciate that. Keep in mind that standing offer for a beer if you get in town.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"Death to Zarqawi"

Blowing up hotels in the middle of Jordan, a country most definitely considered an Islamic one, was likely not the smartest play in the Al Qaeda book. Crowds of Jordanians hit the streets today not to burn an American flag in anger or to denounce President Bush. They saved their message for the one likely responsible for actually ordering the attack. Via Fox:

::::::::Thousands of Jordanians rallied in the capital and other cities shouting "Burn in hell, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi!" a day after three deadly hotel bombings that killed at least 59 people. Officials suspected Iraqi involvement in the attacks, which were claimed by Al Qaeda's Iraq branch.

As protesters in Jordan and elsewhere in the Arab world denounced the Jordanian-born leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, security forces snared a group of Iraqis for questioning and officials said one of the bombers spoke Iraqi-accented Arabic before he exploded his bomb belt in the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

The main demonstration in Amman lasted for more than an hour. But honking vehicles, decorated with Jordanian flags and posters of King Abdullah II, cruised Amman's streets until late in the night, as passengers chanted "Death to al-Zarqawi, the villain and the traitor!" and anti-terrorism slogans.

Probably not the reaction old Zarqawi was looking for. The most amazing thing to me was that this part of the story is even being carried by our news media. Color me impressed.

One might ask Al Qaeda why they chose to bomb targets in Amman, Jordan considering the likelihood of killing non-combatants muslims and destroying the lives and well-being of believers there. It doesn't take too much foresight to think you might blast some innocent bystander when you light off several car bombs near crowded hotels. Not to mention the bombs that went off inside strapped to yet more of the mentally-challenged suicide bombers. There's an easy answer to that one: because they could get close to those targets.

They didn't blow up the Waldorf-Astoria in New York or the Regency in London because they simply couldn't get to them in the time permitted. That, and they are seeing their influence wane rapidly in the whole middle east and, dopes that they apparently are, think that killing a few of the faithful will get the rest to bow down low to the mighty Al Qaeda. Doesn't look like it's going to happen that way.

I like King Abdullah of Jordan. I might not trust him, but I can't dislike a guy who went into the military even though he was a prince, learned to fly helicopters there, and enjoys spending his free time rumbing along the Jordanian desert on an American Harley. My symapthies to him and to his people. May they pursue justice and acquire it.

SanFran's Prop H faces lawsuit, is unlikely to hold up.

For those unaware, San Francisco voters passed Proposition H, a hugely intrusive violation of the 2nd Amendment rights of the citizens of that city. Simply put, Proposition H declares illegal the private ownership of handguns and ammunition. From SmartVoter:

::::::::Shall the City ban the manufacture, distribution, sale and transfer of firearms and ammunition within San Francisco, and ban City residents from possessing handguns within San Francisco?::::::::

The measure passed by a very significant margin (about 58%) meaning that anyone in San Francisco that owns or possesses a firearm is now required to turn that weapon over to the State. The backers of this law envision a weapon-free utopia on the West Coast allowing their great city the same measure of security and crime rate as that other weapon-free zone, Washington, DC. And we all know from experience just how unlikely someone is to die in that city, now don't we?

The point is, of course, moot. Not because the city lacks the authority to suspend part of the Constitution. That's all very true, mind you, and it's something I'm going to enjoy seeing the DC crowd become painfully aware of. No, the reason this law won't hold up is that it's already been overruled. In 1982 a nearly identical law was overturned on the grounds that a city cannot enact an ordinance that conflicts with state law. The state law allows the possession of firearms by citizens of the state so a city can't overrule that.

The NRA has filed a lawsuit seeking to have the law overturned on exactly those grounds. And they haven't even brought up the Constitutional angle yet. I'll be keeping an eye on this one and I'll pass along what I hear.

Election wrap-ups for this Virginian

I meant to do this earlier but life got in the way. Here goes nothin'.

As anyone with a TV is well aware by now, Democrat Tim Kaine defeated Republican Jerry Kilgore by a sizable enough margin that nobody can call it close. For the record, I'm not happy about it at all. While Kaine's stance on the death penalty was a loudly-proclaimed campaign point and he has said that he would uphold the laws of Virginia in allowing a convict sentenced to death to actually be executed, the fact of the matter is that he can pretty much stay any execution in the state for no other reason than he feels like it. I'll be interested to see how he handles the first such case before him. That said, there's no reason whatsoever to allow that issue to remain at the forefront now that he's been elected. Let the man do as he sees his duty requires and let's judge him by the actions he makes at the time. There's zero incentive for him to actually hold up his promise, true, considering he can't run again but that's the system we have.

Kaine is no friend of the Second Amendment. That was sufficient for me to vote against him right there considering Jerry Kilgore's stance on the issue, but it wasn't the only reason I had. Virginians have pretty much made their will known clearly in that we have both a carry concealed and a shall-issue law in place. Virginians do not want the state government screwing with their right to keep and bear arms. I would advise Kaine to take note of that. Same caveat exists here about his incentive to take that advice.

Kaine is also a proponent of higher taxes as the best way to keep Virginia growing. Every reputable economist on record has conclusively proven that higher taxes do not yield higher productivity or growth so whoever got him to smoke that joint did a helluva sell job. I can only hope that the Republican-controlled assembly and Lt. Governor hold him off on most of his initiatives.

The Lt. Governor is Republican Bill Bolling. A Dem governor and a GOP lt. governor. This should be a fun 4 years.

The last race of any significance to me was that of State Delegate for District 32 pitting incumbent Republican Dick Black against newcomer Democrat Dave Poisson. Both spoke of their committment to fixing the traffic issues here in northern VA. Black's actually gotten 5 measures passed for funding on the Route 28 corridor running south from the northern border of VA past Dulles International Airport. The road was, literally, a 2 lane road with stop lights when I moved here in the mid 1980's. Three years ago it was a 6-lane divided highway - with stoplights. Think about that: you transition from Route 7 to Route 28 into a speed limit of 55 mph. In less than a half mile, you might hit a red light. The light turns green and you accelerate back to 55, only to be stopped at the next light positioned perhaps another half mile down the road. And so on, and so on. It's nuts. Black came in there and managed to get funding to remove the lights and build interchanges at 10 intersections. Along the part of it I use daily, there are 3 such projects that are largely completed and the traffic patterns are hugely improved. Score 1 for Black.

Of course, Poisson said he'd do much the same. Oh, and he'd finally get around to addressing the issue of northern Virginia getting back 22 cents of every dollar we send to Richmond in taxes. Black's been in for 6 years and that ratio has only gotten worse. Both said they'd fund the schools, get teachers' pay up, etc. Black is a rabid pro-lifer. Poisson is a rabid pro-choicer. Want to know what Poisson didn't have that Black did?

Poisson never deliberated mispronounced his opponents name in a derisive manner during a public debate.

Yeah, you heard me. There's Dick Black, during a public debate, calling his opponent "Mr. Poison." Repeatedly. Considering that he'd referred to Mr. Poisson correctly during previous speeches and appearances, Black knew better. He just decided to be an immature brat and engage in behavior I don't tolerate from my 4-year-old. So, adding that to the antics with the plastic fetus models he sent to other delegates a couple of years ago ahead of the vote for his latest attempt to ban abortion in Virginia and his call to cease funding to local libraries unless they ran internet filtering software on their public terminals for all library patrons, adults or not, and you get to my decision to not vote for him this year.

So now we have a Democratic delegate in almost every northern Virginia county and a Democrat governor. Could Republicans have done better? Sure. Actually trying to energize the Republicans here might have helped. Actually seeing the candidate for governor up here more than once might have been a good idea, too. Bottom line: we got kicked around the block this time. We must learn from it for next time, because this election is done and decided. Tim Kaine is the governor-elect and will have 4 years to guide Virginia to the best of his ability. As a democracy, we had a decision before us and we decided it using the only method valid for democracies. Our democracy has spoken and, since I choose to remain a part of that democracy, I will not disparage the decision now that it's made. Time to turn my efforts toward working with those who were elected to get outcomes as close as possible to what I want to see.

And plan. For next time.

ANWR drilling bill dropped by the House

The House dropped a clause in the budget bill slated for passage today that would have authorized oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, something passed a few days ago by the Senate. While I haven't had much to say about the issue, I have felt that it was an important item in our nation's agenda. The questions, to me, have always resolved around a matter of flexibility and our perception of our place in the grand scheme of things.

It appears to many of the environmentalists I speak to - and there's more than a few out here, too - that humans aren't really Terran. That they are outside invaders of this planet having descended from wherever to plunder the natural resources and leave nothing but destruction in their wake. Anything we do in the zero-sum game they describe is detrimental to the rest of the planet and shouldn't be done. Of all the planet's inhabitants, their stances imply, only Man is the destroyer with all else living in beautiful harmony that would never see extinction or habitat destruction in any way.

That's just not so.

Animals consume things from their environment. (Plants do, too, but I'm limiting my post to the animal world we humans are a part of.) Every animal out there, herbivore or predator, tends to go after the easily-procured stuff first until there isn't any more of it. We have a pretty sizable deer population out here and there are some types of bushes you might as well never plant in your yard. A neighbor of mine picked out some new shrubs to plant around her home and was quite pleased with them. At least, she was for the 4 days they were there. The bushes were completely stripped by the deer. She even replaced them again, thinking that perhaps the deer would move along now that there were no more of those shrubs around. The replacements only lasted 3 days. Predators, too, tend to hunt animals they know they can catch and, if there are sufficient numbers of predators, they hunt the prey animals until there are no more. Extinctions happened a long time before Man started drilling for oil and happened without his assistance.

But the perception of Man as Destroyer is firmly locked in the environmentalist mindset. Therefore, he must be stopped from interacting with the environment as much as can be done. Don't put that damn there; it'll change the environment for the fish. Never mind that it also provides an important flood-control measure. Too bad - can't hurt the fish. Don't build that road there; the traffic will cause problems for the deer, the bear, or whatever travels on that ground. Never mind that the road will allow better access for emergency services and a better quality of life for the people living there. Take a good look at just about any kind of development that some people somewhere want to do and you'll find environmentalists calling for the devlopment to be banned.

So far, none of these environmentalists have come up with reasonable alternatives to the plans they oppose. The drilling in the ANWR is just the most public example. Every alternative they have offered up depends on 1) people using less (energy, space, water, food) or 2) clean fuels and energy sources such as hydrogen, solar, wind, etc. The problem are 1) our population increases are outstripping mere conservation as a method of cutting back on our energy/food/water requirements and 2) none of the clean fuel technologies they describe are capable of replacing the energy output of our current systems as yet. As to the latter, their answer is always to throw more money at the issue. They seem to ignore the concept that more research into a topic is just as likely to yield a dead end as a breakthrough. The research needs to be done, to be sure, but to halt any expansions for current, real-world needs and rely for the fulfillment of those needs on technologies that might not come available isn't smart.

As to the former problem... Well, let's just say that some of the more vocal environmentalists have an answer for the population problem, too.

The drilling in the ANWR was to take up less than 2% of an area that the vast, huge majority of Americans will never approach within 500 miles of, let alone visit. The technology to do so safely has been in use in Alaska for decades without incident. It can be done. The oil there wouldn't be available in time for the Thanksgiving travel season, no. But it would become available in a few years and it would lessen our dependence on foreign sources while at the same time providing energy to do the research necessary to remove the need for oil as an energy source permanently. Here's hoping we get the chance someday.

Back in the saddle

A combination of work events and illness have managed to keep me off the keyboard for a couple of days so I'm working to get back into things. There's been an awful lot in the news lately and I'll be commenting on some of it; those parts that I have something substantive to add. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Voter turnout an embarrassment

So, Iraqis under death-threats from bad guys with real, live machine guns and bombs and a history of using them manage to get their butts to the polls with a voter turnout of over 60%. Here in Loudoun County with no such entertainments and a literacy rate significantly higher than the average Iraqi province, we barely manage 29%. Twenty-freakin'-nine percent. As I drive to work in the morning I'll look to my left and to my right and realize that the likelihood is pretty high that neither of the drivers there voted today. I can almost guarantee both of them will be bitching about their government by the weekend. I have no pity for any of them.

Delegate race figures coming in

21:44 EST: Out here in District 32 45% of precincts are reporting and so far it's Poisson leading Black by 6 points. Lots of room left for position changes but that's what's up at the moment.

22:20 EST: District 32 now has 75% of precincts reporting and it's looking very much like Poisson's race.

:::::::: State House District 032
Precincts Reporting: 15 of 20 (75.00%)
Registered Voters: 58,431 Total Voting: 16,966 Voter Turnout: 29.04 %
CandidatesPartyVote TotalsPercentage
D E PoissonDemocratic9,02453.19%
R H BlackRepublican7,92246.69%


Election news from this part of the Old Dominion Update: AP's calling it

At of 9:15 pm local time, our news radio station WTOP is reporting that with 76% of precincts reporting, Democrat Tim Kaine is leading Republican Jerry Kilgore by 51% to 47%. There's a 3rd candidate - Republican breakaway Russ Potts - who holds 2% currently. Virginia is one of those oddball states that actually elects both the governor and his lieutenant separately, so it's possible to have a Democrat win the Governor's race and a Republican win the Lt. Gov. In fact, as of this moment that's exactly what we have. The current leader for Lt. Gov. is Republican Bill Bolling.

That'll certainly make coming to the office fun.

The other race of interest out here is for our State Delegate race pitting incumbent Dick Black (R) against challenger Dave Poisson (D). What I find interesting is that our polls closed 2 hours ago and no precincts have reported at all. Hmmm.

More to come as I hear.

Update: The AP's calling it for Kaine with 85% of the precincts reporting. I've got to agree with them. Kilgore would need close to 50,000 votes to pull ahead and I don't see that happening with just 15% left to count. I note that Norman over at Commonwealth Conservative is conceding, even if Kilgore's crew isn't. I have agree with Norman.

It's Election Day

Exercise your right to have a say: get out there and vote.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Project 21 issues statement about racist slurs against Maryland candidate - Important Update

(There's an important update at the end.)

This has been covered excellently by such worthies as Michelle Malkin and Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters so I haven't had much to add. In an update to Michelle's post, however, I am stuck by the evasiveness of the official release from Project 21, a black leadership caucus in Maryland. That release has an overtone I find enlightening:

::::::::In light of the racial indignities being foisted upon Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele, a black Republican who recently announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate, members of the black leadership group Project 21 call on all candidates and political parties to shun both the use of such tactics and individuals who employ them.

Steele most recently was portrayed as a white minstrel in blackface on a left-wing blog, but has suffered other racial indignities such as being pelted with Oreo cookies at the historically-black Morgan State University in Baltimore and being called "Uncle Tom," among other epithets.

Project 21 members say all electoral candidates should be open to criticism about their records, credentials and policy positions, but candidates should not be subjected to race-based abuse. The way to end this, says Project 21, is for all political parties and candidates to repudiate and pledge to refrain from engaging in any activity that demeans on the basis of race, gender and/or other birth characteristics in favor of a robust debate on real issues affecting the public.

I do suggest you read the whole thing because there are some members of Project 21 who are quoted and are far more direct in their condemnation of the tactics being used against Lt. Gov. Steele. But this excerpt above is the position of Project 21 as a group. What I find less than stellar about it is the implication that everyone's tossing racial insults back and forth. That the liberals have done so directed at Steele, a conservative, and that the conservatives have done so at the liberals. That's the implication here: that "all candidates and political parties to shun both the use of such tactics and individuals who employ them." But no Democrat or liberal candidate has been attacked by the conservatives in this way. This situation is every bit, 100%, a matter of liberals attacking the man's race as a valid issue in an election solely because he's a conservative. Please, don't take my word for it. Here's more from the release:

::::::::Some, however, seem unoffended -- in one case, even enthusiastic about -- the racial attacks on Steele. According to the Washington Times, white political consultant Joe Trippi said calling Steele an "Uncle Tom" is "pointing out the obvious." Trippi is a spokesman for Mfume and is best known for his leadership of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean's presidential campaign.

State Sen. Lisa A. Gladden (D), told the Times that party loyalties make racial attacks fair game: "Party trumps race, especially on the national level. It's democracy, perhaps at its worst, but it is democracy."

I'm very pleased that Project 21 has the "racial slurs are unacceptable regardless of the color of the person tossing them" attitude and kudos to them for saying so. But their release should have been directed at the offending party, not watered down by including people who aren't making the offense.

Update: In the comments to this post, Mr Joe Trippi himself provides a quote from the Washington Times on a correction to their story. His site provides the link to the Times' page directly. The correction reads:

Due to an editing error, The Washington Times yesterday incorrectly reported the comments by a spokesman for Maryland senatorial candidate Kweisi Mfume regarding racially tinged attacks against Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele. Mfume spokesman Joseph R. Trippi said it was wrong to pelt Mr. Steele with Oreo cookies or to call him an “Uncle Tom.”

First and foremost, let me thank Mr. Trippi for notifying me of that correction. I am pleased to display it here.

Any of you who have read my stuff for any time know that I hold the media in general in no high regard. While the Washington Times is a media outlet I am generally OK with, I would like to know just how much booze an editor has to be drinking to take a comment that it's wrong to toss oreo cookies at a political candidate or call him an Uncle Tom and wind up with a comment that calling that person an Uncle Tom is "pointing out the obvious." Those are 2 diametrically opposed pieces of commentary and you just can't mistake one for the other. What gives? Regardless, the Times owes Mr. Trippi an apology, regardless of what anyone thinks of Mr. Trippi's stance on any issue. The fact is Mr. Trippi didn't say what was reported. When you wrongly accuse someone of doing something, you apologize when you discover your mistake. The correction is all well and good - and was certainly the right move - but it's not an apology.

For my part in spreading the orignal error, I'll certainly offer my apologies to Mr. Trippi now. And again, sir, thanks for pointing out that correction.