Saturday, February 26, 2005

Construction At The Greyhawks

Mr. & Mrs. Greyhawk over at Mudville Gazette are renovating the site and are testing their trackback, so here's a test for them. (Hi, Greyhawks!) Since you're here, let me toss up a link for you regarding a story of a soldier returned from Iraq who discovered some ancient artifacts in his stuff. Feel free to look around and drop me a note if the mood strikes you...

Second Amendment Refers To An Individual Right, Media Silent

In my latest issue of America's 1st Freedom, Chris Cox writes about an authoritative opinion piece written by the US Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel for the Attorney General regarding the 2nd Amendment. The memorandum was written with a specific question in mind: does the 2nd Amendment refer to a collective right (people are only allowed to keep weapons as a member of a state or federal militia-type force) or to an individual right (people may keep weapons as a private citizen)? This has been a crux of the debate on gun control for some time. Proponents of gun control - and let's be honest in that what they mean by "gun control" is "gun bans" - have held the position that the Amendment refers to a collective right. It is for the state to authorize a person to keep a weapon and that's only valid if the person is acting in some official capacity. Serving in a "militia" means the National Guard or, possibly, as a police officer or sheriff. Opponents of gun control say it's an individual right and membership in such organizations is immaterial. Deciding this question is, therefore, key to the debate.

The 2nd Amendment is short, sweet, and to the point:

::::::::A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.::::::::

That is the text of the Amendment in its entirety. You can see where the confusion comes from. Gun control proponents say the emphasis in on that first part dealing with the well-regulated militia. They consider it to be the focus of the Amendment with the rest of it depending on that first part as a condition. Gun rights proponents say the emphasis is on the second part dealing with the rights of the people to keep and bear arms not being infringed. In order to direct his Department, the Attorney General clearly needs to know which interpretation is supported by law and analysis of the language of the Constitution. The method by which he investigates such an issue is by asking his legal analysts at the OLC to research and report, which is what he did. Their report is well researched and, by the nature of who they are, authoritative. Here's their conclusion:

:::::::: As developed in the analysis below, we conclude that the Second Amendment secures a personal right of individuals, not a collective right that may only be invoked by a State or a quasi-collective right restricted to those persons who serve in organized militia units. Our conclusion is based on the Amendment's text, as commonly understood at the time of its adoption and interpreted in light of other provisions of the Constitution and the Amendment's historical antecedents.::::::::

Feel free to read the report. It deals with the historical and case precedents as well as the analysis of the text and linguistic structure of the Amendment itself. One of the most telling items in interpretting the Amendment is in how the terms used are used in the rest of the Bill of Rights. The report notes that:

::::::::The word "right," standing by itself in the Constitution, is clear. Although in some contexts entities other than individuals are said to have "rights," the Constitution itself does not use the word "right" in this manner. Setting aside the Second Amendment, not once does the Constitution confer a "right" on any governmental entity, state or federal. Nor does it confer any "right" restricted to persons in governmental service, such as members of an organized military unit. In addition to its various references to a "right of the people" discussed below, the Constitution in the Sixth Amendment secures "right[s]" to an accused person, and in the Seventh secures a person's "right" to a jury trial in civil cases. By contrast, governments, whether state or federal, have in the Constitution only "powers" or "authority." It would be a marked anomaly if "right" in the Second Amendment departed from such uniform usage throughout the Constitution.::::::::

This report is huge, in terms of its impact to the ongoing debate of gun rights vs. gun control. The analysis builds its case on a monstrous amount of legal rulings, legislation, and linguistic interpretations and provides a supremely well-reasoned opinion on the specific matter in question. It's the basis upon which the DoJ will direct its efforts and its the foundation for any opinon rendered to the Legislature or the White House on the matter. This single document has a very large effect on the citizens of this country.

So, aside from right here, have you ever heard of this report? It was tendered to the Attorney General on 24 August, 2004. It was made public 17 December, 2004. Over 2 months ago. I've never heard of it, either in the local papers or in any of the broadcast media. No reports in any of the so-called "mainstream" media sources. In fact, a Google of the topic will show you several references by legal web sites and 1 - count 'em, 1 - reference by a news organization, NewsMax.com. Since then, nothing.

I contend that the reasons for that are simple.

  1. The piece has rock-solid reasoning, research, and justification for its conclusions.

  2. The piece supports the viewpoint of gun rights advocates that the 2nd Amendment refers to an individual right that is not to be infringed.

  3. The media's general bias is in favor of gun control and they therefore will not report anything not supporting their position.


I submit that had the report drawn the opposite conclusion - that the 2nd Amendent refers to a right conditional to being a member of a State militia force - the news would have been carried on every channel and on the front page of every major metro newspaper in America. Likey twice. Editorials would have erupted forth calling for Congress and State Houses to enact laws immediately to bring themselves into line with this new analysis. But because the conclusion wasn't what they'd like to see, they ignore it. They once again use their position to attempt to stifle open debate as much as possible by simply not allowing the information to flow when it's not going their way. San Francisco is still trying to get a resolution on the next ballot to ban the private ownership of firearms completely. That news, of course, is widely reported.

They're your rights, people. Don't count on the media to protect them.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Virginia Legislature Restricts Illegals From Public Benefits

The Virgnia House and Senate have approved a measure to deny public benefits such as Medicaid and in-state tution scales at public Universities. It's now going to the Governor.

::::::::RICHMOND - Both chambers of the Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly yesterday approved a measure that would deny illegal aliens access to state and local public benefits, including Medicaid.

The House voted 81-17 to approve the bill, which applies only to aliens 19 and older. The Senate, which usually rejects legislation that restricts benefits to illegal aliens, approved the bill on a 27-11 vote.
::::::::

I have said before that I don't approve of granting benfits of any kind to people who are here illegally. There are too many immigrants who have come here openly and in accordance with our laws to simply hand over the benefits of citizenship here to those who haven't. It's not fair to friends of mine who have steadfastly held the legal line and have waited, in some cases, years for their green card that someone who snuck over the Mexican border should, in just a few months, have all the benefits of being a resident. Granting illegals the same access to benefits as anyone else completely removes any incentive whatsoever to come here legally and go through the process. I am not 100% against new programs that will see a new status created so long as it's done right. But illegals should never be granted access to programs, licenses, benefits, or any of the the things that legal residency allows.

The measure passed by Virginia's legislature addresses that topic head-on and it's good to see it happen in your own state. I approve.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Iraqi Artifacts Returned By Marine, FBI Updated

The FBI is reporting the return of some truly ancient artifacts to the Iraqi government.

::::::::John C. Eckenrode, Special Agent in Charge (SAC), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, announces the recovery of eight ancient Iraqi cylinder seals that had been looted from an archaeological site near Babylon. On Wednesday, February 16, 2005, SAC Eckenrode will return these cultural artifacts to His Excellency Mr. Samir Sumaidaie, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Iraq. The return ceremony will take place at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Ambassador Sumaidaie has agreed to loan the ancient Iraqi cylinder seals to the Penn Museum for educational and awareness-building purposes. The Penn Museum conservator has created a display “Update on Iraq’s Endangered Cultural Heritage”, to be opened to the public, which will feature the cylinder seals, photographs of the seals and seal impressions.
::::::::

The cylinder seals are small stones carved with designs that, when rolled across clay, left a design that identified the signer. The 8 stones are can be seen here at the Penn Museum site.

The stones arrived here in the States with a US Marine who had bought them from a street vendor selling trinkets while on duty in Iraq. Upon his return home, he had the stones examined by a University archeology professor who verified the stone's age and the fact that they were an Iraqi cultural treasure. The Marine, immediately upon hearing this, agreed to turn them over to the FBI so they could be returned to the Iraqi people. The stones themselves are dated from 3500-2500 BC and are estimated to be worth $30,000 for the 8 of them.

To that Marine, who remains unidentified, I salute you. This was the right and honorable thing to do and our friends in Iraq will appreciate them for generations to come.

Update: Well, my civie stripes are showing in that I completely goofed in identifying the member of the US Armed Forces as a "soldier" when, in fact, he's a Marine. Thanks much to Greyhawk and JarHeadDad for the correction, which I'm proud to make in this case.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Honorless: Democratic Congressman Spouts Admittedly Baseless Accusations

In civilized society it's an axiom (or it should be) that if you accuse someone of doing something illegal or immoral, you better be able to back it up with evidence. Evidence can be argued, of course, and what you think is evidence of something might turn out to be wholly uncompelling to everyone else, but you need to have something. If you don't, you shouldn't be making the accusation. If you make the accusation and, when asked to put up the proof, you can't provide evidence, you owe an apology to the accused.

The playbook of the American left, however, sees no problem whatsoever in making claims that the left readily admits they have no proof for. The so-called "Rathergate" episode was one of those circumstances taken to the next level. At least CBS realized they needed some kind of evidence. They were so ready to make the accusation, however, that when someone spoon-fed them bogus documents, they jumped on the air. The rest of that episode is history. Apparently, however, the fallout from that little exercise in deception isn't sitting well with certain Democratic elected officials. Take Democratic Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) who, in a "town hall" meeting, accused the White House (specifically Karl Rove) of planting those fake documents to embarrass CBS:

::::::::Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY): Well, you know, they are manipulating the media, they did it in the very beginning through intimidation. They would intimidate the people in the, uh, in the press conference. And ... they would ask — they would allow questions to be asked only of people that they knew were going to ask the right kind of questions, from their point of view. And, you know, that has its effect, had, had its effect on people. People have been — people in the media have been intimidated. The media has changed in the last four years. People have changed in the last four years. They’ve had a very very direct, aggressive attack on the, on the media, and the way it’s handled. Probably the most flagrant example of that is the way they set up Dan Rather. Now, I mean, I have my own beliefs about how that happened: it originated with Karl Rove, in my belief, in the White House. They set that up with those false papers. Why did they do it? They knew that Bush was a draft dodger. They knew that he had run away from his responsibilties in the Air National Guard in Texas, gone out of the state intentionally for a long period of time. They knew that he had no defense for that period in his life. And so what they did was, expecting that that was going to come up, they accentuated it: they produced papers that made it look even worse. And they — and they distributed those out to elements of the media. And it was only — what, like was it CBS? Or whatever, whatever which one Rather works for. They — the people there — they finally bought into it, and they, and they aired it. And when they did, they had ’em. They didn’t care who did it! All they had to do is to get some element of the media to advance that issue. Based upon the false papers that they produced.

Audience Member: Do you have any evidence for that?

Congressman Hinchey: Yes I do. Once they did that —

Audience: [Murmuring]

Congressman Hinchey: ...once they did that, then it undermined everything else about Bush’s draft dodging. Once they were able to say, ‘This is false! These papers are not accurate, they’re, they’re, they’re false, they’ve been falsified.’ That had the effect of taking the whole issue away.

Audience Member: So you have evidence that the papers came from the Bush administration?

Congressman Hinchey: No. I — that’s my belief.
::::::::

(Thanks to LGF and one of their "operatives" for both this transcript and the audio recording also available.) In the span of less than 30 seconds, the Congressman re-states the same accusation that CBS has tried for 5 years to prove and failed and lays it out there as a proven fact when, in fact, he knows it's baseless. He then tosses out yet another baseless accustion that Karl Rove - an employee of the White House - made up the documents CBS used and duped them into airing them. When called on that one and asked if he has evidence, he says yes, he does. When asked a second time, he then says he does not, but goes ahead and continues ranting as though he's repeating proven facts!

If a Republican congressman made an accusation that someone in Kerry's office had provided fake documentation that allowed, say, 10,000 illegal votes to be cast in a Blue state all with the full approval by John Kerry and couldn't provide evidence of it when asked, the left would be howling for the man's head on a pike. What do they do with this one? Nothing. Zip. Nada. And note that you're not seeing any of this in the MSM, either. Score another cover-up for the boys & girls in the press. This event happened, folks. We've got tape. We've got witnesses. A congressman has accused a White House official of passing forgeries and that's not news?

I agree with John Hindraker at Power Line on this one:

::::::::It's easy to write off this kind of thing as limited to the moonbat wing of the Democratic Party, but here's the thing: when is the last time you heard any Democrat criticize this kind of nonsense, or try to distance himself from it?::::::::

Indeed.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Facing Change

After much consideration, I have decided that I didn't like the newer template I was using. The text area for the actual blog posts was so thin that even moderate posts went right off the bottom of the page. I like a writing surface that's much wider. I've changed over to one of the wider templates and I'll be working on replacing all the bells & whistles I had here such as the comments, trackbacks, and the like. Should be up in a day or so.

Social Security Debate Continues

Well, the President has made few friends on the conservative side of the conservative side this week with his declaration that raising the caps on income subject to social security taxes is being considered. Many of them are calling the President on it because he said emphatically that he wasn't going to raise taxes. While I'll likely be accused of splitting hairs, I'd like to point out that he's most certainly not raising taxes. He's including more money in the category that's taxable and that raises the revenue generated, but it's not (strictly speaking) raising the tax. In some ways, it's less fair than that.

Raising the tax in general means that everyone paying into the income-transfer system will pay more. Everyone. By leaving that rate alone and "only" raising the cap, then the burden of generating the additional social security revenue falls only on those making more than the previous cap, in this case $90,000 per year. The US Census for 2003 (latest year for which these figures are available) show that less than 20% of households make in excess of $86,900 per year. The number of people making more than that (let alone more than $90K) individually would logically be significantly less. But just for the sake of argument, let's say 15% of the US working population makes more than the $90K cap. That means that while everyone's social security has a problem - the funding is insufficient to maintain the system - it's being casually suggested that the fix be forced from the hands of 15 out of 100 people. The person making $40K per year will have the issue resolved (allegedly) and not pay a dime for that benefit while the person making $100K per year will be paying taxes on that extra $10K and receive no additional benefit at all. Sound democratic to you?

However, the fact is that the system's design makes it inevitable that if nothing is done, it will fail. We, taken as a whole, do not want it to fail. Ergo, something must be done. The question remains, what? The question of what will fix the system in as close to a permanent solution as possible remains open to debate and that is why the President is completely correct to keep the issue of raising caps on the table. Taken by itself, I don't think raising the caps is a fair solution, but it might be a necessary part of a larger solution. The only way to know for sure is to examine it as an option and that's what the President is doing. Frankly, that's his job and I'm glad he's doing it.

I would suggest, however, that something more than moving the caps needs to be done. As I mentioned, it's not really fair to demand that a small segment of our society pay for the fix for all members of our society and get nothing in return. This is where the the President's PRA's come in. As it is right now, the money paid into the system goes to fund the retirement income of someone who's already retired. Its not an account for each of us where the money we pay into it is generating interest to be paid back later. The PRA's would make it exactly that. The opponents of the system usually leave out 2 very important items. First, we're talking about an amount up to 4%. The impression a lot of the opposition is leaving the audience with is that all of a person's social security taxes would go into the PRA. Not so. Second, and this one is really being obscured, the participation in the plan is completely volutary. If you don't think it will work for you, decline the plan.

These issues deserve real and complete discussion and they should also be approached in a spirit of compromise. I applaud the President for that attitude in this matter.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Not Over Until It's Over

MCI bought by Verizon? Not so fast. Seems Qwest's not done.

:::::::: Qwest Communications International Inc. said yesterday it plans to make a revised bid for MCI Inc. in an attempt to scuttle Verizon Communications Inc.'s deal to buy the Ashburn-based communications company.

In a letter to MCI's chairman, Qwest chief executive Richard C. Notebaert appealed to MCI's board of directors to reconsider its vote to merge with Verizon.
::::::::

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Tribute To Swift Boat Vets

Quick note: I saw this story about the Swift Boat Vets being recognized for their courage under the withering fire of our rather biased MSM. I'm glad to see this. Their opposition to John Kerry's presidential campaign was crucial in being sure that the real story about Kerry got out there. Were it not for them and their tenaciousness, Kerry would likely still be telling his Cambodian fairy tale and flip-flopping his little heart out. They held the line being called liars, repeatedly, by all manner of "journalists". (Lawrence, O'Donnell? Grown up enough to actually discuss things like an 8-year-old yet?)

And yet, to this day, the huge majority of their claims have never been even addressed by their critics in anything remotely resembling rational discussion. Left-wing commentators like David Brock of Media Matters continue to get on the news and say how the Swiftees just "confused" people, implying that they're lying. Several of their "claims" were apparently true enough that Kerry backed off of his own positions when confronted by them. They have also never wavered from their story or their position. They deserve the tribute being paid them and they have my thanks.

UN "Unprepared" For OFF Program

A UN official is saying that they weren't prepared to handle the tasks required under the Oil-for-Food program.

::::::::U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette said the United Nations was unprepared for the mammoth task of providing humanitarian relief for 24 million Iraqis and hoped it would never be given a job like the oil-for-food program again.::::::::

Well, there's 2 things we agree on.

::::::::"We certainly have taken pride in the fact that the program has served to feed and provide basic necessities to people and that their own personal faith improved over the life of the program," Frechette said on Tuesday. "But we have also seen that the program has revealed some basic weaknesses in our own internal systems."::::::::

Considering the situation the Iraqis were in while under the auspices of OFF, I'm not sure that pride is warranted. Actually, scratch that. I'm real sure it's not warranted. And I suppose if you consider rampant corruption in the guise of graft, blatant conflict of interest, and willful dereliction of responsibility as "basic weaknesses" in the UN's internal systems, then I guess we can agree that OFF showed those off pretty well. I might term them something other than "basic weaknesses", but I'm willing to let that slide for the moment.

::::::::In order to ensure that action is taken on recommendations of internal and external audit and oversight bodies, the United Nations is setting up an internal oversight committee that would constantly monitor management responses and implementation, she said.

"We expect to have this committee in place shortly," she said, adding that it would have at least one non-U.N. member "to ensure that we have the benefit of an outsider's view on how well our management teams are doing."

Volcker's report also found "convincing and uncontested evidence" that selection of three U.N. contractors for the oil-for-food program — Banque Nationale de Paris, Saybolt Eastern Hemisphere BV, and Lloyd's Register Inspection Limited — did not meet established financial and competitive bidding rules.
::::::::

I found myself chuckling a bit at the announcement that the UN, faced with a corruption scandal larger than any other ever seen in modern times, springs into action by (drumroll, please) forming a committee. Amusing, perhaps, but it's actually one part of the proper response, so I'm glad to see that they're doing this. I would be happier if they also made absolutely certain that no officials from any country who was involved in skimming the money is on that committee. This remains to be seen whether they'll do that, of course, but it's my sincere recommendation. That last little bit of the quote is very telling for those people who have been claiming that this investigation was all just a VRWC &trade plot to smear the UN.

I have to wonder, in the light of this report and the UN's admissions that the corruption was absolutely there, whether there's a more basic issue at work here. Bear in mind that the OFF program was born of the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam's Iraq. What we basically had there was an attempt to win a war without winning. To defeat a foe and yet leave him in place. Knowing that we couldn't trust him to not build up his forces for another try, we slapped sanctions on him. (Sanctions that were undercut by some of the most powerful members of the UN who, incidentally, were supposed to be some of our closest allies.) Somehow, the onus for what would happen to his people as a result of his decision to invade Kuwait became our problem, not his. It became a duty of those of us who had ejected his forces from Kuwait to see to it that his people were fed, had medicines, and were able to get what they needed to survive and thrive. Recall that we couldn't trust him to do this on his own. How, then, did we find him trustworthy to do it so long as we were the ones handing him the money?

History now shows us that we couldn't trust him and he did not use the money to handle his people's needs. So the more basic question that needs to be answered before we ever consider starting up such a program again is this: if a leader provokes other nations into taking military action against him so as to halt him from making or continuing an unprovoked invasion, do we leave him in that leadership position? Should we ever again simply try to push him back over his own fence and not take the battle to him in earnest? These are serious questions on serious matters. They deserve serious thought and serious discussion.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

NAMBLA Members Arrested Enroute To Mexico

Two words: firing squad.

German Forced Prostitution Urban Legend?

I had written earlier about a story that appeared in the UK Telegraph regarding a woman whose unemployment benefits were going to be taken away unless she accepted a job in Germany's sex industry. I have noted that there's a report now that it's an urban legend:

    A news story about a 25-year-old German woman who faced cuts to her unemployment benefits for turning down a job providing "sexual services'' at a brothel was carried by a variety of English-language news sources in January 2005. It has struck a chord in many readers as an example of liberal morality and bureaucracy run amok: if prostitution is legalized (as it was in Germany back in 2002), this story suggests, then society has conferred its approval upon that trade, and prostitution can therefore be proffered to (and even foisted upon) women as a valid choice of employment.

    We were initially skeptical about the literal truth of the version reported in the English press, however, because the issue seemed to have received scant attention in the German press. In fact, the origin of this story was evidently a 18 December 2004 article published in the Berlin newspaper Tageszeitung (also known as TAZ) which did not report that women in Germany must accept employment in brothels or face cuts in their unemployment benefits. (Although it claimed there had been "isolated cases" of such, it did not provide any source or documentation to back up that statement.)

The report goes on to say that TAZ had presented the scenario as a "what-if" situation; a possibility, nothing more. The Urban Legends site makes the same error it claims the Telegraph has, however, in not providing the details of who they spoke with in determining this was a hoax. I certainly hope it's a hoax, but I also realize that the law, as written, allows this kind of thing to occur.

In any case, since I wrote about the Telegraph article, I felt it was important that I also highlight this one and let you readers make your own decisions about which report you weigh more heavily.

Monday, February 14, 2005

You've Heard The Bad Stuff. Here's The Good News...

...from Iraq, brought to you by Arthur Chrenkoff. The media's making sure you know all about the bad news. Get the rest of the story.

Mythbusting: 9/11

There's a certain fascination with conspiracy theories in America. Partly fueled by a desire to puzzle out the truth, which is a good thing, it can nevertheless descend quickly into paranoid delusion. The myths surrounding 9/11, from the concept that it was actually missiles or bombs that hit those buildings that day to the questions about whether and when fighters were ever ordered to intercept the planes, have all been discussed wildly on the Net and in the press. Overseas especially, the theories have been lent a credence some of us find incomprehensible. Some of us just don't know. Popular Mechanics, it seems, didn't know and thought they should find out.

::::::::Healthy skepticism, it seems, has curdled into paranoia. Wild conspiracy tales are peddled daily on the Internet, talk radio and in other media. Blurry photos, quotes taken out of context and sketchy eyewitness accounts have inspired a slew of elaborate theories: The Pentagon was struck by a missile; the World Trade Center was razed by demolition-style bombs; Flight 93 was shot down by a mysterious white jet. As outlandish as these claims may sound, they are increasingly accepted abroad and among extremists here in the United States.

To investigate 16 of the most prevalent claims made by conspiracy theorists, POPULAR MECHANICS assembled a team of nine researchers and reporters who, together with PM editors, consulted more than 70 professionals in fields that form the core content of this magazine, including aviation, engineering and the military.
::::::::

Popular Mechanics certainly knows its stuff in these fields. They've been explaining it to the rest of us for decades, literally. The story is a very good read and I recommend it highly.

Hat Tip: Smash

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Believers In Democracy?

So How Would A Conservative Fare?

By now I'm sure that most of the blogosphere is aware of Ward Churchill and his bile about the victims of 9/11 being just like "little Eichmanns." (Again with the Nazi references, notice. I notice that the less substance the argument has, the more the author tends to rely on emotively-charged language and ad hominem attacks.) For a guy who's part of a group that gets so censored, suppressed and oppressed, he certainly has no issue being heard. I and others in the right half of the political spectrum have wondered to each other how a conservative academic would fare in such a circumstance, assuming such an animal could be found.

Well, thanks to John Moser at No Left Turns, we need wonder no more.

::::::::Back in 1997 Luis Chavez, a history professor at Pikes Peak Community College, satirized th[e] proliferation of ethnic studies programs by submitting a mock proposal for a "Gringo American Studies" program. He was suspended.

But wait, there’s more! Chavez appealed the decision, and it was overturned, but when his department chair, Katherine Sturdevant, testified on his behalf at the appeals hearing, "the administration stripped her of her chairmanship of the history department, took away her office on the college’s new campus, reassigned her to the older campus, removed her from various college committees, denied her merit raises, and gave her a negative evaluation after twelve years of positive performance reviews."
::::::::

After 4 years pursuing a lawsuit over her treatment in this case, Sturdevant won reinstatement to her job, $75,000 in damages, and a raise. She remains at Pikes Peak today. I compare the treatment here with outrage the left is exhibiting over the fact that people object to Churchill's characterization of the 9/11 victims and I see a double-standard they wouldn't tolerate in reverse.

"Carnivore" Put Down

The internet surveillance software known as "Carnivore" has been shut down. The move by the FBI to turn off the controversial software has an interesting motivation: according to the story, they can get just as good from stuff you can buy over the counter.

::::::::The FBI has effectively abandoned its custom-built Internet surveillance technology, once known as Carnivore (search), designed to read e-mails and other online communications among suspected criminals, terrorists and spies, according to bureau oversight reports submitted to Congress.

Instead, the FBI (search) said it has switched to unspecified commercial software to eavesdrop on computer traffic during such investigations and has increasingly asked Internet providers to conduct wiretaps on targeted customers on the government's behalf, reimbursing companies for their costs.
::::::::

Civil rights activists have been up in arms about Carnivore since its existence had been confirmed and it has been the punch line for many a geek joke out there. But what does it say that there are commercial firms producing software with capabilities of a type and strength that the Bureau would consider dropping Carnivore and using "brand x" instead? Markets for products don't generally form for a single customer and there sure aren't multiple commercial vendors that produce different tools doing the same job for that single customer when only one is going to get bought. So who else is buying that software and where would they possibly use it?

As I said: interesting.

SAIC Break-in Serious Security Issue

SAIC is a huge government contractor out here and is involved in some of the more sensitive areas of classified information. They recently reported that a break-in had occured in one of their San Diego offices where thieves made off with computer equipment housing the personal data of some or all of the 45,000 member workforce even obliquely managed by that office. That list contains a huge number of people with government clearances at all levels of classification and those people have been advised that they need to "take precautions" as a result of the theft.

:::::::: Some of the nation's most influential former military and intelligence officials have been informed in recent days that they are at risk of identity theft after a break-in at a major government contractor netted computers containing the Social Security numbers and other personal information about tens of thousands of past and present company employees.

The contractor, employee-owned Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego, handles sensitive government contracts, including many in information security. It has a reputation for hiring Washington's most powerful figures when they leave the government, and its payroll has been studded with former secretaries of defense, CIA directors and White House counterterrorism advisers.
::::::::

Well, that's just great. A firm that claims such expertise in security should never have allowed this data to be housed anywhere near an "administration" building that didn't have full classified-level security measures in place. SAIC's spokeman, Ben Haddad, said:

::::::::"We're taking this extremely seriously," Haddad said. "It's certainly not something that would reflect well on any company, let alone a company that's involved in information security. But what can I say? We're doing everything we can to get to the bottom of it."::::::::

He also said they weren't sure if the thieves specifically targeted those computers - which would indicate the data was the real goal - or if they just snagged something to sell for quick cash. Immaterial. Even if it's the latter, just who do you think they're going to sell the gear to? Some all-night pawn shop? Whoever buys that equipment is going to damn sure be able to see what's on it. San Diego PD flatly says there are no leads in the case.

Oh, and did I mention that the database all this stuff is in is a collection of information about past and present stock shareholders? SAIC is employee-owned, so every employee's data is in there. Of course, there's plenty of data in there from non-employees who just so happened to have had stock in the company. Nice return on the investment, eh? In case you're thinking the name SAIC is familiar, you've seen it in the news lately. Their San Antonio division is under investigation for allegedly padding cost estimates on an Air Force contract. More recently, they're the company that has been responsible for creating the FBI's Virtual Case File that has been rather widely denounced as a $170 million failure.

SAIC's head doesn't appear to be in "the game" of security lately, and that's a serious matter for concern.

Iraqi Election Results Updated

The counting is done and we've got the results:

::::::::The list of candidates representing Iraq's majority Shiite Muslims (search) won the most votes in the nation's Jan. 30 election, followed by the Kurds and then Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's (search) list, Iraqi election officials said Sunday.

The Shiite-dominated ticket received 4.075 million votes. A Kurdish alliance was second with 2.175 million votes and Allawi's list was third with about 1.168 million.

Of Iraq's 14 million eligible voters, 8,456,266 cast ballots, the commission said. That represents a turnout of about 60 percent.
::::::::

Assuming that the number of eligible voters is exactly 14 million (unlikely, but that's what I've got to work with) then the turnout was 60.4%. Our was reported at 60.7% and we generally didn't have the interesting diversion of death threats issued to us all if we went to the polls. As has been stated often, this was a wonderous day for the Iraqis and I'm extremely happy to have been witness to it. As to the Iraqi results, well that's pretty interesting, too. Rendered into percentages, the 3 top parties came in like this: The Shiite ticket, for whom I cannot seem to locate a name, took 48.2%, the Kurdish Alliance took 25.7%, and Allawi's ticket got 13.8%. First, take note that the party containing interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi came in third. A distant third. In spite of all the prognostications over the past 8 months about how it was obvious that Allawi's party would take the lead since he was backed by the US, the Iraqis had their own ideas and were pretty loud about speaking their minds. Good for them.

Second, and most importantly, note that even the top winner in this election didn't get the 60% of the National Assembly seats necessary for them to dictate terms. They need 12% more of the vote and that means they need to form, (drumroll, please), a coalition within the Assembly. Coalitions mean compromise, and that's going to mean nobody's going to just get everything they want. It does mean, however, that most of Iraq should get what they need. That they've had a hand in the formation of their government has been a great first step.

Update: The guys over at Iraq the Model have their take on the results and, finally, a name for the "Shiite Ticket" referred to in all the news reports. They call themselves the "United Coalition."

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Blogosphere Focus And Goals

US News columnist Michael Barone highlights the differences between the left and the right sides of the blogosphere. I think he hits it pretty good:

::::::::The Democratic Internet constituency was and is motivated by one thing more than anything else: hatred of George W. Bush. To see that you only have to take a look at dailykos.com, run by Democratic consultant Markos Moulitsas, which gets 400,000 page views a day--far more than any other political weblog--and which received funding from the Dean campaign (which Moulitsas disclosed). It seethes with hatred of Bush, constantly attacks Republicans, and excoriates Democrats who don't oppose Bush root and branch. When four American contractors were killed in Iraq in April 2004, dailykos.com wrote, "I feel nothing over the death of the mercenaries. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them." This repulsive comment produced no drop-off in page views. This was what the left blogosphere wanted. Kos was an early enthusiast for Dean's campaign for Democratic chairman and disparaged other candidates.
...
But the right blogosphere was different from the left. There was no one dominant website and no one orthodoxy. Glenn Reynolds, the University of Tennessee law professor whose instapundit.com gets 200,000 page hits a day, supports Bush on Iraq but disagrees with him on abortion, stem-cell research, and same-sex marriage. The focus of hatred in the right blogosphere is not Kerry or the Democrats but what these bloggers call Mainstream Media, or MSM. They argue, correctly in my view, that the New York Times, CBS News, and others distorted the news in an attempt to defeat Bush in 2004.
...
So what hath the blogosphere wrought? The left blogosphere has moved the Democrats off to the left, and the right blogosphere has undermined the credibility of the Republicans' adversaries in Old Media. Both changes help Bush and the Republicans.
::::::::

I'm definitely of the "Instapundit" persuasion in terms of my politics and therein lies the primary difference as I see it. The left side of the sphere, with very few exceptions, has little to say except offering up "anything but Bush" commentary, sprinkled with references to Nazism as often as possible. My colleagues on the center-right have no such vision of the left as evil, merely as wrong on certain points. I personally agree with the left on a number of issues, but actual discussion seems to be nearly impossible the second most of them learn I'm a Republican. One hopes that will change in the next couple of years.

Hat tip: Power Line

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Easongate, Dean, UNSCAM, And Other Sundries

A couple of high-visibility projects on my day job kept me from reading much of the blogs, let alone contributing to them. As I've just now gotten some free moments, I'm going to play catch-up and hit a few topics in this one post.

Eason Jordan has resigned. I strongly suggest you visit Easongate or Captain's Quarters for a full update if you've managed to make it this far without hearing about this story. As the boys from Power Line have observed, however, you'd likely only know about it if you were an avid blog reader.

::::::::If, like most people, you relied on the conventional media for your news, you would not only be late to the party, you would have no idea what is going on--your first knowledge of anything out of the ordinary would be Jordan's resignation. Assuming even that will be reported. It would be an interesting assignment: trying to write a story on Jordan's resignation for a paper that has not heretofore covered the controversy.::::::::

They're right, and that's a shame. I do honestly believe Jordan's vocal bias and self-admitted penchant for covering up pertinent facts made it better that he's not in a position of authority in bringing you the news. However, the MSM should be - still - providing the facts of the story, and they're not. The people in Davos have pulled a blatant cover-up and CNN is sitting back to enjoy. It's patently obvious and that's not looking good on "the most trusted" news network. The MSM pursued a non-story for 5 years when it was the President's Guard service from 30 years ago. This news chief of what is doubtless one of the most influential in the world makes comments about US soldiers torturing and killing journalists in the last year and they give it a pass? If they'd put ½ the effort into this story that they did the Guard story we'd see scores of reporters camped out in Davos demanding the tape. Go figure.

Howard Dean is the new chair of the Democratic National Committee. The man who claims to hate Republicans - a significant chunk of the American populace - and everything they stand for is the man the DNC thinks is the right guy to lead them back into the good graces of the majority of the electorate. Guess we'll see. I'm finding it hard to consider the position of a man who announces to the world that he hates me and whatever I stand for, he's against. I'm thinking there's going to be a lot of people who feel that way.

Benon Sevan, the guy who headed up the UN's Oil-for-Food-Scam-To-Line-Saddam's-Wallet, has been found to have actively obstructed the investigation run by Paul Volcker. Color me shocked. The documents uncovered by the Iraqis after Saddam's downfall made it pretty clear the UN was doing this and that Sevan himself was personally benefiting from the deal. The investigation - what has been allowed by the people being investigated, of course - has shown the same thing. Sevan's not alone. He was, however, in a unique position to stonewall the investigators and that's pretty much what he did. After their performance in Bosnia, their carelessness about Sudan, their complicity in Rwanda, their conspiracy with Saddam, and their wholely inadequate response to the tsunami in southeast Asia, I have to ask: what good are they, anyway? And we're supporting this organization why?

Last up for tonite, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are observing the Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire although they're not actually signing on to it. I might be more excited by this if we hadn't seen all this before. Both groups are taking a "wait and see" attitude saying they'll sign on if they see that Israel has halted her attacks. Of course, they don't put a time frame to the question, and they don't concede that Israel has the right to deal with attacks against herself. Witness that it wasn't 24 hours after the cease-fire was announced before the 1st attacks against Israelis were committed. A cease-fire is a cease-fire, not a set of handcuffs to one side. Both sides must abide by it or it's meaningless. One of these days they'll get that, I suppose.

Wishing you all a good evening and a happy Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Having It Both Ways

Chrenkoff makes an interesting point in dealing with the Guantanamo Bay prisoners' lawsuits. Quoting from a Washington Post article, he says:

:::::::: "Detainee lawyers likened the tactics to Nazis shaving the beards of orthodox Jews or artists dunking a crucifix in urine to shock Christians. 'They're exploiting religious beliefs to break them down, to destroy them,' said Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents several dozen detainees. 'What they're doing, it reminds me of a pornographic Web site -- it's like the fantasy of all these S&M clubs'."

Which begs the question - do "detainee lawyers" and the Centre for Constitutional Rights think that artists dunking a crucifix in urine constitutes an unacceptable torture for Christians. And if so, who can the Christians sue?
::::::::

Excellent point. I seem to recall a huge amount of outrage from groups such as these that Christians were denouncing the so-called "art" at the time it was shown. Maplethorp, wasn't it? The whole attitude was that anyone who thought the art wasn't art was just too stupid to understand such things. Get over it, Christian. So, now that it's convenient, the argument is being used to denounce activity that groups along the political lines of the Centre don't approve of, and we're all supposed to just snap to attention. Sorry, they don't get to have it both ways.

I also note the continuation of the standard operating procedure of the left these days in that they can't seem to comment at all about the administration's procedures without dragging up a Nazi reference. Weak, folks, and tiresome, to boot. Anyone who seriously studies the Nazis can only find reasonable comparisons between America and that totalitarian government if they choose to ignore the facts and stretch their metaphors. Seems like this is going to remain the tenor of conversation for the next 4 years and I'm sure anyone right of center is going to be blamed for it.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

"I'm Not Saying What I Just Got Done Saying"

My 3-year-old daughter, like all kids that age, is testing me these days. Rather, she's testing the limits I've set and the distance she can push me before... (ahem)... Daddy gets angry. One of the lessons we're trying to impart is that simply saying she's sorry doesn't get her off the hook when 1) she clearly knew what she was about to do was wrong, and 2) when she immediately does it again after saying she's sorry. I tell her that saying she didn't mean it and then going ahead and doing what she says she doesn't mean to do isn't going to be acceptable, at all. I don't know any parents anywhere who don't go through the same thing and try to pass on the same lesson. It's pretty basic.

That's why when I read stories like this one, I really cringe. The crux of the story is that the Mayor of Baltimore isn't happy with the budget President Bush sent to Congress. Like most of the vocal left in this country these days, simply saying that and then backing it up with solid reasoning just isn't in the playbook for the Mayor. No, the President didn't deliver a budge to Congress, here. He initiated an attack on the cities of the United States. That's right - the President of the United States is attacking this countries cities.

::::::::"Back on September 11, terrorists attacked our metropolitan cores, two of America's great cities. They did that because they knew that was where they could do the most damage and weaken us the most," O'Malley said. "Years later, we are given a budget proposal by our commander in chief, the president of the United States. And with a budget ax, he is attacking America's cities. He is attacking our metropolitan core."::::::::

So this Mayor of one of America's largest cities hands off this wonderful sound bite obviously comparing the President's budget with the actions of 19 terrorists who killed around 3000 people that day in September. How do I know that's what he was doing? Because I can read, and that's what he said. After a few folks brought up that the comparison was way, way over the line, he says:

::::::::O'Malley told The Washington Post he didn't intend to equate the proposed budget cuts to a terrorist attack.

"The point I am trying to make is, for America to be strong, we have to strengthen our cities. Because we're in the middle of a war, we need to be strengthening and protecting our cities, not weakening our cities," he said.
::::::::

And here's the 3-year-old moment. How can one say what O'Malley said about 9/11 and the budget and reasonably expect that people wouldn't think you were equating the two items? And then expect people to just shrug it off because he says, basically, he didn't mean it? It was crass. It was stupid. It was unjustifiable and he needs to apologize for it. Not qualify it, not apologize conditionally. He needs to say, "Hey, that was uncalled for and I'm sorry I made the comment. Won't happen again." Period. End statement. Then feel free to tell us what your point should have been.

Too much to ask, probably. At least he didn't say "crisis." That would have gotten the Democrats all up in arms for sure.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Now That's A Survey!

It's not generally appreciated just how difficult it is to run a well-done survey. The wording of the questions, the order of the questions, and even the order of the answers all can introduce bias into the data collected. Then there's the methodology in selecting the sample size and the selection of sample members from the larger population. How the survey is presented and in what venue and using what method of communication (face-to-face, phone call, direct mail, etc.) is also of concern. To get it right takes enormous effort and those groups that can do it well are well paid, deservedly.

The Gallup Organization is literally synonymous in this country with polls and surveys. Their latest poll release deals with Bush's approval ratings which is an ongoing kind of event. They basically ask the same set of questions regularly over time and compare the results to plot trends. The latest release of the poll shows Bush's approval rating has increased in some of the more contentious areas and quite significantly. His overall approval rating has climbed to 57%, the highest this year. Of course, the year's still young.

While the numbers are encouraging for his supporters, it's the presentation of the findings of this survey that I'd like to applaud at this point. The conclusions of the survey are presented, of course, but so is the methodology. The number and type of respondents are listed followed by the actual survey questions asked. This is truly a poll you can 1) take yourself and 2) decide for yourself whether the questions are misleading or biased. (My take is they're neither. Gallup is good at what they do.) There are other polls whose results are being touted whose makers could learn a lot from this kind of report. In this age of information access, it's no longer sufficient to announce the big numbers and not allow people to see the data.

Social Security Suggestion, Yet Again

I hate to keep going back to the same pump, but here's another one:

::::::::Well one thing you could do is to give people one or two percent of the payroll tax, with the same options that Federal employees have with their retirement accounts; where you have three mutual funds that almost always perform as well or better than the market and a fourth option to buy government bonds, so you get the guaranteed social security return and a hundred percent safety just like you have with Social Security.::::::::

Now, as I'm sure the left will ask, what moron said that? That would be former President Clinton.

Figures. Trots out some quote from the 1992 campaign like he said it a couple of years ago and ignores the changes in the situation. Typical.

Nice try, but the quote was from December, 2002. As I recall at the time, none of the Democrats booed when he said it, either.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Easongate Begins Operation

To act as a clearinghouse for information about what is being called "Eason's Fables", a new blog is in town. Easongate is also serving as a pressure point to try to get some semblance of jouralistic integrity out of CNN.

::::::::The Easongate blog has been created in light of Eason Jordan's recent statements at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he accused American servicemen of intentionally targeting and killing journalists in Iraq. These are serious charges that should not have been made without supporting evidence, which he did not provide. American servicemen and women are risking their lives daily and it is wholly inappropriate for a man of his stature and influence to make baseless claims in front of an international audience. As an experienced journalist, he fully understands the impact of his words and the effects on his audience. Mr. Jordan has a past history of making such statements.

The purpose of this blog is as follows:

  Act as a clearinghouse for information related to Mr. Jordan's recent and past statement concerning the United States military.
  Provide analysis and commentary on the developing situation.
  Advocate CNN to take real and meaningful disciplinary action against Mr. Jordan.
  Create a petition expressing the public's displeasure with Mr. Jordan's statements.
  Gather information on CNN's advertisers and make this information available to the public.

Our hope is that CNN will launch an investigation into Mr. Jordan's past and recent history, and take appropriate action. The staff of Easongate is not confident CNN will address this situation without external pressure, however, so we hope to provide the means for the public to place pressure on CNN to act.
::::::::

They also promise to forward information to their elected reps should Mr. Jordan actually provide evidence of his claims. Michelle Malkin spoke with Congressman Barney Frank, who was there when Jordan made his comments, and they match the picture painted by the other attendees. As always, Captain's Quarters is also providing invaluable service.

Afghanistan: Remember That One?

Thanks again to Arthur Chrenkoff for the roundup of reminders that Afghanistan did not simply evaporate along the way and that time, indeed, is still proceeding there. The vast, vast, vast, HUGE majority of these stories are likely completely news to you, dear reader, because the media's lost all interest in a fledgling democracy that appears to be succeeding where failure was roundly predicted.

::::::::The drought has broken throughout Afghanistan - both literally and metaphorically. As Kim Hart of the "American Journalism Review" writes, "with the establishment of a new government and building of infrastructure, a continuing U.S. military presence and the hunt for terrorists, Afghanistan is rife with stories of long-term consequence." Unfortunately, as Hart notes, there's hardly anyone left in Afghanistan to report it:

"Once a journalism hot spot, Afghanistan was all but left behind when the media's spotlight turned to the conflict in Iraq. In June/July 2003, [the "American Journalism Review"] reported that only a handful of reporters remained in the struggling country on a full-time basis, while other news organizations floated correspondents in and out when time and resources permitted.

"A year and a half later, Afghanistan has become even more of an afterthought. Only two news organizations--Newsweek and the Washington Post--have full-time reporters stationed in Kabul, the capital. Other major newspapers, such as the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, rely on stringers in Afghanistan and correspondents based in New Delhi, India, to cover the region, a stark contrast to the hundreds of reporters pouring into Iraq since the war began. The New York Times uses a stringer, albeit a full-time one. Television networks have nearly disappeared."

As the old saying goes, all dressed up and nowhere to go. Just when after decades of bloodshed and despair Afghanistan is finally getting back on its feet the media has already moved off to cover another crisis and another quagmire somewhere else - perhaps in Iraq. But as citizens of countries whose servicemen and women have liberated Afghanistan from under the Taliban yoke and which continue to participate in rebuilding of the country, we deserve to be told when all that blood, sweat and money is bringing good results. Below are the last month's stories from Afghanistan that you might have missed.
::::::::

Lots of good stuff there.

w.bloggar Trouble

Some readers have noted that over the past couple of days several duplicates of my posts have popped up. I use the w.bloggar tool to write my stuff and I just upgraded to the 4.0 version of the software. Seems that it's having trouble when I go to edit a post I've already published, rendering it as a new post rather than as an edited one. There's a work-around so that shouldn't be happening again and I understand they're working on the problem now. Just wanted to let you know.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Social Security Needs Fixed?

Apparently so. From the State of the Union Address:

::::::::So first and above all, we must save Social Security for the 21st century.

Early in this century, being old meant being poor. When President [Franklin D.] Roosevelt created Social Security, thousands wrote to thank him for eliminating what one woman called "the stark terror of penniless, helpless old age." Even today, without Social Security, half our nation's elderly would be forced into poverty.

Today, Social Security is strong, but by 2013, payroll taxes will no longer be sufficient to cover monthly payments. By 2032, the trust fund will be exhausted and Social Security will be unable to pay the full benefits older Americans have been promised.
::::::::

Interesting that the Democrats actually booed President Bush during his address at the mention of the dates at which Social Security will start its real decline. Especially when you consider that the above quote is from President Clinton. I've been considering the remarks made by both Presidents and I'm curious about the Democrats' dismissal of the Social Security problem now that they're not in power, considering that just a few short years ago, they were the ones saying something had to be done right now. Now that a Republican President wants to fix the problem, not only do they not like his fix, they deny there's even such a problem.

That's on the one hand, of course. On the other, they're suggesting that a "small fine tuning" of the system will take care of everything. I'm always fascinated that the fine tuning they discuss always amounts to taking someone else's money. Just raise the limit on income that gets taxed for social security. That'll fix everything. Oh, and institute a means test where we get to decide who's got enough money in their personal coffers - largely because they worked at it and saved diligently - so we can yank benefits from them or deny them outright. Never mind that those people also paid into the system for years. Tough luck, bud. We've got to fix it somehow and, well, you're one of those "rich" people who should have avoided raising your income up so high to begin with, anyway.

To be honest, however, I feel very much like Dean Esmay in this post on the matter. Good stuff, Dean.

On The Media's Sound And Silence Updated Again

While perusing Power Line this morning, I see their note about the story on Eason Jordan's comments have finally been printed in a newspaper. The link they provide is to the Toledo Blade and the article is by Jack Kelly. On Jordan:

::::::::The scandalous remarks of Eason Jordan, CNN's top news executive, last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and the failure of the major media to report them suggest the distortions are deliberate.

Mr. Jordan told a panel that the U.S. military had killed a dozen journalists in Iraq, and that they had been deliberately targeted. When challenged, Mr. Jordan could provide no evidence to support the charge, and subsequently lied about having made it, though the record shows he had made a similar charge a few months before, and also earlier had falsely accused the Israeli military of targeting journalists.

Mr. Jordan's slander has created a firestorm in the blogosphere, but has yet to be mentioned in the "mainstream" media.

Gee, I wonder why not.
::::::::

Yes, Jack, we wonder, too. (Not really.) There's been much written in the blogosphere about Jordan, including here at HoodaThunk, so I won't bore you with a rehash. The first part of Kelly's article is equally interesting and asks a question that is at the core of the "MSM is biased" debate. Throughout this war we find ourselves in, the media have been all too willing to show us the cases where the terrorists are winning, are everywhere, are unstoppable. Micheal Moore would have you believe they're the good guys and we're the nasty villians who need to be stomped. The MSM, in general, has acted more as the terrorist's PR department than as objective news services and Kelly points it out big time.

::::::::It's also interesting that the terrorists turned to the news media to recover lost momentum. Journalists who fell for these hoaxes may merely be idiots, and their silence about the implications of the hoaxes may simply be the by-product of embarrassment. But more to the point, why are major media so quick to disseminate anything that a terrorist group, or purported terrorist group, releases? For the terrorist, it is like being given millions of dollars in free advertising.

The major media have from the beginning exaggerated the strength and popularity of those they mislabel "insurgents," to the disgust of American soldiers.
::::::::

The article is short, sweet, and to the point. Read all about it.

Update: Captain's Quarters has a link to another print publication addressing this concern, this time in the Press-Enterprise in California. The editorial addresses the canned response CNN is floating quite nicely:

:::::::: CNN's chief news executive, Eason Jordan, said Jan. 27 on a world stage that "he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by U.S. troops, but they had in fact been targeted," according to Rony Abovitz of the World Economic Forum's weblog.

Problem is, Jordan has provided no facts to substantiate this very serious charge. Now the claim, which Jordan floated at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is spreading through anti-American circles in Europe and the Middle East.

Jordan's words matter because CNN is, in the eyes of much of the world, the "voice of America." If its news chief is reporting fabrications to global leaders at elite summits, it's another blow to media credibility at home, and to the United States' reputation abroad.

Officially, CNN says, "Mr. Jordan emphatically does not believe that the U.S. military intended to kill journalists and believes these accidents to be cases of 'mistaken identity.'"

Nice try, but that's not what he said in Davos, according to multiple news accounts, including one from a former CNN reporter who was there.

In fact, about 36 journalists were killed in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 -- 12 as a result of American fire. All but one of those cases was accidental, according to an independent account by the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York based free-press advocacy group. In the other case, intent was not clear.

CNN bills itself as the "world's most respected news network." If the network expects to sell that slogan, it will need a more honest top executive than Eason Jordan.
::::::::


Update 2: Reader Ohkrana asks who were the people supposedly killed by the US military, as Jordan has asserted. That's part of the problem, actually, because Eason Jordan has not provided any evidence or details to support his accusation. All I can do is present this list over at the site for The Committee to Protect Journalists. If you scroll down that list to the Iraq section, you'll see that they list 23 media workers who were killed in Iraq in 2004. Not all of these are alleged to have been deliberately targeted by the US military, but I can't tell you which ones Jordan's referring to when he makes his claim. Still waiting on the MSM or Jordan to tell us anything at all, aside from backpedalling as fast as they can.

On The Media's Sound And Silence Updated

While perusing Power Line this morning, I see their note about the story on Eason Jordan's comments have finally been printed in a newspaper. The link they provide is to the Toledo Blade and the article is by Jack Kelly. On Jordan:

::::::::The scandalous remarks of Eason Jordan, CNN's top news executive, last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and the failure of the major media to report them suggest the distortions are deliberate.

Mr. Jordan told a panel that the U.S. military had killed a dozen journalists in Iraq, and that they had been deliberately targeted. When challenged, Mr. Jordan could provide no evidence to support the charge, and subsequently lied about having made it, though the record shows he had made a similar charge a few months before, and also earlier had falsely accused the Israeli military of targeting journalists.

Mr. Jordan's slander has created a firestorm in the blogosphere, but has yet to be mentioned in the "mainstream" media.

Gee, I wonder why not.
::::::::

Yes, Jack, we wonder, too. (Not really.) There's been much written in the blogosphere about Jordan, including here at HoodaThunk, so I won't bore you with a rehash. The first part of Kelly's article is equally interesting and asks a question that is at the core of the "MSM is biased" debate. Throughout this war we find ourselves in, the media have been all too willing to show us the cases where the terrorists are winning, are everywhere, are unstoppable. Micheal Moore would have you believe they're the good guys and we're the nasty villians who need to be stomped. The MSM, in general, has acted more as the terrorist's PR department than as objective news services and Kelly points it out big time.

::::::::It's also interesting that the terrorists turned to the news media to recover lost momentum. Journalists who fell for these hoaxes may merely be idiots, and their silence about the implications of the hoaxes may simply be the by-product of embarrassment. But more to the point, why are major media so quick to disseminate anything that a terrorist group, or purported terrorist group, releases? For the terrorist, it is like being given millions of dollars in free advertising.

The major media have from the beginning exaggerated the strength and popularity of those they mislabel "insurgents," to the disgust of American soldiers.
::::::::

The article is short, sweet, and to the point. Read all about it.

Update: Captain's Quarters has a link to another print publication addressing this concern, this time in the Press-Enterprise in California. The editorial addresses the canned response CNN is floating quite nicely:

:::::::: CNN's chief news executive, Eason Jordan, said Jan. 27 on a world stage that "he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by U.S. troops, but they had in fact been targeted," according to Rony Abovitz of the World Economic Forum's weblog.

Problem is, Jordan has provided no facts to substantiate this very serious charge. Now the claim, which Jordan floated at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is spreading through anti-American circles in Europe and the Middle East.

Jordan's words matter because CNN is, in the eyes of much of the world, the "voice of America." If its news chief is reporting fabrications to global leaders at elite summits, it's another blow to media credibility at home, and to the United States' reputation abroad.

Officially, CNN says, "Mr. Jordan emphatically does not believe that the U.S. military intended to kill journalists and believes these accidents to be cases of 'mistaken identity.'"

Nice try, but that's not what he said in Davos, according to multiple news accounts, including one from a former CNN reporter who was there.

In fact, about 36 journalists were killed in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 -- 12 as a result of American fire. All but one of those cases was accidental, according to an independent account by the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York based free-press advocacy group. In the other case, intent was not clear.

CNN bills itself as the "world's most respected news network." If the network expects to sell that slogan, it will need a more honest top executive than Eason Jordan.
::::::::

Well, That Was Fun!

Amazing what a mention on Hugh Hewitt's blog does for you!

On The Media's Sound And Silence

While perusing Power Line this morning, I see their note about the story on Eason Jordan's comments have finally been printed in a newspaper. The link they provide is to the Toledo Blade and the article is by Jack Kelly. On Jordan:

::::::::The scandalous remarks of Eason Jordan, CNN's top news executive, last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and the failure of the major media to report them suggest the distortions are deliberate.

Mr. Jordan told a panel that the U.S. military had killed a dozen journalists in Iraq, and that they had been deliberately targeted. When challenged, Mr. Jordan could provide no evidence to support the charge, and subsequently lied about having made it, though the record shows he had made a similar charge a few months before, and also earlier had falsely accused the Israeli military of targeting journalists.

Mr. Jordan's slander has created a firestorm in the blogosphere, but has yet to be mentioned in the "mainstream" media.

Gee, I wonder why not.
::::::::

Yes, Jack, we wonder, too. (Not really.) There's been much written in the blogosphere about Jordan, including here at HoodaThunk, so I won't bore you with a rehash. The first part of Kelly's article is equally interesting and asks a question that is at the core of the "MSM is biased" debate. Throughout this war we find ourselves in, the media have been all too willing to show us the cases where the terrorists are winning, are everywhere, are unstoppable. Micheal Moore would have you believe they're the good guys and we're the nasty villians who need to be stomped. The MSM, in general, has acted more as the terrorist's PR department than as objective news services and Kelly points it out big time.

::::::::It's also interesting that the terrorists turned to the news media to recover lost momentum. Journalists who fell for these hoaxes may merely be idiots, and their silence about the implications of the hoaxes may simply be the by-product of embarrassment. But more to the point, why are major media so quick to disseminate anything that a terrorist group, or purported terrorist group, releases? For the terrorist, it is like being given millions of dollars in free advertising.

The major media have from the beginning exaggerated the strength and popularity of those they mislabel "insurgents," to the disgust of American soldiers.
::::::::

The article is short, sweet, and to the point. Read all about it.

Mark Steyn: Trust The UN With $Billions?

I've had a less-than-impressed view of the United Nations for some time, which, frankly, started to really nose-dive with their efforts in Bosnia, the Oil-For-Food program (now known to have been just a scamming operation for the UN), and lately in Darfur. Add to that their unbelievably unresponsive response to the tsunami disaster and I've started to ask why we bother with them at all. I'm not alone, I know, and Mark Steyn confirms that in his column in the UK Telegraph:

::::::::The Bush Administration is now said to be considering using Kofi's "shock" to effect a regime change of its own at the UN. But to whom and to what? I'd be in favour of destroying the UN – or, failing that, at least moving its headquarters to Rwanda, but either of those options would require a level of political will hard to muster in modern sentimental democracies.

The best alternative to the trans-national jet-set is nothing – or at least nothing formal. When the tsunami hit, the Americans and Australians had troops and relief supplies on the ground within hours and were coordinating their efforts without any global bureaucracy at all. Imagine that: an unprecedented disaster, and yet robust, efficient, compatible, results-oriented nations managed to accomplish more than the international system specifically set up to manage such events.
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The efforts by the Australians and the Americans in their response for the tsunami-hit areas was stellar, despite the attempts by both UN officials and the media to downplay it. Again and again the UN gets chances to show it's got the right stuff - as well as the backbone - to make real, positive change in the world. Instead, they cover for thugs and mass-murderers and steal money from the people they claim they're trying to help. The situation in the Sudan is begging for an effective response but the UN's apologists just can't seem to see the problems. Continuing, from Steyn:

::::::::If Paul Volcker's preliminary report on Oil-for-Food dealt with the organisation's unofficial interests, the UN's other report of the week accurately captured their blithe insouciance to their official one. As you may have noticed, the good people of Darfur have been fortunate enough not to attract the attention of the arrogant cowboy unilateralist Bush and have instead fallen under the care of the Polly Toynbee-Clare Short-approved multilateral compassion set. So, after months of expressing deep concern, grave concern, deep concern over the graves and deep grave concern over whether the graves were deep enough, Kofi Annan managed to persuade the UN to set up a committee to look into what's going on in Darfur. They've just reported back that it's not genocide.

That's great news, isn't it? For as yet another Annan-appointed UN committee boldly declared in December: "Genocide anywhere is a threat to the security of all and should never be tolerated." So thank goodness this isn't genocide. Instead, it's just 70,000 corpses who all happen to be from the same ethnic group – which means the UN can go on tolerating it until everyone's dead, and Polly and Clare don't have to worry their pretty little heads about it.
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I guess it would take having 70,000 frenchmen or germans being rounded up and killed for them to call it genocide. Maybe it is time to explore other avenues to try to get the job done that we'd all hoped the UN would do.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Eason Jordan: MSM Keeping The Lid On

Here we are, days after the event in Davos, Switzerland in which Eason Jordan made accusations of the US Military deliberately targeting journalists, and still not a peep about it from the MSM. Considering what was said, there's no way this isn't a story. Either the accusations are true - in which case you've got a military aiming to snuff out journalists in order to silence them - or they're false, in which case you've got a high-ranking member of a news organization making baseless claims in order to mislead their viewers and use his position to make the media smear the administration. Either way, it's a story that needs to be told.

So why the news blackout?

Wisconsin Governor's Actions, Motives Suspicious

Yeah, it never looks good when a public official receives several grand in "donations" just after doing something in office that really helped the "donors" out.

The Diplomad Packs Up

I hate to see well-written blogs close down. The first one of those I had the sad occasion to write about was Sgt. Hook (excuse me, Sgt. Major Hook) when he decided that he needed to shut down for the good of his men and his Army. I disagreed with him on it, but he made his decision and has now passed out of the blogosphere. Not even his URL comes back with anything any more. A shame, really, since his insights into Afghanistan provided us a window into what was really going on there in the absence of actual news reporting by the media. A whole lot of us miss him to this day.

Now, it seems The Diplomad is following suit. I suppose I can understand, but I don't have to agree and I don't have to like it.

::::::::It's been fun; the postings from the readers have been great (except for the idiot trolls -- the same ones who collapsed our hotmail account and made it useless.) But for a variety of personal and professional reasons it's time to stop (we might blog again under a different name; might not.) Lest any of you think so, we have not been threatened or shut down; the State Department goons are not knocking at the door. It's just time to do something else.
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Thanks, folks. We're better off because of your work, and we'll miss you.

VDH On "The Global Throng"

Victor David Hanson writes eloquently on the herd of "blame-America-first" globalists:

::::::::What explains this automatic censure of the United States, Israel, and to a lesser extent the Anglo-democracies of the United Kingdom and Australia? Westernization, coupled with globalization, has created an affluent and leisured elite that now gravitates to universities, the media, bureaucracies, and world organizations, all places where wealth is not created, but analyzed, critiqued, and lavishly spent.::::::::

(Emphasis his.) I agree with his sentiments, both repeated here and contained in his essay which I highy recommend. I and many of my colleagues on the right-hand side of the spectrum have written about this insistance by our so-called elite in focusing on any kind of bad news - either real or exaggerated - to the exclusion of all else. In any event, they seek the perspective that America must, must be in the wrong and highlight that side of the story as if it is the only side of the story. Hence the commentary of Senators Kennedy and Kerry regarding the Iraqi vote. Kennedy trots out his "quagmire" mindset on the eve of the election, unable to let the hint of optimism evident in the Iraqi surveys prior to the elections stand without at least trying to smack it down and remind everyone that this effort was just going to end in failure, failure, failure. Kerry has even less of an excuse - he was in possession of the news about how good the turnout was for the elections and yet just couldn't be brought to concede what was, by then obvious. The elections were completely legitimate and the Iraqis knew it. He should have known it, too, but had to try to undercut the success story as best he could.

VDH ends with a valid question for these guys:

::::::::Yet as Yeehah! Howard Dean takes over the Democratic party, as Kojo Annan's dad limps to the end of his tenure, and as a Saddam-trading Jacques Chirac talks grandly of global airfare taxes to help the poor, they should all ask themselves whether a weary public is listening any longer to the hyped and canned stories of their own courage and brilliance.::::::::

Indeed.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Amen, Brother

Saw this over at Bob James' place:


I'd laugh if it weren't so depressingly believable.

Poll For The Day: How Many E-Mails Do You Send In A Day?

I've mentioned it before but I'm a professional network geek by day. By night I'm.... well, that's not important. What is important is a conversation going on right now on an e-mail list between other professional network geeks, specifically the ones running the operations at a variety of your ISP's. Maybe yours, even. The discussion is in the best way to handle a new trojan that turns your PC into a spam-mailing "zombie". These folks are all talking about simply limiting the number of e-mails you can send in a day to some number that will keep you from adding up to 500,000 spam messages per day to the growing tide of junk hitting everyone's mailboxes. Some enterprising soul on the list has made the suggestion that the ISP's limit their users to 1 email a day with the thought that "if a customer needs more", they can go to a web site that the ISP would set up and have to manually ratchet their limit up by increasing the allowed number. He also suggests that you only be allowed to increase it by 5 e-mails a day.

Being the aforementioned network geek, I send out a LOT of e-mail in a day. Over the past week, my average per day has been around 80. Under this guy's scheme, it would take me 17 days to recover to that level, leaving me with 663 e-mails that I didn't get to send at that point. If I stopped increasing my level at that point, I'd never clear that backlog. Assuming I kept increasing every day, I'd finally clear that backlog at day 33. All of which assumes, of course, that the nature of the e-mail is something I can delay for that period of time.

No problem, says this other network guy. He says there are people out there who never use e-mail at all, and most people only send 10-15 per day. I say this guy's been tucked away in his Network Operations Center a wee bit too long if that's what he thinks. But I'm open to being wrong on the issue. So how many e-mails do all of you send on a daily basis, on average. Comment here or write me and let's see if this guy knows what he's talking about.

What If Bush Was Right?

Mark Brown at the Chicago Sun-Times raises an interesting question to ponder: "What if Bush has been right about Iraq all along?"

::::::::Maybe you're like me and have opposed the Iraq war since before the shooting started -- not to the point of joining any peace protests, but at least letting people know where you stood.

You didn't change your mind when our troops swept quickly into Baghdad or when you saw the rabble that celebrated the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue, figuring that little had been accomplished and that the tough job still lay ahead.

Despite your misgivings, you didn't demand the troops be brought home immediately afterward, believing the United States must at least try to finish what it started to avoid even greater bloodshed. And while you cheered Saddam's capture, you couldn't help but thinking I-told-you-so in the months that followed as the violence continued to spread and the death toll mounted.

By now, you might have even voted against George Bush -- a second time -- to register your disapproval.

But after watching Sunday's election in Iraq and seeing the first clear sign that freedom really may mean something to the Iraqi people, you have to be asking yourself: What if it turns out Bush was right, and we were wrong?

It's hard to swallow, isn't it?
::::::::

For some of my fellow Americans it isn't just hard, it's apparently impossible. The goalposts for success, at least as defined by those folks who oppose... well, just about anything this President mentions, are moving with considerable speed. Not even 2 months ago, I was reading on several of the lefty blogs that the Iraqi elections would never go off as scheduled, would be a huge bust because turnout would be so low, would be a disaster because the tens of thousands of terrorists insurgents would be bombing every single polling location, or would never work because the Iraqis themselves would never be able to handle a democracy. As of Sunday, every single one of those issues was shown to be a non-issue either by careful planning or just being plain , old, ordinary wrong. Success, yes? Oh, no. Not a success. No, it's not a real election until after the elected officials are actually installed in their government.

Ah, then it'll be a success?

No, no. It has to prove it can last. After all, if it fails after a year, then it wasn't really a democracy, therefore not a success.

I see. Then how long do they have to do this until they can be considered a democracy, and therefore the whole effort a success?

When they're no longer occupied.

Sigh.

(Quick question: if the duly elected government of Iraq asks American troops to stick around, we're not "occupying" the place, are we? I think not. Invited people are not, by definition, "occupiers.")

It was just this week that Thomas Sowell wrote it best, saying, "In the eyes of some people, nothing that the Bush administration does can be right. If the President were to create a program that would end earthquakes and tsunamis tomorrow, critics would demand to know why he is allowing wildfires and lightning to continue killing people." To say that he's done everything right isn't accurate at all. To stubbornly hold onto the position that he's done nothing right is equally inaccurate and neither position is fair to the other side of the argument. Mark Brown continues:

::::::::But on Sunday, we caught a glimpse of the flip side. We could finally see signs that a majority of the Iraqi people perceive something to be gained from this brave new world we are forcing on them.

Instead of making the elections a further expression of "Yankee Go Home," their participation gave us hope that all those soldiers haven't died in vain.

Obviously, I'm still curious to see if Bush is willing to allow the Iraqis to install a government that is free to kick us out or to oppose our other foreign policy efforts in the region.

So is the rest of the world.

For now, though, I think we have to cut the president some slack about a timetable for his exit strategy.

If it turns out Bush was right all along, this is going to require some serious penance.
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The President was up front about the issue of what kind of government America "would allow" Iraqi to install. The President said, " The United States has no right, no desire, and no intention to impose our form of government on anyone else. That is one of the main differences between us and our enemies. They seek to impose and expand an empire of oppression, in which a tiny group of brutal, self-appointed rulers control every aspect of every life. Our aim is to build and preserve a community of free and independent nations, with governments that answer to their citizens, and reflect their own cultures. And because democracies respect their own people and their neighbors, the advance of freedom will lead to peace." There are all manner of ways to implement a democracy in terms of what a government looks like. Ours has functioned quite well for over 200 years and our system of 3 branches has, for the most part, done the job admirably. There's a lot to recommend it. But it's not the only way to do things.

I'm glad to see Mr. Brown raise this question. All I've heard from the left is an endless litany of accusations that the President can't possibly be right and that I (and other supporters) should be questioning the administration at every turn. (That translates to "opposing the administration" since it seems to be their position that if we'd only listen, we'd have to agree with them.) It's nice to hear someone over on that side doing the thinking about the question, too.