Thursday, March 31, 2005

Terri Shiavo Dies.

Terri Shiavo has died at the hospice in Florida. She was 41.

Réquiem ætérnam dona ei Dómine; et lux perpétua lúceat ei. Requiéscat in pace. Amen.

(Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen.)

Operation Truth: A Report

When I first read about the report being posted by Operation Truth on the veteran's take on the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, I was hopeful and eager to read it. It promised to address both the good and the bad in the execution of the war and I think it's important to hear both. Most importantly, this was going to be from the perspective of the vets on the ground which should be so much better than the "nothing-but-blood" coverage of the MSM. Let me say I'm both impressed and disappointed in the report.

The report is a 21-page PDF available at Operation Truth's web site. (Click here for the PDF.) Toss out the 2 pages for the title and the table of contents and that leaves you with 19 pages remaining to discuss the good and the bad. Something you should be aware of going in, however, is that the viewpoints of the vets are the viewpoints of those vets who chose to send in comments to Operation Truth. OpTruth didn't go out into the field looking for people to comment, the vets had to come to them. That's the definition of a non-scientific survey, so understand going in that the stories are from vets who wanted to speak their minds on something. When you think about the people in your own life and line of work, who tends to be more vocal? The people who think things are working fine, or the people with something to complain about? Apply that wisdom to your reading of this report.

You can get a good hint of the tenor of this document just from the table of contents. There's 4 sections to the report: Introduction, What Went Well, What Didn't Go Well, and Proposed Solutions. The "Went Well" section gets 4 pages. "What Didn't" gets 9. Now, applying the above-mentioned wisdom should lead you to be unsurprised by this fact. Also, when complaining about things people tend to be very specific about what's making them unhappy. In describing what went well, they tended to be more abstract and anecdotal. The thing about this phenomenon that skews this report is that there's so much more detail about things that didn't go well and so many more vets quoted that it leads you to the conclusion that far more has gone wrong than right and that's not an assessment borne out by the progress over there.

Even so, these viewpoints are important. These are the folks who had to deal with the inadequacies and planning failures, the shortages and the intel failures. I expect their positions on the subject to be as blunt as a ball-peen hammer and I'd want nothing less. In any operation, regardless of the size or scope, there are lessons to be learned and improvements to make. I'm all for that.

Unfortunately, the Operation Truth folks clearly have a different political agenda than their espoused "helping the troops" angle. They do suggest that the VA, and most especially the psychiatric services, be beefed up to handle the load properly. This is a suggestion I can get behind. They suggest that the funding for VA operations be considered non-discretionary spending. I can understand that, but that might not be a possibility. I'm open to exploring it. They also suggest that the military as a whole needs to be expanded. Their figure for that calls for increasing the size of the standing military by 70,000 to 100,000 troops. To be honest, I think they have a point here. While the actual number may be open to debate, the fact that our National Guard units are over there fighting terrorists in Iraq rather than here, guarding our nation, isn't. I can't say that we should never deploy them to foreign lands, it sure shouldn't be a standard practice. That it appears to be is a sure sign that we don't have enough people in the military. I can agree to that.

What I can't agree to is Operation Truth's continued blaring that a draft is inevitable and imminent. We can increase the size of our military without it, and literally no one wants it. This scare tactic was a tool in the Democratic toolbox during the elections and OpTruth's use of it sounds suspiciously partisan for a non-partisan outfit. Then there's this bit from their web site:

::::::::On October 5th, 2004, with no debate and on only hours notice, the House of Representatives voted on a bill that would have reinstated the draft. The proposal was overwhelmingly rejected. Why was it voted on at all? This vote was a political maneuver, intended to put this controversial question to rest before the election.::::::::

Missing completely from this is the clearly relevant information that the bill, H.R. 163, was introduced into the House by Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel. Congressman Rangel did so as a political move, thinking that doing so would get the President and his fellow Congressmen to avoid calling for troops to be sent into battle. There was no debate because there wasn't any necessary - everyone knew that Rangel wasn't serious about the bill. They knew he was grandstanding, so they decided to dispense with it. Critical point here that OpTruth casually neglects to mention: Rangel himself voted the bill down. The travesty political move here wasn't the vote, it was the submission of the bill.

Then there's this little gem in the Proposed Solutions, and you've got to love this one.

::::::::One way to address these issues is to increase direct accountability of the Pentagon and Intelligence Agencies to the Congress.

Operation Truth suggests that before any major combat operations are undertaken, with or without a vote on the use of force, the Secretary of Defense must submit a sworn statement to Congress, punishable under the laws of perjury (which may include impeachment of the Secretary), that the Troops have been adequately equipped with modern personal protection and vehicle protection, and trained to the best of the United States. ability for the mission they are about to undertake. In this way, there would be a very strong incentive for the Secretary to personally ensure that every 't' is crossed and 'i' dotted before Troops are sent to the battlefield.
::::::::

This is so jaw-droppingly ludicrous it's hard to know where to begin. Imagine at your place of employment, the Board of Directors says that you must sign an agreement saying that you will be personally liable for making sure that every project your boss assigns to your group will have "adequate" funding and personnel trained to the task before it starts or you'll be guilty of perjury and have action taken against you. Yes, I mean any project your boss comes to you and says "Do this" will have to have all that ready to go or you will have legal action directed at you. Ready to sign?

Didn't think so.

Skipping lightly past the problem that the SecDef doesn't have the say in whether, where, or when troops get deployed, who gets to determine whether the troops are "adequately" equipped? OpTruth seems to be implying that if a soldier dies in a combat zone, then he wasn't properly equipped and they want the SecDef to get the axe. This is a "solution" tailor-made to Secretary Rumsfeld and it's a big hit to that non-partisan status Operation Truth would like to claim.

This report is OK, as far as it goes, but it just smacks too much of someone pushing a specific political view rather than being concerned for the troops regardless of who's in charge. Take a look and take away what you can.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Earth to Pablo: You're busted

From Smash comes a wonderful commentary about Navy deserter Pablo Paredes who learned recently that the Navy was filing charges against him:

::::::::Pablo, take note:

The only surprising element about how this story has unfolded is that it took this long for the Navy to formally charge you. We can only guess as to the reasons behind the delay. Perhaps the Navy just wanted to make sure they did a very thorough investigation before moving forward. Maybe the powers-that-be believed a delay might stifle some of the excitement about your case in the anti-war movement. More likely, there was some bureaucratic SNAFU that had to be worked out.

Regardless, the outcome of the investigation was inevitable. You did, in fact, miss ship’s movement, by your own design. You did, in fact, take an unauthorized leave of absence from your assigned duty station. These are the charges against you.

What did you expect? I’ll bet someone convinced you that if you filed a very thorough conscientious objector package, there was a chance that those charges would never be filed. I’ll bet you thought that chaplain’s endorsement of your CO package was your silver bullet. I’ll bet you thought the Navy was going to quietly let you go, to avoid a big stink.

Well, as Red Forman might say: “Pablo, you’re a dumbass!”
::::::::

Indeed. Happy trails, Pablo.

Genocide in Darfur. Answer: set up a court! Updated

A British parliamentary report released Wednesday states that around 300,000 people have died in the Darfur region of Sudan in the last year. That's a good deal higher than what the UN was reporting in October. I can't yet find a link to the actual report but the stories on the subject aren't mentioning that the report is making a distinction of what ethnic group is doing most of the dying. That'd be the native Africaners at the hands of the Arab muslim militias working at the behest of the Sudanese government. The report does, apparently, say that the international community isn't doing enough about it and makes suggestions. Laughable suggestions, but suggestions nonetheless.

::::::::The report also urged the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions on Sudan, extend its arms embargo and refer war criminals to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

"The world's failure to protect the people of Darfur from the atrocities committed against them by their own government is a scandal," said Tony Baldry, chairman of the cross-party International Development Committee.

The committee said it believed around 300,000 people may have died, far higher than previous death tolls which it said had underestimated the scale of the disaster.
::::::::

(Emphasis mine.) Be sure you get that: the authors of this report think that an appropriate response to "a scandal" regarding the worldwide lack of response to 300,000 people dying as a result of the "atrocities committed against them by their own government" is to slap Sudan with sanctions. Oh, and tell everyone not to sell weapons to them. Oh, yes, and send all those war criminals to an international court. And which country, specifically, do they claim is an impediment to this plan?

::::::::The Security Council voted on Tuesday to impose a travel ban and an asset freeze on those responsible for atrocities against civilians in Darfur or those who violate the cease-fire.

But Council members remain deadlocked over where to try perpetrators of atrocities. France has introduced a resolution that would send those suspected of war crimes in Darfur to the ICC. But the United States may veto that.

The report urged the British government to press the United States to give up its opposition to using the ICC.
::::::::

Yes, indeed - those damn Americans are the problem again. Never mind that the last time UN sanctions were leveled at a country who was engaging in directed killing of their own citizenry on this kind of scale we discovered that members of the UN Security Council were ignoring it. Never mind that the arms embargo directed at the same country was ignored by those same UNSC members. So pardon me, please, if I don't put a whole lot of faith in the ability of the sanctions to stop the Sudanese government from killing people or ordering their deaths. And forgive me if I suspect that those same government folks and their vassal militia won't have any trouble getting to the field with shiny new French and Russian armaments guided by German night-vision gear. I've been down this road, you see, and I'm pretty sure where it leads.

However, the real gem in this little plan is the French motion to refer the war criminals to the ICC. The US doesn't like the ICC and we don't for a very specific, very good reason. It's just another attempt by the UN to place an authority above the American people that isn't 1) elected by the American people, 2) constrained by our laws and 3) accountable to our people. The ICC, as envisioned, becomes the highest court in the world, superceding our Supreme Court and trumping every law we have in favor of a new set of laws passed by the UN. Laws that are written with the interests of the governments of Zimbabwe, North Korea, Columbia, China, Cuba, and - by the way - France and Sudan in mind rather than the citizens of the United States. We have no say in their formulation and there's no appeal when the ICC says you're guilty. By their current definitions, most every soldier that's serving in Iraq is a war criminal and any or all of them could be brought up on charges. For doing their duty and defending our interests as defined by our elected representatives, they can find themselves captured and convicted. There's plenty of dictatorships around the world who have stated emphatically they believe any American is a war criminal. Hell, you don't have to even go that far. Just head to Colorado and let Ward Churchill tell you all about how you're not just a war criminal, you're a Nazi simply because you live and work here.

What is such a provision doing in a suggested plan to halt the killing in Darfur? What does it do for the people of Sudan who are dying in the thousands to "refer war criminals" to the ICC?

It. Does. Nothing.

All it does is let France play the fork move in their little chessgame of "let's all beat on the Americans." If the Americans veto the measure, they get to say we don't care about the genocide. If we approve it, they get to ask us why we'll approve the ICC over someone else and not us. It's politics at the expense of a dying people and that's the bald truth of the matter. The Sudanese government doesn't do that much business with any other country that won't cheerfully ignore sanctions. They certainly aren't going to turn over their own to the ICC and, besides, they're not the ones doing anything anyway. It's their militia friends, and that's being denied right now. The whole measure is a useless gesture and should be vetoed by the American UN Ambassador the second he's given the chance. When the UN is serious about getting in there and doing something, then let them go. They can handle this without American troops for a change, since we're so incapable.

Update: Well, obviously no one asked me when they were making the decision. Reports are in that the US has OK'd the use of the ICC in Sudan. The story says the US dropped objections after receiving assurances that no American soldier involved in action in Sudan would be prosecuted. Given the UN's fickle nature on any assurances given to the US, I can't understand how that would make anyone feel better, but it's a done deal now.

Today's Greatest Hits

There's quite a number of news items worth note today, so I'm just going to list them off with commentary, where needed:

Reports are in that the Pope is now on a feeding tube. Folks looking to make hay from this regarding their positions on Terri Shiavo will need to really stretch things. The issue with Ms. Shiavo - as anyone looking at the issue as it truly is already knows - is not that a feeding tube was being used. It's about who has the authority to make decisions regarding the application of life-extending technologies, most specifically dealing with life-support tech. Her case and that of the Pope are no where near similar and both of them deserve our prayers, not our attempts to score political points against our opponents.

Speaking of, the 11th District Court is going to review a new motion to restart life support for Terri Shiavo. I have no idea what basis this motion is set upon but I await the Court's decision with some interest.

The Iraqi Assembly has, wisely, put up a deadline for the Sunni contingent in their group to get a candidate for the Speaker position so they can be voted upon. The impasse for the past 2 months has centered around this issue and they've finally decided that no one's going to obstruct the Assembly's work. The Sunni groups have until Sunday to come up with a candidate or the vote will proceed with the remainder of the candidates. If the Sunni's want to participate, then they need to participate. That, or accept that the Speaker won't be a Sunni.

Jerry Falwell is "critically ill" with viral pneumonia.

O.J. Simpson's famous former lawyer, Johnnie Cochran is dead at 67. Cochran had a brain tumor.

Protests for democracy continue in the Mideast. Glenn Reynolds has more.

More to come as I see more.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

w.bloggar "rooted"

I've mentioned in the past that I use a 3rd-party blogging tool called "w.bloggar" to write my posts. I like the convenience of being able to save the blog halfway through and return to it later. Writing up a blog while literally off-line has advantages, too. I started having trouble with it when I upgraded to version 4.0 and, after getting no response from the author at all, I downgraded to version 3.03 in hopes that the next version would be better. I've checked the web site every few days for the last month, hoping the issues with the program would get fixed.

Today, I checked the site again and got... nothing. The site itself resolves, so it's not like the server there is dead. It's just serving up a blank page. Or is it? While the browser comes up with nothing showing on the page, checking the page source yields this:

::::::::<!--r00t by Team g0dmode, greets to BasS-Z & Para Sh4rk!-->::::::::

The verb form, "root", is a techie/hacker term meaning that some group of digital vandals managed to compromise the password/security of w.bloggar's web server. You see this quite a bit on political web sites that aren't as protected as they ought to be or on corporate sites that have managed to draw their own little "fan" clubs. w.bloggar should be back up later today. At least, I hope.

Court rules reference to same work used in oath illegal

So you're being sworn in to serve on the jury and you're asked to swear an oath, "so help me God" but the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that reference to the Bible in your deliberations is a reversable error so far as sentencing is concerned.

::::::::The Colorado Supreme Court (search) on Monday threw out the death penalty in a rape-and-murder case because jurors had studied Bible verses such as "eye for eye, tooth for tooth" during deliberations.

On a 3-2 vote, justices ordered Robert Harlan (search) to serve life in prison without parole for kidnapping 25-year-old cocktail waitress Rhonda Maloney in 1994, raping her at gunpoint for two hours and then fatally shooting her.

The jurors in Harlan's 1995 trial sentenced him to die, but defense lawyers discovered five of them had looked up Bible (search) verses, copied them down and talked about them while deliberating a sentence behind closed doors.

The Supreme Court said "at least one juror in this case could have been influenced by these authoritative passages to vote for the death penalty when he or she may otherwise have voted for a life sentence."
::::::::

In other words, applying the death penalty to a man who kidnaps, repeatedly rapes, then shoots and kills a woman would be fine, so long as you weren't doing so with reference to your religious beliefs. Never mind that your religious beliefs are quite inextricably linked with your sense of right and wrong and that they likely form part of the basis by which you'd arrive at the conclusion that the death penalty is warranted.

Add to this the clear lack of understanding on the part of the Colorado Supreme Court justices pertaining to the parts of the Bible referenced. The "eye for eye" passages in the Bible, and there are 3 in the Old Testament, were written so as to admonish care that the penalty for a crime not exceed the harm of the crime itself, not that you were required to mete out identical fates, criminal to victim. While that argument could be made for the same concept in Hammurabi's Code, the Bible is clearly not making the same contention. Therefore, someone referring to the passages in the Bible wouldn't get the impetus to vote for the death penalty where none existed before. They'd get a cautionary warning to be sure that this was the penalty warranted. The Justices have this one exactly wrong and they're penalizing the citizens of Colorado, as well as simply substituting their will for the peoples' as a result.

Monday, March 28, 2005

End of patience

All right, I've had it with some of my best-regarded blog authors. It is sheer, rank hypocrisy for the likes of Power Line, Hugh Hewitt, and Captain's Quarters to complain - rightly - about the media willfully distorting the facts and then to turn around and do it themselves. All three of these blogs are among what I consider to be the best written blogs and best-thinking bloggers in the 'sphere and I credit what they say - usually - very, very highly.

All three blogs have, in the past 10 days, whipped out the same distortion and continue to do so. Gentlemen, come back to reality. Judge Greer did not, at any time, order the death of Terri Shiavo. What he ruled was that Micheal Shiavo was the duly-appointed guardian and had the authority to make the decision.

Read that again, if you must.

Judge Greer did not, at any time, order the death of Terri Shiavo. What he ruled was that Micheal Shiavo was the duly-appointed guardian and had the authority to make the decision. This casual neglect for the facts does not reflect well on them, most especially in light of their previous condemnations of the MSM for doing exactly the same thing. They know better, and that's what makes reading this kind of drivel on their pages so painful. Greer didn't make any medical decisions for Terri Shiavo, least of all ordering her death. The State didn't make any such order, either, nor did the Courts. They upheld the findings of the trial court, and I don't need to repeat that again, I'm sure.

Come on, guys. I don't like it, either, but that's no excuse to warp the truth and it will come back to haunt you someday. Please, no more.

The good word from Iraq.

Chrenkoff's indispensible report, updated to part 24.

::::::::And so the struggle for the body and soul of Iraq goes on, from Iyad Allawi down to carpenter Dhia with his AK-47 and masses of other, nameless Iraqis erecting new hospitals, creating free media or setting up new businesses to employ locals; all with a lot of help from people of good will from around the world. On the other side, throat-slashers, saboteurs and suicide-bombers. Regardless of whether we supported or opposed the war, or what we think of the current American policies, for the sake of Iraq let's hope that the Dhias get one better over the masked gunmen.::::::::

Indeed.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

First class edukashun

Power Line notes a story today about some classroom materials for NYC schools that didn't quite make the grade:

::::::::NEW YORK - City officials recalled preparation material for math tests that had been sent to teachers after discovering they were filled with math and spelling mistakes.

The materials were designed for math students in grades 3 through 7, and had been sent to math coaches and local instructional superintendents. The errors were found late Wednesday before the guide reached classrooms.

Several answers in the guide were wrong. There were also sloppy diagrams and improper notation of exponents. There were at least 18 errors in the guide, and grammar and spelling issues proved just as problematic as the math. For example, the word "fourth" was misspelled on the cover of the 4th-grade manual.
::::::::

Man, that's gotta hurt.

:::::::: School officials blamed the mistakes on an ineffective fact-checker.::::::::

You think? You allow a misspelling on the cover of a school text and you're called "an ineffective fact-checker?" How about calling this person a dope and (likely) a high-school dropout? Of course, this assumes that the book was written and printed by folks whose primary language is english which might not be the case. If that's the situation, then one might inquire as to the sense of the people who made the decision to get the book authored/proofread/printed in such a circumstance. With the money we're spending on education, it's surely not too much to ask that the answers and spelling be correct.

Buying the party line

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Pakistani F-16's to come?

Give and take always involves, eventually, giving. When we started our operation in Afghanistan, it was necessary to secure cooperation with another country first, since Afghanistan is completely landlocked. The US Navy's formidable carrier assets weren't entirely useless, but they couldn't offer the immediate access to the targets that they could in Bosnia or Iraq. Somebody had to at least allow us overflight authorization and that meant, on a practical level, either Iran or Pakistan. (Have a look at a map, here.) The likelihood of Iran allowing us to overfly them in order to attack the Taliban and Al Qaeda was, to put it mildly, low. In the tradition of military alliances ranging back centuries, we came to an understanding with a country with whose government we would not normally find any common ground to share. Pakistan has been an ally in our ongoing war. They have allowed us to take what we needed, even if they weren't completely forthcoming, and our honor demands that we give something in return. Some of that came to light this week with the news that the US will enter negotiations to sell Pakistan F-16 Falcon fighter aircraft.

::::::::The sales would represent a shift in policy after years of sanctions and harsh rhetoric from Washington over Pakistan's nuclear ambitions and what U.S. administrations have seen as tolerance for Islamic extremism. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, however, Pakistan (search) has become an important partner in hunting suspected terrorists and cracking down on anti-American extremists.::::::::

As might be imagined, the Indian government had something to say about this and that something was both quick and negative. While the Indian Air Force has a rather wide inventory, her modern fighter fleet basically relies on Soviet-designed MiG-29's and Sukhoi SU-27's. She has an impressive number of other aircraft, yes, but they are older and less capable MiG-21's, 23's, and 27's. There are also a few breeds of the French Mirage. Properly flown, the MiG-29's and SU-27's can be very effective against American designs. The F-16, however, is one of the most maneuverable aircraft in the sky and will out-turn almost anything else. (Assuming the pilot is up to taking 9 g's.) The presence of a squadron of these birds significantly changes the balance of power in the air, and India knows it, hence the complaint.

Later in the article linked above, it's mentioned that the US is also opening negotiations with India in order to handle their concerns. It mentions that India will be wanting to buy "multi-role aircraft" of their own. Now the F-16 is a multi-role aircraft. It was designed as a light fighter but, as with most military hardware these days, has been tinkered with to "expand its mission." But if the Indians were wanting to buy F-16's of their own, why not simply say so? For the longest time, when anyone mentioned "mutli-role" and "fighter" in the same sentence, they were referring to a specific aircraft: the F/A-18 Hornet. Also a front-line American aircraft, the Hornet offers the ability to switch between air-to-air combat (the "F" part of its designation) to a ground attack role (the "A" part of "F/A-18") and it's pretty good at both. The coy reference in the news story makes me think that India wants Hornets.

I just hope we don't sell the really advanced electronics gear that makes the American versions of these aircraft so deadly. And I hope we don't see these 2 aircraft meet in mortal combat in the skies over southern Asia.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Enter the Blogroller

After noting that my "blogroll" over there on the right side of the page was - shall we say - "stale", I decided to update the links, add a few members, and delete some that were no longer posting. Being an old-school network geek who has been known to state that any website you can't edit from scratch in notepad ain't worth a damn anyway, I have always done my blogroll manually by editing the html directly. Today, an unusal thought crossed my mind as I was reworking this site's template.

What a pain in the ass.

Having seen the feature on other blogs before, I decided to check out www.blogrolling.com and see if there wasn't a better way to do this stuff. Trust me, it is. While you don't have the absolute control over precisely where in a given list a link will show, that's a small price to pay for the ease of adding new links to your page. With the use of Blogrolling's bookmark link, you can blogroll any web site you like without having to go back into the blogroll and adding the link manually. They also provide code for a link on your site allowing other blogrollers to add your blog to their roll in a single click.

There's a free version there that allows a single blogroll if you don't mind mashing your whole list together. If you want to group them, you need more blogrolls and that means buying a Gold account. At $19.95 a year, it's a steal for the convenience. Gold gets you other goodies, too, but you can check out their site for the details.

The list currently contains most of the blogs I check on a daily or so basis and quite a number of them are manned (womanned?) by some incredibly sharp thinkers. Give them a click and decide for yourself.

Hat Tip: Greyhawk @ Mudville Gazette

Pewgate? Appropos on so many levels...

I'm referring to that supposed legislative savior-of-the-masses, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, which apparently has a much darker story than previously thought. For a fine report on the matter, I direct you to this post over on FrontPage. (I urge even those of you who hail from the Left side of the political spectrum to click and read. This issue affects us all.)

::::::::The blogosphere is under attack. For three weeks, bloggers have battled the Federal Election Commission, seeking exemption from campaign finance laws that would effectively regulate political speech on the Web. How did it come to this?

The answer lies in a burgeoning scandal which we might call Pewgate. Ryan Sager of the New York Post broke this extraordinary story on March 17. He learned that the McCain-Feingold Act – the law which empowers the FEC to muzzle bloggers – was pushed through Congress by fraud.

For those netizens whose modems and wireless cards went dead three weeks ago, here’s some of the background you missed.
::::::::

As they say, read it all. I've written about the effects of this abyssmal law in the past. The fact that the Supreme Court actually bought the arguments that this law does not abridge free speech is ludicrous. That McCain, Feingold, and crew sued the FEC over their exemption of the Internet from the statute is ludicrous. The assurances of the FEC's Democratic members that there's no way they'll try to regulate the political speech of private citizens has now, also, been proven ludicrous. Again, read up on that FrontPage post for all the details with lots of links. The important thing now is that the FEC is in "public comments" mode, so get your word in to them asap.

So, where does "Pewgate" come in? Turns out that the "grass roots" support for the law that McCain and Feingold proposed was no such thing. Again from the article:

::::::::Beginning in 1994, a group of non-profit foundations began bankrolling "experts" and front groups whose purpose was to bamboozle Congress into thinking that millions of Americans were clamoring for "campaign finance reform" – even though they were not.

Sean P. Treglia, a former program officer of the Pew Charitable Trusts, claims that he masterminded the scheme. Treglia boasted of his achievement at a March, 2004 conference at USC's Annenberg School for Communication. New York Post reporter Ryan Sager obtained a videotape of Treglia’s remarks.

"I'm going to tell you a story that I've never told any reporter," said Treglia. "Now that I'm several months away from Pew and we have campaign-finance reform, I can tell this story."

Campaign finance reform "didn't have a constituency," admitted Treglia. So he set out to create one.

Says Treglia, "The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot - that everywhere they [politicians] looked, in academic institutions, in the business community, in religious groups, in ethnic groups, everywhere, people were talking about reform."

To this end, Pew and its allies dispensed $140 million between 1994 and 2004, 88 percent of which – a cool $123 million – came from just eight foundations: Pew Charitable Trusts; Schumann Center; Carnegie Corporation; Joyce Foundation; George Soros’s Open Society Institute; Jerome Kohlberg Trust; Ford Foundation; and MacArthur Foundation.
::::::::

There now appears to be credible evidence that even the data provided to the Supreme Court for their assessment of the law was also fraudulent. I urge my fellow denizens of the blogosphere to start communicating with your elected reps. Write them often, and always politely that this law needs to be amended or simply revoked. It was not the will of the people and it most assuredly did not protect our political process from big money.

When the message defines the audience.

Power Line has a great post that mentions something I guess I never really noticed before. It makes sense that if you're going to send someone a message, you'll do it in a language they understand. Think back to a lot of the foreign protests you see and recall how many of the signs were in English. John Hinderaker writes:

::::::::Also earlier today, Iraqi electrical workers marched through Baghdad to protest against terrorism, especially attacks on electricity stations and oil pipelines. The demonstrators chanted "No, no to terror." Here is a photo of the demonstration:



I think it's interesting that the signs are all in Arabic. All around the world, antiwar and anti-American demonstrators brandish signs in English. Why? Because the intended audience isn't their countrymen, it's us. Here, the demonstrators wanted to get through to the terrorists and to their fellow Iraqis.
::::::::

Very true. And very telling that these Iraqis - who likely have had to repair the same parts of the electrical grid a dozen times from sabotage - have clearly had enough of this from the terrorists supposedly working on behalf of Islam. This is a very good sign that I would have appreciated seeing more airtime for. The overriding events of the last week have made that difficult, to say the least, so I can understand this time.

Canada rules GI not a refugee

Score 1 for common sense north of the border. Canadian immigration officials have ruled that Jeremy Hinzman is not to be accorded refugee status after deserting from the Army and heading to Canada to flee jurisdiction.

::::::::A U.S. Army paratrooper who fled to Canada to avoid serving in Iraq was denied political asylum Thursday, dealing a blow to other deserters here who argue such duty would force them to commit atrocities against civilians.

An immigration board ruled that Jeremy Hinzman (search) had not convinced its members he would face persecution or cruel and unusual punishment if returned to the United States.
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Hinzman joined the Army and had served 3 years before learning that his unit was being deployed to Afghanistan. That's when he suddenly remembered that he's a conscientious objector. When learning that his unit was then being deployed to Iraq, he fled the country in January of 2004.

Hinzman claims that the war in Iraq is illegal, which it is absolutely not, by definition. Upon running up to Canada, he found that the situation there wasn't the same as back in Vietnam when Canada accepted tens of thousands of draft dodgers. His contention is that he can't return to the US because he will face persecution and cruel and inhuman treatment as a result of his desertion. I have the same issue with him as I do Pablo Peredes. No one held a gun to their head and made them sign up for the military. And they sure didn't mind partaking of the benefits of enlistment. They cashed their paychecks, ate the food and used all the facilities provided at no expense to them. Education benefits are theirs for the asking and the PX's have far, far better prices on just about anything than anywhere civilians can go. These guys were just fine with the military so long as they didn't have to step up to the duty required of a military man.

They took an oath when they joined. They broke their word and they should stand for the consequences of that act. Canada should not allow itself to become a haven for people like this and should send Hinzman home.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

My final post on the Shiavo case.

For the record, I do not plan on writing on the Shiavo case again. Indeed, the purpose of writing this time is to address what I see as a huge lack of consistency in my fellow conservatives in this matter. And also for the record, I find Ms. Shiavo's situation tragic, her husband's decisions in dealing with her healthcare to be suspect and plain wrong, and the diagnosis offered by Dr. Cranford to be equally suspect and unproven.

None of that excuses the suggestions by so many of my louder colleagues on the Right to blantantly insert the nose of government into the difficult medical decisions of a private citizen for his wife. They call him an adulterer, and from a perspective he is. They call him a greedy thief, looking to get his hooks into the settlement money won for his wife's aneurism. Perhaps he is, although one could make that argument for her parents, because there's just as much proof for them, too. But the most specious arguments I'm hearing are centering around those damn judges who won't just do what Congress intended, rather than hold themselves to the law that Congress wrote. Incredibly, they're saying this just proves the fact that there's too much judicial activism in the courts today.

No, no, kids. When judges decide to make rulings that create effects not called for in the laws passed by the elected representatives of the people, that is judicial activism, not when they refuse to. They speak of Congress' "clear intent." Well, if that was the "clear intent," why didn't they write it like they meant it? Perhaps because Congress can't pass a single law that resets a court case back to square one, ignoring all the casework done to present? And perhaps the judges know that, so rule that way?

And then there's this little bit of mental gymnastics:

::::::::A second judge, Judge Tjoflat, agreed with Wilson that an injunction ought to have issued, even as the Circuit voted 10 to 2 not to rehear the matter. Orin correctly notes that we cannot infer anything about the opinions of the judges who voted not to rehear, so at this point, there are two judges who would have granted the injunction resuming hydration and nutrition, and two who blocked it. Terri's path towards death continues uninterrupted because of bad luck on her judge draws. This is not a result the courts should welcome.::::::::

Apologies again to Mr. Hewitt, but that's ridiculous. He doesn't want to infer anything and, therefore, chooses not to. That 10 of the 12 judges who were tasked to review the findings of lower courts chose not to rehear the case clearly shows that they found no reversible error in the previous decisions. The decisions were correct with respect to the application of our laws and, therefore, were not overturned. That the judges did not allow their personal distaste for a man or their personal feelings on the matter in general to guide their rulings, but relied, instead, on the law is precisely the kind of court we need to have.

I would like to add that having a Congress so willing to slam through legislation to provide effects they can't seem to actually articulate should concern my fellow conservatives greatly. In a court case, there's a path for appeals. The thing about the courts and appeals is that there's an end to that path. At some point, and the apex of that is the Supreme Court, there are no further appeals to be had. A person trying to do something who gets blocked in doing it can appeal all the way up and, if he prevails, then he may proceed with his intended action and get on with it. This law, if it did what my colleagues are suggesting, opens the door to an endless parade of "resets". Someone with media support or with some Congressional folks in their pocket can turn a loss in court into a win by getting this kind of de novo law passed. Suddenly, there's an injunction and the process starts all over again - it's a "review." What if they had done what Congress supposedly intended, restored care to Ms. Shiavo and the federal judge ruled in Mr. Shiavo's favor again? Could Congress pass yet another de novo law and do it again? Sure, why not? If this law passes the Constitutional test, as so many on the Right proclaim, then it would pass that test the 2nd time it was enacted. Or the 3rd. Or the 27th. This is not a result the people should welcome.

I've already stated what I think about Mr. Shiavo and the care decisions he's making. It seems to me to be such a small thing to order 2 non-invasive tests to be 100% sure, or as close as we can get. That he doesn't is suspicious, and that's putting it mildly. I am not willing to let his being an asshole open the door for Congress or some governmental agency to question my family's internal discussions and decisions. And that, folks, is my final word on the subject.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Shiavo...

Interesting how nearly everyone knows about this case and the mere mention of the woman's last name is all it takes to get the discussion going. Personally, I've avoid commenting on the case for, well, personal reasons. But the last few soul-searching sessions have yielded no change in my thoughts on the matter, so it's time to realize that a decision, so far as my stance on the matter, has been made. Take that for what it's worth to you.

This is a case that has pitted right-to-life against right-to-death, religious vs. agnostic, Christian vs. anyone who thinks Christians are basically nuts or bad, and just about anyone with an opinion on the subject against anyone not holding that same opinion. This, ladies & gentlemen, is a rough one. This is the kind of ethical debate that separates the adults from the kids and, frankly, a boatload of us adults are finding our mental toolboxes getting a bit strained, here. And this morning's news about the federal judge denying the Schindlers' appeal after an emergency weekend session of Congress isn't going to do anything to calm the debate. Debate it we must, however, because regardless of who's to blame for it the fact is that it's front and center on the stage of society and ignoring it just isn't going to happen.

I'm a husband and a father. I can see this debate from both perspectives just fine, and I'm in good company because there's literally millions of my fellow Americans with the same credentials. I have some news for you: I would take it very, very badly for someone - most especially a stranger who had never spoken to my wife even once - to get in my face and tell me I don't know her wishes and they do. Common sense, rational conclusion, and the law all agree that as her husband, I am the one with the authority to make healthcare decisions for her when she cannot and my word supercedes anyone else's so long as I'm not suggesting we drop her out the back of a plane because of a sprained ankle.

The husband in this case, however, isn't making what I'd call the best decisions on behalf of his wife. You may rest assured that if my wife were in such a state and her parents were suggesting to me that she get an MRI and PET scan, I'd be looking seriously at doing just that. Even if only to prove to them that they're wrong. I wouldn't be blowing it off. I also 110% disagree with the ludicrous statement that starving to death and/or dying of thirst are painless and gentle. That flies in the face of everything we know about those states, and humans know plenty about it. The part about his having full access to his wife's settlement money but only upon her death is suspicious.

But it's circumstantial. And he's done nothing illegal with it. People have problems with what he's not doing with it, yes, but some people have problems with people spending money on sneakers that cost over $150 a pair, too. As for my thoughts that he's not making the best decisions, well that's my opinion. Since I'm not her husband, my opinions are worth just that. His are considered authoritative where these kinds of decisions go. Now if someone thinks he's breaking the law, then take him to court.

Ah, yes. They did. Several times. And in 15 years, he's not been found in the wrong once. The lawsuits have climbed up the ladder in the fashion they were supposed to go and rulings were made. They didn't fall in favor of those who sought to wrest control of this woman away from her husband. And that's the facts.

Until the story caught some wind in the press, of course, which lead politicians to it like sharks to a frenzy. The vote on the Shiavo Act (yes, I know that's not what it's called, but that's what it is) crossed partisan lines and held a huge following. It also stomped all over concept that a family's medical decisions should be between them and their doctor. That Congress doesn't belong there, not at all. I find it hard to reconcile my fellow Republicans' desire that government intervene in what is clearly, clearly a private family matter. Hugh Hewitt, a man I respect, says:

::::::::It was clearly the intention of Congress that Terri receive nutrition and hydration throughout the course of a "de novo" trial on the merits of her claim. Her parents could well lose that trial and subsequent appeals, but the Florida legislature might also act in the interim. The judge rushes through his part in this drama and punts to the 11th Circuit, which would have been fine by me if he had resumed nutrition and hydration.::::::::

This from Hugh - and others, I must add - when the term "activist judge" gets spat forth like a curse every week. I always thought that judges weren't supposed to be thinking "Gee, what does Congress think I should be doing with this special, 1-shot law they've passed?" If Congress intended for Terri Shiavo to be put back on nutrition and hydration (I am not so willing to claim that this doesn't constitute life-support when it's going to need to be done permanently) then why didn't Congress write that into the law, explicitly? Why not have something like "Section 2, paragraph 5: Be it enacted that by order of Congress, medical personnel attending to Terri Shiavo are directed to re-insert both "feeding tube" and hydration until the cases against her husband are resolved permanently." Because it oversteps the authority of Congress to do any such thing, and they know it. But, as we've all been growling about for weeks, all a judge has to do is say "I rule that..." and it'd be done. They counted on the phenomenon they are suggesting we need to pass an amendment to prevent to simply override the husband's decision to carry out his wife's wishes.

Not her wishes? Says who? Her parents? This is what the case comes down to, right here. Who has the authority to speak for Terri Shiavo. Time and again, her parents have tried to re-assert the control they lost over her the day she said "I do" in holy matrimony and they have failed. Friends, they have had their day in court. They've had plenty of days in court. They've not prevailed in court because they're not supposed to. A woman's husband is her next of kin, not her parents, and the next of kin has the say in matters like these. Disagree with him all you like - I certainly do - but this decision belongs in the hands of the spouse in question, not in the hands of Congress. Nor, I'm afraid, in ours.

Monday, March 21, 2005

AFP Doing Their Best For The Terrorists

An AFP article noted by Chrenkoff, titled "45 Killed in Insurgent Attacks", you'd be forgiven for thinking that the terrorists "insurgents" in Iraq had really pulled off a successful attack run. Devastating, in fact; a real hammer-blow to the Coalition forces. Even reading the 1st paragraph wouldn't change that perception:

::::::::A[t] least 45 people have been killed in insurgent attacks across Iraq as Washington defended its decision to go to war on the second anniversary of the US-led invasion.::::::::

Only by reading down further do you find that 24 of that number - more than half - were the terrorists who launched the attack. The implication of the headline and lead paragraph are quite clear. The author/editors want you to come away from that headline thinking that 45 Iraqi citizens or Coalition soldiers were killed and none of the "insurgents." There is absolutely no other reason to word the headline and lead 'graph in this fashion, considering that it actually obscures details rather than reports or elucidates them. Here, again, I'd like to direct Dana Milbank's attention to this example and ask him if he really needs an explanation as to why almost half of the American public distrusts what they read from journalists. It's exactly this kind of reporting, that's why.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Afghan Elections Set

Small note: The Afghan government has set Parlimentary elections for 18 September. Provincial councils as well as the lower house of Afghan Parliament will be elected. (I'm looking for a link to some material that will explain the organization of the Afghan government. As soon as I find some, I'll provide a link.)

Winning Tactic: Insult Your Opponents' Intelligence

Just yesterday, I posted on the use of Nazi references when the Left wants to castigate the Right for their views. The point of the post, for those that missed it, is that the analogy is both incorrect and incendiary enough to guarantee that there will be no dialog. Of course, if that's what the goal of the Left is, these days, then they're right on track. The Democrats, specifically, seem bent on driving any Republican who might want to listen to their views as far away as possible.

Perhaps you recall the story of Howard Dean, DNC chairman, proudly telling everyone how he hated Republicans and everything they stand for. Apparently, Dean thinks that wasn't quite pointed enough.

::::::::"Keep it simple" is the key to the White House, failed Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean told members of his party from around the world last night.

One major reason his party lost the 2004 race to the "brain-dead" Republicans is that it has a "tendency to explain every issue in half an hour of detail," Dean told the semi-annual meeting of Democrats Abroad, which brought about 150 members from Canada and 30 other countries to the Toronto for two days.
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Ah, so I'm "brain-dead." Clearly, this is a man who respects me enough that I want to work with him and his supporters. How about it, folks? Doesn't being called "brain-dead" by your political opponents just fire up that desire to discuss issues with them at length and work for a solution for both your party and theirs?

Can you imagine the howls and screams the Democrats would be putting out if President Bush were to refer to those "mentally impaired" Democrats? Let me tell you: the din would crack pavement at 100 yards. And rightly so - such a comment would be one of the most immature, stupefyingly idiotic utterances ever pronounced by someone allegedly in possession of the leadership skills to be running a large chunk of American politics.

The comment has been carried only in the Toronto Star, so I'm really hoping, at this point, that it was a misquote and Dean said no such thing. I don't believe it's a misquote because Dean's past commentary makes it plausible, but I still hope it is. If it's an accurate quote, however... Keep talking, Mr. Dean. Your Deaniacs couldn't help you win Presidential primaries. They're sure not going to be able to improve your party's standing with the average American. That's going to translate to more lost seats and that's a high price for your party to pay because you couldn't grow up.

Hat tip: LGF

Milbank Bemoans MSM's Undeserved Decline

Dana Milbank, writing today in the Washington Post's Outlook section, discusses his bias - in favor of mainstream media. "My Bias for Mainstream Media" is, taken as a whole, an attempted defense of the MSM and an admonition to not let it die on the vine. Now before you snort too loudly, bear this in mind: it is an opinion piece.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course, but if one wants theirs taken seriously, it had better hold up to more than a casual read. This opinion has got so many holes in it, it's hard to know where to start unless you want to do a line-by-line fisking. I haven't got that much time, so let's just hit the highlights. My first head-shake of the article was where Milbank relates that he's received e-mails from people accusing him of being a conservative lapdog. I have no idea where someone would get such an idea. Milbank's writing has been so consistently anti-Bush and - shall we say? - unsympathetic to conservative viewpoints that it defies rational explanation to consider him right-wing. I know we've got some folks who are way out in left field, but that far out in left field?

Right on cue, he then starts quoting from the University of Maryland survey taken a couple of weeks before the 2004 elections which showed that 72% of Bush supporters believed that Iraq had stockpiles of WMD before the invasion began. It also found that 75% of them believed (his words, now) "that Iraq either gave al Qaeda "substantial support" or was directly involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks." These views, he flatly states, are just plain wrong, as the Duefler report and the 9/11 commission showed. Sorry, Mr. Milbank, but that's painting with way too wide a brush. First, everyone believed Saddam had WMD stockpiles before the invasion. Our intel services, the UK's, France's, Russia's, Australia's, etc., etc., etc. We know he had them in his arsenal prior to the invasion because he'd used them. All the intel pointed to his still having them just prior to the invasion. The intel was wrong, we now know. But I certainly believed he had them, based on the intel that was available, and clearly so did a lot of other folks whose job it is to analyze that intel. The implication that the fact the intel turned out to be wrong is sufficient to invalidate the thinking before you knew the intel was wrong is ridiculous. Monday-morning quarterbacking at its best.

As for the 9/11 commission, what it actually said was that there was no evidence of collaboration between Saddam and Al Qaeda as regards the 9/11 attacks. That's all the commission had to say on the subject. There's quite a bit of evidence that Iraq was providing substantial support to Al Qaeda and to other terrorist organizations and the 9/11 commission suggested just that. However, those topics were outside the commission's scope and were not part of its report. Milbank's statement that the commission "found no collaborative relationship" between the two is incorrect in that it is overbroad and that's an example of exactly the kind of statement that's so common in the MSM and so commonly derided by the blogosphere.

Milbank mentioned the poll's director, Steven Kull, saying that "media fragmentation" is largely responsible. Turning away from the hallowed mainstream media and listening to that devil-of-the-airwaves, talk radio, and reading conservative blogs is what's warping people's minds. Milbank jumps right up here and says he's not picking on Bush supporters. (Yeeeaaaaahhh, riiiiight.) He points up to some of the left's "fantasies" such as that Bush knew about 9/11 before it happened and had a hidden radio strapped to his back in the first Presidential debate so he could be coached in his answers. (Damn that Karl Rove, anyway.) That's a subtle little piece of argumentational prestidigitation. There was never, in any circles whatsoever, any bit of evidence that Bush knew about 9/11 in advance. None. There was similarly no evidence that Bush was being coached in the first debate. Again, none. They are baseless hallucinations. By mentioning them here, right after making the comment about the poll's results, he accords these fairy tales the same level of believability as the positions that Saddam had WMD before the invasion and that Iraq provided support to terror groups. There's no comparison between the two, yet he engages in an exercise of equivalence just the same. This is yet another example what people are fed up with the MSM over. He clearly doesn't get that, either.

And you've just gotta love that reference in the middle of his opinion that left-wingers are complaining that the media helped Bush get re-elected. What media outlets were those people watching? You have a major media outlet who engages in fraudulent reporting and uses forged documents prominently in an anti-Bush expose, then stonewalls for 12 days over the legitimacy of those documents, and that's helping the Pres? Or the relentlessly negative coverage - 3-to-1 negative compared to the President's opponent? That is supposed to be helping Bush get re-elected? But, again, there's a reason for Milbank mentioning this. It counters the comment that right-wingers have been able to document hundreds, perhaps thousands, of examples of media bias. By pairing these two events, he paints them as equivalents, two sides of the same coin. Combined, he says, they help to explain why "45 percent of Americans now say they can believe little or nothing of what they read in the papers, compared to just 16 percent two decades ago."

I would suggest that the reason 45% of Americans now view newpapers as untrustworthy is because the last 2 years have shown Americans that journalists can't report the facts. The unending negative reports on the President, the economy, the prosecution of the war in Afghanistan and in Iraq followed up with the realization that all of these things aren't as bad as is being reported would lead one to have less trust. The press played up the allegations regarding the President's Guard service and, when they couldn't find anything to prove their points, they jumped on the forgeries as evidence. Sloppy. They got burned. Couldn't trust them to get their facts straight. They said the economy was crashing and jobs were being forever lost. Didn't happen. Afghanistan was a quagmire that would kill tens of thousands of our soldiers and would never result in a democracy there in any case. Didn't and did, respectively. (The media so wanted their view to be proven that they couldn't bear to cover the inauguration of the first democratically-elected President in Afghanistan's history. If that's not news....) When that didn't pan out in Afghanistan, they moved the quagmire label to Iraq and made the very same claims of the Iraqis. They were incapable of handling a modern democracy. 30 January proved that one wrong but talking heads on the TV and editors in the paper just kept moving the goalposts.

I suggest that 45% of Americans can sense when they're being lied to, or when someone's hiding parts of the story and that is why they don't believe what they read.

Oh, but Milbank's not saying that there's no bias. No, no - perish the thought. It's just that the bias is against whoever's in power, not simply against conservatives. For support, he quotes none other than Ari Fleischer saying, "Many Republicans, especially conservatives, believe the press are liberals who oppose Republicans and Republican ideas. I think there's an element of truth to that, but it is complicated, secondary, and often nuanced. More important, the press's first and most pressing bias is in favor of conflict and fighting . . . No one can claim with a straight face that the White House press corps were easy on former President Bill Clinton." No one I know is seriously saying they were, although a comment that they were easier on Clinton than on Bush could certainly find support. I would hasten to point out that no major media outlet ever used manufactured documentation to report on President Clinton, and most assuredly not less than 60 days before his re-election bid. They also wouldn't have dreamt of deciding, en masse, to ignore a well-documented assertion that Clinton's opponent in the election had lied, repeatedly, about his past performances. Or that said opponent had met, on more than 1 occasion, with enemy governments in a time of war, in clear violation of the law. Yet those things are precisely what the media did in 2004. Let's see: run negative and damaging stories against the conservative, even if you have to use documents you have to ignore expert analysis on to use; hide stories damaging to the liberal. Sounds like a bias to me. I guess it sounds like one to 45% of my fellow Americans, too.

Now, Milbank's basic assertion here is actually one I agree with: it's a good thing to have a media where journalists report and where the resources to reach a mass audience are available. However, that assumes that you have a media reporting the facts as the facts. Milbank claims that the erosion of trust in the MSM is a result of... well, frankly he says it's a result of people not trusting the MSM. He cites the exit polls in the 2004 election and makes the claim, unbelievably in my view, that the blame for the polls being so out of whack belongs to conservatives who declined to participate. (You knew conservatives were at fault for this whole thing, didn't you?) It's all part of the cycle, he says, where conservatives started listening to that damn Rush Limbaugh, watching that damn Sean Hannity, and reading those horrible conservative blogs and were such sheep that they started not trusting the MSM's word on things. Then they go and screw up the polls so they could just reinforce their delusions that the MSM can't be trusted.

Nice hunch. Of course, one must ask why they started looking for alternatives in the first place. And none of this hypothesizing on his part addresses the Rathergate/Memogate/Easongate issues where the media made blatant statements of "fact" that were shown to be either utter fabrications (Eason's allegations of our military hunting down and eliminating journalists) or a blind rush to publish a damaging story without proper fact-checking (Dan Rather, call on line 1).

The fact is that people don't trust what they read because there are concrete examples of the media in the past 2 years attempting to fly lies and fabrications past them as if they were facts. Do that often enough, and the public develops a distrust of anything the media says. Milbank's opinion piece tries to pawn off the responsibility for that onto alternative media and, ultimately, the public. Well, the conservative public, anyway. He posits the question whether liberals or conservatives would really wish the absence of a media that "calls into questions the Bush administration's claims about Iraq's weapons and ties to al Qaeda? Would conservatives really favor the absence of a press that brought the Clinton scandals to light?" (Actually, wasn't it conservative blogger Matt Drudge who broke the story on the Clinton scandals?) It's a rhetorical question, but I'll answer it anyway: no, of course we don't want the press to disappear. What we want is for the press to report. Plain and simple, we want the media to tell us, to their honest best of ability, what has happened, not what they think it means. Editorials are a different matter, but news reporting needs to be reporting of the facts. Is that going to shine an unpleasant light on some conservatives? You betcha. Liberals, too. That's fine. That's more than fine. Hey, I'm a conservative and I support Bush but if there's something going on in the halls of government where the administration is breaking the law, we want to know about it. Is the social security plan being described to all of us in detail or is something being purposely left out? Is the Supreme Court using foreign law to justify changes to our Constitution by judicial fiat? (Oh, they are? More on that one later.) These are important stories that the American people need to know about but they need to know the facts, not the facts as Dana Milbank wants to portray them. Report those facts and let the public do their analysis. This is the crucial point that Milbank seems to miss. Until he and his colleagues get it, they're never going to earn back the trust they've squandered.

Kelly On Military Recruiting

Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has an article today on the recent reporting of the Army's missing its February recruiting goal. He dives right in:

::::::::The Army fell far short of its recruiting goal for February, giving journalists a welcome respite from the avalanche of good news from the Middle East.::::::::

He's got exactly the right handle on things. The utter silence on things going on in Afghanistan - unless something bad is happening - is starting to be repeated in Iraq. Out comes the report about the Army's recruiting problems and it hits the front page. (Or prominently on their web page.) As Kelly says in the article, however, it's easy to see a half-empty glass when half the story is all you tell.

::::::::Burns implied that opposition to the war in Iraq is the chief reason for the decline. His article cited a quote from the U.S. Military Image Study, conducted for the Army last year by the Minneapolis polling firm Gfk Custom Research: "More African Americans identify having to fight for a cause they don't support as a barrier to military service."

But blacks and Hispanics still have a higher propensity to enlist than whites do, and more young people are willing to join up now than before the war on terror began, the study also indicated. These facts didn't make it into Burns' story.

Overall, 6 percent of blacks, 7 percent of Hispanics and 5 percent of whites surveyed in 2004 said they definitely would serve in the military. An additional 17 percent of blacks, 15 percent of Hispanics and 9 percent of whites said they probably would serve.

In 2001, only 11 percent of all young people surveyed said they would definitely (2 percent) or probably (9 percent) enlist. Last year that figure rose to 15 percent (5 percent definitely, 10 percent probably).

Since the economy is stronger now than it was in 2001, and good economic times typically are hard times for military recruiters, a 36 percent increase in the proportion of young people willing to consider enlisting since the war on terror began says something good about our young people that Burns, apparently, is not eager to have you hear.
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Indeed.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Invoking The Nazis

It seems I can't open a paper or click on a news link containing an anti-Bush commentary these days without seeing, usually in the first few paragraphs, an equation of the President or Republicans in general with Hilter and Nazi Germany. My take on it? It's a sign of weak argumentation and a reliance on knee-jerk shock value in place of rational discussion and factual discourse. There seems to be 2 methods used these days to make these analogies, either make a wide, sweeping equative statement or focus in on specific methodology.

The wide statements are the preferred tactic of the MoveOn.org crowd. Hence, the Bush=Hilter ads they served up on their site and the near-constant references there to how the Administration is fascist and turning America into a totalitarian state. Such comments are ludicrous and so clearly false, they'd normally not even warrant refutation, but for the fact that so many of our fellow citizens appear to buy the line. Anyone who thinks America is a totalitarian state clearly doesn't know what a totalitarian state is. Ask the actual survivors of Nazi Germany, or former residents of the Soviet Union what it's like. Listen to Arthur Chrenkoff, whose family managed to get out of Soviet-controlled Poland before the wall fell. Arnold Schwarzenegger told about his experiences living behind the Iron Curtain and living with Soviet tanks on the streets and the real fear of being stopped on the street to be taken away never to be seen again. That's what a totalitarian state is like. How many of those people who blithely claim that this is what America is coming to see tanks in the streets? See armed patrols stopping pedestrians for questioning? Which of their families or friends have been seized by the government and disappeared? I have a co-worker whose grandfather, still with us, was in Nazi Germany and managed to get out. He tells me that the old guy nearly throws things at the TV when he hears someone suggest that this country is the new Reich. He knows better.

The other tactic I see used is to isolate something the Administration is doing and find an instance where someone in the Nazi government did something similar. Then they make the assertion, sometimes even unspoken but clearly implied, that since the Bush Administration is using the same method - in that one instance - as the Nazis, well that means "BushCo" is clearly the fascist buggers the Left's been claiming they were all along. Again, weak. Every government on earth uses radio, even the real totalitarian ones. Does the fact that the President makes a weekly radio address mean that he and his administration is fascist/communist/whatever-ist? I note that Kim Jong Il makes TV appearances - just like MoveOn.org! Does this mean that MoveOn is a group of people who will cheerfully starve millions of their countrymen? Ridiculous.

Given a similar goal in a similar environment, with similar raw materials available, you'll find that the solution reached by different groups will be remarkably similar. From sailing vessels to jet aircraft to spaceships you can see different countries and cultures wind up with end results that resemble each other. That the Nazis used similar methods, to get their word out, for example, as our Administration does today is no indictment of the Administration's broader policies. To use such isolated examples as those to say that the American government is fascist or totalitarian is simply stretching a point beyond believability. Yet, it gets done daily and people still buy it.

Victor Davis Hanson addresses the issue in an article yesterday, "Little Eichmanns" and "Digital Brownshirts": Deconstructing the Hitlerian slur.

::::::::At first glance, all this wild rhetoric is preposterous. Hitler hijacked an elected government and turned it into a fascist tyranny. He destroyed European democracy. His minions persecuted Christians, gassed over six million Jews, and created an entire fascistic creed predicated on anti-Semitism and the myth of a superior Aryan race.

Whatever one thinks of Bush’s Iraqi campaign, the president obtained congressional approval to invade and pledged $87 billion to rebuild the country. He freely weathered mass street demonstrations and a hostile global media, successfully defended his Afghan and Iraq reconstructions through a grueling campaign and three presidential debates, and won a national plebiscite on his tenure.
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The statement has been made that the problem with political discourse these days is that while the Right thinks the Left is dead wrong, the Left thinks the Right is pure evil. (The statement's been made specifically referring to Republicans and Democrats, but I think the issue is wider than those 2 parties.) The Right's viewpoint requires facts, proof, debate, and argumentation. The Left's requires none of those things. It merely requires a firm belief - dare I call it "faith"? - that the Right's views are so patently, obviously wrong that there's no requirement to even argue the points. After the 2004 elections, it wasn't even a week before many on the Left were calling on the winners of the elections to drop their partisanship and reach out to those who were on the losing side of the contest. They asked (in some cases, demanded) that their views be enacted in the various legislative endeavors, not just considered. That's difficult to do when the Left's partisanship is still in full swing and their lack of consideration of the Right's viewpoints is nearly automatic. The first thing that needs to happen is for the Left to knock off the cheap shots and drop the Nazi rhetoric. No one's comparing them to Stalin or Pol Pot even though those cases could certainly be made using the same logic as they use. The reason for that is simple: you don't foster dialog and compromise with name-calling.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Wow. We Are The Weakest Link...

I've mentioned my profession here before, but I'll repeat it now: I'm a certified, bona-fide, don't-just-play-one-on-tv, professional network geek. It's my job to design, build, and maintain computer networks that are both robust and secure. It's a sad fact in my profession that no matter how good you make the network, it still has to interact with a component you can't really secure. The user. Take note:

::::::::WASHINGTON — More than one-third of Internal Revenue Service (search ) employees and managers who were contacted by Treasury Department inspectors posing as computer technicians provided their computer login and changed their password, a government report said Wednesday.
...
The auditors called 100 IRS employees and managers, portraying themselves as personnel from the information technology help desk trying to correct a network problem. They asked the employees to provide their network logon name and temporarily change their password to one they suggested.

"We were able to convince 35 managers and employees to provide us their username and change their password," the report said.
::::::::

Based on nothing more that receiving a phone call - from someone they didn't know - and hearing a confidently told story, these folks coughed up access to their system in general, and in specific to whatever files and functions they use in the course of their day. The process is called social engineering. (Click the link for a fine article on the subject.) It relies on people not following procedure, if one exists at all.

As a professional, here's some advice for all of you that deal in information systems that you'd prefer not get compromised:

  1. Never give out your password, period. There's absolutely no reason anyone but you needs to know that. There's nothing your password will do for a member of your IT support staf that they can't do on their own, so they don't need yours.

  2. Don't change your password to something someone else tells you. Your password is your password and it identifies you to the computer. You make it and you make it what you want.

  3. If you even suspect that the person you're dealing with isn't a member of your IT support staff, get their number to call them back. If they're hacking, they'll likely hang right up at that point. Check the corporate directory. If they're not in there, feel free to call the IT group's help desk and ask them if they have someone working on an issue for you.

  4. Get familiar with your corporate IT security policy. If you don't have one, suggest to your IT management that they read the article I've linked and get one in place.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Airbus Rudder Falls Off In Midair; US Media Misses It

At one point in my working life, I put in a few years in the commercial aviation sector. Aside from actually flying them or working on the aircraft systems, I took part in just about every aspect of that business from slinging bags to selling tickets, boarding planes, and pushing them back from the gates. Over the course of a bit over 3 years I must have taken part in a few thousand departures and got real familiar with the workings of the modern commercial airliner.

I never once had a rudder fall off of one of my company's planes.

Of course, I didn't have any Airbus aircraft in my fleet, either. Have a look at this lead in:

::::::::At 35,000 feet above the Caribbean, Air Transat flight 961 was heading home to Quebec with 270 passengers and crew. At 3.45 pm last Sunday, the pilot noticed something very unusual. His Airbus A310's rudder - a structure 28 feet high - had fallen off and tumbled into the sea. In the world of aviation, the shock waves have yet to subside.

Mercifully, the crew was able to turn the plane around, and by steering it with their wing and tail flaps managed to land at their point of departure in Varadero, Cuba, without loss of life. But as Canadian investigators try to discover what caused this near catastrophe, the specialist internet bulletin boards used by pilots, accident investigators and engineers are buzzing.
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Yeah, I'll bet they're buzzing. This is the same type of aircraft that crashed up by JFK right after 9/11 - an American Airlines flight, you'll recall. The NTSB determined it was pilot error in their overworking the rudder. Hmmmm. I guess the part that bugs me the most is the lack of press-play this is getting. I realize it was a Canadian airline flying from Cuba to Canada, but this aircraft type is in use in the US by several carriers. Remember when the Boeing 737 - a huge workhorse in the industry with hundreds of thousands of hours in service - was accused of having a design problem in the rudder? That story went on for weeks. Here, we have a plane with a rudder that drops off into the sea at altitude and not a word on the matter in the US. Very strange.

Stranger still the story, related by Eric Florak at BitsBlog, is that the aircraft never declared an emergency (I bloody well would have!) and decided to return to Cuba rather than set down at Miami which was much closer. He suggests the reason for that was mitigation of the P/R problem by the company. Perhaps. They certainly wouldn't have been able to keep this quiet with the plane landing at Miami International. I don't know if that's what we're looking at, here, but it sure seems like news and I'm surprised this story is 5 days old and nothing heard here.

Hat Tip: Instapundit, BitsBlog.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Blogger: Beware The Ides Of March?

Seems Blogger is having a real issue with performance these past couple of days so you're likely to see some lag and/or double posts here. When I submit a post via my w.bloggar tool, it sometimes doesn't get a confirmation from Blogger that the post was accepted. So, I submit it again and then you wind up with double posts. (sigh) In any case, please bear with me. The trouble is not in your set.

Iraqis Protest Attack

This time, the Iraqis were protesting Arabs who attack them. Noted over at Iraq the Model, the Iraqis are upset that the family of the Jordanian suspected of carrying out the recent attack in Hilla where over 100 people were killed waiting in line for a job are celebrating the bomber as a martyr. Quoting from an AFP article showing up on the Iraq Media Network:

::::::::Crowds gathered outside the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad on Sunday shouting: 'No, no to Jordan, close your embassy, we do not want to see you here.'

They urged the government to file charges against the family of Raed al-Banna, who the Iraqi media says carried out a car bombing on 28 February that killed at least 118 people and wounded scores more.
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The protest involved hundreds of residents and even featured the Iraqis burning a Jordanian flag. Of course, you didn't hear about that here in the States. Interesting, but still very much unclear is the action by Jordanian law enforcement in arresting the journalist who wrote about bomber. His story about the family's holding a martyr's funeral is the reason for the arrest, but I'm not clear on what was illegal about it. Was the story made up, or what? Details still forthcoming.

Hat Tip: Chrenkoff

UAW Reverses Course

I noted previously that the UAW had decided to kick Marines who drove "foreign" cars or sported pro-Bush stickers out of their parking lots. Blackfive now notes that the UAW president has rescinded that order. Good for him, but I can't help but wonder if the damage has already been done.

Monday, March 14, 2005

UAW To Marines: We Support You, But Not If You're Republican

And not if they can't afford an SUV, either, apparently.

::::::::DETROIT -- The United Auto Workers says Marine reservists should show a little more semper fi if they want to use the union's parking lot.

The Marine Corps motto means "always faithful," but the union says some reservists working out of a base on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit have been decidedly unfaithful to their fellow Americans by driving import cars and trucks.

So the UAW International will no longer allow members of the 1st Battalion 24th Marines to park at Solidarity House if they are driving foreign cars or displaying pro-President Bush bumper stickers.
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UAW spokemen are saying that although the Marines "certainly have the right" to drive foreign cars or to support the politics of their choice, they don't have the right to park their cars on lots owned by the UAW if they drive such a car or support candidates the UAW doesn't. First off, no Marine ever claimed that parking privileges were "a right" so that's a misleading bit of wording, there. Second, I thought the UAW was allowing Marines to park in their lot by way of showing their support for the Marines, not as a political statement. Clearly, I'm mistaken.

Finally, the UAW does indeed have the authority to permit or deny any person or group from using their private facilities. That's a right that previous generations of Marines have fought to secure. But the UAW also has the "right" to reap the consequences of their decisions and this kind of act isn't going to be winning them many friends. Of course, the public can't do anything, really, about the UAW so they'll take action as close to them as they can: they'll buy their cars from manufacturers who don't employ UAW personnel. I can't imagine that's going to make GM or the rest of Detroit very happy with the UAW, either.

I note that this story has received some wide attention from the likes of LGF, Blackfive, Greyhawk @ the Mudville Gazette, and Citizen Smash.

Hundreds Of Thousands Of Lebanese Rally In Opposition To Syria

Noted on LGF and reported here, there was a rally opposing Syria's continued presence in Lebanon that drew hundreds of thousands of supporters. Check out the news story for some truly awe-inspiring photos. The sheer numbers of people are simply staggering.

I am glad to see this happening. For nearly as long as I've been alive, Lebanon, and Beruit especially, has been synonymous with oppression and terror. What was once considered to be a shining gem in the middle east has come to be considered one of the "bad neighborhoods" with most Westerners told to stay away or be risking their lives. To see them making the first moves toward reclaiming that place among nations is a good thing.

Chrenkoff's "Good News" Grows

I've noticed that the latest Good News from Iraq by Arthur Chrenkoff - part 23, in case you're counting - is huge. As Chrenkoff himself put it in an e-mail to the Greyhawks:

::::::::Is the situation in Iraq getting better? It's not really up to me to answer that question, but I can try to answer another one: is reporting from Iraq getting better? To find out, I decided to look back at the past installments of the "Good news" series and do a little count. For the sake of simplicity I started with Part 6, which happened to be the first one to be also published by the "Opinion Journal". When printed out, that July 19, 2004 edition of "Good news from Iraq" is 10 and a half pages long, and contains links to 71 "good news" stories. Since then, the length of each installment has fluctuated, but the overall trend has been up. So much so that the "Good news from Iraq" you're reading now is 23 and a half pages long and contains 178 links to "good news" stories.

The same trend in evident in my "Good news from Afghanistan". The first installment published by the "Opinion Journal" (and second overall in the series) of July 26, 2004, was 6 and a half pages long when printed out and contained 55 links. The latest one, number 10 of March 7, 2005, is 19 pages long and contains 124 links.

Either there is more and more good news coming out of both Iraq or Afghanistan, or the reporters are getting increasingly optimistic about the situation there, or both. Whatever's the answer, it's good news.
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Indeed.

20 Years Of Service

My lack of blogging time over the past week or so has me behind in a number of areas and one of those is in offering a thank you to the milblogger Greyhawk. Seems he passed his 20-year mark in the military. I have a cousin who did the same a few years ago and it's an important milestone.

My thanks, Greyhawk, and that goes double for Mrs. G and your kids. I am confident they're proud of you. I and my family are thankful for you and we're glad you're home.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Immigration And Security: What's A Conservative To Do?

Following a link from Hugh Hewitt, I find the Hedgehog Blog where something fascinating is going on. It's a real, live, honest-to-goodness call for a (gasp!) debate on the issue of immigration and security in the post-9/11 age. This is precisely the kind of event the blogosphere excels at when it's at its best and I am quite happy to see it on this topic particularly.

The focus of the debate is primarily, of course, on the President's plan for fixing the current immigration plan. I've already written on my perspectives here, but this is the first call to real debate I've seen. From the Hedgehog:

::::::::In her Weekly Standard piece, "Law and Borders," Tamar Jacoby makes the best case I have seen for the Bush immigration plan. As Jacoby details, Bush's plan is true to every single principle listed above, and it is realistic. The plan would restore the rule of law, would enable us to concentrate resources on keeping terrorists out of the country, would require immigrants to commit to becoming assimilated Americans, and would rationalize the way we provide services to immigrants. It would remove us forever from the current situation in which everyone knows what is going on but allows it to continue with only winks and nods in place of a real policy.

Read the Jacoby piece, then consider my questions for those who, like one of my favorite radio talk show hosts, Laura Ingraham, zealously attack the Bush plan:
  • What is your plan, and how will you get it enacted?

  • Do you really think the American public has the stomach to see 10 million people deported, many of whom have been here all their lives?

  • If the public is not ready to do that, are you prepared to see the Republican Party spend the political capital necessary to convince them?

  • What if we fail to convince them? Where will the party be then?

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This is an excellent first step and a requirement to true debate. You can't evaluate options when you don't know what they are. All the options should be put up on the table and examined, seriously. Some will only require a few seconds before being discarded and others will likely generate debate even long after a course of action has been decided. There are comments to the post over at Hedgehog that are bringing options already and I encourage everyone to read them. In this spirit, I'd like to offer my answers to the debate.

My initial plan was a simple one: enforce the law. If someone's here illegally, they go back where they came from, period. If they want to come here to live, they enter into the process the legal way, the way several of my legal-resident friends have done. But they don't do that from here, where they cheated the system and snuck in through a hole in the fence, sometimes literally. How will I get it enacted? We cut foreign aid for 3 years to any country that pursues a policy of actively opposing us in the UN, who has not instituted democratic reforms, and/or supports terrorist organizations as defined by the US State Department. Those funds go immediately to the INS, Border Patrol, and US Marshalls for the express purpose of sealing all the leaks in the border and locating people who are here illegally. We apply the same military-grade technology that we're using in Iraq and Afghanistan to our borders and we adopt a zero-tolerance policy (hey, the Left loves that term, right?) toward people trying to bust the border. This is a security situation, folks, not a sightseeing stop. Try to penetrate the border and you're taking your life in your hands - we will shoot real bullets.

If we want to enact this "foreign worker" program the President is talking about, fine, but those people here illegally will not benefit from their illegal acts.

In all honesty, Lowell Brown, the man behind the Hedgehog, clearly thinks this kind of response is unworkable and wrong and, in spite of asking for people to articulate their plans, he's already arguing against this aproach. Look at the remaining questions he asks and you can see it. When someone asks, "Do you really think...," they're not asking for your confirmation of your position. They're politely offering you the chance to change your mind about whatever they're asking. Say, "Yes, I do," in response and watch what happens. The remaining questions just go further along that same trail offering yet more arguments in the form of questions. In this case, he's arguing that the American people will not support 10 million people deported and that the Republican Party will have to expend political capital to convince them. Then, he raises the specter of what happens when, after that expenditure, the people still won't support it.

Briefly, I would submit that there's a lot more people out here in America that don't like people coming here illegally and then making demands of our support systems than Mr. Brown assumes. I'm also unsure of how many is "many" when he says that many "have been here all their lives." (That implies they've been born here. If they were born here, aren't they Americans? Now there's a debate in itself!) This point touches on the primary problem I have with the concept of an amnesty type of approach. First, let's be up front. If we're going to say to people who illegally crossed our border - a crime that carried with it a penalty that included getting sent back to wherever they came from - that we'll just overlook that teensy issue and that they can stay, then we're offering them amnesty. Tamar Jacoby says, in the article linked by Brown, that the President's plan would "[n]ot necessarily" be an amnesty and that it would depend on how it's done. However, that statement right there acknowledges that it might, in fact, be just that. Jacoby is quick to point out that illegals should not received a free pass on their criminal trespass, however, and I'm interested in hearing more about that. There's also a mention about illegals having to "earn their way back onto the right side of the law" which also sounds a bit more promising.

So, in the spirit of debate and that oh-so-elusive yet crucial-for-democracy quality known as "compromise," I am willing to seek a common ground. I would be willing to support the President's initiative to bring illegals into the fold with certain assurances. I would be willing to support the foreign worker program so long as our international partner in the matter would adhere to requirements. Let's start in inverse order and say what another country would need to do for this foreign worker program to work.

First, that country would need to agree to make the process by which their citizens who wish to participate do so without dealing with corrupt officials. That means that their citizens don't have to cough up bribes to simply fill out forms and get their place in the queue. That means that the process is subject to oversight and audit such that a single clerk can't open the door for a group of terrorists and get them all in around the security processes. Which leads me to the next requirement, that the country in question would provide and maintain a system by which their citizens' identities can be confirmed on their way in to the US. If a man shows up with a Mexican birth certificate, there needs to be a system in place that can positively confirm this document is legit. Finally, if that country maintains a border with us - and now I guess we're talking Canada and Mexico - then that country needs to actively secure its borders such that their citizens aren't trying to get around our border patrol. That country needs to advise it's people, in whatever fashion they need to to be sure it's done, that the US is going to start firing on people trying to circumvent our borders. There will be no appeals and there will be no lawsuits. If someone tries to sneak in through the Arizona desert under the cover of darkness and that person is noticed, then he's playing with his life and anything that happens to him as a result is his fault.

Note that I'm not saying we have to fire on everyone doing so, only that the option is ours to take as it is seen fit. Again, people looking to sneak past do so at their risk.

Now, what assurances am I looking for to support this program? First, that people who are illegally here must come forward and be recognized by a certain date. No exceptions. Any illegal caught in the US after that date who was here prior to that date gets sent back to their country of origin without delay and without appeal. That individual is blacklisted so far as entry to the US is concerned for life. No foreign worker program, no H-1B visa, no tourist visa, no student visa. They're persona non grata here in the US and we wish them well in their endeavors abroad. Have a nice day. This "grace period" should be long enough to make sure the message gets to all residents of the US, legal or illegal, but I'm not talking about a year, here. Six months, perhaps. And once the date is set, there is to be no extension made.

From the date the previously-illegal (let's call them "normalized", a term I heard over at Hugh Hewitt's place and it seems to fit) gets into the system that person is under a sort of probationary residence. Prior to achieving legal residency, the commission of any felony whatsoever revokes that person's normalized status and that person becomes persona non-grata to the US. Same as above: he goes back to his country of origin and he is not permitted back into the states again, period.

Normalized immigrants should not be eligible for unemployment benefits. It is not right that the people of the United States should have to pay the way for someone who came here illegally in the first place. They came here to work in the US, so work.

Normalized immigrants can acquire a drivers' license for the purpose of operating a motor vehicle only and that license is to be marked as such in some hugely obvious way. That means that such a license cannot be used to acquire a passport or visa or any other form of identification in any way. These licenses should also use some form of biometrics to positively identify the bearer. As an addendum to being able to drive, every single immigrant to this country should be required to learn a practical and working knowledge of English, both spoken and written. They will be driving the same roads and using the same signage as the rest of us. They need to be predictably able to understand what they're seeing and hearing. A written and spoken test should be given to each immigrant before they're licensed to drive.

Normalized immigrants should be assigned a tax ID and taxes withheld from their pay like everyone else. Failure to do so should visit a very stiff penalty upon the employer involved.

Finally, the status of "normalized immigrant" is neither permanent nor something that future immigrants should be granted. For those that are here illegally and abide by the rules to become legal, there should be regular milestones to be met. Their passage of the language requirement, for one, and the length of time they can be here in this country looking for a job should have deadlines. Failure to meet that deadline means they go home. (In these cases, it's not a permanent thing. They can apply again to come to the US.) A normalized immigrant is one who was here illegally and came forward within the window of recognition. People coming here illegally after that window starts aren't part of the deal and those people should be sent home, no questions asked.

If these conditions, or a set very similar to them, are met, then I would be willing to support the idea of not sweeping the country looking for illegals to deport. I'm looking forward to further public debate on the issue.