Tuesday, May 31, 2005

"We're not in a war!"

As I sit here in the cube farm where I work, I'm privy to a lot more conversations than I'm used to. My previous job was doing network engineering in conditions that were, shall we say, less than conducive to quiet contemplation. OK, it was a noisy place where someone sitting literally on the other side of my same cube wall could be having a relatively normal conversation and I'd just barely hear it. This is a very different environment. If someone 3 cubes down as a "voice-lowered" comment for their neighbor in the 4th cube down, I'll hear it with very little difficulty. It's a nice office here and that's one of the side effects of having a quieter environment.

So, about 5 minutes ago I heard one of the folks hurriedly tell another one to go look, "right now," at CNN.com. They sounded rather urgent about it and, after the other person made a disgusted "Oh, my God" comment, I figured I'd go have a look. The story is headlined, "Cheney: Iraq War Will End Before 2009," and goes on to quote the VP saying the insurgency is in its final thoes. So what comment does this elicit from my co-workers?

We're not in a war!

I should be stunned. I should be sitting here in disbelief that anyone would say something so colossally stupid. I should have on my face the same look that someone would have had in 1944 hearing some moron claim the US wasn't in a war. But I don't. I'm shaking my head at the sheer ignorance of the comment, but I'm not surprised that someone's saying it, openly and proud. The African embassy bombings, the USS Cole, the Saudi dormatory bombings, and - oh! - let's not forget 4 aircraft hijackings and 3 impacts into buildings killing 3000 people in 2001. (That's not a definitive list, by the way.) Just how many times does an organization have to launch lethal attacks against this country's citizens before you get to say we're at war? These people, and people like them, are living in a fantasy world where we can't possibly be at war with anyone not flying the Nazi swastika. Even then, those people absolutely must overfly our terroritory with heavy bombers and level 6 or 7 blocks with iron bombs, which must be followed up with impassioned speeches in Congress and a unanimous declaration of war. (Said declaration must include an exact timetable of when, where, and how the war is to be fought along with the overriding "exit strategy" clause which will delineate precisely when the war will end.)

We are at war and it's a war we didn't start. The enemy - and that's what they are - aren't fighting us to right a wrong we did them. They're fighting because they don't want us breathing air. They don't want us taking up space. They don't want us any way but dead and forgotten so they can go back to their halcyon days of the 6th century, where men had it good and women knew their place as property. Denial of our state of war is ludicrous and a willing self-deceit by those who utter such denial. As Mr. Mill said, they are miserable creatures kept free by the exertions of better men.

I don't have a link to the transcript of the interview but, in reading the report there on CNN, I note that they don't actually quote him saying "the war will end by 2009." Did he actually say that or is this a little poetic license with the headline by CNN. I'll keep looking.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day

In my generational line on the ancenstry chart, there's only 1 veteran I know of, my brother-in-law, Ed. Beyond that, you have to go back a couple of generations to find any men in uniform. I nearly went into the Air National Guard myself, but I got a phone call literally hours before going to the recruiter and went into the commercial airline sector instead. Paths chosen, and paths not taken, as they say... The past few years have brought to the fore a realization that my life and the lives of my family have been permitted to go the way they've gone because of the nature of the nation we live in. That nature has been protected by the thin line of olive drab, camo, white and blue that comprise the Services within the United State Military. Today, we recall the sacrifice of those in uniform who stepped out in front to stand between the greatest experiment in governance the world has ever known and the darkness of those who would see it fail and be destroyed. I stand literally in their debt, and I will remember that forever.

To those who serve, I offer my civilian salute and my thanks. To those who have gone before, all that and my promise to be faithful to your memory. We enjoy this day because of your work. We will not let it go to waste.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday, everyone.

Courtesy of Comstock.com.

The other casuality list

I don't read Doonesbury any more. Trudeau used to be talented and funny. Now he's just a self-absorbed jerk who uses his Sunday-morning comics pulpit to spew on about his hatred of George Bush and his incomprehension that we're in a war we didn't start. It was a little hard to miss what he's doing over this week, however. In a gratuitous abuse of the fine men and women who have lost their lives serving in the military during this war on terror, he's pulling his own little "Vietnam Wall" by filling the frames of his weekly allotment of space with the names of the fallen. I salute and honor them, unlike Mr. Trudeau. He only cares about them for the length of their names.

The list Trudeau never seems to want to publish is the other casuality list. The one containing the names of the men and women in uniform who died that sunny morning in September 3½ years ago at the Pentagon. Don Surber of West Virginia has. More than that, he's done the homework to provide links to the bios of each and every one of them. Well done, sir.

I will not forget.


Hat tip: Michelle Malkin

Sunday, May 29, 2005

French vote down EU Constitution Updated!

The French voters have spoken, and the word is "non".

::::::::French voters rejected the European Union's first constitution Sunday, a stinging repudiation of President Jacques Chirac's leadership and the ambitious, decades-long effort to further unite the continent.

Chirac, who had urged voters to approve the charter, announced the result in a brief, televised address. He said the process of ratifying the treaty would continue in other EU countries.

"It is your sovereign decision, and I take note," Chirac said. "Make no mistake, France's decision inevitably creates a difficult context for the defense of our interests in Europe."
::::::::

In other words: yes, you had your say but, man, have you so totally screwed things up and I can't believe how stupid you all are. Funny - now where have I heard left-wing politicos say that to a majority of an electorate before?

Update: Just heard a quick headline from a local news rep as they were going to commercial. He said something like, "EU Constitution defeated by the French, details when we return."

"Defeated by the French." Wow. Now that's something you don't hear every day.

British University Hospital team calls for ban on kitchen knives

Not content to disarm their populace by making private ownership of handguns illegal, a group from West Middlesex University Hospital thinks "long, pointy" kitchen knives should be next on the list. I'd love to say I'm making this up, but...

::::::::A&E doctors are calling for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives to reduce deaths from stabbing.

A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase - and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings.

They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and a kitchen knife often makes an all too available weapon.

The research is published in the British Medical Journal.

The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all.

They consulted 10 top chefs from around the UK, and found such knives have little practical value in the kitchen.
::::::::

Those of us who have fought for the Second Amendment here in the States have long claimed that the second a so-called "gun control" group managed to get a handgun ban passed, they'd keep right on going by trying to ban more and more items they feel are too dangerous for slack-jawed morons like, well, the rest of us clearly are. The kitchen knife thing usually comes up as a ludicrous joke. Obviously we weren't taking ourselves seriously enough. So an implement available to Britons for literally centuries has suddenly become so dangerous that Britons can't be trusted with them? I also love the BBC's accompanying photo on the story, showing a slice on a person's face from the corner of their 1 eye around to the ear with the caption, "Kitchen knives can inflict appalling wounds." I could produce exactly that kind of injury on a person using a dime-store keychain cutter with a blade less than 1 inch in length. How is that kind of injury germane to the discussion of "long" kitchen knives? No mention in the story about how long a knife has to be to qualify, either. Five inches? Six? Ten? And how pointy is "pointy"?

And do you love the authority they go to on the matter? Chefs! Oh, and not just "chefs", but a whole 10 of them. Out of millions of Brits, they get the opinions of 10 of them - not identified, of course - and that's good enough to start shouting about confiscating the cutlery. Note also that they don't actually tell you what the chefs said, or even what they were asked. I'd also like to know why, if such knives have little practical value in the kitchen, do such knives seem to always be present in the kitchens of "top chefs" like those who were supposedly asked about this?

The worst thing is that the current climate in public discourse demands that the government actually expend time and effort addressing such lunacy. How about this: prosecute the people who commit the crimes? Put. Them. In. Prison. Make them pay off the medical bills - in their entirety - that are generated dealing with the injuries they caused. Put their pictures in the paper with big, bold headines showing all their friends and neighbors that they're untrustworthy nutcases who thought it was a good idea to punctuate their arguments by perforating their opponents. Make them have to answer in the affirmative on the job applications when the question comes up, "Have you ever been convicted of a felony? Give dates and details." (Yes. I was convicted of assault and battery with a deadly weapon because that frothing idiot William said something wonky about Manchester United. Will that be a problem getting hired on here?)

In short, address the crime by addressing the criminal, not the law-abiding citizenry of your nation. The issue isn't the knife, it's the decision that sticking it into someone is a reasonable response to the situation. The next joke in the line we 2nd Amendment folks bring up after the kitchen knives deals with banning screwdrivers. I wonder if the West Middlesex University guys have come up with that one yet.

US Soldier to the press: You don't support us

Blogger and soldier Dadmanly calls the media's antagonism like it is:

::::::::As a member of the U.S. Military in Iraq, let me say something very clearly to Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, CBS, ABC, and any other media organization of any integrity.

You are creating greater risk for me personally. You are creating incredible hostility in Muslim countries due to incessant negative reporting out of context and ignoring orders of magnitude of good news in doing so. Yet, in your jaded imaginations, you believe every misconception you spin is ever more confirmation of what you always knew about the U.S. Military. These unrelenting Vietnam analogies are like press versions of drug addled flashbacks.

You create added danger for my soldiers. You feed into enemy (yes, enemy) propaganda efforts in yielding unlimited access to pre-staged voices with calculated intent. You are entirely ignorant of the countries you claim to cover, and you know as little about the U.S. Military, its culture, climate, training, procedures, and ways of operation. You diminish and demean our service.

You cause greater concern, fear and worry for our friends and family. You expand pinpoints of data into grossly distorted exaggerations of fact, and paint broad brush strokes of violence without any context or comparison to relative levels elsewhere. You have no sense of proportion or equivalence. You have no regard for collateral damage, and yet see imagined carnage with every surgical strike, precision bomb, or targeted raid. You can speak of cities destroyed with the destruction of a single building.

We daily see the gross distortions. We cannot recognize the caricatures you scratch out, neither in our fellow soldiers, nor in the battlespace we inhabit. Your vain and callous search for what you indignantly claim as objectivity is really nothing more than neutrality in the face of absolute evil. Even though you are neither architect nor sponsor of that evil, you are accomplice in its result. And you continue to ignore the consequence.

We are proud of our Military, our Country, and how, for over 200 years, the U.S. has tried to improve both ourselves and the world around us, usually for little thanks and much scorn and insult. We police ourselves. Every scandal you report, from My Lai to Iran Contra to Abu Ghraib, has been first reported to authorities by military personnel. And that has resulted in prosecutions and punishment. And what do you stress in your reporting? The sins, crimes, and misdemeanors and rarely if ever remark on the ability and willingness for us to identify and correct malfeasance in our ranks.

Never, never claim to support the soldiers, you don't, you never will in any meaningful way until you can see your prejudices for what they are, work to eliminate them, and for once try to view the world with an open and not a closed mind. You need to rethink how you consider the idea of a just war after 9/11. You need to acknowledge that you don't know the modern U.S. Military or the men and women who serve.
::::::::

I have neither the words nor the standing to say it better. Read the whole thing. You deserve it, and so does he.

BBC refers to Senators as "American Twats"

Via Instapundit, I bring you USS Neverdock and the story of a BBC Radio broadcast that... well, you should just read it:

::::::::In a truly amazing display of anti-Americanism and bias, presenters of BBC Radio Scotland's "Off the Ball" football coverage are heard denigrating the US Senators who recently questioned George Galloway and at one point referred to them as "American twats".
::::::::

Now, there are many, many definitions of the word "twat", about half of them inappropriate for a family show. Fortunately, I think we have a situation here where the 1st set of definitions one thinks of is quite different from the perspective of an American versus a Scott, so I'm guessing the broadcasters weren't comparing our Senators with varying degrees of female genitalia. I must also be completely honest and say that my initial thought on the matter was the merest bit of indignation not because I thought the description was inapt when applied to a certain section of our Senate populace but due to that bit of nationalistic pride that causes me to rise in defense of most things American because I'm American. (Sure, they're twats, but they're our twats, boyo, so back off!)

You must, however, ask about the mindset of the BBC's management to allow that kind of commentary to not just slip out, but be bandied back and forth (and back and forth, and back and forth) on the radio during - if I read this right - a sports show. I'm certain that the commentary of John Madden and Terry Bradshaw during a Monday Night Football game expounding on the moronic ineptitude of British Parliament and the Scottish government in their slide into socialism wouldn't be appreciated by our friends across the pond, either. My apologies to Neverdock, however, in that many of us aren't expecting the BBC to be unbiased any more.

Update on Gold Star Moms

Following a suggestion at Major K's site, I sent an e-mail to the Gold Star Moms expressing my opinion that they should rethink their decision to deny membership to Ligaya Lagman, a non-citizen whose son was killed while in the US military in Afghanistan. Just so there's no confusion, here's the text of the e-mail I sent, in its entirety:

::::::::To the Board,

Ladies, you're doing yourselves a serious disservice by not changing your rules to allow non-citizen mothers of US soldiers membership in your organization. Assuming she still wants to be a member, you should apologize and admit Ligaya Lagman immediately. This stubborn adherence to a ruling virtually no one in the public is supporting is eliminating all the good your organization has done or will ever do. You will be painted as arrogant and not truly supportive of the people you claim to be standing for.

I'm not a mother nor am I a parent of a member of our military. I'm just a bystander hoping you'll not destroy yourselves over something so obvious. Take the advice or leave it.

Good Luck,

Ric James
::::::::

Within seconds I received an automated reply, the text of which I am also going to reproduce here since it's an e-mail and I can't link to it otherwise:

::::::::Please visit our Press Release temporarily located at http://www.goldstarsiblings.com/goldstarmothers.html.

Also note: The Associated Press has just released a follow up article relating to this story, which is also linked on this page.
::::::::

OK, fair enough. Before sending the e-mail, I had already checked the Mom's web site to see if they had posted a release on it, and they hadn't. Note that the link here goes to Gold Star Siblings, not to the Mom's site. The release says that their web site is maintained by a volunteer, a Vietnam vet who is unavailable due to the Memorial Day holiday. Fair enough. May I suggest the Mom's start a blog that can be added to and edited without the assistance of a web-development saavy individual? These things happen, though, and kudos to the Gold Star Sibs for helping the Moms out.

The release itself is no short, 1-paragraph item. After a quick summary about what the "gold star" lapel pin is, they launch right into the matter:

::::::::As to the accusation that Mrs. Lagman’s application was denied does not tell the complete story. The application for membership with American Gold Star Mothers was received by the Department of New York. It was not completed or signed by the applicant, nor did it have the required copy of the death certificate and the payment of the first years dues. There were several inaccuracies on the application as to the dates required. A certified letter was mailed to Mrs. Lagman requesting the application be completed in full and returned for approval. To date, we have not heard from Mrs. Lagman, nor have we received any form of communication to the status of her membership application.

To say that the application has been denied is not an accurate statement.
::::::::

OK, these are all legitimate concerns. After all, an application that isn't even signed can't be authenticated back to the individual in question. You'd like to think it would never happen in this case, but I can't say there aren't people who wouldn't make an application for someone whose son isn't dead just to stick a red-hot poker into the back of a woman they had some kind of beef with. And if this were the end of the situation - that the Moms had declined the application because it wasn't complete - then I'd be offering a retraction of my previous comments on the matter. Unfortunately, it's not the end of it. Further on down the release, we get this:

::::::::In the article there is mention to the fact that the membership board voted and discriminated against Mrs. Lagman. It was not a vote taken for membership, nor a change in the constitution. It was only from an outside source that the discussion took place regarding an upcoming applicant situation, and at that time, the board decided not to make an exception to the rule without proper investigation.::::::::

Now, wait a minute. If the Moms weren't really "denying" the membership - if all they were doing was returning an incomplete application with an invitiation to resubmit it - then what's the vote on the exception to the rule for? In the referenced AP story titled, "New Leader Says Gold Star May Change Rules," they confirm what the current president said in response to the question on the matter:

::::::::"There's nothing we can do because that's what our organization says: You have to be an American citizen," [current president Ann] Herd said Thursday. "We can't go changing the rules every time the wind blows."

[National Service Officer Judith C.] Young said that the national board did not specifically vote on Lagman's application, but rather, "We only voted not to make an exception to the rule we already have as to citizenship."
::::::::

But earlier in the article, Young basically says they can't vote such an exception in:

::::::::But Young said the change must be proposed in an amendment from a mother or chapter, then be voted on by all members. "It's not something you just Wite-Out or change overnight," she said.::::::::

Begging your pardon, Ms. Young, but it sounds to me like your board can, indeed, make such a change - an exception - overnight, if they choose to. They chose not to. That takes the onus back off the application and puts it back onto the board. So which is it? Can the board make an exception or not? If they can, what's the possible justification for not doing so? The release ends with the traditional non-apology apology:

::::::::The Executive Board would like to take this opportunity to apologize for anything taken out of its context in the dissemination of information while being investigated by the media and improperly reported. They would also appreciate the time to seek a remedy to this situation and handle it internally so that the best interests of all, and to future Mothers, can be addressed. ::::::::

I don't see a damned thing taken "out of context" here. The issue isn't why the application was made, or whether it was complete. No one's going to have an issue with the Moms not granting an incomplete application or not accepting one without the dues, etc., etc., etc. But when an issue of this magnitude comes up and you get an organization's president - their president, for Pete's sake - tossing off a snippy comment about not being able to change the rules "every time the wind blows" then stubborness and arrogance is, indeed, the issue, and there was no mistaken reporting about that. I stand by my comments. The Moms need to make this change, if they still want to claim to be serving their membership of mothers of American soliders, and they need to apologize to Ms. Lagman. One can only hope that their new president is more adept at public speaking and more compassionate of spirit than their current leadership has proven to be.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

A billion here and a billion there

(Heard in passing on the Net...) What's in a billion?

A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.

A billion days ago no-one on earth walked on two feet.

A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate the government spends it.

Truth hurts, kids.

Choosing Honor: a Guildman speaks out

You may recall "Easongate Redux" being launched by Linda Foley, international president of the Newpaper Guild. Foley repeated the same claims that got Eason Jordan in hot water, namely that the US military was deliberately targeting journalists. Like Jordan, she offers absolutely no proof of this statement and seems content to sling unsupported allegations to the delight of America's enemies. There's a ray of hope in this one, however. Seems one of her fellow Guild members is stepping up publicly to demand she either prove it or retract it. I give you Hiawatha Bray, reporter for the Boston Globe:

::::::::I'm a reporter for a major newspaper in the northeastern US. I'm also a member of the Newspaper Guild. As a reporter at the Detroit Free Press in 1995, I participated in a strike against that newspaper, a strike which cost me my job, because I would not cross the picket line.

I take my membership in the Guild very seriously. That's why I was dismayed to learn that you, the president of my union, made a speech on May 13 in which you asserted that the US military has deliberately killed journalists. The relevant portion of the speech was videotaped and is available for viewing here.

Since then, you have failed to provide supporting evidence for your remarks, but neither have you retracted them. I spoke with you at 11:10 AM today by telephone; union secretary-treasurer Bernard Lunzer was also on the call.

When I told you that I would publish your response to me on the Internet, you declined further comment--except for the following: "I am not going to discuss this with you on the eve of Memorial Day weekend."

This remark strikes me as extremely odd. I can't think of a better time to redeem the honor of the US military by beginning a serious investigation of outrageous conduct on its part. If our soldiers are deliberately killing journalists, it's our duty to publicize it, so that such a terrible stain on our nation's integrity may be quickly cleansed.

If, as I believe, your charge is false, I can think of no better time to retract this slander.
::::::::

Well done, sir. Bray is a technology reporter for the Boston Globe, so I'm interested in his stuff in any regard. But this - this - is interesting for everyone. Foley has done nothing to clarify her comments. Her absurd statement that she said the "military" was doing the targeting, not the "troops" is one of those comments that literally stops people cold and makes them say, "Huh?" Note to Ms. Foley: the military is comprised of troops. You don't get a military without them, and a "military" doesn't target anything unless the "troops" do. Your little semantic backflip is entertaining for certain people, I'm sure, but hardly convincing after the 5 seconds of puzzlement you provide.

I applaud Hiawatha Bray for his actions and I join his call for Foley to provide evidence of her allegations or make a clear, unambiguous retraction that she has no knowledge that any such thing has ever occurred. While she's at it, she can tell us all where she got such a notion. And today would be a perfect day to start.

Hat Tip: Instapundit

That didn't take long. Democrats filibustering nominees again

As you likely know by now, less than 48 hours after the "gang of 14" Senators made their announcement that they'd saved the Republic, Democrats voted against cloture on the matter of confirming another of Bush's nominees, this time John Bolton, nominee for UN Ambassador. So much for trusting in the fairplay of the Democrats. Now, of course, they're coming up with new reasons why they won't allow a vote, this time pointing to some classified documents at the State Department they supposedly need before they can decide. After Harry Reid's references to there being something in the classified report on Henry Saad while speaking in the open on the Senate floor, I can just imagine that most of the agencies in Washington are just a little wary of handing over more classified documents to the Dems. Seems they can't be trusted to keep the information, well, classified when they feel they're not getting their way. I have no faith they won't do the same here, and neither, apparently, does the President and Secretary of State. The President has said the Dems shouldn't expect to get access to those documents any time soon.

::::::::The Bush administration said yesterday that Democratic senators should not expect to get the documents they are seeking before they will allow an up-or-down vote on John R. Bolton, whom the president nominated to be ambassador to the United Nations.

"They have what they need," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "The Democratic and Republican leaders of the Intelligence Committee have had access to this sensitive, highly classified information. The Democrats clamoring for it have already voted against the nomination. This is about partisan politics."
::::::::

The Democrats are crying like they're being completely cut off from the information and that is not true. In fact, they've seen the redacted, declassified variants of the e-mails and communications intercepts they're asking for and they've not seen the classified variants because not every Democrat is cleared to see every classified document created by the government. As I explained before, there are levels of classification for all documents produced by the government. The highest baseline classification is Top Secret, or "TS". After that, information can be more restricted to just certain groups of people holding TS clearances. That's called "secure compartmentalized information" and it means that even though you may have a TS clearance, it's a matter of whether your job function requires access to that specific info that determines whether you get to see it. Now, here's the really critical part about this process and it's the part the Democrats want to obscure. When a person with a proper baseline clearance wants to see "SCI" information, it's the owner of the information that makes the call whether or not that person has a need to know, not the person wanting the information. That makes sense if you think about it for a minute. If a person without previous clearance to see classified info can force another to allow him access simply on his say-so, then the clearance process doesn't really work, does it? So, the owner of the information, in this case, is the State Department and the President. The Democrats don't like that, so they're blackmailing the President with a filibuster.

Either that, or they don't really need the information. They're delaying and using it as an excuse.

Zell Miller wrote in his book, "A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat" that the President should get his nominees passed. He said, "I went to Washington believing that a president should be able to select his own team and make out his own batting order." Miller thinks that it's undemocratic and un-American that a minority should overrule a majority, and I agree. The Democrats have stood there complaining that Bolton's not diplomatic enough, that he bullies people, and that he manipulated intel reports to prove his own points. They can prove none of this, but that's of no concern to them. They haven't been abe to bear the thought of the American people deciding - by majority rule, no less - that their ideas and stances on things aren't the way to go. That there's a better set of ideas across the aisle. In the face of a definitive majority decision against them, Ted Kennedy remarked that the Democrats really spoke for the majority of Americans anyway. They can't stand not being able to simply dictate the direction America is going, so they use every dirty trick in the book.

I hope the 7 Republican Senators who so happily signed away their responsibility to act like the majority party are paying attention. The Democrats cannot be trusted to live up to their word on the filibuster. Figure it out, ladies & gentlemen, before it's too late.

Japanese soldiers returning after 60 years

The Washington Times has a story up today about the buzz being generated in Japan over the reports that 2 of the soldiers may have been found after being separated from their unit during World War II.

::::::::Sixty years after the guns of World War II went silent, reports that two Japanese Imperial Army soldiers had been found in the mountains of the southern Philippines sent Japan's diplomats on a frantic mission yesterday to try to contact them.

The two men, in their 80s, reportedly have lived on the restive southern island of Mindanao since they were separated from their division, staying on for fear they would face court-martial if they returned to Japan.
::::::::

Stories of stranded Japanese soldiers came in after the island-hopping tactics of the American Pacific forces during WWII cut off both supplies and avenues of escape. Some of the soldiers honestly believed the war was still going on. In one case in 1974, a Japanese intel officer was discovered.

::::::::A few surrendered as late as 1948, then in March 1974, intelligence officer Lt. Hiroo Onoda came out of hiding on northern Lubang island. He refused to give up until the Japanese government flew in his former commander to formally inform him the war was over. ::::::::

Obviously, this case is very different in that the men are well aware the war is over. Japanese officials are trying to contact the men now and their discovery has prompted quite a bit of interest in the WWII veterans back home. I hope they can find a way to make this work and return the men to Japan if that is still their wish.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Another judge dispenses with the Constitution

I was catching up with my reading over on Captain's Quarters yesterday afternoon and saw Ed's write up on a story involving a judge in Indiana actually including in his orders regarding a divorce settlement that the parents of a 9-year old boy not teach their son about their religion. Yes, you read that right and, yes, I had to re-read it myself. From the story in the Indy Star:

::::::::An Indianapolis father is appealing a Marion County judge's unusual order that prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."

The parents practice Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion that emphasizes a balance in nature and reverence for the earth.

Cale J. Bradford, chief judge of the Marion Superior Court, kept the unusual provision in the couple's divorce decree last year over their fierce objections, court records show. The order does not define a mainstream religion.

Bradford refused to remove the provision after the 9-year-old boy's outraged parents, Thomas E. Jones Jr. and his ex-wife, Tammie U. Bristol, protested last fall.

Through a court spokeswoman, Bradford said Wednesday he could not discuss the pending legal dispute.
::::::::

The boy attends a Catholic school which isn't, contrary to popular opinon, restricted solely to Catholics. The education provided by Catholic schools is widely considered to be excellent and generally superior to public schools especially as regards the basics. The judge's problem is he thinks the parents don't understand the "level of confusion" the poor kid might suffer were he to go to a Catholic school by day and be subjected to such "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals" by his family. Well, that's nice, judge. Fortunately, the issue's already been addressed in a little document called The Constitution. Funny thing, that. The concept of the State (that's you, judge) being prohibited from dictating to the People (that's the parents, judge) what religion they get to follow and pass along to their children is clearly spelled out in concise, precise language that any moron with a modicum of english language skills should be able to process.

The judge's ruling is completely, totally unconstitutional in such a blatant way that it defies description how badly wrong it is. To say that it should be reversed is an understatement. I have no idea what the process is for smacking a judge upside the head, figuratively speaking, but this "judge" should be censured in as strong a manner as is possible under the law. To make such a ruling demonstrates such a complete disregard and carelessness with the application of the law that one wonders how such a man even got onto the Bar, let alone the Bench. Marion County, Indiana deserves better than this and, certainly, these parents who have had their rights stomped upon do, as well.

Virginia: Us, too, but not again.

There's been a few stories running around about how taxpayer dollars are being spent providing Viagra and other sexual potency medications to convicted sex offenders. Apparently, someone in Virginia decided to check and see if it was happening here, too. It was. Gov. Mark Warner also said that it wasn't going to happen again:

::::::::State officials say Medicaid paid for Viagra and other impotence drugs for 52 men registered as violent sex offenders in Virginia last year.

That's something Governor Mark Warner says can't happen again.

On Friday, the governor issued an emergency order that bars the state from paying for the drugs for those 52 men under the government program that helps the poor, elderly and disabled get drugs.

Patrick Finnerty -- director of the state's Department of Medical Assistance Services -- says the drugs for the 52 sex offenders cost nearly $3,100
::::::::

I agree with the sentiment that sex offenders shouldn't be getting prescription drugs to assist in their sex life. I'm glad to see the Governor taking such swift action to preclude it from recurring.

American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. not meeting gold standard

Did you know you can serve as a member of the American Armed Forces and not be a US Citizen? It's true and we have a number of men and women in uniform who aren't citizens here. When one of these soldiers is killed in action, our military treats them the same way when it comes time to lay them to rest - their citizenship status is no bar to a military funeral in a national cemetary.

So why is the American Gold Star Mothers, an organization composed of moms whose military children die in service, making this distinction?

::::::::Everyone agrees that Ligaya Lagman is a Gold Star mother, part of the long line of mournful women whose sons or daughters gave their lives for their country. Her 27-year-old son, Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Lagman, was killed last year in Afghanistan, but American Gold Star Mothers Inc., has rejected Lagman, a Filipino, for membership because — though a permanent resident and a taxpayer — she is not a U.S. citizen.

"There's nothing we can do because that's what our organization says: You have to be an American citizen," national President Ann Herd said Thursday. "We can't go changing the rules every time the wind blows."

That explanation isn't satisfying the war veterans who sponsored Lagman's application, some other members of the mothers' group or several members of Congress.
::::::::

I'm afraid that wouldn't satisfy me, either. I would think that if our military can allow for non-citizen members and qualify them for full burial honors that this group, designed to provide moral support to mothers who have lost their children in service to this country, could meet the same standard. Kind of reminds me of the stories of the VFW initially not accepting Vietnam vets. Come on, ladies. No one's asking for the rules to change "every time the wind blows." You're being asked to accept another mother of a US soldier. Surely there can't be so many of them as to be a problem for you, can there?

Quebec denies use of Islamic tribunals in disputes

Quebec, Canada has decided that allowing Islamic tribunals to settle family legal disputes there isn't a good idea:

::::::::Quebec on Thursday rejected the use of Islamic tribunals to settle family disputes, with one legislator saying that Sharia law could isolate the Muslim community in the French-speaking province.

The debate over Sharia law surfaced in Canada two years ago when a Muslim group in Ontario proposed the arbitration of family disputes according to Islamic law.

The Quebec legislature on Thursday passed a motion against allowing Sharia, or Islamic, law to be used in the legal system.

"The application of Sharia in Canada is part of a strategy to isolate the Muslim community, so it will submit to an archaic vision of Islam," said Fatima Houda-Pepin, a Liberal member of the legislature.
::::::::

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Quotes of the Week

Noted on The Drum and Cannon:

::::::::Quotes of the Week:

During the course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been leveled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are deeply to be regretted.... --Thomas Jefferson

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling, which thinks that nothing is worth war is worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature....-- John Stuart Mill

I have placed my life and the life of my fellow soldiers in danger in order to achieve a measure of the freedoms we enjoy at home for the Iraqi and Afghani people. The irresponsible journalism being practiced by organizations such as Newsweek, however, [is] just inexcusable. At this point, because of their actions and failure to follow up on a claim of that magnitude, they've set the process back in Afghanistan immensely. I don't regret serving my country, not one bit, but to have everything I'm doing here undermined by irresponsible journalists leaves me disgusted and disappointed. --an Army Sergeant on the Warfront with Jihadistan.
::::::::

Allawi confirms Saddam had contacts, provided support for Al-Qaeda

Noted from Captain's Quarters:

::::::::While Western press agencies continue to report years-old allegations of Qu'ran abuse from detainees as if they were new, the Exempt Media completely missed important corroboration from Iraq's new government that Saddam sheltered and even encouraged al-Qaeda terrorists during his reign of terror. CQ reader Jason Smith at Generation Why? notes this revelation from the Italian news portal AKI which confirms that Saddam's regime sponsored an Islamist conference and specifically invited AQ's #2 man and Zarqawi to attend:::::::::

What about a highly-placed former Iraqi government official confirming a linkage between his country's former regime and one of the worlds most notorious terrorist organizations isn't newsworthy? We get treated to one story after another about supposedly highly-placed former American government officials "confirming" reports about abuses that have already been reported years ago. Those stories contain nothing but anonymous sources that can't be independently validated reporting what terrorist detainees claim has occured. Those stories are considered newsworthy even though the terrorists' own training manuals - which are well-known by the MSM - contain instructions on making exactly the kind of claims that the stories are reporting. In spite of all that, the MSM finds those claims completely trustworthy and finds the Pentagon to be a bunch of liars.

But Iyad Allawi confirms a claim vigorously derided by the opponents of this Administration and loudly decried as unsubstantiated in the press and the MSM ignores it almost entirely. Bias is as much in what the MSM doesn't cover as it is in what they say. We're still a long way from a balanced news reporting environment, I'd say.

Hacker Hunters

Business Week has a fascinating article on law enforcement efforts at tracking down cybercrime. If you're a fellow techie, it's worth a read.

Possession of software an indicator of criminal intent?

In the landmark case SONY CORP. v. UNIVERSAL CITY STUDIOS, INC., 464 U.S. 417 (1984), the courts decided a case wherein Sony was being sued for damages by Universal Studios because they had made a machine - the Betamax video tape recorder - that allowed people to copy TV shows. Universal Studios considered that to be an infringement of their copyrights and sought to carve the money they'd "lost" out of Sony's hide. The decision, which was reversed on appeal and then reversed again, held that Sony could not be held liable because the machine they'd created had as many uses that were considered fair use as those that were alleged not to be. In other words, even though someone might use a Betamax to tape a copyrighted show and re-air or sell it, it was just as likely that a user would use the thing in his own home to tape shows he wanted to watch at a later time. Basically, the court ruled that mere possession of a Betamax did not automatically mean the user had the intent of performing a criminal act.

This same principle is true on a large number of items you might be in contact with on a daily basis. You may own a handgun and have no intention of holding up a gas station. You no doubt own a car. There's a high probability that you have no serious intention of running someone over with it. Think of all the things you've ever heard of that were used in the commission of a crime - from hand tools of all stripes to the telephone you use daily - that may be present in your home. Now what if you were accused of a specific crime and the mere fact that you had all of these items was used to prove you had criminal intent?

Consider the case of Minnesotan Ari David Levie. Levie was accused of taking illegal pictures of a 9-year-old and storing them on his computer. During his trial, the prosecution raised the fact that Levie's computer had a piece of software installed on it and that the presence of that software showed criminal intent.

:::::::: A Minnesota appeals court has ruled that the presence of encryption software on a computer may be viewed as evidence of criminal intent.

Ari David Levie, who was convicted of taking illegal photographs of a nude 9-year-old girl, argued on appeal that the PGP encryption utility on his computer was irrelevant and should not have been admitted as evidence during his trial. PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy and is sold by PGP Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif.

But the Minnesota appeals court ruled 3-0 that the trial judge was correct to let that information be used when handing down a guilty verdict.

"We find that evidence of appellant's Internet use and the existence of an encryption program on his computer was at least somewhat relevant to the state's case against him," Judge R.A. Randall wrote in an opinion dated May 3.
::::::::

Now, Levie's guilty and he should be considered so. He's a lowlife, no question. That's not the point here. There's been plenty of lowlives who own computers with all manner of software installed and the mere presence of that software hasn't been considered an issue at all. I personally use the software that's mentioned in there. As a contractor who works on items for the federal government, I make use of the software regularly to send e-mails that I'd prefer only the recipient read. That's the whole point of encryption. There are plenty of other people who use PGP and the open-source encryption package called "GPG" (yes, I know - those open source folks have a unique sense of humor) for e-mail communication and for protecting files because they want to protect the information contained within. That's what encryption is all about and always has been.

I don't approve of Mr. Levie and I damn sure think he should have been convicted if there was evidence to do so. But saying it was relevant that he simply had the software installed on his machine is a dangerous precedent that I don't think should stand.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Folding with a winning hand

I've tried writing about "the Deal" since the news of it came public Monday night. In the several attempts I've made, I usually have wound up either at a loss for words on how to explain what the hell these Republican Senators were thinking or edging close to calling for a recall vote in the States in question. John Warner's from my home state of Virginia and, up until this week, I've been generally OK with that. This time, however, the Senator has just gotten things dead wrong.

There's been much said about "the Deal" at a variety of places around the blogosphere and many of the authors are people I can't hold a candle to, so I won't try. The gentlemen at Power Line, Michelle Malkin, Ed over at Captain's Quarters, Bench Memos, and Red State Rant are all on record quite eloquently: "the Deal" is a huge win for the Democratic minority in the Senate and a big, ripping loss for the majority.

My issue with this deal is as simple as reading it aloud. The whole thing depends completely on the Democrats being fair and trustworthy in making a distinction between someone who has acted unethically vs someone who has acted in violation of their ideology. So far they've shown no ability or desire to make that judgement and if you think they've not done so with these appelate judges, you just wait until the Supreme Court seat opens up. This did nothing whatsoever to deal with the issue. These 14 Senators decided to co-opt the whole Senate and simply punt the issue into the future. Nice leadership, fella's. The majority in the Senate had a clear mandate from the majority of the electorate to break this deadlock and get the President's nominees an up-or-down vote. They hosed it. They had a winning hand at the table and they tossed the cards face down while the Democrats laughed in their faces.

Fair enough. I'll remember it. And while I can't do much about John McCain except dedicate every ounce of my political energy to seeing he never becomes President of the United States, I will be seeing your name at my local polling place, Senator Warner. And remember this week, I will.

"Extraordinary Circumstances"

Monday, May 23, 2005

Senate Republicans blink, roll over

Unbelievable.

:::::::: Averting a showdown, centrists from both parties reached agreement Monday night on a compromise that clears the way for confirmation votes on many of President Bush's stalled judicial nominees, leaves others in limbo and preserves venerable Senate filibuster rules.

"In a Senate that is increasingly polarized, the bipartisan center held," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman , D-Conn.

"The Senate is back in business," echoed Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of 14 senators who signed the two-page memorandum of agreement, which cited "mutual trust and confidence."

Under the terms, Democrats would agree to oppose any attempt to filibuster — and thus block final votes — on the confirmation of Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor. There is "no commitment to vote for or against" the filibuster against two other conservative nominees, Henry Saad and William Myers.

As for future nominees, the agreement said they should "only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances," with each Democrat senator holding the discretion to decide when those conditions had been met.
::::::::

It is just stupifyingly obvious that this is a hugely bad move for the Senate Republicans. The only question that needs to be asked to show that in livid detail is, "Who gets to determine what circumstances qualify as 'extraordinary circumstances'?" The answer is also patently obvious: the Democrats. And how does that differ from the situation we've been in for the past 2 years? It doesn't, that's how. Ladies & Gentlemen, we've been operating under an axiom in this country for longer than I've been alive regarding being held hostage. You don't make deals with hostage-takers. It does nothing but confirm for them that the tactic is a workable one and they will do it to you again. The Democrats are laughing their asses off over this and, frankly, I don't blame them. On the basis of nothing they've stared down a clear majority in the Senate and gotten away with it. Anyone who thinks they won't do this again the second that a conservative judge is put up for nomination as opposed to a liberal one is either drinking or just an idiot.

Anyone want to guess on when they'll decide to filibuster the next set of elections results they don't like? Remember, they have to approve them, right? So just imagine them doing this filibuster on that vote instead of a cloture to perform the up-or-down vote they're supposed to be elected to perform? We'd still be wrangling over the 2004 elections today.

I'm waiting for tomorrow to see if this "deal" actually works the way they've said, but I don't have much hope. I'm also going to be looking very closely at which Republicans signed off on this excuse for a "compromise". Very closely indeed.

Latest from Chrenkoff: Good news from Iraq

It's been a light blogging day due to illness but I can't let this one pass unremarked. Chrenkoff continues his excellent work in the 28th edition of Good News from Iraq. Chrenkoff has been nothing less than the balancing arm that American democracy depends on where the media's biased decision of what gets covered and what doesn't is concerned. He's an Aussie, too, which makes being thankful for him all the more important.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Movies to not watch while you're sick

Is it just luck or cosmic karma that every time I'm at home suffering from "flu-like symptoms", TNT is playing "Outbreak" with Dustin Hoffman and Cuba Hooding? You do not want to watch that show when you're feeling ill.

Santorum invokes the Nazi reference

It was a busy week, but I still don't know how I missed the comment by Rick Santorum comparing Democrats to Nazis, a comment for which he almost immediately apologied:

::::::::Santorum attacked Democrats on Thursday for saying Republicans would break Senate rules if they banned filibusters in Senate confirmation debates of judges nominated by Bush.

"The audacity of some members to stand up and say, 'How dare you break this rule,"' Santorum said in Thursday's Senate speech. "It's the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942 declaring," "'I'm in Paris. How dare you invade me. How dare you bomb my city. It's mine.
::::::::

OK, first, I understand that he's not calling Democrats "Nazis" at all. He used a simile to illustrate his point. The point that he so clumsily tried to make is that if Hilter were to have done such a thing, it would have been hypocritical of him considering that he was the one bombing the city just before. The fact that the Democrats have been the ones engineering the changes to Senate rules on filibustering and saying that the filibusters were horrid things makes them hypocritical now.

Fine. Got it. Was it necessary to use a Nazi reference to get that point across? No, not hardly. As I've mentioned already, the "how" involved in getting a point across is as important as the point. When you go out of your way to use language and imagery that is nearly guaranteed to offend your audience, you voluntarily neutralize the power of the point itself. The Democrats and the Left in this country have been doing this to the Republicans and the Right for over a year. Santorum has no excuse for not knowing this. His reference was purposely offensive and was rightly condemned.

I'm glad he apologied. Now, he needs to prove he's got the point by avoiding ever making that kind of reference again.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

17 years ago today

It was 17 years ago today that I waited at the end of the aisle while the woman of my dreams, my best friend, walked down to meet me, a radiant vision in white. We'd taken a while to get there, too: about 5½ years. It was worth the wait.

About 2 weeks ago I put a plan into motion to bring her parents into town so they could 1) visit with their daughter, who misses them, 2) visit with their granddaughter, who misses them, 3) visit with their son-in-law, who misses them, and - most important - 4) Keep the little monster busy while Daddy takes Mommy out to dinner somewhere we don't have to worry about what's on the kiddie menu. While my wife figured out pretty quickly something was going on, I managed to keep all of it under wraps until she answered the doorbell to find her father standing there smiling at her. Surprise! It worked out great and the little one was very, very surprised, too.

Do I sound smug? I am. Damn smug. I am da man. Yes, yes.

Dinner included a table for 2 - no more - wine, an entree that consisted of stuff my daughter would absolutely be grossed out by, and a slice of cheesecake so good it just has to be in violation of some local ordinance. The location was Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg, VA. If you've never gone there, make yourself a promise that you will. The food, the service, the ambiance - pick a reason to call the place great and get on over there. You won't be disappointed.

To my wife: I love you, hon. Here's to the future.

Sanctuary

Bill Whittle over at EjectEjectEject! has his latest essay up. This man's got the best writing I've seen in years and if you've never heard of him go get something to drink, find a comfy chair, and go have a look at his site. The essays are worth the time. The latest is Sanctuary. Insightful, as always.

Friday, May 20, 2005

More baseless accusations re: journalists being targeted

Eason Jordan tried to float this lead balloon and managed to so horribly foul both his and CNN's reputation that he walked away from his job rather than admit he was spewing on about journalists in the US military's crosshairs. You'd think that would be the end of a journalist making such claims with no proof. You'd be wrong.

::::::::Linda Foley, international president of the Newspaper Guild, has accused the U.S. military of targeting journalists for death "in places like Iraq."

A similar charge led CNN news chief Eason Jordan to resign his position earlier this year, after backing away from his words. Miss Foley's accusation also comes as Newsweek admits it erred in publishing a story that said U.S. interrogators at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had defiled the Koran.

"Journalists, by the way, are not just being targeted verbally or politically," Miss Foley said Friday in St. Louis. "They are also being targeted for real, in places like Iraq. What outrages me as a representative of journalists is that there is not more outrage about the number, and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq."

Mark E. Hyman, host of the Sinclair Broadcast Group's "The Point," said last night on his TV program: "These completely irresponsible remarks speak for themselves. Foley should immediately deliver evidence that supports her horrible allegations, or she should immediately resign as Newspaper Guild president."

Mr. Hyman added: "The question is whether Newspaper Guild members will hold Foley accountable, or will they give her a free pass in endangering American lives with inflammatory remarks without any proof?"
::::::::

Mr. Hyman is correct in his demand but I hope he's not holding his breath. Seems like the MSM these days pretty much feels they can say anything they like and expect to be taken at face value regardless of how ridiculous the charge. And proof? Pfah! We're the press, man, are you insane? As ever, the boys at Power Line are on this story and this time, they've got military support:

::::::::Major Eric E. serves with the Iraq Explosive Device Task Force at Camp Victory in Baghdad. He understandably takes Linda Foley's remarks regarding the American military targeting journalists rather personally. He has sent us a copy of his letter to the union over which she presides:

Dear Newspaper Guild:

As an American serving here in Iraq, and having previously served in Afganistan, I am deeply offended by Ms. Linda Foley's crystal clear allegation, made in a public forum to audience applause, that the U.S. military conducts targeted killings of foreign journalists in Iraq. Of course, she has no evidence. The U.S. military liberated these nations, and is providing security to facilitate the development of democratic governments that encourage constitutional freedoms, such as that of the press.

On the other hand, however, there is possible evidence that there are journalists, or people posing as journalists, who are actively supporting the insurgents and, therefore, their terrorist tactics. For example, there was recently a CBS journalist who was firing at U.S. troops. Interestingly, when he was first apprehended, many of the newspapers you represent breathlessly reported that the U.S. had wounded a CBS journalist. After a brief investigation that revealed the man's actual role in attacking U.S. troops, many of the same papers changed their decription to say only that it was a man who carried the credentials of a CBS journalist.
::::::::

Amazing how fast that story was covered over, isn't it? Foley should be providing her evidence or she needs to step up, admit she has no proof of this, that she has no direct knowledge of any such event as those she described, and apologize to the men and women in uniform. I say "should" because I know it won't happen. That takes professionalism, ethics, and a sense of honor this woman clearly lacks. One more reason the MSM is fast making themselves irrelevant.

Blood is, and should be, thicker than politics

Captain's Quarters has a post up about the recent radio interview ABC's Terry Moran on Hugh Hewitt's show. One of the surprises he dropped was that his brother runs the conservative blog Right Wing Nuthouse. The uglier surprise is that there are people out there wanting Rick Moran to rip his brother a new one in public. Rick's not going to be doing that. It's his brother and the people who can't get that politics don't supercede love of a family member are the ones with the problems.

I speak from experience. My brother runs the Bob James blog, recently retired. You'll note he and I have very different politics, but that's no matter. We disagree. He's still my brother. I still love him and miss him a great deal, living as far apart we do. Blood is thicker than politics, and it damn well should be.

UN Reform needs US money, but US reform ideas can stay home

If anyone's surprised by the UN Secretary General's office's take on the US withholding their dues money, they just haven't been paying attention these past several years. Kofi Annan's chief of staff, Mark Malloch Brown, warns that if the US withholds its funds, it will 1) cause any reforms to slow down or stop and 2) be viewed as the US acting alone again which is a label so horrible that the mere idea of it should be causing all Americans to wail in unison and nash our collective teeth!

::::::::U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's chief of staff yesterday acknowledged that scandals involving Iraq, peacekeeping and human rights have hurt the world body, but said any move to freeze or cut U.S. dues would set back the cause of reform.

"The option of withholding money immediately sets you off from all of your allies in this fight," Mark Malloch Brown, Mr. Annan's recently appointed chief of staff, told a House International Relations Committee hearing.

"It would be seen as the United States once again acting alone," he said.
::::::::

And the United States acting alone when it's the right thing to do is bad because...? And make no mistake, it'd be the right thing to do. The United Nations has, over the last decade, been nothing but a parade of corruption, ineptitude, and anti-American obstruction. The Oil-for-Food scam, which the UN's supporters would desperately love to ignore, is the poster child of corruption and graft. The people involved were siphoning money from the Iraqi people and handing it over to the dictator making their lives hell and to the governments in the United Nations who were doing everything they could think of to keep him there. All while voting with solemn faces to impose their resolutions that served only to keep the status quo and keep the money flowing into their pockets. And this is the organization we're supposed to feel bad about not giving more money to?

The protection-for-sex rackets carried out by troops that were supposed to be under UN control... well, what can you say about that? Imagine for a second that those troops were US troops. Can you imagine the earth-shaking howls for blood that would arise from the UN and the UN-apologist media? You just know they'd be screaming for George Bush to resign and leap off the top of the Washington Monument and take Don Rumsfeld with him. Listen to Mr. Brown's perspective on that issue:

::::::::The scandal over sexual exploitation and abuse by U.N. peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other deployments, he said, arose in part because the missions were put together "on the cheap." Developing countries contributed poorly trained and poorly led forces, and there were not enough military police and recreational facilities to keep the troops from misbehaving.

"For me, the United Nations is not oversized, over-resourced or undersupervised by its member states," Mr. Malloch Brown argued.

"From where I sit, the United Nations is currently stretched too thin ... to do the job that people and governments around the world want it to do — and have a right to expect it to do."
::::::::

No, Mr. Brown, the problem is the UN didn't give enough of a rat's ass to actually supervise the operation they implemented. It's that the current leadership in the UN - and the large majority of the membership that falls within that "developing country" status you mention - doesn't see anything wrong with soldiers extorting the local ladies for a roll in the sack. You don't have this kind of endemic problem with US, British, and Aussie troops, for example, because our countries do have a problem with that behavior and we've made sure to train our soldiers accordingly. And before anyone points out that the whole point he's trying to make is that those countries don't have the money to fix those problems, someone tell me how our constantly sending money to an organization that doesn't spend it to train soldiers will help that. Additionally, if the US is constantly called upon to subjugate its military to UN control, how will those developing countries ever get better at training their troops? Why should they devote any of their GDP to that end when the Americans will always be there to do the heavy lifting and pay for the bill?

Until the UN shows that it can seriously reform itself, I think the US is right to keep the option of withholding its money to avoid tossing funds down a hole.

Florida's Castle Law analysis

Earlier this month, I wrote about the newly-passed "Castle Law" in Florida. Eugene Volokh has an excellent analysis of that law up on his site and I recommend everyone go take a look at it regardless of your position on the matter, politically. Informed decisions require correct information and that's what Volokh is offering.

Hey, where do you think you're going to get the straight story? Newsweek?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Churchill's ancestry: jury still out?

My thanks to reader Jack Ott of The Drum and Cannon who writes me to check out the article he wrote on Ward Churchill's alleged Indian ancestry. Jack has some genealogist in his past (har de har - sorry, Jack, I couldn't resist!) and he's taken on the task of researching Ward Churchill's ancestry. The linked report he has is impressive and goes back literally over 350 years. His conclusion?

::::::::Of particular importance is the information that was found in historical census data wherein the entries for individuals included a statement of race and, in the case of early ninteenth century data, whether the individual was considered at that time to be a "free white". In no instances were there any of Churchill's ancestors who claimed to be anything but "white". My overall conclusion of this research is that the accumulated data can neither totally prove nor disprove Churchill's Indian heritage, but it does seriously limit the percentage of Indian ancestry that Churchill could claim. The only information that I came across that suggests a possible Indian lineage revolved around Churchill's great-great-great-great-grandfather, Joshua Tyner, who was born in Georgia shortly before the Revolutionary War. There is speculation that Joshua Tyner's father may have been a Cherokee Indian, but there is no proof of this. A questionable claim that Joshua Tyner was buried "Indian-style" in Illinois fuels this speculation, but the fact that he claimed to be "white" in all censuses in which he appeared leaves this question unanswered. If Joshua Tyner would be found to be 1/2 Indian, as some researchers suspect, this would result in Ward Churchill being just 1/128th Indian, far from the 1/16th or 1/32nd that he claims. There is no information that indicates that anyone else in his lineage would provide Cherokee or Creek heritage. The Churchill family itself resided for most of its existence in Connecticut and upper New York State, far from any Creek or Cherokee influence which was largely limited to the southeastern portion of the U.S.::::::::

(Emphasis mine.) Nicely done, Jack. This is well researched and, being an amateur (and very rusty) genealogist myself, I am confident he's got the census citations to back his research up. So there it is, kids. Even if you grant the assumption that he's got a many-greats-grandfather back there who was ½ Indian, it still puts Churchill off of his claims by at least 2 generations. Jack, however, is far kinder about the assumption that I am. You see, I firmly believe Ward Churchill already knew what Jack Ott's research has shown: that he's got no evidence of Indian heritage. He saw an opening to use the fact that most people (and university hiring boards) lack Jack's expertise on the matter, and built himself up a fake persona to get himself into academia where his merits wouldn't have allowed it. He traded on that false image to cash in where he could with speaking engagements and paintings he stole from other artists to create. He's a fraud and deserves to be kicked out of the halls of learning that he's stalked for too many years.

Ah, but is the jury still out or not? Jack's private expertise is genealogy, and apparently it's pretty extensive. Mine's logic, in the sense of human argumentation. So, in light of Jack's research, can I state unequivocally that Churchill's got no Indian blood? No. Clearly we don't know if his ancestor Joshua Tyner was ½ Indian, so we can't say with 100% surety that he wasn't. Reminds me of a joke, however...

A mathematician and an engineer were placed in a room against 1 wall, and a beautiful woman placed against the far wall. (Go with me here, girls, it's supposedly an old joke.) The men are told that for every minute they stay in the room, they can move halfway to the woman.

The mathematician says, "I'll never get there!"

The engineer says, "I'll get close enough."

So, after this research, can we say that's it's proven Churchill's no Indian? Maybe not. But it's close enough.

FCC orders that VoIP phones be able to access 911.

Reported on Fox, the FCC has issued a ruling that gives companies 120 days to confirm their systems allow all of their customers to access 911 from so-called "internet" phones. Voice over IP calling is gaining real strength, not the least of which reasons is the fact that it can seriously reduce the subscriber's monthly bill. That the carriers themselves have been using the technology within their own networks for several years is less well known.

As a network engineer with extensive experience with this technology, I'm more interested in how the companies are supposed to be able to tell immediately where the VoIP caller is currently located.

::::::::The Federal Communication Commission (search) gave companies 120 days to certify that their customers will be able to reach an emergency dispatcher when they call 911. Also, dispatchers must be able to tell where callers are located and the numbers from which they are calling.
...
But unlike traditional phones, which have a fixed address that a 911 operator can quickly call up, Internet phone service can be mobile. Someone with a laptop who signs up for service in Arizona, for example, may end up calling 911 for an emergency while on a trip to Boston.

Roughly half the nation's estimated 1.5 million VoIP users are served by cable television companies that already provide full-blown 911 capabilities because they only offer phone service to a fixed location.

The FCC's order requires companies that allow customers to use their Internet phones anywhere there is an Internet connection to provide the same emergency capability.

The order follow months of finger-pointing and bickering between VoIP carriers and the traditional local phone companies that own the network connections to the nation's nearly 6,200 "public safety answer points."
::::::::

Emphasis mine. That sentence is the real crux of the matter, especially when you start throwing in corporate laptop users who start using VoIP technology provided by their employer. For example, my laptop connects to any internet connection just fine. My procedure is to then activate the virtual private network (VPN) software on it and establish an encrypted link back to our headquarters in northern Virginia. Once established, my system has an IP address from within my company's system and acts, for all intents and purposes, as though it's connected to the wire at my desk. Now, once that's done, I can bring up the VoIP software and connect to my company's phone system. Let's say I do all this from my hotel room in San Francisco. Guess what happens if I call 911 at that point?

The call transits out to the local phone system and hits the 911 call center in northern Virginia. Not as useful as I might like, but there's no way for the local system in Virginia to know that I'm not there in the headquarters. You see, that's where the call originates, so far as they can see. So this is a real issue and it won't be handled by an FCC ruling alone. I'm interested in how they plan to handle this.

Churchill: "I am too an American Indian!"

A couple of days ago I wrote about Ward Churchill's attempts to counter the mounting wave of evidence that he's a lying fake who's built a career parading around as something he's not and stealing the work of others to cover the lie. In it, I mentioned his lawyer's pathetic display of Churchill's membership card in the Keetoowah Cherokee band, a document that the tribe has repeated said was an associate membership handed out to anyone who applied. Yesterday, the tribe said - again - that he's got no Cherokee ancestry.

::::::::An Oklahoma Indian tribe said Wednesday embattled University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, whose claim of Indian heritage is under investigation, "could not prove any Cherokee ancestry."

In a statement on its Web site, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians said it gave Churchill an "honorary associate membership" because he promised to write a tribal history.

Churchill, a tenured professor of ethnic studies who could lose his job over allegations he lied about his ancestry and plagiarized others' work, said Wednesday the tribe's statements are false.

In an e-mail to The Associated Press, Churchill said the United Keetowahs' membership committee twice confirmed he has Cherokee ancestors before he was made an associate member, and that he was given a tribal roll number, R7627.

According to Churchill, tribal officials told him an associate membership was not honorary and that it required Cherokee ancestry. He said the tribe has a right to disenroll him or ask him to resign, but that it hasn't done so.
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A "roll number"? That's his proof? Hey, I've got a roll number and a membership card showing I'm a retired Sergeant of House Marik in the Free Worlds League, but I don't think the VA's going to be handing me benefits over it any time soon. A membership card isn't evidence, especially considering the repeated statements by the tribe who issued the card. And who am I to believe, in any case? A tribal leadership who's not lied to me before? Or a man who steals other's work and says it's his own?

Don't take my word for it, and feel free to check out the proof of Churchill's plagiarism with your own eyes. The story about the painting he - ahem - "appropriated" is right here on Denver's News 4 site. Have a look at these:

Painting sold as original work by Ward Churchill | Original by Thomas Mails

The painting on the right is by Thomas E. Mails, who died in 2001. The one on the left is the piece sold by Ward Churchill as original work. You don't need to be an art scholar to know Churchill ripped off Thomas Mails. That's plagiarism, folks, and Churchill knows it. That's why he tried to punch out the reporter who went to ask him about it.

Churchill is a fraud who gleefully slandered nearly 3000 innocent victims of a horrific attack in order to generate attention that he can't muster on his own merits. Some will say we should just ignore him. That tactic doesn't work with my 4-year-old and I'm guessing it won't be sufficient with someone who acts like a 4-year-old, either. Besides, the people he maligned deserve better.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Washington Times gains subscribers

Interesting. In a time period that's seen losses - sometime huges losses - in subscriber bases for major newspapers, the Washington Times is reporting an increase. Funny how the Washington Post has seen a decrease of 2.7% in the same period that the Times saw an increase of nearly 3%. I'm sure there's all kinds of marketing reasons being reported but I think more people are getting fed up with a newspaper who sees its job as constantly trying to paint the current Administration in as bad a light as possible. I want the news without the constant leftward bias and the Times give you that. I know liberals who dismiss the paper as a right-wing rag. I'll counter than by saying it only looks right-wing when all you have to compare it with is left-wing rags. Looks like more of my fellow Washington-area residents agree.

Newsweek and root causes

Since Sunday I've written a few times about the Newsweek screw-up and I've generally meant every word of it. For those who haven't picked up on it and also haven't e-mailed me already, let me clarify that the "Newsweek lied and people died" commentary is satire. I have no more proof that Newsweek actually lied in telling their story than the Left has that President Bush lied in the lead up to the war in Iraq. That is, in fact, my point in making the comment so I don't want people fixating on that part of my overall commentary on Newsweek.

I was re-reading some of my earlier posts in preparation for future ones and I realized that while I've explicitly taken Newsweek to task over its shoddy journalism, I haven't been so up front about where the blame lies for the deaths caused in the riots sparked by Newsweek's fairy tale. Remember, what makes this whole affair so damned serious is that real people really died in riots that wouldn't have happened but for Newsweek's blind rush to slander our military and the President. (Ed: Would they really not have happened at all? I wonder. More on that later.)

The blame for those deaths is squarely, completely, totally on the militant Islamics who are so desperately out of touch with reality that they think that the mere thought of someone theoretically dropping a Koran into a toilet is sufficient excuse to extinguish another person's life. Should they have been angry, if such an event had actually occured? Maybe. I'd certainly given them the benefit of the doubt. However, when Palestinians took over the Church of the Nativity they used the Bible as toilet paper. They held priests hostage at gunpoint in one of the most holy places in Christendom and stole consecrated items from the Church. Condemnation there was, yes. Riots? No. No large groups of Christians formed angry mobs in Rome or Boston or Brazil and demanded that the Palestinians hand over those responsible in a few days or all Muslims would suffer. No one thousands of miles away was killed over it. And this was over an event that absolutely took place and which no one in the Muslim world denies the proof of.

Christians aren't happy when non-believers damage their places of worship or show blatant disrespect - contempt, even - for those things and concepts we hold dear, religiously. But while a bible mass-produced by some printhouse somewhere contains the word of God, it's not THE word of God. It's a book. It shouldn't be used for toilet paper, not unless the person doing so is trying to be an ass. But if they do anyway, it certainly not something I need to hurt anyone over, much less kill. The reactions the militant Muslims took were way, way out of line as a response to the incident described by Newsweek and even less justified now that it's been shown to have been fiction to begin with. That doesn't absolve Newsweek from their utter failure to comport themselves with care and professionalism at all. But the blame for the deaths themselves goes somewhere other than Newsweek's editoral address.

Good Question: Whose side are they on? Updated!

Update: You should read the article at Winds of Change on Newsweek's diastrous handling of this whole sorry event.

I've been taking special care to note the media's reactions to the Newsweek bogus report and perfunctory "apology." To say that the MSM is thrashing around looking for people to blame - and usually landing on the Administration and the military - is an understatement. Via Power Line, I found The New Criteron where Roger Kimball raises the obvious question: whose side is the media on?

::::::::But supposing there was a Private Lamebrain who did flush a Koran or two down the toilet. And suppose Newsweek got wind of it. Should they publish the story? Let me quote from Denis Praeger again:

"If an American interrogator of Japanese prisoners desecrated the most sacred Japanese symbols during World War II, it is inconceivable that any American media would have published this information. While American news media were just as interested in scoops in 1944 as they are now, they also had a belief that when America was at war, publishing information injurious to America and especially to its troops was unthinkable. "

Unthinkable. Why? Because the press then was on our side. Whose side are they on now? I wonder.
::::::::

Kimball gets to this point as a result of the press's dismall performance at the White House Press conference yesterday where the "journalists" present sought to make a huge issue that the White House would like Newsweek to do what it can to repair the damage they caused with their rabid rush to get a story published that was critical of our government and military at the expense of the the truth. They kept trying to make a "Bush is trying to dictate to the media" point in hopes that they could all start screaming about that rather than on the incredible foul-up of one of their own.

:::::::: Q: With respect, who made you the editor of Newsweek? Do you think it’s appropriate for you, at that podium, speaking with the authority of the President of the United States, to tell an American magazine what they should print?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not telling them. I’m saying that we would encourage them to help --

Q: You’re pressuring them.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I’m saying that we would encourage them --

Q: It’s not pressure?

MR. McCLELLAN: Look, this report caused serious damage to the image of the United States abroad. And Newsweek has said that they got it wrong. I think Newsweek recognizes the responsibility they have. We appreciate the step that they took by retracting the story. Now we would encourage them to move forward and do all that they can to help repair the damage that has been done by this report. And that’s all I’m saying. But, no, you’re absolutely right, it’s not my position to get into telling people what they can and cannot report.

...

Q: Are you asking them to write a story about how great the American military is; is that what you’re saying here?

MR. McCLELLAN: Elisabeth, let me finish my sentence. Our military --

Q: You’ve already said what you’re -- I know what -- how it ends.
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You see, the media already has the story in place. Mr. McClellan's just not reading the lines they've written for his part. Personally, I'd have leveled a finger at this so-called journalist who can't keep her mouth shut long enough to actually hear the events she's alleging to report on and said, "Hell, yes, I want them to write a story." I'd want them to write a story because that's what Newsweek supposedly does for a living. I want them to write a story that was as prominient as the one they wrote spewing unsupported bullshit. I want them to get in there and get that flashlight-up-someone's-arse approach to investigative reportings and figure out how this kind of thing happened in the first place. Oh, and I want them to write a story that says what we now know: that no such event as what they described happened.

I imagine that's something Newsweek considers "not newsworthy."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Churchill firing up his spin machine

Right on cue, Ward Churchill responds to the investigatory board looking into the allegations of plagiarism and lying about his Indian heritage.

::::::::A University of Colorado professor facing possible dismissal after being accused of plagiarism and lying about his American Indian heritage denied those charges Monday and submitted a lengthy report to a committee investigating his actions.

Ward Churchill, who first came under fire for an essay comparing Sept. 11 victims to the Nazi bureaucrat who planned the Holocaust, offered a 50-page, single-spaced report to a university committee investigating the allegations.

His lawyer, David Lane, said Churchill also submitted his tribal membership card showing he is an associate member of the Keetoowah Cherokee band. Lane said Churchill's membership was based on an investigation by a tribal genealogist.

"Permeating the entire response is 'Look, this is motivated by my First Amendment rights being trampled on. For me to even have to answer this is a denial of my First Amendment rights, but since you asked, here is my answer,"' Lane quoted Churchill as saying.
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I wonder if Professor De George has seen this. I'm not sure of even where to start. How about the easy one first? Churchill's lawyer hauls out that thoroughly debunked membership card again showing he's an associate member of a tribe that has completely denied he's one of theirs.

::::::::The United Keetoowah Band Cherokee says University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill is not a member of their tribe.

"He's not in the database at all and is not a member of the Keetoowah," said Georgia Mauldin, the tribal clerk in Tahlequah, Okla.

In his books and articles, Churchill has described himself as a member of the Keetoowah Cherokee tribe in Oklahoma. In past interviews, he's claimed to be one-sixteenth Cherokee.

But the Keetoowah say that's not true.
::::::::

The "professor" signed up for an associate membership under a program initiated by a past chairman that allowed anyone who wanted to sign up to get such a card. The program was terminated and all those who signed up were disenrolled. They were disenrolled because they weren't part of the tribe, so to use this as proof of one's heritage is laughable on its face. It's so easy to find references to the tribe's denial of Churchill's claims that it boggles the mind he and his lawyer would think simply repeating the claim would serve as proof to anyone. Yet there he is, making the same refuted claim that's landed him in trouble in the first place.

Then there's the reference to his First Amendment rights. This is the finest display of the arrogance of academia I've found to date. To even question what some tenured hack has to say is a denial of his First Amendment rights? To tell someone that, if he wants anyone to believe him, he has to offer proof is to be considered a violation of his Constitutional rights? Churchill's got another problem, apparently: megalomania. For him to actually believe this, he's got to be really nuts. He thinks that whatever he says must be held completely without question as true in the minds of all who hear him. Nice work, if you can get it.

It's a good thing Churchill's not a professor of law. Perhaps his lawyer can read him the First Amendment and explain to him that it contains the right to speak freely, not the right to be free from challenge when you say something stupid.

I also found it telling what his lawyer told the press about the plagiarism charges:

::::::::In his response to the plagiarism allegations, Lane said Churchill in one instance simply took articles written by other people and put them together for a chapter of one book, which Churchill did not take credit for.::::::::

"One instance?" There's been more than one, pal, and the one most recently aired was a painting, not a chapter in a book. Care to explain that one? Churchill's a thieving plagiarist and anyone with a set of working eyes can see that. I understand that his lawyer's paid to pronounce him innocent but its going to take more than a narrow reference to the charges and a bogus membership card to convince any other thinking adult.