Monday, October 31, 2005

Are they getting it, at long last? Terrorists murder 20 in Iraq

I checked the news when I got home tonite and was floored by the story on Fox's front page about a car bomb going off in Basra, Iraq. You can't go a stretch of 3 days in a row without hearing something like that trumpted all over the news but the jaw-dropping part of this is the headline of the story: "Terrorists Murder 20 in Iraq." The story is from the AP so the meat of the story doesn't match the clarity of the headline, but it's telling that the event warranted this kind of headline from an editor who's apparently had enough of not calling it like it is.

This attack isn't going to win the terrorists any friends. Not only was it targeted at Iraqi citizens, not Coalition troops, it was placed at a busy street full of shops and restaurants and timed to go off right as everyone was enjoying their breaking of the Ramadan fast for the day. 20 dead, at least 40 wounded and not an infidel in sight. Unless you count all those "other" Muslims that don't quite meet Al Qaeda's standards. We're going to see more of this as we approach the 15 December elections.

And now for something truly different...

For those of us who feel like our judicial system has gone to the dogs, I can only provide as a perspective reset this story carried on the BBC message boards. I have never had to wonder - until now - about how a judge must feel about having to enter certain... events... into the official record. Ladies & gentlemen, I give you Judge Alistair McCallum of West Yorkshire:

::::::::"Never before in my time at the bar or on the bench have I ever had to deal with somebody who voluntarily allowed himself to be buggered by a dog on the public highway. Frankly it is beyond most of our comprehension. It is an absolutely disgusting thing for members of the public to have to witness."::::::::

Read it all if you dare...

Bush to nominate 3rd Circuit Judge Samuel Alito to SCOTUS

Fox (among others) is reporting that President Bush will nominate 3rd Circuit Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court today. By default, he's got a characteristic that alleviates my concern over Harriet Miers: he's got experience. The next several days will show whether the White House has learned to properly vet a candidate again and the blogosphere will go over the guy's past rulings, I'm sure.

What also remains to be seen is whether the Senate Republicans will begin to act as though they have a majority there and take care of the coming filibuster like they should have months ago. We shall wee.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Muslim youths are rioting in Paris. Have you heard?

Not that you'd know too much about it if you're getting your news primarily from the MSM, but there's been 3 nights of rioting in Paris by scores of Muslim youths. Why are they rioting? Because 3 idiots decided to run from police and, in the process, climbed into an electric transformer station where 2 of them were electrocuted to death. The local Muslim crowd apparently thinks that's the fault of the police and have spent the last 3 nights attacking police stations, setting cars on fire, and trashing local businesses.

Because 3 of their number decided to run from the cops.

And get this: the cops weren't even chasing them. So, in the final analysis, these idiots were running from shadows and they ran into a place marked with huge warning signs that hopping in there might be hazardous to their heath. The Yahoo story is trying to put as peaceful a picture as it can on the riots but they are, after all, riots. Good luck finding anything about it on the supposedly "mainsteam" news sources...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

President signs the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act

Finally, it's done. The President has signed into law the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act making it impermissiable to sue the manufacturer of a gun for criminal behavior of third parties. It's been too long but it's finally done.

:::::::: President George W. Bush today signed into law the National Rifle Association (NRA)-backed "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" (S. 397) ending politically motivated lawsuits designed to bankrupt law-abiding American firearm manufacturers and retailers. S. 397 passed both chambers in Congress with broad bipartisan support.

"This is an historic day for freedom. I would like to thank President Bush for signing the most significant piece of pro-gun legislation in twenty years into law. History will show that this law helped save the American firearms industry from collapse under the burden of these ruinous and politically motivated lawsuits," said Wayne LaPierre, NRA’s executive vice president.

In late July, the Senate approved the measure 65-31. Last week, the House overwhelmingly passed the bill 283-144. The "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" was NRA's number one legislative priority and a monumental victory for the Association and its members.

"What we witness today is the culmination of a seven-year effort that included a comprehensive legislative and election strategy," stated Chris W. Cox, NRA’s chief lobbyist. "We worked hard to change the political landscape to pass this landmark legislation. As always, our members were up for the task. Key electoral victories in 2000, 2002 and 2004 helped pave passage of this law.
::::::::

Gun control advocates have already said they're going to challenge the law in court - activist judges, anyone? - but they don't have much of a leg to stand on. As has been reported over and over and over, the Act does not prohibit lawsuits in the case of negligence or criminal behavior on the part of the manufacturer or dealer, so it's not like someone wronged by the gun maker directly can't have his day in court.

Regardless, I consider this to be excellent news. Congrats to us all!

Schoolgirls beheaded

Gee, I wonder who's responsible for this.

::::::::JAKARTA, Indonesia — Unidentified assailants attacked a group of high school girls on Saturday in Indonesia's tense province of Central Sulawesi, beheading three and seriously wounding a fourth, police said.

The students from a private Christian high school were ambushed while walking through a cocoa plantation in Poso Kota subdistrict on their way to class, police Maj. Riky Naldo said. The rural area is close to the provincial capital of Poso, about 1,000 miles northeast of the Indonesian capital Jakarta.

He said the heads of the three dead girls were found several miles from their bodies.
::::::::

Yes, that's right: these little Christian schoolgirls are such a threat to the local Muslim fanatics that they need to have their heads sawed off.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Miers withdraws from nomination

Quick hit here: I note that Harriet Miers has withdrawn her name from the Supreme Court nomination. I'm sure that's going to make lots of my conservative bretheren both happy and unhappy. Hugh Hewitt will be one of those unhappy souls and will likely start making comments that those of us who weren't happy with the nomination have damaged the conservative movement. I respect his opinion but I cannot agree with his sentiment.

Bottom line: it's over and done and I would like to see the President nominate someone with some experience for this highest of court offices. I would like that individual to have a record of supporting the concept that the Supreme Court makes its rulings on the basis of the Constitution - not from other nation's legal rulings. I'd like to see someone on the bench who's appalled by the Kelo decision and thinks that state-funded institutions shouldn't be allowed to discriminate by race. I don't know who that might be, yet, but I'm watching this with interest.

And speaking of yet more doctored photos...

This in from Little Green Footballs, a Seattle college has invited noted plagiarist, indian-impersonator, and all round nutcase Ward Churchill to speak on campus. When they put up one of his promo pics to promote the event, however, their platform pillar of anti-gun sentiment just couldn't allow them to leave Ward's gun in the picture. Go have a look, if you dare.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

USAToday responds

Earlier today I wrote about a photo that appeared at USAToday's web site as part of a story on Condi Rice. The image was doctored and resulted in a very harsh, frankly evil-looking visage of Condi. Go ahead and have a look if you haven't already done so and you'll see what I mean. Attached to that post was a comment from someone I'm pretty sure isn't a regular reader: Kinsey Wilson, VP/Editor in Chief of USAToday.com. First, please let me extend my regards since, as I mentioned, we don't see much of the MSM around here. Secondly, I feel the reply is important enough to warrant posting it up front in a post of its own. So, without further ado, here's the response from USAToday:

::::::::I’d like to explain how that happened. USATODAY.com, like other news organizations, often adjusts photos for sharpness and brightness to optimize their appearance when published online. In this case, a USATODAY.com editor sharpened the photo and then brightened a portion of Rice's face. Those changes had the effect of distorting the photo and failed to meet our editorial standards for accuracy and integrity. The photo has been replaced with a properly adjusted copy and an editor's note has been published here: http://www.usatoday.com/news/was...- congress_x.htm. The photo did not appear in the USA TODAY newspaper.

The editors of USATODAY.com will make every effort to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again.

Kinsey Wilson
VP/Editor-in-Chief
USATODAY.com
::::::::

(Note: the text for the link in the comment was, for some reason, shortened but the link itself works fine.) If you follow the link given, you'll see that the photo has, indeed, been replaced and this note added to the top of the story:

::::::::Editor's note: The photo of Condoleezza Rice that originally accompanied this story was altered in a manner that did not meet USA TODAY's editorial standards. The photo has been replaced by a properly adjusted copy. Photos published online are routinely cropped for size and adjusted for brightness and sharpness to optimize their appearance. In this case, after sharpening the photo for clarity, the editor brightened a portion of Rice's face, giving her eyes an unnatural appearance. This resulted in a distortion of the original not in keeping with our editorial standards.::::::::

OK, let's give credit where credit is due. Notified of a problem with their on-line presence, the Editor in Chief 1) fixed the problem and 2) noted that he had fixed the problem rather than just change it without comment like nothing had happened. This is the kind of behavior we expect from the best of the blogs out here in the blogosphere and it's good to see the practice followed at USAToday. Kudos, folks.

However, I would like to address this note to Kinsey Wilson in specific. Check out the 2 photos I linked here on my blog and ask yourself something. Does any part of Condi Rice's face aside from just her eyes appear to have been brightened in any way in the edited photo when compared to the unedited one? Check out the color of her cheeks, her eyebrows, the bridge of her nose. I'm no graphic artist, not by a longshot. (May I recommend Charles Johnson over at Little Green Footballs?) I cannot detect any alteration of color or brightness in any other part of Ms. Rice's face in the edited photo. If the explanation being given to Wilson from the staff at USAToday.com is that "a portion" of Rice's face aside from the whites of her eyes was innocently brightened, then I would submit to Wilson that perhaps some more digging is in order to verify that the middle management is passing along the whole, unedited truth. I appreciate the explanation and, again, I applaud the actions of the editor in both the comment here and at USAToday.com, but I'm having a hard time swallowing that someone airbrushing a photo without the intent I allege in my previous post would produce the photo displayed. Just my 2 cents.

Iranian Prez Ahmadinejad: Wipe Israel from the map

Oh, come on. Tell us how you really feel:

::::::::Iran's hard-line president called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and said a new wave of Palestinian attacks will destroy the Jewish state, state-run media reported Wednesday.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also denounced attempts to recognize Israel or normalize relations with it.

"There is no doubt that the new wave (of attacks) in Palestine will wipe off this stigma (Israel) from the face of the Islamic world," Ahmadinejad told students Wednesday during a Tehran conference called "The World without Zionism."

"Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury, any (Islamic leader) who recognizes the Zionist regime means he is acknowledging the surrender and defeat of the Islamic world," Ahmadinejad said.
::::::::

And there you have it, folks. This man is not willing, under any circumstances, to allow peaceful coexistence to form or thrive. He's got the funding and resources of a nation at his beck and call and, I might add, he absolutely is striving as hard as he can to deploy nukes. And not just for him, but for every Islamic country on Earth. You think he's being poetic when he talks of his enemies burning? Guess again.

So I'd like to ask the "not in my name" crowd what they recommend our strategy be now. Considering that a powerful leader of a theocracy has called for one of our allies to be destroyed completely, how should we now proceed? I'd love to hear that answer...

USAToday manipulates image of Condi

From Michelle Malkin I found this pretty interesting stuff over on FromThePen. Seems USAToday has decided they want you to see Condi Rice as a menacing, inhuman figure. So when they published her picture, they manipulated parts of it. Specifically, the eyes. Here's from USAToday:


And here's what the picture actually looked like, courtesy of Yahoo! Espana:


You see what I mean. The folks over at FromThePen have this to say:

::::::::You guessed it. The USA Today version on the right was deliberately altered to make Condi Rice look more menacing. Notice how the whites of the eyes are highlighted to make her BLACK eyes look BLACKER and HATEFUL. The doctored photo is here on USA Today's site (they'll probably take it down with some heat). You have to look overseas here to see an unbiased version. Under the heat of protest, will USA Today apologize? Or, don't they care about racism when directed at "house Niggas" like Condi? Rathergate, OJgate, now Condigate! What will the MSM think of next?::::::::

They're right. The image was doctored and it wasn't for clarity, either. They need to make Condi Rice look mean, untrustworthy, and literally inhuman if they can. The really fascinating part about this is that they think they can get away with it online in this day and age. On top of that, their image of Condi just looked wrong, even to such an untrained eye as mine.

Nice going, USAToday. We'll put you up for a Rather/Mapes award.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Breaking: Iraqi Constitutional Referendum passes - Updated Twice

No story yet but Fox News' web site is showing a splash headline that the Iraqi referendum on their Constitution has passed. More to come as I get it.

Update: I was away from my computer pretty much all day yesterday but I wanted to link in with the stories on the referendum. The AP story I've linked is interesting in itself. For being a story on the passage of the Iraqi Constitutional referendum, it tells you literally nothing more than that it passed until the bottom 5 or so paragraphs. Since that's what this post is actually about, I'll quote the relevant parts of the story and leave the extraneous, Bush-bashing prose for another post.

::::::::The vote on the constitution was 78.59 percent for ratification and 21.41 percent against, the commission said. The charter required a simple majority nationwide with the provision that if two-thirds of the voters in any three provinces rejected it, the constitution would be defeated.

The election commission said the predominantly Sunni province of Ninevah had produced a "no" vote of 55 percent. Only two other mostly Sunni provinces — Salahuddin and Anbar — had voted no by two-thirds or more. Ninevah had been a focus of fraud allegations since preliminary results had showed a large majority of voters had approved the constitution, despite a large Sunni Arab population there.

Many Kurds and majority Shiites strongly support the constitution, but Sunni Arabs fear it will create two virtually autonomous and oil-rich mini-states of Kurds in the north and Sunnis in the south, while leaving many Sunnis isolated in poor central and western regions with a weak central government in Baghdad.

Some 9.8 million Iraqis cast ballots, or 63 percent of registered voters. About 60 percent turned out for January's legislative vote, which was boycotted by many Sunni Arabs.
::::::::

So, we have a democratic referendum that saw participation greater than the January elections, not less than. The 63% participation figure is a respectable turnout in anyone's book - certainly no American can complain about it being too small. The vote to pass it was 78% (I'll give the AP the .59% they quote - they appear to be in pain over the numbers.) That's also a respectable number and higher than most votes for passages I've seen around here for a while. Where many have said that democracy simply cannot work, we have yet another example where it's not just working, but working well under conditions that many people wouldn't even think of voting in. Clearly, these Iraqis want it bad. And that, my friends, is good.

Update Again: Here's what a story on the topic looks like when the main point is to tell the story about the referendum, rather than trying to throw as much negative reporting as possible up as a screen against saying anything positive about it.

::::::::Final referendum results show Iraqis emphatically approved a new constitution, putting their country on a firm democratic footing and setting the stage for crucial legislative elections in just seven weeks, officials said yesterday.

"This opens a new page for a better future for Iraq," said President Jalal Talabani's chief spokesman, upon hearing the results.

"It is a very important step in the formation of a final democratic, united Iraq, and is the path for a more politically stable Iraq," said Kameron Karadaghi.

Mr. Talabani was in the Kurdish north when the results were announced and was headed back to Baghdad yesterday evening.

The political milestone, while welcome, has yet to make a difference at the street level, where bombs and gunfire attacks helped push the U.S. military death toll in 2? years of fighting to 2,000 and left few Iraqis in a mood to celebrate.

In Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi military foot patrols conducted house-to-house searches yesterday in the wake of three suicide bomb attacks a day earlier aimed at hotels popular with expatriates.

News reports in Iraq and the region were generally matter-of-fact about the approval of the Oct. 15 referendum, and most noted charges of fraud from some Sunni leaders.But an American defense consultant who spent all of 2004 in Fallujah, arguably the most dangerous city in Iraq, contrasted the price paid by U.S. forces in the country with what is being achieved.

"It is important that the American people understand that the U.S. military presence has made a difference in these people's lives," said the consultant, who asked that his name not be used for security reasons.

Approval of the constitution was an extremely important step, but not the final one, he said. "We can't just bail out. The democratic process that the document has put in place in time will be worth the cost to our nation."

Altogether, 78 percent of voters supported the charter and 21 percent voted against it, with voting breaking down largely on ethnic lines. "Yes" votes ran as high as 99 percent in exclusively Kurdish and Shi'ite provinces, while in Anbar province, a Sunni stronghold, the vote was 97 percent "no."
::::::::

Rest in Peace Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks, a name synonymous with the Civil Rights movement, has passed away. She was 92. Rest in peace, ma'am. You have surely earned it.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Kerry/Edwards 2004? Get over it.

As I was driving to the office today I got out onto the highway and found myself directly behind a brand new Honda Pilot. It had a temp tag on it. It was quite obviously new judging from the car's finish and the still-shiny paint on the undercarriage. It wasn't even dirty. This sucker had just rolled off the lot in the last 2 weeks, it's plain as day. And there, plastered up midway on the tailgate, on the driver's side, was a Kerry/Edwards 2004 campaign sticker, proudly displayed as though that contest hadn't been conclusively decided almost a year ago.

Get. Over. It.

In the few weeks immediately following the election, there were still Kerry stickers all over the place, but that was understandable. Sad, really, but understandable. Many of our fellow Americans had backed the losing horse in the race and that realization wasn't easy for some of them. It was fine to cut them a break for a bit.

But then came the other stickers. "Don't blame me, I voted for Kerry!" "Bush Re-elected. Four more wars!" "He's not MY President!" There were lots of little whitty sayings and such but that last one really made me wonder just what some of these people were ingesting. Check the Constitution, folks. He was duly elected, and by a true majority, I might add. He is, in fact, the President of the United States of America and that makes him the President for all Americans, whether you voted for him or not. That some people, allegedly adults, would fold their arms, turn up their noses, stamp their feet and effectively say, "Is not!" only shows them to be the sulky, immature brats they are. Those of us who had approached the election and the consequences of that decision more seriously could be forgiven for thinking that a few weeks or a couple of months later we would see the end of this kind of behavior and have our fellow citizens join in with the real work and decision making processes.

Wrong.

So, fine, I'm throwing my hands up at these people. To go to the trouble of mounting a clearly new Kerry sticker on a clearly new car with just a couple of weeks to go before a full year after the election was done is more than sad. It's pathetic. And the loser who did it is every bit as pathetic. Kerry lost. It's a fact and it's history. These people should have done their little grieving bit and groused about it for a few weeks. Then, like adults, they should have accepted that the majority of the democracy they live in and derive all manner of benefit from membership with has decided this issue. Unlike a law prohibiting alcohol, the election of the President isn't open to debate after its done, barring illegal actions on the part of the man elected. The fact that a citizen doesn't agree with the results of the election is immaterial to the results and that man elected is free to move ahead to lead as he promised he would. The Kerry sticker crowd doesn't get that. They don't get it because they don't want to get it and that's the action of a child, not an adult. Whatever - I'm through doing anything but calling this immaturity what it is. I get it. I've gotten it for almost a year. They don't like that the majority of their fellow citizens looked at their perspective on things and found it wanting.

Tough shit. Get over it.

FoxNews.com new look?

Into every system admin's life a little "oops" must fall. When trying to pull up the news today, I get this:

function qas_errHandler() {
return true;
}
window.onerror = qas_errHandler;

function qas_appendParam(n,v) {
var w = window;
if (v && !(v === 'undefined')) w.srcUrl += ('&' + n + '=' + v);
}

function qas_appendAttr(n,v) {
var w = window;
if (v && !(v === 'undefined')) w.wFrmStr += (' ' + n + '="' + v + '"');
}

function qas_writeAdIFrame() {
var w = window;
var jspServ = w.adsonar_jv;
w.srcUrl = 'http://' + jspServ +'/adserving/getAds.jsp?';
w.wFrmStr = '';
var wrand = Math.round(Math.random() * 1000000);
qas_appendAttr('name',('adsonar_serve' + wrand));
qas_appendAttr('id',('adsonar_serve' + wrand));
qas_appendAttr('scrolling','no');
qas_appendAttr('frameborder','0');
...
::::::::::::::::

...and so on. Looks like someone blew a site update. Hope they get it fixed soon!

Brazilians say "no" to gun ban

Faced with intense pressure from gun control groups and a host of international organizations, Brazilians went to the polls to vote on a referendum asking whether or not private citizens should be allowed to own firearms. The measure was solidly rejected with 64% of voters there voting "no."

::::::::Brazilians soundly rejected a proposal to ban the sale of guns in a national referendum Sunday, striking down the bid to stem one of the world's highest firearm murder rates following a campaign that drew parallels to the U.S. gun control debate.

Brazil (search) has 100 million fewer citizens than the United States (search), but a staggering 25 percent more gun deaths at nearly 40,000 a year. While supporters argued that gun control was the best way to staunch the violence, opponents played on Brazilians' fears that the police can't protect them.

"I don't like people walking around armed on the street. But since all the bandits have guns, you need to have a gun at home," said taxi driver Mohammed Osei, who voted against the ban.

With more than 92 percent of the votes counted, 64 percent of Brazilians were opposed to the ban, while 36 percent backed it, said election officials, giving the 'no' position an insurmountable lead.
::::::::

And, again, you see the AP's biases showing. "[O]pponents played on Brazilians' fears that the police can't protect them." That's like saying south Florida officials played on resident's fears of being killed in a hurricane in order to get them to leave before Wilma showed up. One doesn't "play on" another's fears when those fears are well justified. Brazilian police are clearly unable to protect law abiding citizens from those who will use guns to kill them in the commission of a crime. All the UN programs to outlaw private gun ownership in the world won't negate that truth to the people who live there.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Michael Yon of the Weekly Standard Reports

If you've been reading Yon's dispatches over on his blog, then you know his embed process for the current go-around in Iraq required him to do something he'd not had to do before: declare an affiliation with a publication. The fine folks at The Weekly Standard extended that courtesy to him while keeping his writing independence intact. The first fruits of that relationship are now available over on the Standard's web site as Yon reports on his eyewitness, first person experience on voting day in Iraq.

::::::::For a variety of reasons, I decided the place to be on election day was alongside Command Sergeant Major Jeffrey Mellinger, the top enlisted man for coalition forces in Iraq and right-hand man to Gen. George W. Casey, himself the U.S. commander in Iraq. I'd spent three weeks with Mellinger earlier in the year, driving around Iraq, down to Kuwait, then flying over the Arabian Gulf to ships and oil platforms. Mellinger has been in the Army for 33 years, as best I can tell loving every bit of it, except maybe for the times he was laid up in the hospital. I knew that wherever he was, Mellinger would be where things were happening.::::::::

The story is personally fascinating for me because he mentions visiting the unit that my soldier from Soldiers' Angels belongs to. I'm putting up a copy of the pertinent parts in my next letter, which will be sent out tomorrow morning. (Good timing.)

So, if you're wondering why you didn't hear much about the referendum from our MSM, go have a read over at the Standard. Catch up with Yon's dispatches at his web site. I highly recommend the "Walking the Line" series of dispatches in which he relates his 3-week run with CSM Mellinger earlier this year as well as the dispatch titled "Gates of Fire." This is what Pulitzer Prize-winning writing looks like.

Friday, October 21, 2005

A new hometown paper arrives. Updated

I have linked, in the past, with a local newpaper here in Loudoun County, VA called the Loudoun Easterner. It was your typical small town paper with lots of local stories and commentary. It had a neighborly feel to it, imparted in large measure by its editor, John Geddie, and the publisher, Beth Miller. Ms. Miller was a partner of Geddie for almost 20 years. She died last year, losing that final fight with cancer. Beth's daughter, Amy, stepped up to the plate and filled the role her mother had held so ably. A bit over a month or two ago, I was surprised to hear that Miller and Geddie had decided to sell the paper to a network of newspapers, LCNI. They've done a good job with the news, but there's just an unmistakable detachment to the community. It has a more "sanitized" feel to it. It's not horrible, but it's there.

Today, I got an e-mail from another member of the community telling me that Geddie and Miller have started up a new newspaper, the Loudoun Independent. The first print issue was mailed this week to 65,000 homes here in the county. Ours should arrive today. I'm looking forward to having a truly local newspaper again. More to come as soon as I see the first issue.

Update: In looking through the online edition's columns, I was suddenly surprised by something in the URL's and - most specifically - at the bottom of each of the columns. This newspaper is using Moveable Type. In short - it's constructed using the tools of a blog, complete with trackbacks. I'm hugely impressed! This should be the start of something truly wonderful in the next evolution of the news media.

Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act goes to the President

(Updated with a link to the actual text and status of the Act)

Over a year ago I wrote about the attempt in 2004 to pass legislation prohibiting the filing of lawsuits against manufacturers of firearms for crimes committed by third parties using firearms they had made. Last minute additions of "poison pill" amendments doing all manner of things to the bill caused the failure of that measure to pass. Suffice it to say that wasn't the end of the story. Since then, various concerned citizens and groups have worked very, very hard to get that bill passed - without the amendments - in both the House and the Senate.

The Senate passed the bill in late July with a vote of 65-31. Today, the House passed the same bill by a vote of 283-144. From the press release from the NRA:

::::::::Today the United States House of Representatives passed the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act” (S. 397) by a bipartisan vote of 283-144. The legislation now moves to President Bush’s desk for his expected signature.

Commenting on the passage of this landmark legislation, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said, “This is an historic victory for the NRA. Freedom, truth and justice prevailed, and today S. 397 is one step closer to becoming the law of the land. No other industry is forced to defend themselves when a violent criminal they do not know, have never met and cannot control, misuses a legal non-defective product. American firearms manufacturers will now receive the same fair treatment."

The “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act” seeks to end predatory and baseless lawsuits initiated nationwide by the gun control lobby. These lawsuits sought to bankrupt a lawful, highly regulated industry by holding the manufacturers and retailers responsible for the unforeseeable acts of criminals. S. 397 passed the Senate in late July with a bipartisan vote of 65-31.

Joining LaPierre in commenting on this victory, NRA Chief Lobbyist Chris W. Cox added, “Our judicial system has been exploited for politics and Congress put a stop to that. Passage of the 'Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act' would not have been possible without the support of the 257 House co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle. We appreciate the tireless efforts of Rep. Cliff Stearns and Rep. Rick Boucher and the Republican members of House leadership who worked to move the bill in this chamber.

"We are a safer country today because Congress passed this critical legislation and acted to save American icons like Remington, Ruger, Winchester and Smith & Wesson from politically motivated lawsuits. Our men and women in uniform abroad and at home now will not have to rely on France, China or Germany to supply their firearms,” Cox added.
::::::::

This is excellent news. I await eagerly the President's signature on this Act.

Of course, the Associated Press wasted no time in writing their story to paint this as a disaster and to mischaracterize the Act and its effects. The very first person they quote on the matter wasn't the Act's authors nor any of its supporters:

::::::::"This legislation will make the unregulated gun industry the most pampered industry in America," said Kristen Rand, director of the Violence Policy Center.::::::::

A blatant falsehood: the Act has done precisely zero to the regulation of firearms currently in place. Every regulation that was in place yesterday is in place today and will remain in place after the President signs the bill. There are damn few industries subject to a sheer volume of regulation matching that applicable to the manufacture and sale of firearms, let alone any regulated more heavily. You want a pampered industry? Look no further than Washington lobbyists. Continuing from the same story:

::::::::The bill's authors say it still would allow civil suits against individual parties who have been found guilty of criminal wrongdoing by the courts.

Opponents say the strength of the bill's support is testament to the influence of the gun lobby. If the bill had been law when the relatives of six victims of convicted Washington-area snipers John Allen Muhammad (search) and Lee Boyd Malvo (search) sued the gun dealer from which they obtained their rifle, the dealer would not have agreed to pay the families and victims $2.5 million.

"It is shameful that Republicans in Congress are pushing legislation that guarantees their gun-dealing cronies receive special treatment and are above the law," said Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Calif.

Bush has said he supports the bill, which would prohibit lawsuits against the firearms industry for damages resulting from the unlawful use of a firearm or ammunition. Gun makers and dealers still would be subject to product liability, negligence or breach of contract suits, the bill's authors say.
::::::::

There's so much wrong with this story that you almost have to do a fisking on it. First, note the particular linguistic construct in the 1st and last statements, here. I'm referring to the comment "the bill's authors say..." It's not that the bill actually says what's being reported. It's that the bill's authors say it. The implication here is very clear: the AP prefers you be very, very skeptical about this whole "would allow civil suits" thing. Would it have been so tough for the AP reporters to have actually read the bill in question and then report what it says?

That part about the DC snipers hits very much close to home for me. My family and I were in the midst of that whole thing while it was going on. But, again, AP's reporters can't tell you the real deal. That doesn't fit in with the narrative they're looking to pass along. The fact of the matter is that the Act keeps lawsuits from being filed against manufacturers, not the gun dealers. A gun dealer who isn't minding his P's and Q's is not protected in the least by this bill and anyone who'd actually read the bill's words would know that quite well. The dealer in the DC snipers case would have done exactly what he did prior to the bill's passage because his liability had nothing whatsoever to do with the manufacture of the firearm used. The AP's reporter, however, tosses that baldface lie out there as a fact, without attribution or proof, as if it's just as obvious as the color of the sky at noon.

Nah, no bias there.

To my fellow students of the 2nd Amendment, congrats to us all. I look forward to reporting that the President has signed the bill.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Centcom: "We do not condone mistreatment"

I don't have a lot of details at the moment and I'm looking for more now, but there's a story running around that some US servicemen in Afghanistan might have inappropriately burned the bodies of some Taliban elements they'd killed. Again, I don't have details yet. Centcom apparently feels the story is serious enough to investigate:

::::::::BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - The Army Criminal Investigation Division has initiated an investigation into alleged misconduct by U.S. service members, including the burning of dead enemy combatant bodies under inappropriate circumstances.

"This command takes all allegations of misconduct or inappropriate behavior seriously and has directed an investigation into circumstances surrounding this allegation," said Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya, Combined Joint Task Force-76 Commander. "If the allegation is substantiated, the appropriate course of action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and corrective action will be taken."

Service members are expected to abide by the highest standards of behavior and the law, he said.

"This command does not condone the mistreatment of enemy combatants or the desecration of their religious and cultural beliefs," Kamiya said.

"This alleged action is repugnant to our common values, is contrary to our commands approved tactical operating procedures, and is not sanctioned by this command. Our efforts to thoroughly investigate this allegation are a reflection of our commitment to the Government of Afghanistan and the Afghan people."
::::::::

Good. Investigate. And, if true, prosecute the idiots to the full extent of military law. If not, let's hear that, too.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Chertoff vows to end Immigrations "catch & release"

Well, it'll be good news if it's true. Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff has vowed to end the practice of catching illegal immigrants and releasing them into America with a stern warning that they'd better show up at a future court date. It's a warning that goes almost completely unheeded. Chertoff is suggesting that this practice end completely and that 100% of illegals caught get detained and sent back to the country they entered illegally from.

I'm all for it. I think it's ludicrous to do otherwise and that's even without the additional security concerns of the post-9/11 world. Let's see if Chertoff and President Bush really mean it.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Since when is "illegal" a race?

From the Marin Independent Journal in Marin, CA, we have this fascinating bit of news. Did you know that "illegal laborer" is a racial designation?

:::::::: A sign urging the customers of a San Rafael business not to hire day laborers has angered and frustrated local workers, who say it's making it harder for them to find a job.

But employees of U-Haul on East Francisco Boulevard who posted the sign say they're only trying to protect their customers - and themselves - from the risks involved in hiring undocumented workers.

The large cardboard sign, on display in the moving company's customer service area for the past three days, reads "Please do not hire illegal laborers. We have had numerous reports of injuries, thefts and damages to personal belongings. It is a federal crime to employ or pick up illegal day laborers, punishable by a $5,000 fine."
...
"Some of these (day laborers) they deal with are good, and some aren't," Singh said. "We're telling them what could happen, and that if they choose to hire someone, it's at their own risk."

Emilio Robles doesn't see it that way.

The Canal Street resident is one of about 10 who gather outside the U-Haul building every morning - weekends included - in search of work. He doesn't like being characterized as a potential criminal.

"It's racist," Robles said. "They're trying to put Mexicans out of work. We need to work in order to feed our families, and we need jobs in order to work. We're not here looking for a handout. We want to work."
::::::::

Read that sign again. There is absolutely nothing on that sign that refers to a person's race in any way. It refers to their legal status, not their skin color. This is just the typical attitude among the crowd that thinks strong immigrations enforcement is wrong. They're trying to harness the stigma of racism to do the work their rational argumentation can't perform. But they can't even hold it together long enough to be consistent within their own platitudes. Check out this comment from the same story:

:::::::: "This is an issue with a long history," said Tom Wilson, co-executive director of the Canal Alliance, an agency that provides assistance to local laborers.

Wilson said he has already received about a dozen complaints about the U-Haul company's sign.

"The tack they're taking is a particularly troubling one," Wilson said. "They're painting illegal day workers as criminals, making generalizations about a group of people."
::::::::

I've highlit the sentence that just boggles the mind. The implication that someone is being unfair by suggesting that someone who broke our immigration laws and illegally crossed our borders is a criminal is just plain nuts. But it puts the attitude of people like Mr. Wilson, here, front and center in the spotlight. Wilson doesn't consider our immigration laws to be of any importance at all. If someone casually breaks them, it's no big deal and that person should suffer no repercussion over it.

I believe the sign is a reasonable warning to people that hire these illegals that they do so at their own risk. If the people like Wilson and Robles don't like that, then they should be making sure that all of their friends who need the work are legals and can prove it.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Speaking of the death penalty...

Hitler references and the AP hypes (again)

Well, seems to be a nazi theme running in the air this weekend. As many of my readers know, I'm in Virginia just outside Washington, DC. Virginia, along with New Jersey, holds its elections for Governor 1 year out of phase with the rest of America. (I have no idea why.) So our state is one of only 2 that will hold an election with a candidate for the state's highest office. That makes the stakes for the elections just a little higher than most and, accordingly, the eyes of the media are upon us.

I have a special place in my heart (right next door to my seething hatred for child pornographers) for politicians who can't come up with a better set of analogies than to accuse their opponents of being like Hitler. Or nazis in general. It's ludicrous. It's juvenile. It should be enough to have that person drummed right off the ballot at least, if not out of their party. MoveOn.org's got the Professor Emeritus title for this particular behavior but they're certainly not unique. Dick Durbin comes to mind.

So I read up on CNN's web site the link titled, "Governor's race ads invoke Hitler" and I start getting that sinking feeling. There's only 2 races for Governor, us and Jersey, so it's a 50-50 shot right then and there that this appalling behavior is happening right here in the Old Dominion. Bring up the link and sure enough, it's an AP story filed in Richmond, VA.

Great. Just great. So, who was it? Democrat Tim Kaine or Republican Jerry Kilgore?

::::::::RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) -- The Republican candidate for Virginia governor is drawing fire for campaign ads that suggest his Democratic opponent...::::::::

Aw, crap. What the hell is that idiot thinking? All of the polls show he's out in front! What the blue peepin' hell does he need to go pull such a brainless, stupid, idio -

Wait a minute. Keep reading.

::::::::RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) -- The Republican candidate for Virginia governor is drawing fire for campaign ads that suggest his Democratic opponent is so averse to the death penalty he would have spared Adolph Hitler from execution.::::::::

OK, so it's not incorrect to say that the ad "invokes" Hitler, but that's not the impression the headline grants. When people see that kind of headline, they're thinking someone just called someone else "Hitler." The comment by Jerry Kilgore might be a bit coarse, but it's equally on target. Kaine has a personal, deep conviction that the death penalty is never called for. In interviews he says he'll apply it as directed by the law. However, as Governor, he's got the power to stay an execution simply by saying so. He doesn't have to get approval and he doesn't really have to explain himself. It's very much a pertinent concern that a man looking to be Governor would be unable to allow the state to proceed with an execution when the case warranted it as decided by a jury. John Muhammad, the DC sniper, got the death penalty here in Virginia. Tim Kaine has as much said that he'd let the little bastard off on it.

To the point, however, Kilgore's ad states the fact. If Kaine couldn't bring himself to allow the execution of Hitler - or Stalin or Idi Amin, as the ads continue - then he's not likely to allow it in any other case, either. He claims he would but then makes statements that don't square with that claim. It's information the electorate needs to have in their decision process and, like the ad or not, it's justified.

Rioters in Toledo: as bad as what they protest

Let me be succinct: Nazis suck. Neo-Nazis neo-suck. Their ideology is a pitiful last-gasp attempt to resurrect a bankrupt worldview based on nothing but hate and an attempt to manipulate others through baseless fear. That they claim to be advocating for the race I happen to be a member of changes nothing in the least. The vile crap that flows from their mouths as they seek to spread their message is less than useless to me: it's a waste of good oxygen and a boil on the butt of society's discourse.

That they be allowed to speak their minds should go without saying.

So long as they advocate their opinions without recourse to slander or libel - and I mean those in the actual sense, not the PC-speak definitions - and they break no other laws, such as incitement to riot, they are still to be accorded the same freedom of speech allowed to every other citizen of this country. So long as they hold themselves to the behavior expected of any other citizen, their rights must be protected and respected the same as anyone else. It is in this crucial task - the understanding that free speech means free speech for everyone, including those who say things you disagree with - that the citizens-turned-rioters of Toledo, Ohio failed miserably.

The National Socialist Movement (no, I'm not going to link to them) a.k.a. a bunch of neo-nazi "white supremacists" decided they were going to have a march in Toledo. Is there any doubt that they were hoping for just the reaction they got? None. So what? They were engaging in a legal exercise of their free speech rights, complete with notification to the local police force and a march permit. They appeared at the appointed time and place and began to form up. That's when the local gangs began to show up and confront them. The police, doing what they're supposed to do, attempted to keep the gangs away from the legally formed marchers, all 2 dozen of them. So the local gangs showed their local pride by attacking the police. When the riots started, the neo-nazis called off their march. No kidding. It had done the job they wanted and the locals played right into their hands.

The police were pelted with rocks and the rioters, in an act I can only call criminally idiotic, set fire to a local pub with the 86-year-old proprietor and his nephew inside. That business and those 2 men had nothing whatsoever to do with the day's events but the local populace attacked them anyway. In short, they acted exactly like the lawless, savage bunch the neo-nazis were saying they were. Nice move. Real smooth.

But here's the part that just boils my blood. No one's angry at the people who lept to the fore to violate the civil rights of another citizen. There are no soundbites or reported comments denouncing the people who threw rocks at police officers or torched the business and residence of a fellow Toledo man. Here's what they're saying:

::::::::"This never should have happened," 80-year-old Ed Kusina, who has lived in the neighborhood nearly all his life, said Sunday. "They should have never let them march here."

...

Keith White criticized city officials for allowing the march: "They let them come here and expect this not to happen?" said White, 29.
::::::::

Oh, really, Mr. Kusina? They should have never let "them" march here? So you're OK with the government censoring people based on their policital positions? You're OK with the government denying access to certain groups to public spaces and denying them the right to assemble peacably and speak their minds? I can just imagine the howls of anger had the government applied that action to the "Million Man Redux" event we just had here this very weekend.

And you, Mr. White. What exactly was the police supposed to be expecting when this disliked but perfectly legal group arrived to exercise their civil rights? You say, "They let them come here and expect this not to happen?" Yes. Damn right they expected this not to happen. They expected people to abide by the law. They expected people to offer the same respect for another's rights that those people have demanded from everyone else. The only thing you've proven here today, Mr. White, is that you can't handle it. When it's your rights that are being slighted you want heads on platters but when it's someone else's rights, someone you happen to disapprove of, well that's a whole different ballgame. The government should simply toss them out or everyone should just expect you and yours to get violent.

Well, it doesn't work like that in America, sir, and you should be damned thankful it doesn't. If you can't comport yourself with the same respect for the law that you demand in others when dealing with you, then perhaps you should reconsider your citizenship in a country where every citizen's rights are equally important.

PC-idiocy and Charlie Daniels

Looking to add a little fun to their repetoire, the Hylton High School marching band in Woodbridge, VA decided to pick up the Charlie Daniels tune, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." They are scheduled to perform at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta this year, a big deal for a high school band, and it seemed an appropriate tribute. It worked wonders for Dominque Moceanu at the Atlanta Olympics, after all.

One parent wrote a letter of complaint to a local newspaper claiming that a song about the devil shouldn't be played at school events due to the separation of church and state. Yes, you read that right - the fiddle-playing devil in Charlie Daniels' whimsical song represents an advocacy of specific religion in this person's eyes and the fact that a marching band will play the tune sans words appears to this person to be an example of the State pushing that religion on people. The band director has responded by dropping the tune.

One letter, regarding a piece of music that will be performed without lyrics, manages to effectively ban a song written with absolutely no intent to do anything it's alleged to do. And the band director caved the second someone brought it to him. Way to show those kids how to grow a spine, chief.

Iraqi referendum victory for democracy?

I was asked just last night about the Iraqi constitutional referendum and whether or not it would be a victory for democracy. I asked for the clarification, since I was genuinely confused about the question. (Why that was the case will soon be obvious.) Would it still be a victory for democracy, it was asked, if the Iraqis rejected the constitution as submitted?

The question makes no sense - unless you're starting with the concept that it's only a victory if the vote goes a particular way. That concept misses the point of democracy. The issue isn't whether a vote goes one way or the other. It's whether the vote occurs at all under conditions where you have any real confidence that the results of the vote - one way or the other - will be respected by the government and the citizenry. So, in answer the question, it was a victory for democracy the second the polls opened. It was another when they closed. Violence there was, yes, but the vaunted "insurgent uprising" was very sporadic and completely ineffectual.

It was another victory that the security was being handled in the largest measure, by the Iraqi forces themselves. Omar over at Iraq the Model writes:

::::::::Probably the worst thing today is the intense heat which was a little over 100f but that didn’t stop the crowds from walking in the sun to the voting stations, I personally had to walk nearly 4 miles in total but it’s definitely worth the effort.
The presence of Iraqi army and police units is heavier than it was in January elections and I also noticed that no multinational forces were on the streets and the only sign for their presence was the helicopters that patrolled the skies.
::::::::

Emphasis mine. The turnout is also judged as being fairly high. Initial estimates are that the percentage turnout was about 61%, respectable in any regard. The AP story is trying to spin that as negatively as they can by saying the reason for the high turnout was due to the Sunnis trying to defeat the measure. And this is bad for democracy, how? The Sunnis, you'll note, aren't trying to defeat the measure by calling for jihad or engaging in armed insurrection. Their weapon is a ballot and their battlefield is the polling place. This is democracy, ladies & gentlemen, regardless of the outcome of the vote. And that makes this a victory for democracy, hands down. This is something to celebrate all on its own.

So, where are the pictures of the purple-fingered Iraqi voters? Where are the reporters talking about this grand day in glowing terms about a brighter future for Iraq? These people are now participating in their second national vote and turnout is supposed to be higher in real numbers than the first time. They're getting this democracy thing, folks, and that was the point. Democracies can breed terrorists, too, but it's far more rare than dictatorships. So why is this event getting the "ho-hum" treatment? Or, even worse, the "impending doom" treatment? I'm not the only one who'd like to know.

Yes, it's a victory. The only thing that remains to be seen is whether certain parts of our society will recognize it as such. For my part: Congrats, Iraq! Well done, indeed.

"I have no recollection of that, Senator."

The title of this blog is a line out of the movie "Clear and Present Danger" based off the novel by Tom Clancy. In it, the CIA's Deputy Director of Operations, Ritter, has been confronted by the story's main character, Jack Ryan, over a clandestine military operation that was currently in progress. When Ritter reveals that Ryan's own testimony before Congress had procured the funding for the op, he suggests that Ryan start practicing that line in preparation for the Senate hearings that will assuredly come. It's the ultimate example of our vision of the corrupt government - they're caught and they know it so they lie like rugs under oath. The fact that it sounds to even the untrained ear like it's a dodge is of no concern to the Washington insiders. In the story, Ryan doesn't stick to the script Ritter's laid out for him and manages to retain his honor, defuse the situation and put the supposedly "safe" politicans back on the coals where they belong.

I've kind of adopted that line as a joke in my family. When an "uncomfortable" question comes up, I give them the shifty-eyed look, set my face in that Senate-hearing-stone expression, and deliver the line. It's synonymous with "yeah, you caught me but I ain't admittin' nothin'!"

So, along comes Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who went to jail for 3 months rather than comply with a grand jury order to name the source that told her about supposedly-covert Valerie Wilson nee Plame. She was adamant that she would not reveal her source. So after all the smoke screen about Scooter Libby and all the implications of Cheney and Rove and God knows who else, she's got a new answer for who "leaked" the info to her. She "can't recall."

::::::::In a first-person account released Saturday on The Times' Web site, Miller recounted her recent grand jury testimony, which focused on her conversations in 2003 with Cheney's closest aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Miller said she "didn't think" she heard covert CIA officer Valerie Plame's name from Libby. "I said I believed the information came from another source, whom I could not recall."::::::::

Do I get this right? She refuses to reveal the identity of a person she "can't recall" to the point of going to jail?

Right. Translation: "yeah, you caught me but I ain't admittin' nothin'!"

Sgt. Hook on the Blogroll

Just a quick aside, with the return of Sgt. Hook to the blogosphere, I'm re-adding him to my blogroll. Go have a look. He's still got his content from his deployment to Afghanistan there.

The Hook is back!

Sgt. Major Hook was one of my daily gotta-read-it blogs last year. He was deployed to Afghanistan and gave us all some real feedback about what's going on over there. Last December, he decided to call it quits on blogging. I wrote then that I hoped he'd return.

Looks like hopes get heard.

I'm looking forward to catching up with what Hook's been doing. The only part that I'm already very, very sad about is the fact that they've had to move away from Hawaii. Having been there 3 times, I can honestly say that it is a place that will haunt your soul all your days. I think about the place almost daily. That Hook & crew had to leave brings a tear to my eye.

Welcome back, Hook. Damn glad to see ya.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

"Staged" event? Not to the participants.

Via LGF, I found Sergeant Ron Long, a US Army combat medic. Sgt. Long was one of the soldiers asked to appear on a vidconference with the President a few nights ago, an event that the media - including normally stable Fox News - went hog wild over claiming it was a "staged" event. For proof, they displayed video taken with the full knowledge of the participants, showing them practicing handing the microphone from man to man and deciding who would field what questions.

I'm a network engineer by trade, not a soldier. I have, however, participated in countless conferences and meetings in which my fellow participants decided well in advance who would answer what kinds of questions. I have certains fields of expertise and am qualified as an expert to speak on. So if I'm in a meeting and a question in one of those fields gets asked, I'm the one my co-workers look to to respond. If it's a question on a subject better known by one of my colleagues, then I look to them. There's absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about that and the media just got stuck on stupid over it.

But don't take my word on the President's call. Listen to one of the soldiers who was there:

::::::::First of all, we were told that we would be speaking with the President of the United States, our Commander-in-Chief, President Bush, so I believe that it would have been totally irresponsible for us NOT to prepare some ideas, facts or comments that we wanted to share with the President.
We were given an idea as to what topics he may discuss with us, but it's the President of the United States; He will choose which way his conversation with us may go.
We practiced passing the microphone around to one another, so we wouldn't choke someone on live TV. We had an idea as to who we thought should answer what types of questions, unless President Bush called on one of us specifically.
::::::::

Emphasis all his. Plainly, simply, our media is primed to pounce on a "gotcha" moment and that predisposition is giving them hallucinations. Is it any wonder the American people don't trust them?

Iraqis head to the polls again

The voting in Iraq on the constitutional referendum is underway.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Michael Yon is back in Iraq

Michael Yon has returned to Iraq. His latest dispatch involves his travel to get back in theatre and gives us all a guided tour of the process of embedding a journalist with a military unit. He doesn't say which unit he's with, yet, but I imagine he'll get around to it. The most surprising aspect of this trip into the sandbox was the military's initial refusal to allow him to go back in there without declaring a media affiliation. Yon's an individual writer who just spent the last 8 months with the "Deuce Four" based in Mosul. And that was unaffiliated with any media outlet. This time, they said he had to have one. Fortunately, The Weekly Standard stepped up and offered him an affiliation with them while allowing him to continue his writing as an individual. My personal thanks go to them.

He's back in Iraq just in time, too. The referendum vote is due this weekend and we desperately need his eyes at ground level there. He may contend his status as a war correspondent but I certainly consider him such and I'm thankful for his presence. Should be interesting.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Chinese launch second manned space mission

The Chinese felt confident enough in this 2nd launch of a manned mission to space that they allowed their state-run TV network to broadcast it live. The advance of scientific endeavor by mankind is fine with me, and I wish the taikonauts the best on their mission and for their safe return. I would remind Americans that the rest of the world continues to move forward and those that stand still get passed by those who don't.

I think they've got the routine down by now.

Being the father of 1 child has, at times, seemed to strain my time management quite a bit. I cannot imagine, even with pharmaceutical assistance, being a parent of 16 kids.

::::::::Michelle Duggar, 39, had her first child at age 21, four years after the couple married.

Their children include two sets of twins, and each child has a name beginning with the letter "J": Joshua, 17; John David, 15; Janna, 15; Jill, 14; Jessa, 12; Jinger, 11; Joseph, 10; Josiah, 9; Joy-Anna, 8; Jeremiah, 6; Jedidiah, 6; Jason, 5; James, 4; Justin, 2; Jackson Levi, 1; and now Johannah.
::::::::

Oh my. A newborn and a 17-year-old in the house. Speaking of houses, the Duggars are working to finish their new home so they can have the space they need. Get a load of this:

::::::::The Learning Channel is doing another show about the family's construction project, a 7,000-square foot house that should be finished before Christmas. The home, which the family from the northwest Arkansas town of Rogers has been building for two years, will have nine bathrooms, dormitory-style bedrooms for the girls and boys, a commercial kitchen, four washing machines and four dryers.::::::::

Yes, and that sounds like a minimum requirement to me. I know how much laundry I do and it's just the 3 of us. Best of luck the Duggars, all 18 of ya!

Zawahiri letter very enlightening

A few days ago I posted on the release of a letter from Al Qaeda's man in Iraq, Zarqawi, in which he stated openly that he has no issue killing off non-combatant people. The only issue is whether they're muslim enough in his eyes.

Today, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has released the full text of an intercepted letter from Al Qaeda's #2 man, Zawahiri, to Zarqawi that brings up some fascinating items into the light. The actual letter is available here in PDF format, or here in DOC format, if you prefer. Go to the Office's release site if you'd like to see it in the original Arabic.

Zawahiri's letter makes a few things perfectly plain and lays to rest, specifically, the fiction that having our troops cut and run would make the terrorism problem disappear. Zawahiri and bin Laden know all too well that the actual goal, here, is a global Caliphate with their battle extending far beyond the borders of Iraq:

::::::::It has always been my belief that the victory of Islam will never take place until a Muslim state is established in the manner of the Prophet in the heart of the Islamic world, specifically in the Levant, Egypt, and the neighboring states of the Peninsula and Iraq; however, the center would be in the Levant and Egypt. This is my opinion, which I do not preach as infallibile, but I have reviewed historical events and the behavior of the enemies of Islam themselves, and they did not establish Israel in this triangle surrounded by Egypt and Syria and overlooking the Hijaz except for their own interests.

As for the battles that are going on in the far-flung regions of the Islamic world, such as Chechnya, Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Bosnia, they are just the groundwork and the vanguard for the major battles which have begun in the heart of the Islamic world.
::::::::

Emphasis mine. Zawahiri leaves no confusion about his take on what has to happen to make that muslim state a reality. It begins quite simply with us turning and leaving Iraq. But it continues from there:

::::::::So we must think for a long time about our next steps and how we want to attain it, and it is my humble opinion that the Jihad in Iraq requires several incremental goals:

The first stage: Expel the Americans from Iraq.

The second stage: Establish an Islamic authority or amirate, then develop it and support it until it achieves the level of a caliphate- over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq, i.e., in Sunni areas, is in order to fill the void stemming from the departure of the Americans, immediately upon their exit and before un-Islamic forces attempt to fill this void, whether those whom the Americans will leave behind them, or those among the un-Islamic forces who will try to jump at taking power.

There is no doubt that this amirate will enter into a fierce struggle with the foreign infidel forces, and those supporting them among the local forces, to put it in a state of constant preoccupation with defending itself, to make it impossible for it to establish a stable state which could proclaim a caliphate, and to keep the Jihadist groups in a constant state of war, until these forces find a chance to annihilate them.

The third stage: Extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq.

The fourth stage: It may coincide with what came before: the clash with Israel, because Israel was established only to challenge any new Islamic entity.
::::::::

Again, emphasis mine. No bones about it, ladies & gentlemen. Al Qaeda desperately needs us to pull out of Iraq and, if we do so prematurely, they will not only seek to restore tyranny there, they will launch into the surrounding countries as well.

The one item in this letter than should be illuminating for everyone is that Al Qaeda is quite well aware of the battlefield it's operating on and where its most powerful chances for victory lie.

::::::::However, despite all of this, I say to you: that we are in a battle, and that more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media. And that we are in a media battle in a race for the hearts and minds of our Umma. And that however far our capabilities reach, they will never be equal to one thousandth of the capabilities of the kingdom of Satan that is waging war on us. And we can kill the captives by bullet. That would achieve that which is sought after without exposing ourselves to the questions and answering to doubts. We don't need this.::::::::

Zawahiri was speaking about Zarqawi's penchant for videotaped beaheadings and was trying to get across to him that they aren't helping the cause. Why not just shoot the hostages, instead? To the point, however, they know very well that they are playing to the cameras. Our media doesn't seem to mind being used like that, so long as it's not the Americans who are doing the using.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Nice one-liner...

...in an editorial in the Washington Times this morning. I can't resist passing it along:

::::::::One doesn't mind, so much, mainstream journalists being b*st*rds. It's being such dumb b*st*rds that one finds so irksome.::::::::

Find the editorial by Tony Blankley here.

Seattle: a liberal town with none of the benefits

If you're going to be one of the most ultra-liberal cities in America, for cryin' out loud don't do this!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Ruh-Roh for Ronnie Earle

Seems that Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle might have to explain his actions in getting a grand jury to indict Tom Delay in a court of law.

::::::::The legal battle between Rep. Tom DeLay and a Texas district attorney continued on Tuesday as DeLay's attorneys subpoenaed the prosecutor to try to show that he acted improperly with grand jurors.

The filings made in Austin late in the day accuse Texas District Attorney Ronnie Earle of misconduct and call for him and two of his assistants to appear in court to explain their conduct.
::::::::

Mr. Earle might not appreciate having his actions put under a microscope. And, with the nation watching, it's a very large microscope, indeed.

Patterico speaks on the Miers nomination

It's good to know that there are 1) people out there who have the same concerns as mine with regard to the Miers nomination and 2) better at conveying the concept than I am. Patterico writes:

And so we’re done. I can’t imagine anyone taking a better shot at persuading me than Paul has done in this piece. I am ready to declare my position.
::::::::::::::::

Read it all. It's good.

SUV's cause greater pedestrian injury than normal cars

Well, no DUH, Sherlock. As I was driving to work this morning, our local news radio station had a short interview with some guy from the healthcare industry (I missed his name at the beginning of the report) eagerly relating to all of us drooling morons that when a pedestrian is struck by an SUV, they tend to suffer greater injuries than if they are struck by a normal-sized car. And for this they pay this guy?

Now, it's been a long time since I took high school physics so bear with me. It is, however, a fairly widely known phenomenon that when an object is struck by another object travelling at a given speed, the impact tends to transfer a lot more energy the more massive the striking object gets. Ergo, when Joe Pedestrian steps off the curb and gets plowed over by a moving vehicle, it can be generally assumed that his injuries will be more significant if, instead of being smacked by a Honda Civic at 30 miles per hour, he's hit by a Chevy Subdivision. I mean, Suburban. You get the idea.

I wish I had the audio to play for you so you could hear the sound in this guy's voice as he was telling us all this. It was like he was sure none of us would ever have been able to figure this out on our own. Oh, and did he want some sort of action taken as a result of this stunning new revelation? You betcha.

He wants warning labels placed in SUV's warning the drivers of those vehicles of the increased danger posed to pedestrians.

Oh, yeah. That's worked out so well for the tobacco industry. It's just amazing to me that someone thinks this is, in any way, a reasonable suggestion. As though someone who's climbing into the driver's seat of a car will be more concerned about not hitting some schmoe walking across the street as a result of reading. A. Label. I certainly hope this guy's not working with grant money.

Monday, October 10, 2005

OK, score one for Miers

Fascinating that this warrants a full story by the AP.

So Miers once owned a gun. So what? The story says it was a .45 revolver, which sounds like a good piece of iron to me. Between that and the crap "reporting" about the content of personal notes on birthday cards makes me wonder what the AP's smoking. Concentrate on the real matters of import, fella's, assuming you can find any.

OK, Hugh, now you're starting to get irrational

I've been watching the unfolding conflict in the center-right of the blogosphere over the Miers nomination and have commented a bit on it myself. I am struggling to lend any credence to Hugh Hewitt's position on the matter - that the Miers nomination is wonderful and any of us who support Bush on any matter whatsoever should be supporting him now - mainly due to my respect for the man and his contributions to the blogosphere and political thought in general. Mr. Hewitt has, unfortunately, lost me big time with this small post:

::::::::If those disappointed by the Miers nomination want to assure that a Michael Luttig or a Michael McConnell never get nominated much less through the Senate, they will pursue tactics that will diminish the Senate majority so that the constitutional option is off the table.::::::::

...combined with this closing comment in another post:

::::::::To put it bluntly: There is zero advantage and plenty of harm in defeating Miers, including the very obvious encouragement of the previously fever-swamp argument that Bush was a lame duck. It is also certain that a crucial slice of the evangelical base will perceive in the rejection of Miers a rejection of their status as equal partners in the governing coalition. Even if that slice is small --and it does not appear small to me at this point-- it is strategic.

Concern over the direction of SCOTUS --an issue second only to winning the GWOT-- counsels support of Miers. Even those convinced it is a blunder ought to now turn their attention to the Iraq elections and away from Miers until the hearings are underway.
::::::::

Illogical. Condescending. Want this translated? Here you go: you idiots are making Bush look bad so you all need to just run along and let the grownups (ed.: like Hugh) handle this incredibily important decision and don't bug us until it's over.

Apologies to Hugh, but President Bush has had 2 chances to nominate Luttig or McConnell and hasn't done it either time. What proof does he have that the President would do so given a 3rd chance? Or a 4th? Or an 8th? And may I also point out that we - all of us, including those of us who think this nomination wasn't the right choice and, by the way, who don't happen to be members of the knighted evangelicals - worked very hard to put a clear majority of Republicans in the Senate along with a Republican President in the White House so we could get judges both nominated and confirmed that would bring the judiciary back from the unelected legislature it's become? That Senate majority has had nominations before it that would have done this and they, also, didn't make the right choice. Is there proof that they will suddenly grow the spine we worked hard to allow them and confirm either of those 2 worthies even if they had them as nominees? To advance the theory that speaking out in opposition to this kind of decision is the cause for the bad nomination makes no sense whatsoever.

I would also ask Hugh Hewitt to advise us as to when we're supposed to speak our minds on this matter, if not now? Harriet Miers won't be coming up for election in 2008 or 2010. Once this decision is past, it will be impossible to undo and it is our right and our responsibility to both oversee and to speak up on decisions such as these. If Harriet Miers is a person who will judge the law of the land through the lenses of "racial diversity" by allowing universities to discriminate against whites or by thinking that political speech needs to be regulated, then she's the wrong person for the job and defeating her grants a helluva lot more than zero advantage. My recommendation to someone who is arguing that opposition to this nominee smacks of elitism is for that person to avoid elitist commentary themselves.

The Miers nomination continuing to fracture conservatives.

I have already written about the Miers nomination and my one, overriding concern about her being confirmed to the Supreme Court. I am informed by a reader that there have been cases in recent history where "Justice" was the first title of judgeship worn by person. Reader Waco Kid tells us:

::::::::There've been some pretty good Supreme Court Justices for whom Supreme Court Justice was a first job as a judge. Robert Jackson, William Rehnquist, just to name two. And John Roberts has been a judge for what, a year and a half? He promises to be an outstanding Chief Justice. It's probably no coincidence that Jackson had Rehnquist for a clerk, and Rehnquist had Roberts. Each of the latter two seems to have learned from his mentor lessons that don't require previous experience as a judge.

But what does seem to matter is experience in considering the sort of issues which come before the Court -- constitutional issues. Jackson, Rehnquist and Roberts all had lots of that experience before joining the Court. If Miers has had that sort of experience, then the conclusion (premature, of course) we could make now is that she does not have the intellectual discipline required of a Justice who would help move the Court back into its proper role as an interpreter of law, rather than its self-asserted role as policy-maker. Without knowing more, we can only surmise that the president's actions in signing the McCain-Feingold Act, and in supporting racial affirmative action for the purpose of achieving racial diversity (rather than for the more limited purpose of providing a remedy for harm caused by identifiable racial discrimination) were taken with Miers thumbs up. If this is true, then we might as well let Ruth Bader Ginsburg pick one of her ACLU buddies for the Court.
::::::::

Excellent points, and they dovetail with my concern perfectly. Jackson and Rehnquist, as pointed out, might not have been judges before their nomination, but their close working relationship to the high court gave them plenty of experience in how things work there from the Justices' perspectives. If Miers had such a previous mentoring relationship with someone on the Supreme Court, I haven't heard about it. It would be a fairly significant datapoint, too, so I would think the Bush administration would be plastering that all over the walls. They aren't. I conclude she doesn't have such a relationship under her belt.

More to the point of my concern is the part about Miers' role in supporting the "diversity" crap from the University of Michigan cases (see the Bollinger case, specifically). I don't know if she was involved in advising the President to sign the accursed McCain-Feingold Act. If she was, and said she supported it, then she's precisely the kind of person I'd want as far away from the Supreme Court as is humanly possible. The reader's point, and my own, is that we don't have the information to make the call and that is unacceptable in a nominee to the Supreme Court. That President Bush and the Miers supporters don't know this is troubling. More troubling is their resort to name-calling when concerns like these are raised. (I'm an "elitist"? That's being insensitive to elitists, trust me.)

Ed Morrisey of Captain's Quarters had an editorial in the Washington Post yesterday that sums up the conflict in the realm of the Right pretty well. Michelle Malkin has her excellent-as-usual roundup of the situation over on her blog. She's got a link up to an informal survey over on RightWingNews. The disappointment with this nomination isn't the sole domain of, as Hugh Hewitt has said, the right-wing elitists, or as other bloggers have called them, "the right-wing fanatics." It's much more pervasive than that. President Bush better get ahead of this one and work on the fractures that he, himself, has caused in the party's base. Otherwise, he's going to leave a very broken road for those that follow.

Good fences make...

There is no arguing that the border of this country with Mexico is about as watertight as a screen door. In many, many places the border is marked with a sign and a metal rail, easily crossed. Where a serious fence is in place, however, the incidents of illegal border penetration are reduced to near zero. That's why a new push is on to build such a fence along the entire border, from the Gulf to the Pacific Ocean.

::::::::Now, a group of border activists are pushing for a new, bigger fence — more like a Berlin Wall — from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean.

"If we don't stop the illegal immigration problem at the border, the problem will grow in far more dangerous ways ... because illegal immigration from Mexico provides easy cover for terrorists," says one national television ad sponsored by Weneedafence.com, a project of Let Freedom Ring, Inc.

The TV spot focuses not on the politically charged issue of illegal Hispanic immigration but border crossers who may be a security threat, especially those caught who originated from suspected sponsors of state terrorism.
::::::::

The groups are quite up-front that this isn't an anti-Latino thing or even an anti-immigration thing. It's an anti-illegal-immigration thing and I think it's about damn time. As I have said on many occasions, I have no issue with immigrants who come here openly and in compliance with our laws. Those that don't, I do have a problem with and it's entirely reasonable to put up barriers to stop the practice. The story mentions Hispanic rights groups making the comment that good neighbors build bridges, not fences. I believe they build both and such good neighbors actually use the bridges they build. They don't sneak under them and then claim that their neighbor's being a jerk when said neighbor complains.

SpaceshipOne joins aviation titans at Smithsonian

Burt Rutan's SpaceshipOne has been donated to the Smithsonian Museum's Air & Space collection and now hangs beside the Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis and Yeager's Bell X-1, the "Glamorous Glennis."

SpaceShipOne's designer, Burt Rutan, and its financier, Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, were on hand as the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum took ownership of the 28-foot star-spangled spacecraft.

A year ago, Rutan and Allen captured the $10 million Ansari X Prize when SpaceShipOne dashed to the edge of space twice. The prize was aimed at encouraging space tourism through the development of low-cost private spacecraft.

Rutan told several hundred visitors in the building's giant lobby that he was pleased the Smithsonian so quickly recognized the importance of SpaceShipOne.

"I knew that the significance would be known and understood by everyone in 10 years," said Rutan, 62. "I'm extremely pleased to see it here this early."
::::::::::::::::

This is definitely as it should be. SpaceshipOne is a marvel of engineering and a proof to the concept that the state-run That's-The-Way-We've-Always-Done-It&trade path to space ain't the only game in town. NASA's people are the geniuses everyone thinks they are, but Rutan is, too, and NASA needed a little shaking up. If we could just get NASA applying their mass to the methods pioneered by Rutan... well, it'd be a wonder to behold, let's just say that.

Congrats to SpaceshipOne and Burt Rutan, again!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Racism not so easy to call when it's yours

In the second such incident in a couple of weeks, we have a white person wanting membership in a group that's been designated a "no-whites" zone.

::::::::Tennessee Rep. Stacy Campfield may seem an unlikely candidate for his state's black caucus . But the white Republican said he wants to join the group to serve a segment of his constituency better.

But Campfield's membership to the caucus was rejected and the state representative says it's because of the color of his skin.

"Only blacks can become full members — full and equal members," Campfield said. "I think that's the definition of racism."
::::::::

I think it is, too, Mr. Campfield. It's easy enough to locate the definition, in case someone has a question about it:

::::::::[n] discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of another race::::::::

The story quotes Stefanie Lindquist, a law and polysci professor at Vanderbilt, as saying that this situation pits the Constitution against itself. She's speaking of the 1st Amendment against the 14th: that of the freedom of association against the equal protection causes. Due respect to Professor Lindquist, but I think it's not as contentious as she describes. The 1st Amendment's associations clause, in my very-non-lawyerly opinion, does not apply here because we're talking about a group of elected officials who have formed a caucus within the confines of an elected legislative body. They are given access to the legislative activity not enjoyed by any other group not similarly formed. In short, they've got a lot more capability to affect legislation than the NAACP, for example, and the black caucus holds its meetings and avails itself of the amenities offered at taxpayer expense. The Boy Scouts are a private organization and have every right to be as exclusive in their membership as they choose to be, primarily because they don't take taxpayer funds in the normal course of operation.

Here's another example, a little closer to home for the people having a problem admitting a white man to this organization. There is no question in any of their minds as to the correctness or legality of the stance of a landowner in rejecting a rental application on the basis of race. A white man who owns an apartment who refuses to rent that apartment to a black man is in deep legal trouble.

Why? Isn't he permitted, under the freedom of association clause of the 1st Amendment, to associate or not associate with whomever he chooses? If he chooses to associate only with white people and, therefore, will only rent to them, isn't this the same attitude being given to Representative Campfield? I can assure you that no one from the black caucus would be wondering which Amendment held the dominant position with respect to our hypothetical landlord, the 1st or the 14th. And, I'd like to point out, the landlord is a private citizen deciding the disposition of his private property. It would seem, to me, that the landlord has a much better case to be exclusive in his private dealings regarding his private property than the black caucus has in its situation.

Racism is racism and it doesn't matter who's doing it and what color the target is. If the black caucus wants to be taken seriously as regards their very real concerns about racism when applied to their constituents, they need to be equally concerned about the racism in their own midst.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Zarqawi justifies killing non-combatant civilians

Al-Qaeda leader Zarqawi has issued a statement declaring that "Islam does not differentiate between civilians and military, but rather distinguishes between Muslims and infidels," admitting in crystal clear language that each and every non-Muslim is a target regardless of their combatant status. A new audiotape released has him saying, also, "Muslim blood must be spared ... but it is permissible to spill infidel blood." Of course, he's also declared that every Shiite in Iraq is a heretic and therefore infidel and therefore fair targets, so I guess not all Muslim blood must be spared.

The key here is his differentiator. Any non-muslim, or rather any non-his-kind-of-muslim, can be and should be killed in this ongoing effort to establish the global Caliphate he and bin Laden have spoken so glowingly of. The actions or non-actions of such people are irrelevant. It's their submission to Islam that's key. If they do so, they live. If they don't, they die. In the end, the Jewish soldier, the Christian businessman, and the atheist anti-war protester are each and every one exactly the same in the eyes of these terrorists. They are infidel and will, each and every one, bow in submission or be killed.

These guys are the huge minority, but 1 homicidal maniac in a room of 100 people who won't defend themselves is going to be 1 blood soaked nutcase in a room with 100 corpses soon enough. Taking the fight to the terrorists is the only winning tactic and a strategy of improving the conditions for all people, muslim or not, is the only winning solution.