Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Iraq situation report

...by American Enterprise editor Karl Zinsmeister. Thanks to Jack Kelly over at Irish Pennants for the link.

::::::::Your editor has just returned from another month in Iraq—my fourth extended tour in the last two and a half years. During November and December I joined numerous American combat operations, including the largest air assault since the beginning of the war, walked miles of streets and roads, entered scores of homes, listened to hundreds of Iraqis, observed voting at a dozen different polling sites, and endured my third roadside ambush. With this latest firsthand experience, here are answers to some common queries about how the war is faring.::::::::

A good read if you're interested in some first hand reporting.

Fox News is reporting Alito Confirmed by Senate - Updated, Twice

Fox's site still shows the story as a "likely" confirmation of Judge Alito to the Supreme Court but they've also got a breaking-news banner that says the vote's in. Alito appears to have been confirmed by the Senate.

Update: Our local news radio station, WTOP, has the story. Alito was confirmed 58-42 by the Senate. I would imagine this will be a largely party-line vote. We'll see when the results get posted.

Update again: Here's the roll coll for the voting. I note that 1 Republican voted "no" as did all but 4 Democrats. Paul Mirengoff over at Power Line speaks about the era this vote has just introduced and says it best:

::::::::This was basically a straight party line vote -- 90 percent of the Democrats voted no. The vote changes the "rules" for confirming Supreme Court Justices. Under the Alito rule, Senators will vote against highly qualified nominee for no reason other than that they expect the nominee to rule contrary to their preference on major issues. Under the Alito rule, the president's party, in effect, must control the Senate in order for the president to have top-notch nominees of his choice confirmed. When the the president's party doesn't control the Senate, only compromise nominees acceptable to both parties can expect to be confirmed.::::::::

Indeed. Alito's record of ruling by the laws passed by the legislature was never the issue. His rate of being overturned by appeals wasn't the issue. The issue - fully, completely - was 1) whether Alito would die before voting to overturn Roe v. Wade and 2) whether he'd side with Congress against the President when any question of who had the authority in a given matter was raised. The Dems and leftish Republican Lincoln Chafee thought the answer to both those questions was "no" and, therefore, voted no. Experience and a 15-year record on the bench be damned, Alito's politics were just the wrong flavor.

And this, thanks to the Democrats and Mr. Chafee, is now the playing field all subsequent nominees will get to play on. All their work, all their learning, all their striving to be good jurists are useless wastes of time. Only their stance on the more divisive issues of the day in question will matter. Paul's right: from here on out, no President will be able to select the best, most talented members of the legal profession to sit on the High Court unless his party controls the Senate. If they don't, only the most bland ones will do.

Who do you think gets hurt by that most? The President, whoever that is? Hardly. Eight years and they're gone. Congress? What do they care? They've made sure most laws they pass don't apply to them anyway. No, my fellow Americans, it's us. We citizens who get to live with the results of their petty squabbling will pay the price of having people at the highest level of the judicial system making boneheaded decisions due to a lack of experience, insight, and just plain good jurisprudence. The Republicans had, during the Clinton years of 1994 to 2000, opportunities to play this politics game with the membership of the Supreme Court. They recognized that a difference in idealogy was insufficient reason to vote down a qualified candidate for the post. That the idealogy wasn't the point of the nomination at all. They had the chance to do exactly what the Democrats have done here today - and they controlled the Senate so it would have stuck - and they didn't. They placed the respect for the will of the people as embodied in their choice for President above their idealogical differences with the man and focused on the judicial qualifications of the nominee. The Democrats have not and do not. What benefit could possibly accrue to the Republicans and their supporters to not follow this example?

This new era into which we are being carried along with all the nominees to come is entirely of the Democrats' making. I hope they enjoy the change to the world they've wrought.

Tell me again about not being gouged?

"Exxon's quarterly profit of $10.7 billion a record"

::::::::Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company, reported a record quarterly profit of $10.7 billion yesterday, capping the most profitable year in U.S. corporate history.

The results pushed up Exxon's profit for the year to a record $36.13 billion -- bigger than the economies of 125 of the 184 countries ranked by the World Bank.

Tell me again how a company making 10 billion dollars in 90 days is only doing so-so. Or that they're really only making a reasonable profit. I'm still paying close to $2.50 a gallon for gas and these guys are pulling down $10 billion a quarter. What's wrong with this picture?

Don't get me wrong. I believe strongly in capitalism. What I don't believe in is gouging people unfairly. Decent profits I have no issue with. Profits as significant as those being posted by the oil companies recently aren't just the random fluctuations of market supply and demand. It's from charging a hell of a lot more per gallon of gas than it cost to produce it and, once you get past all the biz-speak smokescreen being put into the air over it, that's the reality of the situation. I'm not prepared to endorse a windfall profit tax - yet - but this isn't a situation where the market will simply adjust around. If we were talking about blue jeans and the price started spiking up, people would simply not buy them. There are alternatives to it, one of which is to simply do without for a while. Our mobile society has made it impossible to simply get by without buying gas. Even out here in Northern Virginia where we've made large investments in recent years in our public transit systems, the neighborhoods in which we live just don't allow people to get what they need without getting into a car. Checking out the price at the pump and saying, "forget it, I'll just walk" isn't an option here. It's not an option in a lot of the country.

That's why this situation requires more oversight than watching the price of blue jeans. I remain unconvinced that the prices aren't being "agreed to" by the refining companies nor am I confident that the refining capacity in this country isn't as low as it is due to some decision to make sure it stays that way. If someone wants an investigation on something, try starting there.

More biased reporting. (This post's not what you think.)

As any of my longer-time readers know, I'm not a fan of the MSM's "opinion-masquerading-as-news" approach to writing stories. Editorials and opinion columns are fine for that sort of thing but when you're purporting to report the news, you need to leave dripping bias out of it. I aim that criticism at the liberal media quite often. The Washington Times isn't one of them, but they're going to get my criticism today.

The story I wrote my last post referencing (the Liberal activists who plan to try to suppress the President's speech) literally screams "bias" and it's bias against the protesters, not the administration. It's so bloody obvious it's embarrassing. You get the first part of it right there in the quote I posted. Why is it necessary to point out that some of the activists are "graying leftovers" from the Vietnam era? It doesn't end there, either. Check out this bit of prose:

::::::::Attending yesterday's private lunch were about 100 anti-war activists, many of them silver-haired, bespectacled veterans of the 1960s in linty sweaters and Naturalizers, nibbling on vegan pizza and bean sprouts. On the wall was a painted collage of slogans ("Make Love Not War") and nostalgic faces such as Joan Baez, Bella Abzug and a younger, thinner Ralph Nader.::::::::

Now, what in the world does their attire have to do with the message they're putting out? "Linty sweaters?" Judgemental, much?

The author of this story couldn't have been more blatant without spelling it out: The protesters are old, out of touch, old, icky liberals. Did I mention they're old? She takes up valuable inches relating how 1 of the aging, ancient protesters recalls an article written in 1974. (Oh my God. People from 1974 are still alive??? The horror!) Between that and trying to portray Ramsey Clark as a doddering old man she's just doing her best to convince her readers that these people can be dismissed owing to their age.

It's that action - trying to convince her readers of something rather than informing them of what's going on - that crosses the line between reporting and advocacy. It's not acceptable when the liberals at the New York Times do it and it's not acceptable at the Washington Times, either.

Liberals plan suppression of free speech

In their classic "Free speech for me but not for thee" stance, a liberal activist group seeking the ouster of President Bush will attempt to suppress the President's speech tonight.

::::::::Liberal activists -- among them graying leftovers from the Vietnam-era antiwar movement -- plan to gather near the Capitol tonight, banging pots and pans to drown out President Bush's State of the Union address. ::::::::

The only safe bet to make is that their plan is likely to be highly ineffective. One has to wonder what message they're trying to get across, except that they don't want the President to be heard. A strange stance to take for people who claim their viewpoints are being systematically suppressed. I have no issue with people protesting - so long as they obey the laws - but I have no sympathy for a group of people who think their viewpoint deserves widespread coverage while working to drown out an opposing view. If you can't argue the opposition's points, that's your problem. It's not an excuse to suppress them.

Ohio Sheriff fed up with illegal aliens

Butler County, Ohio Sheriff Richard K. Jones has decided to get the attention of Congress and the President on the matter of illegal aliens by sending them a bill for the upkeep on keeping the illegals in jail. He's got about 900 illegal aliens in his jail system and he's fed up with the situation.

::::::::He said 900 foreign-born inmates have been booked into the crowded Butler County jail in the past year.

"Why should Butler County taxpayers have to pay for jail costs associated with people we don't believe should ever have been in this country, let alone this state or county, to begin with?" Sheriff Jones said. "They are in my jail because they have committed crimes here.

"It's time the federal government should at least pay for the criminals they let stay here," he said. "If they don't want to pay for them, then they can deport them."

To their credit, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have been involved in the matter and have done what the laws allow them to do. These illegals are all in jail - every one of them - because they committed crimes in Butler County. ICE has put an "immigrations detainer" status on the illegal aliens who are subject to removal and will initiate that process when their criminal proceedings are done. That's all very good, but it begs the question, "what do you mean, 'who are subject to removal'?" That implies that there are illegals in there who aren't so subject. The story doesn't say, but it sounds like a helluva good subject for a investigative report, doesn't it?

The Sheriff acknowledges the help from ICE but he puts the blame for this situation squarely on Congress and the Bush administration for failing to secure the borders. The story also mentions his holding the Mexican government at fault, so I can only assume his primary illegal alien population is Mexican or entered the country from that direction. I happen to agree with the Sheriff: the Bush administration and Congress are at fault here. I've spoken repeatedly about the measures they could enact to secure that border and to handle the issue of illegal aliens already here in the States. Illegals who commit crimes (and I mean other crimes, besides illegal entry) should be a no-brainer. They get photographed, fingerprinted, ID'd in any manner we so chose and then they get booted out of the country for life. Sayonara and good fortune in your endeavors but you ain't gonna do it here again.

I hope the Sheriff's protest by demand-for-payment works out.

Techie Post: Up and running for 1452 days

One of our clients finally called last week to get an upgrade on a piece of equipment they've had for a while. I say "for a while" because, frankly, none of us on this particular engineering staff had been on the team that did the initial install, so we weren't quite sure what the deployment date was. When we got the call, the engineer in charge asked them how long this switch had been running for them. Servers and other pieces of equipment usually run into scenarios where they need to be reset, in some cases as often as every couple of days. (I have horror stories about some Microsoft servers...)

The client checked the status display and told us: the switch has been running continuously for 1452 days. That's 8 days shy of 4 years. And that's in a fully utilized production environment, not some low-usage lab somewhere.

Now that's good engineering.

Putin touts Russian missile systems

In a statement that sounded more like the Cold War than anything else, Russian President Putin spoke glowingly about his country's latest missile technology which, he says, is "immune" to missile defense systems.

::::::::"Russia ... has tested missile systems that no one in the world has," the ITAR-Tass, Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies quoted him as saying at a news conference. "These missile systems don't represent a response to a missile defense system, but they are immune to that. They are hypersonic and capable of changing their flight path."

Putin said the new missiles were capable of carrying nuclear warheads. He wouldn't say whether the Russian military already had commissioned any such missiles.


Putin said that the new missiles were capable of changing both the altitude and the direction of their flight, making it impossible for an enemy to intercept them.

"A missile defense system is designed to counter missiles moving along a ballistic trajectory," Putin was quoted as saying.

Putin and other Russian officials have boasted of the new missiles in similar comments in recent years, but they haven't identified them or given any further details other than about their ability to change their flight path on approach to a target.

Most analysts viewed the earlier announcements about "hypersonic" missile systems as Moscow's response to U.S. missile defense plans.

Well, isn't that nice? Considering that no other country on earth has come anywhere close to deploying an anti-missile system of the type Putin speaks of you don't have to wonder too long for whom these missiles are supposed to be deployed against. Gee, Vlad, are you saying you don't like us? And is this move supposed to frighten the US into cowering before the colossal might of the Russian Federation? I'd like to point out that the Soviet Union tried just such tactics and the US did not respond as the Soviets thought they would. We responded by putting even better arms in our arsenal and coming up with new countermeasures. Turns out we came up with countermeasures for weapons that didn't really exist. Think we can do that again?

I'm thinking: yes.

All of which, frankly, is unnecessary although I think I can understand why Putin is doing this. It's just a reminder, though, that not all threats to the US are emanating from a cave in Pakistan.

Alito's confirmation vote scheduled for today.

It's yet another election Tuesday here in Northern Virginia, this time a special election to fill the vacant seat of our State Senator. As is usual with events like this, it's raining, cold, and dreary outside. While the weather has never once been sufficient to deter me from getting to the poles - today will be no different - it appears to be a big deal to some.

It won't be to the Senate today, I'm guessing. After voting convincingly for cloture yesterday, the Senate will take up the motion to confirm Judge Alito as the newest member of the Supreme Court. All indications are that he's going to get the votes. Expect to hear about it in the State of the Union address tonight. It will be interesting to see how the vote goes. I'll have more to post when those results are known. Until then...

Coretta Scott King dies

Coretta Scott King, window of Martin Luther King, Jr., has died. She was 78.

Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. Amen.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Filibuster on Alito busted

Just a quick note here that the Senate has voted for cloture on the nomination of Judge Alito to the Supreme Court by a vote of 72-25. This means the vote will take place tomorrow at 11:30 am as scheduled on the matter to actually confirm him. He's expected to garner the necessary 51 votes easily. Looks like the Gang of 14 all decided not to support the filibuster. Nice try, Kerry. Go hit the slopes again.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Accidental shot talk misses the mark

So, I'm catching up on my blog reading this morning and I caught up on the Virginia issues with Commonwealth Conservative. One of his posts linked to Commonwealth Watch. When I finished reading that particular story I decided to check out the rest of the Watch's site to see what I'd been missing. That's when I saw this post.

::::::::The shot by Del. Jack Reid reported everywhere in major media and covered thoroughly in the blogosphere has potentially created one casaulty. Reid is rumored to be the #1 targeted recruit for some conservatives to make a run at unseating Sen. Walter Stosch in 2007. Unfortunately, I have not heard what Reid's interest level is (was), but one can only imagine this latest episode did not do much to increase his chance of running.::::::::

Clearly I've not been keeping up with the goings-on in Richmond because I didn't have a clue what they were talking about. A quick search fixed that issue and brought me to this article in yesterday's Washington Post.

::::::::Virginia's General Assembly is a well-guarded place. Toss a snowball at a Confederate hero's statue on the capitol grounds and a vigilant Capitol Police officer is likely to reproach you, hand on holster. But the policing is apparently inadequate for John S. "Jack" Reid, a Republican member of the state House of Delegates who is in the habit of carrying a handgun as he carries out the people's work. On Thursday Mr. Reid accidentally fired his pistol in his office, miraculously hitting only a bulletproof vest hanging on the wall.::::::::

This paragraph is a wealth of information, and not just about Delegate Reid and his "shot heard 'round Richmond." But about the "shot" specifically, let's get up-to-date. Seems Delegate Reid carries a firearm. According to this editorial in the Post, it's a ".380-caliber automatic". Sounds like a new way to say "38 caliber" to me, but that's how the editorial is written. Delegate Reid managed to discharge the weapon in his office and, miracle of miracles, managed to hit a bulletproof vest that was hanging on his wall.

Personally, I think there's more to it than is being reported and I strongly suspect that a little inattention to trigger discipline is involved. That's a matter for the investigation into the incident to uncover and if Delegate Reid was simply being careless with his weapon he should be called to account for that. But this isn't the "classic case" the gun-ban advocates are claiming it is. These folks - and this editor is clearly one of them - would have you believe that the merest act of carrying a weapon is a significant danger to everyone in the area. Don't take my word for it:

::::::::Mr. Reid says his .380-caliber automatic affords him the protection he needs to carry out his legislative responsibilities; occasionally, he notes, he receives irate phone calls. By that standard, customer service reps, lost-baggage agents and, yes, not a few journalists would come to work packing heat. But they don't -- at least we hope they don't -- because it's unnecessary and dangerous. Accidents happen.::::::::

Emphasis mine. "Unnecessary and dangerous?" Unnecessary by whose definition. I personally think its unnecessary to have editors at major newspapers write opinions chock full of unsupported assertions like this one and be able to do so without signing their names. But that's my opinion, not a fact. That this editor, whoever he is, thinks it's unnecessary to carry a gun is his opinion and it's blissfully unencumbered with any facts to support it. He tries to give this impression weight by referring to the prodigious amount of armed protection available at the General Assembly - along with the added cheap shot about how racist we Virginians must be that we send armed guards to pull weapons on people who toss snowballs at our hallowed Confederate Heroes. The obvious question that this editor's mind is apparently incapable of forming is: what about when the Delegate isn't on the grounds of the General Assembly? When he's - for example - on his way there? Or home? Or headed to the grocery? Is the editor alleging that these Capitol Police officers are patrolling those areas, too?

Must be a whole lot of Confederate Hero statues around.

As for "dangerous," the simple act of carrying a firearm is no more dangerous than sitting in a car. You're in contact with a machine and, if you operate the machine properly, it's safe. He says that accidents happen. I say it's far from a proven that this was an accident. If the Delegate pulled his weapon out of his pocket and failed to maintain sufficient trigger discipline while doing it while also failing to keep the barrel of the weapon pointed somewhere safe, then that's not an accident. (Although I had the thought cross my mind as I was writing that that pointing the weapon at the bulletproof vest might, in fact, be the safest place to point it when you're on the 7th floor of a crowded office building.)

All of which misses the mark about carrying a firearm in the United States. As much as the gun-banning crowd might dislike it, the Founding Fathers knew full well that enshrining the right to keep and bear arms in the Constitution was important precisely because they had direct experience with people who banned the ownership of firearms "for the good of the people." The right to keep and bear arms is a right of every law-abiding citizen in the country. It's not a right if someone else thinks it's "necessary," it's not a right if someone else agrees it's not "dangerous," it's a right, period. Plain, simple, and finally. That Delegate Reid carries a firearm because he feels he needs the protection is a nice datapoint, but the fact is that he is allowed to carry a firearm because the Constitution specifically says he's got the right. People who don't like that can try to amend the Constitution, if they like, but the law today is that the Delegate can carry the gun.

Times up for Humuhumunukunukuapua'a

Poor little guy probably didn't even get the notice to re-file. Seems the State Fish of Hawaii (you knew they had a state fish, right?) ran out of time for holding his office recently. The rectangular triggerfish was given the job back in 1984 but the title grant had an expiration date. That date apparently passed without anyone doing anything about it.

::::::::In 1984 the state Legislature asked the University of Hawaii and the Waikiki Aquarium to survey the public and come up with a candidate for the state fish. The humuhumu was swept into the spot in part through the support of school children who learned of the campaign through classroom projects.

Although the issue of the state fish would seem to come with little controversy, the method used to poll the public was questioned and lawmakers limited the designation to five years.

No one told the public that the humuhumu's reign was over, so few knew anything had changed.

The Mrs. and I have been to Hawaii a few times and the humuhumu was still touted as the State Fish. My ability to actually correctly pronounce the Hawaiian name for the fish got our table a round of drinks and free dessert at a restaurant in LaHaina. Yeah, I know it's silly but I really hope they do something about restoring the old boy to his status.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

NTSB suggests banning specific landing procedure

When a Southwest Airlines flight overran the runway at Chicago Midway I cautioned that everyone should wait for the NTSB to finish its investigation before concluding what happened. In the meantime, the investigation began to focus on the thrust reversers of the aircraft and whether they had deployed as expected. Today, we have a report that offers more detail and a suggestion from the NTSB.

::::::::The National Transportation Safety Board said the pilots should not have factored in the plane's thrust reversers _ which help slow the plane _ when they estimated how long it would take to stop during a December snowstorm at Chicago's Midway Airport.

The agency said the Southwest Airlines jet touched down with about 4,500 feet of runway remaining, but snowy conditions and other factors meant the plane needed about 5,300 feet of runway to stop.

According to flight recorder data, the thrust reversers did not deploy until 18 seconds after landing, the report also said. That's more than 10 seconds beyond normal deployment, according to aviation experts.

Calculating in the effect of the thrust reversers is actually not a common procedure. Many aircraft manufacturers simply don't allow it when they publish the performance tables for their planes. There are some models, however, that do still permit it and this specific model of the Boeing 737 was one of those. The critical factor here is in the time it took the reversers to deploy. If you've read my other posts, you know that the speed the plane was moving at touchdown would have allowed roughly 30 seconds to get the plane to a halt. If the reversers didn't deploy until 18 seconds into the landing, then you've got 12 seconds of reverse thrust available to bring the plane to a stop. That clearly wasn't enough. So what kept them from deploying?
::::::::Thrust reversers typically deploy automatically _ six seconds or less after a plane's wheels touch the runway, said Paul Czysz, professor emeritus of aerospace engineering at Saint Louis University.

In this case, a computer used to calculate landing specifications "assumed they would go on immediately," he said.

Investigators haven't determined whether the pilots tried to deploy the thrust reversers manually, NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said.

The flight's captain told investigators he did try immediately upon landing but could not. The first officer said he deployed the reverse thrusters after he noticed they weren't working, the report said.

So the system designed to drop the reversers on landing failed to fire automatically. The question of "why?" is the one that needs to be answered and there's still nothing to say what the reason was one way or another. OK, next comes the question of what the crew did in response to that failure and was it appropriate? The captain says he tried to deploy them manually immediately upon landing. I assume he actually meant "immediately upon seeing they didn't pop automatically." So, that's about 6 seconds into landing. Figure it takes a second or two to 1) realize they aren't coming down on their own and 2) actuate the reverser control. We're up to 8 seconds or so, which leaves about 10 seconds between that attempt and the first officer's successful deployment. So, the question there is, first, did the captain actually attempt to deploy them? Did he hit the control and it didn't work? Did he mistakenly actuate a different control? Was there something going on in the system that failed to respond to the captain's attempt but corrected in time for the first officers? Are there 2 separate controls for the reversers (1 for the captain, 1 for the F/O) and the captain's fail? If so, why?

You see that an investigation is a complicated thing and you need to answer all these questions before you can conclude what caused the accident. Recall that your conclusions are going to guide the actions of pilots everywhere from this point forward, so you need to be right the first time. To say nothing of what a finding of pilot error will do to the careers of the pilots of that plane. And for what it will do for the souls of the family of that child who died.

Tread carefully, boys. As always I'll pass along more when I know more.

Lynn Swann: rich white guy?

Even as much of a sports-clueless guy as I am knows who Lynn Swann is. Some sports heroes simply transcend the fan base and make it into the lexicon of the public as a whole whether the particular person is a sports nut or not. Tiger Woods. Michael Jordan. Wayne Gretzky. And, yes, Lynn Swann.

The other thing I've become well acquainted with over the past couple of years is that the left side of our political spectrum has no issue making racially biting comments and busting on a person's race so long as that person is a conservative or a Republican. The Michael Steele situation in Maryland is a prime example and it's not the only one.

When a Republican makes a similar attack on a fellow Republican, that's a whole other matter. And it's worse. From Michelle Malkin:

::::::::On a local TV call-in show, Seif and Swann campaign aide Ray Zaborney were debating when Seif casually unloaded a disgraceful race-based slur against Swann:


SEIF: The--uh, uh--Bill Scranton has--and I've known him for 30 years now--as much integrity as any person I've ever known. And that means intellectual integrity as well. His decision on the primary was made after a great deal of thought, a great deal of anger that one of the candidates had been captured by Senate leadership, by the party, by others, and directed into pretending he had the victory sewn up and pretending that he was the outsider. In fact, the rich white guy in this campaign is Lynn Swann. He's the one that hangs around the, uh.

ZABORNEY: That's one of the most ridiculous and insulting things that I think I've heard in politics. You're two-for-two tonight -- two of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard in politics.

That's putting it mildly. When one of the callers into the show took issue with Seif about it, this miserable excuse for a campaign manager took the Durbin&trade approach and apologized that someone might be offended rather than simply apologize for making a stupid remark. The good news is that Bill Scranton took the high road:
::::::::Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Scranton fired his campaign manager and apologized for a racially charged remark the manager made about former Steelers star Lynn Swann, Scranton's rival for the GOP nomination.

On a televised call-in show Wednesday night, James Seif said "the rich white guy in this campaign is Lynn Swann."

Scranton, in a statement released from his campaign, said he was trying to reach Swann last night to apologize.

"I want to apologize to Lynn Swann, his family, supporters and campaign," Scranton said. He expressed "deep personal regret and anger" and said Seif's comment "in no way whatsoever reflect my views or those of my campaign."

This kind of race attack isn't acceptable on the Republican side of the debate and shouldn't be tolerated from anyone. I'm glad Scranton did what he did - it was the right thing to do - but I'm unsure it'll help him get out of the hole Seif put him in. I would recommend any Republican considering running in an election look elsewhere for campaign managment, however, and leave Seif in retirement.

Mexico denies its soldiers involved in border dispute

The reported presence of Mexican military units in illegal border crossing (the highest-profile one being a matter of 3 SUV's carrying drugs) has raised the tension already mounting between Mexico and the US. Mexican officials deny their troops are involved. Law enforcement and Border Patrol agents here are equally adamant that the gear being used is clearly military. In the tapes and photographs I've seen I find it hard to disagree. These alleged Mexican troops aren't riding in the bed of a Toyota pickup truck or in a surlus Soviet-era Zil. They're in a military-variant Humvee and it's got a .50 cal mounted up top.

The upcoming hearings on the matter will bring more to light, I hope, but one thing's for certain. If Mexico reported seeing illegal crossings where men in American military uniforms were seen riding American military vehicles, you can bet our military would be wanting to flood the zone to catch them. I wonder why Mexico's isn't?

Friday, January 27, 2006

The worst of biases: statements of unsupported facts

As most of my readers are aware, I don't hold the so-called "mainstream media", or MSM, in high regard. I feel they have abandoned their role of keeping the public actually informed and are, instead, interested only in pressing their agenda. That agenda happens to be squarely on the liberal side of the spectrum. They bias their reporting in the language they use, the questions they ask (or don't ask), the stories they run with great frequency and those they ignore, and in the act of reporting opinions and theories as facts. This last is probably the worst of the bunch because it's the most subtle. They toss in a reference to something by way of discussing a completely separate topic and do so in such a way as to avoid allowing any dialog on their referent facts. I ran into another one of those today.

Seems the PM-elect up in Canada, Stephen Harper, decided to make it clear nice and early that he's no puppet of the US and is making noises about Canada's territorial claims to regions in the Arctic Circle. Specifically, he's claiming a section of seawater that we routinely use to transit our subs up in to the polar areas. We say it's international waters and Harpers says it's Canadian. That's news and it's important that we know the issue has risen.

Get this comment, however, buried in the story:

::::::::Canadian media reported last month that a U.S. nuclear submarine traveled secretly through Canadian Arctic waters in November on its way to the North Pole.

The Northwest Passage runs from the Atlantic through the Arctic to the Pacific.

Global warming is melting the passage — which is only navigable during a slim window in the summer — and exposing unexplored fishing stocks and an attractive shipping route. Commercial ships can shave off some 2,480 miles off the trip from Europe to Asia compared with the current routes through the Panama Canal.

Emphasis mine. Global warming is a theory. While there is data to fuel the discussion, there's plenty of data that suggests that no such phenomenon is actually happening. Bottom line is this: no one's proven that global warming exists, let alone that it's responsible for melting the passage. Assuming that the passage is even melting, in fact as opposed to in theory.

But there it is, tossed out there in an unrelated story as if it were as solid a fact as the existence of the moon, plainly visible to all. It is this kind of casual bias that causes the serious damage to people's ability to discuss the issue clearly. That's what I find so galling about the MSM these days.

Google true to its word

Well, it's true to its word to the Chinese government, in any case, when it said it would filter out material deemed "unapproved" by that government. The word to the rest of us where Google said it would "do no evil" appears to have less weight to it. Exhibit A: from LGF.

And you thought those secret handshakes were silly

Here's an interesting blurb over on Fox. (It's at the bottom of the page.)

::::::::A charter-school principal in Cleveland has resigned, after failing to recognize a secret handshake.

That's what tipped off the head of the school's advisory board that the principal might have lied about his background.

The advisory board leader, Tim Goler, had been a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. The principal, Lewis Thomas, claimed to have been a member as well.

But when Goler offered Thomas the fraternity's secret handshake, Thomas didn't recognize it.

This apparently made Goler suspicious enough to check out the rest of Thomas' resume and it appears much of it was false. Thomas says he resigned for "personal reasons" rather than over the fact that he got caught.

Brush up on those handshakes, you fraternity alumni. You never know when it's gonna come in handy. So to speak.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

White House on Mexican border maps: Knock it off!

The Bush Administration finally came out and said the obvious in the situation where the Mexican government is printing and distributing maps detailing the best areas to illegally cross the US border.

::::::::The Bush administration yesterday accused the Mexican government of facilitating illegal entry into the United States after Mexican officials said they would distribute maps of dangerous border areas and posters with safety instructions and other tips.

Mexico's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said the maps, which would provide details of the terrain, cell-phone coverage and water stations set up by the U.S. charity Humane Borders, would help to save lives.

"We oppose in the strongest terms the publication of maps to aid those who wish to enter the United States illegally," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "It is a bad idea to encourage migrants to undertake this highly dangerous and ultimately futile effort.

"This effort will entice more people to cross, leading to more migrant deaths and the further enrichment of the criminal human trafficking rings that prey on the suffering of others," he said.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States would "take whatever steps it deems necessary to protect its own borders."

"No government, including the government of Mexico, should facilitate or encourage its citizens to try to enter the United States outside established legal procedures," he said.

It's about damn time. Can you imagine the crap we'd take if America started printing up detailed instructions on how to avoid Russian border guards or the best areas to penetrate Chinese territory? It'd be a lot, trust me.

I had high hopes for Vincente Fox, I really did. But his government is actively working to see Mexican nationals - and anyone else who mosey's into his country - can get across our borders in violation of our laws. He could stop that activity immediately if he chose, but he doesn't. It's pretty clear why not. This is just another reason why we need to make real enforcement of our immigrations laws a priority and why we need to plug the holes in the border right now.

When you toss in the incursion by armed men dressed in Mexican military uniforms to the mix, this is a situation where the government of Mexico is dangerously provoking a neighboring sovereign power. He needs to explain himself fully and swiftly. He also needs to move, immediately, to bring these actions to a halt. That or he needs to be ready to receive some of his former citizens in body bags.

BB&T refuses to fund eminent domain for private use

One of the methods used by legislative bodies to curtail behaviors they don't like and are unable to outlaw outright is to refuse to fund the activity. You see this all the time. One of the most broad-reaching of these was when Congress decided that 18-year-olds are perfectly capable of voting for the next president, are perfectly responsible for their own actions legally, and are perfectly required to die in combat, but can't be trusted to tip a brew. The federal government did not pass a law saying that 21 was the new legal drinking age. They passed a law saying they wouldn't fund the highway projects in states that didn't adopt a 21 age limit for drinking. See the difference?

Apparently a bank has learned that tactic well. BB&T, a fairly large presence here in the DC area, has decided that they will not loan money to outfits who intend to develop on land taken by eminent domain for private usage.

::::::::"The idea that a citizen's property can be taken by the government solely for private use is extremely misguided; in fact, it's just plain wrong," said John Allison, the bank's chairman and chief executive officer.

BB&T Chief Credit Officer Ken Chalk said the North Carolina bank expects to lose only a tiny amount of business, but thinks it is obligated to take a stand on the issue.

"It's not even a fraction of a percent," he said. "The dollar amount is insignificant." But, he added, "We do business with a large number of consumers and small businesses in our footprint. We are hearing from clients that this is an important philosophical issue."

Mr. Chalk said he knows of no other large U.S. bank with a similar policy.

I approve and applaud. Well done, folks.

My stance on eminent domain in cases where the land is being taken for private commercial development hasn't changed at all: I think it's dead wrong. Getting the Congresscritters to step up and do the right thing legislatively might be tough but it's nice to see private entities doing what they can.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I'm a Lamborghini?

Oooookay... When I saw this on Instapundit I figured I'd give it a shot. A quick dozen questions and here's the result:

I'm a Lamborghini Murcielago!

You're not subtle, but you don't want to be. Fast, loud, and dramatic, you want people to notice you, and then get out of the way. In a world full of sheep, you're a raging bull.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.


I'm unsure how you get from my answers to this description, but there you go. So, what kind of sports care are you?

Virginia pols introduce bills to handle illegal aliens

This AP article talks about the increasing effort in Virginia to deal with the problem of illegal immigrants. Like most AP articles, however, it's got the normal lean to the leftward perspective on the matter.

First, let me say that it's a good thing that this issue is getting some press. It is a major problem and it's feeding into our gang problem as well. The MS-13 gang draws its strength from illegals in this country and evidence is there that they're actually taking an active role in getting more illegals into this country specifically to join their ranks. So it's not just an annoyance as some would paint the issue. By the same token, it's important that any actions we take be justified, well researched, and consistent. Virginians need to be well informed and need to understand the directions being taken in the effort to correct the situation that illegal entry into the country has created. We can't have such citizens if we don't talk about it and that means focusing on it more in the media that people use to stay informed.

I do have an issue with the way the debate is being framed. Part of that is best demonstrated with this paragraph from the story I've linked:

::::::::Dozens of Herndon and Loudoun County residents, frightened and frustrated by a heavy immigrant influx in their communities and day-laborer centers established to help them find work, fanned out across Capitol Square Tuesday vouching for the bills.::::::::

This is the typical method of over-inclusion used by the so-called "immigrants rights" groups. The residents of Loudoun County and Fairfax aren't "frightened and frustrated" by immigrants coming here legally. Anyone who has entered this country in accordance with our immigrations laws and who commits to living by our laws is welcome here. Yes, that includes day-laborers and those people who immigrate here legally will have no problems with the residents here in using the kind of center opened in Herndon for finding work. My problem with the preceding paragraph is the use of the term "immigrant" to include illegal aliens. This blurring of a very significant difference is the factor in making discussion of immigration and border security so fractious.

The bills being introduced are attempts to allow some common-sense efforts at actually enforcing our exist law. I've written before about the problem local law enforcement has in dealing with immigrations. The sad fact is that the law often does not allow them to even arrest someone they know for certain is here illegally unless that person has also committed some other crime. One of the bills being introduced would correct that oversight. Another one required juvenile officers to notify federal authorities when they arrest a juvie who turns out to be an illegal alien. Again, you'd think that was already the case, but it's not. That's a hole in our enforcement that needs to be plugged.

One of the bills requires employers to verify the legal residency of a person seeking employment. Forgive me on this one, but do we not already require that? The US Citizen and Immigrations Services Form I-9 is a requirement that, I personally, have had to comply with for every job I've held for the past several years. That form is supposed to verify that I'm here legally. Can I spoof that form by providing fake documentation? Sure. That's a problem with our documentation, not with the law. If employers are already doing this, why do we need another bill?

The short answer is that this is a State statute where the I-9 is federal. I've not actually read the bill, yet, but perhaps there's a good reason for us to have both. It could be an enforcement jurisdiction issue that's being clarified and, if so, that's good. In any case, requiring employers to verify eligibility is a positive step.

The last bill discussed in the story is one that addresses a situation arroused by the opening of a day-laborer center in Herndon, VA. This site is designed to be a focus point for day-laborers to come to look for work. Employers needing day laborers can also avoid trolling several unofficial sites - a 7-11 in Herndon was one of them - and simply go to the Center to pick up laborers. As a general idea, this is fine. In fact, I support such initiatives. Where this particular center is falling down is in their steadfast refusal to require laborers using their services to verify their legal status. The bill being introduced would prohibit the use of public funds in any such center that doesn't do this kind of verification. While I'm sure the people running this center and the so-called "immigrants rights" groups don't like this bill, I can't see their justification that they shouldn't do the verification and yet local citizens still have to pay for their operations. The bill's not a requirement that they do the verification. It's just setting that as a condition of getting public money. This, of course, leads to accusations of racism.

Which leads us to the other part of the framing of this discussion that ticks me off. The story quotes Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, a lobbyist and advocate for Hispanic and immigrant groups. She says:

::::::::"You can't talk about this problem without realizing there is a racial or ethnic issue here."::::::::

Oh, no? Where in any of this discussion did reference get made to anyone's race or ethnicity? At no time did I or anyone involved in submitting these bills narrow the focus from "illegal aliens" to "illegal Hispanic aliens." In fact, the only group of people who seem unable to talk about this problem without making it a racism issue are the lobbyists and advocates for specific "immigrant" groups. The laws being proposed would apply to any illegal alien and any user of a day-laborers center. That, by definition, removes race as a consideration. Unless, of course, someone's suggesting that a given race or ethnicity offers an insight into who might have a greater probability of being an illegal alien? These laws certainly don't. How about you lobbyists and advocates?

There is 1 bit of new material in this story and that's the suggestion that illegal aliens wouldn't have come here illegally if our government had been more responsive.

::::::::Opponents of the bills say they unfairly target many earnest immigrants in Virginia who have tried to abide by the law only fall victim to an unresponsive federal immigration bureaucracy. ::::::::

Again, I must say it: if they're here illegally, they are not "earnest immigrants." They are illegal aliens. Period. Whether they would like to be legal immigrants or not is beside the point. When decision time came to answer the question of whether to follow the law or break it, they went with "break it." Not a very good position of authority on being law-abiding, I'm afraid.

Now, it's possible that people have been caught in the glacial pace of federal bureacracy. That's happened in plenty of other federal agencies, so it's no stretch to think that it might be happening here. There's going to have to be a lot more information on that to rise above the level of "anecdote" and, if some lobbyist or advocate has more, they should tell the tale. Regardless, it's not a justification to stop enforcement of our immigrations laws as a whole. Problems with the bureacracy should be handled, no question, but the fact that there are problems doesn't make every illegal alien a victim.

(Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the open link.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

That which does not kill us...

...makes us strong, so the saying goes. Or at the very least, it is hoped, a bit wiser. Read ye now of the painful lesson of temperance acquired by one worthy knight of the skies and do be sure to swallow any beverages you might, perchance, be enjoying before you do.


Funny no matter what branch you've enlisted in. (And even if you never have...)

Conservatives win in Canada

As I reported last night, it is now confirmed that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives in Canada have taken over after yesterday's elections. Be sure to check out the liveblog from Captain's Quarters for Ed Morrisey's commentary and the final result posting there as well.

Congrats to the Canadians. Any decision made that disagrees with Michael "Minuteman" Moore is likely in your best interest.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Early results from Canada show a minority win for Conservatives

Captain's Quarters looks like the place to hit for the latest but you'll be in lots of good company. Last I checked, CQ had registered almost 101,000 hits today with over 16,000 in the last hour. Man, I don't get traffic like that in.... Who am I kidding? I don't get traffic like that.

Check in with Michelle Malkin, too, for some of the roundup. One of her readers had an interesting question, to which Michelle had an interesting answer:

::::::::And reader Chris H. in California writes:

"Our losers always tell us they are going to move somewhere like Canada if the voters have the arrogance to elect Republicans. Where do Canadians threaten to go?"

I dunno. Pyongyang?

Ooooo, that's gotta hurt...

Canadians headed to the polls today

After the collapse of the Liberal-led government in Canada over the kickback scandals that received nearly no press here in the States, Canadians are going to the polls today to make their displeasure well known. Fine round-ups are located at Michelle Malkin's site and Captain's Quarters. Ed Morrisey of CQ stands at an interesting spot in all this. His actions to tear away the veil of secrecy on the scandals were literally the only way this Liberal corruption was revealed to the citizens of our northern neighbor. Especially after the Liberal-induced judical gag order on the matter on all Canadian press was imposed, CQ was the sole outlet for concerned Canadians to get the information they needed to prepare for an informed decision today.

The conservative Tories look to win pretty big up there, coming up with at least enough to reverse the governmental makeup there and form a minority government. With the disaffection the other parties feel toward the Liberals - Bloc Quebecois in particular - they should be able to form the coalition they need to advance their agenda for the first time in a decade. Should be interesting.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Lose the sticker

I like it.

(Attempting to trackback on Mudville Gazette. This is kinda sorta a test.)

Belafonte now halucinating about Homeland Security

Fair disclosure, folks: my work involves a number of projects and member agencies of the Department of Homeland Security. (And yes, that's the end of that particular line of discussion.)

Singer-turned-raving, barking moonbat Harry Belafonte apparently decided his screed about George Bush being the biggest terrorist in the world wasn't quite unhinged enough. In order to keep seeing his fading name in print he has now likened the Department of Homeland Security to the Gestapo. That would make all the people I work with on a daily basis - caring professionals, all - the sadistic murderers in black uniforms.

I popped an instant message to one of those colleagues this morning about this story and asked him if there'd been a memo about the uniform change. He replied:

::::::::Yeah sure. The fittings are sked for Monday. So, which is it? Are we the brutal jackboots tossing every protester into a camp ruthlessly or the bumbling ineffective idiots who cant secure the border?::::::::

I told him I'd have to get back to him.

Belafonte's an idiot, plain and simple. I'm not ready to call him a traitor but there are powerful arguments born of his own actions for that label to be applied. He's also delusional if he thinks he's got millions of people in this country that feel he's dead right. That, perhaps, is the root explanation for his actions recently. After having worked directly with his "Gestapo" I can say emphatically he's completely wrong in this latest tantrum. He'd know that if he'd taken 10 minutes to examine the evidence but that would imply he's not making his mind up over nothing but his blinding hatred of George Bush and the attendant overlap with anything having to do with Bush's Party or viewpoints.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Since when does the hostage get paid the ransom?

When the hostage is actually part of the shakedown, that's when. The German government is learning that one the hard way, according to this Reuters report. Remember that German hostage Susan Osthoff? The one the Germans paid big bucks and freed a convicted terrorist and murderer to secure the release of? Seems she had some of the money used to make the payoff on her person when she showed up at the embassy after her "ordeal."

::::::::Part of the ransom money alleged to have been paid by the German government to win the freedom of Iraq hostage Susanne Osthoff last month was found on Osthoff after her release, the German magazine Focus said on Saturday.

Without citing its sources, Focus said officials at the German embassy in Baghdad had found several thousand U.S. dollars in the 43-year-old German archaeologist's clothes when she took a shower at the embassy shortly after being freed.

The serial numbers on the bills matched those used by the government to pay off Osthoff's kidnappers, the magazine said.

Efforts to contact Osthoff for comment through her mother and a friend failed.

I can well imagine they did. Perhaps, in the memory of Robert Stetham, the German government can grow a pair of balls and ask Frau Osthoff just how the hell that money wound up on her person after she was "held hostage" as she was.

Hat tip: LGF

4 of 5 election-day disrupters get plea deal in Wisconsin

The Democratic operatives who engaged in the Wisconsin disruption of Republican "get out the vote" efforts have accepted a plea deal that reduced their felonies to misdemeanors. Four of the five accepted the deal and pled guilty while a fifth was acquitted. Read all about it here.

I cannot, for the life of me, imagine such an outcome of Republican party operatives in Texas accused of the same offense against Democrats going unchallenged and I don't think it should be allowed here. These men did exactly what they're accused of. They have now admitted it since the deal has removed any real punishment for the crimes. Read that carefully. They have admitted to engaging in a conspiracy and activities designed to manipulate an election. And the Democrats seems to think this is a hand-slap problem? Hypocrites. Every single one of them who isn't offended that these men aren't going to do jail time. And I hope circumstances in the future turn around and bite them all in the ass with these same teeth.

The only hope of having a fair outcome of this situation would be for the judge to set aside the deal and impose jail time on these men. And no, that's not judicial activism.This isn't a legislative issue since the laws involving these crimes are already on the books. This would be a judge using his legal power to apply the appropriate penalty to a crime committed in his jurisdiction. I hope he steps up, but given the area of the country we're talking about I don't have much hope for it.

Update: Sean Hackbarth over at The American Mind has a good roundup of the story and reaction to it.

Iraqi election final results

I'm unsure why but the final results from the Iraqi elections are in and I can't say I've seen much in the way of coverage on them. Omar at Iraq the Model has the numbers:

::::::::UIA ~ 5021000….109 seatsfrom the province +19 compensatory=128

Accord Front :~1840000 votes…37 from the province +7 compensatory=44

Dialogue Front (al-Mutlaq) : ~499000 votes… 9 seats from the province+2 compensatory=11

Iraqi List (Allawi) :~977000 votes….21seats from the provinces+4 compensatory=25

Kurdish Alliance : ~2642000 votes…43 seats from the rpovinces+10 compensatory=53

Islamic Union of Kurdistan : ~157000 votes 4 seats from the provinces+1 compensatory=5

Risalyoon: ~145000 votes 1 from the provinces +1 compensatory =2

Musalaha wal Tahreer (Misha’an al-Juboori) : ~129000 ...votes 3 seats from the provinces.

Rafidain (Assyrian): ~ 47000 votes…. 0 seats from the provinces+1 compensatory=1 seat.

Turkman Front: ~ 87000 votes….1 seat

Mithal al-Alusi : ~32000 votes…1 seat from the provinces

Yazidi Movement: ~ 21000 votes…1 seat (compensatory)

TOTAL 275 Seats.

In an interesting update, he says the first objection was actually from the UIA who won the larger number of seats. Their objection is the distribution of the seats in the provinces.

If that's the objection to the elections, then I'd have to say the elections - taken as a whole - were an unquestionable success. My American mind boggles at the thought of having a government comprised of 12 - count 'em, 12! - political parties. I'm not sure if that would relieve the headache we've got with just 2 or turn it into a migraine. I'll be interested to see how it works for them. I'm certainly not above learning from an Iraqi democracy. If they've got something that works better than what we've come up with, I'm interested in looking at it.

Today, however, my congrats to the winners and my hopes that they keep the people they represent firmly in their minds as they proceed with the business of government.

Anti-war group pushes a fraud

Anti-war and blame-America-first group Code Pink, best known for their staged protests outside of military hospitals laughingly waving signs to the wounded inside that they were injured over a lie, has attempted to appropriate images of truly courageous women protesting for their own needs. Publius Pundit has the proof. The group snagged an image of Iranian women protesting the mullahs in Iran - an action that requires true bravery - and performed a ham-handed photoshop on it to turn it into a Code Pink recruiting poster.

I note that Code Pink has taken the image down without so much as mentioning that one of their own had put it up to begin with and no apology for this obvious fraud. What does it say that the membership of Code Pink can't generate their own imagery of crowd of supporting women? That they have to manipulate photos of other protests to make it appear that they are legion? It says they don't have the membership they claim to.

And what does it say that they have no issue whatsoever snagging an image of a woman protesting the mullahs of Iran and the treatment of women there to advance their own agenda of protecting the rule of those mullahs? It says they don't give a damn about women who are being mistreated so long as they can attempt to score points against the Bush administration. Sad. But not unexpected.

See also LGF for their post on the photos - Publius's server is getting smacked around by all the traffic.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Italians apparently will have a court determine Jesus' existence

Looks like the courts in Italy feel they need to actually allow this farce of a case to proceed. Seems some clown is suing the Roman Catholic Faith over the Church's teaching that Jesus actually existed. (I mentioned this before.) For those interested, here's an updated story on the matter that provides some of the well-known evidence supporting Jesus' existence.

Fine. Let the Italians bring this all into court, dismiss this idiot's claim, and tell him to take a freakin' hike. The man's had this pet hunch that he can't get anyone to take seriously so he figures he'll manufacture a court case to give him "theory" the airtime he couldn't possibly get on the merits. Get it over with and send this guy back to the oblivion he came from.

Lawrence Franklin gets 12 years for disclosing classified information

Well, it's been a long time since we've heard anything about Lawrence Franklin. The last time was that he was pleading guilty to the charges being leveled against him. Today it's about his sentence: 12 years and 7 months.

::::::::A former Pentagon analyst was sentenced to 12 years and seven months in prison on Friday for passing U.S. defense information to two pro-Israel lobbyists and for sharing classified information with an Israeli diplomat.

Lawrence Franklin, 59, who previously worked as an analyst in the office of the secretary of defense, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis. Franklin had pleaded guilty in October to sharing the information and also to illegally possessing classified documents.

Franklin had faced up to 25 years in prison. His sentence could still be reduced further because of his cooperation with the government which is still prosecuting a case against the two remaining defendants in the case -- former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group.

Ellis said Franklin would not have to go to jail to start serving his sentence until he is finished cooperating.

This is what's supposed to happen when you intentionally mishandle and disclosed classified information. As I've mentioned on several occasions, this man's politics and who he released the info to are immaterial. I'm glad to see there's been a real consequence to that action.

Hat Tip: Michelle Malkin

Thursday, January 19, 2006

AQ offering a truce for Iraq, Afghanistan

A new audio tape supposedly from Al Qaeda is offering a truce for the rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan while promising more attacks in the US. It also says that the security measures here in the US aren't the reason there's been no attacks, it's that things take time to plan.

Yes, that's one explanation and it has the virtue of requiring no proof whatsoever to make. A more reasonable explanation is that the people who had been planning such operations are either captured or dead and that the preparations for those attacks were disrupted by the various anti-terrorist operations that have taken place since 9/11. We know for a fact that terrorists have been captured while planning additional attacks. We know for certain that some have been killed. Funds and materiel have been seized or destroyed. In any endeavor, those events would delay the planning and execution of anything such an organization would be attempting to accomplish. So, to say that the security measures haven't been effective is (if not an outight lie) an exaggeration.

I find it interesting that the word used in the offer was "truce" instead of "peace." A truce indicates a simple staying of combat. What AQ is saying is that they'll offer the Iraqis and the Afghanis time to rebuild and then attempt to subvert any freedoms they've won. Nice of them. Of course, offering a truce when they're getting their asses kicked is an obvious face-saving maneuver, too.

Oh, no, no... it's not that our forces have been decimated. It's not that we can't field an effective force any more. It's that we're offering a truce. Yeah, that's it.

Of course, they want the truce to be held on both sides, so that will give them the opportunity to recover and rearm themselves. Possibly even move out to more favorable ground. The Iraqis and the Afghanis will, I hope, realize that it's not in their best interests to take AQ up on the deal.

A new church opens

I was happy to assist in the opening of a new church out here - a church I've been working for for a few years. Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church opened its doors Tuesday in a high mass officiated by both of our parish priests, a number of visiting clerics and the head of our diocese, Bishop Paul Loverde.

It's been a long time coming but it's finally open and it's a beautiful church. The stained glass windows were rescued from a church that was being decommissioned up in Elmira, NY. They're lovely and - wonder of wonders - you can actually view every one of them here at the church's web site. Our first Sunday masses will be held this weekend and I'm looking forward to taking the family there. I was there Tuesday in a support role for the reception since the mass was mid-day and the wife and daughter weren't able to attend.

Congrats to Fathers Saunders and Belli for seeing this through and to the rest of us for pulling together on it.

Voter fraud and intimidation in 2004 now going to trial

In the one confirmed and undeniable case of voter intimidation and a premeditated attempt to keep people from the polls, 5 men are now standing trial in Wisconsin. These 5 upstanding citizens are charged with destruction of private property in which they slashed the tires of 25 vans rented by the Republican Party of Wisconsin to drive people to the polls. There is no question that what they did was for the purpose of keeping voters who would likely vote for George Bush in 2004 from getting to the ballot box. The editor for the Wisconsin State Journal puts it quite eloquently:

::::::::This is not just another run-of-the-mill case of vandalism. It's an affront to our democratic system.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin had rented the vehicles to shuttle GOP-friendly voters to the polls. That's perfectly legal. In fact, it's noble.

If you need a ride to the polls, you probably can't drive or don't own a car. Perhaps you are disabled or elderly. Democrats target similar help to voters likely to vote Democratic.

What's not OK is preventing people from voting by sabotaging their transportation. It's dastardly and far worse than the actual physical damage to the vehicles, esti mated at over $2,500.

What's also dastardly is the massive silence the media is putting off about this case. If this were a case where 5 Republicans - two of them sons of prominent Republican elected officials - had engaged in blockading Democrats from getting to the polls you wouldn't be able to turn on the TV without seeing footage from the courtroom. Then again, the media would also be screaming that it shouldn't take 16 months to convict them, either.

But it's not 5 Republicans. It's 5 Democrats. So it's "Move along, nothing to see here," from the news media. Sure, no bias there.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Supreme Court has McCain-Feingold back before it

Imagine my surprise, but it appears that the putrid mess that is the McCain-Feingold Act is getting another look by the Supreme Court. Courtesy of Hugh Hewitt, I see that this is a result of a lawsuit brought by the Wisconsin Right to Life group over the provision of the Act that prohibits political ads mentioning specific candidates by name within 2 months of a general election.

It is my hope that the Court will get it right this time and strike down this provision of the law. I'll have more to say on this later but I wanted to put the links up as soon as I saw them.

Monday, January 16, 2006

How to alienate indie voters

You've just gotta read this to believe it. Maybe. If you can.

Mick Staton wins GOP nomination for 33rd State Senate district in Virginia

The GOP primary for our local State Senator seat (being vacated by the incumbent, Bill Mims) was held today. I considered that it would be fortunate if 500 people showed up since these special elections generally don't draw too many people. Primaries for special elections generally do worse.

Good thing I wasn't betting on it. Here's the breakdown of the vote count, courtesy of Not Larry Sabato:

Staton: 1539 (56%)
Minchew: 837 (30%)
Chapman: 345 (13%)
Smith: 35 (1%)

That's 2756 voters participating in the primary. Not too bad. What is too bad is that my preferred candidate didn't win. I voted for Minchew and Staton took it. To be honest, I worry about Staton's chances to take on Democrat Mark Herring in a way I wouldn't have worried about Minchew. That, however, is water under the bridge and now's the time to get behind our candidate to see him to victory. The special election is scheduled for 31 January. Let the real campaigning begin.

Continental mechanic sucked into engine in Texas

Ouch. Working around jet aircraft isn't a forgiving endeavor. My prayers and sympathies to the family of this man.

Cronkite wants to repeat his glory days

Walter Cronkite's assertion during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam that the Vietnam War was unwinnable carried a tremendous weight with the American people. Cronkite's reputation as the "most trusted man in America" was literally true. Whatever the man said was the case was the case for most Americans living at the time. When old Walt said the war was lost, that was the gospel truth for most of the viewers of the day.

With the benefit of hindsight and some actual, accurate reporting of the event, we now know that the war was far from unwinnable then. In fact, had Cronkite not made his comment and the will of the American people to see it through not been undermined by his action, the fact of the matter is that we would very likely have won that engagement outright. The Tet Offensive, as I have stated before, was a complete and utter disaster, militarily, for our enemies. It was only the anti-war movement at home - fueled to unstoppable intensity by Cronkite - that gave General Vo Nguyen Giap a ghost of a chance. He didn't waste it and America cut and ran leaving our South Vietnamese allies at the mercy of the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong. Our exit allowed the Khemer Rouge in Cambodia to act with impunity. There are 2 million dead because we ran. Cronkite gets to claim part of the responsibility for that dishonor.

With the facts of his action now a matter of public record and completely agreed to by General Giap himself in his memiors, you would think that Cronkite would now know better than to shoot his mouth off on matter outside of his experience. War, clearly, is one of those matters. But, it appears that old Walt just can't resist the siren call of the moonbat left and the heady desire to relive his glory days when what he said amounted to more than a waft of bad air. It should surprise no one that Cronkite thinks this war is also unwinnable and that - again, surprise! - we should pull our troops out of Iraq right now.

If it wasn't official before, let me make it so now: Cronkite, you're an idiot. A doddering old fool now so wrapped up in the hyper-inflated version of your own legend that you're honestly proud of the fact that you've shot your mouth off about a war, calling it unwinnable, twice when the evidence available just shows you're dead wrong. Fortunately, the nwe media of the blogosphere is here. Where you had the option of deciding to be a biased reporter instead of a real journalist and having that decision both hidden and insulated from the truth in 1968, you can't get away with that now. America isn't held hostage to your version of events. We can get the news directly ourselves, now, and that means you're a dinosaur in more ways than one.

Sorry, Walt. This time we're not turning our backs on our new friends. Guess you're just going to have to find another way to justify your existence.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Washington Post editor: "Confirm Alito"

This morning's Washington Post editorial gives me pause. It is clear about the fact that the editor would dearly love to see a Sandra Day O'Connor clone rather than anyone you could remotely refer to as conservative. It is equally clear, however, that that wish isn't sufficient to call for denying Alito confirmation by the Senate.

::::::::Supreme Court confirmations have never been free of politics, but neither has their history generally been one of party-line votes or of ideology as the determinative factor. To go down that road is to believe that there exists a Democratic law and a Republican law -- which is repugnant to the ideal of the rule of law. However one reasonably defines the "mainstream" of contemporary jurisprudence, Judge Alito's work lies within it. While we harbor some anxiety about the direction he may push the court, we would be more alarmed at the long-term implications of denying him a seat. No president should be denied the prerogative of putting a person as qualified as Judge Alito on the Supreme Court.::::::::

I am surprised at hearing this from this town's reliably left-leaning publication. The editorial is correct, of course, which is the attitude the Republican-led Senate held when Bill Clinton's nominees appeared before them. You can see the difference in attitude when you look at the list of sitting justices, who nominated them, and the votes by which they were confirmed. Since the Robert Bork nomination, no conservative has been confirmed with more than 78 votes. No liberal has been confirmed with less than 87. (Only 1, in fact, has had less than 90.) It is clear that since Bork, Democrats as a group have been consistently voting against anyone who can be identified as having conservative views where Republicans are clearly voting based on the judicial qualifications of the nominee.

The Post recognizes this and hits the nail on the head. I approve and I recommend reading it in full.

NASA probe returns comet dust to earth

NASA is celebrating the safe return of the Stardust spacecraft whose mission was to collect cometary dust and return it to earth.

::::::::The touchdown capped a seven-year journey by NASA's Stardust spacecraft, which zipped past a comet in 2004 to capture minute dust particles and store them in the capsule.

"It's an absolutely fantastic end to the mission," said Carlton Allen, a scientist with NASA's Johnson Space Center.

A helicopter recovery team located the capsule Sunday and was transferring it to a clean room at the nearby Michael Army Air Field. The capsule will be flown Tuesday to the Johnson Space Center in Houston where scientists will unlock the canister containing the cosmic particles.

I just hope some of those scientists are old enough and sci-fi fans enough to remember The Andromeda Strain. Careful what you let lose down here, boys.

US Aid to Palestinians should cease if Hamas wins

I note from over on LGF this story about the unrest ahead of the January 25th elections being held in Palestinian-controlled territory. There's a tidbit in there that drew my attention:

::::::::With the violence bolstering Hamas’ prospects in the legislative election, U.S. officials warned Saturday that millions of dollars of aid could be in jeopardy if the militant Islamic group joins the Palestinian government. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Hamas’ participation in the government was “not an American issue.”::::::::

I believe we should concede Abbas's point in this regard. Let the Palestinians show the world where their true sympathies and loyalties lie with the casting of their votes. Should Hamas win, we know that the majority of Palestinians, rather than just a narrow slice as we've been constantly told, support their terrorist tactics and methods.

Fair enough. However, we aren't required to subsidize their efforts and attacks against an ally. The second Hamas takes power at their ballot box then the Palestinians can fund themselves from there on. I say we cut any and all official government aid that very moment.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

What real dissent-crushing looks like

We hear all the time from the left (like the lunatics at MoveOn and Dem Underground) about how their dissent is being crushed and how their voices in protest are being supressed. For a group being suppressed we sure hear a lot of their complaints. Their claims of victimhood look awfully pale when you get to see an example of what dissent crushing really looks like. From Steel City Cowboy, I give you the tale of the Pennsylvania legislature who apparently decided to vote themselves a 16% pay increase. Unless you're from PA, you likely don't know that's actually against PA law. The legislature found some creative ways around that, which Steel City Cowboy tells you about.

Well, when the various media organs in PA found out about it, they went rightfully ballistic and started reporting it. Citizens read the reports, also went ballistic, and put some serious hurt on the legislators. The legislature backed down and revoked the pay increase. But they weren't going to go quietly on the matter, as WTAE-TV, channel 4, in Pittsburgh found out:

::::::::Team 4 has a voicemail recording of Democratic State Rep. Tim Solobay, of Canonsburg, saying that state lawmakers are preparing an all-out assault on the media. Solobay hints that the first volley is a bill that would start charging sales tax on all advertising in Pennsylvania.

Solobay left the voicemail message for editor Cody Knotts, who works at The Weekly Recorder, in Claysville, Washington County.

In the message, Solobay says, "But you know, for the most part, the majority of the legislative feeling about the media right now is if there's something they can do to screw them, you can imagine it may occur."

Read that again. An elected rep has called and left on the editor's voicemail, a notification that the legislature's pissed off at (how dare they!?!) the media for reporting on the 16%pay increase and told them that those politicians are going to use their legislative powers to "screw" the media.

This is what governmental suppression of the media looks like, folks. The media said something the government didn't like and the government is using their powers to strike back at them directly. The obvious goal being to silence the media in exactly the same way as some mafioso henchman breaks your brother's kneecaps to "send you a message" to keep quiet.

I would like to point out that the man who left the message is a Democrat, as is - I believe - the majority of the legislature in question. To be blunt, folks, this ain't the goose-stepping, GOP-controlled government you get warned about daily over in the left's fever swamps. It's the PC-spouting, agree-with-me-or-you're-a-racist-bigot Democrat controlled government.

Well, the good news is they've managed to really honk off a lot of their constituents with their little revenge maneuver so perhaps the obviously needed governmental adjustment will happen sooner than later.

Hat tip: Instapundit

VA campaign season near its end

Whats's that? You didn't know it had started? Yes, indeed! And it was - let's see - almost 2 weeks ago.


You can be forgiven for not knowing this one. It's kind of a weird story, truth be told. In the last general elections, Virginians voted for their candidate for the office of Attorney General. The vote was counted and it was so close (less than 200 votes) that a recount was ordered. The recount was performed and it confirmed that Republican Bob MacDonnald had won the race. The final tally had Bob winning by just under 400 votes State-wide. That recount was completed and confirmed about 3 weeks ago.

MacDonald had already chosen a Deputy Attorney General, one Bill Mims. Mims is a lawyer with a successful practice, a fantastic work ethic, and both the experience and attitude to do the job well. Bill apparently thought the job sounded good because he accepted the position immediately. The only snag is this: Bill Mims is a State Senator for the 33rd Virginia district. My district. Well, you can't be Deputy Attorney General and a Senator at the same time, so he resigned his seat which then required a special election to fill. That's when campaign season started.

The Democrats had a couple of people that wanted the job, Mark Herring and Chuck Harris. Harris bowed out quickly to allow the party to focus entirely on Herring. The Republicans have an internal race going between Mick Staton and Randy Minchew. There's a Republican Primary on Monday to decide who gets the party banner to carry into the special election which is to be held the week after. In short, these 2 men had about 10 days to get their machines going and try to fire up the base enough to vote for them. The winner of the primary will have less time than that to try to win the real votes of the district.

To add a little more spice to the mix, Mick Staton is currently serving on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. If he should win the Senate seat, Loudoun County residents in the Sugarland Run district will get to have another special election to fill his seat. Hopefully we'll all be done before the national general elections in November!

I have actually met and spoken with both men, although I'm sure neither remember. Both are good Republicans. I have to say, however, that Randy Minchew is the man I'm going to cast my vote for in the primary. His work in Loudoun's Republican Committee shows a remarkable ability to balance the needs and desires of a wide array of Republicans from the far-right to the center. That's the kind of guy I want as my Senator, not some guy who'll go around insulting the rest of the Assembly. Not that Staton would do that, necessarily. I just think Minchew's got a better set of qualifications for the job from a "soft" qualifications perspective.

Well, we'll know by Monday evening, I suppose.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Count me in

Originally posted at N.Z Bear, this Appeal from Center-Right Bloggers sounds just about right to me.

::::::::We are bloggers with boatloads of opinions, and none of us come close to agreeing with any other one of us all of the time. But we do agree on this: The new leadership in the House of Representatives needs to be thoroughly and transparently free of the taint of the Jack Abramoff scandals, and beyond that, of undue influence of K Street.

We are not naive about lobbying, and we know it can and has in fact advanced crucial issues and has often served to inform rather than simply influence Members.

But we are certain that the public is disgusted with excess and with privilege. We hope the Hastert-Dreier effort leads to sweeping reforms including the end of subsidized travel and other obvious influence operations. Just as importantly, we call for major changes to increase openness, transparency and accountability in Congressional operations and in the appropriations process.

As for the Republican leadership elections, we hope to see more candidates who will support these goals, and we therefore welcome the entry of Congressman John Shadegg to the race for Majority Leader. We hope every Congressman who is committed to ethical and transparent conduct supports a reform agenda and a reform candidate. And we hope all would-be members of the leadership make themselves available to new media to answer questions now and on a regular basis in the future.


N.Z. Bear, The Truth Laid Bear
Hugh Hewitt, HughHewitt.com
Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit.com
Kevin Aylward, Wizbang!
La Shawn Barber, La Shawn Barber's Corner
Lorie Byrd / DJ Drummond , Polipundit
Beth Cleaver, MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
Jeff Goldstein, Protein Wisdom
Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
John Hawkins, Right Wing News
John Hinderaker, Power Line
Jon Henke / McQ / Dale Franks, QandO
James Joyner, Outside The Beltway
Mike Krempasky, Redstate.org
Michelle Malkin, MichelleMalkin.com
Ed Morrissey, Captain's Quarters
Scott Ott, Scrappleface
The Anchoress, The Anchoress
John Donovan / Bill Tuttle, Castle Argghhh!!!

Count me in and here's hoping.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

DNA testing on death penalty case is complete

About a week ago I wrote about Virginia Governor Mark Warner ordering DNA testing done in a case where the convicted man was executed. The tests are complete:

::::::::DNA tests released this afternoon confirmed the guilt of a Virginia man who had proclaimed his innocence in a slaying and rape even as he was strapped into the state's electric chair in 1992.

Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) said modern-day genetic analysis that was not available in the early 1990s proves that Roger K. Coleman was present at the crime.

"We have sought the truth using DNA technology not available at the time the Commonwealth carried out the ultimate criminal sanction," Warner said in a statement. "The confirmation that Roger Coleman's DNA was present reaffirms the verdict and the sanction."

I am glad the results are such that we didn't execute an innocent man.

Hat Tip: Power Line