Saturday, April 29, 2006

Who Blew the Big Blow

Big Lizards blogged The easiest way to present the charges of incompetence, bureaucratic entanglement, and screw-ups from the Senate Homeland Security Committee's report on Hurricane Katrina is to post a couple of charts. Each of these charts was taken from the 20-page Executive Summary of the committee's report; I have included the page number of each "attaboy" or accusation entered on these charts, for those obsessive enough to double-check me.... Particularly noteworthy is the comparison of the "net evaluation" of each of the three branches of government;

And isn't it interesting how this analysis differs from what the MSM said.
I define this as the number of accusations of failure combined with the number of accolades for success for a net failure or success score. Here are the figures:
  • City of New Orleans: 12 failures + 1 success = 11 net failures;
  • States of Louisiana and Mississippi: 11 failures + 2 successes = 9 net failures;
  • Federal agencies: 10 failures + 6 successes = 4 net failures;
  • White House: 1 failure + 2 successes = 1 net success.


Hirsi Ali, the Hunted

Peaktalk - HIRSI ALI, THE HUNTED Just to show how far Dutch tolerance goes: Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s neighbors have sued the Dutch state in order to get her to be removed from the apartment complex in which she is living under police protection.

She is the Somali-born Dutch legislator who lives under constant death threats by Islamic radicals because she speaks out about what they are doing and is an outspoken advocate for the rights of Muslim women. She is the author of The Caged Virgin : An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam. According to The Mercury News She would like to see a Muslim Reformation of the kind that remade European Christianity in the 16th century. Muslims need "to develop a different relationship, a different concept of God, of what God means," she says - not just total submission to God's will but "a dialogue with God." Such a reformation is more likely to emerge from the West, she said, because for reformers in Muslim societies "there is always the fear of being killed, of being shunned by your community, of being exiled, jailed, tortured.". The American Jewish Committee recently awarded this Muslim the AJC Moral Courage Award.
The request was initially rejected, but following an appeal a higher court has now ordered Hirsi Ali to leave her house within four months, I translate:
The court considers in its ruling that the neighbors have been put into a situation that has contributed to them feeling less safe in their own house. That feeling is extended to the communal living spaces of the apartment complex, but also to their own apartments. The court argues that this is a severe violation of one’s private life (as per Article 8 of the European Treaty for Human Rights).
A few things. Firstly, it should be noted that Hirsi Ali is now booted out of her own house by virtue of the European Treaty for Human Rights which does indeed supersede Dutch law. Many cases are adjudicated by referring to this treaty, but given the subject matter here I would say: Euroskeptics, go knock yourselves out.

Secondly, and this is the one that really bothers me, is that somehow Hirsi Ali’s neighbors self-interest runs so deep that they are prepared to use the court system to throw someone whose life is in danger out of her own house. It goes like this: we’re tolerant, we support free speech and a critical attitude, but if it comes too close to our front porch, sorry, we are no longer interested.
Rather than insisting that the police throw her out of her house, why dont they insist the police throw the Islamists threatening her out of the country. If they win here, they will just be back with further demands for capitulation from the Dutch authorities.


Dana Priest Responds to Criticism of Secret Prisons Story

E&P printed Bennett either doesn't understand the law or is purposefully distorting it. He keeps saying that it is illegal to publish secrets. It is not.

Let's find out. Indite Dana Priest for printing what she printed, and the NYT reporter for printing about the wiretaps of Al Qaeda talking to their cells in the US, and let us see whether they go to jail or not. And if they don't let us strengthen the law.
There is a category of secrets that is illegal to publish--names of covert operatives, certain signal intelligence and nuclear secrets--but even with these, prosecution is possible only under certain circumstances.
Would you expose those if you did not think you would be prosecuted?
Beyond that though, he seems to be of the camp that the government and only the government should decide what the public should know in the area of national security.
Certainly if something is classified, it is not up to the press to decide it should be declassified.
In this sense, his views run contrary to the framers of the Constitution who believed a free press was essential to maintaining not just a democracy, but a strong, vibrant democracy in which major policy is questions are debated in the open.
Freedom of the press was to protect the opposition seeking to state its case, not to allow reporters to declassify government secrets. That is treason.


St Luke's Reneges: Andrea Clark's Life Is Still In Jeopardy

Right Wing News I've just spoken with Andrea's sisters, Melanie Childers and Lanore Dixon, today, as well as Andrea's lawyer, Jerri Ward.

Unfortunately, St. Luke's has reneged on the deal. Lanore told me that about 20 minutes before Andrea was supposed to be moved to the Illinois facility, St. Luke's told the family the move was off. It seems that St. Luke's decided at the last minute that Glenshire Nursing & Rehab Centre in Illinois isn't equipped to care for Andrea, which is a bit puzzling, since Lanore told me they helped set up the transfer in the first place.

If the Illinois facility does not plan to kill her in the next week, they are better equiped to care for her than St Luke's is.

Did St Luke's refuse to transfer, or did they just withdraw their agreement to cover the cost.

If the former, then can they prove she would have died sooner in Illinois than in Houston? And if the latter, do they think that the bad publicity they will now receive will cost them less than the transportation cost sending her to Illinois?
This means that Andrea's life is still in danger. Jerri tells me that the hospital has only promised, in writing, to not pull the plug on Andrea on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. But, from Tuesday on, they're reserving the right to pull her life support at any time after giving "reasonable" notice to the family. Is there such a thing as "reasonable" notice that you're about to end an innocent woman's life against her wishes and the wishes of her family?

In any case, on Tuesday, the hospital has a meeting scheduled about Andrea and the one sliver of good news is that the family says they have a doctor with privileges at St. Luke's who is willing to go in and argue that Melanie is not medically futile. Whether that will make a difference is impossible to say at this point.

The bottom line here is that according to Andrea Clark's family, St. Luke's has not lived up to their end of the bargain and has only agreed in writing to extend Andrea's life one day beyond the old deadline of Sunday. That is absolutely outrageous, especially given the way that St. Luke's bragged about taking care of this issue to the Houston Chronicle, in an article that came out BEFORE the deal was cancelled


DOJ jails Spam King

Valleywag reports Local hacker "Memehacker" IMed in with a scoop on Alan Ralsky, the famed "Spam King" covered by the Observer and the Detroit News. Here's the breaking story:

Valleywag: Tell me the scoop in three sentences.

Memehacker: Alan Ralsky is currently being held by the feds and his file is sealed for the next 72hrs by the DOJ. We are concerned that he is going to narq out the entire network since they have enough on him to send him to jail. This means hackers, spammers, anyone who has worked in spam legally or illegally for the last 5 years at least. The DOJ wants to do a dragnet, they have the top dog, but they want the whole system as well.

Wag: How many people could be in trouble?

MH: There is a risk of a huge network collapse in the hack scene. I couldn't estimate since I don't know who he has worked with, but it's a lot of people. Think of a huge pyramid with him at the top. He is one of the few people that has knowledge of a large part of the hackscene network.

Wag: What were Ralsky's biggest crimes? How would I explain this guy to my mom?

MH: Ralsky is known as the Spam King. He is one of the biggest spammers out there, his network and spamlists are huge. He is not afraid to use shady methods to bypass filters and to acquire new lists. He has been known to use the hack scene to help him spam and to get him new lists to work with.

Wag: What does he get out of ratting everyone out? And why didn't he do it in 2005 when he was raided?

MH: If he can cut a deal with the DOJ he may get a reduced sentence or even full immunity.

I hope he does not get full immunity, but if he can expose an entire network a reduced sentence might be ok. Give him probation for the rest, and if he begins spamming again, let him then serve the remainder of the term.
I don't know how much he has to offer them, but taking out a network as large as his would definitely give him some bargaining power. I believe this is still the same case as 2005, they just didn't have enough on him back then to really scare him. Shutting down his network is a lot less scary than jailtime, which was all they could do back then. We assume that it is more this time since the DOJ sealed the case. They don't do that unless they are planning to do something during that time.

Wag: How many people would get burned? How bad could the fallout be?

MH: It depends on who did what for him, or what he knows about people. I couldn't estimate, but currently a lot of people are very scared. It's not just about spamming, he knows stuff about other various activities in the hack scene.


Friday, April 28, 2006

Unleashing the unfathomable power…

The Anchoress blogged Lots of people emailed me about these obnoxious and appalling cartoons depicting Jesus - on the cross - with an erection, and him kissing (presumably Judas) with more erections.

Yes, they are offensive. Yes, the cartoons fill me with revulsion. But Dean Esmay has the response, and because I agree with every word of it, I’ll just let him relay it:

“…as a classical liberal, I support their right to do so.

However, as a Christian, I’m deeply offended by this obscene mockery of my Lord and Saviour. So in response, I’m going to unleash my religion’s most powerful weapon:

I forgive them.”
God is Just and Merciful - I’ll trust Him to sort it all out. Meanwhile, it is probably good to pray for a soul who can even come up with such ideas in the first place.
This is a good example of the difference between the Islamists and Christians. The Islamists would burn embasies and businesses, and threaten to behead the cartoonists. This is because they are so weak in their faith that they feel violence is the only answer. But Dean and the Anchoress understand what Christ said, and while they are revolted by the cartoons, they forgive the cartoonist, and leave any further response to God. The Islamists may view that as weakness, but it is not. It takes a lot of strength to forgive someone who offends you as much as these cartoonists have. And the Islamists will see that strength first hand when Christ returns for the Final Battle.


Global Jihad

Caroline B. Glick wrote on JWR The nature of the war being waged against Israel changed, perhaps irreversibly this week. Processes that have been developing for more than four years came together this week and brought us to a very different military-political reality than that which we have known until now.

The face of the enemy has changed. If in the past it was possible to say that the war being waged against Israel was unique and distinct from the global jihad, after the events of the past week, it is no longer possible to credibly make such a claim.
I never thought there was a difference
Four events that occurred this week — the attacks in the Sinai; the release of Osama bin Laden's audiotape; the release of Abu Musab Zarqawi's videotape; and the arrest of Hamas terrorists by Jordan — all proved clearly that today it is impossible to separate the wars. The new situation has critical consequences for the character of the campaign that the IDF must fight to defend Israel and for the nature of the policies that the incoming government of Israel must adopt and advance.... But today everything has changed. Israel, like Egypt and Jordan, is under the gun. Bin Laden himself made this clear in his tape this week. By placing Hamas under his protection, bin Laden made three moves at once. First, he announced that the Palestinians are no longer independent actors.
One wonders whether the Palestinians will accept that fact.
Second, he defined the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority as a part of the liberated Islamic lands where al Qaida can feel at home.
They need some place to call home, because the Iraqis certainly are not welcoming them.
Third, he hitched a ride on the Palestinian issue which is more popular in the Islamic world than the Iraq war, where al Qaida is apparently on the road to defeat. For his part, Zarqawi already announced his plan to go back to his old war and work to topple the Hashemites (and destroy Israel) last November, after he commanded the Amman hotel suicide bombings. Back then Zarqawi announced that Jordan was but a stop on the road to the conquest of Jerusalem.... In his manuscript, Adel laid out al Qaida's intentions for the third stage of the jihad. He explained that the organization needed new bases and was looking for a failed state or states to settle in. Darfour, Somalia, Lebanon and Gaza were all identified as possible options. As the American author and al Qaida investigator Richard Miniter puts it, "US forces together with the Kenyans and the Ethiopians have pretty much prevented al Qaida from basing in Somalia or Darfour. That left only Lebanon with all its problems with its various political factions, overlords and the UN. But then suddenly, like manna from Heaven, Israel simply gave them the greatest gift al Qaida ever received when Ariel Sharon decided to give them Gaza."
It was not a gift, out of his generous heart. He just found that it did not make sense to send a lot of military to die defending a handful of settlers.
Israel, he explains, provided al Qaida with the best base it has ever had. Not only is Gaza located in a strategically vital area — between the sea, Egypt and Israel. It is also fairly immune from attack since the Kadima government will be unwilling to reconquer the area.
Kadima is unlikely to want to reconquer Gaza, but now that there are no Jewish settlements there, it may decide to just carpet bomb the entire area, as a response to the rocket attacks.


'Separate laws for Muslims' idea slammed

The Local reported Sweden's largest Muslim organisation has demanded that Sweden introduce separate laws for Muslims, according to Swedish television. Sweden's equality minister Jens Orback called the proposals "completely unacceptable".

If Muslims want to live under Sharia law, they should move to a Muslim country.
The Swedish Muslim Association, which represents around 70,000 Muslims in Sweden, has sent a letter to all Sweden's main political parties suggesting a number of reforms, SVT's Rapport programme reported. The proposals include allowing imams into state (public) schools to give Muslim children separate lessons in Islam
I wonder what they would say if Christians asked to have pastors and priests be allowed to come into state (public) schools to give Christian children separate lessons on Christianity.
and their parents' native languages. The letter also said that boys and girls should have separate swimming lessons and that divorces between Muslims should be approved by an imam.


The Andrea Clark Case - Breaking News Coming

Hyscience blogged We've just received breaking news from a representative of the family of Andrea Clark about incredible and reprehensible actions underway by St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston, Texas.

The family learned of a facility in Illinois that is willing to accept Andrea and offer her the opportunity to live, an expensive move that would require Andrea to be far removed from her family.

However, placing corporate greed ahead of all patient interests and the interests and wishes of the family, St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital has just notified the family that they are willing to pay the almost $17,000 to move Andrea to Illinois if they will immediately - that's TODAY, move Andrea out of St. Lukes to the Illinois facility. If the family waits until tomorow to decide, St. Lukes will only pay half. And if the family can't make a decision by tomorow, the hospital may consider to pay absolutely nothing.

Why is St Lukes so eager to get her out of their hospital?
In other words, the hospital is attempting to force Andrea out of the hospital in order to stop the financial drain of the cost of her care.

Meanwhile, the family is struggling to find a facility in Texas that will accept Andrea, who has insurance, but is being squeezed also by the insurance company. Is this fair?
No it is not fair. Unlike the Terri Schiavo case she has clearly says she wants to live, and she has insurance, but the insurance company and the hospital wants to kill her so they will save some money.
Danny Carlton blogged I wonder if the Episcopal church has anything to say about a hospital bearing their name acting in such an inhuman manner.

Wizbang blogged Andrea isn't out of the woods quite yet, but this is certainly good news.

Right Wing News blogged Andrea no longer trusts St. Luke's Hospital to look after her sister's welfare and she's worried that if Andrea were to end up in another Texas hospital, she might be declared medically futile again. So, the ideal situation would be to get her into a hospital in a nearby state, so that her family would have easy access to her. Illinois is a long way from Houston and the idea of having her sister in intensive care, far away from her home and family, is naturally very upsetting, but unfortunately, it may be the only option they really have.

Melanie told me the family is going to be discussing St. Luke's offer to pay for the transportation to the Illinois facility tonight and if they accept it, she believes that Andrea will be moved tomorrow.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Blogger Hit With Multi-Million Dollar Federal Lawsuit

Outside The Beltway blogged The Media Bloggers Association, of which I am a board member, has taken on the case of Lance Dutson, proprietor of the Maine Web Report blog, who is being sued in federal court for having the audacity to criticize his state.

I am a member as well, in fact I posted the item listed below on the MBA website, at the request of Robert Cox.
The MBA announcement:

MBA Member Hit With Multi-Million Dollar Federal Lawsuit
MBA Member Lance Dutson who blogs at Maine Web Report was recently served with a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Maine. The lawsuit alleges copyright infringement and defamation for reporting and commentary written and published by Dutson on his blog.

“This case is nothing more than an attempt by a deep-pocketed litigant to bully a blogger for criticizing state officials and state contractors”", said MBA President Robert Cox. “We have successfully defended MBA members in nine previous cases and I don’t expect the outcome here to be be any different.”

Dutson went public this morning with news of the lawsuit and provided key links here including his account of the events leading up to the lawsuit and the complaint served on Dutson by the local sheriff at his home in Maine. Dutson has vowed to fight. “The idea that criticism of the state government can be defamatory is absurd”, said Dutson, “This attempt to bludgeon critics of the state government is not going to work.”

Through its legal defense initiative, the MBA provides member bloggers with “first line” legal defense, pro bono advice on how best to respond to legal threats related to the member’s blog. “Bloggers don’t usually have an in-house legal department or high priced outside First Amendment counsel, but they’re at least as likely to need one as any MSM outlet. That’s where we come in,” said MBA General Counsel, Ronald Coleman of the Coleman Law Firm.

Dutson has secured the services of Greg Herbert of Greenberg Traurig, a specialist in media law and First Amendment/defamation litigation. The MBA, through Coleman, will act as co-counsel. Herbert noted, “Many of these cases, where a large corporation sues an individual for criticism over the internet, appear to be motivated, primarily, by an attempt to silence legitimate criticism and suppress speech.”

In addition to providing pro bono, “first line” legal advice, the MBA seeks to raise awareness of attempts by governments and corporations to intimidate bloggers and citizen journalists by encouaging members to report such actions on their own blogs and encouraging all bloggers to carry the news throughout the blogosphere.
The suit is quite bizarre. Dutson, for example, criticized the way Maine’s advertising contractor employed the state’s resources in purchasing Google keywords.
The MOT researched the most frequently searched terms containing the word ‘Maine’, and has been aggressively bidding on those terms so that they are in the top spot for everything they bid on. In particular, they found that ‘Camden Maine’, ‘Bar Harbor Maine’, ‘Bangor Maine’, ‘Acadia National Park’, and ‘Portland Maine’ were huge traffic generators. The MOT began bidding aggressively on those terms, regardless of the rest of the search term. What occurred was an aggressive campaign of outbidding Maine businesses for terms like ‘Bangor Maine plumbing’ and ‘Camden Maine web design’.
So a blogger is being sued for revealing that the State Government is doing something that may hurt small businesses in the state.
The MOT also failed to exclude Maine web browsers from the campaign, a technique known as geographic exclusion. This is a very common and simple practice that would have ensured the MOT’s campaign was focused on potential visitors, and not Maine residents. The Office of Tourism has claimed that there is ‘no specific legislation’ prohibiting them from advertising in-state, though it is hard to imagine why they would.
Just because it is legal for you to promote tourism, does that mean that a blogger can't reveal that you are doing it, and perhaps hurting small business in the state.
What occurs when the MOT bids for the top spot for these terms is that every other bidder has to pay more to be featured prominently on the page. So, my web design business was forced to pay more per-click because the VisitMaine site was occupying the op spot for ‘Camden Maine web design’. This has driven the AdWords and Overture pricing up for every business in Maine for several years, and the result would be thousands and thousands of dollars paid by each Maine business that engages in internet advertising.
This strikes me as a fair, not to mention innocuous, criticism. The result of which were some heavyhanded tactics by the state to get Dutson to take down his posts, which he details extensively at the link.

The nature of the alleged “libel” is quite fuzzy, indeed. From the text of a letter from the complaining attorney:
[Y]ou indicated that the MOT purchased “terms like Camden Maine web design”. This is a lie, pure and simple, and the readers of the Maine Coast Design blog deserve better than that. You apparently made that statement without any effort to verify it. We do not recommend buying non-tourism related terms. We do suggest phrases such as Camden Maine tourism, and the Camden chamber of commerce, or any other tourism related marketer is welcome to link with the Maine Office of Tourism web site at no cost.
Is a web design business a tourism related marketer? And note that you said that they were welcome to link "TO" your site at no cost. If you were buying links that they might other wise have purchased, then for them to be made whole you would have to offer to link "TO THEM" for free.
I looked at the site this morning and just the Mid-Coast region, including the towns of Rockland, Camden and Boothbay Harbor have over 150 listings for accommodations linked the MOT web site. That is driving traffic to those sites, not “siphoning if off”. Perhaps your extensive research didn’t include that sort of discovery, but more likely it did and your sense of one-sided reporting prevented you from including it.
Now, these are matters of empirical fact that are presumably verifiable. But, regardless of the merits, this surely does not constitute “libel.”
Your next post furthered a campaign of innuendo, falsehoods and incorrect statements. Referring to (NMC), you state “…they were responsible for wasting thousands of taxpayer dollars…” and later “…forcing thousands of Maine businesses to pay artificially-inflated advertising rates”. You imply that all of this was done “outside of the jurisdiction of the MOT”. The fact is that no taxpayer dollars were wasted, no one was working outside the areas of their responsibility, and bidding for words that you intend to buy does not artificially inflate the price of those words at auction. Bidding for words is part of the competitive nature of the business and there’s nothing artificial about that.
Whether taxpayer money is “wasted” is surely a matter of opinion.

And it is rather amusing that the state of Maine is being
I assume he means buying, but then this opens an interesting question. Is MOT promoting such services in Maine?
keywords like “Camden Maine child pornography” and “Camden Maine escort services.”

Obviously, bloggers should support, at the very least, the right of people to criticize their government. Indeed, that would seem the basic point of the 1st Amendment.

Unfortunately, this may be a Larry Flynt situation. Dutson’s is not a site I would visit (even if I were interested in Maine). His tone is a more hyperbolic and less professional than I would prefer. His statements are quite likely sloppy in places. I would not point to him as an example of “This is what a blogger should be.”

But this is hardly the basis for heavyhanded state action. And if the threat of big pockets lawsuits can be used against a small fry running a website, it can be used against anyone, regardless of the merits of their case. We need to get it established once and for all that people have the right to post opinions, even half-witted ones, on the Internet.


Something About Economics

John Hinderaker at Power Line: blogged Senate Republicans have unveiled their "Gas Price Relief and Rebate Act of 2006," and it's not pretty. Let's just go through its components, one by one.

1) Gas Tax Holiday Rebate: everyone gets a check for $100.

Taxes are a large part of the cost of gasoline. How about if we cut them?

I agree, and not just for 60 days like the Democrats propose.
2) Consumer Anti-Price Gouging Protection: Authorizes the FTC and others to "bring enforcement actions against any supplier unlawfully inflating the price of gas."

Meaning what? How you you "unlawfully inflate the price of gas"?
Meaning people are complaining, so politicians have to ignore the truth and pretend they are right.
3) Tax Incentives: Repeals tax incentives for the oil companies, while expanding tax incentives for hybrid vehicles and increasing refinery capacity.

Not sure I understand that one. Is someone other than the oil companies expected to build oil refineries?
Rather than providing an incentive to increase refining capacity offer a waiver of all environmental requirements and immunity from environmental law suits if construction is started in the next three months.
4) Fuel economy standards: Authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to impose fuel economy standards.

How about if we just let people buy whatever kinds of cars they want, and let them decide whether they're willing to pay for the gas?
Makes sense to me.
5) Advanced Energy Initiative: Funds research and development into alternative fuels and "advanced technology vehicles."

I'm all for those things. But is there something special about the government's money? Isn't the prospect of cutting in on the oil companies' action sufficient incentive for industry to carry out that research?

6) Strategic Petroleum Reserve: "Urges" the President to suspend making contributions to the reserve for six months.

Well, you can't say Congress isn't doing anything. They're "urging."

7) Expanding Domestic Supply in ANWR: "Opens a portion of the Coastal Plain of ANWR to environmentally sensitive oil exploration to reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

Hallelujah. Let's hope it passes this time. This means you, Norm. And you too, Mark.
I agree
8) Refinery Capacity: Includes incentives to encourage additional refinery capacity.

I believe it's the case that we haven't built an oil refinery anywhere in the U.S. for more than 15 years. I don't think the problem is a lack of "incentive;" I think the problem is that government regulations (principally environmental) and the threat of litigation make refinery construction so slow and expensive as to be virtually impossible. Do the Republicans propose to do anything to make refinery construction easier? Not that I see in the package I got from the Senate.

Bottom line: The Republican Senators' proposal does nothing, other than ANWR drilling, that acknowledges the rules of supply and demand that govern prices. The "Gas Price Relief and Rebate Act" is mostly crude pandering of the kind we used to expect from Democrats, not Republicans.

I want the oil companies to make enormous amounts of money. I want them to make enormous amounts of money so they can spend it on drilling wells and building pipelines and refineries. I talked to an oil executive recently who told me that the fact that we can't expand our refining capacity is a scandal in terms of the public interest, but is actually good for the oil companies' profitability. Look at it this way: if the oil companies agreed among themselves not to drill for oil in new locations like ANWR, and not to build new refineries, so as to limit the supply of oil and thereby drive prices higher, it would be illegal; indeed, it would be the greatest price-fixing conspiracy in American history.
That is a very good point. But they are not doing it, Congress is.
But it isn't the oil companies that have conspired to limit supply and thereby drive prices higher. It is our government that has foreseeably, if not intentionally, achieved this ignoble end.


Wilfred Brimley had the Right Idea

Betsy Newmark blogged In pondering the series of leaks to the media about issues relating to national security, Doc Weasel remembers one of the all-time great scenes in movie history: Wilfred Brimley's takedown of Sally Fields in Absence of Malice. Brimley plays a U.S. attorney investigating a leak a federal agent gave the reporter played by Sally Fields that implied that Paul Newman, the son of a gangster, was also involved in crime. As Brimley's character says then to the reporter and newspaper editor,

“You know and I know we can’t tell you what to print or what not to. We hope you people in the press’ll act responsibly, but when you don’t there ain’t a hell of a lot anybody can do about it. But we can’t have people go around leaking stuff for their own reasons. It ain’t legal. And worse than that, by God it ain’t right. I can’t stop you, but I can damn well stop them.”
And wouldn't you like to see Porter Goss say something like this as he investigates all the leaks coming out of the CIA in the past few years?
You had a leak? You call what's goin' on around here a leak? Boy, the last time there was a leak like this, Noah built hisself a boat.
Ah, that was a great scene - the whole movie is worth it for that scene alone. Check out Doc Weasel's post for some more trenchant observations.

I had forgotten that movie, even though I saw it several times, but Doc and Betsy are right, it is very appropriate to what is going on right now.


Sleepy visit to Planet Hillary

Larry Kudlow wrote in Kansas City Star On the one hand, Clinton acknowledged a growing economy, a stock market at historic highs, strong productivity and profits, and low unemployment,

So George Bush has done a good job
while on the other she called for big-government investment in infrastructure and heavy spending on health care and education.
We are already spending too much government money, and she wants more.
The senator argued that “tax cuts are not the cure-all for everything that ails the American economy,”
But they sure as hell beat tax increases.
and that instead we need the “right tax system (and) the right investment, including infrastructure … decisions and policies that only all of us acting together through our government can make to set the stage for future prosperity.”
In other words tax the Republicans, and give money to the Democratic base.
So what we have is a plea for a government-directed economy. This used to be called industrial planning, until the dismal economic performances of France, Germany and Japan totally discredited those terms. But for Clinton, government planning is back.
The only question is, will she stop with Socialism, or go all the way to Communism?
Clinton is calling for a “national investment authority” to rebuild the nation. This, in her view, will solve all our problems related to airports, highways, bridges, hurricanes and lord knows what else. She speaks as if Congress didn’t already spend a fortune on the recent highway bill, replete with corrupt budget earmarks that totaled a cool $30 billion in 2005.
No matter how much we spend, Dems want to spend more.
While Clinton wants to revive big-government spending, some analysts are writing about making public highways private. These private ventures would pay for themselves and would substitute market decisions for government planning.
Sounds like Oklahoma with its toll roads.
The Reason Foundation is full of similar ideas, including private-sector road and highway plans in California, where voters just rejected a $68 billion infrastructure package because of a political history of pilfered taxpayer funds.

Clinton also engaged in class warfare, telling the assembled businesspeople: “America did not build the greatest economy in the world because we have rich people.
No, we built it because we let people invest their own money and efforts, and did not attempt to control everything from the government.
Nearly any society has some of those.” She implied tax increases on the rich and a redistribution program worthy of any centrally planned economy.
Which would destroy our economy and our country.
Hasn’t Clinton noticed the spread of free-market capitalism that has become such an enormous wealth creator across the globe? The growth principles of higher after-tax returns for work and investment, deregulation to limit government’s reach, and the privatization of government-run companies have become almost commonplace.

Clinton would have us turn the clock. She defines her goals in terms of “a middle-class life, education, health care, transportation and retirement.” But all this is nothing more than a dose of government spending and regulating — a sure prescription for more taxes and a declining economy.

Why not employ the tax code to reward success rather than punish it? What about investor-owned savings accounts for health care, retirement and education? Why not put pro-market consumer choice, rather than government, at the center of the 21st century economy? How about helping the nonrich get rich?

Two weeks ago I was in the Oval Office with President Bush and a handful of journalists. The president spoke to us about making tax relief permanent, keeping the tax rate on dividends and capital gains low, maintaining lean budgets and expanding free trade.

This vision is in deep contrast to Hillary Clinton’s. The president places the entrepreneur at the center of economic growth. Clinton sees government as the driving force of the economy.

The booming American economy is still the greatest story never told. But the reality is that low-tax, free-market policies are triumphing here and around the world. What planet is Hillary Clinton living on?

Betsy Newmark blogged When will these people understand that it is the possibility of getting rich that serves as the incentive for people to invest and build? When will people who love these ideas take an honest look at what such policies of having the government direct the economy, while taking from the wealthy to redistribute to those in the lower and middle classes have done to other countries. Can't they learn anything from examples abroad?


2006 blog reader survey results

Blogads reports The median political blog reader is a 43 year old man with an annual family income of $80,000. He reads 6 blogs a day for 10 hours a week. 58% say blogs are "extremely useful" sources of information. 52% leave comments on other people's blogs. Just 18% of political blog readers have their own blogs.

This is interesting. Readers of political blogs have a higher family income than other blog categories, and fewer of them have their own blogs.
The median gossip reader is a 27 year old woman with annual family income $60,000. She reads 4 blogs a day, five hours a week. Of the 23% of gossip blog readers who blog themselves, 61% say they do it to keep track of their thoughts and 55% say they do it to let off steam.

The median mom blog reader is a 29 year old woman with an annual family income of $70K, reading 5 blogs a day for 4 hours a week. 57% leave comments in other blogs. 93% read for humor. 48% have their own blog and, of these, 73% read "to keep track of my thoughts," 54% to let off steam.

The median music blog reader is a 26 year old man with an annual family income of 60K reading 5 blogs a day four hours a week.

James Joyner blogged Interesting stuff. It confirms once again that readers of political blogs are older, smarter, better educated and more successful than portrayed in the dominant media. Indeed, as Bob Fertik points out, readers of both Democrat- and Republican-leaning blogs are smarter, richer, and more active than readers of the NYT and WaPo.


Iranian Leader Warns U.S. Of Reprisal

WaPo reported Escalating the threats between Washington and Tehran, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned Wednesday that his country would strike U.S. targets around the world in the event it is attacked over its refusals to curb its nuclear program. If the U.S. ventured into any aggression on Iran, Iran will retaliate by damaging U.S. interests worldwide twice as much as the U.S. may inflict on Iran," Khamenei said in a speech to a workers' assembly, according to the official news agency IRNA.

I'll see your double, and raise you ten fold.


Senate Panel Urge FEMA Dismantling

NYT reported The Federal Emergency Management Agency was so fundamentally dysfunctional during Hurricane Katrina that Congress should abolish it and create a new disaster response agency from scratch,

I favor abolishing FEMA. I do not favor recreating it. I see no reason why the other 49 states should pay for natural disasters in one state. All parts of the country face some sort of natural disaster: huricanes, tornados, wildfires, earthquakes, mud slides, flooding, etc. and it should be up to the individual state to make the decision of whether it wants to prevent development in areas most prone to damage, or whether it wants to spend its own money to help rebuild. If a state can draw on the money from all 50 states, there is no incentive to prevent, for example, building houses below sea level, or continually rebuilding houses destroyed every year by the same natural disasters.
according to a draft of bipartisan recommendations proposed by a Senate committee. The new agency, which would still be part of the Department of Homeland Security, should be more powerful, with additional components that would give it a budget twice as big as FEMA's, the report's draft recommendations say.
Dont make it more powerful with twice as big a budget. Make it much less powerful, and with 1/10th the budget. Let it just make recommendations for how states should prepare for their own disasters.
It would assume functions spread throughout the department, like preparing for disasters or terrorist attacks, protecting the nation's infrastructure and distributing grants to state and local governments.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Bush Eases Environmental Rules on Gasoline

Yahoo! News President Bush on Tuesday ordered a temporary suspension of environmental rules for gasoline, making it easier for refiners to meet demand and possibly dampen prices at the pump. He also halted for the summer the purchase of crude oil for the government's emergency reserve.

Those two actions are the ones most likely to have an effect. The big price increase right now is due to the fact that they must begin blends with ethanol or use MTBEs, and there is a shortage of ethanol, and congress failed to exempt MTBE manufacturers from lawsuits. Not having the US buy oil to put into the emergency reserve will also lessen demand.

The Democrats want to cut taxes for 60 days. I like tax cuts, but why make them effective for only 60 days? Do they think they can buy votes in November with a two month cut in taxes. If you are going to have a tax cut, make it permanent.


Hot Air

Hot Air is Michelle Maulkin's latest venture, a web telecast.

Instpundit reports she said
The newscast is filmed in my basement with a Sony HVR-A1U Digital HDV Handycam and edited with Avid Xpress DV and Adobe After Effects. There's a green screen behind me. Bryan does all the wizardry. We're having fun and it is truly amazing how all this fairly inexpensive software and hardware is revolutionizing broadcast media. We're living the Army of Davids dream. (Can't count how many times someone has written and said "when are you going to have your own TV show?" Now, I don't need to wait!)
If you would like to be able to comment on Hot Air, register now, while registration is still open.


Smart Fence

JunkYardBlog reported Sen. Hillary! is all over the immigration issue, and by that I mean that she’s on all sides of it, pretty much all the time. Is she against illegal immigrants, as she once said, or is she against criminalizing Jesus, as she said more recently? Is she for a wall or against it? Amnesty? She’s a Clinton, so getting a straight answer isn’t easy or usually even worth the effort, since she and Bill switch positions at the drop of a poll.

However, something she said about building a “smart fence” along the border intrigued me:

As for how to stem the tide of illegal immigrants, “A physical structure is obviously important,” she said. “A wall in certain areas would be appropriate,” as long as it was not a “dumb wall” that could be scaled or tunneled.
A dumb wall would be a heck of a lot more than we have now.
Advocating “smart fencing,” she added, “There is technology that would be in the fence that could spot people coming from 250 or 300 yards away and signal patrol agents who could respond.”
Is she going to put the fence 300 yards inside the US? Otherwise why should they respond while they were in Mexico. How about two dumb fences 300 yards apart, with regular patrols between the fences.
She also talked of using drones and infrared cameras and, when asked, agreed that Israel’s anti-terror wall, which she has seen, might help guide the U.S.
So she’s for the Israeli wall? Interesting. As for the “smart fence,” there is such a thing. The most famous secret air base in the world, called either Area 51 or Groom Lake, is surrounded by such a fence. Yes, Area 51 is a real place. I’ve stood outside its perimeter myself. And no, I have no idea what goes on inside the fence.
Does it keep aliens in, or out???
It’s not actually a fence, but layered security that allows wildlife to pass through but detects and responds to human incursion. I suppose you could test its accuracy by wearing a cow suit to see how far you’d get, but I doubt you’d get far and you probably wouldn’t like what happened when your ruse fell apart. There are infrared and, I assume, visible light cameras every few dozen yards along this “fence,” and there are security personnel positioned at strategic passes and draws who can get to nearly any area of the fence within a few minutes. And the perimeter is monitored by various aircraft as well. Whatever they’re doing in there, or whatever they want people to think they’re doing in there that they’re actually doing somewhere else, they don’t want you or me to find out.

It’s a very effective system. Area 51 hasn’t been breached, or if it has no one’s told the tale. It’s also very very expensive. Perhaps Mrs. Clinton is serious about border security and wants to apply the Area 51 technology or a lite version of it to our borders. If so, good for her. But the cynic in me suspects that she’s promoting a hideously expensive alternative to the “dumb fence” as an effort to look tough while supporting a program that will cost too much and therefore never be built.
Maybe she has some friends that build smart fences


That does not make any sense

The Volokh Conspiracy blogged Pro-Taliban Speech Constitutionally Protected, Criticisms of Homosexuality Unprotected Here's an excerpt from Judge Reinhardt's short dissent in Lavine v. Blaine School Dist. (Jan. 2002); Judge Reinhardt was taking the view that a school improperly disciplined a student for writing a poem with a violent theme:

I would add only that at times like those this nation now confronts, it is especially important that the courts remain sensitive to the demands of the First Amendment, a provision that underlies the very existence of our democracy. See Brown v. Hartlage, 456 U.S. 45, 60 (1982) ("[T]he First Amendment [is] the guardian of our democracy.") First Amendment judicial scrutiny should now be at its height, whether the individual before us is a troubled schoolboy, a right-to-life-activist, an outraged environmentalist, a Taliban sympathizer, or any other person who disapproves
and proposed violence against
of one or more of our nation's officials or policies for any reason whatsoever.
Except of course, according to Judge Reinhardt's more recent Harper v. Poway Unified School Dist., when the speaker is saying that homosexuality is shameful, or displaying a Confederate flag, or making any other "derogatory and injurious remarks directed at students' minority status
Why minority status? Why is it ok to criticize Christianity but not Judiasm or Islam. Do Muslim countries allow criticism of Islam, but not Christianity? Is it ok to criticize hetrosexuality, just not avoidance of it through abstinance, and not ciriticising homosexuality?
such as race, religion, and sexual orientation" (even if the remarks deal with important public debates, aren't personally addressed to any particular person, are in response to expressions of contrary views, and haven't been found to create a substantial risk of disruption).

The First Amendment, you see, doesn't protect those viewpoints in public high schools. It protects Taliban sympathizers (of course except when they criticize minority religions, or minority sexual orientations). It protects "any other person who disapproves of one or more of our nation's . . . policies for any reason whatsoever." But it doesn't protect condemnation of homosexuality -- an important argument for those who want to explain why they disapprove of, say, the nation's policy on constitutional protection for same-sex sexual relations, or the state's policy on employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. It doesn't protect the Confederate flag, presumably because it's often seen as an expression of disapproval for the nation's civil rights policies. (The Confederate flag can also be seen as having other meanings, but I take it that the offensive meaning, at least today, relates to some degree of disapproval of civil rights policies, which is on very rare occasions actual endorsement of slavery and much more commonly a generalized defense of Southern white culture, including its sometimes racist strains.)

And presumably it doesn't protect speech that criticizes fundamentalist Islam, since that is of course a minority religion. The Taliban sympathizers can speak and criticize Americans and presumably Christians (but not Jews or gays) all they want; but Taliban opponents may not. That's because in the Ninth Circuit there's now a Judge-Reinhardt-created viewpoint-based First Amendment exception for speech that minority high school students find is "derogatory and injurious" towards their "race, religion, and sexual orientation."


Cartoon Controversy at MSU

Michelle Malkin blogged Here's the full text of an e-mail from Michigan State University engineering professor Indrek Wichman to the campus Muslim Students Association, which organized a protest against the Mohammed Cartoons in February:

Dear Moslem Association: As a professor of Mechanical Engineering here at MSU I intened to protest your protest.

I am offended not by cartoons, but by more mundane things like beheadings of civilians, cowardly attacks on public buildings, suicide murders, murders of Catholic priests (the latest in Turkey!), burnings of Christian chirches, the continued persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt, the imposition of Sharia law on non-Muslims, the rapes of Scandinavain girls and women (called "whores" in your culture), the murder of film directors in Holland, and the rioting and looting in Paris France.
Professor I agree those are much more objectionable. And if one is going to object to a cartoon, how about the daily cartoons about Jews and Christians printed in the Arab press.
This is what offends me, a soft-spoken person and academic, and many, many, many of my colleagues. I counsul you dissatisfied, agressive, brutal, and uncivilized slave-trading Moslems to be very aware of this as you proceed with your infantile "protests."

If you do not like the values of the West -- see the 1st Ammendment -- you are free to leave. I hope for God's sake that most of you choose that option. Please return to your ancestral homelands and build them up yourselves instead of troubling Americans.

Cordially, I. S. Wichman, Professor of Mechanical Engineering
The liberal champions of free speech are clamoring for Wichman to be punished. And the usual suspects have turned out:
The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations also is urging the university to take "appropriate disciplinary" action,
Appropriate action would be to promote him to Chairman of his department.
saying the e-mail creates a hostile learning environment for students.
Islam Online is stirring up the pot here.

Once again, they have successfully distracted attention from the truly hostile environment at issue here--not the one created by a professor's intemperate e-mail, but by the knife-wielding, embassy-burning, effigy-hanging, fatwa-issuing Muslim hate-mongers threatening to murder all infidels who merely insult them. Remember?


The Sad Case Of Andrea Clarke

Right Wing News has an item picked up from the Democratic Underground about Andrea Clarke who is at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston, TX, and in 10 days they are going to discontinue her respirator and dialysis and let her die. They say this is not a Terry Schiavo case; not anything like it. Andrea, when she is not medicated into unconsciousness (and even when she is, and the medication has worn off to some degree) is aware and cognizant. She has suffered no brain damage to the parts of her brain responsible for thought and reason, or speech. She even has insurance, although there is speculation this is about insurance costs


I bet this ticks Microsoft off

John C. Dvorak wrote in PC Magazine I think it can now be safely said, in hindsight, that Microsoft's entry into the browser business and its subsequent linking of the browser into the Windows operating system looks to be the worst decision—and perhaps the biggest, most costly gaffe—the company ever made. I call it the Great Microsoft Blunder.

But if you want to control the world internet, you have to control the tool the world uses to access the internet.
It looks like a whopper that keeps whacking the company. The most recent bash came from the Eolas v. Microsoft patent suit over aspects of the ActiveX usage in Internet Explorer. Microsoft lost and was slapped with a $521 million settlement.
Their mistake was not putting Active X in IE, it was with developing Active X in the first place. Java should have been enough. Most of the security holes are because of Active X.
If the problem is not weird legal cases against the company, then it's the incredible losses in productivity at the company from the never-ending battle against spyware, viruses, and other security problems. All the work that has to go into keeping the browser afloat is time that could have been better spent on making Vista work as first advertised.
Come out with an OS on time? You jest.
All of Microsoft's Internet-era public-relations and legal problems (in some way or another) stem from Internet Explorer. If you were to put together a comprehensive profit-and-loss statement for IE, there would be a zero in the profits column and billions in the losses column—billions.

The joke of it is that Microsoft is still working on this dead albatross and is apparently ready to roll out a new version, since most of the smart money has been fleeing to Firefox or Opera. This means new rounds of patches and lost money.


Monday, April 24, 2006

TV station catches gaffe by McKinney

AJC reported Unfortunately for McKinney, a DeKalb County Democrat who is running for re-election in the 4th Congressional District, a TV microphone she was wearing picked up her indelicate grumbling. "Crap!" an irritated McKinney is heard saying after ending an interview with CBS 46 in which reporter Renee Starzyk repeatedly asked about the fallout from the police dust-up. "You know what? They lied to Coz and Coz is a fool."

Open mouth, insert foot.
McKinney, apparently realizing her blunder, then returned to face the camera and tell the reporter that comments about her communications director, Coz Carson, were off the record. But the TV stationed aired the footage Saturday and the story later was picked up by CNN.
If you want something to be off the record, you need to establish that BEFORE you open your big mouth.
.... Carson said he was present for Saturday's interview, which took place during a community meeting with constituents, but declined to say what led to the rebuke. He also demurred when asked if he had spoken to McKinney about the "fool" comment. "I'll just say I look forward to getting back to work tomorrow," he said.
That should be interesting. He does not need to worry about being fired, because surely the people of Atlanta are not going to be stupid enough to reelect her.
Political observer Merle Black of Emory University got a chuckle out of McKinney's latest gaffe. But he said he wasn't surprised by her behavior, even in an election year. "All of this is consistent," Black said of the way McKinney has handled the attention, including her charges that the police incident was racially motivated. "She doesn't act the way most Congress members act."
She acts like a spoiled black congresswoman who thinks she is better than everyone, when there are few that she is better than.


Double Standard

WaPo reported Key Democratic legislators yesterday joined Republicans in saying they do not condone the alleged leaking of classified information that led to last week's firing of a veteran CIA officer. But they questioned whether a double standard exists that lets the White House give reporters secretly declassified information for political purposes.

I am surprised that even a Democrat is that dumb, but let me explain it one more time.

  1. The Executive Branch has the power to classify and declassify information; an employee of the CIA does not.
  2. There is no such thing as "secretly declassified". If it is secret, it is classified, and if it is declassified, it is no longer secret.
  3. Once the information is declassified, it is ok to give it to reporters


Sunday, April 23, 2006

New Bin Laden Tape: Ten Main Points

Walid Phares wrote in Counterterrorism Blog Al Jazeera aired audiotape-fragments it said was from Bin Laden. In it, the leader of al Qaida made the following main ten points:

  1. Hamas: Despite the fact that we (including Ayman Zawahiri) warned (Muslim Palestinians) not to take part in elections in general, the victory of Hamas shows that there is a "Crusader Zionist War against Islam."
    Are you really looking for another Crusades? How did Islam come out in the last one.
    Cutting foreign aid to the Palestinians because of Hamas victory proves that war.
    If the Islamic world really supports the Palestinians, le it provide their support. If you want us to provide it, then we have a right to decide on the terms.
  2. The public (in the West and the US), despite our warnings, continues to reelect these Governments, pay taxes to these Governments, and send their children to fight against us. They (civilians) are therefore part of the war against us. They are responsible for any harm that would be caused to them.
    The Quran provides that if you kill innocents, you will go to hell.
  3. Sudan: The Bashir Government is failing in stopping the Crusader War in Sudan. The Crusaders (Britain) has pushed the southerners (Blacks) to separate. The US has armed them and is supporting them. And now, because of tribal tensions in Darfour, the Crusaders are planning on intervening there. We are calling on the Jihadists to fight them in Darfour and Southern Sudan.
    Sounds like you really want to see another Crusade
  4. Long War: We're calling on all Jihadists, particularly in Sudan and the Arabian Peninsula to prepare themselves for a long war.
    Do they want war, or do they want peace?
  5. Danish Cartoons: We are asking the Danish Government to remit the Cartoonists to al Qaida.
    Will al Qaida remit the cartoonists that draw cartoons about Jews to Israel?
  6. Saudis: We criticize the Saudi Monarch for refuting the idea of Clash of civilization. There is a clash led by the West against Islam.
    No, there is a clash by a False Islam against true Islam AND the West
  7. Arab Liberals: Jihadists must silence the Arab and Muslim liberals. (A list has been established, but it wasn't aired).
    Moderate and Liberal Arabs must silence the Jihadists.
  8. Education: We warn from any change that would affect the educational curriculum in the Arab and Muslim world.
    It should teach true Islam, rather than the Jihadists version.
  9. Arab TV: We warn against those TV stations airing into the region and propagating Crusader propaganda.
    Can't stand the truth, huh.
  10. Truce: We offered a truce to the West (US and Europe) but their public refused to accept it. They will only blame themselves.


McCarthy: Second Day - First Thoughts

Varifrank asks some very good questions

  1. Maybe the war would be over by now if half the CIA wasnt more interested in "getting Bush" than it is with "getting Osama".
  2. The WAPO and the New York Times are saying that McCarthys efforts are not just legitimate, but actually required for the safe running of a government. Would they say the same if other members of the CIA were to reveal classified information on the failures of the Clinton Administration?
    Of course not. The MSM believes it knows what is best for the country.
  3. In my mind, the CIA is a compromised organization. Mary McCarthy is not some back bench disgruntled civil servant, she's a major player in the Security Community, the NSC and the CIA. Organizations tend to take on the attributes of those at the top. People who are promoted within the organization are promoted because they mimic those in the leadership. This means that there are a large number of people in the CIA whos careers map, personal network and decision making processes mimic those of Dr. McCarthy. Those that are supporting McCarthy now need to explain how an out of control, and apparently disloyal CIA has helped secure the United States against the people who are trying to kill us.
  4. How many "dots" are not being "connected" because half of the CIA is sitting in its cubicles frothing at the mouth in hatred over the words "President Bush". How many people have died due to someone elses Bush Derangement Syndrome?
  5. At what point does the actions of someone like McCarthy stop being a "Leak" and start being a form of "shadow government"?
    Some time prior to sending the husband of an agent to research something he was unqualified to do, and then report what he found in an editorial in the paper, in an attempt to influence an election.
  6. Its supposed to be the "Central Intelligence Agency", not the "Central Policy Agency". We didnt elect you Dr. McCarthy, you are not "the decider"; its not your call.
  7. If a person will violate their security oath for political revenge, what wont they do?
  8. What strikes me as most interesting about this case is that it appears that Dr. McCarthy has close working relationships with many people in the "anti-Bush" community and the Democrat party. Is this just a leak, or part of an attempt at a soft "coup"?
  9. Why is Dr. McCarthy so interested in overturning the results of an legitimate election? Should we trust someone who doesnt trust the voters? ( I love replaying Clinton Apologies for my own benefit)
  10. Now that we have reason to question the loyalty of Dr. McCarthy and that she served in the NSC with Sandy Berger, Just what was it that Sandy Berger was carrying in his pants out of the archive? Is it related to this?