Saturday, June 04, 2005

Cute Headlines

Some bloggers have come up with cute headlines for the Guantanamo report

Anchoress blogged If you sprinkle when you tinkle…

Riding Sun blogged Urine big trouble now

ABP blogged The Answer My Friend Is Pi$$in' In The Wind

AustinBay blogged Fifteen to Five: Terrorists Beat Gitmo Guards in Koran “Mishandling”

Daily Pundit blogged Kicking the Koran when it’s down



Blogs for Bush blogs What is being reported now both on al-Jazeera (no links to hate sites) and Newsmax, is that Senator Kerry will bring the issue up on Monday in the Senate. Failed presidential candidate John Kerry said Thursday that he intends to confront Congress with a document touted by critics of President Bush as evidence that he committed impeachable crimes by falsifying evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

"When I go back [to Washington] on Monday, I am going to raise the issue," Kerry said, referring to the Downing Street Memo in an interview with Massachusetts' Standard Times newspaper.
This is the same Senator Kerry who was on the intelligence committee, saw the same intelligence data the President saw, and voted for the liberation which President Bush advocated...though, as we know, he was for the war before he was against it. Up until now, the demand for an impeachment of President Bush has been confined to the fever swamps of the left...but as the fever swamps of the left have gained control of the Democratic Party via goups like MoveOn, we've seen ever more Democrats acting entirely irreponsibly. It has been a long term goal of the left to impeach President Bush...and now here comes John Kerry, still smarting from his trouncing at the polls, to feed the fires of the fever swamps. This is not a bolt from the blue from John Kerry, we reported earlier, Kerry was saying in mid-April that the intelligence data was manipulated to support the liberation. Kerry lacked any proof then to make such a claim, but he still made it...he still lacks proof, but he and the rest of the left think that the Downing Street Memo will be all they need to bring down a President.

PoliPundit is running a poll:John Kerry’s attempt to impeach President Bush means:
  • Kerry has finally gone as batty as Al Gore
  • The Democrat party is now run entirely by its X-Files wing
  • Ours is a just and beneficent God
  • Democrats have given up on the 2006 elections
  • All of the above
Right now, "All of the above" is ahead with 75% of the votes.


Byrd Is In Trouble

Don Surber blogged More than a year away, Bob Byrd has already raised more money for his 2006 campaign than he raised in the entire 2000 campaign. Now we know why: He is down to a 3-point lead in the polls over Shelley Moore Capito. That is within the margin of error... The big winner in this is Dubya. Keeping Byrd sweating helps. Maybe that is why Byrd went from the Filibustering Defender of the Constitution in this judicial vote fiasco to the Monte Hall of the Senate as in "Let's Make A Deal."

Capito is Byrd's worst nightmare: young, pretty and influential. She has deep roots in West Virginia. She saves the 130th Airlift Wing while adding C-5s to the Martinsburg air base and Byrd will be sweating bullets. She is smart enough not to wave the tattered bedsheet at Byrd, who is beloved by many in West Virginia, in much the same way Strom Thurmond was a historic figure in South Carolina. What makes Capito formidable is not who her daddy is (Arch Moore is right up there with Byrd in popularity) but who she is. She was outspent 6-to-1 and 3-to-1 in a Democratic congressional district and handed Jim Humphreys his hat both times. The second time she beat him by 13 points even though Byrd came to the aid of Humphreys. Byrd will have big money behind him. Soros may lose his shirt as the euro slides, but he still has his pants, shoes, socks and tie. The billionaire wing now owns the Democratic Party. Members of this billionaire boys club are mad as a hatter and rich as Midas.

Hugh Hewitt blogged Robert Byrd has to consider whether he wants his long Senate career to end with a defeat, or with a voluntary farewell party.

This is wonderful news.



Dave Kopel wrote in Rocky Mountain News Hyperbole taints Gitmo coverage
Comparing death-free Guantanamo to murderous gulags grossly misleading

Suppose that on a Monday morning this fall, you read a story that said "many hundreds of people attended yesterday's Broncos game." If the crowd were 76,000 people, you might suspect the writer's phrasing was an attempt to minimize public perceptions of Broncos attendance - even though, technically speaking, the term "many hundreds" could include the 76,000 fans at a typical game. Another story with a formally accurate but extremely misleading estimate of numbers came from the Associated Press' Paisley Dodds in the May 26 Denver Post. Dodds accurately reported Amnesty International's claim that Guantanamo Bay is the "gulag for our time." Perhaps attempting to give some credibility to the charge, Dodds explained that "gulag" refers to "the extensive system of prison camps in the former Soviet Union," where "untold thousands of prisoners died." The Encyclopedia Britannica estimates that 15 million to 30 million people died in the gulags, while Anne Applebaum, in Gulag: A History, suggests that 2 million died. Had the AP supplied the scholarly figures or said "untold millions" rather than the misleading but technically accurate "untold thousands," the data would have highlighted what preposterous hyperbole Amnesty International was using. A more informative AP story might also have noted (as does Time magazine's May 31 issue) that no one has died at Guantanamo. The Rocky Mountain News blended Dodds' AP text into a New York Times story on the Amnesty accusation. The News version explained that the gulags were part of an "extensive system of prison camps" for "political prisoners," but failed to acknowledge that anyone died in those "prison camps" - which would more accurately be described as slave labor camps.

And thus the article, like most in the MSM, may be accurate in what it says, but it trys to make the US look bad


Koran “Mishandling” Story

La Shawn Barber blogged If I See One More Koran “Mishandling” Story…I just might buy a few to kick around myself. The madness has gone far enough. The West is too darn “civilized” for its own good. We’re teetering on the edge, ready to take a suicidal leap just to show the world how “compassionate” and “tolerant” we are. Despite what they may say, Muslims are and have always been on a mission to conquer and kill infidels. They’ve been doing it for centuries and will continue until we’re all dead, or they’re all dead, or the world ends, whichever comes first. We need to get over ourselves and focus on stopping the spread of Islamofacism. Period. Save civility and Koran “handling” for less perilous times. Allah couldn’t have a better spokesperson than a typical American journalist.

A cowardly man afraid to use his name called me an “ignorant slut” in an e-mail for daring to write that I’d kick the Koran. Classy. I wonder what he’d call Muslims, followers of Islam, who actually flush the Koran? Some of you, too many for my taste, believe that Americans should be investigated and punished for “desecrating” a book. Muslims came up with a brilliant way to have us fighting against ourselves: Let’s take this book, call it holy, and order death for followers who “desecrate” it. While we’re at it, let’s tell the whole world, including sovereign countries, that they must revere it. Anything less is desecration (including this post!). The leaders don’t have to kill their citizens, of course (unless they want to). “Investigated and punished” will do. I’ll break it down for obtuse readers. I don’t think our troops or anyone serving in the armed forces should be “punished” for “desecrating” the Koran. I think it’s idiocy of the highest order to have federal rules (or whatever they’re called) on how to handle the book and a potentially fatal distraction in the war against Islamofacism. I’m now convinced that liberalism is a mental disorder.

LaShawn must have really gotten some nasty comments because she closed comments and trackbacks after three comments, but I am honored that in response to an email from me indicating a desire to post and trackbacks, she has reopened trackbacks on this post.

As I indicated earlier I was disappointed in most of the MSM for distorting the report on the Pentagon's findings, but I was proud to see that CNN, which usually joins the MSM in attacking America, had an accurate title this time: Detainees, not soldiers, flushed Quran.

I also noticed that most of the real desecration of the Quran was done by detainees, and according to Islamic Law desecration of the Quran is punishable by death. Since the detainees are used to Islamic Law, I wonder what the MSM would have said had the soldiers shot the detainees for desecration of the Quran.

Also as I have said earlier, the few actual desecrations of the Quran were clearly done against official government policy, yet we have seen many reports where people in Saudia Arabia had Bibles taken from them and burned by official government agents, and the people with the Bibles were beaten. If Muslims want us to respect their faith and their holy book, then they need to do the same for Christians and Bibles.

After all, according to their faith God has pointed out in the Quran (Surat al-Ma'ida, 82) "You will find the people most affectionate to those who believe are those who say, 'We are Christians.' That is because some of them are priests and monks and because they are not arrogant." We are all "People of the Book" Surat Al 'Imran, 64 says "O People of the Book! Let us rally to a common formula to be binding on both us and you: That we worship none but God; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than God." They should respect our places of worship, as commanded in Surat al-Hajj: 40 "if God had not driven some people back by means of others, monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques, where God's name is mentioned much, would have been pulled down and destroyed. God will certainly help those who help Him - God is All-Strong, Almighty."

These people pretend to be Muslims, but they do not obey the Quran.


Need photos and other art for blog

Stephen Baker blogged at Business Week Anyone know where we can find a decent selection of blogable photos for this commercial site? I'm fast giving up on Flickr, because most of the pictures are protected. I was having so much fun posting the occasional photo. If I don't find something soon, maybe I'll try to hit up my boss for a Treo--and snap my own pix. The other alternative would be to clear the ads off this site and use Flickr. Something tells me that won't fly.

I had a post all ready on this, with some recommendations, but I had my machine lock up, and I was so ticked off when I rebooted I just forgot about it, but I ran across it again today, so decided to try again. Comments to his post recommeded:

  • I'd be happy for any of my photo work to appear elsewhere on the Web - including on your weblog - as long as some minimalist credit was given (or clicking on an image took you back to my portrait site, whatever.
  • If you just need photos (royalty-free) and other general art, you should check out You will have to pay for them, but it's only $1 for a small image, ($2-medium, $3-large)...and they give away a free photo every week.
  • Robin Good's article here has links and reviews to a number of excellent photo sites.
  • Steve...check out MorgueFile. From their site: "[A morgue file is] a place to keep post production materials for use of reference, an inactive job file. This morgue file contains free high resolution digital stock photography for either corporate or public use. The term 'morgue file' is popular in the newspaper business to describe the file that holds past issues flats. Although the term has been used by illustrators, comic book artist, designers and teachers as well. The purpose of this site is to provide free image reference material for use in all creative pursuits. This is the world wide web's morguefile." Morguefile rocks.
  • If you're looking for stockphotos try StockPhotos
  • Check out this resource. It offers tons of links to free stock photography and font sites. Blue Vertigo (scroll left to right to view all links)
  • I located through a Robin Good link - keyword seearch across multiple sites, many photos with rights, avail for commercial use. Pertty decent selection, too.
I would add


Blogging from 32,000 feet

Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger reports blogging from 32,000 feet (using Boeing's Wifi on the SAS flight he is taking has Internet connectivity) is cool, and he has been checking news and posting blog entries on the way to Europe, and IM'ing other people on the plane, but he reports One problem: I only have two hours of battery left. Turns out that to get a seat with power I'd need to pay $250 more per ticket, one way. Yikes.

SAS has a nice computer system for each seat, though. A decent selection of music and movies. All run from a touch screen. Running on Windows.


Get DOS games working in XP!

Tech Smores! reports -- First things first. There is no DOS in Windows XP! What is called the "command prompt" is not really DOS ... it can be thought of as more of a simulation of DOS. Windows XP (and Windows 2000), unlike Windows 95, 98, and ME, are NOT built on an MSDOS foundation. So, while this makes for better speed and stability, it also makes for sometimes lousy backwards compatibility.

However, have no fear! This page will hopefully help you to get the majority of DOS games running under XP. Of course, it's important to remember that some games just won't work on your modern computer, no matter how hard you try, so don't be too disappointed. ;) Also please keep in mind that these tips are for Windows XP only ...


Quran Desecration

To their credit, CNN got the headline right: Detainees, not soldiers, flushed Quran

A U.S. military investigation into the mishandling of the Muslim holy book at the Guantanamo Bay prison for suspected terrorists has determined that detainees -- not U.S. soldiers -- attempted to flush the Quran down the toilet there. However, the report did find four confirmed incidents in which U.S. personnel at the base mishandled the Quran, including guards kicking a detainee's Quran; a guard's urine "splashed" a detainee and his holy book after coming through an air vent; and guards got in a water balloon fight that resulted in two detainees' Qurans getting wet. In a fifth confirmed incident, it could not be determined whether a guard or a detainee wrote a two-word obscenity in a detainee's Quran. The findings of the report, issued by Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, commander of the detention center in Cuba, were released late Friday. They found no evidence to support allegations that U.S. soldiers attempted to flush the Muslim holy book down the toilet....

The Hood report cited three separate incidents in which detainees tried to flush the Quran down the toilet. In one incident, on February 23, 2004, the report said a guard saw a "detainee place two Qurans in his toilet and state he no longer cared about the Quran or his religion. Five minutes later, after the detainee retrieved the Qurans, he ripped several pages out of one Quran and threw the pages on the floor. Then, he placed both Qurans on the sink." Another time, on January 19, 2005, a detainee "tore up his Quran and tried to flush it down the toilet. Four guards witnessed the incident," the report said. The report also cited 12 other incidents by detainees, including one who used his Quran as a pillow, another who urinated on his holy book and several who ripped pages from the Quran. Capt. Jeff Weir, an Army spokesman at the facility, told CNN in a phone interview that the detainees were typically trying to stage some form of protest when they mishandled the Quran.

As I understand Islamic Law, the penalty of desecrating the Quran is death. I wonder what the MSM would have said if soldiers shot the detainees desecrating the Quran

According to the report, the five confirmed incidents were:

  • In February 2002, a detainee complained that guards kicked the Quran belonging to a detainee in a nearby cell.
  • On July 25, 2003, a contract interrogator apologized to a detainee for stepping on his Quran in an earlier interview. The interrogator was later fired "for a pattern of unacceptable behavior, an inability to follow direct guidance and poor leadership."
  • On August 15, 2003, night shift guards threw water balloons in a cell block, wetting the Qurans of two detainees.
  • On August 21, 2003, a detainee complained that a "two-word obscenity had been written in English on the inside cover of his English version Quran." The report noted that the detainee knew English and Arabic, and it could not be determined exactly who wrote the phrase. "It is possible that a guard committed this act; it is equally possible that the detainee wrote in his own Quran."
  • On March 25, 2005, a detainee said "urine came through an air vent" and "splashed on him and his Quran while he laid near the air vent." A guard admitted he was at fault, saying he urinated near an air vent and the "wind blew his urine through the vent into the block." The detainee was given a new uniform and Quran. The guard was reprimanded and placed on gate guard duty away from detainees.
This is how the story was reported in other news sources

USA Today reported Pentagon confirms U.S. soldier kicked Koran at prison

Yahoo News / AP reported U.S. Confirms Gitmo Soldier Kicked Quran

Reuters reported Jailers splashed Koran with urine - Pentagon

ABC News reported Jailers splashed Koran with urine - Pentagon

MSN Money reported Pentagon admits jailers abused Koran

Times Online reported US admits guard soiled Koran at Guantanamo

Isn't this proof how the MSM tries to distort everything to make the US look bad.

Michelle Malkin blogged The civil liberties Chicken Littles will again be up in arms. I've already received a late-breaking e-mail alert from CAIR assailing Gitmo's "climate of abuse." Don't trust the MSM reports. Read the Pentagon's investigative findings for yourself here. See also the Pentagon news release, which puts things in proper perspective and the text of US military regs on handling the Koran. All in PDF.

Also check Michelle's post for analysis from other bloggers, and at the time I am writing this, she has had 20 trackbacks to her post.


Saturday, June 4

This Day In History

  • 1647   The English army seized King Charles I as a hostage.
  • 1878   Turkey turned Cyprus over to the British.
  • 1892   The Sierra Club was incorporated in San Francisco.
  • 1896   Henry Ford made a successful pre-dawn test run of his horseless carriage, called a quadricycle, through the streets of Detroit.
  • 1940   The Allies completed the evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk, France.
  • 1942   The Battle of Midway began during World War II.
  • 1944   The U.S. Fifth Army began liberating Rome during World War II.
  • 1947   The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the Taft-Hartley Act, which allows the president to intervene in labor disputes.
  • 1954   French Premier Joseph Laniel and Vietnamese Premier Buu Loc initialed treaties in Paris according ''complete independence'' to Vietnam.
  • 1984   The album ''Born in the U.S.A.'' by Bruce Springsteen was released.
  • 1985   The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling striking down an Alabama law providing for a daily minute of silence in public schools.
  • 1986   Jonathan Jay Pollard, a former Navy intelligence analyst, pleaded guilty in Washington to spying for Israel.
  • 1989   Tiananmen Square
  • 1992   The U.S. Postal Service announced the results of a nationwide vote on the Elvis Presley stamp, saying more people preferred the ''younger Elvis'' design.
  • 1998   A federal judge sentenced Terry Nichols to life in prison for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing.
  • 2001   Nepal's King Dipendra died, three days after he reportedly shot and killed most members of the royal family before turning the gun on himself.
  • 2003   Martha Stewart stepped down as head of her media empire, hours after federal prosecutors in New York charged her with obstruction of justice, conspiracy, securities fraud and lying to investigators.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1738   King George III (King of Great Britain and Ireland [1760-1811] during time of the American Revolutionary War against the British; died Jan 29, 1820)
  • 1907   Rosalind Russell (actress)
  • 1924   (Billy) Dennis Weaver (actor: Gunsmoke, McCloud)
  • 1928   Dr. Ruth Westheimer (Karola Ruth Siegel) (sex therapist; author; TV celebrity)
  • 1971   Noah Wyle (actor: ER)


Friday, June 03, 2005

Employee Blogging

Susan Kuchinskas wrote in Internet News about Jeremy Zawodny posting Yahoo! Employee Blog Guidelines and mentioned the thousands of Microsoft employees who blog, most of them mid-level personnel. She also refers to Microsoft's Scoble as being a marketing executive, but Scoble says Just for the record. I'm not an executive. I'm also not on a marketing team. I'm in the evangelism and platform strategy one.


Democrats Also Got Tribal Donations

WaPo reported Lobbyist Jack Abramoff and an associate famously collected $82 million in lobbying and public relations fees from six Indian tribes and devoted a lot of their time to trying to persuade Republican lawmakers to act on their clients' behalf. But Abramoff didn't work just with Republicans. He oversaw a team of two dozen lobbyists at the law firm Greenberg Traurig that included many Democrats. Moreover, the campaign contributions that Abramoff directed from the tribes went to Democratic as well as Republican legislators.

Among the biggest beneficiaries were Capitol Hill's most powerful Democrats, including Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.) and Harry M. Reid (Nev.), the top two Senate Democrats at the time, Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.), then-leader of the House Democrats, and the two lawmakers in charge of raising funds for their Democratic colleagues in both chambers, according to a Washington Post study. Reid succeeded Daschle as Democratic leader after Daschle lost his Senate seat last November. Democrats are hoping to gain political advantage from federal and Senate investigations of Abramoff's activities and from the embattled lobbyist's former ties to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.). Yet, many Democratic lawmakers also benefited from Abramoff's political operation, a fact that could hinder the Democrats' efforts to turn the lobbyist's troubles into a winning partisan issue.

Left Wing Matthew Yglesias blogged It's not clear to me what the point of today's Washington Post article "revealing" that Democrats got money from Indian tribes represented by Jack Abramoff is supposed to be.

Perhaps the Left Wint Washington Post forgot it was just expected to bash Republicans, and they slipped up and reported some real truth.

Captain Ed blogged Despite the Democrats' best efforts to paint controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff as a GOP tool -- especially in relation to Tom DeLay -- further investigation by the Washington Post shows that Abramoff put significant money into the coffers of leading Democrats as well. In fact, two of Abramoff's biggest winners were the present and former Senate Minority Leaders. Of course, this is the danger of playing holier-than-thou with baseless ethics complaints. The Democrats have targeted Ton DeLay not because he's committed crimes, but because of his political effectiveness. Ronnie Earle has chased DeLay for years, and still hasn't filed an indictment despite his highly partisan effort to get him behind bars. Howard Dean claims that's where DeLay belongs, and both he and Nancy Pelosi have used Jack Abramoff as a chief reason for their ire. Now, all of a sudden, the Democrats have become very, very silent. Those that have commented claim no knowledge of Abramoff's involvement with the six Indian tribes that donated tens of thousands of dollars to their campaigns between 1999 and 2004 through Abramoff's recommendations. While the biggest winner in this handout festival was Republican Conrad Burns ($141K), one-third of the largest recipients were Democrats.

See this chart to see who got what.


Guantanamo fog

Michelle Malkin wrote The mainstream media and international human-rights organizations have relentlessly portrayed the Guantanamo Bay detention facility as a depraved torture chamber operated by sadistic American military officials defiling Islam at every turn. It's the "gulag of our time," wails Amnesty International. It's the "anti-Statue of Liberty," bemoans New York Times columnist Tom Friedman. Have there been abuses? Yes. But here is the rest of the story -- the story the Islamists and their sympathizers don't want you to hear.

According to recently released FBI documents, inaccurately heralded by civil liberties activists and military-bashers as irrefutable evidence of widespread "atrocities" at Gitmo: A significant number of detainee complaints were either exaggerated or fabricated (no surprise given al Qaeda's explicit instructions to trainees to lie). One detainee who claimed to have been "beaten, spit upon and treated worse than a dog" could provide not a single detail pertaining to mistreatment by U.S. military personnel. Another detainee claimed guards were physically abusive, but admitted he hadn't seen it. Another detainee disputed one of the now globally infamous claims that American guards had mistreated the Koran. The detainee said riots resulted from claims a guard dropped the Koran. In actuality, the detainee said, a detainee dropped the Koran then blamed a guard. Other detainees who complained about abuse of the Koran admitted they never personally witnessed any such thing, but one said he heard non-Muslim soldiers touched the Koran when searching it for contraband. In one case, Gitmo interrogators apologized to a detainee for interviewing him prior to the end of Ramadan. Several detainees indicated they had not experienced any mistreatment. Others complained about lack of privacy, lack of bedsheets, being unwillingly photographed, guards' use of profanity and bad food. If this is unacceptable, "gulag"-style "torture," then every inmate in America is a victim of human-rights violations. (Oh, never mind, there are civil liberties Chicken Littles who actually believe that.) Erik Saar, an army sergeant at Gitmo for six months and co- author of a negative, tell-all book titled "Inside the Wire," inadvertently provides us more firsthand details showing just how restrained, and sensitive to Islam -- to a fault, I believe -- detention facility officials have been. Each detainee's cell has a sink installed low to the ground, "to make it easier for the detainees to wash their feet" before Muslim prayer, Mr. Saar reports. Detainees get "two hot halal, or religiously correct, meals" a day in addition to an MRE (meal ready to eat). Loudspeakers broadcast the Muslims' call to prayer five times daily. Every detainee gets a prayer mat, cap and Koran. Every cell has a stenciled arrow pointing toward Mecca. Moreover, Gitmo's library -- yes, library -- is stocked with Jihadi books.

This is probably better treatment than they would get if they were in jail in a Muslim country, and certainly better treatment than Muslims would provide to a Christian or Jewish prisoner.
"I was surprised that we'd be making that concession to the religious zealotry of the terrorists," Mr. Saar admits. "It seemed to me that the camp command was helping to facilitate the terrorists' religious devotion." Mr. Saar notes one FBI special agent involved in interrogations even grew a beard like the detainees "as a sort of show of respect for their faith." Unreality-based liberals would have us believe America is spitefully and systematically torturing innocent Muslims at Guantanamo Bay. Meanwhile, our own MPs have endured little-publicized abuse at the hands of manipulative, hatemongering enemy combatants. Detainees have spit on and hurled water, urine and feces on the MPs. Causing disturbances is a source of entertainment for detainees who, as Gen. Richard Myers notes, "would turn right around and try to slit our throats, slit our children's throats" if released. The same unreality-based liberals whine about the Bush administration's failure to gather intelligence and prevent terrorism. Yet, these hysterical critics have no viable alternative to detention and interrogation -- and there is no doubt they would be the first to lambaste the White House and Pentagon if a released detainee went on to commit an act of mass terrorism on American soil. Guantanamo Bay will not be the death of this country. The unseriousness and hypocrisy of the terrorist-abetting left is a far greater threat.

Captain Ed blogged One of my favorite columnists and bloggers, Michelle Malkin, writes a must-read column in today's Washington Times about the mythology of Guantanamo's Camp X-Ray being the equivalent of the Soviet gulag, as Amnesty International accused earlier this week. I won't belabor the historical illiteracy of Amnesty International, already pointed out by many others, in comparing this to the system of slave-labor camps that sent millions to their deaths in the Soviet Union. I will point out that the people at Camp X-Ray were captured on fields of battle, out of uniform and carrying weapons in opposition to our armed forces. If Amnesty International wants us to hew to the Geneva Convention, we could have just had them shot on capture. Make sure you read the entire column, and let's make sure people understand that this is a war, not a juvenile-crime prevention initiative. The terrorists in Camp X-Ray fought on behalf of the same people who killed 3,000 unarmed and defenseless American citizens on 9/11. While I don't want them abused, I could frankly care less about their detention otherwise. Let them rot and die there. Better that than releasing them and having to fight them a second time.

Curt blogged I couldn't agree more. The far left in this country is a far more serious threat against our war on terror then Guantanamo Bay ever be. They seem willing to dismantle any of our efforts in gaining intelligence while at the same time attempting to destroy the morale of our troops and those who support them.

Paul @PowerLine blogged It is shocking, but not surprising, that major elements of the MSM and the American left are willing to accept pretty much at face value allegations of abuse by our sworn and dishonorable enemies, who are trained to lie about the conditions of their captivity, but not the responses of the American soldiers who have put themselves at risk trying to defend our country. How can we explain this? Let's be generous and assume that the animating force is hatred of President Bush, not hatred of America.


Good News from Iraq

Michael Yon, author of "Danger Close," is currently in Iraq, and he blogged, with many pictures about conditions in Dohuk, Northern Iraq

Here are some pictures from the University of Dohuk, whose motto is Where Education is the Transmission of Civilization

SGT_E blogged The war is over in Dohuk. After suffering perhaps a half century of fighting, the people have finally gotten peace they wanted long ago. With the old Iraqi government vanquished, Dohuk is thriving. In fact, this Iraqi city appears to be doing at least as well--perhaps remarkably better--than many comparably-sized towns in Italy. A visit to this place affords more than a break from the rugged routine of war. It also provides a postcard of a possible future for all of Iraq. Coalition military presence in the region is scant, and those who travel here come mainly for shopping, or to relax and drink tea with friendly Iraqis, who often will not allow Americans to pay.

Hat Tip to Chris Greenfeather

Why doesn't the MSM report things like this


Outrageous Pharmacist

Deb blogged While at the pharmacy on post today one of the civilian pharmacists had a badge on his shirt that said: "If Jesus healed the sick so why won't the President let us? Support embryonic stem cell research"

I suppose the guy is entitled to his opinion I find it very offensive:

  1. If you are going to pull Jesus into this I can guarantee you that he would not condone embryonic stem cell research. As a matter of fact He tells us that life begins at conception.
  2. Work is not the appropriate place to wear such items. A donkey pin, a GOP pin, fine, but this is over the line.
  3. Stem cell research can be done with umbilical cord blood and adult stem cell research.
I called the pharmacy administration to tell share my feelings, we'll see what comes of it. But then again, these days being Christian is about the only thing that isn't acceptable anymore.

I agree with all of your points, but would add
  1. Bush is the first President to support ANY stem cell research, and
  2. Embryonic Stem Cell Research is not illegal; privately funded research goes on, as does some state supported research. Bush just won't allow Federal Taxes being used to fund research that many feel is morally wrong.


Hospital bibles

Telegraph reports The century-old tradition of bibles in hospital bedside lockers could be ended in one health trust today after officials decided they might offend ethnic minorities.

I am getting sick of hearing about definitely offending the majority to avoid offending ethnic minorities.
The proposal angered Christians and Muslims who accused the hospital of political correctness. Leicester has one of Britain's largest ethnic minority populations and the trust is concerned that the many non-Christian patients might be offended. A spokesman refused to say who suggested the ban, but said that she was "not aware" that any complaints about bibles had been made.

"Discussions are still in the early stages,'' she said. "Regardless of the outcome, patients can be reassured that religious texts will continue to be made available at hospitals through the chaplaincy."
I was in a hospital for 5 days, and saw the Chaplin exactly one time, several days after I was admitted. If I needed a Bible, I hate to think I would have to wait several days to see someone to ask. And all she had were New Testaments in any case. If I had been Jewish, I would have been out of luck.
Gideons International, the missionary organisation whose bibles are placed at patient bedsides, said the proposal was "sad" and "ridiculous". Iain Mair, an executive director, said the charity commissioned a surgeon and microbiologist to carry out a study on the risk of infection as soon as it learned that a ban was being considered. "Doctors told us that to claim an MRSA risk is nonsense - and it is ridiculous to think having bibles in lockers discriminates against other religions," said Mr Mair. "We have told the trust that we will put a note beside our Testament to advise patients who to contact if they wish a book of another faith." The hospitals that would be affected if a ban were implemented are Leicester General, Leicester Royal Infirmary and Glenfield Hospital. Such a move would be especially embarrassing for Gideons, whose British headquarters is a few miles away in Lutterworth, Leics. Mr Mair said: "The proposal is completely outrageous and the reasons put forward for justifying it, we believe, are totally without foundation. He had not received "a single letter, e-mail or telephone call from any member of another faith to say that they have been offended by a hospital bible. Even other local faith leaders disagree with the proposal. The only thing I can think of is that this is motivated by political correctness.'' He said he felt sad that in a country that had been Christian for so long "we have got people that consider the Bible to be offensive". Suleman Nagdi, of Leicestershire's Federation of Muslim Organisations, said: "This is a Christian country and it would be sad to see the tradition end." Resham Singh Sandu, Sikh chairman of the Council of Faiths, said: "I don't think many ethnic minority patients would object to the Bible in a locker."

Hat tip to Danny Carlton who blogged So what we have is Moslems and Sikhs defending the religious liberties of Christians (and Jews), and a media source that actually reports it rather than hiding it, as more often than not happens.

I also praise the Moslem and Sikh that stood up for the religious liberties of other People of the Book.



WaPo reports Human rights group Amnesty defended its description of Guantanamo prison as a "gulag" Thursday and urged the United States to allow independent investigations of allegations of torture at its detention centers for terrorism suspects. A verbal feud between Amnesty International and Washington has escalated since Amnesty last week compared the prison at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the brutal Soviet system of forced labor camps where millions of prisoners died....

Amnesty International used to be a respectible organization, but it has turned to the Dark Side and now just wants to help the Dems bash Bush.
"The administration's response has been that our report is absurd, that our allegations have no basis, and our answer is very simple: if that is so, open up these detention centers, allow us and others to visit them," Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Zubaida Khan told a news conference. "Transparency is the best antidote to misinformation and incorrect facts," said Khan, who is here to meet with Japanese officials.
You make absurd claims, and then want permission to visit, so you can fake up some more absurd claims? I don't think so.

American Spectator reported Every so often Amnesty International has to toss a bone to its wealthy liberal contributors. Otherwise the Ted Turners and George Soroses may begin to wonder whether they are getting the best bang for their buck. No doubt its annual assault on the U.S. is the meatiest bone Amnesty International can serve up.

After all, what profit is there in constantly harping about third world dictators? Not only is it ineffective, but more important it's not going to make headlines. And headlines equal more donations. Besides we all know that conditions in Sudan, Haiti, Zimbabwe, etc., etc., are hellish.
If they want to visit someplace, why don't they go there?
And what wealthy liberal wants to pick on a developing country? Haven't they endured enough suffering at the hands of the brutal European colonials? This explains why Amnesty International spends an inordinate amount of time trying to dig up dirt on countries like the U.S. and Britain (and not enough time on France, in my opinion).

Speaking of headlines, last week Amnesty International's Secretary General Irene Zubaida Khan called Guantanamo Bay "the Gulag of our time." The obvious reference was to the Soviet Union's notorious Gulag Archipelago, made infamous by Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn's memoir/history, called by one reviewer, "the modern equivalent of Luther's 95 Theses." Evidently, the Muslim head of Amnesty International
I did not realize the head was a Muslim. I now understand why he is so concerned with the prisoners at Guantanamo.
has never found time to read Mr. Solzhenitsyn's book or even bothered to look up the word gulag on the online encyclopedia. If she had Ms. Zubaida Khan would have been amazed to learn that the 30 million inmates of the secret Soviet camps were by and large political prisoners, writers, and dissidents like Solzhenitsyn (arrested for writing a private letter criticizing Stalin), or Soviet soldiers welcomed home from years in German prison camps with a one-way ticket to Siberia. (Besides punishing dissidents, Lenin and Stalin had important economic reasons for the camps. It was due largely to this slave labor that the Soviet economy remained precariously afloat for 70 years.)

Gulag prisoners were systemically starved, beaten, and forced to labor in sub-zero weather. The lucky ones were shot immediately. In contrast, at Guantanamo Bay, 1,300 Korans in 13 different languages were handed out to prisoners. Prisoners are served "proper Muslim-approved food." The International Red Cross has been monitoring the camp from Day One. Gen. Richard Myers noted that the organization has consistently given the U.S. high marks for the way it takes care of terrorists. What is Amnesty's biggest beef about Gitmo? That some guards "mishandled" a book.
Maybe Amnesty needs to visit Saudia Arabia, both to see what happens to other religious books, and what happens to the people carrying them.
Nevertheless Amnesty International's "gulag" reference came as a bit of a surprise. The left has been notoriously silent about the gulags. It is normally a chapter in the history of socialism they prefer to leave out. On the other hand, the fact that Amnesty International used the term shows how little respect the left has for the tens of millions that suffered the hell of the gulag. You would never hear Amnesty International call Guantanamo Bay the "Auschwitz of our Time." Auschwitz is sacred to the memory of the Jews and Poles who died there. The gulag? That's not sacred. Just a failed experiment. A final "minor" point. The gulag prisoners were innocent. The roughly 650 prisoners that have gone through Guantanamo Bay, on the other hand, are terrorists and terrorist allies. Ms. Zubaida Khan apparently cannot tell the difference between Solzhenitsyn and Bin Laden. By making such asinine comparisons, Amnesty International risks losing whatever credibility it has left. This is unfortunate because the organization normally does important work. However, Amnesty is caught in a Catch-22 situation. It can risk losing its credibility by throwing a bone to its wealthy liberal donors, or risk losing its funding. Amnesty has obviously chosen to risk its credibility.

Charles Krauthammer editorializes in WaPo reported The self-flagellation over reports of abuse at Guantanamo Bay has turned into a full-scale panic. There are calls for the United States, with all this worldwide publicity, to simply shut the place down. A terrible idea. One does not run and hide simply because allegations have been made. If the charges are unverified, as they overwhelmingly are in this case, then they need to be challenged. The United States ought to say what it has and has not done, and not simply surrender to rumor. Moreover, shutting down Guantanamo will solve nothing. We will capture more terrorists, and we will have to interrogate them, if not at Guantanamo then somewhere else. There will then be reports from that somewhere else that will precisely mirror the charges coming out of Guantanamo. What will we do then? Keep shutting down one detention center after another? The self-flagellation has gone far enough. We know that al Qaeda operatives are trained to charge torture when they are in detention, and specifically to charge abuse of the Koran to inflame fellow prisoners on the inside and potential sympathizers on the outside. In March the Navy inspector general reported that, out of about 24,000 interrogations at Guantanamo, there were seven confirmed cases of abuse, "all of which were relatively minor." In the eyes of history, compared to any other camp in any other war, this is an astonishingly small number. Two of the documented offenses involved "female interrogators who, on their own initiative, touched and spoke to detainees in a sexually suggestive manner." Not exactly the gulag.


Friday, June 3

This Day In History

  • 1621   The Dutch West India Company received a charter for New Netherlands, now known as New York.
  • 1800   John Adams moved to Washington DC. He was the first President to live in what became the capital of the United States. It would be November before he would move into the People’s House, or the Executive Mansion, later known as the White House.
  • 1808   Jefferson Davis, the first and only president of the Confederacy, was born in Christian County, Ky.
  • 1888   There was no joy in Mudville this day, as "Casey at the Bat" was first published in "The San Francisco Examiner".
  • 1937   The Duke of Windsor married American divorcee Wallis Warfield Simpson, for whom he had abdicated the British throne, in Monts, France.
  • 1963   Pope John XXIII died at age 81.
  • 1968   Pop artist Andy Warhol was shot and critically wounded in his New York film studio, The Factory, by actress Valerie Solanas.
  • 1981   Pope John Paul II left a Rome hospital and returned to the Vatican three weeks after an attempt on his life.
  • 1983   Gordon Kahl, a militant tax protester wanted in the slayings of two U.S. marshals in North Dakota, was killed in a gun battle with law enforcement officials near Smithville, Ark.
  • 1989   Chinese army troops began a sweep of Beijing to crush student-led pro-democracy demonstrations.
  • 1989   Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, died.
  • 1999   Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic accepted a peace plan for Kosovo designed to end mass expulsions of ethnic Albanians and 11 weeks of NATO airstrikes.
  • 2001   Mel Brooks' musical comedy ''The Producers'' won a record 12 Tony Awards.
  • 2003   Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs was ejected from a game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays after umpires found cork in his shattered bat.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1808   Jefferson Davis (President of the Confederate States of America [1861-1865])
  • 1918   Lili St. Cyr (Willis Marie Van Schaak) (actress)
  • 1925   Tony Curtis (Bernard Schwartz) (actor)


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Confidence in Institutions

Gallup reports Military Again Tops "Confidence in Institutions" List

Gallup's 2005 update of Americans' confidence in institutions finds the military, once again, head and shoulders above the competition. The police and organized religion rank second and third, respectively, on this year's list, while HMOs have secured their spot at the bottom of the list. Americans have lower confidence today than they did a year ago in the presidency, Congress, and the Supreme Court. Television news receives its lowest ratings in trends dating to 1993.

It is a little hard to read the graphic, but the sequence is Military (74%), Police (63%), Organized Religion (53%), Banks (49%), Presidency (44%), Medical System (42%), Supreme Court (41%), Public Schools (37%), Television News (28%), Newspapers (28%), Criminal Justice (26%), Organized Labor (24%), Congress (22%), Big Business (22%), HMOs (17%)

My ranking would be somewhat different: God (100%), Military (90%), Presidency (90%), Police (80%), Supreme Court (60%), Criminal Justice (60%), Congress (50%), Big Business (50%), Organized Religion (50%), Banks (50%), Medical System (40%), Public Schools (20%), Television News (15%), Newspapers (15%), Organized Labor (10%), HMOs (5%)

Gerry @DalyThoughts blogged The top five (numbers in parentheses are “a great deal of confidence", “quite a lot", “some", and “very little"):

The Military (42-32-18-7)
The Police (28-35-29-7)
The Church or Organized Religion (31-22-28-16)
Banks (22-27-39-11)
The Presidency (21-23-27-25)

And the bottom five:
HMOs (7-10-43-35)
Big Business (8-14-45-29)
Congress (8-14-51-25)
Organized Labor (12-12-47-23)
The Criminal Justice System (9-17-45-26)

Gallup points out that the ratings for the Presidency, Congress, and the Supreme Court (16-25-38-18) are all down from 2004.


School Choice

Betsy blogged One of the stronger criticisms of voucher programs is that the money granted poor families will not cover the cost of a decent school. However, in the Washington, D.C. voucher program, this does not seem to be a problem.

A report on the D.C. voucher program issued last month by the U.S. Department of Education said that, "with a couple of exceptions," the participating private schools have agreed not to charge students more than the $7,500 maximum value of the voucher, although federal law allows them to do so.
I suspect that, as voucher programs grow, there will be more and more evidence that low-income families are able to get into and afford nice schools through a combination of scholarships and tuition waivers. What then will voucher opponents use to criticize the programs?

Katie blogged
Arguing that the teacher unions are losing the school choice debate, Ryan Sager points to the charter school application filed by the New York union (the UFT) as evidence that they just don't get it:
  • Charter schools typically improve student performance in very a simple way: giving kids a lot more class time.
    Schools like the KIPP Academy in the South Bronx, for instance, run from 7:25 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and a half day on Saturdays; KIPP also has a mandatory summer school that boosts its school year to 220 days, as opposed to the 180-day teachers-contract year. At its proposed charter school, by contrast, the UFT would give teachers new (paid) "professional development opportunities," while giving students not one extra minute of class time.>li>Another key to the success of charter schools is the wide-ranging freedom principals have to pick their staffs and hire and fire as necessary.
    In the UFT charter school, though, every staffing decision the poor school leader (not a principal, mind you) made would be subject to review by various committees made up of UFT delegates, UFT-represented teachers, parents and other "stakeholders."
  • Lastly, many of the most successful charter schools have pursued a back-to-basics approach to the curriculum, making use of traditional, as opposed to "progressive," instructional methods.
    UFT President Randi Weingarten has herself been supportive of such an approach and highly critical of New York City's use of the so-called progressive programs. Yet, the UFT decided to use relatively "progressive" math and reading curricula. Weingarten has admitted that she's uncomfortable with these programs, but she simply doesn't seem able to defy the lefty education-school operatives that have infested her union (not to mention every single major school district in the country).
As Sager explains, the unions are "so tied to their industrial-union model, where job protection is their North Star" that they can't accept the successful new models. If they continute to cling to the models of the past, not adapting, they will be left behind.

Whether through voucher programs and scholarships to private schools, or charter schools children can usually get a much better education outside the Public School system


Civil Rights Group Plans Bush Judge Attack

Yahoo! News reported A civil rights group intends to launch a limited ad campaign this week attacking Janice Rogers Brown as a "radical judge" unworthy of confirmation to the appeals court. The ad says Brown "threatens to turn back the rights we've fought so hard to protect ... health and safety, equality, Social Security." The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights plans to air the commercial in Rhode Island, Nebraska and Maine, states represented by senators the group hopes to sway. The commercial also will air on cable television in the Washington, D.C., area, according to Mistique Cano, a spokeswoman for the group.

Jayson @PoliPundit blogged Hell hath no fury as a liberal rim shot organization struggling to deal with the reality of a conservative African-American female. Yep. I’d say that Janis Rogers Brown’s upcoming confirmation to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is bringing out the closet racism of the far left. Now, I presume it’s of the intellectual racism variety. But who really knows ….

Liberals, who take both blacks and women for granted, can't stand the idea of a black woman being a conservative.


Mad as Hell

LA Times reports Why Europeans Are as Mad as Hell at the New Europe

This is a Howard Beale moment in Europe. Remember the O'Reillyesque commentator in the 1976 movie "Network," who kept shouting, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore"? It was never clear exactly what he felt was wrong, who was to blame, or what should be done about it. He just wanted to protest against "everything everywhere … going crazy."

That pretty much sums up European sentiment. People are as mad as hell that their economies are stagnating while crime, immigration and welfare dependency — the three are intertwined in the average European's mind — are all on the rise.

The European Union provides a convenient punching bag. In Britain, people hate the EU because it's too socialist; in France because it's too capitalist. In Eastern Europe, they're upset that the EU isn't doing more to facilitate labor mobility; in Western Europe, where the low-wage, if largely mythical, "Polish plumber" is a dreaded figure, they think it's already done too much. It's almost enough to make a confirmed Euro-skeptic like me feel sorry for the bureaucrats in Brussels. "Why does everyone hate us?" they must be asking over their croissants and lattes. "Haven't we delivered real benefits for the people of Europe?"

Elites always fail to understand why the people dont understand that they know more than they do, and they know better than the people what is good for them. That is why the Dems in the US have lost power everywhere, and why the European elites find France and the Dutch saying NO.
To a certain extent they have a point. By helping to lower trade barriers and create a single, stable currency, the EU has spurred economic growth (such as it is). Even more important, by integrating age-old enemies it has helped promote political stability. Its role has been especially important in Eastern Europe, where the prospect of EU membership has hastened democratic and capitalist reforms. The EU isn't the whole story, of course. The spread of democracy and the security umbrella offered by Uncle Sam have been a big part of Europe's peaceful progress since World War II. But no one can entirely deny the EU's contribution. So why are the guardians of the new Europe so hated? Words such as arrogance and elitism come to mind. Although the EU has its own parliament, there is a well-founded fear throughout the continent that decisions are being made by unelected mandarins. The populations of the 25 EU member states may not agree on what should be done. What unites them is a desire to determine their own destinies, which is impossible as long as Brussels is calling the shots.
European countries spent hundreds of years fighting each other. Now they are being asked to surrender national identity for control by people from contries they fought many wars against.
Nothing symbolizes the disconnect between the people and their rulers more than the European Union constitution, a 300-page monstrosity drafted by former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing and heartily endorsed by current French President Jacques Chirac. This was supposed to be another step toward creation of a European state with its own president and foreign minister. For Gaullists like Giscard and Chirac, it was also part of a cherished ambition to build a great power in competition with les Anglo-Saxons.
With France restored to its former glory as being the main ones in charge.
The skepticism of Poles and Britons to this project was well-known, but ultimately it was undone by the yawning indifference of the French themselves. The lives of ordinary French people are not dominated by dreams of lost glory; they simply want a decent job and public services that work. It was telling that only professionals and senior executives — i.e., France's top occupational rung — voted for the constitution last week. Everyone else opted for "non." The only way to dispel the current climate of gloom on the continent is to get economies moving again. Margaret Thatcher showed how it can be done: Reduce the size of the state and break the power of the labor unions. But neither Chirac nor his hapless counterpart in Berlin, Gerhard Schroeder, has the guts to do that. Instead, like most European leaders in recent decades, they have thrown their energies into EU integration in the vain hope that this would deliver a shot of Viagra to a moribund continent. The bankruptcy of that strategy has now been exposed. The question is whether European leaders will face up to their real problems. The fact that Chirac has reacted to the failure of the constitutional referendum by appointing as premier Dominique de Villepin, a haughty intellectual who thinks Napoleon was the ne plus ultra of good governance, is a bad sign. The good news is that in the wings in France and Germany are conservative leaders Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, respectively, who just might have the gumption to cure their countries' real woes rather than continuing to administer an anti-American analgesic.

Kevin Drum blogged This is pretty typical of conservative commentary, which has been almost comically triumphant about the recent pair of No votes. I swear, you'd think it was VE Day in winger land. I wouldn't mind so much if this was based on substantive dislike of the constitution, but that really doesn't seem to be the driving force here. Rather, the right primarily seems cock-a-hoop over something that's little more than childish: the prospect of Jacques Chirac and his hated squads of "elitists" and "unelected bureaucrats" getting a black eye. The fact that an awful lot of the no votes were driven by anger at things favored by conservatives — admission for Turkey, a stronger European military commitment, open markets, free movement of labor — doesn't really seem to have occurred to them. The no vote doesn't really seem like much of a crisis to me, but it doesn't seem like much of a victory for conservatives either. They should be careful what they wish for.
Actually the French worried that they might lose some of their socialistic benefits, and the others don't want France to be making decisions for everyone, when their countries fought France many times in the past many hundred years.
UPDATE: David Adesnik agrees. Or maybe not. I'm not sure. In any case, he thinks that pundits around the world are simply reading into these elections whatever it is they wanted to believe in the first place. That sounds about right to me.

UnPartisan.Com blogged with 7 News Stories, 8 Liberal Blogs, 37 Conservative Blogs on the subject

McQ blogged You have to wonder, after the French and Dutch no votes on the EU Constitution, what's going on over there? The EU dream has been a constant for years and it was assumed, by most political observers, that for all intents and purposes, the sales job was over. All that needed to be done was cross the "t's" and dot the "i's". Obviously the political advisors were wrong. So why the rebellion and why now? Max Boot does a little delving into the vote and is of the opinion that while the elites of Europe were sold, the little guy never really bought into the program. So it would seem that the union and its Constitution were oversold. Dutch voters heard the words, but then watched as inflation, fueled by a switch from the gilder to the euro, ate away at their purchasing power. French voters heard the words, but then watched as their cherished social welfare system was attacked.

The perception of the EU among many is it will eventually absorb the distinct and unique cultures that mark the different countries of Europe and at some point in the future McEurope will emerge, with nothing to mark those formerly distinct cultures but old monuments and historical landmarks. I'm sure there are many more sophisticated, nuanced and involved analysis of why this happened. But in the end may simply boil down to a battle between the people of Europe and their reluctance to let go of their national identities and the elites of Europe who are sure they know what is best for all. Or, if you really want to distil it, the age old political battle between conservatives and liberals. How it will eventually end, if it ever ends, is anyone's guess at this point.


Embryo Crusade

NYT reported Randy and Julie McClure had three children who were long out of diapers and no plans for more when they heard about a program called Snowflakes, which arranges for women to become pregnant with embryos left over at fertility clinics. "We really felt like the Lord was calling us to try to give one of these embryos, these children, a chance to live," Ms. McClure said.

Good for them.
Mr. McClure, though, disliked the fertility business, which he felt created extra embryos that were often destroyed or aborted. He feared that paying fees to receive the embryos would be helping an industry "that I have real problems with." He consulted a Southern Baptist church elder, who advised him, "If you want to free the slaves, sometimes you have to deal with the slave trader," Mr. McClure said. With that, the McClures, who are in their 40's and live in Bellevue, Wash., decided to take 13 embryos from a fertility clinic in Austin, Tex. They had a son 10 months ago and became part of an unexpected alliance that conservative Christians have been forming with the world of test-tube babies. That alliance was on prominent display last week when, to protest a bill supporting the use of embryos for stem cell research, President Bush appeared with the McClures and 20 other Snowflakes families, kissing the babies, some of whom wore T-shirts that said "former embryo," or "this embryo was not discarded." Federal and state lawmakers have held similar appearances. People on this part of the political spectrum have begun calling the process "embryo adoption," echoing the phrase that Snowflakes uses instead of "embryo donation." The Health and Human Services Department has termed the process embryo adoption in certain grants. Bills that would formally call it "embryo adoption" have begun to filter into statehouses in California, New Jersey and Massachusetts, states that, not coincidentally, are at the forefront of legalizing and encouraging embryonic stem cell research. The adoption terminology irritates the fertility industry, abortion rights advocates and supporters of embryonic stem cell research, who believe that the language suggests - erroneously, they maintain - that an embryo has the same status as a child.
It should have the same status, because it is a human child; just in an earlier state.
But for some conservative Christians, that is precisely the point. "I think appearing with Snowflakes kids is a potent symbol, and I think it illustrates the truth, which is that the embryo is just that child at an earlier stage of development," said Bill Saunders, director of the Family Research Council's Center for Human Life and Bioethics. Such groups make strange bedfellows, he acknowledged, with clinics devoted to in vitro fertilization. "Our position on I.V.F. would be you shouldn't create through I.V.F. more embryos than are going to be implanted, and we don't think any should be frozen," Mr. Saunders said. "But when it's clear that a couple are unable to or unwilling to implant an embryo - that basically they've abandoned the child - then we see embryo adoption as a solution to the problem." The fertility industry and its supporters worry that the cuddly image of Snowflakes babies could not only dampen enthusiasm for using embryos for research, but also lead to laws that make embryo donation the only option for excess embryos.
From your lips to God's ear.
"We're concerned that the people promoting the Snowflakes program have an explicit political agenda to actually take away choices from infertility patients," said Sean B. Tipton, a spokesman for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. "I think it's terrifically ironic that these families were built thanks to in vitro fertilization, a medical advance that 30 years ago many of these same organizations and people objected to and fought." Now, he added, "they don't want to let the next wonderful technology help other families." Mr. Tipton and others point out what the Snowflakes program itself acknowledges, that most couples choose not to donate embryos to other families because they are uncomfortable having other people raise children using their embryos. Only about 2 percent of the estimated 400,000 frozen embryos wind up being given to other families, according to a 2003 survey by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. A Northwestern University study found that when embryos are frozen, up to 30 percent of couples say they would donate extras to another family, but three years later, two-thirds of those couples decide not to.
Would they rather donate them to a mad scientist that would experiment on them
Ron Stoddart, the executive director of the Nightlight Christian Adoption agency, which started Snowflakes in 1997 and named it to reflect the frozen uniqueness of each embryo, said that he expected fewer embryos to be available in the future because fertility clinics are increasingly successful at implantation and will not need to create so many.
That is good.
Infertile couples might find several attractions to carrying someone else's embryo: at less than $10,000 through Snowflakes, it is less expensive than other methods like egg donation; it allows a couple to experience pregnancy; and the couple can control the baby's prenatal care. But the process is not without risks. Mr. Stoddart, whose group has so far assisted 59 families in giving birth to 81 babies, said that once embryos are donated, only half survive the thawing process, and of those, only about 35 percent result in a baby.
The same would have occurred if the embryos had been implanted in the woman that provided the egg.
One mother died last year from pregnancy complications, said Lori Maze, director of Snowflakes. To carry an embryo, Ms. McClure, 45, who home-schooled her children, now 11, 16 and 19, first had to undergo surgery to remove polyps. Then, most of the 13 embryos proved unviable, and one round of embryo implantation failed before she finally had a successful pregnancy using the final embryo. Couples adopting or donating Snowflakes embryos are mostly Christian, and most embryo donors are white, Ms. Maze said. Some families are Roman Catholic, even though the church has historically opposed in vitro fertilization. Couples must agree to adoption-like procedures: receiving families are screened and must undergo counseling, and Snowflakes allows donating and receiving families to designate criteria for each other, meet and maintain contact after birth. Adopting couples must agree not to abort any embryos. Those conditions were fine with Bob and Angie Deacon of Virginia Beach, Va., who donated their 13 embryos after having twins and being discouraged from another pregnancy by a doctor. "With another program, to be honest with you, they could have been adopted by lesbian parents, and I'm totally against that," said Mr. Deacon, 35. It took two and a half years to bring themselves to fill out the papers. On their forms, they said the adopting family must be conservative Christians and, ideally, include a stay-at-home mother. "I knew that I had to do it," Ms. Deacon said, "to get through the selfishness within myself, that these are my children, and letting someone else raise them and me not being able to have them." Mr. Stoddart said that he used the word adoption in a general sense and that it described the experience of the families. "We have adopt-a-pet, adopt-a highway," he said. "I personally feel that a child is going to feel a lot more comfortable knowing they were adopted as an embryo than knowing that they were donated." Health and Human Services has given grants to Snowflakes and other organizations specifically to promote "embryo adoption." Several groups that oppose the term embryo adoption, including the American Fertility Association, have also received federal grants and used the money to educate couples that embryo donation is one option among many. Pamela Madsen, the association's director, said the group also approved of donating embryos for research and having them "thawed without transfer," the industry term for discarding them. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration issued guidelines that it said would "enhance the availability of embryos for donation," by exempting embryos from medical screenings required of donated tissues, like livers or corneas. Many frozen embryos could not have met the screening requirements because many couples are not tested for communicable diseases beforehand. As for conservatives' political embrace of Snowflakes, Mr. Stoddart, who has sent state legislators a proposed embryo adoption bill, says that he is happy to oblige. "The best way to increase awareness of embryo adoption is controversy," he said. "The embryonic stem cell research debate has done more to publicize this than anything. Nobody's going to put pictures of the president kissing a child in your paper just to publicize an adoption program."

Hugh Hewitt blogged The New York Times has a story on the adoption of embryos that is straightforward. With the publicity of the past month, expect embryo adoption to increase, and with it the understanding if not acceptance of the president's argument that frozen embryos are in fact life worthy of respect, not experimentation.

Chris Mooney blogged Good factoids, but still no one has addressed the central question that all of this raises: Are actual orphan kids going un-adopted because some people are going for embryos instead?
Slate's Liza Mundy may disagree, but that is because the Left is so dependent on the abortion industry, but many parents considering adoption only want babies, and because of abortion the supply of babies for adoption is low, so they turn to Snowflakes. Now if there were fewer abortions, there would be more live babies available for adoption.
I would certainly find that a troubling result.


Thursday, June 2

This Day In History

  • 1851   Maine became the first state to enact a law prohibiting alcohol.
  • 1886   President Grover Cleveland married Frances Folsom in a White House ceremony.
  • 1897   Mark Twain was quoted by the New York Journal as saying from London that ''the report of my death was an exaggeration.''
  • 1924   Congress granted U.S. citizenship to all American Indians.
  • 1941   Baseball's ''Iron Horse,'' Lou Gehrig, died in New York of a degenerative disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
  • 1946   The Italian monarchy was abolished in favor of a republic.
  • 1979   Pope John Paul II arrived in his native Poland on the first visit by a pope to a Communist country.
  • 1987   President Reagan announced he was nominating economist Alan Greenspan to succeed Paul Volcker as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.
  • 1995   A U.S. Air Force F-16C was shot down by Bosnian Serbs while on a NATO air patrol in northern Bosnia; the pilot, Capt. Scott F. O'Grady, was rescued six days later.
  • 1997   Timothy McVeigh was convicted of murder and conspiracy in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.
  • 1998   Voters in California passed Proposition 227, requiring that all schoolchildren be taught in English.
  • 1886   Grover Cleveland became the first U.S. President to get married in the White House. He exchanged vows with his bride, Florence Folsom.
  • 1930   Mrs. M. Niezes of Panama gave birth to the first baby to be born on a ship while passing through the Panama Canal.
  • 1933   President Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted the first swimming pool to be built inside the White House.
  • 1953   The coronation of 27-year-old Queen Elizabeth II was broadcast.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1740   Marquis de Sade (Comte Donatien Alphonse Francois de Sade)
  • 1890   Hedda Hopper (Elda Furry) (celebrity columnist; show biz gossip; radio commentator)
  • 1904   Johnny Weissmuller (swimmer: won total of 5 gold medals in Olympic swimming [1924, 1928], he also collected 52 U.S. and 67 world swimming records; actor: Tarzan, the Ape Man, Tarzan and His Mate, Tarzan Escapes, Tarzan Finds a Son, Tarzan’s Secret Adventure, Tarzan's New York Adventure; died Jan 20, 1984)
  • 1937   Sally Kellerman (actress: M*A*S*H)
  • 1948   Jerry Mathers (actor: Leave It to Beaver)


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Dutch Voters Reject European Union Charter

FOXNews reports Dutch voters overwhelmingly rejected the European Union constitution Wednesday, delivering what could be a knockout blow for the charter roundly defeated just days ago by France.

Two down, and I bet the Bureaucrats in Brussels are very upset.


Democrats Buying Electoral Snake Oil

NY Obsever reported At some point during last year’s Presidential campaign, several donkey watchers wondered aloud how the party of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy became the party of Michael Moore. This, of course, was at the height of the hype over Mr. Moore’s film, Fahrenheit 9/11, and not long after he praised the Iraqi insurgency by comparing it favorably with the Minutemen of some local renown. While some were outraged, I found it heartening that the Minutemen at least merited a positive mention among the denizens of the Moore wing of the Democratic Party. There was reason to expect otherwise, what with the Minutemen being white, rural, male gun owners. When Howard Dean, in a rare sensible moment, suggested that the Democratic Party reach out to this subspecies of the electorate, there was much gnashing of teeth and cries of ideological betrayal. The Moore hype has come and gone, and the Democrats seem to have put some distance between themselves and their de facto spokesman in Campaign 2004. But according to a recent and frightening article in The New Republic, the party of Michael Moore may be on the verge of becoming the party of George Lakoff. Mr. Lakoff is a professor of linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, and were it not for the fact that this space demands 800 words, I would have been inclined to stop here, because what more do you need to know? Actually, there’s a good deal more worth knowing, as writer Noam Scheiber demonstrated in the May 23 issue of the magazine. It’s worth knowing that top Democrats, including Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Dr. Dean and former Senator Minority Leader Tom Daschle, take the professor’s ideas very seriously. This is worth noting, because it will tend to confirm the widely held suspicion that highly placed members of the Democratic Party wouldn’t recognize the smell of fertilizer even if they were hip-deep in it. As, apparently, they are.

We live at a time when phrases like "ward heeler" and "political boss"—generally used to disparage Democrats, since Republicans never were much for ward politics—are considered pejoratives, while the title "professor of linguistics" apparently conveys instant credibility among certain sorts of political professionals. Ward heelers and political bosses are held in bad odor among Democrats today, because they reek of yesterday’s politics. You may recall yesterday: That was when Democrats actually won Presidential elections. In place of these ill-mannered and suspiciously ethnic types, we now have professors of linguistics like the distinguished George Lakoff, who advises Democrats that they ought to act more like nurturing parents in order to win the hearts of their children—or, in this case, their voters. A political boss or ward heeler would know what to do with an advisor who compares voters to children: Such an advisor would be dispatched to the sidewalk in Olympic-record time.

The Democrats, however, can’t seem to get enough of this sort of gibberish. Few could blame them for engaging in a bit of self-loathing after their awful record in recent years, but this is a bit extreme. Yes, Professor, tell us again why we are so miserable and how we might find success by becoming nurturing parents. There are Democrats across the country, in City Halls and statehouses and township committees, who understand how to win elections. And yet, in their hour of need, top national Democrats feel the need to consult a Berkeley professor who, I’ll bet, has yet to carry his first nominating petition, work a phone bank or count heads at a county convention. Of course, national elections require skills beyond those necessary to win local races. Republicans succeeded brilliantly in 1994 when they used overarching themes to turn local Congressional races into a national campaign based on national themes. And that example is instructive: The Gingrich revolution of 1994 was put in place and executed not by amateurs, but by bare-knuckled, head-counting political professionals. Six years after that historic event, the 2000 Democratic Presidential candidate, Al Gore, had on his payroll somebody whose job was to advise him about the color of his clothes, in order that he might seem a more down-to-earth figure. The problem with the Democratic Party, I’m convinced, is that its national leaders actually hate politics. That is, they hate the hard work of building a party from the bottom up, because so many of the party’s most prominent supporters, fund-raisers and advocates are used to dealing only with their fellow cultural elitists and socioeconomic meritocrats. They see each other at $1,000-a-plate dinners, but they’re hard to find at the $25-a-head affairs in the local V.F.W. hall. No wonder they expect to find electoral salvation in campaign theory espoused by a professor of linguistics at Berkeley.

Gerry @DalyThoughts blogged Terry Golway writes in the New York Observer that he thinks Democratic “national leaders actually hate politics.”

Betsy Newmark blogged Terry Golway in the New York Observer has some advice for the Democrats. Stop focusing on how to sell themselves more soothingly to voters and start relying more on experienced political operatives who know how to do the basic work of building up the local party strength. Interesting how this vision of the Democrats as a top down party parallels their vision for the country. On issue after issue, they think that there are experts in the government and academia who know so much better what is better for people than the people themselves know.... I still treasure the memory of how a co-worker, after the November election, assuming that I was a liberal (of course; all teachers are liberal, aren't they?) said that it was such a shame that so many millions of voters had voted against their own self-interest in voting for Bush. When I asked him how he was so sure that he knew what their self-interest was better than they themselves did, he was blithely self-confident that he did indeed know better. He encapsulated for me all that was wrong with the Democratic vision of the electorate. I hope that the Democrats do not pay too much attention to Mr. Golway's advice.

Whether they depend on Ward heelers and political bosses or a Berkeley Professor of Linquistics Dems still have the same problem and that is that they think they know better than the voters do what is good for them, and how to spend the voter's money.


Social Security Reform is going to happen

The Anchoress blogged Sooner or later it is going to happen. Younger voters are going to demand it.

Seems to me the smartest thing the Democrats could do would be to acknowledge that it needs reform and try - at least on this ONE issue - to work with the President’s plan - perhaps offering a few ideas of their own - rather than simply doing the “No. No, because we said no, because you have the wrong letter after your name and we’re not going to work with you, no, America will have to wait until Mrs. Clinton gets into the WH, because we will not embrace reform that gives Bush the credit, so no. No, no a thousand times no,” thing.

Joseph Marshall commented Memo to Younger Voters: What Social Security?

Johnny Laredo commented Do you want a Government Loan, or Property you own? Gee… that’s a hard one!

Zsa Zsa commented Social Security? More like Social Insecurity! Young hard working individuals should not be subjected to investing in a plan that assures you will pay more and get less for retirement!


Tulsa's own free Wi-Fi website

BatesLine blogged Hats off to Tim Williston, webmaster of, who has set out to document the free Wi-Fi hotspots available in the Tulsa area. He's got a list of 27 so far, including reviews of 4, and he's looking for Wi-Fi users to help expand his list and provide reviews and other content for the site. Most of the sites on his list are coffee houses like Java Dave's, Kaffe Bona, and Cafe Cubana, plus various Panera locations, and (this surprised me) three Mazzio's locations. If you have free Wi-Fi at your business, visit Tim's site and have him add you to the list.

I'm working out of the house now, but once in a while I need more quiet than I can get there, or at least a change of scenery, and it's nice to be able to grab the laptop and find some place a little different to set up camp and work.

Slightly off-topic: In answer to someone who emailed a while back with this question -- I don't know if there are any places around town where you can make a free wired connection to the Internet. Anyone? Wi-Fi cards for your laptop are pretty cheap these days, so I'm not sure there would be much demand for wired access.

One more Wi-Fi related item: This isn't free access, but if you're an SBC DSL subscriber, you can use the FreedomLink network for a nominal monthly charge. (I think it's $2 a month, but I need to verify that.) FreedomLink has hotspots at Barnes and Noble stores, UPS Store and Mailbox Etc. locations, and Wi-Fi-equipped McDonald's.

The Tulsa Computer Society has a list as well, at I will add a link to Tim's site as well


Iraqi Justics

Chicago Tribune reports Three men convicted of murder, rape and kidnapping sat before the judge, awaiting their fates. But first they had to face their victims' seething families.

"They broke his arms. They broke his legs. They took out his eyeballs," one woman said at the hearing recently in Kut, describing what the men did to her son. "Death penalty. I want the death penalty."

A man in the back of the crowded courtroom held a sign that read "We do not accept any sentence less than death."

Moments later, the audience got its wish. The three alleged members of the insurgent group Ansar al-Sunna Army were condemned to be hanged "in the next 10 days," according to the sentence imposed by the special criminal court. In a show of force the Iraqi government hopes will help quell the insurgency, Iraq will soon carry out its first judicial executions since the fall of Saddam Hussein. And despite objections raised by some other countries and international human-rights groups, the Iraqi public, by most accounts, is welcoming their return. "Before, the criminals thought that they would go to jail and a few months later they would be released," said Abu Muhammad, owner of Kuwait Money Exchange Co.

In Hussein's Iraq, execution was commonly used to suppress political dissent, and the death penalty was a punishment for 114 crimes. After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the U.S. administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer, suspended capital punishment, declaring that "the former regime used certain provisions of the penal code as a means of oppression, in violation of internationally acknowledged human rights." Iraq's interim government revived the death penalty in August for a smaller set of violent crimes, as well as drug trafficking. The decision is believed to have been motivated by the desire to execute Hussein. The Shiite bloc leading Iraq's new government has said that if Hussein is convicted, it will oppose any move to spare his life. Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari would "fully support" executing Hussein, according to his spokesman, Laith Kubba. However, human-rights organizations have raised concerns about the Shiite Muslim-led government's use of capital punishment to deter insurgent attacks. In addition, Iraqi security forces, and particularly Interior Ministry commandos, have been accused in recent weeks of summarily executing Sunni religious leaders.

Kevin Aylward blogged Also the return of the death penalty in Iraq is very popular among the Iraqi public who've become the target of least resistance for insurgents.

NYT blogged Iraq to Move Up Trial of Hussein and Start It in Summer - Iraq's month-old transitional government, keen to establish its authority after weeks of intensifying insurgent violence, announced Tuesday that planned to move up the trial of Saddam Hussein, bringing him to court this summer. Jalal Talabani, the Kurdish politician who is the country's transitional president, said in a CNN interview from his headquarters in northern Iraq on Tuesday that he expected Mr. Hussein to be put on trial "within two months," a move that would break with earlier plans to defer his trial until later this year or next. Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, at a news conference in Baghdad, gave a strong endorsement of the role played by "multinational forces," the formal name for the 160,000 foreign troops serving here under American command, including about 140,000 Americans and 20,000 in contingents from some 30 other nations.

Phillip Carter blogged Just when you thought you'd seen the trial of the century... I don't know much of a media circus we'll get out of the Hussein trial. I imagine that many world media organizations will send people to Baghdad. But it's hard to say ahead of time whether this trial will have that certain star quality that makes for good TV. If the Hussein trial looks like the Milosevic trial -- the legal version of "A Very Long Engagement" -- then I'll bet the networks pull the plug after the first few episodes. On the other hand, if the Iraqis allow TV in the courtroom, and Mr. Hussein's lawyers make a good show of it, then this could become the world's next big legal drama. I guess we'll see soon enough.

Jan Haugland blogged If the intention is to take the air out of the terrorists, I doubt it will have the intended effect. But reminding the people about the vast crimes of their former ruler can't be a bad thing.

It should certainly be more interesting than the Jackson trial


Social Security plan backed in new poll

WT reports Most likely voters continue to support President Bush's proposal to let younger workers invest some of their Social Security payroll taxes through personal accounts, a new survey finds. The poll by independent pollster John Zogby for the Cato Institute, which is being released today, found that when voters understood the benefits of personal investment accounts, including a better financial rate of return than the current system, the Bush plan was supported by 52 percent of Americans and opposed by 40 percent.

John @PowerLine blogged As always, poll results depend a lot on how you ask the question. The latest Zogby poll finds that 52% of Americans supported Social Security reform, including private accounts, when they were told that private accounts could generate a higher rate of return than Social Security. (I've never liked talking about Social Security "rates of return," since the fact is that there isn't any investment, just payment of taxes.) Here are Zogby's key paragraphs:

"The thing that is compelling in this poll is that this is the response you get when you use a positive approach on Social Security reform," Mr. Zogby said. "If you use the 'Chicken Little, sky-is-falling' approach, then voters understand that something has to be done, but don't see the connection between personal accounts and fundamental reform of Social Security." Among supporters, the most popular reason for supporting private accounts was, "It's my money; I should control it," Mr. Zogby said. "This was true for every group except African-Americans, who chose inheritability as their biggest reason for supporting accounts." The poll's results suggested that Mr. Bush's proposal would be much more popular if he focused "on the points in this poll," Mr. Zogby said in an interview. "Nobody can understand or relate to the system's insolvency in 2043. But it wins a majority when the issue is raised as a matter of choice and as a positive opportunity," he said. "If it's pitted as just Social Security reform because it is becoming insolvent, that's not enough."
I thnk that's right. I've always thought that the worst way to sell Social Security reform is to talk about accounting.

Glenn Reynolds blogged Two caveats: (1) it's from Zogby; and (2) I suspect that most people's feelings on this are fairly provisional at the moment. Nonetheless, it suggests that Bush's proposals aren't as unpopular as some have been saying.

Oliver Willis blogged For starters, does anyone expect a poll released by the pro-privatization Cato Institute to come to any other conclusion? Secondly, the wording of the question is laughable.
The wording of the question is "Do you favor or oppose proposals to give younger workers the choice of privately investing a portion of their Social Security taxes through personal accounts?". Why do you find that laughable? That seems a perfectly fair question to me. Today's youth are not just facing a cutback in benefits; they are facing Social Security not being there at all when they retire.
I imagine people would agree to a social security plan that cured cancer and enhanced sexual pleasure too! The polls have shown, time and time again, when people understand that under the Bush plan social security benefits will be cut and that it will do nothing to address the long-term solvency of the program (which is not remotely in "crisis" any time soon), they overwhelmingly oppose the Bush plan. But then, reality has never sold well in the right wing echo chamber.

Gerry @DalyThoughts blogged The numbers look, without question, more favorable for the President than most other surveys. However, the poll was commissioned by the Cato Institute, which has a dog in this hunt, and on top of that the usual Zogby caveats apply (not to mention the rule of thumb that when one pollster is off by his lonesome on a measurement, that pollster is the one to discount). Until such time as I see other polls showing improving numbers for the President’s proposals, I have to assume that he is still losing the PR battle over Social Security reform– no matter how much I wish he was winning.