Saturday, October 29, 2005

Christian girls beheaded

SMH reported Three teenage Christian girls were beheaded and a fourth was seriously wounded in a savage attack on Saturday by unidentified assailants in the Indonesian province of Central Sulawesi. The girls were among a group of students from a private Christian high school who were ambushed while walking through a cocoa plantation in Poso Kota subdistrict on their way to class, police Major Riky Naldo said....

Islam. The religion of peace. NOT!!!

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, but Central Sulawesi has a roughly equal number of Muslims and Christians. The province was the scene of a bloody religious war in 2001-2002 that killed around 1000 people from both communities. At the time, beheadings, burnings and other atrocities were common. A government-mediated truce succeeded in ending the conflict in early 2002, but there have since been a series of bomb attacks and assassinations of Christians.

CQ blogged I'm sure these big, brave men with knives must have quaked in their boots when squaring off against children such as these, given the craven nature of Islamofascists in general. Let's hear more about how we should offer our understanding for their cultural issues and feelings of hopelessness and negotiate for peace with such slime. Islamofascists are cowards. They attack unarmed civilians precisely because they know they cannot succeed with their activity any other way. Anyone who would plan and carry out this kind of crime has no sense of humanity, honor, or worth. The only rational response is to find them and kill them before they attack more children for their sick and twisted motives.

Angry blogged no one would be fooled by those apologists arguing that Muslim thugs grabbing defenseless schoolgirls and sawing off their heads has nothing to do with Islam. Of course it does, everyone knows it

Ken blogged If something like that happened in this country CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) would be more concerned over not blaming Muslims than they would over the girls, just like their reaction to 911.


Attack of the Blogs

Forbes reported Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective.

There is a solution; it is called a lawsuit.
Their potent allies in this pursuit include Google and Yahoo. Blogs started a few years ago as a simple way for people to keep online diaries. Suddenly they are the ultimate vehicle for brand-bashing, personal attacks, political extremism and smear campaigns.
Which have been going on for years, in the form of boycotts, websites, etc. Now that blogs are here, they can be used as well.
It's not easy to fight back: Often a bashing victim can't even figure out who his attacker is. No target is too mighty, or too obscure, for this new and virulent strain of oratory. Microsoft has been hammered by bloggers; so have CBS, CNN and ABC News,
Microsoft and the MSM have been criticized for many years, as have manufacturers and congressmen.
two research boutiques that criticized IBM's Notes software, the maker of Kryptonite bike locks, a Virginia congressman outed as a homosexual and dozens of other victims--even a right-wing blogger who dared defend a blog-mob scapegoat.

"Bloggers are more of a threat than people realize, and they are only going to get more toxic. This is the new reality," says Peter Blackshaw, chief marketing officer at Intelliseek, a Cincinnati firm that sifts through millions of blogs to provide watch-your-back service to 75 clients, including Procter & Gamble and Ford.
At least that is what someone who is in the business of warning big corporations about things being said about their products would want his customers to think.
"The potential for brand damage is really high,"says Frank Shaw, executive vice president at Microsoft's main public relations firm, Waggener Edstrom. "There is bad information out there in the blog space, and you have only hours to get ahead of it and cut it off, especially if it's juicy."

Mark Evans blogged I was blown away from the bias and lack of objectivity in the "story". As a working journalist, it was obvious the writer, Daniel Lyons, had a mandate or was given one by someone upstairs to rip into blogs.... Lyons starts the story with an anecdote about a dodgy business man who once had his photo taken with Steve Forbes. Isn't that a sweet coincidence? I find it hard to believe a first-class publication like Forbes would actually print a 3,298-word one-sided diatribe. While this comment may come across as sour grapes from an enthusiastic blogger who believes he's providing an insight "service, the Forbes story is disappointing because it is, in fact, not a news story but an invective essay by someone who has a serious problem with blogs. Lyons makes a good point there are nasty, vindictive, irresponsible bloggers that do far more harm than good but he fails to recognize there are lots of people providing insight commentary and putting the spotlight on events that mainstream media sometimes misses.

TomRaftery blogged The article almost comes across as a spoof - indeed if it were not in Forbes magazine, I would have assumed it was a spoof, so outlandish are some of the claims in it... The article’s main thesis seems to hang off the case of one Gregory Halpern who was hounded by a blogger called Timothy Miles. Mr Miles wrote some allegedly defamatory posts about Mr Halpern under a pseudonym and has now fled legal proceedings against him to Slovenia. The salient point here is that the blog was seen as libellous and was taken down and the author had legal proceedings taken against him (from which he fled!).

Dan Gillmor blogged Overall, what a pile of trash from Forbes Magazine, which uses its cover to go on the attack against bloggers in the new issue. You have to register to read the stories. Go ahead if you must; it's worth reading to see how a normally solid business magazine can go astray with an alarmist and at times absurd broadside. Do bloggers sometimes go too far? Of course. But if the best-read bloggers typically did work of the lousy quality shown in the Forbes stories, they'd be pilloried -- appropriately so.

Weblogs Work blogged It’s almost like a piece of performance art—a paranoid story about uneven, one-sided rants from powerful publishing entities contained in an uneven, one-sided rant from a paranoid but powerful publishing entity. So meta it hurts.

Posted to trackback carnivals at Cao’s blog, Bright and Early, Outside the Beltway, Mudville, jcb, Adam's Blog, Soldiers' Angel, MacStansbury, Political Teen, Junction, Indepundit, Real Teen, Publius Rendezvous, Conservative Cat, Oblogatory Anecdotes, GM's Corner, TMH's Bacon Bits, and Two Babes and a Brain.


Tackling Old Grievances

NYT reported The barbed wire was new, so new in fact it was still being rolled out Friday as Maj. Gen. Amin Soliman Charabeh pointed toward the swirling barrier as proof that his country was doing all it could to stop weapons smugglers and infiltrators from slipping across his country's border into Iraq, fueling the insurgency there.

They realize the release of information by the UN may result in the Thugocracy falling, and they are doing everything they can to hold on to power.
Border policemen in military uniforms stood in front of the rolls of wire, each armed with an automatic weapon. They were young men, four in a row, and each said it was his first day at that post. This was a trip organized by the Syrian government for a group of foreign reporters, and it quickly became clear that the official message Syria was trying to promote was not that it had sealed its borders. On the contrary, Syria was trying to make the point that the border remained porous, and that it was not Syria's fault.
Really? If Syria feared being invaded by the Iraqis, or by the Americans, looking for the stockpiles of WMD that Saddam shipped into Syria just before the Americans entered Iraq, do you think they could do a better job?
As Syria braces for possible sanctions after a United Nations investigation implicated top Syrian officials in the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, the government has searched for whatever leverage it can find to try to negotiate internationally. Syria has tried to pacify its critics, especially the United States, by offering to do what it can on other fronts, like securing the border. But given the size of the border, which stretches for hundreds of miles, the country's limited financial resources and what they say is a lack of cooperation from the allied forces on the Iraqi side, Syrian officials said, there are limits to what can fairly be expected of them.
Would Syria like to turn over border security to the Americans?
"In the daytime, it is very hard for anyone to go to the other side," General Charabeh, who oversees security across the length of the border, said as he pointed into Iraqi territory. "During the night, with the absence of night surveillance technology, it might be possible."
Sounds like someone wanting night vision goggles.


From Bullets to Ballots

NYT reported War took James Garmey's childhood. It came at night, in the form of armed men battering down a door and carrying him off, the 8-year-old son of a rural customs collector, to be a soldier for the warlord and future president Charles Taylor. "I went to training," said Mr. Garmey, now 22, speaking in the smooth patois of the Liberian street, letting consonants and bits of grammar slip away. "I was small, but I learned to hold gun and after a while went to battlefront. I fire gun, I defend my area."

Using children to fight was absolutely terrible.
When Mr. Taylor fled in 2003, Mr. Garmey finally put his gun down, saying he had traded it for a different weapon altogether: the ballot. "I cast my vote and that is my power," he said. "I no need any more gun."
James Garmey lost his childhood to violence, but he is a wise young man now to recognize that ballots are much better than bullets.
Much of Africa's future belongs to young men and women like Mr. Garmey, members of a generation orphaned by conflict and AIDS, hardened by combat and want, often illiterate and unbound by deep traditions and taboos.


Truce in Doubt

NYT reports Israel launched new airstrikes on Friday evening on northern Gaza, killing a Palestinian militant in his white Subaru and wounding another just after they had fired a rocket toward Israel,

It is not nice to fire rockets toward Israel.
according to the Israeli Army, citing visual evidence from a helicopter and a drone. The strikes came as Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz expressed doubt that Israel could make peace "with the present leadership of the Palestinians," given their reluctance to crack down on terrorist groups. He added, "I don't think a Palestinian state will see the light of day in the coming years."
They need to first show they deserve one.


Candidates Meet Deadline

NYT reported Four major Iraqi political alliances, along with dozens of smaller groupings and independent candidates, applied Friday to be included on the ballot in parliamentary elections in December, setting the stage for what was likely to be seven weeks of tumultuous campaigning. Three of the four alliances - Shiite, Kurdish and a secular slate led by the former prime minister - resemble the dominant groupings in the elections held in January; the fourth, a Sunni Arab alliance, represents a major departure from the last round of elections, which the Sunnis largely boycotted. But there were some high-profile defections from the January lists, most notably that of Ahmad Chalabi, a deputy prime minister and former member of the major Shiite alliance, who presented his own slate on Friday. His announcement represented yet another transformation for Iraq's most protean of politicians and his latest bid to move closer to the center of Iraqi political power.

Iraq is on track to Parlimentary Elections in December.


Discouraging Voter Outreach

NewStandardNews reported The Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2005, which passed the House of Representatives yesterday by a vote of 331-90, contains a provision that establishes a national fund for developing affordable housing, by skimming 5 percent off the profits of the government-sponsored home-finance companies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The funding would be a boon to the nonprofit housing sector – worth up to an estimated $1 billion within two years – but it comes with strings attached: nonprofit organizations would not be able to tap into the fund if they have recently engaged in activities that encourage people to vote.

I do not support the skimming, but if they are going to do it, then the restriction is a good idea.
A product of negotiations between a faction of conservative legislators and the House Financial Services Committee leadership, the clause is supposedly intended to prevent grantees from misusing federal funds, but housing advocates have denounced the so-called "gag rule" as dangerously broad. "They aren’t targeting abuse of anything," said Rick Cohen, executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, which advocates on behalf of charitable organizations. "What they’re targeting is the activism of organizations that don’t think the same way that they do."
No they are targeting use of Federal Funds to engage in political matters. A non-profit is not supposed to engage in political matters anyway; this restriction just says if one is going to, it can't take Federal Funds skimmed from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
Under the weight of a nationwide affordable housing crisis, nonprofit groups say the proposed rules paradoxically open doors to equitable housing by restricting access to democracy. "To build affordable housing and have to sacrifice nonprofit free speech and advocacy rights," said Cohen, "is a bargain that, really, nobody should accept."
If you feel so strongly that they should be able to do it, what if they had said the funds could be used to push Republican goals, but not Democratic goals? You would not like that, would you? Well they knew that if they were used to push political goals, they would be Democratic goals, so rather than saying they could not be used to push Democratic goals, they just said they could not be used to push any political goals.


Voter ID Law Is Overturned

WaPo reported Corredtion: The headline on an Oct. 28 article incorrectly said that a Georgia law on voter identification was overturned. A federal appeals court upheld an injunction barring the state from enforcing the law, which requires many voters without government-issued identification such as a driver's license or passport to get a new digital ID card. A secondary headline said the state can no longer charge for access to the Nov. 8 election. The state never levied a charge for voting; it did charge $20 for five years to get the new digital ID.

Thank you for making that correction, but what you still did not indicate in the correction is that the $20 fee was waived for people that could not afford to pay for it. You buried that fact very deep in the article


Novel Strategy Pits Journalists Against Source

NYT reports In pressing his indictment of I. Lewis Libby Jr., the special prosecutor is pitting three prominent journalists against their former source, a strategy that experts in law and journalism say has rarely been used or tested. It is all but unheard of for reporters to turn publicly on their sources or for prosecutors to succeed in conscripting members of a profession that prizes its independence. Yet Mr. Libby's trial on perjury and obstruction charges will largely turn on whether jurors are more inclined to believe a government official who played a critical role in devising the justifications for the Iraq war

Gotta throw that jab in, or people might forget what you are trying to brain wash them into thinking about.
or members of a profession whose own credibility has been under assault.... "This is exactly the thing," said Jane Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota, "that journalists fear most - that they will become an investigative arm of the government and be forced to testify against the sources they've cultivated."
They would much rather be free to make up unnamed sources and what they imagine they told them, and not be held responsible for identifying them.


'Official A' Stands Out in Indictment

WaPo reported In a sign of the trouble lingering for the Bush administration, the indictment handed up Friday in the CIA leak probe refers to someone at the White House known as "Official A." .... Late Friday, three people close to the investigation, each asking to remain unidentified because of grand jury secrecy, identified Rove as Official A.

It is a crime to divulge what went on in grand juries; that is what is meant by grand jury secrecy. So now we have Libby being charged with lying about a crime that wasn't committed, and then three more "unnamed sources" actually committing a crime. Impanel a new grand jury, and call Pete Yost to reveal the "three people close to the investigation" who just committed a crime.

unfutz blogged Clearly, Fitzgerald's very concerned about what he can say and what he can't, and anything he was told he could say in public, is something that he could leak or caused to be leaked.


Glass Bridge

National Geographic News reports The all-glass, balcony-like "Skywalk"--shown in an illustration released this week--will extend over the edge of the Grand Canyon, 4,000 feet (1,200 meters) above the Colorado River.

"The Skywalk will be an attraction unlike any other in the world," said Sheri Yellowhawk, CEO of the Grand Canyon Resort Corporation. The company is building the bridge in the Hualapai Indian Reservation on the south rim of the canyon.

The Skywalk is scheduled to open to the public in January 2006 as part of a new resort on the reservation. The resort, known as Grand Canyon West, is to include a re-created Indian village and a restaurant perched on the edge of the canyon. Tourism is the reservation's biggest source of income.

Grand Canyon West will be on the western edge of Grand Canyon National Park, about 120 miles (about 200 kilometers) from Las Vegas. But perhaps not even the Las Vegas Strip's over-the-top attractions will be a match for this glass-bottom walkway over the world's biggest gorge.

And you thought you didn't have a fear of heights?


Saturday, October 29

This Day In History

  • 1682   The founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn, landed at what is now Chester, Pa.
  • 1901   President William McKinley's assassin, Leon Czolgosz, was electrocuted.
  • 1911   American newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer died at age 64.
  • 1923   The Republic of Turkey was proclaimed.
  • 1929   Over 16 million shares were traded in panic selling on the New York Stock Exchange and thousands of investors were wiped out on this day. Prices plummeted, millions lost billions, and the buying boom was over. The market crashed. Astrologer Evangeline Adams had seen into the future and predicted the crash   along with other events that actually occurred, like Lindbergh’s flight   but didn’t listen to her own predictions. She lost $100,000. The Great Depression was depressing, indeed!
  • 1940   Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson drew the first number   158   in America's first peacetime military draft.
  • 1947   Former first lady Frances Cleveland Preston died at age 83.
  • 1956   Israel launched an invasion of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula during the Suez Canal crisis.
  • 1956   ''The Huntley-Brinkley Report'' premiered as NBC's nightly television newscast.
  • 1964   Thieves made off with the Star of India and other gems from the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
  • 1967   The musical ''Hair'' opened off-Broadway.
  • 1987   Jazz great Woody Herman died at age 74.
  • 1998   South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission condemned both apartheid and violence committed by the African National Congress.
  • 1998   John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, returned to space 36 years later, at age 77.
  • 2002   A memorial service for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone in Minneapolis turned into a virtual political rally as friends and relatives urged Minnesotans to honor his memory by putting a Democrat in his seat.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1891   Fanny Brice (Borach) (actress: Ziegfeld Follies; comedienne: Baby Snooks; subject of film: Funny Girl; died May 29, 1951)
  • 1921   Bill Mauldin (Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist: [1945, 1959], created G.I. Joe and Willie)
  • 1947   Richard Dreyfuss (Academy Award-winning actor: The Goodbye Girl [1977]; Valley of the Dolls, Jaws, Mr. Holland’s Opus, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Lost in Yonkers, Nuts, American Graffiti, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, The Graduate, Postcards from the Edge, In Mama’s House, Karen, The Education of Max Bickford; TV narrator: American Chronicles)
  • 1948   Kate Jackson (actress: Charlie’s Angels, The Rookies, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Baby Boom, Killer Bees, Satan’s School for Girls, Loverboy)
  • 1971   Winona Ryder (Winona Laura Horowitz) (actress: Little Women, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Age of Innocence, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Lucas)


Friday, October 28, 2005

To the Borders!

Allan Wall wrote in National Review Online The size and scope of the American military presence here in Iraq is enormous. I guess I knew that already. But now that I'm actually in Iraq, deployed here with my Army National Guard unit, I've been able to catch a glimpse of it firsthand. It's impressive. It's not only the fact that we have so many people, both military and civilian, over here. We operate a vast infrastructure — a complex of over 100 bases served by fleets of supply trucks. Base facilities are constantly being upgraded in ongoing construction projects. In a scant two and a half years, we have made our physical mark on the territory of Iraq. We have altered the landscape. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., our borders are still unsecured. Thousands of illegal aliens cross into our territory with impunity. They openly flout our laws and little is done about it. One of these days, a terrorist might just carry a weapon of mass destruction over the border.

Some say it's impossible to secure our borders. I don't believe it. Here in Iraq I've seen what a determined national policy can accomplish in a short time. Back home, borders could be secured, if the political will existed. The technical means exist already. We have the resources. We have the personnel. Some have suggested we use the National Guard to secure the borders. I think it's a great idea.

So do I.
An excellent idea. An idea whose time has come. Many of the tasks necessary to secure the U.S. border are the same tasks we are already performing here in Iraq. They could be carried out just as easily (and less expensively) on our own borders. Here in Iraq, National Guardsmen are patrolling 24/7, logging thousands of miles in armored humvees. Why can't they do the same on our own borders?
And you probably would not need the armored humvees, because most of the people crossing don't have Improvised Explosive Devices.
In Iraq, Guardsmen secure defensive perimeters, they man guard towers, they operate UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). They do surveillance in the dark with night-vision equipment. Why can't they do the same on the borders of their own country?
I agree, particularly I believe that the UAVs and night vision goggles would be particularly effective.
Currently, Guard units are being called up on 18-month deployments to Iraq and other places. Why can't they be deployed the same length of time to guard the border? When a Guard unit is not deployed, guardsmen train a total of about 40 days a year, one weekend a month and a two-week "annual training" period. Why not rotate National Guard units in and out of border duty for their yearly "training" period?
A fantastic idea.
Other military branches — such as the Army Reserve, the Marine Reserve, and Air Force Security Forces — could be asked to participate as well. Under current federal law, the U.S. military can't physically detain illegal aliens,
I believe that should be changes. I don't want the military to be able to enforce other laws, but detaining illegal aliens should be just fine.
and leaves it to the border patrol to do it. But the military can still do patrolling, reconnaissance, and surveillance on the border. We're doing it in Iraq right now. To support these operations, permanent bases could be constructed along the border, to house troops and store equipment. Putting the Guard on the borders would send a message that we are finally serious about controlling our own borders.


Americans won't let Democrats lose Iraq

David Gelernter wrote in LATimes Leahy told the Senate that we cannot win in Iraq. "It has become increasingly apparent that the most powerful army in the world cannot stop a determined insurgency." (U.S. troops, Iraqi troops, long-suffering Iraqi civilians to Leahy: Thanks, senator, we needed that.) And Leahy announced that the president must lay out a public formula to tell the world just when U.S. troops will leave Iraq. Otherwise, Leahy said, he will urge the Senate to choke off the war by refusing to fund it. That's how the U.S. finally lost Vietnam: Congress snuffed out the money. Be warned, senator: If Democrats become the "let's treat Iraq as we treated Vietnam" party, the public will turn away in revulsion, and the Democratic Party will die. It's not in such great shape anyhow.

Leahy's words lighted up a deep, dark secret that this nation would rather forget. Defeat in Vietnam was a catastrophe for the U.S., a body-slam to the nation's self-confidence. It was far worse for Southeast Asians, who were exiled, imprisoned, tortured and murdered by their vicious communist conquerors. But for left-wing Democrats it was a triumph. Forcing the mighty U.S. military to run away was the greatest victory they have ever known. That triumph broke a levee that sent a flood of left-wing ideas pounding across the U.S. landscape.

And that started the major decline this country went through.
The 1974 congressional elections were a blow-out victory for Democrats. Watergate was a big factor, but public exhaustion with Vietnam (encouraged by the media) helped too. In 1973, the last U.S. combat troops left Vietnam, but Washington had promised to support South Vietnam with money and weapons. Congress refused to pay. In March 1975, President Ford made a desperate last appeal for funds to keep America's promise. Congress refused. In April 1975, all remaining American diplomats and advisors were pulled out in a frantic, starvation-budget withdrawal. South Vietnam collapsed. "The decrease in American aid had made it impossible for Saigon troops to carry out their combat and force-development plans," North Vietnam's army chief of staff coolly explained.

When Democrat Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976, he had large congressional majorities to work with. Carter described the Vietnam War as "moral poverty" in action.
Jimmy Carter should have used that phrase to describe his own administration.
One of his first acts was to pardon all draft evaders — at a time when families were still mourning soldiers dead in battle. Carter preached anti-anti-communism: As the U.S. military deteriorated for lack of funds and confidence, and Cuban troops with Soviet advisors moved into Angola and Ethiopia, Carter's secretary of State announced that "to oppose Soviet or Cuban involvement in Africa would be futile." This was foreign policy as the left liked it. At home, too, liberals were happy; conservatives weren't. In the culture wars, feminism and environmentalism, affirmative action and the sexual revolution swept the country. Words like honor, bravery and patriotism were out. "Do your own thing" and "self-esteem" were in.
After 9/11 words like honor, bravery and patriotism are in again.
Many observers have noticed that Democrats of the left speak of Iraq as another Vietnam. Few have explained why: Because Democrats of the left want Iraq to be another Vietnam. Not that they took pleasure in Vietnamese suffering,
Actually some of the extreme left even take pleasure in that; just as they would take pleasure in seeing Iraqis suffer under a Taliban style government.
but they rejoiced in the left-wing power surge that transformed the United States in the aftermath. Naturally, they hope to repeat that experience: to humiliate Republicans, moderate Democrats and the military by pinning the label "bloody failure" on another foreign war. It's not going to happen. Iraq is nothing like Vietnam, and the public knows it. In the recent referendum, 63% of Iraqi voters cast ballots. Each vote screamed defiance at terrorism and defeatism. Each vote told the world that terrorism will lose and democracy will win, that Iraqis trust the United States to help protect them against vengeful insurgents bent on murdering whoever dares to hope and care and vote. An impressive 78% voted "yes" on the new constitution. Sunni Muslims said no, but many said it at the ballot box. The referendum made clear that ordinary people everywhere do want to govern themselves. Democracy could have worked in Vietnam too. This nation will abandon the Democratic Party before it abandons Iraq.

Polls show American uneasiness about the war. Naturally. The fighting is dirty and dangerous. But the U.S. is a God-fearing nation; we are proving that by battling to spread justice. Polls also suggest that Americans are resolved to fight in Iraq until the job is done. Sen. Leahy thinks that he can smell another Vietnam. Not this time, senator.


Media milestones

Oliver North wrote in Townhall The masters of the mainstream media have been opposed to the war in Iraq from the beginning and have expressed that opposition in numbers. They've told us how many bombings have occurred in a particular week or month, how many days the war has lasted, how many "leading experts" are also opposed and the number of ways Iraq compares to Vietnam. This week, with the 2,000th American casualty from Iraq, they were provided the opportunity to quantify their outrage yet again. The story was given ample coverage on the nightly network news programs, while the official results of the Iraqi constitution, which passed overwhelmingly, were barely mentioned.

That is because the MSM is in the hip pocket of the Left.
Perhaps that's because the New York Times, from which the networks take their cue, called it a "deeply flawed and divisive document." The Seattle Post Intelligencer said the deaths in Iraq are being met by the American people with "anger, regret and uncertainty about the future." Writing in the Los Angeles Times, John Mueller, a professor at Ohio State University, claimed that "casualty tolerance in Iraq is clearly much lower than it was in Vietnam."
The media desperately wants to control what we think. That is why they are focusing on the 2,000 number which includes people killed in accidents.
He repeated the media's mantra for the past year -- that support for the war "is eroding," and the people are "[losing] their stomach for war," a conflict which, referring to President George W. Bush, Mueller called "his war." Mueller did get one thing right. In the media, there is a "steady drumbeat of carnage" that focuses on the horrors of war. Last week in this column, I cited a report from the Media Research Center showing that the nightly network news programs have overwhelmingly portrayed the war in a negative light. They've given very little network time to stories of bravery, heroism and sacrifice that occur on a daily basis.
Of course not, because they want people to hate the war and everything about it, including the soliders fighting in it.
Even a cartoonist joined the protest of the war dead. Mike Luckovich, who draws for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, sketched a cartoon that asked "WHY?," wherein the block letters W-H-Y contained the names of the 2,000 U.S. casualties. Luckovich explained that he "was trying to think of a way to make the point that this whole war is such a waste. But I also wanted to honor the troops I believe our government wrongly sent to Iraq." One way to honor the troops is to stop spreading the idea that they died for a mistake or that they were "wrongly sent to Iraq." It's a protest that Democrats were eager to join. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) had a news release prewritten, all ready to go, once the word came forth from the Pentagon that the target had been hit. "The U.S. military today," the release said, "crossed a tragic, painful milestone in the war in Iraq." Then DNC chairman Howard Dean chastised the president's speech at Bolling Air Force Base saying the president "failed to mention the mounting death toll." That omission, Dean said, "is not the type of leadership that the brave men and women serving in Iraq and their loved ones here at home expect or deserve from the commander-in-chief."

Listen Howie, the president doesn't need lessons in leadership from the Screaming Wonder. He meets with the families of fallen military personnel. He visits the wounded in the hospitals. He has cried with them. He has prayed with them. On Capitol Hill, senators observed a moment of silence to commemorate the 2,000th casualty. (The moment passed before John Kerry could make up his mind whether to be for it or against it.) But one thing Kerry does favor is pulling American troops out of Iraq. "The insurgency will not be defeated unless our troop levels are drawn down," Kerry inexplicably told a group at Georgetown University. Sen. Russ Feingold used the occasion of the 2,000th casualty to renew his call for an artificial deadline and said the U.S. has "created a breeding ground for terrorism in Iraq." The loss of every life in Iraq is heartbreaking. But the number 2,000 is not, as Lt. Col. Steve Boylan said, "a milestone." Frustrated by the media's anticipation of the 2,000th casualty and the planning of anti-war protests to commemorate it, Boylan called it what it is -- an "artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives." What is truly worth noting is the number of young men and women who are willing to serve their country in an age of such cynicism.


The good terrorists

Caroline B. Glick wrote in JWR Wednesday was a difficult day. First, on Wednesday morning Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for Israel's annihilation. Then, a few hours later, a Palestinian terrorist blew up at a Hadera felafel stand in and murdered five Israelis. Israel's responses to these events revealed as much about its strategic confusion as Ahmadinejad's speech and the bombing revealed about our enemies' strategic clarity.

In the case of Iran, Israel's response was well-conceived and executed. In calling for the annihilation of Israel — a UN member state — Iran stands in grave breach of the UN Charter, which stipulates that member states must foster peaceful relations with one another. And so, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom ordered Israel's ambassador at the UN to demand Iran's expulsion from the world body.

The demand does not stand a snowball's chance in hell of being accepted, but I am glad he said it.
In sharp contrast to Israel's clear, understandable and constructive response to the Iranian threat, the government's response to the bombing in Hadera was marked by confusion, defeatism and absurdity. How is this the case? First it should be recalled that in the immediate wake of last week's terror attack at the Gush Etzion junction, the Aksa Martyr Brigades — the terror group belonging to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party — issued an announcement claiming responsibility.
Oddly, in the hours that followed, IDF commanders and government ministers denied Fatah's claim and insisted that Hamas, not Fatah, had carried out the attack that murdered three.
Well they can't continue talking to Abbas if they admit his people did it.
Although no evidence was ever presented to back up this claim, let's assume that it is true. Still, the question arises: What does the fact that Fatah claimed responsibility tell us about Abbas's Fatah party, on which Israel and the US are currently pinning all their hopes for peace and security?
What you knew already. They want you just as dead as the other terrorist groups do.
After Wednesday's bombing, the Iranian-sponsored Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. As is their habit, the terrorists claimed that the massacre of Israeli civilians was their response to the IDF's killing of their terror commander Luai Sa'adi in Tulkarm earlier this week. But then something interesting occurred. In Gaza City, masked Fatah and Islamic Jihad terrorists held a joint press conference where they claimed joint responsibility for the bombing. A Fatah spokesman further announced that any attack against Islamic Jihad will be viewed as an attack against Fatah as well. Disturbingly, no Israeli newspaper other than The Jerusalem Post reported on the press conference.
Then target both a Fatah terrorist AND an Islamic Jihad terrorist for the next retaliation, and let us see how long their union will last.
And that isn't all. Like the government, the Israeli media also ignored the fact — reported again exclusively by the Post's Khaled Abu Toameh — that in the same IDF raid where Sa'adi was killed, Majed al-Ashkar, a senior Fatah terror commander, was also killed. The Israeli Hebrew-speaking public has not been informed that the two had spent the past several months establishing joint Fatah-Islamic Jihad cells throughout Judea and Samaria and Gaza.

For his part, Abbas, whom the Sharon-Peres government and the Bush administration uphold as Israel's partner in peace and the fight against terrorism, has been making some interesting moves. Abbas has told the Americans and the Israelis that he is working to end Fatah terrorism by integrating the Aksa Martyrs Brigades into the Palestinian security forces. But on Wednesday night, Channel 2's reporter in Gaza interviewed three such "former" terrorists as they stood in position outside the ruins of the community of Neveh Dekalim. The flag flying from the top of their tent was that of the Aksa Martyr Brigades. One man was in uniform and the other two were wearing civilian clothes. All were brandishing the same AK-47 rifles they received as terrorists. All claimed that they are still part of the Aksa Brigades. As one Palestinian source noted to the Post, the fact that Fatah and Islamic Jihad terrorists are now operating in the same cells raises the prospect that Islamic Jihad operatives will infiltrate the Palestinian security services by claiming to be Fatah terrorists. As members of the security forces, these murderers will receive training at the hands of Russian security personnel who are now operating in Gaza.
The answer is clear. Disarm Fatah, Islamic Jihad, or Hamas. It won't happen, but that is the answer.
....Apart from all of this, the attack in Hadera on Wednesday showed — yet again — that the security fence that the Left touts as the ultimate antiterror weapon is worthless. Officers in the Central Command claimed that the bomber was able to enter Israel by going through one of the several dozen gates in the fence. These passages were set up to enable both Israelis and Palestinians to pass through the fence legally and can be easily exploited by terrorists.
The fence is a good idea, and just because someone claims that is the way they got in, does not mean it is true. The fence is not finished yet, and they could have gotten in that way. Or perhaps inspection procedures at the gates needs to be improved.
Even if Israel were to seal the gates (a move that would induce immediate protest from the Palestinian "human rights" camp), the terrorists would still find a way to infiltrate into Israel. As they did two years ago on the Trans-Israel Highway, they can dig a tunnel. Or as they did four years ago along the fence separating Israel from Lebanon, they can build a ladder. Since the time of the Assyrian Empire 2,700 years ago, there has never been a defensive wall that cannot be breached by an enemy with sufficient will to do so.
True, but is a lot better than nothing. And you might try a chain link fence parallel to the wall, but 1 mile inside, establishing a no-mans land that no one should be inside of, and hence anyone inside will be shot. And a tunnel a mile long would be hard to build, undetected.
.... The Sharon-Peres government, like every other leftist government since 1993, insists on making a distinction between "good" terrorists from Fatah and the Palestinian Authority and "bad" terrorists from the Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Yet the Palestinians themselves make no such distinctions.
Nor do I. The only good terrorist is a dead terrorist.


Inner Circle in Syria Holds Power, and Perhaps Peril

WaPo reported The brother is an impetuous officer, who wields control over the praetorian Republican Guard. The sister is nicknamed "the Iron Lady." Her husband is a burly general who rose methodically through the ranks of Syria's feared intelligence services. Presiding over them is Bashar Assad, the Syrian president who runs what some have called "a dictatorship without a dictator." Diplomats and analysts say that together, the four represent the corporate leadership of Syria, a country facing its greatest crisis in decades following the release of a U.N. investigation that implicates senior officials in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. In this crisis, they say, the Assad family circle is a source of the president's strength. It may also be his weakness. If his relatives are directly linked to the killing, the scandal could bring down his government.

It could not happen to a more deserving group.
Both Assad's brother Maher and his brother-in-law, Asef Shawkat, were named in earlier versions of the report, although many diplomats here said the evidence was spotty.
What would you expect a diplomat in Damascus to say?
The Syrian government has repeatedly denied any role in the killing. "It is about interests at the end of the day," said a Syrian intellectual familiar with members of the government but speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of harassment. "They say, 'We have to protect our own, otherwise we will all go down together.' "
Have fun in Hell.


Report on Oil-for-Food

NYT reported An independent report on the United Nations' $64 billion oil-for-food program for Iraq shed light Thursday on a circle of political aides and fixers in Russia and France who the report said made company connections, paid kickbacks and reaped benefits through contracts granted by the government of Saddam Hussein. The report by a committee led by Paul A. Volcker, named major multinational companies as well as individuals who were involved.The committee reported that the Iraqi government developed a policy of favoring France, as well as Russia; it considered France a "friend" for opposing the United Nations' sanctions against Iraq. Other companies from different countries tried to reposition themselves with French connections and the help of well-placed people.

If you have enough money, you can buy all of the "friends" you want.
NYT reported More than 4,500 companies took part in the United Nations oil-for-food program and more than half of them paid illegal surcharges and kickbacks to Saddam Hussein, according to the independent committee investigating the program. The country with the most companies involved in the program was Russia, followed by France, the committee says in a report to be released Thursday.... The investigators said Thursday's report would detail how Mr. Hussein first steered the program to gain political advantage with political allies and countries in a position to ease the United Nations sanctions. Both Russia and France are veto-bearing members of the Security Council. "Then it got corrupted with a capital C when Saddam figured out how to make money off of it by putting on the surcharges and kickbacks," one investigator said.

RantingProfs blogged Yeah, that's kind of an important detail. Because this isn't just a UN scandal about mismanagement at the end of the day. It's also an argument about why holding on to the status quo (using sanctions to "keep Saddam in his box") wasn't going to work for long, since he was buying people into supporting continually weakening sanctions. And it's also an argument why the claim the "international community" stood against us in 2003 is a bit weak. If UN votes are used as a proxy to measure what the international community believed, anyway.... Still, a pretty big deal for the Times, as a story about UN mismanagement, undisguised and in your face, makes it as the lead story.


Sulu is Gay

Yahoo News reported George Takei, who as helmsman Sulu steered the Starship Enterprise through three television seasons and six movies, has come out as a homosexual in the current issue of Frontiers, a biweekly Los Angeles magazine covering the gay and lesbian community.

Well beam me up, Scotty


We don't need al-Qaida

Guardian reported Abu Theeb is the leader of a band of Sunni insurgents that preys on US targets north of Baghdad. Last week he openly defied al-Qaida in Iraq by actively supporting the referendum. Ghaith Abdul-Ahad spent five days with him - and uncovered evidence of a growing split in the insurgency.

A lot of Sunnis were being killed by other Sunnis. This is not the way to win the hearts and minds of the people.
Abu Theeb is a tall, handsome, well-built man with a thin beard and thick eyebrows. His name is a nom de guerre: it means Father of the Wolf. He is a farmer during daylight and a commander of a mujahideen cell, a group of holy warriors, at night. He and his men roam the farmland north of Baghdad in search of prey - a US armoured Humvee, perhaps, or an Iraqi army unit. On the eve of last week's constitutional referendum, Abu Theeb, the leader of a group of Sunni insurgents, was to be found in the middle of a schoolyard in a village north of Baghdad. The school was to be a polling centre the next day. He stood flanked by 10 bearded fighters in white robes and chequered headscarves.... The stakes were high for Abu Theeb and his men. Al-Qaida forces in Iraq - forces that are, at least on paper, allies of the Sunni insurgents - had vowed to kill anyone who took part in the referendum. But in the Sunni areas of Iraq, the people and the local Iraqi insurgents among them had a different view: they were eager to vote. There was a widespread sense of regret about the boycotting of the last elections, which left the parliament in Baghdad dominated by Shia and Kurdish parties - and left the Sunnis, who held the power in Saddam's Iraq, out in the cold. The Sunnis wanted to take part in last week's referendum; they wanted a "no" vote on the draft constitution.
They did not achieve that objective, but I bet they will definitely vote in December.
This left Abu Theeb, a man who has devoted himself and his resources to fighting the Americans, in a curious position. His battle on polling day would be to secure a safe and smooth voting for his people - in a referendum organised by the enemy. In doing so he would be going up against the al-Qaida forces, and risking a split in the insurgency in Iraq.... This is truly a holy war for Abu Theeb. He tells me how once he was driving to Baghdad carrying a sack filled with anti-tank rocket heads for an operation in Baghdad. He was stopped at a checkpoint and American soldiers ordered him to step out and begun a car search. "I prayed to God," he says. "I told him, 'God, if I am doing what I am doing for your sake then spare me this. If it's not, let them get me.' The American soldier opened the boot where I had the sack filled with rocket heads. He moved it aside and started to search. When he finished and asked me to leave, I knew then I was blessed by God."
A tired soldier does a sloppy search, and it is a message from God.
For more than two years, Abu Theeb had been taking part in insurgent attacks on US and Iraqi targets, laying IEDs, carrying out ambushes and kidnappings. Then, about eight months ago, a group of Syrian men visited him. They identified themselves as part of the al-Qaida group in Iraq, and they asked for his cooperation in establishing a foothold for their organisation in his area. "They told me that they had support and money and wanted to open a new front here," says Abu Theeb. "I said to them, 'What about the village - do you want this to become a new Fallujah?'" Abu Theeb didn't want al-Qaida, even if their aims were ostensibly the same. "When al-Qaida came here I was the first to fight it," he says. "They went to the clerics and said, 'Denounce this man. If not, your blood will be spilled.' They can kill and slaughter easily."
They are evil.
Abu Theeb and other Salafi clerics and leaders of the insurgency north and south of Baghdad are now talking about a rift - a split between Iraqi Islamist and nationalistic insurgent groups, and the mainly foreign led and supported al-Qaida forces. They say that al-Qaida initially gained support among the Sunnis because of its ferocity and meticulous planning, and because it had money pouring in from jihadis all over the Arab world. Made up mostly of foreign Arabs, it quickly became the most feared insurgent group in Iraq, claiming responsibility for the bloodiest attacks against not only US and Iraqi forces but also civilians.

"If it wasn't al-Qaida fighting with the Sunnis in Iraq the whole battle would have had a different outcome," says Abu Hafsa, another mujahideen commander based north of Baghdad. Abu Qutada, a mujahideen leader based in south Baghdad, agrees. "Lots of the mujahideen groups are in need of money and weapons so they join the umbrella of al-Qaida for support," he says. But he adds: "They differ with them in ideology."
The Sunnis want to control the country, and dominate the majority, as they did under Saddam. Al Qaeda just wants to kill everyone and they are using the Sunnis.
The tipping point came when al-Qaida, known then as the Tawhid al-Jihad, decided to target the Iraqi police and army and other Iraqi ministries and institutions. Its goal was to prevent the Americans establishing an Iraqi state that could lead the fight against the insurgency - and allow the Americans to take a back seat. "They have experience in fighting and they did very clever stuff," says Abu Theeb. "They attacked all the centres of the Iraqi state and prevented the Americans from creating a puppet state that they could hand everything to. The Iraqi resistance was occupied by fighting the Americans and couldn't see that strategic goal."

Perhaps inevitably, though, the insurgents turned out not to have the same stomach for Iraqi blood. "Al-Qaida believes that anyone who doesn't follow the Qur'an literally is a Kaffir - apostate - and should be killed," says Abu Theeb. "This is wrong."
Abu Theebe does not want to kill the Shi'ites. He just wants to dominate them.
Al-Qaida marked down not only those who cooperated with the American occupation, but everyone who worked with the Iraqi government, police or army, as Kaffirs. Then they said that the entire Shia community were Kaffirs. For Sunnis like Abu Theeb, this was a step too far.

The second serious stumbling block has been al-Qaida's call for the establishment of an Islamic state (caliphate) based on the Taliban model in Afghanistan. This has already started taking place in towns and villages where al-Qaida is dominant. "The resistance now is made up of nationalist and religious elements," says Abu Theeb. "By calling for a caliphate you will alienate not only the resistance but the support we get from Syria and the gulf countries." The last thing these countries want is a Taliban state as a neighbour.
I can't imagine anyone wanting that.
Al-Qaida's policies have drawn a furious response from the Iraqi security forces and the Shia militias, and it is Sunnis who have suffered. Scores have been executed after being kidnapped by paramilitary units. In Abu Theeb's area alone, more than 300 Sunni families have taken refuge after fleeing Shia areas in Baghdad. "Every time al-Qaida attacks a Shia mosque we are making all the Shias our enemies," he says. "We are cementing them against us." Later he says: "We have lost more men to the Shias than we have lost to the Americans."
You have also lost a lot to the Sunnis working with Al Qaeda. There are both Shias and Sunnis in the police and the Iraq Army.
This rift in the insurgency has already gone far beyond angry words. Clashes erupted between al-Qaida fighters and Iraqi mujahideen cells after al-Qaida killed a group of Iraqi insurgents who they claimed were spying for the Americans.

Back in the village, politics has become a hot issue. Everywhere - in the mosques after prayers, at weddings, in the main market and in private mujahideen circles - the talk is of politics. Abu Theeb says his move into politics has come at a price: he has had to shave off his beard so that he can visit Baghdad. For weeks he has been travelling, visiting houses, urging people to register to vote. "It's a new jihad," he says. "There is time for fighting and a time for politics."
Ballots are better than bullets and bombs.
I went back to the school with Abu Theeb on polling day. There was a festival atmosphere. Two of his guards were already at their positions, but the rest were more relaxed - their weapons lay against the wall and on tables.

"No one will attack," said Abu Theeb. Inside the classroom that had become the polling station, an old sheik sat on a wooden bench. "The judge and the monitors didn't come from Baghdad - they said this is a hot area - so the sheik of the village is going be the monitor," said Abu Theeb. People began to trickle in. The officials present soon decided that it was not realistic to expect the women to come in, so each man who came in with an ID card was given a whole stack of ballot papers.
He must have been a Democrat. They like voter fraud.
"Nine papers to Haji Abu Hussein," shouted a registration official. Another official sitting on another table handed Haji Abu Hussein the nine ballots. The man took his ballots, but instead of voting in private in the ballot box, he publicly ticked the "no" boxes, folded the papers, and then chucked them in the box.
And suprise, suprise. The constitution did not pass in two provences, but it took three to block it, so it is now in effect.
By midday people had stopped coming and the officials started ticking the boxes on ballot papers themselves.
They must have been from Chicago.
The next day, America and the authorities were crowing about how well the referendum had gone; yesterday - after a "yes" vote had been returned - leading Sunni politicians accused the Shia in the south of stuffing ballot boxes. Well, some of the Sunnis in the north are certainly guilty of it.

Two days after the balloting, Abu Theeb and two other clerics sat on the floor of a mosque debating the political future of their group and the Sunnis in general. "We should keep all the options open," Abu Theeb told them. Even a coalition with the enemy.

Rantingprofs blogged He doesn't really bother to get answers to the really critical questions though: how will these guys respond when the constitution is passed? will they participate in the government to come? are they prepared to work with the Shia? and, however they feel about continued violence against Americans, how do they feel about continued violence against the Shia? Is there a basis here, in other words, for a real political settlement? But he's so busy making it clear that this guy hasn't really given himself over to an end to fighting, that the fact that Sunnis participated doesn't mean peace is at hand, that he dosn't find out what it really means for Iraq's future. Too much energy is spent debunking what he thinks is the happy talk message to find out whether or not there really is a future to Sunni participation or not, so that, while interesting, at the end of the day this article is profoundly frustrating.

Secular Blasphemy blogged The extremists have no credible alternative, and most Sunnis see that going down their way is disastrous. At the end of the day, most people will select the option that is most beneficial to them personally. And in today's Iraq, that is about getting into the political power-struggle. Politics is not pretty, but it's far better than war.


Friday, October 28

This Day In History

  • 1636   Harvard College was founded.
  • 1793   Eli Whitney applied for a patent for the cotton gin.
  • 1886   An emblem of Franco-American unity, the Statue of Liberty, was presented to the American people by the French and unveiled this day. The Statue of Liberty, at Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor, is the work of French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, who called it "Liberty Enlightening the World". Bartholdi was present at the dedication presided over by U.S. President Grover Cleveland.
  • 1919   Congress enacted the Volstead Act, which provided for enforcement of Prohibition, over President Woodrow Wilson's veto.
  • 1922   Fascism came to Italy as Benito Mussolini took control of the government.
  • 1940   Italy invaded Greece during World War II.
  • 1958   The Roman Catholic patriarch of Venice, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, was elected pope, taking the name John XXIII.
  • 1962   Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev informed the United States that he had ordered the dismantling of Soviet missile bases in Cuba.
  • 1965   Pope Paul VI issued a decree absolving Jews of collective guilt for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
  • 1976   Former Nixon aide John D. Ehrlichman entered a federal prison camp in Safford, Ariz., to begin serving his sentence for Watergate-related convictions.
  • 1980   Republican nominee Ronald Reagan asked voters during a debate with President Jimmy Carter in Cleveland ''are you better off than you were four years ago?''
  • 2002   American diplomat Laurence Foley was assassinated in front of his house in Amman, Jordan.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1902   Elsa Lanchester (Elizabeth Sullivan) (actress)
  • 1914   Dr. Jonas Salk (medical researcher: Salk polio vaccine; AIDS research; died June 23, 1995)
  • 1915   Dody Goodman (comedienne, actress)
  • 1932   Suzy Parker (Cecelia Anne Renee Parker) (model, actress: The Interns, The Best of Everything, Ten North Frederick, Funny Face; died May 3, 2003)
  • 1944   Dennis Franz (Schlachta) (Emmy Award-winning actor: N.Y.P.D. Blue [1995-1996, 1996-1997, 1998-1999]; Nasty Boys, Hill Street Blues, Chicago Story, Beverly Hills Buntz, The Bay City Blues, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Body Double, Psycho 2, Dressed to Kill)


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Flickr Printing Preferences

If you have pictures on Flickr you can now order prints to be delivered by mail, or pick them up at your local Target store for one hour printing, even. In both cases, you get 10 free 4x6" prints to get started.

They also have the ability to get backups of your Flickr photos on DVDs from Englaze, printing real U.S. stamps from Zazzle, and they are working on other ways to use your photos.


Microsoft aims to trounce Google

BBC reports People are underestimating what Microsoft is doing with search technology, says Bill Gates. The head of the software giant told the BBC that its ambition is to be bigger than Google in search.

Good luck, but MSN was supposed to kill AoL, and while AoL is less than it used to be, it is still bigger than MSN.
He said that competition had ultimately been good for web users because it had pushed search technology. This meant search would be "far better" in a year. The next decade looks even better, he said, with a lot more advances in software technology ahead. "The beauty of software is that we are always making breakthroughs. We will have more in the next 10 years than we have had on the last 30," he said in an exclusive BBC interview. Mr Gates said he saw Microsoft's strengths lying in search, but also in its software that provides the glue to make different devices talk to each other so that people can have more power over their content.


These guys will be special.

W. Thomas Smith Jr. wrote in National Review Online The U.S. Marine Corps is developing a brand new special-operations force to serve as an element of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Though unique, the force — officially "Marine SOCOM Detachment One" — will be the Corps' participating equivalent of the Navy's SEALs, the Army's special-operations forces (Green Beret, Delta, and other special purpose forces), and the Air Force's special operations units. Specifics have yet to be finalized regarding the Marine detachment, but the prototype unit has been fighting in Iraq, performing raids against insurgent strongholds and conducting special operations missions. Fighting is how they train to fight. According to a report written for SOCOM and obtained by National Review Online, "Repeated successful conduct [by the Marine Detachment] of urban direct action and special reconnaissance, both mounted and dismounted, is an indicator of high agility and tactical effectiveness in what is arguably one of the most challenging combat environments."



France Seeks Increased Anti-Terror Powers

WaPo reported France's interior minister on Wednesday presented a long-awaited anti-terrorism bill to the cabinet, rejecting allegations that it would trample on civil liberties. The bill would stiffen prison sentences for convicted terrorists, allow police to monitor citizens who travel to countries known to have terrorist training camps and broaden the use of surveillance cameras. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who has led the effort to strengthen France's laws against terrorism in response to the bombings in July of London's transit system, rejected claims that the proposed measures would create a police state.

It is about time. I hope the other European countries will do the same. There are a lot of Muslims in Europe, and while all of them are certainly not Islamoterrorists, I suspect there are enough in many countries that they should keep an eye on them, or they will soon find themselves under Sharia law.
"My job is to ensure the safety of people," Sarkozy told reporters following Wednesday's cabinet meeting. The government hopes the bill, drawn up by the Interior and Justice ministries, will be passed by Parliament before the end of the year. President Jacques Chirac's political party controls both houses. France already has some of Europe's toughest anti-terrorism laws, enacted after attacks here in the 1980s and 1990s.
They, and the rest of Europe, needs tougher laws.


Posse Comitatus should stay as is.

Mackubin Thomas Owens wrote in National Review Online I see that my good friend and Naval War College colleague Derek Reveron has climbed aboard the military-should-be-the-lead-agency-in-domestic-catastrophes bandwagon. He's in good company. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the president, members of Congress, editorial writers, and pundits have been making the case for increased use of the military in domestic affairs. The only folks that seem to be opposed are the governors, but we can write off their opinion as an attempt to defend their own turf.

I am opposed. I believe the Governors are much closer to what is going on in their states, and they and the local Mayors should be the ones to work with the local First Responders. Louisiana screwed up by electing a Mayor who was totally unprepared, and a Governor that was ticked off at the Mayor for supporting her opponent in the last election, and who both wanted to teach him a lesson, and did not want to give up any control to the Feds. But that is what you get when you elect Democrats. The Governors of Florida, Mississippi, and Texas did not have problems getting their citizens support. Maybe it is that they read and used their disaster plans, rather than saying oh my look what happened, why is the government not bailing us out from our own stupidity.
I certainly agree with Derek that the military is extremely well equipped to act as the lead agency in disaster relief. If we are looking for efficiency and respect, the military outshines most other agencies, whether at the local, state, or federal level. After all, generals and admirals become generals and admirals because they are good at getting things done — and often being outspoken. Who didn't love it when General Honore blasted a reporter for being "struck on stupid"?

But why stop at disaster relief? The American political system is messy and inefficient, but if efficiency is the main criterion in deciding who does what domestically, why not let the military take the lead in everything? The most obvious response is that there is a little document called the Constitution that established a federal republic. Domestic affairs are primarily the concern of the states, not the federal government, and most assuredly not the U.S. military.
A mere technicality.
Of course there are many things the military can do on the domestic front, especially during natural disasters. But before we take steps to further involve the U.S. military in domestic affairs, we need to answer two fundamental questions: Do we really want the American public turning to the military for solutions to the country's problems?
No, and they should not be turning to the Federal government either. They should solve their own problems, and leave the Feds and the military to defend the country.
And do we really want to saddle the military with a variety of new, non-combat missions, vastly escalating its commitment to formerly ancillary duties?
No. I would support them in providing border security, because protecting us from invasion is their job according to the Constitution
If we do, we will find that we have involved the military in the political process to an unprecedented and perhaps dangerous degree. These additional assignments will also divert focus and resources from the military's central mission of combat training and war-fighting.

The United States has avoided such extreme manifestations of "bad" civil-military relations as coups and military dictatorship. Nonetheless, some observers have argued that the state of American civil-military relations has deteriorated seriously since the end of the Cold War. They fear that current trends will result in a large, semi-autonomous military so different and estranged from society that it will become unaccountable to those whom it serves. They are also concerned about the politicization of the military, and the increased employment of the military in domestic affairs will only exacerbate this trend.
I think their fears of a coup or military dictatorship are way over blown, but I don't support use of the military in domestic matters except under extreme conditions.
Indeed, concern about politicization of the military was the catalyst for passage of the Posse Comitatus Act in 1878. A perusal of recent articles reveals the undeniable fact that most commentators do not understand the Posse Comitatus Act at all: It does not constitute a bar to the use of the military in domestic affairs. It does, however, ensure that such use is authorized only by the highest constitutional authority: Congress and the president.


Blogs are courted by Washington's elite

CSM reports Beltway politicos, famously slow to adopt technology, are wooing blogs - all but Trent Lott. "Bloggers claim I was their first pelt, and I believe that. I'll never read a blog," says the former Senate majority leader, who forfeited that title after bloggers Joshua Micah Marshall and Glenn Reynolds picked up a racially charged remark, drawing the attention of mainstream media (MSM) and his Senate colleagues. Blogs (short for web logs) are websites that can be as basic as an online diary, or as fully fledged as a political community. And when the latter variety seizes upon a topic - creating a blog swarm - the results can be overwhelming.

From former CBS anchor Dan Rather, stung by blog exposure over his use of forged documents, to the negative buzz about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, political blogs aren't just reacting to the news: they're making it.

That's why politicians are eager to co-opt them - or, at least, engage them.

Last week, House Republicans convened the first ever "Capitol Hill Blog Row." In a small committee room in the Capitol, a dozen bloggers, selected by an informal poll of GOP staff, were provided soft drinks, a high-speed Net connection, and access to top Republican figures for half a day. Issues discussed ranged from how to cut government spending to the future of the GOP.

As a follow-up, Speaker Hastert is launching his own blog.

He may call it a blog, but about the only characteristic it has to a blog is that it appears to have Permalinks. I say appears, because there is only one entry, but it does have a unique URL. But there does not appear to be an RSS feed, a comment area, or trackbacks, all of which Blogs normally have.
"Blogging is the new talk radio," says Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean. "People listen to talk radio because the mainstream media is too liberal for them. It makes sense for the Speaker to get the Republican message out to them."

Blogs still rank well behind traditional television, radio, and newspaper outlets as a source of news, but they are gaining ground rapidly. The liberal blog Daily Kos attracted nearly 4.8 million visitors this July, compared with 3.4 million in January, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.
The reason DailyKos scores so high is that he controls a number of other bloggers under his (he calls them "Diaries")
"The number of people who engage in political discussion or get political news from all online sources, including blogs, is skyrocketing and currently numbers over 75 million Americans," write journalists David Kline and Dan Burstein in their new book, "Blog! how the newest media revolution is changing politics, business, and culture."

Movers and shakers in Washington, especially their younger staff, pay attention to blogs and, increasingly, seek to engage them. At the Democratic National Committee (DNC), chairman Howard Dean, who pioneered the use of the Internet to raise funds for his 2004 presidential campaign, has set up an Internet Department to get his message out to the blogs.
Now all he needs is a message.


Rosa Parks and history

Thomas Sowell wrote in Townhall The death of Rosa Parks has reminded us of her place in history, as the black woman whose refusal to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, in accordance with the Jim Crow laws of Alabama, became the spark that ignited the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Most people do not know the rest of the story, however. Why was there racially segregated seating on public transportation in the first place? "Racism" some will say -- and there was certainly plenty of racism in the South, going back for centuries. But racially segregated seating on streetcars and buses in the South did not go back for centuries.

Far from existing from time immemorial, as many have assumed, racially segregated seating in public transportation began in the South in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Those who see government as the solution to social problems may be surprised to learn that it was government which created this problem.Many, if not most, municipal transit systems were privately owned in the 19th century and the private owners of these systems had no incentive to segregate the races. These owners may have been racists themselves but they were in business to make a profit -- and you don't make a profit by alienating a lot of your customers. There was not enough market demand for Jim Crow seating on municipal transit to bring it about.

It was politics that segregated the races because the incentives of the political process are different from the incentives of the economic process. Both blacks and whites spent money to ride the buses but, after the disenfranchisement of black voters in the late 19th and early 20th century, only whites counted in the political process. It was not necessary for an overwhelming majority of the white voters to demand racial segregation. If some did and the others didn't care, that was sufficient politically, because what blacks wanted did not count politically after they lost the vote.

And most of those laws were written by Southern Democrats (like KKK member Robert Byrd), which makes it extremely surprising that Blacks seem to think the Democratic Party is the one that deserves their support.
The incentives of the economic system and the incentives of the political system were not only different, they clashed. Private owners of streetcar, bus, and railroad companies in the South lobbied against the Jim Crow laws while these laws were being written, challenged them in the courts after the laws were passed, and then dragged their feet in enforcing those laws after they were upheld by the courts.... Initially, segregation meant that whites could not sit in the black section of a bus any more than blacks could sit in the white section. But whites who were forced to stand when there were still empty seats in the black section objected. That's when the rule was imposed that blacks had to give up their seats to whites. Legal sophistries by judges "interpreted" the 14th Amendment's requirement of equal treatment out of existence. Judicial activism can go in any direction.
That's when Rosa Parks came in, after more than half a century of political chicanery and judicial fraud.

Betsy blogged In fact, it was the private train companies that encouraged the test case of Plessy v. Ferguson because they wanted to end the segregation laws on transportation.


Huffington upset

Arianna Huffington blogged With Plamegate dominating the day, the table is set for the Democratic Party to seize the moment. The scandal has reignited a national debate about the White House lies and deceptions that led us to war in Iraq, public support for the president’s handling of the war has hit an all-time low, and the 2,000th soldier killed in action has put the human cost of the war back on page one. So how have the Democrats reacted? You be the grand jury (Warning: have some Xanax or other suitable anti-depressant handy):

Exhibit A is the story NPR ran on Tuesday in which Senate Dems were asked if they regretted their votes to authorize the war in Iraq. Ben Nelson was among those who defended his vote, saying, “You just don’t look back.” Really? Why not? Afraid you might actually learn something from your mistakes, Senator?

No, he just knows that the voters in Nebraska know that thins are really going a lot better than the MSM is pretending, and he is going to have to run for reelection after Iraq is a free Democratic country and our troops are back home.
Hillary Clinton refused to even address the question, telling reporter David Welna, “I really can’t talk about this on the fly, it’s too important”. As with everything Hillary says and does these days, you could hear her and her consultants doing the math: Expressing regret = too soft for the Oval Office. Continuing to express support of the administration’s Iraq policy = risking being overtaken by the post-Plamegate reassessment of the war. (So would offering a glowing assessment of progress in Iraq, as Clinton did during her visit there in February when she explained that suicide bombers are “an indication” of the “failure” of the insurgency, and that much of Iraq was “functioning quite well”).
That is the best she can say, and preserve her chance of being elected President.
Clinton and Nelson should get a copy of the NPR segment and listen to the responses of Sens. Dodd, Feinstein, Rockefeller, and Harkin who all said they would not have voted the way they did. They should also listen to the speech John Kerry gave today in which he said that “knowing what we know now” he would not have voted to give the administration the authority to go to war.
What he knows now is that whether he was for the war before he was against it, or against it before he was for it, he never was going to be President.
Exhibit B was Chuck Schumer’s disheartening appearance on Meet the Press last Sunday. When Tim Russert asked him if he regretted having voted for the war, Schumer replied: “No, Tim, because my vote was seen -- and I still see it -- as a need to say we must fight a strong and active war on terror” (a ludicrous response he echoed on NPR). The senior senator from New York really ought to have gotten the memo by now that the Iraq-al Qaeda connection was just a Bush fantasy.
Or at least the loony left wants people to think that.
Until we invaded Iraq, that is. And far from leading to “a strong and active war on terror”, his vote has helped turned Iraq into a breeding ground for terrorists while making us far less safe here at home.
Really? How many buildings have fallen since 9/11? Would you rather have our military confront the Islamoterrists in Baghdad and Basrah or in Broken Arrow, Boston, or Beumont; in Mosul or in Muskogee, Memphis, or Mesquite; in Karkuk and Karbala or in Ketchum, Kansas City, or Kilgore; in Tall Afar and Tikrit or in Tahlequah, Texas City, or Texarkana.
.... Have Democratic leaders completely forgotten that we are at war? A war that’s going very badly? A war Plamegate has brought to the forefront of national consciousness? A war the majority of Americans now feel was a mistake?
Because they have been fooled by the MSM. But wait until our troops come home from a Democratic Iraq and tell them what really happened over there.
Cindy Sheehan hasn’t. She’s making it clear that “any candidate who supports the war should not receive our support”. Including Hillary Clinton, about whom she blogged: “I would love to support Hillary for president if she would come out against the travesty in Iraq. But I don’t think she can speak out against the occupation because she supports it.”
Which she has to pretend to do in order to have a chance of being elected President. The danger comes from the sharp left turn she will make after being elected.


Mayors react to plan to withdraw funds for Oklahoma projects

Kenai Peninsula Online reports Tulsa's mayor said Wednesday he is concerned that lives would be put at risk if a move by Sen. Tom Coburn and other Republican senators to pull back special project funding for highways is successful. Under their proposal, announced Tuesday, $118.8 million in funding for the widening of Interstate 44 in Tulsa would be eliminated, along with $130 million for funding of Oklahoma City's Crosstown Expressway reconstruction project. Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune said he understands the need for cutbacks to provide funding for hurricane relief, but he thinks public safety infrastructure projects, along with defense, should be off the table. "I hate to see a public safety project be sacrificed for that," LaFortune said. "It seems to me that we have lives at stake. Interstate 44 is a public safety issue. There are people being hurt. People are dying because it is so narrow and so heavily traveled."

If that is true, why have you not persuaded the State to fund part of it, and why have you not come up with City funds to do it. Why wait for federal funds? Federal funds are not going to go to areas that need the money the most, they are going to areas where the Congressmen and Senators have the most pull. Why not have no money come from the feds, because it will be spent inequitably, and let locals who know the real need for something, pay to build it. I guarantee you that the 50 residents of that island in Alaska would not come up with the money for the Bridge to Nowhere. They don't need it.
.... "Why should anyone be surprised? He's doing exactly what he told people he would do," said Humphreys, who finished second to Coburn in a bitter Republican primary last year for the Senate. "I don't disagree with Tom on the need for fiscal responsibility," he added. "I do disagree with him on how to get there. It takes 51 votes in the U.S. Senate to get anything done.
So should one not make a principled stand? I am glad we have Coburn there rather than you.
Making a point while the vast majority of senators vote against you accomplishes very little, except to make you feel good." The package introduced by Coburn and fellow Republicans proposed eliminating all special highway projects recently approved by Congress and delaying the Medicare prescription drug program for all but the poorest seniors. Both the highway bill and the drug program have been signed into law by the president. The proposal, totaling about $125 billion over two years, also includes a 5 percent, across-the-board cut in all government spending except for defense and homeland security needs.


A Time for Politics

WaPo reported For weeks before Iraq's constitutional referendum this month, Iraqi guerrilla Abu Theeb traveled the countryside just north of Baghdad, stopping at as many Sunni Arab houses and villages as he could. Each time, his message to the farmers and tradesmen he met was the same: Members of the disgruntled Sunni minority should register to vote -- and vote against the constitution. "It is a new jihad," said Abu Theeb, a nom de guerre that means "Father of the Wolf," addressing a young nephew one night before the vote. "There is a time for fighting, and a time for politics."

Ballots are better than bullets and bombs.
For Abu Theeb and many other Iraqi insurgents, this canvassing marked a fundamental shift in strategy, and one that would separate them from foreign-born fighters such as Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Jordanian who leads the group al Qaeda in Iraq.
Zarqawi only wants killing; hopefully the Sunnis will now turn him in.
Two years of boycotting the process had only marginalized Sunnis while Iraqi's Shiite majority gained power. And Abu Theeb's entry into politics was born partly of necessity; attacks by Shiite militias, operating inside and outside the government security apparatus, were taking an increasing toll on Sunni lives.


Internet to ask, 'How may I serve you?'

A good friend pointed out to me this article in USAToday What's put the whoopee back in the Internet industry? To borrow a buzzword coined by Cisco CEO John Chambers: It's the arrival, after years of expectation, of the "interactions Web." This is the Web of flying through cities on Google Earth; of viewers helping produce segments on Current TV; of applications that run on a server far away but seem to be right on your computer. The interactions Web is the next rung up from the familiar point-and-click Internet, industry executives say. For the past decade on the Net, you'd click and get a Web page. If you wanted more information, or to order something, you'd click again. The user has had to do a lot to navigate around. But now comes an Internet that works on your behalf — finding or doing things in the background, with no intervention. At the same time, the borders between the computer and the Web are dissolving, so you can hardly tell if you're using something that's running on your processor or on a server thousands of miles away. Often, it's both.

I urge you to read the entire article, and decide for yourself. Personally I don't see Web-based applications suceeding any more now than they did a number of years ago when it was first tried, but I agree that XML and its offspring, RSS (really simple syndication), offer some exciting new opportunities.


Thursday, October 27

This Day In History

  • 1787   The first of the Federalist Papers, a series of essays calling for ratification of the U.S. Constitution, was published in a New York newspaper.
  • 1858   Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, was born in New York City.
  • 1880   Theodore Roosevelt married Alice Lee.
  • 1904   The first subway cars were placed in operation, forming the New York City subway system. The cars operated between the Brooklyn Bridge and Broadway; from City Hall to W. 145th Street. This was the first underwater, underground rail system in the world.
  • 1914   Author-poet Dylan Thomas was born in Swansea, Wales.
  • 1917   Jascha Heifetz made his debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Heifetz was a 16-year-old sensation who had played the violin since age 5.
  • 1920   Marconi, Fessenden, and De Forest were the catalysts. However, it was an engineer for Westinghouse Electric who, in 1916, was broadcasting music from his garage (in Wilkinsburg, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh) over a wireless -- amateur radio station 8XK -- that really got the whole thing started. A newspaper article about the broadcasts caused such interest that the head honchos at Westinghouse decided to build a real radio station. It took until this day in 1920 for the Westinghouse radio station to receive a license to broadcast. The license for KDKA, Pittsburgh came from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Although the license was officially issued on this day, KDKA did not start their broadcast operations for a week (they had to wait until the license was posted in the station). On November 2, 1920, the station aired the returns of the Harding/Cox election ... the first radio programming to reach an audience of any size ... approximately 1,000 people. And so we salute this day as the official birthday of mass appeal radio.
  • 1938   Du Pont announced a name for its new synthetic yarn: nylon.
  • 1947   ''You Bet Your Life,'' starring Groucho Marx, premiered on ABC Radio.
  • 1967   Expo '67 closed in Montreal.
  • 1978   Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin were named winners of the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • 1997   The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 554.26 points, forcing the stock market to shut down for the first time since the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.
  • 2002   Emmitt Smith broke the NFL career rushing yardage record held by Walter Payton.
  • 2002   Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was elected president of Brazil in a runoff, becoming the country's first elected leftist leader.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1728   James Cook (British sea captain, explorer: Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands; killed by angry natives at Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii, Feb 14, 1779)
  • 1782   Nicolo Paganini (violin virtuoso; died May 27, 1840)
  • 1858   Theodore Roosevelt (26th U.S. President [1901-1909]; married to A. Lee, E. Carow [four sons, two daughters]; nickname: TR, Trust Buster; first president to ride in a car, submerge in a submarine and fly in a plane; initiated the National Monument System; died Jan 6, 1919)
  • 1872   Emily Post (Price) (etiquette authority: author: Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage; syndicated newspaper columnist; died Sep 25, 1960)
  • 1910   Fred De Cordova (Emmy Award-winning producer: The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson [1975-1976, 1976-1977, 1977-1978, 1978-1979, 1991-1992]; director: Bedtime for Bonzo, Frankie and Johnny, I’ll Take Sweden; died Sep 15, 2001)
  • 1920   Nanette Fabray (Fabares) (Emmy Award-winning actress; aunt of actress Shelley Fabares)
  • 1939   John Cleese (Emmy Award-winning actor: A Fish Called Wanda, Monty Python’s Flying Circus)
  • 1947   Terry Anderson (news correspondent: kidnapped by Lebanese terrorists in Beirut [1985], released [1991])


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Schools Scrap Religious Holidays

TBO reported After weeks of delay and debate, the Hillsborough County School Board approved a 2006-07 calendar minus holidays for Yom Kippur, Good Friday or the Muslim holiday Eid Al-Fitr. The 6-1 vote represents a major shift from scheduling days off on religious holidays, a practice School Board Attorney Tom Gonzalez on Tuesday said was wrong. "A school board cannot recognize a religious holiday for the sole purpose of recognizing a religious holiday," Gonzalez said at a meeting packed with dozens of members of the Muslim community, some pleading to have no school on holidays for all religions.

Did these nut cases want school out for the entire month of Ramadan?
So many people celebrate Christmas that businesses can't operate on that day, Gonzalez said.
Does that mean you will let the students off on Christmas, and if so will you call it Christmas?
If large numbers of students and teachers are absent on other religious holidays, the district may opt to again make those days off, he said. Only board member Jennifer Faliero voted against the new calendar, saying she checked with other lawyers and believes Good Friday is a secular holiday: "It is now about the Easter Bunny. ... They have taken religion out of it completely."
I don't know who "they" represents. The ACLU has certainly tried to secularize all Christian holidays and other observances, but what do you think is "good" about Good Friday? Is that when the Easter Bunny comes or did the pagan goddess Ester do something good on Friday?
Ahmed Bedier, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, was among those not pleased with the vote. His plea in December for a day off in observance of Eid Al-Fitr, a holy day marking the end of Ramadan, led the board to reconsider its 2006-07 calendar. When the board leaned instead toward giving students three secular holidays in exchange for eliminating Christian and Jewish holidays as days off, Beadier said he feared a backlash. In a news conference Tuesday, Bedier called the change "just an excuse to hide bias against the Muslims."
How many Jews are in Tampa? How many Muslims? There are 18 synagogues around Tampa Bay, and I only found one mosque.
Bishop Chuck Leigh, president of the Florida Council of Churches, backed him, saying, "I think it's really petty on the part of the school board. ... Instead of giving them one holiday, they decided they're not going to give anybody anything."
Actually I would be in favor of giving Muslims one holiday, if Christians were allowed to truly celebrate the true basis for Christmas and Easter.
The policy of excusing students with no penalty on their religious holidays will continue, board members stressed.

OTB blogged Write me when they cancel Christmas. Until then, our society will continue to recognize, rightly, the overwhelming predominance of Christianisty as a cultural backdrop.