Friday, July 27, 2007

Who cares about "debates"

WaPo reported Four days after the Democratic debate in Charleston, S.C,. more than 400 questions directed to the GOP presidential field have been uploaded on YouTube -- targeted at Republicans scheduled to get their turn at videopopulism on Sept. 17. But so far, only Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) have agreed to participate in the debate, co-hosted by Republican Party of Florida in St. Petersburg.

Patrick Ruffini blogged This is a big mistake. The Democrats are afraid to answer questions from Big Bad Fox News Anchors, and the Republicans are afraid to answer questions from regular people. Which is worse?

It's stuff like this that will set the GOP back an election cycle or more on the Internet. No matter the snazzy Web features and YouTube videos they may put up, if they're fundamentally uncomfortable with the idea of interacting with real people online, what's the point?

CQ blogged I agree with Patrick that canceling the debate carries some political risk, but just as with the Democrats' snub at Fox, I think it's pretty limited. The general election will come 14 months after this debate has been scheduled. There will be plenty of time for other, more interactive debates both closer to the primaries and in the general election. Ask the Democrats if they're still feeling the damage from rejecting the Fox debate.... Even Joe Biden was disgusted with the proceedings by the time the last debate ended.

The Republican candidates should insist on major changes to the format if they agree to participate in the next debate. That should include a new selection team for the questions -- and if they really want to "embrace the Internet", perhaps they should insist on representatives from the blogosphere being a part of that process. Otherwise, CNN should pull the 86-year-old Monty Hall out of retirement and give up all pretense of serious debate.

Rick Moran blogged These people want to be President of the United States! If they can’t stand up to a little tough questioning from Democratic partisans (CNN included) how in God’s name are they going to stand up to Ahmadinejad who I guarantee will feel a helluva lot more empowered come November, 2008 than a gay guy from New York asking about gay marriage!

My opinion is that they should not do events like the You Tube debate OR the town hall "debate" which is just like a joint press conference with 8 or 10 people making short sound bite responses to stupid questions. They should have real debates between two people, where one has a couple of minutes to make a point, the other has a couple of minutes to respond, then the first gets a couple of minutes to respond to the response, then the other gets a couple of minutes to respond to that response, and then gets first shot to spend a couple of minutes making a point on something different, and ask questions of his own. If there are more than two with high enough poll ratings to be considered real contenders, then have several two person debates.

Let Hillary debate Obama, and Hillary debate Edwards, and Obama debate Edwards. Let Rudy debate Fred, and Fred debate Romney, and Romney debate McCain, etc.


What is hate

The Left Wing is really upset at Bill O'Reilly for putting pressure on Jet Blue to withdraw its support of the DailyKos convention. Crooks and Liars pontificates As O’Reilly smeared Kos and YKos yet again, Jane Hall told Bill that his own website had hate comments on it. BillO called her a liar and then they cut her mic off so he was sure to get the last word in…Jane was left talking at the end with no sound to be heard. That’s one class operation BillO has.

What is hate? Is it the fact that Bill Oreilly has some posts he put up criticizing Kos? That is certainly true, but the Left is acting like the Islamists to when someone criticizes Mohammad.

They are now making a big deal about what some commenters have said in the paid side of Bill's website. I can't read those comments, because I don't feel like spending the money to become a Premium Member, but I can imagine what they might say, since I have read some of the things that commenters have said on other conservative blogs.

A blog owner has several choices

  • Not allow any comments or trackbacks. Some blogs do this, but unless they are real famous, few will read them because bloggers like to be able to state how they feel.
  • Only allow trackbacks. Then the comments are on the commenter's blog, and all that goes on the bloggers blog is a link to it. You are still open to criticism that you are linking to garbage, but you are relatively safe.
  • You can allow comments, but make them moderated so someone reads them before they go public. That can let you drop the really bad ones, but some snide comments may get approved
  • Or you can allow open comments, but make it clear they thoughts expressed are those of the poster, and not the blogger.

The Left is very proud about the fact that DailyKos is much larger than any conservative blog. That is true, because conservative blogs have one or more bloggers working on the blog, and they have readers that can make comments. But Kos has "Diaries" in which a large number of people have their own blogs on his site, and each of those "diaries" has its own readers and commenters.

This philosophy of the Left to have a few big sites, like Daily Kos and Huffington Post, each having a tightly controlled subclass of bloggers beholden to the master site owner is similiar to their political philosophy, where the government should be the big provider to everyone. The Right, on the other hand, has the capitalist/entrepreneur philosophy of if you want a blog, start your own, and rather than a few large blog areas, it has a LOT more medium size blogs.

I am pretty sure that what Oreilly is talking about when he says there is hate speech on Daily Kos, is he is talking about the Diaries, not the contents of comments on those Diaries, and if Kos is going to allow diaries, he needs to monitor what they say, and if what they are saying is inconsistent with how he feels, then they should not be on his site.

I bet that if I signed up for a Diary on his site and praised the president, my Diary would not last long.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Trial run

NBC obtained an unclassified report (PDF file) from TSA which said Transportation security personnel and law enforcement officers nationwide have intercepted several items at airports resembling improvised explosive device (IED) components. These items include wires, switches, pipes or tubes, cell phone components, and dense clay-like substances. The unusual nature and increase in number of these improvised items raise concern, and TSA personnel should continue vigilance for groupings of ordinary items that look like IED components.
Absolutely, and they should interrogate anyone with things like this, and prosecute wherever possible.
Terrorists may repeat operational tests to desensitize, distract, or adapt plans for specific environments. Linking repetitious probing incidents or associated items possibly could alert authorities to future terrorist plots, tactics, and personalities.

Individuals involved in these incidents were of varying gender,
I know male gender means, and what female gender means, but what is varying gender. If they really have someone whose gender is changing wile they interrogate them, they should call in the scientists.
and initial investigations do not link them with criminal or terrorist organizations. However, most passengers’ explanations for carrying the suspicious items were questionable, and some investigations are still ongoing. Many of the incidents caused airport terminal evacuations and at times, brief closures.

5 July 2007, San Diego, CA–A U.S. Person’s (USPER) checked baggage contained two icepacks covered in duct tape. The icepacks had clay inside them rather than the normal blue gel.

4 June 2007, Milwaukee, WI–The carry-on baggage of a USPER contained several items resembling IED components, such as a wire coil wrapped around a possible initiator, an electrical switch, batteries, three tubes, and two blocks of cheese.4

8 November 2006, Houston, TX–A USPER’s checked baggage contained a plastic bag with a 9-volt battery, wires, a block of brown clay-like minerals, and pipes.

16 September 2006, Baltimore, MD–The checked baggage of a couple contained a plastic bag with a block of processed cheese taped to another plastic bag holding a cellular phone charger.
They have signs in airports that say it is illegal to joke about a bomb or other threat. As a minimum these are jokes, and should be prosecuted, and I suspect they are dry runs to see what they can get on board


Breaking News

Paul Farhi writes on WaPo This just in! There's no more news on TV, at least not on the cable news networks. Plain old news apparently just isn't good enough anymore, so TV news stories have been getting new and improved names. President Bush's latest news conference? CNN labels it a "Developing Story." A car bombing in Baghdad? The banner on MSNBC reads, "Breaking News." A blown transformer in New York City? Fox News Channel is on it, with a graphic that announces, "Very Latest." Sometimes a story is a "News Alert." Sometimes it's a "Bulletin." And sometimes the banner reads, "New Developments" (although if there are new developments in a "Developing Story," shouldn't it really say "Developing Developing Story"?).
Such is the world of 24 hour news channels.
The dizzying world of news labels raises many questions. Is it possible for a "Developing Story" to become "Developed," like a Polaroid picture or a post-adolescent woman?
No, a developing story is something they think may be important, but they don't know what really happened, but they don't want to wait until they know, because then someone might scoop them. When they know what happened, it will get a different name.
Does "Breaking News" ever become "Broken" (and if so, can it be "fixed")?
And can a "Developing Story" ever morph into a "Breaking Story" and vice versa?
Developing can become Breaking, if they find out what happened. I can't see it going the other way.
Or are they like oil and water, matter and antimatter, Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger?

Perhaps the biggest question is why the news needs such quickened-breath labels at all. Isn't all news just, you know, new information?
Certainly not on 24 hour news stations. They run the same thing over and over, and have Developing Stories when something new comes in, but they don't yet know what happened, Breaking News when something new comes in and they do know what happened, etc.
Jeremy Gaines, a spokesman for MSNBC, replies that the labels "telegraph the story in a visual way" for channel-surfing viewers.

Ah. Kind of makes sense. With all the talk shows and shouting heads on TV, with all the opinion-mongering and vicious partisanship, a banner on the screen reading "News Alert" reminds viewers that the news channels still sometimes get around to . . . covering the news. And that's the Very Latest.


President Links Qaeda of Iraq to Qaeda of 9/11

NYT reported President Bush sharply criticized those who contend that Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and the network responsible for the attacks on 9/11 are independent of each other.
Of course they are not independent. He is not saying that Saddam planned 9/11, but the people that did certainly have a major force in Iraq right now, and we are fighting them there, which is better than fighting them here.


Libya’s Release of 6 Prisoners Raises Criticism

NYT reported After more than eight years in a Libyan prison, convicted of deliberately infecting children with the virus that causes AIDS, five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor stepped off a French presidential plane to freedom here on Tuesday.
That is good news. The charges were absurd, but I am glad they are free.
The charge had been widely dismissed abroad as absurd. The Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, had accused the six medical workers, who were said to have been tortured, of acting on the orders of American and Israeli intelligence agencies to destabilize the Libyan state.
Total stupidity, but at least he did not say they were insulting Islam.
Their liberation, through French intervention and payments of hundreds of millions of dollars in total to the families of the infected children, brings to an end a bizarre and tortuous episode that opens the way for Libya to improved political ties and lucrative trade deals with Europe. Human rights groups assailed the bargain, saying Libya should not be rewarded for taking hostages and releasing them for a price.
Would these human rights group have preferred it if the medical workers were still in prison in Libya?


Frequent Talks, Limited Results

NYT reported Once every two weeks, sometimes more often, President Bush gathers with the vice president and the national security adviser in the newly refurbished White House Situation Room and peers, electronically, into the eyes of the man to whom his legacy is so inextricably linked: Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq. In sessions usually lasting more than an hour, Mr. Bush, a committed Christian of Texas by way of privileged schooling in New England, and Mr. Maliki, an Iraqi Shiite by way of political exile in Iran and Syria, talk about leadership and democracy, troop deployments and their own domestic challenges.
What is wrong with them talking. Does the NYT want us to stop talking to the man?
Sometimes, said an official who has sat in on the meetings, they talk about their faith in God.
Aha, now we see what upsets the NYT so much. The talk about God. Is the NYT afraid Maliki will get Bush to convert to Islam, or that Maliki will become a Christian? Or do they just get goosebumps when political leaders talk about faith.
“They talk about the challenges they face being leaders,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss private conversations. “They, of course, also share a faith in God.”


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tiny Brain

Spiegel Online reported Something that many people secretly believed has been confirmed: You don't actually need a brain to work in a tax office. A French civil servant has been found to have a huge cavity filled with fluid in his head -- yet lives a completely normal life.

You don't need a brain to work for the French Government.

If he was in America he would probably running for President on the Democratic Party
The commonly spouted wisdom that people only use 10 percent of their brain power may have been dismissed as a myth, but one French man seems to be managing fine with just a small fraction of his actual brain.

In fact the man, who works as a civil servant in southern France, has succeeded in living an entirely normal life despite a huge fluid-filled cavity taking up most of the space where his brain should be.


Second Amendment

Jackie Mason makes some very good points


Iran hangs murderer

Yahoo! News Iran has publicly hanged a convicted murderer in the western city of Khoramabad, and a drug trafficker in the southeastern town of Zabol, media reports said Saturday.... The hangings bring to at least 121 the number of executions carried out in the Islamic republic so far this year, most of them by hanging and often in public.

And they usually raise him (or her) up with a crane and let them choke to death, rather than dropping them in a gallows where the rope breaks their neck, causing instant death.
At least 177 people were executed in 2006, according to Amnesty International. Capital offences in Iran include murder, rape, armed robbery, apostasy, blasphemy, serious drug trafficking, repeated sodomy, adultery or prostitution, treason and espionage.
Sodomy, adultery or prostitution. The Dems better watch out, because those are some of their major supporters. Apostasy and blasphemy -- isn't that up to God?


A Talk With a Suicide Bomber

Yahoo! News reported Last week, at the Directorate of National Intelligence in Kabul, I met a failed suicide bomber. Arrested two weeks before in Jalalabad, preparing to assassinate the governor of Nangahar Province, Farhad was setting outside of Pakistan's Waziristan Province for the first time. Only 17, he was terrified. Not only because of an uncertain fate, but perhaps more so because the world was not as the Taliban had described it.
Really? The Taliban had not told him the truth? Who'da thunk it.
The Taliban indoctrinated him well, convincing him the Americans were stealing the faith of Afghan Muslims.
If anyone can steal another's faith it was the Taliban, for lying to him about what his faith meant.
Turning them into kafirs. I asked him if he hated the governor. No, it was simply that in working with the Americans he'd fallen away from Islam. He deserved to die.
Isn't that Allah's job?
It was immediately clear this kid was ignorant of the world; the boundaries of his village were his world. I asked him if he'd heard of Iraq. He had, but when I asked him if he could point it out on a map, he said he couldn't. The same with Palestine. I doubt that he'd ever seen a map.

That raised the question what he knew about Islam. When I asked he said he'd read the Quran. I asked it him if he understood it. He shook his head. It was then it became apparent his education went no farther than the madrassa - he was taught to recite the Quran in Arabic but did not understand a word. Other than what he was told.
Now we know why they don't provide the Quran in local languages. They prefer to tell you what it says, rather than letting you read for yourself.
And this is where the Taliban came in. Spotting him in the village mosque, they invited him to attend what can only be called an indoctrination course in Waziristan. There he was taught that suicide bombers go directly to heaven, where they're met by virgins and lush gardens. Farhad was also taught that any Muslim working with the Americans in Afghanistan was no longer a Muslim, but a "munafiq," a pretend Muslim. It was written in the Quran, Farhad was assured.
But since he could not read it, how did he know.
Even I, who have tried to get a grip on Muslim suicide bombing, was stunned by the depth of the brainwashing. I'd never seen anything like it. So I asked the question, What religion is Musharraf, the president of Pakistan? He's a Jew, the Taliban had assured Farhad.
I bet that cam as a suprise to Musharraf.
No wonder Farhad agreed to go to Jalalabad to kill a fellow Muslim. Still, wasn't there a doubt in his mind about taking his life like that and who knows how many others? No. The Taliban had told him that when he pushed the button on his suicide vest, it was Allah then who would decide whether to summon him to heaven or not.
And if there were rally such rewards waiting for someone who pushed the button, why don't the Taliban wear the vests themselves? Could it be because they know they are lying to the poor kids?