Monday, July 31, 2006

I'd rather drink it

I mean, if you think about it, conversion to ethanol as fuel would threaten the beer supply while powering a small percentage of our vehicles after all the corn (the growing of which would consume 1/3 of the total land in the US) is used up.

Good questions from The Oil Drum about ethanol as an alternative fuel.

On the
political motivation of a major ethanol proponent and supposed venture capitalist:
The first thing I asked him [Vinod Khosla] was about his motivation: Money, helping society, or some combination? He said his primary motivation is to help society.

...He said he is trying to get the California Clean Alternative Energy Initiative passed, and Big Oil is spending a lot of money to fight him on it. So, he is bashing them in order to get support.

...I told him that it is ludicrous to suggest that Big Oil is gouging when the profit margins on ethanol are even higher. He again said that it was just politics. I just don't agree that stirring up hatred toward a particular group is acceptable politics.
Regarding a Carbon tax :
He replied that it would break down when everyone tried to get the best deal for their own constituents.
If he is willing to play politics by bashing big oil while creating a windfall for Archer Daniels Midland, this is disingenous in the extreme. As "step back" points out in the first comment there is already an entrenched list of special interests for ethanol.
1. Corn belt farmers
2. Farm equipment companies that sell to them
3. Transport industry built around hauling corn
4. Ethanol plants all around the country
5. Detroit making flex fuel cars instead of PHEV's
6. Offshore gas drillers producing methane to make the fertilizer
To which I'll add the already massively subsidized sugar industy. This list includes the biggest corporate welfare bums in the United States.

How does Mr. Khosla propose to handle these entrenched subsidy sops after his non-economic do-goodism has built them into even more powerful interest groups? Probably by bashing them over his undefined "second phase." Or, given the provisions of the California Clean Energy Initiative, by government fiat.

"Venture", maybe. "Capitalist", not.

See also, 321Energy, mentioned by commenter "Gunga2006."

H/T Slashdot

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Can't tell the players without a program

Who gets counted as a civilian?
The images, obtained exclusively by the Sunday Herald Sun, show Hezbollah using high-density residential areas as launch pads for rockets and heavy-calibre weapons.

Dressed in civilian clothing so they can quickly disappear, the militants carrying [sic] automatic assault rifles and ride in on trucks mounted with cannon.
There is video here of an Israeli attack on such people as they are attempting to hide in a private home. Requires regisitration.

This contributes to the credibility of the idea that Hizballah would blow up civilians in order to blame the deaths on Israel, as mentioned here, and as pointed out by The Other Club here:
... people who not only countenance, but arrange civilian mutilation - as images for the 6 O'Clock news ... are morally culpable and we are not.
Islamofascist jihad offers the perfect "Catch-22". Civilians are either infidels, or they are not. Killing infidels is permissible, because their lives are unworthy of consideration. Killing non-infidels is permissible, because those who die to aid the jihad immediately ascend to paradise.

Update: 7:08PM When Did the Building Collapse?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Words you can't say in Iran

For example, "pizza" and "cabin." Story here.

I cannot find a comprehensive list of banned word substitutes, but in the spirit of "pizza" and "cabin", I offer the following suggestions for inclusion:

"Cat's paw" will become "feline digitation."

"Terrorist" will become "Bomb Buddy."

"Uranium Hexafluoride" will become "toothpaste."

"Syrian" will become "lackey."

"Head office" will require a legal opinion before it can be used. Oh, sorry that's a Quebec law.

H/T Dust My Broom

Friday, July 28, 2006

C-SPAN - Bolton KOs Kerry

Ambassador John Bolton is awesome. I did listen to all of this, jumping to the video when it got interesting, but the part where Kerry struts and frets his 15 minutes upon the stage starts at 3:19:30 into the clip.

Sorry. You may have to copy & paste the link. For some reason I can't get it to be recognized as a hyperlink.

Paladin sets off some free association

Paladin sends this note:
The anti-semitism in Europe is palpable.

For example: Fox interviewed a British journalist this morning and asked "In what way do the Europeans see the conflict in Lebanon differently than the U.S.?"

The smug journalist was ready with "The U.S. sees the cause as terrorists attacks; Europeans see the cause as failure to provide a homeland for the Palestinians."
1- Not to worry. The Europeans are establishing the seat of the next Caliphate as we speak. Palestinians will have a homeland in France soon enough. This journalist's grandchildren may well wish the Israelis had prevailed in stopping the terrorists when the Super-Katushya's are just across the channel.

Unfortunately, note that anti-semitism is rampant in Dearborn, MI, too.

3- Charles Krauthammer has some thoughts worth reading about what I'll call "post-modern anti-Semitism." This is an anti-semitism that owes as much to
the harmonization of low birth rate Europe's embrace of Muslim immigrants with the Islamofascist plan for acheiving European Dhimmitude, as it does to actual hatred of Jews. For Europe, it's just the decadence. For the Islamofascist leadership, it's just the laughing up the sleeve.

Aside- A partial counter to Europe's problem of being drowned by unassimilable Muslims might also offer a way to mitigate our own immigration problems. To wit, ship half of our illegal immigrants to Europe - on our nickle and with US$50,000 start-up money per family. This would tend to redress the religious fanatic balance in, say, France, and might even reintroduce small business entrepreneurialism to Europe.

If you think about it, we're lucky in that our most numerous fanatic immigrants come from a Judeo-Christian background and that their most outrageous demand is to take back the Southwest States. I'll bet we could negotiate down to just California. A win-win.

4- Kofi Annan has finally ordered UN observers out of harm's way.

5- Meanwhile, none of the usual suspects have mentioned this, specifically including Kofi Annan, but Hizballah has attacked United Nations observers twice this week. Since the attacks were carried out with small arms, and since Hizballah knows where the UN outposts are because they use them as shields for launching rockets, it had to be deliberate. Where is Kofi Annan's outrage when he needs it?

This is interesting in the context of the "Palestinian Homeland" because the Europeans, and 99% of the American Left, are unable to appropriately conflate Hamas and Hizballah and Al-Qaeda and Syria and Iran. I'm glad I can leave Taliban-Afghanistan and Hussein-Iraq off that list.

6- The usual suspects
are also not mentioning that the Israel Defense Force is saving the lives of UN observers shot by Hizballah.

7- This feckless bullshit from all sides is certainly wearying.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

UN reform desperately needed

In an alternate universe one might expect U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to criticize Hezbollah for deliberately targeting Israeli civilians with 1,500 rockets in the last 2+ weeks.

In our universe you get this: Annan said Tuesday that the Israelis “apparently deliberately targeted” a UN outpost, killing four UN observers.

When one says “apparently”, one is not saying “allegedly.” Kofi Annan believes there is some reason that Israel deliberately killed these men. Why? What could Israel have gained by deliberately bombing the UN observation post? UN headquarters, I could understand, but four observers in Lebanon?

OK, so there is no reasonable explanation why Israel would choose to hand Hezbollah an immense propaganda victory. Why did Israel target anywhere near the UN post? It turns out that it was well known that Hezbollah had been persistently using the post as a shield for launching rocket attacks on Israel. (From the Ottawa Citizen. H/T Nealenews.) We heard no complaints from Kofi Annan about this periodic hostage taking of UN personnel
for the purposes of hiding behind.
Hezbollah was using UN post as 'shield'

The words of a Canadian United Nations observer written just days before he was killed in an Israeli bombing of a UN post in Lebanon are evidence Hezbollah was using the post as a "shield" to fire rockets into Israel, says a former UN commander in Bosnia.

Those words, written in an e-mail dated just nine days ago, offer a possible explanation as to why the post -- which according to UN officials was clearly marked and known to Israeli forces -- was hit by Israel on Tuesday night, said retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie yesterday.

… The UN's limited mandate, meaning that its observers are unarmed and have few options, put the observers in a poor position, he said.
Given that artillery shelling and bombing had been a daily occurrence, I had wondered why they stayed there. It turns out that to leave they needed an order from Kofi Annan. Annan could have, and obviously should have, ordered them to leave. He did not. Kofi Annan Could Have Ordered Peacekeepers to Leave

He hasn’t ordered any other observers to leave either. The UN confirms that other posts are still manned - and still under close fire. Is the point to provide these men as UN shields for Hezbollah? (H/T Little Green Footballs)

Does Kofi Annan understand that this means the UN shares moral responsibility for these deaths with Hezbollah, and that his criticism of Israel is devious and disgusting in the extreme? Will the world’s top diplomat apologize? Will anyone in the MSM challenge him on it, or even note it in passing? Will anyone remember that the UN had a previous “lapse of judgment” in a Hezbollah kidnapping of Israeli soldiers?

The UN has proved that it is not useless. It is very useful to Hezbollah. For us, that makes it worse than useless. No news there, but the sanctimonious gall accompanying the galling sanctimony is unbelievable.

The only reason the United States should stay in the UN is to give John Bolton a chance to continue ripping them new ones. I imagine him giving this speech:

"In view of the fact that this organization has proved its utter worthlessness, time and again, for the last 50 years; is obviously unacquainted with the definition of common English words, like "terrorist"; and cannot distinguish between good and evil, the United States is making me Ambassador for Life.

Since most of you "phone it in" anyway, we're going to save some money by making you into telecommuters. Those of you in countries with insufficient infrastructure to support decent bandwidth will need to engage the services of Ex-Vice President Al Gore. He invented the Internet and wired all American schools. His recent movie grossed $17 million, so he could use the work.

You have 60 days to vacate this building, at which time it will be turned into a theme park celebrating the laughable legacy of this collection of thugs and fools. We've contracted with the Disney organization to run it.

We are offering outgoing Secretary General Kofi Annan a job playing the part of U.N. Secretary General. No one else is so fully qualified and no one else would take the position.

He will appear three times a day in the Parade of Nations and is learning to sing "It's a Small World After All" without an accent. During the parade he will send "peacekeepers" into the crowd to barter food for sex and offer bribes in exchange for the rights to Iraqi oil. We are still negotiating on the wearing of the Pinocchio nose and Mickey Mouse ears.

I'm nominating
Dag Hammarskjold as his replacement. In addition to previous experience in the job, Dag has the two most important qualifications for a Secretary General. First, his name is weird and hard to spell. Second, he's dead and will thereby improve the reputation of the office. His telecommuting costs will also be minimal."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

More on the "Thermate" theory

In today's Lansing State Journal Letters section, we had a follow-up to Hilary Jacob's letter of July 14th, which The Other Club referenced on July 24th, along with my letter in reply.

Ms Jacobs, you may recall, was calling for an open discussion about the theory that the WTC was sabotaged with explosives planted by the United States government. Erick Williams continues the thread:
Check evidence

Hilary Jacobs' July 14 letter points to evidence the World Trade Center may have been demolished with explosives. Jacobs is referring to what we commonly call a "conspiracy theory."

Serious discussion of 9/11 "conspiracy theories" is rare in newspapers like the LSJ. Congratulations to the paper for publishing Jacobs' letter.

There is a substantial literature in books, videos and the Internet on this subject. Those new to the area can find a good survey at the Wikipedia entry "9/11 Conspiracy Theories."

The label "conspiracy theory" is misleading. There is rather strong evidence that the World Trade Center was demolished with explosives. If that evidence is true, the implications are ominous.

Those who study this evidence need to think critically and be ready to suspend the belief that our government cannot behave wickedly.

Erick Williams
East Lansing
Jeez, Erick, “wickedly”? That’s a faint-hearted word to use when charging your government with mass-murder, don’t you think? Are you out from on parole, or something? Stalin was “wicked”; George Bush is flat out “naughty.”

Mr. Williams is as faint-minded in pursuit of the logical questions his theory raises as he is faint-hearted in his epithets in the face of what he must actually believe is pure evil.

If you want to look for it, there is lots of debunking evidence on the many 9/11 conspiracy theories. It’s a growth industry on both sides. That exercise is left to the student.

Here we will simply deal with common sense questions one would expect such a theory to explain within the established, and required, context of blaming George Bush for it leavened with just a pinch of Occam's Razor.

A theory that asserts George Bush was responsible for the destruction of the WTC using thermate “bombs” would seem to need to explain the following:

What about the first attempt by Islamic terrorists to blow up the WTC
in 1992? Was this a failed conspiracy on the part of Bill Clinton, or merely an inspiration to George Bush?

What about the plane that hit the Pentagon? Was that just cover for the destruction of WTC, or did they plant thermate at the Pentagon, too? (Note: this can be answered by another 9/11 conspiracy theory – No plane hit the Pentagon.) Overall, though, why bother?

What about Flight 93? Why was that necessary? Were the civilians who stopped it actually federal agents sent to stop the federal conspiracy, or was Bush just lucky the one intended for the White House got stopped?

Wait, Bush wasn’t in the White House.
Why would he open himself up to criticism by continuing to read a story to children when he knew the attack was coming in advance? Why would he have been at a Florida primary school at all? Surely a better story line could have been arranged. Here's one: He should have been in New York - close enough to the "controlled demolition" to gain points with voters - but far enough away to be safe. Knowing the timing of the thermate explosions, he could even have forced his way past his Secret Service guards, helped with the rescue and got out before the collapse. Now that's a Karl Rove plan.

Then again, if the bombs are in place, why fly planes into the WTC at all? Persuading 19 or 20 people to fly planes into the WTC and Pentagon and White House seems more difficult, and harder to keep secret conspiracy-wise, than simply planting evidence to prove Al-Qaeda placed the thermate bombs. In fact, if the objective was war with Iraq, why not plant evidence that Saddam Hussein was responsible?

Why provide so many people an
an early warning, and a chance to escape the WTC, by smashing the planes into the towers hours before demolition? Why not have 20,000, or more, people in those buildings when the thermate goes off? If you can commit 3,000 murders to start a war with a country secondary to your supposed objective, why stop there? Aren’t 20,000 dead even better?

Why would Bush fly around the country on Air Force One for hours, again opening himself up to criticism, if he had ordered the WTC destroyed? Surely, this could have been better scripted.

Why warn all the Israelis who worked at the WTC in advance? More people to keep the secret - Bad. Oops, now I'm starting to counter one conspiracy theory with another conspiracy theory. Time to stop.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Moral context

This story is being played on NPR and CBS as well as CNN, and probably on other media outlets by now. Certainly, Al-Jazeera is using the CNN footage. The following assumes you've read it. I'll wait until you come back.

It tears your heart and it rips your gut. Only those with similar experience can understand the anguish a parent would feel in the face of this child's pain, but the parents I know could at least imagine it.

They could imagine that they could not bear it. It brings tears and anger and sorrow to any sane person.
No parent should ever be subjected to the excruciatingly painful death of their child.

It is symbolic of the horror of war. I only wish it were presented that way.

The moral responsibility for this child's injuries lies with Hizbollah and nowhere else. In this, it does not matter what their complaints are. After deliberately provoking Israel, they are trapping civilians in a war zone for the purposes of propaganda. They deliberately hide among babies to maximize the chances for damage to those babies. The babies are either infidels, and unworthy of consideration, or they are believers, and therefore glorious martyrs.

IEDs against soldiers are one thing, trapping civilians in a war zone so their deaths provide plus-propaganda is quite another.

The only parents who could approve such tactics would be those who strap toy bomb-belts to their toddlers and hand them real AK-47's in preparation for martyrdom 15 years later. And then take a family photo for the baby-book.

Disproportionate is last week's media word, it is this week's media practice. "Disproportionate" was the setup for this week's images of fatally injured children screaming in pain in their hospital death beds. In Tyre, not Haifa. Despite Perry's disclaimer - he wasn't there and neither was any other CNN reporter.

This happens in every war. It is no more acceptable now than it was in 1066, 1914 or 1940. I do not know if Americans would have mustered the intestinal fortitude to continue WWII if images like this had been as readily available.

Seen Saving Private Ryan? Remember that scene where the German machine gun opens up at point blank range as soon as the ramp on the LTD drops? Civilians were hardly exempt.

I don't know if we could have persevered. I do not know. I do know that the people who not only countenance, but arrange civilian mutilation - as images for the 6 O'Clock news - will not be defeated if we cannot match their hardness when they are morally culpable and we are not. They cannot make us morally responsible for the deaths of babies they hide behind while they are shooting our babies.

No one wants innocents killed, with the notable exception of Islamic terrorists who think your status as an infidel automatically makes you guilty.

James Taranto:
Complaining Without Context

CNN's Cal Perry delivers an emotional report from Tyre, Lebanon;

*** QUOTE ***

Standing in front of this 8-year-old boy lying in a hospital bed, the "conflict in the Middle East" and the "cost of war" seem endless and suffocating. His pain cannot possibly be imagined as he shakes uncontrollably in and out of shock. He has blood coming from his eyes. . . .

His name is Mahmood Monsoor and he is horribly burned. In the hospital bed next to him is his 8-month-old sister, Maria--also burned.

*** END QUOTE ***

Their family, Perry reports, was "fleeing the fighting--trying to get north, waving white flags, when an Israeli bomb or missile slammed into their car." Two other siblings are in surgery, their father was killed, and their mother is hysterical:

*** QUOTE ***

The city of Tyre has been enduring stories like this for more than a week. Buildings are crumpled; those who have not left are hiding in basements. Those who dare to pack into cars run the risk of ending up like the Monsoor family. Some who move north die on the road. Some stay in basements, and die there. Others hope against hope that the bombs will fall elsewhere--missing them.

Politics creeps into the ward like the blood that runs on the floors. "Clearly he is Hezbollah," says one of the doctors outside the room--sarcastically referring to 8-year-old Mahmood, whose screams can be heard from the hallway. His screams now blend with the wails of his mother, matching the baby's cries.

*** END QUOTE ***

Perry concludes by suggesting an equivalence between Israel and Hezbollah:

*** QUOTE ***

Today, as I finish I am sitting in the same spot and the shells are still falling. Hezbollah rockets are firing toward northern Israel. I can imagine another reporter, in another flak jacket, standing over an 8-year old Israeli boy.

*** END QUOTE ***

For the context that Perry misses, we turn to Ha'aretz's Ze'ev Schiff :

*** QUOTE ***

We can say without a doubt that the war of attrition against the city of Haifa and its residents is a tale of two cities: Tyre in Lebanon versus Haifa in Israel. The Hezbollah unit deployed in Tyre and its environs has been bombarding Haifa with Syrian rockets and upgraded Iranian-made Katyushas. If this unit is not destroyed, it will continue to target Haifa.

*** END QUOTE ***

The difference, of course, is that Hezbollah is deliberately targeting civilians in Haifa, whereas Israel is accidentally harming civilians in the course of protecting its own people from a violent threat. In fact, Hezbollah is deliberately endangering civilians in Tyre, too, by using them as human shields:

*** QUOTE ***

In one known case, a bomb struck a basement and killed those inside. Later, it turned out that of the 32 casualties, mostly dead, 11 were armed Hezbollah militants. The basement served Hezbollah and civilians that sought cover. In the current fighting there is no alternative but to convince the citizens of the city to leave, and make it easy to do so. But it is unclear whether Hezbollah will allow the evacuation of civilians from Tyre.

*** END QUOTE ***

Israel, unlike Hezbollah, is constrained by human decency. By using civilians as shields, Hezbollah hopes to limit the Jewish state's military options. Hezbollah wins either way, since if Israeli strikes do hurt or kill civilians, the international media, including CNN, depict this as the result of Israel's, rather than Hezbollah's, brutality.

A report like Cal Perry's, in other words, provides Hezbollah with an incentive to endanger Lebanese civilians further. CNN, then, must bear some degree of moral culpability for the suffering of Lebanon's population.

An exchange of views

Appearing recently in the Lansing State Journal.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Review 9/11 case

It's important for people to know that a substance called Thermate, used in controlled demolitions, has recently been found on samples of steel taken from the former Twin Towers in New York. This evidence suggests a different scenario as to how and why the buildings came down and raises serious questions as to who is responsible for 9/11.

I hope this will prompt an open discussion without the usual acrimonious labeling for those who question the official version.

Hilary Jacobs
East Lansing
I, sort of, aim to please.
Monday, July 24th
Explain conspiracy

Dear “United States is evil” theorists everywhere,

It is important for those of you who blame the US government for the murder of nearly 3,000 people on 9/11/2001 to help us integrate the following hypotheses into a Grand Unified Theory of American Depravity:

FDR knew the Japanese were going to bomb Pearl Harbor.

AIDS was invented to wipe out the black race.

Alien (from space) corpses are preserved in Roswell, Nevada.

We never actually landed a man on the moon.

The levees in New Orleans were blown up by the Bush administration in order to kill black people.

Let’s begin an open discussion: How can anyone who actually believes the US government was complicit in destroying the WTC still be living in this country except as an armed revolutionary? Would electing a new president - pick any sentient being - even mildly inconvenience an evil of such magnitude?

Duane Hershberger
The discussion is opened.

Couldn't happen to a more clueless guy

Juan Williams splutters through the incoherence of the Democrat/Hizbollah/EU talking points on the need for a unilateral cease-fire in Lebanon. He even manages to get the "Bush was distracted" meme in there.

He clearly didn't give 10 seconds thought to the obvious questions his position might elicit.

He is a gift that keeps on giving. Only Helen Thomas is better.

Be sure to watch the video and not just read the transcript.

Whatever works

Well, Scrappleface didn't pick up on The Other Club's idea of sending Jimmuh Carter to North Korea, but they certainly scooped us on sending "career Vietnam veteran" Sen. John Kerry to pull Hizbullah's nuts out of the crossfire in Lebanon: Bush Sends Kerry to Solve Israel-Hezbollah War

James Taranto in OpinionJournal is even more expansive in his expectations of Kerry:
John Kerry and the Problem of Evil

The Detroit News goes out for a drink with a visitor from the east:

*** QUOTE ***

U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who was in town Sunday to help Gov. Jennifer Granholm campaign for her re-election bid, took time to take a jab at the Bush administration for its lack of leadership in the Israeli-Lebanon conflict.

"If I was president, this wouldn't have happened," said Kerry during a noon stop at Honest John's bar and grill in Detroit's Cass Corridor.

*** END QUOTE ***

Now, our first thought when we read this was: Yeah, if Kerry were president, he wouldn't spend his days moping around some bar in Detroit. But then we realized that's not what he meant. He meant that if he were president, Hezbollah wouldn't be waging war on Israel. Just like, as John Edwards said in 2004, "we will stop juvenile diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other debilitating diseases. . . . People like Chris Reeve will get out of their wheelchairs and walk again."

If Kedwards have the power to eliminate war and disease, why don't they use it? This is the age-old problem of evil :

*** QUOTE ***

Why does [John Kerry] allow evil? If He is all powerful, then He should be able to prevent it. If He is omnipotent and does nothing about evil, then we suspect that there are limits to His goodness, that there is something wrong with Him, that He is not all good. Perhaps He has an evil streak, or is truly malicious and we are merely His toys--expendable and counting for nothing.

*** END QUOTE ***
Oh well. I voted for Bush, but I am not to blame. Kerry took Michigan.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

National ______ Day

Today is Monica Lewinsky's 33rd birthday. We should consider making it a national holiday. In honor of what, I'll let you decide.

H/T ES, who sent the following:
Monica Lewinsky is going to be 33 next Sunday (July 23). Can you believe it? It seems only yesterday that she was crawling around the White House on her hands and knees.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

We'll be paying for the upcoming legal battle twice

Soldiers’ Words May Test PBS Language Rules

Is it not weird for a federally funded media outlet to object to rules promulgated by a federal commission charged with regulating the media?

There is a very simple solution to this problem. Stop public funding of PBS and eliminate the FCC.

If PBS wants a solution it can implement unilaterally, it should stop taking taxpayer dollars.

Friday, July 21, 2006

To summarize:

Via Dissecting Leftism.
Drawing source here.

A ha'penny will do

Elimination of the penny, and subsequent rounding of purchases to the nearest nickle, is being discussed because it costs 1.4 cents to produce a penny. Total waste: about $30 million annually.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., opposes elimination of the penny on the grounds that it would be a burden on the poor.
“A study by a former Federal Reserve economist shows that rounding hurts lower income most and this effect would be especially strong if only cash transactions are rounded,” she said.
an we expect lobbying in favor of minting a ha'penny as a means to improve the economic lot of the poorest among us?
Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat,
Won't you please put a penny in the old man's hat?
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do;
If you haven't got a ha'penny, God bless you!
(Whatever happened to cheerful poor people?)

I suspect that people who find this class argument about pennies persuasive will not be attentive to a discussion of the theory of averaging. Moreover, they will not pose the practical question; "If you're really poor, when you need money do you go around looking for lost pennies or discarded aluminum cans?"

Having read Rep. Maloney's comments I grabbed an aluminum encased beer, gave a little sigh and a head shake - and moved on. BizzyBlog, however, is much less complacent.

American terrorist sympathizers

And, in this case, I don't mean Cindy Sheehan.

In case you didn't follow the links in yesterday's post, the Counterterrism blog link which Canada's John Galt posted should be checked out.

And so should this one at the Washington Times; that discusses the Arab street in Dearborn:
Hezbollah and Main Street

...As the New York Times reported from Dearborn, "For miles along West Warren -- in hair salons, restaurants and meat markets -- shopkeepers and their relatively few customers stared at televisions tuned in to Al Jazeera." Incidentally, there were "relatively few" customers out and about only because, as one baker knew, "most of his regular customers were home watching [Al Jazeera], just as they had all day, every day," since Israel's offensive began.

Why does this matter? Al Jazeera, of course, is the relentlessly anti-American, anti-Israeli, jihad-boosting "news" network. To find TVs in the heartland tuned in to this station today is roughly akin to coming across an American town, circa 1942, tuned in to Axis propagandists Tokyo Rose and Lord Haw Haw.

...American sympathy for Hezbollah profanes the American dead. In our wide-open society, however, such allegiance isn't considered beyond the pale. But it should be. And it could be. I have long argued that the "war on terror" is an amorphous term -- sacrificing clarity for fuzzy political correctness. What if we, as a nation, belatedly declared war on specific jihadist groups -- al Qaeda and Hezbollah and other organizations dedicated to our destruction? This would have the tonic effect of clarifying not only our enemies' identity, but our own.
If you are interested in what constitutes an American fifth column in the war against Islamofascism, and you damn well should be, you should read all of both those links. You will probably be surprised and pissed off.

Update: 6:14PM. From OpinionJournal:
Yesterday the House voted 410-8 in favor of a resolution "condemning the recent attacks against the State of Israel, holding terrorists and their state-sponsors accountable for such attacks, [and] supporting Israel's right to defend itself." Here's a list of the 12 congressmen who declined to support Israel: Voting "no" Voting "present" Neil Abercrombie (D., Hawaii) Marcy Kaptur (D., Ohio) John Conyers (D., Mich.) Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio) John Dingell (D., Mich.) Barbara Lee (D., Calif.) Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D., Mich.) Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) Jim McDermott (D., Wash.) Ron Paul (R., Texas) Nick Rahall (D., W.Va.) Fortney Hillman Stark Jr. (D., Calif.)
Even a tin-foil hat brigade of Representatives like Dennis Kuchinich, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters have more sense than 3 of our Honorable Representatives from Michigan. (Note, even though the truly weird Cynthia McKinney hasn't been seen in the House for a week, we can highly suspect she would have voted "no". She has charged Bush was involved in a Jewish conspiracy causing 9/11.).

Do you think perhaps that constituent demography affected our State Representatives? It could even be harder to say "no" to someone threatening to decapitate you than to turn down a bribe.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Terrorist funding source shut down?

Never heard of La-Shish, but I don't get out much. In any case the activities of Hezbollah supporters in the Detroit area emerge from this post at Canada's John Galt.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Some squeals are more equal than others...

...apologies to George Orwell.

Whether a student in a government school, therefore victim of the NEA hostage conspiracy, has the right to offend others suffering similar coercion is not the same question as whether he has a right to do so in the public square. He has fewer rights in the school because other conscripts students represent a government mandated captive audience. Our courts, however, continue to demonstrate insensitivity in defining those limits.

Any justification for abrogating the First Amendment deserves minute scrutiny. On that basis, a recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals fails to satisfy. The Poway Unified School District, in San Diego, had decided to promote respect for diversity by staging a "Day of Silence." The accoutrements of the "day" included students wearing duct tape over their mouths to symbolize the speech oppression that results from lack of respect for diversity. Displays pointing out the harm caused by insensitivity to sexual orientation were encouraged.

Tyler Harper was having none of it.
His response to a pro-gay-rights event put on at the school by the Gay-Straight Alliance was to wear a T-shirt t which said on the front, "Be Ashamed, Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned," on the back, it said "Homosexuality is Shameful." It was clearly a diverse opinion. Was it protected speech?

Harper's principal didn't think so, and ordered him to take the T-shirt off. Harper refused, and for his temerity spent a day isolated from other students. Later, he sued, claiming his First Amendment rights had been violated. The case eventually came before the Ninth Circuit of Appeals, famous for its ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance is un-constitutional.

Lawrence Siskind, at Tech Central Station, writes of the decision:
The Ninth Circuit might have upheld the school officials' actions in a number of value-neutral ways. Free speech in public schools is not as broadly protected as free speech outside. The court might have cited the school's right to restrict any speech, regardless of viewpoint, if likely to cause substantial disruption. The court might have cited the high procedural burden of obtaining preliminary injunctive relief in the absence of threatened injury. With the Day of Silence over, and no future Day imminent, the court might have ruled that Harper had simply failed to meet his burden.

But that is not how the Ninth Circuit treated Harper's appeal. Instead, in a 2-1 decision, Judge Reinhardt used the case to articulate a new concept of free speech regulation. Focusing on the specific anti-gay content of Harper's T-shirt, he ruled that schools may restrict "derogatory and injurious remarks directed at students' minority status such as race, religion, and sexual orientation." In a footnote, he wrote that the court would "leave ... to another time" the question of limiting derogatory remarks aimed at gender. But Judge Reinhardt proceeded to establish a new constitutional calculus, under which the protectability of speech would depend on the minority status of the listener.

Judge Reinhardt wrote that a different standard should apply to derogatory remarks aimed at "majority groups such as Christians or whites" because "there is, of course, a difference between a historically oppressed minority group that has been the victim of serious prejudice and discrimination and a group that has always enjoyed a preferred social, economic and political status."

Perhaps there is, but it is not a difference recognized in the Bill of Rights.
The Bill of Rights also does not recognize suppression of political speech, such as has been handed to us by McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance "Reform", passed into law because George Bush does not know the meaning of the word "veto" and upheld by a Supreme Court more concerned with "the appearance of corruption" than with the plain meaning of the First Amendment. I don't think they'll quite be able to choke this one down, though.

Check the Link to
Siskind's article above and see also, Sorry, Your Viewpoint Is Excluded from First Amendment Protection at The Volokh Conspiracy.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

John McCain will be spinning in his grave

At Senator McCain's urging, SCOTUS has set the standard for campaign finance legality as avoiding "the appearance of corruption."

If that is the law of the land, we seem to have a problem here. You should be aware that the link is to the Washington Post, not exactly a bastion of conservatism, and since registration may be required, here are excerpts:
An alliance of nearly a hundred of the nation's wealthiest donors is roiling Democratic political circles, directing more than $50 million in the past nine months to liberal think tanks and advocacy groups in what organizers say is the first installment of a long-term campaign to compete more aggressively against conservatives.

A year after its founding, Democracy Alliance has followed up on its pledge to become a major power in the liberal movement. It has lavished millions on groups that have been willing to submit to its extensive screening process and its demands for secrecy.
Demands for secrecy? This appears to me to offer shelter to penumbras, formed by emanations - of corruption.
...But the alliance's early months have been marked by occasional turmoil, according to several people who are now or have recently been affiliated with the group. Made up of billionaires and millionaires who are accustomed to calling the shots, the group at times has gotten bogged down in disputes about its funding priorities and mission, participants said.

...The group requires nondisclosure agreements because many donors prefer anonymity, Wade added. Some donors expressed concern about being attacked on the Web or elsewhere for their political stance; others did not want to be targeted by fundraisers.

"Like a lot of elite groups, we fly beneath the radar," said Guy Saperstein, an Oakland lawyer and alliance donor. But "we are not so stupid though," he said, to think "we can deny our existence."
No, they only have nondisclosure agreements as an exercise.
...To become a "partner," as the members are referred to internally, requires a $25,000 entry fee and annual dues of $30,000 to cover alliance operations as well as some of its contributions to start-up liberal groups. Beyond this, partners also agree to spend at least $200,000 annually on organizations that have been endorsed by the alliance. Essentially, the alliance serves as an accreditation agency for political advocacy groups.

This accreditation process is the root of Democracy Alliance's influence. If a group does not receive the alliance's blessing, dozens of the nation's wealthiest political contributors as a practical matter become off-limits for fundraising purposes.

...Those who make the cut have prospered. The Center for American Progress (CAP), which is led by former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta, received $5 million in the first round because it was seen as a liberal version of the Heritage Foundation, which blossomed as a conservative idea shop in the Reagan years, said one person closely familiar with alliance operations. CAP officials declined to comment.

Likewise, a Democracy Alliance blessing effectively jump-started Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). It bills itself as a nonpartisan watchdog group committed to targeting "government officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests." Alliance officials see CREW as a possible counterweight to conservative-leaning Judicial Watch, which filed numerous lawsuits against Clinton administration officials in the 1990s. A CREW spokesman declined to comment.
"Partner"? Nonpartisan? Watchdog? Declined to comment and d
eclined to comment?
..But Democracy Alliance's decisions not to back some prominent groups have stirred resentment. Among the groups that did not receive backing in early rounds were such well-known centrist groups as the Democratic Leadership Council and the Truman National Security Project.

Funding for these groups was "rejected purely because of their ideologies," said one Democrat familiar with internal Democracy Alliance funding discussions.

Officials with numerous policy and political groups in Washington said they have reservations about the group's influence. Several declined to talk on the record for fear of alienating a funding source.

...The exclusive donor club includes millionaires such as Susie Tompkins Buell and her husband, Mark Buell, major backers of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), and Chris Gabrieli, an investment banker running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Massachusetts this September. Mark Buell estimated that about 70 percent of alliance partners built their own wealth, while 30 percent became wealthy through inheritances.
Best argument for a confiscatory death tax I've heard.
Bernard L. Schwartz, retired chief executive of Loral Space & Communications Inc. and an alliance donor, said the group offers partners "an array of opportunities that have passed their smell test." This is most helpful, he said, for big donors who lack the time to closely examine their political investment options.

Trial lawyer Fred Baron, a member of the alliance and longtime Democratic donor, agreed: "The piece that has always been lacking in our giving is long-term infrastructure investments."

There also are a few "institutional investors" such as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) that pay a $50,000 annual fee and agree to spend $1 million on alliance-backed efforts.
For myself, I have no problem with anyone speaking politically, which is what the money here is doing. That's fine.

I would say, however, that lacking "the time to closely examine their political investment options" is morally equivalent to nihilism. More importantly, as I have strongly advocated, complete disclosure of such spending is the obvious remedy to corruption. These donors don't want to know, and they don't want you to know where they are placing many millions of dollars.

What we have, right now, is a law that permits hiding your political funding, under contract, while preventing the NRA and MoveOn - to cover the spectrum - from using your accumulated small contributions for the same purpose.

Is this a McCained-up country, or what?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Another Canadian soldier speaks out...

The Iceberg of Ignorance


Mark Steyn offer some corroboration. A case of forsaken identity

Update, 8:02PM
More direct evidence from the Toronto Star:
The deaths of seven Canadians during Israel’s bombing of Lebanon — including a family with three preschoolers — have not changed Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s position on the crisis in the Middle East.

...Harper, meantime, said he has not contacted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seeking an explanation of the air strike that killed the Canadians on Sunday, nor had his officials.

“The onus remains on the parties that caused the conflict to take steps to end the conflict,” said Harper.

“But obviously we urge Israel and others to minimize civilian damage. It is difficult, though. We recognize it is difficult when you’re fighting a non-governmental organization that’s embedded in a civilian population.”

Critics say that is exactly why Harper’s statements on the conflict have been rash.

The Canadian Arab Federation issued a release holding Harper responsible for the dead Canadians because he had not urged restraint on Israel.

“I don’t think that warrants a response,” Harper shot back when questioned about the statement Monday. “It’s a bizarre accusation.”

Several Canadian Jewish organizations have supported the government’s position.

Harper initially called Israel’s military action, including bombing Beirut airport, a “measured response” as he travelled to Europe last week.

Asked twice Monday if he still thinks Israel’s military reaction is measured or whether he regrets that characterization, the prime minister replied:

“I think our evaluation of the situation has been accurate. Obviously there has been an ongoing escalation and, frankly, ongoing escalation is inevitable once conflict begins.”
Duh. It's a position, not a convenience.

Another UN success story

Extending Paladin's reference to Bill Cosby's referee, it is interesting to observe that the United Nations has had "peacekeepers" in Lebanon, the United Nations "Interim" Force in Lebanon, since the Israelis withdrew in 1978.
UNIFIL is currently primarily deployed along the U.N. drawn Blue Line dividing Israel (and the Israeli Golan Heights) and southern Lebanon. Its activities have centred around monitoring military activity between Hezbollah and the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) with the aim of reducing tensions and allaying continuing low-level armed conflict, at which they have of course been remarkably successful. UNIFIL has also played an important role in clearing landmines, assisting displaced persons, and providing humanitarian assistance in this underdeveloped region.

UNIFIL forces have fallen out of favour in Israel and claims that little regard has been given to their safety by the IDF [1] following accusations that it was complicit in a fatal abduction of IDF soldiers in October 2000. Suspicions persist although the UN has published a report denying complicity[2], though they have yet to explain why they lied to Israel about the existence of video recording the kidnapping. Israel is lobbying for UNIFIL to either take a more active role vis-a-vis Hezbollah (for example, preventing Hezbollah from setting up military posts adjacent to UNIFIL's in the hope this will deter Israel from attacking them), or to step out of the region (thereby voiding the Lebanese government's excuse for not deploying its army along the border) [3].

UNIFIL currently employs some 2000 soldiers, 50 UNTSO observers and 400 civilians [4]. The force includes troops from Ghana, Poland, India, France, Ukraine, Italy and Ireland. Its annual budget is about US$100 million. UNIFIL is led by French Major General Alain Pellegrini, formerly French military attache in Beirut and head of the mideast division of the French military intelligence.
Emphasis mine. Some of this must be tongue in cheek - "
at which they have of course been remarkably successful"?

UN resolution 425 (1978) required the following:
1. Confirming the withdrawal of Israeli forces;
2. Restoring international peace and security;
3. Assisting the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective
authority in the area.
The UN's utter failure to assure points 2 and 3 forced the Israelis to invade Lebanon again in 1982. Israel again withdrew in 2000.

Let's see, 1978 to 2006 at $100 million a year. That's 1.3 billion$, 30% of which comes from American taxpayers. This seems like a bad bargain, even without the deaths of 234 US Marines (there to assist the UN mission) in a 1983 suicide bombing.

Which terrorists carried out this bombing? Hezbollah.

No sane country can play by UN rules. I hope the United States is bending every covert effort to help the Israelis destroy this scum. At very least,
Hezbollah is unlikely to see any active support from Iran or Syria while our troops are stationed near their borders - and while the President is heard to say that Syria needs to tell Hezbollah "to stop this shit."

7:23PM, End This Proxy War Once and For All

Captain Custer & Captain Sitting Bull

A 1963 recording by comedian Bill Cosby, titled “Bill Cosby Is A Very Funny Fellow Right!”, includes a cut called the “Toss of the Coin”. In one of the vignettes from it the referee tosses a coin and says something like this:

“Cap’n Custer call the toss”

“You call heads. It’s tails.

“Cap’n Sittin’ Bull, what do you want to do?”

“OK, Cap’n Custer. Cap’n Sittin’ Bull says you and your men wait at the bottom of this hill while him and all the indians in the world ride right down on you.”

This is how the MSM and a vast majority of nations in the UN, as well as many people in the U.S. and other western countries, see the war against the Islamo-facists. The Islamists are subject to no rules. They get to kidnap, murder, behead, terrorize civilian populations, bomb subways, and launch rockets. Their opponents (mainly the US, Britain, and Israel with help from some of the other western democracies ) are allowed to do nothing but talk. The Allies get to talk while Iran proliferates nuclear weapons; Israel gets to talk while its northern cities are under rocket attack; the U.S. gets to talk while its cities are attacked and its Marines in Baghdad have their patrols ambushed by IEDs. Londoners get to talk while their subways are bombed. Indians get to talk while women and children in Bombay are murdered.

But if they do any more than talk, as Bush, Blair, and now Olmert have tried to do, then you suffer the wrath of Kofi Annan, Jacques Chirac, and John Murtha. These striped-shirts are empowered by the likes of CNN, NBC, Hollywood, BBC, Reuters, CBC, The LA Times, NPR, The Globe and Mail, and The Pink Lady to toss the coin and read us the rules. Of course, if you call heads, it’s tails and vice versa.

And even the talk must be strictly limited. No offensive cartoons, please.

But from the looks of it, Olmert, unlike Bush has the support of his domestic political opposition.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Diplomatic word of the day: "Disproportionate"

Has Israel overreacted to provocations from Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran? Uhh, let me think for a millisecond - Nope, they've shown remarkable restraint. They have not nuked Damascus.

Here's a fantasy parallel: Dissident Canadian soldiers stationed in Quebec kidnap a US soldier. He's probably tortured and killed in short order, but the Canadian government insist they have no control over the troops committing the kidnapping. Under Canadian law, Quebec may have a right to wage war independently of the nation. Besides, it’s the United States fault for not transferring softwood lumber refunds fast enough. Perhaps if the US releases all Al-Qaeda from Guantanamo and signs the Kyoto Treaty, the errant Canadian troops can be persuaded to discuss the soldier’s fate?

The United States invades Quebec in order to a) save the soldier, b) retain the right to call itself sovereign. Members of the Quebec National Assembly who have actively supported this attack on the United States are arrested. There is little loss of life.

A day later, Canadian troops from New Brunswick cross the Maine border, following an artillery barrage that leaves 8 dead, and kidnap 2 US soldiers. There are reports that the kidnapped soldiers are being moved to Cuba. The US shuts down Canada’s airspace to prevent this. Bombing New Brunswick roads is seen as unnecessary.

Canadian troops in Windsor and Sarnia, Ontario fire 500 missiles into Detroit and Port Huron. Yarmouth, Nova Scotia bombards Bar Harbor, Maine with 200 rockets. Canada announces that the next, and imminent, generation of missile will be able to reach Chicago and Boston. These missiles are supplied by Cuba.

A British cargo ship and a US Coast Guard Cutter are attacked, probably Cuban specialists are involved in firing the missiles involved. The cargo ship sinks.

Meanwhile, Canadian Parliamentarians debate whether all United States citizens should be thrown into the sea or simply beheaded. The Prime Minister blusters, in a speech from Cuba, that the annihilation of the United States is a moral imperative, and that any separation of church and state is anathema.

What would you do?

Is there a perfect storm brewing here for Iran? Or is it merely the beginning of World War III? Or both?

Updates: 6:12PM

The Hand That Feeds the Fire

Gingrich says it's World War III

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Gererals Fighting the Last War?

Hizballah and Hamas are products of a world that had Saddam Hussein in control of a powerful military force a couple of hours from Israel's eastern border. No longer. Could it be that they have underestimated or ignored the implications of this? At least one military source is saying just that. The London-based Arabic language newspaper Al-Hayat, quotes an unnamed Pentagon source:

"Hizbullah made the same mistake as Hamas when it did not predict the ramifications of its actions and ignored the regional and international changes since the fall of Saddam Hussein."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Canadian soldier in Afghanistan speaks

This is well worth reading, so do that before proceeding.

I moved to Canada in 1971. You need to understand that Canada in 1971 was, for all practical purposes, 1958 America. It was safe and peaceful and mostly dull. Since multiculturalism became the state religion, its been downhill.

Nonetheless, there are very many Canadians who can compare what it was like in "1958" to what it is like now. They have had a rapid shift.
This has implications.

I think it above a 60% probability, that without cynical hacks in power, basic Western values could reassert themselves generally. Better odds than I'd give NYC, LA, Chicago and Miami combined. Those cities have equivalent population to Canada - and more apparently conservative residents on average.

Maybe Canada just needed to be presented with a challenge while someone with the courage to accept it was in a position to act without cynicism. Maybe not. We'll see.

Harper needs 10 years. He'll have to win at least one more election. They need to finish their job in Afghanistan. Still, I'm an optimist. ;)


Can't we just let the market handle it?

Well of course not, even when the market is already moving to the desired result. Some elected official has to jump in front of the parade and show "leadership."

Congress to Vote on Data Center Power Bill
The House of Representatives is expected to vote July 12 on a bill asking that the Environmental Protection Agency conduct a study on power consumption in data centers, what chip makers and systems manufacturers are doing to increase energy efficiency and what incentives could be used to convince people to adopt energy-efficient data center technology.
AMD and Intel are currently haranguing this market with various notions of "computer processing power per watt." This bill is just a salvo in that marketing war. Private industry could easily come to some agreement about a metric for this, if it mattered, and as the article states, customers are already aware of the issue.
The bill looks at what is becoming a rising concern in the technology industry. Data center operators are seeing energy costs soar due to more power processors, increasing server density and rising power costs. The heat generated from the newer systems also is forcing businesses to spend more to cool the facilities.

..."This is broad-based support for something that really is a no-brainer," said [Steve Kester, manager of government relations for AMD] ..., who was in Washington for the House discussion on the bill. "We have to address this. It's a critical issue. And the good thing is that, at the end of the day, it's going to save everyone money, the industry, the government and even the consumer who uses their computer at home."
Mr. Kester, lobbyist, is right about it being a no-brainer. It is already being done without federal bullshit intervention. Probably this is why a couple of members of the House are grandstanding with it. No matter what, they'll have a successful outcome. Left to itself, the market will work this out anyway, based on the selfish interests of the buyers of electricity. Instead, we're paying Congresscritters 133 million dollars (including 50% for benefits, probably quite a low estimate) a year to direct the employees of a federal agency to spend money studying the "problem." Call it another $200K for the EPA study. Then there's 5 minutes of the President's time spent signing the bill and giving pens to the smiling Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. and Rep. Michael Rogers, R-Mich.

Five minutes is mainly a lost opportunity cost - the President could have been thinking about something important; something, maybe, actually within the Constitutional purview of the federal government. Let's call that cost $50K. If the President were smarter it might be $100K.

If our assembled representatives spend an average of one hour each on this bill, we are privileged to pay them $90K for their theatrics. Add that to the EPA and Presidential costs and you get $340K for setting up the opportunity to meddle. Staff costs are incalculable.

I will grant that there is a "saved opportunity cost" in having both Houses of Congress discuss this instead of promulgating some new regulation, so let's round the money they're pissing away to $300K.

Unfortunately, that will not be the end of it. The regulation and subsidies likely to result
from a study required to find "what incentives could be used to convince people" will cost, at least, millions. Much of it finding its way to AMD and Intel. Beware the Industrial-Environmental-Government Complex, the government participates in that cabal twice.

Do I have a better way? Of course. I offer this formula to the EPA, gratis and off the top of my head, as the standard. It will work as well as what they will come up with in 60 days of study. (Total data center
power consumption in milliwatts, divided by (transactions per second times transaction complexity factor times total bytes transferred)) times the reciprocal of Planck's Constant. I threw that last in just for the scientific gloss. Since this is a federal government standard it is mandatory to ignore actual local electricity costs.

I would be happy to offer my services (for half the estimated EPA study cost) to come up with the definitive formula for transaction complexity. Or, they could use some that already exist.

In lieu of this "Watt?" project, I'd suggest that the EPA be kept busy calculating the "Kyoto shortfall cost" per breath of each member of Congress, in terms of both generation of carbon dioxide and direct hot air emission. What "incentives could be used to convince people" to reduce this? Universal sufferage doesn't seem to have worked.

I'll close with another free idea that would save millions: locate major data centers in areas with cold winters. You design the data center buildings to be able recycle the heat from the computers to warm the building. For a good 5 months a year your space heating costs go down in direct proportion to the heat generated by running the data center. This was done, to my direct knowledge, as early as 1973.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

UN Success story

UN guns meeting ends in disarray

Canada, which helped push through a land-mine treaty at a 1999 Ottawa meeting, said in its statement that the international community "must do everything in its power to stop the carnage wrought by the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons, while respecting the legitimate interests of lawful firearms producers, exporters, retailers and users."
The problem is that Canada does not think possession of small arms by private citizens is a "legitmate interest", and neither do most of the thugocracies that compose the UN.

U.N. Conference on Arms Ends in Failure

Despite the failure, delegates planned to raise many of the same issues in the U.N. disarmament committee _ where consensus is not needed for agreement _ to begin preparing a treaty that would make law out of many of the global principles supported by non-governmental groups.
"[C]onsensus is not needed for agreement"? An explanation of that would be interesting.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Looking for high ranking former officials?

Protein Wisdom on NYTGate.
..Anyway, let’s count the boons to the “public good” here, shall we: 1) reporting on the classified information leaked them, the Times’ editors were told, would jeopardize three ongoing investigations; 2) the program and its searches were legal, a fact made clear to the editors, who were shown evidence to that effect; 3) administration officials and several congressmen made it clear to the editors that printing the leaked classified information would jeopardize not only the ongoing investigations, but would irreparably damage a program that had been demonstrably effective; 4) despite all this, the Times’ went with the story—an editorial decision that in fact jeopardized three investigations, “outed” a legal and classified program, and rendered impotent what had been an effective program for thwarting terrorist planning and rolling up cells. In addition, they created problems for our allies, who will likely be far more circumspect about helping the US with any future programs for fear of being exposed by leakers with ties to our intelligence community.

And then, to add insult to injury, they had the temerity to spill ink over their struggles with conscience—concluding, ultimately (and boy, here’s a shocker) that they owed it to the public to render useless the legal program that had actually been protecting said public.

Which, while that certainly takes balls like casaba melons, is nevertheless still self-serving and repugnant rubbish that anyone with a bit of sense would dismiss as such. Which is why Glenn Greenwald and others have done the exact opposite.
Whole thing.

How to deal with North Korea

This is so blindingly obvious that I can't believe no one else has pointed it out. (I'm holding off reading Scrappleface until I finish this post.)

We need to immediately appoint former President Jimmy Carter as minister plenipotentiary to North Korea. The arguments are compelling:
  • Anything Carter agrees to we can ignore, if for no other reason than that of "turnabout is fair play."
  • He has speeches, and a sweater, he can reuse to address the North Korean people about energy shortages.
  • Since he is still playing the same tune as he was when he was duped in 1994, Carter is at least as certifiably looney as Comrade Il.
  • It could keep Carter out of the United States for years.
Mr. President, if Karl Rove has not already suggested this it is time you look for a new advisor.

Update: 8:17 - Added Chavez reference. H/T Dust my Broom


Mexico will be found to have run a better electoral process, including the requirement for voter ID cards, than the Democrats in Miami-Dade, Palm-Beach and Broward Counties, Florida did in 2001.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Article of Faith

Not an article of reason.

Check Amy Ridenour for this beautiful example of facts a reporter didn't check because "everybody knows" already.


Objective criteria having become optional, self-esteem is bidding to become a fundamental right. In a contest between self-control and self-indulgence, it used to be that higher self-esteem would result when self-control won. Now, combined with a sense of entitlement, self-esteem can free an individual from accountability for his or her actions.

This huge shift in meaning has required creative thinking by some of our leading researchers in education, psychology and medicine. By raising obfuscation to new heights, they have obtained weapons of mass euphemasia.

Dust my Broom notes one such flare-up in the decades long self-esteem epidemic. The cause of this disease is known. It is a mutation of the “society-of-victims” mentality, and it escaped into the wild because of poor containment practices in the CDC’s Virulent Thought Labs. The vaccine, clear language and clear thought, is in short supply.
The o-word [whole thing]

Does anyone remember a time when fat people were just fat? In a move forward to flesh out the truth, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is debating on whether the word obese is too harsh for children.

At risk for overweight seems such a strange term to use for someone who is actually overweight.
Doctors are trying to figure out the best way to tell children that they are fat, without using the word obese, and certainly without using the word fat. The intent is to avoid damaging the child’s self-esteem. This is done by lying to the child. Awkwardly. You are at risk for overweight ought to be You are at risk for becoming overweight, but since the person is, in fact, already overweight you can't say that.

It reminds me of the movement to use purple instead of red for grading tests and homework. Red is harsh, purple isn’t. Purple helps kids maintain high, if unwarranted, self-esteem. That will be true until the purple=error meme replaces the red=error one. A sure sign that this has occurred will be when Barney the Dinosaur and Tinky Winky the teletubby have their colors changed.

But, back to today’s more weighty self-esteem issue. As a matter of medical necessity, is it proper to tell someone under the age of 18 who is 5’2” and weighs 250 pounds that they are obese? Or is it better to say “You are at a risk for overweight.”

If you say the latter, are you hoping they’ll ask at what degree of risk? So you can say, “Oh, a hundred-forty percent and rising.”

As a public service, TOC’s medical science research staff offer the following for inclusion in CDC's Handbook of Politically Correct Medical Terminology:

You are horizontally challenged.
This has the advantage of additional obfuscation. Anorexics would be included.

You remind me of Nero Wolfe.
You don’t have any purple on your homework assignments, and you need to use an extra-large chair.

You’re Kennedyesque.
Self explanatory.

Monday, July 03, 2006

A 4th of July message from President Calvin Coolidge

Some excerpts from Silent Cal's speech on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

I urge you to read the whole thing so that you may contemplate the intellectual rigor an American president could reasonably expect the American people to possess in 1926.

Meanwhile, here are a few excerpts:
...We are obliged to conclude that the Declaration of Independence represented the movement of a people. It was not, of course, a movement from the top. Revolutions do not come from that direction. It was not without the support of many of the most respectable people in the Colonies, who were entitled to all the consideration that is given to breeding, education, and possessions. It had the support of another element of great significance and importance to which I shall later refer. But the preponderance of all those who occupied a position which took on the aspect of aristocracy did not approve of the Revolution and held toward it an attitude either of neutrality or open hostility. It was in no sense a rising of the oppressed and downtrodden. It brought no scum to the surface, for the reason that colonial society had developed no scum. The great body of the people were accustomed to privations, but they were free from depravity. If they had poverty, it was not of the hopeless kind that afflicts great cities, but the inspiring kind that marks the spirit of the pioneer. The American Revolution represented the informed and mature convictions of a great mass of independent, liberty-loving, God-fearing people who knew their rights, and possessed the courage to dare to maintain them.

...Governments do not make ideals, but ideals make governments. This is both historically and logically true. Of course the government can help to sustain ideals and can create institutions through which they can be the better observed, but their source by their very nature is in the people. The people have to bear their own responsibilities. There is no method by which that burden can be shifted to the government. It is not the enactment, but the observance of laws, that creates the character of a nation.

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

In the development of its institutions America can fairly claim that it has remained true to the principles which were declared 150 years ago. In all the essentials we have achieved an equality which was never possessed by any other people. Even in the less important matter of material possessions we have secured a wider and wider distribution of wealth. The rights of the individual are held sacred and protected by constitutional guaranties, which even the Government itself is bound not to violate. If there is any one thing among us that is established beyond question, it is self-government--the right of the people to rule. If there is any failure in respect to any of these principles, it is because there is a failure on the part of individuals to observe them. We hold that the duly authorized expression of the will of the people has a divine sanction. But even in that we come back to the theory of John Wise that "Democracy is Christ’s government." The ultimate sanction of law rests on the righteous authority of the Almighty.

On an occasion like this a great temptation exists to present evidence of the practical success of our form of democratic republic at home and the ever-broadening acceptance it is securing abroad. Although these things are well known, their frequent consideration is an encouragement and an inspiration. But it is not results and effects so much as sources and causes that I believe it is even more necessary constantly to contemplate. Ours is a government of the people. It represents their will. Its officers may sometimes go astray, but that is not a reason for criticizing the principles of our institutions.
Today, many will regard Coolidge as naive. That he could claim 1926 America "has remained true to the principles which were declared 150 years ago", will strike modern readers as untenable, for example, on racial grounds.

Coolidge certainly knew many living veterans of the Civil War, that does not mean he could envision the 1964 civil rights act - but he would have appreciated that its passage had been obtained by the blood of 600,000 American dead.

Coolidge comments directly:
Readers may be interested in the excerpts from his letter "Equality of Rights," dated 9 August 1924, and published in Coolidge, Foundations of the Republic: Speeches and Addresses (1926):

"My dear Sir: Your letter is received, accompanied by a newspaper clipping which discusses the possibility that a colored man may be the Republican nominee for Congress from one of the New York say:

'It is of some concern whether a Negro is allowed to run for Congress anywhere, at any time, in any party, in this, a white man's country.'

"....I was amazed to receive such a letter. During the war 500,000 colored men and boys were called up under the draft, not one of whom sought to evade it." [As president, I am] "one who feels a responsibility for living up to the traditions and maintaining the principles of the Republican Party. Our Constitution guarantees equal rights to all our citizens, without discrimination on account of race or color. I have taken my oath to support that Constitution...."

Yours very truly, etc.

Calvin Coolidge
1926 America was not utopia. It was not hell. It was the best humankind had been able to acheive at that point.

That still appears to be the case.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

In the public interest

Who leaked?

One thing the NYT could do would be to publish the names of the officials who told the them the details of SWIFT.

That actually would be in the public interest.

Strong World?

Anybody know what happened to Strong World? Either I'm missing something or it's been hijacked.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Mark Steyn Reviews Ann Coulter's latest

The whole thing is here:
Ann Coulter: America's fiery, blond commentatrix

An excerpt:
Ann Coulter's new book Godless: The Church of Liberalism is a rollicking read very tightly reasoned and hard to argue with.

...But it wasn't until Ann Coulter pointed it out that you realize how heavily the Democratic party is invested in irreproachable biography. For example, John Kerry's pretzel-twist of a war straddle in the 2004 campaign relied mainly on former senator Max Cleland, a triple amputee from a Vietnam grenade accident whom the campaign dispatched to stake out Bush's Crawford ranch that summer. Maybe he's still down there. It's gotten kinda crowded on the perimeter since then, what with Cindy Sheehan et al. But the idea is that you can't attack what Max Cleland says about war because, after all, you've got most of your arms and legs and he hasn't. This would normally be regarded as the unworthy tactic of snake-oil-peddling shyster evangelists and, indeed, the Dems eventually scored their perfect Elmer Gantry moment. In 2004, in the gym of Newton High School in Iowa, Senator John Edwards skipped the dreary Kerry-as-foreign-policy-genius pitch and cut straight to the Second Coming. "We will stop juvenile diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other debilitating diseases . . . When John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to get up out of that wheelchair and walk again." Mr. Reeve had died the previous weekend, but he wouldn't have had Kerry and Edwards been in the White House. Read his lips: no new crutches. The healing balm of the Massachusetts Messiah will bring the crippled and stricken to their feet, which is more than Kerry's speeches ever do for the able-bodied. As the author remarks, "If one wanted to cure the lame, one could reasonably start with John Edwards."