Wednesday, November 30, 2005

 

Crescent of Embrace Has "Evolved"



This is good news:
The designer of the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County has changed the controversial crescent shape that was included as a major element.

The crescent of trees has now been expanded into a rough circle that surrounds the bowl-shaped piece of land where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11, 2001.
This is something that simply had to happen.

My post about the original design is here.

UPDATE: It would seem the memorial hasn't evolved enough yet:
The redesigned flight 93 memorial, announced today, still contains all of the features that made it a terrorist memorial. Architect Paul Murdoch's infamous red crescent is still there, still planted with red maple trees, still inscribed in the exact same circle as before, and with the same two crescent tips still intact. Thus the crescent bisector defined by these crescent tips is also the same as before. It still points almost exactly to Mecca, making the crescent a Mihrab (an Islamic prayer station, where the believer faces into a crescent, towards Mecca, to perform his ritual prostrations). The design still incorporates a separate upper terrorist-memorial wall, centered precisely on the red-maple crescent. There are still 44 translucent blocks on the flight path to the crash site, matching the total number of dead, instead of just the forty translucent blocks that are dedicated to the forty murdered Americans. Lastly, the Tower of Voices part of the memorial is still an Islamic prayer-time sundial.
Alec Rawls' explaination is quite detailed. Read it all.

Ace comments:
Some will say this is just looking for offense, trying to find symbols where they're not actually present. Nonsense. The entire memorial is abstract; it is designed precisely as a symbolic tribute.

If all of these little "secret features" of the memorial mean nothing, why is the designer so unwilling to change him? Why does he not just say, for example, "Ah, yes... I didn't intend it, but I do see where you might be a bit uncomfortable with the four additional translucent blocks. Let me just take them out. They didn't mean anything, anyhow."

When supposedly inadvertant and accidental bits of symbolism are defended for no good reason, I begin to doubt the inadvertance and accident of it all.
Perhaps Mr. Murdoch should be removed from the project. At the very least further 'unfortunate diversions' seem in order for the ever sensitive Mr. Murdoch and his design.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

 

$11,000/Hour

Politics and the economics of campus lecturing

Michelle Malkin links to this:
Lt. Col. Scott Rutter, who retired from the Army in November 2003 after leading a mechanized infantry battalion into Baghdad, will give a presentation sponsored by the student-run College Union Activities Council at noon Friday in the Hunt Union Square.

CUAC is also sponsoring an appearance by Sheehan at 8 p.m. tonight in the Hunt Union Ballroom.

Both events are part of 'Making a Difference Week,' said CUAC lecture chairwoman Erin Dromgoole, who helped book both speakers earlier this month.

Sheehan is getting paid $11,000 for the hour-long talk, while Rutter will receive his standard fee of $600 for his presentation, Dromgoole said.
Wow.

I have heard that Sheehan's normal speaking fee is $30,000, though apparently they are both getting paid what they asked.

Speaking fees and scheduling aren't the only disparities. Sheehan will appear in a room with a capacity of 800; Rutter will give his presentation in a room with a capacity of 75. And Dromgoole justifies the purchase of promotional advertising for Sheehan's lecture in The Star Journal as necessary because of her hefty fee.

Matto Adds:
I wonder if that 800 seat room will be as swamped as her "book" signing.

 

Forget the Lasso and Bear Trap, Close the Barn Door!

The Horse is making a run for it.

Last night the line was crossed by the Indianapolis Colts into territory that is a little too close for comfort. By beating the Pittsburgh Steelers the Colts reached an 11-0 season record and have a legitimate chance at reaching the most sacred record in all of professional sports. That record would be the 17-0 season of the 1972 Miami Dolphins. There are still some tough hurdles ahead for the Colts, probably the toughest being a game 14 home game against the Chargers who will be fighting for a playoff spot while the Colts will have most likely secured #1 seed in the AFC. But the 17-0 mark is being challenged like never before.

The 1998 Denver Broncos were the last team in my mind to get close. They lost game 14 to the Giants and then went on to lose to the Dolphins in game 15 before going on to win the Super Bowl. Prior to that I believe the 1985 Chicago Bears made the only other serious challenge to the unbeaten mark until they fittingly were blown out in week 13 by the Dolphins.

The Broncos were and the Colts are a likeable team but I'm rooting for at least one loss for the Colts this year and the sooner the better. The 17-0 mark set by the Dolphins is one that should stand forever. Dolphins QB Bob Griese once spoke of why he felt that team was so special by commenting on the lack of egos and the true team spirit. When he called a play in the huddle he didn't have a bunch of selfish players crying for the ball but rather would get an honest answer from someone when he asked if they could beat their man on a given play. Guys were not afraid to say that someone else had a better chance of making a particular play if the match up was right.

Perfection is special and the 1972 Dolphins stand alone. The Montreal Canadians never did it. The New York Yankees never did it. The Lakers, Bulls, and Celtics never did it. Let's hope the Colts don't do it either.

 

Criminalizing Free Speech

Dimitri Vassilaros writes about 2 Seattle DJs running afoul of the McCain/Feingold Act:
[T]he radio station had to put a dollar value on what the hosts had said. The estimate of that in-kind contribution of $100,000 of airtime was reported as a campaign donation under state law.
...
In other words -- in the name of campaign finance 'reform' -- free speech no longer is free. If that ruling withstands appeal, especially if it reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, it would have profound ramifications for media nationwide.
...
If this ruling is not struck down, anytime anyone in the media (including the Internet) decides to speak out on an issue, it could be considered an in-kind contribution.

And if federal or state election laws limit the amount of money that can be donated to candidates or causes, the mere mention of an opinion could be estimated (by the government) to be worth the maximum dollar amount allowed to be contributed and thereby prohibit any other reference regarding the subject.
...
[I]f McCain and others get their way, there could be new legislation further rationing free speech to limit the First Amendment rights of the 527 nonprofit groups.

When the government -- and that means politicians who will do whatever they can get away with to preserve and increase their political power -- wants to silence its critics, it will do so.

But unlike in a dictatorship, it will be done very subtly, bit by bit, all in the name of reform, good government, cleaning up politics or whatever else a gullible citizenry will swallow.

Allow politicians to put a price on free speech and then keep your mouth shut when you discover it's more than you can afford.
Via Ace.

 

Democrats Supported Iraq War for Votes

They didn't want to take a stand until after facing voters

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle admitted that Democrats voted for the Iraqi war resolution either to garner votes or out of sheer political cowardice:
Tom Daschle, the former Democratic senator from South Dakota, remembers the exchange vividly.

The time was September 2002. The place was the White House, at a meeting in which President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney pressed congressional leaders for a quick vote on a resolution authorizing military action against Iraq.

But Daschle, who as Senate majority leader controlled the chamber's schedule, recalled recently that he asked Bush to delay the vote until after the impending midterm election.

'I asked directly if we could delay this so we could depoliticize it. I said: 'Mr. President, I know this is urgent, but why the rush? Why do we have to do this now?' He looked at Cheney and he looked at me, and there was a half-smile on his face. And he said: 'We just have to do this now.' '
The arrogance of Daschle's attitude is breathtaking. Don Surber cites another Daschle quote from the article and comments:
“There was a sense I had from the very beginning that this was in part politically motivated, and they were going to maximize the timing to affect those who were having some doubt about this right before the election,” Daschle said.

In other words, Daschle and other Democrats only supported this war to get through an election. What monsters.

It was a gut check. Bush did not want to be hobbled by a 52-47 vote in the Senate as his father had been going into the Gulf War. Part of the reason America failed to go to Baghdad in 1991 was lackluster congressional support.

As the Senate Majority Leader, Daschle could have delayed the vote indefinitely. This was a man who had usurped the senatorial elections of 2000 by getting Jim Jeffords to leave the Republican Party.

Agreeing to send troops into battle -- agreeing to place our young men and women in harm’s way -- just to win re-election is a new low for Democrats.
If only that was their nadir.

Blogging about this reminded me of this article by Christopher Hitchens in which he makes the following point:
What do you have to believe in order to keep alive your conviction that the Bush administration conspired to launch a lie-based war? As with (I admit) the pro-war case, the ground of argument has a tendency to shift. I saw two examples in Washington last week. An exceptionally moth-eaten and shabby picket line outside Ahmad Chalabi's event on Wednesday featured a man with a placard alleging that Bush had prearranged the 9/11 attacks. I know a number of left and right anti-warriors who have flirted with this possibility but very few who truly believe it. (Even Gore Vidal, who did at one point insinuate the idea, has recently withdrawn it, if only on the grounds of the administration's incompetence.)

But then there is the really superb pedantry and literal-mindedness on which the remainder of the case depends. This achieved something close to an apotheosis on the front page of the Washington Post on Nov. 12, where Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus brought complete gravity to bear. Is it true, as the president claimed in his Veterans Day speech, that Congress saw the same intelligence sources before the war, and is it true that independent commissions have concluded that there was no willful misrepresentation? Top form was reached on the inside page:
But in trying to set the record straight, [Bush] asserted: "When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support."

The October 2002 joint resolution authorized the use of force in Iraq, but it did not directly mention the removal of Hussein from power.
A prize, then, for investigative courage, to Milbank and Pincus. They have identified the same problem, though this time upside down, as that which arose from the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act, during the Clinton-Gore administration, in 1998. That legislation—which passed the Senate without a dissenting vote—did expressly call for the removal of Saddam Hussein but did not actually mention the use of direct U.S. military force.

Let us suppose, then, that we can find a senator who voted for the 1998 act to remove Saddam Hussein yet did not anticipate that it might entail the use of force, and who later voted for the 2002 resolution and did not appreciate that the authorization of force would entail the removal of Saddam Hussein! Would this senator kindly stand up and take a bow? He or she embodies all the moral and intellectual force of the anti-war movement. And don't be bashful, ladies and gentlemen of the "shocked, shocked" faction, we already know who you are.
Yes we do. And we also know that the Democrats are completely unfit to hold power.

Monday, November 28, 2005

 

Dissent Is Not Patriotic...

...when its purley partisan.

This logic is lost on the Democrats and their allies as their line of attack continues despite its obvious harm to the war effort:
Democrats fumed last week at Vice President Cheney's suggestion that criticism of the administration's war policies was itself becoming a hindrance to the war effort. But a new poll indicates most Americans are sympathetic to Cheney's point.

Seventy percent of people surveyed said that criticism of the war by Democratic senators hurts troop morale -- with 44 percent saying morale is hurt 'a lot,' according to a poll taken by RT Strategies. Even self-identified Democrats agree: 55 percent believe criticism hurts morale, while 21 percent say it helps morale.

The results surely will rankle many Democrats, who argue that it is patriotic and supportive of the troops to call attention to what they believe are deep flaws in President Bush's Iraq strategy. But the survey itself cannot be dismissed as a partisan attack. The RTs in RT Strategies are Thomas Riehle, a Democrat, and Lance Tarrance, a veteran GOP pollster.
Bryan Preston notes:
Just because a former Democrat Attorney General is defending Saddam Hussein in his trial on charges of committing crimes against humanity, that's no reason to question anyone's patriotism.

Just because former President Jimmy Carter, who by the way is a Democrat, is lying to the country about the war in Iraq, and most Democrats agree with him and hold him up as a leader, that's no reason to question anyone's patriotism.

Just because Al Gore and Howard Dean and Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy and Jack Murtha and dozens of other Democrats are currently fibbing about the war--and it's so easy to prove that they are--that's no reason to question anyone's patriotism.

Just because you can click on the button below and find dozens of quotes from dozens of Democrats talking about how unacceptable it would be to allow Saddam Hussein to develop weapons of mass destruction, yet they've all spent the past two years saying that there never was a threat and that Bush lied about it to take us to war for oil or Halliburton or whatever canard suits them today, that's no reason to question anyone's patriotism.
Compare the behavior of the Democrats to this:
Thomas Dewey and Wendell Willkie were two of the best men to never win the Presidency. Thrice, in 1940, 1944 and 1948, the fellow New Yorkers went down to defeat against Democratic Presidents immeasurably bolstered by the perils and successes of war.

Despite this, neither man made an issue of the war. Certainly there was much to critique: Franklin Roosevelt’s strategic vision was profoundly flawed; the Pearl Harbor disaster was ripe for critique; and Harry Truman’s handling of postwar affairs was hardly sterling. And yet, neither Dewey nor Willkie chose to make partisan or campaign issues of any of these things. Indeed, on the signal event of the era, they remained virtually silent. Why?
Read the whole thing.

As I've noted before, American national security is not the top priority of Democrats. Sad but true.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

 

A chuckle

As you might have guessed I have been obsessing over video games recently. While reading some comments on a thread at Gizmodo, yes it's really bad, and I had a good chuckle at this.

"The Commodore 128 was made by taking the innards from two Commodore 64s and, for some reason, a TRS-80 Model III, duct-taping them together and then sticking the whole thing into a single case. This allowed users to run two programs simultaneously; you could, for example, be typing a document in PaperClip and playing Frogger at the same time. You could then save the results to the built-in hard drive, if there was one. If not, then you could spend the rest of the week saving to a cassette tape."


I even had frogger on tape. Those were the days.

Friday, November 25, 2005

 

The Smell of ?

I have a confession. For years I would drive through downtown Chicago and catch a whiff of what I thought was the Chicago river. It was strong and I thought that it must be the rancid smell of the river until someone, I forget who, told me as we were driving along that the smell was from a chocolate factory. I remember being floored by that because I would always hold my breath as soon as I caught that scent. Well, that rancid chocolate smell might be a thing of the past.

Big Brother vs. chocolate, from the Chicago Sun Times:
For decades, commuters and tourists have delighted in the mouthwatering smells wafting over the city from the Blommer Chocolate Co. factory.

Now, that aroma is about to disappear, courtesy of federal regulators.

The family-run company, which makes chocolate liquor and cocoa butter among other products, was cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for violating clean-air regulations and is now installing equipment that will reduce its emissions -- and stop the smell.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

 

XBox 360 Recall?


Sue me? Yeah, go ahead and sue me.

Posted by John Smith.

This is the XBox 360 version of the blue screen of death that was more common for older versions of windows. This and other problems have been popping up with the new X360 but it is too soon to say that a recall is in order or this is standard number of units that fail.

Just how widespread is the scope of 360 problems, though? It's a little too early to call whether these problems are systemic or isolated bugs. Consumers have to spend a little more time with the machines and we do, too, testing out various games and Xbox Live experiences. We also need to divide the hardware problems from the software bugs. Microsoft has been alerted to these issues and are currently investigating. We should have a statement from them shortly.

Of course, the people who are happy with their X360's are into their 76th hour of game play and are not likely to have gone to the eaten, showered, or gone to the bathroom much less get online to tell everyone what a great time they are having.

Here are links to Gamespots X360 message boards talking about problems and giving a humorous explanation for the name XBox 360:

Why it is called 360?

Xbox 360: From the factory.. to you.. and full-circle back home to the factory after it overheats and crashes.
I am glad I am in Russia so I wouldn't have been tempted to buy this ASAP. Of course, I am not known for making impulse purchases of big ticket items.

 

Translating computer

Soon we will all be polyglots

"As we make contact, people will be more likely to learn other languages," Dr. Waibel said. U.S. soldiers in Iraq, for instance, who have handheld devices that repeat foreign phrases, ultimately have learned to speak those phrases themselves and discard the machines.
Or I could talk to my in-laws.

 

She Freakin' Blocked Me

Humor for the internet age.

 

Thanksgiving

John Hinderaker writes about the "leaders" of our society and observes:
For reasons I don't fully understand, there is something about "leaders," especially self-appointed leaders, and most especially those who are drawn to intensive participation in organizations, that tends toward liberalism. We see this in politics all the time, of course: it is one thing to vote for conservatism, something else entirely to get it from our elected leaders.

All of which makes me especially thankful, this year, for democracy, limited government and free enterprise: the best measures yet devised to protect us from our leaders.
Amen.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

 

From Gus at The Daily Cause

Happy Thanksgiving

If there is one thing unique about this country, and there are several, it is that we have a peculiar holiday set aside, not to laud ourselves on a conquest or achievement, but to say, "Thank you."
And there we have a problem. To whom?
Most people would say, "God."
The secularists who want to make man and government the "new God" are probably gnashing their teeth over Thanksgiving but that is not how Americans have felt ever since the landing at Plymouth.
There comes a time to say, "No" to minority complaints. They become avenues to power not the righting of wrongs. If the ACLU and thir friends don't like this American tradition, fine, then let them go to Guatamala or wherever. They have already corrupted the Constitution and it is going to take a while until we get rid of the fantasy version.
If there is one day that I a proud to be an American, and I don't give tinker's dam who likes it or nor not, it is Thanksgiving.
We are the richest and most powerful country that has ever existed and we can stop and say, "Thank you for all this", to something greater than we are.
The leftists who foolishly claimed that we were just another super-power like the Soviet Union and that there is no difference between us and the Islamic terrorists might do well to ponder this.
Happy Thanksgiving, enjoy your turkey and thank you, God, for letting me be born in this country.

 

Dirty Tricks and Video Games

Some years back, Microsoft practiced a lot of dirty tricks using online mavens to go into forums and create Web sites extolling the virtues of Windows over OS/2. They were dubbed the Microsoft Munchkins, and it was obvious who they were and what they were up to. But their numbers and energy (and they way they joined forces with nonaligned dummies who liked to pile on) proved too much for IBM marketers, and Windows won the operating-system war through fifth-column tactics.


So Microsoft has engaged in the dark arts of underground marketing in the past. That does bother me but I wonder if this is an effective strategy. If I am using an inferior product I am unlikely to buy again from that company. Of course, in Microsoft's case, they managed a near monopoly in operating systems. In part, that must have been because they offered what people wanted more than their competitors. (I am sure MS benefitted from the ineptitude of their competition, also.) Anyway, XBox 360 has had some problems.

fmwap writes "There have been several postings over at Xbox-scene complaining of crashing Xbox's on new games, with default settings on single player. Crashes on Xbox Live and on startup have been reported too, and Project Gotham Racing 3 crashes before finishing the first lap. Screenshots and Video are available showing the crash."


So is this dirty tricks from Microsoft or Sony? Either way, I will keep my powder dry and wait for PS3. Here are some recent reviews of x360, as us kids are calling it. :-O Ok, I don't look ten years younger like some people I know. [Ed.- No more like fifteen years older.]

 

More on Mad Murtha

In yesterday's Best of the Web Today James Taranto pretty thoroughly smacks around those who claim that last week's vote on withdrawal was a dirty trick and did not reflect Mad Murtha's language or intent when he called for troop redeployment.

Murtha used some version of the phrase "immediate redeployment" no less than four times in his press conference. Further,

Some of our readers say it was unfair of us to label the Hunter resolution "the Murtha proposal" because Murtha actually offered a resolution of his own, which did not use the word immediate but instead called for withdrawal "at the earliest practicable date." That resolution appears at the bottom of this page on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee blog, which one of our critical readers e-mailed us triumphantly.

The same page, however, features Murtha's comments from his press conference, including repeated references to immediate withdrawal. It's fascinating how those who claim to be Murtha's defenders are now hiding behind the text of his resolution to claim he never called for immediate withdrawal, when in fact that is exactly what he did.
...
Give Murtha credit for helping to clarify the debate. Immediate withdrawal from Iraq is something no serious person favors. Even those who think they do, like Murtha, change their minds upon reflection.


Yesterday's Investor's Business Daily wonders if Murtha made these public pronouncements to front-run an impending ethics investigation:
"If you want anything done on the committee, you go to Murtha."

He's delivered so much pork to his congressional district, an airport and a major highway are named after Murtha.

Ashdown and his nonpartisan watchdog group [Taxpayers for Common Sense] criticized Murtha for using the $417 billion fiscal 2005 Pentagon spending bill to give business to his lobbyist brother. The Los Angeles Times in June reported that Murtha funneled nearly $21 million to 10 or more corporate clients of KSA Consulting, where Robert "Kit" Murtha is a senior partner. Carmen Scialabba, a Murtha congressional aide for 27 years, is also a high-ranking official at KSA.

In one case, a small Arkansas manufacturer of military vehicles who was a KSA client was awarded $1.7 million — triple its total sales for 2004. One defense contractor based in Murtha's home state of Pennsylvania even told the Times he hired KSA on the recommendation of a top Murtha aide.

Looks like Murtha is taking a page from the despicable Joey Wilson. He's learned that 'bravely' speaking out against the war is the surest way to bring the media lemmings to your side. Later when/if improprieties are alleged against you, you can self-righteously claim to be a victim of administration attacks.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

 

Talking one way, voting another

From the CS Monitor:

"[Bush's] best option is bringing peace and security to Iraq," says Darrell West, a political scientist at Brown University. "If he can accomplish that, people will think the war's going well and that he made the right decision. But that's proving almost impossible to achieve."

Pollster Daniel Yankelovich, writing in the September/October 2005 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, states that "in my judgment the Bush administration has about a year before the public's impatience will force it to change course."


(My emphasis)

The 403-3 vote demostrates that most Democrats are aware of the fact that withdrawal would be disasterous for the United States. Or they fear the political fallout of a vote against the war. Either way they have chosen to continue this line of attack. So why the rhetoric? Because it hurts President Bush and makes it harder for him to achieve his agenda, of course. It is politics and I am sure that many Democrats see nothing wrong with trying to change public opinion. But it has consequences.

Commanders are telling Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that ground troops do not understand the generally negative press that their missions receive, despite what they consider significant achievements in rebuilding Iraq and instilling democracy.
The commanders also worry about the public's declining support for the mission and what may be a growing movement inside the Democratic Party to advocate troop withdrawal from Iraq.
"They say morale is very high," said a senior Pentagon official of reports filed by commanders with Washington. "But they relate comments from troops asking, 'What the heck is going on back here' and why America isn't seeing the progress they are making or appreciating the mission the way those on the ground there do. My take is that they are wondering if America is still behind them."

I cannot honestly say that I believe the political debate in the US will lower our troops moral and hurt our war effort. It is a terrible message to send to men and women who are risking their lives. I am much more concerned with how Al Qaeda in Iraq and the terrorists they are recruiting look at the calls for withdrawal. The left has said that the invasion of Iraq has acted to increase the number of young Muslims who are willing to become terrorists. That is a valid argument. But if this argument is accepted you would have to say that calls for withdrawal which are nothing more than playing politics also encourages terrorist recruiting. The radical Muslims have always believed that the US did not have the will to fight an enemy that "loved death" the way that the west loves life. If the left doesn't think losing this war is important to American influence in the world it is time they took it up with the Democratic party. If the left doesn't want the US to withdraw from Iraq and plunge that country into chaos they should seriously consider marching for victory. A united American polity will do far more to end the war quickly and bring our troops home.


 

GOP May Force Another Vote on Withdrawl

Now force Democrats into a substantive debate they cannot win

If the Democrats persist with their 'cheap talk' regarding the withdrawl of troops from Iraq, the GOP may force a new vote in the House:
The Republican who initiated last week's overwhelming House vote to keep U.S. troops in Iraq said he will do it again if Democrats don't cease their calls for withdrawal.

'If they start this again, we'll call the vote again,' said Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican, whom members credited with suggesting holding a vote. 'As far as I'm concerned, if they haven't learned from this, if they go back to this cheap talk, I would be more than happy to call for another vote.'

Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, said Thursday that the U.S. should start withdrawing from Iraq, but the House voted 403-3 the next day to reject immediate withdrawal. Republicans say the vote both bolstered the troops' mission and recaptured the political momentum on the issue.

(My emphasis)
As I previously noted, this last sentence sums up the net effect of the vote. I agree with the following analysis provided by the three quoted Republicans:
"Republicans succeeded in calling the Democrats' bluff by forcing them to go on the record against their rhetoric of retreat and defeat," said Ron Bonjean, a spokesman for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican. "Any attempt by the other side to downplay it will look hypocritical in the eyes of those who support U.S. troops fighting in Iraq."

And Mr. Hayworth said the signal to U.S. troops was worth it.

"The Washington Post, the New York Times and Al Jazeera all reported [Mr. Murtha] called for immediate withdrawal. I thought by Saturday morning seeing in Al Jazeera that the U.S. House overwhelmingly rejects calls for withdrawal is the message we needed to send," Mr. Hayworth said.

He proposed the idea at the House Republican Conference meeting Friday morning.

A Republican aide said the final decision to go ahead was made that afternoon at a meeting, in which top House Republican leaders and committee chairmen decided something had to be done.

"The message out of that meeting was either we play offense or we play defense. And right now we need to play offense," the aide said. "It stopped the momentum the Democrats were trying to generate."
Indeed it did. Very well done. Now stay on the offensive.

Monday, November 21, 2005

 

Playstation 3


Over at The Daily Cause I posted a review of the XBox 360.

I got curious and decided to look up more info on Playstation 3 which is scheduled for release in the spring of next year. To tell you the truth, I was excited about what they proposed because it was a huge leap in technology and the graphics they said they would display were nothing short of astounding. For example the screen shots above and below. Now I know that the first thought that comes into your mind is that sure they look great but these are just photos or videos created to show off the graphics. Most video games are guilty of using short CG vinettes to introduce the game but the actual game play falls far short of the atmosphere in these films.



Now I know that the first thought that comes into your mind is that sure they look great but these are just photos or videos created to show off the graphics. Most video games are guilty of using short CG vinettes to introduce the game, showing them in commercials giving the illusion that this is how the game will look, but the actual game play falls far short of the atmosphere in these films. Well go take a look at the Playstation 3 press conference at the 2005 Electronics Entertainment Expo (E 3). (You can download the whole thing or just highlights at the bottom. I highly recommend the game showcases.) Truly amazing graphics. Here is the wikipedia entry for Playstation 3. I hadn't seen this until a few days ago and it was mesmerizing. The realism in the game is so far beyond anything I have ever seen. If you read the wikipedia entry you can see that Playstation 3 is using cutting edge technology to achieve something groundbreaking. (Help, I am running out of superlatives.) Which brings me back to why I am writing this. I think the XBox 360 will turnout to be a big disappointment. Last time around XBox had a technological edge, in part, due to the early rollout of Playstation 2. I am not a huge gamer but I did buy an XBox just to see what the hype was about. I thought it was fantastic and I am glad I waited. I think a lot of consumers of what is undoubtedly high-end entertainment want the best experience coming from the best technology. If it was Sony's strategy to offer a better product whether or not they were first to introduce the next generation then I think this was a smart strategy. I know I will wait. For one reason, it gives me an excuse to buy a 1080p resolution LCD monitor. Um, Mom?

P.S. Matt, it will have the ability to connect to 7 Bluetooth controllers so your entire family can play. ;-)

Update:

Here is a site with secret Playstation 3 premieres. Warhawk and Gran Turismo look awesome. I know Bill O will be interested in the racing game. Don't worry, I have a really comfortable couch.

Playstation 3 Today is news for all things involving the Playstation 3. Some interesting tidbits, rumors of a world wide release in the summer of 2006 with the console debuting at the CES in Vegas in January. Hey, I will be in Vegas in January! Hints at the make up of Grand Theft Auto 4 including the possiblilty that it will severely test the ratings system.

A very interesting interview with Sony's Chief Technology officer about the abilities of Playstation 3 and how it will change game playing.

A link to a preview of Metal Gear Solid 4. Not my type of game but it does look fantastic. Warning, visit the toilet before you watch it! ;-D

Diego adds: XBox has nothing on this classic!


Friday, November 18, 2005

 

"Where Are the Pentagon Papers?"

Stephen Hayes has an excellent article in next week's Weekly Standard where he talks about the frustration of trying to get information about documents seized in Iraq.

The article mainly describes his frustration in dealing with various levels of Pentagon and Intelligence agencies but he does allow a very tantalizing hint as to what those papers might contain:

Working outside formal Pentagon lines of inquiry, I soon learned more. Many of the documents from Doha had been entered into a database known as HARMONY. HARMONY is a thick stew of reports and findings from a variety of intelligence agencies and military units, and alongside the Iraqi documents were reports from contributing U.S. agencies. Eventually, I got a list of document titles that seemed particularly interesting:


1. Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) Correspondence to Iraq Embassy in the Philippines and Iraq MFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
2. Possible al Qaeda Terror Members in Iraq
3. IIS report on Taliban-Iraq Connections Claims
4. Money Transfers from Iraq to Afghanistan
5. IIS Agent in Bulgaria
6. Iraqi Intel report on Kurdish Activities: Mention of Kurdish Report on al Qaeda--reference to al Qaeda presence in Salman Pak
7. IIS report about the relationship between IIS and the Kurdish Group Jalal Talibani [sic]
8. Iraqi Mukhabarat Structure
9. Locations of Weapons/Ammunition Storage (with map)
10. Iraqi Effort to Cooperate with Saudi Opposition Groups and Individuals
11. Order from Saddam to present $25,000 to Palestinian Suicide Bombers Families
12. IIS reports from Embassy in Paris: Plan to Influence French Stance on U.N. Security Council
13. IIS Importing and Hiding High Tech Computers in Violation of UN
14. IIS request to move persons, documents to private residences
15. Formulas and information about Iraq's Chemical Weapons Agents
16. Denial and Deception of WMD and Killing of POWs
17. 1987 orders by Hussein to use chemical weapons in the Ealisan Basin
18. Ricin research and improvement
19. Personnel file of Saad Mohammad Abd Hammadi al Deliemi
20. Memo from the Arab Liaison Committee: With a list of personnel in need of official documents
21. Fedayeen Saddam Responds to IIS regarding rumors of citizens aiding Afghanistan
22. Document from Uday Hussein regarding Taliban activity
23. Improvised Explosive Devices Plan
24. IIS reports on How French Campaigns are Financed
25. French and German relationships with Iraq
26. IIS reports about Russian Companies--News articles and potential IIS agents
27. IIS plan for 2000 of Europe's Influence of Iraq Strategy
28. IIS plans to infiltrate countries and collect information to help remove sanctions
29. Correspondence from IIS and the stations in Europe
30. Contract for satellite pictures between Russia, France and Iraq: Pictures of Neighboring Countries (Dec. 2002)
31. Chemical Gear for Fedayeen Saddam
32. Memo from the IIS to Hide Information from a U.N. Inspection team (1997)
33. Chemical Agent Purchase Orders (Dec. 2001)
34. Iraq Ministry of Defense Calls for Investigation into why documents related to WMD were found by UN inspection team
35. Correspondence between various Iraq organizations giving instructions to hide chemicals and equipment
36. Correspondence from IIS to MIC regarding information gathered by foreign intelligence satellites on WMD (Dec. 2002)
37. Correspondence from IIS to Iraqi Embassy in Malaysia
38. Cleaning chemical suits and how to hide chemicals
39. IIS plan of what to do during UNSCOM inspections (1996)
40. Secret Meeting with Taliban Group Member and Iraqi Government (Nov. 2000)

There are thousands of similar documents. Most of them are unclassified. That's important: Most of them are unclassified.



Plans to influence the French? Uday and the Taliban? Chemical suits and purchases of chemical agents? If the CIA wasn't so busy undermining the war effort maybe they would lend a hand to analyzing these docs.

 

House GOP Seeks Quick Vote on Iraq Pullout

Political Genius

The GOP leadership decided to act little more than 24 hours after Rep. Jack Murtha, a hawkish Democrat with close ties to the military, said the time had come to pull out the troops. By forcing the issue to a vote, Republicans placed many Democrats in a politically unappealing position - whether to side with Murtha and expose themselves to attacks from the White House and congressional Republicans, or whether to oppose him and risk angering the voters that polls show want an end to the conflict.
This is a absolutely perfect and puts the Democrats in the exact same position as they were in the summer and fall of 2002 when they boxed themselves into a debating the war above other issues in which they had a better arguments like the economy.
Murtha's resolution would force the president to withdrawal the nearly 160,000 troops in Iraq "at the earliest predictable date."

Most Republicans oppose Murtha's plan, and even some Democrats have been reluctant to back his position. Republicans were seeking to force Democrats to stand with the respected 30-year congressman or go on the record against his proposal.
What also should be said is that our troops deserve to be supported by our political institutions so a vote of no confidence, giving the Democrats recent rhetoric, is perfectly acceptable. In fact, it is preferable to the sniping and innuendo that has gone on concerning the reasons we entered the war.

Bravo! It is time to put up or shut up.

Update:

The Republicans did not use the language of Murtha's resolution and that was a mistake, politically and morally. This was an opportunity to support our troops by forcing the Democrats to vote on language that would have been an explicit statement on staying the course. Powerline reports:
The House leadership had a golden opportunity to make the Democrats put up or shut up tonight, and I'm afraid they blew it. Rep. John Murtha offered a resolution demanding surrender in Iraq within six months (at least, that's how the New York Times describes it; I haven't seen the actual text, and news reports have varied.) If the House leadership had precipitated a vote on what Murtha actually proposed, we could have had a useful moment of clarity. Instead, however, they scheduled a vote on a resolution calling for immediate withdrawal, which was how Murtha's resolution was widely reported, but, apparently, not quite what it said. That gave the Democrats an easy out; they opposed it, and it failed overwhelmingly (403-3 is the last tally I've seen.)

So nothing was accomplished. And the debate, needless to say, was less than edifying. The Democrats mainly expressed outrage over the vicious personal attacks on Murtha by the President and Vice-President--which, of course, never occurred. The Republicans made a little more sense, but, given that the entire vote was a charade, no one will care. The bottom line, I'm afraid, is that it was a missed opportunity.

UPDATE: "At the earliest predictable date" is apparently the language Murtha actually used. That's a meaningless phrase. The earliest predictable date would mean, I suppose, starting tomorrow. Nevertheless, it was a bad tactical mistake for the Republican leadership not to use Murtha's own language. Let the Democrats struggle to explain what it was supposed to mean. As it is, they were easily able to wriggle off the hook.

FURTHER UPDATE: Murtha's resolution actually says "earliest practicable date," which makes more sense and is essentially the same as "immediate withdrawal." The reporting on this has been abysmal.

John O adds: Powerline gets it wrong. Captain Ed is closer to the mark:
The Republicans made the right move -- instead of debating the issue through the media, they took the Democratic demands and introduced it as a resolution for debate where rhetoric actually counts, and where both sides get equal time. In the Democratic world, that equates to something vaguely unfair. They tried to hide behind a procedural block, and when that didn't work, they screamed and hollered in support of the idea of withdrawal -- and then promptly voted against it when it counted.
Let the media and the Democrats whine about this. It just makes them look foolish. So what if the Republicans didn't extract maximum partisan gain from this? Is that what this is all about? Besides, there will be time for this later as Murtha's resolution could be re-introduced in its original form, something which I'd really like to see.

This has provided the war effort with a badly needed (if temporary) boost. The net effect of this will be to discredit the anti-war Democrats in Congress and conterbalance what the Senate did earlier in the week. Indeed, supporters of the war could hardly have undermined the Democratic (and media) anti-war movement in a more spectacular way. And at a time when this dearly needed to be done.

 

South Park takes on Scientology

I just finished watching South Park's wonderful ripping on Scientology. The episode was called "Trapped in the Closet" which did not make any sense to me given the topic until about half way through the episode. Then it makes a lot of sense and it is very funny.

Boing Boing points to this article by Mark Ebner and his venture into the bizarre world of L. Ron Hubbard. I was reading the article and ran across this tidbit:

With assurance from Richard that "Scientology could help" repair my totally fucked-up personality, we shuttle over to the menacing, big, blue Hubbard Foundation. Along the way, Richard regales me with stock-in-trade anecdotes of how Scientology is responsible for the successes of Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Nicole Kidman, Kirstie Alley. Isaac Hayes even lives at the Celebrity Centre Manor Hotel, for crying out loud.


Ackward! As I am sure you know, Isaac Hayes is the voice of Chef on South Park, although his character has not been on the show a great deal in the past couple of years at least. Does this mean that Chef is off the show? Who cares. Hollywood gossip is boring.

Back to this episode, Tivo cut off the ending so if anyone saw it please tell me what happened. Vikingpundit hints at it but I want to know details.

Funniest. Closing. Credits. Ever.

I just saw the end of the South Park episode lampooning Scientology. Stan denounces it as a global scam and the Scientologists angrily declare that they’re going to sue Stan for defamation. Stan yells back: “Go ahead and sue, I’m not afraid of you. Sue me!”

Then the credits roll and every single name is either “John Smith” or “Jane Smith.” Beautiful. Oh and Tom Cruise finally came out of the closet.
By the way, I disagree that the closet joke was run into the ground. First a joke gets old and then it gets ackward and then it becomes absurd and that is funny.

 

A UN Bribery Confession...

... and silence in the media

A French diplomat who was a special adviser to Kofi Annan has admitted taking bribes from Saddam:
One of France's most distinguished diplomats has confessed to an investigating judge that he accepted oil allocations from Saddam Hussein, it emerged yesterday.

Jean-Bernard Mérimée is thought to be the first senior figure to admit his role in the oil-for-food scandal, a United Nations humanitarian aid scheme hijacked by Saddam to buy influence.

The Frenchman, who holds the title 'ambassador for life', told authorities that he regretted taking payments amounting to $156,000 (then worth about £108,000) in 2002.

The money was used to renovate a holiday home he owned in southern Morocco. At the time, Mr Mérimée was a special adviser to Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general.

According to yesterday's Le Figaro, he told judge Philippe Courroye during an interview on Oct 12: 'I should not have done what I did. I regret it.'

But he also said that the payments were made in recompense for work he had done on Iraq's behalf. 'All trouble is worth a wage,' he is reported to have said.
Via Ace, who notes:
His defense is against bribery charges is that he earned those bribes.
I'd really like to know how. Captain Ed comments:
This provides one of the most direct links between the corruption in the Oil-For-Food program and the Secretary himself. His own aide -- someone outside the OFF structure -- took bribes and kickbacks during a period when M. Mérimée held a unique position that could assist Iraq in pushing the UN delicately on any number of issues. It shows that Saddam Hussein not only had corrupted the UN to the point where he could use the humanitarian aid program as his own personal ATM (low-end estimates show at least $1.5 billion going into his pockets), but with Mérimée on the payroll, influencing the direction of the UN itself.

Why didn't this make the American media today? The last we heard of M. Mérimée, the French had detained him briefly for questioning on OFF. Now that he's confessed, a large piece of the twelve-year Iraqi quagmire at the UN is now clear. It sheds light not just on the corruption at Turtle Bay but a major reason for twelve years of inaction on Iraq's consistent defiance of UN resolutions, and the UN's curious lack of effort in enforcing them. It would explain why the US and UK alone on the Security Council finally had to take action to hold Saddam accountable for his intransigence.
UPDATE: It seems the media is also ignoring -- spinning, really -- another important story regarding the Iraq war:
As reported by the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker, the network evening news broadcasts tonight all lead with Congressman John Murtha’s (D-Penn.) call for the removal of American troops from Iraq. Yet, they seemed disinterested in focusing much attention on Rep. Murtha's "denouncement" of the Iraq war more than a year ago. (Please see a May 10, 2004 CNN story stating, “Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, in a news conference with Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said the problems in Iraq are due to a ‘lack of planning’ by Pentagon chiefs and ‘the direction has got be changed or it is unwinnable.’") Maybe most important, the networks totally ignored the fact that Rep. Murtha has been expressing disgust with the Bush administration’s prosecution of this war since six months after it started.

Rep. Murtha first voiced his displeasure with how things were going in Iraq on September 16, 2003, when he called for the immediate firing of President Bush’s defense leadership team. The network news organizations this evening chose not to inform their viewers of this, and, instead, implied that Rep. Murtha was a "hawk" that has always supported this war, and that his statements today were recent revelations.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

 

Standards of Conduct in College Athletics

Eroded by judicial fiat?

A Fulton County Judge has ordered Georgia Tech to reinstate a football player facing felony drug charges and who has been suspended from the team all season:
'I feel compelled to say that this decision will send shock waves through college athletics programs around the country,' (Georgia Tech AD Dave) Braine said. 'Playing college football, especially at a school like Georgia Tech, is a privilege, not a right. We must be able to set standards of conduct for our student-athletes, and we must be able to enforce and maintain discipline.'

In the order, Brogdon wrote his ruling came despite having 'wariness and trepidation regarding inappropriate judicial scrutiny and interference with the operation, management and administration of an educational institution.'

Brogdon said Georgia Tech's decision to expel Houston, then readmit him but exclude him from football 'was arbitrary and strikingly dissimilar to the school's treatment of other similarly situated athletes who have been accused of breaking the law.'

An openly incredulous Braine questioned the basis for the judge ruling that Tech had used uneven standards with Houston.

'I don't know how you can read into that because we've never had a felony charge before,' Braine said. 'How it could be uneven, I don't know.'
At least the judge thought twice before making such a seemingly arbitrary ruling.

 

Perception & Reality

An interesting post from Debbie Schlussel:
TV teaches you a lot about what you can and can't say in America, these days.

On Wednesday Night's NBC line-up, Christians were portrayed as violent fanatics who try to blow up a Detroit mosque. The Minutemen, citizens who patrol our borders, are portrayed as cold-blooded murderers.

But the only ones who are apologizing are the billionaire Maloof brothers who own the NBA's Sacramento Kings, for daring to show the real Detroit. Jimmy Kimmel had to apologize, too, for making fun of Detroit on his ABC late-night show.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

 

College Football's Bowl Coalition Series

A playoff would destroy the unique character of the regular season

Mike at the Deep Freeze argues that a structured playoff for Division I-A college football would level the playing field for college athletics in general.

I can't argue with this. Much has been made of the recent success of college basketball programs from BCS schools like Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Texas Tech, ect. No doubt this trend extends to other, non revenue sports as well. Provided it distributed revenue equitably, as the NCAA does with its tournament revenues, a playoff system would go a long way toward addressing current funding -- hence competitive -- imbalances.

But I don't think such imbalances necessarily need correcting. The NCAA has many different divisions which function as competitive classes. I don't see anything wrong if the BCS schools effectively form their own separate competitive class.

Concerning the narrow question of whether a playoff system would be good for the sport of college football, I don't think it would be. Almost alone among the people I know, I oppose a playoff.

As much as I enjoy its pageantry, traditions, rivalries and peculiar regional nature, the biggest appeal of the sport for me it that, for the top teams anyway, every single regular season game is absolutely vital. One loss basically eliminates a team from national championship contention. This is unique among the major sports. Mike laments:
For some reason it isn't right that right now there are ten teams in Division I-A with one loss, and most likely none of them will have a chance to play for the title this year because USC and Texas will go undefeated.
I don't know why this isn't right either. This is something to be celebrated rather than lamented. For all practical purposes the regular season functions as an extention of a sudden death playoff. Why do any teams deserve a second chance, particularly if Texas and USC don't get one? In what other sport can a team's national championship hopes end after their very first game? Its very similar to a no-limit hold 'em tournament in that at any time one mistake means almost certain elimination. Unsurprisingly to those who know me, I absolutely love this aspect of college football, the only major sport that works this way.

To illustrate the point, consider the October 15th Penn State/Michigan game Mike cited:
What if Penn State had not lost to Michigan in the last second of the game. What if we hadn't kicked to the kid who had burnt us earlier in the game on a kick return. What if Lloyd Carr hadn't lobbied the officials to get those two seconds back on the clock. Penn State could easily be undefeated right now and we would be in the running to play for the National Championship in the Rose Bowl. But because of that one fateful second in Ann Arbor, Michigan on a warm October afternoon Penn States hopes of a National Championship are dashed.

(Emphasis mine)
No offense to Mike and all the other Penn State fans out there, but YES! That is what makes college football great. Penn State likely won't get a second chance to remain in national title contention. Moreover, why should they? Despite the loss they were still in contention for the Big Ten title, something which would matter primarily for seeding purposes -- if it mattered at all -- were a playoff system in place. For every game the surprising Nittany Lions won while unbeaten, the stakes for the next game increased. The Michigan game was thus of far greater significance and the final play was exponentially more important than would otherwise have been the case if the game had mere Big Ten title implications. Everyone watching the final play knew its national ramifications 2 1/2 months prior the national championship game. It was a riveting moment. No other sport offers situations remotely similar to this.

I like the current bowl system pretty much as it is. Major conference championships actually matter for more than just tournament seeding purposes. The better teams, even from the smaller conferences, are rewarded for a successful season. Half of the participating teams win their final games, giving many seniors a chance to go out a winner.

Like Mike, I dislike the current BCS formula in that it favors schools from the largest conferences and those popular with the media at the expense of schools from smaller conferences. But a BCS-like system to determine bowl eligibility, which included a single national championship game matching the two highest rated teams, would be ideal if the both computer and human bias were removed completely from the process. Teams should be ranked by fewest losses, with ties broken by strength of schedule. That way, the national championship would be determined entirely by what happens on the field.

And if there are three or more unbeaten teams and the end of the season? The two schools that survived the strongest schedules would play for the title. And sure, we'd occasionally get a weak team from a weak conference in the national title game. But so what if a consensus national champion isn't crowned every year? What's so bad about an ambiguous ending once in a while? Even if such a system as I suggest only produces a conclusive end to the season two years in three, that's good enough as far as I'm concerned.

College football's regular season is far and away the best in sports. Though it would make for a fine spectacle, a playoff would drastically alter the nature of America's best major sport. For that reason, I'm opposed to one.

Diego adds:

While I prefer the Pro playoff/tournament to the College system I am happy that they are different and can enjoy both. If College were to adopt a playoff system it would lessen the excitement of the regular season. However the current system could benefit from some simple adjustments that would not take anything away from the early season games. I have two suggestions.

If there are more than two undefeated teams there should be some sort of playoff to include the 3rd ranked team (or 4th, 5th etc). Say #2 and #3 play in the x-bowl in late December and then the winner plays #1 in the BCS Bowl.

As a general rule, no team should be allowed to play for the Championship without having won their conference. There could be circumstances for exceptions but it would be rare (ex: Two undefeated Big Ten teams who did not play during the season).

Unfortunately money is the driver and will push college football to systems that will generate the most revenue. I don't have a problem with the NCAA and the Schools making money but they should not pretend that the 'student athlete' (if there is such a thing in major college sports) matters.

 

GOP commercial

An excellent video spot at GOP.com. Check it out.

John O adds: Mr Right comments:
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) filed suit earlier today with the notoriously liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals seeking an emergency injunction against the use of any audio or video tape, newspaper or magazine articles, transcripts or Congressional Records from more than one week prior from whatever the present date may happen to be at any given time by any individual, corporation, or organization in perpetuity.

In conjunction with the lawsuit, DNC Chairman Howard Dean issued the following statement:
"We believe it is a most egregious affront to all that we as a nation hold most sacred that the enemies of freedom and democracy are permitted to use the past as a weapon against all that we have worked so long and hard to establish as the current version of the truth. It is for this reason that we feel it is of the utmost urgency that all evidence of the so-called past be expunged from the record so that it may be rewritten as we see fit at any given time to advance the goals of our party and its constituents."
In a brief hearing before a three judge panel, the party's lawyers argued that all past statements by Democrats and their supporters being used by the Republicans to counter their current statements about President Bush's "misuse" of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq War amount to an abuse of the Fifth Amendment Rights of Democrats against self-criminalization. In a unanimous 3-0 ruling, the Court quickly issued the injunction as sought, making it a crime to compare the past statements of any Democrat or liberal with the current statements of the same Democrat or liberal.
Mr Right has much more. Check it out.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

 

The German Solution to Slow Growth

Raise taxes

And you know what? It is going to work. I have no doubt in my mind that the German economy will be in recession next year and seeing as how that must be what they want, they will get it. All evidence suggests raising taxes hurts economic growth so they must want a recession, Nein?

Welcome to the German version of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1931. For those of you whose only idea of Smoot-Hawley is a comedy schtick by Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, it actually did exactly what Stein describes in the movie. It took a sad song and made it tragic by creating unnecessary barriers to imports, helping to deepen the global Great Depression. The protectionist instinct threw gasoline on the fire of a depression then, and the socialist instinct of the Germans will do much the same in Europe now.


Wow is this a bad idea. This is drinking beer, wine, and gin stupid. This is driving with a busted taillight with two drunk 15 year olds in the back seat stupid. This is putting your lifesavings on black stupid. But there is some good that may come out of this. When German unemployment jumps and revenues fall next year we can finally put to rest the debate over tax cuts being bad for the economy. Also, look for burning cars. I hear it is the rage among 'umemployed youths' in Europe.

 

JohnO's BDay?

Hey,
isn't JohnO's birthday around now?

Matto adds:




 

Telling The UN What's What

If we can't get what we want, we'll get what we need

America's UN Ambassador John Bolton has warned that the UN had better reform itself or the US will seek other alternatives:
America's representative at the United Nations said yesterday that the organization must become better at solving problems and more responsive to U.S. concerns or Washington will seek other venues for international action.

During a luncheon with reporters and editors at The Washington Times, U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton said repeatedly that the Bush administration requires nothing less than 'a revolution of reform' at the world body, encompassing everything from U.N. Security Council engagement to management changes to a focus on administrative skills in choosing the next secretary-general.

The United Nations, he said, 'has got to be a place to solve problems that need solving, rather than a place where problems go, never to emerge.'

He added: 'In the United States, there is a broadly shared view that the U.N. is one of many potential instruments to advance U.S. issues, and we have to decide whether a particular issue is best done through the U.N. or best done through some other mechanism. ...

'The U.N. is one of many competitors in a marketplace of global problem solving,' Mr. Bolton said. That realization 'should be an incentive for the organization to reform.'
Its long past time we made this explicitly clear. This next quote sums up US frustration with the UN:
"My priority is to give the United States the kind of influence it should have. Everybody pursues their national interests. The only one who gets blamed for it is the United States."

(Emphasis mine)
This is exactly right. The UN is the chief venue for placing blame for much of the world's ills on the US. If it didn't exist, there wouldn't be a prominent forum where the US could be bashed as frequently or effectively. We would be much better off without it.

Bolton points out that the US pays 22% of the UN's budget, 44 times greater proportionally than our voting power. How this situation came about is something only diplomats can understand -- it makes absolutely no sense. Why should we fund an entity that most nations of the world (and far too many American liberals) view as a venue to obstruct or constrain the US? Contrary to what people like Jimmy Carter think, we don't need an supra-national check on American power.

I wish Bolton would have gone much further in his criticism of the UN by declaring in no uncertain terms just how much damage UN corruption has done to the world-wide image of the US and to our national security interests. Perhaps in the future this will form the basis of America's stated rationale for our formal and unequivocal withdrawl from the UN.

Monday, November 14, 2005

 

Jimmy Carter Is Delusional

How else to explain such a ridiculous op-ed. It begins:
In recent years, I have become increasingly concerned by a host of radical government policies that now threaten many basic principles espoused by all previous administrations, Democratic and Republican.

These include the rudimentary American commitment to peace, economic and social justice, civil liberties, our environment and human rights.

Also endangered are our historic commitments to providing citizens with truthful information, treating dissenting voices and beliefs with respect, state and local autonomy and fiscal responsibility.
He's right about fiscal responsibility, but the rest of the quote is absolute nonsense. McQ accurately describes the whole article as "long on lament and the misrepresentation of issues and positions." I spent my spare time today crafting a post about this, but McQ does such an excellent job thoroughly demolishing Carter's op-ed that I decided to scrap it and simply link to him instead.

Dr Sanity wonders about Carter:
You have to wonder though, what in heaven's name is wrong with this man? He exemplifies in many ways a decent and caring human being. He believes in God and in right and wrong. And yet, he never misses an opportunity to support and excuse dictators, tyrants, and totalitarian regimes wherever he can find them.

He says he stands for peace, but the policies he advocates make war more likely--by appeasing and actively enabling of those for whom war is a way of life.

He has even been quoted as saying that he didn't think the American Revolution was a necessary war and that our "disagreements" with the British Crown could have been handled in a peaceful manner.

Jimmy Carter is a very very dangerous human being. He is the very worse sort of pacifist; the kind that gives people who truly desire peace an extremely bad taste in their mouth. Because the foundation of his pacifism is a determined and incalculably cruel passivity and tolerance toward genuine evil in all its manifestations.

His is that deluded brand of pacifism that not only does not actually advance the cause of peace; but encourages, advocates, and even legitimizes the very leaders and thugs who are responsible for the oppression and enslavemust of millions of people all around the globe.

 

Visa!

I just called the U.S. embassy and they said that they have issued my wife an immigration visa. We can pick it up from the local DHL office in two to three business days. WOOOHOOOO!!!

Chi-town, here we come.

 

Social Security Reform

Willisms has bee running a weekly commentary on Social Security reform. (HT: Vikingpundit)

It seems like the Bush administration has given up on the issue which is a shame but understandable given the political firestorm that arose. There is good that came out of this, (a) private accounts are in the public conscious and (b) the Democrats are on the record as saying there will be no funding problem in the future. S.S. reform will have to have bi-partisan support so when the problem starts to manifest itself it will be up to the Democrats to explain why they did not support a fix back when the fix was relatively painless.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

 

Dusty is back

...and back on our blogroll, for what it is worth.

Heh, (Proper Instapundit spelling) I used to know some latin. It kept Matt O and myself out of the Evergreen Park lockup.

For the record, I don't like the ever changing background colors. But I am inclined to seizures. I definitely like the links to things that make me laugh and the insightful commentary. Keep it up Dusty.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

 

A Lesson in Accountability

It's best evaded

Some Virginia schools have banned post game hand shakes at most sporting events:
School officials in rural Virginia are trying to prevent fights under the Friday night lights by banning the traditional post-football game handshake.

'There have been some instances in the past where the handshaking has gotten a little bit out of control, with kids spitting on each other [and] kicking each other,' said Larry Shumaker, principal of Northumberland High School in Heathsville. 'We're just trying to prevent situations from occurring before they occur.'

The traditional demonstration of sportsmanship has the two squads forming single-file lines after games and extending hands to opponents for a shake or a slap with the occasional 'good game' tossed in.

But principals of five Northern Neck District high schools -- Essex, Lancaster, Northumberland, Rappahannock, and Washington and Lee -- voted unanimously to ban the practice after district games in an effort to prevent problems they say are waiting to happen between the region's bitter rivals.

If kids cannot conduct themselves responsibly, they shouldn't be allowed to participate in sports at all. And if that means there aren't enough students to field a team, so be it.

It is ridiculous that school administrators fear this ritual of sportsmanship. They have only themselves to blame, as this is yet another example of how they evade responsibility for what happens in schools. Students aren't expected to conduct themselves in a civil manner; bad behavior isn't punished or even seriously discouraged -- rather, the situations in which such behavior is likely to manifest itself are simply avoided. What kind of lesson is that? Sadly, its probably a useful one.

No wonder civility in our society is on the decline.

Bill C:

It is the job of adults to teach civility to children. What lesson does this teach? I couldn't help but think of the end of Lord of the Flies, imagine when the boys are met on the beach by the men who would rescue them. It is unwritten but you know that their presence means the restoration of civilization. What would happen if these men just said, "Carry on." Somewhere so many of us forgot the lessons of past. Children are tabula rasa, I fear because we have failed to write.

 

Gallia est omnis divisa in partes duo

Demographics are not France's problem, today

As has been amply highlighted by the recent riots, France faces a demographic problem similar to most of the "western" world, Japan faces the same problem so the better adjective is developed, an aging population putting ever greater demands on a social welfare system. France's problems are magnified by (a) the generousity of their retirement benefits and (b) by the fact that France's young are increasingly Muslim, African, and Arab.

France is facing the problem that dare not speak its name. Though French law prohibits the census from any reference to ethnic background or religion, many demographers estimate that as much as 20-30 per cent of the population under 25 is now Muslim. The streets, the traditional haunt of younger people, now belong to Muslim youths. In France, the phrase "les jeunes" is a politically correct way of referring to young Muslims.

Given current birth rates, it is not impossible that in 25 years France will have a Muslim majority. The consequences are dynamic: is it possible that secular France might become an Islamic state?


Because France does not keep statistics on ethnicity it is difficult to know the number of Muslims. Different interests in French society have their own reasons for claiming exaggerated or underestimated figures for the Muslim population. While demographics might point to a Muslim majority at some point in the future that is not France's problem in the here and now.

Integrating the Muslim immigrants who came to France after the second world war has not been a priority in French society. The response seems to have been, "Welcome to France. You are now French." This might have worked if the Muslim immigrants were living in a society that gave them something to do with their time. But a social welfare system that discourages job growth, which tolerates a national unemployement rate of around 10% and much higher for its non-white youth was bound to have social strife. Even with a generous benefits for the unemployed, idle hands are the devil's tools. That is the real problem for France today.

There is a lesson from this in America's problem with Islamic terrorism. A population that is given the basics it needs for survival will not be satisfied with their lives. Human beings want the chance to reach their potential. Part of that is the freedom to pursue happiness however people might define it. Without this freedom, the Muslims in France and in the Middle East have struck out in anger. Wahabbists have channelled that anger at the western world just as the Nazis channelled the anger of the German people against Jews, the perennial scapegoats, and their former enemies.

The French Muslims have a good reason to feel alienated. They have been. French society has not done enough to bring them into their world. But anger is not rational and so the riots are without purpose and work to further isolate the French Muslim. Unfortunately, the French government is not likely to take the right lessons from this. Economic opportunity would go a long way towards relieving the tensions in the banluie. A Muslim majority or, more likely, a larger minority need not be a problem for France. As long as they have jobs most people can even live with bigotry.

Friday, November 11, 2005

 

Bush strikes back

And now, your moment of zen:


BUSH: Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war.

These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein.

They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions, citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction.

Many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the president of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat and a grave threat to our security."

That's why more than 100 Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.


What strikes me is that only 100 Democratic Senators and Congressmen who had access to this intelligence supported the effort to remove Saddam. Did they argue that WMDs were not in Iraq? Hmmmm. I think not. Why didn't they vote to remove a maniacal dictator who held animus for the U.S.A.?

Check out the John McCain interview on the Daily Show this week. He has street cred w/ the moonbat crowd simply for opposing Bush during the 2000 primary. (Rather stupid if you ask me. McCain is conservative on so many issues.) McCain put forth a very good defense of the administration, Cheney is particular, concerning the torture issue. Also, he restated the case for believing that WMDs were in Iraq. In one sense, I will be happy when Bush is gone. It will be hard to find a less articulate candidate than him. Unfortunately, that matters. That and not looking creepy.

Diego adds:

Thankfully Bush also stated: "These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will,"

John Kerry responded: "This administration misled a nation into war by cherry-picking intelligence and stretching the truth beyond recognition."

Such lies have been repeated over and over again by the Democratic opposition with the intent of damaging Bush but without regard to any damage to the U.S. This blog has commented on this before, most recently here. And former President Clinton asked that his words be marked:

And mark my words, he (Saddam) will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them. Because we're acting today, it is less likely that we will face these dangers in the future.


Matto adds:
"As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them," the president said. "Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. And our troops deserve to know that, whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united and we will settle for nothing less than victory."

Bravo Mr. Bush.

John O adds:

Bush's counter-offensive will prove ineffective. Its too little, too late. Bush and the Republicans long ago ceded the initiative for shaping public opinion on Iraq to the Democrats and their media allies. The damage done to both party and country is irreparable. Its a shame he had other priorities.

 

Did you ever wonder who that guy was talking to?

Worst job ever.

 

The Kurds Thank America

Kurdistan - The Other Iraq

I saw the commercial entitled 'Thank You' from the above website on Fox today around noon. As is obvious from looking at the map, which was taken from the website, one can clearly detect an element of self-interest at work here. Nonetheless, it was touching to see.

 

Council Convenes to Discuss Abuse

VIPs address a disturbing trend.

See here fore details on this important issue, an exerpt follows:

In an emergency session Tuesday, members of the Supreme Metal Council strongly condemned the increasing use of the metal hand sign in lay society, claiming that its meaning has become perverted by overuse.

"The metal sign, or 'sign of the goat,' has all but lost its impact as a token of respectful recognition for something truly 'rocking' or 'metal,'" SMC president Terence "Geezer" Butler said. According to Butler, members are upset that their sacred gesture is being used to acknowledge and celebrate "favorable but clearly non-metal events."

"This man here, who invokes the sign merely to indicate his joy that his microwave popcorn is done: He is not metal," Sixx (Nikki Sixx, Overlord Of Glam Metal Affairs) said. "We have it on good authority that he prefers the music of Tim McGraw and that the magic word of 'Zoso' has never passed his lips."

"I remember a time not long ago when the Devil Horns were reserved for only the most righteous of person, deed, or riff," Grand Elder Lemmy Kilmister said. "To see someone throwing the horns to his mate at the launderette because the clothes dryer came to a full stop just as he finished reading his copy of Circus... It breaks my heart."

Should the abuse continue, Butler said the council "will defer the matter to Satan."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

 

Jimmy Massey, S.o.B.

Please check out Eyes on the Ball News' satirical interview with Jimmy Massey. It is hard to know where the reality ends and the satire begins.

Q: Tell us about your tour of Tours:

A: “Man it was awesome,” he told us, “People in France are different - they are more open minded. They don’t care about ‘fact checking’ or ‘truth’, they know what’s more important is the emotional truth behind a story. My story is: killing is bad, and people should stop killing.


You can read the rest. (Warning: Adult satire)

If you don't know who Jimmy is then check out Michelle Malkin's thorough coverage of the story. (Damn her for her thorough coverage.) Big thanks to Ron Harris of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for writing an article which is not likely to gain him any plaudits from other journalists.

This story is about more than one man who decided to lie to enrich himself. It is a story of how far people will go to cast aspersions on this war via our soldiers. Massey's story is only believeable if you have preconceived opinion about America which would allow someone to accept the most unbelieveable stories of brutality as fact without an inkling of scepticism. It is sad that this man has such a following but it is truly horrific that some Americans will chose to defend his lies even after his story has been debunked.

Ron Harris, of the Washington Post-Dispatch has (apparently) volunteered to promote this set of DVDs for us in print and on CNN. It is worth noting that total revenues to Jimmy Massey from this project have been around $250 and 10 DVDs. This domain is registered to the owner of Metropole Filmworx LLC, which are the producers of the Back from Iraq documentary which will feature several soldiers discussing their service in the war in Iraq. Ron Harris didn't contact us to find out who owned the JimmyMassey.com website or to determine our financial relationship with Jimmy Massey.

This means Ron's reporting on the "Jimmy Massey" story is living up to the "high standard" of his reporting in Iraq which failed to mention so much. If you want to know what Jimmy Massey has to say, we recommend that you purchase this set of DVDs. We consider Jimmy a leader in the pro-soldier/antiwar movement. Watch the DVD's then determine for yourself if a man accusing himself of murder is actually executing some clever ploy for fast cash. -- Nancy Fulton, Metropole Filmworx LLC.

Please note the smarmy tone. This website would be a good place to answer the questions that were raised by Harris' article. What are the chances to that happening? I think pretty low. Jimmy don't like criticism. I wonder if Jimmy is holed up some where with a bottle of Jim Beam contemplating the rest of his miserable life. We can only hope...he has a gun.


 

Media bias here et ici

From Bruce Thornton here:

The media's techniques for smuggling opinion into what are supposed to be news stories are so pervasive that often we don't even notice when they are at work. Here's an example from the Friday, November 4 New York Times, in a story about the Muslim riots in Paris:

"The continuing unrest appears to be fueled less by perceived police brutality than by the frustration of young men who have no work and see little hope for the future."

Appears to whom? The Times writer, a French politician, an academic, an imam, or the rioters? The way this opinion is phrased obscures the fact that it is a mere opinion, an interpretation of the events described, not a fact. As such, the source of the opinion should be identified so we can evaluate its usefulness and integrity. But to say it "appears,” unconnected to a person with a point of view, is an evasion of responsibility.
----------------------
In the case of the Paris rioters, there are other explanations for their behavior.
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But don't expect the Times to explore these alternative interpretations. The Times endorses the opinion consistent with the liberal-left world-view of the paper's editorial board, a vision of human nature in which notions like free will and unmotivated evil are superstitions that have been unmasked by science.

And from The Anchoress ici:

Mr Dassier said his own channel, which is owned by the private broadcaster TF1, recently decided not to show footage of burning cars. "Politics in France is heading to the right and I don’t want rightwing politicians back in second, or even first place because we showed burning cars on television,”
Emphasis mine. Seems to me Mr Dassier is biased, no?

However the following thoughts appear to be responsible given the situation but I wonder if the same questions would be asked if they were covering riots or, say the disorder following Katrina, in the U.S.
… Journalism is not simply a matter of switching on the cameras and letting them roll. You have to think about what you’re broadcasting,” he said.

“Do we send teams of journalists because cars are burning, or are the cars burning because we sent teams of journalists?” asked Patrick Lecocq, editor-in-chief of France 2

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