Wednesday, June 30, 2004
I think I have at least one of the most important answers. One of the distinguishing characteristics of a true American is that they are naive. We really believe we can make a difference. If a European or South American fails at something, they assume it can't be done and move on. An American will assume they did it wrong, or didn't do it well enough, and they'll try again until they get it right. We really believe that Arabs can have and enjoy democracy, even as the French sneer at the very idea. We really believe that Iraq can become a beacon of hope in the Middle East, provoking change throughout the region, while Europe would really rather have just continued doing business as before while Saddam's torture chambers rang with the screams of the innocent.
To foster this type of enterprising spirit, the American system is set up differently from anyone else's as well. Our only limitation on personal wealth and power is that which we put on ourselves. Therefore, a poor boy from Arkansas can become president of the United States just like a scion of a wealthy Texas oil family. A German immigrant can discover the theory of relativity, anyone can be elected to any public office if they can get the votes, and anybody can pretty much do anything they want, within certain limits. The tax burden is still low relative to the rest of the world, providing the incentive that whatever money you can get, you get to keep more of it.
I live in a unique time in history. You would be hard pressed to find another era where a single country held such sway in the world and at the same time was such a benevolent force in world affairs. The Roman empire is the closest I can think of, but even they only struck fear in the hearts of men in Europe plus parts of Africa and Asia. Never has there been a nation that stood astride the globe in the way America does today.
All that occurred to me as I was perusing yet another set of bitchy French comments on the current state of affairs, claiming that the US is doing everything wrong and we should be more like the French and blah blah blah. No, we shouldn't be more like the French, and no, we're not doing that much wrong. The only reasonable historical parallels to be drawn with the Iraq occupation are the occupations of Japan and Germany after WWII, and this effort stacks up very well against those ultimately successful ventures.
We must stay the course, and we must win, regardless of who is in the white house. A time will come for America to retreat from the field and yield to the next great power, but that time is not now, and we can't rest until we've done the job nobody else can do. A lot of people are depending on us. Let's not let them down.
Three men have tried to hijack a plane from Munich to Istanbul carrying 150 passengers but the pilot was able to return to Munich airport where special forces stormed the plane, German television has reported.
You'd think people would realize there won't be any more successful hijackings after 9/11 showed that submission is death. I also notice that Reuters, that bastion of political correctness, doesn't give any details about the perps. I bet it was those damned Hindus.
Brokaw: As long as the United States military remains a conspicuous presence in your country working hand in glove with the new Iraqi government, won’t you always be seen really as an instrument of the U.S. military and therefore of America?
Allawi: Iraq, as everybody knows, is the front state now — as the main theater to oppose and fight terrorism. And, with the help of international community and with the help of the region and with the help of the Iraqi people, we are going to win. We are going to prevail.
Brokaw: I know that you and others like you are grateful for the liberation of Iraq. But can’t you understand why many Americans feel that so many young men and women have died here for purposes other than protecting the United States?
Allawi: We know that this is an extension to what has happened in New York. And — the war have been taken out to Iraq by the same terrorists. Saddam was a potential friend and partner and natural ally of terrorism.
Brokaw: Prime minister, I’m surprised that you would make the connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq. The 9/11 commission in America says there is no evidence of a collaborative relationship between Saddam Hussein and those terrorists of al-Qaida.
Allawi: No. I believe very strongly that Saddam had relations with al-Qaida. And these relations started in Sudan. We know Saddam had relationships with a lot of terrorists and international terrorism. Now, whether he is directly connected to the September — atrocities or not, I can’t — vouch for this. But definitely I know he has connections with extremism and terrorists.
Whew. If Allawi had reached over and bitchslapped Brokaw, I probably would have wet myself.
It's so embarassing that Brokaw is one of the most "elite" journalists my country has to offer, and yet he displays such ignorance. Of course, compared to arabnews.com and Al
I think I'm going to lay low. Things are getting really ugly, and this movie is really riling people up and bringing out the worst in them. I was telling my girlfriend tonight that if Bush can't win convincingly, because I actually care about this country more than I care about any invidual politician, unlike Moore's acolytes, I actually hope he loses. With all this inchoate rage out there, which Michael Moore is so cynically exploiting, if there is another 2000 election type of situation, and Bush wins again, it could tear this country apart. Much as I think a John Kerry presidency would be a disaster, I would still prefer it to the massive civil unrest and domestic left-wing terrorism that would likely result if Bush wins narrowly.
I've been concerned about this lately. As anybody who's read more than two of my posts or looked at my blogroll knows, I'm a huge Bush supporter. I think he's done great with the economy given what he was handed at the beginning of his term. He was faced on 9/11 with a crisis of a magnitude that probably hasn't been seen since Pearl Harbor and gave the kind of solid, steady leadership that was absolutely critical at the time. He isn't really stellar otherwise, but a solid, proven leader that, for the first time since Reagan, has a firm, honest foreign policy where this country once again mostly does what it says and says what it does. I like that, and I like Bush.
That said, I'm deeply alarmed at the hatred being spewed by a lot of people on the Left. They mutter and sputter and spew vitriol like nothing I've ever seen before except in a few newsreels from Viet Nam-era protests and the like. They viciously criticize Bush using facetious, stupid or nonexistent arguments. They flock to see propagandistic movies that are vapid, puerile smear jobs with little or no basis in fact. With that sort of political atmosphere, how can we honestly discuss Bush's REAL failings? I know he has them. They're real and it's worth talking about whether any of them disqualify him as president, but I'm having trouble getting past all the fake smoke the Left is blowing. I don't know much of anything about Kerry beyond his excessive flip-flopping because the focus up to this point has been all Bush=Hitler all the time.
If Bush wins narrowly again, I'm very worried about the possible consequences. Because Bush takes his job as president seriously, and he's not afraid to exercise American power to protect American interests. That's completely as it should be. But a large minority of the electorate seems to feel that the electoral college (mandated by the constitution) is an illigitimate way to get elected president. These people claim that Bush has no "mandate" (whatever that is) to do the things necessary to keep America safe and on top. Some of these groups are funded by the communist Workers' World Party and other extremist groups and some aren't, but all taken together they are not a trivial political force, and they seem to have caught the same madness at the same time. They don't care more about this country than they do defeating Bush. That scares the bejeezus out of me, and I don't understand it.
I don't know how much more I can take of watching huge crowds of people exercising their freedoms by angrily protesting that they've lost their freedoms. It makes my head hurt.
I want Bush to win convincingly, or else I'm afraid it might be better for him to lose. I love this country like I love my own life, and I can't bear to see it torn apart by a flock of Leftist hags. Kerry won't have the decisiveness or ability to do a lot of damage anyway, with congress watching him.
But I'd still far rather see Bush win convincingly than the alternative, and I'm still voting for him.
Headlining an appearance with other Democratic women senators on behalf of Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is up for re-election this year, Hillary Clinton told several hundred supporters -- some of whom had ponied up as much as $10,000 to attend -- to expect to lose some of the tax cuts passed by President Bush if Democrats win the White House and control of Congress.
"Many of you are well enough off that ... the tax cuts may have helped you," Sen. Clinton said. "We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
"The common good". As defined by whom? You, senator? Why are YOU the supreme arbiter of all that is good? Why is the entire Left the only ones that get to define what's good? I say self-reliance is good. I say low taxes are good, even for rich people. I say the government getting its nose out of my business is good. Yesterday I just had to pay money to get a certified copy of my divorce decree from the government to prove to another part of the government that I am divorced. Ending that sort of fiasco would be for the common good, don't you think?
And I love your choice of words, senator. You'll "not give it"? With all due respect, it's not yours to "give". It's mine, and every other taxpayer's money we're talking about, not yours. You're not refraining from "giving" it to me, you're demanding more money for your intrusive nanny state. If we're going to be discussing how much of our money you're going to demand, let's at least use correct terminology.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Twelve members of foreign air crews will be barred from entering the United States after their names showed up in counterterrorism databases, a top Homeland Security official said Tuesday.
Nine of the 12 had associated with terrorists or supported terrorist organizations, two were using fraudulent passports and one had a criminal record for assaulting a U.S. law enforcement officer, according to Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Asa Hutchinson.
Hutchinson said the 12 were from three different countries, but he would not specify their nationalities or the airlines or cargo companies for which they flew. The names have been shared with the airlines involved.
Words. Fail. Me.
Okay, so they don't completely. Do they actually expect us to believe that nearly 3 years after 9/11 we just now got around to banning flight crew members with ties to terrorism? Am I in the twilight zone here? I don't remember following a rabbit down a hole.
Man, oh man, we'd better start getting serious about this if we expect to win. Or even live.
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
And every once in awhile in the blogosphere, I find a gem like this letter from a father to his sons:
Our country is now facing the most serious threat to its existence, as we know it, that we have faced in your lifetime and mine (which includes WWII). The deadly seriousness is greatly compounded by the fact that there are very few of us who think we can possibly lose this war and even fewer who realize what losing really means.
First, let's examine a few basics:
1. When did the threat to us start?
Many will say September 11th, 2001. The answer as far as the US is concerned is 1979, 22 years prior to September 2001, with the following attacks on us: Iran Embassy Hostages, 1979; Beirut, Lebanon Embassy 1983; Beirut, Lebanon Marine Barracks 1983; Lockerbie, Scotland Pan-Am flight to New York 1988; First New York World Trade Center attack 1993; Dhahran, Saudi Arabia Khobar Towers Military complex 1996; Nairobi, Kenya US Embassy 1998; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania US Embassy 1998; Aden, Yemen USS Cole 2000; New York World Trade Center 2001; Pentagon 2001. (during the period from 1981 to 2001 there were 7,581attacks worldwide). 
2. Why were we attacked?
Envy of our position, our success, and our freedoms. The attacks happened during the administrations of Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton and Bush 2. We cannot fault either the Republicans or Democrats as there were no provocations by any of the presidents or their immediate predecessors, Presidents Ford or Carter.
4. Who were the attackers?
In each case, the attacks on the US were carried out by Muslims.
5. What is the Muslim population of the World?
6. Isn't the Muslim Religion peaceful?
Hopefully, but that is really not material. There is no doubt that the predominately Christian population of Germany was peaceful, but under the dictatorial leadership of Hitler that made no difference. You either went along with the administration or you were eliminated. There were 5 to 6 million Christians killed by the Nazis for political reasons (including 7,000 Polish priests). (see http://www.nazis.testimony.co.uk/7-a.htm). Thus, almost the same number of Christians were killed by the Nazis, as the 6 million holocaust Jews who were killed by them, and we seldom heard of anything other than the Jewish atrocities. Although Hitler kept the world focused on the Jews, he had no hesitancy about killing anyone who got in his way of exterminating the Jews or of taking over the world - German, Christian or any others. Same with the Muslim terrorists. They focus the world on the US, but kill all in the way - their own people or the Spanish, French or anyone else.. . The point here is that just like the peaceful Germans were of no protection to anyone from the Nazis, no matter how many peaceful Muslims there may be, they are no protection for us from the terrorist Muslim leaders and what they are fanatically bent on doing - by their own pronouncements - killing all of us infidels. I don't blame the peaceful Muslims. What would you do if the choice was shut up or die?
You really need to read it all.
You know, I, and those of like mind, find this wisdom and revel in it. I feel so sorry for those who, for whatever twisted reason, find things like Michael Moore's crud and revel in it. They are focussing on what a terrible evil George Bush is and are totally oblivious to the danger that is not even bothering to hide anymore as it gathers. We'd all better WAKE THE HELL UP and start doing what it takes to win this thing, or else get ready for a long, protracted guerrilla war. Not in Baghdad and Fallujah...in the streets of New York and the countryside of Minnesota. And I'm too old to learn how to make an IED out of fertilizer.
I have a very good friend who I can't even bear to talk to anymore because of her conviction that a certain overweight filmmaker is more credible than the President of the United States. No amount of information, regardless of source (I quoted Clinton at her without making a dent), can sway her conviction that George W. Bush is the embodiment of evil.
For her, it's her friend. For me, it's my Mom. Otherwise, same story.
This so-called friend actually asked me not to vote.
Except she wouldn't ask that of me. I don't think.
You know, I hate to sound melodramatic, but the way I figure it we're more or less engaged in a struggle for the future of Western Civilization here. We take one path and live happily ever after, we take the other and we get to play Dark Ages again. I tend to think that in the long run we'll head the right way, but the thought of taking any detours just exhausts me. I don't exactly fear a Kerry presidency, I just get terribly tired even thinking about it. For that matter, I don't even fear the folks like my friend (though the collectivism at the heart of her politics is what will destroy us if anything will). I really do believe that we're the good guys, and that we'll get ourselves straightened out and the values we've traditionally held dear will triumph in the end. It's just a matter of time and carnage.
You see, that's the bit that makes me tired. I don't really believe that John Kerry would actually allow this country to be destroyed on his watch. I really don't. I think that what he would ultimately have to do during his term in office wouldn't look that much different in the end from what Bush would have to do. What I am convinced of, however, is that he would only do those things when forced to by events, and I would far rather be proactive than reactive (though what we are doing now is reactive in the sense that 9/11 made many things apparent that weren't so apparent before).
My thoughts EXACTLY. I don't fear Kerry, exactly. I just hate the idea of taking a detour to lala land before doing the right thing, when we could just do it now and be done with it, saving untold heartache and loss in the meantime. On issue after issue, Kerry demonstrates a lack of understanding of what is currently happening, while demonstrating 20/20 hindsight in criticizing the actions of others.
And the fact that so many seem to have drank the odious Mr. Moore's kool aid just makes me want to pitch the whole thing, shut up, concentrate on my daily life and just show up on election day and pull the lever for my guy.
So far my mouth always seems to have more than that to say about stuff, though. And I know it's stuff you need to know too, so I'll keep it up as long as I can. Just for you, mind.
“The Sudanese government’s campaign of ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Darfur is the root cause of this humanitarian crisis,” said Jemera Rone, Sudan researcher for Human Rights Watch. “Powell should press the Sudanese authorities to reverse this ‘ethnic cleansing’ and permit full humanitarian access.”
“Only by addressing the human rights crisis can the United States and United Nations hope to solve the humanitarian disaster,” Rone said.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has estimated that 350,000 persons may die in the next few months if aid is not substantially increased. The humanitarian emergency has resulted from the Sudanese government’s campaign of “ethnic cleansing” against civilians of three ethnic groups—the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa—from which the two rebel groups in Darfur draw their recruits. The Secretary of State has called the situation in Sudan’s western Darfur region “a catastrophe.”
On the other hand, they're moonbats who revile the United States for actually detaining terrorists.
So how is it that Human Rights Watch SEEMS to want us to intervene (they don't actually just come out and say it in so many words)? So they can bash us some more? I want us to intervene to stop the Sudan genocide too, but I hope I can be forgiven if I'm a little suspicious of a group who ignores the worst violators of human rights (Libya, China, Syria, the old Iraq, Iran, et al) and instead spends its venom on trying to lampoon the greatest beacon for human rights that ever existed.
[thinking hard about it]
Okay. I've resolved my inner conflict. Hey, Human Rights Watch. Bite me.
Monday, June 28, 2004
"This letter is for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, ''Islamic Response,'' and the rest of the so-called "insurgents" in Iraq. I obviously do not have an e-mail address for these vermin, so I am forwarding this letter to my entire address book in the hope you good people will forward it to as many people as possible, and that eventually through the miracle of the internet it somehow ends up in the hands of the intended recipients. Thank you all for your assistance.
This is from my good friend and fellow 3/4 vet. It sums up my feelings as well.
To the terrorists currently operating in Iraq,
I see that you have captured a U. S. Marine, and that you plan to cut off his head if your demands are not met. Big mistake. Before you carry out your threat I suggest you read up on Marine Corps history. The Japanese tried the same thing on Makin Island and in a few other places during World War Two, and came to regret it. Go ahead and read about what then happened to the mighty Imperial Army on Tarawa, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. They paid full price for what they did, and you will too.
You look at America and you see a soft target, and to a large extent you are right. Our country is filled with a lot of spoiled people who drive BMWs, sip decaf lattes and watch ridiculous reality TV shows. They are for the most part decent, hard working citizens, but they are soft. When you cut off Nick Berg's head those people gasped, and you got the media coverage you sought, and then those people went back to their lives. This time it is different. We also have a warrior culture in this country, and they are called Marines. It is a brotherhood forged in the fire of many wars, and the bond between us is stronger than blood. While it is true that this country has produced nitwits like Michael Moore, Howard Dean and Jane Fonda who can be easily manipulated by your gruesome tactics, we have also produced men like Jason Dunham, Brian Chontosh and Joseph Perez. If you don't recognize those names you should. They are all Marines who distinguished themselves fighting to liberate Iraq, and there will be many more just like them coming for you.
Before the current politically correct climate enveloped our culture one of the recruiting slogans of our band of brothers was "The Marine Corps Builds Men." You will soon find out just how true that is. You, on the other hand, are nothing but a bunch of women. If you were men you would show your faces, and take us on in a fair fight. Instead, you are cowards who hide behind masks and decapitate helpless victims. If you truly represented the interest of the Iraqi people you would not be ambushing those who come to your country to repair your power plants, or sabotage the oil pipelines which fuel the Iraqi economy. Your agenda is hate, plain and simple.
When you raise that sword over your head I want you to remember one thing. Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun is not alone as he kneels before you. Every Marine who has ever worn the uniform is there with him, and when you strike him you are striking all of us. If you think the Marines were tough on you when they were cleaning out Fallujah a few weeks ago you haven't seen anything yet. If you want to know what it feels like to have the Wrath of God called down upon you then go ahead and do it. We are not Turkish truck drivers, or Pakistani laborers, or independent contractors hoping to find work in your country. We are the United States Marines, and we will be coming for you."
May they rest in pieces.
For the love of God, after nearly three years of this could somebody please provide one example -- one solitary, factual example -- of these alleged "reduced freedoms"?
I've asked that very question in various ways here before. Tim and I are not nearly as afraid of John Ashcroft, the vast evil neocon conspiracy et al as so many journalists seem to be. Perhaps *my* readers are smarter than Tim's and can enlighten both of us.
If Idrissi seems a bit callous about the fate of the Iraqis in US-run jails, he has probably earned the right to differ. He recalls a day in 1982, at the General Security prison in Baghdad:
"They called all the prisoners out to the courtyard for what they called a 'celebration.' We all knew what they meant by 'celebration.' All the prisoners were chained to a pipe that ran the length of the courtyard wall. One prisoner, Amer al-Tikriti, was called out. They said if he didn't tell them everything they wanted to know, they would show him torture like he had never seen. He merely told them he would show them patience like they had never seen."
"This is when they brought out his wife, who was five months pregnant. One of the guards said that if he refused to talk he would get 12 guards to rape his wife until she lost the baby. Amer said nothing. So they did. We were forced to watch. Whenever one of us cast down his eyes, they would beat us."
"Amer's wife didn't lose the baby. So the guard took a knife, cut her belly open and took the baby out with his hands. The woman and child died minutes later. Then the guard used the same knife to cut Amer's throat." There is a moment of silence. Then Idrissi says: "What we have seen about the recent abuse at Abu Ghraib is a joke to us."
Don't worry, Idrissi. It's a joke to many of us in the US how our countrymen can become so blinded by their privilege and ease that they can make so light of your horrific experiences. Michael Moore and his legions of slavish followers have no idea what real torture is, and they probably never will because of the protections afforded to them by the people at whom they direct their worst venom.
It's very, very passe these days to compare somebody to Hitler. Godwin's law is based on it. I personally make it a huge priority never to compare anybody to Hitler lightly, for fear of minimizing the pain suffered under that madman.
So it is with the utmost care that I state that Saddam is only distinguished from Hitler by the scale of his atrocities, and not by their nature. If he had figured out a way to make it happen, Saddam would be indistinguishable from Hitler.
And those who compare George Bush to Hitler should be forced to confront Idrissi and the thousands of other hurt, shocked and damaged Iraqis with their idiocy, and they should be forced to sit through Saddam's training videos again and again and again...
Friday, June 25, 2004
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Israeli-made bullets bought by the U.S. Army to plug a shortfall should be used for training only, not to fight Muslim guerrillas in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. lawmakers told Army generals on Thursday.
Since the Army has other stockpiled ammunition, "by no means, under any circumstances should a round (from Israel) be utilized," said Rep. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, the top Democrat on a House of Representatives Armed Services subcommittee with jurisdiction over land forces.
The Army contracted with Israel Military Industries Ltd. in December for $70 million in small-caliber ammunition.
The Israeli firm was one of only two worldwide that could meet U.S. technical specifications and delivery needs, said Brig. Gen. Paul Izzo, the Army's program executive officer for ammunition. The other was East Alton, Illinois-based Winchester Ammunition, which also received a $70 million contract.
Yes, if I'm fighting the American forces in Afghanistan and suddenly feel a burning sensation in my chest, and then look down and see a gaping, ragged hole where my lung used to be, the first thing I'm going to think of is "boy, that BETTER not have been made in Israel".
GET F#$!*NG REAL! This whole political correctness bull@#*t is actually really funny in isolated cases like this, where the only harm is to the public image of the dolt who somehow found enough votes to get fat, (stay) dumb and happy in Washington. I don't, however, appreciate the other facets of political correctness, such as racism in hiring and college admissions, that are indirectly helped along by this crap.
Besides which, since this airhead is a Dem, shouldn't he be off walking a giant puppet down a street or something to protest ANY bullets being made ANYWHERE for ANY REASON WHATSOEVER?!
Militias backed by the Sudanese government have forced roughly a million people from their homes in the western part of the country. In the North-South conflict that wracked Sudan for 20 years, the Muslim government's favored tool was genocide, directed against the Christian and animist south. The government is conducting genocide again, giving air cover and other support to Arab militias that are cleansing black Sufi Muslims from the western province of Darfur. The North-South war killed 2 million; at least 10,000 have died already in Darfur; and, absent immediate relief, hundreds of thousands more could die.
"The U.S. has done more than anyone else in Darfur, and the Bush administration has done more than any other administration about Sudan," says Nina Shea of the human-rights group Freedom House. The U.S. has pledged nearly $200 million in aid to the region. The European Union so far is kicking in a little more than $10 million — from all 25 countries in the EU combined. It is the U.S. that is pushing hard for a tough Security Council resolution that will call on the Sudanese government to end its support for violence and allow aid to flow into Darfur. This is consistent with the administration's history of involvement in Sudan.
But wait...I thought the Bush administration was racist, nazi-like, heartless and evil? How can they be vastly outclassing the EU, who everybody knows is superior to the United States in every way? Ah, well. Take heart, Leftists...nobody has noticed this genocide yet, and maybe they'll just keep ignoring it.
Negotiations between the North and South had been bumping along ineffectually for years, until Bush appointed former senator John Danforth — now the U.S. representative to the U.N. — as his special envoy to the country. High-level Bush officials were engaged in the peace talks on a daily basis, and finally a ceasefire was forged this May. The Sudanese government has repeatedly proven itself susceptible to international pressure over the years, which is why there is hope for Darfur — if only the world can be bothered to create the pressure.
Okay, this is perfect evidence of that most tired of cliches, "liberal media bias". Regular readers know I've been following this story regularly and harping on the UN in post after post to do something...ANYTHING...to stop this. I care about this story enough to follow it like that and yet I never saw anything in the media about the Bush administration helping forge a ceasefire in May. I suppose that wasn't worth covering because it might actually throw a positive light on the evil nazi American regime when there's an election coming up, eh?
There is as yet no "CNN effect" — the sense of urgency that comes from international media attention — in Darfur. The press has mostly been AWOL, with the exception of New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, whose searing reports have made him a one-man call-to-action. The Muslim world has reserved its outrage for the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib, even though a spoonful of the same condemnation applied to Sudan could help save hundreds of thousands of Muslim lives. As for the U.N., it recently welcomed Sudan onto the U.N. Human Rights Commission, where, with China and Cuba, it will have lots of nasty company.
I just LOVE the UN, don't you?
UPDATE: More reading on this ongoing human tragedy here.
Vice President Dick Cheney cursed at Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy during a confrontation on the Senate floor while members were having their annual group picture taken earlier this week, Leahy and Senate sources said Thursday.
Senate aides with knowledge of the encounter Tuesday said the vice president confronted Leahy about some of the Democrat's criticism about alleged improprieties in Iraq military contracts awarded to Halliburton Co. Cheney, who as vice president is president of the Senate, is a former CEO of Halliburton.
Leahy responded by criticizing the White House for standing by allies who had accused Democrats of being anti-Catholic last year in opposing one of President Bush's judicial nominees, said one Senate aide, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Cheney then responded, "F—- off" or "F—- you," the aide said.
Very bad move, Dick. I feel your pain, but the Dems are in a fight they're beginning to lose, and they aren't likely to let a juicy little thing like this slide, especially after their boy had to take heat for calling a secret service guy an SOB.
Don't get me wrong, it really is fun to think of how it must have felt to finally let it fly and treat these pricks like they deserve. I just wish he could have waited until after the election. This shouldn't be held against Cheney (just as Kerry has far more worrisome things about him as a candidate than having cursed at a secret service agent) but there are a select few whose vote might change, and that could be deadly in a close election.
Thursday, June 24, 2004
Those guys should be given a million dollars or something.
An education awaits you..."Moonbats in the Mist". Don't miss it. This should be adapted to the omnitheater at the Minnesota Zoo or something.
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
This morning I agreed to appear in a documentary about blogging. The filmmaker happens to live in the Twin Cities, and apparently he just figured out that this is a hotbed of conservative bloggers. Until now, he has interviewed only lefties, and he told me that he is a lefty himself.
I was undeterred, of course. Truth be told, I, like Deacon and the Trunk, was also once a lefty, so there is hope for this guy. And for his audience. I told him he could interview the Trunk and me on Saturday. I haven't, actually, broken this news to the Trunk yet, so our long partnership could be in jeopardy. Nine-thirty, Trunk, at my house. If things go bad, Deacon, we'll patch you in on the phone and hide in the back yard.
Here is how the "blogumentarian" recorded our conversation on his site today: "Blogumentary Ventures Into the Conservative Blogosphere." It's sort of like, Captain Cook meets the natives. But, hey, we're nothing if not ecumenical. And I think we're Captain Cook, too.
Oh, that's right. Their blog sucks far less than mine does.
But what's that about the guy only having gone into the left side of the blogosphere? That's like going to skid row and making value judgements about the United States from what you see around you, or going to a Barry Manilow concert and judging all American music from what you're hearing.
Still, Rocketman is right, there is hope for the guy while he still breathes. Most people in their "right" mind had to find it first and before that were lefties too.
I still want someone to ask me for an interview, though. I'm interesting. Really.
The same "let's have it both ways" opportunism infects his treatment of another very serious subject, namely domestic counterterrorist policy. From being accused of overlooking too many warnings—not exactly an original point—the administration is now lavishly taunted for issuing too many. (Would there not have been "fear" if the harbingers of 9/11 had been taken seriously?) We are shown some American civilians who have had absurd encounters with idiotic "security" staff. (Have you ever met anyone who can't tell such a story?) Then we are immediately shown underfunded police departments that don't have the means or the manpower to do any stop-and-search: a power suddenly demanded by Moore on their behalf that we know by definition would at least lead to some ridiculous interrogations. Finally, Moore complains that there isn't enough intrusion and confiscation at airports and says that it is appalling that every air traveler is not forcibly relieved of all matches and lighters. (Cue mood music for sinister influence of Big Tobacco.) So—he wants even more pocket-rummaging by airport officials? Uh, no, not exactly. But by this stage, who's counting? Moore is having it three ways and asserting everything and nothing. Again—simply not serious.
Wow. READ THE WHOLE THING. It's the most eviscerating, emasculating piece I've read in a long time.
And for anybody who, after reading the entire piece, even hesitates to stop and think that perhaps, just maybe, Michael Moore might actually have one thing useful to say, check out here, here and here.
His mother, Virginia Kelley married a ne'er-do-well traveling salesman, Bill Blythe, who was a bigamist and died in a car accident before Clinton was born. There is doubt whether he was actually Clinton's father. During the 1992 presidential campaign, Blythe's different marriages and his children by them began to turn up. Clinton aide and confidante Betsey Wright has said, "Virginia didn't know how many marriages [he had had], and every time a new child showed up, she would just tell the staff to have me return the call."
The flirtatious Virginia eventually remarried, to a man named Roger Clinton, and they moved to the mob-infested gambling town of Hot Springs. There were three warning signs about Roger: he was a drinker, he was a gambler, and his nickname was "Dude." He turned out to be a miserable bastard. Young Bill routinely heard the sounds of fierce drunken late-night arguments between Virginia and a jealous Roger, who beat and sometimes kicked her.
I knew some of this, but not all of it. As I've mentioned before, I have some experience with broken homes and people that come from them. It's a strange thing, but when they come from such a home, people seem to either be completely unable to be successful or they're "driven" to success. Clinton seems to be one of the latter.
I'm a little different from your garden-variety conservative in that I don't really hold a lot of animosity for Bill Clinton. I hold a lot more for Gore and Kerry, and to a lesser extent Hillary, but Bill has always appealed to me. Heck, I voted for him twice (though I must offer in my defense that I was a liberal then and have since found my mind). It may just be that he's so personally likeable...I don't really know.
I do know I wouldn't vote for him today. He's fundamentally an unserious man, which is why he was so perfect for the time he was president. The 90s were a big party. Communism was beaten, Islamism hadn't reared its head yet, the stock market was going nuts, and Clinton was the perfect catalyst for the Oprahfication of America. He felt our pain, though we had less pain than at any time in our history, and we loved him for it.
Now, though...there's a whole new ballgame in town. Things are dead serious. There are bad people trying to do bad things to us, and we need a serious man in office who will do the things necessary to protect us while doing everything possible to protect our rights under the constitution. Bush is far closer to what I would call an ideal balance than anyone else in the field, but Clinton is constitutionally incapable of rising to the kinds of challenges facing today's president(s).
So thanks for the fun ride, Bill. Your time is gone and there are those who still hate you, but I'm not among them. I enjoyed your schtick and still do, but I'm glad you got out before the shit hit the fan.
Monday, June 21, 2004
CAIR is an evil organization...and I'm really starting to wonder about the "huge majority" of American Muslims as well. They need to understand that their first loyalty had better be to America, or else they should make plans to travel back to their home country.
Hint: here's a photo of the dashboard of a time machine.
Iran said Monday it had confiscated three British naval vessels and arrested eight armed crew members. The Royal Navy acknowledged it had lost contact with three small patrol boats on a routine mission in the waterway between Iraq (news - web sites) and Iran.
Now, I don't pretend to know the particulars of the case. Maybe the Brits were asking for it, although I doubt it. What possible pressing national security interest could the Brits threaten with a few patrol boats? But in a flight of fantasy let's pretend that the Brits were asking for it and the Iranians had a legitimate interest in confiscating the boats and crews.
WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY THINKING??!! They've got the IAEA up their asses with a microscope, which poses no actual threat to their nuclear program but which must be a real pain nonetheless. They've got the World's Only Superpower™ breathing down their neck for 25 years of terrism sponsorship and smelling mullah blood. They're international pariahs to everybody except Russia and the EU. Their own people are increasingly rejecting their bullshit.
WAIT! I know! Let's pick a fight with one of the foremost members of the coalition who has their military active in a bordering country!
My guess? The Brits had picked up one of the bigger fish the Iranians have been slipping in and out of Iraq, and the mullahs didn't want to cut that particular fish loose. Or maybe there's something even murkier going on. Whatever the case, they're just as insane as I'd figured all along. They aren't competent to run a sand dune, much less a country, much less a country with nuclear weapons.
UPDATE: Wretchard says more or less the exact same thing I did about this, but of course with a little more emphasis on the political backdrop of the situation and much more style.
Sunday, June 20, 2004
Anyway, yesterday I voyaged into the darkest heart of suburbia and helped a friend sod the lawn around his newly built house. There were six of us, and we worked like dogs for 4 or 5 hours, after which we shoveled an alarming measure of lasagna and garlic bread into our yaps. The main lesson for the day was not to spend a day doing such manual labor when you mostly abuse a keyboard for a living.
So now, as I sit nursing a cup of coffee, listening to my atrophied muscles talk to me about their nasty experience yesterday and looking out the window, I see an identical day to yesterday getting ready to bookend an idyllic weekend...and unlike yesterday's planned self-torture, this one is wide open. The sun is out, it's not too hot, there's a lake all around me and my disc-man and fishing gear are sitting by the door waiting.
Gotta go. Those walleyes aren't just going to jump up on the bank by themselves, ya know.
Friday, June 18, 2004
US out of the UN and the UN out of the US! And prosecute Kofi Annan for the Oil-for-Bribes-And-Kickbacks debacle!
Maquinna said band members believe Luna embodies the spirit of his late father.
Videotape showed Luna swimming alongside the Indian paddlers, spinning over onto his back while some of the Indians patted his skin, rubbed his teeth and scratched his belly with hands and paddles.
The behavior Luna exhibited with the paddlers is exactly the kind of behavior that led officials with the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans to try to get him out of Nootka Sound.
Officials had planned to use a boat that Luna is particularly fond of to lead him into a net pen, where he would undergo medical tests.
If healthy, he would be coaxed into a sling, crane-lifted into a container, placed on the back of a transport truck and then driven about 200 miles south to a bay near Victoria.
Once there, the plan called for him to be held in another net pen until his pod swims by. He then would be released with the hope he would set out to meet his family.
Talk about swatting a fly with a Buick. Why not just leave the critter there? He wasn't hurting anybody, and I bet any floatplanes or boats could easily be warned to watch out for the community "pet".
Anyway, it intrigued me (and the subtly condescending headline angered me), but I didn't trust myself to post about it until I learned more. Fortunately, I happen to know that my favorite commentor Ben, while not one of the tribe described in the story, is in fact a Native American and, as I said a post or so ago, also one of the smartest guys I know. Plus he lives near there, and I thought he might have some thoughts. I emailed him about it and got the following reply (reposted by his permission):
The Mowachaht are a group of the Nuu-chah-nulth people from the west coast of Vancouver Island. The Nuu-chah-nulth were great whalers througout their history, probably six thousand years or so. (There have been people in North America for twenty thousand years, but archaeological evidence for the Nuu-chah-nulth (also called incorrectly the Nootka peoples) is sketchy before the 8k year mark due to shifting ocean levels and their being an ocean resource people living near the shore. It's assumed that their earliest village sites are now underwater a mile off shore.)
Traditionally, their chiefs have been whales. People, but were considered whales. (I really am a bear, Spaath, btw.) It's their religion to this day. The chief would select a whaling party, they would spend six months in purification rituals, then on the day of the hunt their wives would stay in bed, motionless, because they were the ocean and you didn't want waves messing things up. They would paddle their canoes out into the Pacific ocean and harpoon a whale with a mussel shell attached to a pole tethered to the canoe with a cedar bark rope. You then hoped the second canoe got in a hit, because sometimes a whale could pull one canoe under with it. After pulling the canoes awhile, the whale would tire and someone would jump onto the whale and kill it with a spear. Then someone else would dive into the water and sew the whales mouth shut, because if it filled with water it would sink. Hopefully the whale was dead at this point, but not always. The sewing was considered the most dangerous part of the job. [No shit. -ed]
The crew then towed the whale back to their villages. The whale, being a chief of the Nuu-chah-nulth, was celebrated beyond the mere normal practice of thanking it for its gift of life to the community, which was afforded to all fish, game, foodplants and trees. Eating the whale was like that Catholic thing where you drink the wine and eat the wafer, blood and body of Christ and all.
Maquinna is a traditional name for the Nuu-chah-nulth. Names are like intellectual property, you can't just give someone a name, you have to have the rights to that name. A previous Maquinna was a powerful chief of the Nuu-chah-nulth back in the late 18th, early 19th century. The British hated the NW Coast people because of their trade expertise; more than one British trader went broke by taking a shipload of beads and trinkets to the Pacific NW and finding the natives knew the trade cost of their otter pelts in China and demanding fair prices. One American sea captain pissed off Maquinna roaylly, and he took a war party of canoes out to the _Boston_ and killed everyone aboard except for John Jewett, who he took as a slave for three years before he allowed him to escape. (Maquinna sent him alone to an American trading ship as a messanger.) Jewett wrote a book about it.
The Makah on the tip of the Olympic Penninsula in Washington State are Nuu-chah-nulth. Around 1880-1940 it was practice of the whites to shoot any "Canadian" Indians who tried to cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca, so there was some degree of social isolation for a bit. Both Canada and the US made Indian religious practices illegal, and imprisoned people who held or attended potlatches. They also confiscated the religious regalia of the ceremonies, sold it to museums and private collectors and then pocketed the proceeds. (The prosecutors both Crown and US, as well as the individual Mounties and the US Marshalls apparently made quite a bit of cash. Their supervisors were okay with this. It didn't seem to be a hidden process. They kept records.)
In the 1990s the Makah (but not the Canadian Nuu-chah-nulth) won the right to restart their religious practice of taking whales. They had to go through the US Congress, the Department of the Interior, the Justice Department, some World Whaling Organization and then finally the United Nations, but they did. The Grey whale had been taken off the endangered species list, and marine biologists suggested that a sustainable harvest of whales would be from 450 to 600 per year. The Makah asked for five. They were allowed, on the condition that after harpooning the whale, to prevent its distress, it was then shot with a high powered rifle. The Makah agreed.
Greenpeace and several other environmental groups immediately began a campaign of hate crime activism against the Makah, and every other Indian group in the area. They spread leaflets calling for the physical attacking of Indian people. Many of the Indians attacked by whites weren't even akah, and one (a Queets, I believe) was left in a wheelchair for life. The environmentalists then enlisted the aid of Representative Jack Metcalf (R Wa) and Senator Slade Gorton (R Wa), both enemies of the environment, but rabid racists with long histories of gaining the votes of white resource extraction workers (loggers and fishers) through the urging of racial violence.
I guess this orca has become habituated to humans. Pity.
So there you have it, straight from the bear's mouth.
Oh, but of course us evil Americans are the only racists in the world. There is no antisemitism or racism in Europe, didn't you know that?
As I've pointed out before, oil is running out and will be gone as a cheap energy source in a matter of a few decades at present consumption rates. If we don't want to go back to an agrarian lifestyle and experience a disorderly population reduction (read: cataclysm) we'll need to find realistic alternative energy sources. I'm not talking about wind and solar (as it's configured today), those are nice locally and for specialized things, but they're a pipe dream as a source for REAL power generation.
I've studied this a little lately, and the prevailing thought among a lot of experts is that the most likely way to get energy on the scale we need to maintain the world as we know it is huge solar "farms" in orbit around Earth beaming energy in the form of microwave radiation to receiving stations on the surface. A general description is available here.
That will require several technological advances, not the least of which is a reliable, safe, and above all affordable way to get the necessary men and materials into space in order to build and maintain those giant power farms.
Enter Ascender and Skyhook.
Ascender is basically a space plane. Unremarkable except for the fact that it could help save civilization as we know it:
Ascender is designed to be the first sub-orbital aeroplane since the X-15, and the first ever to carry passengers to space. It would start a sub-orbital space tourism business that would build up the credibility needed for full orbital tourism. It is based on a design included in a feasibility study for the European Space Agency. Four leading British aerospace companies took part in this study, Dowty Aerospace Limited, Dunlop Aerospace Limited, Pilkington Aerospace Limited and Ricardo Aerospace Limited. The UK Minister for Space commissioned an independent review of this study that "did not identify any fundamental flaws" in the concept.
Ascender uses proven materials and existing engines. It takes off from an ordinary airfield using its turbofan engine and climbs at subsonic speed to a height of 8 km. The pilot then starts the rocket engine and pulls up into a steep climb. When the rocket fuel is used up Ascender is climbing close to the vertical at a speed of Mach 2.8, from which it coasts to a maximum height of 100 km. Ascender then enters a steep dive. On reaching the atmosphere the pilot pulls out of the dive and flies back to the airfield from which he took off 30 minutes previously.
This is what the space shuttle wanted to be when it grew up, people. And it's one model that would help us achieve what we'll need to achieve in the next few decades.
Another interesting possibility is Skyhook:
A skyhook is a hypothetical structure used for transporting material to and from a planet's surface into orbit. The largest and perhaps simplest of these is the space elevator, a cable that runs all the way from the planet's surface to beyond synchronous orbit. Smaller skyhooks include hypersonic skyhooks, rotating cables in lower orbits whose ends dip repeatedly down close to the planet's surface to snag payloads and lift them up. Large rotating tethers can also be used far from a planet's surface to transfer momentum to and from payloads, changing their orbits without the expenditure of reaction mass.
This option seems the more romantic and exotic of the two, and at first blush also the least possible...but all that's really missing right now is the right material to make the cable of. In Kim Stanley Robinson's _Red Mars_ (if you read it, be sure to follow up with Green Mars and Blue Mars; I just finished Green Mars and am starting on Blue Mars) he imagines how it would work to build a space elevator on Mars. Then he imagines what it would be like if the thing fell down (hint: it would hit really, really hard and wrap around the planet a couple of times), an issue to keep in mind if we ever go this route.
Why am I posting about the looming energy problem again? Get used to it. I'm going to keep posting on this whenever I find something interesting or useful to understanding or solving the problem because I feel it is the most pressing, least understood and least emphasized issue of our day. Somebody needs to start publicizing this and helping people to at least be aware of it and, if possible, help them to understand it. Reading Steven Den Beste's nested series of articles will disabuse the reader of the more common mistakes people make when thinking about this stuff too.
Comments and email on this issue are always welcome, as I'm still trying to get my arms around the scale and nature of the problem too.
UPDATE: Ben sends a link to "The Other Ascender" that he feels has a better shot at succeeding.
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Climate change experts said on Tuesday they are frustrated the U.S. government and the public are not taking the risk of global warming seriously.
We're frustrated with them, too, for wanting to uselessly destroy our economy.
They said even as sea levels rise and crop yields fall, officials argue over whether climate change is real and Americans continue to drive fuel-guzzling SUVs.
Morons, climate change IS real. We have scientific proof from the fossil record and everything. Ice ages, warm periods, you name it. Why do you want to stop natural processes? That would be harmful to nature, for God's sake.
"There is going to be large change," said atmospheric scientist David Battisti of the University of Washington in Seattle. "The risks are very large."
How did your large ass ever land a job in a large university? Large numbers of people have done a large number of large studies, and still have large numbers of disagreements over the largeness of the risks involved.
The group met at the American Association for the Advancement of Science to try to drive home the message that climate change is already under way.
As I said, it's ALWAYS under way. That's what the Earth does. Trying to stop it is futile.
"You hope that somehow people will understand that we have got to do something now," Joyce Penner, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Michigan, said in an interview. "Some people get it -- some people are driving hybrids. But there is a problem with the American public."
Some people get that in the next half-century, the oil will run out either way and either be done without or replaced with something different. Next question.
Climate experts around the world agree one first step to battling the buildup of polluting gases that is warming the Earth is an agreement called the Kyoto Protocol (news - web sites), a 1997 pact aimed at reducing greenhouse emissions.
Okay, that's a nice piece of fiction. Now for nonfiction: climate "experts" around the world don't agree on anything of the sort. Like all other groups of people trying to tackle a thorny issue, they have major disagreements even about whether there's even a problem, and, if there is, whether there's anything we could do that would be remotely effective, never mind how we should do it or when or anything else.
More than 120 nations have ratified the pact or acceded to it. President Bush pulled out in 2001, arguing Kyoto was too expensive and unfairly excluded developing nations. The United States is the world's biggest polluter, producing 36 percent of warming emissions.
President Bush undid Clinton's "unilateral" nonbinding signing of this piece of filth. It is HUGELY expensive when you dig down into the fine print and understand the implications. Add to that the near-certainty that it will make zero difference in climate, and you're basically left with the biggest class-warfare scam ever attempted in the history of the world. The "poor" nations and the self-hating "rich" nations trying to take down the sensible "rich" nations.
We should just wait for the oil to run out and the problem will be solved, gas-guzzlers or no. We don't have that long to wait...and it will be very interesting to see what comes after. "Interesting" in the most morbid, scary, apocalyptic sense of the word imaginable.
Two 15-year-old girls were arrested overnight Wednesday in the West Bank city of Nablus for allegedly planning to carry out a suicide attack together with their fathers, Army Radio reported.
According to the report, the four were recruited by an Al-Aksa activist. IDF sources told the radio that the same activist recruited Husam Abdu, 16, of Nablus to carry out a suicide bombing at the Huwara checkpoint south of the West Bank city.
The two teenage girls were identified as members of the Fatah organization, Majda Kohon and Assil al-Hindi.
They were arrested in Nablus and taken into custody along with their fathers. Israel radio reported that after questioning it transpired that one of the girls had recruited the other to carry out a suicide bombing attack.
The sad part is, I wasn't even surprised to read this. Note to scumbag terrorists: if your goal is truly to get your own state and be autonomous from Israel, you'd do far better to implement the types of resistance used by the civil rights movement in the 60s in America rather than allow yourselves to sink into the depraved state you're in. Of course, since your only goal is to kill jews in accordance with the directives of your death cult, I suppose that's wasted advice.
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Just to reiterate: It doesn't matter how much gas costs, how poorly things are going in Iraq, what new torture memos surface, or whether there are new terror attacks inside our borders. John Kerry hasn't got a whore's chance in a convent, Bush is going to kick his ass all over the United States, and when we see the results in November, the idea that anybody ever thought Kerry had a prayer will seem as quaint and absurd as the brief flurry of "excitement" for Dukakis (or was it Kakdukis?) back in Old '88.
Yeah. Like I've been saying, as soon as Kerry is forced to open his mouth and actually use it to explain his positions and proposed policies, he's a goner and Bush has 4 more. Bush actually took the gloves off yesterday with his pandering to old Clinton fans that might not like Kerry so much. Say what you want, the man (or perhaps Karl Rove) is a political genius.
If Bush does not win 40 states in November, I'll be a very surprised man.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska today filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Omaha on behalf of Lubna Hussein, a Muslim woman who was told she must remove her religious garb in order to accompany her children at a municipal swimming pool.
“The city cannot operate its pools in a way that discriminates,” said ACLU Nebraska Legal Director Amy Miller. “In this case, they have barred the pool doors to three children because of their mother’s religious beliefs. There is no doubt that the City Parks and Recreation Department policies are not only discriminatory, but also have been applied in a disparate manner against Mrs. Hussein.”
In June and August 2003, Hussein took her three children, ages 9 and under, to the Deer Ridge municipal pool in Omaha, only to be turned away at the gate after informing city employees that she could not wear a bathing suit without violating her religious beliefs. She was told by pool employees that she could not be in the pool area in her street clothing, even though she observed other people in the pool area who were not wearing bathing suits. On one occasion, officials told Mrs. Hussein that her children could enter but that she would have to remain outside and observe them from the other side of the pool fence.
If she really did observe other people in the pool area who were not wearing bathing suits, and the policy is that people need bathing suits to be in the pool area, then she AND anybody else not following the rules should be sent out of the pool PERMANENTLY, with a boot in their ass if they need encouragement.
I've written in this space before that I've had muslim friends and coworkers before. I've kissed a muslim. I have nothing against the sane ones, but to move to another country and expect not to have to integrate with the population of that country and follow the rules in force when you get there is definitely not sane, and anyone who behaves like that is definitely NOT welcomed to America by me.
The ACLU is also insane. Awhile ago I wrote that I finally found something with which I could agree with the ACLU...I take it back. I knew I should have waited for further information before believing the ACLU could get anything right. Apparently the reason the cross is on that seal is because the county was built aroud...wait for it...a Catholic mission. Seems to me that a symbol of a county's historical founders on the county seal is pretty reasonable. Their apparent mission is to find people who do things that are as dumb or as unfair as possible and then take their side. I'll never, ever agree with the ACLU again until I've had a full week to think about it.
As for the Muslims, they are getting by with anything they want at will in Europe. I think they'll find that they'll actually have to behave like the visitors they are here instead of our masters. At least for now, until the ACLU finds a way to make us all bow down to them.
Monday, June 14, 2004
The 2003 invasion of Iraq by the US-led coalition has been widely ridiculed and derided in many places. The most common charge claims that Bush had no idea what he was getting the nation into, or what consequences his decision would bring. Both claims, like so many attacks against the President, are false, and demonstrate only the inability of Bush’s critics to see beyond their own subjective opinions. The actions taken by the Bush Administration in Iraq, are essential components of a policy which not only has the potential to revolutionize the notion of representative democracy in the Middle East, but also to render obsolete the use of terrorist attacks as a tool for political position.
The first point to make, is that it was unavoidably necessary to invade Iraq. Iraq under Saddam Hussein represented a triple threat: First, Saddam Hussein supported Terrorism. He paid money to terrorist organizations and to the families of suicide bombers who killed Israelis. He stockpiled thousands of explosive vests in military warehouses, where US forces discovered them. He established and supplied terrorist training camps in Iraq, such as Salman Pak . He hosted and sheltered terrorist leaders such as Abu Abbas , Abu Nidal , and Carlos “The Jackal”. Saddam’s Baath Party officials had direct meetings with leaders from Al-Fatah, Islamic Jihad, and other international terrorist groups.
Read the whole thing, and follow some of the supporting links. It's a pretty comprehensive case, all taken together.
Friday, June 11, 2004
2) Blogging over the entire rest of the summer is likely to remain a little on the light side. Summer in Minnesota is too short not to go out in it and get a little dirty.
3) I've been on a metal jag since I posted about it. I've listened to a bunch of different 80s metal bands over the last few days, as well as some samples of newer pseudo-metal bands. After carefully considering all the available alternatives, I've come to the reluctant conclusion that Bon Jovi is still the all-time hands-down winner. Further, I'd like to encourage you to write your congressman to see if we can't get the "Star Spangled Banner" replaced with "Livin' on a Prayer".
Thank you for your attention.
Thursday, June 10, 2004
You'll be missed, Ray. Keep making music wherever you are.
There's no reason to believe this was a terrorist attack. A bomb packed with nails went off in Cologne, causing 22 casualties, but it absolutely was not a terrorist attack.
Nope. Quite sure of that. There are no terrorists in Germany. It can't happen here. It was just an ordinary nail-bomb. Happens all the time; nothing special about it. It was definitely not a terrorist nail bomb. There is absolutely no indication of a terrorist connection.
Den Beste touches on a point here that has been driving me nuts since France performed that public pants-shitting during the run-up to the Iraq war. You know, the one where Villepin (or however you spell it) proclaimed that France would veto any resolution the US came up with no matter what it was, sparking widespread American boycotts on French products and general hatred of all things French by many Americans, including yours truly. And that point is that Europe just doesn't take this seriously. They're too busy protesting having to work more than 35 hours a week, or protesting that the US is a bunch of cowboys (a high compliment if I do say so), or excoriating America for taking out Saddam and boosting Saddam, preparing for a herculean effort to try to get him off scot free.
But he gives Europe some sage advice:
Speaking as an American, that's not very much. It's progress, I guess, but only in the sense that you have moved from "denial" to "making a deal": if we just crack down on cells, maybe it will be enough.
It won't be. It's a good first step, but the journey is a thousand steps.
Step 2 is to recognize that this is a war of aggression against you and the only way to protect yourselves in the long run is to get them before they get you. If you refuse to even try to get them then they will inevitably get you. It's only a matter of time.
The them you have to get aren't in Europe. (And I'm afraid they aren't here in America, either.) You can spend decades cleaning up terror cells within Europe, and them will spend those decades forming new ones. Eventually one of the cells won't get caught in time and you'll have another Madrid, or worse. You won't be safe until there's no them to create cells.
But that requires you to accept that there really is an us and there really is a them, and them are enemies who are trying to kill us and can't be talked out of it or bribed to go away and attack someone else (like Americans or Jews or Australians).
The second step on your journey is to accept that you are at war. War has come to you, whether you like it or not, and if you refuse to fight it, you'll lose. You are in a shooting war, and you cannot talk your way out of a shooting war. It is your war; you cannot avoid it. You didn't start it and you don't want it, but that no longer matters. You have an enemy in this shooting war, who is shooting at you because your enemy wants you dead. And your enemy won't stop shooting at you until you shoot at them – and hit them, and kill them.
Of course, Europe won't learn these things until there are at least a half-dozen more Madrids. Or perhaps one 9/11-sized event. Either way, then it'll be too late to save a lot of lives that could be saved if Europe would just LISTEN to us NOW. The US is not on a war footing for the fun of it, people.
We're not just imagining the bad guys. They show up regularly in tapes that the Euros can see as well as we can. There are regular terrorist incidents in Europe that, in spite of the Europress that tries desperately to hide or downplay the Islamist connection, are visible for anybody with their own mind to understand.
Gah. Read the whole thing. It shows beautifully the deficit in Euro understanding of what exactly it is that we're engaged in.
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
It will be interesting to see how much effect the blogosphere has on this election. Cheap shit like what Brokaw did will be caught MUCH more often from now on. I've been doing a little informal survey of people I talk to, asking them whether they've heard of "blogs". Some have...surprisingly many haven't. This cycle I don't think blogs will have a very large direct effect. Harder to measure is the indirect effect. For instance, Joe American reads this post, checks the post I linked to, is indignant and mentions it to his wife and a couple of guys he has beer with after work.
I think before too long the campaigns and the media will have to tighten up the controls to make sure the things they're saying are less misleading, or the blogosphere will savage them. We'll Fact-Check Your Ass™.
I'm going to sound like an old codger saying this, and I used to ridicule the old hippies of my youth that longed for the music of the 60s, but I just don't "get" today's music. There no longer seems to be clear demarcations of styles and types of music. There's not even clearly delineated fusions, such as country rock or jazz/pop. There's just this stupid gangsta rap crap, bubblegum pop, salsa, and a bunch of other styles all mixed together in one big mishmash. Occasionally a song comes along that I like, but often it's by an artist that has been around since at least the 90s, and sometimes even the 80s.
Thank God for VH1. I doubt it was the first showing, but they had a series of shows on that did a countdown of the top 40 hair metal bands. Hair metal, for those unfortunate souls who are unaware, is a variation of hard rock utilizing a lot of precussion (particularly cymbals), wailing guitars and raspy-edged vocals that are often shouted or screamed and may or may not be falsetto at times. Tempo is almost invariably quick except for "power ballads", which usually alternate between fast and slow, but the drums, cymbals and wailing guitar are still present. Bass guitar is also essential for this style of music, whereas synthesizers are nearly universally scorned in the hair metal world with a few notable exceptions. Those are the things that make hair-metal music what it is...a hair-metal BAND makes that kind of music plus has--wait for it--long, flowing tresses steeped in hairspray and stacked to the troposphere. Lore says that the hair-metal genre ended in the early 90s not so much because of the commonly-faulted "grunge invasion" by bands like Nirvana, but because they were all threatened with lawsuits by environmental groups for threatening the very existence of the ozone layer.
Anyway, it was interesting to watch this particular countdown and compare their opinions against my own. They put Poison at #1...I would have them in the top 10 but not at #1. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they put White Lion in the top 10, which I also would, but White Lion usually gets the shaft from these kinds of things. Firehouse (who I am listening to as I write this) formed around '90, near the end of the hair metal era and was listed somewhere in the middle.
Those clowns actually included Def Leppard in the countdown, though they are much more of a straight heavy rock group than metal, though they at least had the sense to put them in the top 10.
They listed Twisted Sister at #2, which I suspect was a sop to Dee Snyder, Lead singer of Twisted Sister and host of the countdown. I would have them back in the 20s or 30s.
They also reminded me of Vixen's and Lita Ford's contributions to the genre. Hair metal is a mainly male-dominated genre, but there are notable exceptions. Lita Ford is probably the strongest and most musically talented woman that ever played rock-n-roll, with close competition from her former bandmate Joan Jett (not included in the countdown, probably because she's far more punk than hair metal). Vixen was every bit as good as a lot of the other bands in the countdown, and it was good to see them included.
In order to prove they regularly smoke high-quality dope, the program's creators included Mr. Big and a number of other one-hit-wonders, but proved they tried to lay off the heroin by at least leaving them at the bottom of the lineup.
All in all, a spectacular trip down memory lane and back to a time when music knew what it wanted to be. I was and am a huge fan of 80s soft rock, hard rock, and even country, but I've always had a soft spot for the hair metal bands that had such a huge hand in creating the soundtrack by which I stumbled through my adolescence and came of age.
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Iraqi officials declared Tuesday that the interim government has assumed full control of the country's oil industry ahead of the June 30 handover of sovereignty from the U.S.-led occupation administration.
"Today the most important natural resource has been returned to Iraqis to serve all Iraqis," Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said. "I'm pleased to announce that full sovereignty and full control on oil industry has been handed over to the oil ministry today and to the new Iraqi government as of today."
Does this mean I don't get my part of that oil? Cuz I was gonna sell it and buy a Harley, and if I don't get it then I'm gonna be really disappointed. Scummy, heartless neocons need to have fun too, you know.
U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy might be in the trailer for Michael Moore's controversial new movie, ``Fahrenheit 9/11,'' but the liberal filmaker says the Republican from Watertown isn't in the actual film.
Last week, when the movie trailer first appeared on the Internet, it contained Moore's ambush interview of Kennedy. In the preview, Moore asks Kennedy to help enlist the children of members of congress to fight in Iraq.
Kennedy's reply is not given in the trailer, which annoyed the congressman, because Kennedy said that he had talked about his nephews in the military and fighting overseas. He has two nephews who have served.
Sounds like a pretty clear-cut case of "oops, you gave a good answer and you're a good man, as is typical of the Republican House caucus, so I have to look elsewhere to find innocent stuff that's easier to twist to make the speaker look bad".
I really, really, REALLY don't know how even the most left of the lefties can shell out good money to watch and/or read his crap. Only in America. Well, France too, but only because he's their de facto prime minister.
My bullshit-o-meter has been pegged on that since even before I found my senses and turned conservative. I was there in the early 80s. I remember it myself. AIDS scared the hell out of EVERYBODY, and NOBODY knew what it was or what should be done about it. Lots of people looked to the president to figure something out, and he did the best he could, as is outlined here:
It was the Reagan administration that cut through this misinformation and, after careful deliberation, concluded that AIDS patients were entitled to be treated as "handicapped" under federal laws that protect such individuals from discrimination.
This would have been a courageous act for any president, but it was even more so for President Reagan. Given the medical uncertainty and the fact that AIDS was transmitted largely through sexual promiscuity, President Reagan not only needed to educate the public, but also to encourage his core political base to have charity toward those who consciously engage in morally questionable behavior.
He didn't hesitate to do so. When an initial legal inquiry suggested that those with AIDS might not be eligible for civil-rights protection because employers and others could assert a legitimate "fear of contagion," whether or not that fear was reasonable or scientifically verifiable, it was President Reagan who appointed a commission on AIDS that ultimately asked for that legal thinking to be re-examined.
I had always assumed Reagan had a pretty crappy domestic policy record, and I still think it wasn't what it could have been. But I was a completely different person when I came to that conclusion than I am now, and I've never had the occasion to go back and reexamine things to see if my conclusion was indeed the correct one. I'm going to have to revisit that one of these days. There are other articles here and here that dispute my commonly-accepted vision of Reagan as a foreign-policy giant and domestic dwarf.
Monday, June 07, 2004
I grew up in a generation (X) that spent their childhood and young-adulthood under the shadow of a potential nuclear annihilation of all living things on the planet. This impression was reinforced by having nuclear bomb shelters under my school, watching "The Day After" (a made-for-TV movie circa 1983) and several other similar shows, and my own overactive imagination. My teachers in school taught us to love Jimmy Carter because he was trying to be reasonable with those naughty Soviets in order to make them (and us) throw away the nasty nuclear bombs and make us all safer. This was reinforced by seeing news coverage of the SALT talks, et al. Nightmares of nuclear destruction were a staple of my childhood.
Ronald Reagan hit the scene like a nuclear weapon himself. I remember wondering where this guy came from. I was only about 12 at the time, but I definitely got the impression that he didn't want to run things like they had been going. He wanted to confront the bad guys with a huge arms buildup. This was good, because it would make them stop, but it was bad because it might make them nuke us. With my childish 12-year-old worldview, it was definitely better if we could just all try to get along...so I hated Reagan like poison. As people do with beliefs they hold, I selectively filtered the news in my head to reinforce my belief that Carter, then Mondale was far safer to have in office. I was proud that when all other states in the union went for Reagan, at least mine had the good sense and clarity of vision to choose Mondale. As recently as the mid-90s I remember feeling that even when things were bad, at least we didn't have Reagan in the White House any longer.
As is usually the case, it took some time after his presidency was over to prove out his policies as the correct ones for the time. It's still working itself out, but there's no doubt in my mind that while you can legitimately criticise one or another aspect of his work, overall he was right and his legion of critics were full of crap. My Romanian coworker is one person liberated by the man, and people don't seem to realize that the shockwaves of Reagan's world-freeing tenure are still being felt in vast swaths of the world. Some countries have fallen back into dictatorship or communism, while others, like Romania, are still struggling to make a free country.
In hindsight, at the risk of sounding grandiose, Reagan was a giant among men, larger-than-life in his own time and likely even more so in the future. It will be decades before history will be able to sort out his true stature in the scheme of things, but it would not surprise me at all to see him find his place alongside presidents like FDR, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
I know liberals will scream bloody murder whenever anyone suggests such a thing is possible, but results don't lie. Reagan, more than any other single man on the planet, was responsible for forcing Gorbachev to tear down that wall, freeing hundreds of millions.
I wish he could have been lucid until he died. His advice and opinions would have been a great benefit in deciding what to do about our current crises.
Friday, June 04, 2004
She describes how last Thursday in a bar in The Hague she was tapped on the shoulder and addressed by man of around 24 years that said: “Miss, I really hope with all my heart that the Mujahedeen will get you and kill you.” Confronted with this Hirsi Ali picked up a knife and gave it to the man. The man’s startled reaction was that he didn’t want to do it because he was afraid to go to jail.
After a discussion the man who spoke with a southern accent [soft spoken ‘g’] apologized for his actions. He said his name was S. and that he came from Tilburg. The liberal politician suspects it is a recently converted Dutchman to Islam because of his dark blonder hair. ...
As one of the commentors to the post notes, why the hell is an observant Muslim in a bar? The woman is in the Dutch parliament, and if the story is accurate, she has a backbone of steel. If it's not, it should be. I wish more of our lawmakers had that kind of courage.
If more people would show this sort of courage, the glorious Mujahideen would shrivel up and blow away. They are all cowards at heart, and they can't fight any better than asthmatic little girls, as is shown by the shellacking they take whenever they are confronted by something more formidable than busloads of schoolchildren.
But as is shown here, all it takes is the nerve to stare these bastards down, and they suddenly become more reasonable.
Thursday, June 03, 2004
I don't know if that signifies anything or not, but it's interesting.
Thank you, that is all.
Simon says the seed of his political conversion was planted well before 9/11. It actually began during the O. J. Simpson trial in 1995. Like millions of others, he watched incredulously as the jury acquitted Simpson despite overwhelming physical and circumstantial evidence against him. "I think a lot of people changed during the O.J. trial," he says. "It changed our perception of truth and fiction."
I share Roger's path to a degree. I was liberal growing up, through college and into adulthood. At some point, I slowly began to flip. It's hard to tell a thing like that in hindsight, but I always considered that the beginning of my conversion to conservatism roughly coincided with Clinton's impeachment and my disillusionment with how the Democrats handled that whole thing and the umpteen Clinton scandals. Now I suspect it may actually have been the OJ trial.
The OJ trial was a stain on American jurisprudence. It was raw, unmitigated racism that let OJ off the hook. If he had been a white man, he would be sitting in prison today, and maybe dead. Yes, yes, there are those who are going to say "Aha! Proof Dan is a racist!" Bite me. I'm just pointing out the plain truth. And this state of affairs is due to the Democratic dogma that black people (or brown, or even sometimes yellow) are always and in all ways downtrodden, and this is always and in all ways due to the malicious actions and attitudes of all white people. I actually bought this line until the OJ trial, and my disgust with that verdict is likely what started me on my present path to becoming a certified Vast Right Wing Conspirator.
As Roger Notes:
Then September 11 came along. "It was the point of no return," Simon recalls.
Yes. Mine was a slow, methodical process of personal political change. I slowly started to ignore my training that "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" and actually LISTEN to the things Rush was saying and process them for myself. I started to examine why it is that another man should have a better shot at a job because he's brown and I'm white and the company wanted more minority workers because they were minorities. I went on to examine other liberal views I held, and had already flipped on many of them when 9/11 hit.
Former Peacenik Turns Hawk Overnight! Film At 11! My transformation was complete and, I'm almost certain, irrevocable. There was a time when I would have looked at Kerry, as the Left does now, as a great shining hope that we would be delivered from the evil clutches of the Bushie neocons from hell. Now, as regular readers will attest, I can't see Kerry as anything other than a deranged, flip-flopping fool who is nothing so much as a danger to our country if he was ever elected and anything serious happened on his watch.
And this article has helped me further pinpoint where it all began. You know, after the trial, OJ claimed to be relieved that he would be free now to hunt down the "real" killer. He wouldn't rest until he had found the one that killed Nicole. Well, OJ, any luck with that search yet, you lying, murdering bastard?