Tuesday, September 28, 2004

John 'Both Ways' Kerry
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

Has anyone noticed that many of Kerry's key issues here at home are completely disregarded as progress in Iraq? It seems that he wishes to have it both ways, yet again.

On Kerry's website (warning, enter at your own risk) National Security, Economy & Jobs, Health Care, Energy Independence, Homeland Security, Education, and Environment are the key issues on the sidebar leading to main pages highlighting his 'vision for America'. Well, I must say, when you look at these things point by point, if the issues are to be considered measures of success in a country, Iraq is being quite successful. Yet, his current position on the situation in Iraq seem to put blinders up for all of these issues.

National Security: For decades, Iraq had been on the receiving end of National Security Measures. After years of invasions and sanctions, Iraq can now become a part of the international community and work with allies to better protect both the Iraqi people and the world as a whole. Iraq's weapons programs are no longer a threat to other countries, which will do nothing but improve relations with peaceful neighbors and world military powers. Relations with the members of the world community have never been better... (unless you were one of the countries that was selling proscribed weapons to Saddam and Co.)

Economy and Jobs: This is a no brainer. Iraq is now a free market country. No longer does a person have to bribe government officials to get a business license. New businesses are popping up left and right, and people are finding jobs at an alarming rate. Government employees are getting paid regularly and sufficiently. The new currency is much more stable than Saddam's currency. And, now, the nation's oil revenues are going back to projects to help the citizens of Iraq rather than to fund new palaces and retreats for a dictator. Things are looking good in this area. Really good.

Health Care: This is a no brainer. Before the fall of Saddam, the spending per capita on health care in Iraq was less than one dollar. Now, more hospitals are open, proper medical equipment and training are available to the people, and doctors are actually getting paid. Visit Iraq the Model to see Iraq through the eyes of an Iraqi doctor, who has worked for both Saddam and now the new government. It is not debatable that Iraq's healthcare serves the citizens of Iraq much better than it has ever done under Saddam.

Energy Independence: Iraq is sitting above one of the largest energy stores on earth. So, being independent on energy is not really that big of an issue... Unless you can't get that energy to meet the needs of your people. The electrical output of Iraq is now well above the pre-war level, and it continues to grow. Sabotage has been a setback at many points in the recent past, yet the power output still grows. Even more important, perhaps, is the modernization of the electricity production and transmission systems. New generators are being installed, older generators are being updated and are getting maintenance that has been needed for years. Iraq's energy independence is well on track.

Homeland Security: Iraq has homeland security problems. That is obvious. But, in the first time in several decades, the government isn't the terrorist, the military's duty is to protect a free people rather than crush any opposing views, and very soon the military will be lead by publicly elected officials. As far as Iraq's homeland security goes, they are making steps toward being a self sufficient, terrorist free country like they have never done before. They have a way to go yet, but they are making great progress.

Education: Iraq now has a school system that is geared toward progress rather than the glorification of the dictator. Iraqi schools have been updated and rebuilt at a rate that Iraq has never seen. New textbooks are being used that offer a non-Saddam-filtered view of the world. University professors no longer must worry about teaching 'the wrong thing' and getting punished by a peeved dictator. Iraqi Students can now participate in international youth exchange programs and university students can now study abroad if they wish. Education is becoming accessible to all of the Iraqi youth. Teachers are getting paid regularly and sufficiently. Education in Iraq is not comparable to the abysmal state that existed under Saddam. This is a HUGE accomplishment.

Environment: Iraq has suffered decades of neglect and maltreatment on the environmental front. From the draining of one of the oldest civilized wetland areas in the world to the use of burning oil wells and oil pits as a national defense strategy, Iraq desperately needed some environmental help. Now, the wetlands are being restored and a people dependent on this wetland are returning to their normal lifestyle. Sewer systems are being updated from a general state of disrepair. Proper refuse collection sites are being created instead of using sports fields to fit that bill. New electrical appliances are being sold in Iraq which will run more efficiently than the old outdated appliances that currently exist. And, most importantly, there is no longer the environmental risk of a dictator striving to develop nuclear and chemical weapons. We no longer need to worry about the damage and clean-up required because of an Iraqi WMD attack.


So, I have shown that under each of Kerry's main points for success in the United States, Iraq is becoming quite successful. Yet, he claims that it is a pure quagmire with no hope of success. I want to know how someone can say that an issue has extreme importance in the United States, yet has absolutely no merit in another country that is emerging as a new democracy. We would not expect most people to make such claims, but we are beginning to expect it from Senator Kerry. He likes to have things both ways.

Give it up, Sen. Kerry. Why don't you quit emboldening the terrorists with the hope that you will be elected and immediately withdraw the troops. Why don't you tell your sister to stop preaching the same thing in Australia. Why don't you promote democracy instead of doubt its usefulness in the War on Terror. Why don't you strive for a higher standard of living all around the world, rather than just strive for a higher standard of living at home. Don't you realize that they are one in the same?

Monday, September 27, 2004

What's Next in the War on Terror?
from the mind of  ME=mc^2.

If all goes according to plan, both Afghanistan and Iraq will hold elections by the end of next January. The insurgents and Baathist holdovers in Iraq and the al Qaeda and Taliban remnants in Afghanistan will eventually be rounded up or killed, and in any case, those problems will increasingly fall under the purview of the new Iraqi and Afghan security forces, respectively, rather than be solely a job for the U.S. military. So the question becomes what should be the next front in the War on Terror?

The answer, unquestionably, is that the status quo in both Iran and Syria must not be allowed to persist. That both of these states are terror supporters is beyond question. And Iran's quest for nuclear weapons must not be allowed to reach fruition. In short, it is hard to see how the war on terror can be won without regime changes in both Damascus and Tehran.

The failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in no way negates the arguments made prior to the war regarding the dangers of the nexus of terrorists, terror sponsoring states, and WMD. Saddam Hussein's regime turned out not to be as serious a threat as the pre-war intelligence suggested. The only appropriate feeling regarding this turn of events should be relief -- relief that we had overestimated Saddam's WMD capabilities rather than underestimated them as we had done so often in the past, relief that no WMD were used during battle, relief that there was no environmental catastrophe resulting from the use of such weapons, and most of all relief that relatively few people were killed during the invasion of Iraq. Instead, the Democratic party saw political opportunity and exacted a political price from Mr. Bush for acting on intelligence that both political parties not to mention the intelligence agencies of the world all agreed on a priori.

All the Democratic carping about the war in Iraq is proof of how unhinged the Democratic party and their surrogates in the media have become: It is almost impossible to imagine Republican presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey complaining in the fall of 1944 that the war in Europe was "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time," or that the D-Day Invasion of Normandy "was a profound diversion from the battle against our greatest enemy," Japan.

Beyond the fact that Mr. Kerry's rhetoric arguably gives aid and comfort to our enemies -- the insurgents in Iraq have to be thinking that if they can just hold out until January, President Kerry will start withdrawing the troops and Iraq will once again be theirs for the taking, it also makes the next logical fronts in the war on terror -- namely Iran and Syria -- much more difficult politically. And consider that the only war America ever lost -- Vietnam -- was lost on the political home front, not on the battle field.

Indeed, if Mr. Kerry is elected, it far more likely that the war on terror really will become the next Vietnam: Let us all hope that we never see a helicopter plucking the last 10 marines off the roof of the Baghdad Embassy while panicked Iraqis lay siege, begging for evacuation, as Iranian troops armed with nuclear weapons overrun the country.

A telling conversation with a Democrat
from the mind of  Duke.

[Dad] Would you be willing to bet money on Bush winning the election?
[Me] Sure thing. How much do you want to bet? Say a hundred bucks?
[Dad] Oh, I don't want to bet, I was just wondering.

With such unwavering faith in their candidate, how can they possibly be behind?

Sunday, September 26, 2004

The ARR-GEE Strikes Back
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

The birthtown of the LXCG (League of eXtraordinarily Conservative Gentlemen) is Eugene, Oregon. Normally, this town can be seen as a hippy-haven, a leftist-love-fest, a moonbat-metropolis... whatever you wish to call it, it is one of the 'bluest' parts of this normally blue voting states. It is so liberal that the Democratic party oftentimes isn't liberal enough for the local people's tastes. Normally, one would think that the local newspaper, the Register Guard (the 'Arr-Gee' in Eugene-ben), would have to cater to the local group-think that is so prevalent.

Contrary to many newspapers, I've had two experiences that actually show journalism at work, rather than the typical 'editorializing disguised as journalis' that is practiced by the NYTimes and all of it's wanna-bes. The second experience was this article from the Arr-Gee. They interviewed a soldier in Iraq whose parents live in Florence, a coastal town in the same county as Eugene. Lance Varney in currently serving in Baghdad. This is some of what he had to say.
"I think we're already seeing a turning point in most of the communities, despite what may be prevalent in the news," he said during a telephone interview following a long Friday on the job. "The markets are full of people shopping, driving. The open-air markets are completely full, the streets are packed with people driving up and down selling all kinds of stuff. Kids are back at school. Soccer fields are being used that used to be trash heaps."
He comes across as being much less 'nuanced' than Senator Kerry. Please read the whole article. Notice that it is not an AP or al-Reuters news feed, but an actual article by an actual reporter from the Arr-Gee.

The first experience I personally had with the Arr-Gee that led me to believe that they actually care about reporting the news rather than promoting an agenda was their coverage of the protest that was held in Downtown Eugene on the 2nd anniversary of the September 11th attacks. It would have been very easy for a reporter to just wade through the crowd of protestors, snap a few pics of them, and get some nice and bold quotes from either anarchists or lawyers or schoolteachers who were all holding signs with slogans like 'no blood for oil' and 'impeach Bush' and other creative signs. Jeff Wright (the reporter) went the extra mile to show that there were 4 guys holding signs that didn't represent the rest of the people there today. He even quoted me in the story. As far as the coverage was concerned, he did a very good job in reporting that not everyone at the protest had the same views as the mob of tie-dye wearing liberals. Unfortunately, the article in no longer in the free section of the Register Guard. You'll have to take my word on the matter or go here to search for the article titled "A day to remember" from Sep 12, 2003. Then, you'll have to shell out some cash to see it.

Anyway... you should not give up on all of the media that exists in today's world. The blogosphere can work together nicely with some of the dignified outlets that already exist.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Roundup
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

Bush's Wings: If George W. Bush were really a bad pilot who skirted service and just goofed off, why would there be so many people vouching that he was a real asset to our nations defenses way back when. Powerline has an article that just doesn't make sense if the AWOL and all of the service skirting was true.

Sanity and Intellegence are not the same thing: This Fox News Report looks at the mess that was called the UN Food for Oil Program. That name completely fits the definition of a misnomer. It would be too simplistic to think that the ties between Saddam and Osama were only one or two degrees of separation. This report looks at the possible network used to tie the two parties together. If the UN cares about its own reputation, it should be divulging all of this information as speedily as possible. We need to get to the bottom of this. Anyway, Saddam was not sane, but neither was he stupid.

And Finally: Ted Koppel ran a two part piece showing footage from a soldier who had recently returned from Iraq. He captured a wide array of video footage over in Iraq and offered it to ABC to show. They also ran a continuous interview/commentary between clips. Originally, the soldier had furnished over 20 hours of footage to the network, and I think that much less than 5% of that was shown. Of the footage shown, it seemed to be a wide array of situations.

One of the troubling parts to me was the footage of the 'torture' positions in which one of the captives was seated during an interrogation. The position was knees on the floor sitting on your heels. It was on a hard floor, and yes, it's uncomfortable for many westerners to sit that way. Ted Koppel said something on the lines of 'try sitting like that for 30 minutes or more. It's extremely painful'. (I have no exact quotes. ABC doesn't offer free transcripts of their programs. I refuse to pay for something that should be part of public record.)

The reason I say 'westerners' is because right now, I am a westerner in a country that heavily utilizes that exact seating position. In Japan, the traditional seating style is called 'seiza', and at first, was extremely uncomfortable to me. I was astonished to see children and adults sitting on hard surfaces for well over an hour. After first trying it, I though I was pretty tough to get by with 2 minutes. Now, after living in an area where I am frequently exposed to that position, I can stand much longer times without much pain at all. It's just something that takes getting used to. I can sit that way without considering it torture.

Now, one might say "but the people in the prisions aren't used to that position! It's Torture!" Now, I recall hearing somewhere that muslims pray several times a day. I also recall that they sit in a very similar position for their prayers. In fact, I'm sure if one were to dig through the archives at ABC, they could find countless clips of people praying in Mosques from all around the world. It only took a quick google search to find this picture:

This boils down to a news channel taking a story that doesn't fit their goal and editorializing it (incorrectly) to fit their point of view. From my recollection, the soldier did a very good job of countering loaded questions from Koppel. Perhaps the next story should be about the widespread 'torture' that happens all over the country of Japan. All those poor kids on the hardwood floors. Oh! The Horror!!!

Iraq inappropriate?
from the mind of  Daredemo.

According to the AP today:
NEW YORK - CBS News has shelved a "60 Minutes" report on the rationale for war in Iraq because it would be "inappropriate" to air it so close to the presidential election, the network said on Saturday.

The report on weapons of mass destruction was set to air on Sept. 8 but was put off in favor of a story on President Bush's National Guard service. The Guard story was discredited because it relied on documents impugning Bush's service that were apparently fake.

OK, I see, so a report on Iraq this close to the election would be 'inappropriate' so they replace it with a fake report attacking the president who commands the war instead? Talking about the justification for the war is inappropriate if you're fighting for the other side. Wouldn't want to steer debate to a topic that Bush leads in by double digits after all. Better to just call him names instead. That's true journalism. (Of course this is assuming that the Iraq piece would have any basis in fact, which is also doubtful.)

Friday, September 24, 2004

Seen Today...
from the mind of  Daredemo.

Saw a new bumper sticker -- at first glance it was like a usual George W Bush '04 sticker, with what looks like "4 more years" below it. As I got closer I see that it's "4 more wars".

My first reaction is of course "Yeah! bring 'em on -- lets get this over with!"

Syria!

Iran!

North Korea!

...?

France?

Then it occurs to me that this probably is some sort of attempt at sarcasm.

Oh well.

I still think I'd like to have one of those though...

Heard today...
from the mind of  Daredemo.

The station ID spot for KPNW, one of the local news/talk radio stations today was rather amusing (admittedly during the Rush Limbaugh show).

"We could just make up the news, but we would rather not."

(sarcastic emphasis on "rather" theirs)



Wednesday, September 22, 2004

VDH pops up opinionjournal
from the mind of  Daredemo.

Go, read, reflect...

Something can probably be put on that piece of real estate that really complements the Freedom Tower someday...

Monday, September 20, 2004

CBS is Not a Victim...
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

Rather than appologize, Rather just lawyers his way through the whole issue of responsibility in journalism and blames the whole thing on a source. If there were ever a 'source' of information that would seem suspicious, whether looking at the documents themselves or looking at the person giving the documents, this would be it. By the new standard that CBS has implemented, they could now run a story that firmly accuses John Kerry of hitting an old french lady while driving in france, and running from the police.



What really needs to happen is an appology. Mr. Rather and CBS need to appologize to the American people for not doing the research necessary for this story. They need to appologize to the President for any damage that has been done to his name or campaign. They need to say to the public that they fully retract all of the accusations made and implied by that story. Rather needs to retire, even though journalistic integrity should force CBS to fire the people responsible for the story.

None of this will happen, though. Instead, CBS will play the victim. They will claim that some mean spirited person, who they had no idea about, played a prank on them.

I hope people aren't so stupid to believe it.

Added: The words "I'm sorry" may have been said, but they just say that they are sorry for the mistake. They never acknowledge that they may have damaged anyone's name or reputation at all. They need very powerful language to say "without these documents, we could not have made the following claims...." and "We at CBS are very sorry for causing the following due to our severe errors in judgement..." The lists following such statements would need to be quite long. The Killian Family seems to agree with me....

Carter on Larry King
from the mind of  Daredemo.

Flipped to Jimmy and Roslyn on Larry King today talking about -- ironically enough -- depression. I dunno -- I nodded off at the part when he started rambling about the entire country falling into some kind of malaise... :)

Endgame
from the mind of  Duke.

As everyone else has already noted, Kerry has changed his position yet again on Iraq. This is hardly unprecedented, but even Kerry and his many, many advisors cannot be unaware of how yet another change in direction will look to the majority of voters who already see him as indecisive. So why did he do it? I think that he has belatedly come to the realization that he has to choose one side and stick with it, and the anti-war side is the one he has chosen. Another flip (or is it a flop?) was unavoidable if he was going to get there, but look for him to stick strongly with this message for the rest of the campaign.

Why I don't hate libertarians
from the mind of  Duke.

Over at Slashdot, there is an interesting interview with the libertarian presidential candidate, Michael Badnarik. Now don't get me wrong, I think the libertarians are just as nutty as the greens, who I see as their left-wing counterpart. Forget the details of the party's platform - their core values and beliefs are hopelessly naive and logically unsupportable. They are also about as likely as the greens to ever wield significant political power in this country.

But having gotten that disclaimer out of the way, I'd like to mention a few things I admire about them:
  • They are non-confrontational. When is the last time a libertarian accosted you on the street, asking you to sign some silly petition? It's never happened to me, but with the greens, this sort of thing is a common occurrence (at least where I live).
  • They are calm and collected. Every time I've listened to a libertarian, the tone has been polite and reasonable, at least so far as such political leanings can be called reasonable.
  • Their arguments are clearly laid out, and even when they aren't convincing, they don't come across as incoherent rants.
  • They are generally pragmatic, at least compared to other fringe groups. Greens, on the other hand, usually treat their proposed policies as being beyond debate. Let me quote from the interview:
    "My approach is geared to a single criterion -- does this policy or that action serve freedom? I'm willing to be pragmatic in pursuing policies that affirmatively answer that criterion."
All of this is really just a setup for me to say that while I don't particularly admire the goals or world-view of libertarians, I do admire the way in which they are trying to get their message across. While the greens are seemingly doing everything they can to marginalize themselves through theatrics and sheer volume, the libertarians are quietly and much more effectively making their opinions heard. As such, they are more likely, for better or worse, to be successful in the pursuit of their goals.

To sum it up, if Ralph Nader asked me to sit down for a political discussion, I'd tell him to get lost (and probably a few other, less polite things). Yes, I know Nader is running on the reform ticket this time around, not green. No, it doesn't make any difference. But if this
Badnarik fellow made the same offer, I'd be happy to accept. I feel that such a discussion would be insightful and productive. And while I don't think we'd convince each other of anything, I do think we would walk away understanding each other a little better.

They call him Flipper! Flipper! Faster than lightning...
from the mind of  Daredemo.

Caught this on TV from Kerry's speech at New York University today:
Yet today, President Bush tells us that he would do everything all over again, the same way. How can he possibly be serious? Is he really saying that if we knew there were no imminent threat, no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda, the United States should have invaded Iraq? My answer is no – because a Commander-in-Chief's first responsibility is to make a wise and responsible decision to keep America safe.

Now we won't go into the fact that David Kay reported almost a year ago:
We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002

And that it sounds like a report due out soon from his successor, Charles Duelfer will affirm this -- from today's Oregonian :
A draft report of nearly 1,500 pages that is circulating within the government essentially reaffirms the findings of an interim review completed 11 months ago, the officials said.

But the officials said the report adds considerable detail, particularly on the question of Iraq's intention to produce weapons if U.N. sanctions were weakened or lifted, a judgment they said was based on documents signed by senior leaders and the debriefings of former Iraqi scientists and top officials, as well as other records.

Now given how France, Germany, and Russia were very actively working to weaken the sanctions on Iraq for years leading up to Bush finally taking charge in ending Saddam's regime, this sounds to me like an absolute imminent threat. Had the US not done so, packed up our troops and went home (or not brought them to bear in the first place), the Axis of Weasels&trade likely would have succeeded, the sanctions would be eroded, giving Saddam what he had been waiting for for over a decade. And we would then have yet another regime to deal with that would be overtly hostile to us, bristling with WMD capability, but this time newly infused with enthusiastic European trade agreements.

...then Kerry's comments regarding the al-Qaida - Iraq connections are also rather dubious when we are in the process of squashing an insurgency led by Jordan-born al-Zarqawi, a prominent member of al Qaida...

But... I digress, as I said I wasn't going to get into all that -- what struck me most here was that Kerry seems to have flip flopped on Iraq yet again! In his speech today he is saying that given what he knows now he apparently would not have done it. This seemed to me rather strange given:
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz., Aug. 9 -- Responding to President Bush's challenge to clarify his position, Sen. John F. Kerry said Monday that he still would have voted to authorize the war in Iraq even if he had known then that U.S. and allied forces would not find weapons of mass destruction.

...from the Washington Post on August 9 for example...

If this is how Carville et al are getting Kerry to attack Bush's decision on Iraq, I think its time he get yet another team... He'd better do it quick though, he's down to less than 2 months!

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Memogate -- A Kerry Campaign Connection?
from the mind of  Daredemo.

One of the more conspiratorial explantations floating around for Dan Rather's excessively stubborn behavior regarding the forged memos (link swiped off Drudge, note the signatures, and the "partisan" source) is that they are doing so because the memos were obtained directly from the Kerry campaign. Were it to come out that their favorite party's presidential campaign had a direct hand in propogating faked federal documents to bring down their opponent, it would likely mean game over for said campaign. CBS could have decided they would rather try and take the hit themselves, no matter how ridiculous it looked.

From Fox News (AP) today:

The retired Guard official, Bill Burkett (search), said in an Aug. 21 e-mail to a list of Texas Democrats that after getting through "seven layers of bureaucratic kids" in the Democrat's campaign, he talked with former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland (search) about information that would counter criticism of Kerry's Vietnam War service. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the e-mail Saturday.

"I asked if they wanted to counterattack or ride this to ground and outlast it, not spending any money. (Cleland) said counterattack. So I gave them the information to do it with," Burkett wrote.


Apparently Burkett has not responded to phone calls since suspicion arose that he was the source of the memos. Wonder how long before we hear of his sudden passing? Though that would imply Kerry had cajones the size of Hillary's, which is rather unlikely...

Roundup
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

Bush Vs. Kerry: This NRO article highlights a big difference between Bush and Kerry. With Bush, we get a slate of 33 allies to help us defend the free world. With Kerry, we get France and Germany, and perhaps the now socialist Spain.

Nader on Florida Ballot: The Democrats have failed to keep Nader off of the Florida Ballot this November. This is good news for all people who believe in a multiparty system. Basically, the Democrats are failing in their attempt to disenfranchize about 3% of the vote.

MSNBC Still Pulling for Kerry: With headlines like "Will draft fears sway voters?" is a direct attempt to bring up the "Draft" issue to sway voters. I think that the headline writers could come up with more informative and neutral headlines.

United States not Polling for Kerry: Recent polls have shown our President increasing his lead on The Senators Kedwards. We have a good few weeks till election day, but if the trend does anything but reverses sharply, we will see another 4 years of good leadership. Even more importantly, a strong defeat in the election may force the Democratic Party to abandon the angry left contingent and get back closer to reality. If that happens, we can expect a 'happy-left" Democratic Party to be much more productive in congress and we can expect many wonderful things to happen in the next four years. Let's all hope for 6 more weeks of good campaigning and a landslide defeat on November 2nd.

President Bush talks about Rathergate: Though his comments were limited, he has made statements about CBS's claims about his own National Guard Service in a recent interview. It is good to see some action from the White House on this issue.

Japan Keeps an Eye on China: If this report turns out to be true, it could be the first step in the next 'cold war'. Various sources have said that the next 10 years will be very telling for China's relationship with the rest of the world. We are already in a battle of resource allocation with China, as they gobble up more resources every day. Who knows what China will do as their hunger for more outside resources grows, as it will certainly do in the coming years.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Evan's Mental Rodeo II
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

Rathergete, Memogate, Forgerygate, whatever you want to call it... is starting to get a little more interesting. Over at Blogs for Bush, they've got a good roundup on where those memos came from and what that might mean. Like Drudge says.... Developing. Who knows if this will ever be solved.

Quote of the day:
You deserve a president who will not play politics with national security-John Kerry.
It is not very often that a candidate highlights the precise reasons for voting for the other guy. I guess that his campaign is in such disarray that he is trying a new strategy of using reverse psychology. Pretty soon, he is going to be standing at lecterns across the country shouting: Don't vote for me! I dare you!

Some thoughts on Robert Jenkins: Robert Jenkins is reportedly back 'on duty' at a military facility here in Japan. I have read on some blogs that they feel this outcome is very ridiculous. Well... it may be, but I must remind such people that this was an event that the Japanese media was trying to use as propaganda against the US military's presence in Japan. The US played their cards correctly in this one, saving face for people all around. Do I think he should be getting off as easy as he is? No. Do I think that the military is showing weakness? No. The US military was basically given no good way out of this situation, and they managed to make things as good for the rest of the troops in Japan as they possibly could. Court Marshaling an elderly person in a country that has a relatively short statute of limitations for murder could have disastrous public opinion implications.

The most disgusting part of the whole episode for me was the difference between the Mr. Jenkins that I saw getting off the plane in the meeting in Jakarta compared to the Mr. Jenkins that I saw getting off the plane in Tokyo. In Jakarta, he had no problems walking down stairs on his own and looked as healthy as one could expect after living under the DPRK for decades. But, just a few days later in Tokyo, his health was so bad that he required canes, wheelchairs, and needed help at almost every corner of his little journey. I can't help to think that this was an act to paint him as an 'old frail man' who shouldn't be punished at all. For those of you who have never spent time in Japan, being old and frail seems to be a free pass for just about anything.

I'm not sure what all of the details are, but supposedly he is going to give the military information about the DPRK and in exchange will have his 'punishment' reduced to a dishonorable discharge. I am assuming that he will keep his status as a US citizen. I really hope that he has no ability to collect on social security or go back to the US and benefit from medicare or any other government programs.

What do I think is a reasonable punishment? Well, I have a slight problem with someone who promises to defend our country defecting to the enemy. I believe that if Japan will take him in as a permanent resident, he should give up his citizenship. This whole episode is costing the US taxpayers enough, I think that he should never be able to benefit from US taxpayer funded programs again. Whether or not this will happen, only time will tell.

But, there is a silver lining. Two more young people (his daughters) will be able to live in a free society where freedoms are fairly abundant. I hope that their status will allow them to vote. I just have one piece of advice for them: Don't go swimming in the Sea of Japan. The Pacific Ocean beaches of Tokushima and Kochi Prefectures are really nice, and a long, long distance away from North Korea.


Update: Please read the comments, they offer a well informed viewpoint different from the original post.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Kerry thinks 9/11 is an 'Excuse'...
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

In this AP report, we can see just how out of touch Kerry is becoming in this final stage of the election. Interestingly, Kerry thinks that the recession is Bush's fault, and gives him no credit for the expanding economy that we are currently seeing.
Kerry said that of the last eleven presidents, Bush was the only one to oversee a national job loss, and he said Iraq and the war on terror were no excuse. "Many of them faced more severe recessions, many of them faced bigger wars with bigger expenses," Kerry said.
COME ON! This is absolutely rediculous. He probably also thinks that the Tech Bubble Burst, the Enron scandals, and the economy starting to go sour in 2000 (yes, before our current President took office) are all directly the fault of the president and should be claimed as his doing.

As far as I'm concerned, the economy couldn't have had a tougher time over the last 4 years. Wait, I take that back. The economy would have had a MUCH tougher time if there had been an increase in taxes rather than the wonderful tax cuts that put us in the strong economic position that we're in today.

Kerry continually uses only a handful of economic indicators that happen to be bad at the current moment to make his 'economic policy changes needed' rucus. Buyer, or in this case 'voter', beware. What Kerry is selling is a bagfull of crap. As a good analogy, he would take a football team that has won every game in the season and is headed to the play-offs, has averaged 800 yards of offense while allowing only 250 yards from the other team, and broken several longstanding records as a failure because they failed to make a fieldgoal from more than 40 yards during the season. His bashing of the good economy is that rediculous.

A Most Beautiful Sunset
from the mind of  Zeke_Wilkins.

I think it is wonderful that the Assault Weapons Ban has sunset.

There have been falsehoods circulated by both the media and law enforcement organizations; so let me set the record straight. The sunset of the AWB will not bring back machineguns (they've been regulated since 1934), and it does not end background checks or waiting periods or anything like that (the AWB is not the Brady Bill, there has been some confusion on that).

What the AWB did do was to outlaw the manufacture, transferral or possession of 19 specific firearms after 1994 (existing weapons were grandfathered in). It also banned high-capacity magazines (defined as more that 10 rounds) for non-law enforcement officers. The bill also put restrictions on the number of fancy gadgets you could have on a weapon: for example, you could not have more than two of the following on the same weapon: flash suppressor, pistol grip, bayonet lug, and telescoping stock. The 19 firearms banned were chosen based on appearance: Diane Feinstein actually combed a catalog of weapons and chose the scariest looking ones.

The problems with the bill were numerous:

1) Although specific models were outlawed, the same rifle was still legally available from another manufacturer. For example the Colt AR-15 and the Bushmaster XM-15 are basically the same rifle, but one was legal and one was not.

2) Otherwise outlawed weapons could easily be modifed to make them legal (like removing bayonet lugs from pre-1986 AK-47s).

3) While the weapons look scary, they are generally in the low to medium power range. The cosmetic appearance of a firearms tells almost nothing about how it operates, and is a laughable criterion for which rifles are dangerous. A rifle meant for hunting large game is far more powerful and deadly (and legal!).

4) The AWB has not reduced gun crime. Even the Center for Disease Control (notoriously anti-gun) had to admit that there was insufficient evidence to show that any combination of gun control laws was effective at reducing gun crime (go here: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5214a2.htm ).

In the end, this was a horrible piece of legislation: it trampled over the rights of law-abiding citizens, it did not achieve its stated goal, it effectively created a "second-class citizenry" who didn't have the same rights as the police, the law was easy get around by making superficial changes to otherwise banned weapons, and the law was effectively unenforceable. So what happens now? Well, people get to put fun (but mostly cosmetic) gadgets on their guns, have a 20 round magazine instead of two 10 round magazines, and buy brands of rifles that were previously banned. Other than that, not much. Automatic weapons continue to be regulated and the really powerful rifles weren't banned in the first place.

The AWB was a perfect example of how to write bad legislation, let's hope it doesn't happen again.

For more info the BATF has some Q&A docs at: www.atf.gov

The actual AWB can be found at:> http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/922.html (sec. v)

And a cool AWB quiz is at: http://www.ont.com/users/kolya/AR15/aw94.htm (at the bottom)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Where's Kerry?
from the mind of  Duke.

I get most of my news through Yahoo News - Associated Press. It's the most objective source I've been able to find. Here is a list of the current front page stories:
  • Evacuees Flee New Orleans Ahead of Ivan
  • Insurgents Target Iraqi Police; 59 Dead
  • Bush Making Gains in Battleground States
  • Panel Urges Child Antidepressants Warning
  • Reports Fuel Doubts on CBS Bush Story
  • Senate OKs $36B for Domestic Security
  • CIA Nominee Promises to Shed Partisanship
  • Oracle's Earnings Just Top Expectations
  • Turkey Backs Off Plan to Outlaw Adultery
  • Bonds Stays at 699 As Giants Beat Brewers
  • Senate Wants Intel Chief With Budget Say
  • Marketing Execs Eye 'Oprah' Giveaway
  • Devil Rays Cool Off Red Sox 5-2
  • Bonds Getting His Shot at 700 in Milwaukee
  • U.S. and Europe Differ on Iran Strategy
  • Rangers, A's Dispute Cause of Brawl
  • Gambling Linked to Good Health in Elderly
  • L.A., Washington Hotel Workers Strike
  • Foxx Does Ray, Spacey Does Bobby
  • Bush Says He's Proud of Guard Service
Something should be immediately obvious - Kerry is not mentioned in a single one of the headlines. As someone who tries to be objective, I find this completely astonishing. As a Republican, I find it worthy of celebration.

If Kerry is to have any hope of winning the rapidly approaching election, it is essential that he somehow be able to regain the initiative. He can fight dirty or play it clean. He can talk about the future or dwell on the past. He can focus on Iraq or on the economy. But all of these decisions are secondary to getting out there and saying something, and having that something be heard.

In any competitive endeavor, be it warfare, business, politics, sports, whatever, the winner is almost invariably the side who is able to take the offensive and hold on to it. You must make the enemy react to you, rather than you to him. You don't even have to to land every blow, but simply make sure that the opponent is so busy parrying your attacks that he is unable to throw any of his own. An opponent who is unwilling or unable to go on the offensive will eventually be beaten.

This is the point Kerry is at, and if he can't even get top billing in the headlines over Oprah and Barry Bonds, his chances are fading fast.

Cyclists and 'Not-Cyclists'
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

As I have been an avid cyclist for approximately 53% of my life, I have had ample time to discover the differences between people who love cycling and people other than people who love cycling. For several years now, I have been distributing my theory that there are 'Cyclists' and there are 'People on Bikes'. Cyclists are people who use bicycles for recreation or utility (commuting, work or running errands) who truly enjoy riding the thing and take pride in being a responsible user of the road or the bike path. Typically, these people also take care to have a properly adjusted machine, which is an essential element for safety. This category makes up a fairly small percentage of the total number of people who ride the human-powered, two wheeled vehicles. The rest of the people out there who swing their leg over a two wheeled steed fit into the category of 'People on Bikes'. Basically, they don't worry about any of the things that we cyclists worry about. They will rarely view a bicycle as anything but a toy.

But Wait! There is now a new category. I must update my theory. Now, I must include 'Terrorists on Bikes'. That's right, a Palestinian suicide bomber, otherwise known as a terrorist, used a bicycle to approach a security checkpoint and blew himself up while wounding four people. The troubling thing about the article is that he is referred to as a 'cyclist'.
The attacker set off the charge he was carrying near an army jeep as it was passing through a gap in Israel’s separation barrier which enables Palestinians to gain access to their fields. The cyclist had been asked by soldiers to identify himself. He then dismounted, ran towards the soldiers and blew himself up, the sources and witnesses said.
I can assure you that he has nothing in common with the people you see out on the road who are dressed in their colorful clothing enjoying an 80 or 90 mile ride on a nice crisp Sunday morning. He has nothing in common with Lance Armstrong, Tinker Juarez, Marla Streb, George W. Bush and me. We all really enjoy riding our bicycles and would never think of using them to cause harm on others.

hat tip: LGF

Monday, September 13, 2004

Rumsfeld, Bush, and the War on Terror
from the mind of  ME=mc^2.

Did anybody see Rumsfeld at the National Pres Club on Friday? There was one question/answer which was priceless. John Donnelly, a reporter with Congressional Quarterly and chairman of the Press Club Board of Governors, was moderating the questions:


DONNELLY: "The Financial Times today editorializes that it is, quote, 'time to consider Iraq withdrawal,' close quote, noting the protracted war is not winnable and it's creating more terrorists and enemies of the West. What is your response,
this questioner asks."

RUMSFELD: "Who put that question in? He ought to get a life. If he's got time to read that kind of stuff -- (laughter) -- he ought to get a life." (Scattered applause.)

"They've been saying things like that for months, and there have always been critics. There have always been people who say it's not worth it. And indeed, if you watch in any conflict in our history, there have always been people who said, 'Why? Why should we do that? Another loss of life. Another person wounded. Another limb off.' And -- you can't go to the hospitals at Bethesda or Walter Reed and see those folks and not have your heart break for them and the fact that their lives are going to be lived differently; or tomorrow, when we go to Arlington and recall all those who died on September 11th and lives not lived.

"But it is worth it. It is worth it. And those who suggest to the contrary are not only wrong, but they will be proved wrong.

"The -- Germany and Italy were fascist states -- and Japan -- during World War II. And throughout the entire Cold War those countries stood with us against the Soviet Union. How does that happen? How did they go from being fascist states to being democracies and to helping to prevent the Soviet Union from expanding across Europe?

"South Korea -- same people in the north, same people in the south. South of the DMZ: robust economy, vibrant democracy. Up north: darkness, starvation, concentration camps. They had to lower the height for getting in the military in North Korea to four feet, 10 inches for adults, because of starvation.

"Now think of those people. Think if we'd said, 'Oh! It's not worth it.'

"The extremists are determined to destroy states. They are determined to destroy free systems. They are determined to take their violence and spread it across this globe, and we can't let them do it. And The Financial Times is wrong." (Applause.)


This is one of the biggest reasons why it is so important that Bush get reelected: We are witnessing nothing less than the boldest and most ideological foreign policy since Truman and the Marshall plan. People living in desparate circumstances and with no hope for any change in the status quo tend to be easily seduced by extreme ideologies. Psychologically, it is far more attractive to blame others than to confront ones' own self-created pathologies. Pre-World War II Germany is a prime example: The disasterous economic situation of Germany in the early 1930s allowed the Nazis to successfully peddle their dispicable agenda and to easily convinced large numbers of people that their problems were the fault of another group -- the Jews. Likewise, the Wahhabis have convinced large numbers in the Arab/Islamic world that the West and Israel are somehow responsible for their own desparate circumstances, and in particular, the situation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This conclusion requires no introsepction or self-criticism, and avoids the messy problem that governments in the Arab/Islamic world consist only of medieval theocracies, tribal monarchies, Soviet style dictatorships, or one-election thugs.

On the other hand, people with a realistic and genuine hope for a better tomorrow and better circumstances for their children, even if they do not themselves enjoy all the comforts that the world has to offer, rarely if ever feel driven to the barricades. The combination of democracy and a free market economy is the only arrangement which consistently provides this hope to significant numbers of people in a society.

The only long term solution to Islamofascist terror -- the only way to stop creating more terrorists and enemies of the West -- is to drag the Arab/Islamic world kicking and screaming into the 21st century, use military force to implant consensual governments and free market economies as was done during World War II in Germany, Italy, and Japan, and thus defeat and discredit the extremist ideas of Wahhabism. We have tried appeasment and it lead from the Iran hostage crisis to the bombing of the Marine Barracks to more hijackings and hostages to the first attack on the World Trade Center to the Khobar Towers bombing to the African embassy bombings to the U.S.S. Cole and finally to the September 11 attacks.

Rumsfeld's answer to that silly question at the National Press Club on Friday demostrates that of the two candidates for president, Mr. Bush is the only one who understands this historic truth.

What didn't happen in North Korea
from the mind of  Duke.

There has been a lot of speculation on just what happened in North Korea. Some of it is informed; some of it is not. So I'm going to do something a little different and make of list of things that I don't think happened.

1. It really was a nuke and everyone is covering it up!

In order for this explanation to work, you'd need the complicity of the following groups: every nation on the planet, every seismologist who knew what to look for, and the operators of all the satellites that happened to be overhead when the electromagnetic pulse hit.

But it was a mushroom cloud, and everyone knows that mushroom clouds are the result of nuclear weapons!

Nope. You don't need a nuke to make these suckers. I remember as a kid on the fourth of July being able to reliably create little mushroom clouds with black cat firecrackers and some dirt (both being in ample supply). Good times. Scientific American has a good summary of the physics involved:
"A mushroom cloud forms when an explosion creates a very hot bubble of gas... The hot air is buoyant, so it quickly rises and expands. The rising cloud creates a powerful updraft which picks up dust, forming the stem of the mushroom cloud. The central part of fireball is hottest, creating a rolling motion as it interacts with the outer portions.
Open question: just what do the seismologists have to say? I recon we'll be hearing from them soon.

2. It was a test of a weapon like our BLU-82 (Daisy Cutter) or GBU-43 (MOAB) .

This seems unlikelygiven that the explosion happened at night. You simply don't test weapons at night. The only reason you might do so is to keep something secret, which is clearly impossible with an even of this magnitude.

A better argument against the MOAB theory is the North Korea aircraft inventory. I don't think there is anything here that is really capable of delivering such a weapon.

3. They really were building a dam... or something.

I don't know if anyone really believes this, but what the hell. The thing is, big explosions pretty much suck for the purposes of excavation. Yes, some coal mining is done with explosives, but these are long strings of smaller detonations, rather than one big one.

Back in the day when I wrote physics simulations for a living, I once attempted to write an asteroid impact simulator. There were all sorts of variables: composition of the asteroid, density of the rock at the impact area, velocity, angle of impact, and so on. But one interesting thing quickly became apparent: past a certain (poorly defined) energy threshold, the resulting craters all started looking alike. Most of the material thrown up by the explosions quickly fell right back down into the hole and refilled it. Big craters were almost invariably quite flat with a shallow rim. This was rather disappointing to someone like me who was hoping to render some cool pictures of big, deep craters.

Perhaps the North Koreans really will flood the area and say "See? It really was a dam!" I'm sure the French will believe it.

So what do I think happened? I don't think we can rule out an accident yet. Communist countries have a lousy record of keeping things from blowing up by accident. I'm guessing that the North Korean version of OSHA is a little underfunded.

Another possibility is that this was a test meant to examine blast pressures like those produced by a nuclear detonation. Our military has conducted similar tests. The test ban treaty forbids using actual nuclear weapons, so we just piled up enough conventional explosives and moved the instruments closer to ground zero to simulate a farther distance from a larger nuke (the inverse-square law is your friend here). I believe that yields of several kilotons have been achieved in such tests. Of course, this still runs afoul of my "it happened at night" objection, but it's at least a little more believable.

I'm sure we'll have more information to work with in the next few days.

RIP AWB
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

The Assault Weapons Ban is officially a piece of history rather than part of current law. Unless something serious happens in Congress, we can expect no such legislation to be back in effect any time soon.

On September 9th, the Jim Lehrer News Hour ran a piece on the impending sunset of the AWB. In this piece, they invited Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and Republican Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho on the show to debate the effectiveness of the AWB and the need to extend the AWB.

In a debate, one of the most effective things that a participant can present is a good portfolio of statistics. Sen. Craig showed that the AWB was anything but effective in reducing crime:
Well, you only pass laws or bring existing laws and extend their effectiveness or their legality if they work. Less than 3 percent of crimes in this country where firearms were used involved a semi-auto before the ban went in, in '94; less than 3 percent today. It was a political placebo at the time. It has shown its ineffectiveness. It has a sunset clause. And we're going to allow it to pass away.

This is a fairly bold statement, saying that the ban on Assault Weapons had no effect on the percentage of semi-automatic weapons used in crimes. If you looked at 100 crimes before the AWB, you would expect to find 3 of them using semi-automatic weapons. Note that this does not say that 30 of 1000 would use assault weapons or non-assault style semi-automatic weapons. It merely states that 30 in 1000 would use a weapon that automatically loads the next round in the chamber after it fires the previous round. It is a very simple statistic.

Now, consider the fact that the AWB had no effect on the percentage of these crimes committed. Pre-AWB was 3%, after 10 years of the AWB we are still at 3%. This is a prime example of inneffectiveness.

Sen. Feinstein responded by saying:
Well, Sen. Craig can get me very upset sometimes, and I think his view on this is diametrically opposed to mine. There is no question that the people want this bill extended.

There is no question that gun traces to crimes committed with assault weapons have declined, and there is no question that the number of assault weapons available in gun stores, in gun shows, on street corners, have also declined. Coincidentally, but I'm not saying it's attributable to this, crime has also declined.


Now, her arguement is completely trivial. She makes no case for the assault weapons ban being effective in the reduction of crime, only in the reduction of crimes using assault style weapons. Out of the 30 semi-automatic crimes that I used as an example above, Sen. Feinstein claims that it is progress that more of those 30 crimes are committed with weapons that look more traditional rather with weapons that look more like military weapons. The same amount of crimes are being committed. I wonder if she would also make the difference between crimes committed by people with black trench coats and leather boots compared to those committed by people in everyday clothing. That is basically the difference here.

Sen. Feinstein goes on to say
Now, I just appeal to the common sense of Americans all across this great country. Do military-style assault weapons belong on the streets of our cities? Do they belong in a place where they can be bought by terrorists, by gang-bangers, by grievance killers and by criminals?
Of course these weapons don't belong in the hands of such people. That's why there are lots of protections in place to keep these weapons out of the hands of such people. Gang-bangers and criminals will not be likely to pass the background check that is required to make a purchase. And, I'm not sure how many terrorists want the FBI to have a reason to check into their personal history. That would be a surefire way to get caught, especially with the new powers provided by the patriot act.

Basically, Sen. Feinstein, your appeal to the 'common sense' is not an appeal to common sense at all. What you really appeal to is the emotions of the American People. Using scare tactics saying that the demise of the AWB will put machine guns in the hands of terrorists is a purely baseless claim. You act as though the AWB was the only safeguard between these guns and anyone with bad intentions or a questionable history. That is a very false claim.

What is really needed here, instead of an emotion based plea to the American people, is some sort statistical evidence that states that limiting a certain type of weapon to the entire population has a desired effect on the crime rate dealing with all similar weapons. If such a statistic existed in some form, no doubt that Sen. Feinstein would have used it in this situation. She offered no such statistic.

So, in order to make the emotion based attack on assault weapons even more powerful, she pulls this one out of her bag of tricks:
Now, let me tell you what I think is going to happen: There is a shipment of AK-47s that was picked up in Italy by customs that was on its way from a port in Romania of 8,000 AK-47s due to go into the port of New York into a gun store in Georgia. It was a $7 million shipment. You can multiply that tenfold. And you will see these weapons begin to spring up all over and the big clips which add the firepower and the ability to kill substantial numbers of people before you can get to the gunner to disarm him.
Needless to say, Sen. Craig had a good rebuttal waiting.
Well, she speaks in very dramatic and impassioned language. There are 30 million semiautomatic weapons owned by law-abiding citizens in this country today -- 30 million; not 8,000, not 7,000, 30 million. They are owned and operated lawfully and legally by citizens who owned them prior to the ban. They are not in the traffic of crime today. Less than 3 percent of them ever appear there. Those are the facts.


Well, I think we know who won this debate. When one debator brings wit, and the other debator just brings a deep down hatred for the 2nd ammendment, we can see who will win the battle of wits. A sugguestion for Sen. Feinstein: Let's have legislation that actually works, instead of just placing more restrictions on the Everyday Joe. Everyday Joe is your boss, Sen. Feinstein. Why don't you work for him.

RIP AWB. Now, let's get on with our lives.

Chrenkoff
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

Chrenkoff has a 'Good News from Iraq' update. It is a must read if you think of Iraq when you hear the word 'Quagmire'. If you are an enlightened person, you will instead think of a wonderful animated TV show when you hear that word. Quagmire is a character on the Family Guy

A Second Term Wishlist
from the mind of  Zeke_Wilkins.

I've named this post "A Second Term Wishlist" but it could have as easily been titled "My beefs with Bush". Please don't misunderstand; I support the president, but as a mental exercise and to sharpen our own beliefs I think it is healthy to compile a list of things we wish President Bush had done, or will do in his second term. So I invite everyone to post comments to this topic and keep the list growing! I'll start off:

1) Pres. Bush should not have said he'd sign a renewal of the so-called "Assault Weapons Ban" if it reached his desk, and he should not sign or support any legislation which attempts to repeal gun rights.

2) Pres. Bush should feel free to start using his veto powers.

3) Currently the MOAB remains (to my knowledge) untested in combat. Let's rectify that.

4) Hopefully in this second term we can appoint some Supreme Court Justices that are strict constitutional constructionists. None of this "living document" crap.

Well, I'm depending on you to remind me of others...

DPRK's mushroom farm
from the mind of  Daredemo.

Marmot has a good post Re: the latest explanation for the mysterious mushroom cloud seen over North Korea. Among the most suspicious aspect of their "we were just making a dam" explanation was that the explosion happened at night!. What kind of moron does major construction work at night!

The best theory I've heard so far is that they were trying to launch something for their "Founding Day" anniversary, and it went bad. Its all that Syrian foreign labor...

I think I believe reports that it was not an actual nuclear explosion. We would know through seismic data whether it actually was nuclear or not, and would have no reason to hide it (nor would all the other countries in the world that could also make the same measurements). I want to see satellite images -- digitalglobe doesn't have anything yet, but it took at least a week for them to get images of the last time DPRK blew something up...

Zell on Opinionjournal
from the mind of  Daredemo.

Zell Miller has a piece on opinionjournal today defending his convention speech. It starts out:

My critics in the national media are working overtime trying to paint me as an angry nut who got the facts all wrong in my speech to the Republican National Convention. Since there's not enough time to challenge all of these critics to a duel, let me set the record straight here and now.

And gets better!



John Fund also dips his toes in on the CBS forged memo... Its more or less a summary...

Stanley Kurtz also has a good article on NRO. Basically saying since those of us to the right of center stopped taking the networks seriously a long time ago, they've been shifting further to the left. What goes unsaid here is that those on the left apparently are unconcerned that their news is based on easily provable falshoods. Of course we've seen it all over in college newspapers and paphleteering by nutty professors, but its still a bit surprising to see it so mainstream...

Guess those on the left are so used to reading stuff like this, that its now the prototype they seek to emulate...

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Father of Electronic Typesetting Speaks
from the mind of  Cowgirl Up.

Oh, this is good.

I am truly enjoying watching the blogosphere shoot this one down. Do the bigwigs at CBS realize they are proving Bernie Goldberg's point in a very big way?

Mwaaahahahaha...

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Shiit(ake)
from the mind of  Daredemo.

To follow up on Duke's head's up on DPRK's mushrooms...

BBC has this...

"The diplomatic source in Seoul said the mushroom cloud, with a radius of up to four kms (2.5 miles), was spotted in Yanggang province's Kimhyungjik county."

This sounds bad.

Japanese news has picked it up...

Yomiuri, Nikkei (in Japanese) are saying a 3.4-4 km mushroom cloud was produced, & the US is investigating via satellite... This happened on the 9th... This is the same as everybody else has though...

NY Times (off Drudge) has something too. -- this mentions that there were hints of test preparations.

A nuke test must be bad for Kerry, because CNN quotes a
Washington source suggesting it might be a forest fire, and takes that to make declaration that it definitely was not a nuke.

DPRK news doesn't have anything yet -- not sure that means anything though...

NKZone also has a post on this. Keep an eye on them and Marmot for info here... Marmot also notes that the site of the explosion has had suspicious activity in the past...

Chosun Ilbo has a map of where this supposedly happened -- Mt Baekdu I think is the mythical mountain of KJI's birth according to his hagiography. Wonder if he was up there viewing this as his "Founding Day" present... If this really was a nuke and was really on the Chinese border like this, China should be pissed. That would be good.

So OK, now we know where this supposedly happened, then we bounce over to Federation of American Scientists -- they at least have some maps of suspicious sites in DPRK... This looks useful -- so OK, they didn't blow up one of their production facilities... There does appear to be a missile site near there... Maybe they've imported more Syrian labor...

Just checking Japan weather, as another of our number may also be interested in which direction winds are blowing... Looks like at least at the moment winds if anything are stalled, but blowing more or less east to west, so no worries there.

I'm not surprised at all that DPRK would try a surface test -- assuming thats really what happened here. They're going to want to have photos of their mushroom cloud to put on their propaganda posters.

Maybe this will finally wake China and especially S. Korea that a blockade is necessary. No more of these 6 country tea parties -- lock them down!

Perhaps CBS should have put a little more effort into authenticating this memo:

Also, this is kind of interesting: Blast, Mushroom Cloud Reported in N. Korea

Happy 9/11?
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

When most people think about 9/11, they recall images of mass murder and mass destruction being carried out on some of the most prolific symbols and some of the most successful businesses in these great United States of America. Shortly after the attacks, everyone but those living in a cave began to refer to the whole episode as just 9/11, not 'the September 11th attacks', not '9/11/2001... just 9/11. A day with such notoriety will always be remembered. In fact, it is now a holiday, formally Patriot Day. Though it does have this name, time will probably see it suffer the same fate as Independence Day and just be referred to as '9/11' just as commonly as people say 'Happy 4th of July!'

But, what to say? Is it proper to say 'Happy 9/11' or 'Happy Patriot Day'? Some would say that it is in poor taste to do such a thing. Of course, it is difficult to celebrate such a horrible event in a 'happy' way, as it was an event that took so many innocent lives from our nation's families and friends. But, as is with almost anything, there is a silver lining. And, it is that silver lining for which our nation can be happy.

We can be happy that our enemy is no longer unknown and hiding but rather under full attack and under truncated leadership.

We can be happy that our nation’s real allies are now known. Our leaders fully realize which 'old allies' have a profit driven foreign policy and which have a safety and security driven foreign policy.

We can be happy that our agencies who have been under budget cuts for years and years are now getting the funding they need to rise out of their anemic state.

We can be happy that our law enforcement now has the legal ability to investigate and prosecute terrorists as firmly as they can drug-dealers.

We can be happy that the women of Afghanistan can now work, educate, be educated and vote. We can be happy that all Afghanis can vote.

We can be happy that the corrupt, deceptive, and malicious regime of Saddam Hussein is no longer in power.

We can be happy that Libya has voluntarily abandoned their programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction.

We can be happy that democracy now has a foothold in a new area of our world.

We can be happy for the Afghanis and Iraqis who can freely participate in the Press and can freely view the internet as they please.

We can be happy for all of the Iraqis who now get orders of magnitude more than 60 cents per year of health care of days past.

We can be happy that our great nation has shown unbelievable strength after entering a recession, being constantly beaten down by terrorist attacks and corporate scandals, can recover to be the same robust economic machine that we all remember.

We can be happy that another terrorist attack has not happened within our great land.

Though we will never forget the lives that were lost or ruined and will always feel a heavy heart for our unfortunate friends, we can look to the brighter future. Though we will never forgive those who aided, funded, conjured and carried out the attacks that horrible day, we can look to new solutions for peace and prosperity. The images I saw that horrible day will forever be seared- seared in my memory. We give this day to you, wonderful patriots...


...Happy 9/11!

Saddam Hussein Interview
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

Also, I'm not sure if you all remember this. He will give this guy a very fair interview, yet he tries to smear our (and his) president with false documents. This is utterly asinine.

Friday, September 10, 2004

It's good enough for Dan...
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

This is one of those priceless posts.

The Politburo Diktat: Authentic Document Proves Kerry in Cambodia

obviously, this is the document that CBS uses to discredit the SBV4T guys. Maybe they will someday admit that the bloggers and a group of old vets do better research than they do. There is a new world order brewing in the media world. My bet is that in 10 years, we will be watching the "CBS Evening News, with Glenn Reynolds"...

Thirty-five?
from the mind of  Duke.

Allow me to relate to you a conversation I recently had with my brother:

[him] ...and if we hadn't gone into Iraq unilaterally...
[me] Hold it, define the word 'unilateral' for me.
[him] Alone.
[me] You can't tell me that we went into Iraq alone.
[him] Well, alone or with just a few others.
[me] Ah, you'll have to define what you mean by 'a few' then.
(he obviously saw where I was going with this, because...)
[him] Thirty-five.
[me] Thirty-five? There is no way you can sit there and tell me with a straight face that thirty-five is 'a few'. That is not unilateralism.
[him] But we were prepared to go to Iraq alone. So even if we actually didn't, I can still call what we did unilateral.

Simple isn't it? Of course we acted unilaterally. It just depends on what your definition of 'unilateral' is! And it doesn't even matter which contrived definition you choose, because you can just keep changing it every time you need it to mean something different.

I'm a computer programmer by trade. Programming languages are really nothing more than sets of definitions that are understood by both the human and the computer to mean exact things. This is how you and the computer communicate. Every beginning programmer is at some point astonished that a single misplaced character can cause a million lines of code to fail. This tends to drive home the lesson that if you don't have solid, precise definitions, you have nothing. If you are unwilling or unable to operate within the constraints imposed by the language, you are not a programmer; you are a monkey pounding on a keyboard.

By necessity, natural languages are less well defined than programming languages. But at their core they still rely upon the idea that it's awfully convinient for everyone to have the same words to describe objects and concepts. This is why the exchange with my brother was so disturbing. It wasn't merely that he was using a different definition than I, but that he was changing his definition every time he felt like it.

As long as I'm using the word 'definition' so liberally (ha!) I would be negligent not to consult a dictionary. So let's give that a try:

def·i·ni·tion
Function: noun
the action or the power of describing, explaining, or making definite and clear

Hmm, okay. Let's follow that link:

def·i·nite
Function: adjective
free of all ambiguity, uncertainty, or obscurity

That's it. So look again at my brother's statements. Was he trying to eliminate ambiguity? Or was he knowingly doing the exact opposite? 'Unilateral' is hardly the only word that has suffered such a fate at the hands of those on the left. Think about words like 'terrorist', 'occupation', 'recession', and how many wildly different meanings have been attached to them by liberals over the last few years.

The reasoning behind this is clear: If I don't say anything I can be held to, no one will ever be able to tell me that I'm wrong. Liberals have decided that the application of these and other words has political value, and will endlessly contort themselves to be able to continue to use them, even when the original definitions have long since ceased to apply.

Unbelievable!
from the mind of  Daredemo.

Rather completely denied those documents were fake... Saying that attacks were exclusively by "partisans". He skated around the superscript, showing another document (in another font) that has a superscripted th. He also completely ignored that it was a proportional font. His expert was shown on TV with super blown up copies of only the signatures, which could have been easily scanned into the document given the poor level of reproduction. The expert he was interviewing was actually shaking during the interview! Here is a transcript off Drudge.

I honestly think Rather just ended his career. I'm still rubbing my eyes, not really believing I saw what I saw.

Wow.

Nader on Oregon Ballot
from the mind of  Daredemo.

Saw in the Eugene Register Guard today that despite Secretary of State (Democrat) Bill Bradbury's attempts to keep him off the ballot, Ralph Nader's name will finally appear on the Oregon ballot in November.

This is good news for Bush, as many of the Willamette Valley's usefullest useful idiots would be more inclined to vote for Nader rather than Kerry. With Oregon being a "swing state" this is likely to be a significant effect.

The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy Does it Again!
from the mind of  Daredemo.

This is just a head's up for the rest of the L.o.E.C.G. that as self avowed members of The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy&trade, we soon may be seen as somehow complicit in the Bush document forgery kerfuffle. Terry McAuliffe appears to have helpfully suggested that Carl Rove was behind this diabolical scheme of creating crappily forged documents, that CBS would be stupid enough to display, that would be seen as crappy forgeries, that would cause people to suspect the Democrats, that tossed the dog, that worried the cat, that killed the rat, that ate the malt, that lay in the house that Jack built.

So there you go. It all follows. And as members of The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy&trade, we clearly have no choice but to accept some of the blame.

I for one am deeply sorry for any contribution, however small, I may have had in any action which would have made such a great journalist as Dan Rather look like an ass.

sniff.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Liberal Media Attacks the Truth on Assault Weapons
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

On ABC News last night, the intro montage showed several scenes of gunfire. The first scene was of a firefight in Iraq shown in night-vision green, with the loud rap of automatic fire echoing loudly. The next scene was from an unidentified movie, showing an action star firing a compact machine gun and spraying the room with automatic fire. Several other scenes were shown that contained automatic weapon fire. (This is all from memory, so I may be slightly off on the details.)

So, what story was this leading into? Nothing other than the looming 'sunset' of the assault weapons ban. One of the news clips of the story showed a representative of an anti-gun group standing at a lecturn saying: The American people need to know, the assault weapon ban ends soon. There will be assault weapons on the streets once again.

(Again, I refrain from quoting her, as I don't have a transcript from the story and ABC News only offers transcripts for a fee. I want TIVO!)
Now, is it responsible journalism to show automatic weapons, then have someone saying that assault weapons will be back on the street? We must remember that Ichiro Suzuki is a baseball player, but just because you play baseball doesn't make you Ichiro.
The truth of the matter is that automatic weapons have been under legislation since 1934, and the assault weapons ban of 1994 did nothing to change that. When the assault weapons ban expires, the 1934 legislation will still stand. Some people will aruge that you can just 'file down the firing pin' of a semi-automatic rifle to make it fully automatic. Now, this is mostly a boy-scout rifle range myth. The skill and resources required to do such a thing would be immense. The chances are much, much greater that a rifle will never fire again, or jam to the point of uselessness rather than be machined into an automatic firing machine. Also, it is very illegal to do so. If a gunsmith was caught doing something like this, the he would get a very unpleasant visit from ATF agents.


What the assault weapons ban covers is mostly cosmetic and superficial details. This page at the Brady Campaign Site talks about how a 'pistol grip' facilitates firing a gun from the hip. I'm not sure what you've all heard, but that is an unbelievably inaccurate way to shoot. Not only do you not have a horizontal guide to control your left to right aim, you lose your vertical aim as well. I have yet to see any trained military or police member ever fire from the hip. I have seen it in movies, though. And we all know that movies are a great barometer of reality. ( ed.--As noted by a comment, I've corrected the word 'inaccurate', which was originally typed as 'accurate'. My intentions are correctly shown now. I am not wealthy enough to employ an editor... so the current process will have to do.)

This page does a good job of explaining exactly what the assault weapons ban accomplished any why it is so inconsequential. Very few people are set on purchasing a certain type or certain model of rifle or handgun other than collectors and gun enthusiasts. Criminals will take any weapon that suits their purpose. I'm sure that some criminals are vain, and want a cooler looking weapon, but the reality is that the assault weapon ban will not reduce crime, it will only be a headache for collectors and enthusiasts.

Maybe we need legislation against certain types of golf clubs, or certain stamps, or baseball cards. If we had laws in those areas, the gun collectors wouldn't feel so singled out.

As a side note, first we had the CBS 60minutes thing to deal with, and now we have this blatant anti-gun 'news' story by ABC. We are running out of options here folks. It won't be long before people are using their parental control blocking on the television to block CBS, ABC, and NBC, just so their children aren't exposed to the dangerous politicized stories that these 'media' outlets are showing.

Perhaps Zeke will chime in on this one. He seems to be an expert on the issue.


Oopsie
from the mind of  Daredemo.

There are reports (link on Drudge) circulating now that some of the documents presented in Wednesday's 60 minutes program regarding Bush's reserve service possibly were forged. Apparently they were in a proportional font that would have been difficult to achieve with 70's era typewriters. A scan of the actual document apparently is here -- of special interest is the "th" superscript in #2. Look at it fast -- this is on the CBS webpage, so it may not exist for long... Also -- on the CBS story page linked above, there are several linked documents in the lower left margin (under "more information") -- all of them have this same font. Supposedly from both 1972 and 1973.

Looks like CBS may have stepped in it pretty big...

There will also be what sounds to be a fairly large demonstration in D.C. this weekend by "Vietnam Vets for Truth" -- not the Swifties, but a group of Vietnam veterans upset by Kerry's portrayal in the Brinkley (sp?) book. It will be interesting to see at what level press coverage will be. My bet is on next to none.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Kerry's tax policies are, well, taxing.
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

If you look at John Kerry's website, and base your vote on that information alone, you would come to no conclusion other than casting your vote for Kedwards. So... here is my official warning. Don't bet your country's future on what this guy's website says. Better yet, as most of you reading this will probably already agree with me, make sure that you are informed on the differences between what the mass media allows Kerry to claim to the public and what Kerry is actually saying he will do. For example:

If you go to the Kerry Website, you can find this page outlining his 'plans' and 'goals' for the economy. (Warning, this is in fact a link to johnkerry.com. You may be scarred for life by the content!) One of the more striking claims that he makes about taxes is:

Cut Middle-Class Taxes To Raise Middle-Class Incomes
When John Kerry is president, middle-class taxes will go down. Ninety-eight percent of all Americans and 99 percent of American businesses will get a tax cut under the Kerry-Edwards plan.

Well, isn't that just great! Almost everyone you know will get a tax cut! Who wouldn't vote for this guy!

But, wait! Hasn't he claimed that he will also cut the national deficit? Why, yes, he has. On the exact same page, he states:
Make Washington Live Within A Budget
John Kerry will cut the deficit in half during his first four years in office. He will end corporate welfare as we know it, roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and impose a real cap to keep spending in check. And when John Kerry puts forward a new idea, he'll tell you how he's going to pay for it.


Well, I really wish that he would tell us how he is going pay for reducing the deficit while giving almost all businesses and taxpayers a tax cut. I can assure you that he won't reduce spending. That is sacrilege in the Democratic Party, unless it's a cut in the DOD. From what I can tell, he is going to have to really, really, really raise taxes on the top two percent of taxpayers and the top percent of businesses. If he is to meet his goals, he would have to impose a crippling tax on those top taxpayers. That's just not a good idea. But, that is what he claims to want to do by 'rolling back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans'. To me, this seems like an attempt to gain popularity from the masses by acting like Robin Hood. Why doesn't he just just run around the forest in green tights and practice his archery. But, we all know that can't happen. First, John Edwards is way too obsessed with his hair to be anything like Friar Tuck, and Ta-ray-za is the farthest (and richest) thing from a damsel-in-distress.

So, what can we expect from Mr. Kerry if gains control over our country's tax policy? Well, the Americans for Tax Relief have a Press Release that effectively shows what is likely to happen. The biggest piece of evidence against the claims on his website is probably this statement:
WASHINGTON - After campaigning for over a year on a promise to raise taxes on only the "rich," John Kerry has finally made his plans crystal clear yesterday; he wants to stick middle class Americans with a huge tax hike.

In a speech yesterday, Kerry told his audience that he plans to follow Bill Clinton's model and do, "the same thing that we set out to do in 1993, and I was there and I voted for it,I know how we did it." They "did it"with the largest tax increase in American history.


Perhaps the reason why Bill Clinton was able to implement a huge tax hike and get away with it was because our economy was just entering the tech boom that would be an unstoppable force for the next 6 or 7 years. Though we do still have some amazing technologies that are emerging, the tech industry of today will not be able to keep us from tax increase induced economic stagnation as it did in the early nineties.

So, yet another case of 'nuanced' position on policy. Kerry needs a little bit of straight shooting practice. With how much wobbling he does, I'd be surprised if he could shoot the broad side of a barn if he were standing inside it. My question is: Where's the 'Media' on this??? Like always, they are too busy digging through the trash bins in Crawford and behind the White House to provide the American people with actual useful information. Shame on them...

A Daniel Pipes Article
from the mind of  Zeke_Wilkins.

A recent Daniel Pipes article (here) describes semi-credible evidence that the crash of American Airlines flight 587 in November of 2001 might have been an Al-Qaeda attack. The theory is it was a Richard Reid style attack that was successful. It is interesting, and warrants further investigation.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

The Empire Strikes Back...
from the mind of  Daredemo.

Looks like Big Media is going to strike back at Bush (there's already been rumblings in the last day or two). Rehashes of the "Bush didn't serve" and "Bush took drugs" themes apparently are going to get a lot of play... Drudge reports that the Boston Globe is going to declare that he didn't satisfy his Air Force Reserve requirements, and there'll be a 60 minutes interview with Ben Barnes, "the man who says he got George W. Bush into the National Guard". Then there's a book by Kitty Kelly out now that says Bush took cocaine at Camp David while H.W. was President... She's booked on the Today show, where the Swifties apparently have yet to be invited. Lets hope W. deals with these guys better than Kerry has the Swifties... I want to see Bush directly address the drug/alcohol issue -- I believe he did that in the last campaign. It could come out as a plus if done right.

There were reports the other day that Clinton had called Kerry from the hospital bed telling him to knock off the Vietnam act. Kerry apparently has also pulled in a bunch of Clinton campaigners (like Carville). He's evidently following their advice -- I saw a couple speeches by Kerry on CSPAN, instead of inserting "Vietnam" in every sentence he now tries to work in "W is for Wrong". (No, really I swear I saw a couple speeches where he DIDN'T mention Vietnam!) There was a bit of speculation on what F stands for on Hannity today, but he was too clean. Peggy Noonan was on the show (apparently she's responsible for the movie right before Bush's speech). At the suggestion that F stood for "flipper" she said that people ought to show up to Kerry rallies with inflatable dolphins and start up rounds of the "Flipper" TV theme music... Hannity also pointed out (as has Zogby and several other people today, though probably based on Zogby's $100 report) this really isn't a double digit race -- Hannity pointed out that in the "battleground" states the race is still low single digits (as in Bush by 1-2%), which is where things are important...

But on a good note, I saw a Bush Labor Day rally broadcast on CSPAN -- I think from Missouri -- that had a huge crowd. In the rain -- enough so that Bush's shoulders were obviously soaked. A caller into Hannity that apparently was there, said there were as many as 20,000 to 30,000 people at that rally, all excited to see Bush. Heard on the radio this morning (CBS news?) that there was a group of (anti Kerry) protesters at one of Kerry's rallies -- giving him a good round of heckling.

But sounds like this is media attack back week...


Blogs for Bush: Memo To Kerry: The Budget is NOT the Economy
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

The guys over at Blogs for Bush have a good comentary on why Kerry's ranting about Bush's budget is not as it seems. This gives some basic facts about our current economic situation and where things might be headed. It's worth a peek if you need a some simple ways to rebut people's claims that Bush is driving the economy down. He's helping, not hurting...

Discrimination in the Energy Sector
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

Since Zeke gave us an interesting reason to think about different kinds of discrimination, This MSNBC article looks at new ways to basically have a zero net energy usage house. People looking at this will probably think: Gee that's really neat! But, there is a hidden disaster waiting in this kind of energy reduction. Please, follow my thinking.

I will initially make the claim that this kind of 'eco-friendly' practice will eventually make lower income families and smaller businesses suffer disproportionately high energy prices compared to today. First, let's assume that these upgrades to a home are expensive, and only really feasible on new homes. That will equal expensive new homes. So, as a result of these reduction in energy costs for 'the wealthiest' Americans, will be very similar to a tax break for only the wealthy. Also, if homes and businesses are producing their own energy, the volume of energy used will go down and we can assume that the price of oil will go up in the future as well, so with these two factors combined, we can see that energy prices will go up drastically for those who purchase energy through the normal channels. So, while you have the wealthiest people reaping the benefits of this technology, you have the lower income people having to pay out more of their income just to heat their homes....

Am I serious about this? No. I am all for technologies that put more money back into the economy to float around. It's good for everyone. I guess the point I'm trying to make has something to do with Kedward's long forgotten 'Two Americas'. Maybe they are referring to 'One America' where people have solar powered homes and 'The Other America' where people still have to send a little check each month to the utility company. (I wonder how many solar panels would be needed to power all of the Kerry Family houses????) I'm surprised that they haven't outlined a plan to provide solar power to those who are having a tough time getting ahead of... whatever they need to get ahead.

One point I should make... We already have a great way to reduce our dependency on foreign fuels that burns cleanly and is very safe. It's called NUCLEAR POWER. People need to get past all of the liberal scare-hype about this wonderful energy source. We need to be using this energy source that alloy's us to completely contain the pollution rather than put unnecessary matter into the air. It really is a win-win situation.

Solar energy being viable and cost effective is a long way off. Just think about the fossil fuels that would need to be burnt in order to produce the solar panels for all of those households out there. And... how long do the panels last? Do they wear out? Do they diminish output with poor maintenance? There are lots of questions that people need to think about...