Friday, January 27, 2006

Iraqi terrorists arrest Iraqi Minutemen!

Okay, so I wrote this title like I was Michael Moore. It is interesting, because I think that just about everyone has figured out that killing Iraqis in a culture which invented and eye for an eye justice is not going to last too long.
One aspect that I haven't seen a lot of press on, and Omar at Iraq the Model hasn't given me an answer to, is what happened to Zarqawi when his family disowned him? Seems to me that the tribal relationship is the most important, offering protection and structure that outsiders are not allowed to participate in.
If Z's family boots him, who gives him protection now?

A Question for my Democratic Friends

It seems to be inevitable that the steady drumbeat of bad news will probably result in the Democrats picking up seats in the next election. Whether they gain enough to actualy take control is another question, but certainly within the range of possibilities. With that in mind, I would like to ask some questions about what the new control of government will mean for me and the country. There is no right or wrong answers to these questions, rather it is to establish a framework, whereby we can rationally discuss what is going to be done.

First off: 1. What is going right with our country right now? This question is necessary because if we all agree on what is working, we won't have to reinvent the wheel and waste time.

2. What are the top three issues that need to be addressed in order of priority. You can't say everything, because then nothing is a priority.

3. We have been fighting the War on Poverty for 40 years. Have we made any progress? A follow up; What is working, and what isn't working?

4. Is terrorism (as identified with Osama bin Laden) a threat to this country? What should we do about it if it is, and if it is not, why not?

5. Are there any Republican programs that you agree with? If so, which ones?

These questions are not meant to be provocative. But reading the tea leaves, and looking at history, it seems quite probable that Democrats will retake Congress eventually, and in '08 may take the White House. If they do, I would really appreciate knowing what the agenda is going to be. So far, there does not seem to be a coherent voice or system of thought for when that happens. I am hoping that answers to my questions will clarify that for me.

Friday, January 20, 2006

On torture

Matt at Left in the West is saying that I am certifiably insane for saying that the NYT is guilty of the grossest form of treason. I still think that I am right, but then he goes into a tirade about Bush and the use of torture.
Maybe it's just me, but everytime I hear that we are being accused of torture, I am reminded of the Monty Python sketch about the use of torture during the Spanish Inquisition. Okay, Mr. Terrorist, tell us what you know, or we will poke you with the cushions, and if that doesn't work, we will use the Comfy Chair. (Followed by diabolical laughter).
Life imitates Monty Python. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Another view from the front

One of the greatest strengths of the military are the NCOs who run it. One of those individuals who are the backbone of the Army has his own blog, which is linked at the right. I love good Sergeants. They have unbounded common sense, and are the masters of reality, undeterred by ideology. Thank God for good men like them. I found this latest post so good, I wasn't going to just link to it, but put it here in its entirety. Read and enjoy.

Another BBC Interview and a few thoughts to accompany the audio
Filed by Trevor under Politics, Global, Ideas (Friday January 20, 2006 at 3:35 pm)

I’ve conducted another radio interview with the BBC. I was pretty tired the night it occurred.

In retrospect, if I could do the interview over, I would try to be more clear about some of my comments - I am truly convinced that this war is about making a compelling case that what the West has to offer Iraq is far superior to what the insurgency has to offer Iraq. And the Army is one of the primary vehicles for showing people what the West has to offer Iraq.
We are - in our hearts - builders. The insurgency is filled with destroyers. They have no Corps of Engineers, they have no sanitation technicians, water purification people, competent medical staff and no educators worth a damn. They don’t value science, technology or consensual, cooperative relationships. They use force first. We use force last.

We value freedom, even if we sometimes don’t value it enough. They value control over everything and the resulting despair and despondency that accompanies taking away basic choices about which direction a person’s life should take. So what if the Army is trying to ensure that its message gets into the public’s bloodstream? As long as it does so honestly, then it is doing what it should to win.
The freedom of an individual to pursue his or her own pathways in life, to a large degree, is what hangs in the balance here. At least in my eyes. We’re not just deciding for Iraqis, we’re deciding for the entire world. The battle for the future of Iraq is one small fight in a much larger war that is being waged worldwide constantly. Most people are oblivious to it but it’s going on here and it’s going on back home. It’s going on in Britain too, where the radio show I talked too is hosted.

I am glad to be in a place in time and space where I was allowed to speak my mind on a radio show listened to by an audience halfway around the world from me. If I had been British, I wouldn’t have been allowed on the show. That’s sad.

Are the NSA Intercepts Legit?

In the above link, the Attorney General has provided us with a legal memorandum that explains the authority Bush had to authorize the intercepts of communications between Al Qaida operatives. The best part of the argument starts at page 17 of this pdf document in case you want to skip all of the fluff lead in.
I can agree with the reasoning in this matter based on their analysis. If so, then the release of this information by the NYT is the greatest act of treason that has ever been committed. Although why anyone thinks that the Al Qaida operatives will still be using electronic means to communicate that can be intercepted is beyond me, therefore the program has no useful value at this time.
The argument made is at least credible. If we are to look at NSA intercepting communications between Al Qaida operatives who are both outside of the country, that is fully authorized. As Bush said before in his defense of his actions, at least one of the parties being intercepted had to be outside of the country. Therefore removing from the argument internal communications from being intercepted. The presence of someone who is communicating with Al Qaida in this country should not be exempted from intercepts because of a misguided sense of a legal technicality. I think that it was Lincoln who said that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. Al Qaida should not be allowed to use the protections of the Constitution to hide their actions. Reasonable steps to prevent attacks that include the interception of communications from overseas (or Canada or Mexico for that matter) must be an inherent part of the President's authority to make war that Congress has authorized.
So, as Commmander in Chief during time of war, taking the steps to protect the nation from attack, he would be authorized by the Authorization for the Use of Military Force. The fact that he continued to review it on a regular basis plus inform the members of Congress only adds more credence to the interpretation of the President's powers.
Now, let's say that Congress finds that they did not mean for the President to listen in on terrorists that are in this country. They could pass a law clarifying that any Al Qaida that are present on our shores are exempt from surveillance absent a FISA court approved court order. After all, we wouldn't want to falsely investigate someone who is totally innocent and wrongfully accused. Of course we also wouldn't want to allow Al Qaida to plot undeterred from their next big operation either. So how do we resolve the dilemna? Let's look at the maiximum harm of the two cases cited above. If the person is wholly innocent, they could suffer from a certain level of embarassment, since any illegal activities would be excluded from prosecution. On the other hand, failure to intercept intel related to a terror attack could result in one that makes 9-11 look like a picnic.
So, what are we to do? I am sure that Congress will either have to validate the President's authority, or say that Al Qaida is to be allowed free reign to conduct their actions against us.
People always say that Bush is dumb. Seems to me that he keeps putting his opponents who are in a moral rage into a very tight box that they cannot extricat themselves from.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Proof that I am right

In the link above, a Congressman has taken the most expensive trip yet to date, this during all of the noise about Abramoff. As I said before on the issue of bias in the media, see if you can figure out what party the accused is from.
The fact that his affiliation is not mentioned should give you a clue.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

On Lobbying Reform

Well, in light of the Abramoff kerfluffle the Democrats are proposing new regulations that will prevent lobbyists from picking up the tab for a meal, or for offering free transport to elected representatives.
Yup, that ought to do it. Right there because we know that every Congressman can be bought for the price of a lunch. Sheesh.
The problem with this solution, as with so many solutions, it doesn't solve the real problem. It is not the lobbyists who are the problem, rather our elected representatives who are so easily swayed by them.
Lobbyists are a constitutionally protected job class. The right of the people to petition the gonernment for redress, etc. So, since we cannot remove the ones who would tempt our legislators, perhaps we need to replace them instead of the lobbyists.
The basic problem with any codified set of ethics rules is that there are always loopholes. West Point uses the simple, "do not lie, cheat or steal, nor condone those who do." The advantage of ambiguity is that you always have to stay safely on the side of being right. It's when you say that the meal was less than $50 before taxes, and therefore ok that we begin to have problems.
America, the place with a permanent criminal class which resides in Washington.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

More science questions

V at Left in the West posted a cool link about black holes. One of the advantages of being a lawyer is that you get to learn a little bit about just about everything. It would be really cool if someone would host a strange scientific question segment that would allow knowledgable people to give a quick answer.
Just for fun, I will posit one of those questions that I have not been able to get my head around and see if anyone can explain it to someone as dumb as I am. The question:
If you have a space ship travelling at one half the speed of light, we know that the person on board would also experience a time dilation that would slow time down to one half of what an outside observer would see. So if our spaceman were to measure the speed of light, he would be using the Newtonian system of rate times time = distance. But if his time is one half, wouldn't that require twice the speed to come up with the same distance. If so, what does that do to the speed limit that nothing can go faster than the speed of light?
Any help would be appreciated.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

On the Alito Hearings

I only got to listen to the Alito hearings from NPR while driving, so I only got snapshots of the questioning. However, the smartest thing said in all of this noise was when Biden said that having hearings anymore is a waste of time. Amen to that. One side is looking to use cross examination techniques to try and trip up the nominee, and the other is looking to find any way to excuse the accusations. Nowhere in the process is there any real desire to find any useful information.
This is not to say that I support Alito. A president should be given a certain amount of deference in their choices, but Alito's hyper caution in answering (or not answering) questions makes me more than a little worried.
Some of the questions should have been a slam dunk. For instance, when Durbin asked if the right to an abortion is in the Constitution, he should have answered: It is a right that is derived from the right to privacy, which is itself a right derived from the 4th, 5th and 1st Amendments, but no, it is not explicitly in the Constitution.
I did like his answer on why he voted against including a coal heap as a mine, when he said that the laws needed to be construed narrowly. Durbin was incensed, but it makes sense. If Congress feels that a court is not covering all that they want, they can fix it. If on the other hand the courts start to get too broad in their interpretaion, it is more difficult to rein them in. The role of the courts is to limit their interpretation, not to confer new rights. That is the role of the legislative bodies.
The other interesting thing about the hearings, was the desire to have Alito like Roberts before him declare that abortion is settled law. If it was so darned settled, why are we still arguing over it? In fact, by the high percentage of questions relating to abortion are a measure, the issue is not settled at all, and the Democratic senators know and recognize this. Abortion is one of those fun moral dilemmas where good people can come down on either side. Unfortunately, both sides seem to treat the other as evil and despicable. Does little to really address the problem, but it make each side feel good about themselves, and hey, that must be important right?
The whole CAP business seems to me to be a non-issue. But the idea that CAP is some sort of bigotted group would have been better if the actual evidence was presented. A friend told me that the article in question is really a parody. Don't know if that is true, but no one has shown it not to be either.
But getting back to the point, let's recognize that since Bork, there realy is little need for these type of hearings, except to stroke the egos of the senators who get to be on tv. Let's quit wasting time, and raising blood pressure levels and just send the nominee to the full senate for a vote.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Increasing the Minimum Wage

Matt at Left in the West is arguing for an increase in the Mimimum Wage of $1 per hour. Now that may not seem to be very much, but if you are a small business, cost control is your biggest problem. Too much outflow not matched by income results in no employment.
Another question though: Why only a $1 per hour increase. If $1 is good, wouldn't $2 be better? In fact, let's make it $1000 per hour for minimum wage. This way everyone would make at least a quarter of a million dollars a year. That would be good right?
The problem is, how are the employers going to pay for it? Oh yeah, an equal increase in prices. The result is that there is no increase in pay, since the cost of everything is going to be going up as well.
Sometimes, what seems like a good idea, is not.

Why I think that Krugman is an idiot

This analysis of the Krugman piece effectively demolishes the last shred of credibility that Krugman ever had. Selective use of statistics is intellectually indefensible, but that has never stopped Mr. Krugman before. I know that if Gore or Kerry were in office instead of Bush, he would be trumpeting the fantastic growth of the economy.
The problem old line thinkers have with the Internet is that too many people are exposed to information that they want to keep hidden. With that, like Dorothy pulling aside the green curtain, they are exposed for the frauds and charlatans that they really are.
Integrity and reputation used to matter to people. Now it seems that it is all results driven, and the use of any tool is justified in pursuit of your objectives. The problem with using your integrity in just such a way is that you only get to use it once. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice. . . .

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Partisan Complaints?

A while back, a letter to the editor of the Missoulian made the assertion that if Bush was a Democrat, the Republicans would be all over him for what he did wrong. Maybe so, but maybe we should look at what the facts are.
First, we have a President who shirked his military duty. Who ignored the United Nations, and attacked a country that had done nothing to us. He refused to send in sufficient ground troops to support the operation like the senior leadership had requested. His unilateral undeclared and unsanctioned war killed many innocent civilians. At the end of the conflict, that country's leader was brought before a tribunal for his crimes, where he makes a mockery of the entire judicial proceedings.
And then he had the temerity to say that it would be a limited occupation, and that we would be out in no time at all. Yet here we are 10 years on, and we are still there.
What? you say, we haven't been in Iraq for 10 years. True, but I was talking about Bosnia, although you could throw the Haiti fiasco in there as well.
Yeah, I can see where opposition depends on which party you are from. It just seems to me, that when we have something as important as dealing with Islamofacism, people may be more willing to give a little consideration to the President. I didn't see the kind of protests going on when Clinton did the same thing in an area that we had no strategic interests. So what is the difference? Oh yeah, Bush is a Republican. 'nuff said.

Abramhof and Corrupt Politicians

I watched Howard Dean say that no Democrat ever took any money from Abramhof. Not one, ever, he said. He even went so far as to say that they checked all of their records. It never happened.
Hmmm, if so, why are they giving money back that they never took? Now, we all know that the Democrats are virtuous and would never take money from someone like Abrahamof right.
Color me cynical, but the above link shows they are not only as corrupt about taking the money, they lie about it even better.
Throw all of the bums out.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Imperial Grunts

I have finally finished the book Imperial Grunts by Kaplan.
Even though it has been more than 10 years since I retired, I am glad to know that the same type of people are serving as shown in his work. Too many of my fellow citizens have no experience with the military except for what they learn from Michael Moore or Olver Stone.
Even those like Larry the Environmental Deranger would be better off to learn what is going on today. Like too many, he is stuck in the time warp of the Viet Nam era and assumes that everything is as static as his memories.
The book shows that the modern military is made up of courageous, confident and capable people who are more interested in getting the job done than pondering esoteric theories. It also shows that those who believe that only the bottom feeders of our economy are out there joining the military because of a lack of other economic options are way off base.
It is amusing that in something so intricate as life, some people are willing to categorize others based on nothing other than their own preconceived notions of what the world is like. When you expect the military to be nothing more than vicitms of economic conditions, you ignore the multi variable of patriotism, pride, desire for a challenge, personal development, education, the opportunity to develop some maturity, cultural heritage, desire to serve others and many other reasons that people join the military.
I am looking forward to the next installment of his works.

New realms for the Viceroy

Viceroy's Fuguestate has just updated his blog with a very nice look. I just updated the link to the new page, and encourage everryone to look at it. He kind of combines Glenn of Instapundit with the humor of IMAO. Drop by and give him a look.