Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam Hussein is done

Hussein was hanged, as planned, in the wake of the trial for crimes against humanity. I heard reports that quite a few Iraqis offered to take the job as executioner.

Here's the report (partial) from a Pakistani news source:
BAGHDAD: Ousted Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein has been hanged to death here couple of hours after he was handed over to Iraqi authorities by the US, the reports said.

Saddam was hanged at about 8am PST.

The scaffolding where Hussein was hanged was in Baghdad's Green Zone, the center of power for coalition officials.
(The News)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Kearny church/state issue update

Regarding the teacher accused of proselytizing in the classroom, the offended student's father has been posting to message board dedicated to the town of Kearny.

Check it out (you may find some of my comments here and there, assuming the moderators find them insufficiently inflammatory for banning).

This issue is near and dear to my heart, since I see the modern court's view of church/state separation as an effective death sentence on U.S. unity with the growth of multiculturalism.

The constitution isn't threatened by Christian fundamentalists at all compared to the threat from folks who do not hold these truths self-evident ...

For the nation to have unity, it must have a substantial common culture. I'm not a big fan of talk radio host Michael Savage, but he's spot on with the borders/language/culture distillation of the problem facing the US. A common culture of multiculturalism is self-contradictory. It cannot lead to unity where the various cultures have no substantial common ground.

It was trendy in times past to regard all of the world's religions as essentially similar. That's why the founders of the nation found it easy to find unity between deists and theists. They weren't all that different respecting morality and civil law.

Times have changed. Moral relativism looks philosophically attractive to many, including academic elites. Moral relativism sits uncomfortably with self-evident rights.
That trend will undermine the constitution one way or another. Either the constitution will be amended unrecognizably, or reinterpreted by the courts so that the authors would no longer recognize it.

One of my first blog posts:
The Constitution of the United States is Unconstitutional.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Kearny controversy

A teacher in Kearny, New Jersey has become a focus in the news after talking about religion in his history class.
The teacher, David Paszkiewicz, was recorded on the job by a Matthew LaClair, a junior at Kearny High School. LaClair, for what it's worth, is apparently an atheist and the son of a lawyer.

This case seems to show the degree to which secularists are thin-skinned about the mention of religion in the classroom. My computer hasn't helped me listen to the sound files of Paskiewicz's classes, but judging from the transcripts I've seen this far (like this one), it seems that he respects other religious beliefs while leading a productive discussion.

The biggest question I've got about his methods would concern the context--exactly what aspect of history is he illuminating through this type of discussion? There may well be a good answer, but I couldn't hazard a guess at the moment.

A self-described atheist commenting at one of my bloghopping destinations (Talking in Circles [Scratch that, it was at "The Questionable Authority]) summed up my opinion pretty well, though it didn't address my concern about how the discussion fits with the curriculum.

I'm atheist and anti-religion. I came onto this discussion shocked and outraged, but not ready to throw stones until I knew exactly what was said, and some context. Couldn't understand the audio, but thanks to Stephen's transcript, I begin to get a pretty good idea what kind of teacher this guy is.
And, god, I wish I'd had teachers like that.
Wake up, people! He gets high school kids engaged in animated discussions about abstract ideas! Anybody who can achieve this is a hero.
He gets preachy, but he encourages debate and allows disagreement; it's worth it. I don't agree with anything he says, but if I were in that class I'd sure be thinking. And learning.

Posted by: dzho | December 21, 2006 12:37 PM

Well said.

Monday, December 18, 2006

More on TiC, O'Reilly and Jefferson

I don't trust the TiC folks to publish my comments any longer.

Here's what I sent in reply to the Jefferson/church-state separation issue.

Separation of church and state was completely different in Jefferson's day.
Take a look at the letter that Media Matters cited.
The context clearly indicates that Jefferson was referring to the federal government. O'Reilly is dealing with a local (city) government issue.
Jefferson wouldn't recognize today's separation of church and state, and he would be extremely surprised that the "self-evident" basis for the revolution was no longer self-evident to many. He believed in a natural law that undergirded every religion, giving them all a common morality. Today's application of church/state separation would stand Jefferson's understanding on its head. Something would have to give in his views--would you suggest he'd become a moral relativist?

I didn't link to the letter in the original, since it was clear in the original context (or should be) what I was talking about.

TiC on O'Reilly and Jefferson

Here's a twofer from Talking in Circles, under the heading "bill o'reilly lies about thomas jefferson."
Bill O’Reilly wrote that the “separation of church and state argument” is “bogus” because it “does not appear anywhere in the Constitution.”
(TiC)

The post is lifted (with a head-nod attribution) from the Media Matters website.
Word up: Don't trust Media Matters. Here's the Media Matters version:
Bill O'Reilly wrote that the "separation of church and state argument" is "bogus" because it "does not appear anywhere in the Constitution."
(Media Matters)

And, finally, here's the Bill O' Reilly version:
The anti-Christmas forces are still clinging to the bogus separation of church and state argument that does not appear anywhere in the Constitution. If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, he would mock these secular fools and then retire to his Virginia estate for Christmas dinner.
('Tis The Season, by Bill O'Reilly)

TiC and Media Matters are nice enough to provide all the necessary links, I should add. It's like they either can't think well enough to realize that their evaluation of O'Reilly is bogus, or they're trusting that nobody will bother to double-check.

1) O'Reilly's logic, as it comes from the quotation, does not suggest that the "separation of church and state argument" is "bogus" because it doesn't appear in the constitution. He merely states that the argument is absent from the constitution--and he's perfectly correct on that point.
If the critics want to take O'Reilly to task on that point, they should quote him specifically to that effect. Media Matters failed on that point, thus they probably misrepresented O'Reilly's position on the matter.
2) The better argument--the one that O'Reilly probably adheres to--rests in the fact that the early United States allowed considerable public expression of Christianity. There was no thought that the First Amendment would be applied broadly to all state and local governments through the extension of the Fourteenth Amendment. Check the date on the Fourteenth Amendment if you don't believe me.

So, Thomas Jefferson probably wouldn't celebrate Christmas with the same mindset of Linus van Pelt, but O'Reilly makes a valid point in the context of applying federal law to restrict municipalities from permitting a nativity scene.

I think that Jefferson would have come to realize that not all religions may be accomodated in the laws of one nation. If you took a poll today, a large number of people would disagree that it is self-evident that all men are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights--and apparently that's exactly what Jefferson and company believed as they signed the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson would, I think, be flabbergasted that the self-evident has largely gone out of vogue in terms of popular belief.

Vying for the Naughty List

I've had occasion to mention "Talking in Circles" on my bloghopping reports.

It's a blog by a left-of-center atheist, like Kele's Journey except he doesn't take such extended vacations.

Unfortunately, it has started to look like the blog belongs on the Naughty List after all. I had first accorded respect to the blog since the host apparently welcomed dissenting opinions in the comments. My recent experiences there suggest that might no longer be the case.

Just failing to post my inimitable commentary doesn't qualify a blog as bad, of course. Bad blogs spread bad information by censoring the truth from their commentary section while continuing to broadcast patently false or misleading data.

Like this, for example:

Bush misunderstands Vietnam

01Dec06

What are the lessons we can learn from Vietnam, and how does it relate to the current war in Iraq? According to the President, what he took away from his visit to Vietnam was:

“We’ll succeed unless we quit.”

Yup. He said that.

My response:

This post seems designed to promulgate the notion that President Bush's notion that Vietnam was winnable is an inarguable falsehood. That's a common idea among Americans in general--not just those on the left. It's just not true, however.

I composed a rather lengthy reply pointing out that the Tet offensive had the odd dual effect of leaving the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong armies broken (they suffered staggering casualties) as well as the will of the U.S. to continue the fight--perhaps a suitable analog to Iraq today (winnable fight, no will to win it).
I also commented on one of the comments to the original blog post, since one of the regulars at the site had offered the opinion that getting out of S. Vietnam was a great idea. The truth is that millions lost their freedom resulting in death, torture, and a pathetic economy that has only begun to recover when the nation began to inplement capitalistic reforms. Yippee?
Defeat North Vietnam and how much faster do we get those capitalistic reforms, kids?

Alas, my comments haven't been published, though I know they were registered because I tried to publish again just to make sure it had registered. Sure enough, I got a message assuring me that I had already posted the information.

Is it a good thing to forget how many died and suffered because of the U.S. pullout (and failure to sustain promised support for S. Vietnam)?

Convince me.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Guantanamo in the courts: district court judge finds no federal jurisdiction under new U.S. law

President Bush's framework for handling detainees in the war on terror won a victory when U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson ruled that the law removed the detainees from the jurisdiction of the federal court system.

That means that Guantanamo detainees cannot challenge their detention in the Federal courts.

Instead, the cases will be heard by military commission. The decisions of that commission may be challenged in the D.C. court of appeals.

Here's a winning quotation from the opposition:
"This is the first time in the history of this country that a court has held that a man may be held by our government in a place where no law applies," said Barbara Olshansky, deputy legal director of the US Centre for Constitutional Rights.
Apparently Ms. Olshansky considers military commissions and the D.C. court of appeals lawless, as well as the duly-passed law that establishes the arrangement.

Hat tip to Rush Limbaugh, who mentioned the story during his radio program.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

General Hayden on the NSA wiretaps

I just got through watching General Hayden conduct a press conference concerning the NSA surveillance program. One of the reporters present accidentally helped clarify a critical point in the context of this issue. The reporter, who appeared to be emotionally charged as he spoke, suggested that the NSA program went against the Fourth Amendment. He said that the Fourth Amendment established a "probable cause" standard for searches and seizures.

General Hayden correctly replied that the Fourth Amendment actually established a reasonableness standard.

The questioning by the reporter helped to focus the issue, I think.

If taken to exclude presidential wartime authority (as many critics of the program seem to believe) the FISA system bars the executive branch from exercising the reasonableness standard that comes to us from the Fourth Amendment.

In its place, they would substitute the Fourth Amendment's standards for the issuing of a warrant, which is the "probable cause" standard.

In that case, Congress would have exercised its power to constrain the executive branch of the federal government from exercising a power that a city police department might apply every single day (without a warrant).

Does that make sense?

The Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
(FindLaw.com)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Bucs fall prey to Falcons, suffer NFC South sweep

I haven't been posting after the Buccaneer losses, starting with Thanksgiving at Dallas.

I'll just sum it up like this: The Bucs won't win again (except maybe against Cleveland) until they either develop a pass rush or win the turnover battle decisively.

1) The Bucs' pass rush has been pretty much absent since Simeon Rice injured his shoulder earlier this year. Ellis Wyms has actually improved the pass rush filling for the traded Booger McFarland (now with Indianapolis), but he has also been injured and has missed a few games. The defense put some pressure on Michael Vick, so it's not impossible that the pass rush will still develop this year (though too late to help the team make the playoffs).

2) I've been on the Gradkowski bandwagon since early on, but I'm not wearing rose-colored glasses, either. The rookie QB has grown tentative in the pocket and isn't seeing the field well. He also continues to struggle throwing the deep ball, missing a wide-open Joey Galloway with an overthrown pass today. Granted, today was a windy day and Gradkowski has thrown some deep passes that should have been caught, but I think it's fair to say that he's struggling with the long pass this year.

Despite the Bucs' struggles, this game against Atlanta could easily have been won. The team came away from two early drives with field goals instead of touchdowns. The Bucs were winning 6-0 and on the way to more points when Gradkowski was sacked and fumbled. The Falcons scored to take the lead on the play.
The defense surrendered only 10 points, with three of those coming off a turnover that was already within easy FG range.

The fumble that Atlanta returned for a touchdown was a key play in the game--probably the key play of the game--and it was reviewed by officials after they told coach Gruden that the play could not be reviewed. Most in the crowd (judging by the impressive booing) thought that the officials blew the call after the review, since a Buccaneer player clearly comes down on top of the ball. Unfortunately, I think the officials made the right call on the play. While the Buccaneer player does come down on top of the ball, it would have been a stretch to claim that he ever controlled it, regardless of whether an opposing player touched him while he was on top of the football. It was the right call by the officials, and some bad luck for the Bucs that the play turned out as it did.

I'm really not happy seeing my team get swept in its division. The bottom line is that if the team does the things that bad teams do on a relatively consistent basis, it's a bad team. I don't like having to make that admission. I thought the Bucs would stay near .500 on their off years because of good coaching, low taxes, and a good front office (and I didn't even think that this would be an off year until it became apparent that Chris Simms' struggles early in the year were not purely a fluke).
There are some fairly good excuses available, but I'd hate to use any of them. Every team struggles with coaching changes and injuries to one degree or another. On the good side, this team does have some decent talent so the turnaround could be just around the corner. I think the team needs a QB who can read defenses, consistency on the offensive line, a defensive tackle who disrupts things at least 75 percent as well as Warren Sapp did it, and a new safety or two.

We may already have the quarterback (though I couldn't yet name him from the group we've got--I've trusting that potential plus time might solve the problem). The offensive line just needs to avoid key injuries and get some experience--I think they will do okay. The defensive tackle is a key need unless Ellis Wyms proves that he's more than a backup and that his tendency to get injured isn't going to be a problem (right now I don't see it). The safeties might look a whole lot better if the team were getting a pass rush, but there have clearly been some breakdowns in the back line this year, so I'm sticking with calling it a problem.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Old Haloscan comments temporarily added at the bottom of the page

I'm not entirely satisfied with the result ... I figured out how to get rid of that utt bugly brown color when it appeared behind the blog description, but it's not obvious how to get rid of it for the Haloscan display.

Since it's temporary, I'll just put up with it for a bit.

This is Blogger Beta

I've made the switch to Blogger Beta and so far I like it.

I got my main two blogs switched over, restored the lost formatting and accomplished a few modifications that I had hoped to install in the HTML code once I figured out some bits of the language that I hadn't figured out yet.

One main problem remains. Haloscan commenting hasn't figured out the Blogger Beta system yet, so I'm back with the Blogger default commenting system and the past Haloscan comments are temporarily lost.

An indirect commentary on congressional oversight

The left loves to criticize President Bush as an intellectual lightweight.
He's much smarter than they give him credit for, of course.

This post is about congress, on the other hand. The left likes to talk about the need for congressional oversight.

Congressional Quarterly's Jeff Stein found that Nancy Pelosi's current favorite for the chairman of the Congressional Intelligence Committee didn't know that al Qaeda was predominantly Sunni.
Reyes stumbled when I asked him a simple question about al Qaeda at the end of a 40-minute interview in his office last week. Members of the Intelligence Committee, mind you, are paid $165,200 a year to know more than basic facts about our foes in the Middle East.
(CQ)

Unfortunately, this is not a problem limited to Democrats. Just a few lines prior:
For example, [Reyes] knows that the 1,400- year-old split in Islam between Sunnis and Shiites not only fuels the militias and death squads in Iraq, it drives the competition for supremacy across the Middle East between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.

That’s more than two key Republicans on the Intelligence Committee knew when I interviewed them last summer. Rep. Jo Ann Davis, R-Va., and Terry Everett, R-Ala., both back for another term, were flummoxed by such basic questions, as were several top counterterrorism officials at the FBI.

It's not even limited to congress (see FBI mention at the end).

I'd like to think that Rep. Jane Harman (D, Calif.) knows how the Sunni/Shiite divide stacks up. It speaks to the Democrats' misplaced priorities that Pelosi isn't supporting Harman for the chair.

Hat tip to Captain's Quarters.

Insider's view on Lebanon

I had planned to blog on the reaction of some Lefty blogs to the ISG recommendations, but I couldn't find any that were doing other than criticizing those who were criticizing the ISG's recommendations. That would be okay if the criticisms were accompanied by some statement of position, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
Let's hope I'm just looking in the wrong places.

The pleasant surprise was the material on Michael J. Totten's blog--not that it should be surprising that Totten wrote something good. In this case, however, Totten is on hiatus and he's letting a Lebanese Shia do updates on the situation in Lebanon. The guy is apparently no fan of Hezbollah.

Maybe check it out. There's a whole bunch of posts there from Abu Kais.

Friday, December 08, 2006

"Day By Day" keeper

I'm not posting much about the Iraq Survey Group stuff thus far, but today's "Day By Day" cartoon pretty much sums things up, it seems.

Please let me be wrong, or better yet let the U.S. government follow a better plan from the Pentagon or some other more competent source.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Depressing example of debate

In an earlier post concerning the "Liberal Avenger" blog, I praised a response from "Dana," who provided the perfect counterpoint to the original blog post.

The issue in that earlier post concerned chiding from the Liberal Avenger that conservative blogs had been silent over PM al-Maliki supposedly blowing off President Bush over diplomatic talks held in Jordan.

Dana pointed out that the talks had taken place after all, which seems to put the mysterious silence of conservative blogs in its proper perspective--they were not jumping to conclusions as did "LA" of the Liberal Avenger blog.

With not much to say in defense of the original blog post, the discussion thread quickly degenerated.
  1. Stram Says:

    “it’s pretty difficult to imagine that he’d simply “blow off” President Bush”

    Yeah, I agree. It’s more likely Bush would blow Maliki.

  2. blubonnet Says:

    I wonder if Condi blows Bush?

  3. Theerasak Photha Says:

    Egad! What would Bob Jones think?

  4. Dana Says:

    Well, Blu, if she files a sexual harassment suit against him, and he lies under oath about it, y’all will finally have the impeachable offense you want.

I'm guessing that the three comments preceding Dana's came from liberals or progressives--something to the left of the political spectrum. Dana's response played off of the mean-spirited comments that ran before in a somewhat clever way. But then there was this:
  1. Jimmy Says:

    There are plenty more meaningful charges that can be brought against Shrub. What kind of starkly ignorant comment is that Dino? Way below your regular “standards”.

  2. gordo Says:

    Dana–

    Nice mixing of events there. Paula Jones filed a harassment suit, based on no evidence at all. She also filed a defamation of character suit, then appeared nude in Penthouse.

    The Lewinsky matter involved consensual sex. Therefore, it was a red herring, and the question should not have been allowed.

    If you think that the impeachment of Clinton was legitimate, that’s fine, as long as we put ALL of our presidents under oath and grill them about their sexual escapades. If not, then it’s not legitimate.

    On the other hand, violating the FISA law should be an impeachable offense.

Jimmy's comment about "more meaningful" charges is interesting. Is it meant to minimize the charge of lying under oath? Then he asks a question that is more an attack on Dana (the "starkly ignorant comment"). Dana made a fairly decent joke, and he apparently succeeded in putting the left-leaning commentators on the defensive. Then he says that the comment is way below Dana's usual "'standards.'" If Dana's standards are so low to require using quotation marks around the word, we find that Jimmy has placed his latter attack on Dana in doubt.

Gordo is the one who produced the howler that accounts for the current post, however.

Gordo starts off saying that Dana was mixing events. It seems fair for Dana to mix events given that the thread had gone from al-Maliki blowing off Bush to Bush blowing al-Maliki and then to Condi Rice blowing Bush.

Then Gordo starts to defend Clinton (perhaps Dana's aim in the first place). Paula Jones' case against Clinton was based on no evidence, supposedly. One wonders how Gordo determined that there was no evidence, given that Jones had a witness testifying to corroborate portions of her account. As for what went on in the room in which Clinton was alleged to have propositioned Jones, what kind of evidence is there supposed to be? Sound waves imprinted on the walls? Fibers from Clinton's underwear on the carpet? That's not the way the U.S. justice system works. If a person experiences an event such as the one alleged by Jones, the system allows her to make the allegation and pit her word against Clinton's in a court of law. Most particularly, it allows Jones to buttress her case by providing evidence of Clinton's sexual dalliances, used to establish a pattern for the consideration of the judge or jury.

Gordo says that since the Lewinski affair consisted of consensual sex, therefore it was a red herring and (if I read Gordo's intent correctly) no question on the matter should have been posed to Clinton.

Gordo's logic doesn't follow. Jones did not need to show that Clinton had done to others precisely as he had done to her, though certainly such instances would also help her case. A mere pattern of infidelity by W. J. Clinton would strengthen her case. The Lewinsky dalliance did that. Gordo further supposes that the question should not have been asked, so apparently Clinton was off the hook for his answer. Well, Clinton was a lawyer at the time (he hadn't yet been disbarred), so why didn't he realize that the question shouldn't have been allowed? Is Gordo that much smarter than Clinton? Somehow, I doubt it. Clinton knew that the could have declined to answer the question. That much was discussed during the time of his impeachment. Instead, he elected to answer it with a falsehood, knowing that it affected the development of Paula Jones' case. It's classic perjury. There's no excuse.

From there, Gordo blathers on to the effect that Clinton's impeachment wasn't legitimate unless we allow prosecutors to grill all presidents about their sexual lives. That actually is allowed, in principle, where presidential immunity is not successfully invoked.
And any president can take the avenue not chosen by Clinton: Don't answer the question.

In Clinton's case, not answering the question didn't do enough to damage Jones' case against him. So he chose to lie.
One wonders what motive other presidents would have to lie instead of simply not answering the question when questioned about their sexual history.

Gordo finishes by claiming that violating FISA ought to be an impeachable offense. Not everyone agrees with that claim, for what it's worth, but I wonder what evidence Gordo has that Bush violated FISA?

I'll have to consider Gordo's blog for Bad Blogs' Blood since he's put himself on the map like this.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

MSM Distortion 101: Wauwatosa brawl suspect collared

I've been following (albeit not especially closely) a story about a brawl that took place in Wisconsin, apparently related to a gay marriage statute that was coming up for a vote up there.

In a series of posts (including this one), I pointed out the rather lousy job the media outlets have done in telling the story.

This news release just compounds that effect.

WAUWATOSA - Wauwatosa police arrested a man in connection with a brawl at a George Webb restaurant in September.


Police believe the 26-year-old Milwaukee man is responsible for starting the fight.


It all started when patrons were discussing the gay marriage amendment on November's ballot.


The man got upset and started throwing chairs, ketchup bottles and anything else he could get his hands on.
(TMJ4)
There's one part that's actually an improvement. This story acknowledges that there was a fight ("responsible for starting the fight"), at least at first.
The latter portion makes the other participants out merely as victims, even though at least one of the supposed victims threw a chair about 10 feet through the air at the suspect.
I wrote the television station that received the surveillance tape evidence, asking for an explanation of the way they edited the tape for its on-air presentation. I received a couple of courteous replies that contained no useful information.

The suspect did not go from the discussion to throwing things directly, as implied by the above account. Instead, he was sitting eating his meal when one of the victims approached him in his seat. Though the video had sound, I haven't been able to make out what was said at that point (that's one of the things I asked the TV news editors about--why no transcript?

I just found a version of the story from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. More distortion.

Wauwatosa police were called to the George Webb Restaurant at 6108 W. Blue Mound Road early Sunday on a report of a fight over homosexuality and Wisconsin's upcoming referendum on gay marriage.

According to witnesses, three friends - a lesbian, a gay man and a transgendered man - were discussing the marriage referendum with patrons nearby when others joined in. As the topic turned to homosexuality and became more heated, they said, one man left his seat in the corner of the diner and began arguing with the three before punching the lesbian and transgendered man, and then threatening to shoot up the restaurant.

They said the attacker left the restaurant, then came back - though without a gun - and started throwing glass ketchup and sugar containers.
(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept 29, 2006, "Hate charge sought in diner fracas;
Man punched lesbian and transgendered man involved in discussion of marriage referendum" by Annysa Johnson)
... obtained through Lexis Nexis.
The part about the man leaving "his seat in the corner of the diner ... before punching the lesbian and transgendered man" is very misleading.
The suspect apparently left his original seat to join the three "victims" at the restaurant counter area. He is seated there when Jorryn, the lesbian, leaves her seat in order to confront the suspect. She comes within easy arm's reach of the suspect, and he pushes her backward.
In my judgment, she takes a dive when she falls backward. It doesn't look to me as though the push should have sent her to the ground unless she were drunk (which is possible, I suppose).

That's not a punch by any stretch of the imagination. I should mention that the suspect does rise from his seat as he pushes Jorryn. He stands his ground as he is confronted by all three of the victims, who have now left their seats to confront the suspect (one remains in the background, certainly).

It is at this point that the suspect delivers a punch at the other "victim" but the person is not completely in the picture at that point, so it's hard to say what happened, exactly. The film clips I've seen are choppy enough that it's even possible that the supposed victim threw the first punch.

Again, the video clips had sound, so using the whole of the evidence should give a fairly clear picture of what happened--but the press in Wisconsin have done an incredibly poor job of giving people an accurate picture of what happened.

Using the taped evidence, it should at least be possible to provide a version that doesn't contain obvious distortions.


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Liberal Avenger's superpowers update

I reported some hours ago on a post at the "Liberal Avenger" site--a blog that's not consistently bad enough (at this point) to qualify for Bad Blogs' Blood but still bizarre enough to warrant comment occasionally.
"LA" (stands for "Liberal Avenger"?) posted that Iraq's PM Maliki had blown off President Bush regarding the talks in Jordan.

"Dana" got in one of the first replies, and put it well:
I didn’t even hear about this until you mentioned it — and by that time, I had already seen the video of Presidents Bu[s]h and al-Maliki meeting!
(LibAv)
You go, Dana.

Al Jazeera has the Arabesque version of the story (don't forget that they are pawns of the Bush administration):
Three-way talks cancelled
Original plans for three-way talks were abandoned at the last minute but talks between Bush and al-Maliki went ahead in Jordan.
They met for a working breakfast at the hotel where Bush is staying.
Explanations for the change to the scheduled talks between Bush, al-Maliki and King Abdullah were confusing.
White House officials said the Jordanians and the Iraqis jointly decided three-way talks were not the best use of time as both parties would be meeting the president separately.
(Al Jazeera)


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"Liberal Avenger" flexes superpower

Some yahoo at the Liberal Avenger site (goes by LA) made a big deal about right wing blog silence on the issue of the planned meeting between President Bush and PM Maliki.
the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA makes a trip to JORDAN to meet with Iraqi PM Maliki and Maliki blows Bush off
(LibAv)
LA provides no news story in support of his supposition that Maliki blew off Bush.
Bush is set to hold breakfast talks Thursday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on ways of ending the escalating violence in Iraq and later they will hold a joint news conference.

Expected three-way talks between Bush, Maliki and King Abdullah Wednesday were cancelled by Jordan because of "a lack of time", a Jordanian official said.
(The News International [Pakistan])

Al Jazeera hasn't updated yet, but they're reporting a boycott of the Iraq government by al-Sadr.

What's in a word? Civil war & such

This media naming of the residual conflict in Iraq is fascinating.

Some mainstream media outlets have taken to calling the sectarian violence in Iraq "civil war," and they're fond of claiming that the term is being used after "careful consideration."

Media outlets feel as though they need to justify the decision because the White House has emphasized that it does not favor using the term. White House justification for the claim seems pretty clear. People will regard the war less favorably with visions of US troops caught between opposing armed factions.

So, what's this "careful consideration"?
But after careful consideration, NBC News has decided a change in terminology is warranted — that the situation in Iraq with armed militarized factions fighting for their own political agendas — can now be characterized as a civil war.
(Washington Monthly, quoting NBC News)
The "careful consideration" appears to amount to a determination that the conflict can be made to fit the proffered definition.

Are armed military factions "fighting," though?
Aren't armed militias simply killing civilians?
What is the supposed political agenda?

Sorry, NBC (and others), but I don't see careful consideration, here.

The truth of the new term is probably explained by logic the reverse of what what the White House used. They are against US involvement in Iraq, and calling the hostilities "civil war" helps advance the cause.
I listened to editors of a major US daily discuss the new terminology--they weren't sure what to do, but they said they wanted to employ "careful consideration" which prompted the question of what the New York Times was doing.
That's one way to carefully consider the issue, I suppose.
One of the editors had the novel idea of finding out what experts said about it (I wonder which experts we're talking about?).

So far, I don't see much "careful consideration," but this story in the Washington Post seems somewhat balanced, at least:

Editors at The Associated Press have discussed the issue and haven't reached a definitive stance, said John Daniszewski, international editor. Most often, the conflict is called "the war in Iraq" or identified with descriptive terms such as sectarian fighting, anti-government attacks or ethnic clashes, he said.

He pointed to the different definitions experts have for civil wars.

"From a historical point of view, not every civil war is called by that name, and wars by their very nature are not always neatly categorized," he said. "For instance, the American Revolutionary War, the Vietnam War and the more recent wars in Bosnia and Kosovo were all civil wars according to the broader definition, yet we do not normally think or speak of them that way."

(Washington Post)

The word choice doesn't make any difference as to the nature of the conflict. The reasons for using the term or avoid it mostly amount to political considerations.
Until armed political factions are fighting each other to attain political ends, the term civil war will not apply to the conflict in its traditional sense.

Maybe political factions will soon be fighting one another to achieve political ends. Maybe they're already engaged against one another--I'm not under the illusion that the news coming out of Iraq is an accurate picture.

When and if that's the case, then there's a good case for using "civil war." Absent that rationale, the use of the term constitutes an editorial judgment in the news pages--supposedly anathema at a major U.S. daily.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

What the MSM doesn't want to hear

President Bush's speech in Estonia made a point that has not received enough emphasis from the White House--and the old media have helped to keep the issue quiet.
The battles in Iraq and Afghanistan are part of a struggle between moderation and extremism that is unfolding across the broader Middle East. Our enemy follows a hateful ideology that rejects fundamental freedoms like the freedom to speak, to assemble, or to worship God in the way you see fit. It opposes the rights for women. Their goal is to overthrow governments and to impose their totalitarian rule on millions. They have a strategy to achieve these aims. They seek to convince America and our allies that we cannot defeat them, and that our only hope is to withdraw and abandon an entire region to their domination. The war on terror we fight today is more than a military conflict; it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century. And in this struggle, we can accept nothing less than victory for our children and our grandchildren.
(whitehouse.gov)
Any plan for Iraq that fails to account for that ideological conflict almost certainly creates a monstrous problem for U.S. and Western futures.
The Democrat majorities have not yet come to grips with that reality, and I see little reason at present to suppose that will change.

Naturally, the MSM fail to report that important paragraph in favor of what they deem more important.
See for yourself.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pelosi wins one after losing one

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (blech, by the way) got her choice for the House Intelligence Committee, bypassing the more senior Jane Harman (Calif.) in favor of Alcee Hastings (Fla.).

The move is slightly odd because Harman is more suited to the Intelligence Committee than Hastings and because of Harman's more senior role in the House leadership within the Democrat Party. Add to that Hastings' past ethical/legal problems in what Pelosi has already billed as the most ethical and honest congress ever.
On the other hand, Pelosi had differences with Harman, and since Hastings is black it will help the Dems politically if seen as payback for support of Democrat candidates from black voters.
The Miami Herald put most of its focus on the ascendancy of black power in Congress before getting closer to the root of the issue:
Controversy has clouded the prospects for a possible fifth chairmanship. By seniority, Rep. Jane Harman of California should lead the powerful House Intelligence Committee, but House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi has indicated that she'll pick another Democrat on the panel because of past tensions between them.
Next in line for the intelligence chair would be Rep. Alcee Hastings of Miramar. Some newspapers and magazines have editorialized against selecting Hastings because of his past impeachment as a federal judge.
(Miami Herald)

Note: I heard a report (radio, IIRC) that Hastings was in, but apparently that's not official just yet. Thus, this post jumps the gun in granting Pelosi a victory in getting Hastings installed. Certainly the Miami Herald story doesn't confirm that Hastings has won the position.




Jan. 27, 2011:  BLTN, fixed spelling of Nancy Pelosi's first name.

What is Charles Rangel thinking?

Representative Charlie Rangel of NY has again introduced legislation proposing to re-introduce the military draft.

This seems like an odd move after some Democrats (I'm not sure it was the DNC) campaigned to students that Bush and Republicans would re-institute the draft. I know that Rangel--against the data--feels that the volunteer army somehow preys on minorities--but even so this move seems strange coming so soon after the election.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bucs knock off Redskins--next is Turkey Day vs. Dallas

It was nice to finally experience another win.

The Bucs turned in a first half reminiscent of the Monday Night Football loss to the Carolina Panthers. The defense played well, limiting the Redskins to under 100 yards of offense, but the Bucs' offense scored only 3 points because of two turnovers in Redskin territory.

Fortunately, the second half was far different than on Monday night. The Redskins were the team committing the costly turnover in the second half, and the Bucs came from behind 10-3 to win the game 20-17.

Carnell Williams atoned for some mistakes in Monday's game by running extremely well, picking up about 120 yards on the ground. He also caught two passes and turned in good YAC on those.

Though it won't look like it on the stat sheet, however, Mike Alstott was a huge key in the game. The Bucs had trouble running against the Redskins early, but Alstott's number was called three consecutive times in the first half and turned in nice gains while breaking tackles and leaving various Redskin defenders in his wake.

Part of the key is that Alstott got the running game going and put the fear of the run into the Redskins. The other thing was that whenever Alstott gets a sniff of the football at a Tampa Bay home game, the crowd goes nuts. He's an incredibly popular player--it seems like most TB fans think that Alstott would have numbers like Barry Sanders' if he carried the ball often enough.

Who knows what Alstott would have done if Gruden had tried at all to feature him in this offense? We'll never know. Maybe he would have been beaten up and retired three seasons ago. He still shows some impressive skills running the ball, however. The way he shrinks the target while closing in on shrinking defensive backs is a joy to behold. If the defender tries to hit him above the ankles, he'll have to contend with Alstott's shoulder pads. The guy has an inhuman ability to punish tacklers that way.

Props to the defense for playing pretty well despite missing quite a few bodies. Dewayne White made some splash plays filling in for Simeon Rice. That was nice to see. Barrett Ruud made you forget that Shelton Quarles was taking up space on the sideline. That provides some hope for the future. Much-maligned (by superficial fans, anyway) Juran Bolden kept filling in capably for the out-for-the-season Brian Kelly. Bolden got his ankle rolled on a tackle--it could end up being a bad injury--but I want to give him props for showing up every nickel corner (or would-be Kelly substitute) we've had since Dwight Smith (now with the Vikings after a stint with the Saints).

And, finally, the Gradkowski report.

Grads turned in a pretty solid game--it would have been downright great if we could take away the pass near the goal-line that was intercepted by Shawn Springs and the fumbled exchange from center in Redskin territory that gave Washington the ball instead of a possible touchdown or field-goal attempt.
Grads threw accurate short and intermediate-length passes (no bombs today unless we count the lob to Galloway that burned Washington's blitz late in the game), showed good command of the offense, scrambled for some key first downs, and did a nice job with the hand-offs and play fakes.

I was hoping for this type of game against the Giants and the Panthers. If he can complete the short passes, it won't matter if he misfires on the long ones--though of course the defense has plenty to do with where the ball ends up most times.

In summary, this game offered hope for the future--and the fact that Atlanta and New Orleans both lost today even supplies a fleeting hope for this season if the Bucs can turn in a miraculous string of great performances.
Next up: Dallas, fresh off an impressive win against formerly undefeated Indianapolis. Short week for both teams--Dallas played in late afternoon while the Bucs played early, but the Cowboys don't have to travel while the Bucs need to hop on a plane Wednesday.

It's really a brutal schedule right now, with the Bucs playing three games (two on the road) in the space of 11 days.

Go Bucs.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bucs stink on MNF

The first half wasn't so bad.
The defense looked good, and the offense made enough plays to take a 7-0 lead into halftime.

Then the wheels came off.

The Bucs committed a couple of key turnovers (fumbles) allowing Carolina to put together a pair of short TD drives. Trailing late in the game 17-10 and needing a defensive stop, the defense allowed Carolina to soak up time working the ball down the field before allowing a deep TD pass to Steve Smith.
It looked like the safety missed his coverage responsibility on that one (Kalvin Pearson).

"Cadillac" Williams had a poor game, fumbling the ball away after running into his own lineman, and then later dropping a pass from Gradkowski that hit him in both hands.

This is the stuff that bad football teams do. The Bucs were a bad football team in the second half.

On a significant side note, get the officials some glasses and some brains.
Keyshawn Johnson twice took a dive near the sidelines deliberately trying to draw an unnecessary roughness penalty. We're talking clown-style flailing arms prior to a staged pratfall, here. The second time the officials called Juran Bolden for unnecessary roughness. That was a terrible call. Johnson should have been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in both cases.
It didn't have a whole lot to do with the outcome of the game, but it was disgusting seeing the officials allow Keyshawn to manufacture a goal-to-go situation based on dishonest trickery.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Why no comments @ "The Liberal Avenger"?

A few minutes ago, I updated a post about the minimum wage because my comments at a liberal site were not appearing.

Well, chances are I've figured out why.

The Liberal Avenger allows "Amanda" of the Pandagon blog to post as part of a group blog. Amanda and Pandagon are sure to appear at Bad Blogs' Blood. Certainly the practice of banning a new visitor from commenting on a site seems against the principle of free speech.

Not that I think that I'm entitled to post anywhere I wish, mind you--I simply find it inconsonant with the typical liberal chorus on that issue.

In this case, one of the Pandragon crossovers (probably Amanda) is protecting the blog readers from a criticism of an economic argument, based on the entirely dubious proposition that I'm a "troll."
I'll lay that "troll" idea to rest when BBB takes on Pandagon.

Thanks to Amanda (or possibly a close ally), the "Liberal Avenger" comes across as a tights-wearing coward--unwilling to test its ideas against opposing arguments.

Terrorist weighs in on U.S. election

Hmmm.

(CBS/AP) Al Qaeda in Iraq taunted President Bush on Friday to keep American troops in the country because the terrorist organization had not shed "enough of your blood," bragging that it now has 12,000 fighters in the war-torn country.

The terror group also welcomed the U.S. Republican electoral defeat that led to the departure of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and vowed to continue its fight until the White House is blown up.
(CBS)
Why would a terrorist be happy about Democrats doing well in the elections? Well, I guess he's happy either way, since he wants Bush to keep U.S. troops in the country ...


In the tape, al-Muhajir praised the outcome of Tuesday's elections in which Democrats swept to power in the House and the Senate, in large part due to U.S. voter dissatisfaction over the handling of the war in Iraq.

"The American people have put their feet on the right path by ... realizing their president's betrayal in supporting Israel," the terror leader said. "So they voted for something reasonable in the last elections." He did not explain his logic.
(CBS)

The authenticity of the tape has not yet been confirmed. It may just be Karl Rove in disguise.


Friday, November 10, 2006

What about that minimum wage?

My bloghopping has had me at "The Liberal Avenger" site, and I've already critiqued one of the bloggers.

Here's a critique of a different blogger, "Ape Man," who makes a case for raising the minimum wage "until it reaches its highest economically sustainable level"--he suggests $7.50/hr at minimum.

Now, I do want to emphasize that it's a pleasure to debate the issue in terms of plausible reasoning compared to the other blog post I pointed out.

The basis for Ape Man's argument appears to be the supposition that the U.S. job market has significant aspects of a monopsony (control of demand). That claim seems very hard to justify given low unemployment. How can employers control demand when the supply of workers is low? Realistically, I mean.
Ape Man trots out the U.K. as a model for the success of raising the minimum wage. I double-checked unemployment figures for the U.K.--about as low as for the U.S.

Low unemployment exerts market pressure for higher wages (supply and demand). Go much above where the market would go by itself, and increased unemployment should result.

I'll reproduce my reply to Ape Man here, since a delay in seeing it appear gives me some doubt that it will appear.
Ack--seem to have lost it (drat that extra cut-and-paste).

In brief, I wrote as above that monopsonic conditions do not seem to apply broadly during times of low unemployment, and that establishing a wage floor is a fundamentally inflationary strategy.

I'm predicting that Democrat economic policies will result in inflation and unemployment, btw. It's almost unfair to predict the latter, of course, since unemployment is at very low levels currently. The Dems get a pass until they hit 7 percent. That'd be a pretty big jump in two years.
No doubt they'll blame Bush for it in time for the next election!


Update: (11-11-06) I'm not quite sure what's up with the "Liberal Avenger" site. I posted there the other day but my comment did not appear--though there's no stated indication from what I can see that the comments are screened by an administrator.
Given the lack of a stated screening policy, I tried (yesterday) posting the same comment again, thereupon receiving the message that I had tried to post a duplicate message.

We'll see what's up.

MI-5's director-general assesses war on terror

In keeping with my recent emphasis on the enduring importance of the war on terror (and with a big hat tip to Hugh Hewitt):

We now know that the first Al-Qaida-related plot against the UK was the one we discovered and disrupted in November 2000 in Birmingham. A British citizen is currently serving a long prison sentence for plotting to detonate a large bomb in the UK. Let there be no doubt about this: the international terrorist threat to this country is not new. It began before Iraq, before Afghanistan, and before 9/11.


It could still be Bush's fault, of course, since he was running for election around that time. Sorry for interrupting.

[M]y officers and the police are working to contend with some 200 groupings or networks, totalling over 1600 identified individuals (and there will be many we don’t know) who are actively engaged in plotting, or facilitating, terrorist acts here and overseas. The extremists are motivated by a sense of grievance and injustice driven by their interpretation of the history between the West and the Muslim world. This view is shared, in some degree, by a far wider constituency. If the opinion polls conducted in the UK since July 2005 are only broadly accurate, over 100,000 of our citizens consider that the July 2005 attacks in London were justified. What we see at the extreme end of the spectrum are resilient networks, some directed from Al-Qaida in Pakistan, some more loosely inspired by it, planning attacks including mass casualty suicide attacks in the UK. Today we see the use of home-made improvised explosive devices; tomorrow’s threat may include the use of chemicals, bacteriological agents, radioactive materials and even nuclear technology. More and more people are moving from passive sympathy towards active terrorism through being radicalised or indoctrinated by friends, families, in organised training events here and overseas, by images on television, through chat rooms and websites on the Internet.
(The Times[UK])
We'd all better hope the new Democrat-led congress will be up to the challenge.

I polled some people a couple of weeks ago--the sample ended up too small to count for much in terms of statistics--and one of the questions concerned whether terrorists would be encouraged by a U.S. pullout from Iraq. The vast majority of the small sample had no idea (a smaller number were confident that it wouldn't matter to terrorists).

It seems to me certain that abandoning Iraq to its internal conflicts will certainly embolden terrorists. Their framework for success against the West will have been tested and found successful: Engage the enemy with terrorist tactics, prolong the tactics until public sentiment runs against sustaining Western engagement, then spread culturally on the basis of the success.

This strategy is brilliantly appropriate for use against democracies. The strategy worked in Vietnam since North Vietnam was not attacked militarily as it could have been. Terrorist networks unaffiliated with governments have that advantage built-in, and so much the better if the government clandestinely turns a blind eye to their activities--indeed, in today's climate regimes who openly encourage terrorism (Iran) are safer from confrontation with the ascendancy of liberals in the legislative branch of the U.S.--and nobody else in the West is stepping boldly up to the plate to take our place.

The terrorists will be situated brilliantly to effectively attack Westerners at home, especially in Europe where EU nations have large Muslim populations whose sympathies may be brought in line with those of extremist groups.

Muslims in the U.S. are apparently a bit less sympathetic to the extremists by percentage, but it really doesn't take many to accomplish tremendous damage through the techniques that will increasingly become available to terrorists.

Without an attitude adjustment, the hour of the West may be nearing its end.

Amending the Sith blogroll

Some may have noticed that, unlike most partisan political blogs (I figure this one qualifies as partisan!), I will blogroll sites that disagree with me politically if it strikes me that they do a decent job of defending/rationalizing their political views.
I put such sites on the Sith blogroll.

Today I'm making a couple of changes to the Sith blogroll. I'm removing "Off the Kuff" by Charles Kuffner for no better reason than the fact that he doesn't write much that interests me. He's a reasonable enough writer, but most of it's about Texas and Texas politics--not too interesting to this Florida blogger. I'd be more interested in his writing if he wrote like Brad Friedman, whose blog was recently honored at my other blogging site, Bad Blogs' Blood.

I'm replacing "Off the Cuff" at the top of the Sith Blogroll with Democrat Orson Scott Card's weekly column. Scott is a science-fiction writer by trade, and according to my recollection I have read a few of his stories (my sci-fi faves are Lem, Niven, and Simmons, FWIW). I'd recently been reminded of Orson Scott Card's political writing when he issued a column bemoaning the Democratic Party's probable approach to the war on terror--he's not from the left fringe of the party in that he favors a decisive military stance against Islamic extremists.

I just want to make clear that he's not being elevated to the top of the Sith blogroll based on that opinion. I'm anticipating disagreements with his writing on other issues, and I'm more likely to find his topics interesting compared to Kuffner's subject matter.

The other two on the Sith blogroll, "Kele's Journey" and "Wick o' the Bailey," have both gone dormant--especially Kele Cable's blog (nothing new since mid-July).
I'll probably keep both on the Sith blogroll until something better displaces them

Don't hold your breath. The pickings seem fairly slim.

Another fine blog from the right

I'm quite certain that I'm biased, but it seems to me much easier to locate conservative blogs that comment intelligently about issues (focused on facts and analysis instead of ridicule and such).

I just ran across "Common Sense Political Thought," a group conservative blog.
Good stuff. That's the style of blog I'd like to find from a liberal perspective--folks who can express a cogent set of thoughts and then prove willing to discuss them ably.

So far, I'm looking in the wrong places for intelligent liberal thought. Feel free to point me in the right direction, anybody.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ineptitude at "The Liberal Avenger"

Maybe it's supposed to be a joke, but blogger "sirkowski" has posted with a headline proclaiming "Worldnet Daily: Karl Rove is Gay."
The article says nothing of the kind; it simply reports various allegations that RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman is gay.
"sirkowski" draws some ridiculous inferences from the story.

This blog has a good shot to end up at Bad Blogs' Blood.

Maybe the other bloggers will take away this clown's blogging privileges, on the other hand.

No disconnect yet

Updating my earlier post "On the road to disconnect," it appears that the disconnect has yet to appear. Telephone polls weren't so hot, but overall the serious election polling was pretty accurate (unless we want to go down Conspiracy Theory Boulevard to suppose that the polls and the elections were rigged).
Props where they seem to be due--the pollsters are pretty good at their art.

Don't forget to visit Pollster.com (formerly Mystery Pollster) for expert analysis.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election 2006

Well, it looks like the Democrats won big in the election this cycle.

They're taking the House of Representatives by gaining about 30 seats, and it looks like they'll take control of the Senate, also (three close Senate races aren't necessarily final, but none of them look promising for the Republicans).

So, as the results have shaken out, so do some questions.

*I ran across quite a few lefties claiming the "fix is in" what with the diabolical Diebold electronic voting machines. Did they mean that the fix was in to favor Democrats? Or did the Dems actually win a far bigger victory than the polls indicated? Or (cue spooky music) did the Republicans just not pull their nasty election-stealing trick this time so it will work better when Bush comes up for re-election?

*Given that the Democrats ran on an unspecified "new direction," what direction will the Democrats go? Will the moderates they sought to run this cycle go along with the war-losing "phased redeployment"policies that have crossed the lips of prominent Democrats over the past months?
I have in mind a political cartoon showing Pelosi and company peering at a moving board-game spinner as they prepare to decide on the new direction.

*What types of federal judges will we get over the next two years--if any?

*Can the Democrats unify around a set of coherent policies?
Theirs is a fragile coalition--it pretty much had to be, since there wasn't much to the Democrat platform that had popular appeal other than a distaste for President Bush associated with unhappiness over the state of the Iraq War.

I see trouble ahead for the Democrats, and trouble ahead for the U.S.A. (hopefully more for the former than for the latter).
I seriously think that the country will be in greater danger after this election, with the sole saving grace being the possibility that terrorist efforts will be geared to help Democrats in the next election.
If that sounds crazy to you, you need to review the media treatment of the Tet offensive in light of the world media in the present millenium. It goes hand-in-hand with the new form of unaffiliated warfare.
The Democrats will find that they can no longer hide behind criticism of the folks in power--they've got a considerable share of the power, and they'll need to come up with some ideas. Once they come up with ideas, they'll be eligible for criticisms other than the fact that they've got no ideas.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Orson Scott Card, with a view from the left

I've read a few of Orson Scott Card's sci-fi short stories. He's a decent author (not among my favorites), but he's a Democrat.
On the other hand, he's a Democrat with a clear-eyed view of the foreign policy stakes in this election:
There is only one issue in this election that will matter five or ten years from now, and that's the War on Terror.

And the success of the War on Terror now teeters on the fulcrum of this election.

If control of the House passes into Democratic hands, there are enough withdraw-on-a-timetable Democrats in positions of prominence that it will not only seem to be a victory for our enemies, it will be one.

Unfortunately, the opposite is not the case -- if the Republican Party remains in control of both houses of Congress there is no guarantee that the outcome of the present war will be favorable for us or anyone else.

But at least there will be a chance.

I say this as a Democrat, for whom the Republican domination of government threatens many values that I hold to be important to America's role as a light among nations.

But there are no values that matter to me that will not be gravely endangered if we lose this war. And since the Democratic Party seems hellbent on losing it -- and in the most damaging possible way -- I have no choice but to advocate that my party be kept from getting its hands on the reins of national power, until it proves itself once again to be capable of recognizing our core national interests instead of its own temporary partisan advantages.

(The Ornery American)

Hat tip to Rush Limbaugh, who pointed out Scott's piece during his radio program today. Rush also mentioned a roughly parallel opinion expressed by Michael Kinsley (once to the left of Pat Buchanan on CNN's "Crossfire").


The Iraq was is the big issue of this election because of the role it plays in the war over the ideological future of the planet. Read the whole (long) article.

It's still possible that the Republicans can wage the war over and against the obstructions of the Democrats--it may even be possible that the Democrats are insincere in advancing the "phased redeployment" suggestions that Kinsley rightly characterizes as euphemisms for defeat.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bucs' midterm: 2-6 (D+)

The New Orleans Saints pounded the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-14 Sunday despite their inability to run the ball successfully against the Bucs' defense.

The Bucs dropped to 2-6 on the season, 2-3 since rookie Bruce Gradkowski took over as starting quarterback for the injured (splenectomy) Chris Simms.

Though the Saints did score 31 points on the Bucs, I'll lay the general blame for the Bucs' woes on Gradkowski.
I'm not saying that Gradkowski is horrible by any means. I piped up before the season started saying that Gradkowski might end up being the steal of the 2006 NFL draft.

Having stuck my neck out only to pull it back in a little bit, let me explain.

Gradkowski is a young and inexperienced quarterback. I figured the Bucs would power up the running game to give Gradkowski some help when he became the starter.
Unfortunately, every team in the league is smart enough to figure that out. Teams are putting eight defenders "in the box"--an alignment designed to stop the run--and lately it's working pretty well.

Gradkowski's play is key in beating the run-first defensive schemes. If he connects on enough passes to keep picking up first downs, the run defense softens and the Bucs offense obtains some playcalling leeway.

Unfortunately, the rookie quarterback seems to have become less decisive in his throws since his first start against the Saints. His completion percentage has plummeted--though his touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio remains excellent (6 TDs and only one interception). It looks to me as though Gradkowski is checking down to the dump-off receiver too quickly. Is that a whole bunch to ask of a rookie quarterback?

Well, yeah.

It's also the key to the Bucs' success on the field this year--though with this loss to the Saints making the playoffs would hardly be short of miraculous.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

On the road to disconnect

There's a difficulty in discerning what people in the U.S. want or think.

One of the difficulties serves as the refrain of the loony left, and the other is a riff I borrow from Hugh Hewitt (radio talk show host and self-identified conservative) and Arianna Huffington.

The refrain of the loony left isn't entirely loony. It concerns the reliability of voting systems in providing an accurate tally of the votes cast.
I hate to break it to my friends on the left, but voting systems are inherently imperfect. As one quick example, consider the optical-ballot systems that many favor over the touch-screen systems--the touch-screens systems that convince many fever-swamp-variety Dems that a corporate autocracy is poised to seize control on Tuesday. One of those optical ballot systems served as the basis for a criticism of the Diebold touch-screen systems. They both use computer cards to tabulate totals. So, either hackable computer software is used, or manual counting--and manual counting is classically prone to human error.

In the end, there's probably no way around the inherent inaccuracy of vote tabulations--I suspect that California Democrats richly deserve criticism for dangling a "right to vote in a tamper-proof election" in front of California voters. It's almost like promising lower tax revenues with higher spending--except that deficit spending at least makes the latter suggestion possible.

I know that people don't want to hear it, but that's the way it is.

If people count the votes, the totals may be tampered with.
If machines count the votes, the totals may be tampered with.
I suppose there are other options (such as chimpanzees counting the votes), but I'll stop there since I believe it covers all of options currently used in the United States.

I have nothing against doing everything possible to make voting systems as accurate as possible--just don't fry public confidence in the process by pretending that perfect accuracy is attainable except for a conspiracy among shadowy elites.

There's also the issue of those same Democrats resisting measures that discourage illegal aliens from voting, but that can wait for another day in favor of the issue that Hewitt and Huffington mention regularly.

Polls probably aren't as accurate as they once were, and the polls were never that great to begin with.

Why?

The biggest issue is the expanding popularity of the cellular telephone. Pollsters rely on telephone data to a great extent, but pollsters don't ring up cell phones.

Add in another fact--that Republicans appear less likely to participate in exit-polling--and there's a dilemma concerning the vote. Voting systems are not perfectly accurate, and the methods used to verify the accuracy of voting systems are not perfectly accurate.

The demagoguery of the left on this issue probably damages our democracy--some of it even seems to be geared toward revolution-by-force ("The World Can't Wait").

The fact that voting systems are vulnerable to tampering doesn't mean that one party or the other is fixing the election. Both parties have been guilty of cheating during elections, and for Democrats who can't remember that far back have a look here.

Friday, November 03, 2006

New York Times criticizes administration over intelligence leaks

In a rare turnaround from the Times' role in divulging sensitive secrets, the paper has published a story criticizing the Bush administration's move of placing captured Iraqi documents in public view over the Internet.

Captain's Quarters has posted portions of the Times' article.

The main controversy over the Internet site concerned portions of detailed plans for building a nuclear weapon.
Captain Ed quotes the Times:

"European diplomats said this week that some of those nuclear documents on the Web site were identical to the ones presented to the United Nations Security Council in late 2002, as America got ready to invade Iraq. But unlike those on the Web site, the papers given to the Security Council had been extensively edited, to remove sensitive information on unconventional arms."
What does this mean in terms of the justification for war?

Iraq seems to have had a fairly advanced set of plans for making a nuclear weapon. Some, I suppose, might point out that the plans dated from 1991. But what difference does that make? Do plans for nuclear weapons degrade over time like mustard gas munitions?

Bottom line: Iraq was a threat in 2002.

The regime remained interested in developing weapons systems forbidden to it, and they were actively working to restore their capability for making those weapons.
First, get money through the Oil For Food program to sustain the military infrastructure.
Second, obtain the needed materials illegally or by getting the UN sanctions lifted.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Debra Bowen Update II

No word from a campaign representative in response to my e-mail query (about the Pew Research survey cited by Bowen during her debate with Bruce McPherson), but one helpful soul over at Bowen's campaign page blog offered an explanation:

# Kathryn Hedges Says:
November 2nd, 2006 at 2:10 am

I believe Debra Bowen may have been referring to a Zogby poll on voting transparency and security in August.

http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1163
(Kathryn's comment)
Have a look at the poll Kathryn cited, and you'll see that it bears scarcely any resemblance to the numbers (or even topic) cited by Debra Bowen. Fifty-two percent just doesn't translate very well into "more than 60%."
I registered a reply to Kathryn's post:
# Bryan Says:
November 2nd, 2006 at 7:44 pm

Thanks for trying to help, Kathryn, but your suggestion is implausible. First, Bowen referred directly to “Pew Research” by name. Second, the topic Bowen cited (voter confidence in vote counting) isn’t measured in the Zogby poll you suggested. Third, the 2004 Pew Research survey does mention numbers that handily add up to the ones that Bowen mentioned after a bit of inept or deliberately misleading manipulation.

http://www.pollingreport.com/2004.htm

Scroll down about 2/3 and you’ll see what I mean.
(Bryan's comment)


Here's the link to the Pew Research data, just in case the campaign site makes my reply difficult to find.

Ideally, Bowen will apologize for the error and sack the responsible individual(s).

If Bowen was responsible, of course, the above scenario is extremely unlikely.

MSM reporting ...

The Associate Press offered this objective assessment of Katherine Harris' debate with incumbent (Democrat) Bill Nelson:
Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Fla., was skewered on her Iraq position during the final debate in the Florida Senate race Wednesday. (AP)
(see caption under Harris photo)
Huh. I wonder which definition of "skewer" they're using in order to maintain journalistic objectivity.
Here's the detail about the supposed skewering from the accompanying story:
Moderator Tim Russert pressured her to say whether she would vote for the war in Iraq now knowing that Iraq did not have the weapons of mass destruction. She repeatedly declined to answer.

Instead, she said, "If we knew today what we knew back then, there never would have been a vote called to go to war."

Nelson, the incumbent senator, said he would have voted against the war.
Ah-ha. Since she stated that the issue wouldn't have come up for a vote, therefore she was "skewered" regarding her position on the Iraq war.
Thanks for the objective assessment, CBS.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

On Kerry, briefly

There's really not much to say about John Kerry's recent gaffe, where he made a statement supposedly designed as a Bush joke but succeeded in sounding like he was belittling the intelligence and ability of U.S. servicemen.
I think it's a small deal except that it reminds us of why Kerry didn't win in 2004 and helps cinch the fact he won't win the Democrat nomination for President in 2008.

I found this photo-op by some of our soldiers in Iraq completely hilarious, on the other hand.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bloghopping: "Philosophical Musings"

Not many philosophical leanings that I can detect, but there's a perceptible lean to the left.

The host, "Da5id," wrote in a slightly older post that except for Iraq's stance on terrorism, Bush's criteria for winning in Iraq had been met with Saddam Hussein's regime.
Da5id says, in effect, that Hussein was neutral toward terrorism.

Da5id moderates commentary, but he's allowed quite a few disagreeing comments thus far, so I can hope that mine will appear in the near future (on his site):
Da5id suggested that Iraq was not allied with terrorist extremists ("Iraq wasn't an ally or an enemy in this regard").

If that were the case, then why did Hussein have a program to richly benefit families of suicide bombers in Israel/Palestine, and why did Hussein offer Osama bin Laden asylum in 1999?

Check page 66 of the 9-11 report for the latter, or just go to Google and enter the keywords "cnn hussein asylum osama" and look for the CNN links.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Offense struggles, Bucs lose to Giants 17-3

This game was tough to watch, and not because losing by two touchdowns is humiliating.

This game was like the other tough losses this season, because the Bucs had opportunities to take this game from the Giants, but simply failed to capitalize on their opportunities.

As is frequently the case in the NFL, the game came down to a handful of key plays.
1. Early in the game, with the Bucs trailing 7-0 and fresh off a defensive stop of the Giants on fourth down, Carnell Williams fails to receive an accurate toss on a toss-sweep. Giants recover, and two plays later take a 13-0 lead (14-0 after the PAT).
Still in the first half, Joey Galloway allows a second deep pass from Bruce Gradkowski to bounce off his hands.
Also in the first half, wideout Michael Clayton allows a pass to bounce off his hands in the end zone. The Bucs settle for a field goal on the drive.
Third quarter, Bucs trail 14-0. Driving into Giant territory, the Bucs go for the first down on fourth and about 8 yards to go (going from memory). Michael Clayton catches a quick slant over the middle, reaches first down yardage, and then fumbles the ball after being hit solidly by two Giant defenders. The ball gets knocked around a bit, and finally the Bucs recover back behind the first down marker. By rule, on fourth down only the player fumbling the ball can recover. The Bucs get no first down, and the Giants take over first-and-ten.

A closer game in the fourth plays out differently than one with a 14 point differential--and that's the game I'd rather have watched.
The Bucs played pretty solid defense, holding the Giants under 300 total yards, but the offense repeatedly failed to make plays when given the opportunity against a stout NY Giants defense.

I think the Bucs are a good team, but they're doing the things that bad teams do. Dropping the key passes is exactly that type of thing. Yes, the weather made it tough to catch the ball, but both teams shared the weather.
This game dealt a serious blow to the Bucs already reed-thin playoff hopes.
Argh.

I need to see some accurate passing from Gradkowski next Sunday against the Saints. He's gone three straight weeks with a rotten passing percentage.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Scare Tactics

What's wrong with scare tactics in political campaigning?

It's simple, really. There's nothing wrong with political scare tactics except where the fright factor is significantly exaggerated (or manufactured) to the point where it counts as deception.

Thus, a scare tactic by Democrats stating that Bush's Social Security reform would deprive seniors of their benefits (where the plan specifies that the benefits of those 55 and older would not be affected) is a deplorable scare tactic.
A scare tactic where Republicans suggest that Democrats would fail to adequately press the war against radical Islamists would be likewise deplorable if Democrats would, in actuality, do a good job of pressing the war against radical Islamists.
It's all a matter of whether or not the scare is reasonably portrayed.

Opinions differ about Democrat response to this unusual new war. Some think that the Democrats would do a decent job, disappointing the pacifist wing of the Democratic Party. Others see the growing influence of that wing as a harbinger of future policy. Elected officials beholden to peacenik interest groups might well allow radical Islam to press an advantage--an advantage that may prove extremely costly to America and its allies.

I've had a difficult time getting antiwar Democrats to explain their foreign policy vision. Reading between the lines, many of them do seem to see the United States as the problem. By being nicer to other nations (how?) we would take away the issues that cause international terrorism.

I find it difficult to see how that would work. The U.S. is hated largely because of its cultural imperialism--and that's a cat that liberal policies won't stuff back into the bag without some impressively authoritarian steps.

I don't think the the pacifist wing of the Democratic Party has an answer.
Does that scare you?
Should it?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bucs down Eagles, move to 2-4

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense made up for a turnover drought by forcing four Eagles turnover, including 2 interceptions returned for touchdowns by Buc cornerback Ronde Barber.

The Eagles' high-ranked offense racked up over 500 yards, in part because they returned to offense after giving up the defensive touchdowns. Philadelphia fought back from a 17-0 deficit late in the fourth quarter to take a one point lead with under a minute remaining in the game.

With 33 seconds left on the clock, Bruce Gradkowski completed a pair of passes and scrambled into Eagle territory with about 10 seconds left on the clock. An incomplete pass left 4 seconds on the clock, and the Bucs elected to try a long field goal on the last play of the game.

Matt Bryant, who had boomed a pair of kickoffs deep into the end zone earlier in the game, nailed a 62-yard field goal to win the game for the Buccaneers.
The NFL record for a game-winning field goal was Tom Dempsey's famous 63-yard kick for the New Orleans Saints.

Bryant was mobbed by teammates after the kick, and Buc fans turned jubilant while numerous Philadelphia fans sat in stunned disbelief.

I've heard quite a few reports of unruly Philly fans who had to be taken away by the police, but the ones in my section behaved themselves. They got pretty happy when the Eagles took the lead late in the game, but that made it even sweeter to see their disbelieving expressions after Bryant's winning kick.


Ellis Wyms, starting for Booger McFarland who was traded to the Colts, registered three tackles and a sack.

Quarterback Brad Gradkowski played okay, but did a terrible job throwing the deep ball today. He threw long three times, and on two of them Joey Galloway had achieved separation from the defender; the throws were way off-target. On the plus side, Gradkowksi committed no turnovers, and his scramble on the final drive got Bryant close enough to nail down the win.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Ouch! Ninth Circuit receives another upbraiding from the SCOTUS

The Supreme Court of the United States vacated the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling on Arizona's voter ID law.
The SCOTUS found that the Ninth Circuit failed to show deference to the decision of the District Court in upholding the ID law (voters must present identification in order to vote, although persons without ID may fill out a provisional ballot that may be counted if the voter presents an ID within five business days).
The SCOTUS was none too pleased that the Ninth Circuit failed to provide a justification for its ruling against the District Court:
... by failing to provide any factual findings or indeed any reasoning of its own the Court of Appeals left this Court in the position of evaluating the Court of Appeals' bare order in light of the District Court's ultimate findings. There has been no explanation given by the Court of Appeals showing the ruling and findings of the District Court to be incorrect.
(SCOTUS opinion, see page 5)

Sounds like a good law.
The SCOTUS also noted that allowing the law to stand will allow the effects to be evaluated in terms of outcome rather than in terms of speculation.

Hat tip to the Belmont Club.