Sunday, October 30, 2005

Multiculturalism's Self-Inflicted Wound

The biggest problem with multiculturalism is how by its very essence it is self-defeating. Case in point, Australian police have been instructed to view some kinds of spousal abuse differently than others (Via Little Green Footballs):

POLICE are being advised to treat Muslim domestic violence cases differently out of respect for Islamic traditions and habits.Officers are also being urged to work with Muslim leaders, who will try to keep the families together.

Women's groups are concerned the politically correct policing could
give comfort to wife bashers and keep their victims in a cycle of violence.

The instructions come in a religious diversity handbook given to Victorian police officers that also recommends special treatment for suspects of Aboriginal, Hindu and Buddhist background. Some police officers have claimed the directives hinder enforcing the law equally.

Police are told: "In incidents such as domestic violence, police need to have an understanding of the traditions, ways of life and habits of Muslims."

They are told it would be appreciated in cases of domestic violence if police consult the local Muslim religious leader who will work against "fragmenting the family unit".

Why is this policy a defeat for the forces of multiculturalism? For this, let's look to John Locke's "A Letter Concerning Toleration." In it, Locke argues for the tolerance of the several Protestant sects, but not for Roman Catholics or atheists. As Lee Harris argues in his book, Civilization and Its Enemies, Locke's tolerance is very different from our own interpretation of tolerance today. However, this exclusion of Catholics and atheists was far from simply bigotry, but a logical exclusion. How can a nation tolerate those who would attempt to destroy the very tolerance practiced?

Of course, you cannot have tolerance of those who wish to destroy your very tolerate culture. It is quite clearly suicide to do so. This is why the lessons of Locke are so potent and important to Western Civilization's current struggle against the radicals that adhere to Islam. Just as turbulent 17th century England could not destroy itself by tolerating the very intolerant Roman Catholics of the period, the West simply cannot allow certain groups, in this case radical Islam, to corrupt and destroy the very values that have given women certain protections; among them, the ability to prosecute an abusive husband.

If a culture, or possibly more appropriate, civilization, which has based its success on the absorption and assimilation of various cultures that espouse mutual tolerance, bends and capitulates its own values to those who despise tolerance, it cannot and will not endure. The West will have to decide its fate very shortly. Will it continue down this current course of tolerating the forces of anti-tolerance, or will it decide to actually defend itself and more importantly, its values? This is the problem multiculturalism, or what the American Left sheepishly calls progressivism, poses to the West. It unwittingly appeases those who would destroy them, and argues even for added protection to these forces of anti-tolerance. It is a choice that is not easy or painless. Great difficulty and conflict await the world for many years to come, but when the fate of civilization hangs in the balance, difficulty and conflict should be confronted with courage and virtue, as opposed to appeasement and degeneracy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Andy Rooney and Anti-News

I was watching 60 minutes many years ago, and I saw Andy Rooney do one of his reports that has really stuck with me all my adult life. He was standing on the banks of the Mississippi River on a sunny day with the waters calmly drifting by in the background. He was trying to explain why most of the news seems to be bad news. He illustrated his point by reporting that the waters were calm, the weather was fine, and there was no indication the river would overflow its banks any time soon. He also pointed that most viewers wouldn't find that news very interesting. This is a point he still makes to this day as he did in a commencement speech at George Washington University earlier this year.

The trouble is by its very nature news is negative. It's always a change from the status quo, an aberration in the course of events, and any change is usually bad. So it's the bad news that's in the newspaper or on television and people don't like that. They blame the messenger. We don't run pictures and report on the Mississippi River on days that it does not overflow its banks and drown people.

Well, it appears there is an exceptioin to every rule. Let's examine a few breathless headlines from the last 24 hours.

Now, all these stories and more than a thousand like them would be news except for one problem. Not releasing privileged documents, especially involving attorney-client privilege , is normal and customary. This is true for all of these rediculous requests for documents, from John Roberts to John Bolton. If the requested documents are not already subject to the Freedom of Information Act or the Presidential Records Act, then no administration has any obligation to provide privileged documents to neither Congress nor journalists. Where a reluctance to hand over documents about John Roberts may have been challenged with the Presidential Records Act, the documents concerning Harriet Miers remain privileged documents. She was (is) Whitehouse Counsel for the President.

So, at the end of the day, these waters remain calm and there is no evidence to suggest they'll be over-flowing their banks any time soon. And yet, the likes of ABC and the New York Times really find this story interesting.

Why do I care? I'm not defending Bush and I certainly don't care enough about the Miers nomination to make this post. I do credit the Bush Administration with attempting to re-establish the proper and constitutional separation between the Executive and Legislative branches of government. Too much executive power had been ceded to the legislative branch, and too much executive power lies in their hands today. The entire notion of filibustering a presidential nomination for any post, by any president, is an abomination! This so-called gang of fourteen are the epitome of everything that is wrong with our government.

That is to say nothing of our national journalists, who are increasingly becoming paid agents of media corporations with their own agendas. The fact that we have ABC and the New York Times running these kinds of headlines about something that is normal and customary is itself, noteworthy. Requests for privileged documents fall into the same category as that age-old question, "When did you stop beating your wife." Of course, if you give a date, then you've beaten your wife, but if you refuse to dignify that question with a response; you refuse to say that you've stopped beating your wife.

Frankly, between the national media and congress, it's a wonder the Office of the President of the United States hasn't been stripped down to simiply a national figurehead, robotically parroting the popular opinion as reported from the latest polls.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Sunday Fun

Every now and then, I let my hair down and have a little fun here at Vagabondia. AlanK has posted some fun stuff over at AK Land, and I thought I would steal some of his ideas for Vagabondia. He answers a series of questions, that I thought would make and easy and fun post. However, focusing on the easy aspect of the post, I'll be truncating the original 28 questions at AK Land to just the top ten.

  1. LAST MOVIE YOU SAW IN A THEATER: Broken Flowers


  2. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING? A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan


  3. FAVORITE BOARD GAME? Stratego. It's easier and more fast paced than chess.


  4. FAVORITE MAGAZINE? The Week Magazine.


  5. FAVORITE SMELL? Anything on an outdoor grill


  6. FAVORITE FOOD? French Toast smothered in peanut butter, bananas, and syrup.


  7. FAVORITE SOUND? Old school Willie Nelson, like Red-Headed Stranger


  8. WORST FEELING IN THE WORLD? Disappointing my girlfriend


  9. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU WAKE UP? Damn! Time to walk the dogs again.


  10. FINISH THIS STATEMENT. IF I HAD A LOT OF MONEY... I'd go into work with a new car and a really bad attitude!

Ok, so I actually swapped question ten with question twelve, but I figured it was more entertaining. Besides, there are no future children for the Indigent Blogger.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

News About Nothing

You've never read anything on this blog about the Valerie Plame affair, until now. The reason for that is simple. I think it is the biggest bucket of nothing I've ever witnessed. Even if it leads to an indictment of Karl Rove or Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, it still doesn't deserve the reaction it is getting.

First of all, it is assumed that special prosecuter Patrick Fitzgerald will issue indictments because he is not releasing a report. It has long been a wish of the President's political opponents that Fitzgerald would release what they hoped would be an embarrassing final report. However, while Fitzgerald must submit a final report to the US Attorney General, I've heard that the special prosecutor is not permitted to write a final report for public release. This is not an independent counsel (e.g. Kenneth Starr) as the law that created the Office of the Independent Counsel was allowed to expire in 1999. It had expired once before, in 1992, but a new OIC law was established in 1994 under an entirely Democrat government, which also selected Kenneth Starr to serve in that role. Indeed, it was explained to me that the special prosecutor operates much like any other prosecutor. He may investigate crimes and choose to issue indictments or not, but he may not release a public report. Take that with a grain of salt for now as I have not read any statutes defining the scope and constraints of a special prosecutor.

Second, there seems to be a great deal of wishful thinking from Democrats and their supporters. For example, take David Wallechinsky latest submission at the Huffington Post:

...and if it is also true that Fitzgerald has expanded his investigation to include issues beyond the Valerie Plame leak, we may witness the gradual unraveling of the Bush presidency.

Yeah, and if I had been born yesterday, I might be able to believe something like that. If Libby and Rove go down, they will be replaced. Maybe some other folks in the Administration will go down. I haven't followed the story (because it is boring), so I don't necessarily how wide a net could be cast. Having said that, I haven't seen anything, beyond wishful thinking, that could include charges against anyone of substance. Does anyone recall all those years of fishing in Whitewater? Starr was a machine scoring 14 or 16 adjudicated indictments with none overturned, yet the big fish still got away. I think the Democrats are placing too many wishes and hopes on an insvetigation about nothing.

Finally, this all started because of what some call a smearing of Joe Wilson. Keep one thing in mind through all of this, Joe Wilson is a liar. He lied, got caught in his lie, and was thrown overboard by the Democrat Party. The entire fiasco... I'm sorry, did you have a question? Was Joe Wilson, in fact, jettisoned from the grace and favor of Democrat inner circles?

Does anyone remember this web-page? It used to reside at URL www.johnkerry.com/honesty but was scrubbed from the former candidate's site on July 24, 2004 when the entire "16 Words" ordeal imploded. That was the same day John Kerry had his web administrator scrubbing all mention of Sandy Berger from his site, so I guess he figured to scrape two liars from his boots at the same time.


Probably the worst thing to come out of this circle-jerk are the newly proposed shield laws for so-called journalists. I have stated it before, and I will say it again here. I don't know much about Judith Miller, but Dan Rather, Brian Williams, and their ilk are not journalists. They are agents of for-profit media corporations who should be MORE regulated than the average individual with a personal printing press (a.k.a. a blog). If you're interested in the whole Plame affair, Tom McGuire at JustOneMinute probably has the best coverage that I've seen. I recommend you start there for all the CIA-Leak news.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Founding Fathers of Terrorism are French

Glenn Reynolds from Instapundit has linked to a book named Holy Terror, which suggests modern day terrorism has its roots in France. This is something I've been saying (and writing) for quite some time now. The mention on Reynolds' site brought to mind the last time this topic came up, which was during my blogging hiatus.

Back in July, Col. Oliver North penned an editorial taking exception to a comment made by Brian Williams (Lead Anchor at NBC) during a Nightly News broadcast.

On June 31st, following a report that Ahmadinejad might have been one of those who sacked our Tehran embassy and seized 52 American hostages in 1979, Williams said, "What would it all matter if proven true? The first several U.S. Presidents were certainly revolutionaries and might have been called 'terrorists' by the British crown."

Brian Williams proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that television news anchors are only as smart as the tele-prompter.

Of course, Mr. Williams' comments are absurd for reasons so obvious, even a high-school dropout and indigent blogger can easily point them out. The British would not have referred to American revolutionary fighters, to say nothing of George Washington, as terrorists because, frankly, the French had not yet invented terrorism. The United States began its experiment in democracy by protecting loyalists in a document known, ironically, as the Second Treaty of Paris in 1783. The French began their experiment in democracy a few years later with a decidedly European twist known as the Reign of Terror. The Online Dictionary of Etymology offers the following notes on the origins of terrorism:

1795, in specific sense of "government intimidation during the Reign of Terror in France" (1793-July 1794), from Fr. terrorisme (1798), from L. terror (see terror).

"If the basis of a popular government in peacetime is virtue, its basis in a time of revolution is virtue and terror -- virtue, without which terror would be barbaric; and terror, without which virtue would be impotent." [Robespierre, speech in Fr. National Convention, 1794]

General sense of "systematic use of terror as a policy" is first recorded in Eng. 1798. Terrorize "coerce or deter by terror" first recorded 1823.

Brian Williams should pick up Terry Eagleton's book, Holy Terror. He then might learn that terrorism is just a long line Euroisms foisted upon mankind, including colonialism, imperialism, fascism, nazism, and communism.

Saddam's Trial: Justice versus Jurisprudence?

From the day Saddam Hussein was pulled out of his spider hole, there has been speculation about how, when, and where he would be tried. Austin Bay believes it may have been better to try Saddam Hussein sooner and ends his latest post (hat tip: Instapundit) on the subject with the following question:

Would trying Saddam have at least blunted some of the internationalista support for Saddam’s fascist holdouts?

The answer is no, and I'll tell you why. I was debating folks about Saddam Hussein's trial back in December 2003, and the reactionaries on the left who typically support the "freedom fighters" in Iraq were making the same arguments then as they are now. The argument generally implies that this will all be a predetermined show trial to raise the facade of fairness and legitimacy while preventing Saddam from implicating his old allies, namely George H. W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and the United States government (read Reagan Administration). Here is a sample written by Barry Lando published by Salon back in December 2003:

Instead, prominent Americans could find themselves playing a role in what may be a very long, drawn-out and embarrassing trial. Imagine, for instance, seeing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton, and a parade of CIA directors and secretaries of state called as witnesses...

Saddam and his attorneys might begin with footage shot back on Dec. 20, 1983, by an official Iraqi television crew when Donald Rumsfeld arrived in Baghdad as special envoy from President Ronald Reagan. ... According to the official note taker at the meeting, Rumsfeld "conveyed the President's greetings and expressed his pleasure at being in Baghdad" to the murderous tyrant. ...

And so, over the next five years, until the conflict finally ended, the United States supplied Saddam with economic aid and such nifty items as a computerized database for his interior ministry, satellite military intelligence, tanks and cluster bombs, deadly bacteriological samples, and the very helicopters that were used by Saddam to spew poison gas over his own Kurd citizens.

Barry Lando did his research on this one, but he was sloppy. I'll briefly remind everyone that those helicopters were unarmed vehicles sold for civilian uses by a private U.S. corporation and at no time did the U.S. government sell, or permit the sale of, tanks or cluster bombs to the government of Iraq, let alone "deadly bacteriological" samples. Ken Sanders of OpEdNews has a more recent example, written yesterday, of this well-worn and thoroughly debunked argument.

...it seems likely that the Bush administration wants to see Saddam hang while avoiding the embarrassment of airing, for all the world to see, America's complicity in Saddam's most heinous offenses. ... Accordingly, an indignant U.S. struck a deal with the devil and started selling Iraq such chemical and biological agents as anthrax and sarin gas.

Previously, in 1983, after determining that "civilian" helicopters could be weaponized in mere hours and could be used to surreptitiously provide military support disguised as civilian assistance, the U.S. sold Iraq 70 "civilian" helicopters on the pretense that they would be used for crop spraying. All-too predictably, Saddam used the helicopters in 1988 to spray chemical weapons on Halabja.

Mr. Sanders certainly applies a great deal more creative license than Lando at Salon, but the argument is the same. This is a common theme on the left because it coincides with one of their stated goals, to see the United States defeated and punished for its crimes as they see them. These arguments have remained unchanged despite research performed by Ken Guggenheim at the Associated Press who stated the following:

Iraq is believed to owe the United States about $4 billion, including interest. Most of the debt is thought to involve U.S. financing for Iraqi agriculture. Many close friends of the United States provided billions of dollars in military help to Iraq during the 1980s war, but little hard evidence has been published that the United States provided much more than technical military aid.

Keep in mind that is $4 billion out of $120 billion worth of odious debts accrued by Saddam Hussein's government. Even Paul Reynolds of the BBC downplays the significance of US support and rightfully names a couple of other nations who were more prominent in supporting Saddam Hussein's regime.

Two current Western leaders in particular might find their names in the frame - the French President Jacques Chirac and the US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. But before considering their role, it is important to remember that Saddam Hussein's main supplier was the Soviet Union. He was sent its best equipment - Mig 29s, T 72 tanks, artillery, gunboats and Scud missiles.

The various manifestations of this moonbattery may be easily dismissed, which is where Austin Bay's internationalistas fallback on the human rights canard. Again, we have so-called human rights groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International expressing concern over the credibility and the fairness of a trial taking place in an Iraqi Tribunal. I could link article after article of general brow-furrowing and hanky-wringing over the time alotted to prepare a defense and the level of proof required for a conviction. However, it doesn't take these folks long to get to the real bone stuck in their craw.

"Amnesty International considers the trial as an important first step towards bringing justice and reparation for victims of abuses committed during Saddam Hussein regime, but we insist that the death penalty is not the solution for the problem," Nicole Choueiry, a spokeswoman for Amnesty International said in London.

That's right my friends, and Saddam's execution will not be a silent, painless departure at the point of a needle. In the sovereign nation of Iraq, it's a short drop with a sudden stop for those receiving the death penalty as retribution for their crimes. Folks like the aformentioned Ken Sanders even go further to suggest the rules for the entire Iraqi Tribunal system were established by the Bush Administration for the sole purpose of rail-roading Saddam through their little charade as quietly (for him) and expeditiously as possible. Of course, for all their accusations of hegemony and empire leveled at the US, this is just an example of imperial jurisprudence. After all, how could the filthy savages in Iraq actually administer anything resembling justice?

Our dear friends in the internationalista should heed Mark Vlasic's reminder that Iraq, unlike Afghanistan or Rwanda, is an educated society with a long history of quality jurists, including Hammurabi who authored the first written criminal legal code. Despite all of the bickering over jurisprudence, there is one legal question that only Iraqis can answer with any authority. What is justice for Saddam Hussein?

Could the United Nations or a special international tribunal in Europe answer that question? Is it justice to the victims of Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansing that his trial at the Hague is approaching its fourth year and is in jeopardy of going another four to five years?

Geoffrey Nice, the lawyer prosecuting former Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), on Tuesday voiced his concern that the trial against the deposed leader will take another four to five years if the court continues to provide Milosevic with further extensions to present his case.

I understand that Europeans demonstrate an unassailable mastery of judicial procedure and administration, but do they know anything about justice? Is it justice that the International Criminal Court is budgeting millions of dollars for the defense of each of the perpetrators behind the genocide in the Sudan? And that's just for the legal defense! That doesn't include guarding them, housing them, feeding them, and providing them with the best European medical and dental care available. Mohammed at IraqTheModel (hat tip: RealClearPolitics) can shed some light on how Iraqis feel about Saddam Hussein and justice.

“Does he deserve a fair trial?” this was the question that kept surfacing every five minutes…he wasn’t the least fair to his people and he literally reduced justice to verbal orders from his mouth to be carried out by his dogs.

Why do we have to listen to his anticipated rudeness and arrogant stupid defenses? We already knew he was going to try to twist things and claim that the trial lacks legitimacy or that it’s more a court of politics rather than a court of law, blah, blah, blah…

“Why do we have to listen to this bull****?” said one of my friends.
“I prefer the trial goes like this:

Q:Are you Saddam Hussein?
A:Yes.

Then take this bullet in the head.”

Everyone could find a reason to immediately execute a criminal who never let his victims say a word to defend themselves “let’s execute him and get over this” sentiments like this were said while we watched the proceedings which were rather boring and sluggish for the first half of the session.

Even those feelings of retribution and vengeance began to give way to a credible dispensation of justice, that only Iraqis could define.

At the beginning we were displeased by the presentation of the prosecution which was more like a piece of poetry in the wrong time and place and this is what encouraged the defense to give us a worn out speech about objectivity and how the court must not go into sideways; the thing which both the prosecution and the defense were doing.

As the prosecution went deeper into details and facts, the way we viewed the trial began to change an d those among us who were demanding a bullet in Saddam’s head now seemed pleased with the proceedings “I don’t think I want to see that bullet now, I want to see justice take place as it should be”.
We were watching an example of justice in the new Iraq, a place where no one should be denied his rights, not even Saddam.

We’re drawing the outlines of a change not only for Iraq but also for the entire region and I can feel that today we have presented a unique model of justice because in spite of the cruelty of the criminal tyrant and in spite of the size of the atrocities committed against the Iraqi people, we still want to build a state of law that looks nothing like the one the tyrant wanted to create.

That, my friends, is justice! As Mark Vlasic points out, Iraqi jurists have died for this day and Iraq's people are being murdered for this privilege. I wish them good luck and Godspeed.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Inside the Garage of an Evil Mastermind

I would have never guessed that one of the burning questions in people's minds today is, at least according to the Associated Press, "What's in Karl Rove's garage?" Let's take a look at some of the items listed in the AP article:

Some cardboard file boxes stacked one on top of the other, labeled "Box 6," "Box 4" and what appears to be "Box 7." No sign of boxes 1, 2, 3 and 5.

Clearly, these are the boxes of forged documents and misinformation that Karl Rove has released to the press in an attempt to trip them up and ruin their credibility. Obviously, the numbers are the years of President Bush's administration, and he still has "Box 4" because CBS was good enough to provide their own forged documents in 2004. What next?

A rather large wood crate marked "FRAGILE" and painted with arrows indicating which way is up. On top of the crate, two coolers.

I was wondering where this thing was. This must be the Hurricane generation machine that Bush and Cheney have been using in an attempt to kill all the black people, or at least the ones Bush doesn't like.

A snow shovel leaned in front of another cardboard box.

Keep an eye on this shovel! I suspect it will be an important piece of evidence when investigating why the Harriet Miers nomination had to be withdrawn due to a sudden "accident".

What appear to be paint cans stacked alongside a folded, folding chair.

A tall aluminum ladder.

Rove used these items while painting the Mission Accomplished sign aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. I don't yet understand the significance of the folding chair. He clearly doesn't use it for tanning.

Wicker baskets inside of wicker baskets on top of a shelf running the length of the rear wall. Transparent plastic storage bins crammed with indiscernible stuff. Another cardboard box.

In one corner, the rear wheel of a bicycle sticks out, along with what appears to be a helmet.

Another ladder, this one green, leaning sideways.

They discovered it! Darlene Superville, start making room on the mantle for the Peabody Award! These are the components of the super-secret, ultra-diabolical magneto-kinetic disenfranchisement transponder unit (a.k.a. The Diebold 9000). This is the contraption that allowed George W. Bush to suddenly and mysteriously defeat John Kerry on election night. Well, this and about thousands of Diebold AccuVote electronic balloting machines.

With stories like this, I can only thank God for the good fortune to be able to spend another fine day basking in the fruits of award-winning journalism.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Walmart in Waveland, Mississippi

Bill Steigerwald of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review believes the federal government could learn a few lessons from Wal-Mart when it comes to disaster preparedness. I agree.



This is a picture of the Wal-Mart in Waveland, Mississippi on the day that it re-opened for business. On the day I took this picture, Wal-Mart was advertising that it was open for business on the local radio stations. Meanwhile, FEMA, the National Guard, and the Red Cross had packed up and left town the night before as Hurrican Rita was blowing by us in the Gulf.

Wal-Mart's re-opening was quite significant for Waveland because it was the ONLY place to spend money in town. Sure, many residents received an emergency check from FEMA or even the Red Cross in some cases, but there was no place to spend money; none at all. Before Wal-Mart, there was no place to buy things like gas, food, or clothes; not in Waveland, Bay Saint Louis, or the surrounding area. You basically had to drive out towards Gulfport, that is, if your car wasn't overturned in a ditch or buried under a pile of rubble somewhere.

The circumstances under which Wal-Mart re-opened in Waveland made an impact on the residents of Waveland as well. For two days, Wal-Mart, the Convoy of Hope (rating) compound, and the Carolinas Medical Center were the only services remaining in Waveland at the time. In contrast, when the Red Cross and federal services packed up and left the area, they drained every gallon of diesel fuel in the coastal area, making it hard for the Convoy (or any other) trucks to get their food and re-supply shipments to us. That made for some dicey moments with a tent full of residents and one small pallet of canned goods to go around. I will say that the National Guard was the first to return AND saved the day with several pallets of Meals Ready-to-Eat (MRE). Those MREs provided practical and psychological relief to the tension felt by the residents and volunteers alike.

Most of the residents thought neither FEMA nor the Red Cross would be returning. Indeed, FEMA was not very popular at all. However, I must be quick to say that this is not a FEMA bashing thread. It was through FEMA that Fire and Police services from other states were arranged for Waveland. FEMA also provided the church compound with drums of diesel fuel without which we would have been dead in the water. We were going through 350 gallons a day. So, FEMA does certain things very well, like arranging public safety, shipping drums of diesel fuel, moving huge generators, forklifts, and other logistical nightmares. On the other hand, there is simply no way FEMA or any other government organization (aside from the military) could come close to competing with the volunteer services I saw in places like Waveland, Mississippi.

Perhaps if there were some sort of initiative to capture the synergy between the two, disaster response in the United States would be that much better. Who would oppose that and for what reasons? That is a debate I would like to see in our national and state legislatures.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Get Your Mid-Life Crisis on EBay

I saw this and had to pass it along. Being size 34 x 34, they would be a tad baggy in the waste, which of course, ruins the whole purpose of having leather pants. Here is the text from the auction:

You are bidding on a mistake.

We all make mistakes. We date the wrong people for too long. We chew gum with our mouths open. We say inappropriate things in front of grandma.

And we buy leather pants.

I can explain these pants and why they are in my possession. I bought them many, many years ago under the spell of a woman whom I believed to have taste. She suggested I try them on. I did. She said they looked good. I wanted to have a relationship of sorts with her. I’m stupid and prone to impulsive decisions. I bought the pants.

The relationship, probably for better, never materialized. The girl, whose name I can’t even recall, is a distant memory. I think she was short.

Ultimately the pants were placed in the closet where they have remained, unworn, for nearly a decade. I would like to emphasize that: Aside from trying these pants on, they have never, ever been worn. In public or private.

I have not worn these leather pants for the following reasons:
  • I am not a member of Queen.
  • I do not like motorcycles.
  • I am not Rod Stewart.
  • I am not French.
  • I do not cruise for transvestites in an expensive sports car.

These were not cheap leather pants. They are Donna Karan leather pants. They’re for men. Brave men, I would think. Perhaps tattooed, pierced men. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say you either have to be very tough, very gay, or very famous to wear these pants and get away with it.

Again, they’re men’s pants, but they’d probably look great on the right lady. Ladies can get away with leather pants much more often than men can. It’s a sad fact that men who own leather pants will have to come to terms with.

They are size 34x34. I am no longer size 34x34, so even were I to suddenly decide I was a famous gay biker I would not be able to wear these pants. These pants are destined for someone else. For reasons unknown - perhaps to keep my options open, in case I wanted to become a pirate - I have shuffled these unworn pants from house to house, closet to closet. Alas, it is now time to part ways so that I may use the extra room for any rhinestone-studded jeans I may purchase in the future.

These pants are in excellent condition. They were never taken on pirate expeditions. They weren’t worn onstage. They didn’t straddle a Harley, or a guy named Harley. They just hung there, sad and ignored, for a few presidencies.

Someone, somewhere, will look great in these pants. I’m hoping that someone is you, or that you can be suckered into buying them by a girl you’re trying to bed.

Please buy these leather pants.

I wish the ten year old remnants of my life's mistakes were worth $102.50. Enjoy!

Dear John er.. Abu Musab al Zarqawi

The big news this week seems to be the captured letter from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi. I think Lt. Smash at the Indepundit covers the main points of the 16 page missive very well. John Hinderaker's thoughts on the letter are available at Powerline Blog. Both are well worth reading.

I also have something to add to what Lt. Smash calls the "Iraq equals Vietnam fantasy" expoused by many on the Left and echoed by Zawahiri in the letter. Of course, there are few similarities between the current war with Iraq and the Vietnam conflict. Like Vietnam, the current war has drug on for more than a decade and a premature withdrawal of American forces would result in millions of slaughtered Iraqis. That's where the similarities end. However, there was another recent conflict that inspired the same high hopes and anticipation amongst terrorists, similar to those expressed by Zawahiri referring to the American exit from Vietnam. Somalia. Here's a snippet from John Miller's (ABC) 1998 interview with Osama Bin Laden:

Miller: Describe the situation when your men took down the American forces in Somalia.

So, when they left Afghanistan, they went to Somalia and prepared themselves carefully for a long war. They had thought that the Americans were like the Russians, so they trained and prepared. They were stunned when they discovered how low was the morale of the American soldier. America had entered with 30,000 soldiers in addition to thousands of soldiers from different countries in the world. ... As I said, our boys were shocked by the low morale of the American soldier and they realized that the American soldier was just a paper tiger.
...
After a few blows, it forgot all about those titles and rushed out of Somalia in shame and disgrace, dragging the bodies of its soldiers. America stopped calling itself world leader and master of the new world order, and its politicians realized that those titles were too big for them and that they were unworthy of them. I was in Sudan when this happened. I was very happy to learn of that great defeat that America suffered, so was every Muslim.

The best recruiting tool in the world is victory, especially victory against greater odds. And speaking of Osama bin Laden, remember when his video aired days before the 2004 election? His speech had eerie echoes of Democrat campaign slogans and Michael Moore's latest film at the time. Well, once again a terrorist echoes the arguments of the left: Americans out of Iraq... fight Israel... Iraq is Vietnam...

I must admit that this letter does highlight a major difference of opinion between the terrorists and the reactionary leftists in the U.S. and Europe. Zawahiri and Zarqawi clearly are not the freedom fighters or even insurgents that moonbats like Cindy Sheehan have painted them to be. Why are we not hearing more from so-called "anti-war" protesters about the destruction these terrorists are wrecking in Iraq? The answer is simple. Though the methods may be slightly different, the goals are the same: weaken/defeat the United States and impose an agenda in the absense of U.S. power, by force if necessary.

The truth is that "anti-war" demonstrations were funded and organized by groups that are quite supportive of violence against their own enemies, such as the United States. We all know about duplicitous snakes, such as Ramsey Clark, who funded hundreds of protests against the invasion of Iraq all the while working for Saddam Hussein (he is Saddam's attorney even now). But it doesn't stop there. International ANSWER's coalition of "anti-war" groups includes the League for the Revolution Party (LRP) whose own policy resolution states the following:

We reject pacifism and campaign for the tactics of Trotsky’s proletarian military policy: arming and training the workers under the control of their own class organizations.

Well, at least they're pro-gun ownership! This should be touted in the media at every one of these so-called war protests! The fact that these groups are not protesting war, but they are protesting against democracy and liberty. Take the Workers World Party for instance. Sure enough, they're quick to oppose Bush and "The War", but they also refer to the protesters in Tiananmen Square as counter-revolutionaries and praise the Chinese government for resisting them.

This is not a new discovery. It has been covered in Salon, Front Page Magazine, and many more publications. The fact that it is not new is exactly why I find it so surprising that so many Democrats align themselves with these demonstrably pro-war, anti-democracy, and anti-liberty forces.

* 9:27 AM - Edited for clarity.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Countdown to International Justice (Day 195)

McQ over at QandO Blog reminds me of my Countdown to International Justice series, tracking the days until the United Nations and the long arm of the International Criminal Court brings swift justice to the victims of genocide in Sudan.

Well, now John Bolton is there and apparently already ruffling French feathers by blocking yet another U.N. envoy from briefing the Security Council on grave human rights violations in Sudan's Darfur region. McQ summarizes:

Well I have to agree with Bolton, how many briefings do you need to know a situation needs remedying? And I'd also point out that the UN determined some time ago that what was happening in Darfur wasn't "genocide". That saved them from having to act. So I'm not sure what the "advisor on genocide" would add to the body of information already available.

I agree. It's not like this stuff is new and we're just now figuring out what is going on. In fact, I'm surprised this is even an issue. After all, on June 06 of this year, 68 days after having the issue referred to the ICC by the United Nations, the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC finally decided that he would investigate the matter.

The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has decided to open an investigation into the situation in Darfur, Sudan.

Mike Hubbell, responding to my Day 31 post, asked what I thought the UN should be doing, rather than violating its own charter with feckless referrals to the completely useless ICC. I responded in the comments:

The UN should stick to its charter, which clearly defines its authority. In both the above mentioned resolutions, it is decided the situation in Darfur constitute a threat to international peace and security, meeting the obligation of Article 39 of Chapter VII. Articles 41 and 42 spell out exactly what measures the UN can take, and those measures include economic sanctions, blockades, and military intervention.

I'm glad John Bolton is taking a stance, and he is absolutely right to do so. After all, unlike France, the U.S. has been ready to call it genocide since the beginning of the year. It only makes sense that the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations would be working from that perspective.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Trouble With Judges

Few things in politics truly get under my skin. If John Kerry would have won the Presidential Election in 2004, I would have had some concern over his intentions in Iraq; but I would have shrugged and known for a fact that the great bureaucratic behemoth of government would have continued on with little or no noticeable deviation. Judges are becoming another story altogether. They are an odd fit in our democracy. In my eyes, we the people are giving way too much power to the last kind of people that should have any power at all, lawyers.

I made one post about the Judge's ruling in the Terry Schiavo case, expressing agreement. Many pundits, including Glenn Reynolds and Ted Olsen expressed disappointment, dismay, and sometimes outrage at Representative Tom DeLay's threatening remarks directed toward the judiciary at that time.

DeLay issued a statement asserting that "the time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior." He later said in front of television cameras that he wants to "look at an arrogant, out-of-control, unaccountable judiciary that thumbed their nose at Congress and the president."

I whole-heartedly agree with Mr. DeLay's characterization of the judiciary but not for the same reasons. Clearly, DeLay's concern is for a judiciary that "thumbed their nose at Congress and the president". Thumbing one's nose at Congress and the President is almost a redeeming quality. It's when members of the judiciary purpose in their hearts to circumvent or thwart the democratic process on the flimsiest of constitutional interpretations that legal recourse against them becomes all too necessary.

Enter Patricia Yim Cowett, Superior Court Judge, bane of democracy, and enemy of the people. Ok, perhaps she's not all that, but I can't help but question her motives regarding the voter approved Proposition A (pdf) and the transfer of the Mount Soledad cross and memorial to the Federal Department of the Interior to maintain as a national veterans memorial.

There has been a cross at Mount Soleded National Park since 1913, but it has not always been a war memorial. After the previous cross was destoyed by a wind storm in 1952, the City Council of San Diego granted permission to the Mount Soledad Memorial Association to erect another cross. In 1954, the current 43 foot high cross was erected and dedicated to veterans of World War I, WWII, and Korea.

The lawsuits to have the cross destroyed or otherwise removed began in 1989 by a busy-body atheist named Philip Paulson. You think busy-body is a cheap shot, just so many extra words thrown in to disparage Mr. Paulson? Philip Paulson is a self-proclaimed "Church-State Activist" according to his name and title as a signatory to the Humanist Manifesto III (pdf). He brought a lawsuit against the City of San Diego to solve a problem that no one else is complaining about. He is so obsessed with the cross on Mount Soledad, he applied for and obtained a permit to assemble at the area around the cross on Easter morning in 1996, for no other purpose than to stick a finger in everyone else's eye. Like I said, a busy-body with way too much time on his hands.

Having said all that, the real villain of this story is Judge Patricia Yim Cowett. Where Paulson is a mild agitant and general muckraker, Judge Cowett has real power, the power to turn a judicial district into a dictatorship. On July 13, prior to the election that would see Proposition A pass or fail at the hands of the voters, Judge Cowett was all in favor of this issue being decided by the democratic process.

"This is a proper subject to place before the voters," Judge Patricia Yim Cowett said after listening to oral arguments. - SD Union Tribune

The judge went on to forewarn that a change in the way the city parkland was used could result in a two-thirds requirement for passage. Could that have been a little hedging for her pre-judgement of the case? Approval for Proposition A ("As it is, Where it is") was polling between 60 and 67 percent right up until the the eve of the election. In fact, when Judge Cowett confirmed the two-thirds requirement just five days prior to the election, my Councilmember, Jim Madaffer, wasn't sounding very optimistic.

"I think it's tough to get 67 percent of people to agree what color the sky is," Madaffer said. "Two-thirds is almost insurmountable odds."

I must admit that even I was surprised when the election results came back on election night showing Proposition A had passed with a 76 percent majority. For those that think we are all just right-wing, fundamentalist bible-thumpers out here, keep in mind that all conservative mayoral candidates received a total of 56 percent of the vote, while candidate Donna Frye (D) received 43 percent on the same ballot as Proposition A. In retrospect, I shouldn't have been all that surprised at the Prop A results because 76.6 percent of the voters approved a similar measure (Proposition F) to save the cross on Mount Soledad in 1992. The cross and memorial on Mount Soledad are not just a passing fancy to a large majority of San Diegans. Fellow San Diegan, Lt. Smash, illustrates why the Mount Soledad cross fits right into the character of this city named after Saint Didacus (Diego) of Acala (hat tip: SMASH in comments).

After all that talk about how "proper" it was to bring this before the voters and the level of approval required to pass the measure, Judge Cowett has now taken the law into her own hands by declaring Proposition A unconstitutional.

Cowett ruled that the donation of the cross to the federal government to be the centerpiece of a veterans memorial, as San Diego voters approved in Proposition A in July, is an unconstitutional aid to religion.

I'm not a judge or even a lawyer. Hell, I'm a just a high school drop out with a little free time and a printing press in the form of a blog. However, even I know that Cowett's characterization of the ruling is simply and obviously wrong. The donation of the cross to the federal government to be the centerpiece of a veterans memorial is not an unconstitutional aid to religion. The donation of the cross to the federal government is the manifestation of people using their democratic franchise to specify how their City would handle a land-use issue. Voters make such decisions all the time, for all kinds of groups and causes. Sometimes voters approve land use for private developers and other times voters reserve land for environmental preservation. Now, for the second time in 15 years, San Diego voters have overwhelmingly declared that the cross on Mount Soledad should remain where it is, as it is; and they have demonstrated a willingness to grant overwhelming approval of any means to that end.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Stupid Media Tricks

If you peruse the various headlines in Google News concerning comments made by President Bush, you'll notice many such as this:

Bush: "God told me to invade Iraq"

The Guardian (UK) uses this stunt with a headline of George Bush: 'God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq'. There it is, a direct quotation clearly defined by the colon and surrounding quotation marks as recommended by UK journalism standards. Unfortunately, the text of the article does not support the headline.

George Bush has claimed he was on a mission from God when he launched the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a senior Palestinian politician in an interview to be broadcast by the BBC later this month.

So, here we have the Guardian (as well as the Independent and the Scotsman) directly quoting President Bush even though they're actually quoting a senior Palestinian politician named Nabil Shaath. However, the Guardian article has a more senior Palestinian politician, Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, also present at the meeting failing to characterize the President's comments in the same strong language.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian prime minister, who was also part of the delegation at Sharm el-Sheikh, told the BBC programme that Mr Bush had said: "I have a moral and religious obligation. I must get you a Palestinian state. And I will."

Even Reuters (and MSNBC) observes enough professionalism to get the headline correct.

Palestinian: Bush said God guided him on war

Now that's much better and a much more accurate depiction or the story being reported. The BBC started all of this non-sense by "convincing" Mr. Shaath to reveal his comments publicly, and they have also printed the denial from the White House.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Election Day Myths

Will Lester of the Associated Press (AP) wrote an article on a report by political analysts Elaine Kamarck and William Galston enumerating some of the "election myths" the national Democrat Party will have to dispel if they wish to be a majority once more. No, these aren't the kind of "Democrats" that vote Republican, donate money to Republicans, and release reports criticizing only Democrats. Ms. Kamarck and Mr. Galston are true blue Democrats and their politics can be glimpsed in some of their writing, such as Kamarck's Decline of American Greatness or Galston's Peril's of Pre-emptive War.

Those articles and the others like them are mildly interesting, but the body of their work that I find fascinating and absolutely hilarious is the one discussed in the AP article concerning "election myths" long held by the Democrat Party. The article starts by dispelling the old assumptions of better mobilization and an emerging Democrat majority in the form of minority immigrants. However, the point that struck me funny was this one:

The belief Democrats can succeed politically if they simply learn to talk more effectively about their positions.

I'm sorry, but I can't help but laugh every time I look at that one. I also can't help but agree completely. When national Democrat candidates start speaking candidly and coherently about their exact positions and policies, voters either melt away or slip through fingers like sand on election day.

I recently thought I heard a blurb on the news about Howard Dean proposing a Democrat version of the Republican Contract With America of 1994. That's a good idea, unless as the Democrat political analysts warn against, the Democrats plan on outlining their actual positions and policies in the document.