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Friday, August 31, 2007

School Daze: Then and Now

School has started in this part of Southeastern Virginia. Vanderleun reminds us how it has changed:
1. Scenario: Jack goes quail hunting before school, pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack.

1957 - Vice principal comes over to look at Jack's shotgun. He goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.

2007 - School goes into lock down, and FBI is called. Jack is hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

2. Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fist-fight after school.

1957 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best friends.

2007 - Police called. SWAT team arrives. Johnny and Mark are arrested and charged with assault. Both are expelled even though Johnny started it.

3. Scenario: Jeffrey won't be still in class, disrupts other students.

1957 - Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by the principal. He returns to class, sits still, and does not disrupt class again.

2007 - Jeffrey is diagnosed with ADD and given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a learning disability.

4. Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.

1957 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.

2007 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is placed in foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself, and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.

5. Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.

1957 - Mark shares aspirin with principal out on the smoking dock.

2007 - Police called. Mark is expelled from school for drug violations. Car is searched for drugs and weapons.

6. Scenario: Pedro fails high school English.

1957 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.

2007 - Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro is given a diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

7. Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.

1957 - Ants die.

2007 - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Homeland Security, and FBI called. Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. The FBI investigates parents; siblings are removed from home; computers confiscated. Johnny's dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

8. Scenario: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Heather. Heather hugs him to comfort him.

1957 - In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.

2007 - Heather is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces three years in state prison. Johnny undergoes five years of therapy.

Johnny sues Heather and the school, settles for $2.5 Million.

The Norman Hsu Story Gets More Mysterious

From Instapundit:

MAYBE WE NEED BRADY-STYLE BACKGROUND CHECKS AND WAITING PERIODS before people are allowed to donate to politicians:

From $62,000 for Gov. Eliot Spitzer of New York, to $10,000 for the Tennessee Democratic Party, the full extent of fund-raising by Norman Hsu came into focus yesterday, as campaigns across the country began returning his money in light of revelations that he is a fugitive in a fraud case.

Beyond the hundreds of thousands of dollars he raised from others for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Mr. Hsu personally contributed more than $600,000 to federal, state and municipal candidates in the last three years, a review of campaign finance records shows. It was a startling amount of money for someone whose sources of income remained far from obvious yesterday, as visits to addresses he has provided for his businesses found no trace of Mr. Hsu.

If it saves just one campaign it's worth it.

And from the NY Times:
People who met him said they knew only that he ran an apparel business. Efforts to learn more about his trade hit dead-ends yesterday. Visits to companies at addresses listed by Mr. Hsu on campaign finance records provided little information. There were no offices in buildings in New York’s garment district whose addresses were given for businesses with names like Components Ltd., Cool Planets, Next Components, Coopgors Ltd., NBT and Because Men’s clothing — all listed by Mr. Hsu in federal filings at different times.

At a new loft-style residential condominium in SoHo that was also listed as an address for one of his companies, an employee there said that he had never seen or heard of Mr. Hsu. Another company was listed at a condo that Mr. Hsu had sublet in an elegant residential tower in Midtown Manhattan just off Fifth Avenue, but an employee there said Mr. Hsu moved out two years ago, after having lived there for five years. The employee, who was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about residents, said he recalled that Mr. Hsu had received a lot of mail from the Democratic Party.

Who is Mr. Hsu and where did he get his money? The suspicion is growing that Mr. Hsu is a conduit for others. Who are they and what do they intend to get with their money? Is China somehow behind this?

Katrina: What the Media Missed

How the media told a distorted story about New Orleans during Katrina:

Still, by focusing on the part of the glass that was half-empty, the national media imposed a near total blackout on the nerve center of what may have been the largest, most successful aerial search and rescue operation in history.

"The Coast Guard, the National Guard, the military in general performed heroically," said Sen. Robert Barham, R-Oak Ridge, who monitored the Superdome operation from Baton Rouge as head of the Louisiana State Senate's Homeland Security Committee. His opposite number in the Louisiana House, Rep. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, said, "They (the Guard) did a yeoman's job." Both said they were getting very different pictures from TV than they got from the Guardsmen at the Dome, and the state fish and wildlife department, another key player in the rescue operation.

"TV of the Superdome was perplexing to most folks," Thompson said. "You had them playing the tapes of the same incidents over and over, it tends to bias your thinking some, you tend to think it's worse than it really is." Official estimates at this point suggest the Guard, working from the Dome, saved 17,000 by air and uncounted thousands more by boat.

Let's try that again: The cavalry wasn't late. It didn't arrive on Thursday smoking a cigar and cussing. It was there all along.

The National Guard's response to Katrina was even more robust than I suspected in my reporting for RealClearPolitics in September, and in more detail for National Review, where I revealed for the first time that rescue operations saved up to 50,000 lives, with perhaps an equal number making their way to shelters on their own.

Fifty thousand New Orleans residents were in danger of death from drowning, heatstroke, dehydration and disease. That was a tough one to get through the media reality-distortion field, but the numbers have since been confirmed by Congress, the White House, Louisiana state officials and the relevant agencies themselves.
The operation was impossible to hide or ignore and some news outlets may have mentioned it in passing. Still, I haven't seen anything reported that sounded like what the two Majors described Tuesday morning: helicopters landing every minute; big ones, like the National Guard Chinooks, literally shaking the decking of the rooftop parking lot; little ones like the ubiquitous Coast Guard Dolphins; Black Hawks everywhere, many with their regular seats torn out so they could accommodate more passengers, standing. Private air ambulance services evacuating patients from flood-threatened hospitals. Owners of private helicopters who showed up to volunteer, and were sent on their way with impromptu briefings on basic rescue needs. Overhead, helicopters stacked in a holding pattern.

By the end of the week 150 National Guard aircraft were operating, plus regular military and Coast Guard units who also dropped off survivors. The biggest problem rescuers faced, according to crew members I've interviewed, was the danger of aerial collisions.

This is at the Superdome, remember, supposedly Ground Zero for bad behavior and the scene of massive governmental incompetence.

Also hard to ignore at the Dome was another big operation: support for local first responders. This effort included many of the black local heroes among the police and firefighting squads, despite misleading media reports leaving the impression they had either fled the city or walked off the job. The majority of local police and firefighters were available, though their communications system had been wiped out. They quickly hooked up with pre-positioned Guard units, as well as an army of volunteers in everything from flatboats to airboats. "We were just handing out radios to anyone who wanted one," Dressler said.
Besides rescuers and local first responders, another big story at the Dome was the medical center. Like a Chinook helicopter landing on your roof, that sure was hard to miss. Fifteen doctors and a total of 65 medical personnel set up at the New Orleans Arena, within spitting distance of the Dome. It was primarily for survivors brought in by air and boat, but also for people in the Superdome with medical problems. There was never any shortage of medical care, Dressler and Bush both said.

The Arena medical center cycled through triage and treatment of up to 5,000 injured or sick victims, Dressler said. Those in the worst shape were evacuated to the New Orleans airport and out of the region, those in good shape hydrated and sent to the Superdome. The success of the makeshift medical center was such that there were just six deaths at the entire Superdome complex: four of natural causes, one drug overdose, and one suicide during the week of supposedly rampant anarchy and death.
Most of the national media also neglected to mention the seven babies that National Guard physicians delivered, something Maj. Ed Bush said he pointed out repeatedly. Overall, the false claims of up to 200 dead at the Dome, including murder victims, had clueless FEMA officials showing up at the end of the week with a refrigerated 18-wheeler to claim the stacks of bodies.

In all this time, Dressler said, "We didn't see a single camera crew or reporter on the scene. Maybe someone was there with a cell phone or a digital camera but I didn't see anyone." This was in the headquarters area. Maj. Ed Bush, meanwhile, did start seeing reporters on Tuesday and Wednesday, but inside the Dome, most were interested in confirming the stacks of bodies in the freezers, interviews with rape victims, he said, and other mayhem that never happened. He pitched the rescue angle and no one was interested. A few reporters and film crews did hitch rides on helicopters, came back, and produced stories of people stuck on rooftops, not stories about rescues, he said.

Neither Maj. Bush nor Dressler saw TV until the end of the week. They were aghast. Apart from sporadic mentions, the most significant note taken of this gigantic operation was widespread reporting of the rumor that a sniper had fired on a helicopter. What were termed evacuations in some cases, rescue operations in others, were said to have been halted as a result. "I never knew how badly we were being killed in the media," Maj. Ed Bush says. In reality, the only shots fired at the Guard were purely metaphorical and originated with the media. Rescues continued 24/7 at a furious pace.

Why? Simple: to hype ratings. They had a story to tell of catastrophe and, by God, they were going to tell it. Heroism, rescue, people doing things right: these were not part of the narrative and of they were observed by the MSM, these stories were left on the cutting room floor. Instead we got fed a load of crap: cannibalism, rape, murder, snipers and mayhem.

Sort of reminds you of the stories being told about Iraq?

Flying a la carte

There is a new airline, Skybus, that offers fares as low as $10. Using this airline it's possible to fly cross country for as little as $20.

Everything - literally everything from snacks to checked baggage is extra. But the effect it will have on the airline industry could be huge.

The evolution of math in the United States

This is one of those jokes going around the Internet. Sorta cute ... especially if you are a little older:

The Evolution of Math in the United States

Last week I purchased a burger and fries at McDonalds for $3.58.

The counter girl took my $4.00 and I pulled 8 cents from my pocket and gave
it to her. She stood there, holding the nickel and 3 pennies. While looking
at the screen on her register, I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her
to just give me two quarters, but she hailed the manager for help. While he
tried to explain the transaction to her, she stood there and cried. Why do I
tell you this?

Because of the evolution in teaching math since the 1960's . . .

Teaching Math In 1960

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

Teaching Math In 1970

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

Teaching Math In 1980

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?

Teaching Math In 1990

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20.
Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math In 2000

A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20.

What do you think of this way of making a living?

Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes?
(There are no wrong answers.)

Teaching Math In 2007

Un ranchero vende una carretera de madera para $100.
El cuesto de la produccion era $80. Cuantos tortillas se puede comprar?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Why Is Nornal Hsu Still Free?

The influence peddling of Norman Hsu and his money laundering of political contributions in the coffers of Democrats, prominently included Hillary Clinton but also Barack Obama, Patrick Kennedy, Al Franken, Mike Honda, Doris Matsui and more Democrats to be named later. What intrigues me about this is not the fact that prominent Democrats are caught taking money from a convicted swindler. What is interesting is that a man can be convicted of swindling, become a convicted fugitive from justice and still remain free while attending high profile events like a fund-raiser for Representative Patrick J. Kennedy, Democrat of Rhode Island, given by Stephen A. Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group at the New York Yacht Club. Is the criminal justice system so inept that it not only can't it stop 12 million people from entering our borders illegally, but it can't locate and arrest a multi-millionaire swindler who attends fund raisers for prominent Democrats?

As Captain Ed says:

…the path of Norman Hsu seems rather amusing. The man convicted of fraud and wanted for fleeing his prison sentence did not seem unduly handicapped by either in his career. The famous liberal New School made him a trustee and became a trustee at its Eugene Lang College. That came after he started donating heavily to the Democratic Party in his new incarnation, and the failed businessman and convicted fraudster somehow generated large amounts of cash for these efforts, with "connections" (as the New York Times puts it) to clothing related businesses. None of these organizations ever did as much as a cursory check on the Hong Kong native.
Where did Hsu get all this money? That remains to be seen, and it may be the most interesting question yet. So far, his entire history has been one failed enterprise after another -- and yet as a fugitive on the run, he managed to manipulate millions of dollars for the Democrats. That's a pretty neat trick.

Jesus bin Laden

An art competition sponsored by a church in Australia has Jesus morphing into Osama.

Strange - I’d have thought a picture of Mohammed morphing into bin Laden would have been far more to the point, but I guess that would have been rude - and, you know, dangerous.

The fastest-shrinking church in Australia doesn’t miss this chance to show why it’s dying of self-loathing:

Last night, the Uniting Church minister who chairs the Blake Society defended the pieces.

The Reverend Rod Pattenden, who awarded the $15,000 prize to the competition winner in Sydney yesterday, said his mission was to spark debate about spirituality in a world that was “cynical, degraded and in crisis”. Mr Pattenden said he did not expect controversy to result from the exhibition at the National Art School Gallery “because the Christian community doesn’t look at art a great deal”.

Once, in fact, the Christian community actually looked at art so gladly it commissioned many of the world’s great masterpieces. Just think of the Sistine Chapel.

But now the barbarians are in charge of the church.

New preaching: Christ, Osama - much the same difference even to a Uniting Church minister.

FEC Slaps Soros Group for Campaign Finance Abuses; Will Media Care?

Click on the link. But here is the staggering number:

According to the FEC, ACT used tens of millions of dollars of unregulated cash to boost Democratic candidates during the 2004 elections. The Politico reports that, according to the FEC, ACT raised $137 million for its get-out-the-vote effort in 17 states in the 2004 elections, but the FEC found most of that cash came through contributions that violated federal limits or were otherwise barred by campaign rules.

Raising and spending $137 million in illegal funds to buy an election, and the fine is $775,000? An dno one goes to jail?

If Liberals Do Something Bad Does It Automatically Become Good?

Re the Larry Craig story, on (apparent) Liberal writes Jonah Goldberg:

You are correct in that it's perfectly possible to be against gay marriage and be a homosexual.

It's also perfectly possible to be homosexual but vote against extension of hate crimes or discrimination legislation to include sexual orientation.

It's not really possible, however, to be homosexual and embrace the religious-conservative demonization of homosexuals as deviants, mental defectives, and crass sinners.

I wrote Jonah an e-mail as follows:

It's not really possible, however, to be homosexual and embrace the religious-conservative demonization of homosexuals as deviants, mental defectives, and crass sinners.

Jonah, first of all it’s a gross mischaracterization of the mainstream opinions expressed by religious conservatives.

Second, it’s not true.

Why don’t people who are not “religious conservatives” understand some very basic, fundamental, 2000 year-old facts about Christianity? I know of literally no Christians who believe they are without sin. And if I ran into such a creature, I would conclude that he or she is not really a Christian.

In fact, many of Christianity’s leading lights throughout history (and that includes some of the evangelists in the Bible) claimed they were “chief sinners” (see St. Paul "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief .“—I Tim. 1:15.)

It’s a shame that Jonathan Edwards “Sinners in the hand of an angry God” is not taught to our school children any more. It’s the most famous sermon ever preached in America. That should put a cork in the silly assertion made by your correspondent.

If you are a Christian, it is perfectly possible to sin while denouncing sin. The only people for whom this does not apply appear to be Liberals who have a compulsion to make every action they take to be a virtue. Do I need to point out the latest example: John Edwards as he defends his mansion and ownership of SUVs even as he denounces the use by others of SUVs?

Bush's Lost Iraqi Election

There have been many serious missteps by America in Iraq. To tell the truth, many of the missteps were inevitable. We have never fought a war like this before. Every action we took was experimental, and many - most - experiments fail. You just keep experimenting until you find a formula that works.

Some of the mistakes were made from an excess of idealism. David Ignatius writes of one (remember it's in the MSM and needs to be taken with a large grain of salt):

Ayad Allawi, the former interim prime minister of Iraq, hinted in a television interview last weekend at one of the war's least understood turning points: America's decision not to challenge Iranian intervention in Iraq's January 2005 elections.

"Our adversaries in Iraq are heavily supported financially by other quarters. We are not," Allawi told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "We fought the elections with virtually no support whatsoever, except for Iraqis and the Iraqis who support us."

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Behind Allawi's comment lies a tale of intrigue and indecision by the United States over whether to mount a covert-action program to confront Iran's political meddling. Such a plan was crafted by the Central Intelligence Agency and then withdrawn -- because of opposition from an unlikely coalition that is said to have included Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who was then House minority leader, and Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser.

As recounted by former U.S. officials, the story embodies the mix of hubris and naivete that has characterized so much of the Iraq effort. From President Bush on down, U.S. officials enthused about Iraqi democracy while pursuing a course of action that made it virtually certain that Iran and its proxies would emerge as the dominant political force.

The CIA warned in the summer and fall of 2004 that the Iranians were pumping money into Iraq to steer the Jan. 30, 2005, elections toward the coalition of Shiite religious parties known as the United Iraqi Alliance. By one CIA estimate, Iranian covert funding was running at $11 million a week for media and political operations on behalf of candidates who would be friendly to Iran, under the banner of Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. The CIA reported that in the run-up to the election, as many as 5,000 Iranians a week were crossing the border with counterfeit ration cards to register to vote in Iraq's southern provinces.

To counter this Iranian tide, the CIA proposed a political action program, initially at roughly $20 million but with no ceiling. The activities would include funding for moderate Iraqi candidates, outreach to Sunni tribal leaders and other efforts to counter Iranian influence. A covert-action finding was prepared in the fall of 2004 and signed by President Bush. As required by law, senior members of Congress, including Pelosi, were briefed.

But less than a week after the finding was signed, CIA officials were told that it had been withdrawn. Agency officials in Baghdad were ordered to meet with Iraqi political figures and get them to return whatever money had been distributed. Mystified by this turn of events, CIA officers were told that Rice had agreed with Pelosi that the United States couldn't on the one hand celebrate Iraqi democracy and on the other try to manipulate it secretly.

Ethically, that was certainly a principled view. But on the ground in Iraq, the start-stop maneuver had the effect of pulling the rug out from under moderate, secular Iraqis who might have contained extremist forces. (Asked about the withdrawal of the intelligence finding, spokesmen for Rice and Pelosi declined to comment.)

"The Iranians had complete command of the field," recalls one former U.S. official who was in Iraq at the time. "The Iraqis were bewildered. They didn't understand what the U.S. was doing. It looked like we were giving the country to Iran. We told Washington this was a calamitous event, from which it would be hard to recover."

Allawi, in a telephone interview Tuesday from Amman, Jordan, confirmed that the United States had shelved its political program. "The initial attitude of the U.S. was to support moderate forces, financially and in the media," he said. "This was brought to a halt, under the pretext that the U.S. does not want to interfere." Allawi said the American decision was "understandable" but ceded the field to Iran and its well-financed proxies.

Allawi said he is trying to gather support for a new coalition of Kurds, Sunnis and secular Shiites as an alternative to the Shiite religious coalition that installed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in power. Some commentators see Allawi's recent decision to hire a Washington public relations firm as a sign of the Bush administration's support, but the opposite is probably the case. If Allawi had U.S. government backing, he wouldn't need the lobbyists.

Future historians should record that the Bush administration actually lived by its pro-democracy rhetoric about a new Iraq -- to the point that it scuttled a covert action program aimed at countering Iranian influence. Now the administration says it wants to counter Iranian meddling in Iraq, but it is probably too late.

Ann Coulter: Reno 911

I have a confession to make. Psst. Come a little closer, I wouldn’t want anyone else to hear. “Proper” Americans are dead set against her but the fact is …. I like Ann Coulter. Ann attacks all the fashionable idols and does it with gusto; even the idols that “everyone who is not part of some weird cult” professes to believe in. In fact she has (gasp) debunked evolution! Now that’s iconoclasm! And for that (and many other sins) she has been shunned by “proper” people both Left and Right.

In her latest column, Ann compares recently departed Alberto Gonzalez and John Ashcroft (excoriated by the Left and shunned by the Right) with Hillary’s handpicked Attorney General Janet Reno. It’s a fun read.
This week, congressional Democrats vowed to investigate Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' firing of himself. Gonzales has said he was not involved in the discussions about his firing and that it was "performance-based," but he couldn't recall the specifics.

Right-wingers like me never trusted Gonzales. But watching Hillary Rodham Clinton literally applaud the announcement of Gonzales' resignation on Monday was more than any human being should have to bear. Liberals' hysteria about Gonzales was surpassed only by their hysteria about his predecessor, John Ashcroft. (Also their hysteria about Bush, Rove, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Libby, Rice, Barney and so on. They're very excitable, these Democrats.)

Liberals want to return the office to the glory years of Attorney General Janet Reno!

There is reason to believe Reno is precisely the sort of attorney general that Hillary would nominate, since Reno was widely assumed to be Hillary's pick at the time. As ABC News' Chris Bury reported the day Reno was confirmed: "The search for an attorney general exemplifies Hillary Clinton's circle of influence and its clout. ... The attorney general-designate, Janet Reno, came to the president's attention through Hillary Clinton's brother, Hugh Rodham."

Let's compare attorneys general:

-- Civilians killed by Ashcroft: 0
-- Civilians killed by Gonzales: 0
-- Civilians killed by Reno: 80

Reno's military attack on a religious sect in Waco, Texas, led to the greatest number of citizens ever killed by the government in the history of the United States. More Americans were killed at Waco than were killed at any of the various markers on the left's via dolorosa -- more than Kent State (4 killed), more than the Haymarket Square rebellion (4 killed), more than Three Mile Island (0 killed).

-- Innocent people put in prison by Ashcroft: 0
-- Innocent people put in prison by Gonzales: 0
-- Innocent people put in prison by Reno: at least 1 that I know of

As Dade County (Fla.) state attorney, Janet Reno made a name for herself as one of the leading witch-hunters in the notorious "child molestation" cases from the '80s, when convictions of innocent Americans were won on the basis of heavily coached testimony from small children.

Charged by Reno's office in 1984 with child molestation, Grant Snowden was convicted on the manufactured testimony of one such child, who was 4 years old when the abuse allegedly occurred.

Snowden, the most decorated police officer in the history of the South Miami Police Department, was sentenced to five life terms -- and was imprisoned with people he had put there. Snowden served 11 years before his conviction was finally overturned by a federal court in an opinion that ridiculed the evidence against him and called his trial "fundamentally unfair."

In a massive criminal justice system, mistakes will be made from time to time. But Janet Reno put people like Snowden in prison not only for crimes that they didn't commit -- but also for crimes that never happened. Such was the soccer-mom-induced hysteria of the '80s, when innocent people were prosecuted for fantastical crimes concocted in therapists' offices.

-- Number of obvious civil rights violations ignored by Ashcroft: 0
-- Number of obvious civil rights violations ignored by Gonzales: 0
-- Number of obvious civil rights violations ignored by Reno: at least 1

On Aug. 19, 1991, rabbinical student Yankel Rosenbaum was stabbed to death in Crown Heights by a black racist mob shouting "Kill the Jew!" as retaliation for another Hasidic man killing a black child in a car accident hours earlier.

In a far clearer case of jury nullification than the first Rodney King verdict, a jury composed of nine blacks and three Puerto Ricans acquitted Lemrick Nelson Jr. of the murder -- despite the fact that the police found the bloody murder weapon in his pocket and Rosenbaum's blood on his clothes, and that Rosenbaum, as he lay dying, had identified Nelson as his assailant.

The Hasidic community immediately appealed to the attorney general for a federal civil rights prosecution of Nelson. Reno responded with utter mystification at the idea that anyone's civil rights had been violated.

Civil rights? Where do you get that?

Because they were chanting "Kill the Jew," Rosenbaum is a Jew, and they killed him.

Huh. That's a weird interpretation of "civil rights." It sounds a little harebrained to me, but I guess I could have someone look into it.

It took two years from Nelson's acquittal to get Reno to bring a civil rights case against him.

-- Number of innocent civilians accused of committing heinous crimes by Ashcroft: 0
-- Number of innocent civilians accused of committing heinous crimes by Gonzales: 0
-- Number of innocent civilians accused of committing heinous crimes by Reno: at least 1

Janet Reno presided over the leak of Richard Jewell's name to the media, implicating him in the Atlanta Olympic park bombing in 1996, for which she later apologized. I believe Reno also falsely accused the Miami relatives of Elian Gonzalez of violating the law, which I am not including in her record of false accusations, but reminds me of another comparison.

Number of 6-year-old boys deported to totalitarian dictatorships by Ashcroft: 0
Number of 6-year-old boys deported to totalitarian dictatorships by Gonzales: 0
Number of 6-year-old boys deported to totalitarian dictatorships by Reno: 1

Not until Bush became president was the media interested in discussing the shortcomings of the attorney general. Whatever flaws Alberto Gonzales has (John Ashcroft has none), we don't have to go back to the Harding administration to find a worse attorney general.

From the phony child abuse cases of the '80s to the military assault on Americans at Waco, Janet Reno presided over the most egregious attacks on Americans' basic liberties since the Salem witch trials. These outrageous deprivations of life and liberty were not the work of fanatical right-wing prosecutors, but liberals like Janet Reno.

Reno is the sort of wild-eyed zealot trampling on real civil rights that Hillary views as an ideal attorney general, unlike that brute Alberto Gonzales. At least Reno didn't fire any U.S. attorneys!

Oh wait --

Number of U.S. attorneys fired by Ashcroft: 0
Number of U.S. attorneys fired by Gonzales: 8
Number of U.S. attorneys fired by Reno: 93

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

London-Based Arab Editor: I'll Dance in Trafalgar Square When Iran Nukes Israel

From Little Green Footballs:

Abd Al-Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of the UK-based Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, told a Lebanese TV interviewer he will dance in Trafalgar Square when Iran nukes Israel.

Bari Atwan is also a contributor to the BBC and Sky News, neither of whom seem to have much of a problem with this.

Read the rest.

AFP doesn't know the basics.

A hilarious look at how the AFP (the French news Agency) manufactures the news and proves it doesn't know crap about weapons, even things as simple as bullets.

Rewriting History, American Media Style

In the Soviet Union of Stalin’s time, history was an ever-changing story. People and events that were necessary for propaganda purposes were invented and people and events that opposed the Great Leader were deleted from the texts and airbrushed out of the pictures.

While no one ever had the central control of the narrative of history in the US during the 20th century as Stalin did in the Soviet Union, the mass media shared similar ideas about history. What was acceptable and what was not. Everyone agreed that all Americans stood up against the evils of Fascism and Communism. Everyone agreed to Joe McCarthy was the moral equivalent of Stalin, and that there were no Communists in government.

Everyone agreed that our involvement in Viet Nam was ill conceived and doomed to failure. And everyone agreed that the Liberals who ended the war in Viet Nam did so from the noblest of motives and did A GOOD THING.

And like the people who wrote and rewrote Stalin’s history books and airbrushed his photos, those who promoted these myths are so full of crap that their eyes were brown.

Karl at Protein Wisdom has a brilliant essay making this point with regard to the current myths that the media is trying to promote about the war in the Middle East, and has been peddling about Viet Nam. The difference between then and now is that “Big Brother Media” has some competition. It’s still a young and limited new media, and most people still get their propaganda served up to them by the alphabet networks and the major newspapers. But the internet and word-of-mouth is getting the truth out. Even in Stalin’s’ Russia, people noticed that the stories and pictures kept changing. They were not entirely fooled, but they did not have the alternative sources of news that we have.

Just a few days ago, the MSM – the Virginian Pilot (my hometown fish-wrap) fulminated against George Bush’s invocation of Viet Nam in a speech to the VFW. How dare he, they fumed, bring so divisive a subject up during the current war. The gall exhibited by these cretins made me choke on my cereal.

From Protein Wisdom:
The establishment media’s attitude toward the invasion manifested itself — until quite recently — in the frequent invocation of Vietnam as an analogy. As ABC News would later concede, questions about a Vietnam-style “quagmire” haunted the president’s Iraq policy since before a single bomb fell on Baghdad. CNN and the L.A. Times were among those doing the questioning, as was CBS News correspondent Bob Simon, who told USA Today that he opposed any invasion of Iraq back in October 2002.
Within the opening days of the invasion, the Baltimore Sun was claiming that “This war in its early stages recalls the pitched battles and bloody skirmishes of the Vietnam War,” while New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd found it “hard not to have a few acid flashbacks to Vietnam at warp speed.” Barely a week into the operation, ABC’s Peter Jennings and CBS’s Lesley Stahl had invoked the Vietnam quagmire, while NBC’s Today Show invited The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh on air a few days later to contend that “it’s never too early” to roll out the Vietnam analogy. The Scripps-Howard News Service warned that saddam Hussein’s “strategy was to drag America into a Vietnam quagmire.”
After Coalition forces toppled Saddam, the trend only intensified. John Watson, assistant professor of communications at American University, told the
CSM that media skepticism set in more quickly than in Vietnam, beginning with the occupation phase and coinciding with reporters leaving the embedded media program — which is what the aforementioned CMPA study showed as well. In June, CBS’s Bob Schieffer and others were asking whether the US was involved in a “guerrilla war” in Iraq. By October 2003, former WaPo reporter David Maraniss was insisting that “the echoes are immense” between Iraq and Vietnam on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews. On November 14, 2003, Reuters ran a piece headlined, “US War Dead in Iraq Exceeds Early Vietnam Years,” burying deep within the story the fact that the US presence in Vietnam was tiny for the first four years of its involvement, as compared to the force in Iraq.
President Bush was asked directly about the Vietnam “quagmire” analogy by the establishment media
again and again and again. From the outset of the invasion through mid-July 2007, the TV networks each aired hundreds of stories containing the Iraq-Vietnam comparison; CNN, the NYT and the WaPo have done thousands of them apiece. The AP has compared Pres. Bush’s rhetoric with that of LBJ, the bad intelligence on Iraqi WMDs with the Gulf of Tonkin, and the Haditha killings with My Lai. Combined with the ever-increasing percentage of stories devoted to the daily death tolls, the message being conveyed by the establishment media was unmistakable.
It might be asked why the establishment media resorted so early and so often to the Vietnam “quagmire” analogy, and so rarely challenged the subjects of their coverage who invoked it. The specious Reuters story aside,
US casualties in Iraq have been lighter in Iraq than in Vietnam. At Slate, even after engaging is some very dubious body count inflation — giving terrorists extra credit for each US soldier killed due to improvements in medical treatment and force protection since Vietnam — Phillip Carter and Owen West came up with an imaginary 2,975 comabt deaths in Iraq during 2004, compared to 4,602 real combat deaths during 1966 in Vietnam.
It takes a boat load of moral insensitivity and just plain gall to assume that your readers don’t remember what you wrote just yesterday. It takes the kind of assumptions that the editors of these papers make about the stupidity of its readers when they say, as the editors of the Pilot did
“The certainty of reopening old wounds is precisely what the White House wants. At a time when the nation should be focusing on what to do next in Iraq, the administration is hoping Americans can be diverted by another political sleight-of-hand to keep its mistakes from showing.
Don’t be fooled, and don’t be baited. America is too busy fighting in Iraq to be fighting again over Vietnam.”

This kind of crap is precisely why the MSM is losing readers. It’s not enough to lie to us, but don’t insult our intelligence.

The Virginian Pilot is now reduced to giving away its papers in malls and at public events in an effort to gain readers. I feel sorry for the people they have sent out to these sites; they are not the ones who create the intellectual sewage that if found on its pages. Like a vampire, feasting on the blood of it’s victims, it seems to live in its coffin but it’s hard to kill. Luckily, this particular brand of vampire is in the process of committing suicide.

Faster, please.

Varifrank writes: In Defense of Larry Craig

In absolutely none of the writing, reporting or blogging on the subject of Larry Craig have I seen anything but a presumption of guilt. So this is interesting.
Here’s what I learned when I read the police report on Larry Craig

1. Whatever you do when you are on a layover between flights, don’t use public bathrooms before you get on the next flight. Clearly, that is a sign that you are looking for anonymous gay sex, because no one in his right mind would use a public bathroom for any other purpose.

2. If you enter the bathroom and all the stalls appear to be full, don’t stand outside and tap your foot. While in some cultures looking at your watch at tapping your foot is a way of showing that you are anxious and perhaps ready to explode your bowels all over the floor, in Minneapolis it means only one thing, you want anonymous gay sex.

3. If you really, really have to go, and you are not really sure that there is someone inside the stall or not, whatever you do, don’t investigate further by trying to look inside. Clearly, that can only be read as a sign that you want anonymous gay sex.

Read the rest.

Comment: After reading the police report I am now curious. I have to admit a few things. I can be accused of not being observant. Not being gay, I had no idea that foot tapping was a signal of interest in sex. The police report says (and I quote) “Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct.” Who knew?

Then there’s the description of Craig swiping his fingers under the stall divider. What was that all about? Was he pulling the roll of toilet paper or is this a signal for “lewd conduct” again? Be careful out there because pulling the TP too vigorously could be an invitation to gay sex to some.

Not being immersed in the Gay culture, I have no idea of what signals I may be giving off. One thing I won’t do if ever arrested by a baby-faced cop in a public restroom is cop a plea. That could be the start of something really ugly.

Maybe Craig can buy "gay offsets"

The Colossus of Rhody asks:
Perhaps Craig can be like many Hollywood dopes (and Al Gore) but instead of purchasing carbon offsets he can buy gay offsets to "reduce his gay footprint" (or, more accurately, his "wide stance").

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Big Source of Clinton's Cash Is an Unlikely Address

Makes you go Hmmmm?
DALY CITY, Calif. -- One of the biggest sources of political donations to Hillary Rodham Clinton is a tiny, lime-green bungalow that lies under the flight path from San Francisco International Airport.

Six members of the Paw family, each listing the house at 41 Shelbourne Ave. as their residence, have donated a combined $45,000 to the Democratic senator from New York since 2005, for her presidential campaign, her Senate re-election last year and her political action committee. In all, the six Paws have donated a total of $200,000 to Democratic candidates since 2005, election records show.

It isn't obvious how the Paw family is able to afford such political largess. Records show they own a gift shop and live in a 1,280-square-foot house that they recently refinanced for $270,000. William Paw, the 64-year-old head of the household, is a mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Service who earns about $49,000 a year, according to a union representative. Alice Paw, also 64, is a homemaker. The couple's grown children have jobs ranging from account manager at a software company to "attendance liaison" at a local public high school. One is listed on campaign records as an executive at a mutual fund.

The Paws' political donations closely track donations made by Norman Hsu, a wealthy New York businessman in the apparel industry who once listed the Paw home as his address, according to public records. Mr. Hsu is one of the top fund-raisers for Mrs. Clinton's presidential campaign. He has hosted or co-hosted some of her most prominent money-raising events.

People who answered the phone and the door at the Paws' residence declined requests for comment last week. In an email last night, one of the Paws' sons, Winkle, said he had sometimes been asked by Mr. Hsu to make contributions, and sometimes he himself had asked family members to donate. But he added: "I have been fortunate in my investments and all of my contributions have been my money."

Mr. Hsu, in an email last night wrote: "I have NEVER asked a single favor from any politician or any charity group. If I am NOT asking favors, why do I have to cheat...I've asked friends and colleagues of mine to give money out of their own pockets and sometimes they have agreed."

See details on political donations5 from the Paw family, Norman Hsu and a handful of Mr. Hsu's business associates in New YorkLawrence Barcella, a Washington attorney representing Mr. Hsu, said in a separate email: "You are barking up the wrong tree. There is no factual support for this story and if Mr. Hsu's name was Smith or Jones, I don't believe it would be a story." He didn't elaborate.

A Clinton campaign spokesman, Howard Wolfson, said in an email: "Norman Hsu is a longtime and generous supporter of the Democratic party and its candidates, including Senator Clinton. During Mr. Hsu's many years of active participation in the political process, there has been no question about his integrity or his commitment to playing by the rules, and we have absolutely no reason to call his contributions into question."

Kent Cooper, a former disclosure official with the Federal Election Commission, said the two-year pattern of donations justifies a probe of possible violations of campaign-finance law, which forbid one person from reimbursing another to make contributions.

"There are red lights all over this one," Mr. Cooper said.

There is no public record or indication Mr. Hsu reimbursed the Paw family for their political contributions.

For the 2008 election, individuals can donate a maximum of $4,600 per candidate -- $2,300 for a primary election and $2,300 for a general election -- and a total of $108,200 per election to all federal candidates and national political parties.

Six members of the Paw family list this house in Daly City, Calif., as their address.
In the wake of a 2002 law that set those limits, federal and state regulators and law-enforcement officials said they have seen a spike recently in the number of cases of individuals and companies illegally reimbursing others for campaign donations. Those cases don't necessarily implicate the candidates, who sometimes don't even appear to be aware of such payments executed on their behalf.

The 2002 law also raised penalties for infractions and included the prospect of prison sentences for offenders for the first time. That increased incentives for the FEC and federal prosecutors to investigate and prosecute infractions. Since the law was enacted, the FEC has collected millions of dollars in fines for illegal donations, including its largest-ever penalty, a $3.8 million levy against Freddie Mac last year.

According to public documents, Mr. Hsu once listed his address at the Paw home in Daly City, though it isn't clear if he ever lived there. He now lives in New York, according to campaign-finance records, on which he also lists a half-dozen apparel companies as his employer. In the campaign-finance forms, Mr. Hsu lists his companies as Next Components, Dilini Management, Because Men's Clothes and others.

He is on the board of directors of the New School in New York. News stories in the mid-1980s said he criticized trade policies that made it harder to import goods from China.

Mr. Hsu is also a major fund-raiser for Mrs. Clinton and other Democrats. When Democrats won control of Congress in November, he threw a party at New York City hot spot Buddakan with many prominent party leaders. Press reports said that toward the end of the night, he grabbed the microphone from the deejay and shouted: "If you are supporters of Hillary for President 2008, you can stay. Otherwise, get out."

Mr. Hsu has pledged to raise $100,000 or more for Mrs. Clinton, earning the title of "HillRaiser" along with a few hundred other top financial backers of her campaign. Earlier this year, he co-hosted a fund-raiser that raised $1 million for Mrs. Clinton at the Beverly Hills, Calif., home of billionaire Ron Burkle. He is listed as a co-host for another Clinton fund-raiser next month in northern California.

The Paw family is just one set of donors whose political donations are similar to Mr. Hsu's. Several business associates of Mr. Hsu in New York have made donations to the same candidates, on the same dates for similar amounts as Mr. Hsu.

On four separate dates this year, the Paw family, Mr. Hsu and five of his associates gave Mrs. Clinton a total of $47,500. In all, the family, Mr. Hsu and his associates have given Mrs. Clinton $133,000 since 2005 and a total of nearly $720,000 to all Democratic candidates.

The Paw's Daly City home is a one-story house in a working-class suburb of San Francisco. On a recent day, a coiled garden hose rested next to a dilapidated garden with a half-dozen dried out plants. The din of traffic from a nearby freeway was occasionally drowned out by jumbo jets departing San Francisco International Airport.

William and Alice Paw are of Chinese descent. The entire family got their Social Security cards in California in 1982, according to state records. All but one of the Paws registered to vote as "nonpartisan." A San Mateo County elections official said that members of the Paw family vote "sporadically."

No one in the Paw family had ever given a campaign contribution before the 2004 presidential election, according to campaign-finance reports. Then, in July 2004, five members of the family contributed a total of $3,600 to the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat. Five of the checks were dated July 27, 2004. About the same time, Mr. Hsu made his first donations to a political candidate, contributing the maximum amount allowed by law to Mr. Kerry in two separate checks, on July 21, 2004, and on Aug. 6.

From then on, the correlation of campaign donations between Mr. Hsu and the Paw family has continued. The first donations to Mrs. Clinton came Dec. 23, 2004, when Mr. Hsu and one Paw family member donated the then-maximum $4,000 to her Senate campaign in two $2,000 checks, campaign-finance records show. In March 2005, the individuals gave a total of $17,500 to Mrs. Clinton.

Since then, Mr. Hsu, his New York associates and the Paw family have continued to donate to Democratic candidates. This year, Alice Paw and four of the Paw children have donated the maximum $4,600 to Mrs. Clinton's presidential campaign.

A Deniers Confession

This article on global warming is behind the "subsription" firewall at the Wall Street Journal, so I reprint it in full.
The recent discovery by a retired businessman and climate kibitzer named Stephen McIntyre that 1934 -- and not 1998 or 2006 -- was the hottest year on record in the U.S. could not have been better timed. August is the month when temperatures are high and the news cycle is slow, leading, inevitably, to profound meditations on global warming. Newsweek performed its journalistic duty two weeks ago with an exposé on what it calls the global warming "denial machine." I hereby perform mine with a denier's confession.

I confess: I am prepared to acknowledge that Mr. McIntyre's discovery amounts to what a New York Times reporter calls a "statistically meaningless" rearrangement of data.

But just how "meaningless" would this have seemed had it yielded the opposite result? Had Mr. McIntyre found that a collation error understated recent temperatures by 0.15 degrees Celsius (instead of overstating it by that amount, as he discovered), would the news coverage have differed in tone and approach? When it was reported in January that 2006 was one of the hottest years on record, NASA's James Hansen used the occasion to warn grimly that "2007 is likely to be warmer than 2006." Yet now he says, in connection to the data revision, that "in general I think we want to avoid going into more and more detail about ranking of individual years."

I confess: I am prepared to acknowledge that the world has been and will be getting warmer thanks in some part to an increase in man-made atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. I acknowledge this in the same way I'm confident that the equatorial radius of Saturn is about 60,000 kilometers: not because I've measured it myself, but out of a deep reserve of faith in the methods of the scientific community, above all its reputation for transparency and open-mindedness.

But that faith is tested when leading climate scientists won't share the data they use to estimate temperatures past and present and thus construct all-important trend lines. This was true of climatologist Michael Mann, who refused to disclose the algorithm behind his massively influential "hockey stick" graph, which purported to demonstrate a sharp uptick in global temperatures over the past century. (The accuracy of the graph was seriously discredited by Mr. McIntyre and his colleague Ross McKitrick.) This was true also of Phil Jones of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, who reportedly turned down one request for information with the remark, "Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?"

I confess: I understand that global warming may have negative consequences. Heat waves, droughts and coastal flooding may become more intense. Temperature-sensitive parasites such as malaria could become more widespread. Lakes may be depleted by evaporation. Animal life will suffer.

But as Bjorn Lomborg points out in his sharp, persuasive and aptly titled book "Cool It," a warming climate has advantages, too, and not just trivial ones. Though global warming will cause more heat deaths, it will also mean many fewer cold deaths. Drought may increase in some areas, but warming also means both more rain and longer growing seasons. Temperature changes will harm some wildlife in some places. But many species will benefit from a bit more warmth. Does anyone know for certain that the net human and environmental losses from global warming will exceed overall gains?

I confess: Denial never solves anything. But neither does sensational and deceptive journalism.

Newsweek illustrates this point by its choice of cover art -- a picture of the sun, where the surface temperature hovers around 6,000 degrees Celsius. Given that the consensus scientific estimate for average temperature increases over the next century is a comparatively modest 2.6 degrees, this would seem a rather Murdochian way of convincing readers about the gravity of the climate threat. On the inside pages is a photograph of a polar bear stranded on melting ice. But the caption that the bears are "at risk" belies clear evidence that the bear population has risen five-fold since the 1960s. Another series of photographs, of a huge Antarctic ice shelf that quickly disintegrated in 2002, suggests the imminence of doom. But why not also mention that temperatures at the South Pole have been going down for 50 years?

I confess: It's easy to be indifferent to far-off and diffuse threats. It's hard to work toward solutions the benefits of which will not be felt in our lifetime.

Then again, if Americans are not fully persuaded of the dangers of global warming, as Newsweek laments, don't chalk it up to the pernicious influence of the so-called deniers and their enablers at ExxonMobil and Fox News. Today, global warming is variously suggested as the root cause of terrorism, the conflict in Darfur and the rising incidence of suicides in Italy. Yet the 20th century offers excellent reasons to be suspicious of monocausal explanations for the world's ills, monomaniacs intent on saving us from ourselves, and the long train of experts predicting death by overpopulation, resource depletion, global cooling, nuclear winter and prions. Also, hypocrites. When we are called on to bike to work, permanently abjure air travel, "eat locally" and so on, we expect to be led by example, not by a new nomenklatura.

I confess: Though it may surprise those who use the term "denier" so as to put me on a moral plane with Holocaust deniers, I have children for whom I would not wish an environmental apocalypse.

Yet neither do I wish the civilizational bounties built up over two centuries by an industrial, inventive, adaptive, globalized and energy-hungry society to be squandered chasing comparatively small environmental benefits at gigantic economic costs. One needn't deny global warming as a problem to deny it as the only or greatest problem. The great virtue of Mr. Lomborg's book is its insistence on trying to measure the good done per dollar spent. Do we save a few lives, at huge cost, as a byproduct of curbing global warming? Or do we save many, for less, by acting on problems directly?

Some might argue it is immoral to think this way. Maybe they are the ones living in denial.

"Reporting is Easier When You Don't Worry About the Facts:" Wallace vs. Moyers.

Chris Wallace slams Bill Moyers for misreporting on Karl Rove's Christianity.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Rereading Vietnam

From the I doubt if the Virginian Pilot would understand.
In December 1967, a prisoner was dumped in Day's cell on the outskirts of Hanoi, known as the Plantation. This prisoner's legs were atrophied and he weighed under 100 pounds. Day helped scrub his face and nurse him back from the brink of death. The fellow American was Navy Lieutenant Commander John Sidney McCain III of the Panama Canal Zone. As his health improved, McCain's rants against his captors were sometimes as ferocious as Day's. The North Vietnamese tried and failed, through torture, to get McCain to accept a release for their own propaganda purposes: The lieutenant commander was the son of Admiral John McCain Jr., the commander of all American forces in the Pacific. "Character," writes the younger McCain, quoting the 19th century evangelist Dwight Moody, "is what you are in the dark," when nobody's looking and you silently make decisions about how you will act the next day.

In early 1973, during a visit to Hanoi, North Vietnamese officials told Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that they would be willing to free McCain into his custody. Kissinger refused, aware that there were prisoners held longer than McCain, ahead of him in the line for release. McCain suffered awhile longer in confinement, then, once freed, thanked Kissinger for "preserving my honor." The two have been good friends since. McCain blurbs with gusto Bud Day's memoir. The senator writes: "I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the dimensions of human greatness."
There is little sense here that the war was lost. While historians cite 1968 as a turning point because of the home front's reaction to the Tet offensive, the My Lai massacre, and the protests at the Democratic party convention in Chicago, on the ground in Vietnam, 1968 marked a different trend: William Westmoreland was replaced by Creighton Abrams, population security rather than enemy body counts became the measure of merit, "clear and hold" territory replaced the dictum of "search and destroy," and building up the South Vietnamese Army became the top priority. "There came a time when the war was won," even if the "fighting wasn't over," writes Lewis Sorley, a West Point graduate and career Army officer, in A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam (1999). By the end of 1972, Sorley goes on, one could travel almost anywhere in South Vietnam in relative security, even as American ground forces were almost gone. Retirees I know in the armed forces affirm how much more benign an environment South Vietnam was during this period than the Iraq of today. Still, as one veteran told me: Everyone has different memories of Vietnam, depending upon where they served, and what time they were there.

Sorley's book was reviewed prominently by the major liberal newspapers and foreign policy journals. They gave it generally respectful write-ups, a sign of a reassessment of Vietnam based less on ideology than on paying more attention to the second half of a war: a period to which, as Sorley notes, Stanley Karnow's Vietnam: A History (1983) devotes only 103 out of 670 pages, and Neil Sheehan's Pulitzer Prize-winning A Bright Shining Lie (1988) devotes 65 out of 790 pages. Sorley told me he isn't sure what would have happened had Congress not cut off aid to South Vietnam at about the time the ground situation was at its most hopeful. He felt that a respectable case might be made that it would have survived. His book has seen a rise in sales among military officers eager to know how the ground situation in Iraq might be improved to the level it had been in Vietnam, thanks to Gen. Abrams's change of strategy.

A similar thesis emerges in The Battle of An Loc (2005) by retired Army Lt. Col. James H. Willbanks, who describes a 60-day siege in mid-1972, in which heavily outnumbered South Vietnamese troops and their American advisors (including himself) rebuffed several North Vietnamese divisions. This gave Nixon the fig leaf he needed for a final withdrawal. Optimism then might not have been warranted, but it wasn't altogether blind. Lt. Col. Willbanks said he wrote his book, published by Indiana University Press, for the same reason Sorley did: to give more attention to the second half of the war.

By all means, let's not have another debate on Viet Nam, right? The MSM has its story and is sticking to it. [sarcasm]

UPDATE: Victor Davis Hanson in NR Online:
In all the hysteria over the Bush Vietnam evocation, people are losing their sanity. Now those in Vietnam are being dragged out and quoted by the mainstream media to prove Bush’s lunacy. But what are subjects of a police state supposed to say — “I wish our present Communist dictatorship had lost”? Do we think Cubans routinely give widely publicized interviews criticizing their Castroites — and live?

Who is sicker, Vick or PETA?

PETA has its headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia. Ingird Newkirk, its leaders is a morally reprehensible transplanted Englishwoman. This article explains why.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) wants the NFL to "add cruelty to animals -- in all its forms -- to its personal conduct policy." What, for PETA, is "cruelty to animals -- in all its forms"? According to its Web site, we should not eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment or abuse animals in any way.

So PETA's problem is well beyond the sick and cruel murdering of these creatures of which Vick and others are allegedly guilty. Dogfighting for entertainment, or any other use of animals for entertainment, is itself, for PETA, cruelty.

If it's relevant to look for any kind of logic here, why would it be decent entertainment to watch hulks of men ram the daylights out of each other as they move a ball across a field, but cruel to watch dogs fight? Why would the NFL sign on to such a thing?

More specifically, among PETA's prohibitions, is the use of animal skins. The ball, as in football, is an inflated leather object endearingly called the "pigskin."

Why does PETA oppose existing NFL conduct policy, and not football itself?

J.C. Watts, Chuck Colson and others have asked why abuse of dogs is outrageous to so many who see no similar outrage in the 800,000-plus abortions that occur in the United States each year. At the most intuitive level, there is something unsettling about an attitude for which abuse of a dog is intolerable, but women destroying their unborn children with impunity is not a problem.


Again I wonder. PETA is untroubled by pornography, the unapologetic exploitation and marketing of human flesh, but explains that we should not eat fish because they "are smart, interesting animals with their own unique personalities." The blogger says Jameson is "beautiful, inside and out."

The UFC -- Ultimate Fighting Championship -- where Jameson's boyfriend fights, consists of "mixed martial arts," where fighters do violent battle, for popular entertainment, using the full array of martial-arts forms. The PETA blogger obviously enjoys this sport and calls Ortiz "my favorite UFC fighter."

PETA provides material on its Web site to explain the rationale of the "animal-rights" concept that drives its worldview. "When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness, and fear, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy," says PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk.

For more extensive exposition, the site refers to the writings of Princeton philosopher Peter Singer, author of "Animal Liberation."

Now Singer has written on a great deal more than animal rights. He's the author of "Practical Ethics," in which he offers his justifications for euthanasia, abortion and infanticide.

According to Singer, parents should be permitted to kill a baby born with a tragic illness or defect. In "Practical Ethics," he argues that "... the fact that a being is a human being, in the sense of a member of the species Homo sapiens, is not relevant to the wrongness of killing it; it is, rather, characteristics like rationality, autonomy and self-consciousness that make a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings, or any other self-conscious beings."

Thus, through a long and twisted road of logic, beginning with one man's own premises about existence, we are led to a conclusion that killing animals is an outrage, but an infant, not.

PETA's logical shortcomings are really a function of it's purposes. These are primarily the financial well being of Ingrid Newkirk and the moral preening of her acolytes.

Oh, by the way, did I mention that PETA kills kittens and puppies? For some reason, it has not found a reason to euthanize Ingird Newkirk.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Y2K glitch kills "Global Warming"; Mosquitos hardest hit

"JohnHuang2" at FreeRepublic blows up the global warming myth with great good humor. Because FreeRepublic is labelled a "hate site" by my corporate masters, I reproduce the essay in full.

Y2K glitch kills "Global Warming"; Mosquitos hardest hit

At this rate, liberals will have to go back to being hysterical about global cooling. According to NASA's new and improved climate history data for the continental U.S., 5 of the 10 warmest years on record happened before World War II. Now the record for hottest babe was 1934, not 1998; the third hottest year was 1921, behind 1998. Four of the Top 10 hottest are from the 1930s. In the last 10 years, only 3 -- '98, '99 and '06 -- made it to the Top 10. It's now pretty clear that NASA's original data was compiled by Scott Thomas Beauchamp.

Under NASA's revised figures, the years 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2004 are further down the list of 'warmest years' than 1900. According to renowned climatologist Al Gore, it should be the other way around. He and his pals had insisted 9 on the top 10 were from the last 12 years -- especially given the massive CO2 emissions during this period from the fleet of jets and gas hogs Gore uses to preach about the evils of jets and gas hogs. In light of the new numbers, Gore's new warning: Sign Kyoto, or the coming years will be hotter than 1934!

NASA's error was detected, not by the rocket scientists at NASA, but by some chap who runs the site -- Stephen McIntyre. McIntyre discovered a weird jump in the data going from 1999 to 2000. The NASA hotshots refused to hand over the algorithm used to produce graph data, but, no big deal, MyIntyre reverse-engineered it and "the result appeared to be a Y2K bug in the handling of the raw data," (, 8/9). This is known technically as a programming bug caused by programmers taking a short cut back when the Internet got invented by Al Gore.

McIntyre swiftly notified the NASA honchos, and NASA swiftly responded scientifically by plugging their ears and singing la, la, la, la, la, la, la. The figures on NASA's Web site eventually got revised but very quietly. The revision was such a blow to global warming, even the press almost noticed it.

Showing they're open to new facts, the warmonutters insist their berserk idea of man-made global warming is still true because (a) Gore did a movie about global warming; (b) the press writes lots of articles every day about global warming; (c) Gore does slideshows about global warming and, anyway, the Gore flick is based on global data, not just U.S. climate data which scientists worldwide use as the basis for their predictions which means liberals will need another handy excuse once the global data gets revised as well because of the U.S. data glitches.

Consider the idiocy of liberals insisting the revision is no big deal: U.S. capitalism is evilly scorching the entire planet, burning up every corner of the Earth -- except for that corner of the Earth where the U.S. is. Or, global warming is happening everywhere except the U.S. -- allegedly the biggest producer of global warming, which makes all the weather gods very angry.

Global warming is a "scientific" theory that isn't scientific and isn't even religious either. Religious folks can roll out more than a smattering of evidence to back their faith, but with the warmonutters, the less evidence for it, the more they believe. There is zero evidence to back man-made global warming. Climate history shows the Earth is cooler now than it was back in the 13th century, during the early life and career of Helen Thomas. Earth was even hotter than that 5,000 years ago -- with polar bears already having a rough go of it from notorious Bronze Age washing machines, SUVs and fat-cat Amorites flying around in jets. If you look at the scientific evidence, "climate change" always happened naturally in the past, so warmonutters conclude "climate change" is man-made. If you whip out a graph plotting temperatures going back to the year 1880, most of that increase of 0.7 of a degree Celsius that liberals get hysterical about happened way before industry really started cranking out the cars and planes, then suddenly the temp line drops once the calender flips to 1940, when the cars and planes really start rolling out, which shows CO2 isn't calling the shots as far as "climate change" goes -- proof CO2 drives all "climate change" if you're a warmonutter.

But hold on, there's more. The beloved "Hockey Stick" Gore uses in his splendidly cheery little movie to show catastrophic, cataclysmic, devastating, ruinous, disastrous, slaughterous global warming ended up getting discredited by the same McIntyre fellow who just busted the NASA bull-hockey stick, so lbbies respond by having famed meteorologist Madonna prancing on stage at Live Earth. Speaking of aging has-beens, a bunch of NOAA's "reliable" temperature measurement stations reliably sit right next to machinery at sewer treatment plants, mega A/C heat exchangers, exhaust fans, trash burn barrels, airport tarmac, jet blast, fireplace chimneys, hot automobile radiators, buildings, dumpsters and inside asphalt parking lots -- which shows global warming is man-made after all!

The theory is so discredited, it gets a load of research dough. Newsweek complains hysterically that a "well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks and industry has created a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change." Yawn. The "contrarians" who blindly accept the facts have gotten a total of $19 million so far, the warmonutters have raked in over $50 billion. Fog-wise, the "contrarian" heretics got the bigger bang for the buck, and you're not even factoring the 'round-the-clock warmonutter agipoop from Newsweek & Co. into the game.

The lesson in all this is that you can have the research grants, the press, taxpayer-funded universities, a prancing Madonna and Hollywood pimping global warming, but even the best-laid pimping can go awry if facts get in the way. Polls show about half the country thinks the warmonutters have gone bananas. Too alarmist, calm down, scaredy-cat. In Gore's flick, sea levels rising by 20 feet and flooding the costal areas -- this is the "global wetting" phase -- doesn't even rate believable fiction, and fiction is what it is. And how long have we been hearing about the polar bears? Yet the history of climate change shows that climates come, climates go, but the polar bears you always have with you.

And even had the absurd Kyoto treaty got muscled through and it's two ton phone book-sized wish-list of suffocating emissions targets, regulations, national caps, guidelines, rules, curbs and cuts got dumped on every capitalist running-dog "polluter" not exempted under the treaty, for lopping off a sizable chunk of GDP all you get by 2050, Gaia willing, is a temperature reduction of 0.07C. Big deal.

Liberals still got the hots for communism -- the little darlings tried for 70 years to make it work in the Soviet Union. Like global warming theory, the more it failed, the more they believed. So if bringing on the workers' paradise is your bag, global warming/Kyoto is what you glom onto now as your great hobby horse. But if sledgehammers chipping off pieces of the Berlin Wall is how the whole thing eventually came down, Stephen McIntyre just took a big swing at global warming.

Anyway, that's...
My Two Cents...

The Huffington Post Calls For A Military Coup

Martin Lewis calls on General Peter Pace to replace George Bush.

But don't you dare call them unpatriotic. (Or call it a "coup.")

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Newt Gingrich on Islamofascism

When Gingrich came to Norfolk and gave bloggers here a half hour of his time, this is what he spoke about. Yet the jerk from the Virginian Pilot, Richard Quinn, only got the color of his tie right.

Killing fields then and now

The Democrat/Liberal/Media Axis has been comparing Iraq to Viet Nam for years. Making the case that we should not have gotten involved, predicting our defeat and working actively – as they did during the Viet Nam war - to bring that defeat about.

That is what is so curious about the Axis’ reaction to President Bush’s reference to Viet Nam in his speech to the VFW.

For a hard-to-top example of pure unmitigated gall, the editorial in the Virginian Pilot of August 24th is a sterling example.

The president’s decision this week to compare the wars in Iraq and Vietnam isn’t about the lessons of history, or the danger of insurrection and guerilla tactics. It is about feeding red meat to a political base grown anemic on a diet of bad news from the Middle East.
In other words, the blood of millions of people in southeast Asia belongs to an America unwilling to fight there forever.
The certainty of reopening old wounds is precisely what the White House wants. At a time when the nation should be focusing on what to do next in Iraq, the administration is hoping Americans can be diverted by another political sleight-of-hand to keep its mistakes from showing.

Don’t be fooled, and don’t be baited. America is too busy fighting in Iraq to be fighting again over Vietnam.

The Pilot Editors and the rest of the Axis seem to believe they have the exclusive right to the Viet Nam narrative and will be damned if they want us interlopers discuss the topic they have stolen as their own. Well, Mr. Editor, it doesn’t work that way anymore since the media monopoly was broken.

You may want to see what your “Born fighting” Senator Webb has to say about how Viet Nam went down:

This Congress was elected in November 1974, only months after Nixon's resignation, and it was dominated by a fresh group of antiwar Democrats. One of the first actions of the new Congress was to vote down a supplemental appropriation for the beleaguered South Vietnamese that would have provided $800 million in military aid, including much-needed ammunition, spare parts and medical supplies.

This vote was a horrendous blow, in both emotional and practical terms, to the country that had trusted American judgment for more than a decade of intense conflict. It was also a clear indication that Washington was abandoning the South Vietnamese even as the North Vietnamese continued to enjoy the support of the Soviet Union, China and other Eastern bloc nations. The vote's impact was hardly lost on North Vietnamese military planners, who began the final offensive only five weeks later, as the South Vietnamese were attempting to adjust their military defenses.

Finally, the aftermath of Saigon's fall is rarely dealt with at all. A gruesome holocaust took place in Cambodia, the likes of which had not been seen since World War II. Two million Vietnamese fled their country — usually by boat — with untold thousands losing their lives in the process. This was the first such diaspora in Vietnam's long and frequently tragic history. Inside Vietnam a million of the South's best young leaders were sent to re-education camps; more than 50,000 perished while imprisoned, and others remained captives for as long as 18 years. An apartheid system was put into place that punished those who had been loyal to the United States, as well as their families, in matters of education, employment and housing. The Soviet Union made Vietnam a client state until its own demise, pumping billions of dollars into the country and keeping extensive naval and air bases at Cam Ranh Bay.

You don’t own the Viet Nam narrative any more, and the bodies of the slain in the aftermath of the debacle your engineered are being exhumed and brought to your doorstep.

Even William Shawcross, who wrote the book “Sideshow” excoriating the US for the Cambodian genocide had second thoughts and admitted:

Those of us who opposed the American war in Indochina should be extremely humble in the face of the appalling aftermath: a form of genocide in Cambodia and horrific tyranny in both Vietnam and Laos. Looking back on my own coverage for The Sunday Times...,I think I concentrated too easily on the corruption and incompetence of the South Vietnamese and their American allies, was too ignorant of the inhuman Hanoi regime, and far too willing to believe that a victory by the Communists would provide a better future. But after the Communist victory came the refugees to Thailand and the floods of boat people desperately seeking to escape the Cambodian killing fields and the Vietnamese gulags. Their eloquent testimony should have put paid to all illusions.

And what was the dominant Axis theme before the horrors began? What were they predicting?

…the barbaric nature of the Communist Khmer Rouge was painted over in soothing tones by much of the American press. The New York Times was the most flagrant offender. In one dispatch, its correspondent Sydney Schanberg described a ranking Khmer Rouge leader as a "French-educated intellectual" who wanted nothing more than "to fight against feudal privileges and social inequities." A bloodbath was unlikely, Schanberg reported: "since all are Cambodians, an accommodation will be found." As the last Americans were withdrawn, another upbeat article by Schanberg appeared under the headline, "Indochina Without Americans: For Most, a Better Life." In short order, the Khmer Rouge proceeded to march nearly two million of their fellow Cambodians to their deaths in the killing fields. Also in short order, Schanberg went on to greater glory and a Pulitzer prize.

And from Senator Webb's own website:

"Vietnam should teach us an important lesson. Hanoi [is creating] a collectivist society . . . likely to produce greater welfare and security for its people than any local alternative ever offered, at a cost in freedom that affects a small elite." -- Stanley Hoffman
The New Republic
May 3, 1975

"The greatest gift our country can give the Cambodian people is not guns but peace. And the best way to accomplish that goal is by ending military aid now." -- Rep. Chris Dodd (D., Conn.)
Congressional Record
March 12, 1975

"It is ironic that we are here at a time just before Vietnam is about to be liberated." -- Producer Bert Schneider
Academy Awards
April 8, 1975

If I were an editor of the Virginian Pilot or any other member of the Axis, I would quickly shut up about Viet Nam. You no longer have the monopoly power to dominate the way people are allowed to think about that horrific war and it’s even more horrific aftermath. The news is no longer pre-digested and delivered by the ABC/CBS/NBC members of the Axis. And you are making yourself look stupid by pretending that your recollections of your part in this crime were anything but ignoble.

Bush speech to VFW

Dean Barnett comments:
How dare he! In his speech to the VFW the other day, George W. Bush had the audacity to compare the current struggle to the Vietnam War. What was he thinking? Doesn’t he know that the left has the exclusive franchise on Vietnam analogies? The President may well be hearing from the Democratic Party’s attorneys in the coming days.
The most serious consequence of the American left’s Vietnam-era behavior was the death and destruction it caused for our allies. However aging leftists and their spiritual descendants try to spin it, images of Vietnamese boat people, the fall of Saigon and the Cambodian killing fields indelibly mar the image of the American political factions that enabled those tragedies. So here we stand today, over thirty years later, with the American left still madly grinding away trying to airbrush the consequences of its Vietnam-era behavior from the national memory the way Stalin’s apparatchiks airbrushed Trotsky from the Soviet history books.

THE PRESIDENT DEFINITELY HIT A NERVE. Today, the Boston Globe and the New York Times both editorialized on what they consider the true record of Vietnam. The Globe took its unique version of amoral cowardice out for a spin, writing, “It would have been better to surrender South Vietnam to the North Vietnamese communists in the early 1960s than to engage them in a struggle that cost 58,000 American and millions of Vietnamese lives before it ended in 1975 with the same result: victory for Hanoi and the suppression of non-communist opposition in the south.”

That’s a classic strawman argument. There was another choice that the Globe doesn’t deem fit to mention – we could have stayed the course in Vietnam until the South had become sustainable, just as we had done in South Korea a couple of decades earlier.


The true error of Vietnam wasn’t the decision to stand up and fight evil. The real sin was abandoning our allies to certain death in 1973. If you go back to the Globe’s editorial, you’ll notice that the deaths of tens of thousands of people and the imprisonment of an entire society are blithely written off with the glib one-word summation “suppression.” Perhaps the Boat People or the prisoners of the re-education camps could come up with a more descriptive term.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Politics of God

As the Western world becomes increasingly secular, there is a popular misconception that religion is unnecessary to a good society. In fact, many atheistic intellectuals would argue that religion, specifically Christianity (which is their historical birthright) has been an evil influence in history, citing the Crusades, various religious wars and the Inquisition.

Unfortunately, their belief system is insupportable. Modern society is still infused with Christian dos and don’ts and is mere generations away from a time when the value of religious faith was a universal assumption; an axiom built into popular understanding of the structure of a moral and just society.

The village atheist may reject God and the entire pantheon of biblical characters who inform the lives of ordinary people, but he cannot escape the effects of these beliefs in the real world.

There have been, to be sure, experiments in creating societies that were officially atheist; the Soviet Union and Communist China come to mind, but these are not the sort of examples that atheists wish to emulate in detail. The results were not good.

Wretchard of the Belmont club explores this issue in a very readable and learned essay. The analysis is based on an article in the NY Times Magazine by Mark Lilla, professor of the humanities at Columbia University.

At first humanity's traditional habituation to God provided assurance that man would never be left wholly alone with his inner temptations. Some guideposts would surely remain. "Religion is simply too entwined with our moral experience ever to be disentangled from it, and morality is inseparable from politics." But that underrated the ambition of the ideologues. Once God had left the room the stakes went too high: and God's vacant throne glittered irresistibly before them. The natural impulse of demagogues was not, as Rousseau might have thought, to retain God as an absent, but beneficent Constitutional Monarch in whose extended absence Parliament ruled. For ambitious men the goal was to supplant the Creator altogether the better to rule on earth as gods.


A Europe shattered and disillusioned by the Great War turned again to religion; but not to the Christianity they had recently rejected; but instead to the new European world-faiths of the 20th century. Nazism and Communism were the proudest creations of post-Christian Europe. They were faiths whose missionaries would proselytize everywhere and make converts as far afield as Vietnam and China. Faiths under whose banners structures greater than cathedrals would be filled with chanting adherents; faiths whose patriarchs greater than Popes would rule; pitiless religions where not thousands, but hundreds of millions would be burned at the proverbial stake. The shadows of Hobbes' candle had taken form and their names, bright with blood, were written across the pages of the Second World and Cold Wars. In the end, Europe emerged exhausted from the carnage wrought by her intellectual products; faithless, and incredulous to see Islam glaring at it from the Other Shore; full of the very certitudes they had recently forsaken. Lilla says Westerners do not understand Muslims; but only because they have forgotten what it is like to be them: to slay or be slain for one's belief. Lilla does not guess whether Islam will itself undergo its own version of a Great Separation. The question for him is where a faithless West, needing a reason to exist, must go from here:

What is troubling is that a growing faithlessness in the West is now facing a fanatical faithfulness in the form of militant Islam. And the question is whether a society that has no basic religious belief system will be submerged by one that does. Like the Dutch Bishop who proposed that Christians should begin referring to God as “Allah.” After all, if you believe all religion is fantasy, what does it matter if you pretend to believe in other people’s fantasies if the alterative is death?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

National Intelligence Estimate - Iraq

You can find a long excerpt of the NIE on NR's Corner.

I am really not interested although others seem to have a need to dissect it and use it for their own purposes.

The fact is that I have no faith at all in the ability of the Intelligence Community to provide useful analysis or guidance.

They failed to detect the 9/11 attack.

They wrote off Anbar province a year ago. Now it's a success story.

Their analysis has obviously been no help in providing us guidance in the war after 4 years.

The CIA appears to be institutionally opposed to the Bush administration and invested in failure in Iraq.

Sorry folks, your product is worthless and not worth reading. Events on the ground are the only thing that counts. Your guesses and mine, along with a couple of bucks will get you a coffee at Starbucks.

Robert Spencer Defends Himself Against John Derbyshire

John Derbyshire and Robert Spencer have engaged in a polite debate about the differences between Islam and Christianity and dangers to civilization.

having read both essays, (and acknowledging that I am a Christian) I believe that Robert Spencer has the much better argument.

Go HERE for Derbyshire.

Spencer begins:
John Derbyshire seems to think that since, in his view, Islam and Christianity are equally preposterous, they are equally likely to incite violence: “Mohammed’s flying through the air to Jerusalem on a white steed is no more preposterous than the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception; and so, God’s instructions to us through Mohammed are no more or less likely to make us better or worse than his instructions through Christ.”

Huh? “And so”? One thing is unbelievable, and so is another, and therefore they’re of equal moral value? Come now. I myself find National Socialism no more preposterous than Shakerism – does that mean that National Socialism is no more or less likely to make us better or worse than Shakerism? Does Derbyshire really want to get behind the idea that if something doesn’t ring true to him, it is therefore benign, or at least no more or less benign than some other farrago? I don’t think he does, even as he calls the whole exercise “infantile,” since he also says that he finds my “brief against Islam” to be “persuasive.”

Read both essays and decide for yourself.