Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bad Research

While we're on the subject of expertise, here's this. A research-type takes on the latest CBS poll that shows the administration's approval ratings hovering somewhere between atrocious and non-existent:

My second thought is that even though the news is bad, this poll continues to be problematic. Here are several reasons:

· I believe the survey is among adults and not voters. In political polling no one cares about what adults think. They care only about what registered voters think. I can’t find data suggesting that this survey is anything BUT a survey of adults. CBS and most news orgs poll adults instead of reg. voters for two reasons (a) it costs less and (b) it makes the data more Democratic.

· The data set itself is dramatically more Democrat. It’s 28% Republican and 37% Democrat AFTER they weighted Republicans UP. In other words, the sample was even more Democrat when it came back. In fact, Democrats were 40% of the sample and Republicans were only 27%. Someone clearly knew having a sample that was 40-27 would be a tip-off, so they weighted Dems down into the 30%s in order to avoid extreme criticism. Why is the sample so Democrat? One reason may be because almost every question bangs the President and I would guess that the hang ups they get are vastly more Republican than Democrat. Think about it. Why would a Republican sit on the phone and answer loaded anti-Bush questions for 15 minutes?

· The survey is NOT being done for actual opinion research, but is being done for headlines. Most of the work I have done for 10 years – probably 90% of it – is NEVER released publicly. It isn’t being written for headlines, it’s being written to get the truth about how people feel. This survey is mostly done to zing Bush, Cheney and Republicans generally.

· Many of the questions are AWFUL. Q54 is an excellent example:

"Q54 After 9/11, President Bush authorized government wiretaps on some phone calls in the U.S. without getting court warrants, saying this was necessary in order to reduce the threat of terrorism. Do you approve or disapprove of the President doing this?"

Does this accurately capture what he authorized? NO!!!!!!! It leaves out the fact (intentionally) that these were calls originating or ending internationally. Any respectable pollster would have included this information – or at the very least split sample the question and given this information to half of the sample to see its impact.

The un-named professional is, according to the Corner, an employee of Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates, Inc.

A word of encouragement

To Michael at Christian Conservative on his latest venture.

Agreement at the highest levels

Karl Rove agrees with me. He just doesn't know it. In an echo of my opening statement here, Karl Rove--in what was one of today's biggest under-the-Big-Media-radar stories--agrees with my assessment of the blogosphere:

Rove considers Memogate a watershed in the rise of the alternative media.

“The whole incident in the fall of 2004 showed really the power of the 'blogosphere',” he said in his West Wing office.

“Because in essence you had now, an army of self-appointed experts looking over the shoulder of the mainstream media and bringing to bear enormously sophisticated skills,” he added.

Still, Rove cautioned that the Internet’s political potential has a darker side.

As I said, the blogosphere has put a powerful tool of communication into the hands of experts. A dangerous combination and one that will only continue to trouble organizations and individuals who don't do the work to get it right in their reporting.

I got nuthin'

Go read Bill Roggio again on the not-yet-Civil-War in Iraq. When you're done with that, read some more. The guy is good.

From the horse's mouth

Paul Hackett speaks about his scuttled Senate campaign:

Was I screwed? Maybe, but that's life. There were a lot of political machinations, mostly behind the scenes. Much made its way into the press, including an ugly whisper campaign regarding my service in Iraq perpetrated by Brown. Brown has denied this, but county party chairmen told me about the rumors and where they were coming from. Brown had initially told me he would support my Senate campaign but then changed his mind. Again, a clash of cultures. That's politics. But that's not me. My word is my bond.

Schumer and Reid, the guys who said my country needs me, had a change of heart. There was never any explanation given. Schumer, in particular, actively sought to undermine my insurgent campaign, in part by calling up my donors and telling them not to raise money for me, which is like a doctor cutting off oxygen to a patient. He also worked through others to get state and local politicians to publicly urge me to quit.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Editorial disagreements

To say the least.

In some quarters, this editorial from Editor-in-Chief William F. Buckley was big news. Though I personally am not sure how--Buckley was never really on board to the extent that other big name conservatives have been.

Meanwhile, today at NRO, the editors write this: If Iraq ever descends into a real civil war, we won't have to debate whether it has happened. It will be clear for all to see. The military will dissolve into ethnic factions, and the government will collapse. That hasn't happened, and so declarations of defeat in Iraq — of the sort our founder and editor-at-large William F. Buckley Jr. made last week — are pre-mature. That view could ultimately be proven right, but there is no way to know with certainty at this point. Throughout the Iraq war, NR has tried to temper the rival fatalisms of the Iraq optimists and pessimists. Victory in Iraq has never been inevitable or impossible. The outcome depends, as is always the case, on the choices made by the players, including ourselves. Even if our influence in Iraq is waning, our commitment — and the specific forms it takes — still matters very much. Defeatism will be self-fulfilling.

Who says conservatives brook no disagreement? Anybody else have a hard time imagining The Nation printing a pro-Administration piece that congratulated them on...anything?

Obligatory Sports Post

Watching the Celtic-Laker game on ESPN Sunday night was a nice treat. In Arizona my opportunities for Laker watching were severely limited. While they're somewhat better here, our choice of satellite over cable still presents an obstacle; we have no LA stations, no Fox Sports programming so my Laker watching is limited to the occasional ESPN or national ABC game, something that is few and far between.

The most frustrating player on the court, in my mind, was Lakers Center, Chris Mihm. Mihm has the tools to be a 20-10 guy on any given night. What he lacks is consistency. Take last night for example:

4 pts, 1 reb, a block and 3 personal fouls in 13 minutes.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Civil War?

You decide.

In the affirmative, Rep. John Murtha: I've said for the last few months it's a civil war and our troops are targets caught in the middle. If we had 100 Iraqis and seven Americans killed in the last couple days, that's just an indication of how bad things have gotten: we've lost the hearts and minds of the people.

They now have elected officials, it was their election, we've got to let them know we're going to get out, we're not going to be occupiers, and they have to settle this themselves.

(Note: That's the entire analysis. Somehow that post generated 331 comments BTW.)

In the negative, Bill Roggio (bio): But the media has not asked or answered the following question: what exactly are the leading indicators for a full blown civil war - meaning the political leadership of the main Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish parties no longer wish cooperate, and an open and organized battle between the parties ensues?

The following list contains the main lead indicators a full scale civil War in Iraq is underway:

• The Shiite United Iraqi Alliance no longer seeks to form a unity government and marginalize the Shiite political blocks.
• Sunni political parties withdraw from the political process.
• Kurds make hard push for independence/full autonomy.
• Grand Ayatollah Sistani ceases calls for calm, no longer takes a lead role in brokering peace.
• Muqtada al-Sadr becomes a leading voice in Shiite politics.
• Major political figures - Shiite and Sunni - openly call for retaliation.
• The Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party and Muslim Scholars Association openly call for the formation of Sunni militias.
• Interior Ministry ceases any investigations into torture and death squads, including the case against recently uncovered problems with the Highway Patrol.
• Defense Minister Dulaimi (a Sunni) is asked to step down from his post.
• Iraqi Security Forces begins severing ties with the Coalition, including:
o Disembeddeding the Military Transition Teams.

o Requests U.S. forces to vacate Forward Operating Bases / Battle Position in Western and Northern Iraq
o Alienates Coalition at training academies.

• Iraqi Security Forces make no effort to quell violence or provide security in Sunni neighborhoods.
• Iraqi Security Forces actively participate in attacks on Sunnis, with the direction of senior leaders in the ministries of Defense or Interior.
• Shiite militias are fully mobilized, with the assistance of the government, and deployed to strike at Sunni targets. Or, the Shiite militias are fully incorporated into the Iraqi Security Forces without certification from Coalition trainers.
• Sunni military officers are dismissed en masse from the Iraqi Army.
• Kurdish officers and soldiers leave their posts and return to Kurdistan, and reform into Peshmerga units.
• Attacks against other religious shrines escalate, and none of the parties make any pretense about caring.
• Coalition military forces pull back from forward positions to main regional bases.

Iraq has yet to encounter any of the problems stated above. The Sunni led Iraqi Accordance Front has suspended talks to form a government, but have not withdrawn from the political process. The Iraqi Security Forces have taken appropriate measures and suspended all leaves, but there are no indications they are cooperating with militias or abetting the violence in any way. There have been both encouraging statements by the Shiite and Sunni leaders. There also have been some irresponsible statements from the politicians on all sides, but this can be understood as tensions are running high. The Shiites are devastated by the destruction of the Golden Mosque and the Sunnis are horrified at the retaliation attacks. What is critical is what is said and done by these politicians in the next few days and weeks.

That was on Thursday the 23rd. From today, the 26th: It appears the violence in the aftermath of Wednesday's attack in Samarra is unpopular, and Sadr senses this. He may very well be under real pressure from the Iraqi government and Grand Ayatollah Sistani, his political and clerical rival who wields far more power than Sadr. Richard Hernandez sums up Sadr's switch quite aptly, “Sadr's about-face suggests he wants to distance himself from a failed enterprise... This suggests the civil war crisis has been beaten down for now.”

Saturday, February 25, 2006

People in the Know #3

Hugh Hewitt credits this interview with author Robert Kaplan for moving him closer to an endorsement of the Port deal. In listening to it, I understand why.

Kaplan has a birds-eye view of the region because he's spent countless month's in the Persian Gulf, Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11. Such colors his understanding of this deal and the region in general. He makes the case for why this deal is OK in a matter of minutes that the administration hasn't made in a week:

HH: Now with that background, does the control of the ports issue, the sale of these ports operations, not security, to United World Ports of Dubai, does it concern you?

RK: I mean, to the degree that the U.S. can still be in control of personnel working there, and security, I have no problem with Dubai's competence at running a port as well or better than we do. And it's part of the process of globalization, and at this point, if you tell them no, simply because they're Arabs, you're going to lose a lot more in the Arab world than you'd ever gain by a marginal improvement in security. And I think the security issue can probably be gotten around without tearing up the contract.

HH: What is that security issue in your mind, Robert Kaplan?

RK: It's about control of who the personnel are who have access to the port, and to the security procedures that govern the port, and have access to the people who control who goes in and out of the secure areas.

HH: So there is a security issue. You just view the cost of killing the deal as too high?

RK: Yes. Absolutely.

HH: Well, that's the argument the administration...

RK: If the security issue is manageable...

HH: Go ahead.

RK: The security issue is manageable, and the people...and there's very few countries in the world who've done as much so impressively as the Maktoum family in Dubai.

HH: Tell me a little bit about al Qaeda and Dubai. Is it there?

RK: Well, it has to be there, because it's an...Dubai has an open financial system, which is why it's so efficient in the first place. And one of the costs of having an open, free banking system in the heart of the Middle East, is you're going to have some bad apples.

HH: And do those bad apples pose a threat of penetrating Dubai World Ports, and that position?

RK: I don't think so. I don't think so, and the key thing here is that the Dubai government has always been totally helpful to us, in terms of penetrating those bad apples.

HH: I hope you'll write something about this, Robert Kaplan, on your return flight.

RK: Yes, also, something else. We have United Arab Emirates Special Forces in Afghanistan. It's called SOTF, a combined joint Special Operations Force in Afghanistan when I was there. The word combined was there, because there were other countries other than our own, including Laxia and the United Arab Emirates.

HH: When you get back, expect a phone call from the administration asking you to appear, because you just did in seven minutes a lot more than they have in seven days.

I'm there already and as I've pointed out, people in positions to know are saying there is no reason--least as much as has been portrayed by Congressional critics and others--that this deal can't happen. In fact, it should possibly happen only because of what we gain in continued cooperation from the U.A.E.

People in the Know #2

The other day I posted about 'expert' opinion on the DWP deal. I quoted, at length, Alistair McNab, president of the Greater Houston Port Bureau.

Yesterday, Tom Bevan of RealClearPolitics wrote a post at the RCP Blog that echoes the same sentiments. The money quote, in my opinion, comes from Mr. Steven Pinney:

"The national uproar is not correctly stated in my opinion," said Steven Pinney, senior vice president for operations with The Mosaic Co., who was appointed to one of two new positions on the expanded port board. "Very few have gotten to the core of the real story.

"It's been made out to be an issue of [P&O under new ownership] taking over ports or taking over security of the ports, and none of those are real issues."

I especially also like how Bevan took on Congress' intentional-stupidity on the issue. Read that for yourself and decide if he's right.

In the meantime, I'm like Tom; dying for someone to start discussing the real point of the matter.


This is not the place to live if you don't like spiders. They're everywhere. Inside, outside.

Leave anything outside and 5 minutes later it's got a spider-web on it.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Posturing about Ports

I'm becoming more and more convinced that while there are legitimate details needing to be discussed about the DWP deal, that Congress--on both sides--is preening.

I just heard a Chuck Schumer quote that made me want to reach through the radio and throttle him. It's irresponsible to make such comments because they obscure the truth about port security and displays a serious lack of understanding of the details.

Revisiting Alistair McNab: They're going to be operating a terminal as a tenant," McNab said. "The Port Authorities are still in charge. I've seen these statements that Dubai Ports World is 'taking over' these ports. The statements in my view are designed to inflame passions rather than to give the truth. There are so many misstatements it's breathtaking."

Through the GHPB, McNab has worked with other maritime associations to internationalize maritime security regulations. He said that critics of the plan don't seem to get it. "The U.S. Coast Guard has taken the lead on port security not just in the United States but around the world since the Homeland Security Act in 2002. It hasn't just been U.S. legislation, but International Maritime Organization (IMO) legislation which paralleled the new U.S. security paradigm. The world standards through the IMO were driven by the U.S. Coast Guard. We got just about everything we wanted regarding port cargo and personnel security. It's not just the U.S. --the whole world is on the same page. It doesn't matter if it's a port in New York or Dubai or Sydney-- we all comply with the same regulations. There is worldwide enforcement. We feel quite pleased that the U.S. took a leadership position in enacting the kind of international security regime we envisaged. All that was done through the Department of Homeland Security but particularly through the U.S. Coast Guard."

The USCG takes a lead role not just in setting security standards, but enforcing them. It collects a mind-boggling amount of data on all vessels, cargo and crew entering the United States, which is then subjected to a deep analysis. If anything seems out of line, the USCG boards the vessel before it gets anywhere near a port. In his article, Sanger includes the oft-cited statistic that "Only 4 percent or 5 percent of those containers [entering the U.S.] are inspected." But that statistic only applies to the containers that are randomly inspected by Customs above and beyond any containers triaged out of the supply chain because their documentation has raised a red flag or they come from someplace like Gaza and deserve extra scrutiny. And to randomly inspect a much larger percentage would incur economic losses in excess of the potential benefits of checking out every container of tube socks bound for Wal Mart.

The fight is being fought thousands of miles from any of the 6 US ports being discussed in this deal. It's being fought in the ports of origination in Asia and other exporters, not on the docks in Newark, NJ.

As pointed out by Mansoor Ijaz, the U.A.E.--regardless of what they did before--have been a very helpful ally in the post 9/11 war on terror: Whatever the UAE's policies in the pre-9/11 world (whether as home to A. Q. Khan's illicit nuclear network, one of three Taliban embassies, questionable banking practices, or as an alleged repository for Iranian-terror funds), Dubai's record under these young leaders in the post 9/11 world reflects serious and structural change in national strategy.

Lastly, consider this: If you're afraid about an Arab corporation working at port facilities on the East Coast of the United States, then you should be afraid right now, because for years there has been a Kuwaiti corporation that's been involved right here in the port of Newark in the port of New York and there has been no incident.

Preening and posturing ruins debates. People in positions of importance like Schumer ought to know some of these details before they open their mouths.

Not exactly Bonnie & Clyde but...

Lompoc police have arrested a man who--as described by Chief of Police Bill Brown--represents the “most prolific robber on the Central Coast in more than a decade.” The man, John Putnam, is charged with robbing 10 banks between the southern SLO County city of Arroyo Grande and Camarillo in western Ventura County in the last 5 months:

Brown announced Thursday that John Putnam, 38, of Lompoc had been arrested on suspicion of robbing 10 banks - from Arroyo Grande to Santa Maria to Port Hueneme - and trying to rob two others, including one in Lompoc.

Putnam was being held Thursday on $137,500 bail in the Lompoc jail on suspicion of bank robbery.

The investigation into these robberies involved upwards of 8 different law enforcement agencies: the police departments of AG, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Port Heuneme, the Santa Barbara and Ventura County Sheriff's as well as the FBI.

Ultimately however, Brown says the difference wasn't law enforcement. Rather, the difference was community co-operation: According to police, a major breakthrough in the case came from a tipster who recognized the suspect in police photos. Pictures taken by bank surveillance cameras showed that the robber usually wore a baseball cap and sunglasses.

“This is a classic case of citizens and police working together,” Brown said.

Putnam apparently was unemployed and living in the Willows Mobile Home Park. Officials weren't clear on the relationship between he and the homeowner.

This was a fairly interesting saga here on the Coast. It's end is a little disappointing almost, at least as far as the drama of it all goes. An unemployed guy living in a trailer park who never pulled a gun just isn't very glamorous.

And Good Riddance!

Sunday marks the end of the month of February on the 2006 Advertising calendar. I won't be sad to see it go.

It started with this, and continued with this:

I'm sitting at work this afternoon and get a call from the Account Supervisor on one of my largest client accounts. This story has been brought to his attention--all the way in New York--through feedback from a local store. He's curious to know exactly what the piece was and who originally published it.

He wondered as well whether we had or were planning to discuss the story in our pages. Branding issues, no doubt.

I was able to address his questions and when I got off the phone I wondered exactly why I had bothered. Seeing as how he explained we've been dropped from the corporate buy for '06.

In-between, came $10,000 in revenue lost to re-rating. Sprinkle in a smattering of accounting adjustments and order cancellations and the month has become a nightmare.

Before I left for the day, I did some quick math. That Account Supervisor who tried to pump me for local intel? His account spent $43K with us in February 2005.

Even with scaled back spending from year-to-year, that account was the difference between 103% of goal and not-even-in-the-same-ZIP code.

Obligatory Sports Post

Radio meets Hoosiers...sort of...in the tale of New York teen Jason McElwain.

Good for you, Jason!

Destination: Moronica

Moronica…that lovely tropical, lush and utterly ridiculous liberal fantasy-land is attracting new residents by the day it seems. This week’s newest residents come to us from Santa Barbara.

Courtesy of MoveOn.org about 100 protestors converged on the Downtown Santa Barbara post-office in demonstration against the President and the NSA surveillance program:

About 100 people gathered on the steps of the downtown Santa Barbara post office on Wednesday night to protest the wiretapping of American citizens by the federal government.

The 6 p.m. event, one of many across the country sponsored by the left-leaning MoveOn.org, was punctuated by calls for President Bush's impeachment by former Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson.

One Santa Barbara resident, Marilyn Berman, was apparently drawn into the protest while simply driving by: [she] was driving home from work on Anacapa Street when she saw the knot of protesters toting candles and signs bearing messages such as "Honk 4 Impeachment." She parked and joined them.

During a speech by Santa Barbara City Councilman Das Williams -- who's running for the 2nd District county supervisor's seat -- Ms. Berman called someone on her cell phone.

"There's this little rally by the post office. They're talking about impeaching Bush and everything," she told the person on the phone, shortly before being shushed by a protester. "It's awesome."

It’s awesome alright; an awesome example of rhetoric overshadowing any of the reasonable arguments for or against the program that should be made in it's place. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 dollars. Go directly to super-heated, over-the-top rhetoric. Wait though; it gets better.

Santa Barbara resident and scholar Robin Doer oozes the essence of Moronica in her summation of the evening’s events:

Santa Barbara resident Robin Doer said she was moved by Ms. Jackson's words.

"I think it's great that people are finally -- finally -- standing up against the hypocrisy," said Ms. Doer, who said she just completed a doctoral degree at UCSB. "It parallels what happened in Hitler's rise."

That is absurdly wrong. Wrong and irresponsible. Wrong because as a matter of simple fact, there are no parallels in modern America to Hitler’s Germany, regardless how many times people on the left imply it; Irresponsible because it is so over-the-top that it obscures any and all discussion that should be going on over the wisdom and legality of the NSA program.

I put Ms. Doer and folks like her in with the Clinton-hating conservatives of the 1990’s. They accused him of murder, drug-trafficking and all kinds of other improprieties without much in the way of proof, denigrating the office of President in the process.

Likewise, some even predicted that Clinton would suspend the 2000 elections indefinitely if Y2K-related issues were severe enough. Such rhetoric was absurd and irresponsible.

So are Ms. Doer and her fellow travelers. But then again, this is Moronica.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Why war sucks

How do you tell your twin sons that daddy isn't coming home when they're too young to understand the concept?

When in doubt

Bash Oil companies. Come on...everybody's doing it!

Liann in Lompoc is not happy about the proposed Burton Ranch development sitting between Harris Grade Road and the Village. From what I can tell, based on her letter alone, the problem is not the housing development but that said development is benefiting PXP Oil:

So, what is Lompoc getting out of the deal? As it stands, Lompoc will earn the benefits of local property taxes, a park, school, and fire station. These so called benefits are simply what is required of a developer when they build a development of that size. Wake up Lompoc, aren't we giving enough of our money to oil companies each day as we fill our tanks, with some of the most expensive gas in the state, so that our community can drive off for jobs that are elsewhere?

Lompoc should be asking PXP what they are going to do for Lompoc. Perhaps a few suggestions to the city officials and PXP might include: building a much-needed treatment center for the rampant meth problem in our community, building transitional homes for the increasing number of homeless families living in the hotels and shelters, or providing the city with a shelter to care for the growing number of foster care children who are having to leave their hometown and schools because of a lack of available homes.

Liann is our newest resident of Moronica.

People in the Know

One of the great things about blogs is how they bring expertise in all sorts of fields straight to you at home or in your office. Often some of the best analysis in politics and sports and other important areas of life are occurring here in the blogosphere and not in your local newspaper or weekly magazines.

In such situations, knowledge and immediacy are combined in a way that gives the blogs impact. To wit, I give you Stephen Spruiell at NRO and this post on the DWP port deal:

Alistair McNab, president of the Greater Houston Port Bureau, said, "The total lack of understanding displayed has been unconscionable."

"They're going to be operating a terminal as a tenant," McNab said. "The Port Authorities are still in charge. I've seen these statements that Dubai Ports World is 'taking over' these ports. The statements in my view are designed to inflame passions rather than to give the truth. There are so many misstatements it's breathtaking."

Through the GHPB, McNab has worked with other maritime associations to internationalize maritime security regulations. He said that critics of the plan don't seem to get it. "The U.S. Coast Guard has taken the lead on port security not just in the United States but around the world since the Homeland Security Act in 2002. It hasn't just been U.S. legislation, but International Maritime Organization (IMO) legislation which paralleled the new U.S. security paradigm. The world standards through the IMO were driven by the U.S. Coast Guard. We got just about everything we wanted regarding port cargo and personnel security. It's not just the U.S. --the whole world is on the same page. It doesn't matter if it's a port in New York or Dubai or Sydney-- we all comply with the same regulations. There is worldwide enforcement. We feel quite pleased that the U.S. took a leadership position in enacting the kind of international security regime we envisaged. All that was done through the Department of Homeland Security but particularly through the U.S. Coast Guard."

The USCG takes a lead role not just in setting security standards, but enforcing them. It collects a mind-boggling amount of data on all vessels, cargo and crew entering the United States, which is then subjected to a deep analysis. If anything seems out of line, the USCG boards the vessel before it gets anywhere near a port. In his article, Sanger includes the oft-cited statistic that "Only 4 percent or 5 percent of those containers [entering the U.S.] are inspected." But that statistic only applies to the containers that are randomly inspected by Customs above and beyond any containers triaged out of the supply chain because their documentation has raised a red flag or they come from someplace like Gaza and deserve extra scrutiny. And to randomly inspect a much larger percentage would incur economic losses in excess of the potential benefits of checking out every container of tube socks bound for Wal Mart.

We can all agree that profiling makes sense, right? And we get angry when we see little girls getting hassled at airports, don't we? So why are we suddenly attacking a port-security regime that applies a more rigorous set of rules to any cargo coming from suspicious destinations and refuses to overdo random inspections?

Food for thought. While we chew on that, consider how bloggers can find these people while Big Media cannot.

Bi-partisan stupidity

Normally when I talk about stupid political rhetoric, I'm usually talking about Democrats.

Just so we're all clear, I'm an equal opportunity kind of guy. And to prove it, I give you Congresswoman Sue Myrick, R-North Carolina:

Dear Mr. President:

In regards to selling American ports to the United Arab Emirates, not just NO - but HELL NO!


Sue Myrick

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A port in any storm

I'm kinda like this guy at the Corner:

I found Rummy's presser yesterday interesting. Apparently our Aircraft Carriers regularly make port call in the UAE and are serviced supplied etc. Apparently we have excellent military to military cooperation with the UAE including selling them US made aircraft etc.

Gen Pace Joint Chiefs said that the UAE lets us use their airspace, bases, helps maintain the bases. Apparently they have done that even during war time when we really need it with no hassles.

It may be that the Administration insiders have long come to terms with the conflict that comes from all the above positive info (there is much more) with the fact they the UAE do not recognize Israel.

It seems that the W team has comprehensively bungled the internal and external sales effort on this. The underlings may have not realized how sensitive the issue would be and did not plan and execute a full sales and communication plans that alerted the top players in all the depts.

Given that actual security is still the responsibility of the US Gov. Agencies, Coast Guard, Customs etc. and that we berth our Carriers in the UAE, fight wars in the Mid east with UAE help, I think it's hard to argue that this port deal is unacceptable.

My mind is still open and ready to absorb more facts. Given what I know so far I think this is a sales and PR disaster but the merits of the matter don't seem nutty.

There's no imaginary-universe in my mind where a President could be as poor a communicator as this one is.

Meanwhile, all kinds of folks have waded into this debate from all sides with all kinds of rhetoric.

Michelle Malkin takes on supporters of the deal.

Mansoor Ijaz at NRO takes on the deal's detractors: Washington's bout with Islamophobia also ignores the reality of Dubai's future direction. A metropolis already, it is rapidly becoming the prototype city-state that could serve as an important example for the future in Muslim societies bedeviled by high unemployment, low literacy rates, bad trade policies, and authoritarian political structures. It is managed and led by a cadre of young, highly educated Arab and Muslim professionals who seek to transform the world's stereotype of Islam by developing and running businesses transparently, with integrity and with an increasingly democratic and accountable corporate culture.

Whatever the UAE's policies in the pre-9/11 world (whether as home to A. Q. Khan's illicit nuclear network, one of three Taliban embassies, questionable banking practices, or as an alleged repository for Iranian-terror funds), Dubai's record under these young leaders in the post 9/11 world reflects serious and structural change in national strategy.

Hugh Hewitt looks at the nuts-and-bolts in an interview with Admiral Craig Bone of USCG, and the Director of Port Security in the Maritime Safety, Security, and Environmental Protection Directorate:

As I expected, Admiral Bone is an impressive expert on port security and confident of the ability of the Coast Guard to maintain port security no matter which company runs the ports. He was a candid and obviously informed expert on the operations that Dubai World Ports will assume if the deal goes through.

But he does not allay my concerns that the overall burden on the security forces has to increase when a foreign company based in an Arab country with a significant history of al Qaeda operations takes over a port. The Admiral correctly points out that American security depends on extending our borders out far beyond our geographical borders in terms of intelligence collection and cooperation with friendly allies like the UAE.

Still confused? Good, I'm not the only one.

More Scenes from The Middle of Nowhere

Is that a word?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

My Dogs are Smarter (Or, about Dealing Dogs)

Earlier this evening I caught the premier airing of HBO's documentary Dealing Dogs:

Four years in the making, DEALING DOGS follows the undercover investigation of Martin Creek Kennel by the animal rights group Last Chance for Animals. A young man who goes by the name of "Pete" in the film wore a hidden camera while he worked a low- level job hosing kennels at the dog dealer. Over the course of six months, Pete secretly filmed activities at Martin Creek Kennel, including the beating and shooting of dogs, and recorded footage of animals that were left to languish in their kennels and suffered from malnourishment, life-threatening disease and injury, among other abuses. Dog corpses are shown piled up on the property and in trenches after being butchered for their organs.

I'm not an animal-rights activist. I think PETA is out of their ever-loving, collective mind.

Even in the face of something rotten like this, I pride myself in keeping perspective. Animals are not people; while it is difficult to imagine the effects of "medical research" on dogs and cats, the simple fact is that such is less grievous than seeing people die or suffer with conditions that can be helped through such work.

Having said that though, this film made me want to be sick. Seeing a wanton disregard for the animal's well-being, the abusive treatment of defenseless dogs made me angry. Very angry...

My dogs are smart; they are also very lucky. Tonight they'll get an extra treat and a few more minutes with dad. I think I need it even more than they do.


On the way to work this morning I was caught somewhat by surprise to learn that New Times editor Jim Mullin had resigned. Publisher Bob Rucker has insisted that the timing has nothing to do with the publication and resulting backlash over the "Meth Made Easy" piece published earlier in the month. How that is possible though, I have no idea.

Area radio host Dave Congalton reported yesterday that Mullin resigned on Friday: Word came out around town today that Jim Mullin, controversial New Times editor, has resigned after less than two months on the job. Mullin, as you may recall, lived in Miami, yet edited our weekly alternative newspaper from home, raising more than a few eyebrows in the process.

While surprising to learn, Mullin's 'tele-editing' at least answers the question about how an editor could be so tone-deaf about the market he serves as to run such a piece. Congalton also pointed out a couple of weeks back that Mullin has a history of similarly poor judgment and/or bad behavior:

But more importantly is (2) Who exactly is Jim Mullin? He's listed as the new editor of New Times and he came on board in January with zero fanfare. I don't know Mr. Mullin and I have nothing against him personally, but I believe there are at least three examples that suggest he is a bad fit for the job. Keep in mind that Mullin doesn't even live on the Central Coast. He lives in MIAMI, FLORIDA and tele-edits.

Anyway, the examples. First, I ask you to go Google "Jim Mullin Miami New Times" and see what you find. Mullin was forced to step down as editor of Miami New Times last August following a PUBLIC UPROAR (sound familiar?) because his paper outted a local public official. Following the publication, the man killed himself. Do the research yourself.

Congalton also today posted a letter, ostensibly from Mullin to SLO Tribune staffer Leslie Griffy that reveals a snarky and near-bitter man. I stick by my assessment, one echoed by Congalton, that Mullin is only sorry for the backlash and not for his poor judgment:

Many thousands of copies of that February 2 issue were stolen by individuals who, in their roles as self-appointed community censors, decided that others should not have the opportunity to read the story and make their own judgments as to its merits. Yet we heard nothing from the Tribune about this brazen abridgement of New Times’s First Amendment right to publish the story and the public’s right to read it. Does the Tribune condone the confiscation of publications that contain controversial material? Would the Tribune sanction the theft of its own papers under similar circumstances?

The Tribune, it seems, has arrived much too late for this party. That should embarrass its editors and reporters, but not as much as the paper’s shameful silence in the face of actions eerily and frighteningly reminiscent of book-burning in Nazi Germany. A Constitutional right in which the Tribune has a vital interest was trampled in its own back yard, and what was the response? Silence.

True, but so not the point.

The New Times faces a difficult road in winning back readers and advertisers (if reader response is emblematic of real opinion). Surprisingly, I would find myself agreeing with Congalton's analysis: The community has a vested interest in New Times succeeding. We need that alternative voice. Let's hope for better days ahead.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Scenes from The Middle of Nowhere

A few miles outside Nowhere, Arizona.

Things that make you go, "Hhhmmm."

After two hours on the road Friday morning, we made a quick pit stop near my childhood home. The place doesn't look anything like the town I grew up in, but I had noticed in the past that they'd finally joined the 21st century when Starbucks went in right near the freeway.

We pulled in to grab a coffee and hit the restroom. While I waited for my wife, I perused my once-local newspaper and saw an interesting headline or two:

A man who showed up unannounced Thursday at a Navy base gate sporting a serious rash and skin lesions sparked a long quarantine and fears of smallpox before health authorities determined it was only chickenpox, officials said.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Whose idea was this anyway?

I don't normally watch This Week on Sunday mornings. In the day it was my preference for Sunday talkers--David Brinkley was smart and always fair and his panel was always entertaining. What George Stephanopoulos has done to the program need not be mentioned here, it's been chronicled elsewhere. What I wonder is how a Katrina vanden Huevel gets a seat at a table where people--anyone!--are trying to discuss serious issues!

Vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation is an outspoken liberal and has no compunction about stating her opinion on all-things Bush related. I don't know if she's a regular or rotating guest exactly. Frankly, I don't care, but she was the guest panelist today with the George's and Cokie Roberts.

The panelists gathered after Stephi's interview of Michael Chertoff, discussing Dick Cheney's week and the Congressional findings on Hurricane Katrina. Hearing her speak, I at least now understand where some of the buffoons at ESPN get their schtick.

She pontificated on multiple occasions about Dick Cheney's shooting last week as grand metaphor for the super-secretive Bush Administration (standard left-wing blog fare) to the point that George Will had to slap her down with some common sense commentary about politicians and the accidents that happen to them. Honestly, I got the impression as I watched Will based on his face and body language that in a less-polite setting he'd have blasted her for the nonsensical rhetoric she was spouting. I know I would have.

The point that got me however was a few minutes later when Stephi brought up the Palestinian elections, whereupon she began a long rant which began with, "We've witnessed the abject failure that is the Bush Administration foreign policy..." to describe the President's vision of a ME transformed by democracy.

Utter ridiculousness in light of 3 elections in Iraq last year, the freest elections in Egypt in decades and the Cedar uprising last spring. She points out that Hamas in charge is not a good result for the United States (which it isn't) and uses it as a club to bash the administration.

What she doesn't acknowledge is that democracy isn't easy and you don't always get everything you want. Her rhetoric begged a question that no one asked her on this topic: what would she say if the Administration had backed a results-specific policy aimed at promoting a "free" election with a favored winner?

She wants her cake and to eat it too. But then I shouldn't be surprised by someone who publishes stuff like this.

Mucking around in mire

Read this and be disgusted.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Just in case...

we invade Iran on the basis of non-compliance with the demands of the international community regarding it's nuclear ambitions and we get to Tehran and find no nuclear weapons stockpiles, but only "nuclear weapons program activities," and the opposition cries foul because of cherry-picked intelligence, bogus intelligence and outright lies by the U.S. Administration, let's just try to remember that this was said by a French nuclear negotiator prior to the war:

"No civilian nuclear program can explain the Iranian nuclear program. It is a clandestine military nuclear program," Douste-Blazy said on France-2 television.

On the road again

Sim has been on the road this week. I hit the road this morning.

My grandfather's 95th birthday is today and we'll be celebrating with the rest of the family at his home in Kingman. We certainly expect it to be a different kind of celebration this time around, in light of recent events.

So just when you thought it can't get quieter or darker around here, it just might. Though I have it on good authority that Sim has some surprises tucked up his sleeve for the weekend.

Apology or Apologia? (Part II)

The New Times-SLO continues to face criticism and a loud and vociferous negative reaction to it's story published two weeks ago now on Meth. To the point that the paper was forced to respond last week to the growing outrage.

In part I, while primarily addressing the papers 'apology' for running the story, I touched on the negative reaction they've received:

The negative reaction has continued and grown in the week since in both numbers and strength. More importantly for the New Times (and also for their sister pub the Santa Maria Sun though to a lesser degree) it has extended itself to include their advertising roster.

So what exactly have people been saying? A lot. Editor Jim Mullin's apology was followed by pages of short letters sent to the New Times in reaction to their piece. Here is a sampling:

--The article had no redeeming value and was nothing more than an abuse of power in order to push the limits of decency. I can’t begin to tell you how incredibly insensitive and irresponsible the article was. I sincerely hope that all of you who allowed and supported this article feel the wrath of the community that trusted your publication into our homes and businesses.

Chris (a 21 year old reader who fits nicely in the 'alternative' weekly demo)

--as a result of your article and your editor’s decision to run this article, I can no longer tacitly recommend it as a reference for my courses. Until the editor or publisher of New Times retracts support of the publication of this article, I will also urge any business I patronize to discontinue distributing the paper.

San Luis Obispo

--As owner and general manager of Robin’s Restaurant, I am really torn about continuing to advertise with New Times. I will see what your next issue is all about, then decide. I feel I cannot support a newspaper that does not promote the well-being of our society by printing such articles like “Meth Made Easy.”

Shanny Covey

My personal favorite:

--As a card-carrying member of the ACLU and self-avowed liberal, I was extraordinarily disappointed in the poor judgment shown by the running of the meth cover story. This over-the-top and out-of-control journalism is exactly the kind of tripe the radical right uses to paint all liberals with a broad brush. I suspect this did not inflame as many conservatives who would blow this off as “one more example of liberals who are out of their minds” as much as it infuriates those of us who agree strongly with many of the views you espouse in New Times. But this article is one that goes past freedom of speech and into an area of decency and general community welfare. I still do not understand what your intent was in writing and publishing such a piece. To promote very liberal and radical views, I applaud. To promote something like the manufacturing, use, and sale of meth is another thing altogether. Shame on you.


--As a parent and a business person in SLO County, I am outraged at “Meth Made Easy.” I will no longer be advertising in your newspaper, nor will I ever read it again. If your original theory was to make people aware of the problem and educate them to save their lives, you blew it! All you’ve done is give a detailed lesson on how to manufacture and make money with methamphetamine (providing the person can keep it together).


--This time you did it. You have alienated me from your paper. I’m done with New Times. I’ve been reading your paper for the fun, intelligent reporting and entertainment for more than 15 years. I have really enjoyed it, but now I must stop. You have chosen to venture too far off the deep end. I’m very liberal, but I also have children I’m trying to raise, and I want to keep SLO a safe, healthy community. I can’t have New Times around since you seem to have no sense of responsibility at all. Thank you very much for all the great times, but see ya! And tell your advertisers I’ll miss them.


--As the SLO city police chief, I don’t often comment on stories in the New Times, but your article “Meth Made Easy” was so outrageous it demanded a response. The article was completely irresponsible. Your reporter not only glamorized the use of this extremely dangerous drug, but presented a primer on how to manufacture and use it.

Deborah Linden, chief of police
City of San Luis Obispo

I've quoted several responses from readers who are also advertisers in the paper; there were several others that I did not quote. And then there was this. When I originally posted that, it was more of a window-into-my-work with a-witty-close.

The fact remains though that account people for large advertisers are hearing about this and taking appropriate steps to guard their clients dollars. The Cingular account supervisor that spoke to me, I'm certain, will not be the only one to make these kinds of inquiries and take action as a result and the New Times will suffer financially for their decision.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

What do media talk about when there's no story?

Dick Cheney's unfortunate hunting accident has produced a feeding-frenzy in Big media. As highlighted here by Mary Katherine Ham, it appears that the story is mostly about, well...them and why they didn't get the scoop 5 minutes after it happened.

At Tapscott's Copy Desk, Mark Tapscott elaborates on a Jay Rosen theory on the Bush Administration's approach to the press. A little thing Jay called "Rollback." In a nutshell, the Bush administration is happy to bypass the big media structures. In the context of Hunter-gate it goes like this:

Cheney called the local newspaper because, he said, he was more confident the resulting story would be accurate, based on an eyewitness account to a reporter with a history of playing it straight with that eyewitness.

"I thought that made good sense because you can get as accurate a story as possible from somebody who knows and understands hunting," Cheney told Fox News' Brit Hume. "Then it would immediately go up to the wires and be posted on the Web site, which is the way it went out. I thought that was the right call. I still do."

Unless one is prepared to argue a conspiracy theory - Cheney used the delay between the accident and when the call was made to the newspaper to shape what was said to the reporter and to local law enforcement authorities - it is clear Cheney thought a local newspaper was more likely to report the accident accurately than a confrontational, liberally biased White House press corps.

Taking up the case of Big Media, though not directly,--it's more of an anti-everything Bush Administration broad-brush approach--is Arianna Huffington in yesterday's "Cheney Talks, the Cover up continues". Frankly though, I think she'd have been better off titling it something along the lines of, "I don't have a %^$#*(@ clue what I'm talking about." But that's just me.

One thing she had going for her, she didn't bury the lead...the premise of the post is right there in the title--there's a cover up! Only, I've read it a couple of times now and I'm still not exactly sure what the cover up is. Or what is being covered-up. Or why anything needs to be covered up.

Lots of bitching about what the VP did and didn't do, but no sense of why. Or how it was somehow an ethical and moral lapse along the lines of selling your mother for your next load of dope.

Memo to Arianna, and Lawrence O' Donnell and David Gregory, et al: There's no story here. And since there's no story, there's nothing to hide. And since there is nothing to hide, there is nothing being hidden (a point underscored today when Kennedy County officials said they will file no charges of any sort for anything).

Enough of the insanity.

Revisiting Pappy

"Just name a hero, and I'll prove he's a bum."

I mentioned the University of Washington's snub of World War II ace and Medal of Honor recipient Greg "Pappy" Boyington early yesterday morning. The decision of the student government to reject building a memorial to the military hero is, in and of itself not the problem for me. What got me was the rhetoric.

--Student senator Jill Edwards, according to minutes of the student government's meeting last week, said she "didn't believe a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce."

--Senate member Karl Smith amended the resolution to eliminate a clause that said Boyington "was credited with destroying 26 enemy aircraft, tying the record for most aircraft destroyed by a pilot in American Uniform," for which he was awarded the Navy Cross.

Smith, according to the minutes, said "the resolution should commend Colonel Boyington's service, not his killing of others."

Such is clear evidence that the student leadership of UW has fallen victim to the mindset that afflicts many on the left; namely that killing, in any form in any context, is always wrong. Therefore any that kill in any way are not worthy of honor.

The picture above is a shot of Boyington in his later years, likely hawking his book there that you see in the box next to him as well as aviation photo's and drawings. My dad bought me a copy of Boyington's memoir as a Christmas gift in 1976.

He purchased it in a setting not dissimilar from the one pictured above, at the Camarillo airport one weekend. Like most young boys I knew of similar age I was a huge fan of the suped-up version of Pappy's story that was on TV every week so I gladly devoured the book.

The Gregory Boyington on the pages of the book bore little resemblance to Robert Conrad's hero. Pappy was a real hero, and like most real heroes he didn't start out to become one. In his own assessment of his fame, it rings loud and clear that he never thought of himself as any larger-than-life kind of figure.

He was just a guy who did what he had to do in the most difficult of situations. That's all.

The University of Washington's student government is well within their rights to approve memorials for whomever they like. They are not allowed, and should not however, dishonor heroes who sacrificed much for their country with stupidly-silly rhetoric like "a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What We're Dealing With, Part ___

If you needed any further proof that our European allies just don't get it on the topic of terrorism, I ask you to consider this. I heard about it on NPR on the way to the Cincinnati airport this afternoon and my jaw nearly dropped to the floorboard of my beuatiful Buick Rendezvous.

Ironically, Europeans decry the supremacy of the individual in American society when it comes to issues like wealth and poverty. And yet on matters of security, the individual reigns supreme in Deutschland. Wery Veird.

News from Hillary's Plantation

Tonight when I checked into my hotel in Atlanta, I flipped on the local news and they were discussing the results of a recent AP/AOL poll of African-Americans. The survey asked respondents to name America's "most important black leaders." The results were simultaneously surprising and not surprising.

What was not surprising was that Jesse Jackson was the top vote-getter with 15%. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, however, was a surprising runner-up, tallying 11%. Third place went to Colin Powell with 8%. Barack Obama (6%), Louis Farrakahn (4%), Oprah Winfrey (3%) and Al Sharpton (2%) rounded-out the top responses.

I guess it says quite a bit about the state of leadership in the African-American community and the fractured nature of the collective African-American mindset that the top responses totaled only 49%. Moreover, isn't it rather surprising that two of the top names were Republicans? Indeed, considering the electoral gulf separating black voters from the Republican Party, one might conclude that blacks don't consider Rice and Powell as meaningful representatives of their community. Yet here they are in the poll results.

And what of Barack Obama? A freshman Senator who has done literally nothing manages to garner 6%? How? Why? Is this like speculation? And Oprah? Sharpton? Farrakahn? Wow.

When Hillary Clinton race baits by implying that Republicans are anti-black, maybe she should be reminded of the Rice + Powell vs. Jesse + Obama + Farrkahn + Oprah + Sharpton comparison.

Apology or Apologia? (Part I)

Fallout for the New Times-SLO over their "Meth Made Easy" feature from last week was almost immediate. Central Coast news stations ran reaction pieces on the very evening the paper published. All featured negative reactions.

The negative reaction has continued and grown in the week since in both numbers and strength. More importantly for the New Times (and also for their sister pub the Santa Maria Sun though to a lesser degree) it has extended itself to include their advertising roster.

The overwhelming reaction to the story and the resulting fallout has prompted Editor Jim Mullin to issue an apology in this week's edition:

First an apology, then an explanation.

We deeply regret having provoked the community outrage that has been so forcefully expressed in response to last week's cover story, "Meth Made Easy." From throughout SLO County we received hundreds of angry letters and phone calls. Quite a number of you went to the trouble of visiting our office to voice your feelings in person.

Many faithful readers vowed never to pick up New Times again. Businesses that for years served as distribution points told us they no longer want the paper in their stores. Other businesses withdrew advertising. Some people vowed to launch a boycott of those advertisers who remain. Certain individuals took it upon themselves to confiscate copies of the paper -- many thousands of copies.

The message was as clear as it was consistent: The publication of "Meth Made Easy" strained to the breaking point a trust that had steadily developed over two decades. Trust is a precious and delicate commodity, and it is essential to the relationship between a community and any newspaper that would hope to serve it. Needless to say, we would never intentionally place that trust in jeopardy, just as we would never intentionally seek to harm the very community to which we belong.

The negative reaction to "Meth Made Easy" carried another, implicit, message: Thousands of people in San Luis Obispo County feel they have a stake in New Times, a personal investment strong enough to trigger immediate action. Simply dismissing a perceived transgression isn't enough; such an affront demands direct communication with those of us responsible for producing the paper each week. It's a sad irony that this loyalty to New Times would manifest itself under these circumstances. (Unfortunately the overwhelming volume of calls and letters prevents us from responding personally to each one.)

As editor I take full responsibility for publication of "Meth Made Easy," but I know I speak for the entire New Times staff in offering a sincere apology for the sense of betrayal felt by so many readers.

The heart of any apology is recognition of a wrong combined with an expression of regret over that wrong. Too often in modern America, an apology is nothing more than a regret over someone else's reaction to what you've done, not the expression of regret about that act.

Mr. Mullin's apology, unfortunately, takes that tack. The regret is over community anger, not the act that incited it. The apology is for the sense of betrayal felt by readers, not the act that betrayed readers' trust.

In evangelical Christian circles we'd say that Mr. Mullin is sorry, not for what he did, but for getting caught. I'd like to think otherwise but the text leads me to only that conclusion. From his apology, Mullin moves to an explanation of the paper's reasoning:

The impetus for exploring the methamphetamine phenomenon was the January 5 bust of a meth lab in Paso Robles. We noted the incident in a brief story the following week, but a larger question lingered: Despite the well-publicized dangers of meth, law enforcement agencies continually arrest people for making it and using it. In fact, those arrests have become so common they barely register on the radar of the Central Coast's media. But what did we really know about those 'laboratories'? Why were they so dangerous? What was actually going on inside?


We were amazed at several things: the ease of access to instructions for manufacturing meth, the relatively low cost involved, and the noxiousness of the ingredients, most of which can be found at local stores. All kinds of people may be trying meth these days, and as Alice noted in her story, "everyone, users included, knows that regular meth use can do horrible things to the mind and body." But are those users (and potential users) aware of exactly what chemicals they're ingesting? Do they have any idea how those poisonous substances are manipulated to produce the powder they're snorting or smoking or injecting?

"Meth Made Easy" answered those questions -- accurately, truthfully, and without the moralizing tone inevitably associated with any discussion of meth, a tone pretty much guaranteed to turn off readers, young ones in particular. (I believe information like this is conveyed most effectively when you dispense with the sermon and speak honestly, which in this case meant two things: including the recipe in all its detail, and pointing out the obvious -- this toxic drug remains popular because it makes people feel good, at least for a while. Ignoring that would deny reality and destroy credibility.) The absence of a scolding tone, I suspect, is what led many people to misread the story and misunderstand its significance. I also suspect our use of sarcasm, designed to hold reader interest, alienated some who believed the subject was too serious to be treated flippantly.

With our Internet recipe, gleaned from a Website devoted to all things illegal, we had come into possession of "dangerous knowledge," and though it is widely available and easily accessible, in the view of many it must not be disseminated - not under any circumstances and especially not by the press. To do so would be tantamount to becoming an accessory to a crime. It would signal tacit endorsement, even encouragement, of drug use.

Just in case there is doubt in anyone's mind, I can state unequivocally that New Times does not condone or endorse the use of meth or any other illicit drug, a fact that could have been articulated more emphatically in "Meth Made Easy."

Mullin, inadvertently it would seem, articulates precisely why people have reacted so forcefully in that second-to-last paragraph: ...though it is widely available and easily accessible, in the view of many it must not be disseminated - not under any circumstances and especially not by the press. To do so would be tantamount to becoming an accessory to a crime. It would signal tacit endorsement, even encouragement, of drug use." His acknowledgement of this makes the decision to publish even more curious.

It appears that he believes that because the information is there, that publication of it in all it's detail is justified: In this digital age, cyberspace has made it possible for anyone with Internet access to figuratively travel anywhere, instantly. The Internet thus has put the power of knowledge in the hands of the masses, including virtually every young person in San Luis Obispo County. Unlike totalitarian societies, where the Internet is rightly seen as a threat to dictatorial rule and is suppressed (China and Cuba being two examples), our society has embraced it as a powerful new resource. Market forces, individual initiative, and governmental policy have combined in a way that ensures the Internet, and all it has to offer, will be an integral part of our future. Among the things it offers to everyone, including local kids, is unrestricted access to a new universe of dangerous knowledge -- things like recipes for making methamphetamine.

We published "Meth Made Easy" in the context of that new universe. And while incorporating the full recipe was a controversial decision, it was consistent with the realities of cyberspace.

Mullin makes his strongest point in closing, writing that: The outcry, the condemnations, the threats that followed have left us humbled and distressed. Yet we still have hope that this civic fury can produce something positive: a candid dialogue that leads to greater understanding-- made possible by the power of knowledge.

A 'candid dialogue' would certainly benefit the cities and residents of San Luis Obispo county, but sadly the presentation they saw from the Times was exactly what Mullin described: a tacit endorsement of the activity, as it highlighted the relative ease with which ingredients are acquired and the potentially huge ROI for the manufacturer. Absent any sort of statements telling them otherwise, what are readers to think?

Serious Cajones

Yesterday, Michelle Malkin posited that Hillary would keep mum on Dick Cheney's decision to keep quiet about Saturday's hunting accident. It appears that Hillary, like most of the rest of her party, can't help herself.

Michelle's reasoning was simply that she'd already had her Dick-moment and wouldn't want to remind folks of it. Apparently, she doesn't care:

"A tendency of this administration from the top all the way to the bottom is to withhold information, to resist legitimate requests for information, to refuse to be forthcoming," Clinton (D-N.Y.) said.

I wonder if she remembers who she is married to. For the wife of Bill Clinton to say something like that--out loud and in public--takes some serious balls.

UW: "We hate the military"

Only not in so many words.

Things that help you sleep good at night

AP reports that 'Able Danger' ID'd 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta 13 times prior to the terrorist's attack on the World Trade Center.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

When there's nothing to cover up...

Can there be a cover up?

Some people are obsessing over it. Some are just making a bigger deal than it deserves.

Today ran a piece on it first thing out of the gate this morning titled, and I kid you not, "The Smoking Gun." It actually was a fine piece; ominously titled, full of veiled references to potential wrong-doing...making it all sound worthy, almost, of it's own moniker--Quailgate; Shotgun-gate; Fill-in-the-blank-gate. Only problem really, is there's no story to it.

It was a hunting accident. They happen. No one was killed so there's no crime (though it did take a serious turn today when it was learned that Mr. Whittington did suffer a minor heart attack related to the shooting). Aside from the one that the WH press corps is screaming about, namely that the scoop went to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times rather than the estimable David Gregory.

Yet the AP ran a story today that implies there are "unanswered questions" about the incident. Yes, as one buffoon has put it, "He's above the law!"

It's inane. It's insane...it's a double-whammy: inane and insane!

Meanwhile, the Kennedy County Sheriff's office issued a press release revealing the results of their initial investigation. No alcohol, no misconduct (though later it was revealed that Mr. Cheney had not paid the $7 license-fee), no story.

So again I ask you, if there's nothing to cover up...

Tracking Transformation

Two MIT students challenge Rumsfeld's new Quadrennial Defense Review, which sets DOD objectives for the next four years.

When Obsession Attacks.

Yep, the Dick Cheney hunting accident is funny for everyone except Mr. Whittington, his friends and his family. But some folks feel the need to go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about it. For the record, that's 13 "and ons" in two days. But maybe it's an upgrade from simply regurgitating the contents of The Washington Post. Or maybe it's a sign that someone's lost it. I mean, realllllly lost it. No wait, better evidence of that can be found here and here.

Increasingly irrelevant.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Why my dad never bought me a gun

As a kid, there was a time when I was between 10 & 13 years of age that I begged my father for a gun--a .22 rifle, even a pellet gun. I'd been playing army for years and was convinced beyond any explanation to the contrary that I could handle the responsibility.

When I never got one I was saddened...for a time. As I got older, I never gave it another thought. I look back now, especially in light of things like this, and thank God that my father possessed some small amount of wisdom in this area:

Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a companion during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, spraying the fellow hunter in the face and chest with shotgun pellets.

Harry Whittington, a millionaire attorney from Austin, was in stable condition in the intensive care unit of a Corpus Christi hospital on Sunday, according to Yvonne Wheeler, spokeswoman for the Christus Spohn Health System.

"You'll shoot your eye out!"

In all seriousness, I am glad to know that Mr. Whittington is in stable condition after this incident and doing fine. It could have been much worse. Instead it's just fodder for every amateur- and professional comedian across the country.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

My Dogs are Smarter (Or, our first time)

We took the dogs to the beach this afternoon. Perfect weather for it, and they had a blast.

Labs love water and Lacy didn't disappoint, running and jumping around in the surf at every opportunity. Cassie, ever fearful of everything, would creep as close as she dare but dart away as soon as the water came in.

As jealous as she was watching mommy and big sister play in the water, she couldn't overcome her distaste for getting wet enough to go play.

But we think she had fun anyway.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Now Showing

Fun with marquees.

Pulling a Joe

Paul Pillar, former CIA official, was published yesterday making claims that the Bush Administration "disregarded the expertise of the intelligence community, politicized the intelligence process and used unrepresentative data in making the case for war."

Today brings some interesting news about Pillar in that apparently what he wrote for the Journal of Foreign Affairs isn't quite the same thing he said under oath. As reported at Powerline--home incidentally of former Pillar college-roommate Paul Mirengoff--there are reports that Pillar's testimony to the Robb-Silberman commission was a bit different:

Similarly, Paul Pillar, a senior intelligence officer at CIA who drafted part of the Iraq estimate, told the commission that a certain climate had become pervasive in the intelligence community with respect to permissible judgments about Iraqi weapons. To put it another way, self-censorship prevailed. The commission then concludes—and Charles Robb reiterated this at the press conference marking the release of its report—that no one had come forward to claim they had been forced to change a conclusion due to political pressure. Ergo, "The Commission has found no evidence of 'politicization' of the Intelligence Community's assessments."

Say what you will about John Prados' conclusions in that piece, it is obvious that Pillar has chosen to say one thing publicly and another under oath. Remind you of anyone we know?

The Hillary Special

Purportedly running in NYC these days.

"Economic Miracle"

Interesting stuff on the unemployment rate among the black community:

This drop also undercuts the stereotype that the Democratic party is somehow the party that looks out for minorities: Today’s level of black unemployment is lower than the 9.5 percent average realized between 1995 and 2000, supposedly the height of Clinton’s “economic miracle.”

You remember him, right? The first "black President"...

Friday, February 10, 2006

As originally reported

Yesterday's speech by President Bush, in which he revealed details about a 2002 plot to destroy the Library Tower (as it was then known) in Los Angeles caught a lot of people off guard. Details from this most-usually tight-lipped and uncommunicative Administration is not what people are used to.

Some in fact acted like it was the first time this threat had been revealed. In fact, I thought so initially as well. But it isn't.

The event and the context in which it occurred were discussed more than a year-and-a-half ago in Richard Miniter's excellent Shadow War. Beginning on page 4:

Instead, al Qaeda envisioned a "second wave" of attacks on West Coast cities after September 11*. The targets included the Library Tower in Los Angeles (chosen partly because Mohammed had seen it "blown up" in the hit film Independence Day) and the Sears Tower in Chicago...

These plots were stopped. How?

In sum, aggresive execution of the War on Terror--everything from aerial bombardment and covert operations to relentless counter-intelligence and patient police work--has kept the terrorists at bay. And, yes, luck played a part.

*Interview with Noberto Gonzalez, National Security advisor of the Philippines, Manila, March 2004

Yesterday's "revelations" are the topic of some consternation in the blogosphere this morning.

Better late than never

"Should Dan Rather have been fired?"

Don Hewitt now says "Yes."

Embarrassing all the way around.

Mega-Trade Lands Michaels at NBC

In a deal of historic proportions, Al Michaels has been traded from ABC to NBC.

Good journalism.

Following the "funnel" or "pyramid" style, promoted by every leading journalism professor out there, the AP's Paul Garwood demonstrates the high quality and integrity of today's journalists:

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraq's election chief started the clock Friday on the long-awaited formation of a new government, announcing final certified results for the country's Dec. 15 parliamentary polls.

A car bomb exploded outside a Sunni Muslim mosque in southwestern Baghdad, killing at least four Iraqis and wounding 21. Gunmen wearing Iraqi police uniforms kidnapped a Sunni Arab mosque preacher in Baghdad.

Personal Ban

I have officially banned myself from any more posts about the Plame affair after discerning the disconnect between headlines like these and the actual "revelations." At the end of the day, thinking about it or writing about it just makes me angry. And for what? My position on Joe Wilson, his wife, the "outing" and the Democrats' shameless partisanship are well-known to anyone who's perused this blog over the last year and is best encapsulated by the snearing photo to the left and this bit of hypocrisy from Massachusetts' own version of Robert Byrd, Sen. Edward Kennedy:

On Thursday, Sen. Edward Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass., said Cheney should take responsibility if he authorized Libby to share classified information with reporters. "These charges, if true, represent a new low in the already sordid case of partisan interests being placed above national security," Kennedy said. "The vice president's vindictiveness in defending the misguided war in Iraq is obvious. If he used classified information to defend it, he should be prepared to take full responsibility."

And with that folks, I'm done. You'll have to enjoy the roundy-round on your own.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The question of stockpiles

For must of us, the days of exerting hours upon hours worth of brainpower on the question of WMD in Iraq have long since come and gone. Not so for David Gaubatz, a former member of the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations.

Gaubatz feels strongly that at least a portion of the stockpile remains hidden in southern Iraq:

A former special investigator for the Pentagon during the Iraq war said he found four sealed underground bunkers in southern Iraq that he is sure contain stocks of chemical and biological weapons. But when he asked American weapons inspectors to check out the sites, he was rebuffed.

Between March and July 2003, Mr. Gaubatz was taken by these sources to four locations - three in and around Nasiriyah and one near the port of Umm Qasr, where he was shown underground concrete bunkers with the tunnels leading to them deliberately flooded. In each case, he was told the facilities contained stocks of biological and chemical weapons, along with missiles whose range exceeded that mandated under U.N. sanctions. But because the facilities were sealed off with concrete walls, in some cases up to 5 feet thick, he did not get inside. He filed reports with photographs, exact grid coordinates, and testimony from multiple sources. And then he waited for the Iraq Survey Group to come to the sites. But in all but one case, they never arrived.

Mr. Gaubatz's new disclosures shed doubt on the thoroughness of the Iraq Survey Group's search for the weapons of mass destruction that were one of the Bush administration's main reasons for the war. Two chief inspectors from the group, David Kay and Charles Duelfer, concluded that they could not find evidence of the promised stockpiles. Mr. Kay refused to be interviewed for this story and Mr. Duelfer did not return email. The CIA referred these questions to Mr. Duelfer.

The new information from the former investigator could also end up helping the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which recently reopened the question of what happened to the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Like many current and former American and Israeli officials, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, Peter Hoekstra, says is not convinced Saddam either destroyed or never had the stockpiles of illicit weapons he was said to be concealing between 1991 and 2003.

Interesting thought.

Mr. Gaubatz claims that the ISG was more interested in northern Iraq and never gave his claims the attention they seemed to deserve. The assets were never assigned and the sites remain un-checked.

Meanwhile, his sources he says were highly reputable: Mr. Gaubatz would not disclose the names of his Iraqi sources, but he said they were "highly credible" by his supervisors. He said some of them were members of the new government and others are now in America. "The four sites were corroborated with more than one source. The sources were deemed highly credible due to access and knowledge of the sites. Many of these sources and ourselves put their lives on the line to assist in identifying WMD. The sources would continuously ask us when the inspectors were going to come to the sites with heavy equipment to uncover the WMD," he said.

Gaubatz's claims are seen as lending help to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence's--chaired by Michigan Republican Peter Hoekstra--new investigation into the matter:

...the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has reopened the question, launching an inquiry and asking the director of national intelligence to re-examine the issue.

Chairman Peter Hoekstra, a Republican from Michigan, is said by his staff to believe that it is too soon to conclude that Saddam Hussein either destroyed or never had the stockpiles and programs to produce biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons that Western intelligence agencies insisted he had before the war.

The argument that Sadaam never had WMD's holds no water in my mind while the claims that they all disappeared into Syria behind a cloud of dust seems a bit far-fetched. Meanwhile, they were there in 1998, yet they were nowhere to be seen in 2003.

With no proof of what happened to them inbetween, is it crazy to think they were hidden somewhere in the interim?

D + (-I) + O + R = M

This is part of a math lesson I taught back in April of '05. Seems apropos in light of some of the finger-pointing going on in Democrat circles these days.

Driving down property values

The Village's one and--please God!--only 4 x 4 Ford Econoline Van.

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