Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Saying More

Between my morning post and this evening, the blogosphere has ramped up the conversation about Haditha considerably. As is becoming somewhat predictable, we can leave it to bloggers to fill in the blanks that Big Media is unable or unwilling to address.

MKH compiled a great rundown earlier in the day. For my money the ones that mattered most are these from this CNN reporter and comments from former Special Forces Weapons Sergeant, Uncle Jimbo.

CNN reporter Arwa Damon knows the unit in question: I don't know why it didn't register with me until now. It was only after scrolling through the tapes that we shot in Haditha last fall, and I found footage of some of the officers that had been relieved of their command, that it hit me.

I know the Marines that were operating in western al Anbar, from Husayba all the way to Haditha. I went on countless operations in 2005 up and down the Euphrates River Valley. I was pinned on rooftops with them in Ubeydi for hours taking incoming fire, and I've seen them not fire a shot back because they did not have positive identification on a target. (Watch a Marine's anguish over deaths -- 2:12)

I saw their horror when they thought that they finally had identified their target, fired a tank round that went through a wall and into a house filled with civilians. They then rushed to help the wounded -- remarkably no one was killed.

I was with them in Husayba as they went house to house in an area where insurgents would booby-trap doors, or lie in wait behind closed doors with an AK-47, basically on suicide missions, just waiting for the Marines to come through and open fire. There were civilians in the city as well, and the Marines were always keenly aware of that fact. How they didn't fire at shadows, not knowing what was waiting in each house, I don't know. But they didn't.

And I was with them in Haditha, a month before the alleged killings last November of some 24 Iraqi civilians.

Damon's report reminds us that these men have faces, histories and families.

Uncle Jimbo is a member of the growing chorus of People-in-the-know who bring years of expertise and Military experience to bear on issues like this. He insists that there is really only one standard to apply in this instance:

Disclosure: I have never been to Iraq and have no direct knowledge of this incident or anyone involved. I do have extensive experience training teams in hostage rescue and close quarters battle (CQB) and have been on countless training and multiple live operations kicking doors in.

There is one and only one relevant standard for this whole incident and that is the reasonable belief that your life or the life of others is in danger. If that is reasonably believed then deadly force may be employed, absent that belief it may not. There are other factors that would impact this, like rules of engagement, but in this case the Marines ROE obviously included the right to return fire. The question is was there any, and if not why did they fire? If the Marines killed people without reasonable belief they were in danger, then they committed murder. If they had a reasonable belief in their danger, they did not.

I have been discussing the belief or perception of the Marines because that is the only thing that determines whether this was a tragedy in the fog of war or a criminal act. No amount of moralizing prejudgment by disgraced ex-Marines makes them guilty and no rationalizing about lost buddies can change the truth if it was revenge.

The worst of Murtha's vile acts is that he has helped create an environment where anything less than hangings will be seen as a whitewash. Especially in the eyes of the world, where since an honorable US Congressman has declared their guilt only the corrupt military could free them. Now the best outcome we can have, if this was a justified action, is for the world to believe it was rigged if they are not charged or are freed after trial. And regardless a gold-plated invitation to pile on for the anti-America brigades in our media and overseas has been given.

Liberal Democrats and anti-war folks raised conclusion-jumping to new levels after news of Abu Ghraib broke two years ago and they seem intent on repeating, if not surpassing their previous effort. Most egregiously, the esteemed Congressman from Pennsylvania appears convinced that the Marine Corps has covered up the events at Haditha and that said cover up potentially goes all the way "up the chain of command." Simply disgusting.

Their are only two ways he can make that comment. First off, he knows something that the rest of us don't (as I said this morning) despite the fact that the investigation(s) are ongoing. Seems highly unlikely given what has dribbled out since Murtha's first comments about drone video, radio traffic and other contrarian evidence.

As I said, unlikely but still possible I suppose. If in fact he does know some super-secret something, he needs to come clean or shut it and wait for things to unfold.

The second option is simply that Murtha is talking out of his...hat? ear? (fill in the blank)? I'm running with this one.

Murtha, like far too many Democrats, liberals and their fellow-travelers is stuck in some sort of Everything-is-Vietnam time machine where it is 1972 in perpetuity and any misconduct on the part of the US military is a My Lai redux. I've said it before, and I tried to be nice about it but at this point I don't think I can keep it up.

We'll be better off when the Everything-is-Vietnam crowd fades from influence in this country.

The International Brotherhood of the Fraternal Order of Salespeople

I've passed. I'm one of them now...I'm truly a "Salesperson," as of today!

The Accounting representative announced, in front of God and everybody in the weekly meeting this morning that one of my clients had bounced their check.

Karzai's Mayberry

I rarely ever read Arianna Huffington. But sometimes I slip up and then I remember why I don't read her to begin with. Today I ran across this missive on Afghanistan. After reading it, I feel markedly less intelligent.

There's nothing particularly ground-breaking in the piece. Just the usual caterwauling about unfinished business, resurgent Taliban, powerless Hamid Karzai, negligent American troops and growing anti-American sentiment in response to said negligence.

But upon reading the close of the piece, I was struck by two words in this sentence:

The president and his representatives have spoken often of winning the hearts and minds of the Arab world. Incidents like these, and the scandal brewing over the killings in Haditha in Iraq, are having the opposite effect -- and speak volumes about the dangers inherent in imperial adventures.

I'm sorry, but in what way is Afhanistan an "imperial adventure?"

We're currently occupying the country in conjunction with multinational forces from all over the world. The United States does not own Hamid Karzai. He acts quite independently of the U.S. and oftentimes in a manner at odds with U.S. wishes. The Afghanis have instituted democratic processes and written their own constitution.

Moreover, we went to Afghanistan in response to 9/11. The objective was to take out the Taliban masters who had allowed Osama bin Laden to base is operations in the Hindu Kush. We certainly didn't go there for oil or to build bases or to sell the Afghanis our products. How in the world could you argue that Afghanistan resembles Iraq or that it is anything other than precisely what it was? Imperial adventure?

Perhaps it was just a misstep on Arianna's part. Maybe she didn't really mean it that way. But the fact of the matte is that many on her side of the debate take far too many liberties with the truth to simply overlook imprecise language. They've been Johnny-come-latelys on the interwar period in Iraq and now fancy themselves as real experts on WMD and international law. Similarly, they're now also experts on narco-trafficking, re-forming Taliban, and lack of progress in Afghanistan. Why shouldn't we, then, take them seriously when they make proclamations about imperial adventures?

Say Anything

I've grown tired of Congressman Big Mouth and the continuing statements--made with much certitude--that Marines in Haditha killed in "cold blood" and "covered it up." As this piece in the Post makes clear, there's lots we don't know yet:

In addition to video from the drone, investigators have records of radio message traffic between the Marines and a command center, said military defense lawyers who have discussed the investigation with Marines who were at Haditha but who have not yet been formally retained by them.

"There's a ton of information that isn't out there yet," said one lawyer, who, like the others, would speak only on the condition of anonymity because a potential client has not been charged. The radio message traffic, he said, will provide a different view of the incident than has been presented by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) and other members of Congress. For example, he said, contrary to Murtha's account, it will show that the Marines came under small-arms fire after the roadside explosion.

Two of the lawyers said the message traffic will show officers in higher headquarters knew early on that a large number of civilians had been killed and that they did not raise alarms. "The chain of command knew about it," said one, and "the number of deaths was reported" by the commander of the company involved, Capt. Lucas M. McConnell of Kilo Company.

So what is it Mr. Murtha that you know that the rest of us don't? And if you really do, where did your information come from?

And if you don't, are you prepared to wait for the Army and Navy investigation into Haditha finish before making any more proclamations of guilt? If not, why?!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Ahmadinajad finds yet another forum to prove he's a complete freakshow. And Spiegel squirms.

Rich and compelling.

What did you do all weekend?

I was busy living life. We made the formal introduction of the girls to Lompoc at large at the park on Monday afternoon. All was well 'til they took Grandma for a walk and got away. All three are doing well but for a minute we weren't sure the girls were going to see another birthday...

Meanwhile things in Iran are growing tense, seemingly by the hour...

The usual sort of Evil Republican Government conspiracy theories were floating around...

Democrat congressman John Murtha, a fierce critic of the war who has close ties to the military and served as a marine for 30 years, including in Vietnam, said there was "no question" that there had been a cover-up of the "massacre".

"It might go all the way up the chain of command to General Pace", he said, referring to General Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He'll say just about anything, won't he?

And John Kerry was busy being...John Kerry.

Monday, May 29, 2006

It's a day for heroes

MKH linked last week to the story of US Marine Brian Chontosh, winner of the US Navy Cross for his actions on March 25, 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom:

While leading his platoon north on Highway 1 toward Ad Diwaniyah, Chontosh's platoon moved into a coordinated ambush of mortars, rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons fire. With coalitions tanks blocking the road ahead, he realized his platoon was caught in a kill zone.

He had his driver move the vehicle through a breach along his flank, where he was immediately taken under fire from an entrenched machine gun. Without hesitation, Chontosh ordered the driver to advanced directly at the enemy position enabling his .50 caliber machine gunner to silence the enemy.

He then directed his driver into the enemy trench, where he exited his vehicle and began to clear the trench with an M16A2 service rifle and 9 millimeter pistol. His ammunition depleted, Chontosh, with complete disregard for his safety, twice picked up discarded enemy rifles and continued his ferocious attack.

When a Marine following him found an enemy rocket propelled grenade launcher, Chontosh used it to destroy yet another group of enemy soldiers.

When his audacious attack ended, he had cleared over 200 meters of the enemy trench, killing more than 20 enemy soldiers and wounding several others.

I remember reading about this upon his first receiving the award and being amazed that one man with some determination and smarts could accomplish such a thing while so outnumbered. I wished then--and still now--that more of these stories were being told.

As a culture we can't forget our heroes. Heroes show us the best of ourselves.

Silly Americans

Tired of paying $3.40 a gallon for gas? Talk to these people:

Because of the hike in fuel prices, the average driver is about $1,000 poorer than they were at this time last year, Montgomery said.

That's 357 caramel macchiatos from Starbucks. Or 21 adult-admission tickets to Disneyland.

Despite this, Montgomery said, more state motorists than ever are expected to hit the roads this summer.

This is California after all, where the road-trip was perfected, if not invented.

“Logic would tell you people aren't going to travel,” she said. “But people who want to take that trip will find a way to do it.”

Travelers are still opting to travel by car, rather than train or plane, but are modifying their trips, she said.

And some people think we can still conserve our way out of this mess...

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Quotable quotes

Larry Kudlow has a doozy:

In the 1960s and 1970s, the murderer’s row of economic morons — LBJ, Nixon, Ford, and Carter...

Murderer's row of economic morons. That's good stuff, Maynard!

Last Bastion of Conservatism

In reading this tidbit from Glenn Reynolds, I had this observation to make about conservatives and conservatism:

Aside from a certain Senator, it seems that the Republican delegation from Arizona is one of the last bastion's of conservatism going. You've got Senator Kyl, Congressmen Hayworth, Flake, Franks and Shadegg--strong conservatives all.

Then you have the not-so-strong conservatives...McCain, Graham, Hagel and the usually suspect trio of Snowe, Chafee and Collins. Let's compare and contrast.

Here from and about Flake taken from Glenn's post:

Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, another conservative stalwart, tried unsuccessfully to strip millions of dollars worth of farm subsidies out of the bill. “I offered eight amendments and every single one got voted down,” he says.

After the defeat, Flake told the New York Times, “"We have one of our former members in jail right now for basically selling earmarks"—referring to disgraced former member Randy “Duke” Cunningham. “He was able to get his earmarks through the legislative process without being challenged. Jack Abramoff reportedly referred to the Appropriations Committee as an ‘earmark favor factory.’”

Meanwhile, straight from Graham on Thursday about the just-passed Senate Immigration bill:

"I'm just pleased as punch to be a member of the Senate this week. It's been the highlight of my time in the Senate. You know who's out of the shadows? Every member of Congress. Before you can get the other people out of the shadows you gotta get us to take a stand. Now, this is a high point of my time in the Senate, but if you really want to get people out of the shadows and fix broken borders, you need to fix your Congress, and this Congress is on the road to self-healing."

Huh? Which of these people is making sense and which is not? Which is taking an historically conservative line and which is...still not making sense?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Inaugural ideologue

I'm a Bad Ideologue. At least according to this guy.

Now, not being sure of what exactly constitutes a "Good Ideologue," I'm a bit unclear as to exactly what was the matter with this post that Biff so objected to:

Ideologue shows the degree of respect he has for his own party, as well as the opposition, with this post.

Doesn't sound like much of an objection does it? I didn't think so at first 'tile I poked around the bloc a bit more and ran into this: Cataloging errors of fact and logic.

Like I said, not really sure what he objected to. Was I out of line in saying this about Senators first and Kennedy and about Speaker Hastert: Instead of informed action, we get this. I'd have no less difficulty believing it came from the office of the esteemed Senator from Massachusetts. Yet--incredulously,it comes from a completely different source; one you expect to be smarter on such topics. Or at least hope is smarter on such topics....

With leadership this stupid, maybe we deserve to lose.

Fact of the matter is that Hastert and Frist were pandering, acting just as willfully ignorant of economics as I expect the Schumer's and Durbin's of the world to act when it comes to understanding and acting upon the basic economic principles involved.

A spade is a spade. It was foolish for Hastert and Frist to jump on the price-gouging bandwagon. I thought so then and I don't think any less so now regardless of the fact that there seems no backlash for it.

If anybody out there can clue me in on how this makes me a "Bad Ideologue," I'd be grateful. Though I do take a certain sense of pride in knowing that I was the first Bad Ideologue!

Power of the State

The power of the State is compelling. With it, the State can get it's way pretty much anytime it wants.

When we filed our 2001 tax return--because of our move--we did not have a complete set of documents. Our intent was to file an amended return once the missing paperwork arrived. It never did so neither did we.

The following year we went round and round with the IRS about unreported income on the 2001 return, finally agreeing to pay the tax owed. Now the State of California, never to be denied it's precious tax dollars, wants it's share.

At the beginning of the month, a few short weeks after filing our 2005 returns, the Franchise tax board sent us an assessment for taxes due. We assumed they were referring to the '05 return and that such was a mistake so sent it off to our tax man to handle. A few phone calls later and it became clear they were talking about the 2001 return.

And here's where it's driving me up a they really think it's okay to send us a notice 4-plus years later after making zero attempts at notification in the interim? In my business, if I went back to somebody after 4 years and attempted to collect payment for a past-due balance, I'd be laughed at and wouldn't collect a dime.

Of course, I don't have the compelling power of the State behind me.

Shooting yourself in the foot

I wondered all day, from the time I watched Today's sensationalized news piece on it, til I read this and 'til I went to bed...what exactly do people think this means? So Fitzgerald may call Dick Cheney to testify agains Scooter Libby:

DICK CHENEY could be called as a prosecution witness to testify against his former chief of staff in the CIA leak case, the special counsel in charge of the investigation said yesterday.

Formally placing the US Vice-President at the centre of the scandal for the first time, Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, said that Mr Cheney’s state of mind was directly relevant to the issue of whether Lewis Libby, his former top aide, had lied to the FBI about his role in the affair.

But wait...

From the analysis at Just One Minute we see a far less dire scenario: This looks like a new high-water mark in the "Get Dick" Derby - from p. 8:

By his own account, defendant understood from the Vice President that it was necessary to get out “all” the facts in response to the Wilson Op Ed. The response to the Wilson Op Ed was a matter of repeated discussion between the defendant and the Vice President following its publication.

Oh, Fitzgerald so wanted Libby to confess that Cheney ordered him to out Plame! Well, the trial is not until next January - Keep Hope Alive! But IMHO, Fitzgerald
doesn't have it and isn't getting it.

Exhibit A is a transcript of a portion of Libby's Grand Jury testimony. He confirms that Cheney frequently clips out articles, claims he does not remember seeing the Wilson op-ed, but certainly discussed it with Cheney.

IN ENGLISH, PLEASE: Apparently Cheney told Libby that Ms. Plame worked in "the functional office of the Counterproliferation of the CIA" (quoting Fitzgerald, presumably reading from something). Is that a special part of the CPD, and what does "functional" mean here?

NO HEDGE: When asked from whom he learned about Ms. Plame on July 10 or 11, Libby does not hedge, but names Tim Russert. That said, the rest is redacted, so draw conclusions at your own peril - perhaps the caveats came later.

CALL CSI D.C.: How could it be that Cheney wrote on the Wilson op-ed a note about the wife sending Wilson on a junket, but never discussed that with Libby until after the Novak column? When asked this, Libby offers some circle-squaring speculation - Cheney sometimes kept columns on his desk, and may have jotted that final thought after the Novak column came out.
Well, get the CSI people to see if it was done in the same ink - that would be suggestive, but probably not dispositive, since Cheney might have a favorite pen he uses all the time.
Take a look, but Libby's suggestion seems far-fetched to me. That said, Libby added "You'll have to ask him", referring of course to Cheney.

SPEAKING OF WHICH: With all this talk about Cheney's state of mind and Libby's recollection of his chats with Cheney, how could Cheney *not* be called as a witness? And surely Fitzgerald covered this ground when he interviewed Cheney - one wonders what Cheney said.

REFIGHT THE INTEL WAR: Fitzgerald has been trying to limit the discussion to Libby's state of mind and avoid a long exposition of the entire Niger trip. Fine, but
Sara points out he may have hurt himself by introducing Cheney's exhortation to get "all" the news out:

Hasn't he now opened the door for all that to come in and isn't that great news for the defense?

Hey, I think so - surely Libby ought to be able to explain what was meant by "all" - but I'm not the judge.

That last point lines neatly up with what I've said about this the entire time: Wilson was lying about the Administration so there was an obvious political interest in asking and answering questions about him. That there is no obvious and discernable evidence that fleshes out the left-wing fantasy about Administration officials seeking to 'punish' Wilson only leaves one wondering why on Earth Fitzgerald is allowing Cheney the opportunity to, once and for all, give explanation for the political push-back against Wilson necessitated by his lies.

Which, in case he might not have noticed, appears to more than a few of us as undercutting his entire case. Boris might just have it right: This is Fitz's way of asking Cheney to shut down the whole thing in a way that saves face for Fitz.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bad Hair day

Phil Spector goes to court the other day. How many poodles died for that Do?

Jesse Macbeth: Dead Horse

In the finest tradition of dead-horse beaters everywhere, here is one more note. Iowa Hawk presents the Jesse MacBeth story as told straight from the dead-horse's mouth.

His class photo as well as the candid shot of his first hour on the ground in Iraq truly communicate Jesse's heart and sense of purpose.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Uncommon Accord

Every leftie's favorite aggregator agrees with me on something! That hasn't happened since...I honestly don't remember when.

Now, I don't know what exactly he's thinking but there are many scenarios that surround the mutation of bird flu to a form transmissible directly from human-to-human and most of them aren't very encouraging, putting it mildly. However, officials seem to have backed away from any alarmism over the last day or so about the outbreak under study in Indonesia:

A family of eight was found infected with bird flu this week, prompting fears that the virus had mutated to allow human-to-human transmission leading to a pandemic.

However, experts told ABC News the event was not unequivocally a cause for alarm.

The Good News: -- Experts said this is not the start of a pandemic. If it were, there would be hundreds, maybe thousands of people sick by now.

"The first case(s) in this family cluster arose in late April, more than three weeks ago. If the virus that has affected this family had been a true pandemic virus, it would have spread throughout the neighborhood, into the community and into adjacent and even far-distant communities. The absence of such spread, together with the genetic sequencing data, clearly indicates that this virus is not the harbinger of the next pandemic," said David Fedson, infectious disease and vaccine expert, formerly of Sanofi-Pasteur.

-- The virus does NOT show signs of mutation. The World Health Organization has already tested samples from the 6 confirmed cases in the family and the virus looks like the same H5N1 virus that is circulating in birds. For the virus to become one that spreads to humans easily, it MUST mutate.

Urban Legends

Yesterday Peter Wehner took on the biggest of the Urban legends that surround Iraq. You know, how Bush misled the country by pressuring intel analysts to lie about the WMD's that didn't exist that meant Sadaam wasn't a threat to the US, blah blah blah blah...

It's well worth the read and a helpful resource as it consolidates these arguments of the left and their rebuttals in one easy-to-read piece. I fear though that it is essentially useless.

These arguments have calcified and become conventional wisdom, to the point that they can be and are routinely recited as though they were obvious, irrefutable truths. Pieces like this needed to be written and blogged and talked about 2 1/2 years ago.

This comment at Neo-Neocon offers a fine take-down of these arguments in it's own right.


Really really really really really bad:

All seven people infected with bird flu in a cluster of Indonesian cases can be linked to other patients, according to disease trackers investigating possible human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 virus.

A team of international experts has been unable to find animals that might have infected the people, the World Health Organization said in a statement today. In one case, a 10-year- old boy who caught the virus from his aunt may have passed it to his father, the first time officials have seen evidence of a three-person chain of infection, an agency spokeswoman said. Six of the seven people have died.

Almost all of the 218 cases of H5N1 infections confirmed by the WHO since late 2003 can be traced to direct contact with sick or dead birds. Strong evidence of human-to-human transmission may prompt the global health agency to convene a panel of experts and consider raising the pandemic alert level, said Maria Cheng, an agency spokeswoman.

``Considering the evidence and the size of the cluster, it's a possibility,'' Cheng said in a telephone interview. ``It depends on what we're dealing with in Indonesia. It's an evolving situation.''

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Stepping in It

An apt description of what Jesse Macbeth has done this week with his Army Ranger nonsense. He joins the ranks of those who've been blog-swarmed.

Michelle Malkin has a collection of links and some fine quotes: ...12noon update: I just talked to the Army spokesman as well. Paul Boyce told me: "At a minimum, this appears to have been concocted" and "some sort of hoax." Special Ops Command and State Department have been alerted. The uniform issues of the alleged soldier were a "red flag," Boyce said. As were MacBeth's claims to have entered the Army at 16 and exit at age 20, and have been both Army Ranger and Special Ops, and have received the Purple Heart and other medals. I asked whether there would be a criminal investigation. Boyce said they would follow up on any substantial leads.***

Interesting that some would be arguing for a criminal prosecution, for as SMASH points out from earlier in the day, Jesse has a history:

Public records of one Jesse Adam MacBeth of Pima, Arizona have been uncovered -- from the proceedings of the Graham County Superior Court.

Assuming this is the same person, it appears that MacBeth had a complaint filed against him in March 2003 for misdemeanor credit card fraud. According to the court records (and I could be reading these incorrectly), he was arrested on 6/10/2004, had a lesser charge of "False Reporting to Law Enforcement" dismissed on 6/17/2004, entered a guilty plea for credit card fraud on 7/19/2004, and was released on probation on 9/28/2004. A petition to revoke probation was filed on 4/18/2005, he was arrested (again) on 4/25/2005, and released on 5/9/2005. He's still paying probation fees (fines?) as of 5/1/2006, just three weeks ago.

It seems unlikely, then, that this Jesse MacBeth was present for the
Seige of Fallujah in April 2004, or at the Battle of Fallujah in November 2004. But I could be wrong.

He's quite the character, I daresay. When I read the initial report, I thought it quite obvious that he was not what he was claiming. All the tells pointed out by milbloggers not withstanding, his cliched rhetoric lifted straight off a Springsteen album and the vague explanations belied all that he was saying. Even so, I was ready to give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that he was Army.

Well, it appears even that isn't true: Today, the Army ran a check on Mr. MacBeth’s credentials. It turns out, not surprisingly to anybody with half a mind, that Mr. MacBeth has NO Army service record. Anywhere. Period. This is a direct quote given to me by Army spokesman John Boyce:

“Initial research by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg shows no Soldier with the name of Jesse Macbeth having ever been assigned to the Special Forces or the Army Rangers -- which are, in fact, two separate disciplines. This appears to be some sort of hoax. No Soldier by that name at Fort Lewis to our knowledge, in the past, either. Of course, the line about "go into the Army or go to jail" is vintage TV script not heard since the 1960s. There are also numerous wear and appearance issues with the Soldier's uniform -- a mix of foreign uniforms with the sleeves rolled up like a Marine and a badly floppy tan beret worn like a pastry chef. Of course, the allegations of war crimes are vague, as are the awards the Soldier allegedly received.”

Read the comments at SMASH's blog, the milblog forum and some of the others covering this, and you get a sense that many folks are hoping that Jesse goes to jail for this little charade. I haven't seen anything that definitively states that he can be prosecuted for this, and even if he could I wonder if that's the wisest course.

Perhaps it's better to simply let his lack of credibility and the avalanche of spew it's creating among his fellow travelers serve as punishment enough.

Getting personal

Over the weekend, the Lompoc Relay for Life--an annual fundraiser to support the fight against Cancer--raised $257,481 dollars. While less than last year's total, it put the group well over it's 2006 goal:

The Lompoc Relay For Life raised $257,481 this year, slightly less than last year's $262,000 but about $7,000 more than this year's goal of $250,000.

Organizers expressed gratitude Monday to a generous community.

“It turned out to be a little less than last year, but the relay turned out to be awesome,” said Relay For Life Co-chair Juan Cruz. “We're really proud of the teams that stepped up to the plate and raised so much money. For a small community like this, it's amazing that so much money can be raised.”

Betty Williams, chair of the Relay For Life Survivor's committee, said was “delighted and ecstatic” with the support from participants this year. Money raised will go toward cancer research.

Without really even thinking about it, I had agreed to walk as a team member for one of the participating teams. By my reckoning, I walked about 2 miles on Saturday afternoon.

It all took a very personal turn yesterday when we learned that my wife's father had a cancerous spot removed. The prognosis is good and while they must take more around the spot to ensure getting everything, his doctor feels confident that everything can be handled fairly easily.

But it's still scary stuff.

The old "Speaking truth to Power" ploy...

MKH at Hugh's blog discussed yesterday the left's penchant for "speaking truth to power,"--read: disrespecting conservative speakers. Initially the post focused on the response to Condi Rice's commencement address at Boston College. What drew me in was the discussion later on of John McCain's address at the New College in NYC:

...John McCain's lessons in respectfully disagreeing were lost on one New College student who sucker-punched him with a speech that was high on disagreement and low on respect (and, pricelessly, contained the words "speak truth to power," employed seemingly without irony).
Once again, if you disagree with the commencement speaker, fine. If you want to vocally disagree with the speaker in your speech, fine. You earned your speech slot. Just do it with a little bit of class, and some respect for your fellow students who may just want to hear the speeches and go eat barbecue without the appetizer of self-righteousness

Having been known to grind an axe where McCain is concerned, I was intrigued enough to read the student's post though unready for what I read:

Right now, I'm going to be who I am and digress from my previously prepared remarks. I am disappointed that I have to abandon the things I had wanted to speak about, but I feel that it is absolutely necessary to acknowledge the fact that this ceremony has become something other than the celebratory gathering that it was intended to be due to all the media attention surrounding John Mc Cain's presence here today, and the student and faculty outrage generated by his invitation to speak here. The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded. Not only this, but his invitation was a top-down decision that did not take into account the desires and interests of the student body on an occasion that is supposed to honor us above all, and to commemorate our achievements.

What is interesting and bizarre about this whole situation is that Senator Mc Cain has stated that he will be giving the same speech at all three universities where he has been invited to speak recently, of which ours is the last; those being Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, Columbia University, and finally here at the New School. For this reason I have unusual foresight concerning the themes of his address today. Based on the speech he gave at the other institutions, Senator Mc Cain will tell us today that dissent and disagreement are our "civic and moral obligation" in times of crisis. I consider this a time of crisis and I feel obligated to speak. Senator Mc Cain will also tell us about his cocky self-assuredness in his youth, which prevented him from hearing the ideas of others. In so doing, he will imply that those of us who are young are too naïve to have valid opinions and open ears. I am young, and although I don't profess to possess the wisdom that time affords us, I do know that preemptive war is dangerous and wrong, that George Bush's agenda in Iraq is not worth the many lives lost. And I know that despite all the havoc that my country has wrought overseas in my name, Osama bin Laden still has not been found, nor have those weapons of mass destruction.

Finally, Senator Mc Cain will tell us that we, those of us who are Americans, "have nothing to fear from each other." I agree strongly with this, but I take it one step further. We have nothing to fear from anyone on this living planet. Fear is the greatest impediment to the achievement of peace. We have nothing to fear from people who are different from us, from people who live in other countries, even from the people who run our government--and this we should have learned from our educations here. We can speak truth to power, we can allow our humanity always to come before our nationality, we can refuse to let fear invade our lives and to goad us on to destroy the lives of others. These words I speak do not reflect the arrogance of a young strong-headed woman, but belong to a line of great progressive thought, a history in which the founders of this institution play an important part. I speak today, even through my nervousness, out of a need to honor those voices that came before me, and I hope that we graduates can all strive to do the same.

Not even Senator McCain deserves such simple-minded naivete dressed up with cutesy "progressive" rhetorical flair. MKH makes a point later on in discussing McCain as to what the core problem is:

I disagree with Sen. McCain on many issues. I know several conservative bloggers who, if given the chance, would likely "speak truth to power" on the subject of McCain-Feingold. I would hope they'd do it with more facts and less ranting than Rohe did, and preferably in a way that didn't catch an entire graduating class and their families in the crossfire. It just seems rude to me.

There's a time and a place for pretty much every type of communication there is. "Happy Graduation" day is not the time nor the place for "Blast your elected Official Day." All the inanity of Ms. Rohe's argument aside, bottom line she'd do well to learn some wisdom about what time is appropriate for what words.

Indicting Rove

According to this report, Rove was indicted on Saturday, May 13th. Or at least he was supposed to be.

One of several folks all over Jason Leopold's cracker-jack reporting, Eric Umansky gives a somewhat sarcastic if not fair account of what's going on at Truthout. Meanwhile, Byron York at NRO tackles the larger issue of speculative reporting in the Plame-game: appears that nothing will stop the sort of viral speculation that is going on about the CIA-leak case. Even if Rove were indicted—and no one outside Fitzgerald’s office can say with any confidence whether or not that will happen—everything that has been reported in this latest round of theorizing would still be wrong. And if in the end Rove is not indicted, there will undoubtedly be confidently worded reports that he was saved only by some sort of corrupt dealing. What this latest round of Internet theorizing shows is that there are people who have a deep emotional investment in the belief that Rove is a criminal, and that those people will suspend their critical faculties to accept almost any scenario that supports their belief. Nothing that happens—or doesn’t happen—will change that.

Why what ever does he mean? Well, this: Yet Truthout is sticking with its story. “We know that we have now three independent sources confirming that attorneys for Karl Rove were handed an indictment either late in the night of May 12 or early in the morning of May 13,” Truthout editor Marc Ash wrote Sunday. “We know that each source was in a position to know what they were talking about.”But how to explain the absence of an indictment? The indictment was, it turns out, a secret. “We believe that the indictment which does exist against Karl Rove is sealed,” wrote Ash. “Rove may be turning state’s evidence."

And this: To take another example, last week Madsen reported that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales went to the U.S. courthouse on Friday, May 12, where he met with the grand jury and was told about the Rove indictment. An announcement of the indictment, Madsen reported, was set for Friday, May 19.But that scenario didn’t work out, either. May 19 came and went, with no indictment. And Justice Department officials told NRO that Gonzales did not go to the courthouse on Friday, May 12. In addition, the attorney general has recused himself from the case and cannot take part in any aspect of it. “Not only am I recused from making decisions or participating in decisions regarding this investigation, I am recused from receiving information about the investigation,” Gonzales said last October. “I do not receive briefings. I do not receive any information about this particular case.”

Joe Wilson gave Bush-haters everywhere the only acceptable outcome in this whole mess when he stated that his aim was to see Rove frog-marched out of the White House. And come hell, highwater or ridiculous theorizing, a frog-marched Rove is what we're gonna get!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Striking a pose

SMASH notes the latest Winter Soldier redux. Jesse McBeth, proud member of Iraq Veterans against the War is roundly denounced by people in the know as a fraud. If it weren't so funny, it'd be downright sad.

McBeth is getting slammed for several reasons:

1. Special Forces Combat Patch (Wrong)
2. Two "Tabs" sewn above SF patch (Wrong- Only One)
3. No Ranger Tab
4. No Airborne Wings
5. No Unit Crest
6. No Sewn on Rank
7. No One in the Army rolls their sleeves like that.
Bonus: 8. Mustache is out of regulation by extending past the corner of the mouth.

Though apparently #8 is of no consequence as he claims to have been previously discharged from the Army.

I wondered about this as I read the initial piece. How could anybody be sucked in by something this ridiculous?

What was the assault on Fallujah like?

Fallujah is where we slaughtered people in mosques. We provoked the people there. Some people escaped from the mosques and saw us. We would dig holes and leave mass graves of children, women, and old men. We were ordered to let people die on the street. We were told that the Geneva Convention means nothing to us in combat.

What medals did you get in Iraq?

I got a lot. I got a purple heart. Half of them, I don't remember. I got five or six medals just for landing. I got a bronze star.

What do you think is the role of the U.S. in Iraq?

The military is terrorists there. Soldiers thought we were going to fight terrorism, but we became the terrorists. We were told we were going to liberate the country and find weapons of mass destruction. The real aim is to have the U.S. own the country. The U.S. wants oil.

He's a walking anti-war cliche. "The US wants oil...the military is terrorists...we slaughtered people in mosques."

Meanwhile, he's beyond-vague about everything. With that level of specific non-specificity I could be a rocket-scientist.

Chocolate City, USA

The rewarding of incompetence raised to new levels on Saturday when New Orleans re-elected Ray Nagin as Mayor, begging the question exactly how many citizens of his city would he have to hang out to dry to be booted out of office?

California Dreamin'

Speaking of summer...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Prima Donna Mamas

Paul's been posting lately about Public Enemy #1, Roider Barry Bonds. And yes, he sucks.

But let's talk about another storyline that I'm getting pretty sick of, and that's the one relating to Roger Clemens. He's another prima donna.

The fireballing hurler who pitched for Houston last year competed in the World Baseball Classic for Team USA this spring, but deferred on whether he would return for another season of with the Astros or return to baseball altogether. Clemens has suspended his "decision" about whether he will play this season for an entire offseason and approximately one-third of this season. Every few days a new report trickles out saying "Clemens has narrowed his list to four teams," "Clemens meets with Tom Hicks," "Clemens has stepped up his workout program." "Clemens will request $15M"

Give me a break.

This "decision" was made a long time ago. Yes, Clemens will pitch this year. But by all accounts, Clemens only wants to pitch the second half of the year for a contender so he can be in post-season and he wants the team to allow him to stay at home with his family and fly in on days he will pitch (every 5th day). And yes, he wants $15M for a half season.

I don't begrudge the guys his demands. After all, he's one of the all-time greats. More power to him on asking for and negotiating what the market will bear. But spare me the "will he or won't he?" business. Clemens is playing the PR game because he knows Joe Sixpack won't exactly swoon over skipping spring training, pitching half a season, not being in the dugout for every game and making $15M.

Like Bonds, Clemens is showing that the "Steroid Era" is really the "ME" generation.

Still not getting it

The Dixie Chicks strike again...and apparently still know next-to-nothing when it comes to dealing with fans:

Bandmate Emily Robison said she knew right away the remark wouldn't be taken lightly and got "hot from my head to my toes."

"It wasn't that I didn't agree with her 100 percent; it was just, 'Oh, this is going to stir something up,"' she told Time magazine.

For band member Martie Maguire, the controversy was a blessing in disguise.
"I'd rather have a small following of really cool people who get it, who will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, than people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith," Maguire said. "We don't want those kinds of fans. They limit what you can do."

They also put dollars in your pockets and pay your bills. Way to crap all over 'em...

Speaks for itself

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Hey, look at that...

We have a government! I look eagerly forward to the talking class dumping all over it on the Sunday shows.

Come back to the Five and Dime Gene Hackman, Gene Hackman

Anyone who's sat through the entirety of Dodgeball knows the treat that White Goodman has waiting for us all at the tail end of the closing credits. His little rant is nothing more than the bitterness of a man who has been defeated by his mortal enemy.

But he's also right about something. American Cinema is not complex.

Want proof? Go see Poseidon.

The original film for all it's other wisdom, knew that it was telling a tragic story and one of it's key telling points was the noble sacrifice. Belle the former Olympian who rescued Gene Hackman's character and the ultimate sacrifice, that of Hackman himself while but a few feet from safety.

34 years later, Director Wolfgang Petersen sets up an equally compelling moment yet refuses to pull the trigger. Does he think we can't take it?

All I can think is that he, like White, understands that all we want is to be entertained for 2 hours with all the thinking checked at the door with our coats.

The Asterisk heard 'round the world

You knew it was coming...but you don't have to like it:

"This is a great accomplishment because of Babe Ruth and what he brought to the game of baseball and his legacy in the game of baseball," Bonds said. "This and a World Series ring to me would be the ultimate. He changed the game of baseball. ... It's just great to be in the same class."

The allegations of cheating have put a cloud over Bonds' rapid rise up the home run chart. He hit his 500th homer on April 17, 2001, on the way to a record 73 that season, and reached 700 on Sept. 17, 2004, a stretch unmatched by any player at the end of his career.

Summer Begins

It's effectively been spring since I arrived in my new home. Abnormally warm and dry conditions here made winter seem like spring, and spring is morphing into summer.

But now it's probably summer for good. Today it's supposed to hit 97.

It's been a number of years since I've lived in a climate like this. My memories of summers past had become distant as I adapted to various climates over the last ten years. But when I think of summer, I inevitably think about this "kind" of summer.

Now that I'm living here, this vision is re-awakening as the temperatures climb. Freshly mowed grass. The sound of lawnmowers at 8AM on a Saturday. Open space. House living. Grilling out. Days out at the lake. Water skiing. Fishing. Camping. Driving to 7-11 for more ice with the windows rolled down, blasted by warm air, listening to Richard Ashcroft cranked up on the stereo. A blur of social events in various backyards. A constant bead of sweat on my upper lip....and everywhere else for that matter. Turning the A/C up and then having to turn it down when I get a chill. Impossibly frigid movie theaters.

Last week was the first blurry social event. I cooked the burgers and wept freely in response to the smoke while everyone else partied. Tonight marks Round Two of at least thirty. My eyes will be happy to know that there isn't any smoke in their future. I'm just responsible for the Ninfa's green sauce, the ice and Tequila.

The physical manifestations will be slightly different.

Summer rox.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Thank ye

Thanks to Chickenhawk Express for including My Dogs in a rundown of the NSA surveillance program and the ridiculous behavior of Congressional Democrats. Robin lets it rip:

Pelosi's little attempt to show that Democrats were not briefed on the NSA's programs reminds me of this little quote "I went searching for the truth and all I found was facts. Damn I hate that."

Special hat tip to Evan Bayh for the most ridiculous statement after the Wednesday briefing -"One of the problems is you never know what you don't know." Nah - ya think?

More Rummy Indeed

While reading this, I stumbled across this at Belgravia Dispatch:

A "sucking chest wound". Rumsfeld's legacy. And, of course, also the legacy of those who supported the war, like BD, without fully accounting for the serial bungling that would occur at the strategic oversight level.

Greg was for quite a while, as he says, a supporter of the effort in Iraq. Time and the litany of "How the Bush Administration screwed up Iraq," stories have moved him into the critics column.

That is fair; everyone is entitled to their opinion of the Administration, the war and how it's been handled. There are plenty of valid complaints to be made. What rubs me the wrong way is commentary whose sub-text is a demand for perfection in terms of planning and execution for war, when war is the very embodiment of barely-controlled chaos.

While we all spent months lamenting the lack of body armor available to soldiers in Iraq, when we finally saw armor going to those who'd been without for so long...lo and behold, the response was something unexpected:

Extra body armor - the lack of which caused a political storm in the United States -has flooded in to Iraq, but many Marines here promptly stuck it in lockers or under bunks. Too heavy and cumbersome, many say.Marines already carry loads as heavy as 70 pounds when they patrol the dangerous streets in towns and villages in restive Anbar province. The new armor plates, while only about five pounds per set, are not worth carrying for the additional safety they are said to provide, some say.

"We have to climb over walls and go through windows," said Sgt. Justin Shank of Greencastle, Pa. "I understand the more armor, the safer you are. But it makes you slower. People don't understand that this is combat and people are going to die."

Staff Sgt. Thomas Bain of Buffalo, N.Y., shared concerns about the extra pounds."

Before you know it, they're going to get us injured because we're hauling too much weight and don't have enough mobility to maneuver in a fight from house to house," said Bain, who is assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. "I think we're starting to go overboard on the armor."

Rumsfeld came to the Defense department with a commitment to transformation. The war plan(s) for Iraq reflected that commitment: Speed and agility.

What many bemoan is a simple fact of war: casualties happen, people die. It's sad, no one wants it but it's a simple fact. At what point would a plan that optimized soldiers' safety cease to be effective or otherwise begin to jeopardize those same soldiers' safety?

It's not as easy as just pointing a finger at Rumsfeld, wagging it and screaming "You didn't plan!" The fact is, there was plenty of planning. What there was also was a tradeoff.

Speed and agility. How many soldiers like the Marines quoted above have been saved by gambling on the ability to move quickly and with greater agility in a battle zone versus those killed from a mortal wound that might have been stopped with more armor? I don't know the answer to that, and I wonder if Greg or his commenters know either.

It just aint that simple.

Coming to an Air Force Base near You!

At 1:00 PM tomorrow, space peaceniks will converge here on the front gate of Vandenberg AFB as part of a Protest for Peace. According to the organizer's web site, guest speakers include folks from some of the usually suspect protest groups:

Code Pink
Gold Star Families for Peace
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

The only thing missing from the press release is any sort of statement about what this whole thing is all about. The only hint comes from the flyer where this little blurb sits beneath their graphic: Stop global domination from space.

Never mind.

Sadly, I won't have the time to attend the rally or it's post-game barbeque in Lompoc. I, unlike space- and other peaceniks will be busy living life.

A Life Unworthy?

Amir Taheri writes of Iraq in the newest issue of Commentary. The close:

Is Iraq a quagmire, a disaster, a failure? Certainly not; none of the above. Of all the adjectives used by skeptics and critics to describe todays Iraq, the only one that has a ring of truth is messy. Yes, the situation in Iraq today is messy. Births always are. Since when is that a reason to declare a baby unworthy of life?

No Cover

The WH has pulled away what little cover Congressional Democrats had to hide behind while protesting wildly over the NSA Surveillance program:

Well, bluff called. The administration has released the docs and I'm posting them here in full (click here for full-size):

The breakdown of pols and number of briefings since October 2001:

Intelligence Committee members:
The current chairman, Pat Roberts, R-Kan: 10.

The top Democrat, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia: eight.
A former chairman, now-retired Bob Graham, D-Fla.: four.
A former chairman, Richard Shelby, R-Ala.: four.
Mike DeWine, R-Ohio: two.
Orrin Hatch, R-Utah: two.
Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. two.
Carl Levin, D-Mich.: two.
Kit Bond, R-Mo.: two.

Other senators:
Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.: two.

Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.: two.
Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska: one.
Top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii: one.
A former minority leader, now-retired Tom Daschle, D-S.D.: one.

Intelligence Committee members:
The top Democrat, Jane Harman of California: eight.

A former chairman, now-retired Porter Goss, R-Fla.: seven.
The current chairman, Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich.: seven.
Heather Wilson. R-N.M.: three.
John McHugh, R-N.Y.: two.
Mike Rogers, R-Mich.: two.
Mac Thornberry, R-Texas: two.
Rush Holt, D-N.J.: two.
Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.: two.
Jo Ann Davis, R-Va.: one.
Bud Cramer, D-Ala.: one.
Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa: one.

Other representatives:
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.: six.

Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.: three.
Chairman of the Appropriations Committee's defense panel, Bill Young, R-Fla.: two.
The defense panel's top Democrat, John Murtha of Pennsylvania: two.
Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas: one.

By my count, thats a total of 94 briefings attended. How do any in Congress have the nerve to stand up and scream that the Bush Administration was working behind their back to spy on Americans?!

Lawbreakers R Us

From this week's Under-reported news file:

Donald Rumsfeld revealed to Congress the fact that there are a number of internal conflicts working their way out in the process of approving a new Army manual and it's treatment of interrogations:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said for the first time Wednesday that officials are at odds over whether a new Army manual should endorse different interrogation techniques for enemy insurgents than are allowed for regular prisoners of war.

The debate hinges on whether suspected terrorists or other insurgents can be treated more severely than captured members of an enemy army. There are concerns such a distinction could fly in the face of a law enacted last year, pressed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that explicitly banned cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners by U.S. troops.

The part that no one will talk about:

Rumsfeld did not say whether there would be one uniform standard.

But he said the manual, which will guide troops on the handling of detainees, "will comply with U.S. law."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Gerahtyite Manifesto

That's what Hugh's post today imploring Mark Tapscott to reconsider his position on immigration, spending and the future of the GOP is. Simply put it's the best, most concise statement of why November matters that I've yet to read.

Hugh's emphasis is on the courts. While I understand and appreciate the stake there, my focus is on the War, of which Iraq is but a part. Though the emphasis be different, the underlying message is the same: The stakes are too high and the cost of such a self-inflicted wound simply too much, making the prospect of taking a dive in November appear foolishness of near-epic proportions.

The courts do matter that much, and the consequences of losing the majority in the Senate or even the margin in the Senate that makes the Constitutional Option viable are vast and very troubling.

Do you really care about the abuse of eminent domain? The absurd decisions stripping "under God" from the Pledge or the tiny cross from the city seal of Los Angeles because of a threat from the ACLU?How about the executive's ability to conduct the war and keep unlawful combatants from clogging the courts with their demands for due process for terrorists?

Do you think that farmers should lose their fields to endangered flies, parents their custody rights to grandparents, parochial schools their eligibility for vouchers, activists --of left and right-- their right to speak to the FEC/FCC?

The list goes on and on, and the left's judges don't give up and go home...

Retirements and illnesses can change this court in an instant, and if the Senate's GOP majority has diminished or even vanished, the course of the country's history will be dramatically altered...

Like every other goal worth pursuing, returning the federal judiciary to its modest and appropriate role, as well as the First Amendment and the Commerce Clause totheir intended operations, requires enormous patience over multiple presidencies, and there is always the possibility that the project is not possible given the seemingly inevitable tendency of jurists to aggregate more and more authority to themselves over time. Self-denying public servants are rare, and the effect of robing seems to be destructive of the ability to read Article I and II clearly.

But giving up the game is not the answer --electing more principled center-right conservatives is the answer.

Soxblog echoes similar sentiments, focusing like me on the War:

FOR ME, THE ANALYSIS GOES TO basic principles. Namely, what is the biggest issue of the day?

The biggest issue of the day from history's viewpoint will undoubtedly be civilization's struggle with radical Islam. We are at war with Radical Islam. If you don't believe that, let me offer a less controversial assertion - Radical Islam is at war with us...

In some ways, I sympathize with Tapscott's formulation. It would be tough to shed any tears if Lincoln Chafee were sent packing. Hell, I'll go all in -it would be tough to weep if the Republican Party got as a reward for its incompetent twelve year stewardship of the House the demotion to minority party that it has so completely earned.

But unfortunately, we don't have time for party purification at the moment. History's moving too fast. We can't take two years off for John Conyers to mount impeachment proceedings while the liberal blogosphere does multiple victory laps...

Our enemies will not be taking the next two years off-- of that you can be sure. Friends, we live in consequential times. To paraphrase a great man, you go to war with the Party you have, not the Party you wish you had.

In 1992 Conservatives abandoned Bush I because they felt he had abandoned them. However much a bad choice in many ways that might have been, it wasn't a fatal error. I fear that returning Democrats to power in Congress in one or both of the it's houses will damage this nation immeasurably in the coming years.

"Slow down people! Don't be hasty, don't be rash...there are bigger political issues at stake here.

"This is not 1992, history hasn't just ended. The political price of 'sending a message' has risen dramatically in the last several years and such a tactic that would put Democrats back into any positions of power jeopardizes efforts you yourself championed in the last 5-plus years in the judiciary and sets up a self-fulfilling Iraq-is-Vietnam pullout scenario that will damage the US for years to come in the war on terror.

"Simply put, we can't afford our righteous indignation; the political price of returning to Clintonesque Democrat policies of the 1990's is just too high. There's a war to win."

The Ironic Coast

In a time of $3.00+ gallons of gas, Chevron's old oil processing facility at Gaviota--Mariposa Reina--is slowly but surely being dismantled.

Chevron halted it's processing there in 1998, and much of the work it once handled is now done on the off-shore platforms that dot the coast north of Santa Barbara:

Today the facility is owned by the Plains Exploration and Production Co., said Kevin Drude, a planner with the Santa Barbara County energy division. No oil processing takes place at the plant and no hydrogen sulfide (a poisonous gas) comes to shore for processing.

“Its all done on the platforms now,” he said. “All they do at that facility is temporarily store the oil.” Oil from the offshore wells is mostly shipped via pipeline to Texas refineries.

I imagine there is sound economic reasoning behind the Chevron decision to halt processing there and the long-term decision to dismantle the facilities at Mariposa Reina. The irony however is a bit overwhelming at a time when we're having debates like this about things like refining capacity.

"Hi, we're not serious. At all..."

Gold for Chocolate...depending on who you ask, that's a deal worth taking. However, the leadership of Iran disagrees:

Iran's president mocked a package of incentives to suspend uranium enrichment, saying Wednesday they were like giving up gold for chocolate-- defiance that appeared certain to complicate U.S. efforts to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

"Do you think you are dealing with a 4-year-old child to whom you can give some walnuts and chocolates and get gold from him?" President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked derisively.

Yeah, why exactly are we doing this little dance anyway?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

One stop shop

It's where we go anytime we're jonesing for tons and tons of George W. Bush!

Now that the "no Comment policy," that became a "No Comment policy," is once again a "no Comment policy," be sure to stop by and thank Clint for all his hard work!

Being this obsessive is no small feat. I know!

Saving November

When I wrote yesterday about the immigration situation and expressed my partial agreement with Sim, I had a specific commentary in mind for this post. That has changed, as today there were drastic improvements in the ongoing squabble in the Republican party vis-a-vis immigration reform.

After Monday night, it appeared that conversations that had started over the weekend (Gerahtyites vs. Tapscottians (with appropriate mention of Hugh for coining a fabulous phrase)) was blooming into a full-scale virtual rebellion designed to peel Conservatives away from the rest of the Republican party over this issue. From Tapscott:

But it is not President Bush, it is the congressional wing of the GOP - and by extension the national party apparatus that goes on regardless of who is in the White House - that is on the ballot and it is chiefly to them that I find myself no longer willing to extend the benefit of the doubt for two reasons:

First, I am no longer convinced that it makes a sufficiently critical difference in the day-to-day function of government that the Bill Frists, Trent Lotts, Jerry Lewises and Bill Youngs are in control of Congress instead of Harry Reid, Teddy Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi.

The GOP majority has hiked spending and expanded entitlements at a rate that would astound LBJ. Congressional oversight has become a mere memory under the GOP's control for the past dozen years. It was under a GOP majority in the House and with Bush in the White House that campaign finance reform was approved, thus setting in motion the most extensive undermining of the First Amendment and political speech since Lincoln threw opposition newspaper editors in jail during the Civil War.

I could go on because the list of essentially liberal programs and policies enacted and/or expanded under GOP control is lengthy. I didn't come to Washington 30 years ago to help Me, Too Republicans further the Liberal Democrats' Leviathan state; I came to help put it back in the cage that is the Constitution, traditionally understood.

If the GOP majority in Congress makes acceptable progress on these issues in coming months, conservatives will work, contribute and vote accordingly. If Congress doesn't act on these issues - or merely goes through the same old rhetorical motions - it will be clear beyond any further doubt that GOP majority really doesn't care about enacting conservative reforms and the GOP is useless as a tool for advancing political liberty.

Second, if the GOP majority fails to act or merely continues to talk about it, conservatives then have an obligation to find or create a new party.

Gerahty's reply, in a nutshell, emphasizes the practical consequences of a decision to pull back and sit out November:

Nice job, guys. Your effort to re-conservativize the Republican Party in Washington by staying home this year will have the effect of massacring the actual conservatives and empowering the moderates who you disdain. Perhaps we can call this counterproductive maneuver “RINO-plasty.”

With that I could only agree. As I wrote last night, you had conservative blogs being pulled apart and others proclaiming the possible end of the Republican party as they watched and listened to the President's earnest yet very much moderate immigration proposals. My reaction to that sequence of events was very simple and straight forward:

"Slow down people! Don't be hasty, don't be rash...there are bigger political issues at stake here.

"This is not 1992, history hasn't just ended. The political price of 'sending a message' has risen dramatically in the last several years and such a tactic that would put Democrats back into any positions of power jeopardizes efforts you yourself championed in the last 5-plus years in the judiciary and sets up a self-fulfilling Iraq-is-Vietnam pullout scenario that will damage the US for years to come in the war on terror.

"Simply put, we can't afford our righteous indignation; the political price of returning to Clintonesque Democrat policies of the 1990's is just too high. There's a war to win."

Well, somewhere between then and now, things turned:

That was the vote on the Sessions Amendment. [83-16]This is a reflection that the country believes in fencing, and lots of it. Passage of the Sessions Amendment and the Kyl/Cornyn Amendment earlier in the day makes it much more likely that the Senate will pass a decent bill, and that a conference bill will be possible.

Given that the House bill mandates 700 miles of fencing and the Senate bill 370 miles of fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers, the final bill that emerges from conference will mandate an enormous improvement in border security.

And once the fencing is proven effective --as it has been in San Diego and El Paso-- more fencing will follow where it is necessary, and the flow of illegal entrants into the country from across the southern border will diminsh quickly and significantly.

I have long been an advocate of the "fences and carrots" approach, and it looks like this is where the Senate bill is headed. This may yet turn out to be the rare bit of election year legislation that achieves a set of goals good not for one party or the other, but the country.

Conservatives have been cheering the House approach to the issue for some time, and it appears that Senate Republicans have awoken in the nick of time to the desires of their conservative and, ostensibly, non-conservative constituents. Their vote today signals an understanding--even if cynically based on political motivations--that the GOP wants a real answer to this problem and that at least a portion of them were willing to "go nuclear" on it.

The added bonus in today's vote is putting the Senate Democrats on record on the issue of fencing. All 16 votes were Democrats (And yes, Jeffords might as well make the 'I' into a 'D'):

The list of senators refusing to vote for this measure:
Akaka (D-HI)

Bingaman (D-NM)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Dodd (D-CT)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Inouye (D-HI)
Jeffords (I-VT)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Murray (D-WA)
Obama (D-IL)
Reed (D-RI)
Sarbanes (D-MD)

Some had the sense to read the tea leaves, and the Senate majority for the first time in some time got a big thing right. They may have just saved November in spite of themselves.

The Ghost of '92

Two turnovers late in regulation made all the difference between being up 3-2 and eventually falling behind 3-2 to the Suns last night.

I went to bed at the end of the first Overtime, resigned to reading about it in the morning. Sadly, I couldn't quite shake the ghost of '92. You remember...up 15 on the Jazz in Salt Lake City at halftime, still leading after three quarters only to give it away. That game has marked the history of the franchise ever since, even more so than the myriad number of losing seasons. It solidified the image of a squad that even when it does things right, can't escape it's own hard luck.

Chinese Water torture

A different perspective on horrible Presidential polling:

How could this have happened? Bungles, scandals, corruption, and bad luck? Well, in case anyone has forgotten this elementary fact, every presidential administration has its share of bungles, scandals, corruption, and bad luck. These are the whales, sharks, and other monsters that swim ceaselessly in the political ocean. But the ocean itself -- the medium in which the monsters swim -- is the MSM. In this context, the blogosphere is no more than the foam on the whitecaps stirred up by the vast currents and movements in the ocean below. And while the bloggers were fighting their various and diverse battles in the name of truth, justice, and common sense, the MSM ocean was harnessing its entire immensity on just one story, told an infinite number of times, in every possible inflection, from every direction, and with the deadly persistent accuracy of a dripping tap: George W. Bush is no good.

It doesn't have to be true, it doesn't have to be fair, it doesn't have to be consistent in its terms. All that matters is that it is repeated with uniform constancy: drip, drip, drip. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. Change the headlines, seem to change the subject. Abu Ghraib. European disdain. Tom Delay. Katrina. Deficits. Valerie Plame. Gas prices. Karl Rove. Death in Iraq. Angry mothers. NSA wiretaps. Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, the lede is always the same. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. Forget the good news, bury the accomplishments or ignore them altogether. Drip, drip, George W. Bush is no good, George W. Bush is no good, George W. Bush is no good.

It took the MSM three years to bring George W. Bush's approval ratings down from their post 9/11 high to 52 percent on election day 2004. It's taken them just 18 months [corr. per Tim] to bring him down another 20 to 25 points. They never forgot their mission.

As I've said before, I'm not a true believer in Big Media Liberal Bias Syndrome. But this definitely makes an interesting story.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Are we losing our minds here?

Sim makes an interesting observation, one I share to a degree though for different reasons. I too am struck by what is going on in the wake of the President's immigration address last night. But not because I think it's silly, rather because I see what it's trying to do to conservatives.

On one hand you have group blogs splitting while on the other, some are proclaiming last night's speech as--potentially at least--the end of the Republican party as we've known it.

Meanwhile some are suggesting that conservatives take a pass in November to send a "message" to the GOP.

As Sim points out: Meanwhile, I'm asking myself "Is this really the most important issue we face? Is this really where I want this president focusing his efforts?" With all that is going on in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Venezuela, North Korea, Bolivia, with healthcare, national energy policy, runaway Federal spending, is this really all he's got? "Teeming hordes" of brown people jumping fences, scurrying through the mountains, swimming the Rio Grande?

I hope to have something on this tomorrow when I have the time to organize my thoughts and committ them to the ether. In the meantime, I agree with Sim: Deal with it folks, we got bigger fish to fry!


Stuck on 713 blared my headline this morning.

If there's any justice in this world, Bonds' arms will fall off thus forcing the reluctant slugger into an early retirement where he will live the rest of his days with 713 steroid-assisted career home runs.

One short of Babe Ruth.

Why are you wasting my time?

As I've been forced to listen to all of the broadcasts and hubbub about the President's speech, I'm just agape at what's happening.

First it was, "The President is going to give a big speech on immigration on Monday night."

Then it was, "Here's what the President is going to say about immigration on Monday night."

Now it is, "This is what the President said about immigration last night."

Meanwhile, I'm asking myself "Is this really the most important issue we face? Is this really where I want this president focusing his efforts?" With all that is going on in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Venezuela, North Korea, Boliva, with healthcare, national energy policy, runaway Federal spending, is this really all he's got? "Teeming hordes" of brown people jumping fences, scurrying through the mountains, swimming the Rio Grande?

Like many people, I have long been concerned about the illegal immigration problem and the national and economic security issues related to it. I have lived in three of the four states which comprise our frontier with Mexico. I'm well aware of the impacts of illegal immigration. Have been for years. So what's suddenly driving this? A Spanish national anthem? Some big rallies?

It's how far his presidency has sunk that this is literally all he's got left. It's a long way to 2008.

Well, that's it then

When Andrew Sullivan compliments the President's speech from last night, I know Republicans are screwed.

Melting down

Conservative support of the Bush Administration is turning to mush pretty much before our eyes. The first rule of holes is the simplest: Stop Digging.

Last night's speech on immigration appears to have done nothing about the problem. I haven't really waded into this debate because I'm uncertain as to what's really right; there's good points on both sides.

Meanwhile, what I wish the man would do is make a smart political decision for a change for the sake of the larger, more important things this Administration is trying to do.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Cheney, Deficits and tax revenue

"Reagan proved that deficits don't matter."

Everybody remember that? Cheney spoke again about the matter on MTP with Tim Russert late in '03:

We’re still about 4.7 percent of our total GDP. So the notion that the United States can’t afford this or that we shouldn’t do it is, I think, seriously flawed. One of the reasons the deficit got as big as it did, frankly, was because of the economic slowdown, the fall-off in deficits, the terrorist attacks. A significant chunk was taken out of the economy by what happened after the attacks of 9/11.

MR. RUSSERT: And tax cuts.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Tax cuts accounted for only about 25 percent of the deficit.

MR. RUSSERT: But we see deficits for the next 10 years, big ones. How do you deal with that, when you have Social Security, Medicare, coming up?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: We anticipate even with the added spending that we’ve asked for now we’ll cut the deficit roughly in half from where it’ll be next year over the next five years. So we’ll be moving in the right direction. We’ve got to have—without question, we’ve got to make choices, we’ve got to have fiscal discipline on the rest of the budget. But the idea that we can’t defend America or that we can’t go do what needs to be done in the Middle East with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan, support the troops, rebuild those countries so they never again become safe havens for terrorists to threaten our safety and our security, is silly. The cost of one attack on 9/11 was far greater than what we’re spending in Iraq.

Fast forward to May 2006:

The Monthly Treasury Statement, published yesterday, made the fiscal budget trends look even better than they did last month. At this rate, the unified budget would move into balance on April 4, 2008. Here’s the chart; click to enlarge.I’ve decided to start calling it “Victory for Growth Day” (VG-Day) because if it happens, it would be a balanced budget achieved through economic growth instead of tax rate hikes. According to the doom peddlers, that’s supposed to be some kind of Walter-Mitty-style pipe dream, worthy of sarcastic ridicule and dismissal with a wave of the hand. [How long have they been saying “We’ll never grow our way out of it”? There’s probably some entertaining stuff along those lines at the Blue Dog Democrats’ web site, I bet.]

Last month, “VG-Day” was October 12, 2008, but that was based on the March ’06 MTS. The new April statement improved the deficit trend (tax receipts relative to outlays), and moved VG-Day earlier by six months. In other words, we might get to watch the deficit doom peddlers stutter like Porky Pig for seven full months of the 2008 presidential campaign—instead of just three weeks.

Maybe, maybe not. But it certainly testifies to the point that you can grow yourself out of many a tight spot!

Playing connect the dots

Mark Steyn with the usual dose of acerbic wit on the fundamental silliness of Democrats on anything security related, writes yesterday:

Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) feels differently. "Look at this headline," huffed the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "The secret collection of phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. Now, are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with al-Qaida?"

No. But next time he's flying from D.C. to Burlington, Vt., on a Friday afternoon he might look at the security line: Tens of millions of Americans are having to take their coats and shoes off! Are you telling me that tens of millions of ordinary shoe-wearing Americans are involved with al-Qaida?

Of course not. Fifteen out of 19 of the 9/11 killers were citizens of Saudi Arabia. So let's scrap the tens of millions of law-abiding phone records, and say we only want to examine the long-distance phone bills of, say, young men of Saudi origin living in the United States. Can you imagine what Leahy and Lauer would say to that? Oh, no! Racial profiling! The government's snooping on people whose only crime is "dialing while Arab." In a country whose Transportation Security Administration personnel recently pulled Daniel Brown off the plane as a security threat because he had traces of gunpowder on his boots -- he was a uniformed U.S. Marine on his way home from Iraq -- in such a culture any security measure will involve "tens of millions of Americans": again by definition, if one can't profile on the basis of religion or national origin or any other identifying mark with identity-group grievance potential, every program will have to be at least nominally universal.

Last week, apropos the Moussaoui case, I remarked on the absurdity of victims of the London Blitz demanding the German perpetrators be brought before a British court. Melanie Phillips, a columnist with the Daily Mail in London and author of the alarming new book Londonistan, responded dryly, "Ah, but if we were fighting World War Two now, we'd lose."

She may be right. It's certainly hard to imagine Pat Leahy as FDR or Harry Truman or any other warmongering Democrat of yore. To be sure, most of Pat's Vermont voters would say there is no war; it's just a lot of fearmongering got up by Bush and Cheney to distract from the chads they stole in Florida or whatever. And they're right -- if, by "war," you mean tank battles in the North African desert and air forces bombing English cities night after night. But today no country in the world can fight that kind of war with America. If that's all "war" is, then (once more by definition) there can be no war. If you seek to weaken, demoralize and bleed to death the United States and its allies, you can only do it asymmetrically -- by killing thousands of people and then demanding a criminal trial, by liaising with terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan and then demanding the government cease inspecting your phone records.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mothers Day

Some years it's easy, some it's hard.

Old Friends and New Lives

Ted the Rocket Scientist came for a visit this week. Ted and I have known each other for about a dozen years. Close friends at one time, we worked in ministry together.

And he really is a rocket scientist. Ted works as Project Manager for his firm's involvement with the Delta IV rocket program and every few months spends a few days working out at the Base. He came up for three days last week in preparation for a July launch. We took the opportunity to meet him for dinner on Friday and he spent the night with us before driving back to Los Angeles on Saturday morning.

Those 10 plus years ago, we shared many a sorrow with each other. He as he worked through his divorce, I working through the toughest 2-1/2 year stretch of my life with little-to-no work while painfully adjusting to life-altering changes in my health. The opportunity to share a meal and reminisce while discussing what life is like now was an illuminating experience.

At the time that we barbecued on Ted's patio, I didn't dare to dream of a life like I have now. The thought that I might someday have a wife and a small family in a home of my own was as foreign as foreign can be. To see how my life has so drastically changed in the last 8 years was a gentle reminder of the power and goodness, grace and mercy of God to change lives.

Friday, May 12, 2006

When Sutcliffes Attack

Seems former NL Rookie of the Year and NL Cy Young winner Rick Sutcliffe and comedian Bill Murray had a little too much fun golfing in San Diego this past week.

The evidence.

Listen for the Clooney reference.

Hell, upside down.

Today's release of Poseidon and Paul's recent post on the same subject have taken me back to my childhood growing up in San Diego. When I was very little and my parents were scraping to get by, every Friday night was movie night. We'd pack all kinds of snacks and goodies and pile into the car to go down to the local drive-in. Since I always fell asleep about halfway through the movie, I would be all dressed for bed in my jammies with the feet in them and would bring along a pillow. I think I probably even brought "Tuffy," my mangy, erstwhile stuffed dog teddy bear surrogate.

I remember those nights very fondly. Munching on Milk Duds and popcorn, slurping Cokes, wondering why anyone would like Good-n-Plenty. Spending the time in close proximity to my parents, sharing quality time. And then there were the films themselves. I remember watching Billy Jack kick the bejeezus out of the townies that poured a milkshake on the head of an innocent Indian boy. I remember the immortal words of The Lawgiver: "Ape Must Not Kill Ape." Robert Redford, against his better judgement, leading the moronic whitey soldiers through the Crow burial ground in "Jeremiah Johnson." Not understanding a damn bit of "Paper Moon." Lots of Disney.

But none of those cinematic experiences will ever match the impact that Irwin Allen's Poseidon Adventure had on me. For you see, dear reader, the PA was a watershed moment for me. It marked the first time I ever managed to stay awake for the whole picture.

Maybe it was the hard-charging, gung-ho attitude of Gene Hackman. Or the leggy performances of Carol Lynley and Pamela Sue Martin. (Sure I was only 4, but come on). Perhaps I felt a sort of kinship with young Eric Shea, who played Master Robin Shelby. Shelby's boyish curiosity about the mighty SS Poseidon lead to more than one clever recommendation as the survivors tried to escape their underwater tomb. Or better yet, maybe it was Roddy McDowell's riveting performance as jolly, injured English waiter "Acres." Liberated from his ape suit, McDowell mesmerized the audience with his disshevled limp. You always found yourself asking..."When is Acres going to get it?" Then again, maybe it was the spirited, loving interplay between veteran performers Jack Albertson and Shelly Winters. Watching "Belle" brandish her swimming medal before taking the plunge at the behest of Hackman was inspiring, but watching her swim was deeply troubling. I'm not sure what it was, but something about Poseidon Adventure made me want to see it through to the end.

In the days since I first saw PA, I watch it nearly every time I see it on TV. It remains as fresh and vital as it was when I first watched with my parents. And, yes, I will probably be going to the theater this weekend to see the Josh Lucas version. I know it won't be as good as the original, but it is interesting that I will go see it the first weekend it is out, which is something I only do with a handful of movies. I think the last time I did that it was for the re-make of Planet of the Apes. Do the math.

While the film surely won't be as good, neither will the experience. I won't be in a car with my parents and Tuffy. There won't be the same excitement or familiarity. About the only constant will be that Good-n-Plenty still suck. And proving that we all come full circle, I probably won't be able to stay awake for the whole thing.

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