Saturday, December 18

Russia Turns from Freedom to Fascism

From IHT:
Practically overnight, Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, would create an energy company that not only controls about 20 percent of the nation's oil exports but also has some of the world's largest energy reserves.

A Kremlin campaign that unfolded over the past year will have succeeded in dismembering the country's foremost private oil company, and it will send a signal to Russia's business elite that the state is back in business, literally.
This isn't good for Russia, and it isn't good for the rest of us either. Putin is essentially creating a fascist state. He exposes fierce nationalism, expansionism, domination of Russia's neighbors, and socialism. The West must do everything it can to stop Putin before this gets out of hand because we know were National Socialism leads.

A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in Houston on Thursday ordered a 10-day delay in the sale, but officials in Moscow organizing the sale rejected the ruling.
Putin has put too much effort into destroying this company to stop for some US Federal Court judge.

The U.S. judge, Letitia Clark, issued a temporary restraining order intended to block the participation of lenders and Gazprom. The banks, analysts said, have extensive operations in the United States, and violating the ruling could put them in contempt. Clark's ruling did not apply to the government of Russia.
Unfortunately that isn't going to stop it either. Putin would rather not make it blatant that he is trying to nationalize Yukos, but he will if he has to. Remember, he controls the media in Russia. He can spin this as he wishes at home.

Although two other largely unknown companies have submitted bids for Yukos, their presence was seen as purely an effort to make the auction seem valid. Foreign suitors, including companies from China, India and other energy investors, have been discouraged from participating in the bidding process.
This is just a façade. I do, however, wonder what Putin has on some of these companies that he's able to "discourage" them from participating.

If the auction is completed on Sunday, Yukos will essentially die that day - a casualty of efforts by Russian prosecutors that came with the tacit blessing of Putin. The founder of Yukos is now jailed and on trial on tax and fraud charges, the company's American executives are in self-imposed exile, and its shareholders are out billions of dollars. Russia's actions have set foreign and domestic investors on edge, prompted a capital flight and raised questions about the rule of law and how businesses will fare.
This is a very clear message to investors and business that operate in Russia. "Agree with Putin, or the state will take everything you have." This is, of course, a very bad message to be sending because investors because they have many choices. So why would they let themselves be bullied in Russia?

Lee Raymond, the chief executive at Exxon Mobil, said this month that he was re-evaluating whether it was the right time to invest in Russia.
Hint: If Exxon Mobil is thinking of pulling out and you have some kind of business operation in Russia, you should already be gone. Putin is less likely to pick on a large company like Exxon Mobil then a smaller less noticeable operation.

"Chemical Ali" Begins to Face Justice

From Fox:
Once regarded as one of Saddam Hussein's most feared cohorts, the general who gained notoriety as Chemical Ali (search) for the gassing of thousands of Kurds faced a judge Saturday looking haggard and leaning on a cane in the first investigative hearings of former Baath regime members.
Al-Majid - who earned his nickname of Chemical Ali for his alleged use of chemical weapons against Kurds and others in the 1980s - appeared haggard in a video released after the interrogation. The gray-haired first cousin of Saddam leaned on a walking stick before sitting in front of a judge behind a desk.

Ahmad was shown staring blankly at the ground as police officers stood to either side of him holding his arms. A thickly set man with black mustache, Ahmad was later seen smiling broadly to others in the hearing room.
This guy was one of the worst of the worst. His trial is likely to by in Early to mid January. Maybe when people hear what these thugs have done, they will see the humanitarian case for the war.

The lawyer, who declined to be identified, quoted Ahmad as telling the judge: "I have been a military officer for 40 years and have never been punished…
Somehow I don't think the "Saddam never told me I was doing anything wrong" defense is going to fly.

Most Disturbing Story of the Day by a Mile

Before we details of this sickening story, let's look at how ABC titles the story.
Woman Charged in Grisly Theft of Fetus
"Theft" The child is a person! You don't steal people. You kidnap or abduct them. I'm not going to go into the abortion argument, but since the baby did end up living you could call it a "child" instead of a "fetus"

You may not want to read this part. So be warned, It's truly sickening.

A baby girl who had been cut out of her mother's womb was found after a frantic search, and authorities arrested the woman they say strangled the mother and stole the child. The baby was in good condition Saturday.

The child was found Friday at an eastern Kansas home. A red Toyota similar to a description given earlier by police was in the driveway.

Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, was found Thursday in a pool of blood inside her small white home in Skidmore, a town in northwest Missouri.

Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, had earlier been talking with her mother on the phone, and hung up saying a woman she had chatted with online had just arrived at her door, authorities said.
Montgomery is the mother of two high school-age children, but Graves said she had been pregnant with another child that was never born.
Montgomery confessed that she strangled Stinnett from behind, cut her open, removed the baby and cut her umbilical cord. She also admitted that she lied to her husband about what happened.
You have to wonder what this woman was thinking. In fact, it seems obvious that she wasn't thinking at all. She will likely never see the outside of a prison in either case. That, however, is not much consultation to her husband or the child that will grow up without a mother.

There is of course one positive aspect to this:
The baby was named Victoria Jo and was united with her father, Zeb Stinnett, late Friday, Stormont-Vail Regional Health Center in Topeka said in a statement Saturday on its Web site. She was listed in good condition at the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit.
I don't know much about medicine, but it's would seems to be miraculous that the child survived.

The people at Fox didn't use very good diction either.
Woman Charged in Stolen Fetus Case

Update 2:
Well, at least someone knows how to right an appropriate headline and shockingly it's Yahoo! News:
Mo. Woman Charged With Kidnapping, Murder

Friday, December 17

Cults of Personality

Quotes from the Economist
DPRK (North Korea)
Chaperones escort foreign visitors everywhere, lying constantly. "This shop is empty because it's a holiday." "The lights have gone off because it makes a more romantic atmosphere for dinner." "The Americans started the Korean war." And so on. A Chinese diplomat in Pyongyang once begged your correspondent to linger for tea, explaining that, bored witless, he had to talk to someone who would not keep praising the Kims for the sunshine.
When the Chinese get tired of hearing your propaganda, you've gone a bit overboard. The worse part is that these people don't believe they're lies. They have lost all sense of what the truth is.
Presidents-for-life are passé in most places, but not in North Korea, where the Dear Leader's father, the country's founding tyrant, was declared "eternal president" after his death in 1994.
North Korea is the ultimate socialist system. The state has even replaced God!
they proclaimed a uniquely Korean ideology of juche, or self-reliance
Ha, that's a rich one. Twenty-five percent of the DPRK's population survives solely on foreign aid.
In the camps, prisoners have to memorise rules such as "Adore Kim Jong Il with all your heart," and informers report disloyal sleep-talk, which is punishable by death.
What a sick society! It can't be much longer before that house of cards collapses, and if it doesn't, we should give it a push.
Nationalism can elide into that other powerful emotion, hatred, and despots like the Kims make sure to push it that way. A foreign enemy makes it easier to demand unity and obedience. That is why, in maths classes, North Korean children are taught to add and subtract by totting up, and taking away, numbers of dead American soldiers.
That speaks for itself.
His other strategy is to seek nuclear weapons, presumably in the hope that foreigners will take him seriously and buy him off. But that will not protect him from his own people, who will surely demand one day to join the other, richer, freer Korea to the south, just as the East Germans wanted to rejoin West Germany. For now, no one wants to be the first to drop the charade of Dear Leader-worship. But as Nicolae Ceausescu discovered in Romania, the first jeer can swiftly become a revolution.
Kim must have forgoten. The President of the United States is George Bush. He won't be making any deals to pay off the DPRK.

Turkmenistan, a country of 5m people in Central Asia, is not as shackled as North Korea, but the locks are clicking. It used to be a Soviet vassal state, ruled by a Moscow stooge called Saparmurat Niyazov. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Mr Niyazov deftly reinvented himself as a Turkmen patriot, the "Turkmenbashi" or father of all Turkmen. He banned all opposition, declared himself president-for-life and erected golden statues of himself everywhere, including one in Ashgabat, the capital, which revolves with the sun.
Mr Niyazov has renamed months of the calendar after members of his family,
The greatest sin in every religion: Pride
A collection of his thoughts on philosophy, ethics and Turkmen culture, the “Rukhnama” (“Book of the Soul”), forms the basis of the school curriculum. Even to pass a driving test, his subjects must show their knowledge of this “sacred” text.
[Mr Niyazov] keeps mosques under state control and puts a copy of the "Rukhnama" next to the Koran in every one.
OBL should take his jihad there. Talk about breaking the tenants of Islam. This guy is making himself a God.

Togo's ruler, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, is the least revolting of the three, but has been around the longest. A former wrestling champion, Mr Eyadéma seized power in a coup in 1967, when he was 29. He has held on to it through a mixture of guile, force and French support.
The French supported a dictator? That's never happened before.
Be reassured, Eyadéma,
You were crowned by God!
Be reassured, Eyadéma,
The people are behind you!

He sings that to himself every night. I'm sure.

Republicans Need to Get It Together

We aren't even in Bush's second term, and the Republican party can't get any kind of unified message. First, it was McCain and Hegel, and now this:

Lott, speaking to the civic club Wednesday, said the United States needs more troops to help with the war and a plan to leave Iraq once elections take place in late January. The Mississippi Republican doesn't think Rumsfeld is the person to carry out that plan.

"I would like to see a change in that slot in the next year or so," Lott said. "I'm not calling for his resignation, but I think we do need a change at some point."
The President needs to settle this down, or he's going to start losing that hard won "political capital." He should either get rid and Rumsfeld, or drag these Republicans into the White House and tell them nicely to keep there opinions about this to themselves.

I'd much prefer the latter. Why? There are two reasons. First, you don't change horses in the middle of the race. If Rumsfeld goes, the terrorists will claim it is because of them. Second, he has done a fine job. We can all sit here and Monday-morning-quarter every decision that is made, or we can move forward focus on what's next.

Bush and Faith

Quotes from the Economist:
Mr Bush clearly does believe God is involved in his life. Asked at a debate in the Republican primary contest in 1999 which philosopher he most identified with, Mr Bush replied promptly, "Christ-because he changed my heart." At a national prayer breakfast in February 2003, he said he "felt the presence of the Almighty". The president has talked of making decisions "on bended knee".
If you had to make a decision, and you believed the following things: a) If you pray to God, he will answer you by guiding your actions to his will. b) You will make better decisions when you ask God. Wouldn't it be logical to ask God before making any important decisions?
By the standards of most evangelical Christians, these beliefs would be considered unremarkable. But Mr Bush cannot be judged by those standards. He is president of all Americans. What about the measure of America's political mainstream?
... the American context, is the president's belief that God is involved in the world's affairs exactly ground-breaking.
If you believe in God, how could you not believe he has a plan for the world?
Critics have complained that such quotations are code to please evangelicals, who recognize them.

<<==rolls eyes. "Code words." Why not just listen to what he has to say instead of searching for what is not there?

A Hero to Remember

From CNN:
Sixty years ago, Bouck was a young, whip-smart lieutenant, commanding a U.S. Army intelligence and reconnaissance platoon made up of 18 elite soldiers -- the eyes and ears of a fragmented Allied force pushing through Belgium toward the German border.

By mid-December 1944, they had just about reached the border. But there was a huge gap in the front lines, and Bouck's platoon was ordered to plug an isolated stretch of it, on a hill.

"We weren't trained to occupy a defensive position in the front lines. We were trained to patrol and get information about the enemy," says Bouck.

But the enemy found them.

On December 16, a huge column of German paratroopers got wind of Bouck's platoon, dug in on that hill.

The Germans threw some 700 men, in three waves, at Lyle Bouck and 17 other Americans.

The GIs had their orders.

"They were told to hold at all costs. Basically that meant 'until you get killed or taken prisoner,'" says Alex Kershaw, whose new book, "The Longest Winter," recounts the story of Bouck's platoon.

But by day's end, hundreds of Germans were dead.

Some Americans were badly wounded, but not one was killed, and they were captured only when they ran out of ammunition.
This is an amazing story, and he doesn't see himself as a hero either. I thank him for his service and wish Lyle and his wife Lucy well.

Thursday, December 16

I'll be watching MSNBC Tonight

Although I don't usually encourage such activity, I hope you'll watch MSNBC tonight at 10 pm eastern. They are going to feature a documentary about 2Slick's brigade. (The 159th Aviation Brigade) Here is the Web Site for the film.

"Chemical Ali" Will be the First to Face Justice

From Fox:
Iraqi officials plan to make one of the highest-profile figures in Saddam Hussein's regime - Ali Hassan al-Majid (search), called "Chemical Ali" by the West - the first person to be tried for war crimes.

"In the next few days we will have the trial of Ali Hassan al-Majid, one of the close followers of Saddam Hussein," Defense Minister Hazim al-Shaalan said Wednesday. "He will be the first to be tried."

The trial could begin as early as next week, but would definitely begin by the middle of January, al-Shaalan added.

Like many of Saddam's closest confidants, "Chemical Ali" is a kinsman from Tikrit. Leading the list of charges against him will be allegations that he ordered the gassing of as many as 5,000 Kurds in the town of Halabja (search) in March 1988, near the end of the Iran-Iraq War.
Let justice be swift. This animal does not deserve to take one more breath in this life.

This is Sickening!

From WPLG Fort Lauderdale, FL:
Lake County mom convicted of simple assault after a school bus camera caught her beating a student who had gotten into a fight with her daughter didn't show up for her sentencing Tuesday.
Where is the self-control? At some point in the not to distance past, people decided that they had the right to assault other people for no good reason. It was the same concept with the fight between the NBA players and the fans in Detroit. You just have to ask, "What were this people thinking?"

HumVee Armor isn't from Wal-Mart!

From Fox:

The Army says it will spend more than $4 billion in the coming months to rush more armored vehicles (search) to Iraq to protect troops against bombs.

Officials rejected criticism that shortages reflect poor war planning and said they've been working as fast as possible to give troops what they need.

"This is not Wal-Mart," said Brig. Gen. Jeffery Sorenson
As has been shown in previous posts, this stuff isn't easy to make, and it isn't cheap. The Wal-Mart comment was apt. It isn't like there are warehouses full of this stuff, and the government is just sitting on it.
There was too little advanced body armor and were too few armored vehicles to deal with what the Pentagon has since acknowledged is a far stronger and longer insurgency than expected, critics say.
Isn't hindsight grand?

Wednesday, December 15

Who Does This Guy Think He Is?

From WKMG in Florida:
"I have not been standing for the Pledge of Allegiance due to a conflict I have with the wording of the pledge, specifically the words 'under God,'" Councilman David Habecker said.
The Pledge is for all Americans. If you don't want to say "under God," that's fine, but say the rest of the Pledge. This guy is spitting on the people who died for his right to act like an idiot.
"I'm sad for the community, that there is that much intolerance in our community."
Intolerance? This is the second time today I've heard that accusation hurled at conservatives. Apparently, we're not allowed to call these people out anymore for being fools.

A Story from Iraq

From Idn_Alrafidain
One of my neighbors told me another story about a teenager. My neighbor recalled his story when the teenager crossed in front of the car which we were using to tour gas stations looking for fuel (there is a real fuel & power crisis nowadays). This teenager volunteered for Al-Mahdee militia of Muktada Al-Sadder. He was assigned to fight in Najaf, though he lives in Baghdad. When he was in Najaf, another group of Al-Mahdee militia who fight in Baghdad took position, to shoot at the American troops, in front of his family house. His father and brothers tried to prevent them from doing so, since the Americans would retaliate causing lot of casualties to the family. They had a quarrel with the militants which evolved into shooting. As a result two brothers of the volunteer fellow were killed.
Two of his brothers were killed by his comrades. Paradoxical, isn’t it?
Visiting his family, on leave, the volunteer discovered the truth of how such militias can harm the people. He quit immediately and started to work as a porter.

Hopefully Iraqis can learn from this story that the terrorists are not fighting for freedom no matter what they may say.

Yushchenko Poisoning Gets More Disturbing

From Fox:
New tests reveal the level of dioxin in the blood of Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko is more than 6,000 times higher than normal, according to the expert analyzing the samples.
Who ever did this wanted him dead bad. If I had to guess, I'd say it was someone sent by Putin.
Experts say Yushchenko, whose face has been pockmarked and disfigured, has probably experienced the worst effects already and should gradually recover, with no impairment to his working ability.
Despite predictions by his opponent, it appears Yushchenko is going to be fine. I'm sure Putin's relieved

There is Nothing Wrong with This

From Fox:
A judge refused to delay a trial Tuesday when an attorney objected to his wearing a judicial robe with the Ten Commandments (search) embroidered on the front in gold.
Where's the ACLU? This guy is being demagogued by the media for engaging in Free Speech.

Attorney Riley Powell, defending a client charged with DUI, filed a motion objecting to the robe and asking that the case be continued. He said McKathan denied both motions.

"I feel this creates a distraction that affects my client," Powell said.
How about you don't drink and drive? Then, you wouldn't have to be "distracted" by the Ten Commandments, well...that and prison time.

Tuesday, December 14

The Inside on the HumVee Controversy: Production is Not Easy

The very first thing you need to know about this armor is what it is. I can’t tell you everything, but I can tell you that it is only an inch and half thick, but yet it stopped an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) from taking my buddy’s head off. If you have all the pieces, it covers every inch of your vehicle, even the floor panels, and weighs so damn much that you use twice the fuel anytime you go out and this stuff is on your vehicle. Pretty much all it is is a mean ass Exo-Skeleton for HMMWV’s.

Okay, so you know what it is, now I’m gonna tell you where it is. The manufacturing process of this Armor takes a good long time for two reasons.

1. The alloys involved are difficult to manufactory.
2. Every piece must be blast tested before it can be sent to Iraq.

What this means is that the company takes these pieces, blows them up and checks to make sure their structural integrity is still good to go. This is very expensive and very time consuming, but this doesn’t mean that there isn’t A LOT of armor being shipped to Iraq. When I left, shipments were arriving every week and this was in February when the program was first starting. Now that it has been awhile it is probably more often.
If you have a chance, you should read the whole article, but this part sums up the main point. Namely, HumVees and their armor don't drop out of the shy, and no amount of wishing by Rumsfeld or anyone else is going to make them just appear because they are difficult and time consuming to produce.

If We Hadn't Stopped This Who Would Have?

From Reuters:
Allawi gave no further details but residents living nearby said workers found the remains while preparing the ground for a new hospital near a highway in Debashan, north of Sulaimaniya.

Iraq's Ministry of Human Rights has sealed off the site, where its staff are working. The driver of a mechanical digger told Kurdish television about 900 bodies might be in the grave but it was too early to know how many were buried there.
Did we go to Iraq because it was a threat? Yes, but there is another equally valid reason. Saddam was on a rampage killing hundreds of thousands of people. We don't need to go into the depths of what he did to some of those that he didn't kill. It's obvious that he was a depraved man, and he was running his country in character.

Russian Grip on Power in the Ukraine Slips; Yanukovych's Campaign is Crumbling

There is no better example of the walking disaster that is Viktor Yanukovych then this gem from Fox:
For his part, Yanukovych said he sympathized with his rival and that he wished him "no evil."

In an interview with The Associated Press, he demanded a thorough investigation and promised not to interfere in it. But he stressed that the impact of the dioxin could hamper Yushchenko's performance should he be elected in this month's rerun.

"The fact of the matter is that Yushchenko is seriously ill," he said. "We can all see it."
Translation: I didn't do it, but I hope it accomplishes what it intended.

Not very tactful to say the least.

An Iraqi Fighting the Good Fight in Iraq

From Ibn_Alrafidain:
I wrote letters to newspapers to publish the [universal] declaration [of human rights]. At least one of the most popular newspapers (Al-Sabah) published it and other universal declarations by the UN which I had known nothing about them.

I believe and insist that we, Iraqis, need educational rehabilitation. For that we need continuous support by the free world.

People like this are a modal of what Iraq must become. Not just standing back and waiting from democracy, human rights, and an end to terrorism to happen, but going out and doing something about it.

Bernard Kerik Deserves Better

I often nail left wingers for their vicious ad hominem attacks on people they disagree with, but I'm an equal opportunity offender. I was listening to Michel Savages talk show on the radio, and I hear him compare Bernard Kerik to Scott Peterson. Before I go further, let's review the facts. What has Kerik done? He's employed an illegal immigrant and supposedly had an extramarital affair. Now is this enough to prevent him from becoming Homeland Security Secretary? Probably, but does that mean he deserve to be raked over the coals by Michel Savage with comments like "One sick bastard got the death penalty today and another got a life sentence of shame?" Absolutely not. Kerik was a hero on 9/11 and then he went to Iraq to train the Iraqi police. Affairs and illegal nannies don't trump that. Michel Savage should apologize.

Kofi Annan should resign

“In any other organization, if the CEO was around at the time when there was a $21 billion rip-off, the board of directors would say it’s time to go,” said Minnesota Republican Senator Norm Coleman, whose subcommittee on investigations is looking into a wide range of alleged UN improprieties. “Unless folks see us getting to the bottom of this, I think the U.S. relationship with the United Nations is jeopardized.”
Rep. Roger Wicker, R-MS, has collected 52 cosponsors for a resolution calling on Annan to resign “due to the allegations of fraud, mismanagement, and abuse.” Sen. Coleman says the condition for continuing U.S.-UN relations is “Kofi himself taking responsibility and stepping down.”

I understand that it might be counter-productive if we are seen in the world as trying to force Annan out, but allowing him to stay is not an option. He is an impediment to the things we need to get done in the world, including in Iraq and with regard to the Israel/Palestinian issue. If getting him out mains withholding funding, then it must be done.

There is another important aspect to the Oil-for-Food Scandal, which has gone largely unnoticed. Oddly enough, Kofi Annan sums it up nicely:

Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining a government's ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice and discouraging foreign investment and aid.

Quote of the Day

From Soldiers for Truth:

We need to get over this PC mindset once and for all. The insurgency terrorists will take their entire country down with them if given the chance. We need to use every resource at our command to obliterate these deviants, and hopefully thereby discourage future would-be combatants.

It is Getting Bad in Darfur

From 7am News:

Two Save the Children aid workers have been shot dead in the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur.

The charity has suspended its operations in the region, which a United Nations report last week said was spiraling into chaos.

The two died after the vehicle that the two Sudanese nationals were traveling in came under fire in South Darfur.
I fail to see the logic in killing people who are just trying to help. It's morally reprehensible.

The number of ceasefire violations has been on the rise in recent months, with rebel leaders accusing the government of breaching the truce and threatening to boycott peace talks.

The rebels announced that they would stay away from the talks in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, until the government promised to halt attacks.
If countries don't start stepping up to the plate, a lot of people are going to die. You may not think this is your problem, but it is. If the Arabs in that area wipe out all the blacks, there is high likelihood that Sudan could become a terrorist haven in the mode of Afghanistan, which it can’t today because there is a moderating force. i.e. the black Christians

Monday, December 13

I Try

From our friends at CBS:

Internet blogs are providing a new and unregulated medium for politically motivated attacks.
So CBS is now for so kind of "regulation?" But when they have a striper at the half time show of the Super Bowl, it's some kind of fascism when they get fined, and what kind of "politically motivated attacks" are they talking about? Like say if I forged documents in an attempt to defeat a sitting President in a time of war. Is that the kind of attack we're talking about here?
At minimum, the role of blogs in the Daschle-Thune race is a telling harbinger for 2006 and 2008. Some blogs could become new vehicles for the old political dirty tricks.

Like all media, blogs hold the potential for abuse. Experts point out that blogs' unregulated status makes them particularly attractive outlets for political attack.
There is not a better example then blogs to show us why the government should keep it's grubby fingers off. We all understand that most political bloggers have an agenda. I do, but if I thought any blogs that I read were simply making stories to defeat a political candidate, I would stop reading them immediately. Your reputation in this business is everything. People aren't going to waste their time reading lies.

Eugene Volokh sums it up nicely:
"He [a blogger in the story] is perfectly free to write the blog. You can criticize him for it but he had a perfect Constitutional right to do what he did," said Eugene Volokh, who teaches free speech law at UCLA Law School and authors his own blog, the Volokh Conspiracy.

"People are free to say whatever they want to say and not reveal any financial inducements and not reveal in whose pay they are...

Knife Control

From Ananova:
The devastated relatives of stabbing victims traveled to Downing Street in an emotional campaign to put knife crime on a par with gun crime.

The group - which includes the parents of murdered schoolboy Luke Walmsley - are calling on the Government to equalize penalties for knives and guns, and introduce a five-year minimum jail term for carrying an object with a blade longer than three inches.
How are you supposed to defend yourself? Why don't these people just come out and support what they are really after, which is the repeal of self-defense laws. At least that is the net result of their agenda. As with all such laws, they aren't going to stop criminals from getting weapons. All they do is to stop law abiding citizens from getting weapons to defend themselves.

And she said she was "disgusted" with the Government's action on knife crime: "I think if it was one of their children or a member of their family and one of their children had been murdered, I think measures would have been brought in within a year, but of course we are Joe Public."
I'm sorry for this person's loss, but this is a horrible logical argument. Liberals use this kind of argument on other issues all the time. For example, "What if you were raped and got pregnant? Wouldn't you support abortion?" So, why is this argument so flawed? Well, what is the real question when it comes to abortion? It is whether the child/fetus is an individual human life. If the child/fetus is alive, it is irrelevant ethically how it came into being.

Justice is Severed

This isn't the usual function of the this blog. But I'd like to say that I approve of the Peterson verdict. For if killing your wife and child is not dissevering of the death penalty, what is? I haven't posted on this topic before because I don't believe that it is the role of the media, of which I now include myself, to be creating a circus like atmosphere at these trials. The role of the media is to report the important facts of this case. What the media should be reporting is that he has been charged and what the verdict is. What happened everyday for the last number of months wasn't reporting anything important. It was creating sensationalism for the purpose of having something to talk about, and there are much more important things to discuss. I hope this is the last such case that follows the "OJ mold," but I fear that the likelihood of that is slim.

"Vast Right Wing Conspiracy"

It's time to debunk this lie. I just turned on MSNBC, and I saw an ad for one of their shows that says so-and-so "believes that there is a right wing conspiracy to control the media." I don't remember his name, but he must be one of those people that will piss on you and tell you it's raining. Just look at the media today. Dan Rather and his fake memos. The mainstream media ignored the Swift Boat Vets and then trashed them. Of course, this is all some conspiracy to get George Bush another term.

Sunday, December 12

More Stark News about Freedom in Saudi Arabia

From Victon Hanson:

I wish I could report that human rights in the Magic Kingdom had risen to the status of African wild dogs, Longhorn fairy shrimps, or any other endangered species facing extinction. Unfortunately, it's a cold fact of life that something must first come into existence before it can be taken out.

The phantom seed of human rights was planted in the Kingdom last year in May, when the stroke-stricken King deigned to allow the first-ever independent human rights organization on the Arabian Peninsula.

Seven months later, on October 15, 2003, this phantasmal seed germinated into the Magic Kingdom's first human rights conference. Dignitaries from fifteen countries, including the United States, flocked to the occasion. After much hoopla and diplomatic hobnobbing, the conference delivered the divine "Riyadh Declaration": a cornucopia of warmth and sunshine guaranteeing freedom and respect for all things, including the planet. Following a lengthy introduction, 23 items are emphatically "declared and stressed." For those inclined, you can read the entire document at the Saudi Embassy website.

Item three of the "Riyadh Declaration" caught my wandering eye:

The illegal curtailment of freedom and violation of man's sanctity and morale is unjustifiable and is prohibited in Islamic law.

The more I read about Saudi Arabia the more I think that nice smiling Saudi Spokesman must be on some kind of drug. If you have watched the news much, you have seen this guy. He wears a suit. He looks right into the camera and smiles. Then, he lies. He says things like "there is no oppression in Saudi Arabia." This guy's the new Baghdad Bob.

On a more serious note, it looks like things are just getting worse in Saudi Arabia. They apparently believe that no one is going to call them on it, and there probably right, at least for now. But countries like the US, UK, France and Germany should be calling them on these abuses no matter how much oil they have. If they don't, it just going to get worse, and we will be dealing with a war in Saudi Arabia or Iran part II.

More Facts Less Spin: The Real Story Behide Rumsfeld's Q+A with the Troops

There seems to be a lot of misinformation out there about Rumsfeld's Q+A with soldiers in Kuwait. I think that some perspective on these issues from the soldier's point of view would be useful. The first quote is from Sgt. Missick, who was there at the Q+A. The second quote is from 2Slick's Forum and is authored by a Black Hawk Pilot who is based in Kuwait.

Rumsfeld Grilled By Soldiers?
Almost immediately after returning to camp yesterday after the visit by the SECDEF, I did a google news search and read the AP Wire article and noted that, although the piece was fairly accurate, there was definitely a sense of exaggeration in the tone that presented the townhall meeting as a gripe session. As one of the soldiers in the audience, I felt that presenting the morning in such a fashion was misleading, and with such negative connotations, I wondered how long it may be before the MSM ran with the story and turned a pleasant morning with the Secretary of Defense into a scenario that resembled a defendant being cross-examined by the prosecution in a court room. I knew the story was generating heavy circulation when I saw it headlined on Drudge today (click here for story).

Before I dig in, I want to address one item in particular from the story linked above that I think was not made clear enough. When it stated:

Spc. Thomas Wilson had asked the defense secretary, "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?" Shouts of approval and applause arose from the estimated 2,300 soldiers who had assembled to see Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld hesitated and asked Wilson to repeat his question.

I believe Secretary Rumsfeld hesitated because it was difficult to hear the first part of the question Spc. Wilson asked. Perhaps because of nerves, he spoke at first very quickly, and the acoustics of the hangar were hardly concert-hall quality. The Secretary asked others to repeat parts of their questions as well apparently because of difficulty hearing the question in its entirety. I do think Spc. Wilson is justified in asking such a question. It is a serious issue, and if logistics or "physics" is the obstacle from accomplishing the tasks of up-armoring vehicles to add to soldier safety, then we need to do our best to overcome that obstacle. The Secretary concluded with an anecdote in which he spoke of the recent terror warning surrounding the election. He said he looked out the windows of the Pentagon one day and saw 6-8 up-armored HMMWV's perched at the perimeter of the building. He then said, "Guess what, they aren't there any more."

I also want to express that as a person who has worked in politics for years, I was very surprised when we were told there would be the opportunity to ask questions without first having them screened. I would have assumed there would have been some process where those who had questions submitted them prior to asking the Secretary, and had them approved. Instead, everyone in the room was given the option to stand, motion for one of the soldiers holding a microphone, and ask anything they desired. There was no particular order of what kind of questions were asked and the soldiers who asked questions ranged in rank from Specialists to Lieutenant Colonels. When I say I was surprised that this part of the event was not micromanaged, I want to ensure you that I was pleasantly surprised. In my opinion, it shows the attitude that this Secretary has towards the soldiers he is sworn to represent. It shows those in uniform that he does not see us or our concerns as "below his level," but instead sends a signal that we are his concern, and ensuring we can accomplish the mission is his highest priority.

One more thing I would like to add is this, not one soldier present asked questions about why we were here, or expressed the sort of anti-war sentiment that Michael Moore led some to believe was prevalent in the military. Rather, the concern was about ensuring we would be supplied with all necessary equipment to accomplish the mission and return home safely. Let there be no doubt, this was not a hostile crowd eager to catch the Secretary of Defense off guard by grilling him with questions he has never had to answer. This was a group of truly admirable American's and patriots, receiving confirmation from the man who controls the Department of Defense, that we have the full fledged moral, financial and logistical support, to accomplish the mission.

Missick's Blog

Rumsfeld's Visit

As you know, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld came here for a visit yesterday. The news agencies (all of them- even Fox) have already spun the visit way out of control.

I just watched a "Fox Live" update (it's 1:36 am EDT as I type this- 9:36 am Kuwait time), and the anchor started with "what was supposed to be a friendly question and answer session turned into a tough grilling for Donald Rumsfeld..." -this is not a true statement.

I saw another report that indicated that the SECDEF "was slated to give a pep talk" but that it "devolved into a gripe session." -not true.

I've been sitting through briefings about this visit for the past 6 days- in every case, this visit was billed as a "town hall meeting" in which the SECDEF would open the floor to questions and answer them to the best of his ability- never saw anything that suggested it was supposed to be "friendly" or "peppy." This is nothing new- it's actually something that SECDEF's have been doing for years. When I was a VIP Flight Platoon Leader in Seoul, I picked up Secretary of Defense William Cohen at Osan Airbase, flew him to Seoul Airbase, and watched in stunned disbelief as one of my soldiers asked him why the Clinton Administration thought it was a good idea to keep downsizing the military when deployments like Somalia and the Balkans were "on the up and up." More about that later.

The only thing unusual about this particular "town hall meeting" was the fact that the press was invited. My coworkers and I wondered aloud about the wisdom of this decision, and I still can't really see the logic there. The only thing I can think of is that the SECDEF intended to show that he has nothing to hide- sort of like a "full public disclosure" kind of thing. The problem with this is obvious. When the cameras are rolling and a soldier stands up and asks why the military isn't doing anything to properly equip him for war, guess what happens? That's right- the media machine immediately establishes a new "truth"- in this case it's that the military is not equipping the force. Absolutely no effort is made to fact-check the soldier- his word is taken as pure gospel. Politicians on Capitol Hill start ranting and raving, the pundits weigh in, and the opposition party gleefully waves the "I told you so" banner. All because of one question from a hard-working well-meaning lower enlisted soldier.

SPC Wilson is one of those soldiers who likes to take shots at authority figures. His ex-wife said of him- "It wouldn't matter if it was Bush himself standing there. He would have dissed him the same." This does not mean he's a bad soldier. It does mean that he's probably not a good choice to be an Army spokesperson, which is exactly what he became yesterday. As I mentioned earlier, I had a soldier like him working for me in Korea- the guy who unloaded on SECDEF Cohen for downsizing. I thought it was a fair question- I just wish he would have run his question by me before asking my boss's boss's boss's boss. We had a talk about it- my policy was not unusual, and he was well aware of it- if you have a gripe, ask me about it. If you don't like my answer, then go to the next level. If you feel uncomfortable talking to me, then fine- talk to my boss. Of course he didn't feel uncomfortable talking to me (I'm a pretty nice guy), he just said, "Sorry, Sir- I really don't like the Clintonians. I had an opportunity shot and I took it."

I'm not saying that SPC Wilson has an anti-Bush agenda or anything like that- I think he was probably frustrated about things he either didn't understand or didn't agree with, and just wanted to take a shot. And I can tell you that his platoon leader and everyone else in his chain of command felt betrayed if he didn't voice his complaint to them first- from my experience, I'm guessing he did not.

I have no doubt that one of SPC Wilson's superiors told him to go through a scrap yard to get more vehicle armor. There's nothing wrong with this- resourceful soldiers are always looking to improve on their equipment, weapons, fighting positions, etc. What SPC Wilson might not be aware of (at his level)- is that all vehicles that drive north into Iraq are required to have "level 3" armor protection. If a vehicle does not meet this standard, it will not be driven up north- it will be carried on a flatbed truck. Once in Iraq, armored vehicles are used for driving off post, and unarmored vehicles are used for driving around on post. This policy is put out to each unit's commanders well before the unit even arrives to Kuwait. The leaders are then charged with disseminating this information down to the soldiers. Obviously, this process of "information dissemination" doesn't always happen like it's supposed to- and so we have uninformed soldiers (who think they're going to drive into Iraq in unarmored vehicles) taking shots at our nation's most powerful leaders. It happens all the time, and it's another reason why America is such a unique country. There are many places in this world where a soldier would not survive asking such a question.

I wasn't at the event yesterday, but our friend SGT Missick was there. He presents a more accurate picture of how the soldiers received the SECDEF- very much in contrast with the "Spanish Inquisition" that you saw from the MSM:
I must say that the mood in the hangar was much more of goodwill, with soldiers packing around the Secretary as if he was a movie star to shake his hand or get a picture at the end. There was a great deal of frustration in the voice of the soldier who asked questions regarding vehicles being up-armored, and the hangar did erupt in applause after he spoke, but I wouldn't translate one very tough question into a grill session by American forces.
My $0.02.

1) We don't have enough vehicle armor!

I logged well over 1,500 miles driving around Iraq, and I never even saw an "armored" humvee. I didn't complain- mostly because I was well aware that my father never had any armored humvees in Vietnam, and my grandfather certainly didn't have any armored humvees during WWII.

As soon as the ground commanders asked for armored humvees, the military industrial complex went into overdrive- read more about it here:
Furthermore, Di Rita said, since the Army first identified a need for more armored Humvees, in the fall of 2003, the service "has done just a superb job of turning around a component of industrial base that was doing different things" and turning the manufacturers to making both armored Humvees and armor kits for other vehicles.

At the time, Humvee makers were "producing something on order of 15 armored Humvees per month," Di Rita said.

Today, that number is 450, he said, with $1.2 billion spent since August 2003 on armor and armored Humvees alone. As a result, "three out of four" Humvees now in Iraq are armored, he said.
2) Stop the stop-loss!

[i]"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." -JFK[/i]

3) Active Duty units get "preferential treatment" over Reserve and NG units!

Absolutely 100% false. The priority of money and equipment goes to the units with "tactical priority." If we had a National Guard unit "fighting it out" in the streets of Baghdad, they would have tactical priority (would get priority of equipment and funding) over an Active Duty unit that's guarding camels in Basra. As it happens, Active Duty units usually (but not always) have tactical priority by virtue of their mission and/or location.

When I was in Mosul with the 101st, we were always last in line with respect to funding and equipment. 4th ID (in Tikrit) and 1st AD (in Baghdad) had tactical priority, so they received "preferential treatment." They were fully engaged in the Sunni Triangle- we understood this, so we didn't complain.

As I said earlier, soldiers at the lowest levels do not always understand the concept of "tactical priority"- it's more of an officer thing. Having said that, we officers (and you NCOs out there)obviously need to do a better job of educating our young soldiers about their chosen profession. Secretary Rumsfeld, I'm quite certain, would appreciate it...


I think Rumsfeld handled the whole thing perfectly. I especially liked this quote:

"I don't know what the facts are, but somebody is certainly going to sit down with him and find out what he knows that they may not know," Rumsfeld said.
True. And his commander will probably ask him why he used a world stage and a session with the SECDEF as a means to pass this "information" up the chain (he might be standing at attention for that part of the discussion). Who knows? The soldier might have a viable excuse for speaking out in such a forum. I seriously doubt it, but he might. In any case, he won't be punished. He'll probably feel pretty bad when he realizes what he did, though...