Thursday, December 30, 2004

Christmas, Travel, Modem

Had a very good Christmas with part of my extended family. With a sudden and young death in the family this past year and so much else, this was a much-needed time for the family to come together and celebrate what we do have: each other, memories of a man both great and good, victories, lessons learned from failures, music, faith, hope and love. There were songs and presents, stories and feasting, grins and tears and laughter hearty and hale, and indeed, everything bitter and sweet.

All the things I came home for, although, greedy me, I will grab all I can before I fly back to my other home across the seas.

Then, of course, came a technical difficulty that cut my Internet access (hence a shortage of posts), resolved about 20 minutes ago.

Part of the time in between, I met an old friend whom I hadn't talked to in probably 16 years. We picked up like it was 16 days instead and I invited her up to visit more of my family and spend a few days at a lake with my Dad. Got a fly fishing lesson from Dad, along with a rod and reel, went boating, saw two bald eagles, and had some very civil political discussions with Dad and my friend, who are both anti-Bush. Outnumbered, I gave as good as I got (better, I think, though they would count the score differently I imagine). On the long drive home we found a classic country station playing old songs we knew and sang into the sunset.

I hope everyone had as good a Christmas or better.

Now it's time for New Years - [deadpan]yaa-hooooo[/deadpan].

Have a good one!

Friday, December 24, 2004




Peace On Earth, Good Will Towards Men

Smiley, over at The Daily Demarche, posts his Christmas Manifesto:

Peace, apparently, means a lot of things to a lot of people. For the multitudes that took to the streets in Europe and the US in the run-up to the most recent war in Iraq, “peace” apparently means allowing a cruel, unreconstructed Stalinist to remain in power ...

From my favorite book of the Bible:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plan and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Now is a time for war. I pray for a time for peace to come soon, real peace, not street theater peace.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

No Photos?

Well, I intended to post photos of the trip over, but it hasn't happened (obviously). It seems I need to learn how to resize, etc., in the Microsoft Imaging program.

My first choice for image editing is, of course, The GIMP, but it just takes too long to download on dial-up and I didn't bring a copy with me. (Darn me!)

I'll see what I can do with Imaging, but it seems pretty primitive and there may be no photos until I get back to the Kingdom of Wa.

Update: Well, Microsoft Imaging doesn't do what I want, so there will indeed be no photos posted until I post them over good sushi, or a Hokka Hokka Tei dinner. Please refer all queries about the lack of photos here to Bill Gates.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

How's It Going?

Been back a few days now and pulled myself away from, er, sleeping, and have some anthropological notes about America today.

My first reaction - gaijin bakkari! Yeah, they're all "foreigners" (from a Japanese perspective, of course). And so many different colors! Japan is only about 1% immigrants, and most of those are Asian, so you have something like 99.9% Asians there. I see about one white or black person a day. After 6 years in Japan it is a pleasant shock being back home.

Second, Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas! Have a merry CHRISTMAS everyone!

Ahem. Excuse my dissent.

Last observation for the day - My, it's nice to be back home! Americans, even blue-staters, are wonderful people.

Monday, December 20, 2004

... And Are My Arms Tired!

Good flights, great to be back on home soil. Updates to follow after promised long winter's nap.

If I can scrounge some software to resize photos, I'll post one or two of the trip over, too.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

I'm Migratory!

It's time to head back to the homeland for the winter break - Woohoo!

I love Japan, but Dorothy had it right, there's just no place like home.

In a couple hours I'll hit the road and for the 36 or so hours following will be A Guy In Transit. There'll be a big BBQ and a long winter's nap immediately on reaching my home nesting grounds, then almost a month of tall tales, good food, and renewing the bonds that free us.

I won't be posting while in transit, but will probably post periodically after I get home. What those periods will be I can't say until I get there. Regular blogging will resume upon my return to the Land of the Rising Sun.

While I'm in transit, I'm turning the comments section over to you. Any question you're just dying to ask A Guy In Pajamas? Have a comment, a critique, a request? Want to smack me in the head for something? Here's your chance! The comments are right below!

Once you've finished, enjoy this article a reader sent in on Santa training for the Japanese:

Every Christmas, Seiji Makino used to dread facing up to his three children whose questions about Santa Claus would leave him blank.

But this year Makino and other Japanese who want to be able to bellow out a perfect "ho, ho, ho" are getting help in the form of professional training by the country's only "certified" Santa Claus.

Certified Santa?

Anyway, after that, check out the new sites on my blog bagel (hey, some people have blog rolls, I have a blog bagel), Evil White Guy, Smoking Gun, and C. Buddha's Hasty Musings.

If you work through all that in the next 36 hours, check out the rest of my blog bagel. They're all great sites!

The Cost of Hating America

Dr. Demarche has probably the best post I've ever read about the cost of hating America. I'm not even going to excerpt a word; you'll just have to go read it.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Well Ex-CUUUSE My Wa!

Japanese living in Paris are waking up to certain realities:

Paris sends Japanese into suicidal state: report

... More than a 100 expatriates a year are sinking into a state called "the Paris syndrome" which is characterised by feelings of persecution or suicidal tendencies, according to the mental health facilities of city hospitals.

Part of their clinical depression stems from having to reconcile their romanticism about Paris with reality, psychiatrists said.

... After a relatively short period of only three months or so, Japanese immigrants expecting to find a haven of civilisation and elegance instead discover a tougher existence with many problems dealing with the French.

"They make fun of my French and my expressions", "they don't like me" and "I feel ridiculous in front of them" are common refrains heard by the doctors.

The UK's Times Online offers a few more details:

Tadahiko Kondo, 59, a conference organiser, said he fell ill when he first arrived in France. “Everything was unpleasant. People were cold, rude and never smiled. It is completely different in Japan. Especially the girls who come to France thinking it is all about Louis Vuitton and gastronomy. They become depressed because France is not like that,” he added.

What an interesting phenomenon. In my experience, the Japanese in general, including the media, public education, etc., do have a tendency to only talk about the good parts of most foreign cultures, particularly European ones. (The only exception I can think of being America, and recently North Korea.) I think this contributes to an overly simplistic world view, including skewed ideas on security issues, but that's an issue for another post.

The very few French people I've known personally have been nice. Speaking of which, The Diplomad has something genuinely nice to say about (certain) Frenchmen.

And, since this is my French-themed post for the year, here's a good, recent article over on The Dissident Frogman, a blog by a Frenchman who is actually on our side.

(Mug tip for the Paris Syndrome articles to Tim Blair.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Atomic Friendly Fire

From the Japan Times:
A U.S. Army second lieutenant was officially registered as an atomic bomb victim Monday at the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for Atomic Bomb Victims.

Joseph Dubinsky of Pennsylvania died at age 27 when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, where he was being held as a prisoner of war, in August 1945. He is the eighth American POW to be registered at the hall.

There is apparently a drive to get four more US POWS who died in the bombing registered as well.

Today's Season Word: 鷹 (taka)


According to William J. Higginson's Haiku World, migrating hawks fall into autumn, but "hawk" by itself is a winter season word. "Falconry," along with "hunting," "deer hunting," and "tracking" are all winter season words as well.

I grew up watching hawks and have always enjoyed them. I am also a big fan of castles, and I've noticed there are usually plenty of hawks around the castles here. The romantic in me likes to think its because they remember the old days when they hunted with the samurai. The realistic side of me thinks it's more likely to be that castles are essentially parks with lots of trees and a moat, and so tree critters and fish to feed on.

Either way, they are beautiful birds.

Monday, December 13, 2004

HaHaHaHa (cough-wheeze) HaHaHaHa

This video over at Evil White Guy's is the single funniest video clip I've seen in a long, long time.

Yes, it is entirely work safe and clean humor, but don't let that deter you. Completely priceless!

Oh, and when you're finished there, if you enjoy laughing, Chrenkoff has a great reply to an email scammer. He also has Good News from Afghanistan, Part 7 up, darn him.

Doesn't he ever sleep!?

Damascus Votes for Bush
(Um, More Or Less)

Speaking of foreigners who like Bush, the Daily Star gives us this story from an English teacher in Syria:
A few days after moving into my new home in the middle class Christian quarter of old Damascus, my landlady asked me whom I preferred between the two American presidential candidates. I replied, almost in passing, that of course I was voting for John Kerry. Besides being an Ivy League-educated New Englander and the son of extremely liberal parents, I was a foreigner and a guest in a country laboring under American economic sanctions. As a guest, surely I would be expected to distance myself from my own government, which had started a pre-emptive war against Syria's neighbor, denied considerable foreign investment to the Syrian economy and branded Damascus a "supporter of terrorism."

"I like Bush," she said, without a trace of irony. "He's a good man - a good Christian."

Okay, I thought. This is a Christian woman, representing a tiny and often overlooked minority in a predominantly Muslim region ...

Read the rest and see what revelation awaits this Kerry supporter. Go ahead. I'll wait here.

Back already? Well, here's my two yen on it.

I think it's true that Bush and religious Americans have more in common with many in the Middle East than Kerry and the non-religious do, and because of this, there is a greater chance that religious Americans will understand Middle Easterners better than non-religious Americans will.

Before some "reality-based community" members start flinging around the religious fanatic silliness, again, I'd like to point out that the average religious red stater is a couple orders of magnitude more liberal than the average Syrian. But since both are religious, they have some common ground and probably understand each other better, and so probably have a better chance of communicating and dealing with each other effectively. As the author of the article suggests, maybe the "reality-based community" needs to wake up to that reality.

Oh, and by the way, doesn't "reality-based community" sound a lot like "Ministry of Truth"?

Just sayin' ...

(Mug tip to Instapundit.)

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Self-Defense Forces Get An Overhaul

From the Japan Times:

With Friday's announcement of the new National Defense Program Outline, however, the SDF is on the verge of being transformed into a military ready to go to war in the event of a terrorist or missile attack.

The forces are also expected to play a greater role in improving international security.

"It's a time of operation," Hajime Massaki, chief of the Joint Staff Council, said Thursday. "Up to now, we have engaged in training to serve as a deterrence. But from now on, our capabilities will be tested."

By specifically naming China and North Korea as threats to national security and pledging to revamp the SDF to counter them, Japan's security policy is becoming that of a normal state, observers say.

The Japanese constitution's Article 9 forbids Japan from having a military:

ARTICLE 9. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

However, the government's interpretation of Article 9 allows for purely defensive forces, and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, including the Ground SDF, Air SDF, and Maritime SDF, were established in 1954.

The controversial part of these most recent changes will be the SDF's increasing cooperation abroad with the US military. The Japanese supreme court has interpreted the constitution to mean that Japan may defend itself, but it may not exercise collective defense. That means that Japan cannot defend an ally from attack.

For example, the Coalition invasion and liberation of Afghanistan would be an act of collective defense. The US was attacked, and its allies formed a coalition and acted against the aggressors. When Japan sent SDF supply ships to refuel Coalition war ships participating in the invasion, did Japan join in this act of "collective defense"?

At what point does a nation cross over from supporting an ally to acting in collective defense?

This is one part of a significant debate going on in Japan right now, about which I'll write more at another time.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

SDF Deployment Extended, Limits Set, Commies Whinge

From The Japan Times:
The government made it official Thursday: the Self-Defense Forces troops in Iraq will stay for another year, as Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi renewed his commitment to reconstruction efforts and to Japan's alliance with the United States.


But the government has this time specified four new conditions that could lead to the SDF's withdrawal over the coming year: progress in local reconstruction development; advancement in the political process in Iraq; the deterioration of the local security situation; and changes in the activities and configuration of the U.S.-led multinational forces.


"(Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi) has not fulfilled his responsibility" in the Diet in explaining how Samawah could be deemed a "noncombat zone" for another year, as stipulated by the special law authorizing the deployment of Self-Defense Forces troops, Democratic Party of Japan leader Katsuya Okada said.


Both the Japanese Communist Party and Social Democratic Party criticized Koizumi over the nation's role in a war they said cannot be justified.

"The government must pull the troops out as soon as possible and try to find a way to live in harmony with Iraqis," said SDP leader Mizuho Fukushima, voicing concern that the troops' continued presence will increase the chances of Japanese becoming targets of terrorists.

The justification for the SDF deployment has been a tightrope act from the beginning. By law, the government can't dispatch SDF troops to a foreign combat zone, so it has declared Samawah to not be a combat zone, and in fact has made a point of saying how safe it is now. The government also says there is a need for humanitarian aid to help the Iraqis, so they must send the SDF to help the Iraqis and support the US.

So, many Japanese ask, if it isn't a combat zone and there's a need for humanitarian work, why send SDF troops? Why not use civilian aid agencies? The government response is that it's too dangerous for that.

Some days it's a bit convoluted over here.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Where Are My Mobs!?

I demand a mob, darnit!

Lord David Hannay says "get the rope," (and hang America):

American critics of the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan have been accused by a former British UN ambassador of leading a "lynch mob."

The former diplomat, Lord David Hannay, said of those who have called for Mr Annan's resignation: "The United States has many traditions, some good and some bad.

"The worst of the bad is the lynch mob. The best of the good is due process. We need more due process and less lynch mob," he said.

Didn't you hear? Those horrid neo-con hordes have been out ranging the streets, shouting "No Blood For Kojo's Oil!" and burning Kofi in effigy. Gangs of black-clad neo-con youth have been seen burning the UN flag in multiple protests around the country, many of them carrying signs showing Kofi with a Hitler mustache and swastika crudely drawn next to his face.

What? They haven't? What do you mean?

After all, Max Boot, in the LA Times, informs us:
Even now, if you're not an inveterate U.N.-watcher, you probably don't know that Ruud Lubbers, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, was accused of sexually harassing a subordinate, only to have the charges dismissed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan despite an internal investigation that supported the woman's complaint. Or that U.N. peacekeepers have been accused of a variety of sexual offenses involving children for more than a decade, most recently in Congo. Or even that Annan's son, Kojo, and Benon Savan, the head of the U.N. "oil for food" program in Iraq, are said to have benefited financially while Saddam Hussein stole $21 billion.

Where are my mobs, darnit!? I DEMAND mobs!!!


Mug tips to The Diplomad, which also posts about this, and Instapundit.

Dave over at A Red Speck On A Blue Sun also weighs in on the topic, with comments about the BBC.

The Terrorists Will Have Won IF ...

Dr. Frank J. discusses this timeless question over at IMAO:
I seriously think that, if the terrorists killed us all off and put the world under the rule of mad mullahs, they would declare victory. You might think that's hyperbole, but don't you think that if America is razed and Islam the only religion in existence, the terrorist will find that as cause to celebrate?

For a clear, relevant essay on how the terrorists could win, I recommend reading it in its entirety. As a bonus, he also discusses how to react when faced with Allah.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

Because of the time difference between Hawaii and Japan, December 8 is when the Japanese record the Pearl Harbor attack, so my "official" Pearl Harbor Day post comes today. (That or I was too lazy to do this yesterday. Whichever.)

The planner of the Pearl Harbor attack was Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (1884-1943). (The officer in charge of carrying out the attack was Admiral Chuichi Nagumo.)

Yamamoto was firmly opposed to going to war with the US. As vice-minister of the navy and an active-duty officer, he warned the Japanese premier at the time against it, saying:

If I am told to fight... I shall run wild for the first six months... but I have utterly no confidence for the second or third year.

As if on cue, Yamamoto's fleet's worst defeat, the Battle of Midway, came almost exactly six months after the Pearl Harbor attack.

Yamamoto knew America and Americans much better than most Japanese officers of his time. He had studied at Harvard from 1919-1921, and was naval attache to the Japanese embassy in Washington from 1926-1928. He travelled extensively in the US during his time there.

In those days, both the army and navy had cabinet ministers in the government who were active duty officers. These positions were exploited to exert control over the government, primarily by the army. This is one reason the Japanese Self-Defense Forces today have an agency, with no cabinet-level representation, instead of a ministry.

In addition to opposing war with the US, Yamamoto also opposed the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and the alliance with Germany. When his government ordered him to attack the US, he was the one who insisted on the sneak attack, which he considered the only thing that might give Japan a chance against the US.

Two years into the war, the US intercepted and decoded Japanese signals that detailed the dates and route for an inspection tour Yamamoto was taking. US Army fighters were dispatched to intercept him. They shot him down on April 18, 1943.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Jiichan, Baachan

Struck up a conversation with "Jiichan" (gramps) and "Baachan" (granny) in the park last week. Jiichan is always out tending his garden, talking to the neighbors, watching kids in the park, or playing gateball, and he and I'd talked a few times before. But Baachan, behind her thick glasses and leaning on a cane, was new to me. She asked me how long I'd been in Japan, and I told her that and how much I like it here.

"Yeah," Baachan said. "Japan is OK, I guess. But kids today ..."

"Yeah," Jiichan said, nodding, his voice deep and rough from wear. "They never knew the war, so they don't understand anything about hardship."

"Their grandparents are OK. We told them the stories and they remember."

"Yes. The generation after the war generation is OK, but the Japanese started going bad after them. They don't understand that freedom comes with responsibility. They think they can do whatever they want."

Baachan nodded. "But it's good Japan lost the war, though I'm sorry for the people in Hiroshima."

"That's true," Jiichan said.

"Why?" I asked.

Baachan looked around and motioned to the neighborhood with her cane. "Things have been so much better since the war."

"Yeah," Jiichan said. "America won the war, but we won, too. Our government back then was bad and led us into the war, and it was terrible. Things are much better today. I remember, I was a kid during the war. This area out here, along the coast," he pointed along a series of highrise apartment buildings. "It was an important shipping yard." He grinned at me. "Do you know 'B-29'?"

"Yes, I do."

Jiichan chuckled. "Well, a flight of B-29s took out that whole part of town. I was a kid back then. We didn't know the taste of sugar because of war rationing. The bombs set the warehouses on fire and we could smell the sugar burning. The mayor ordered us to grab buckets and get some sugar, and we did. After that we had sugar, although it was illegal."

Baachan was staring off into the distance, the blue sky reflected in her glasses.

Jiichan continued, "None of us would have done it except the mayor told us to. We Japanese, we follow our leaders like that. The way our government works now, that's probably OK. It's a good system for us. But the world can't trust our leadership. That's why the world needs a strong America."

Baachan nodded. "Yes, that's true. People joke about America being the 'world police,' but the world needs that. Americans are always questioning their leaders, and everything is so open. That's why we can trust America."

"Yes," Jiichan said. "We like Bush."

"A lot of people were disappointed Kerry lost," I said.

Jiichan nodded. "That's true, but Bush is good."

"Yes," Baachan said. "Bush is good."

The conversation turned to other things after that, and ended as we got on about our days.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Why Are You Here?

Arthur Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq, Part 16, is up!

Archbishop Sako's frustration is increasingly shared by other Iraqis, who can hardly recognize their country from the foreign media coverage. Westerners, too, both military and civilians, upon their return are often finding to their surprise and concern they had lived and worked in a different country to that their loved ones, friends and neighbors back home saw every night on the news. "Our" Iraq is a place of violence, uncertainty, and frustration; "their" Iraq all that, too, but also so much more: work and renewal, hope and enthusiasm, new opportunities and new possibilities. Here are the last two weeks' worth of stories you might have missed while watching "our" Iraq on the news:

Good stuff, Maynard.

Welcoming A Red Speck On A Blue Sun

A new blog:

My blog is aptly titled 'A Red Speck On A Blue Sun' because I am relatively conservative, young, and living in one of the worlds most liberal countries - New Zealand.
To make it worse, I work in the Film Industry.

Good stuff.

Mug tip to Murray at Silent Running.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

It's A Pain In The Posterior ...

getting followed around by the Communist Party propaganda broadcast truck.

I had to go to the office today and decided to drive. That was a mistake. Traffic was heavy and sloooww. Then the Communist Party truck pulled behind me, and their loudspeakers were blaring.

I discovered that Charlie Brown's teachers were all communists. The propaganda truck broadcast sounded just like this:
Wa wawa wawawa wa. Crime wawa wawa wa wa waa. Elementary schools wawa junior high schools wawa wawawa waaaa. The Japanese Communist Party wawawa, wawa, wa, waaa, wawawaaaa. Waawa, waaaawa, wawawawawaa wa.

Now that I think about it, though, I dated a girl for several years whose parents were communists, and they didn't sound anything like that. Odd.

Loudspeakers in the neighborhood are a fairly common way to advertise something in Japan. In the evenings, there are vans that drive very slowly through the neighborhood broadcasting little ditties about ramen, baked potatoes, or kerosine, on an almostly nightly basis. I was down in Oita once and a Cessna 172 flew over the town with industrial strength loudspeakers wailing away about something or other.

I have only rewarded this behavior once. Once, after a long day at work, I had resigned myself to wading into the grocery store to get something, when I heard that lovely ramen ditty going by. I ran out the door, caught the van, and had myself a hot, tasty bowl of ramen. Very convenient.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Getting What We Pay For

In yesterday's post I noted the hypocrisy of Harvard Law School, which banned military recruiters while the university profits from DOD contracts.

In the same vein, I would now like to point out a series of three excellent articles on US foreign aid. But before I do that, I would like to repeat something Dr. Demarche pointed out in my comments once: The US government has no money. All the money it spends, all the money it gives in research grants, all the money it gives in foreign aid, belongs to the American people.

In the Daily Demarche's first article, the good doctor poses the question "Why do we give foreign aid?" The answer is a good one, and here is a taste:
When I was still in training for the Foreign Service a retired Ambassador gave my class the best advice I've received in this job. He said "always remember a country exists to serve it's own best interests." I know that sounds like it should be common sense, but sometimes you just have to stop and remind your self of that, even when it is your own country.

In the case of the US, I think you have to remind yourself especially because it's your own country.

Dr. Demarche's second post, First, Do No Harm, discusses foreign aid that works, and that doesn't work.

The final post in the series Good money after bad, brings the series to its conclusion and gives Dr. Demarche's answer as to what we should be doing with foreign aid.

The series and the comments made by readers are well worth the time.

One of his commenters, M. Simon, has posted an interesting article on his blog about Hernando De Soto's theory that lack of formal property rights is holding back the developing world. This ties in well with the good doctor's posts on foreign aid, and is a fascinating theory in itself.

My own comment on this topic is simple. The American people need to get what we pay for. Yes, there are times we should give aid just to help people with no expectation of getting anything back. These cases are mostly disaster relief. However, in the case of long-term foreign aid, when the US is helping another nation out, I think it's reasonable to get a return on what is essentially an investment.

I also think this is true in every area, not just foreign aid.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Harvard Law School Re-Imposes Discrimination Against Military

USA Today brings us the story:
Harvard Law School will return to a policy that keeps the military from recruiting on campus in the wake of a federal court decision allowing colleges and universities to bar recruiters without fear of losing federal money.


Harvard had forbidden any recruiter from campus — military or otherwise — that couldn't sign off on the school's nondiscrimination policy. Harvard, like other schools, said the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy was discriminatory, because it forbids overt gays and lesbians from serving in the armed forces.

The ban on open homosexuals serving in the military is part of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), the system of laws the US military follows. The UCMJ was passed into law by the US Congress and consists of Title 10, Chapter 47 of the United States Code.

So, Harvard is punishing the military for laws passed by the US Congress, laws the military has absolutely no control over.

According to the article, in 2002 the Pentagon invoked the Solomon Amendment, which allowed the DOD to deny funding to colleges and universities that restricted military recruitment or ROTC on campus. The schools backed off, but about two dozen law schools sued the government. On Monday, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Solomon Amendment infringed on the free speech rights of law schools.

The Volokh Conspiracy, a legal blog, covers the legal arguments and explains exactly how allowing military recruiters on campus might be a violation of the school's free speech rights. However, the author, Orin Kerr, concludes:

... the Solomon Amendment case does seem trickier than when I first looked into it. To the extent it's relevant — it's not, but some will think it is — I still disagree with the military's ban on service for gays and lesbians. At the same time, I continue to be rather puzzled by the Third Circuit's ruling; it seems to reflect a misapplication of Dale.

The Solomon Amendment sounds like a good idea to me. If it violates the university's right to free speech (which I hope the government contests), then I suggest a new clause be written into every single government contract that provides funding to any educational institution for any reason. That clause would give government recruiters from any and every part of the government free access to recruit on the campus. If the school doesn't wish to sign, that's fine. They get zero government bucks.

UPDATE: Just want to add that my main problem with Harvard is the hypocrisy of taking Defense dollars, but banning recruiters. If Harvard refused DOD bucks as well, I would probably post in praise of their integrity. As it is, Harvard Law School is just playing a childish game.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

See You in the Funny Pages

Fruit of Doom! Evil Pundit is at it again.

Chris Muir is BACK! Especially check out his December 1 strip - I can't link because he uses ASP, but just click the date on his sidebar.

Sean Gleeson, creator of the famous Autorantic Virtual Moonbat (AVM), now brings us the next issue of Scooby Dooby Doo.

I've gotta tell you, after 16 hours in the salt mines, I head over and have it out with Gleeson's AVM. No better therapy on the 'net. Don't tell him or he'll start charging me.

Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Great-Grandmother Volunteers For Duty In Iraq

Jean over at GrandmaJeansOpinions ("Old. Opinionated. And right. What more do you need to know!") posts this story:
A 72-year-old great-grandmother is preparing for deployment to the war zone in Iraq and will become one of the oldest Department of Defense civilian workers in the war zone.
'I volunteered,' said Lena Haddix of Lawton, who has five children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. 'I wanted to do something for the country, because I was always left behind taking care of the children.'

She raised five kids and thinks she hasn't done something for the country?

Monday, November 29, 2004

A: WHO Says Bird Flu Pandemic Could Kill Millions

C: I don't know, who?
A: Huh? WHO.
C: No, I'm asking you.
A: What?
C: Who says bird flu could kill millions?
A: That's right.
C: Who!?
A: Yes.
C: The band?
A: Who?
C: No, Yes.
A: What are you talking about? WHO said it!
C: So it's The Who.
A: Yes, WHO said it.
C: OK. Now that that's clear, what does a rock band know about bird flu pandemics?
A: Oh for Pete's sake. It's the name of their new album, OK?
C: Well why didn't you say so in the first place?

(With my apologies to all involved.)

Democracy By Erosion

Peter Lavelle, UPI Russia analyst, gives us a rant on the world's misconceptions about what's going on in the Ukraine:

What is the point of this short rant? The public outcry to defend Ukraine's democracy is being used to protect and promote the 'oligarchic turf war' in Ukraine. The vast majority of Western commentary has no idea what the reality is on the ground in Ukraine. The vast majority is convinced that politics and the future of Ukraine's democracy, as well as the country's geopolitical orientation, are at stake. This is an illusion, with the West believing its own PR about democracy to reassure itself has nothing to do with the fate of the average Ukrainian.

Defending democracy is something most of us agree with. However, most commenting on Ukraine's democracy have little, if any, idea how the concept of democracy is being used to promote and protect the very specific and selfish financial interests of the few.

Lavelle makes some very good points here and elsewhere in his article. I do think, though, that the key point is a huge number of Ukrainian people are standing up for democracy. Viktor Yushchenko, the man being made out as the savior of Ukrainian democracy, has been accused of and probably is guilty of some level of corruption. Given this, it is easy to say that the Ukrainians have merely backed one corrupt politician over another, and then write the whole exercise off as propaganda.

In another article written a day later, Lavelle discounts the effect of the Ukrainian demonstrations, claiming the situation will be settled in backroom deals far from the people or international mediators.

All this may be true. Lavelle certainly knows a lot more about the area than I do. All the same, I'm throwing my two cents in.

¢ #1: Let's say Lavelle is right. What he does not address is the fact that the Ukrainian citizenry are finding their power, organizing, and creating communication networks. They are developing a brain and muscles. Regardless of where this particular issue is settled, the oligarchs have had to take the people into account. This is a step in the right direction, and with the increased coordination and will of the people, it may well lead to more improvements in the future.

¢ #2: No one has ever made it to democracy in one bound. Many democracies still fight corruption and the influence of small, usually financially powerful individuals and organizations. A corrupt democracy is better than dictatorship.

Democracy is achieved in waves. We look at the American Revolution and think it happened in a flash, that suddenly the US of A sprang forth fully formed from the head of tyranny, freedom and prosperity for all shining across the land. But really the Revolution was just another part of the gradual development of ideas and movements that eroded tyranny over the course of centuries. The people in some eras surged forward and claimed more of their natural rights, in other eras they rested on their laurels or even lost ground. Then a new generation surged forward again. The Revolution was simply the point where the waves running against the cliff of tyranny finally cracked it and broke into the open sea.

People now living under dictators or oligarchs have to go through the process as well. They may not make it to democracy in this generation, but the more of a voice the people have, the closer they get to breaking the chains. What is more, once they break the chains, their first shot at democracy will probably produce flawed systems unduly influenced by power groups outside the government, and by corruption. I look at the process of democratization, including what we are seeing in Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, as a multi-generational one.

The United States came to democracy with slavery intact and women not allowed to vote for more than a century. I think the Ukrainians, when they make it, will have a better start than that.


(Mug tip to Alisa in the comments to this post at Silent Running.)

Sunday, November 28, 2004


(Image by Amelia Hunt.)

The Revolution Will Be Carried On the Backs of Babushki

Via Tulip Girl, here's part of a story the Ukrainian-based blog Foreign Notes has up about a revolutionary granny:
While riding up, there were some men riding down chanting “YU-SCHEN-KO! YU-SCHEN-KO!” So my mother-in-law joined in in her higher pitched voice, “YU-SCHEN-KO! YU-SCHEN-KO!” From that she went to “Nas bahatu; ta nas ne peremozhesh” rhythmically. It means “We are many; you can’t defeat us!” I am not sure where that came from. I don’t think anyone was chanting it when we rode up but others knew it and started in too. “Nas bahatu; ta nas ne peremozhesh!” (Maybe it’s in the genes?) When we got to the top, there we people in small groups talking to each other and not chanting. My mother-in-law thought this was not right so she walked over to them and started them up, “Nas bahatu; ta nas ne peremozhesh!,” chopping her hand in rhythm.

We walked out onto the square. Actually, we squeezed our way out onto the square from the subway exit. This put us right in front of the stage. She seemed to be in her element then and was getting an idea what was going on at last. I was there for a few minutes but then left to go see what was happening in other areas of the square and to see the tent city they had set up further down the block. When I left her, she was grinning ear to ear.

Yesterday, we got word that she had been with the protestors at the Presidential Administration Building. They were there again as part of the numbers of people who are making their presence felt around government buildings in the downtown area. We were told that she went up to the guards in front of the entrance, guards in full riot gear, masks and shield, in ranks twenty deep. She went up to one and said, “I am a babushka [translated roughly as “grandmother” but used for every older woman grandmother age] from the village. I came here to find out how you are. Are you fine? Are you hungry? Maybe your parents are somewhere worrying about you?

It's a tremendous story from the heart of the movement for democracy.

I wish I could do something to help them. Instead, watching from afar as the Ukrainians stand up for the nation they want, the Poles supporting them, hearing the incredible stories of courage from Afghanistan and Iraq, witnessing democracy outflank the world in a month that has changed so much, I feel they are helping the US, and me personally. I know none of these nations are standing up for the US, and none of them know me from Adam. Even so, my life has been greatly enriched by witnessing it.

As an American, I am incredibly thankful for the Afghans who have taken up the torch of liberty, to the Iraqis who are fighting and dying for liberty, to the Ukrainians who are standing up now for liberty.

They are changing the world in big ways.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

If Your Mother Says She Loves You,
Check It Out

Fox News tells us:
Veteran newsman Dan Rather announced Tuesday that he would step down as anchor of "CBS Evening News" in March, the 24th anniversary of his taking over the job from Walter Cronkite.

The move comes just months after Rather, 73, was taken to task for going to air with a controversial "60 Minutes II" story that questioned President Bush's service in the National Guard, a piece that turned out to be based on allegedly forged documents.

Since Memogate was the last absurd straw for me, soon after which I joined the pajamahadeen, this is an interesting moment. For some quoted in the article, Rather did nothing wrong, and indeed had no control over Memogate. He was a great journalist. For others it was good riddance.

Regardless of whether Rather had any control over it, the real question for me is not whether there was an attempt to influence the presidential election with blatant lies, but rather how long have they been getting away with it? A decade? Two? Three? How much of what I think and believe about the world has come from fake documents, from reporters, editors or sources "shaping" news - leaving this out, adding that in, twisting it up a bit... How much of what I "know" about the world has been spin, or error?

Yes, honest mistakes are made. And the blame for spin and error doesn't necessarily fall mainly on reporters and editors - news sources such as experts, think tanks, politicians, businesses, diplomats, etc., are well aware of the influence they can have in a story and how to use it. We also know that breaking news sells, and the consumer is willing to forgive a few mistakes for getting the juicy story first. In short, everyone is working the system one way or another, including the consumer.

In my judgment, right now, the "liberal" media is most likely to produce biased stories. But all stripes, conservatives, anarchists, socialists, libertarians, capitalists, all of them have agendas. So where has your media, the media you trust, had its agenda in the last few years and decades? Has it been gun control, international relations, liberals, homosexuality, religion, abortion, health care, race, economics, gender, taxes, business, war, Bush, what? And where will it be tomorrow? Whatever your beliefs are about these topics, have you questioned your sources enough?

Dan Rather used to be a widely respected journalist.

Who will we say that about tomorrow? What will he or she have written that we believe today?

I still remember the words of the professor in my first news reporting class, way back when. She would be lecturing about how a particular mistake was made in a story, her eyes would narrow, her voice become conspiratorial, and she'd repeat our class mantra:

If your mother says she loves you, check it out.


For more on this:

Jeff Jarvis at Buzz Machine consistently has some of the best media commentary I've found. Here's Jarvis on:
The death of anchors = the end of one-way news (and what to do about it)
How to explode TV news in four easy steps

Three other voices:


The Ukraine

I was going to write a post about the Ukraine, but why?

UPDATE: For some great photos of what's going on, check out Neeka's Backlog.

Mug tip to The Periscope. He also has a good roundup of links to news, Websites, and some blogs posting about events in the Ukraine.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Bah-HUMBUG! (Or, Pajama Guy Gets Cranky)

Ya know, I'm normally Mr. Christmas, the veritable reincarnation of Jolly Saint Nick with extra jolly and super saintliness. But this whole year has just been [deleted deleted BAM deleted WHAMMO (duck) deleted WHOMP (face scrunching) DELETED!! (limp limp limp) deleted BAM].

(Except for Coalition troops kicking ass and building nations, Bush winning the election, and my mom visiting Japan last spring, of course.)

I do believe you have to wait until after Thanksgiving to be a total scrooge. People that don't wait are just naturally mean and use the holidays as an excuse. Don't let them get away with that.

Oh, and I should warn you that the site linked below is a bit on the profane side. Don't say I didn't warn you, 'cause I remember things like that. Especially you, RWB. You too, Tony. Hey, Santa only checks his list twice ...

Anyway, bah-humbug, season's greetings, and don't step in the reindeer patties on the way out.


Thursday, November 25, 2004

Pop Quiz

Hidden Clause Would Force Lawmakers to Read Legislation
by Scott Ott

(2004-11-24) -- A secret provision in the proposed 3,600-page omnibus spending bill for 2005 would require members of Congress to actually read the text of legislation before voting.

Buried on page 1,776 of the bill, the hidden clause sparked outrage from both sides of the aisle after it was discovered by an employee of the Congressional printing service.

Don't just read Ott's story, read the story behind it. What the heck was Istook thinking? And more importantly, what else is in that bill?

Today's Season Word: 柿 (kaki)


The bright pinkish-orange fruit of the Japanese persimmon (Diospyros kaki), also now called kaki in English, is highly prized world-wide for its tangy pulp ... Waiting for persimmons to ripen is a classic test of patience in Japan.

From Haiku World by William J. Higginson

I've never heard kaki used in the US, as Higgonson claims, but then, I've been out of the US for a few years now.

In autumn, right about now, people pick kaki before they can fall and hang them up to ripen. The birds may get a few, but the remaining fruit are quite tasty.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Warning: Autorantic Virtual Moonbat Ahead

Here's my conversation with the Autorantic Virtual Moonbat:

Me: You're kinda cute, for a robot.

AVM: Oh, am I!!? Actually, Fuhrer Bush only wants Prague for the OIL. Hmm! What about stem cell RESEARCH!!? What about public television for the 40,282 vision-impaired feminists who are bludgeoned in PALESTINE every day by our lying thief!!!!?

Me: Prague? For the oil!?

AVM: Interesting that you should mention "Prague"!? What next!!? Will the dittoheads come to explode me for being an owl!!!! The Repopelickins stole the election by DISAPPEARING the voters in Iraq, like William F. Buckley helped our president to steal education. Oh!!!

Me: Buckley? Um, how about a latte?

AVM: Speaking of Buckley! By the way, Bu$$$h can talk about "holy MATRIMONY" all he wants, all the while drugging wetlands, so his entourage of altar boys can debase homosexual bilingual senior citizens in Portugal!!? Can you believe it! What next!!!!? I am sorry for you!!

Me: Well, it's been nice talking to you. I have to go, um, wash my hair, now. Bye!

AVM: Why do you say "talking"!!!!? It's like 1974 all over again!!!!? I reject destruction and imperialism!

Me:[walking away]

AVM: Speaking of walking!! We demand the U.S. get out of Ramallah!!! As all the evidence shows, when the Israelis say "patriotism," they really mean "murder"!! Like I've said a million times before, George W. Bush can talk about "ACCOUNTABILITY", while disappearing Canadian African-American Palestinians in Montreal, so his hierarchy of antichoice lickspittles can deny nontraditional lesbians! If you aren't crestfallen about this Murderer-in-CHIEF, then you are a Replicant bagman of Rush LIMBAUGH!!!!

Bring a latte and have a chat.

UPDATE: Upon further reflection and experimentation with the Autorantic Virtual Moonbat, it occurs to me that Sean Gleeson, its creator, is a genius.

Clearly, judging by the great increase in the supply of moonbats in the last year, there must be a great demand for them. There are, as I'm sure you know, several drawbacks to live human moonbats. First and foremost, there is the chance that PETA may attack you if you use live moonbats. Also, live moonbats are often slow, taking hours or a day to reply. Live moonbats cannot be counted on; just when you really need to be ranted at by one, he goes on vacation.

Gleeson's creation solves all of these problems. It is there on his site 24/7, ready to rant at any moment. (You can even put it on your site if you want.) It's a robot, so PETA is unconcerned about abuse. The rants are nearly immediate with a wait of only a second or two. You don't have to feed it, water it, or even feel guilty if you are a little less than civil with it.

One reviewer claims it passes the Turing test, but I think that's ridiculous. As most live moonbats can't pass the Turing test, it would be a design flaw if the AVM could.

I'm telling you, Gleeson aims to put Kos, Atrios, and all the other moonbat-belfries out of business. Invest now!

The Source of Sovereignty

I dropped by Promethean Antagonist last night, and he has a rather long post up titled Real Revolutions And Cheap Imitations. The whole thing is good, but I was especially struck by the following:

When I briefly taught high school social studies, I was amazed (disgusted) that so many school texts and so many teachers preached the idea that the government has “given us rights,” or “allowed us to have rights." The founders would have cringed to hear such nonsense. Their assumption was that humans are literally born with natural rights and that government's prime purpose is to maintain the security of those rights. The citizen allows the state to exist – we give it the right to exist -- not the other way around!

Indeed, the Declaration of Independence states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ...

I need to be reminded of this from time to time.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Star Wars Trivia / Language Studies

In Dutch, vader means father.

I've thought about taking up Dutch for a number of reasons, though it will have to wait for my Japanese to get up to where I want it. I have to say, though, it would be strange asking about someone's "vader." I don't think I would ever shake the Star Wars imprint on that word.

On the other hand, the Dutch had a big clue as to the identity of Luke's father. Imagine the chuckles that brought when it was revealed, all the Dutch saying "Silly Americans, we could have told you ..."

Monday, November 22, 2004

Pajama Guy's International Roundup: Nov. 23 Edition

Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq Part 15 is up.

The Diplomad discusses a Canadian threat to indict Bush.

David's Medienkritik provides translations of German dissent after the brutal murder of Theo Van Gogh in Holland.

And back in the US, IMAO has a terrible story of police brutality.

Blogger Trips and Falls
[Cue Card: Laughter]

Well, late last night I thought I'd be friendly and put my email up on my blog. I messed it up. Then someone in comments tells me my email isn't working. I look at my email in the comments box. It's wrong, too, in a completely different way.


It's all fixed now, and I apologize for any poor lost email bouncing around the sphere looking for a non-existant address.

No more late night template changes for me (I say at nearly 1 a.m.). And the comments box? Beats me, but I'll blame it on late night commenting. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge

Spirit of America is holding the "Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge" to raise money for humanitarian projects in Iraq. Instead of opening up my own front in the challenge, I recommend anyone who is up for it run over to Chrenkoff's and join his team. It is a very worthy cause.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Calling Dr. Demarche!

The blogosphere's intellectual health continues to improve with the addition of The Daily Demarche:

Proud to be counted among the members of the State Department Republican Underground, we are Foreign Service Officers and Specialists (and a few expats) who tend to be conservative. We believe that America is being misrepresented abroad by our mass media, and that the same mass media is in turn failing to report what the world thinks about us, and why. This site is dedicated to combing the news around the world, providing the stories and giving a local “American on the scene” interpretation.

Looks like it will be an interesting and useful read.

(Mug tip to the ever-helpful Diplomad.)

Rebel Rule In Fallujah Brutal

According to a London Times report:

Mutilated bodies dumped on Fallujah's bombed out streets today painted a harrowing picture of eight months of rebel rule.

As US and Iraqi troops mopped up the last vestiges of resistance in the city after a week of bombardment and fighting, residents who stayed on through last week's offensive were emerging and telling harrowing tales of the brutality they endured.


Another poster in the ruins of the souk bears testament to the strict brand of Sunni Islam imposed by the council, fronted by hardline cleric Abdullah Junabi. The decree warns all women that they must cover up from head to toe outdoors, or face execution by the armed militants who controlled the streets.

Two female bodies found yesterday suggest such threats were far from idle. An Arab woman, in a violet nightdress, lay in a post-mortem embrace with a male corpse in the middle of the street. Both bodies had died from bullets to the head.

Just six metres away on the same street lay the decomposing corpse of a blonde-haired white woman, too disfigured for swift identification but presumed to be the body of one of the many foreign hostages kidnapped by the rebels.


Such is the fear that the heavily armed militants held over Fallujah that many of the residents who emerged from the ruins welcomed the US marines, despite the massive destruction their firepower had inflicted on their city.

A man in his sixties, half-naked and his underwear stained with blood from shrapnel wounds from a US munition, cursed the insurgents as he greeted the advancing marines on Saturday night.

"I wish the Americans had come here the very first day and not waited eight months," he said, trembling. Nearby, a mosque courtyard had been used as a weapons store by the militants.

(Mug tip to Iraqpundit, via Instapundit.)

Oh, Fer Cryin' Out Loud

I'm off the 'net for one day, France is bought out, and the Iranians are begging for sanctions.

Next they'll be telling me Jesus has come back.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Imagine (A bit of a remix . . .)

Imagine there's no network
It's easy if you try
No ISP to serve us
You could get out and see the sky
Imagine all the people
Talking face to face

You-oo-oooo, you may say I'm a blogger
But (thank goodness!) I'm not the only one
I hope some day for a girlfriend
And once again to see the sun


All tongue-in-cheek, of course. (Well, except the girlfriend part...)

Anyway, I have some personal pajama-matters to attend to, so I may be out of range for a day or two.

Have a good one!

PS If by some chance you can't make it without your daily hit of a guy in pajamas, may I recommend my pirate post?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

"How Enlightenment Dies"

Andrew Stuttaford, in NRO, writes:

On November 2, the very day of the election that was to so sadden Garry Wills, an assassin in Amsterdam murdered the filmmaker Theo Van Gogh — shot him, stabbed him, and then butchered him like a sacrificial sheep. Van Gogh, you see, had transgressed the code of the fanaticism that has now made its home in Holland. And for that he had to die.


A few days ago, a local artist reacted to the news of Van Gogh's killing by painting a mural that included the words "Gij zult niet doden" ("Thou Shalt Not Kill"). Fair comment, you might think. Apparently not. The head of a nearby mosque complained. The police showed up and city workers sandblasted the inconvenient text into oblivion...

I have only tried to give you a small taste of this excellent article here. If this sort of thing interests you, I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

Mug tip to Zacht Ei, a Dutch blog that is doing a great job covering the events surrounding this in Holland. (But which doesn't seem to have permalinks, so I can't link to the specific post that referred me to this article.)

Like Short-Shorts?

Then visit this NHK page, where you'll find the winners of this year's "MiniMini" awards for best short movies. They are all downloadable and run less than five minutes each.

Click on the gold, round button below the bottom right corner of each mini TV screen to view / download them. (The characters on the buttons are 動画 .)

If you're up for it, there's a second contest. You can read about it at this page (sorry, Japanese only). The entry deadline is January 20, so if you're going to enter, you'd better get started.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

We're From the UN. We're Here To Help.

From Reuters via Yahoo:

Saddam Hussein's regime reaped over $21 billion from kickbacks and smuggling before and during the now-defunct U.N. oil-for-food program, twice as much as previous estimates, according to a U.S. Senate probe on Monday.


Oil smuggling alone netted Saddam's regime about $9.7 billion, with other funds flowing from switching substandard goods with top-grade ones, as well as exploiting food and medicine shipments to the Kurds in Iraq's north.

Panel investigators also echoed the findings by Duelfer, head of the CIA-led Iraq Survey Group, that Saddam's regime gave lucrative contracts to buy Iraqi oil to high-ranking officials in Russia, France and other nations.

On the list of 270 individuals, businesses and political parties was the head of the U.N. oil-for-food program, Benon Sevan, who has vigorously denied the charges.

I've always said, "NO BLOOD FOR OIL" should've been a pro-war slogan.

(Mug tip to Instapundit.)

Flaming Liberal

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

A man set himself on fire Monday afternoon in front of the White House after a failed attempt to deliver a letter to President Bush.

The 52-year-old man, whom law enforcement officials described as being of Middle Eastern descent, was hospitalized with second- and third-degree burns over 30 percent of his body. Law enforcement officials didn't immediately release his name.

His jacket had apparently been doused with a flammable substance.

I wonder what he would have done if he'd been allowed to deliver the letter. Would this have been an attempt on Bush's life?

This whole poor-loser attitude is ridiculous. Some Americans seem to be serious about moving to other countries because they lost an election, one has killed himself, one set himself on fire ... This is from the party of tolerance and diversity? This is the gang that calls the red-staters bigots and fanatics?

Get a grip, people. There's another election coming. You can make it four more years with President Bush, no matter how much you hate him. Really.

UPDATE: Reader Right Wing Bandito tells us the man was an unhappy FBI informant, not an unhappy liberal. My message for the losing side of the Nov. 2 elections is still the same, however.

Chrenkoff Roundup

Chrenkoff has too much good stuff up right now to point to one thing. Start with Iraq the Model turning one (Happy Birthday, Guys!) and scroll down to the Good News From Afghanistan Part 6, then keep going.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Clinton Election Results Retracted

Breaking news from hard-hitting reporter / commentator Thomas Galvin:

The Galvin Opinion uncovers wide-spread voter fraud: Dole really won!


Here are the states in "Jesusland" that Clinton supposedly won:
West Virginia, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Arkansas (stole the governorships too), Missouri, Iowa, Arizona and Nevada.

That is a whopping 11 Red States! There is no way Clinton won those states! Fraud! Cheat! Man, if we knew this back in 1996 we would have moved to France.

No doubt the Clinton administration will be conceding any moment now. Stay tuned!

Japanese Self-Defense Forces Update

Ground SDF Replacement Units Ship Out*

200 members of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces 6th Division, based in Yamagata Prefecture, departed for Iraq yesterday. They will be followed by several hundred more over the next few weeks. The members of the 6th Division will replace members of the 9th Division, based in Aomori Prefecture, currently on the ground in Samawah.

As usual, the news stations here interviewed some of the soldiers and their family members. The troops this time seemed much more relaxed than the members of the first deployment last December. One man from Hokkaido (Japan's Alaska) joked that deploying to Iraq was probably about as dangerous as visiting some parts of Tokyo. The family members waving goodbye also seemed much more relaxed. There were a lot more smiles all around.

The Japanese troops are primarily engaged in rebuilding and assisting in Iraqi hospitals. As such, they are unlikely to face combat. There have been rockets launched at their camp in Samawah, but that has been about the extent of violence they've faced, as far as I know.

This is the fourth SDF deployment to Iraq, with each deployment lasting about three months. The members of the 6th Division are scheduled to stay until February.

No Japanese troops have been killed in Iraq, although two diplomats were killed in an ambush before the SDF deployed.


Japanese Opposition Parties Strike

Apparently, one or more opposition parties have introduced a bill to bring the troops home at the end of their current deployment schedule in December. Prime Minister Koizumi's government had already promised to extend their stay by another year. The ruling LDP coalition will probably squelch this, but we'll see.


Happy 50th, SDF!

This year the SDF is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Here are some links to SDF photos.
(Click on the thumbnails for enlarged photos.)


The following links show SDF equipment used over the last 50 years.


Congratulations to the Japanese Self-Defense Forces on their 50th, and thank you!


(*This update was compiled from both English and Japanese language media. Before you believe everything I write from my wanderings through the Japanese media, it's best to read my language disclaimer. I do my best, but my Japanese is far from perfect . . . If you find an error, please let me know. Thanks!)

Sunday, November 14, 2004

New York's Bush State of Mind

Thomas Galvin, on his blog The Galvin Opinion, writes about something very suspicious:

...New York City possesses a sinister, deep and dark secret. There is something else lurking in shadows scattered throughout the 5 boroughs. If you listen closely, you can hear the whispers and sometimes it even sounds like restrained glee...

(Mug tip to Instapundit.)

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Do You Question Authority?

As I identified myself earlier, I am a member of the Japanese-speaking, tea-ceremony-doing, haiku-writing, Democrat, ex-pat, redneck demographic.

Consequently, I am probably not terribly typical for a Bush voter. I would guess I am much more of the demographic both sides needed to add to their base in order to win.

In the Washington Post, E. J. Dionne, Jr., writes about my demographic:

John Kerry was not defeated by the religious right. He was beaten by moderates who went -- reluctantly in many cases -- for President Bush. This will be hard for many Democrats to take. It's easier to salve those wounds by demonizing religious conservatives. But in the 2004 election, Democrats left votes on the table that could have created a Kerry majority.

Consider these findings from the network exit polls: About 38 percent of those who thought abortion should be legal in most cases went to Bush. Bush got 22 percent from voters who favored gay marriage and 52 percent among those who favor civil unions. Bush even managed 16 percent among voters who thought the president paid more attention to the interests of large corporations than to those of "ordinary Americans." A third of the voters who favored a government more active in solving problems went to Bush.

True, 22 percent of the voters said that "moral values" were decisive in their choices. But 71 percent picked some other issue. All this means that Bush won not because there is a right-wing majority in the United States but because the president persuaded just enough of the nonconservative majority to go his way. Even with their increased numbers, conservatives still constitute only 34 percent of the electorate. The largest share of the American electorate (45 percent) calls itself moderate. The moderates went 54 to 45 percent for Kerry, good but not enough. And 21 percent of this year's voters -- bless them -- called themselves liberal.

The single biggest issue for me, of course, was the war on terror. If Lieberman had won the Democrat nomination, I may very well have voted Dem this year. But the majority of my fellow Democrats were still crying over an invasion without the explicit blessing of the UN, never mind that Clinton did the same in the Balkans, or that the UN Security Council vote had been bought and paid for by Saddam.

In fact, the last three years have shown me how amoral the UN is. A UN Security Council permanent member can vote, or use their veto, for any reason or no reason. When that "any reason" becomes millions of dollars of bribes to government officials from a brutal dictator, money that could have saved the lives of hundreds or thousands of Iraqi children, it becomes clear that the UN embodies no moral values whatsoever. This is reinforced by UN inaction in Sudan, which has essentially sanctioned genocide. The fact that Sudan was elected a member of the Human Rights Commission while carrying out this genocide is emblematic of what the UN has come to mean. In every way, the US government is more open to media and citizen observation and pressure than the UN, which makes it far more trustworthy.

One question I have for my fellow Democrats: If we are supposed to question authority (and I believe we are), why do most who instinctively believe the worst about their own government utterly blindly believe only good about the biggest authority on the planet?

Michael Moore Is At It Again!

Check out this new ad, courtesy of Frank J., featuring the big man himself.


Friday, November 12, 2004

"Bush Applauds Arafat's 'New Attitude'"

by Scott Ott

(2004-11-12) -- U.S. President George Bush today praised Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat for "assuming a new attitude," according to a White House spokesman.

"The president believes that Chairman Arafat's new attitude is one that bodes well for peace in the Middle East," said spokesman Scott McClellan. "Arafat's rhetoric has cooled in recent days."

Go chuckle over the rest, as they say.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Why They Hate Us: The Short Answer

I posted a rather long-winded opinion on this some time back, about socialists. I thought I'd do the same thing for citizens of Arab nations, only shorter. Here goes:

They're told to.

Yep, that's it.

Oh, and anyone who dissents gets his head sawed off.

You'd think people who treasure their right to disagree as much as Americans do would understand this. But in case not, let me spell it out. In the vast majority of Arab societies, you get the government's line. Your parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc., repeat the line, or get disappeared. It's on TV, the radio, movie screens. It's in the textbooks you read from kindergarten to university graduation. It pours from the mouth of every teacher, every preacher, every friend.

It's truth, because you want to survive. It HAS to be truth, because you never hear anything else, except from traitors, and then only briefly.


I'd just like to welcome everyone visiting from After Grog Blog, where it seems I have recently been blogrolled.

I'll check to see if I still have my wallet.

Today's Season Word: 霧 (Kiri)

Autumn Mist

Fogs and mists become especially prominent as autumn nights cool the moist atmosphere of heavily vegetated areas. While fogs are most common in many areas through the winter, in those same areas they first become prominent in autumn ...

From Haiku World, by William J. Higgenson.

This entry shows an interesting facet of Japanese season words. Kiri literally means fog or mist. But in haiku it became traditional to associate it with autumn, so in English translation the word autumn is usually added. Particular words are usually placed in a season by when they first occur, or by when they are most noticeable. So "long day" is a spring season word because, although the days are longest in summer, you first notice the day lengthening in spring.

This kind of shorthand fills the world of the haikuist, and is part of the reason so much can be fit into so few words. Many, many words have meanings in haiku that are fully understood only to someone familiar with this shorthand.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Theo Van Gogh Died For This Film

The star, Dutch member of parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali, is in hiding.

Here is Zacht Ei, a Dutch blog in English that covers the current events there (as well as pharmacology). Here are his posts about Theo Van Gogh, the Dutch director who was butchered for making the film Submission. You can download the film (or part of it, anyway) from this site.

I just watched it. I very highly recommend it to any adult, but especially women.

(Mug tip to The Tanuki Ramble.)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

That's It, I'm Going Back to My Bedroom

I came out in the yard and shouted and screamed for the election. I enjoyed doing so, but too much of that and you begin to look like these guys. That's just not my kind of thing.

Harry Hutton is a brilliant man who has escaped to Columbia (although being brilliant and escaping to Columbia may be an oxymoron). Over on his blog, he had the unfortunate idea to post a map of pre-Civil War slave and free states / territories that shows the old slave states and territories are pretty much today's red states, while the old free states are pretty much today's blue states, and then post this quote below it:

"It is time to return to the values that made America great. I am talking, of course, about slavery..." -Vice President Cheney, in a speech yesterday (via Daily Kos.)

He got a thorough drubbing from several readers for it and moved the quote into the comments, so it's off the front page. Although I half-suspect he is pulling our collective leg, he later posts:

Still unable to believe the reaction to that map.

Hmmm. Was Hutton making a vicious, underhanded political comment, or did he really think it was simply interesting in an academic sort of way? Hutton's a smart man, as I said, and I got a bit peeved and thought I'd share my peevement with him.

But then he begins his jihad:

I didn’t mean to annoy anyone, but it occurs to me that, since I don’t have advertising on this site, it doesn’t really matter how many hypersensitive Americans I offend. So from today I am going on an all-out Alienate The Readership Drive. Over the next few months this site will have something to offend everybody. I'm going to try to abuse every single nation, religion and ethnic group- that's really something to shoot for, isn't it? Even groups that are easy-going and relatively difficult to wind up, such as Canadians, will be singled out and insulted.

Suddenly, like being hit in the face with a pie, I decided I just didn't care. Hutton runs an intelligent, fun blog, and his commenters, most of whom I would probably disagree with on political issues, are smart and funny as heck. "Chase Me Ladies, I'm In The Cavalry" is one of the few blogs I go to just to see what erudite silliness is up, what new killer fact Hutton's posted, and whether he has yet to get his 300 kilos of white mice (sorry, no time to explain).

Why would I want to muck that up with some peevey comment? It's time to take a few deep breaths and get back into a normal groove.

Life is, after all, fairly silly. Enjoy!

PS If you are Harry or any of his commenters over here sniffing around, looking for doughnuts, I want you to know I'm lying about all that brilliant, smart, and funny nonsense. Poetic license, doncha know. Go on. I don't even have any doughnuts, for Pete's sake.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq, Part 14

After you've read all the bad news (and there's plenty of that out there), head over to Chrenkoff's and read some of the good.

Yeah, I'm a Japanese-Speakin', Tea-Ceremony-Doin', Haiku-Writin' Ex-Pat Redneck. You Got A Problem With That?

Mark Stein comments on Redneck America:

The great European thinkers have decided that instead of doing another four years of lame Bush-is-a-moron cracks they're going to do four years of lame Americans-are-morons cracks. Inaugurating the new second-term outreach was Brian Reade in the Daily Mirror, who attributed the President's victory to: "The self-righteous, gun-totin', military-lovin', sister-marryin', abortion-hatin', gay-loathin', foreigner-despisin', non-passport-ownin' rednecks, who believe God gave America the biggest dick in the world so it could urinate on the rest of us and make their land 'free and strong'."

Well, that's certainly why I supported Bush, but I'm not sure it entirely accounts for the other 59,459,765. Forty five per cent of Hispanics voted for the President, as did 25 per cent of Jews, and 23 per cent of gays. And this coalition of common-or-garden rednecks, Hispanic rednecks, sinister Zionist rednecks, and lesbian rednecks who enjoy hitting on their gay-loathin' sisters expanded its share of the vote across the entire country - not just in the Bush states but in the Kerry states, too.

I have nothing but respect and gratitude for the Europeans who have stood by the US through heaven and hell, and for those who stand by us today.

On the other hand, the Euro-l33ts, like vicious classroom bullies, have mercilessly bullied and condescended to the US since it was a little red-headed step-kid back a couple of centuries ago. Well, if you're a bully, when that little kid grows up to be the biggest, toughest man on the block, you'll be lucky if he's as gracious as the US has been. If Bush were Hitler, Chirac and his entire government, plus family and friends, would be buried in a hastily-dug mass grave somewhere outside of Paris, and the Louvre would be re-opening in DC.

But instead of recognizing that graciousness, the Euro-l33ts have simply turned up the insults, betrayals and degredations. Half of America has decided graciousness isn't getting us anywhere; it's time to sneer back, and shove when push comes to it. After more than two centuries of this crap, it's about time.

First thing that's made me want to move back to America in years.

(Mug tip to Instapundit.)

UPDATE, Nov. 10: Sorry, Eur-l33t is way too obscure. "l33t" = "leet" = kiddy hacker for "elite." Indirectly comparing the Euro-elites to teenagers who think defacing Websites and speaking in code-words makes them smarter than everyone else seemed appropriate at the time. I put an 'o' in (Euro-l33t) to make it a bit more clear.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Denial, It Ain't a River in Egypt . . .


After the effigy was burnt to a crisp, the evening came to a shattering conclusion as the protesters ignited an upside-down American flag and cheered in ecstasy while the flames leaped into the night sky.

This wasn't in the Middle East, either.

Remember my post on anti-Americanism as you go through the photos.

(Mug tip to Iowahawk.)

Let the Healing Begin, Eh?

From Iowahawk comes words of healing and compassion for our defeated Democrat brethren:

Next, you've got to stop all this crazy talk about "suicide" and "that's it, I'm moving to Canada." C'mon people, just stop it!. Why? Because you are Americans too, and Americans are known for action, that's why! If you ever expect other Americans to treat you as a serious political force, you've got to get up off your duff, can all that jibber-jabber, and get cracking on the U-Hauls and tragic carbon-monoxide incidents, Mister Big Talk.

Be sure to read the follow up, too.

Um, yes, I'm a Democrat. But I voted for Bush, so I am a victorious Democrat, or at least, a Democrat who happened to be victorious. Anyway, just go read the post already!

(Mug tip to reader Right Wing Bandito.)

Saturday, November 06, 2004

An Ally: Japan

While I am always grateful for the tremendous, steadfast friendship of the UK and Australia, two nations Americans automatically think of when you say "allies," I would like to highlight another US ally that is often overlooked.

From the Japanese Self-Defense Force's English site:

 Rising from the ashes of World War II with the support and cooperation of many countries in the world, Japan has built today’s peace and prosperity as a technology country represented by its cars, information products and electronic consumer goods.
 On the basis of our experience, we believe that reconstruction of a peaceful Iraq is necessary not only for the peace and stability of the entire Middle East region and the international community but also for the peace and prosperity of Japan itself. In cooperation with other countries, therefore, we plan to provide active assistance to Iraq with Japan Self-Defense Forces troops and civilians as well as with financial aid so Iraq can rebuild itself as soon as possible and its people can live in a free and prosperous society without concerns about their present or their future.

Hidden in this statement are two important points. One, Japan has accepted the Coalition view that the invasion and rebuilding of Iraq are carrying out UN resolutions on Iraq, not in violation of the UN charter. Two, only in a free and democratic Middle East will the region find peace and prosperity, which is the cornerstone of Coalition policy there. A big part of this attitude is Japan's alliance to and friendship with the United States along with its own experience in liberal democracy and capitalism, which has led it to be more powerful and prosperous in many ways than it was as a militant imperialist power during WWII.

Japan supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and currently has about 500 support troops on the ground in the Governate of Al Muthanna, with hundreds more in Kuwait and on ships in the gulf assisting Coalition operations in Iraq. In September, Japan agreed to extend their stay by another year. They have also promised 5 billion dollars in re-construction money for Iraq.

500 men on the ground does not sound like very many, but this is Japan's first deployment to a combat zone since WWII and it constitutes a big step, and a big risk, for the Japanese government. Japan's constitution forbids it from having offensive military capabilities or using its armed forces in combat except in defense of the Japanese homeland. When the Japanese government made the decision to send troops to Iraq, there was actually a debate over whether or not they should be armed, even with rifles. Prime Minister Koizumi and his Liberal Democratic Party have gone out on a constitutional limb and incurred a lot of criticism at home for deploying troops to an area still considered a combat zone. The LDP's support for Coalition actions in Iraq was one of the main points opposition parties hammered the LDP on during last summer's elections.

Japan also supported the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, providing naval support to US ships engaged in combat operations and 500 million dollars in aid to rebuild Afghanistan. Japan supported the liberation of Kuwait in 1991 as well, giving 13 billion dollars for that effort.

The Japanese were good friends and solid allies of the US throughout the Cold War, when US bases on Japanese soil gave the US a strategic advantage, but also made Japan a sure target if a hot war with the USSR broke out. Their government's support has been steadfast and strong, although often unnoticed by Americans.

As the world's third largest economy, Japan is America's most powerful ally, as loyal in the last 59 years as any, and more loyal than some.


Some statistics:

Japan127 million$3.582 trillion
Britain60 million$1.666 trillion
Australia20 million$571.4 billion
Russia144 million$1.282 trillion
Germany82 million$2.271 trillion
France60 million$1.661 trillion

These stats are from the CIA World Factbook:
Japan Britain Australia Russia Germany France

Say Hello to the Republic of Macedonia!

The Turkish online daily Zaman brings us the news that the US recognized Macedonia under it's preferred name:

The Bush government's first big foreign policy decision of its second term recognized the constitutional name of the "Republic of Macedonia". Despite the objections of Greece, the name was recognized in a list of those helping in the war in Iraq.

Learning of the decision, as he was about to leave for Brussels for a European Union (EU) Council meeting, Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molivyatis canceled his trip and called the US Ambassador to Athens, Thomas Miller, to his office. ...

Meanwhile there was a jubilant atmosphere in Macedonia upon this development, President Branko Cırvenkovski said, "Today is a big day for Macedonia." ... Greek officials note that they will take their objections over the decision as far as the United Nations (UN). Athens objects to the move as "it shows its territorial aims in the region by carrying the same name as a region of Greece." Its neighbor announced its independence after Yugoslavia fell apart to become the "Republic of Macedonia".

Macedonia has 70 troops in the coalition in Afghanistan and 30 on the ground in Iraq.

For more on this, check out Nelson Ascher's excellent post at Europundits. I discovered Europundits today through Silent Running, and it is a great read!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Canadian Army Fortifies Border ...

DATELINE: OTTOWA, November 3, 2004

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin (pronounced Pawl Mar-teen) today ordered all 215 members of Canada's armed forces south to stem the tide of millions of disgruntled members of MoveOn, Democratic Underground, IndyMedia, and Daily Kos that have begin to surge towards the socialist haven to the north in search of asylum.

Best of luck to the Canadian army, eh?

UPDATE: Heh heh heh ...

Meanwhile, the embassies of Australia, New Zealand and Canada are reporting a surge in inquiries from Americans looking to move to their respective countries.

(Mug tip to Tim Blair.)