Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Well, Heck

I'm trying to write the wrap-up to my first set of policies to deal with illegal immigration, and I'm beginning to really understand why politicians don't want to mess with this. It goes way beyond the Hispanic vote, too.

The additional problems I see with my own policy suggestions are:

1. The economic fallout in the US would be bad -- suddenly we'd have millions of unemployed illegal aliens with no way out. Deporting them, assuming we could catch all of them, would be extremely expensive. Polipundit suggested that, if they couldn't get work, the illegals would deport themselves, but I don't believe that. Some, maybe many, would be forced into crime, which is made more likely as increased pressure from the US government would allow Mexican organized crime groups in the US to have greater power over the illegals. Also, as our cheap labor pool dried up, prices would go up.

2. I recently read that remittances sent from people in the US constitute Mexico's second largest source of income. (I'll try to find the article and link it.) If even half of the money being sent there is from illegals, then carrying out these policies will actually make Mexico's economy worse, which will exacerbate the problem.

3. The Mexican government has lost control of segments of the nation. It is no longer in firm control over the police or military, both of which have been thoroughly infiltrated by drug lord agents and both of which have, in the past, acted to protect drug lord interests over the interests of Mexico. Any worsening of the situation in Mexico could further weaken the government and strengthen criminal organizations.

Thoughts? Ideas? Solutions?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Finals Week

It's that time of year, folks. I'll reformulate my Illegal Immigration 1 policy and post a new policy proposal in the near future.

In the meantime, here's some philosophy for you:

Definition: Kneehighlism - the belief that fruit-flavored softdrinks are better than Nothing.

And a holiday joke I stole:

Did you know that the three wise men were firemen? Yeah, it says they came from a far.

And finally, folks, remember: A solipsist has only imaginary friends.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Dean Fisked Like a Snake in a Wagon Rut Wearing a Tophat

Howard Dean: "Bring the 80,000 National Guard and Reserve troops home immediately. They don't belong in a conflict like this anyway."

Jason Van Steenwyk replies:
...thanks to the Abrams Doctrine and former SecDef Melvin Laird, the active component cannot function without significant commitment from the reserve forces.

This is because, combat formations aside, much of the required medical, transportation, supply, administrative, communications, civil affairs, legal, and combat support needed to conduct a deployment comes from the reserve components.

If you pull reserve forces out, you will rip the heart out of our combat divisions. You may not even be able to fly them home.

Tell the Brigade commander "you know that truck company you rely on to move a battalion of soldiers to and from the fight? Send them home.You know that -30 level maintenance unit you rely on to get your crew-served weapons firing and to repair your damaged and broken vehicles? You don't get them anymore. You know those MPs already working 12 hour shifts guarding your detainees? Say bye-bye. And you really don't need those Arabic linguists do you? We're sending a whole battalion of linguists home...


In other news, Howard Dean to Bring Christmas Cheer to Troops.

Heh.

###



PS, if you haven't advised me on my future presidential immigration policy yet, please do!

And remember, AGIP 2008!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Wiki-wild

Instapundit sends us to a roundup on the Wikipedia wars.

I like the idea of Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia anyone can add to or edit, a great deal. The execution, however, is sometimes lacking a great deal. Worse, sometimes it is making up a great deal, like adding treason to bios.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Illegal Immigration 1

Here's your chance to affect presidential policy! This is the second in my series of policy discussions. These posts are rough drafts of my future presidential platform planks (AGIP 2008!), and I heartily welcome the comments of my presidential policy formation team (i.e., my blog readers). At the beginning of each week, I'll post a new policy discussion post, and at the end of each week, I will summarize and re-draft that week's policy proposal.

Illegal immigrants and immigration are complex issues, and so this post more than anything else discusses how to change immigration and employment policies to control illegal immigration. What this post does not address are border security, how to deal with the 7 million+ illegal aliens in the US this program will upheave, as well as how to handle the economic fallout of ending a large, cheap labor pool. Those three things will be the focus of next week's policy discussion (though, of course, feel free to comment on them here).

This post represents both domestic and diplomatic proposals to help end the problem of illegal immigration. I am greatly indebted for many of the ideas to various posts by Dr. Demarche on The Daily Demarche, a blog by two foreign service officers which has given the most informed ideas to address this issue I've seen. I have collected, organized and modified some of the ideas I found there and added my own as noted below.

Ten Answers to the Illegal Immigration Problem

In El Otro Lado, Dr. Demarche laid out five steps the US could take to resolve the problem of illegal immigration and explained them. I have quoted from his list (all direct quotes are from The Daily Demarche), added my own ideas, and posted these steps below. You can click the link to read his explanations. I have added three more steps from other posts at The Daily Demarche, including guest poster Criticalreactor. Finally, the last two proposals are my own.

1. "Punish American firms that hire illegal workers- this is the most important step." I would expand this to simply say 'Punish Americans who hire ...' It isn't just firms. Small businesses and individuals are also doing this. On the enforcement side, I would start with the big fish and work down, of course.
2. "Establish a more secure employment document- the Social Security card does not work." Issue new SS cards with photos and all the anti-counterfeiting features. Showing a valid new SS card would also be required to be able to vote in federal elections, and encourage states & cities to pass similar legislation for state elections. From Polipundit, I found out the Social Security Administration is already implementing an online database employers can check SSNs on, which is great -- I don't have to add this to my platform! I would make checking a requirement, however.
3. "Revise and expand the H2 [guest worker] visa category- not just for Mexicans, but for all, and require that issuance only occur in the country of origin of the alien."*
4. "Require legal workers to pay into Medicaid, and deny public benefits to illegal aliens found in America."
5. "Reduce the amount of foreign aid granted to any country by a set or variable amount based on the costs associated with each illegal immigrant detained/treated/deported."
6. Institute a waiting period for applications for visas after a denial. Currently, once denied a visa, an applicant can pretty much immediately re-apply, which is choking the system. This and steps 7 and 8 would greatly enhance our ability to control to whom we issue visas.
7. Professional visa adjudicators would take over the visa lines, currently manned by newby FSOs who do the job for a year or two and move on. They would be "...well versed in law and policy who speak the local language at a high level ..."
8. End all visa category restrictions on the use of section 214(b) to deny visas. 214(b) "... is the catch-all refusal used to turn down applicants (tourist, business, student, etc) that the officer feels are not being truthful, or has other suspicions about." Currently, religious visas (Islamist imams, anyone?) and some others are exempt from denial under this section. (Guest poster Criticalreactor suggested ending the exemption on religious visas, but I don't see any reason to stop there.)
9. Deny a visa to anyone who has publicly incited violence against the US or its interests within the last ten years, and deport any resident aliens who do or have done this.
10. From the date of passage of the legislation, any child born on US soil whose parents are in the US illegally will not be granted US citizenship. This decreases the incentive for pregnant women to cross illegally.

Well, team, what do you think?

###


Update: Dr. Demarche has a new post on this topic up at American Future which is worth the read.

*Dr. D., if you read this, could you please explain why you would require the issuance in the country of origin, instead of simply outside the US? For example, why is it a bad idea to allow a Chinese worker to apply from Japan?

Polipundit link mug tip to Michelle Malkin.

And remember, vote A Guy in Pajamas in 2008!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Bush vs. ET Wrap-up

Well, Jean was the only one who gave a serious response to the discussion, so there's not much to wrap up. Thanks, Jean!

It was an impulse post, however, and most of my readers are folks coming in from Google searches for different kinds of pajamas, so maybe my expectations were a bit too high.

Tomorrow or Monday I'll post another question. Maybe I can make this one a bit more engaging.

Update: Just wanted to say, this was not meant as a 'poor me' post. If I can't generate reader interest, that's my problem, not my readers' problem for not commenting, etc. I hope I didn't sound like I was whining. I really do appreciate my readers, without whom I would have quit blogging long ago.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Discussion: Bush vs. ET?

From PRWeb:
On September 25, 2005, in a startling speech at the University of Toronto that caught the attention of mainstream newspapers and magazines, Paul Hellyer, Canada’s Defence Minister from 1963-67 under Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prime Minister Lester Pearson, publicly stated: "UFOs, are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head."

Mr. Hellyer went on to say, "I'm so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something."

Hellyer revealed, "The secrecy involved in all matters pertaining to the Roswell incident was unparalled. The classification was, from the outset, above top secret, so the vast majority of U.S. officials and politicians, let alone a mere allied minister of defence, were never in-the-loop."

Hellyer warned, "The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, "The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."

Hellyer’s speech ended with a standing ovation. He said, "The time has come to lift the veil of secrecy, and let the truth emerge, so there can be a real and informed debate, about one of the most important problems facing our planet today."


Indeed. And what a great issue to launch my new discussion theme. At the beginning of each week, I will endeavor to post an interesting question for discussion, and wrap it up at the end of the week.

First Question: How should the US respond to these extraterrestrials? Is it better to be armed and polite, or mostly harmless and polite? Or something else?

Side Question: If you were Condoleeza Rice, how would you reply to Mr. Hellyer's comments? (Remember, you're secretary of state -- this would be an official statement!)

(The topic has been around the block a bit: WSJ's Best of the Web & InakaYabanjin, among others.)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Good Discussion of Media Coverage of Iraq

There are articles, polls, & discussions of this going on over at AOL. (Yes, I'm trying to influence the polls.)

I'm Not Dead

Really. (In fact, I'm feeling much better now. I'm. Happy! I'm. Happy!)

But, the Good Doctor is now demised. He'll be posting over at American Future, which I'll soon bagel. That old bagel is looking pretty moldy over there, come to think of it.

Well, Diplomad, Chrenkoff, Allahpundit, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern ...

To blog or not to blog, that, Ferns, Romulans, Fellow Bloggers, is the sow's ear I need to consider. Whether it is better to suffer the worms and maggots of outrageous decomposition, or to go gently into that good night, or to awake, and awakening, dream of new themes and posts, aye, posts, there, me lads and lasses, is the rub.

Monday, November 14, 2005

A Broader Pro-Liberation Response

It seems the president wasn't giving a one-off defense of going to war, which was something that worried me. The facts are in our favor. There is only so long you can be a gentleman and ignore slander.

From the AP:

Bush relied on the collective judgment of the intelligence community when he determined that Iraq's Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, national security adviser Stephen Hadley said.

"Turns out, we were wrong," Hadley told "Late Edition" on CNN. "But I think the point that needs to be emphasized ... allegations now that the president somehow manipulated intelligence, somehow misled the American people, are flat wrong."

Republican lawmakers and other officials who appeared on Sunday news shows echoed Bush's Veterans Day speech in which he defended his decision to invade Iraq.

Bush said Democrats in Congress had the same intelligence about Iraq, and he argued that many now claiming that the information had been manipulated had supported going to war. The president also accused his critics of making false charges and playing politics with the war.

Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean rejected the criticism on Sunday and said, "The truth is, the president misled America when he sent us to war."

...

Contending that the president has not been honest about the size of the deficit as well as the war, Dean said, "This is an administration that has a fundamental problem telling the truth."


Hmph. Sounds like the most fundamental problem a sizable number of Democrats still have is just making crap up. Go on 'Face the Nation' with McCain, Mr. Dean. See how far that BS takes you.

Back to the AP article:

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Democrats have a right to criticize the war but that it was disingenuous to claim that Bush lied about intelligence to justify it.

"Every intelligence agency in the world, including the Russians, the French ... all reached the same conclusion," McCain said on CBS' "Face the Nation."


Not to mention Clinton.

Let's hope the pro-liberation crowd keeps it up. As for me, for whatever it's worth, I'm writing my representatives to let them know I expect them to keep it up. We have the facts on our side; we need to use them.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Wow, Mr. President

President Bush gives the speech I've been praying for:
And our debate at home must also be fair-minded. One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war. When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support. I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn't support the liberation of Iraq. And that is their right, and I respect it. As President and Commander-in-Chief, I accept the responsibilities, and the criticisms, and the consequences that come with such a solemn decision.

While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. (Applause.) Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate -- who had access to the same intelligence -- voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power. (Applause.)

The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. (Applause.) These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. (Applause.) Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. (Applause.) And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory. (Applause.)


This is a truly magnificent speech, well worth reading the whole thing. I wish I had caught it on TV.

Keep it coming!

###


Check out Instapundit's post on the speech, and his replies to hate mail, etc. Excellent.

By the way, the Whitehouse Website always carries the full-text of presidential speeches, and archives them online for us.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

One, Opinionated, and Right!

Hey! It's Grandma Jean's blogiversary!

And she's been profiled. No, not by the cops, silly.

What would be your main advice to a novice blogger?
Be brief, post frequently, have something to say, use proper grammar and spelling. [Darn good advice for the rest of us, too. -- Ed.]
...
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything that you'd do differently?
Nothing that I want to tell the world about.


That was back in June, and I didn't find out about it until someone followed the link over to me. Thanks for mentioning me, Jean! I'm flattered.

And HAPPY BLOGIVERSARY! Many happy returns!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I'm So Lazy

... I'm stealing Tim Blair's link roundup. In my defense, it's a good one.

And hey, go cheer mj on in the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) competition -- she's writing a novel this month!

Finally, with all the media criticism I've done, I'm happy to link to a Countercolumn posting of an apology from an editor for getting it wrong.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Can the Dems Resurge?

Tom Lemasters at Politics in Focus, an interesting-looking new poli-blog, lists what he thinks the Dems need to do to make a comeback.

A brief overview of his full article is:

1. All politics is local; recruit like it.
2. Fresh blood anyone?
3. Stand for something.
4. Nominate a Presidential candidate from outside Washington.
5. Look to the South or the Midwest.

He's got some good ideas, and the comments are interesting (though there is one full-fledged 'Bush-stole-2000-AND-2004!' moonbat).

I think one problem is, Americans want to win in Iraq. We like to win, no matter what, but many of us also understand that winning in Iraq is vitally important for our own future. I'm not thrilled with some things the Republicans have done the last five years (starting with spending and immigration), but the Dems have to overcome their 'America deserves to lose' image, and that would take a tsunami of change.

(I owe someone a mug tip for this, but ... well, darn the aging process! Darn it, I say!)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Betrayal

Greyhawk details NYT distortions and outright lies regarding the words of our soldiers. There are several more, but I found this retraction by the NYT breathtaking:

The Op-Ed page in some copies of Wednesday's newspaper carried an incorrect version of the below article about military recruitment. The article also briefly appeared on NYTimes.com before it was removed. The writer, an Army reserve officer, did not say, "Imagine my surprise the other day when I received orders to report to Fort Campbell, Ky., next Sunday," nor did he characterize his recent call-up to active duty as the precursor to a "surprise tour of Iraq." That language was added by an editor and was to have been removed before the article was published. Because of a production error, it was not. The Times regrets the error.
...
This sort of give-and-take is standard practice on the Op-Ed pages. "We try to clarify and improve copy," said Mr. Shipley. "We do this for the benefit of our contributors, many of whom are not professional writers."


This is a betrayal both of the men and of all journalistic integrity. Again I'll ask, if they'll do this, what else have they been lying about?

Mug tip to Countercolumn.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Barrrrr Humbug!

It's gettin' ter be that time of year, lads and lasses.

Paris is burning. Great novel title. Any takers? Or am I late? Anyway, Dr. D has some thoughts on it, for any o' you scallywags as wot ken reed.

Murray the Barbarian has a book review up -- I think I'll be buying that one. He's on a roll, so I highly recommend reading everything on his main page right now. The crusader pig is especially cute (though as a Kurenai no Buta / Porco Rosso fan, I'm biased).

The good ol' Comrade suggests Mother Nature needs diapers. Not only that, he gives a possible explanation for blogoholism. Oh, all right. It has to be linked too, I suppose. Video games!

Yeah, and I still haven't decided about the whole running for president thing, so don't pull out the pocket books or babies yet.

Arrrrrh! Now move along there, matey, afore I keel 'aul ya!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween, Scooter!

After all, what better time for a witch hunt, eh?

Is it just me, or is it strange that there's been a two year investigation into something that may or may not have been a crime?

Anyway, I watched the 60 Minutes report on this last night and what a joke! They interviewed Joe Wilson and several of Plame's old CIA buddies, all of whom were outraged. None of their statements were challenged, and no one from the other side was given any air time. Journalism? Journalism!? That report wasn't fit to wipe my boots on.

The Little People Are Toast

There's a new project to help fight gnomelessness, which Ferdinand thinks is great because they're tasty when toasted, and an outraged Murray proposes a UN committee to deal with Ferdinand.

Sheesh. Next, Unicef bombs the Smurfs.

Ya know, if they really wanted 'real war' stuff, they would show the Smurf village being ripped apart by car bombs and suicide bombers.

But hey, it's all fantasy, right?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

It Would Be Unbelievable Stupidity ...

from the New York Times, except it happens all the time.

Four years of war, and they can't get the basics of the military down. You'd think NYT journalists were sent to the front lines without ANY training ...

First Polygamy In Netherlands

The Brussels Journal carries the story of two women and a man who, although not legally able to have a 3-way marriage, apparently now have a legal 3-way civil union.

Remember how those in favor of homosexual marriage or civil unions laughed at that possibility? Hello? Anybody there?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

God Speed, Mrs. Parks

CNN: Rosa Parks dies at 92:
Parks' moment in history began in December 1955 when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama.

...

At the time of her arrest, Parks was 42 and on her way home from work as a seamstress.

She took a seat in the front of the black section of a city bus in Montgomery. The bus filled up and the bus driver demanded that she move so a white male passenger could have her seat.

"The driver wanted us to stand up, the four of us. We didn't move at the beginning, but he says, 'Let me have these seats.' And the other three people moved, but I didn't," she once said.

When Parks refused to give up her seat, a police officer arrested her.

As the officer took her away, she recalled that she asked, "Why do you push us around?"

The officer's response: "I don't know, but the law's the law, and you're under arrest."



The US was born of a few principles, principles that it did not live up to for more than a century, principles that it still struggles with. Certainly, we must remember how the US system abused blacks, women, Asians, American Indians and others.

At the same time, we also cannot forget that the very system that abused also corrected itself, that the police officer who arrested Rosa Parks for not giving up her seat to a white man was part of a judicial system that eventually ruled that such treatment was unconstitutional, and that both the police officer and Supreme Court were part of a government that soon passed the Civil Rights Act.

The genius of the founding fathers was not that they were individually perfect -- they were far from it. No, the genius was that they built a system that was self-correcting, as long as men and women of principle run it, and as long as our nation produces principled citizens courageous enough to stand up and challenge the system when it's wrong.

God speed, Mrs. Parks.

Iraqi Constitution to Be Approved

According to CNN, Anbar and Salaheddin provinces, overwhelmingly Sunni, overwhelmingly voted no. The rest approved it. If three provinces had voted it down, it would not have passed.

I have to say, the fact that the vote was mostly along ethnic / religious lines bothers me. With some others, I think it might have been better if it hadn't passed. If the Sunnis saw their vote change this, then maybe they would be more willing to give democracy a chance in the future.

That aside, that's a job well done for the Iraqi government, and kudos to the Coalition and Iraqi forces for the security that allowed it to happen.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Celebratory Gunfire

Happy 60th, UN! (And many highly reformed returns ...)

Here's some UN parties you might have missed ...

Rockin' Round the Clock with the
Oil-For-UN-Officials-Not-Babyfood Scandal

Possible UNScam - Al Qaeda Link
Guilty Plea in UNScam
Indictment in UNScam
Three More Indicted
UN Procurement Scandal
New Conflict of Interest for Kofi?
UN Bribery Scandal: Russian ties, global reach
UN Allowed 'Corrupt Behavior'
Sevan Resigns

But HEY! It's not just the Oil-for-UN-Officials team that's partying!
Sex-for-Aid Charges Haunt UN Peacekeepers
UN Expert Made Child Porn Videos in the Congo

For more of the UN's most recent 15 years in existence, see:
Emergency Sex And Other Desperate Measures, a book that, among other experiences, details UN sex & drug parties and units of criminal peacekeepers, by two current and one former UN staffer.
The blog Friends of Saddam: UNScam and Other UN Scandals.

What'll those crazy guys do next, try to take over the Internet? (Well, they may already have the porn side wrapped up ...)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Just a thought ...

Should I run for president?

I mean, I meet the legal standards, and I'm not otherwise gainfully employed. It was always something I thought I might like to do someday ...

Whaddya think?

Monday, October 17, 2005

I Survived!

The philosophy mid-term is over. No reality questions -- Whew! I woulda had to fake it.

Also visited relatives in Arkansas this past weekend and had a good time (even if they do talk funny), survived some magazine deadlines mostly intact, made it through my fourth funeral this year, and started doing a little teaching.

Well, what's the world up to? Guess I'll surf around a bit. Everybody hold still until I catch up!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Well, Duh

Hollywood fails to show bad side of sex, drugs.

Yes, this was the result of a study.

Suicide Bomber at OU

Yesterday, there was apparently a suicide bombing at the University of Oklahoma. Only the bomber was killed, and it may have just been a suicide by bomb. Or, it may have been a botched terrorist attack. Nobody seems to know.

Anyway, I'm sure everyone else already knows about it, but I just checked the blogs for the first time this weekend and there it was, on Instapundit. Scooped in my own back yard!

###


Update: Reader Adolfo Velasquez sends this link to Michelle Malkin's post on it, which follows the story more.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Democracy as the Standard

I recently asked the question, Should democracies be held to a higher standard? There was a very good discussion the comments, but I thought that Cliff from Promethian Antagonist gave as good an answer as I’ve ever seen to this:
The countries of the world in general should be held to a democratic standard (don't expect help from the U.N. in this regard).

Democracy -- when it is genuinely attempted -- is a higher standard.


But I am left with another question. As I mused in the comments of that original post, “What would it look like if the media and citizens of democracies held the world’s nations to the standard of democracy?”

To begin answering this question, I want to state that I think the purpose of the news media is to inform citizens so that they can make good decisions, especially about their government. And, where their government is entangled with foreign governments, those governments should be explored and explained by the media just as much as our own, something the media on just about every level is failing to do.

I think most Americans, though they may know it intellectually, really don’t understand in any kind of meaningful way that many other nations really have no free speech or assembly rights, and that governments often simply manufacture history to keep their grip on their people. For example, the fact that street demonstrations are not necessarily about any real grievances, but rather often about government-generated (or power-group-generated) issues that may or may not exist, and that in many nations they cannot even take place without government endorsement at some level. I believe this is very important for Americans to know when they are being given like a report on riots or street demonstrations in another country. This is the needed context a journalist can give, rather than just the straight reporting of events. (There’s an interesting post that discusses some of these issues over at Dr. Demarche. Make sure to read the comments.)

As a concrete example, in a news article about anti-Japanese demonstrations in China sparked by Japanese history texts that whitewash Japan’s WWII crimes, it would be important to mention that Chinese history texts also whitewash their history, and that the Chinese don’t have the right to assemble, so the demonstrations must have at least tacit government approval to continue. An astute reporter might also mention that China and Japan currently have a number of political disagreements, over natural gas deposits in the Pacific for instance, and that democratic Japan has to give weight to public opinion, while communist China doesn't. Consequently, our highly dedicated reporter would write, the intentions of any attempt by China to influence Japanese public opinion must at least be questioned.

This would be the type of reporting I would find most useful. It doesn’t actually make democracy the standard, but it does compare and contrast, and I think most citizens of democratic nations would hold foreign nations to democratic standards if they knew these things.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Anti-War Protesters On Warpath Again

According to the Washington Post:
Thousands of protesters against the war in Iraq are rallying today in Washington and other U.S. and European cities to demand the return of U.S. troops in what organizers hope will be the largest gathering since the war began more than two years ago.

...

Protesters were coming from around the country to the Washington rally, arriving on buses, planes and cars, carrying signs that said "Bush Lied, Thousands Died," and "End the Occupation," among other messages.

Organizers hope today's rally and march will draw 100,000 people. The U.S. Park Police canceled all leave to deal with the rally, which occurs the same weekend as the twice-yearly meetings in the U.S. capital of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.


The WaPo also mentions the presence of about 100 counter-protesters, and also about 200 pro-war motorcyclists raising money for care packages to send to troops overseas.

For a first-hand report, check out Gateway Pundit. (With a mug tip to Instapundit.)

Well, what does everyone think about support for the war these days? The American lines are drawn; those who were anti-war seem to have remained untouched by the pro-war arguments, and vice versa. It seems to be a stalemate, except that the pro-war side has its bunch in power, so we move forward and the anti-war side is frustrated. Will this begin to change next year with our congressional elections? What will happen in 2008?

Any thoughts?

###



Update, Sept. 25: The Miami Herald has a good article about the demonstrations yesterday. An official quoted says the anti-war demonstrators probably reached their goal of having 100,000 people, notes the pro-war demonstrations planned for today, and gives Websites for both sides for further information. Good article, I thought.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

How's Bayou?

Anne, over at the dynamic just muttering by myself, comes up with a solution to both avian flu and restoring New Orleans to a healthy, clean city, in Two birds with one stone chicken.

I especially like the Voodoo part.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Friday, September 16, 2005

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

In my year as a blogger, there've been a lot of changes in the 'sphere.

Chrenkoff, Diplomad, Suburbs of the Afterlife, and Shooting Rockets at the Sun have all ended. Riding Sun has moved to his own server, and his blog works and looks much better. MJ's Metrolingua likewise has upgraded to a new look and still keeps up her always-informative posts.

Some of the blogs I used to read all the time, I don't anymore. Some blogs that didn't exist or that I'd never heard of a year ago are now regular fare.

These days, besides the blogs of my own regulars, I most often read Silent Running, a politically incorrect NZ/Anglosphere blog that informs me and makes me laugh, Countercolumn, a great and highly informative blog by an ARNG captain, fiddle player, and writer, Dennis the Peasant, who offers some of the most poignant, and oftentimes funny, commentary around, Blackfive, for military news and views, Dr. Demarche for international affairs and US Foreign Service news, Michael Yon for the best frontline news from Iraq, and finally, Instapundit, which I must be addicted to, because I can't find another reason I'd read it regularly. There are better news aggregators, like RealClearPolitics, and better legal commentary, like the Volokh Conspiracy, and so on, but it's Instapundit I keep coming back to. He's probably figured out how to implant nanobots in his readers to keep them coming back or something.

How about everyone else? What blogs do you consider indispensible, or simply good reads, and why?

If you want to provide links, you can type (or cut and paste a bit):
<a href="http://blogAddressHere.com">Blog Name Here</a>.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Happy Blogiversary To Me, Happy ...

Well, it's been a full year since I suited up in me PJs and started this here blog. It's been fun, and I've really enjoyed the regulars: MJ, Jean, Comrade Toverich, Cliff, Dr. Demarche, and Adolfo Velasquez. There are a number of others who come and go, and I appreciate them as well.

Thank you all for making it a great experience!

I'd also like to thank the blogs that inspired me, which can be found in my blog bagel on the right. And, oh heck, Mom, God, and the Academy.

OK, forget the Academy. They haven't done a darn thing for me.

Here's a glimpse of how it all began:
In the latter half of the 20th century, pajamas were often considered the uniform of choice for dangerous insurgents and subversives.

In the 1960's came the Viet Cong, famous for their black PJs and their attacks on US soldiers and South Vietnamese troops and civilians.

About the same time the VC were training up as the Vietminh, a pajama-sporting subversive named Hugh Hefner launched his movement to take porn mainstream.

With a history embracing both sex and violence, pajama-attired subversives were sure to be a hit in the media. Little did anyone suspect, however, that the third wave of pajama-wearing guerrillas would be of an entirely different weave ...


I wonder where year two will take us ...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Chrenkoff Says Goodbye

Arthur Chrenkoff is signing off.

His blog is one of the very few that I have consistently read from the time I discovered blogs. It was informative, moving, and filled a key place in the media needs of many. His work will be greatly missed in the blogosphere.

Vaya con Dios, amigo.

Melancholy and the Infinite Simpsons

Just watched the Simpsons for the first time since I got back from Japan. Matt Groening has become a bitter antagonistic ass. Or maybe he was just having a bad week. He decided to poke fun at youth organizations, which is absolutely fine. Everything is grist for the mill, right? Anyway, two organizations, the Pre-Teen Braves and the Pre-Teen Cavalry, get into an embittered competition ("war") in which Homer leads the Pre-Teen Braves in some dirty tricks while trying to win. (Get it? This is an organization dedicated to instilling values in children, you see.) So far, so good.

It all ends in a mass melee, as such cartoons often do, and as the two groups of children and all the fighting adults around them decide to make peace, one suggests a song, but, he says, not a song that glorifies war like the American national anthem. No, let's sing the Canadian national anthem. And they do. And then in the midst of all the smiling, happy people, one of the boys (Milhouse) says "I guess we learned that war doesn't solve anything." Bart then pipes up, "Except for all of America's problems."

I just wanted humor, folks. Is it really that hard just to make people laugh? Would it have been that hard to poke fun at both sides? Like JibJab, maybe?

It's really too bad that so much of the entertainment industry hates America. Noisy ghost (before he was exorcised to the nether realms) used to say the recent spate of bad movies is Hollywood's revenge for the re-election of Bush. I believe him.

I guess that's what I get for being a Nazi 'digital brownshirt' fascist warmongering 'little Eichmann' chickenhawk redneck 'American Taliban' idiot. Did I miss fundamentalist? Gulag guard? Anyway, I wouldn't complain, except this re-entry culture shock thing is magnified when you think half the country has lost its freakin' mind sense of humor.

Has anyone else noticed that the liberals are now the side of guilt? "Is this another youth organization that exploits the beliefs of the native peoples you slaughtered?" the Indian immigrant character asks Homer. Used to be the conservatives -- guilt for having sex, for having a beer, for having fun, for dancing to that evil rock 'n roll. Now it's the liberals who bank on guilt. Guilt for being male, guilt for being white, guilt for being Christian, guilt most of all for being American. Hollywood, which was the rebellious James Dean in the '60s, is now the wild-eyed reverend stabbing its puritanical socialist finger at everyone and shrieking "GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!"

Just like a cliched movie plot, this reverend of fundamentalist socialism is deeply hypocritical, blatantly exploiting its audience, tyranizing teenage filesharers, all the while accumulating obscene piles of wealth. At least, according to their own socialist doctrines. (I mean, really, how can you get rich unless someone else gets poor? Down with the Hollywood bourgouisie! Viewers unite! Seize the means of recording!)

Speaking of which, have you noticed how the rhetoric about terrorist attacks by the Michael Moore / Galloway crowd -- "You deserve it for your evil, capitalist ways!!!" -- is a mirror of the psycho-religious "You deserve it for your evil, homo-lovin' ways!!!" Both ignore reality outside of their own self-formulated worldviews (including the real reasons the terrorist attacks occurred), both are self-destructive, guilt-centered philosophies that preach the only route to salvation is their absurd one, and both point to the terrorist attacks as proof that those who do not follow their way will be destroyed.

Come to think of it, kinda sounds like Al Qaeda.

###



Comrade Toverich has a related post up on the Pervasive Leftist and DNC Sentiment in Hollywood Output.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Can Nature Be Evil?

I'm taking a philosophy class right now and, in its discussion of evil, the author of our textbook assumes that natural disasters are evil. It's under the discussion of 'the problem of evil,' which is basically, if there is an all-good, all-powerful God, why is there evil? He of course discusses free will -- if God took away the choice of evil, humans would be robots. But he says that does not explain why there are "natural evils" like tornadoes and hurricanes.

My question to you: Is that an appropriate use of the word 'evil'?

Koizumi's Assassins

The Star Tribune:

Armed to the teeth with blood-red lipstick and a killer smile, Yuriko Koike stormed the streets in a working-class Tokyo neighborhood with rapid-fire handshakes and a brigade of young campaign aides wearing hot-pink T-shirts and waving rose-colored flags. One of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's hit squad of female "assassins," the ex-TV news anchor vowed to take no prisoners in Japan's nationwide elections today.

"This is a ground battle for reform!" Koike, 53, shouted through a bullhorn to her giddy audience. "Let's change Japan!"

Koike joined a star-studded cast of female candidates sent out on the campaign trail over the past month by Koizumi, who has vowed to resign if his fractured Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) fails to win control of Japan's lower house. The women -- ubiquitously referred to in the national media as Koizumi's assassins -- also include Satsuki Katayama, a model-turned-bureaucrat, and Makiko Fujino, Japanese TV's version of Martha Stewart. Their mission: to take out the prime minister's political enemies in the old boys' network that long held sway over the LDP.


Cool. I've always liked Koizumi, and he is really trying to reform the Japanese system, which, like most governments, needs it. The 'old boys' network' the article refers to is strangling Japan, in my opinion, and has been the chief obstacle in any reforms. I hope his assassins can bring it down.

I do wonder if our reporter wasn't a bit too exuberant: "blood-red lipstick"? "giddy audience"? Hmmm ...

On the other hand, I want to call them 'kunohachi' (related to 'kunoichi').

Homophobes Defeated Kerry?

Really? According to Fox News:
In 2000, California voters approved by 61 percent Proposition 22, which created a state statute that recognizes marriage as only between a man and a woman.


Funny, the Kerry people trying to explain their loss last November never mentioned this.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Doc is Back in Town

Hear ye, hear ye!

Ferns, Romulans, fellow blogospherans, lend me your ears!

Ye Goode Olde Dr. Demarche is back up and running after a several-week hiatus.

(Not that I would know anything about hiatuses, mind you. In fact, I am taking an introduction to philosophy course right now, and am thoroughly convinced that hiati, like the rest of reality, do not exist. At least until the next class. Question: Is metaphysics related to metadata? I may have missed that one ...)

But anyway, welcome back, Doc!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Bumperfiskin'!

Ran over Wing Nut Echo Chamber in my blogospheric meanderings tonight. Among other right wingnut activities, keggin, the proprietor, fisks hippie bumper stickers.

Found in the blogroll over on MatthewMaynard.net, who, in either a random act of kindness or absurdity, linked to me. So maybe check him out, too.

Or not. These blog thingies, always risky.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Luke Stricklin: American By God's Amazing Grace

There's been a song on the radio lately that I love, and I've been meaning to track it down on the 'net. This morning, as I was wandering around the 'sphere, I ran across this post about the singer, Luke Stricklin, at Gateway Pundit.

Stricklin spent a year in Iraq as an infantryman, and his story is a good read. Here's the song lyrics:

American By God's Amazing Grace

Bottom of my boots sure are gettin' worn
There's a lot of holes in this faded uniform
My hands are black with dirt and so is my face
I ain't never been to hell
But it couldn't be any worse than this place
Tell my wife don't worry 'cause I know what to do
It makes you feel better sometimes,
But don't know if it's true
I know if I die it's just my time to go
But I pray to God every day that I may get back home.

Well when you've seen what I've seen
Things don't seem so bad
Quit worrying 'bout what you ain't got
Thank God for what you have
'Cause I could be raising my family in this place
But I was born an American
By God's Amazing Grace.

For the last twelve months I've had a new address
The neighborhood smells like sewage and the streets are lined with trash.
You never know what's gonna be the next thing to explode
But unlike these people, I have another home.
It breaks my heart to see these kids out on the streets
Walking barefoot through the trash, diggin' for something to eat.
I give them what I got, just to let them know I care
And I thank God it's not my son that's standing there.

Well when you've seen what I've seen
Things don't seem so bad
Quit worrying 'bout what you ain't got
Thank God for what you have
'Cause I could be raising my family in this place
But I was born an American
By God's Amazing Grace.

If you want to talk about it, you better keep it short
'Cause I got a lot of lost time I gotta make up for.
Really don't care why Bush went into Iraq
I know what I done there and I'm damn sure proud of that.
You got somethin' bad to say about the USA
You better save it for different ears 'less you want to crawl away.
And I'll laugh in your face when you say you've got it bad
Until you've spent some time on the streets of Baghdad

Well when you've seen what I've seen
Things don't seem so bad
You quit worrying 'bout what you ain't got,
Thank God for what you have
'Cause you could be raising your family in this place
But you were born an American
By God's Amazing Grace!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Oh, Celebrities ... (Rolls Eyes)

Apropos of the previous post:

Celebrity

Someday I'm gonna be famous
Do I have talent, well, no
These days you don't really need it
Thanks to reality shows

Can't wait to date a supermodel
Can't wait to sue my dad
Can't wait to wreck a Ferrari
On my way to rehab...

Cause when you're a celebrity
It's adios reality
You can act just like a fool
People think you're cool
Just cause you're on TV
I can throw major fits
When my latte isn't just how I like it
They say I've gone insane
I'll blame it on the fame
And the pressures that it goes with
Being a celebrity
Uh huh

I get to cry to Barbara Walters
When things don't go my way
I'll get community service
No matter which law I break

I'll make the supermarket tabloids
They'll write some awful stuff
But the more they run my name down
The more my price goes up

Cause when you're a celebrity
It's adios reality
No matter what you do
People think you're cool
Just cause you're on TV
I can fall in and out of love
Have marriages that barely last a month
When they go down the drain
I'll blame it on fame
And say it's just so tough
Being a celebrity

So let's hitch up the wagons and head out west
To the land of fun in the sun
We'll be real world bachelors
Jackass millionaires
Hey, hey, Hollywood
Here we come

Yeah, when you're a celebrity
It's adios reality
No matter what you do
People think you're cool
Just cause you're on TV
...Being a celebrity
...Yeah, celebrity
...Uh huh
'Where's my coffee?'

###



Written by - Brad Paisley
From - Mud On the Tires
©2003 EMI April Music, Inc. / Sea Gayle Music

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Rolling Stoned

From Reuters:

LOS ANGELES (August 10) - The Rolling Stones, not exactly a band at the forefront of rock 'n' roll activism, are taking aim at the American right with a new song on their upcoming album, according to Newsweek magazine.

The track, "Sweet Neo Con," boasts the line, "You call yourself a Christian, I call you a hypocrite/You call yourself a patriot, well I think you're full of s---," according to the weekly newsmagazine.


Mmmm ... Hey, Mick:

You call yourself a liberal
I call you a hypocrite
You call yourself an intellect
Well I think you're just a twit

That was too easy. Can't wait until the full lyrics come out, heh heh.

A number of other bands have come out with anti-Bush lyrics, and they're at the end of the article, should anyone care to read them.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A Great Blog Find

Global Voices Online is a blog that tries to cover pretty much the whole world, with a number of contributors, translations of posts on non-English blogs, and the "World Aggregator." You can click any of the country or region names in the light green area at the top for posts focusing on that location, though some (like Mongolia) don't have any posts up yet.

The particular post that attracted my attention was Inside the Japanese Blogosphere: The Anti-Korea Wave, which is actually about revisionist history in Japan. It gives a brief glimpse inside the Japanese blogosphere and notes some of the top bloggers are frustrated with the anti-Japanese demonstrations and riots in Korea and China this last spring. It also shows an anti-Korean manga which is apparently quite popular right now, then discusses some related topics, and gives a link to the English version (in PDF) of one of Japan's controversial history texts.

A good post, and it looks like a great blog.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

US Army Sheiks It Up In Iraq

US Army SSGT Dale L. Horn is making a difference in Iraq:

Sheik Horn floats around the room in white robe and headdress, exchanging pleasantries with dozens of village leaders. But he's the only sheik with blonde streaks in his mustache - and the only one who attended country music star Toby Keith's recent concert in Baghdad with fellow U.S. soldiers.

...

Horn ... was now thrust into a job that largely hinged on coaxing locals into divulging information about insurgents.

Horn ... acknowledges he had little interest in the region before coming here. But a local sheik friendly to U.S. forces, Dr. Mohammed Ismail Ahmed, explained the inner workings of rural Iraqi society on one of Horn's first Humvee patrols.

Horn says he was intrigued, and started making a point of stopping by all the villages, all but one dominated by Sunni Arabs, to talk to people about their life and security problems.

Moreover, he pressed for development projects in the area: he now boasts that he helped funnel $136,000 worth of aid into the area. Part of that paid for delivery of clean water to 30 villages during the broiling summer months.

"They saw that we were interested in them, instead of just taking care of the bases," Horn said.

Mohammed, Horn's mentor and known for his dry sense of humor, eventually suggested during a meeting of village leaders that Horn be named a sheik. The sheiks approved by voice vote, Horn said.

Some sheiks later gave him five sheep and a postage stamp of land, fulfilling some of the requirements for sheikdom. Others encouraged him to start looking for a second wife, which Horn's spouse back in Florida immediately vetoed.

But what may have originally started as a joke among crusty village elders has sprouted into something serious enough for 100 to 200 village leaders to meet with Horn each month to discuss security issues. ...


The whole article is worth the read.

Good on ya, Staff Sergeant!

Naiveté and Cynicism

To believe all men honest would be folly.
To believe none so is something worse.

John Quincy Adams

Saturday, July 30, 2005

All the Arabic Speakers You Could Want

The US has a communications problem with the world. Part of that problem is language: There are simply not enough Americans who are fluent in certain foreign langauges, like Arabic and Chinese.

If the rebuilding of Iraq is a success, one of the biggest fruits of that victory will be 26 million Arabic speakers who suddenly have the freedom to say whatever they want and the means to do so. Yes, some of those Arabic speakers will oppose the US, will even hate the US and preach violence against it. But a great many will also have a positive view of the US, and given the means to share their views with the rest of the Arabic world, this will result in a huge net increase in the amount of pro-Americanism the rest of the Arab world is exposed to.

Another major problem the US has is its lack of ability to gather human intelligence. This is something else a free Iraq will help solve, as a number of Iraqis will be willing to work with the US in intelligence gathering in the rest of the Arab world.

These two factors are far more important than they sound: The role of propaganda in anti-Americanism is vastly underestimated. Propaganda has been far more important than any US policy in creating and sustaining anti-Americanism in the world.

###



In a coincidentally related post, Dr. Demarche discusses how we can deny Al Qaeda its next generation of jihadis.

Iraq Is Now Like Vietnam

Oh, the nostalgia.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Unconstitutional Activities At Gitmo

After some research and consideration, I am forced to admit there appears to be some violations of the US Constitution at the prison at Guantanamo.

First and foremost, we have the US government distributing the Koran to the prisoners. That seems to be a clear violation of the no-establishment-of-religion rule. Can you imagine the uproar if they distributed Bibles? In addition, the direction to Mecca for the prayers of Muslims is marked and halal food is served, clearly creating an Islamic atmosphere in the prison. I would like to point out that it is all at taxpayer expense as well.

What message does all this send to non-Muslim prisoners being held? To non-Muslim guards and other US government employees at Gitmo? Do any non-Muslim prisoners feel like they must pretend to be Muslim to be socially acceptable there? Can a Christian US Marine get issued a Bible, and if not, what message does it send that the US government provides enemy combatants with the Koran, but will not provide a Christian Marine a Bible? How do the taxpayers feel, paying for Korans and halal food?

Finally, there is no rule of war that prisoners have to be given their scriptures or food appropriate to their religion, so the US government is actually going way above the "call of duty" to cater to their prisoners' religion.

Considering the US Supreme Court's recent ruling that the 10 Commandments cannot be posted in a court of law, and other judicial rulings regarding school prayer, etc., I think it is clear that the US government has established Islam as its religion in Guantanamo.

Someone please contact the ACLU. I am sure their lawyers will salivate over this one.

###



PS Yes, it's been a very dry summer for humor.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Blogging Consternation

What to do with this blog?

Or, Tubular Or Not Tubular, That Is The Question.

For your consideration and commentary:

As I noted in an earlier post, I am attempting to start a freelance writing career. As part of that, and because I enjoy it, I'd like to maintain a 'Web presence' (ooh, learning fancy words now, aren't I?). My options, as I see them, are:
1. To start a new blog under my real name and either forget (delete?) this one (or only use it surreptitiously).
2. To completely revamp this one to meet professional requirements, meaning I would delete anything that doesn't really contribute (like purely snarky or just-about-me posts), rewrite what's left, and effectively re-launch it. I would probably move it to my own hosting service at some point.

Whichever option I choose, I will probably open it up to either blog partners, or to guest contributors.

Okay, loyal readers, what are your thoughts, if any, about this?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Getting Along

For anyone who might be tracking my reintegration to North American society, I just thought I'd post that it's a crazy country, much more polarized. There's lots and lots of good things, which more than make up for the weirdos and juvenile losers.

Overall, I would say my re-entry shock is only somewhat abated. Anyone else out there have experience with 'reverse culture shock'? I wonder if the anti-Bush crowd are going through culture shock at certain realizations they've been forced to accept ... (You know, like their sudden realization last November that just over half of their fellow citizens might be crazy?) After all, Bush's victory eased my internal cultural tensions with America.

###



PS I dislike the term 'reverse culture shock.' What does that mean, I'm having culture shock backwards? Which would be a good thing, right? I prefer 're-entry culture shock,' which is much clearer, but hey, no one asked me.

PPS It's kind of like 'reverse racism,' which I find a particularly racist phrase. Racism is racism, and there's no forward or reverse about it.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

So, SO Funny

Went to see 6 Women With Braindeath Friday night. It was hilarious! My favorite line, from one of the six white actresses was:

Do you know what the worst thing about being a white woman is? You'll probably marry a white man.

Ba-da-BING! The play got a standing ovation! Woo-HOOO!!!

I know everyone in those Blue States thinks we in Oklahoma are sexist racists -- and there it is! Proof!

Ha!

Update: As commenters have pointed out, I should have noted this was a play I went to locally, and that the sexism part came from a rant in the play specifically against men.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Happy Bastille Day!

Maybe France is at last waking up from its long, socialist slumber.

The Guardian reports:

Many believe France has another crisis coming. For 30 years the country ignored warnings that its system needed an overhaul, that it could not sustain its massive public expenditure, enormous bureaucracy, expensive public services, high taxes and crippling social charges. Paradoxically, French people often say they want changes, and then bring the streets to a standstill when their politicians try to introduce them. Instead of pressing ahead with difficult reforms, ministers have all too often taken the soft option of retreating.

"The French do not change things by consensus, they change things by conflict," said Pascal Perrineau, a professor at the Paris Institute for Political Science.

"The French model is no longer accepted as universal because it doesn't work. The French are at a crossroads. They know they must change and adapt to a more liberal, global world, but they are hesitating and it may well be that they need a push. From time to time a man of history, like Bonaparte and de Gaulle, comes to force us to accept change, but we have a revolutionary history which makes this period particularly risky."

But what exactly is wrong? Why is the home of a 35-hour working week, long holidays, generous benefits, fine gastronomy and TGVs riddled with self-doubt?


The whole article is worth reading.

All things considered, today I'll remember the good things France has done for the US -- it's help in our own revolution, the Statue of Liberty, the roots of Cajun cuisine.

I'd also like to remember a Frenchman, Marc Bloch, a history professor who taught us how to write history with The Historian's Craft, a French patriot who served in both world wars and then fought the Nazis as a member of the Resistance, and who was executed by them after his capture.

And I'll celebrate a Frenchwoman who is fighting for change, Sabine Herold. A French university student, she is the editor and spokeswoman for Liberté j'écris ton nom (Liberty, I Write Your Name), a think tank and activist organization in France. (Be sure to read the linked article.)

Finally, let me point out the French representative to my blog bagel, ¡No Pasarán! Definitely worth the read.

I wish them the best for this new revolution, that it does not turn violent (as the article suggests it might), and that it leads them into a better life and better relationships with the US and UK.

Viva la France!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Durbin Spokesman Threatens Group

Move America Forward has been running TV ads defending US servicemen and women from Senator Durbin's remarks comparing US soldiers to Nazis, gulag guards, and minions of some mad dictator like Pol Pot. You can see the ad on their Website.

In a response that, if you didn't know it was from an American senator's spokesman, you would think came from the Gestapo, KGB, or the intelligence apparatus of some mad dictator like Saddam Hussein, Sen. Durbin's (D, IL) spokesman, Joe Shoemaker, said, "Have you ever seen that H &R Block commercial where the guy leans in and says, 'I see an audit'?"

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Terrorists Murder Civilians in London

Bloomberg Reports:
Terrorists set off a series of bombs across London's subway system in the financial district and on a bus in the center of the capital, killing at least eight people and shutting down all public transportation.

"It's reasonably clear that there have been a series of terrorist attacks in London," U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair said at the Group of Eight summit, which began today in Gleneagles, Scotland. "Our determination to defend our values is greater than theirs to impose extremism. Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed."

Seven explosions occurred, starting at 8:50 a.m. local time, at financial district Underground stations, including Liverpool Street, Moorgate and Aldgate East, police said. Casualties were on a bus that exploded near Russell Square, a firefighter said.


And the Blame Israel First gang was already ready ...

From CBS News:

Denying an earlier report, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said that Israel was not warned by Scotland Yard in advance of the blasts.


Did Scotland Yard know of the blasts in advance? Why would they warn Israel? So the Israeli ambassador could activate the super-secret-Alert-the-Jews-mindrays only Jews can hear so all the Jews could get out of the subway / off the bus?

And as soon as the America-hating Western pundits wake up, we will get the first waves of Blame America First and Blame Britain First, of course. Let's see, 'Little Eichmanns' has been used already ...

Update:

Chrenkoff has a good post on it, and he also notes the Blame the Jews move I mentioned.

Instapundit has an excellent roundup, including this link to Tim Worstall's blog with commentary, a roundup of news and first-hand blog reports, and photos, that is pretty good.

Update:

From the Guardian's blog:
1513 Respect MP George Galloway says: "We argued, as did the security services in this country, that the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq would increase the threat of terrorist attack in Britain. Tragically Londoners have now paid the price of the Government ignoring such warnings."


15:13, it only took a few hours. Of course, Galloway ... This wasn't a surprise.

Also, the report above states there were 7 explosions, but now it seems there were only 4.

(Mug tip to democracy guy via Instapundit.)

Friday, July 01, 2005

Gitmo Safer Than California Prisons

From The Times-Herald:

A federal judge on Thursday said he will appoint an independent authority to oversee the health care system in California's prisons, so plagued with problems that inmates die of neglect or maltreatment at the rate of one a week.

...

"The judge has clearly recognized the ongoing risk of death and harm to patients is unconstitutional and basically horrifying," said Alison Hardy, an attorney with the nonprofit Prison Law Office, which represents the plaintiffs.

...

The lawsuit initially involved 10 inmates - including a pair at Vacaville's two prisons. It alleged that prison officials across the state routinely violated inmate rights to adequate medical care. Specifically, the suit listed a paraplegic whose catheter went unchanged for months, a prisoner with AIDS whose pain medications were cut off eight times, and a former inmate at California State Prison, Solano, who had a degenerative disc disease and was denied required orthopedic surgery.

It alleged that prison officials relied on inadequately trained and poorly supervised medical assistants, failed to provide adequate nursing coverage on evenings and weekends, and failed to treat inmates with chronic disorders.


To date, not one prisoner has died at Gitmo.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Iowahawk Reveals Durbin Correspondance

From the Desk of Senator Durbin:

Customer Relations Department
United Airlines
Elk Grove Village, IL

Dear Sir or Madam:

In the dark annals of human evil, history has recorded the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocides, and Stalin's mass starvation program. And now, United Airlines flight 671 from Reagan International to Chicago O'Hare on June 3rd, 2005. I know, because I am a survivor of that dark exemplar of man's cruelty to man.

Perhaps I should have known what I was in for when your brusque gate agent refused to issue an upgrade to me for the flight (despite being a Premier/1K member for over 10 years), or when your flight crew Gestapo confiscated my carry on Roll Tote (even though I had nearly fit it into the overhead bin). But the true measure of the horror did not dawn on me until me and my fellow passengers were left taxiing on the O'Hare tarmack for over twenty minutes in the Auschwitzian Airbus A320 cattlecar, in temperatures approaching 85 degrees, not knowing our fates or whether we would make it to our fundraising dinners.

Santayana once said, "those who forget history are doomed to repeat it." And I say to you and your fellow United criminals: "never again," unless you credit my account at least 2 flight segments for this travesty.

Sincerely,

Senator Richard J. Durbin
Washington, DC

cc: Human Rights Watch
cc: Amnesty International


There are several more outrages well worth reading about. Personally, I'm devoting them to memory in case I'm ever elected to the senate and have to filibuster.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

President Bush's Speech: ABC's Coverage

Well, I now understand one big reason Bush has had a hard time with public opinion the last four years.* A speech is NOT a debate. Having a Democratic senator give a critique and rebuttal before the applause has even died down is NOT being fair and balanced. If you want balanced, get a Democrat and a Republican up to debate the points of the speech after it's over.

In this case, the ABC staff told us what the speech was supposed to be about before Bush was on stage. Then as soon as he finished, they criticized, er, critiqued it, pointing out that the troops were remarkably quiet when Bush entered. Go figure; the troops were quite naturally at attention during Bush's entry. They made a point of noting that the one time Bush was applauded in the middle it was prompted by a White House staffer, and made no comment about the standing ovation the troops gave him at the end. Then Dem. Senator Joseph Biden came on to refute the president's points. Then commentary ended, except on the west coast.

Again, if the Allied media in WWII had acted this way, we would have lost the war. Indeed, if the opposition party (the Republicans in WWII) had acted like the opposition party now, we would have lost the war.

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Full text of speech.

Instapundit roundup of comments.

*Yeah, I've been out of the country for seven years. Until now, I've always read the President's speeches.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Monday Roundup

Inakayabanjin tells us about Bjork the Dork, Live 8, and how Europeans are still screwing Africa up.

David Harsanyi isn't on Team Jesus - more like Team Heretic - but he's not happy with the ACLU. Here's a taste:
Last week, a group of Democrats in Congress tried to pass a measure condemning the Air Force Academy for allowing religious proselytizing at the school before the report [on religious discrimination] was released.

In response, an Indiana Republican injected a bit of high drama, contending that "like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians."

Now, describing all Democrats as anti-Christian is about as intelligent as calling all Republicans white Christians.

Yet there are some groups, like Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the American Civil Liberties Union, with the help of some Democrats in Congress, that denigrate and undercut religious freedom at every turn.

And if these congressmen were genuinely interested in condemning even the "perception" of religious intolerance or "perceived" bias, they could start in their own backyards.

Last week, for instance, a mock impeachment hearing regarding President Bush (nothing wrong with fantasizing) run by the dependably outlandish Congressman John Conyers featured a bunch of Father Coughlin types like Virginia's Jim Moran.

The meeting was replete with malicious anti-Semitism.

No condemnation.


Bill Roggio at Winds of Change writes:

The brutal acts of violence directed at civilians and Iraqi police is losing favor among some of the members of the Iraqi insurgency. During Operation Matador, we saw examples of the local tribes, some of whom are sympathetic or even participating in the insurgency, rise up to fight the foreign jihadis after their attempts to impose a Taliban-like rule of law in Western Anbar. Today’s New York Times reports further cases of ‘red-on-red’, AKA the enemy fighting amongst themselves.


I could do with a bit more red-on-red action over there.

Mug tip to Instapundit.

Apropos of an earlier post, here's something on the lack of American history knowledge in America:

Ann Applebaum visited the Smithsonian:

Just about the only thing that the Museum of American History does not do, in fact, is teach anyone American history. That is, it doesn't tell the whole American story, or even chunks of the American story, in chronological order, from Washington to Adams to Jefferson, or from Roosevelt to Truman to Eisenhower. When the museum was built in 1964, this sort of thing probably wasn't necessary. But judging from a group of teenagers whom I recently heard lapse into silence when asked if they could identify Lewis and Clark, I suspect it's now very necessary indeed.

Opinion polls bear out my suspicions. According to one poll, more U.S. teenagers can name the Three Stooges than the three branches of government. Even fewer can state the first three words of the Constitution. A San Francisco reporter once did an informal survey of teenagers watching Fourth of July fireworks in a park and found that only half could name the country from which the United States had won its independence. ("Japan or something, China," said one seventh-grader. "Somewhere out there on the other side of the world.") We're not talking about ignorance of semi-obscure facts here: We're talking about ignorance of basic information.

And more:

David Gelernter in the LA Times also:

My son told me about a high school event that (at first) I didn't understand. A girl in his English class praised the Vietnam War-era draft dodgers: "If I'd lived at that time and been drafted," she said, "I would've gone to Canada too."

I thought she was merely endorsing the anti-war position. But my son set me straight. This student actually believed that if she had lived at the time, she might have been drafted. She didn't understand that conscription in the United States has always applied to males only. How could she have known? Our schools teach history ideologically. They teach the message, not the truth. They teach history as if males and females have always played equal roles. They are propaganda machines.

Ignorance of history destroys our judgment. Consider Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill), who just compared the Guantanamo Bay detention center to Stalin's gulag and to the death camps of Hitler and Pol Pot — an astonishing, obscene piece of ignorance. Between 15 million and 30 million people died from 1918 through 1956 in the prisons and labor camps of the Soviet gulag. Historian Robert Conquest gives some facts. A prisoner at the Kholodnaya Gora prison had to stuff his ears with bread before sleeping on account of the shrieks of women being interrogated. At the Kolyma in Siberia, inmates labored through 12-hour days in cheap canvas shoes, on almost no food, in temperatures that could go to minus-58. At one camp, 1,300 of 3,000 inmates died in one year.

Mug tip to Instapundit.

And that concludes our round-up this evening. Please tune in for further plagiarism reporting at your local AGIP affiliate. Er, or something.

Monday, June 20, 2005

War on Terrorism Roundup

Anti-Syrian Majority in Lebanese Parliament

Reuters reports that an anti-Syrian bloc has an outright majority of 72 seats out of 128 in the Lebanese parliament.

Hizbollah and allies only won 35 seats.

Good news for the revolution, I think.

Chrenkoff pays tribute to Coalition members.

Powerline talks about torture.

Dr. Demarche is back home and posting. He notes an "I Love Gitmo" campaign.

Jason Van Steenwyk at Countercolumn debunks the 'not enough troops' meme.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Will to Win

Wretchard over at Belmont Club reminds us of The Grave of the Hundred Dead and how the enemy is killing us in the war of ideas:
But if the US has been at pains to avoid the image of ruthlessness, the enemy by contrast has made a special effort to magnify his brutality by attacking mosques, beheading women, mutilating children, etc. often on camera. And the really disappointing thing it is that the intended intimidation works. If George Galloway's standard response to his critics is a lawsuit and radical Islam's first recourse is a fatwa then terror's first answer to insult is always the Grave of a Hundred Dead. Intimidation brings them respect from the very people who style themselves immune to intimidation. It is plain to the lowliest stringer from the most obscure tabloid that to insult America is cheap but to insult the local 'militants' very, very expensive. Kipling's cynical dictum is proven again and the lesson not forgotten.


Austin Bay is reporting from Iraq and gives us his thoughts on the home front:
I find that this return visit to Iraq spurs thoughts of America– of American will to pursue victory. I don’t mean the will of US forces in the field. Wander around with a bunch of Marines for a half hour, spend fifteen minutes with Guardsmen from Idaho, and you will have no doubts about American military capabilities or the troops’ will to win. But our weakness is back home, on the couch, in front of the tv, on the cable squawk shows, on the editorial page of the New York Times, in the political gotcha games of Washington, DC. It seems America wants to get on with its wonderful Electra-Glide life, that September 10 sense of freedom and security, without finishing the job. The military is fighting, the Iraqi people are fighting, but where is the US political class? The Bush Administration has yet to ask the American people –correction, has yet to demand of the American people– the sustained, shared sacrifice it takes to win this long, intricate war of bullets, ballots, and bricks. Bullets go bang, and even CBS understands bullets. Ballots make an impression–in terms of this war’s battlespace, the January Iraqi elections were World War Two’s D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge combined. But the bricks– the building of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the other hard corners where this war is and will be fought– that’s a delicate and decades long challenge. Given the vicious, megalomanical enemy we face, five years, perhaps fifteen years from now occasional bullets and bombs will disrupt the political and economic building. This is the Bush Administration’s biggest strategic mistake– a failure to tap the reservoir of American willingness 9/11 produced.


Both posts are well worth a read. I do disagree with Bay about "perhaps." I think 50 years from now the occasional bullet or bomb will disrupt life in Iraq, just as the occasional bullet, bomb, or aircraft used as a missile has in the US in the last 50. Deep change in any culture is usually measured in generations, not years.

But democracy can survive internal violence. The US survived the Civil War and the assassinations of several presidents and other politicians, as well as riots and domestic terrorism. Throughout, the US has moved overall towards being a better, freer nation. Americans today are freer than we were during WWII. The Patriot Act doesn't come ANYWHERE close to turning back the freedoms we gained after WWII: it doesn't restore the government censorship of media that was common then, it doesn't re-institute anything like the relocation camps Japanese immigrants, their families, and their American descendants were forced into, it doesn't roll back the racial freedoms of blacks, hispanics, etc., etc., etc. The US today is a far better nation in terms of Good and Evil, it is a far freer nation, than the US of 1945. And the US of 1945, though flawed, was a Good nation.

So why even try, if it will take decades? Because violent conflict between the US and terrorist organizations was inevitable. It is the route the terrorists have chosen and pursued for decades, and there was no sign they were going to quit, even when we did everything "right." With eight years of Clintonian "getting along" with the world, of listening to our allies, of giving Saddam yet another chance, of pressuring Israel to give up land and make peace, the attacks against the US were getting more frequent and bloodier and the anti-American rhetoric around the world was increasing. The terrorists were going to carry out their war against the US regardless of what the US did. It was not a choice of war or peace, it was a choice of fighting or surrendering. Being nice doesn't keep the muggers away, and it wasn't going to keep the terrorists away.

But all of this is lost on most Americans today. Americans simply do not know history; the Left encourages us to forget, and the Right does not seem to care to remember. A German officer on the ship I took home asked me if it was worth 1,700 American lives to overthrow Saddam, and I asked him if it was worth more than 200,000 American lives to overthrow Hitler and Tojo. He said you cannot force peace and democracy on a nation at gunpoint, and I said it had worked in Germany and Japan. He said the Arabs were not ready for democracy, and I said they never would be under tyrants like Saddam. He said the US should listen to its allies like France, and I said we had no reason to listen to anyone who had been bought by our enemies. He said there were ways besides war to pressure Saddam, and I said not when your own allies were helping him under the table. He never answered any of my ripostes, but the next day, we had the same discussion over again.

The physical war against terrorism is going well for the Coalition, but the war of ideas, I fear, is slowly being lost. If the Allies' media had acted in WWII as they do now, the Third Reich would be running Europe today, and we wouldn't be worrying about China, we'd be worrying about the growing economic juggernaut of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. I in no way want to see a return to government censorship of media reports, or the refusal to criticize a wartime government that characterized the media of the 1940's. Criticism can be helpful and even patriotic. But I do believe the American Left, including much of the media, has to decide whether the enemy is the Republican Party, which disagrees with them, or the terrorists, who want to destroy America. So far, they seem to have picked the Republicans.

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Mug tip for the Austin Bay post to Instapundit.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Taking the Long Way Home

A reader asked, so I thought I might explain a little. There wasn't just one reason I went home. Last year, there was a death in my family, and another family member had a stroke. My job had made me too busy to do the things I went to Japan to do, and I was burned out at work. The re-election of Bush showed me that the loss of faith in America I experienced as a teenager (and then on through the Clinton years) was very possibly unfounded, and the realization that there were tens of millions of American voters I had something in common with helped. Maybe I had lost some faith in America in my youth, but I had never lost my love of America. The opposite of those who felt like fleeing the US after the 2004 election, I felt like I had something to return for. Maybe the dream is not quite lost ...

After seven years in Japan, I had become, to some extent, an outsider back home. In moving back, I wanted some time to think about it all, some kind of emotional space between Japan and Oklahoma. So, I chose to book passage on a container ship carrying cargo between Asia and the US, and then to drive Rt. 66 and I-40 the rest of the way.

My cabin view forward.
My cabin view forward.

The ship was big, but there are much bigger. It took a week and a half, cost just over a grand, including all meals, and deposited me on the pier in Long Beach, California. It was time to write and think a bit, time to learn a bit more about PHP programming, time to learn about different people living a very different life, but it was not the restful time to reflect I had wanted. Most of the conversations on board revolved around politics, and some of the European crew members continually attacked Bush, the neo-cons, America in general, etc., etc., etc., the whole time. It was, overall, a good experience, with lots of interesting talk, and there will be posts from some of the conversations we had, but not today.

Getting back to the US, I rented a car and visited a friend and a relative who live in California, then it was off down old Route 66 for a while. Contrary to the stereotype, there are Country & Western music stations in LA, as well as lots of old rock, which was a great start on the old route. My one real complaint about the drive home was I needed at least twice as long, and I could easily take a month to go LA to OKC, which is just over half of Rt. 66. I wish I could have stopped a lot more and seen a lot more things.

Rt. 66 sign.

Me on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.
On a corner in Winslow, Arizona.
Sadly, no flatbed Fords in sight.


So, what now for the pajama guy? Rest, get used to America again, get a part-time job to pay the bills, work on becoming a free-lance writer. That should keep me busy for a while.