Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Do Your Best

Some of my fondest memories of childhood are from my time as a Boy Scout. My parents got me into the program as a Tiger Cub (at around six years old) and I stayed until I graduated high school, earned the rank of Eagle Scout and stayed on for a while as an Assistant Scoutmaster before moving away after college. I owe my current state in life to Scouting, as a matter of fact. The principles inherent in the Scouting program are the foundation of who I am, I still do my best to live by them, I still use the skills I learned as a Scout on years of outdoor adventures and my Scoutmaster helped me get into the Navy ROTC. I hope to get my son into Scouting, too. I also hope it means as much to him as it did to me.

But the program is in trouble. Not dire straights, not in danger of disappearing, but participation is decreasing and area councils are having to decide whether to sell off camps in order to continue operating. The council in the article linked, however, is not having financial diffculty and the foundation that donated the land is pretty angry about it.

Financially, it makes sense, of course. Assets don't do much good if they're not being used, but much of the land for these camp was donated with the understanding it would never be sold or would only be used for the Boy Scouts or youth programs. I think the problem is that these places are thought of assets.

Anyway, I think it's a shame that it's come to that. I think back to some of the camps I went to, like Many Point, Florida Sea Base, Northern Tier and Philmont and think it would be a shame if they were sold. These are beautiful places that have given thousands of boys very happy experiences.

Waste of Skin

There's so much one could say about Justice Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court, but I think the big story is Rhode Island hack, the Honorable Senator Lincoln Chaffee.

Y'know, Lincoln Chaffee's office is right down the street from where I live, in the historic Newport Post Office. I'd march right down there and tell him what I think of him, but (1) it's not like he's ever there and (2) I don't vote in Rhode Island. Thank goodness.

Conservative Rhode Islanders, rare though they may be, are incensed at Linc Chaffee. For about two hours today and four hours yesterday (I think), local talk show host Dan Yorke fielded calls and e-mails from furious people. I really hope that this will wake up the local electorate, but color me cynical. There just aren't enough people who care, in my opinion. I see Steve Laffey possibly pulling of an upset in the primary - he's good at that grass roots kind of thing - but I don't think it's likely. Unfortunately, the other option would be voting Democrat to get him out of office, and what then? I've all but given up hope that New Englanders will ever act in their own self-interest.

Maybe someone will start a tongue-in-cheek "Vote For John Chaffee" campaign...

Monday, January 30, 2006

Shrill

So, I get back from a wonderful, joyous celebration with my best friend and his new wife in Minneapolis - my hometown... I don't realize how much i miss it until I go back. I was blessed with a complete lack of information all weekend and come home to read about Davos, Lincoln Chaffee (or as I like to call him: Worthless P.O.S. John Chaffee for Senate!), feeble filibusters, Ted Kennedy about to explode like Carter Wong in Big Trouble In Little China, and the last thing I feel like doing is pointing out how much this insanity vexes me. The world has gone completely nuts and all I want to do is go back to Cafe Wyrd (which no longer exists) on Lake Street, have a latte and play some Scrabble.

I'm in the middle of a good book, "State of Fear" by Michael Crichton. I got about halfway through it this weekend on the planes. It's a quick read, but packed with information. I had lost my taste for Michael Crichton (I mean, have you read "Congo"? Ugh), but the more I heard about this book, the more I wanted to pick it up. My mom gave it to me a year ago and I haven't touched it because of my distaste for Crichton. The writing style is the same, but he has quite clearly undergone a paradigm shift, and you can read about it in his recent speeches. He's quite an amazing guy, so I'm shutting down and opening the book right now.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Was It Over When The Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor?

Senate GOP to try to end debate, force Alito vote
Kerry returning from Europe to lead filibuster against court nominee


Kerry's right. Psychotic, but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.

In the meantime, I'll be writing a best man speech for my best friend's wedding in Minneapolis. I don't expect to blog this weekend, so share and enjoy!

EDIT: It turns out I wasn't the only one who thought of Animal House when I read this story. Isn't it interesting how as soon as the NYT calls for a Democrat with a spine to lead a filibuster, John Kerry snaps to attention, salutes and carries out his orders?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ugly Naked Guy

From the profound to the stupid, you never know what riles us up at PCIF!

For the past couple of weeks or days (I don't know - I have to turn off the radio whenever this comes up) the local Providence news stations have been all over Richard Hatch's tax evasion trial. You would think more important things were going on.

Remember, he's the guy who won the first million-dollar prize on Survivor. Not only is he leading the news every single day, but the newscasters on the radio think they're clever when they make really bad jokes about Survivor.

"The tribe has spoken! A Providence jury has snuffed Richard Hatch's torch..." Blah, blah, blah. Every day. Every single day. Thank goodness there are nationally syndicated talk radio shows, or I'd have to listen to it all day. One of the morning hosts has dedicated at least two whole shows to discussing Hatch. Is he really that big a deal?

The local station interrupted Rush Limbaugh for breaking news yesterday and I was really frustrated with all this nonsense, and I said out loud to myself, "This better be good, guys." Turns out they broke in to let me know that Hatch was found guilty on three of ten counts and could go to prison for up to 16 years. Crap. That didn't stop them from talking about Buddy Cianci. One of these days, I'm going to work up a good head of steam and rant about southern New England. The people here are all insane. Yes, I'm talking about you.

I'd like the whole world to know that while I do watch some vapid TV from time to time (Smallville, anyone?), I do not watch "reality TV". Ever. Disgusting, gratuitous, mind-numbingly stupid waste of time. Even worse than sitcoms. The only one I'd ever consider being on, even though I probably couldn't watch it if I was, would be The Amazing Race, because I like the concept of participating, but watching people's relationships dissolve under pressure is not my idea of a good time. My ex lets my daughter watch The Apprentice and I'm appalled. There's a reason I call the television "the idiot box", folks. If I was inclined to think in terms of conspiracy, I'd opine that "reality TV" is a nefarious plot to make us all dumber. That and PowerPoint.

In other reality-based nonsense, American Idol judges are apparently as abusive as ever:
when it comes to the show's bluntness about contestants, heavy or otherwise, that's simply reality, said Peggy Howell, spokeswoman for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.

"We're burying our head in the sand if we try to pretend people don't have those attitudes and think and say those things," said Howell.
In other news, there's an organization called the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. Nrygh! What next?!

Labels:

Altruism and Espionage

About two weeks ago, I meant to post about the Iraqi truck driver in Indiana who tried to sell secrets to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. It's unclear what exactly Shaaban Hafiz Ahmad Ali Shaaban thought he knew, but he was prepared to make Hussein's regime pay $5 million to find out. Gateway Pundit has been all over this, so I'll direct you there for details. What caught my eye was the first article I read: Tape: Suspect hoped to stop war

Now, I doubt that was his real motivation. Certainly, if he had anything at all, it would've resulted in more soldiers dying. He says he hoped to "level the playing field" for Iraq by selling U.S. secrets, he was so concerned for Iraqis and American soldiers.

Hmmm... it's not fair to the rest of the world that the U.S. has such and overwhelming tactical and strategic advantage, so if the "playing field" is "leveled," the U.S. will change its mind and not go to war. This is the sort of logic one would expect from a five-year-old, yet we get it from the left in this country and the international "community". This view of "fairness" makes everyone equal, all right. Equally disadvantaged.

Anyway, philosophy aside, he's been convicted thanks to the Patriot Act. Have a look at the screwball saga at Gateway Pundit.

More: Gateway Pundit: Trial Begins for Indiana Truck Driving Saddam Hussein Spy

Gateway Pundit: Trial of Shaaban Hafiz Ahmad Ali Shaaban or "Joe Brown" Heats Up

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Blanket

If you read nothing else today, read The Officers' Club: Black Coffee Blogging by Charlie Munn. The ignorance of the masses is staggering.

Altruism

That's how liberalism perpetrates the most evil. I'm about to tell you something important, so I want you to really listen to me. Just give me a minute to get rolling.

It turns out Ayn Rand was right:
"The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value. Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice - which means: self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction - which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good."
By preaching altruism and convincing individuals to gradually cede their rights to the Government for the Common Good (read "the collective"), liberals make us slaves - slaves to each other. Just so you know where I'm coming from (full disclosure).

If you are at all concerned about your Constitutionally protected right to free speech, I think you should read this Wall Street Journal OpinionJournal column by Brian C. Anderson, "Shut Up, They Explained: The left's regulatory war against free speech". It's long, but if that's all that takes to stop you from discovering how much danger America is in from itself, then I weep for my son's future. Go ahead, I'll wait.

***

I tried to tackle Campign Finance Reform a couple months ago and had a darn hard time figuring out what the problem was. That fundamental lack of understanding is what got us here today. It's sold as "getting the money out of politics", when it is in fact getting the "wrong" money out of politics. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) and campaign finance reform in general
"Seeking to rid politics of "big-money corruption," election-law reforms obstruct the kinds of political speech--political ads and perhaps now the feisty editorializing of the new media--that escape the filter of the mainstream press and the academy, left-wing fiefdoms still regulation-free. Campaign-finance reform, notes columnist George Will, by steadily expanding "government's control of the political campaigns that decide who controls government," advances "liberalism's program of extending government supervision of life."
Channeling Cliff Claven here, let me just say that it's a little known fact that the First Amendment (note that we capitalize that) was intended to protect political speech, though it's been extended to all kind of perverse forms of expression - and for the most part, rightly.

Anderson writes:
Campaign-finance reform has a squeaky-clean image, but the dirty truth is that this speech-throttling legislation is partly the result of a hoax perpetrated by a handful of liberal foundations, led by the venerable Pew Charitable Trusts. New York Post reporter Ryan Sager exposed the scam when he got hold of a 2004 videotape of former Pew official Sean Treglia telling a roomful of journalists and professors how Pew and other foundations spent years bankrolling various experts, ostensibly independent nonprofits (including the Center for Public Integrity and Democracy 21), and media outlets (NPR got $1.2 million for "news coverage of financial influence in political decision-making")--all aimed at fooling Washington into thinking that Americans were clamoring for reform, when in truth there was little public pressure to "clean up the system." "The target group for all this activity was 535 people in Washington," said Mr. Treglia matter-of-factly, referring to Congress. "The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot--that everywhere they looked, in academic institutions, in the business community, in religious groups, in ethnic groups, everywhere, people were talking about reform."
You must understand how dangerous this is. It has nothing to do with corruption, but as Anderson says, "inequality of influence". All people are not alike and like it or not, some voices are louder than others. The left only considers the influence unequal when the conservative voices are louder:
That the [Fairness Doctrine] was also "chilling to free speech," as FCC head Mark Fowler argued, became crystal clear after it was gone: AM radio exploded with political talk shows. From under 5% of all programming, "informational" programming expanded to over 20% of the AM mix just seven years after the Fairness Doctrine's demise. Today, more than 1,400 stations feature the talk format exclusively--and the vast majority broadcast conservative voices, because that's what draws the listeners, desperate for an alternative to the liberal mainstream press.
As soon as restrictions were removed, suddenly people found out that there were other people who were conservative and they began sharing ideas. In an evironment of true competition, liberalism floundered. And boy, are they mad.

Naturally, they want their monopoly back.

John Kerry: "But there's a . . . submedia that talks and keeps things going for entertainment purposes rather than for the flow of information," he complained. "This all began, incidentally, when the Fairness Doctrine ended... You would have had a dramatic change in the discussion in this country had we still had a Fairness Doctrine in the course of the last campaign."

Howard Dean: "I believe we need to reregulate the media... so we can be sure that the American people get moderate, conservative and liberal points of view."

So Americans, left to their own devices, revert to the conservative ideals they held prior to the 50-year monopoly of liberalism in America and suddenly that's unfair; and reason enough to restrict your free speech so it doesn't infringe upon their incumbency and they can once again dominate conventional wisdom.

Please read the whole article, I didn't discuss the disgusting attempts to regulate the Internet - your blog. My eyes are open.

EDIT: Crap! They're on to me!

Previous:
Some Are More Equal Than Others?

Snake Oil

Hey, Mainstream Media, I can play six-degrees of separation, too!

Jack Abramoff has a Bacon Number of "3"
Jack Abramoff was in those photos with George W. Bush
George W. Bush was in Last Party 2000 (2001) with Tim Robbins (I)
Tim Robbins (I) was in Mystic River(2004) (TV) with Kevin Bacon
(Courtesy The Oracle of Bacon at UVA Computer Science Department)

So I guess the "culture of corruption" continues to spread as we find even seemingly innocent politicans accused of wrongdoing. Like Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), who is not so much bad, but part of the military appropriations problem.

Whenever we get a new toy in the Navy, everybody talks about it and regurgitates all the bullet points used to sell it to the brass. We just love it when things can be broken down into easily digestible PowerPoint slides, but I digress.

Just after I reported to shore duty in 2003, my command was, uh, outfitted (for lack of a better term) with Navy-Marine Corps Intranet. See, every command has a LAN for e-mail and Internet and such, but we've been unable to really "share" data and information that way. So the folks up top envisioned a service-wide intranet that would allow everyone access to all the data they needed. (This is separate for our "knowledge portal", which I'll have to tell you about some other time.)

NMCI doesn't work. Well, to be more specific, NMCI doesn't work for me, guys like me or your average sailor. NMCI is a toy for shore-duty types and the bird farms (carriers and big-deck expeditionary warfare ships). And the way the people who serve in those areas think is that because they have something, everybody has it. Like me, department head on frigate X. Not only do I have it, but it works beautifully.

NMCI is a system with a single-point of failure. The technicians at each command have no control over the system, it's centrally controlled. So if you can't log in, or your system doesn't work, you have to call in to help desk, submit a trouble call and wait. My first experience with NMCI left me without e-mail at work (you must understand how extremely dependent we are on e-mail) for three weeks. What do you think happens when the Admiral's NMCI terminal hiccups and he can't read his e-mail? It gets fixed IMMEDIATELY. So, as far as the Admiral, who has a dedicated terminal and doesn't need to log on through a portal on Internet Explorer that works about 50% of the time, is concerned the system is a resounding success.

So you'll understand why I'm not surprised to read this article in USA Today:
MCI has been a major subcontractor since 2000 on an $8.8 billion project to build a secure computer network for the Navy and Marines. According to a House Appropriations Committee report in 2002, the program had "been unstable since its inception in 1999."

The committee report noted the program's cost overruns, schedule delays and management foul-ups in its report accompanying the 2003 defense spending bill, also sponsored by Lewis. That report called for more and better testing of the program before more computers were added to the network.
I don't know a lot about Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), but it sounds like he had a bad feeling about the program too. Now the smear machine is revving up to steamroll him over it. Holy hellfire! Tell us about it, Jerry!
I accept the fact that as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, I should be subject to very close scrutiny. But I would hope that a publication of the stature and national prominence of USA TODAY would provide its readers with a complete picture of how a policy decision was made ("The congressman & the hedge fund," Cover story, News, Thursday).

The fact in this case is that I have never had a discussion in any context with representatives of Cerberus Capital Management or WorldCom about the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet. This includes all lobbyists, company representatives or anyone else connected with those firms. In fact, I was unaware of the connection between Cerberus and the NMCI until it was pointed out by USA TODAY. Any fair and impartial story would have included this unequivocal statement near the beginning of a story. To be clear, I flatly told USA TODAY I had never discussed this with anyone connected with Cerberus, period.
The only thing I fault the honorable Rep. Lewis with at this point is not hiring a better company than freakin' MCI to build our Intranet, or more accurately subcontract our Intranet. This case will be in MBA e-commerce textbooks for years to come.

More...
The Navy in 1999 proposed a program by which it would bring order out of the communication chaos caused by nearly 100,000 different systems in use by Navy and Marine Corps personnel. Congress authorized this plan, and the Navy chose Electronic Data Systems (EDS) as its primary contractor after a competitive bidding process.

In 2002, the Navy proposed expanding this program to include up to 100,000 more "stations." Questions were raised both inside and outside the Pentagon about problems the system was facing and whether it was advisable to expand it to that level. The Defense Appropriations Subcommittee staff investigated the problems and recommended that our bill would require a delay in the expansion until the Navy and EDS could show that the program was ready to move forward. We included that limitation in the fiscal year 2003 appropriations bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives and Senate and signed by the president.
The general progression of the program is available in both articles. Lewis says the Navy claims the program is big success. Well, sure we do. Whether it actually does what what want it to do doesn't matter as long as somebody at the top thinks it does.

Well, I hate it when people, including me throw out a problem without a potential solution to follow it up, remember: it's all about ideas! This is indeed a problem that needed solving. I'm painfully aware of the bidding process that gets things bought in the military, but can we not select a quality product from someone who maybe costs a little more? Am I wrong, here, or don't IBM or Microsoft have a lots of experience in business solutions? Why buy from the company that has people going to jail for mismanagement (MCI WorldCom, not EDS). You know we're sitting on 200,000 gallons of fuel, a full arsenal and a thing that has 270,000 moving parts built by the lowest bidder. Makes you feel good, doesn't it? Could we at least buy an Intranet from someone who knows how to make an Intranet work?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What Border Problem?

I've got a lot on my mind tonight: two more new posts below this one.

EDIT: Incidentally, does anyone know why my Blogger Dashboard is entirely in Portuguese? Could be Spanish. I don't have a babel fish, but by golly, I've got my towel!


Men in Mexican Army Uniforms in Border Standoff, Official Says

Fear not, America! Texas Governor Rick Perry is on the job!

He's ordered an investigation! That'll show 'em!
"It's certainly troubling and unacceptable and a real reminder of how an unsecure border threatens all Texans and the rest of the nation," said Perry spokesman Kathy Walt.
Glad to see the Governor's office is taking the incursion into his borders of a heavily armed military/quasi-military unit very seriously.


Just like some of the navies of poorer nations do a little freelance piracy, the Mexican military and law "enforcement" do a little drug smuggling on the side. Shouldn't the National Guard be involved with this?

I guess we can just cross our fingers and hope that terrorists haven't discovered how porous our southern border... hell, ALL our borders are, right? If wishes were horses, we'd all be eatin' steak. Maybe we can go down and hand out guest worker permits, then there'll be nothing to worry about.

More: TexasFred - C'mon in what's stopping you?
Michelle Malkin - The War at the Border (W/Video Link)
The Officers' Club: Possible Mexican Army Incursion?

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Invasion
Connect The Dots

Landlubbers

Happy eleven-squared posts to me!

My MP3 player ran out of batteries when I was on the elliptical crosstrainer yesterday and I watched the news instead. I hate working out without music, otherwise my thoughts race and I think about things that I need to do and will forget about once I'm done working out. I don't care for watching the news on TV, for reasons I've mentioned before, as well as the repetitiveness.

I wish I could find some evidence that this actually happened, but the next TV over had CNN Headline News on and the airhead reading the teleprompter said something about the recent capture of a ship hijacked to conduct pirate attacks to the effect of, "Gee, there's a real live pirate problem?"

The USS Winston Churchill's boarding officer LTJG Luke Grant believes in pirates. I'd love to spend some of my days swashbuckling, hopefully I get a chance this summer.

So, yes, Virginia, pirates are real. TI know it's difficult to conceive, being and American and living amongst law-abiding people (for the most part). Before I left Minnesota, I would likely have had the same reaction as Little Miss Chatterbox: the world just isn't as civilized as we thing it is when we gaze at it in the Idiot Box.

Piracy continues to be a problem, because (oddly enough) most nations of the world handle them with appeasement, or figure if they ignore them they will go away. I don't see any correlation at all between that particular tactic and our current situation with terrorist organizations and belligerent rogue staes ruled by ruthless thugs, do you? Below, I've drawn in the big piracy hot spots on a blank world map (Click to Enlarge):

Good quote from New Zealand Herald last year (emphasis mine):
LONDON - Piracy at sea fell by a quarter in 2004, although violence rose in the trade-critical Malacca Straits, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

The bureau said the number of reported attacks on merchant shipping dropped to 325, compared with 445 in 2003.


Looking for some tips on how do deal with your local gang of swarthy bilge rats? A History of How to Deal With Pirates is for you. Actually it's not very helpful, but says that piracy in the days of yore was generally taken care of by the big dog on the high seas at the time (England, Spain, whoever) due to economics. See what happens when the one global power stops taking care of the sea lines of communication?

See also: Crazy Politico's Rantings: Pirates of the Indian Ocean

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Avast!

If He Weighs The Same As A Duck...

An update on the crucible of LT Bryan Black: Instructor’s lawyer decries ‘witch hunt atmosphere’
The attorney for Lt. Bryan Black said in a military court hearing Friday that pressure from Congress and the military on the Naval Academy superintendent to root out sexual harassment has led to a trumped up case against his client for an incident that doesn’t warrant court martial.
I stand by my opinion of this case. A friend of mine here has been contacted by the defense as a character witness for LT Black. It's a small Navy, and the Naval Academy is even smaller. Everyone knows everyone. Though I've never met the man, he is, by all accounts, undeserving of being figuratively burned at the stake. I sincerely hope this incident doesn't adversely impact his career, but it would be naive to believe it won't.

The military has suffered plenty from bad PR and this is the exact sort of attention that we don't need. LCDR Whisenhunt, the "senior officer [who] learned of the comment" deserves some serious disciplinary action in my opinion. It's as though she thought that the other service academies have had sex scandals, so the USNA should too! I'm sure it'll happen eventually, why rush?

Also, notice further down in the story:
Another midshipman, Brian Crosby, testified that Black made similar comments throughout the training mission that lasted several weeks, including statements about strippers in Guam and derogatory comments about his ex-wife.
Heck, I've been to Guam! That's about all there was to do, if you're not into diving and stuff! There was this one called the G-Spot... (Safe For Work as of 24 January, 2006). I've even got a bumper sticker on my guitar case!

I've also been a Navy instructor and part of getting the midshipmen and young officers excited is talking about your Navy experiences. Now, I'm not condoning how LT Black allegedy went about it, and he should've kept his private life out of the classroom. I would hope that this Midshipman Crosby didn't file a complaint, but was only called because he witnessed the conversation. I mean, what kind of guy does that, anyway? I've been sexually harrassed by a shipmate and, believe me, it takes more than using colorful metaphors to describe an ex to establish a hostile work environment.

More publicty the Naval Academy could do without is this stupid Annapolis movie. OK, I haven't seen it, but the trailers make it look like a poor attempt at "An Officer and a Gentleman", which I also didn't like. I don't like most modern movies depicting the military as a general rule; even if the military is depicted positively, it's usually portrayed inaccurately. The last one I really enjoyed was "A Few Good Men," but all I really know about the JAG Corps is that JAGs don't go around flying jets and filling the same billet for ten years (etc). The Naval Academy refused to allow the movie to be shot on the ground and the film makers just went with a school in Philapelphia instead. I doubt it'll take anything away from the realism, which looks like it's already at about 0%.

Maybe the Navy's still upset about "The Pacifier"? Funny story: when I was the Public Affairs Officer for my office at the Surface Warfare Officers School, I received a call from Spyglass Entertainment. They wanted to ask some questions about the Navy for background in an upcoming film in which Vin Diesel would portray a frigate captain. I have no idea why they called my office, but I directed them to CHINFO in New York. I also have no idea how that movie turned into "The Pacifier".

But I digress.

Previous:
A Load Of Sexist, Sanctimonious Crap
A Thing You Nail People To

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Better Never Late

Hey Washington Times, thanks for getting with the program, already in progress!

Today the Times published a call by Rep. Vito Fossella (R-NY) to bring the terrorist who murdered Petty Officer Robert Stethem to justice. Interesting; I thought the Germans released Mohammed Ali Hamadi in December. Turns out this is the same Fossella piece that the New York Sun published on 9 January.

The Times appears to think that paying lip service to support of the Global War on Terror (far too late to do anything about it) is good pubic relations. Now that Hamadi is safe in Lebanon (I heard he was apprehended again, but haven't been able to verify it with a link) it's time to call for his extradition from Germany! Well, at least the GWOT is good for something, eh Wesley Pruden?

Previous:
Our Friends the Germans

Avast!

It's fun to celebrate International Talk Like A Pirate Day, sure (just 239 days to go!), but it turns out that real pirates aren't quite as fun. The romaticized swarthy villians are nothing compared to the ruthless, bloody criminals of today.

The International Chamber of Commerce's Commercial Crime Services publishes a weekly piracy report. Current hot spots include the Horn of Africa (HOA), Indonesia (particularly the Strait of Malacca) and the South China Sea, and the Caribbean. Anywhere they can find a safe haven, like thousands of uninhabited islands and lawless or corrupt states. If you're looking for some interesting reading, there is an all-but-ignored assessment of modern piracy by Michael S. McDaniel from 2000 with an update for November 2005.

One of the primary functions of the U.S. Navy is to secure sea lines of communication. Bravo Zulu to the USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) for apprehending pirates off the Somali coast (HOA). We've recently been focusing our efforts on stopping piracy in that area, and it's good to see it pay off.

The Navy's resources are stretched, but this is a good mission for us to which I don't think we've paid enough attention. After all, we could be conducting patrols with other regional naval powers in the Straits of Malacca, though I don't think the Chinese like us projecting power too blantantly into their sphere of influence. The Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, and Australians need to step up the efforts. Also, I really don't think enough is being done abotu piracy in the Caribbean or eastern Pacific, despite U.S. naval presence in the area. We're devoted pretty solely to building relationships with other navies and counter-drug interdiction. I think the mission needs to be expanded to included deterring and apprehending pirates.

EDIT: Charlie Munn at The Officers' Club thinks this is essentially terrorism. I have to disagree here. The meaning of the word "terrorism" has been diluted over the years; I think there is a distinction between piracy and terrorism. Piracy, human and drug trafficking, and other illegal activities may fund terrorist activities in whole or in part, but that does not make them terrorism in and of themselves.

Also, thanks to this post, I have a whole folder in my bookmarks labeled "Pirates". And please welcome your new favorite blog, dedicated to exposing liberal bias (media or otherwise), RightWinged to my sidebar. Clickety-click!

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Connect The Dots

It's Not Easy Being Green

Apparently, since the Federal government won't regulate everything, several states are going to attempt it. Because gas prices on the west coast aren't high enough already.

*ring* "Hello, Federal government? Yes, this is California, why aren't you telling our citizens what to do? What do you mean you've told them what to do enough already? What's all this individual liberty and personal responsibility nonsense? Fine, I'll tell them what to do more!"
The states are creating energy efficiency requirements for light bulbs and household appliances, limiting power plant and automobile output linked to global warming, and requiring the use of renewable energy, such as wind and solar.
Yeah, unless the wind generators might kill migrating birds or get in the way of the view from the Kennedy compound.

In a way, it's good. No, seriously! States are acting autonomously, without Federal government direction to implement what they claim to be their residents' desires. However, I see three likely underlying situations, however. 1) Since the residents of these states have voted liberals into office, these liberals see it as their duty to decide what is best for their electorate - regardless of what their electorate thinks. 2) The residents of these states genuinely believe that giving up their individual rights is in their own best interest. 3) Both 1 and 2.

I think it's option number three. The politicians can't usurp their voters' rights without their consent. Am I making too big a deal out of tailpipe emissions and windmills? It starts small, with people saying how great it would be if we'd just help other people out, be more altruistic. We should try to preserve the environment for future generations and ostracize those independent thinkers who say there's no evidence that we are actually destroying anything, let alone that these preservation efforts do anything but harm the economy and individuals. Then we start deferring the decision-making process to the government - it's so hard to figure things out for ourselves, I mean, you have to go to work and pay the bills and who has time to think about these things? Isn't that what we pay taxes for?

The problem is that the government is either equally clueless or influenced by a vocal minority. Do you want these dangerous idiots making decisions for you?

More at Michelle Malkin.

Other environmental hysteria:
Unnatural Selection
This Is All Your Fault
And I Still Can't Get My Feet Warm
Jumping GOP On A Pogo Stick!!
Unquestioning Belief In Works Of Fiction

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Friday, January 20, 2006

The Inmates Are Running The Asylum

A couple of good articles in the news recently regarding the antics of the anti-free market left, abolitionists of personal responsibility.

For now, here's article by Steven Malloy, author of JunkScience.com. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and several Massachusetts parents say that several snack foods marketed during kids programs are harmful to kids.

"Excuse me, hello? Federal government? Yes, I'd like you to control what everybody in America sees on television because I am a lazy parent. Sure, I'll hold."

Y'know what I miss? Saturday morning cartoons. I used to watch Saturday morning cartoons religiously until... gosh, until the age of 26 or 27, maybe. Oh, yeah, no kidding. I don't even bother anymore because they're all this garbage syndicated and overdubbed from Japan. They advertise card games, like Yu-Gi-Oh! (which looks like it could be harmful to kids) or Pokemon. Those old cartoons were trying to sell me stuff, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Real Ghostbusters, Transformers and G.I. Joe - guess what? I wanted it all! Did I get it? Sometimes. Not very often
and not very much of it (compared to what I thought I wanted).

Chalk it up to good parenting, folks. My parents were masters of the art of saying "no". What I owe them, I can't ever pay back, because they made me who I am today. The best thing I can do is be the kind of parent they were to me. All this because they didn't let me have all the Transformers I wanted? Well, in part, sure.

So kids programming harming kids? Not at all - at least, not unless their parents let it harm them.

EDIT: Great minds think alike - Crazy Politico's Rantings: Be a Parent For God Sake!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Invasion

Just kidding.It's good to have good neighbors, isn't it? One of my neighbors happens to be my landlord, Adam. A nice fella, bought the house, fixed it up and rented out the first and second floors while he took the third floor. Red and I rented the second florr from him two years ago and he loves having us around. We take care of the place, help him with the yard, don't cause a ruckus or attract the police, pay our rent on time and in full. We're the perfect tenants, he says. He also doesn't want us to leave.

Why? Because of the first floor. The first renters he had were a quiet set of graduate students who had the music up a little loud once in a while, but other than that were pretty cool. He's choosy about whom he rents the place to, but you can't always tell about some people. He rented the place to three bankers next and has had no end of trouble. Police, destruction, late rent, trashing the yard, noise complaints - the list goes on and on. Of course, he hears a lot of the complaints that don't directly involve him from me, since I live on the second floor and have to deal with the shouting, the slamming, the insanity.

I got to thinking about this because of this Washington Times story. It seems the Mexican military doesn't give a rat's ass about things that Americans hold sacred, like sovereignty. Not only does Mexico encourage and facilitate drug and human trafficking and illegal immigration across our mutual border, but they're sending their professional military along to escort the criminals.

The State Department and the Department of Homeland Security assure us that these incursions are either benign or a case of mistaken identity. Mexico, of all countries does not want to get in a shooting war with the US, of that much I'm certain. But the DOS and DHS remind me a bit of my landlord - ultimately well-intentioned, but they don't really have their finger on the pulse of the border situation, as evidenced by the Bush Administration's lackluster political stance on illegal immigrants.

From the story:
The U.S. Border Patrol recently warned agents in Arizona of military incursions by Mexican soldiers "trained to escape, evade and counter-ambush" if detected. The warning follows increased sightings of what authorities describe as heavily armed Mexican military units on the U.S. side of the border.

While the Mexican government has vigorously denied that its military is crossing into the U.S., Mr. Renzi said that during a tour of the Arizona border last month in a U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) helicopter, the pilot showed him military-style humvees lining up at dusk just south of the border to move drugs into the U.S.

He said the preparations occur nightly, noting that 50 percent of the drugs coming into this country pass though the Arizona desert.
"The Border Patrol knows they're coming but they are outmanned and outgunned," he said. "We need military technology to combat these military operations."

Mr. Renzi also said states such as Arizona should be able to supplement federal border enforcement with federally financed state border guard units. He said states can react quickly to new border threats, and that the federal government is unable to graduate enough new agents.

Arizona Congressman Rick Renzi is from the second floor and knows what's going on. Even if these guys are not military, but are using military-style vehicles and procedure to conduct illegal incursions into the United States, HOW IS THAT NOT A PROBLEM? I hardly think it's alarmist to point out heavily armed and equipped criminals, let alone foreign military on our soil.
Mr. Chertoff also said a significant number of the incursions were "innocent," noting that police and military units in Mexico pursuing criminals "may step across the border because they do not know exactly where the line is." ...

A total of 216 incursions by suspected Mexican military units have been documented since 1996 -- 75 in California, 63 in Arizona and 78 in Texas, according to a Department of Homeland Security report.
The soldiers don't know where the line is? Build a big damn fence, maybe then they'll know where line is. It seems to me that the Mexicans aren't the only ones who don't know where the line is, because it's been crossed.

Let them immigrate legally if they want to come here and partake in the American dream. The majority of these folks are stealing across the border to leech off our "social safety net" at their most benign and some are coming here to kill Americans, because of what we stand for. They want to be Americans? Fine. They want to be Mexicans? Get a visa or go to jail.

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Connect The Dots

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Tuesday Trivia III

Today's Tuesday!
Yes, it is. Sadly, no one got the answers to the double dose last Tuesday. I didn't think you all would actually not eventually Google it. Hooray for the honor system! I'll keep my mint-flavored toothpick and move along.

Q: In what series of horror movies did Tina Louise and Barbara Eden both star?
A: The Stepford Wives

Q: Which magazine have two of Ronald and Nancy Reagan's children worked for and what did they do?
A: Playboy. Ron Jr. was an editor and Patti Davis posed. I'm pretty sure it wasn't the other way around.

This week's questions...
Q: Which World War II admiral ran his ship aground twice and later had a class of ships named after him?

Q: Where was the character Jeanie in "I Dream of Jeanie" originally from?

Lots of Barbara Eden questions in the ol' question bank, it seems. Turns out she turned 71 last year... anyone feel old?

Interesting Times 1.5

I just wanted to point out this excellent article by former New York Mayor Ed Koch regarding Harry Belafonte's recent throwing in of his lot with Hugo Chavez. (TFHT: Bloviating Zeppelin, whose post is much better than this one.) Now that Chavez has Belafonte in his corner, his plans of world annoyance can begin!

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Interesting Times

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They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha, Ha!

I'd like to dedicate this to the Marvelous Mad Mister Dean!

Artist: Napoleon XIV
Song: They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!

Remember when you ran away and I got on my knees and begged you not to leave because I'd go berserk?? Well...
You left me anyhow and then the days got worse and worse and now you see I've gone completely out of my mind.. And..
They're coming to take me away, ha-haaa!!
They're coming to take me away, ho-ho, hee-hee, ha-haaa
To the funny farm. Where life is beautiful all the time and I'll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats and they're coming to take me away, ha-haaa!!!!!

You thought it was a joke and so you laughed, you laughed when I had said that loosing you would make me flip my lid.. RIGHT???
I know you laughed, I heard you laugh, you laughed you laughed and laughed and then you left, but now you know I'm utterly mad... And..

They're coming to take me away, ha-haaa,
They're coming to take me away, ho-ho, hee-hee, ha-haaa.
To the happy home. With trees and flowers and chirping birds and basket weavers who sit and smile and twiddle their thumbs and toes and they're coming to take me away, ha-haaa!!!

I cooked your food, I cleaned your house, and this is how you pay me back for all my kind unselfish loving deeds.. Huh??
Well you just wait, they'll find you yet and when they do they'll put you in the ASPCA, you mangy mutt!!! And...

They're coming to take me away, ha-haaa.
They're coming to take me away, ho-ho, hee-hee, ha-haaa.
To the funny farm, where life is beautiful all the time and I'll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats and they're coming to take me away, ha-haaa!!!
To the happy home, with trees and flowers and chirping birds and basket weavers who sit and smile and twiddle their thumbs and toes and they're coming to take me away, ha-haa!!!
To the funny farm, where life is beautiful all the time...
But seriously.

A while back, I subscribed to the DNC mailing list to get an idea of what the heck they thought they were doing. Once you get inside these people's heads, there is apparently no turning back.

The Educated Shoprat points to an American Spectator article which describes Dean's reactions to Judiciary Committee Democrats questioning of Judge (soon to be Justice) Alito:
Dean is said to have bristled at what he saw as pallid attempts at the kind of deranged partisan hackery that the former Vermont governor has specialized in since taking the national stage, telling one associate angrily, "Those clowns are trying to work my side of the street!"
Ahem. Persecution fantasies? Paranoid much? Hmm... Look, not all Democrats are insane, I'm sure of it.
In an acrimonious phone call to Senator Joseph Biden, Dean mocked Biden's long-winded, intellectually incoherent questions for Alito as ineffective. "It's taking you an entire week to capsize your presidential hopes for '08. It's been done before and done better by yours truly!" Dean shouted at one point. Recalling the night of the 2004 Iowa caucuses, the DNC head drew an unflattering comparison with his ability to cause his own presidential campaign to self-destruct in a mere matter of minutes. "A couple of nonsense syllables like 'Eeeyargh' screamed at the top of your lungs are worth half an hour of that blathering about your Irish-American background, how you hate Princeton and Dianne Feinstein's eyeglasses any day of the week. It's idiosyncratic, sure, but who's going to think you're a raving lunatic after that? No one, that's who!" Dean reportedly yelled, adding that Biden was "playing in the big dog's yard now" as he slammed down the phone.
What the hell? I don't get how Biden is encroaching on Dean's turf, particularly since he's being paid to do the job that he does have (fundrasing for thte DNC) quite poorly. It's particularly tell, I think that the Democrats would appoint someone who was quite visibly "unhinged" (to steal a phrase) to lead their party. Having an unstable, delusional individual running things isn't exactly the way to build a cohesive agenda or contribute to political discourse. I think Dean is likely to blame for the party's rudderlessness and therefore the crazy things that the three-ring circus of the left says and does.

I'm not gloating, here, I'm concerned. Look, when you've got one party out of a two-party system full of directionless (at best) or barely sane (at worst) people, then you've got a one-party system. I agree with Republicans much of the time, but not all the time, and they need a reasonable, intelligent foil to keep them smart and in check. The lack of responsibile politicking on the minority party's part has led to excess and laziness on the majority party's part. Look at the Abrahmoff deal, for cryin' out loud. Where have the Reagan Republicans gone? Or the Reagan Democrats, for that matter?

John Shadegg has an excellent opinion piece on the Wall Street Journal today, promising to bring some sanity back to the House. More power to him.

"Governor" Dean sez:
Watching on a television in his office, Dean shook his head, saying at one point, "I think it may be time to take this bunch to school.
Riiiiiight. Hey buddy, you a head?

No, but I'm catching up!

Previous:
Accuse a Little, Lie a Little, Obfuscate a Little, Pontificate a Lot
Failure: When Your Best Just Isn't Good Enough
Can You Smell What The GOP is Cooking?
Soft Target

Monday, January 16, 2006

What Media Bias? (V)

18 Jan: Update below.

(TFHT: Michelle Malkin)
Even I, having been the guy in charge of the missiles and the guns on my last ship, didn't catch onto this at first. I'd planned on posting this earlier, but time and circumstances did not permit.

I'll break it down for you, New York Times. This is not a missile. Missiles asplode. If a missile didn't asplode, it would still be all crumpled up and in multiple little pieces, because they are made of aluminum and fiberglass.

This is an artillery shell. A very old one, and likely not American. It's also unexploded ordnance, making what these people are doing just a little dangerous. Hey, lets crowd around the unexploded ordnance for a photo! Oh, and move it around a bunch, maybe it'll fuze and kill us all!

Even if the NYT made an honest mistake, surely a possibility, notice what side they err on? The side that wants you to think that America is the world's largest evil and George Bush is a terrorist.

Always consider the source.

This photo, dear readers, is misleadingly captioned to make you believe that the United States likes to blow up poor families, that our country is the source of evil throughout the world and George Bush is a war criminal and a terrorist. Consider that this photo was published without a story to go along with it, indiciating that the editor thought the picture said it all. Unaccompanied pictures are placed on front pages as "good art," essentially. Also consider that even if it was an honest mistake, what side did the paper err on? Yes, the America-hating, anti-war, moonbat appeasing side.

Ladies and gentlemen, always consider the source.

EDIT: Oh yeah, I forgot to mention The Officer's Club has an excellent comment on the matter.

UPDATE(18 JAN): Big Lizards notes that
the provincial government of the "semiautonomous tribal regions bordering Afghanistan" now admits that there were, in fact, "four or five foreign terrorists" present in one or another of the three houses in Pakistan that we hit with a missile attack a couple of days ago. They also now agree that the compound (when was the last time a normal, residential house was referred to as a "compound?") was a routine meeting place for terrorists, both foreign and Pakistani, and that a large number of foreign terrorists, including Ayman Zawahiri...
I highly recommend reading the rest.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Interesting Times

UPDATE: The whole WSJ article and more at Power Line.

I had originally thought of talking about this in my post on the connections between drug trafficking and terrorism, but I've found that unless you break up big ideas in the posts, some of ideas get lost in the shuffle.

I don't really watch the news on TV, but if I did, I wonder if I would get the feeling that Iran and Venezuela are a serious problem. The MSM will get you to do one of two things if you get all your news from it: 1) Panic, or two 2) ignore it.

The U.S. is currently threatening to request an emergency meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors and report Iran's nuclear sabre-rattling to the UN Security Council as the always eloquent Condoleezza Rice said in a statement today. (for a strongly-worded declaration of prefering they don't play with nuclear power, I guess - but with John Bolton around, who knows?) Interestingly a seat earmarked for Latin America is up for grabs in the next Security Council election. What do you suppose Venezuela would do with veto power on U.S. initiatives in the Security Council?

And then we see this item in today’s Wall Street Journal, The New Tehran-Caracas Axis. Ahmadinejad and Chavez getting together is a disturbing development in international relations to say the least.
”The two tyrants are a lot more than just pen pals. Venezuela has made it clear that it backs Iran's nuclear ambitions and embraces the mullahs' hateful anti-Semitism."
Add them to Iran's pal Bashar Assad of Syria(who, in addition to attempting to incite popular uprising in Iraq and allowing safe passage to foreign terrorists into Iraq also agreed to allow Iran to store weapons caches within its borders should anything hit the fan), Cuba's aging Fidel Castro and Bolivia's newcomer/pusher Evo Morales (both with warm relations with Chavez), and you've got a heck of a poker game starting here. I'm thinking no-limit Texas hold 'em, not a friendly game of five-card draw.

This could mark the beginning of an interesting chain of events, but I doubt these guys can really back up their posturing. After all, Venezuela and Iran's economies are falling apart because all they are interested in is taunting America. Our government wisely blocked Spain's sale of U.S. warplanes to Venezuela, though Russia is selling short-range missiles to Iran, despite our objections. Venezuela has only become threatening due to its partnership with Iran. Iran is building factories and training Venezuela's security forces and no doubt sees this as a heck of a strategic opportunity. These dictators also likely realize that any Operation-Iraqi-Freedom-style operation on the part of the U.S. against them is almost certainly off the table.... for now.

Needless to say, the squeeze Iran must be feeling right now, with budding, U.S.-friendly democracies on both its east and western borders must be at least partially to blame for President Ahmadinejad's thuggishness and recalcitrance. Victor Davis Hansen (THFT: The Officers' Club) as always is right on the mark assessing the situation with Iran, but I think the strengthening alliance in South America is one factor that makes swift and decisive action against Iran even more urgent.

UPDATE: More at Bloviating Zeppelin: The Coming Clash With Iran

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People Covered in Fish: Tumors

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

A Load Of Sexist, Sanctimonious Crap

A bunch of us Navy guys are discussing the unfortunate misadventures of LT Bryan Black at the U.S. Naval Academy. As I said in my previous post, I think these women are practicing victimologists (maybe not in so many words).

Over on Sailor Bob, I said:
These women have no self-respect at all if they have to destroy a man, let alone a fellow officer, to make themselves feel better. They're also adversely affecting the impression of what is acceptable behavior for women in the Navy. How long are men going to feel like they have to walk on eggshells around the fairer sex before these people realize they need to lighten up?


To which another participant responded:
You get all of this out of two small stories in the paper and an opinion piece? What a load of sexist sanctimonious crap!


Gosh! Well, granted my opinion that misandry is institutionalized thanks to the increasingly irrelevant women's rights movement (they brought irrelevance upon themselves, by winning) does have a tendency to ruffle some feathers. I think that the attitudes presented here foster sexism toward males. According to my brother in arms:
Unless you have additional FACTS on this case, then you have no idea of what happened, who recommended what and when - then you are making reckless and unprofessional charges - semeingly "tearing down" those women in order to make yourself feel better and seem more masculine. As well, your apparent defense of LT Black makes it seem as if you approve of his behaviour...do you?
Well, no, not really. That doesn't mean I think he should be court-martialed.

My response:

Hmmm... could be a bit sactimonious, I suppose - that wasn't my intent. It's my opinion based on what I've read about the case. I think what's sexist is the frame of mind that women are victims and men are victimizers. I think misandry has been institutionalized. Because Black's supervisor didn't think the punishment was stiff enough, he's now going to SCM for using foul language. This is the part of the column that really spun me up:
Quote:
... He apologized. At that point, Black thought the matter had been put to rest, as did the first investigating officer, who recommended that Black receive a letter of reprimand and counseling.

That sounds reasonable, but these are not reasonable times. Once Foxton's female superior, Lieutenant Commander Michelle Whisenhunt, caught wind of Black's rich commentary on the seductive powers of seafaring vessels, the freefall began. Whisenhunt conducted her own investigation, interviewing only women, and now Black is charged with (1) failure to obey a lawful general order or regulation; (2) conduct unbecoming an officer; and (3) indecent language.

...

So, sure, it's a column, one should take it with the skepticism with which one reads anything. The whole OVA thing at the end was patently ridiculous.

Tearing those women down doesn't make me feel good or bad, and maybe I've been a bit harsh in previous posts. If what I've read so far is the extent of LT Black's crimes, I'm embarrassed to wear the same uniform as these sanctimonious, sexist women. I think their conduct in response to Black's conduct is unprofessional, and my opinion is that their zero-tolerance is unreasonable. I think this is like expelling the kid who brings a butter knife to school to make sandwiches, but with swearing. Black was dealt with swiftly and fairly and the matter should've ended there. Instead, they feel the need to drag this guy through the mud for running his mouth a bit.

So, to answer your question, I think Black could've behaved more professionally and this whole thing has gotten way out of control. No one has right not to be offended. Black doesn't need me to defend him, and I don't think I've tried. Mostly, my reaction to anything he may have said (since we don't know, except for the "c" word, I guess) is "so what?" If new information is released, I'd be willing to reconsider that opinion. Given what's out there so far, that's what I think.
Those of you who have read PCIF for a while know that I usually reserve an opinion until I think I know enough about a situation. This one triggered my anti-misandry warning RADAR right off the bat.

EDIT: To be fair, perhaps I should include some of the other info from "hard news" sources -
07 JAN - Washington Times: Navy prosecutes officer for a 'crude' remark
07 JAN - Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Naval Academy professor accused of remarks (Now there's a headline.)
09 JAN - Navy Times: Naval Academy professor charged with inappropriate conduct

UPDATE: More at Dr. Helen, the InstaWife.

An update on the court martial proceedings here, thanks Anonymous (whoever you are, shipmate!)

Previous:
A Thing You Nail People To

Friday, January 13, 2006

Tuesday Trivia II

Six or so new posts today, read on!

Friday, the new Tuesday!

So a week and a half ago, I thought I'd start doing trivia on Tuesdays. Y'know to lighten things up. Then I forgot because I've so many darn PowerPoint slides to digest. So here's two questions to make up for it; from here on out, I reserve the right to declare any day Tuesday. See if you can get it without using the Inter-webs.

The answer to last Tuesday Trivia:
Q: On the TV show The Dukes of Hazzard, why did Bo and Luke Duke use bows and arrows?
A: They were convicted felons, arrested for running Uncle Jesse's moonshine, and couldn't own firearms.

The mint-flavored toothpick goes to TexasFred!


Today's Trivia!

Q: In what series of horror movies did Tina Louise and Barbra Eden both star?

Q: Which magazine have two of Ronald and Nancy Reagan's children worked for and what did they do?

Answers next Tuesday!

Is This Too Much To Ask?

From The Truth Laid Bear:

I think this is a good idea; better, anyway than Campaign Finance Reform. That was really effective, wasn't it Sen. McCain?

An Appeal from Center-Right Bloggers

We are bloggers with boatloads of opinions, and none of us come close to agreeing with any other one of us all of the time. But we do agree on this: The new leadership in the House of Representatives needs to be thoroughly and transparently free of the taint of the Jack Abramoff scandals, and beyond that, of undue influence of K Street.

We are not naive about lobbying, and we know it can and has in fact advanced crucial issues and has often served to inform rather than simply influence Members.

But we are certain that the public is disgusted with excess and with privilege. We hope the Hastert-Dreier effort leads to sweeping reforms including the end of subsidized travel and other obvious influence operations. Just as importantly, we call for major changes to increase openness, transparency and accountability in Congressional operations and in the appropriations process.

As for the Republican leadership elections, we hope to see more candidates who will support these goals, and we therefore welcome the entry of Congressman John Shadegg to the race for Majority Leader. We hope every Congressman who is committed to ethical and transparent conduct supports a reform agenda and a reform candidate. And we hope all would-be members of the leadership make themselves available to new media to answer questions now and on a regular basis in the future.

Signed,

N.Z. Bear, The Truth Laid Bear
Hugh Hewitt, HughHewitt.com
Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit.com
Kevin Aylward, Wizbang!
La Shawn Barber, La Shawn Barber's Corner
Lorie Byrd / DJ Drummond , Polipundit
Beth Cleaver, MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
Jeff Goldstein, Protein Wisdom
Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
John Hawkins, Right Wing News
John Hinderaker, Power Line
Jon Henke / McQ / Dale Franks, QandO
James Joyner, Outside The Beltway
Mike Krempasky, Redstate.org
Michelle Malkin, MichelleMalkin.com
Ed Morrissey, Captain's Quarters
Scott Ott, Scrappleface
The Anchoress, The Anchoress
John Donovan / Bill Tuttle, Castle Argghhh!!!

I'll be adding People Covered In Fish to the list.

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Survey Says

There are more posts today, feel free to scroll down until your heart is content. - Matt

I just got a phone call just now (about ten seconds ago) from ABC 6 news in Providence asking me to take a telephone poll. I'd just like ABC 6 to know that not every question is "yes" or "no".

Here's what I was asked and my answers:

Do you approve of the job George Bush is doing?
Approve
: Disapprove : Don't Know

Do you approve of the job Don Carceri is doing?
Approve : Disapprove : Don't Know
(I've all but stopped paying attention to Rhode Island politics; the sheer lunacy of southern New Englanders floors me everytime I turn on a local talk show. This is also a topic for another time, when my vexedness meter pegs - Matt)

Do you approve of the job Jack Reed is doing?
Approve : Disapprove : Don't Know

Do you approve of the job Lincoln Chaffee is doing?
Approve : Disapprove : Don't Know
(Lincoln Chaffee is a useless POS who gets by on his father's good name. He's the coward RINO who in 2004 wrote in George H. W. Bush for president as though he was making some kind of statement other than, "The Republican Party needs me like a fish needs a bicycle." Just the way things work in southern New England, you get by based on who you're related to or who you know, rather than on your own merit. Think of other Rhode Island or Massachusetts politicians you know and tell me I'm wrong. - Matt)

Do you approve of the job your representative is doing?
Approve : Disapprove : Don't Know
(I couldn't tell you whether Rep. Crenshaw has done anything useful lately, I'm sad to say. - Matt)
(EDIT: Oh, wait a second, he just got me a pay raise! Go Rep. Crenshaw!)

Do you think the stock market will go up or down next year?
Yes : No : Don't Know
(Give me a break, you're asking the average Rhode Islander to prognosticate what the stock market is going to do a year out? Even professional financial analyists can't do that. By "stock market" do they mean Dow Jones? NASDAQ? Tokyo? I suppose they're attempting to measure economic optimism, but I went the fact that, on average over the long term, the "stock market" has a tendency to rise. - Matt)

Has anyone in your immediate family contracted the avian flu?
Yes : No : Don't Know
(Bwahahahahahahahaha!!! - Matt)

Then the standard demographics, one of which I got wrong due to pressing the wrong key (I'm a conservative, not a moderate) and one which I couldn't answer properly based on principle (race - oh, sure, if I held the believe that society wants to pound into my brain that race exists anywhere other than in our heads, then I could say "white." I refuse to label myself in that particular manner). This is how the MSM gets such weird ideas about what the average person thinks about things. If you don't already, take these polls with a grain of salt.

Connect The Dots

More posts below: I'm getting a week's worth of stuff out of my system. - Matt

While serving on my last ship, we did a Counter-Drug Interdiction deployment. It was, at times, extremely boring, I have to admit. We traversed the Panama Canal six times and stopped just one “go-fast” carrying several tons of uncut cocaine. Percentage-wise, that’s not even a scratch in the amount of drugs being smuggled into the U.S. I’m going to another ship in a few months that will also be a CDOPS deployer. I know this doesn’t get a lot of ink, but, yes, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard are still fighting the War on Drugs.

The War on Drugs! Wasn’t that conveniently forgotten about after the Reagan years, you may ask yourself? Why, no, we’re still fighting it; it’s even become increasingly relevant in the last five years, because terrorist organizations, to a greater or lesser extent depending on the one you’re talking about, fund their operations with drug money and other ill-gotten gains from illegal activity (like human trafficking). Ron Chepesiuk writes at Global Politician:
Drug trafficking, however, is not the only criminal activity in which terrorists and criminals collaborate. Kidnapping, human and contraband smuggling, counterfeiting money and CDs, fraud (credit card, cell phone cloning and identity theft) and even extortion and armed robbery have also been lucrative ways of making money.
Not to mention money laundered through legitimate businesses and charities.
Think about it, money that Americans and Europeans pay to get high and get laid and get cheap labor goes toward undermining our way of life and killing Americans and Europeans. But drugs are just harmless fun, aren’t they? Prostitution is a victimless crime, isn’t it?

This isn’t exactly news. There are GAO and Congressional reports dating back to 1996 here. It pops up in the papers from time to time, but the mainstream press doesn’t care about this when so much nothing from Judge Alito’s confirmation hearing to report. It’s a product of the “story of the week (day, hour, minute, take your pick)” mentality. One day, this will suddenly become that story. Then the MSM will wonder why George Bush hasn’t personally gone down to Colombia and eradicated all the coca himself, and then annex Bolivia.

Anyway, it’s tough keeping the sailors motivated on these CDOPS deployments, we do a lot of loitering and lurking; when I figure out what’s classified and law-enforcement sensitive, I’ll post more about it. It’s reassuring to me to know that we are fighting terrorism on the back-end while the guys on the ground are fighting them on the front-end. Whether or not we’re accomplishing anything is probably a discussion for another day.

Other Drug-Inspired Posts:
People Covered in Fish: Panacea

Death by PowerPoint

I know Crazy P will be familiar with the concept, as likely will the guys at The Officers' Club. Rather than using PowerPoint correctly as a visual aid/breifing tool, people cram every single bit of information on each slide that they consider relevant and read it off the slide in front of groups of (in my case) students. I'm guilty of it, as are many other officers in the Navy. It's so bad that there are no longer any hard-copy lesson plans - instructors just get up in front of the students and use the SMART Board as a crutch (if they even know how to use the SMART Board).

I've heard that all briefs to the Chief of Naval Operations must be no longer than ten PowerPoint slides with no more than three bullets on each slide and NO "Questions?" slide. Make sense if you're the big guy and just need to get the big picture, right? Well, this issue is addressed in this article, PowerPoint Makes You Dumb (originally published in the NYT).

Anyway, I started keeping track of the number of slides after a particularly grueling, unfocused and "weedy" lecture. Here is the breakdown for the week:



09 JAN10 JAN11 JAN12 JAN13 JAN
Slides263439282324434
Time(hrs)88784.5

I'd like you to know I do pay attention, because I think this is important information, but the overdependence on PowerPoint tries my patience and attention span. When I was helping to restructure the training for division officers, we almost completely eliminated PowerPoint lectures in favor of participatory discussion-based classes. Facilitation. That didn't last long; as soon as we got the SMART Boards, the hard-copy student and facilitator guides disappear, there were no enabling objectives... I hope things have improved since I left.

Anyway I'm going to be gathering these statistics to entertain myself.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Whatever

I suppose I should be posting about the story o' the week, Judge Alito's confirmation hearings, like a good little blogger, but frankly find myself not caring a whole lot. I suppose it would be different if it were someone I disagree with, but the 20-30 minutes of the hearing I watched a couple of days ago and the few transcripts I've read pretty much say it all for me. He's got the right attitude - not deciding based on pet causes, impartiality... honestly, who wouldn't want a judge like this sitting on the Supreme Court?

Oh yeah... These guys. Wow, what a bunch of pricks. This is why i can't read Kos. Such self-righteous elitism... it's astounding coming from people who purport to care about the "little guy". It's clear they haven't got a clue what they're talking about; maybe getting smarter on real life and abandoning their fantasy land will win them an election someday. I'm curious which confirmation hearing they were watching.

OBTW: If you really want to read some good items about the whole Alito non-story, check out Crazy P with a couple good round-up posts and Power Line'always brilliant legal perspective.

A Thing You Nail People To

What would Hüsker Dü? Ha! I kill me!

Uff-da, because I've got a good five pages of stuff handwritten that I want to dump into the blog and I have no time to do it. I love all the comments on the previous posts, though. I have to tell you, I was concerned about blogging because I expected to attract insane people, but the discussion we've been having are really intelligent, well-thought out and mature.

Here's a piece that really stemed me up as I was sitting in class pretending to pay attention this morning. Kathleen Parker at TownHall.com relates the ridiculous yet sad situation in which LT Bryan Black finds himself.

Turns out he made some off-color comments on the Naval Academy YP cruise this summer in earshot of some female midshipmen. For details read the column; to summarize, he was investigated, reprimanded and thought that was the end of it. It turned out his immediate superior is a similar type of female officer as these female midshipmen would like to be and is now court martialing LT Black for: "(1) failure to obey a lawful general order or regulation; (2) conduct unbecoming an officer; and (3) indecent language."

Now, I know I've said that I try to watch my language around here because the Internet never forgets. Also because excessive cussing, to me, belies a limited vocabulary. Which is not to say that I can't swear like like a sailor, but there are more creative ways to say things. I'm glad I have, now, because apparently I could be court-martialed for it!

No one needs to make an example of LT Black. An example should be made of the females involved in this debacle. One reason male sailors dreaded the integration of Navy ships was this very situation. It's true, we a nice fraternal atmosphere where people were comfortable with being themselves around their shipmates. This kind of bullsh*t (like you can't tell what that says) kills morale. You need a thicker skin if you're going to be successful in the Navy. I hope all their names are made public, so we know exactly what to expect of them. When they try to pull this next time, we'll know that they just want to destroy people they don't like.

It gets worse.
[Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.)] is the sponsor of a 95-page bill that would create a Pentagon Office of Victim Advocacy (OVA). We may never win the war on terror, but we'll by golly win the war on hurt feelings.
Ain't that the truth? If you wonder why retention in the Navy sucks, I can point straight to that attitude. It isn't fun anymore, because people take themselves too seriously. This is my response. (Not for those who want me court-martialed.)

Lighten up.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Truce

Hey! Good news! (TFHT: Best of the Web) Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has promised to give up the jihad! He only wants two small things from us:

The Iraqi Al-Qaeda leader then laid down two conditions for giving up the jihad.

"First, chase out the invaders from our territory in Palestine, in Iraq and everywhere in Islamic land.

"Second, instal sharia (Islamic law) on the entire Earth and spread Islamic justice there (...). The attacks will not cease until after the victory of Islam and the setting up of sharia," he swore.
Turns out he's a reasonable guy after all!

EDIT: I was just thinking, where are the screaming headlines on this story that say "ZARQAWI OFFERS PEACE" or something to that extent? Maybe I'm too hard on the media after all... ;)

UPDATE: More at The Blenster's Blog: On the Topic of Appeasement

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Decisions

JamesThis is my son. (Click to enlarge.) This ultrasound was taken in November when Red was 12-weeks pregnant (she's 22 weeks, now). He weighed less than an ounce at the time, but he still waved at us. Some people think it's OK to yank him out of the womb and kill him at this point. I'm putting him up for all the world to see because I want to put this post in context.

I'm pro-choice.

Now, hold on just second, for cryin' out loud! See, the thing is we affix labels to everything and everybody so they're easily categorized and we know what to expect. Well, you can't file every person away under some neat, easily identifiable group and assume you understand them. So let me explain.

I was bringing Red some dinner at work tonight and surfing the radio channels trying to find some talk radio that wasn't Michael Savage. I found Meet the press and listened to a good chunk of it. The second topic was a discussion between Kate Michelman, author of, "With Liberty and Justice for All: A Life Spent Protecting the Right to Choose" and Kate O'Beirne, author of "Women Who Make the World Worse and How Their Radical Feminist Assault Is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military, and Sports." You can probably guess which side is which by the book titles (I'd like to read that second one). Oh, and Tim Russert appears ready to devour your soul.

Kate MichelmanMichelman was president of NARAL Pro-Choice America for 18 years and the book she's written is her autobiography, I guess. She said something to the effect of, "we must support a woman's right to become a mother at the time of their choosing." To not force them to be a mother is they choose not to and most women want to succeed at being mothers. I agree with those statments, but not I believe she intended them. Ms. Michelman and I have a very different opinion of what a choice is.

My impression of her idea of "choice" is soley the decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy and kill a baby developing inside a woman's womb. An interesting side note, did you know that Planned Parenthood was founded by supporters of the eugenics movement at the beginning of the 20th century? As soon as Evolutionary Theory caught on, some folks came up with Social Darwinism, thinking they could breed undesirable traits out of the human species by aborting black babies and babies with birth defects.

I have a different idea of choice. As I mentioned last month, freedom of choice is the one freedom that can never be taken away; it is inherent in your existence and consciousness. You are free to choose how you will handle any given situation and how you will live your life. Michaelman thinks a woman should be able to become a mother at the time of her choosing. I believe that a woman who has unprotected sex has made that choice. Men choose to become fathers in the same way; I know, because I did it to myself nine years ago. People may make stupid choices, but they are choices nonetheless. ABORTION IS NOT A METHOD OF BIRTH CONTROL. People like this have other options.

There are exactly three cases I can think of in which I think a mother should be able to consider whether or not to have an abortion:

1) Her own life is at risk from the pregnancy and to continue would almost certainly kill her.

2) Incest. Yes, it's still a life. Should the woman (or girl) be forced to live with consequences that were not of her choosing. Assuming she didn't choose to... ugh, I can't even think of it.

3) Rape. Yes, it's still a life. Same as above, however. The woman did not choose to become impregnated, that was a situation forced upon her by an extremely evil person.

This is above and beyond bad law, legislating from the bench and the attempted Borking of the Honorable Judge Samuel Alito - which are all good topics for discussion. States should have the right to choose how to handle minutiae (oh, yes, the issue is minutiae; it's how much weight we give it that gives it... um, weight) like whether or not they will allow abortions. As it stands right now, the federal government has far too much power to dictate affairs to the States. I'm hoping with a conservative Supreme Court some of these bad laws will be overturned and the powers of the federal government will be reigned in.

As a result of our choices (Red and I), we were able to get this picture of our son three weeks ago. I'm hoping he'll live in a saner world than we live in today.

UPDATE: More on this at Crazy Politico's Rantings: Polimoronic

UPDATE II: The transcript for last night's Meet The Press is now available online, as are James Taranto's comments on Best of the Web.