Thursday, February 23, 2006

God's Gift to Government

Having ironically gotten into a discussion with James I was intent on not having, I'm reminded of last weekend, which I spent in Fort Myers, FL, with Red's mom, uncle and aunt. They're sharing a house in a nice little gated community (which Florida seems to have an overabundance of). I spent the weekend with my feet up on a chair, reading Neal Stephenson's "The Confusion" (the 1000-page second book of "The Baroque Cycle" trilogy), "The Commodores" (see sidebar) and getting addicted to Su|Do|Ku, which is one of many puzzles my mother-in-law dose to keep her mind limber.

I was shocked (well, more like a disappointed with raised-eyebrows) when I got into a discussion about current events last weekend with Red's uncle to hear him spouting conspiratorial moonbat nonsense. I guess it's funny until it happens to you. Here I am at the guy's house, caught by surprise. Like a bad cold, I let the rant run its course and tried not to provoke him (I was sleeping in his house, after all).

Many of you are probably familiar with this discussion (a misnomer, since there's no real discourse, just one person spouting lunacy). Among the interesting things he had to say:

1) "George W. Bush is the worst president in American history and has done more to damage the United States of America than anyone else. Ever."

I don't know, we've had some lousy presidents in 229 years. Naturally, if you Google "worst president ever", I think you could probably guess what you'd get as a result. But I think Harding, John Q. Adams, James Buchannan, maybe Andrew Johnson (though I think he did get a bum rap on the impeachment. I think Thomas Jefferson wasn't particularly good, either (his handling of the Barbary State was haphazard at best, since he was a pacifist at heart), though I admire him in general. (I also share his birthdate, it turns out.)

Incidentally, Dubya also comes up, though with slightly less frequency, when you Google "best president ever", which just goes to show, I suppose.

Anyway, there have been plenty of poor Chief Executives, and I think it's difficult for most people to remove themselves enough from their feelings about current events to make objective judgements about the quality of leadership from a historical perspective. I watched the History Channel documentary "The Presidents" a few months ago and it was terrific until it got to Carter, then it skewed off into biased, opinionated apologetics, panning of Reagan, a relatively good assessment of Clinton without being too negative, and typical GWB moonbattery. Disappointing, to say the least. I don't think we'll truly know the impact of the current and last two (maybe the last four, though Reagan's and Carter's legacies are beginning to come into sharp focus) presidents on US history for 20-30 years minimum. 50 years would provide better hindsight, I think.

2) "Clinton did his share of whoring, but at least he balanced the budget." Mahndisa was under this delusion for a while until I pointed her toward a few articles on the subject. It amazes me that people are willing to selectively take certain things on faith while reading conspiracy into similar items.

Not surprisingly, Bubba is considered by some as both best and worst president ever, which just further demonstrates people's lack of historical perspective. I think it's too early to assess the historical impact of Clinton's presidency, but for someone who was really focused on his legacy, he didn't leave much of one. I'm more inclined to overlook his philandering than I am to overlook his attention-whoring. And from a military perspective he was the worst of two commanders-in-chief I have ever had; he lacked strategic vision, or even any concept of how to employ the world's most powerful military (which has befuddled many men of greater virtue).

Anyway, No, Bill Clinton Didn't Balance the Budget, says Stephen Moore (and neither did George H. W. Bush, though I don't know who is under that delusion). Frankly, a balanced budget sounds swell and all, but is not that necessary (opperating at a deficit has been shown historically to stimulate the economoy, though large deficits can cause inflation). As Moore says in the article, the budget-balancing myth was mainly a result of an increased tax base due to the Internet bubble absent corresponding increases in spending (if the government had predicted that influx of cash, it would've been spent years in advance) and decreased military spending (surprise! Clinton hated the military!). What Clinton and the GOP Senate at the time really did was set Clinton's successor up for huge deficits when the need for increased miltary spending arose combined with the disappearance of economic exuberance.

As it stands, the deficit in the president's budget request for 2006 is only about 2.9% of GDP. I realize the percentages are usually used to hide the actual size of numbers so that comes to between $370 billion and $375 billion. That the deficit is only a tiny fraction of our entire national GDP and that it has been decreasing over the last couple of years, is a sign of American prosperity and economic health. Unless you refuse to believe that because Buxh Is The Worst President Evar!!!111! Politicians like to get you to believe that the deficit and national debt are a huge problem when it's convenient for them (Republicans cooked up the Balanced Budget Amendment, after all), but for some reason, you can't get people behind real long term problems like bloated, ineffective government programs and foreign aid ($62 billion in 2005!). I understand the political function of handouts, but just once I'd like leaders who didn't care about whether they got re-elected and just rolled up their sleeves and fixed things.

I could (and did) go on and on here at some length, but I did not observe the cardinal rule of computer use (save early and save often). Therefore you have about have as much to read as you did before I lost my work. (Firefox has been choking on .pdfs) Lucky you!

3) "So what if Bill Clinton screwed around? All presidents and politicans screw around on their wives. George Washington visited his favorite prostitute in Washington D.C."

Another difficult-to-substantiate, let alone research claim. I would like, in retrospect, to have asked him if he screwed around on his wife, but the would've been incendiary. The only thing I could find was an obscure book containing an essay by an unknown (to me) author making the insinuations. Of course, I'm sure it's difficult to sell unflattering tales about the Father of Our Country.

4) "Bush doesn't really want to catch Bin Laden. We caught him and Bush let him go. A former marine said it onstage at [some event, don't remember if he even said what] and was draggen off-stage. I read it in the local paper [Fort Myers News-Press]."

I wonder if it was that Jimmy Massey guy? What with all his credibility and all. I did attempt what due diligence I could from bed while watching the Olympics (I'm bummed about missing curling) on this, but haven't been able to find anything yet. If you've made it this far and have the energy, be my guest.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Hello, Stranger

You may be asking yourself, "Where the dickens is Robosquirrel?"

Good news! I've been here, more or less, the whole time. I don't know about you, but about two weeks ago I was growing increasingly bored with the "Story of the Week" (SOTW), whatever it happened to be. So I stepped away from the keyboard for a bit, concentrated on my professional obligations, flew to Ft. Myers, FL, and back (and there, became addicted to Su|Do|Ku).

You may or may not have noticed I don't write much about the SOTW. Everybodyy else is doing it and I think the gamut of opinions covers mine in whole or in part. Once in a while, I feel like ranting about it because, well, it VEXES me. But, take this week's SOTW: Dubai company wants to buy British company that controls *gasp* port operations in American ports! Oh Noes!!!!11! Give me a break.

1) The United Arab Emirates is the most westernized part of the Middle East. I've been there, the shopping is terrific!
2) The UAE is a U.S. ally in the war on terror.
3) Changing the name on the company letterhead does not give terrorists free access to US ports. Lack of ability to police the mind-boggling volume of stuff flowing in and out of US ports gives terrorists free access to US ports. Assuming they're not lost in the mail when they FedEx themselves here.

I haven't read anyone else's comments on the matter for lack of time, but what more is there to say? The UAE government can't control every crackpot who wants to kill Americans and Jews anymore than we can convince a moonbat that their politcal activism/ranting/lunacy does more harm than good, more often than not.

The whole "Vice President shot his hunting buddy thing" was really the last straw. I'd like to note here, that it is the fact that these items are not deserving of the screaming headlines, idle speculation and idiotic bloviating that they get and THAT is what pisses me off. Give the story its due and then move on to something important.

I do, as always, have four or five rants I want to pixelate, especially about what I did on my vacation! Have to see if time allows, as I am dealing with car issues, an increasingly pregnant wife, and increasingly urgent and important Surface Warfare matters. Killing people and breaking things trumps blogging. Not that I haven't enjoyed your comments while I've let the blog stagnate.

Back to keeping the world safe for democracy!

Crazy Politico's Rantings: Arabophia Gone Wild
The QandO Blog: The Politics of Ports
Peace On That: Righties: Time to Justify Your Thug
Bloviating Zeppelin: Bush Digs In His Boot Heels On $6.8 Billion Port Deal

Sunday, February 12, 2006


More on Danish imam pot-stirring at The Weekly Standard, "Oh The Anguish". A good article for most part, with lots of sarcasm (which of course, I enjoy) except I disagree with Bill Kristol on one point:

"This is a moment of truth in the global struggle against Islamic extremism."

Actually, I don't think so. How many cars were burninated in France? How many people were blown up in the London Underground? I don't know how much insanity from the Middle East it's going to take for the world to finally stop hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock of Islamic extremism, but if 9/11 didn't do it, I don't think that the Cartoon Jihad is going to do it, either.

Ignorance is Power
Better Never Late
They're Really Very Nice, Once You Get to Know Them.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


Ahh... the blizzard's starting. Glee!

EDIT: Visitor #2646 was from Australia and searching for 'men using fish for sex'. Just thought you'd like to know.

I've been fascinated at Lone Pony's attempts to make some sense out of the insanity of recent events in the world of Islamofacism. Becky's a brilliant, patient woman and is to be commended for her efforts. I admire those who seek to understand their enemies. Victor Davis Hanson (TFHT: Lone Pony) is also one of those people. As for me, my attempts have been rooted dually in a desire to better understand individualism and power, and a desire to understand my enemies Sun Tzu-style... so I can destroy them when I have to. (Muahahahaha!!!)

My personal understanding is that our current struggle has little to do with religion, but is instead about a dying culture's desperate struggle to maintain its power. This culture (or "cult", if you prefer) takes people who would otherwise be normal, productive members of society and has them blowing themselves up, beheading people and setting thing afire instead, as a result of centuries of oppression and control by dictators. Many people in these societies are like zombies, not the classic "Serpent and the Rainbow" zombies, but the "Dawn of the Dead" types - they look like normal people, but they'll kill you for your brains, unless you kill them first. Sort of. The rest are afraid. Dictatorships use propaganda and repressive enforcement of the will of the leader to maintain control. They keep independent information from penetrating their borders as best they can.

The U.S. has sporadically opposed the will of tyrants (despite our professing of great ideals, we can't fight everybody) throughout our short history, though we tend to lean toward isolationism due to our geographic situation. Which is good for our leaders, because it also creates an ignorance that they can use. Our country is so big and so far from other countries that many Americans don't set foot on foreign soil their entire lives, keeping them blissfully unaware of the finer details of things going on in the rest of the world.

Unfortunately for politicians and newspapermen and petty tyrants around the world, the Internet has resulted in massive information-sharing, and as a side benefit of it being for porn, it has made people smarter about the world around them. Liberty-minded individuals have discovered that there are others like them and they are not some anachronist vestigal organ left behind by a shining city on a hill long ago (has it been 26 years already?). Or something like that. You get my drift.

So in my usual roundabout way, here's where I'm going: For most people, even those with some knowledge of history, the world began the day they were born. It seems very few even bother to make attempts to understand it, they just sit in front of the idiot box, maintaining a constant body temperature while thinking what other people want them to think. I am floored by the ignorance of people when it come to realizing how we got where we are today. Some people think 9/11 was the first time we were every attacked by terrorists, and that since they haven't attacked us lately, it was a one-time thing.

The U.S. government has a little website called "" (TFHT: Crazy P) meant to dispell that myth. It's a good list, but I found it a bit lacking. For one thing, it stops in 1983. This one at The Center for Defense Information is a bit better, since it goes back one further:
November 4, 1979 - Fundamentalist Islamic students took 52 Americans hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran.

In response, in April 1980, President Jimmy Carter authorized “Operation Eagle Claw,” a military mission to free the hostages. The mission involved eight USMC RH-53 helicopters, 12 airplanes and personnel who were to be transported from a carrier in the Pakistan Gulf to a point outside Tehran, where they were to spend the night and resume rescue operations the following morning. The operation involved refueling the helicopters at a spot in the Iranian desert dubbed "Desert One." The operation was aborted April 25 after three of the eight helicopters suffered mechanical failures and one of the helicopters collided with a refueling plane, killing five Air Force personnel, three Marines and injuring dozens. The hostages, after spending 444 days in captivity, were released unharmed just hours after Ronald Reagan's presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, 1981.
That's an important one that the government left out. Was it to protect the "legacy" of Jimmy Carter? I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but don't these attacks on the U.S. go back farther? I'm working on it, but any list that ends before 1948 seems a bit short, until I read otherwise.

For example, here's one that starts with the first U.S. aircraft ever hijacked in 1961 at the department of state. So we've been bending over and taking it for 45 years according to this list. Certain people in power would prefer that we keep on taking it.

After all, if we leave them alone and keep funneling "foreign aid" to them, they'll leave us alone.

Won't they?

Ignorance is Power
Better Never Late

Are You Threatening Me?

Blizzard Threatens East Coast

Funny, I don't feel threatened, but it's all about the drama, isn't it? I'm looking forward to getting the shovel out tomorrow morning. Honestly folks, the worst thing about New Engalnd winters is listening to the New Engladers complain about them. (Or listening to how happy they are that it's been 60 degrees all winter, while they are simultaneously frantic about global warming. Sheesh.)

Red and I spent the day today finishing off the baby registry, but first we had to eat. More accurately, she had to eat. So we went to Olive Garden. Olive Garden in Warwick is a shining example of what's wrong with the state of Rhode Island. Every time we go there, the parking lot is a freakin' zoo. It's like you've left civilization and entered the jungle, where you may need to kill in order to eat. This is, generally speaking, what the whole state (heck, all of southern New England; have you ever driven a car in Boston? You'd be lucky to survive!) is like - savagery and hostility papered over with a facade of civility. It's beautiful in some places, but the people are mean-spirited, rude and infused with a kind of sick desperation one would expect in an injured, starving, abused dog. It's off-putting to most of the outsiders I've spoken to; I used to think it was just me.

The parking lot is extremely small, and always full not matter what time of day it is, with plenty of people deciding to dispense with searching for a spot altogether and just inventing parking spots - usually ones that block off the extremely narrow lanes of travel. Those that do decide to searcj for parking spots are fast, aggressive and dangerous; willing to literally kill for a place to leave their car in order to eat at a crappy chain restaurant.

We found a spot at the back, which is where I usually look for a spot in the really crazy parking lots. (Less fighting and therefore danger - I had my family in the car for cryin' out loud!) but instead of parking in the assigned spots at the back, people parallel parking along the curb, and one truck actually parked diagonally instead of parking perpendicular to the curb like a responsible member of society. Red started getting worried about the car making it out of there unscathed, so we punted and went across the street to Carrabba's.

Carrabba's is a terrific Italian chain restaurant (I love their fennel sausage and lentil soup)... which isn't open until 3 pm. Since we had an hour to wait and a hungry pregnant lady, we went to Chili's.

At Chili's, Fox News was playing at the bar and I caught a quick glimpse of a headline: 40% would choose Clinton over Giuliani in 2008. Of course the real story is that in a contest between Giuliani and Clinton, Giuliani would win. In an imaginary contest between two people who have said they won't be running for president, 40% is still not a majority. I think despite Clinton's notoriety, she should learn from John Edwards. Running for President in 2008 would likely spell disaster for her political future. On the other hand, the good news is that running for President in 2008 would likely spell disaster for her political future.

It's not a shoe-in for Republicans, though. They need to realize why many are disenchanted with the party and try to address those concerns. They can't do like Democrats have been doing in the last three out of four elections and just throw in anyone and win.

It's too early to be thinking about this anyway. The whole landscape could be changed this year. All this talk about 2008 (which started in 2004, didja notice?) is starting to get on my nerves. How about worrying about November and figure out how to take over the world 2008?

Something Stupid

(TFHT: Vodkapundit) A suitable result for a Browncoat!

You scored as Serenity (Firefly). You like to live your own way and don't enjoy when anyone but a friend tries to tell you should do different. Now if only the Reavers would quit trying to skin you.

Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with

Friday, February 10, 2006

Ignorance is Power

Buckle your safety belts, strap on your helmets and keep your arms and legs inside the blog at all times - we're going to do some linking today.

I came across an obscure bit of news this week that got me thinking about the root cause of some recent events. You guessed it, I read about the premiere of a new Venezuelan telenovela (soap opera) called "Amores de Barrio Adentro" ("Love Inside the Neighborhood"). (Just hit "Cancel" if you get a window asking you to print, OK?)

It's a "Romeo and Juliet"-type story of lovers from different walks of life; a young, working-class, pro-Chavez ("Chavista") woman and a well-off, politically "neutral", young man who attends the same University. As you can probably guess from the character descriptions, the show is blatantly politically skewed toward the pro-Chavez point of view. In fact, (emphasis mine)
[Screenwriter Roman] Chalbaud, an icon of the filmmaking and theater worlds in Venezuela, said the series "reflects on screen what everyone wants to see: the truth about the revolution and the lies of the opposition" – a reference to Chavez' peaceful [Although Chavez was deposed once briefly and came back AND participated in two failed military coups in 1992 - Robo] social revolution and the broad opposition movement that has worked hard to remove him.

The title of the program itself is similar to the name of the Barrio Adentro (Inside the Neighborhood) plan launched by Chavez in 2003 to bring primary health care to the slums and poor neighborhoods, in which some 10,000 Cuban doctors have taken part, living and tending to patients in the country's shanty-towns.
To say nothing of the fact that the show has been produced by a state-run TV network and the premiere was attended by the vice-president. There are four private TV stations in Venezuela all of which (surprise!) campaigned against him. They show anti-Chavez propaganda disguised as entertainment.

TV is the opiate of the masses; there's a reason I call it "the idiot box". If you only get your information from your television these days, you are setting yourself up to become a sheep to be herded where ever the loudest, most colorful, most repetitive voice wants you to go. It wasn't always this way, people used to be responsible about their use of television, but it has become the refuge of the empty-headed.

This got me thinking about information. Chavez has a lot of popular support, as do all socialist leaders, because they pander to the largest group within the population - the working class. They promise handouts and a better life and usually deliver on misery, but no notices until it's too late and the country has been run into the ground. If the people who support leaders like this had access to information they might make more responsible choices about their government. Socialists, Communists and other leftists (ahem) need to feed the populus favorable information in order to gain or maintain power. So they control the media, and what can and can't be said. They keep their people in a flag-waving, populist zone in a closet under the stairs, preventing any unfavorable information from reaching them. If you want people to obey, you have to keep them stupid. Check out this headline from a "fair and balanced" Venezuelan news service: "Evil and terrorism against Venezuela began with one man: George W. Bush"

This isn't exactly a revalation, I know, but I feel it needs to be put into words. Why else would Fidel Castro be so upset about the Christmas display at the American embassy in Havana? I suppose the ambassador's effort to reach out to dissidents there might have something to do with it. I love how the Bush Administration seems to do things just because they know they'll piss someone off.

These petty thugs and greedy bureaucrats who have found themselves running countries must oppress people and make them glad of it if they want to stay in power. That's one big reason the U.N. was pushing for control of the Internet and not much news gets out of China. That's why bloggers are muzzled in Iran. And oh-by-the-way, it looks like relations between Cuba and Iran are warming up. Should this surprise anyone? I see these alliances forming between people who choke all dissent and I seem to be the only one whose eyebrows are raised.

It's not as though Europe is any better. England isn't free; the Queen could disband Parliament any time she feels like it. The BBC is state-run, of course. People in all European countries self-censor in order to avoid provoking the anyone who might be provoked, or being censored by the state. It's damn near a miracle that the Danes got the stones to stand by the printing of the Mohammed cartoons. There are even some freedom-loving publications that continue to print them to show what insatiable, bloodthirsty savages the people who control Islam and many Islamic nations are.

My assessment of this situation, based on what I think I know about autocracy, is that the participants in these riots that one might consider ordinary people have been incited to publicity-whoring violence by people using them to for their own selfish ends. They have been starved of multiple independent sources of information, or the ability to decide for themselves what they think about anything at all, and suddenly they are fed information presented in a certain fashion, in the context of the brainwashing they've received for thousands of years. Yes, they're pushed to violence, led there like hogs to the slaughter.

These kind of populist messages, anti-Christian, anti-Bush, pro-liberal agenda garbage are readily available to those who would like to delude themselves with it right here in America, too. Look at the Oscars, the Golden Globes, see who nominated and that'll tell you all you need need to know. The good thing is that our free market takes care of this nonsense. Who watches PBS? Nobody, but it remains on the air with the help of your pledge (but mostly tax) dollars.

So remember: Kill your TV!

Interesting Times: Around The Horn
Interesting Times 1.5
Interesting Times

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Heading this way:

Finally! I mean, it's a hassle, sure, but this winter has been depressingly devoid of snow. It must be global warming! Now it all makes sense, Of course it's more important than terrorism!

But I digress. Hopefully the weather will give me an excuse to stay in and blog a bit. I know I've been slacking, but the Navy's trying to teach me Surface Warfare for the first time in seven-and-a-half years (you could slice the irony with a knife), and I've been busy studying. Lots on my plate, so I'll have to prioritize. Look for a blog burst this weekend!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Thank You, Drive Through

Not much time right now, but the madness never stops, my friends.

Getting a lot of search engine hits on the muslim cartoon insanity. If you're here looking for that, you'll find it here:

They're Really Very Nice Once You Get to Know Them

and further commentary here:


AND you MUST read this article from yesterdays Wall Street Journal, "How Muslim Clerics Stirred the Arab World Against Denmark" Michelle Malkin has posted on this, but it's important to know that these cartoons were originally published in October, yet the violence starts now, because certain parties planned to outrage as many people as possible through a disinformation campaign against a newspaper no one in Syria had ever heard of. I'll get on this brainwashing later, I've got some good stuff.

Meanwhile, U.S. eyes protecting polar bears from [global, of course. - Robo] warming


NNNNNNNYYYYYYRRRRRGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!! Gah! Nobody EVER listens! Hey U.S. Government, the only thing polar bears need to be protected from is people trying to protect them! Anybody ever heard of the Grizzly Man? Gee manetly! Hey Senators Martinez and Nelson, if you're here in response to that email I sent, check these out!

Environmental Hysteria: Moral Vanity
Environmental Hysteria: When Scientists Attack
It's Not Easy Being Green
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

Otherwise it seems that it's just more of the same. I've got a couple things in the hopper that aren't "stories-of-the-week" just need to work out the time to get 'em 'troninized.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Environmental Hysteria: Moral Vanity

My senators are starting to piss me off. The Honorable Senator Mel Martinez in particular, since I voted for him in Aught Four and his staffers were handing out Terry Schaivo talking points almost immediately afterward. I guess he and I just got off on the wrong foot.

Now I find him pandering to the environmental lobby. Oh sure, they claim to care about the state's military constituency and tourism, and that's just super, but where most states really fail - I see it here in Rhode Island every day - is encouraging economic development without attempting to shake down the businesses for as much as they can legally extort.

Plan by Florida's senators aims to provide state with permanent protection from oil, gas rigs. Or: Florida's senators plan to protect Florida from an increased tax base and more jobs.

I do not know the amount of tax revenue an offshore drilling operation would generate, but I do know that it is a significant investment in capital to do so. It is also an asset-intensive industry, therefore, every bit of oppressive government regulation counts.

If you don't know, and chances are that you don't, the Law of the Sea provides for a nation's territorial waters and other zones and nautical type atuff. Twelve nautical miles from the baseline (the low-water line along the coast as marked on large-scale charts officially recognized by the coastal State) is a nation's territorial waters - the extent of a nation's sovereignty. An Exclusive Economic Zone is established at 200 nautical miles from the baseline where sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, of the waters superjacent to the seabed and of the seabed and its subsoil, and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds".

Senators Martinez and Nelson propose to make permanent a moratorium on drilling in Floirda's waters:
Specifically, the bipartisan bill would create a permanent no-drilling zone at least 260 miles offshore in much of the eastern Gulf. And off Pensacola and Florida’s East Coast, the no drilling zone would extend out to 150 miles offshore. It also would remove existing leases close to Florida’s coastline by granting royalty forgiveness on active leases in the western and central Gulf.
My senators want to forbid drilling in our our own EEZ off of Tampa and permit it in just a sliver of our own EEZ on the rest of the Gulf coast! For what? So manatees can hump? You know what the horizon is at a height of eye of six feet (the height an above average man)? THREE NAUTICAL MILES in perfect condidtions. So oil rigs aren't going to spoil the natural beauty of all that water. Sen. Nelson says the Navy does vital exercises in that area. I'm not familiar with the operating areas over there, since the water's too shallow for much operating. Minesweeping, maybe? Could you point it out to me on a chart, Sen. Nelson? I can't figure it out, despite seven years in the navy, 18 months of which I spent stationed in Jacksonville. I'm coming back in June, by the way; just, y'know, FYI.

In other absurd environmental news, road salt may be sickening Alaska pigeons. So let's see... cost/benefit analysis. Save lives by melting ice on the roads, or try to save rats with wings. You decide.

Previous environmental hysteria:
Environmental Hysteria: When Scientists Attack
It's Not Easy Being Green
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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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Freedom of Speech

I figured out what the Internet is for! (TFHT: Little Miss Attila)

Because I needed a laugh.

EDIT (10:53 PM): If you want to smile about something cute, Animal Planet is current having the "Puppy Bowl II" where puppies... play. Currently the Kitty Half-Time Show is on. I know, I'm a sucker for cute baby animals. Surprised?


EDIT: If you are looking for the cartoons, I have them posted here.

What sort of warped view of the world must you have to think that this is a just and proportional reaction to being offended by something?

The Joint Chiefs letter to the Washington Post over the recent "quadruple amputee" cartoon was a justifiable reaction. You didn't see the Washington Post bombed by an A-10 Warthog.

Everything Ted Rall draws is offensive, does that mean I'm going to get a lynch mob together and go string him up? Of course not. Only in the Middle East, in countries cut off by their governments from the arena of ideas, would normal people think it's a good idea to take up torches and burn down buildings.
Syria blamed Denmark for the protests, criticizing the Scandinavian nation for refusing to apologize for the caricatures of Islam’s holiest figure.

“(Denmark’s) government was able to avoid reaching this point ... simply through an apology” as requested by Arab and Muslim diplomats, state-run daily Al-Thawra said in an editorial Sunday.

“It is unjustifiable under any kind of personal freedoms to allow a person or a group to insult the beliefs of millions of Muslims,” the paper said.
Denmark doesn't have to apologize for anything, you medieval bonehead. In the free world, we can disagree peacefully without killing each other. Why don't you develop some sense of proportionality. How do you think the Jews react when you swear to destroy them? Everybody owes you everything and you don't have to do anything in return, just oppress your people and spew hateful nonsense and try your best to pick fights with peace-loving people around the world. Bite me, dickweed.

You, yes you, mobs in Middle Eastern cities. Read a book. Join civilization, because we're doing our best to drag you kicking and screaming, but you've got to want it. Right now you're nothing more than savages. Behave like animals and expect to be treated as such when America finally straightens this mess, the damn sandbox you live in, out.

I want to write about other things, but you're pissing me off. FYI, you fundamentalist wackos, I fully intend to sit in my large apartment, drink beer and watch the Super Bowl, thinking about how sexy my wife's ankles are while she's working tonight, and furthermore, I will spew my opinions on the Internet for all the world to read if they want to. So enjoy your cave and fearing for your survival while I enjoy my FREEDOM.

EDIT:By the way, Moonbats: you bastards make me sick. I question whether you're worthy of civilization, or if it's time to vote you off the island.

EDIT #2: The blogosphere owns this story. The MSM seems willing to black it out until it blows over. I'm too angry for analysis, but here's some:

Charlie Munn at the Officer's Club says:
This episode outlines what happens when you “ain’t gonna study war no more.” Who is “humiliated” here? -The Arab street, or the Dutch, who just got bitch-slapped on national TV? Their embassies were burned- an act of war- over cartoons! That should be intolerable on the world stage. A line should be drawn here, and Syria should pay. If the Dutch government hadn’t strayed far off the trail of NATO protectionism, maybe it could do what Jimmy Carter failed to do in 1979- militarily respond to an act of war.

Radio Equalizer: Readers Turn To Blogs For Cartoon Riot Latest
Michelle Malkin: Fanning the Flames
Michelle Malkin: The Lies of the Danish Imams
Lone Pony: How to spot a fanatical Muslum
Lone Pony: What are the central beliefs of Islam?
Gateway Pundit: Terror-Linked Danish Imam Behind Cartoon Riots Interviewed
Instapundit: Double Standard on Protests?
Captain's Quarters: The Contrived Cartoon Network

They're Really Very Nice, Once You Get to Know Them.

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Environmental Hysteria: When Scientists Attack

I don't think there's anything quite as exciting as when weather geeks start slap-fighting each other. OK, I exaggerate the situation a bit here.

It turns out that the American Meterological Society had its annual meeting last weekend and had a panel discussion about global warming's effect on hurricanes. Two hurricane scientists, Colorado State University professor Dr. William Gray of the Tropical Meteorology Project and Dr. Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research were disinvited to the panel after the organizers determined that the discussion would be too hot for the civilized weather scientists in attendance. Gray, who disputes that global warming has any effect on hurricanes said, "To hell with it, I'm not going." This is one way the scientific community stifles debate, apparently.

As with just about anything you read in the newspaper these days, the headline, "Hurricane debate shatters civility of weather science," is misleading. The debate is not about hurricanes, but about whether global warming affects them or not. Heck, in order to even start that discussion you have to accept as a given that global warming exists and is probably caused by humans - postulations that have not been proven. Not that they might not be, but no one's bothered due to the politicization of science. You either believe or you don't. Sounds like religion to me.

Nonetheless, experts say global warming is causing stronger hurricanes
Peter J. Webster of the Georgia Institute of Technology said it's the warm water vapor from the oceans that drives tropical storms, and as the water gets warmer the amount of evaporation increases, providing more fuel for the tempests. Between 1970 and 2004 the average sea surface temperature in the tropics rose nearly 1°F.
So let me do the math, here... that's one (1) degree Fahrenheit in 34 years. Is that statisically significant? Hard to tell by the information provided. I'd love to do like Michael Crichton did and spend three years researching this stuff, but I'll have to settle for what's immediately available for the time being. There's no reference provided, so you can't check, but we know all the really good scientists use Celcius. In Celcius, were talking about an increase of 0.471 degrees. I wonder what the margin of error was? Note the use of Fahrenheit to inflate the data?
Co-author Judith Curry of Georgia Tech said the team is confident that the measured increase in sea surface temperatures is associated with global warming, adding that the increase in category 4 and 5 storms "certainly has an element that global warming is contributing to."
Of course! Global warming is self-fulfilling. Global warming is causing the sea surface temperatures to rise, thereby proving that global warming exists. By the end of the article, all these scientists are agreeing with the one scientist buried at the end of the article who thinks they don't really know what they say they know.

Climate change studies are almost entirely dependent upon computer modelling, which produces variations in predictions of 400%, according to Michael Crichton in "State of Fear." I just finished it, by the way, the references are all provided in the biblography at the end and they are just as interesting as the rest of the book.

But I digress. All these folks end up coming back to one study released last year right at the peak of hurricane season (surprise!) by Kerry Emanuel of MIT who says
If the average wind speed near the surface of the tropical oceans does not change [but it DOES - Robo], theory predicts that the wind speeds in hurricane should increase about 5% for every 1oC increase in tropical ocean temperature (Emanuel, 1987). Computer models confirm this tendency, but assign a slightly smaller magnitude of the increase (Knutson and Tuleya, 2004).
Again, just theorizing here, can't really prove it, but we've got some nice computer models that interpret the information we extrapolate from what has happened over a short period of time.

He's guessing.

But let's just say he's correct for a minute. Let's do the math again: surface temp increase of 0.471 dgrees Celcius in 34 years.... equals a .2355% increase in hurricane wind speeds, based on his
"5% for every 1oC" claim. In 34 years. To put it another way, the highest sustained windspeed record I can find for Hurricane Katrina is 120 MPH. So, if she was .2355% stronger due to global warming, then without the effect of global warming, sustained wind speends would have been 119.72 MPH. You know, if the wind speed near the surface of the tropical oceans doesn't change, or any of a number of other unpredictable factors that could contribute to the overall effect of a hurricane.

This is why your kids need to learn math, folks. To make lies transparent.

More from Emanuel: Global warming may pump up hurricane power
Feeding peak sustained-wind data into his model, he calculated the total potential destructive power over the life of all storms each year since about 1950 in the world’s two best-monitored areas – the North Atlantic and the north-west Pacific. He found a striking correlation between their destructive potential and sea-surface temperatures.
Translated: He picked and chose local data in areas not frequently affected by hurricanes because the data was good, crunched the data into a computer, and extrapolated it into impending doom, an increase in wind speeds of just over a quarter of a mile an hour in 34 years, lest we forget. I wonder if it's a linear increase, or an exponential increase? Who funds Emanuel's research? He does some work for NOAA, at least, all the best sky-is-falling environmental scientist have at least partial government funding. Why doesn't anybody ask these hacks any good questions?

I think it's also interesting that my favorite liberal think tank stalkers, Pew Charitible Trusts (I have a hit counter, guys, welcome to the blog!), have a climate change arm. They've got a great litte FAQ on hurricanes and global warming
(emphasis, as always, mine):
Will global warming increase the frequency or intensity of hurricanes in the future?

Just about everyone is now aware of climate change
[It's hard not to be, what with your willing accomplices in the press shoving it down our throats - Robo], so when an extreme weather event occurs, it is not unusual for people to ask if it is the result of global warming. Because of the link between higher ocean temperatures and hurricanes, there is speculation that hurricanes will increase in frequency or intensity in a warmer world, with higher wind speeds and greater precipitation. As stated above, the frequency of hurricanes has not increased on average over the long term. However, scientists believe that global warming will result in more intense hurricanes, as increasing sea surface temperatures provide energy for storm intensification. An MIT study published recently in Nature provides the first data analysis indicating that tropical storms are indeed becoming more powerful over time.
Which MIT study would that be, I wonder?

And of course, there's always the sound, but less well-publicized counter argument, Scientists Debunk 'Global Warming' Effect on Hurricanes; well, actually, they wrote a letter to the Honorable Senator John S. McCain:
According to the United Nations Environment Programme of the World Meteorological Organization, "Reliable data ... since the 1940s indicate that the peak strength of the strongest hurricanes has not changed, and the mean maximum intensity of all hurricanes has decreased."
"Computer simulations suggest that in a warmer world most of the warming would occur in the Polar Regions. Atmospheric circulation, which crucially affects storms, is driven primarily by the temperature difference, or gradient, between the tropics and the poles," the experts wrote.

"Warmer polar regions would reduce this gradient and thus lessen the overall intensity or frequency or both of storms - not just tropical storms but mid-latitude winter storms as well (such as blizzards and northeasters)," the climatologists added.
Well, there's those pesky computer simulations again. Just goes to show that Crichton is on to something. Complex systems, man.

Patrick J. Michaels is a Cato Institute senior fellow for environmental studies who, among acknowledgement of the rough and tumble world of environmental science, something the WSJ seems to think is new, says of Emanuel's article:
Consider the recent Nature article. If hurricanes had doubled in power in the last few decades as Emanuel claims, the change would be obvious; you wouldn't need a weatherman to know which way this wind was blowing. All of these feuding scientists would have agreed on the facts long ago.

Damages caused by doubling the strength of hurricanes would be massive and increasing dramatically. Figures on this are pretty easy to come by, at least in the United States. The insured value of property from Brownsville, Texas to Eastport, Maine -- our hurricane prone Atlantic Coast -- is greater than a year of our Gross Domestic Product. If hurricanes had actually doubled in power, the losses in the insurance industry would be catastrophic.
I think our memories are short, but I fully accept that the world didn't begin in 1976. If it's hot right now, we think there's something out of the ordinary. If we're caught in the middle of a hurricane, maybe we want someone to blame. Well there's George Bush, Industry, or you could cover all your bases and just blame everybody, since everybody is causing global warming, aren't they? The Pew Center for Global Climate Change's slogan is "Working together because climate change is serious business". I'll say. Michaels writes:
The federal outlay on climate research is now $4.2 billion per year, roughly the same amount given to the National Cancer Institute. The climate research community sees a grave threat when research shows there's no threat from the climate. So papers that hawk climate disaster get superficial reviews and uncritical headlines, while those that argue otherwise are "shameful."
It's Not Easy Being Green
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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These people are rotten to the core. According to Gateway Pundit, they are burning The Danish (not to mention Swedish and Chilean) embassy in Damascus and threatening to kill the Danish ambassador to Indonesia.

News flash to anyone who doesn't think we are in a knock-down, drag-out, battle for civilization and the soul of humanity.

These people need to be stopped.

Gateway Pundit: Danish Embassy Torched in Syria!
InstaPundit: Barbarians vs. Civilization
Powerline: Embassies in Flames

They're Really Very Nice, Once You Get to Know Them.



Yeah, yeah. I'm not editing out other people's cussin', FYI.
I mean the show, Penn & Teller': Bullshit! The new season starts in April and I really hope they do an episode on unschooling. (Tin Foil Hat Tip: Two Babes and a Brain) Because, baby, that story needs to be told.

"I actually don't know what I'm learning," Nailah said. "I think I'm just having a good time."
The arguments presented against this are just as weak as the ones presented against homeschooling. At least homeschooled kids seem to be learning something. And are aware of it. Gee manetley.


Is the government serious about defending our borders? You tell me. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol seems serious - in their press releases anyway. They're closest to the problem, however there is only a dynamic work force of over 11,000 men and women working it. (I wonder how many of those are in the field?) Thankfully, they've seized $10 million in misdescribed textiles, which is a big load off my mind.

Meanwhile, U.S. Can't Rule Out Mexican Soldiers' Foray across the border to smuggle marijuana, contrary to what Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff said a few weeks ago:
Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff yesterday told reporters at Defense Today magazine that Mexican military incursions average about 20 a year, but were declining.

He called concern over the issue "overblown" and "scare tactics."

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." [Maybe something like a BIG DAMN FENCE would help them figure it out? - Robo]

"Sometimes they may be people who are dressed in what appear to be military uniforms but they are just criminals, they are not military but they are wearing camouflage so someone may assume they are military," he said.

"We have good relations with our counterparts across the border, we do have instances where we have Mexican police or military who deserted and become involved with criminal activity but we also have bad cops in the United States, too. It happens," he said.
DHS doesn't seem to pay much attention to CBP's impression that they are in a shooting war with Mexico.

Not to be outdone, Mexican Foriegn Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez used the "double dumb ass on you" tactic: U.S. aided drug run, Mexican envoy hints
Derbez said yesterday that the men photographed by Texas law enforcement could have been Americans.

"Members of the U.S. Army have helped protect people who were processing and transporting drugs," he said.

Yeah, because American soldiers don't have enough on their plate with the Global War on Terror going on and need the money... oh, no, wait, that's your conscripted Mexican Army I was thinking of. Apparently not all of the Mary Jane is making it over the border; some of it seems to be stopping at Derbez' office.

I can't link to this article from the New York Times, but here is what local Texas law enforcement had to say:
Texas Sheriff Says Mexican Military-Issue Items Were Used In Confrontation
EL PASO, Jan. 27 (AP) — Drug-smuggling suspects dressed in Mexican military-style uniforms who were involved in an armed confrontation with Texas lawmen on Monday were using a Mexican military-issue Humvee and weapons, the Hudspeth County sheriff said Friday.

"It was military," said the sheriff, Arvin West, whose officers were involved in the incident. "Due to the pending Congressional hearings, I can't comment further."

Sheriff West said the determination that the equipment was military-issue came from the federal government, but he would not elaborate.

An Army spokesman said he could not confirm the sheriff's statement.

The Mexican Foreign Relations Department said it would have no comment, but other Mexican officials have said the uniforms and other equipment could have been stolen. Mexico's foreign relations secretary suggested on Thursday that the smugglers might have been American soldiers or American criminals disguised as Mexican soldiers.

Police gear is sold at street stands in Mexico, and kidnappers and drug smugglers there wear it regularly.

The chief of the United States Border Patrol, David Aguilar, said here on Friday that he could not rule out Mexican soldiers' involvement in the incident, which occurred in a remote spot along the Rio Grande about 50 miles east of El Paso.

But the Mexican government has denied that any soldiers were involved.
Luckily this issue is slowly attracting more attention, but I wouldn't expect the current administration to solve the problem. Granted, they've come up with some creative long-term solutions to issues in the past, but if this guest-worker nonsense pans out, I'll shave my head.

What Border Problem?
Connect The Dots

Friday, February 03, 2006

They're Really Very Nice, Once You Get to Know Them.

EDIT: Note to you psychos:
Bring it on.
Muslim cartoons ganked from Michelle Malkin, along with protest pictures.

EDIT #3: For more highlighting of Islamic moral equivalence, check out Victor Davis Hansen: Three Pillars of Wisdom - Finding our footing where lunacy looms large. This is a must-read! (As is pretty much everything VDH publishes, actually.)

EDIT #4: Even more at RightWinged

Seems they're a bit touchy, aren't they?

EDIT: I smallified some of the pics a bit to stop the over run into the sidebar. Better? I also expanded the size of the main body on the template. I think that works a little better.

Ain't free speech grand? More:
Under the News: WWDD (What would Doonesbury do?)
Fetching Jen: Osama bin Christ? What Is Art?
TexasFred:Offensive Content is in the eye of the OFFENDED...
TexasFred: Muslim Outrage?
Two Babes and a Brain: Dude...


You Are Not a Beautiful and Unique Snowflake

I think hate gets a bad rap.

By that I mean that everybody says, "I hate this, I hate that" when they don't like something very much. The meaning of the word is diluted. I think that most of the things people say that they hate are thinking of things that irk them a little, bother, VEX or annoy them. I don't think most people know what is to truly hate.

Hate is to dislike somebody or something intensely, often in a way that evokes feelings of anger, hostility, or animosity. Sure, you say, I've felt that way before. But look back and think about it. In retrospect, did you really hate what you thought you were hating in that situation? Was it only for a moment in a specific situation, once it passed, was everything OK again? I don't hate is something that is overcome that easily. I reserve the word for something truly deserving of hate, and I honestly haven't come up with anything yet.

I thought about this because of a tragic incident we had nearby in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in which a very disturbed 18-year-old man attacked patrons of the bar Puzzles, frequented by gay men, with a handgun, machete and hatchet. Read the part about his MySpace account in the second article.

Already this is being called a hate crime. Well, yeah it's a hate crime. Just about every crime is a hate crime. Only now we have to make sure that specific crimes driven by hatred for one's race religion, gender, disability, or sexual orientation are specially designated and punished. In essence, crimes against people who are not white, male, Christian heterosexuals are somehow worse than crimes against everyone else. What this kid did was horrifying, but why should the crime somehow be more heinous because it happened to gay men and a mentally challenged man? Were the victimslives somehow more valuable because of this? No, of course not.

In reality, however, this society does value peoples lives more because they are viewed as oppressed and downtrodden. Was the murder of Gianni Versace a hate crime because he was gay or not, since Andrew Cunanan was also gay? Were Cunanan's other victims' lives more or less valuable than Versace's? You know, he murdered five people in his nation-wide killing spree. I'd venture to say that Cunanan hated four out of five, including his first victim, former Navy Lieutenant Jeff Trail, who I met spoke with a few weeks before he was murdered, rolled up in a carpet and left to rot.

Was the Wichita Massacre not motivated by hate?
At about 11 PM on the freezing cold night of December 14, 2000, Reginald Carr, 23, and Jonathan Carr, 20, invaded the home of three young Wichita men who had two female guests. The Carr Brothers forced all of them to strip naked. They beat the men and raped the women.

In addition to repeatedly raping the women, the Carr Brothers have been found guilty of forcing them to perform sexual acts on each other, sodomizing one of them, and forcing the three male victims to perform sex acts with each of the women. Then the Carr Brothers robbed them and brutally murdered four of them.

According to a lone survivor's horrifying pre-trial testimony, after sexually tormenting them, the Carr Brothers took the friends individually to an ATM machine and forced them to withdraw as much cash as possible. Then, the Carr Brothers transported their naked victims to a remote soccer field and forced them to kneel in the snow before shooting them execution-style in the head, and then running them over with a truck. After leaving their victims for dead, the Carr Brothers returned to the men's apartment and stole appliances, bedding, and china.

The four friends who died were: Jason Befort, 26, an Augusta High School science teacher and football coach; Brad Heyka, 27, a director of finance with Koch Financial Services; Heather Muller, 25, a St. Thomas Aquinas pre-school teacher who planned to become a nun; and Aaron Sander, 29, a former Koch employee who had decided to become a priest.

The fifth friend, a 25-year-old woman, miraculously survived. To get help, she walked nearly a mile, naked and bleeding from her wounds, through snow and subfreezing temperatures. Her identity is being protected because she was the victim of a sex crime.
The Carr brothers, two black men, almost completely escaped media scrutiny, thanks to the judge.

But why should it matter whether they did it out of hate or not? Isn't it enough that it's already illegal to kill and rape and that they pay the consequences? Hate crime legistlation doesn't deter these awful things from happening, it only forces inequality under the law and condones special treatment for people because of what they look like and who they love.

Perhaps We Could Try Pouting?

From the WSJ OpinionJournal today: "An 'Intolerable' Threat
What a world with an Iranian nuclear weapon would look like."

As we go to press, the Governing Board of the International Atomic Energy Agency appears set to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council. This supposedly indicates the seriousness with which the world views Tehran's decision to resume enriching uranium. Yet while the threat is very real, the seriousness is mostly pretend. The referral includes no call to action, which Russia and China object to in any event.
What about the UN Security Council's Power of Writing Strongly-Worded Letters? Tongue-Clicking? Finger-Wagging? I'm in favor of 20-30 resolutions that Iran can defy over the next 15 years or so while they build up their nuclear arsenal.

I think the S.E.P. (Somebody Else's Problem) field has gone back up around Iran. That's the weapon I'd worry about.

The whole article is excellent.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Life, the Universe and Everything

Well, I just had a huge rant that was deleted when my computer froze up. while I'm working on getting ticked off about it again, chew on this article I found in the Wall Street Journal: It's wrong to say science excludes God, experts say. What would we do without experts? If you've been reading for a while, you know that I don't think science excludes the possibility of a God, but that, as the article says, God is a dead end. You can't just look at a phenomenon, decide you can't reconcile it with your beliefs or that you can't understand it, and say "God did it" and call that sound scientific reasoning. That's a limitation of science - it can't take the supernatural into account. That's also the reason I don't think we should be teaching unproven, psuedo-scientific theories like global warming and intelligent design in classrooms.

Douglas Adams had different ideas about the relationship between science and God. According to the Hitchhiker's Guide, the Babel fish was put forth as a fideist example for the non-existence of God:
"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."

"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that You exist, and so therefore, by Your own arguments, You don't. Q.E.D."

"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

"Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.

It Would take a Scientist To Explain
Unquestioning Belief In Works Of Fiction

Not Altitude Capable

The media's job, if you want to know, is to tell us what to fear. As the fourth estate, combined with the other three they waste billions of dollars on figuring out how to fix problems that may or may not exist.

I don't get to ride in helicopters very often, but this article doesn't give me any reason to fear it (I've pasted most of the article, interspersed with my comments, since it isn't available for free online):
Lawmakers Will Question Military On Reason Behind Increase In Helicopter Accidents

By George Cahlink

Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), believes military helicopter accidents have increased in recent years and will use a congressional hearing today to find out if faulty technology or other reasons are behind the spike.

“We have seen a rising number of rotorcraft accidents and we want to know why,” Weldon told Defense Daily.

According to Weldon, rotorcraft accidents from both hostile and non-hostile actions have risen every year since 2001 before leveling off in 2005. He said lawmakers plan to press Army and Marine Corps aviation leaders at a HASC hearing today on whether the increase is because of poor aircraft design, training and maintenance problems, or an increasingly hostile operating environment in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since 2001 the Army has logged 25 hostile accidents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Marines have recorded seven accidents from hostile attacks. Meanwhile, the Army had 75 helicopter accidents from non-hostile actions over the same timeframe, while the Marines suffered 13 accidents.
So far, I'm thinking this is fishy, because although I see statistics, I see no references - always a recipe for poor decision-making.
Weldon also said he wanted to make sure the military was collecting lessons learned from those accidents to make sure they would not happen again. “Are we establishing lessons learned that we can build into our future programs,” he asked.

“It’s an issue that has not been focused on yet,” said Weldon. He said rotorcraft safety deserves the same focus as lawmakers have given to providing armor for ground troops and their vehicles.
Gee. Thanks. This falls right into my opinion on body armor and HMMWVs. Would you goofballs please stop trying to protect us from things? All this extra protection is nice, because it may save lives, but it also weighs down troops and vehicles, and gives John Murtha and Hillary Clinton something to blather about. There is a certain amount of risk involved in combat and we've readily accepted that risk. Certainly, I would like that risk managed, but risk avoidance is not what we do.
Army aviations officials said at a Association of the United States Army symposium last month that aircraft survivability was a top priority. Those officials said more than $1 billion has been earmarked for improved aircraft safety in recent years from the money the service saved by killing the Comanche helicopter.

Col. Bill Stevenson, the Army’s program director for aircraft survivability, said the Army is in the midst of outfitting all rotorcraft and fixed wing aircraft with a suite of counter measure systems. Stevenson said the program has gone from a “slow walk to a hundred yard dash” since 19 military personnel perished when a transport helicopter was brought down by hostile fire in late 2003.
If you haven't figured it out, these counter measure systems may do something about those "hostile accidents" (read: RPG attacks, etc. Good grief, now engagements are "accidents"?), but not much for mechanical failure, which seems to be what the Honorable Rep. Weldon seems concerned about. A helicopter is a machine that will pretty much drop out of the sky if anything goes wrong with it. You can ditch, but it's not pretty; surviving a helicopter crash is a rare thing. That's why pilots are the most cautious, procedure-driven people you will ever meet.
According to Stevenson, aircraft will be outfitted with two systems, both designed by BAE Systems--the Common Missile Warning System and Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasure System. CMWS, which the Army is already producing at a rate of 30 per month, that counters missile by launching flares; while ATIRCMS, which is still undergoing testing, uses laser jammers. Stevenson said the suite of systems would be outfitted on 1,710 aircraft (the number of aircraft the service believes are needed for combat operations) over the next several years. He declined to say how many aircraft already had some capability, but said the systems were being outfitted on aircraft in as soon as they were produced.

Stevenson said the CMWS could increase production to 40 systems per month by this summer, while ATIRCMS would soon be ready for operational testing, a precursor to entering full-rate production.

So. Nowhere in the article was there any mention of work being done to prevent mechanical failure, whether Rep. Weldon is remotely concerned about mechanical failure or whether there is a statistically significant increase in helicopter accidents of any kind that would warrant this kind of attention. It's like saying global warming is real because we're having an exceptionally mild winter, and we must therefore spend billions of dollars trying to prevent it. And like global warming (which I'll get to later), this is one more case of Congress being taken for a ride by people who prove things by saying, "because I said so."

Keep Out Of Our Way, We'll Defend America

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

OK, I Give Up. It's "Nucular".

I wasn't going to watch the State of the Union last night, but they hooked me just before it started. Ah well. Good speech, for the most part. He's still saying "nuclear" in Texan, or whatever. I know how Texans love it when people have a little good natured fun with them, and I'm telling you: I have no intention of messing with you, Texas!

The President on the other hand, is apparently quite willing to allow Mexico to continue to mess with you, Texas.
Keeping America competitive requires an immigration system that upholds our laws, reflects our values, and serves the interests of our economy. Our Nation needs orderly and secure borders. To meet this goal, we must have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection. And we must have a rational, humane guest worker program that rejects amnesty … allows temporary jobs for people who seek them legally … and reduces smuggling and crime at the border.
I'm with Rebekah, Little Miss Chatterbox and others, though, I think the border policy is folly.

I find it interesting the President wants to enforce immigration laws while simultaneously making it easier for people to enter and stay in the country. Why is America responsible for providing Mexicans with jobs? I think the "orderly and secure" comments are lip service, at best, considering past performance and current developments. Oh, one of those links is regarding the U.S.-Canada tunnel, but is there a difference, really? Aren't all our borders essentially open gateways for anyone who feels like a little hike through the desert or the woods?

Rebekah commented in a previous post:
The guest worker programs would be fine if all immigrants were honest, hardworking, law-abiding people. But drug-runners, terrorists and MS-13 are reasons the programs aren't safe.
The problem seems to be; and I can't fathom that no one in Washington has made this connection; that the Administration doesn't associate immigration policy and terrorism. Someone please tell me I'm wrong, because I can't believe that anyone smart enough to get elected or appointed to public office would not be able to make that particular leap in logic. The Department of Homeland Security doesn't think it's a problem that armed paramilitary groups smuggling drugs are getting into confrontations with local law enforcement!

For all the good things the President spoke about in the speech, (and I'm pretty much onboard with the foreign policy) that was the one thing that ruined it for me. Maybe this is part of his insistence that America not recede into the false comfort of isolationism yet again, but when has he ever been assaulted by illegals running across his land and demanding handouts at knife point, camping out on his land and destroying his property? Being from a border state, you'd think he'd understand the need to be tough with Mexico, since Mexico doesn't care. The U.S. is their relief valve, their "out" for having to take care of their own problems and deal with their own failed policies.

I'm not an isolationist, I'm a realist. The reality is that Americans living along our borders need to be defended. If the government refuses to defend them, they will be forced to defend themselves.

The Democrat response, as always, was retarded. Seriously, can these guys get it together? The GOP needs a worthy adversary. If I was a Democrat I would be ashamed to show my face these days.

And, not to change the subject or anything, but boy is Mulholland Dr. long! I'm still not sure what the heck is happening, but I'm hoping it's all pulled together at the end. I'm hoping to finish it before "Lost" comes on. Damn idiot box.

EDIT: Nope, the movie just gets extremely weird. OK, I think, but weird. I'm getting a little tired of watching movies about things that don't make any sense at all which happen in Los Angeles after car accidents.

What Border Problem?

Interesting Times: Around The Horn

Keeping up on a couple of international relations-type stories the last couple of days, I made some observations. First (well, second, chronologically) the International Herald Tribune points out the obvious;
that China wants an aircraft carrier. That would be the big way for it to begin projecting its power farther and challenging American naval superiority. Of course, just because a country has the hardware doesn't mean they know how to use it proficiently, or that all carriers are created equal. Significant advantage of American carriers (don't worry, no secret here) is the angled flight deck and the steam catapults. No kidding, because planes have a longer runway and can achieve a faster take-off speed.

Anyway, as the article states, the Chinese have shown increased interest in carriers in particular over the last 20 years and power projection in general, at least to become more influential than the US in their own region. I think it will be a while before they build their own, but purchase and refurbishment is a definite possibility. Still, if they plan on taking Taiwan, they really ought to be working on their amphibious capability.

In the interest of increasing its influence in its own hemisphere, China has become friendly with Saudi Arabia. No surprise really, with relations cooling between Riyadh and Washington and China being a net importer of oil. China's increased influence in the Middle East could be a good thing, I think. It will shift some of the burden of dealing with the countries there (read Iran) to Beijing and help us build ties with China, I don't believe we need to be adversaries - heck it's hard . The Bush Administration just needs to make sure that is indeed the type of relationship that emerges.

Speaking of nations with ties to the Middle East, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has been vocal and impotent as usual, we just need to make sure he stays that way. The US is blocking Spain's sale of military aircraft with US technology to Venezuela; an especially good idea since Chavez is working toward a huge and unnecessary military build-up... unless you plan to try to rattle your sabre and intimidate your neighbors. As I've said before, Venezuela is worth keeping an eye on. While Chavez keeps his people impoverished and dependent upon him (as socialist tyrants must) he has inspired nationalism in at least enough of them to maintain his power (as he is equally dependent upon them).

Interesting Times 1.5
Interesting Times

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