Friday, June 30, 2006

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld

Late again today…this is becoming a habit of late (pun intended). However, the reason I’m posting later than normal isn’t due to my staying abed until the late, late morning or early afternoon. No, I’ve been attempting to digest the literally millions of words that have been written over the past 24 hours about Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. When I say “millions of words” I’m not exaggerating in the least. To illustrate: yesterday memeorandum (archived page as of 6/29/2006, 1300 hours EDT) had 97 discrete links to news wire articles, op-eds, TV stories, and blog posts on the subject. Ninety-frickin’-seven…all within hours of the release of the 185 page decision! I submit it’s humanly impossible simply to read all that verbiage, let alone understand it, within the space of a single day. So, one picks and chooses articles, based upon previous experience, trust, and, in some cases, to get a cheap laugh (e.g., Shakespeare's Sister).

That was yesterday. Today’s memeorandum page (6/30/2006, 1330 hrs. EDT) has substantially fewer links. Given that 24 hours have passed, I’m more receptive to opinion and analysis published today, as there’s been a little more time to reflect on the meaning and impact of this decision. Still, I don’t think there’s been near enough time to appreciate the full impact of the decision. We’ll be discussing and debating this subject for months, if not years, into the future.

Another, related, reason I’m late posting. I watched a faculty discussion on Hamdan hosted by the Georgetown Law Center, featuring Neal Katyal (lead plaintiff attorney in the case), Mark Tushnet, Carlos Vazquez, and David Luban. The discussion was on C-SPAN and was quite informative. Since the panel discussion was only over minutes ago, I don’t have a link.

Here are a few links I found useful and informative on the subject.

James Taranto on Hamdan v. Rumsfeld in today’s Best of the Web. Excerpts:

Justice Delayed
The Supreme Court's decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (link above in HTML or here in PDF) weighs in at 185 pages, and we'll confess we haven't had time to read every word. But here are the major points:

· Although Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the court's primary opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy decided the case. Kennedy joined Stevens and the three other "liberal" justices in some aspects of the case, yielding a 5-3 majority, but declined to join others, producing an inconclusive result on those issues. (Because Chief Justice John Roberts joined the lower-court decision the Supreme Court was overturning, he did not participate in today's ruling but can be assumed to agree with the three dissenters.)

· The Kennedy majority agreed that the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, which grants the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia sole jurisdiction over habeas corpus petitions filed by Guantanamo detainees, does not strip the Supreme Court of jurisdiction in this case, because Hamdan had already filed for the writ when Congress passed the act.

· The Kennedy majority held that the military commission the Pentagon set up to try Hamdan was not authorized by the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

· The Stevens plurality wanted to go further and hold that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions--which provides that war crimes trials be conducted by "a regularly constituted court"--requires that Hamdan be present at his trial, even if sensitive intelligence is being aired. But Kennedy thought it unnecessary to reach a conclusion on this question.

· The Stevens plurality also wanted to declare the charge against Hamdan--conspiracy--invalid under international law. Kennedy again saw no reason to reach the question.

The court did not decide that unlawful combatants at Guantanamo are entitled to Geneva Convention protections as either civilians or prisoners of war, only that Common Article 3, which governs "conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the [signatories]," applies--though because of Kennedy's demurral, precisely how it applies is an open question.

(In dissent, Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas argued that Common Article 3 does not apply to the conflict with al Qaeda--a position Roberts also took in the lower court's decision [PDF]. Scalia and Thomas, along with Justice Samuel Alito, also take the position that even if Common Article 3 does apply, the commission qualified as "regularly constituted.")

The court also did not hold that the government is under any obligation to release Hamdan. Justice Stevens:

We have assumed . . . the truth of the message implicit in that charge--viz., that Hamdan is a dangerous individual whose beliefs, if acted upon, would cause great harm and even death to innocent civilians, and who would act upon those beliefs if given the opportunity. It bears emphasizing that Hamdan does not challenge, and we do not today address, the Government's power to detain him for the duration of active hostilities in order to prevent such harm.

For now at least, the court has not mandated that terrorist detainees be granted the rights of either ordinary criminal defendants (who cannot be held indefinitely unless charged and convicted) or prisoners of war (who, among other things, cannot be interrogated).

The chief result of this ruling will be to delay the trials of Guantanamo detainees until Congress or the Pentagon establishes a regime of military commissions that meets the court's approval. For those concerned with the duration of terrorists' captivity--a perverse thing to worry about anyway--there's little to cheer here.

SCOTUSblog has a tremendous amount of information, interpretation, and opinion on Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. I found Lyle Denniston’s analysis (Analysis: What Hamdan did not decide) very informative, but as they say, “there’s more…much more.” And Ronald A Cass’ article, “Hamdan v. Rumsfeld: Common Sense at War” in Real Clear Politics, is also worth the read.

Finally, Curt at Flopping Aces, pretty much sums up my reaction to this ruling:

In the end, while I was mighty pissed when first reading this decision I think this isn’t such a defeat for Bush. All he has to do is go back to Congress and get them to approve of the tribunals. That’s it in a nutshell I believe.

I have other feelings and opinions, but Curt's thoughts are my bottom line, too.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Late Start and a Mini-Rant

Late start again, today. I did something incredibly dumb (what’s new?) last evening: I laid down after dinner to aid the digestive process, fell asleep for a lot longer than is good for me, and was only awakened when SN2 called to give me a “heads-up” about the comment he posted last evening. Well, to make a long story short, I was up until the wee, wee hours this morning. I “lost” my net connection around 2200 last evening, so I spent the quiet hours catching up on my paper-based reading, rather than my usual net-surfing reading. The upshot: rolled out of bed about an hour ago. Thus, light blogging to begin the day. It may or may not get better…

Yesterday I was over at Laurie’s place and shot my mouth off in the comments of her post about a Fort Drum captain who was recently awarded a Bronze Star. Here are a couple of paragraphs from the 27th Public Affairs Detachment press release:

Capt. Jeremiah O’Connor, 57th Transportation Company commander, was awarded the Bronze Star for his efforts and contributions to Operation Enduring Freedom during a ceremony June 9 at the unit motor pool.


As deputy joint transportation officer during the deployment, O’Connor coordinated 48 airdrop missions, 364 separate intra-theater missions and 145 rotary missions, and helped move more than 10 million pounds of equipment and supplies. He also received more than 8,000 Soldiers and moved them to their appropriate forward operating bases.

Before I go any further, you should understand I’m not casting aspersions on CPT O’Connor or his accomplishments. My beef is with the military establishment…in this case the Army, but also (and maybe even especially) the Air Force. It’s all about medal creep, or the awarding of medals for everyday accomplishments that, in the past, might have won you an “attaboy” from your commander or supervisor. These days you get a Bronze Star. If you read between the lines of the press release you see CPT O’Connor received his Bronze Star for simply doing his job. To put it another way, the Bronze Star is eighth in the official US Army awards and decorations order of precedence, exceeded by only seven medals. Pretty hot stuff for just “being there.”

This isn’t a new hot-button with me; I’ve written about the proliferation of medals and ribbons before, in this post. The illustration I used to prove my point was of one General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, pictured with a grand total of three ribbons on his service dress. These days you can “earn” three ribbons in the USAF simply by graduating from basic training and shooting expert on the firing range; you get four if you’re really good and are named an “honor graduate” out of basic training (to wit: National Defense Service Medal, Air Force Training Ribbon, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, USAF Basic Military Training Honor Graduate Ribbon). And that’s just the beginning…

The Navy and the Marine Corps seem to have kept their collective heads when it comes to awards creep. Want proof? Check out The Boys, with special attention to the fruit salad on their respective chests.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Second-Hand Smoke

Second-hand smoke from cigarettes. Well, the handwriting is on the wall. The Surgeon General of the U.S. released a study and scientific report yesterday, backed up with multiple documents and press releases, a large scale news conference, and an appearance on PBS’ The News Hour that flatly states second-hand smoke will kill you.

U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona today issued a comprehensive scientific report which concludes that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent. The finding is of major public health concern due to the fact that nearly half of all nonsmoking Americans are still regularly exposed to secondhand smoke.

The report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, finds that even brief secondhand smoke exposure can cause immediate harm. The report says the only way to protect nonsmokers from the dangerous chemicals in secondhand smoke is to eliminate smoking indoors.

“The health effects of secondhand smoke exposure are more pervasive than we previously thought,” said Surgeon General Carmona, vice admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service. “The scientific evidence is now indisputable: secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance. It is a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and nonsmoking adults.”

I watched the entire interview with Admiral Carmona on The News Hour and watched the Q&A session after yesterday’s HHS presser. The admiral side-stepped direct questions in both venues as to whether federal anti-smoking laws should be enacted, claiming that isn’t his job. His job, according to the admiral, is to “keep the spotlight on the issue.” While I don’t believe the Feds will ban smoking outright in the immediate future, I do believe there will be a flurry of state and municipal laws banning smoking, not only in public places, but in private space as well. Louisiana has already begun, enacting a law banning smoking in private cars containing children under the age of 13.

State Rep. Gary Smith, D-Norco, author of the bill aimed at protecting children from concentrated secondhand smoke, said the surgeon general's report confirmed the data he and his staff presented to the Legislature supporting his bill.

"This will let the people who were a little bit unsure about what they were doing know they were right in supporting the bill," Smith said. "The primary goal was not to punish anyone but to raise awareness of the public."

Governor Blanco hasn’t signed the bill into law, as yet, but I’m betting she will. How could she not? The Surgeon General has given anti-smoking forces all the ammo they need to further their agenda of eliminating smoking completely. It’s only a matter of time before smoking is prohibited altogether. But, hey…it’s “for the children,” and that’s an argument where no dissent is allowed. Ever.

Score another victory for the Nanny-State. I hate it when this happens.

Second-hand smoke from burning flags. You may have to dodge that, too. The NYT:

WASHINGTON, June 27 — The Senate today fell one vote short of approving a constitutional amendment that would have enabled Congress to ban desecration of the American flag.

The vote was 66 to 34. To pass, the measure needed 67 votes.

Desecrating the American flag is roughly equivalent to pedophilia in my book. It’s a deplorable, despicable, and reprehensible action, so far beneath contempt that I cannot find the words to adequately express my loathing of those who would “express” themselves by burning or otherwise desecrating the flag. Got it? In the final accounting, however, I agree with this man:

"This objectionable expression is obscene, it is painful, it is unpatriotic," said Senator Daniel Inouye, Democrat of Hawaii and winner of the Medal of Honor for his service in World War II. "But I believe Americans gave their lives in many wars to make certain all Americans have a right to express themselves, even those who harbor hateful thoughts."

Amending the constitution is serious, serious business, an act that should never be taken lightly, even for so serious a subject as flag desecration. The Senate acted correctly.

Second-hand smoke from burning convictions. The AP has been caught, again. A press release from the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works states:

The June 27, 2006 Associated Press (AP) article titled “Scientists OK Gore’s Movie for Accuracy” by Seth Borenstein raises some serious questions about AP’s bias and methodology.

AP chose to ignore the scores of scientists who have harshly criticized the science presented in former Vice President Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth.”

In the interest of full disclosure, the AP should release the names of the “more than 100 top climate researchers” they attempted to contact to review “An Inconvenient Truth.” AP should also name all 19 scientists who gave Gore “five stars for accuracy.” AP claims 19 scientists viewed Gore’s movie, but it only quotes five of them in its article. AP should also release the names of the so-called scientific “skeptics” they claim to have contacted.

The AP article quotes Robert Correll, the chairman of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment group. It appears from the article that Correll has a personal relationship with Gore, having viewed the film at a private screening at the invitation of the former Vice President. In addition, Correll’s reported links as an “affiliate” of a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm that provides “expert testimony” in trials and his reported sponsorship by the left-leaning Packard Foundation, were not disclosed by AP.

It ain’t the first time, nor will it be the last.

Second-hand smoke emanating from the ears, or, Lessons-Learned Dept.: I’m pleased to report that Edwards’ Chocolate Silk pie is every bit as good as their Key Lime pie. I’m not nearly as pleased to report the frickin’ pie plates they use are flimsy beyond belief and chocolate silk pie filling is pretty heavy. Yesterday afternoon I reached into the fridge to pull out that delicious pie for a little snack. Unfortunately, I grabbed the pie plate by its empty section (I’d only eaten two slices of the pie), and the pie plate immediately folded up as I withdrew it from the fridge, depositing three-quarters of a chocolate silk pie into my shoes (which are neatly aligned on the floor directly under the fridge). Cream-side down. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to clean out whipped cream, chocolate filling, and flecks of shaved chocolate out of your shoes? I thought not. Boy, was I p!ssed.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Song of the Day

I haven’t posted a song of the day in quite some time... months, even. This particular song fits the day, so I dug out my old Cowboy Junkies CD, popped it into the CD player in the car and listened to it several times while running my errands. It’s a keeper.

Song: Anniversary Song
Artist: Cowboy Junkies
Album: Pale Sun, Crescent Moon
Year: 1993
Source: My Stuff

Makes me think of & etc.: Literally one of the best love songs ever written or recorded. Ever. Not much more to say on the subject.


Have you ever seen a sight as beautiful
As that of the rain-soaked purple
Of the white birch in spring?

Have you ever felt more fresh or wonderful
Than on a warm fall night
Under a mackerel sky,
The smell of grapes on the wind?

Well I have known all these things
And the joys that they can bring
And Ill share them all for a cup of coffee
And to wear your ring

Have you ever had the pleasure of watching
A quiet winters snow slowly gathering
Like simple moments adding up?

Have you ever satisfied a gut feeling
To follow a dry dirt road thats beckoning you
To the heart of a shimmering summers day?

Well I have known all these things
And the joys that they can bring
And Ill share them all for a cup of coffee
And to wear your ring

And I dont know how I survived those days
Before I held your hand
Well I never thought that I would be the one
To admit that the moon and the sun
Shine so much more brighter when
Seen through two pairs of eyes than
When seen through just one

Have you ever seen a sight as beautiful
As a face in a crowd of people
That lights up just for you?

Have you ever felt more fresh or wonderful
As when you wake
By the side of that boy or girl
Who has pledged their love to you?

Well I have known all these things
And the joys that they can bring
And now every morning theres a cup of coffee
And I wear your ring


Today is Lou’s 29th anniversary and she’s posted a great wedding day story. Drop on over to her place and congratulate her!

Tuesday's Treat

I’m really beginning to wonder about C-SPAN. One of Washington Journal’s first guests today was Nomi Prins, a former managing director of Goldman Sachs, brought on to discuss the appointment of Henry Paulson as Treasury Secretary. Mr. Paulson begins his Senate confirmation hearings today. Here’s Ms. Prins on Paulson’s appointment:

What first struck me upon news of Paulson's possible appointment was that he's too smart to take on this task, with Bush's approval ratings for his economic policies hovering around 40 percent. Then, I got it. Paulson is Bush's last hurrah--and his last chance. Known as a pragmatic and decisive leader, Paulson will likely be more proactive than Snow, whose sole job essentially was traipsing up to Congress once a year and urging lawmakers to raise the US debt cap by another trillion dollars so we wouldn't default on our interest payments to China.

Bush's economic legacy is a weak dollar (who wants to invest in a country teetering on the brink of default?) and tax cuts for the super-wealthy that have created an outrageous deficit and debt. And that legacy benefits men like Paulson at the expense of middle-class Americans and the working poor. It will be a stretch for him to argue for prudent budgeting, while facing the country's highest national debt ever, without cutting social programs to get there.

Wanna guess where that screed appeared? It’s an excerpt from an editorial in The Nation magazine. Young Ms. Prins has been pontificating on the idiocy of the President’s economic policies for the better part of half an hour as I write and the callers on WJ’s “Democrats” line have been falling all over themselves ooh-ing and ah-ing over this woman’s opinions. I’ll be interested in seeing if WJ’s next guest presents the conservative point of view. (Whoops! Guess not. The next guest is Senator Orrin Hatch, but he’s on to defend and discuss the proposed constitutional amendment to prevent flag desecration , not to discuss Mr. Paulson’s nomination.)

One guest on one program, however, is not indicative of editorial bias. I honestly don’t know what Brian Lamb’s (CEO of and founder of C-SPAN) politics are, and Mr. Lamb takes great pains to keep his personal views hidden. But, as I said upon opening this can of worms, I’m beginning to wonder. Just scan this past weekend’s C-SPAN2 (Book TV) schedule and tell me there’s “balance” in the points of views being broadcast. Yes, there are programs on conservative topics, but to my way of thinking, the liberal POV is over-represented. And I say this as someone who watched about half of this weekend’s offered fare.

The world’s most expensive cities…Mercer Human Resources has released the 2006 edition of its annual “Most Expensive Cities List.” Tops on the list? Moscow. Yep, that Moscow.

Moscow has replaced Tokyo as the world's most expensive city, according to the latest Cost of Living Survey from Mercer Human Resource Consulting, the global leader for HR and related financial advice. Seoul is in second place, climbing three places since last year. Tokyo moves down two positions in the rankings to take third place, followed by Hong Kong. Asuncion in Paraguay remains the least expensive city in the survey.

New York remains the most expensive city in North America and climbs three places to 10th position (score 100). Currency appreciation is the main reason for this, although price increases in fuel and certain consumer goods have also contributed to New York's rise in the rankings. Other high-ranking cities include Los Angeles in position 29 (86.7), San Francisco in 34th place (85) and Chicago in 38th position (84.1). Washington DC takes 83rd place (77). Winston Salem is the cheapest US city surveyed, ranked 124th (66.7).

The news release is here, download a list of the Top 50 here (pdf file). Did you catch the reason why New York is more expensive this year? “Currency appreciation,” or code for “good economy.” Imagine that, Ms. Prins.

Sexist automotive commentary? One would think so, simply by reading the title to this op-ed in the WSJ: Why the New Camaro Will Fail; The war on macho takes its toll.” (Read it quick, it’s old and on it’s way off the “free” pages!) There are pieces and parts of this article that bemoan the loss of automotive “testosterone,” but there’s also a lot more. Excerpt:

Unlike the Mustang--which has always managed to appeal to a broad base of buyers ranging from young women to old men and everyone in between--the Camaro is and always has been a strutting muscle machine. A car for drive-throughs, Friday night cruising, and teenage boys.

That works fine when it's 1969--and young, single guys can still afford to buy (and insure) such a car. It doesn't work so well in today's hamstrung, hyper-regulated and cost-inflated world. Part of what killed the latter-day GTO was its $30k price point. The young (under 30) guys who might want such a car couldn't afford it--and the older guys who could had grown up. They wanted something less goofy. So did their wives. The same problem will surely beset the coming Camaro--unless GM, by some miracle of Enron-esque accounting, figures out a way to sell the thing for less than $25,000.

Allow me a personal observation. SN2 has a vintage Camaro. It’s his Hobby Car and is truly a fire-breathing, testosterone-infused, great beast of an asphalt-ripper, what with its GM crate-motor that puts out 450+ horsepower, plus other after-market mods. I also have a 16 year-old granddaughter who is running SN2 hard to let her make that Camaro her “daily driver.” My granddaughter Amanda, while not exactly a “girly-girl,” isn’t butch, either. She’s pretty much your average 16 year-old young lady. And she wants SN2’s Camaro, and wants it badly. I don’t think that will happen, as SN2 won’t turn a relatively inexperienced young driver loose on the highways with that much brute-force power. A likely alternative is Amanda will get a more modestly-powered used Camaro with, say, a V-6. But the point remains: I know of at least one young lady that would probably buy that new Camaro (could she afford it), in a heartbeat. Hell, I wouldn’t mind driving one, either!

Monday, June 26, 2006

And So Begins the Last Week in June...

Woke up quite early this morning—0400 to be exact—and caught an interesting interview on C-SPAN’s “Q&A.” Q&A is an hour-long interview program, wherein Brian Lamb interviews individuals, and this particular interview was with Jennifer Griffin, Fox News Channel’s Jerusalem correspondent. Ms. Griffin began with Fox as a stringer in Moscow and has been Fox’s “Woman in Jerusalem” for the past six and a half years. This is an amazing woman… graduate of an all-girls Catholic High School, Harvard-educated… she’s been an expat for almost 15 years and has worked in Soweto, South Africa during the apartheid era; Mogadishu, Somalia; Afghanistan, Pakistan; and now Jerusalem. She’s married to Greg Meyer, who is the Jerusalem correspondent for the New York Times. They have two children, both girls (five and three), who were born in Jerusalem. Ms. Griffin, when asked what that most Americans don’t know about Israel, replied

“I think you don’t see how normal it is and I think that’s what’s so surprising. People always ask me how do you raise children there. And I have a three and a five-year-old and they were born there. They were born during the Intifada. I was wearing flack jackets instead of maternity wear at the beginning of the Palestinian uprising. And I can separate my life as a correspondent who is covering at times dangers things and still be at home, sleep in my bed at night and my kids can have a very normal existence there.”

Ms. Griffin was in the U.S. to deliver a high school commencement address at her alma mater. She had the following advice for the graduates:

Well, I was trying to convince them to become whatever – whoever they were and try to give my story as an example of how to find a path that leads you to something that makes you truly happy and where you’re contributing in some way and doing what you love, and that’s the only way to really succeed.

But those – what I really tried to – my main message to them was leave your comfort zone. And I think that goes back to what I did when I took a real risk and went to South Africa after that sophomore year. And I really – that was really uncomfortable and really I didn’t know what I was getting into. And even at that time running around, you know, going into the townships when, you know, people with light skin weren’t going into townships unless they were policemen and they were not welcomed. So it was – it was a really interesting time there.

And I also said – I said to them you never know when you’re going to be a witness to history so make sure you record everything, record, take snapshots of every moment because there have been so many times that I looked back and I think I can’t believe I was there for that and I didn’t record it in some way.

And so I really tried to inspire them to take time off, leave school, get out of school as fast as possible, get out there and just go somewhere. Just go and I think – I think the best thing I ever did was get on that plane and go to Somalia and not wait. And we were only – there were only four journalists at the time – four or five of us in Mogadishu so we owned the story. And it was just AP, Reuters, maybe BBC, but – and a couple of freelance camera people. But – so that was a tremendous education on the job.

I never went to journalism school. I didn’t – I didn’t – and I certainly value education. I loved my high school and college experience. But I do think traveling the world is the best education there is.

Good advice. You can read the whole interview here.

The New York Times is apparently getting a lot of heat from its readers for publicly disclosing the existence of yet another classified program used to track down terrorists and “bring them to justice.” (I hate that term. I prefer “killing terrorists,” but that’s another story.) Executive editor Bill Keller, generally acknowledged as the man who made the ultimate decision to publish the NYT’s latest compromise of classified information, has written a letter to the NYT’s readers explaining his motivations in this decision. “Motivations” is being kind, the letter actually is a series of rationalizations, pure and simple. Mark in Mexico has published an executive summary (with links) of the Right-Side of the blogosphere’s comments and opinions on Keller’s letter, and those comments are predictably (and correctly) highly critical.

Separately, the AP reports:

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee urged the Bush administration on Sunday to seek criminal charges against newspapers that reported on a secret financial-monitoring program used to trace terrorists.

Rep. Peter King cited The New York Times in particular for publishing a story last week that the Treasury Department was working with the CIA to examine messages within a massive international database of money-transfer records.

I think it’s past time for an American counterpart to the UK’s Official Secrets Act. Enact this legislation and then prosecute the bastards. To the fullest extent possible.

I had an interesting conversation with SN1 this weekend, wherein I informed him I was considering buying a house in either Clovis or Portales now that Cannon AFB’s future is assured. Surprisingly, he was not surprised. I did get a laugh out of him when I said “But it’s such an admission of defeat!” Some explanation is in order, of course. One always hears “It’s a great place to raise kids!” when asking what a person thinks of Clovis/Portales. I’ve noticed in my travels one always hears this comment when there is little else good to be said about somewhere, anywhere. Given I have every option in the world at the moment regarding where I want to live, it’s somewhat amazing (to me, at least) I’d even think about living here permanently, ergo, “admission of defeat.” There are so many other, more desirable, locations to consider.

Still, I am considering the possibility. “Considering” is far from acting, however.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Low Points

Ah, Sunday. The perigee of my blogging orbit, the nadir of blogging motivation. I’ve noticed I’m not alone in this regard, to wit, Lex posted a couple of re-runs today (quite good, they are!). I considered doing the same, but did not, because my back-pages aren’t nearly as extensive as some, given I’m only in my eighth month of blogging. But if you want to delve into recent history, here’s a post I thought about last evening during the semi-monsoon that swept over P-Town. The connection to the cited post is only weather related, unfortunately. Driving rain coupled with balmy temps, and all that.

It’s not that I lack for blog fodder. I’ve spent the past hour or three making the usual rounds, and found that I’m just not in the mood for essays on the latest media outrage, essays on the war, or even the status of that Inside Tee-Ball story (see below), which is still in play. Even the Carnival of the Insanities left me cold, and that’s fairly unusual.

Now about that rain… As noted above, the rain was monsoon-like in its intensity. It rained so hard for a time I literally could not see across the street. Great sheets of water poured off the roof of El Casa Móvil De Pennington, and the sound of rain hammering my roof drowned (sorry!) out the tee-vee. Rain of this nature is a rare occurrence in some parts of the world; I think I was 18 or perhaps 19 years of age before I experienced rain of tropical intensity, and that was in Biloxi, Mississippi. I’ve since experienced deluges in other places, notably south-east Asia (Thailand and the Philippines), Japan (during a minor typhoon), and here on the High Plains. And I love it. That probably goes without saying, no?

I’ll leave you with this, which is way cool! Graphic illustrations of The Powers of Ten (both positive and negative), from those friendly physicists at CERN. (h/t: Rodger)

We’ll be back to normal in due time…

Saturday, June 24, 2006

That Donkey Party

More on the “Inside Tee-Ball” item I posted yesterday. Martin Peretz, The New Republic’s editor-in-chief, responds to the Ranting Kos, and the response is brief enough that I’ll post it in its entirety rather than link it.


Forgive me. But I never read Daily Kos until today. Well, now that I've read it, the first thought that came to me is how illiterate Kos is, just plain illiterate. There has been other not-with-a-pick-axe-but-with-a-bludgeon left-wing journalism in the English speaking world, the American PM, for example, or the British Tribune. If you look them up (they must be some place on the Web), you'll see how elegant surgical argument can be. OK, that's not what the Daily Kos is. Daily Kos is actually a rant, Kos's own rant and then his comrades.

And his rant against us, well, borders on a nut case's. When a high-minded or, rather, high-strung moralist is accused by The New York Times of journalistic hanky-panky and then by TNR of running an ideological censorship bureau, reminiscent of the old Catholic Legion of Decency, he will go off the rails. And he did. "This is what The New Republic had evolved into--just another cog of the Vast RIGHT Wing Conspiracy." An old professor of mine once warned me against writers who use capital letters for emphasis. Good advice she gave me. Capital letters suggest some imbalance in the mind of their employer. In whose interests has TNR sought "to destroy the new people-powered movement"? Kos answers his own question: "for the sake of its Lieberman-worshipping neo-con owners; that it stands with the National Review and wingnutosphere in their opposition to grassroots Democrats." Don't look at Kos's grammar. He's ranting.

It feels a bit demeaning to defend oneself against Kos. But I am one of the neo-con owners, and I am titular editor-in-chief. So here goes: The New Republic is very much against the Bush tax programs, against Bush Social Security "reform," against cutting the inheritance tax, for radical health care changes, passionate about Gore-type environmentalism, for a woman's entitlement to an abortion, for gay marriage, for an increase in the minimum wage, for pursuing aggressively alternatives to our present reliance on oil and our present tax preferences for gas-guzzling automobiles. We were against the confirmation of Justice Alito. And, institutionally, TNR was against several policies that I favor, including allowing the government more rather than less leeway in ferreting out terrorists and allies of terrorists. From today's newspapers: I see nothing wrong with the feds scrutinizing international monetary exchanges in the dragnet for enemies of not just our civilization but civilization. But TNR is a heterodox institution, a concept Kos surely cannot fathom.

--Martin Peretz

This is getting pretty interesting, and aside from being fun to watch, I believe there’s more than a little significance to this outbreak of internecine warfare. Kos may have started this brouhaha, but I find it encouraging the moderate Left has refused to lie down and “take it.” As I’ve mentioned in the past, there’s a bit of a struggle right now within the Donkey Party, a struggle to make the Dems relevant in American politics once again. The firebrands on the radical Left appear to have hijacked the Donkey Party, and that’s not a good thing. To my way of thinking, the dKos constituency is mostly clue-free 20-somethings and old radical hippies who never succeeded in growing up. TNR’s audience, on the other hand, more closely resembles that hoary old cliché of The Silent Majority. Given that fewer than 15% of the American public actually read blogs, let alone know what they are, I’d venture a guess TNR has a LOT more readers than Kos. At least I hope so…

Anyway. As John Hawkins of Right Wing News so aptly observed

That's why these efforts to come up with "new ideas" keep failing -- because as Teixeira said, "The old centrist-liberal debate in the party is to some extent dead." What Teixeira didn't say is that the reason that debate isn't as hot is because the centrists lost. There isn't a free spirited debate about ideas happening on the left. Instead, what you find is a lot of Bush bashing and debate about how to beat Republicans. In the minds of most people on the left, the ideas are set -- the only question is, "How do we foist these ideas on a public that doesn't currently want them?" To do that, they've encouraged activism among judges and they consistently lie about the things they really care about in hopes of being able to do a bait-and-switch on the American people when they get into office.

More power to Peretz and those like him, e.g., Peter Beinart. These guys need to take back their party if they want to have more than a snowball’s chance in Hell of taking back the country.

War Story: June 20, 1965

Skyraider ~VS~ MiG-17 (scroll down to mid-page for the story)

Wherein the prop-job pictured above bagged one of these

h/t: commenter sid at Lex’s place. You really ought to go over and check out Lex’s “toilet bomb” story. With pictures!

Yesterday was quite the relief, weather-wise. Our break from the high 90s – low 100s actually began Thursday, when the high was 90 degrees, or just about average. Yesterday was even better: the high was only 82. The morning was simply lovely – low 60s until around 1100, followed by mid-70s in the early afternoon. I found things to do outside! My AC unit didn’t kick on until after 1400, at which time El Casa Móvil De Pennington is in full sun. As in: broadside. And believe me, that full sun can add up to ten degrees to the indoor temperature, even with “limo-dark” thermal film on the west-facing windows. That’s a feature, not a bug, during the winter months…but in the summer? Ouch.

The break from the heat is supposed to continue today, in fact it’s 73 degrees and dead calm as I write. Perhaps I’ll go for an extended cruise somewhere…anywhere.

Friday, June 23, 2006


…news for The High Plains:

ALBUQUERQUE — Cannon Air Force Base, threatened with closure after its F-16 fighter squadrons were ordered elsewhere, will become a special operations base that will train crews to fight the war on terror, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

The Air Force's 16th Special Operations Wing will move to Cannon by October 2007, the state's congressional delegation and Gov. Bill Richardson announced on a conference call.

My first reaction? Great! Now all those jobs won’t be lost, the housing market won’t tank, the base hospital clinic and commissary will remain open… My second reaction? Oh, great. Now I’ll probably never frickin’ leave this place. But, seriously. This is good news.

The transition will start this summer, and the change of command is scheduled for Oct. 1, 2007, said Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M.

… the consensus among those on the conference call was that the eastern New Mexico base probably will gain not only troops but airplanes — going from 72 F-16s currently stationed there to 94 planes of different types.

Cannon is expected to get two types of helicopters, the CH53 and CH47; two gunships, the MC130 and the AC130U; and eventually, the V22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, said Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M.

The Pentagon said in a later news release Tuesday officials have not determined the exact aircraft mix between Cannon and Hurlburt Field, Fla., where the 16th is currently based. Hurlburt will become the 1st Special Operations Wing and will continue as headquarters of the Air Force Special Operations Command once Cannon takes over the 16th wing designation.

The new wing will train at night, using Melrose Bombing Range adjacent to Cannon. Special operations training at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque likewise is conducted at night.

The Pentagon had recommended closing the base as part of an effort to streamline the nation's military complex. But the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission said Cannon was valuable and could have a future use.

The commission last August accepted the Pentagon's recommendation to send Cannon's three fighter squadrons elsewhere — but stopped short of closing the base.

Cannon could have shut down if a new mission was not found by Dec. 31, 2009.

With that risk averted, the mood of those on the conference call was exuberant.

Closing Cannon — a fixture in the area for 55 years — would have eliminated more than 2,700 jobs at the base and an additional 2,000 indirect jobs, which community and state leaders argued would devastate eastern New Mexico.

Cannon's economic impact was put at $200 million annually.

By one estimate, shuttering the base would have cost one in three jobs in Clovis and nearby Portales; forced the closure of three elementary schools; and sent a booming housing market into a nosedive with the sudden availability of 2,000 vacant homes.

The whole article is here. But there isn’t a lot more, all the meat is above.

Today's Lileks

A blog I read once stated “I don’t link to Lileks. I figure you either read him, or you don’t.” And it’s much the same with me. James is a daily read, and although I’ll suggest you go have a look once in a while, generally I don’t. Today, however, is one of those days where I feel compelled to link him. Today’s entry is worthy of the Screedblog (which you should also check out for his take on the “new” Democrat message), and was prompted by reading a quote from Ang Lee, director of “Brokeback Mountain.” Two grafs:

Well. We always have our catastrophists and hysterics; there will always be people who sit in cafes and bitterly complain about the impending revocations of personal freedoms – and then dutifully go outside to smoke a cigarette in the cold, because that’s the law now. (It would be an act of civil disobedience to light up in the café, but it wouldn’t be cool. Your girlfriend’s sister has asthma.) What’s unique – and maybe I’m wrong; happens daily – is that the entire America experience past and present is now irredeemable. For a while the present was okay, because the right people were in charge, and there was a change we could attain Utopia with the right pieces of legislation. When that was the case, it was understandable to unload on the old benighted past, because that led up to this, and this would absolve the land.

(I never understood why 18th century America was castigated for not manifesting the values of the 20th, even though 18th century America held forth ideas that would be radical to 20th century Africa, and paved the way for those 20th century American values to exist and flourish. We’re always held up to the most peculiar standards. Our motives are base, our freedoms illusory or rationed or insufficient. It matters less that a freedom was granted in 1920; what’s truly illustrative of this rotten house is the fact that it wasn’t granted in 1871. As thought the world has always been free, kings died when the first Caesar was stabbed, Papal bulls since 500 AD have boiled down to “oh, whatev” and the entire world was a grand placid Sweden, where civilized people nibbled on crackers and tried to ignore the rude Yank on the lawn firing off his blunderbuss for no particular reason. You can site a hundred stories about French racism all you like, but it won’t matter because they applauded Josephine Baker’s nightclub routines in Paris in the 20s.)

There are a couple of typos; James acknowledged that he simply “dashed off” today’s entry. Damn, but I wish I could just “dash off” stuff like this. The man is a freakin’ genius.

TGIF All Y'All!

Sweet Jesus, Who’s Side Are They On? The New York Times. Again. This time they unveil a classified global financial transaction monitoring program designed to identify al Qaeda operatives by tracking their finances. This program was instrumental in nabbing Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, believed to be the mastermind of the 2002 bombing of a Bali resort. And they were asked by the government, again, not to publish details about this program in the interest of national security. NRO has conservative comment; as does Hot Air. See memeorandum for links to the Left’s views. I refuse to link to the crap I’ve read on the Left this morning. Yes, I AM questioning their patriotism.

This is not a good way to begin my day. Not good at all.

This is just so much “Inside Tee-Ball,” but it is gossipy, and is seriously unflattering (at best; damning at worst) speculation about real GroupThink on the Left-Side of the blogosphere, perpetrated by one Markos Zúniga. Yep, that Kos, proprietor of the Left’s flagship blog. There’s a tempest in a teapot brewing on the Left at the moment, wherein Jason Zengerle of The New Republic’s blog (The Plank) is accusing Kos of manipulating the Left’s message, a la Karl Rove, and intimidating bloggers who don’t toe the party line. And Kos doesn’t like this accusation at all. Witness:

"Ludicrous, all of it, but that's the new rules of the game. TNR and its enablers are feeling the heat of their own irrelevance and this is how they fight it -- by undermining the progressive movement. Zengerle has made common cause with the wingnutosphere, using the laughable "kosola" frame they created and emailing his "scoops" to them for links. This is what the once-proud New Republic has evolved into -- just another cog of the Vast RIGHT Wing Conspiracy.
If you still hold a subscription to that magazine, it really is time to call it quits. If you see it in a magazine rack, you might as well move it behind the National Review or even NewsMax, since that's who they want to be associated with these days.

He might as well have said “Piss me off, and I’ll tell my millions of minions to cancel their subscriptions to your worthless rag, that’s what I’ll do.” Oh shit, Oh Dear! John Hawkins at Right Wing News has a good summary on this flap and more juicy gossip insight about related dKos matters.
Damn! I love a good food-fight!

No more Mr. Nice Guy…Have you visited Warrant Officer Mike Fay’s blog lately? You should, because Mr. Fay has taken the gloves off. Mr. Fay began by simply posting his art but I think the comments left by various and sundry moonbats knee-jerk Lefties finally got to him. The gloves are off and he’s lobbing more than a few rounds down-range. Good stuff. And Mr. Fay has started another blog, devoted to his non-USMC art. Go visit. (h/t: Laurie)

By the way…Did you know the Air Force is the only service without warrant officers? We used to have them but began eliminating the whole warrant officer structure in 1959 when enlisted grades E-8 and E-9 were created. The last active duty Air Force warrant officer, CWO4 James H. Long, retired in 1980 and the last Air Force Reserve warrant officer, CWO4 Bob Barrow, retired in 1992. Since then, the U.S. Air Force warrant officer ranks, while remaining in existence (per the U.S. Code) have not been used.
I ever-so-briefly entertained the thought of applying for an Army warrant sometime around 1966 or 1967. I actually had the application package in hand and only stopped when I learned Army warrant acquisitions were limited at the time to aviation applicants, specifically helicopter pilots. I couldn’t meet the vision requirements for that program, and it’s probably a good thing.

I have a new love: Edwards Key Lime pie. Damn, it’s good! Not too sweet, not too tart, just about right. Most amazing, for a frozen pie. I used to buy it every so often, in slices, due to limited freezer space. I have since figured out I can eat a whole pie (about 3,600 calories) in three sittings. Me, alone. How decadent.

Big ol’ thunder-boomers, accompanied by lots of rain and God’s Own Light Show, rolled through P-Town last night. I lost my ‘net connection for about 15 minutes, which was predictable, but it came back fairly quickly, which wasn’t predictable at all. We really needed the rain, and it was nice to open up the house after the worst of it was over. Ah! The coolness! The freshness! There’s nothing like the smell of wet earth after a hard rain, nothing. Well, maybe the ocean.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Funny. Sorta.

From my buddy Cath out in SFO…

A tourist walked into a Chinese curio shop in San Francisco. While looking around at the exotic merchandise, he noticed a very lifelike, life-sized, bronze statue of a rat. It had no price tag, but was so incredibly striking the tourist decided he must have it.

He took it to the old shop owner and asked, "How much for the bronze rat?

"Ahhh, you have chosen wisely! It is $12 for the rat, $100 for the story," said the wise old Chinaman.

The tourist quickly pulled out twelve dollars. "I'll just take the rat, you can keep the story."

As he walked down the street carrying his bronze rat, the tourist noticed that a few real rats had crawled out of the alleys and sewers and had begun following him down the street. This was a bit disconcerting so he began walking faster. A couple blocks later he looked behind him and saw to his horror the herd of rats behind him had grown to hundreds, and they began squealing. Sweating now, the tourist began to trot toward the Bay.

Again, after a couple blocks, he looked around only to discover that the rats now numbered in the MILLIONS, and were squealing and coming toward him faster and faster. Terrified, he ran to the edge of the Bay and threw the bronze rat as far as he could into the Bay. Amazingly, the millions of rats all jumped into the Bay after the bronze rat, and were all drowned.

The man ran back to the curio shop in Chinatown.

"Ahhh," said the owner, "You have come back for story?"

"No sir," said the man, "I came back to see if you have a bronze Republican."

And at the bottom of her note, this: “Note from Cath: NO OFFENSE! You're my FAVORITE Sexy Conservatives.”

No offense taken. But, as I told Catherine, if it was anyone else (well, ‘cept for Lori), I would take offense… {big ol' grin!}

PJ, Misplaced Criticism, and Preemption

If you’ve ever looked at my profile you’ll know I list PJ O’Rourke as one of my favorite authors. Mr. O’Rourke is living proof Republicans know how to have Big Fun, and he amply demonstrated this in his book Republican Party Reptile, among others. If you’re “of a certain age” perhaps you remember that PJ was at the National Lampoon in its salad days (i.e., when it was actually funny), joining NL in 1973, advancing to managing editor in 1975, and editor-in-chief in 1978. He left in NL 1981. NL hasn’t been funny since.

I digress. I stumbled on a few “PJ-isms” and thought I’d share a couple with you…here we go!


A midwestern nasal twang gives listeners the impression that you have lawn ornaments in your yard. The slurs and ellipses of California speech strike the hearer as the first three danger signals of drug abuse in teen-agers. And a New York accent sounds like somebody buggering a goose with an automobile horn.

A Texas accent is safe. Texans are all thought to have money. You can acquire a Texas accent by any of the usual means of getting brain damage.


Cats are to dogs what modern people are to the people we used to have. Cats are slimmer, cleaner, more attractive, disloyal, and lazy. It's easy to understand why the cat has eclipsed the dog as modern America's favorite pet. People like pets to possess the same qualities they do. Cats are irresponsible and recognize no authority, yet are completely dependent on others for their material needs. Cats cannot be made to do anything useful. Cats are mean for the fun of it. In fact, cats possess so many of the same qualities as some people (expensive girlfriends, for instance) that it's often hard to tell the people and the cats apart.

An interesting column by Joe Galloway in today’s Salt Lake Tribune concerning the fact our “elites” don’t serve in the military. The opening grafs:

WASHINGTON - A new book expands on a familiar subject: the absence of America's elite and its governing class - and their children - from the ranks of our nation's military.
The book is AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service - and How It Hurts Our Country. Its authors, Kathy Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaeffer, didn't embrace the military ethos so much as it embraced them.
Roth-Douquet describes herself as a former agitator, feminist, Ivy Leaguer and Clintonite. She just happened to fall in love with a Marine pilot and married him, she told me, thinking that within a year she would ''turn him around'' and get him out of uniform.
Instead she found herself falling in love with the military life, so much so that this year, when her husband made the list for promotion to colonel, she was delighted because it meant they could have a few more years on active duty.

There’s much more, including the disconcerting fact that only about a third of our CongressCritters are veterans. That one fact, in and of itself, is disturbing, and there are many more disturbing facts in this brief column.

I saw Mr. Schaeffer, one of the co-authors of this book, in an extended interview on C-SPAN2’s Book TV this past weekend. Mr. Schaeffer, a novelist, painter and filmmaker, saw his plans for his youngest son - ''top college, good grades, smart jobs . . .'' - go awry when his son enlisted in the Marines after he finished high school. SN1 happened to call during that interview and got an inadvertent earful, probably a lot more than he wanted or needed.

Don’t take what I’m about to say the wrong way. Books like the one Ms. Roth-Douquet and Mr. Schaeffer have written are good things. Very good things, assuming these books reach their target audience, and said audience receives the message and takes it to heart. I’m glad Mr. Schaeffer had his epiphany, I’m glad he’s “converted,” and I’m glad he’s written not one, but three books on this subject.


I found Mr. Schaffer’s attitude and demeanor during the C-SPAN2 interview to be more than a little off-putting. His various anecdotes about his immersion by association into the military culture and the veterans culture came off as the experiences of a detached observer, akin to Margaret Mead’s writings about the indigenous tribes of Borneo, who, in the end, “went native.” What I saw and heard was definitely a double-edged sword. I found myself, on the one hand, saying “Good for You!” while wondering, on the other hand, how someone could be so woefully ignorant of such a large portion of American culture that has always existed, if not literally next door to Mr. Schaeffer, but most certainly down the block or around the corner from his house. I know it’s just me, and I’m absolutely sure Mr. Schaeffer’s motivations are pure; after all, one doesn’t write three books on the subject if one doesn’t believe. Still, throughout the whole interview I couldn’t shake the feeling I was a resident of some Petri dish being observed for the first time. It didn’t feel good at all.

And there you have your misplaced criticism for today.

Several good editorials today on that impending North Korean ICBM test. My two favorites: An Act of War, Not a Test, by David Warren in the Ottawa Citizen and If Necessary, Strike and Destroy, by Ashton Carter & William Perry in the Washington Post. The WaPo editorial is written by two former Clinton administration DoD officials. These individuals are right on the mark; we cannot allow the North Koreans to develop, deploy, and/or sell this technology to regimes hostile to the United States. If ever there was a case tailor-made for the Bush Doctrine of preemption, this is it. Kill it on the pad.

It feels like Mississippi outside this morning: 75 degrees with 52% relative humidity as I write. While we’re getting a minor reprieve from the heat today (our forecasted high is “only” 92), the increased humidity will cancel it out. And there are thunderstorms forecasted for later today.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Late Start

This is getting old… I got up around 0730 this morning, put on the coffee, and sat down to check my mail. No internet connection. It’s now 0830 and still no ‘net. This may be a sad statement on my so-called-life, but I view my network connection the same way I view electricity: it’s a necessity. If anything drives me out of P-Town, it’ll be the intermittent nature of my network connection. (My connection came up at 0855—about enough time for the techies to have their coffee and then fix it.)

No reprieve from the heat today. Our high will be around 100 again. Yesterday I told you it rained for about four minutes. What I didn’t tell you was just how quickly that small amount of rain evaporated. We’ve been having a sort of unusual WX combination: high temps and moderately high winds, e.g., 25 mph, steady. When that small cloud drifted over and piddled on us yesterday, the rain evaporated almost as soon as it hit the ground. It was about 98 degrees with brisk winds at the time, so…there was no visible evidence of moisture anywhere ten minutes after the rain quit. It was semi-bizarre to observe.

Lileks has a new addition to his site: (Vintage) Bathing Beauties. The first installments feature period cuties in current-at-the-time bathing wear. The current offering of five high-quality photos begins in 1922, ends in 1940, and is captioned with prose that could only come from James. I do so love The Lileks!

This will be short, seeing as how I got a late start today in my usual turn around the ‘sphere and the news sites. Nothing really piqued my interest on memeorandum—maybe it’s just me, or maybe it really is a slow news day. It all just seemed like the same ol’, same ol’. Perhaps that’s a good thing.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Wasted Things

News item:

"Police blotter" is a weekly CNET report on the intersection of technology and the law.

What: Reports of home computer wiretapping surface in tempestuous New Jersey divorce case.
When: Superior Court of New Jersey ruled June 8.
Outcome: Wife succeeds in raising her share of the settlement in a divorce case.
What happened, according to court documents:

Peter Garfinkel, 41, asked for a divorce from his wife of six years, Lori Garfinkel, 38, in March 2001. They had separated earlier that month, and Lori remained in the marital home with three children under 3 years old.

After her husband started court proceedings for a divorce, Lori Garfinkel filed a counterclaim alleging the following: transmission of sexual disease, negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wiretapping.

The wiretapping charges are what make this unfortunate case relevant to Police Blotter. During the trial in state court, the judge dismissed Lori's claims related to sexual disease and emotional distress. But Peter admitted to "wiretapping" Lori's computer.

The description is general: Peter used an unspecified monitoring device to track his wife's computer transactions and record her e-mails. Lori was granted $7,500 on the wiretapping claim.

Overall, though, the trial judge did not find her credible and ruled that she misrepresented her income, assets and expenses. Lori appealed.

A three-judge panel of the Superior Court of New Jersey appeared to side with her. The judges reduced the amount granted to Peter and handed the case back to the trial court for additional proceedings.

This is hardly the first time computer monitoring claims have surfaced in marital spats. As previously reported by CNET, a Florida court ruled last year that a wife who installed spyware on her husband's computer to secretly record evidence of an extramarital affair violated state law.

In addition, makers of key loggers (hardware or software methods of recording keystrokes) are actively marketing their products as ways to expose spousal wrongdoing. KeyGhost's Web site mentions "multimillion-dollar divorce settlements," and the description of BlazingTools Sofware's Perfect Keylogger includes this line: "Are you wondering if your mate is planning a divorce?"

Hmmm. Someone I know very well did this very same thing and (stupidly) confronted the wife with incriminating evidence of her clandestine IM communications with the boyfriend. She moved out the very next morning. In the end, all the keylogger did was accelerate the breakup of the marriage. I don’t know if the act of installing a keylogger on a shared home machine was illegal (in New York) at the time, or not. I do know the woman concerned included “monitoring my communications” in her divorce complaint, in essence taking offense when caught red-handed. There was no monetary penalty or compensation awarded, however.

Crazy world, ain’t it?

Wasted money…

1230 hours: Ran car through car wash in The Big(ger) CityTM. Cost: $10.00

1530 hours: Park maintenance mows my “lawn,” depositing a significant amount of dust on my car. Cost: $10.00

1615 hours: It rains for about four minutes.

1619 hours: My car looks like it hasn’t been washed in two weeks.

{sigh} At least the weeds lawn looks good.

Suspicions confirmed:

In a recent interview with Victory New Hampshire, the citizen activist network, political mastermind Karl Rove was asked how the internet was affecting the political arena. Rove said:

I do also think that the internet has proven to be a more powerful tool on our side than it has been for the other side. It has proven to be a tool on our side to sort of unite Conservatives and have a healthy intra-movement dialogue. But it’s essentially been something that has helped us gain in influence and broaden our appeal. Among Democrats, my sense is that the blog world has tended to strengthen the far Left of the Democratic Party at the expense of liberal, but somewhat less liberal, members of their party. It has tended to sort of drive their party even further to the Left rather than focusing on good ideas that would help unite people around common goals and common purposes. Instead, the Internet for the Left of the Democratic Party has served as a way to mobilize hate and anger — hate and anger, first and foremost, at this President and conservatives, but then also at people within their own party whom they consider to be less than completely loyal to this very narrow, very out-of-the-mainstream, very far Left-wing ideology that they tend to represent.

In typical leftist fashion, within hours the left-wing blogs proved Rove's point for him. Personal attacks started flying on the popular blogs., Shakespeare's Sister, The Democratic and Raw all felt obliged to prove the point themselves.

"F**k you Karl Rove," wa s how Raw began its studied response. "We are angry and we hate you and your boss as well as the rest of the f***ed up media and crony s*#t we all see all the time in addition to what has become of a once great country going down the tubes!!!!"

It just gets better.

Here's what a concerned citizen had to say at (Its name cracks me up, because it features neither thinking nor progress.)

"Throwing people like Chris Matthews, Steny Hoyer, Lieberman, and others under the bus is what happens around these places. Hate and anger is what it is all about, calling Republicans and conservatives Nazis, fascists, and all sorts of other lovely things."

Another helpful leftist had this to say: "I wish I could say that I disagree with Dr. Evil on this. The hatred towards the President and the far right is much deserved."

Yet another blog entry weighed in: "Oh yeah, our 'Lefty sites' are going to be made much more difficult to access if the Net is not allowed to remain a level playing field. The Righties got the MSM, and we got the Internet!"

These people think the Right controls the mainstream media, which should give you an idea how out of touch they are. Not only are they haters, they are not too bright either!

I cruise all of the sites mentioned in this article occasionally (once or twice a week, sometimes more), and I can vouch for the fact that the general rhetorical tone in these places is far from civil. Before you say “It’s just as bad on the Right!”, I’ll admit Right-wing rhetoric can get pretty heated and, yeah, insulting, too. But there is a critical difference. The Left in its disparaging comments contends the Right is “evil” (for lack of a better word) or morally deficient. To put it another way, conservatives are infidels, we’re not True Believers. Therefore, being evil, we’re deserving of their hatred. The absolute worst the Right does, on the other hand, is accuse the Left of being stupid, uninformed, or willfully ignorant, conditions that can be corrected, if the accused so desires. The Right allows for redemption. Not so with evil. Evil must be excised, driven out, eliminated. And they call us Fascists. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Or both.

(The cited article is in Front Page Magazine)

Clarification: When I say "the Left" above, I mean the Radical Left as exemplified in/on the blogs cited in the Front Page Mag article and their brethren. I do not mean Liberals or folks on the moderate Left. There IS a difference.

Bad News

I came home this afternoon to bad news. The bodies of the two missing soldiers in Iraq have been found and it appears the men were tortured. This event is the lead item at memeorandum at the moment. There are many, many blog posts and several wire reports on this sad news. I’ve read five or six of the blogposts (including some on the Left that just make my blood boil), but none better than what Confederate Yankee has written.

The terrorists of the Mujahedeen Shura Council probably think they have scored a victory, and indeed, in the short-term, they have. They can claim that after three years of war, they finally captured and killed a grand total of three U.S. soldiers. Accounts of the capture and killing of U.S. soldiers will receive a great amount of press worldwide. Arab media will likely present the deaths as a thinly veiled triumph, and the western media will use it as an opportunity to once again call for disengagement, as will many Democrats.

But these killings will not be received favorably by the U.S. military in Iraq, which will likely step up operations to hunt down and destroy terror and insurgent cells operating in this part of Iraq. Though official orders will not be given, perhaps U.S. forces will not be so inclined to take prisoners after this incident. Insurgents and their al Qaeda allies set the tone of giving U.S. forces no quarter when they took prisoners.

They made a huge mistake.

I have nothing to add, other than we pray for the families of these two soldiers.

Carolina Wins It!

Rob Brind'Amour Hoists The Stanley Cup

Congratulations to Carolina and the perennial runner-up comment of “Next Year!” to Edmonton. Carolina has every reason to be proud this morning and Edmonton has absolutely, positively no reason to hang their heads. Last night’s game, and the entire CarolinaEdmonton series, was a fitting finish to the most exciting Stanley Cup play-offs I can remember. What a year! Everything you want to know about last night’s game and the Finals is here.

And you know another one of the great things about hockey? Only four months until the new season begins!

First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is… (apologies to Donovan Leitch) Except in this case, there may be a mountain but there is no personal ad. Yahoo! Personals “prohibits contact information” in your personal ad, which, when you think about it, is sorta strange. Yahoo! rejected the original draft of my ad because I included the url of the blog. I figured “what better way to get to know me?” Read the blog, anonymously if you so desire, and if you like what you see, follow up. I rewrote the ad after the initial rejection, excising the url but leaving in the fact I have a blog and included a “hint” on how to find it. Rejected again. OK. I’m not too thick; I get it. There’s also a “delete profile” button on the create/edit profile page. I used it. Screw Yahoo.

Short and sorta sweet this morning. I wanna go get my errands done before it gets too hot to put the top down.