Monday, June 30, 2003

Terminator 3 Rocks!

I don't make a habit of posting movie reviews, but after seeing Terminator 3, I just had to let y'all know that this flick is a hoot. Definitely the funniest action movie ever. The Terminator franchise has always had more than its fair share of humor, since no one can make fun of himself the way Arnold can. But this movie had me hysterical at times. I even missed some of the dialog, I was laughing so hard.

There are plenty of conventional reviews available online, and you can view the trailer here. But if you want to see a genuinely funny flick, with more than its share of (apparently bloodless) violence, see T3.

Friday, June 20, 2003

No Criminal Penalty

In a stunning victory of justice over politics, the Air Force dropped homicide and assault charges Thursday against two fighter pilots who mistakenly bombed Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan last year, killing four. The pilots, Majs. Harry Schmidt and William Umbach, had been charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and dereliction of duty and faced up to 64 years in prison if convicted in a court-martial. One of the men, Maj. Harry Schmidt, who released the 500-pound bomb, still faces two counts of dereliction of duty.

Had the Air Force gone ahead with the court martial, it would have been the first such proceeding in the history of American warfare regarding a friendly fire incident. The action was commenced, over the objections of the military leadership, by political and diplomatic operatives for the administration, in order to mollify the Canadians, whose troops were lost. Ironically, these troops were members of the Rakkasans, attached to the 101st Airborne Division, and as such were the last troops to complain or demand such an action be instituted in their behalf, although even the most elite troops have families that bleed and cry over their dead like everyone else.

Mistakes were made, although most of them were committed by members of the upper ranks, especially the fact that the pilots were not apprised that friendly forces were operating in the area. What judgement calls the pilots missed can be blamed on the fatigue that comes with being in the hot seat for over ten hours, popping uppers to stay alert. And remember that the bombing occurred on a moonless night at Tarnak Farms, a former Al Qaeda base once owned by Osama bin Laden. They were deep in Indian country, these men truly believed that they were in danger, and it was the natural response to that danger that precipitated the attack. A successful court martial on these men would have had a chilling effect on our future air operations. We place these men in harm's way to do a very dirty job for the rest of us, and we need to give them a lot of leeway in the carrying out of that job. There will be career penalties for these men, and they will never again be in a position to make such a mistake again. Under the circumstances, that is all the punishment that is warranted.

There are those who will say that these men were let off because Canada refused to back our play in Iraq. I wish that it were so, but I can't give our national leadership that much credit.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Willfully Blind?

Last night on Fox News, at the end of the Hannity and Colmes Show, they ran a live feed of a car chase (from L.A. of course), showing a car going about 30 miles per hour or so, surrounded by police cars. Just as they hit the top of the hour, and Greta Van Susteren came on, the perpetrator surrendered. Now we had Greta, Hannity, and Colmes, along with a few guests all miked up as the perp was taken into custody. He exited the vehicle, docile as could be, following instructions, lying down in the street, first here, then there, then, when all was exactly as the (unheard) police officer was evidently commanding, the LAPD moved in to cuff the fellow. As the police came upon him, I gasped, as the first cop to reach him drop-kicked his knee right into the part of the guy's back that is directly between the shoulder blades. That cop kept his entire weight on the perp for about 20 to 25 seconds, until he was all cuffed up and ready to transport. All the while, Greta and friends chatted on about what they thought they were seeing.

But they didn't see what I saw! They even commented on how gentle the cops were being to the poor misguided fellow, and how lucky he was to have been arrested by such understanding and respectful police officers. Meanwhile, this poor bastard was carrying the full, doughnut enhanced weight or one mean, husky, member of L.A.'s finest.

Where do I find my outrage? I surprised myself with the virulence of my reaction to the blithe indifference to the suffering of a fellow human being shown by the talking heads. Members of the thoughtless wing of the law and order right, like Sean Hannity, are always assumed to be insensitive to the suffering of swarthy criminal types. Committed leftists like Colmes and Van Susteren have become even more bellicose in their prescriptions for tough treatment for criminals, Van Susteren's background as a defense attorney notwithstanding. It was their blindness that outraged me. If they had said: "Good for the cops, they got that brown bastard" I would have understood, at least, where they were coming from. But they acted as if it had not even happened. They were absolutely insensitive to the suffering of a fellow human being.

I believe that this is part of a syndrome wherein a large portion of the population can not envision the possibility that such things could ever happen, to them. No cop will ever abuse them, because they will never steal a car. So investing the police with extralegal power to brutalize and otherwise undermine the rights of the accused is ok. They have never been beaten by a cop, so they never will be! Meanwhile, a teacher I know very well was once beaten to within an inch of his life for no reason other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I myself have been exposed to the tender mercies of the NYPD during the Giuliani years, and I am no swarthy criminal type. Every black person knows what I am talking about, but last night, the entire party was white.

I prescribe more Dostoyefsky, more Kafka, for the reading lists of those who are confident that "they will never come for me." If there is one thing we have learned, it is that, they just might. What would have those same voices have said on Kristallnacht?

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Movable Type

There seems to be a movement among Blogspot bloggers migrating to Movable Type. A few bloggers with the resources are making it really easy (and cheap) to do so. The latest one of my favorites to move is John Dunshee of "Just Some Poor Schmuck." (I have him as J.S.P.S. on my blogroll)

John makes it look easy, although there was a period where his blog was practically unavailable, and the new site looks great. I am contemplating the move, although the idea of having to learn an entirely new way of doing things, when I had just gotten used to the Blogger way, is a bit daunting. (Cripes! I just got comments hooked up last week!) But if John can do it, maybe I can too. We are the same age and all. Then there is the consideration of losing my plethora of inbound links and having to beg and plead to get them changed to the new address, rather than just dumped (but that's just my mishegas).

Anyway, if I make the change, it won't be for a while, and I'll probably keep the Blogspot blog going anyway. But, either way, I will strive to keep you, my customers, satisfied, as always.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Living History

While it is very unlikely that I would buy Hillary Clinton's book (at least until I find it at a garage sale) I still have sought out a review of the thing, written by someone who is not struck with the sycophancy for the Clintons that consumes most of the usual suspects who write for the New york times Review of books. I have found a real gem of a review, written by Matt Labash, published in The Weekly Standard. Now, as a subscriber to The Weekly Standard, I get unrestricted access to their web site. I am not sure if just anyone can get access to the online version of this review, so, within the bounds of fair use, I shall excerpt some of the better fragments of this magnificent analysis of Hillary's latest book. It can be found here. (Hopefully a free registration will get you a copy; this piece is great reading. Buy the magazine if you have to, it's worth it.)

This book appears, as expected, to be an almost totally dishonest whitewash of the presidential years as seen through Hillary's eyes, and Labash takes great pains to point out, and prove, the depth of the mandacity present here, point by point. Hillary claims that the Lewinsky affair was the first time BJ had lied to her, which requires that she deny the truth of the Gennifer Flowers affair. Yet she must know that BJ admitted to this affair (under oath) months before the Lewinsky deal. And on and on. Yet Labash tells it in a most entertaining way. He begins:
In keeping with the children's theme, "Living History"--or as the gals in my Hillary reading circle call it, "Living Herstory"--is Hillary's first scratch'n'sniff book. Let me explain. Take a claim in this book, almost any claim, scratch it hard enough and it smells like BS.
But beyond the mere lies, there's Hillary the incorrigibly arrogant bitch-princess, as in:
And then there's the least attractive Hillary, Hillary the Martyr, who in her eagerness to reach for grandiosity after her life had been turned into a sex farce, draws strength from the examples set by Harriet Tubman, Nelson Mandela, and Elie Wiesel. Wiesel survived a Nazi death camp and Mandela survived 27 years of imprisonment for opposing an unjust, racist government. Hillary survived having her husband turned into a Jay Leno monologue because he received blowjobs from an intern and lied about it. It's all the same in Hillaryland--as her staffers called their workspace.
But beyond anything else, this review is entertaining... no doubt much more entertaining than its subject. An example:
To label "Living History" as being merely boring would be to owe a groveling apology to Bill Bradley. By the third time I read Hillary assert that she doesn't take herself too seriously, I knew that I was seriously in for it. By the tenth time I tripped over a paragraph that read like it had been wrenched from a bad alumni magazine ("What I valued most about Wellesley were the lifelong friends I made and the opportunity that a women's college offers us to stretch our wings and minds in the ongoing journey toward self-definition and identity"), I was praying to be struck with blindness. By the fiftieth description of a meaningless foreign trip that she took, such as the one to Dhaka, Bangladesh, a place she "long wanted to visit" because of attractions like the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research--I was begging for death. Just as you would be too, the seventieth time you read her introduce a person as if they were a State of the Union prop, a person like "Ryan Moore, a seven-year-old from South Sioux City, Nebraska, who had been born with a rare form of dwarfism," and whose story "kept our eyes on the prize throughout our struggle to bring health care coverage to all Americans."

Who talks like this, you ask? Hillary, that's who.
But, quintessential Labash, we get to the point, as in:
The conservative caricature of Hillary Clinton has always hinged on painting her as a bloodless, calculating shrew who pulled Bill's strings and regularly packed the dirty laundry off to the dry cleaners. But there is a much more prosaic explanation for why so many detractors find her even less appealing than her husband. He, for all his faults and nods to political expedience, exhibited an anti-political impulse: a scampish charm and an insatiable, often reckless appetite to live life for it's own pleasures, consequences be damned. While Bill's detractors would call this his hedonistic side and his boosters would call it his human one, Hillary, as revealed by her own ghostwriters' words, is pretty much a one-sided affair. "Living History" paints her as a purely political creature.

Everything she does--no matter how pedestrian--seems to contain some golden moral or noble expression, which almost always rings false. Since it's not officially a campaign book, and contains next to no policy prescriptions, one could reasonably expect her to throw open the window and let out some of the hot air. The memoir gives the impression that you are never being allowed a glimpse into her true world. Or more troubling perhaps, that you are--that Hillary's artificial world is also her real one.

Consequently, you never get the sense that she is trying to seriously arrive at the truth, but rather, that she's merely shining up her resume. She is a joiner, and an apple-polisher, the teacher's pet and the queen of the spelling bee--every twit you knew in school that was begging to be taken behind the gym for a game of full-contact dodge ball. Thus, we learn that she was president of her high school fan club for Fabian, and served as well on the Cultural Values Committee. After running successfully for student council and junior class vice-president, she tried to join NASA's astronaut training program. At the time NASA wasn't accepting girls--and even though Hillary was still in high school and wore coke-bottle glasses, this "blanket rejection" made her "more sympathetic later to anyone confronted with discrimination of any kind."
Without quoting the entire thing, you will need to find your own copy. Don't miss this one!

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Road Map to Hell

I don't want to seem like a Bush hater, but I can not fail to notice that the President is contradicting many promises he has made. For instance, back on June 24, 2002 Bush claimed to have had a "vision" of the route to peace in the Middle East. He premised his vision on four axioms. They were:
1) the Palestinians must select and empower through democratic means a "new leadership"? untainted by terror";

2) "the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure";

3) there has to be an end to Palestinian (and other Arab regimes') "incitement" via such outlets as government-controlled media, propaganda and mosques; and

4) "progress" (read, Israeli concessions) must be a function of (Palestinian) performance, not an artificial timetable.
Now Bush has revealed his "Road Map" and it renounces all four premises. He insists that Israel deal with Arafat's puppet and Holocaust denier, the unelected Abbas. In spite of the fact that Abbas has declared that he will take no forceful action against the terrorists, Bush and Powell have reiterated their support for "the process." And, worst of all, Bush and Co. have insisted in the "Road Map" that Israeli concessions be made by the calendar, rather than any meaningful achievements.

No doubt about it, Bush talks a good game at times. And he has a few inner strengths that are laudable in a leader, like self esteem, which is so preferable to the ego that our last poor excuse for a President had. But in the end, he is just another pol. The Jews can not bring much pressure to bear against this pol, since they were only, at best, a hopeful, possible, vote for him to win, if he played his cards right. He is not playing them right just yet. There is one possible hope, and that is that he is saving his strongest support for the Israel situation until election time. It is incumbent upon American Jews to offer him support that he believes can be his, but not unless and until he turns back around on Israel. This Jew is not yet committed to voting against Bush. But if the President intends to rely on his father's strategy, which was that we will vote for him because we can't countenance the alternative, we will have another alternative in the White House, sooner rather than later.

Tip of the hat to Frank Gaffney, Jr.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Blix vs Sawyer

Yesterday (Wednesday) Hans Blix appeared on Good Morning America, and an amazing colloquy ensued. It seems that Mr. Blix, famous lover of President Bush and all things American (NOT!), is more supportive of the American President and his veracity than Ms. Sawyer is. She tried and tried to get Hans to accuse Bush of lying to the UN, the American people, anyone at all, but he wouldn't, quite, say that. He pointed out that Saddam Hussein certainly acted like a dictator who was guilty of craving, building, storing, and actually using weapons of mass destruction.
DIANE SAWYER: So your hunch is they won't find anything [weapons of mass destruction]?

HANS BLIX: Well, I shouldn't have any hunches really.

SAWYER: Oh, have one. Have one. You can afford one now.

BLIX: The more time that passes without anything being found, the more I think we should begin to ask ourselves, why did they [the Iraqi regime] behave as they did during the '90s? Because they certainly behaved in a manner that seemed ? denial of access, et cetera. They changed the numbers also.

SAWYER: Pride?

BLIX: Why was ? yes. Yes, I think you are right, but this is my first hunch. I'm not a psychologist, but I think so. I think that Saddam Hussein figured himself to be an emperor of Mesopotamia, a Nebuchadnezzar, and that he felt that 'these inspectors are imposters, little creepies around me, and I won't let them go one inch more than the Security Council resolution say, which I accepted. So if they want to go in with five people rather than four, which I've accepted, then no.' Otherwise it's very difficult to explain some of the things they did, you know.
Sawyer tried to get Blix to accuse the administration of lying about the situation in Iraq, but all she got was this:
SAWYER: Did the Bush administration tell the truth?

BLIX: Well, they interpreted things that they were seeing, and they? some of the things they saw were not real.

SAWYER: And will they pay a price for that in credibility?

BLIX: I don't know. I'm not accusing them of lack of sincerity. I think they believed, believed in what they saw, and I think [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair clearly believed in what they saw, but some of the material did not hold water.

SAWYER: And what price do you pay?

BLIX: Well, maybe the lesson is that I should be more prudent. I mean if you want to start a war on this basis, then I think the intelligence should be good, not just, 'Sorry about that. It was wrong intelligence. We've shot the wrong embassy in Belgrade.' Remember that case? Well, that was wrong intelligence. They shot at the Chinese Embassy instead of something else. This is not very good.
I can't find the entire transcript yet, but the rest of the interview was similar. Sawyer, like most American far-left ideologues, is seeking to paint our President as a lying, scheming, warmonger. The editorial in the piece on ABC's website I linked to above also seeks to portray the interview in the light most unfavorable to Bush. That's not an ideologue, but a major news organization shading the truth. Mr. Blix wouldn't quite play along, but he gave them enough grist to support a piece that follows the party line. It is a sad state of affairs when our news outlets stoop to this kind of yellow journalism. It is no wonder that they are losing viewers the way they are. The morning after they do a puff piece on Hillary Clinton, they do a hatchet job on President Bush. At least they don't put words in Blix's mouth that he didn't actually say. Next time they might have to dig up Scott Ritter again.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Where's The Compassion Now?

Mid way through the 19th century this nation established a homeland for the return of the slaves we had imported from Africa. We named this country Liberia, based uopn the Latin root meaning freedom. For various reasons, the effort was less than an unqualified success. This country survives to this day. Its people, however, may not be able to say that for much longer.

As I write this, French troops are in Liberia evacuating all of the white people who wish to leave. For the black people, however, evacuation is limited to those who can prove that they are citizens of another country. President Bush has responded to the situation, by sending 35 (!) troops to protect our embassy, and the property of our citizens there. Meanwhile, the rest of the people there, the descendents of American slaves, are being left to the tender mercies of the rebels, who are offering them a place at the table, as the main course. Those who escape becoming food for the rebels, however, are mostly facing starvation themselves.

I wonder how many Americans would support sending more than the three dozen troops that our fearless leader has spared to stop the carnage. I suspect that this would be a rather uncontroversial decision. I wonder what the political calculus is that would abandon a few million former Americans to cannibalism and starvation, while five to ten American soldiers die each week attempting to install a better government in another country whose linkage to America is much more tenuous. I guess that it's some combination of "we can't solve all the world's problems" and "the Liberian rebels are no threat to us," but it sucks just the same. Both Reagan, the hard rock conservative, and bleeding heart liberal Clinton, sent more aid to Liberia than the compassionate conservative Bush.

I hope he enjoys his retirement.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Compassionate + Conservative = Liberal

As G.W.Bush's first term has entered its second half, one would think that the administration would be looking to shore up its support for the run for a second term. Looking at recent events through that prism, one can only think that Bush believes that the margin of victory will come from Democrat voters. He is certainly alienating many conservative voters. I wonder if he can win without us, but he is surely making it difficult for conservatives to support him. While I can't see many of us voting for a Donkey, he is positioning himself to the left of almost half of the Democrat pretenders to the throne. Some examples:

Afghanistan - His support for the people of Afghanistan is embarrassingly absent. Most of the Donk candidates are ahead of him on the issue of supporting the Afghan people and the Karzai government. Beyond any compassion for the Afghan people, how about the Americans who are adversely affected by the bumper crop of Afghan Opium that this neglect is helping to cause? A new growing season has begun, and reports indicate that the new harvest will bring an unprecedented crop. This will translate into even lower prices and higher quality in American Heroin markets. Bush must shoulder at least some of the blame for this. Since Heroin is one of the drugs that almost everyone agrees is worth banning, the Donks get ahead of him on the drug war as well.

Assault Weapons Ban - in contravention of statements he made on the stump last campaign, he has supported an extention of the so-called Assault Weapons Ban. It seems that the Senate will bail him out on this one, but this was not clear until the last few days. Had he signed the extention, the NRA vote would have fled. This could still happen.

Iraq - As his father learned, the bump a pol gets for winning a war is fleeting. Now Bush and Co. must win the peace. Appointing incompetents like Margaret Tutweiler to run things, and making decisions like hiring Baath party holdovers places the looming failure of the peace squarely in Bush's lap.

Israel - The "Road Map" fiasco is proving to be even less useful a path to peace than either Oslo or Camp David... neither the Jews or the Jew-haters are happy with this attempt. When no results are forthcoming, Bush will have little support from either side. Funny, but Bush seemed well on his way to garnering a significant part of the Jewish vote. Now he looks like another pol who is willing to sell out the Jews for a tiny political advantage. At best, he is paying a debt to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah with Jewish blood. He will need a miracle in the holy land if he expects to see any Jewish votes.

I could go on, but it is too painful. After only a third of the alphabet, Bush's prospects for re-election seem dim. Of course spinners for both sides will not admit it, but it will take some major mistakes by the Donkeys for Bush to have much of a chance. It is early, though. Arafat could die, the NRA might endorse him, Karzai could just possibly survive, and the DEA could win the war on (some) drugs. And Chickens could grow lips.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Computer Models vs. Reality

It is easy to become complacent about the "Global Warming" fiasco. After all, hasn't the real science won the day over those who would use junk science to impede the economies of the Western Powers, especially the U.S.A.? Well, the scientific argument would, indeed, appear to be won, but there are still powerful forces which continue to press for a unilateral economic disarmament by the West, led by many of the same people who acted like they were appalled at the so-called unilateral warfare proposed, and subsequently undertaken, by that same Western juggernaut, led by the U.S.A.

Recently, in the journal Science (sorry, no free online copy available... yet) there has appeared a scholarly article refuting atmospheric temperature measurements in favor of a reliance of reliance on atmospheric temperature models. This is the kind of easy reliance upon junk science that the Left has become used to in this war they are waging against the great American (and other Western) economies. Yet today, we can see signs that their effort has failed. The forces of reason and truth are now organized, and within a week of the appearance of this article, in testimony before a committee on the House of Representatives, Dr John Christy, Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and also Alabama's State Climatologist, pointed out the absolute foolishness of that position. His brilliantly composed remarks are online here. Some quotes:
Will increases in CO2 affect the climate significantly? Are significant changes occurring now? Climate models suggest the answer is yes, real data suggest otherwise... If in testing models one finds conflict with even the observed large scale features, this would suggest that at least some fundamental processes, for example heat transfer, are not adequately described in the models.
That same week, with much less fanfare, my latest paper appeared in the Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology.[2] Unlike the paper in Science magazine, I performed several rigorous tests to estimate the potential error of our UAH satellite data. I used real observations from balloon datasets created by independent organizations, some with data from as many as 400 different balloon stations. Our UAH satellite data and the balloon data corroborated each other with remarkable consistency, showing only a slow warming of the bulk of the atmosphere. This evidence indicates that the projected warming of the climate model had little consistency with the real world.
Using a wider range of information from new sources these studies now indicate large temperature swings have been common in the past 1000 years and that temperatures warmer than today's were common in 50-year periods about 1000 years ago. These studies suggest that the climate we see today is not unusual at all.
I want to encourage the committee to be suspicious of media reports in which weather extremes are given as proof of human-induced climate change. Weather extremes occur somewhere all the time. For example, in the year 2000 in the 48 conterminous states, the U.S. experienced the coldest combined November and December in 106 years. We've just again witnessed a colder than average winter in the Eastern US with some record snowfalls here and there, while the California mountains had one of the coldest and snowiest April's ever. However, looking at these events does not prove the country is experiencing global cooling any more than a hot July represents global warming.
One century is a relatively short time in terms of climate time scales. When looking at proxy records of the last 2000 years for drought in the Southwest, the record suggests the worst droughts occurred prior to 1600. The dust bowl of the 1930's appears as a minor event on such a time scale. This should be a warning that with or without any human influence on climate we should be prepared for a significant, multi-year drought. (Low cost energy would help mitigate the costs of transporting water to the stricken areas.)

When considering information such as indicated above, one finds it difficult to conclude that climate change is occurring in the US and that it is exceedingly difficult to conclude that part of that change might have been caused by human factors.
There is a lot more there. This is really nothing new. What is new is the speed with which a response to the junk science attack was organized. If the other side in this war refuses to concede defeat, then our side must continue to fight, and fight well. Kudos to Dr. Christy.