Thursday, September 28, 2006

Misleading title, sad information

This article media hit-job (snicker) has some interesting implications:

The average retail price of gasoline nationwide is now 2.38 dollars per gallon (3.8 liters), the lowest since March 2006. Oil prices, meanwhile, have fallen by more than 20 percent since July, when prices topped 78 dollars a barrel.

The Automobile Association of America (AAA), said a gallon of gas one year ago cost 2.80 dollars, while in early September 2005, average gas prices were 3.06 dollars per gallon.

Bush seems to be a major beneficiary of the lighter public mood -- whether or not cheaper gas is the cause.

In a Los Angeles Times poll last week, his approval rating rose from 41 percent in late June to 44 percent.

Conversely, some of Bush's worst poll numbers came in May and June, hovering in the low 30s -- at the very time when gas prices were peaking.

Analyst Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service told the USA Today newspaper last week that gas prices will drop an additional 10 to 20 cents a gallon by Election Day -- offering further cheer to Bush and fellow Republicans.
Yadda yadda, repeating ourselves, Bush's approval linked to gas prices. Ok, that's been covered. Next? Time for the AP to repeat conspiracy theories! And the really sad thing? That makes up the bulk of the article. Its a stealth job, slipped in there in front of the real news. Its not even mentioned in the headline, which reads "Falling US gas prices boost Bush poll numbers".

Read it.
Some Americans are suspicious that recent steep declines in gasoline prices might be the result of political manipulation, since the savings at the gas pump come just weeks before critical midterm US elections.

Earlier this year, news of record oil profits led many US consumers to believe that energy companies had deliberately kept prices artificially high to improve their bottom line.

Now gas prices have fallen for several consecutive weeks, and recent polls show that consumers have a new suspicion -- that the price break is meant to give a boost to a US president and Republican Congress who had fallen out of favor with voters.
So what's the article really about? I mean, they devote at least as much time to the conspiracy nutters as they do to official "point" of the article. I was prepared to write off the whole thing as a fairly typical AP reporting-on-the-fringe as if it were mainstream, until I read this:
A USA Today/Gallup poll last week found that 42 percent of the roughly 1,000 adults surveyed across the United States believed President George W. Bush's administration had "deliberately manipulated the price of gasoline so that it would decrease before this falls elections."
Then I wanted to cry. Granted, this doesn't mean that 42 percent of Americans believe that -- just 420. But the fact that they even got that many to agree with that statement completely backs up my contentions that folks in this country just don't understand economics. I'd love to try to have those 420 people explain to me, with any kind of backup, just how a president would go about fixing gas prices short of an executive order (thanks Nixon).

I'll be prepared for some spluttering, a few "ExxonMobil," "price gouging," and at least one "obscene profit".

Read the rest.

Ahmadinejad pounds pulpit, everyone yawns

Iran is still talking about that whole nuke thing. Its become a broken record, and with oil prices falling so sharply Ahmadinejad has kind of lost his bully pulpit:

Iran's hard-line president said Wednesday Iran won't give up "one iota" of its right to pursue a peaceful nuclear program.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated his uncompromising stance as Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani held talks with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Berlin, described by an EU official as "very intense."

"In negotiations, they tell us to suspend (uranium) enrichment even for a day on the pretext of a technical problem so that they continue talks," state-run television quoted Ahmadinejad as saying Wednesday. "Our response to them is that no one has the right to give up the rights of the Iranian nation."
This is the political equivalent of jumping up and down, waving your arms and saying "Hey! Hey!! Look at me!"

Read the rest.

7/11 Drops Citgo Gas

7-Eleven will no longer put money in Chavez' pocket:

7-Eleven Inc. dropped Venezuela-owned Citgo as its gasoline supplier after more than 20 years as part of a previously announced plan by the convenience store operator to launch its own brand of fuel.

7-Eleven officials said Wednesday that the decision was partly motivated by politics.

Citgo Petroleum Corp. is a Houston-based subsidiary of Venezuela's state-run oil company and 7-Eleven is worried that anti-American comments made by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez might prompt motorists to fill-up elsewhere.

Chavez has called President George W. Bush the devil and an alcoholic. The U.S. government has warned that Chavez is a destabilizing force in Latin America.

"Regardless of politics, we sympathize with many Americans' concern over derogatory comments about our country and its leadership recently made by Venezuela's president," said 7-Eleven spokeswoman Margaret Chabris.

"Certainly Chavez's position and statements over the past year or so didn't tempt us to stay with Citgo," she added.
This is great. I haven't bought Citgo gas for years for precisely the same reasons.

Read the rest.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Nothing good happens under Bush...

You know, its all bad. Iraq, the economy, gas prices..

Wall Street surged higher Tuesday, carrying the Dow Jones industrials to their second-best close ever as positive economic data further buoyed a growing sense of optimism among investors. The Dow closed just 53 points away from its record high close.
Oh, so snarky.

Read the rest.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Speaking of the NIE report...

Apparently the Times' leak source played them like a fiddle -- that, or they thought no one would notice. From Hugh Hewitt:

The Times' reporters and editors that ran Sunday's stories were either chumps who got played by anti-Bush leakers, or purposefully deceptive agenda journalists from the anti-Bush fanatics division.

Read all of the declassified sections of the report. Nothing in it supports the Pelosi-Dean-Reid-Murtha Democrats' demand to cut-and-run from Iraq. Just the opposite in fact: "If democratic reform efforts in Muslim majority nations progress over the next five years, political participation probably would drive a wedge between intransigent extremists and groups willing to use the political process to achieve their local objectives."
Don't believe Hugh? Make your own decisions by reading the report yourself.

Not to snicker or anything, but...haha. The Left really shot itself in the foot on this one. When will they learn?

Update: here's the whole cause celebre statement.
The Iraq conflict has become the “cause celebre” for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.

Read the rest.

As requested...

you should be blogging about the recent leaked nie intelligence report. I'm eager to get your pro-war opinion on that
OK. First of all, I'm not pro-war. I think war is a necessary evil, but that doesn't mean I like it or think its great. I am, however, supportive of our efforts in Iraq because I think without them our country would be further imperiled. Every terrorist killed by a bullet, bomb, or rocket in Iraq is one less to die via vest or car or plane here on our soil (or at our embassies, or in Israel, or over the Atlantic).

Moving on to the leaked report -- yes, some sections of a report were leaked and Democrats jumped all over certain phrases, particularly one "cause célèbre". That isn't a term used often, and I find it peculiar that that exact wording is used in every single article about the report. Is it the same guy writing all the articles, or (more likely) is it that there's not a lot of information out yet and the authors are just grasping at straws, repeating the same whispers?

Read it.

I'm perfectly fine with this rationale:
[Bush] said, "some people have guessed what's in the report and have concluded that going into Iraq was a mistake. I strongly disagree. I think it's naive."

Which is supported by the written evidence. If there really are 3 1/2 pages of damning evidence, certainly anti-war position players could have found more than one phrase to latch onto? The sentence I'm referring to reads:
"The Iraq conflict has become the 'cause celebre' for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement," the report said.
However, most news sources have not reported the rest of that bit (surprise surprise) which says:
"Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight," it said.
So. What the report (seemingly) really says is this -- if we give up in Iraq, it will have been a big mess that has opened us up to a lot more attacks. But if we win terrorists all over the world will be demoralized and will have had large parts of their infrastructure and leadership destroyed, i.e., a big win for us. Why hello, Bush foreign policy. How nice to meet you!

I think the really funny thing is that this same ideology, i.e., Iraq is doing nothing but make people hate us more (which is a rather inane concept in itself -- people who don't hate you don't kill 3,000 innocents just 'cuz), has been around for a long time. Check out this Common Dreams article from 2003, complete with cause célèbre clause:
Washington must impose security in Iraq to prevent the country from "ripening into a cause celebre for radical Islamic terrorists," it concluded. "Nation-building" in Iraq was paramount and might require more troops than initially planned.

"On the plus side, war in Iraq has denied al Qaeda a potential supplier of weapons of mass destruction and discouraged state sponsors of terrorism from continuing to support it," the report said.

"On the minus side, war in Iraq has probably inflamed radical passions among Muslims and thus increased al Qaeda's recruiting power and morale and, at least marginally, its operating capability," it said.

"The immediate effect of the war may have been to isolate further al Qaeda from any potential state supporters while also swelling its ranks and galvanizing its will."
Its a broken record. Three years strong and the Left has come up with nothing new for us. Ultimately, it comes down to this:
Bush said he thought it was "a bad habit for our government to declassify every time there's a leak."
And how.

Read the rest.

Senate Floor Speech -- A++

Sen. James Inhofe delivered a great speech yesterday titled: “Hot & Cold Media Spin: A Challenge To Journalists Who Cover Global Warming”.

Global Warming -- just that term evokes many members in this chamber, the media,
Hollywood elites and our pop culture to nod their heads and fret about an impending climate disaster. As the senator who has spent more time educating about the actual facts about global warming, I want to address some of the recent media coverage of global warming and Hollywood’s involvement in the issue. And of course I will also discuss former Vice President Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Since 1895, the media has alternated between global cooling and warming scares during four separate and sometimes overlapping time periods. From 1895 until the 1930’s the media pedaled a coming ice age.
From the late 1920’s until the 1960’s they warned of global warming. From the 1950’s until the 1970’s they warned us again of a coming ice age. This makes modern
global warming the fourth estate’s fourth attempt to promote opposing climate change fears during the last 100 years. Recently, advocates of alarmism have grown increasingly desperate to try to convince the public that global warming is the reatest moral issue of our generation. Just last week, the vice president of London’s Royal ociety sent a chilling letter to the media encouraging them to stifle the voices of cientists skeptical of climate alarmism.

Read the whole thing.

Read the rest.

Great Article

This has to be one of the most "fair and balanced" attempts at reporting on global warming I've ever seen. It presents evidence for both sides, gives both sides equal voice, and leaves any conclusion-drawing to the reader. Excellent article.

The words "global warming" provoke a sharp retort from Colorado State University
meteorology professor emeritus William Gray: "It's a big scam." And the name of climate researcher Kevin Trenberth elicits a sputtered "opportunist."

At the National Center for Atmospheric Research, where Trenberth works, Gray's name prompts dismay. "Bill Gray is completely unreasonable," Trenberth says. "He has a mind block on this."

Only 55 miles separate NCAR's headquarters, nestled in the Front Range foothills, from CSU in Fort Collins. But when it comes to climate change, the gap is as big as any in the scientific community. At Boulder-based NCAR, researchers project a world with warmer temperatures, fiercer storms and higher seas. From CSU, Gray and Roger Pielke Sr., another climate professor emeritus, question the data used to make those projections and their application to regional climate change.

Don't ever let anyone tell you there's a consensus on global warming, or that the debate is over. They're simply lying to you.

Read the rest.

Clinton's Anger

I know this is everywhere, but Hot Air has Michelle Malkin's comments and some good video here. Enjoy it.

Linkfest:

Evidence to rebut Clinton's claims that Republicans mocked him for retaliating against Bin Laden here.

And another Clinton lie -- that Wallace had never asked the same quesitons of Bush officials exposed here.

Information regarding Clinton's "Tried and Failed" defense, as well as using Clarke as a shield can be found here.

Happy reading!

Read the rest.

Monday, September 25, 2006

More Global Warming Fearmongering

Have you heard the latest? We're at almost at the warmest temperatures in a million years!

The study said the recent warming has brought global temperature to a level within about one degree Celsius - 1.8 degree Fahrenheit - of the maximum temperature of the past million years.
Yes -- and the cause? Correct! Us human types
"This evidence implies that we are getting close to dangerous levels of human-made pollution," Hansen said in a statement.

Hansen, who first warned of the danger of climate change decades ago, said that human-made greenhouse gases have become the dominant climate change factor.
Yet he goes on to say this little bit of information:
"If further global warming reaches 2 or 3 degrees Celsius, we will likely see changes that make Earth a different planet than the one we know. The last time it was that warm was in the middle Pliocene, about 3 million years ago, when sea level was estimated to have been about 25 meters (80 feet) higher than today," Hansen said.
So, who caused the changes last time? Thats the million dollar question, right? I guess those Pliocenes actually had athropogenic global cooling climate change going on, too?

Read the rest.

Oprah is Racist

In the most recent example of the race double standard, Oprah giggles about havin po' white folk work for her:

Among many, many other things, Oprah talked about her humble beginnings in Mississippi, and particularly about how her mother's highest aspiration for her was that she might end up cleaning white people's houses, because "they give away nice clothes." And then Oprah pointed out that now that she's Oprah, she has "all these white people" working for her, and that in fact there's only one black person on the staff.
Isn't that funny? Imagine a white guy with humble beginnings saying something similar -- I used to work for a black guy and now -- haha -- now all these black people are working for me! If you think I'm over exaggerating, please remember the furor over the use of the word niggardly a few years ago.

Read the rest.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ignorance Journal #2

Another class assignment. This week's topic: Failure in leadership.

Read it.

Failure is a huge part of leadership because no matter what, you will fail. Unfortunately, people don't like to fail. As a result, failure and its effects, uses, and how to deal with it is not studied often. There are many things I could learn about leadership failure.

For instance, how can you turn a failure into a leadership- or trust-reinforcing experience? By all reasonable expectations failure should erode your followers' trust in you. But I've seen time and again teams made more cohesive by failure. How is this possible? Why does it happen? How can a leader insure that the positive outcome is achieved?

Additionally, what are the true effects of failure? Besides missing the team goals, blowing a deadline, or whatever the specifics are of the failure, how does this change team dynamics? I don't know specifically if this can bolster confidence to prevent failure from happening in the future or impact morale negatively. Does failure target specific team members in different ways? Can it separate teams as well as knit them tighter?

Finally, I'm not clear on how leaders should use failure. Is it the responsibility of the leader to minimize or aggrandize failures? Is it ethical to make emotional plays when people are down from a previous failure? How does a leader go about targeting specific failures within the whole, i.e., is it OK to point the finger when you are a leader? What are some effective strategies for using failure as a positive force of change on your organization or team?

Read the rest.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sex

Apparently my recent linkings have created a significant amount of furor among the teensy weensy population of people who actually read my blog. I have been accused of being sexist and of not having quite enough consideration for other folks' (i.e. girls') feelings.

In light of this, I'm dedicating this post to my personal beliefs about the differences between males and females, and how the world Ought To Be (tm). I'll also expand a bit on my lack of explanation or commentary on those posts -- because, of course, people automatically assumed that I was either in agreement with what they said or delighted by the idea of stupid women.

Read it.


First off -- the Greenstone all-women's talk show network. I don't object to this on a business level. If they can make more money marketing it to women, fine. More power to them. I do, however, disagree with quite a few other things about it. For one, it has founders like Hanoi Jane, who is in many respects a traitor to this country. For another, the company embraces the brilliant practice of fighting _____ with _____ (insert social injustice, i.e. racism, sexism). One of the major premises of this network is not that it merely has women on the radio talking to women about women things, but that it is run by women:

Steinem said the network, which is run by women, aims to provide an alternative to current radio talk...
So what does that mean? Either they are employing fair hiring practices and having outrageous coincidences in their hiring numbers or they are discriminating against men. How is that fair? If there was an all-male radio talk show that had the stupidity to make a similar claim (all men, run by men) they would be ridden out of town on a rail.

Moving on to the IQ study. I said no matter how good the study is, this guy is comitting career suicide. This outlines my opinion of the unfortunate state of science and research over all in our too-sensitive politically correct environs. When I use the word "good," I'm not lauding (or criticizing) the outcome of the study, merely the way it was conducted. For example -- polling a man and a woman, and finding men to be more intelligent from women would be a bad study. By corollary, polling every man and every woman in the world and finding that women are more intelligent than men would be a good study.

Having said that, I do find that study to be very interesting for a variety of reasons. One, because I do not believe that men and women are inherently equal, niether mentally nor physically (***DISCLAIMER: I similarly disbelieve that there is one sex that is either superior or inferior to the other***). I also find that the differences between sexes are really what makes the world interesting (take that however you like).

If you read the whole study, the author expands on this concept, saying that the difference in intelligence between women and mean changes with age. Specifically, girls appear to develop mentally at an earlier age than boys. Many of these types of studies are done on children. Because of this, for a long time many researchers actually thought women were more intelligent than men. However, this not being politically incorrect, there was very little objection to this study. Sorry, guys.

But Prof Rushton, who was born in Bournemouth and obtained his doctorate in social psychology from the London School of Economics, argues that the faster maturing of girls leads to them outshining boys in the classroom.

And since almost all previous data showing an absence of difference between the sexes was gathered on schoolchildren, the gender difference could easily have been missed.

'It looks like up until late adolescence, the females have the advantage over males because they mature faster, which masks the underlying difference, he said.

It also says that the difference is purely physical. Men just have more neurons, even when taking body size into consideration:

Prof Rushton believes the differences are directly linked to brain size, with other studies showing men having slightly bigger brains than women.

'We know that men have larger brains, even when you take into account larger body size,' said the researcher. 'That means there are more neurons. The question is what these neurons are doing in a man - and they probably have an advantage in processing information.'


So rather than hush up this kind of information with feminazi anger (i.e., we want to be treated equally as long as we're treated better -- see hiring example above), we as a society should say "Wow, that's really interesting. Good thing we can't make it with either sex, so it really doesn't matter!". In addition, he's talking about a measely 3-4 IQ points. Get over it people.

This brings me to the real meat of my post, What I Think About Men And Women. I know, terribly exciting.

Here's the long and short of it: men and women are not equal. We serve different purposes. There are jobs that men can do and women cannot; there are jobs that women can do and men cannot. There are jobs that both can do, but one or the other is more suited to. There are (in many cases) reasons for the way our societies treat different sexes, and there is more to consider when challenging so-called chauvanist notions than equality between the sexes.

Let's start with the difference discussion. Men are stronger than women, specifically in their upper bodies. This is easily denoted by going to the gym and watching the strong guy do bench press and then watching the strong girl do a set. Or try having a push-up or arm-wrestling competition with your friend of the opposite sex. Likewise, women apparently have more endurance than men. I'm not a big biology buff, but someone told me once about different kinds of muscle and how men's and women's bodies are made for different purposes. This is why many women can run marathons in a fashion that is much more similar to men, while there is no way on Earth that women can keep up with men in fast-twitch, high intensity workouts (such as powerlifting).

Next, women simply think differently than men do. Its actually part of the physical process of thinking. Men think better in terms of 'spatial ability' and women tend to do better with verbal exercises (hence typically high female populations in journalism or English or literature and high male populations in engineering, math, and science majors). Women tend to have more empathy, and men tend to rely more on logic. I'd look up references for all this stuff, but I don't really feel like it -- if you're interested, there have been many studies done on it and there's plenty of information on the web.

So what does all this mean, K2aggie07?! Well, to me it means several things:
  • Trying to make men and women equal in both the workplace and society is silly
  • Men and women should be glad they're different
  • Rather than supressing their differences and 'moving toward the middle' they should expand on them, gaining the benefit of both
  • Folks ought to quit with the fallacy of equality (or get a dictionary and speak with some sort of semantical accuracy and say what they mean)
For example, I do not believe in women being in high-strength, high-intensity jobs in the military. I would not want to be on an infantry combat team with my girlfriend (as much as I love her) because she is about 50 pounds lighter than me and could absolutely not drag me out of the line of fire if I was hit or carry me in a fireman's carry to safety. It makes for a dangerous situation.

I also think that society has set up certain social norms for a reason. Some socially accepted principles are bunk (see: Slavery, Racism). Some are good (see: disapproval of incest). I believe that gender-defined roles are, for the most part, done that way by necessity. Men fight because men are prone to fight; men go to more aggressive jobs (and succeed more in aggressive fields) because men are more naturally aggressive (hello, testosterone!). Women tend to be more nurturing, and typically (that means I know I'm stereotyping -- if this doesn't apply to you, it doesn't apply to you. Move on, I don't disagree with your life) end up in jobs that are more slanted towards taking care of people. Newt Gingrich says it pretty well:

"Upper body strength matters -- men, women. Because men are biologically stronger, and they don't get pregnant. And pregnancy is the period of male domination in traditional societies. On the other hand if what matters is the speed with which you can move the laptop, women are at least as fast and in some ways better. So you have a radical revolution based on technological change. And you've got to think that through. You talk about being in combat, what does combat mean? If combat means living in a ditch, females have biological problems staying in a ditch for thirty days, because they get infections. And they don't have upper body strength. I mean, some do, but they're relatively rare. On the other hand men are basically little piglets, and you drop them in a ditch and they just roll around in it and it doesn't matter. I mean these things are very real. On the other hand, if combat means being on an Aegis class cruiser managing the computer controls for twelve ships and their rockets, a female may be again dramatically better than a male who gets very, very frustrated sitting in a chair all the time, because males are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes".


At the same time, if a women can beat a man at his job, she deserves it (I have no problem with female CEOs!). Likewise, if a man is better at being a nurse or a preschool teacher than a woman, he ought to be able to do that, too. But mandating that we have some sort of societal equality in these things is just silly.

Finally, I think that our PC culture has driven us into a corner. We've made decisions we can't easily un-make, and I don't think this is serving our best interest. Some folks have become so obsessed with gender inequality that they've forgotten that, in fact, we're not the same. Schools have funding cut for sports because there aren't equal numbers of female and male athletes (legislators forgot that more boys like to play sports than girls). In New Jersey its illegal to have Ladies' Night at a club! In many ways, women enjoy a double standard -- they can demand to be treated just like another employee at work, and at the same time sue for sexual harassment in a case that would never be pursued if the gender role were switched. They can want to be a dominant force in a relationship, but can also get mad if the jerk doesn't pay.

So what's the answer? For me, its to treat everyone as civilly as possible. I open doors for both guys and gals, but I'm more likely to do it for a girl. I'll give up my seat for a girl -- a guy can deal with standing. I will treat women differently than men because they are different. Just like I peel oranges but eat the skin on apples. And frankly, I'm glad we're not all oranges.

Long rant, I know. But now if you think I'm a sexist jerk, at least you have evidence to base it on.

Read the rest.

Good News

Today marked the second province trasnfered entirely to Iraqi control:

Today’s transfer of security responsibility in Dhi Qar province from the Multi National Force–Iraq (MNF-I) to the Government of Iraq and civilian controlled Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) is another sign of progress toward a stable and secure Iraq. Dhi Qar is the second of 18 Provinces to be transitioned. This is an important milestone along the successful path toward Iraq’s capability to govern and protect itself as a sovereign nation.

“The joint decision between the Iraqi Government and the MNF-I to transition security responsibility reflects a satisfactory assessment of the overall threat situation in Dhi Qar, and increased capabilities of the ISF. Additionally, Dhi Qar’s provincial leadership has demonstrated the ability to take the lead in managing its own security and governance duties at the provincial level. Transition terms are in place to facilitate the transfer process, and Coalition forces stand ready to provide assistance if needed.
Two down, 16 to go...

Read the rest.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ignorance Journal #1

As an assignment for one of my classes, I am to write a journal not about what I know, but about what I don't know.

This week's topic? Leadership.

Read it.

Edit: The topic was supposed to be communication in leadership -- updated to reflect.

There's a lot that I don't know about leadership. Motivating people is something that is infinitely complicated, because people are infinitely complicated.

One thing I'm not sure about is image. It seems as if some people have the ability to create an image of themselves and stick it in the minds of others without seemingly much effort and without regard to what they actually do. I do not know how this is done, and for leadership it can be an invaluable tool.

Another thing I don't really understand is how to motivate individuals in an organization who simply don't want to be there. The ideal solution is to kick them out; the common solution is to punish them when they don't follow regulations or meet requirements. I think there ought to be a way to get them motivated and involved, but I have no idea how that is done (I've never seen it done successfully).

I also don't know how to present involvement in an organization as a desirable thing rather than a "goody-two-shoes" type of stigma. It seems when someone sincerely attempts to follow rules (especially popular ones) they are usually branded as a tool or a loser, someone who cannot think for themselves. I think an organization where following the rules, embracing the culture is "cool" will be a successful one.

Communication is an integral part of leadership also. If leaders don't have the right information, it is unlikely that they'll make good decisions. I don't know how to guarantee communication. It seems that the more you try to regulate communication the more likely you are to slow it down. I would like to be able to quantify the value of communication speed vs. accuracy. I wonder if, at times, it is actually possible to have speed without accuracy to be the preferable result. I would guess it would fall into the 80 percent rule -- that is, an 80 percent solution now is better than a perfect solution when its too late.

I don't know how you can spot communication failures before they impact a problem. Communication failures seem to be subtle until they cause massive amounts of havok. I wonder how it would be possible to spot them early, or nip them in the bud.

Read the rest.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Do your job -- go to jail!

The fact that this is a real article and not some kind of sick joke is staggering:

Be a Border Patrol agent, do your job, go to prison. That's how the job must look to agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean.

In February 2005, the agents tried to stop a van driven by drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila near the Mexico border. After a scuffle with Compean, Aldrete-Davila fled on foot. Ramos says he believes that he saw a gun -- which the smuggler denies. Both agents fired at Aldrete-Davila, who fell, then continued his escape across the border. After he got away, Ramos and Compean filed a report on the 743 pounds of marijuana they found in the van, but not on the gunfire. As it turns out, Ramos had shot Aldrete-Davila in the butt. A Homeland Security agent heard about the episode, went to Mexico and offered Aldrete-Davila immunity, if he testified against Ramos and Compean.

And whats the outcome? A recommended 20 year sentence for the border patrol officers, no charges for the 743 pounds of pot, and Aldrete-Davila now is suing the Border Patrol (i.e., you and me) for $5 million dollars.

Read the rest

Hat tip: Jarhead


The rationale? The man had no gun, tried to surrender, was supposedly almost struck by the butt of a shotgun of one of the officers, and was attempting to flee. The Border Patrol's policy, after all, is not to pursue fleeing criminals. Thats right -- not to pursue:
According to the U.S. attorney who successfully prosecuted the agents, the man they were chasing didn't actually have a gun, shooting him in the back violated his civil rights, the agents didn't know for a fact that he was a drug smuggler, and they broke Border Patrol rules about discharging their weapons and preserving a crime scene.

Even more broadly, Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Kanof said, Ramos and Compean had no business chasing someone in the first place.

"It is a violation of Border Patrol regulations to go after someone who is fleeing," she said. "The Border Patrol pursuit policy prohibits the pursuit of someone."

And

No surprise, Border Patrol agents routinely ignore the regs. As Ramos responded to Kanof: "How are we supposed to follow the Border Patrol strategy of apprehending terrorists or drug smugglers if we are not supposed to pursue fleeing people? Everybody who's breaking the law flees from us. What are we supposed to do? Do they want us to catch them or not?"

As Real Clear Politics points out, apparently not:

Maybe the answer is: not. T.J. Bonner, president of the agents' union, the National Border Patrol Council, believes this prosecution will discourage agents from doing their jobs. Worse, the agents go to jail, while the smuggler got immunity -- and an incentive ($5 million) to claim he was unarmed, which can't be verified, because he fled.

This is an interesting point, and I believe it is correct. By and large, the movers and shakers in this country don't want illegal immigration solved. They don't want it fixed, because fixing it means ending it. As my dad routinely points out to me, the American people get precisely what they want. Nothing has been done about the "problem" so the outcome is: no problem.

Take it from this point of view. You are an employer in some line of business that requires quite a bit of manual labor. Capitalism dictates that you compete or go out of business. Those around you are more competitive than you because they hire illegals -- and don't pay payroll taxes, health coverage, benefits, or minimum wage. Even if you take the moral high ground and refuse to hire illegals, you're soon driven out of business by market pressure. What's the outcome? The folks left in business (and the ones with money) are the ones hiring illegals.

And don't forget about the illegals themselves. Since they don't pay taxes and get healthcare and schooling for essentially nothing, they're actually making quite a bit of money. In a way, its a commentary on how crippling our high-"service", high-tax economy can be.

The consumers, in the end pay for the illegal alien's use of public services through the tax burden. But they also benefit from the cheaper houses and other products that illegals offer us. The result? People don't really care.

There's the crux of the problem, I believe. This sort of thing is potentially strangling the economy (it is possible that the positive and negative effects come out to a wash, but I don't believe thats the case) and nobody wants to do anything. When the people don't care, the government doesn't care. Worse, then folks with political clout (i.e., money) like the status quo, and would really suffer (i.e., lose money) if it changed, the government actually chooses to fight for the illegals, rather than against them. And you get cases like this, which simply defy the logic of the common man.

So, then, why was this case even prosecuted? Oh, yeah -- what we were just talking about. Corruption.

More than two weeks after the shooting, a Department of Homeland Security investigator - acting on a tip from a Border Patrol agent in Arizona - tracked down Aldrete-Davila in Mexico, offering him immunity if he testified against the agents who shot at him.

"Osbaldo (Aldrete-Davila) had told (Border Patrol agent) Rene Sanchez that his friends had told him they should put together a hunting party and go shoot some BP agents in revenge for them shooting Osbaldo," reads a memo written by Christopher Sanchez, an investigator with the department's Office of Inspector General. "Osbaldo advised Rene Sanchez that he told his friends he was not interested in going after the BP agents and getting in more trouble.

Christopher Sanchez outlines how the investigation into Ramos and Compean was initiated.

On March 10, 2005, Christopher Sanchez received a telephone call from Border Patrol agent Rene Sanchez of Wilcox, Ariz., who told the agent about Aldrete-Davila's encounter with Ramos and Compean.

According to the document, Rene Sanchez stated "that Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila's mother, Marcadia Aldrete-Davila, contacted Rene Sanchez's mother-in-law, Gregoria Toquinto, and advised her about the BP agents shooting Aldrete-Davila. Toquinto told her son-in-law, Rene Sanchez, of the incident, and he spoke to Osbaldo via a telephone call."

During the trial, the connection between Rene Sanchez and Aldrete-Davila confused the Ramos family, and "we questioned how an agent from Arizona would know or want to defend a drug smuggler from Mexico," said Monica Ramos.

Why indeed? When the drug dealers have friends among the police, and the police have friends in the justice system...well, you get the idea.

The sad thing is two good cops who will be in jail for at least the next decade. Try to wrap your mind around that one. The MSM is carefully ignoring this article -- no surprise there.

If they were crooks, they would serve shorter time. Last month, a Border Patrol agent, who admitted to smuggling 100 illegal immigrants while he served on the Border Patrol, got five years. (Prosecutors had recommended three years, but in San Diego, U.S. District Judge John Houston hiked the sentence, telling the man: "You violated the sacred trust of your comrades. As a link in the chain, they depended on you.")

Last week, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the case, as she fears this prosecution may represent "a serious miscarriage of justice." It does.

I'll say.

Read the rest.

Good News

In today's edition of Good News, we have two stories to report.

Iraqi army and coalition soldiers discover weapons cache:

Soldiers and Paratroopers from the 1st Company, 4th Iraqi Army Division and Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, discovered a weapons cache during Operation Delta Snag on Sept. 14 in Salah ad Din province, northwest of Samarra.
Iraqi soldiers led the mission in which they discovered more than 300 82 mm mortar rounds, 79 fuses, seven 57 mm anti-aircraft rounds, four 130 mm mortar rounds and a cell phone. Three individuals were also detained during the Iraqi-led operation.
It is important to note the increasing role of Iraqis in these raids, especially their leadership and organization of them. Additionally, a large majority of the major attacks recently have been mortar attacks. Raids such as this will further serve to cripple terrorists' abilities to cause havoc in Iraq.

Dhi Qar: Rich past, hopeful future:
With all its history in tow, Dhi Qar province in southern Iraq is looking toward the future. It’s scheduled later this month to become the second of Iraq’s 18 provinces to be transferred to provincial Iraqi control.

This means Coalition security forces will pull back and let the local provincial police and Iraqi military handle security of the province, a key step for the eventual withdrawal of Coalition forces from the country.

Both Coalition officials and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have said they hope to have all 18 of the country’s provinces under Iraqi control by the end of next year.

Thats right -- by October we will be 1/9 of the way finished. The end is near; the plan is for total Iraqi control by the end of 2007. As Gen. John Abizaid, US CENTCOM Commander, says,
"Look...I know where we started. We started with zero in the Iraqi army and police. Now we're up to well over 300,000. They have their good days. They have their bad days. Iraqi troops are fighting and dying for their country at double the rate that our own troops are taking casualties. The Iraqi troops become more and more effective over time. No doubt there have been some instances where Iraqi units have failed to perform their duties, but it's getting better over time. We're making progress in that regard, and that's the most important thing can I say."

Read the rest.

Reminder of who we're fighting

If the beheading, mistreatment of women, suicide attacks, and other cowardly actions by Iraqi militias terrorists weren't enough to remind you of what kind of scum we're dealing with, perhaps this will:

Shiite militias are encouraging children _ some as young as 6 or 7 _ to hurl stones and gasoline bombs at U.S. convoys, hoping to lure American troops into ambushes or provoke them into shooting back, U.S. soldiers say.

Gangs of up to 100 children assemble in Sadr City, stronghold of radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia, and in nearby neighborhoods, U.S. officers said in interviews this week.

American soldiers have seen young men, their faces covered by bandanas, talking with the children before the rock-throwing attacks begin _ and sometimes handing out slingshots so the volleys will be more accurate, the troops said.
These aren't your friendly neighborhood peace-loving Islamic guys. These folks are willing to sacrifice innocent lives to achieve their bloody power agendas. Just a gentle reminder for those who would leave these children to fend for themselves -- if the terrorists in Iraq are willing for these children to die now, how much more danger will they be when there are no Americans around to protect them?

Read the rest.

OPEC: Prices out of balance

OPEC is whining because oil prices are falling:

OPEC ministers could hold an emergency meeting ahead of the next regular conference in December as the oil market is clearly "out of balance" and prices are falling, a senior OPEC official has said.

"We are watching closely the deterioration in prices, particularly the OPEC basket ... The deterioration in prices has crossed (the line)," OPEC acting secretary general Mohammad Barkindo told reporters Tuesday.

But he declined to specify a price at which the oil-producing cartel would act to trim production to shore-up prices.

This is the problem with a psuedo-monopoly. As long as things are heading their way and oil is booming, OPEC is happy. As soon as prices begin to correct themselves the market is "out of balance".

What this should tell you is that the market is out of balance...and its correcting itself. There's no way in a commodity market for the market to be moving in either direction without some sort of stimulus. If it moves up, its because of scarcity (or fears of scarcity - see the past six months). If it moves down, its because of excess supply in the face of current or future demand. Simple economics don't seem to apply to the oil market, though.

Read the rest.

Potential Problems

Atlantis' re-entry has been delayed due to a mysterious object:

NASA has been forced to hold off Wednesday's landing of the Shuttle Atlantis because of an object — possibly debris — floating nearby, shortly after sensors in the craft's wings indicated the shuttle had been hit by something.

NASA officials want to make sure it's not a piece of the spacecraft, something that might in some way endanger the crew and ship on re-entry.

No one knows what it is for certain, though some reports allege that the object may have come from the craft's cargo bay. The mysterious, gray round object is orbiting near Atlantis at an altitude of 187 nautical miles.

I hope its not a piece of something important. Another lost shuttle would likely mean the end of American space flight until NASA can develop a new orbiter.

Read the rest.

Bush Approval Up

Bush's approval ratings have rebounded to 44%:

President George W. Bush's approval rating has rebounded to 44 percent, the highest level in a year, in the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, the newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Bush's approval rating edged up largely on the strength of Republicans coming back to the fold with 86 percent saying they support him now, compared to 70 percent in May, USA Today said.

For the first time since December 2005, a majority of people polled did not say the war in Iraq was a mistake. The respondents were evenly split at 49 percent to 49 percent, the report said.
The more things continue to improve for this country, the more people will quit swallowing liberal rhetoric. In spite of the media's best efforts, people will realize that we are at full employment, the Dow and Nasdaq are soaring, the situation in Iraq is getting better (another post on that later), and we're not all dead from terrorism. What more could you want out of a presidency?

Read the rest.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Tenth Crusade?

This situation with Iran, Muslims et al vs Pope, Christians, and the West is getting rather nasty:

Al Qaeda militants in Iraq (AQ in Iraq? Feingold says no! -ed) vowed war on "worshippers of the cross" and protesters burned a papal effigy on Monday over Pope Benedict's comments on Islam, while Western churchmen and statesmen tried to calm passions.

"We tell the worshipper of the cross (the Pope) that you and the West will be defeated, as is the case in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya," said a Web statement by the Mujahideen Shura Council.
Someone should remind these folks of the behind-whipping they're getting in Afghanistan and Iraq right now. Or perhaps thats what they mean? Maybe the Pope's audacity has convinced them to resign? Take notes Kofi, because this stuff is solid gold. Jacques Chirac would use similar tactics to stop Islamic rioting in his country, but he's too busy bending over backwards to avoid stepping on anyone's toes scared completely out of his mind:
"It is not my role or my intention to comment on the Pope's statements. I simply want to say, on a general level ... that we must avoid anything that excites tensions between peoples or between religions," Chirac said on Europe 1 radio.

"We must avoid making any link between Islam, which is a great, respected and respectable religion, and radical Islamism, which is a totally different activity and one of a political nature," Chirac added.
They're such nice people though, Jacques. Surely there is no reason for them to become unreasonably upset about this whole thing. Lest you forget, 'Islam' means peace:
"We shall break the cross and spill the wine ... God will (help) Muslims to conquer Rome ... (May) God enable us to slit their throats, and make their money and descendants the bounty of the mujahideen," said the statement, posted on Sunday on an Internet site often used by al Qaeda and other militant groups.
Of course, Iran says that this is all a ploy by the evil western Zionists to bring about the seventy-second Imam, or somesuch. Oh wait, that would be this guy.
Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei has said remarks by the pope on Islam and violence were just the latest "links in the chain" of a US-Israeli conspiracy aimed at creating conflict between religions.

"Leaders of the arrogant imperialists have already defined the links of the chain in this US-Zionist project by attacking Iraq," Khamenei said in comments broadcast on state television.

Read the rest.

'Path' Director gets BDS'd

The director of "Path to 9/11" experiences the Kos Kidz treatement royale, joining the ranks of those like Joe Lieberman who made the critical mistake of rousing the radical left's ire:

The hysteria engendered by the series found more than one target. In addition to the death threats and hate mail directed at me, and my grotesque portrayal as a maddened right-winger, there developed an impassioned search for incriminating evidence on everyone else connected to the film. And in director David Cunningham, the searchers found paydirt! His father had founded a Christian youth outreach mission. The whiff of the younger Mr. Cunningham's possible connection to this enterprise was enough to set the hounds of suspicion baying. A religious mission! A New York Times reporter wrote, without irony or explanation, that an issue that raised questions about the director was his involvement in his father's outreach work. In the era of McCarthyism, the merest hint of a connection to communism sufficed to inspire dark accusations, the certainty that the accused was part of a malign conspiracy. Today, apparently, you can get something of that effect by charging a connection with a Christian mission.

"The Path to 9/11" was intended to remind us of the common enemy we face. Like the 9/11 Report itself, it is meant to enable us to better defend ourselves from a future attack. Past is prologue, and 9/11 is merely another step in an escalating Islamic fundamentalist reign of terror. By dramatizing the step-by-step increase in attacks on America--all of which, in fact, occurred--we are better able to see the pattern and anticipate the future. That was the point of the series, its only intention. Call it the canary in the coal mine. Call it John O'Neill in the FBI.
It does no good to protest. The left will scream all the louder and drown out your voice, or, just as likely, ignore you altogether. Their work here is done. You can hop in with the Haditha Marines as just another victim of the drive-by media.

Read the rest.

GCC Update

Boy, global warming climate change sure is rearing its ugly head! No major hurricanes, rare snowfall in South Africa, and now 6" of September snow in Utah:

The Salt Lake Valley got a chilly reminder this weekend that summer doesn't last forever.

The first snowflakes of the season stuck to the mountainsides and swirled about the valley Saturday as a cold front marched through Utah with temperatures dropping below 40 degrees overnight along the Wasatch Front.
Snow piled up 6 inches deep at Snowbird ski resort and dusted communities north of Salt Lake City.
This was in the 900 million peer-reviewed journal papers, right? They predicted this didn't they?

Read the rest.

Washington Times: Republicans gaining

As you already know if you read this blog frequently, Republicans are posting significant gains on Democrats in the polls:

The most significant political movement in the past week or two has been in the battle for control of Congress. National preference polls on the so-called "generic ballot" question -- which party's candidate voters say they would choose -- show Republicans have narrowed the once-substantial lead Democrats held and are now trailing them by three percentage points, independent pollster John Zogby said Friday.

Mr. Zogby credited the Republican Party's sudden political turnaround to "the president's focus on the war on terrorism, a rebound among his own base," and the Democrats' failure to lay out a clear plan of their own on "how are we're going to get out of Iraq and what they would do about terrorism that's better than the Republicans."
I think that sums it up nicely. The biggest problem facing Democrats today is as a party they have no platform, no vision, no plan. The best they can offer voters is "not Bush".

Read the rest.

Feingold cashes in on extreme liberalism

Perhaps unfortunately for the country, Russ Feingold may be able to cash in on his anti-war liberalism (emphasis mine):

As the only senator to have voted against the Patriot Act and the only presidential hopeful to have voted against the Iraq war, Russ Feingold is sometimes tempted to say “I told you so.”

“Yeah, but I was taught it’s impolite to do that,” the Wisconsin liberal tells The Examiner in an interview. “And it also doesn’t help you get where you want to go.”

he White House is where Feingold wants to go. He is counting on his consistent opposition to the Iraq war to get him there.

There ought to be warning bells and sirens wailing at the fact that he was the only vote against the Patriot Act. I seriously doubt that the vote was anything more than a gamble of sorts. There's no way in the world he had special foresight that every other senator lacked.

Rather than hailing him as a genius, folks should be likening him to Jeannette Rankine, one who was always ready to let activism override common sense.

Read the rest.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Man Commits Career Suicide

No matter how good the study, this man's career is over.

It is research that is guaranteed to delight men - and infuriate the women in their lives. A controversial new study has claimed that men really are more intelligent than women.

The study - carried out by a man - concluded that men's IQs are almost four points higher than women's.

British-born researcher John Philippe Rushton, who previously created a furore by suggesting intelligence is influenced by race, says the finding could explain why so few women make it to the top in the workplace.

He claims the 'glass ceiling' phenomenon is probably due to inferior intelligence, rather than discrimination or lack of opportunity.

The University of Western Ontario psychologist reached his conclusion after scrutinising the results of university aptitude tests taken by 100,000 students aged 17 and 18 of both sexes.

Read the rest.

Plame still fighting for relevancy

Well after this story is dead, Plame is dancing on the grave:

One-time covert CIA officer Valerie Plame on Wednesday sued the former No. 2 official at the State Department for violating her privacy rights.

The suit does not accuse Richard Armitage, who was deputy secretary of state in the Bush administration, of participating in an administration conspiracy to blow her cover.

Plame added Armitage's name to a civil suit in U.S. District Court against Vice President Dick Cheney, his former chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and White House adviser Karl Rove.

Plame and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, say the White House leaked Plame's identity as retribution for Wilson's criticisms of prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Read the rest.

Air America: Bankrupt?

The network that nobody listens to is fighting rumors of bankruptcy:

All-liberal, all-the-time Air America is denying intense rumors that the ratings-challenged radio network will declare bankruptcy this week and attempt to reorganize to stay on the air for the November elections.

A high-level source told The Post that Rob Glaser, the Real Networks founder who rescued the 2-year-old network from its first financial crisis, "walked away last week" and took his moneybags with him.

Gee, darn. And yet, here to take its place: An all-women radio talk show network!
Greenstone Media, a radio company whose founders include social activist Gloria Steinem and actress Jane Fonda, has launched an all-women, all-talk network across the United States.

Steinem said the network, which is run by women, aims to provide an alternative to current radio talk, which she describes as "very argumentative, quite hostile, and very much male-dominated."

This network "has a different spirit. It has more community. It's more about information, about humor, about respect for different points of view and not constant arguing," Steinem told Reuters in an interview.

Its like going from bad to worse.

Read the rest.

Philanthropy Google Style

Google has started a for-profit charity. I think the brilliance of this is really inestimable.

The ambitious founders of Google, the popular search engine company, have set up a philanthropy, giving it seed money of about $1 billion and a mandate to tackle poverty, disease and global warming.

But unlike most charities, this one will be for-profit, allowing it to fund start-up companies, form partnerships with venture capitalists and even lobby Congress. It will also pay taxes.

One of its maiden projects reflects the philanthropy’s nontraditional approach. According to people briefed on the program, the organization, called Google.org, plans to develop an ultra-fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid car engine that runs on ethanol, electricity and gasoline.

And who do they have on staff? Thats right. Dr. Brilliant. You should've seen that coming:

The executive director whom Mr. Page and Mr. Brin have hired, Dr. Larry Brilliant, is every bit as iconoclastic as Google’s philanthropic arm. Dr. Brilliant, a 61-year-old physician and public health expert, has studied under a Hindu guru in a monastery at the foothills of the Himalayas and worked as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur.

In one project, which Dr. Brilliant brought with him to the job, Google.org will try to develop a system to detect disease outbreaks early.

Dr. Brilliant likens the traditional structure of corporate foundations to a musician confined to playing only the high register on a piano. “Google.org can play on the entire keyboard,” Dr. Brilliant said in an interview. “It can start companies, build industries, pay consultants, lobby, give money to individuals and make a profit.”

While declining to comment on the car project specifically, Dr. Brilliant said he would hope to see such ventures make a profit. “But if they didn’t, we wouldn’t care,” he said. “We’re not doing it for the profit. And if we didn’t get our capital back, so what? The emphasis is on social returns, not economic returns.”

It almost reads like an article from the Onion.

Read the rest.

House to Create Hyptertension Website

Just kidding. I bet, though, that reading over this website won't help very many people's blood pressure:

Curious about how much of your money is going to encourage hydroponic tomato production in Ohio - or to build bridges to nowhere in Alaska? A user-friendly Web site is going to help you find out.

The House on Wednesday passed and sent to the White House a measure to create a Google-like search engine that will help interested citizens, as well as advocacy groups, track some $1 trillion in federal grants, contracts, special projects and loans.

The Office of Management and Budget is to create the database, with a Jan. 1, 2008, target for opening it to the public.

"This is a huge victory for all who believe sunshine is the best disinfectant," said House Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., on the uncontested voice vote.

If people actually used this tool, there'd be a lot of incumbents going bye-bye I think.

Read the rest.

Refreshing

Amnesty international says Hezbollah is guilty of war crimes:

Amnesty International has accused Hezbollah of "serious violations of international humanitarian law, amounting to war crimes" during the recent Lebanese war.

In a report published in London Thursday, the human rights group condemned the "deliberate targeting" of Israeli civilians by Hezbollah.

The report states that 43 civilians, including seven children, were killed in these Hezbollah attacks.
This is nice to see, even though they have accused Israel of the same things. Tit for tat if you will. I think its important to note a certian distinction, however (emphasis mine):
"The scale of Hezbollah's attacks on Israeli cities, towns and villages, the indiscriminate nature of the weapons used, and statements from the leadership confirming their intent to target civilians make it all too clear that Hezbollah violated the laws of war," Amnesty International's Secretary General Irene Khan said in a comment on the report.

Combined with its earlier publication on Israel's targeting of Lebanese civilian infrastructure, the latest findings underlined the urgent need for the United Nations to establish a full and impartial investigation into violations committed by both sides.
So...Hezbollah attacks civilians. Israel attacks civilian infrastructure. To Amnesty International, thats the same thing.

Read the rest.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

WotD

erudite \AIR-yuh-dyt; -uh-dyt\, adjective:
Characterized by extensive reading or knowledge; learned.

Erudite comes from Latin eruditus, from e-, "out of, from" + rudis, "rough, untaught," which is also the source of English rude. Hence one who is erudite has been brought out of a rough, untaught, rude state.

Read the rest.

Al Anbar Statement

Major General Zilmer released a statement of the status of the Al Anbar province today. Not surprisingly, he cites the media as showing a significant failure to convey what's really going on there. (If you try to fail and succeed, what have you done?)

Read it

FALLUJAH, Iraq – Recent media reports fail to accurately capture the entirety and complexity of the current situation in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq. The classified assessment, which has been referred to in these reports, was intended to focus on the causes of the insurgency. It was not intended to address the positive effects Coalition and Iraqi forces have achieved on the security environment over the past years.

That said, there is an active insurgency in Anbar. The enemy we face has no concern for the welfare of the Iraqi people, nor any peaceful vision for their future. We believe the Iraqi people want something more and are willing to fight and die for it.

We are making steady progress in the accomplishment of our primary mission to train and develop the Iraqi Security Forces to defeat the insurgency. This is due in large measure to the successful recruiting and training of thousands of Iraqi Police and improvements in the overall capabilities of the Iraqi Army.
This has resulted in the transfer of increasing responsibilities to the ISF for fighting the insurgency. Finally, the progress we have made has been due to the dedicated and heroic actions of both US and Iraqi forces.

Despite these consistent advances in the security environment, we have found making the same progress politically and economically, throughout all of Anbar, to be much more challenging. In areas where the presence of Iraqi Security Forces is combined with an effective local civil government, we have seen progress made. Not just in the area of security, but in economic development and the establishment of social order and public services. These are the conditions which must be set that will result in the support of the local people, and ultimately cause the defeat of this terrorist backed insurgency.

For lasting progress to take place, comparably effective advances must be made in the development of governmental and economic institutions at the local, provincial and national levels. Only then, will the people of Al Anbar be able to realize their goal of long-term security, prosperity and confidence in their government.

Read the rest.

Bush's Speech

This is a transcript of President Bush's 9/11 speech. It's very good.

Five years ago, this date — September the 11th — was seared into America's memory. Nineteen men attacked us with a barbarity unequaled in our history. They murdered people of all colors, creeds and nationalities — and made war upon the entire free world. Since that day, America and her allies have taken the offensive in a war unlike any we have fought before. Today, we are safer, but we are not yet safe.

Read the rest


On this solemn night, I've asked for some of your time to discuss the nature of the threat still before us, what we are doing to protect our nation, and the building of a more hopeful Middle East that holds the key to peace for America and the world.

On 9/11, our nation saw the face of evil. Yet on that awful day, we also witnessed something distinctly American: ordinary citizens rising to the occasion and responding with extraordinary acts of courage. We saw courage in office workers who were trapped on the high floors of burning skyscrapers — and called home so that their last words to their families would be of comfort and love. We saw courage in passengers aboard Flight 93, who recited the 23rd Psalm — and then charged the cockpit. And we saw courage in the Pentagon staff who made it out of the flames and smoke — and ran back in to answer cries for help.

On this day, we remember the innocent who lost their lives — and we pay tribute to those who gave their lives so that others might live.

For many of our citizens, the wounds of that morning are still fresh. I've met firefighters and police officers who choke up at the memory of fallen comrades. I've stood with families gathered on a grassy field in Pennsylvania, who take bittersweet pride in loved ones who refused to be victims — and gave America our first victory in the war on terror. I've sat beside young mothers with children who are now five years old — and still long for the daddies who will never cradle them in their arms.

Out of this suffering, we resolve to honor every man and woman lost. And we seek their lasting memorial in a safer and more hopeful world.

Since the horror of 9/11, we've learned a great deal about the enemy. We have learned that they are evil and kill without mercy — but not without purpose. We have learned that they form a global network of extremists who are driven by a perverted vision of Islam — a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance and despises all dissent. And we have learned that their goal is to build a radical Islamic empire where women are prisoners in their homes, men are beaten for missing prayer meetings and terrorists have a safe haven to plan and launch attacks on America and other civilized nations.

The war against this enemy is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century, and the calling of our generation.

Our nation is being tested in a way that we have not been since the start of the Cold War. We saw what a handful of our enemies can do with box cutters and plane tickets. We hear their threats to launch even more terrible attacks on our people. And we know that if they were able to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction, they would use them against us. We face an enemy determined to bring death and suffering into our homes. America did not ask for this war, and every American wishes it were over. So do I.

But the war is not over, and it won't be over until either we or the extremists emerge victorious. If we do not defeat these enemies now, we will leave our children to face a Middle East overrun by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons. We're in a war that will set the course for this new century — and determine the destiny of millions across the world.

For America, 9/11 was more than a tragedy. It changed the way we look at the world. On September the 11th, we resolved that we would go on the offense against our enemies, and we would not distinguish between the terrorists and those who harbor or support them. So we helped drive the Taliban from power in Afghanistan. We put al-Qaida on the run, and killed or captured most of those who planned the 9/11 attacks, including the man believed to be the mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed. He and other suspected terrorists have been questioned by the Central Intelligence Agency, and they provided valuable information that has helped stop attacks in America and across the world. Now these men have been transferred to Guantanamo Bay, so they can be held to account for their actions. Osama bin Laden and other terrorists are still in hiding. Our message to them is clear: No matter how long it takes, America will find you, and we will bring you to justice.

On September 11, we learned America must confront threats before they reach our shores, whether those threats come from terrorist networks or terrorist states. I'm often asked why we're in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The answer is that the regime of Saddam Hussein was a clear threat. My administration, the Congress and the United Nations saw the threat — and after 9/11, Saddam's regime posed a risk that the world could not afford to take. The world is safer because Saddam is no longer in power. And now the challenge is to help the Iraqi people build a democracy that fulfills the dreams of the nearly 12 million Iraqis who came out to vote in free elections last December.

Al-Qaida and other extremists from across the world have come to Iraq to stop the rise of a free society in the heart of the Middle East. They have joined the remnants of Saddam's regime and other armed groups to foment sectarian violence and drive us out. Our enemies in Iraq are tough and they are committed — but so are Iraqi and coalition forces. We're adapting to stay ahead of the enemy, and we are carrying out a clear plan to ensure that a democratic Iraq succeeds.

We're training Iraqi troops so they can defend their nation. We're helping Iraq's unity government grow in strength and serve its people. We will not leave until this work is done. Whatever mistakes have been made in Iraq, the worst mistake would be to think that if we pulled out, the terrorists would leave us alone. They will not leave us alone. They will follow us. The safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad. Osama bin Laden calls this fight "the Third World War" — and he says that victory for the terrorists in Iraq will mean America's "defeat and disgrace forever." If we yield Iraq to men like bin Laden, our enemies will be emboldened; they will gain a new safe haven; they will use Iraq's resources to fuel their extremist movement. We will not allow this to happen. America will stay in the fight. Iraq will be a free nation, and a strong ally in the war on terror.

We can be confident that our coalition will succeed because the Iraqi people have been steadfast in the face of unspeakable violence. And we can be confident in victory because of the skill and resolve of America's armed forces. Every one of our troops is a volunteer, and since the attacks of September the 11th, more than 1.6 million Americans have stepped forward to put on our nation's uniform. In Iraq, Afghanistan and other fronts in the war on terror, the men and women of our military are making great sacrifices to keep us safe. Some have suffered terrible injuries — and nearly 3,000 have given their lives. America cherishes their memory. We pray for their families. And we will never back down from the work they have begun.

We also honor those who toil day and night to keep our homeland safe, and we are giving them the tools they need to protect our people. We've created the Department of Homeland Security. We have torn down the wall that kept law enforcement and intelligence from sharing information. We've tightened security at our airports and seaports and borders, and we've created new programs to monitor enemy bank records and phone calls. Thanks to the hard work of our law enforcement and intelligence professionals, we have broken up terrorist cells in our midst and saved American lives.

Five years after 9/11, our enemies have not succeeded in launching another attack on our soil, but they've not been idle. Al-Qaida and those inspired by its hateful ideology have carried out terrorist attacks in more than two dozen nations. And just last month, they were foiled in a plot to blow up passenger planes headed for the United States. They remain determined to attack America and kill our citizens — and we are determined to stop them. We'll continue to give the men and women who protect us every resource and legal authority they need to do their jobs.

In the first days after the 9/11 attacks I promised to use every element of national power to fight the terrorists, wherever we find them. One of the strongest weapons in our arsenal is the power of freedom. The terrorists fear freedom as much as they do our firepower. They are thrown into panic at the sight of an old man pulling the election lever, girls enrolling in schools or families worshiping God in their own traditions. They know that given a choice, people will choose freedom over their extremist ideology. So their answer is to deny people this choice by raging against the forces of freedom and moderation. This struggle has been called a clash of civilizations. In truth, it's a struggle for civilization. We're fighting to maintain the way of life enjoyed by free nations. And we're fighting for the possibility good and decent people across the Middle East can raise up societies based on freedom and tolerance and personal dignity.

We are now in the early hours of this struggle between tyranny and freedom. Amid the violence, some question whether the people of the Middle East want their freedom and whether the forces of moderation can prevail. For 60 years, these doubts guided our policies in the Middle East. And then, on a bright September morning, it became clear that the calm we saw in the Middle East was only a mirage. Years of pursuing stability to promote peace had left us with neither. So we changed our policies and committed America's influence in the world to advancing freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism.

With our help, the people of the Middle East are now stepping forward to claim their freedom. From Kabul to Baghdad to Beirut, there are brave men and women risking their lives each day for the same freedoms that we enjoy. And they have one question for us: Do we have the confidence to do in the Middle East what our fathers and grandfathers accomplished in Europe and Asia? By standing with democratic leaders and reformers, by giving voice to the hopes of decent men and women, we're offering a path away from radicalism. And we are enlisting the most powerful force for peace and moderation in the Middle East: the desire of millions to be free.

Across the broader Middle East, the extremists are fighting to prevent such a future. Yet America has confronted evil before, and we have defeated it — sometimes at the cost of thousands of good men in a single battle. When Franklin Roosevelt vowed to defeat two enemies across two oceans, he could not have foreseen D-Day and Iwo Jima — but he would not have been surprised at the outcome. When Harry Truman promised American support for free peoples resisting Soviet aggression, he could not have foreseen the rise of the Berlin Wall — but he would not have been surprised to see it brought down. Throughout our history, America has seen liberty challenged, and every time we have seen liberty triumph with sacrifice and determination.

At the start of this young century, America looks to the day when the people of the Middle East leave the desert of despotism for the fertile gardens of liberty and resume their rightful place in a world of peace and prosperity. We look to the day when the nations of that region recognize their greatest resource is not the oil in the ground, but the talent and creativity of their people. We look to the day when moms and dads throughout the Middle East see a future of hope and opportunity for their children. And when that good day comes, the clouds of war will part, the appeal of radicalism will decline and we will leave our children with a better and safer world.

On this solemn anniversary, we rededicate ourselves to this cause. Our nation has endured trials, and we face a difficult road ahead. Winning this war will require the determined efforts of a unified country, and we must put aside our differences and work together to meet the test that history has given us. We will defeat our enemies. We will protect our people. And we will lead the 21st century into a shining age of human liberty.

Earlier this year, I traveled to the United States Military Academy. I was there to deliver the commencement address to the first class to arrive at West Point after the attacks of September the 11th. That day I met a proud mom named RoseEllen Dowdell. She was there to watch her son, Patrick, accept his commission in the finest Army the world has ever known. A few weeks earlier, RoseEllen had watched her other son, James, graduate from the Fire Academy in New York City.

On both these days, her thoughts turned to someone who was not there to share the moment: her husband, Kevin Dowdell. Kevin was one of the 343 firefighters who rushed to the burning towers of the World Trade Center on September the 11th — and never came home. His sons lost their father that day, but not the passion for service he instilled in them. Here is what RoseEllen says about her boys: "As a mother, I cross my fingers and pray all the time for their safety — but as worried as I am, I'm also proud, and I know their dad would be, too."

Our nation is blessed to have young Americans like these — and we will need them. Dangerous enemies have declared their intention to destroy our way of life. They're not the first to try, and their fate will be the same as those who tried before. 9/11 showed us why. The attacks were meant to bring us to our knees, and they did, but not in the way the terrorists intended. Americans united in prayer, came to the aid of neighbors in need and resolved that our enemies would not have the last word. The spirit of our people is the source of America's strength. And we go forward with trust in that spirit, confidence in our purpose and faith in a loving God who made us to be free.

Thank you, and may God bless you.

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IBD: Senate Intelligence an Oxymoron

Along the theme of the ongoing debate about Iraq, why we went in, and who decided, Investor's Business Daily has a great editorial (subscription required) today about the Phase II reports and what, exactly, they mean:

A Senate report that claims there was no link between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and al-Qaida is a conclusion in search of facts and suggests that, at least for the Democrats, Senate intelligence is an oxymoron.
Ouch. Its not all harsh invective, however. The claims by Democrats that these phase II reports are somehow indicative of the Bush administration's guilt in going into Iraq are tenuous at best.

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As I mentioned before, people like Sen. Jay Rockefeller are trying to pull the wool over the American people's eyes, saying things like "the Bush administration's case for war was fundamentally misleading." However, Rockefeller and others had the same information Bush did at the same time. For those of you who count with your toes, I'll explain that -- it means, he got the information not from Bush, but from the CIA. The White House had no part in influencing his decision. Any decision made by J.R. et al was by their own thought process, unless Bush Rove has some kind of mind-control device that made them think what they did. This decision he freely expressed in October 2002, saying "I do believe that Iraq poses an imminent threat" and insisting "we can no longer afford to wait around for a smoking gun."

Here's IBD's point-by-point rebuttal to the senate's report:
  • The report says one of Saddam's senior intelligence operatives, Faruq Hijazi, admitted to meeting bin Laden in 1995. But the report accepts at face value Hijazi's claim that "this was his sole meeting with bin Laden or a member of al-Qaida, and he is not aware of any other individual following up on the initial contact."

  • No mention is made of the December 1998 meeting between bin Laden and Hijazi in Afghanistan that got worldwide coverage in newspapers such as Milan's Corriere Della Sera and London's Guardian, as well as the New York Post. In 1999, an ABC News report mentioned this meeting and reported Saddam offered bin Laden asylum, citing their "long relationship."
  • A 1998 e-mail from Richard Clarke, national coordinator for security, infrastructure protection and counterterrorism, to then-National Security Adviser Sandy Berger warned that if bin Laden were flushed from Afghanistan, he might just "boogie to Baghdad."

  • Michael Scheuer, the first head of the CIA's bin Laden unit, wrote in "Through Our Enemies' Eyes" that Saddam gave Hijazi the job of "nurturing Iraq's ties to fundamentalist (Islamic) warriors."

  • The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes has reported, reams of captured documents reveal that elite Iraqi military units trained 8,000 al-Qaida terrorists, belonging to groups such as Algeria's GSPC, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ansar al Islam and the Sudanese Liberation Army, at camps in Samarra, Ramadi and at Salman Pak.

  • The links were confirmed by 9/11 Commission Vice Chairman Thomas Kean, who said: "There were contacts between Iraq and al-Qaida, a number of them . . . They were definitely there."

  • Abdul Rahman Yasin, a member of the al-Qaida cell that detonated the 1993 World Trade Center bomb, found safe haven in Iraq, and documents recently found in Tikrit indicate Saddam provided Yasin with both a home and a salary.
  • The Clinton Justice Department alleged in a 1998 indictment against bin Laden that "al-Qaida reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al-Qaida would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al-Qaida would work cooperatively with the government of Iraq."

  • Iraqi intelligence operative Ahmed Hikmat Shaker helped one of the 9/11 hijackers get to Malaysia and attend the Kuala Lumpur meeting in January 2000 with two of the hijackers, a meeting roundly acknowledged to be the initial 9/11 planning session.

  • As for 9/11 itself, according to a Nov. 11, 2001, report in the London Observer, two Iraqi defectors claimed they helped train Islamic terrorists at Iraq's Salman Pak training facility to seize a plane using only sharp knives. The facility's existence and the presence of a Boeing 707 fuselage were later confirmed by CIA satellite photos and reconfirmed by a personal visit by Charles Duelfer, chief weapons inspector in Iraq after David Kay.

So why, then, does the report leave all of this out? Apparently, the part of the report on Iraq-AQ links was written by Eric Rosenbach, who has significant Democratic ties:
Eric Rosenbach...came to the Senate after completing studies at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government under Rand Beers, a top foreign-policy adviser for Kerry. In Fall 2004, Rosenbach took three weeks to volunteer for the Kerry campaign in York County, Pennsylvania.

...Rosenbach is a co-author of “Defeating the Jihadists,” a 2004 report published by the liberal Century Foundation, in which he shared credit with Clarke, the White House counterterrorism official-turned-Bush-critic, and also with, among others, former Clinton White House official Roger Cressey, former Clinton White House official Steven Simon, former Clinton White House official William Wechsler, and former Clinton White House official Lee Wolosky.

According to the website PoliticalMoneyLine, the only political contribution Rosenbach has made was a $1,900 donation to Democratic congressional candidate Barend Samara, who in 2004 lost a hard-fought race for the House from New York’s 29th District.
Is it any wonder, then, that the Democrats are hailing this as a significant blow for their side? Of course not; it was written by one of their own. This is self-serving politics of the worst kind.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

New Technology

Body armor that can stop rifle-fired armor piercing rounds? A Blackberry that knows where it is? Ads that show themselves? Get ready!

A lightweight bulletproof vest that protects against armour-piercing rounds is being developed by the US government's Army Soldiers System Command.

Conventional vests use woven plastics to ensnarl normal, blunt bullets. Extra layers of hard ceramics, with air-filled gaps in-between, are needed to stop shells with hard cores and sharp, armour-piercing tips. But this makes the protection too heavy and bulky for a person to wear.

The new vest has three layers: a top ceramic section, a middle layer of aluminium, and bottom layer of woven nylon.

And

The new Blackberrys would occasionally and very briefly vibrate. This should be too short to be mistaken for a message alert but just long enough for an accelerometer inside the device to measure how much it moves. This tells the Blackberry whether it is on top of a flat table, in a person's hand or stuffed inside a pocket.

And finally,

When a PVR fast forwards it saves processing power by displaying only the key frames. So the new system lets a broadcaster concentrate an advertising message in those key frames. A simplified version of an ad should then still be visible during fast-forwarding, albeit without sound.

Very cool stuff.

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Free mail may be not so free

This just goes to show you, you oughta read those privacy EULAs you e-sign when signing up for services online:

Do you believe the contents of every personal and business email you ever write or send should be recorded and permanently archived on third party servers located in countries throughout the world, to which you have no access?

If you are one of the millions of GMail users, you have indicated to Google that you most certainly do.

And it isn't just Google --
Gmail doesn't even ask you for your gender, birthdate, and your postal code. Yahoo and Microsoft do. Gmail doesn't sell your info to third parties either. Did you know that Yahoo! does? (With your consent, of course!) You should read the Terms of Service and Privacy Policies of ALL free email service providers and not just criticize Gmail.

Have you read Yahoo! Mail's policy on Data Storage? Theirs is extremely similar to Gmail's policy on data storage. Here, read it: "Please note that any information that we have copied may remain in back-up storage for some period of time after your deletion request." Define Yahoo's "some period of time". Is this period of time shorter than that of Gmail's?


Good thing I lie on all of those forms...

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