Monday, January 31, 2005

The Prevaricator

Click here for AmazonI just noticed that Captain Ed recognized something important that had been floating about the comments section of several blogs since John Kerry's appearance on Meet the Press. No, not the hilarious hijinx involving the CIA man and the magic hat (although both were mentioned... seriously). Just consider the following snippet of transcript:

MR. RUSSERT: And you have a hat that the CIA agent gave you?

SEN. KERRY: I still have the hat that he gave me, and I hope the guy would come out of the woodwork and say, "I'm the guy who went up with John Kerry. We delivered weapons to the Khmer Rouge on the coastline of Cambodia [emphasis mine]." We went out of Ha Tien, which is right in Vietnam. We went north up into the border. And I have some photographs of that, and that's what we did. So, you know, the two were jumbled together, but we were on the Cambodian border on Christmas Eve, absolutely.

Ed points out that the Khmer Rouger were Cambodian Communists that devastated the country after the US pulled out:

Why Kerry would think that we ran weapons to the Communists in Cambodia while battling them in Viet Nam is beyond me. It's apparent that he's making this story up as he goes along. Every time he's asked about Christmas in Cambodia, he changes the story. This time, he came up with a name that fits with the subject matter, but he's so clueless that he either didn't know or couldn't remember exactly what the Khmer Rouge were.

It's yet another marker of the dishonesty we've come to expect from the junior senator from Massachusetts. He won't sign the Form 180, either, even with his promise to do so in the same interview. His prevarication has become pathological.

You heard that right. At the end of the program, Kerry promised aaaagain to sign his Form 180 so that all of his records could be released. Don't hold your breath. We've got a better chance of seeing Dennis Rodman as a Supreme Court Justice.

CQ: The Prevaricator

This is al-Qa'eda Rule 18...

Click here for AmazonThose who work themselves into a tizzy about alleged torture at Gitmo need a bit of education. Specifically, they need to acquaint themselves with the Al Qaeda training manual's "Rule 18": claim you were tortured. A lap dance is many things, but I've never heard it called torture before. The Boys from Brazil must be chortling into their soup about now. They knew what torture was.

The men's claim that they were tortured at Guantanamo should also be set in the context of the al-Qa'eda training manual discovered during a raid in Manchester a couple of years ago. Lesson 18 of that manual, whose authenticity has not been questioned, emphatically states, under the heading "Prison and Detention Centres", that, when arrested, members of al-Qa'eda "must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by state security investigators. [They must] complain to the court of mistreatment while in prison". That is not, of course, proof that the Britons were not tortured in Guantanamo. But it ought to encourage some doubts about uncritically accepting that they were – which seems to be the attitude adopted by most of the media.

The Telegraph: This is al-Qa'eda Rule 18: 'You must claim you were tortured'

The New Cadillac DTS Presidential Limousine

Click here for AmazonThe invaluable AutoSpies site points us to the new Cadillac DTS Presidential Limousine, a 2006 model that was hand-crafted for the President. It debuted on Inauguration day. Note the thickness of the windows and doors. It looks more like a bank vault than a vehicle... and, in this day and age, it should.

With a new design and unique construction under the skin, the new Cadillac DTS limousine is handcrafted and dressed in a jet-black clearcoat finish. The vehicle is a considerably longer, wider and taller version of the production model that becomes available later this year. To maintain national security, the limousines are equipped with state-of-the-art protection and communication systems.

The vehicle interior boasts six-passenger seating with comfort and visibility for all occupants. A rear seat executive package features a concealed, foldaway desktop that can be deployed when conducting affairs of state. The rear seats have an adjustable reclining feature along with the adaptive seat system, which senses the position of the occupant in the seat and automatically adjusts the cushion for added comfort. Moreover, rear seat passengers can enjoy their own premium sound system complete with a 10-disc CD changer. Wood accents, rich blue leather and cloth complete the executive interior.

An embroidered presidential seal is positioned in the center of the rear seat back panel, as well as on each rear door trim panel. Presidential seals are also affixed to the exterior rear doors. The U.S. flag is placed on the right front fender, and the presidential standard is located on the left front fender when the president travels in the vehicle. Flush-mounted High Intensity Discharged (HID) spotlights illuminate the flags at night.

AutoSpies: The New Cadillac DTS Presidential Limousine

PoliPundit's Social Security Quote of the Day

Click here for AmazonHypocrisy, as defined by Jayson at PoliPundit:

Today, Social Security is strong. But by 2013, payroll taxes will no longer be sufficient to cover monthly payments. And by 2032, the trust fund will be exhausted, and Social Security will be unable to pay out the full benefits older Americans have been promised.

The best way to keep Social Security a rock-solid guarantee is not to make drastic cuts in benefits; not to raise payroll tax rates; and not to drain resources from Social Security in the name of saving it...

Specifically, I propose that we commit 60 percent of the budget surplus for the next 15 years to Social Security, investing a small portion in the private sector just as any private or state government pension would do. This will earn a higher return and keep Social Security sound for 55 years.

President Bill Clinton: Statement on Social Security (January 19, 1999)


Click here for AmazonUhmmm, as New Sisyphus says, it's pretty much always appropriate to prefix "the great" when referring to Mark Steyn. Read -- and savor -- the whole thing.

The IMF noted in November that the Iraqi economy is already outperforming all its Arab neighbors.

You might not have gained that impression from watching CNN or reading the Los Angeles Times. The Western press are all holed up in the same part of Baghdad, and the insurgents very conveniently set off bombs visible from their hotel windows in perfect synchronization with the U.S. TV news cycle. But, if they could look beyond the plumes of smoke, they'd see that Iraq's going to be better than OK, that it will be the economic powerhouse of the region, and that the various small nods toward democracy going on in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere suggest that the Arab world has figured out what the foreign policy ''realists'' haven't: that the trend is in the Bush direction...

Mark Steyn: Iraq is going to be just fine

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Election Day

Click here for AmazonIt's 7:20 AM ET, with polling in Iraq scheduled for about another two hours. Estimates indicate that 72% of the electorate turned out to vote. Turnout was heavy even in the so-called "triangle of death", where Sunnis and Shiites reside. There are about 5,200 polling stations. Of these, about nine were attacked on Sunday with no catastrophic losses. In other words, about one-fifth of one percent.

By any measure, the vote is proceeding swimmingly. So, all that being said, let's see how the MSM is covering the vote:

ABC News:

Iraqis Defy Attacks to Cast Historic Votes
Iraqis danced and clapped with joy Sunday as they voted in their country's first free election in a half-century, defying insurgents who launched eight deadly suicide bombings and mortar strikes
• Iraq Election too Dangerous for Monitors

CBS News:

Bombs On Iraq's Election Day
Ninety minutes after voting began in Iraq, violence including bombs claimed at least 31 lives, as rebels made good on their threats to disrupt the nation's first free elections in 50 years. "Steady" voter turnout is reported in many areas.
• Interactive:Iraq Votes


Bombers target Iraqi voters, polling stations
A string of attacks, some targeting lines of voters waiting to cast ballots in Iraq's first free elections in half a century, killed at least 16 people Sunday and injured scores more. Turnout was sporadic, yet in some parts of the country polling stations were packed with Iraqis waiting to vote, many of them for the first time in their lives
• Fear and defiance | Rocket Attack
• Iraqis brave bombs to vote


A New Dawn of Democracy
Iraqis wait to enter polling station in Basra.
• Nine homicide bombings and mortar strikes kill at least 31
• Despite violence, eager Iraqis head to polls to vote in country's first free election in 50 years


Voting amid violence
Turnout picks up for critical Iraq election, but insurgents launch deadly attacks.
• Newsweek: Why election won’t stop insurgency
• WP: No timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal

Hey, MSNBC: why not rig a truck to blow up, Dateline-style, in front of a polling station and then snap some photos of bloody ballots?

I suppose the age-old canard, "if it bleeds, it leads" will always apply to the MSM. But it would be nice if, a few days down the road, at least one of the bigs (besides Fox) had the intellectual honesty -- and courage -- to call a success a success.

The history books will eventually record whether a democratic Iraq succeeded or not. Whether a democratic Iraq dampened terror in the region. But let it never be said that President George W. Bush was not courageous and principled in sticking up for his beliefs that the Iraqi people needed to be freed and that despotism bred terror.

My belief is that history will look upon the President and this era kindly, Teddy Jo Kopechne and rest of the left bank, anti-American nay-sayers notwithstanding.

Update: Mohammed and Omar post the following inspiring, emotional entry on Iraq the Model...

I still recall the first group of comments that came to this blog 14 months ago when many of the readers asked "The Model?"… "Model for what?" Take a look today to meet the model of courage and human desire to achieve freedom; people walking across the fire to cast their votes.

Could any model match this one!? Could any bravery match the Iraqis'!? Let the remaining tyrants of the world learn the lesson from this day.

The media is reporting only explosions and suicide attacks that killed and injured many Iraqis s far but this hasn't stopped the Iraqis from marching towards their voting stations with more determination. Iraqis have truly raced the sun.

I walked forward to my station, cast my vote and then headed to the box, where I wanted to stand as long as I could, then I moved to mark my finger with ink, I dipped it deep as if I was poking the eyes of all the world's tyrants.
I put the paper in the box and with it, there were tears that I couldn't hold; I was trembling with joy and I felt like I wanted to hug the box but the supervisor smiled at me and said "brother, would you please move ahead, the people are waiting for their turn".

Yes brothers, proceed and fill the box!

Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Largest Man-Made Explosion Prior to Hiroshima

Click here for AmazonIt was December 6, 1917, a bright, crystal clear day in Halifax, Nova Scotia. As a port city, Halifax was a bustling hive of activity. Troop ships, supply vessels and other vehicles were engaged in the commerce of World War I.

Near eight in the morning, the Belgian supply ship Imo   headed out of the harbor. At the same time, the French vessel Mont Blanc   nosed its way into the harbor, preparing to join up with a convoy to cross the Atlantic.

In the Mont Blanc's   hold, and even laid on its deck due to lack of space, were tons of ammunition and explosives: benzol, artillery ammo, gun cotton, pitric acid -- a building block of explosives -- and over 400,000 pounds of TNT.

A series of navigational and signalling errors resulted in the Imo   crossing directly in front of the Mont Blanc  . The former struck the latter, missing the TNT, but creating an immense gash in the stores of benzol on deck. The resulting sparks of the collision set the stage for catastrophe.

The crew of the Mont Blanc   understood instantly that they needed to evacuate. They abandoned ship using the lifeboats, and rowed full bore for Dartmouth while their ship burned. Their screamed warnings were either not heard or ignored.

The Mont Blanc   careened aimlessly past a pier and set it afire. The Halifax Fire Department answered the call and began connecting their equipment to the nearest hydrant when the flaming ship disappeared. A white flash -- the largest man-made explosion prior to the nuclear age -- turned the harbor into an inferno of biblical proportions.

More than 1,900 people were killed instantly and almost 10,000 were injured. 325 acres of land were destroyed and any remaining structures simply burned. The Mont Blanc   was pulverized: one if its cannons landed more than three miles away while a piece of its anchor, which weighed over 1,000 pounds, sailed two miles in the opposite direction. The shock wave was felt over 250 miles away and windows shattered as far as 50 miles from the explosion.

Unfortunately, about twenty minutes elapsed between the inital collision and the devastating explosion. This was enough time for many people, including school children, to rush to the harbor to view the spectacle of the burning vessel. The glass launched by the explosion caused eye injuries to about 1,000 people...

The Halifax explosion

Book Review: Flyboys

A stunning tale of barbarism, courage and loyalty

Click here for AmazonIn a followup to Flags of our Fathers, James Bradley describes his detective work in determining what happened to nine airmen shot down over the island of Chichi Jima during World War II. One was easy: he was George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st President of the United States. The other eight were MIA. Starting with recently declassified records from a military trial of Japanese officers on Chichi Jima, his discoveries are both tragic and inspiring. In fact, these true stories of brutality, courage and honor are sometimes almost beyond belief.

Rather than paint a single "snapshot" of the air war over the island near the end of World War II, Bradley tries to look at the big picture. His history lesson is concise, yet insightful. The brutal treatment of native Americans and Mexicans during early American expansionism... Commodore Perry's warships and the opening of international relations with Japan... the Russo-Japanese war that set the stage for World War II... the corruption of the Samurai ideal and the egregious Japanese atrocities in China... all are covered in wide-ranging and learned prose.

Other reviewers have complained about overly harsh treatment of US involvement with native Americans, Commodore Perry's mission, and other alleged "political" agendas. Speaking as an avowed conservative, I found nothing obvious that skewed history either way. War is a brutal business and early Americans were frequently at war. We cannot pretend otherwise.

The book is crammed full of interesting, historic details: American arms accounted for only a third of Japanese troop fatalities during World War II - lack of Japanese supply planning and poor strategy accounted for the remainder. The religious zeal with which Japanese soldiers were inculcated with the "no surrender" philosophy resulted in a brutish and barbaric form of war: "At Kwajalein, the Japanse garrison lost 4,938, with only 79 taken prisoner, a fatality rate of 98.4 percent."

The result was a perceived need on the part of American military planners to devastate the Japanese homeland, knowing that surrender was untenable. To put this in perspective, D-Day required 175,000 invading troops. 7,000,000 American troops were in the Pacific by 1945 preparing for Operation Olympic, the first phase of the invasion.

A War Department report concluded that, "defeating Japan would cost [them] five to ten million deaths and the United States between 1.7 and 4 million casualties, including 400,000 to 600,000 fatalities." Postwar analysis of Japanese homeland defenses indicate that Allied planners actually underestimated these casualty rates. Put in these terms, the fire-bombings and atomic attacks seem almost humane in that the corrupt Japanse military government was forced to succumb before millions of more lives were snuffed out.

This is a stunning book that paints a picture of almost unbelievable courage, honor and loyalty. All the while, it teaches a history lesson that most never hear about in school. Five stars, without question.

Amazon: Flyboys

Thank you, Hollywood!

Click here for AmazonLet's all give a big hand to Michael Moore, Alec Baldwin, Whoopi, and all the other members of the Hollywood Marxist Moonbats (Hat tip: LGF)....

...a billboard blitz “thanking” Hollywood for the reelection of President Bush will be unveiled early next week.

The advertisements feature the faces of liberal Hollywood icons Michael Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, Ben Affleck, Martin Sheen, Chevy Chase, Barbara Streisand, and Sean Penn, and offer thanks to Hollywood their help getting President Bush reelected.

Two versions of the billboard were created, both “thanking” Hollywood — the first for “4 more years” and the second for “W. Still President.”

Thank you, Hollywood!

Friday, January 28, 2005

Teddy Jo: Cheering for the Terrorists

Click here for AmazonTaranto is at it again, laying waste to Teddy Jo Kennedy in a manner reminiscent of Genghis Kahn. Teddy Jo, possessed of a miniaturized intellect when compared to his brother Jack, shocked many observers with one of the most anti-American statements in recent memory. But that's no surprise for the Senior Bloviating Moonbat from Massachusetts, whose decades-long track record of failed policies will leave skid marks, but not any sort of legacy.

John F. Kennedy's... 1961 Inaugural Address:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This much we pledge--and more.

Kennedy's brother Ted... is best known for driving off a bridge and leaving a young woman to drown. His attitude toward America's role in the world is the opposite of his brother's; it's best summed up as an inversion of FDR: We have nothing to offer but fear itself. Here he is yesterday at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies:

The war in Iraq has become a war against the American occupation. . . . The U.S. military presence has become part of the problem, not part of the solution. . . . The first step is to confront our own mistakes. . . . No matter how many times the Administration denies it, there is no question they misled the nation and led us into a quagmire in Iraq. . . . As in Vietnam, truth was the first casualty of this war. . . . As a result of our actions in Iraq, our respect and credibility around the world have reached all-time lows. . . . Never in our history has there been a more powerful, more painful example of the saying that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. . .

...A succcessful election in Iraq will be a triumph for the Bush doctrine and the strongest rebuke yet to those Democrats who learned from Vietnam that America is a force for ill in the world. Ted Kennedy is, as The Wall Street Journal puts it today, "cheerleading for America to fail" because his ideology leaves him unfit to cope with American success. If he has his way, democracy in Iraq will suffer the same fate as Mary Jo Kopechne.

James Taranto: Cheering for the Terrorists

Jon Stewart's Fun Drinking Game

Click here for AmazonJon Stewart, The Daily Show: “By the way, for a fun second-term drinking game, chug a beer every time you hear the phrase, ‘contentious, but futile protest vote by Democrats.’ By the time Jeb Bush is elected, you’ll be so wasted you won’t even notice the war in Syria.”

Hat tip: PoliPundit

Friends of Democracy: an Iraqi Election News Blog

Click here for AmazonIt's awe-inspiring to read the on-the-ground reports of election preparation from Iraq. The Friends of Democracy blog is providing the kind of johnny-on-the-spot coverage that the MSM can only dream of getting. Not that they would ever engage in promoting the idea of Iraqi democracy, of course.

Click here for AmazonFrom a well-attended electoral debate and polling place security, to a graffiti-like swath of campaign posters, FOD is covering it all.

Friends of Democracy: Ground-level election news from the people of Iraq

Countdown to Elections in Iraq

Click here for AmazonIn recent months, the prevailing meme promulgated by mainstream media is that of election illegitimacy in Iraq. Now that it is clear that huge numbers of Iraqis will brave the storm to cast their votes, the emerging MSM meme is danger, death and destruction.

In fact, Teddy Jo Kennedy and Musab Al-Zarqawi have, idealistically, joined hands against the rush to democracy. Following their lead, the MSM promises to highlight any election-related violence while studiously ignoring the vote itself.

Lorie Byrd points out that on Sunday, Meet the Press will spend an hour regaling its viewers with the failed campaign of John Kerry. This, on the same day that the Iraqi election takes place - a vote that may be the most historic in recent memory.

There are two sea-changes underway. First, the tide of democracy is washing over the Middle East. Second, the old-line media is doing their best to spin, ignore and disenfranchise the story. But, fortunately, the old-line media no longer controls the publishing apparatus. We do.

Daniel Henninger:

At last Friday's prayers in Diwaniyah, a preacher from the Al-Fadeela party said voting "is a national moral duty, and not doing it would waste the chance for coming generations to a better future." It is in America's national security interests to have preachers in Iraq saying this, rather than what the government holy men pray for in Iran. Absent these elections, the prayers in Diwaniyah likely would resemble those in Iran.

Walid Phares:

On the same day that Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the terrorist mastermind in Iraq, declared holy war on democracy, six principal Iraqi leaders appeared in their nation's first televised electoral debate, broadcast live throughout Iraq by Alhurra television. The contrast between naked jihadism and democracy was never clearer. As the candidates took the stage, Zarqawi's dark dispatch from the underworld, and all the hate and threats it carried, disappeared — if only for a moment — under the klieg lights...


[Ted Kennedy stated,] "Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam... the war in Iraq has become a war on the American occupation." This, on the eve of an election in which millions of Iraqis will risk their lives to create a new self-governing country... He also called for a precipitous American pullout that coincides with the wishes of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, among others who are assassinating Iraqi democrats...

Lorie at PoliPundit:

This Sunday (that is Sunday, January 30th) the entire hour of Meet the Press will consist of an interview with failed Presidential candidate John Kerry. January 30? Hmm. It just seems like there was something going on that day. Why does that date seem significant to me? Must not be anything too important going on that day or you would think that Meet The Press would not be spending an entire hour on the discussion of a failed Presidential bid.

W. Thomas Smith, Jr.:

[According to Capt. David Nevers,] more often than not, Iraqi civilians — men, women, and children — are reporting suspicious activities that are either filling holes in previously gathered intelligence or providing new information which is then acted upon by U.S. and Iraqi troops. A new phenomenon, he says, is the increasing number of Iraqis who are publicly defying the insurgents.

"There was a report January 21 on the Iraqi TV channel, Al-Sharqiya, which featured local Iraqis being asked about the upcoming elections," says Nevers. "Locals interviewed in northern Babil Province not only were shrugging off the insurgent-driven fear and intimidation, they threatened to kill any insurgents attempting to interfere with their ability to vote. Polls have shown consistently for months that upwards of 80 percent of Iraqis intend to vote."

Jayson at PoliPundit:

“If [the Japanese] do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.” – President Harry S. Truman, August 1945.

On the other hand, there’s this:

“The U.S. military presence [in Iraq] has become part of the problem, not part of the solution.” – Senator “Whiskey” Ted Kennedy, January 2005.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

"Teddy Jo Kopechne: Time to Retreat from Iraq"

Click here for AmazonThe Reliapundit just slapped around the consistently idiotic Senior Bloviator from Massachusetts, Teddy Jo Kopechne. Teddy is sounding the bleat of surrender on his tinfoil trumpet, to which -- thankfully -- only a tiny fraction of the left listens to. If there's a lifetime achievement award for consistently being on the wrong side of history in all matters, foreign and domestic, Teddy Jo is a sure-fire honoree.

...Teddy Kennedy has now explitictly called for the immediate "withdrawal" of US troops from Iraq. What he means is he wants the USA to surrender and accept defeat.

This is hardly surpising: the lefty Democrats forced the premature withdrawal of our troops from Vietnam in 1973, and then suspended financing of the South Vietnamese government in 1975. What happened as a result? The North invaded, the South fell, 500,000 were sent to "re-education" camps, 1 MILLION "boat people" fled the Marxist tyranny - half a MILLION died fleeing, Cambodia fell to Marxists and 3 MILLION more died on the altar of Leftist utopianism there as a result...

A similarly bad result will certainly occur in Iraq - and the Middle East - if we abandon the Iraqis as they battle the neobaathists (who - like Ho Chi Minh are socialists), and the neojihadists - both of whom want to re-establish xenophobic tyrannies.

Perhaps Teddy has appeasement in his genes: his poppa... Joe Kennedy - advocated letting another socialist tyrant - Hitler - have all of Europe...

Perhaps Teddy thinks the Iraqis don't deserve democracy or aren't up to it? Or maybe he thinks our troops are more needed elsewhere, like to storm and shut-down power plants in the USA in order to save us from the menace of global warming!?

It matters not why Kennedy advocates surrender; it matters only that the majority of Americans see him for what he is: a man who has ALWAYS appeased tyrants opposed to US interests, and who has always opposed using force to spread and defend democracy and liberty - from Vietnam to Nicaragua, to Cuba, to Panama and Granada - yea: even in our relations with the old- REPEAT OLD (and defeated) - USSR - Kennedy has ALWAYS advocated giving-in to anti-American tyrants.

Either Kennedy thinks peace is too dear, or that liberty and democracy are worth nothing: no battle; no war. He is wrong. Many things are worth fighting for, and the fight against tyranny and for liberty in Iraq is one of them...

RETREAT!!! (Hat tip: PoliPundit)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Taranto Vaporizes the Opposition

Click here for AmazonThe excellent James Taranto of Opinion Journal's Best of the Web lays down two blistering riffs in his most recent edition of the consistently invaluable "Best of the Web".

He first pummels Ted Turner senseless (whoops, I guess that's redundant!) over Turner's incessant use of Hitler analogies. He then unleashes the dogs of war on certain Democratic Senators possessed of antediluvian ideas and painfully low reserves of intellectual honesty. You know, the ones who voted against the eminently qualified Condi Rice for "lying". Mmm hmmm, that's right, the same "lying" engaged in by Bill Clinton, Madeline Albright, and scores of governments and intelligence organizations throughout the world: that Saddam Hussein was working on WMD's and represented a threat to the U.S.

I guess it's safe to assume that, according to these shining wits (phrase to be read as a Spoonerism), the world would be better off with Hussein, the terrorist training center at Salman Pak, Abu Abbas, Abu Nidal, Al Qaeda affiliate Ansar al Islam, Hussein's ongoing nuclear research program under Obeidi, Uday's rape rooms, the mass graves, the anthrax, the tons of high explosives, all co-existing as the utterly corrupt UN sanctions machine ground to a halt. Yep... that makes sense... if you're Barbara Boxer or Ted Kennedy.

In any event, consider this the "Best of Best of the Web".

"Ted Turner called Fox a propaganda tool of the Bush administration and indirectly compared Fox News Channel's popularity to Adolf Hitler's popular election to run Germany before World War II," reports Broadcasting & Cable magazine:

Fox wasn't laughing, however. "Ted is understandably bitter having lost his ratings, his network, and now his mind," said a Fox News spokesperson. "We wish him well."

Sounds to us as though Fox was laughing. In any case, one is inclined to dismiss this as mere Angry Left bombast--but it's worth noting that unlike Fox, CNN, the network Turner founded, has a record of collaboration with genocidal dictatorship. In April 2003, just after the liberation of Baghdad, CNN's Eason Jordan described the network's relationship with Saddam Hussein's regime:

I knew that CNN could not report that Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday, told me in 1995 that he intended to assassinate two of his brothers-in-law who had defected and also the man giving them asylum, King Hussein of Jordan. If we had gone with the story, I was sure he would have responded by killing the Iraqi translator who was the only other participant in the meeting. After all, secret police thugs brutalized even senior officials of the Information Ministry, just to keep them in line (one such official has long been missing all his fingernails). . . .

I came to know several Iraqi officials well enough that they confided in me that Saddam Hussein was a maniac who had to be removed. One Foreign Ministry officer told me of a colleague who, finding out his brother had been executed by the regime, was forced, as a test of loyalty, to write a letter of congratulations on the act to Saddam Hussein. An aide to Uday once told me why he had no front teeth: henchmen had ripped them out with pliers and told him never to wear dentures, so he would always remember the price to be paid for upsetting his boss. Again, we could not broadcast anything these men said to us.

...This is not to say CNN is, or was, pro-Saddam; the question of access versus truth poses genuine moral dilemmas. But given the degree to which his own network covered up the atrocities of a fascist dictator, Turner ought to be more restrained in throwing around the H-word.

Taranto on the Dems and Condi...

What was that all about? The Senate has confirmed Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state by a vote of 85-13. But a small group of Democrats, led by Angry Left heartthrob Barbara Boxer, insisted on staging a mock kerfuffle first. Even though the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had already approved Rice 16-2, with only Boxer and John Kerry* dissenting, the Dems insisted on delaying her confirmation for a week and holding a nine-hour "debate," which took place yesterday.

"My vote against this nominee is my statement that this administration's lies must stop now," said Sen. Mark Dayton of Minnesota. This is the same Mark Dayton who fled the capital in October, citing terrorism fears, but returned as soon as George W. Bush was safely re-elected.

Ted Kennedy said that the liberation of Iraq was "a catastrophic failure, a continuing quagmire." Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment.

Another Rice foe, Robert Byrd, denounced "the Administration's unconstitutional doctrine of pre-emptive war, its bullying policies of unilateralism, and its callous rejection of our long-standing allies." Byrd also accused Rice of employing "overblown rhetoric." Mark Steyn has a nice riff on Byrd:

Byrd, the former Klu [sic] Klux Klan Kleagle, is taking a stand over states' rights, or his rights over State, or some such. Whatever the reason, the sight of an old Klansman blocking a little colored girl from Birmingham from getting into her office contributed to the general retro vibe that hangs around the Democratic Party these days...

OpinionJournal: Best of the Web

"Offbeat" technical interview questions

Click here for AmazonI've been looking for some "offbeat" interview questions for developers. In our case, we get developers with excellent technical credentials but we're unsure of their passion, commitment, and social skills. I came up with the following non-standard interview questions and am soliciting additional ones that help gauge commitment, culture fit, etc.

1) What is your favorite third-party library or set of classes to use; why?

2) What's the coolest or most elegant algorithm you've seen; why?

3) Do you have a favorite language for web programming, command-line scripting, desktop apps, etc. and, if so, describe why you like them for those purposes.

4) If you had two weeks to do research in any one area of computer science, which would it be?

5) Have you been in a disfunctional team environment and, if so, could you describe what happened?

If you have some suggestions, please use the comments feature, below. I'd love to hear them.

Frontline: Al Qaeda in the West

Click here for AmazonLast night, Frontline highlighted the threat of Jihadists in the West (hat tip: Brooke). The entire show will apparently be available online on Friday. The web site appears to be a valuable set of resources and includes this article on the technologies used to facilitate terror.

It was all laid out in a polished, 25-minute training video: how to make an explosive belt to blow yourself up and kill as many people as possible.

This particular video, first posted on a jihadist message board in December 2004, presented the necessary explosives, shrapnel and vest for a suicide bomber. It demonstrated how to assemble the materials and wear the belt. And then the video showed a test of the explosive belt, with a simulated detonation aboard a crowded bus.

As translated on a Web site that tracks Islamic terrorist organizations, the producers analyzed the bomb's impact on the mock victims:

We notice that the following 2 seats were not directly hit. This is due to the fact that, when the person who will be wearing this explosive vest goes on the bus, and wants to blow himself up, he must be facing the front with his back towards the back. There is a possibility that the 2 seats on his right and his left might not be hit with the shrapnel, however, the explosion will surely kill the passengers in those seats.

Such Web sites and training videos, which are often posted then quickly removed to avoid detection, have multiplied after Sept. 11. In doing so, they opened perhaps the widest front in the war on terror: cyberspace...

Technology and Terror

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Democratic Ideal

Click here for AmazonImmediately after President Bush's inaugural speech, the intelligensia on both sides of the aisle mocked the concept of spreading democracy as a basis for national policy. Noonan, Helprin and Buckley, among others, chided the President for an "unworkable" vision.

Joshua Muravchik of Opinion Journal deftly slices their arguments to pieces like an Olympic fencer. How does he do it? The best way to crush poor theses. By marshalling facts.

In 1776, there was exactly one country in the world with an elected government: the United States of America. 230 years later, there are 117 - or more than 60% of the world's governments.

...This historic transformation in the norms of governance has not occurred at a steady pace. Rather, it has accelerated. Just over 30 years ago, the proportion of democracies was about half of what it is today...

Muravchik points to "waves"; periods of time in which democracy accelerates, then pauses and starts again. Further, this tidal effect strengthens itself. As more democracies arise, the remaining authoritarian governments find it more difficult to retain power.

Only one region of the world has, so far, been left behind: the Middle East and North Africa (Israel is the the sole democracy among 18 states).

...In the wake of 9/11, President Bush concluded that it was no accident that this region where democracy was uniquely absent was the epicenter of global terrorism, and it was here that he launched his campaign for freedom, of which last week's speech was a broader statement...

His handiwork is crystal clear, except to the moonbats. Afghanistan, the Palestinian Authority, and -- within days -- Iraq will all have held elections.

Further, Bush's evangelism has heartened freedom-lovers and propelled the cause of liberty in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman, where municipal or national elections have been or are slated to be held. And the wafting fragrance of freedom hasn't stopped at the ballot box either.

...Egypt's first independent daily newspaper was launched last year. In May, a new network, Democracy Television, owned and run by Arab liberals, will begin broadcasting to the region by satellite from London. Almost every month a new statement demanding democratic reform is issued by Arab intellectuals...

The "realists" warn that democracy is no panacea for terrorism. But the record shows that democractic governments seldom sow either conflict or terror.

Read the whole thing. And watch the "realists" squirm.

Joshua Muravchik: The Democratic Ideal

The Left Marches On

Click here for AmazonItem 1: Even though British intelligence, US intelligence, Israeli intelligence, Russian intelligence, President Clinton, Madeline Albright and a host of others during the 90's insisted Saddam Hussein was actively seeking WMD's, it was Condi Rice who lied, dammit!.

One Senate Democrat called Condoleezza Rice a liar Tuesday and others said she was an apologist for Bush administration failures in Iraq, but she remained on track for confirmation as secretary of state.

Rice, who has been President Bush’s White House national security adviser for four years, was one of the loudest voices urging war, Democrats said. She repeatedly deceived members of Congress and Americans at large about justifications for the war, said Sen. Mark Dayton (news, bio, voting record), D-Minn...

Item 2: In response to a BBC article, the whacked-out far Left moonbats insist that Iran should be permitted to build out their nuclear weapons capabilities. Read the following excerpts and then recall Iran thought leader Rafsanjani's insistence that Muslims should nuke Israel into oblivion ("Jews shall expect to be once again scattered and wandering around the globe the day when this appendix is extracted from the region and the Muslim world") even if it meant that 10% of the Palestinian population would also die in the atomic blasts.

Given a choice I would trust Iran more than the neo cons sitting in Washington. Iran has never in the past given any indication that it had any aggressive intent towards any of its neighbouring countries. And it has reasons to be worried about its security with neighbours like Israel and Iraq where more than a 100,000 US troops are based.
R. Venugopal, Delhi, India

The Iranians would be crazy to abandon their nuclear programme. In the end the world would be a safer place and there would be greater justice, if powers are balanced in the Middle East. I personally hope they get their nukes.
Jose R. Pardinas, Miami, USA

Iran has every right to defend itself. The USA has already hinted that it has plans to invade so what option does Iran have other than to develop the weapons necessary for its defence against an unprovoked attack by superpower?
Peter, Welwyn, England

Brainpost reports that a review of Milwaukee's presidential balloting has found more than 1,200 votes with non-existent addresses, suspiciously consistent with the certain-to-be-abused "same day voter registration". In fact, of the 1,242 voters with bogus addresses, 75% registered on election day. The total number of suspicous votes in Wisconsin is now around 20,000. Kerry's margin of victory? 13,646.

He posits that there are some highly suspect coincidences between these activities and the tour group "Illinois for Kerry" that bussed in voters from other states into Wisconsin. Bottom line: it is entirely conceivable that John Kerry actually lost Wisconsin but that rampant vote fraud stole the state for him. Read the whole thing. As the banner reads on his site:

"Those who cast the votes decide nothing, those who count the votes decide everything" - Communist Tyrant and Mass Murderer, Joseph Stalin

Hat tip on all three items: LGF.

Fourth Estate or Fifth Column

Click here for AmazonThomas Sowell takes another big swing at the obscenely bloated pinata    that is the mainstream media. The grotesquely skewed coverage we're treated to by the likes of CBS, CNN, ABC and the NYT has all the historical accuracy of the Harry Potter series. The cracks keep widening and the pinata    is perilously close to breaking apart. Rest assured the bloggers will get to all the goodies first.

There are still people in the mainstream media who profess bewilderment that they are accused of being biased. But you need to look no further than reporting on the war in Iraq to see the bias staring you in the face, day after day, on the front page of the New York Times and in much of the rest of the media.

If a battle ends with Americans killing a hundred guerrillas and terrorists, while sustaining ten fatalities, that is an American victory. But not in the mainstream media. The headline is more likely to read: "Ten More Americans Killed in Iraq Today."

This kind of journalism can turn victory into defeat in print or on TV. Kept up long enough, it can even end up with real defeat, when support for the war collapses at home and abroad.

One of the biggest American victories during the Second World War was called "the great Marianas turkey shoot" because American fighter pilots shot down more than 340 Japanese planes over the Marianas islands while losing just 30 American planes. But what if our current reporting practices had been used back then?

The story, as printed and broadcast, could have been: "Today eighteen American pilots were killed and five more severely wounded, as the Japanese blasted more than two dozen American planes out of the sky." A steady diet of that kind of one-sided reporting and our whole war effort against Japan might have collapsed...

Thomas Sowell: Fourth estate or fifth column

Duly Noted

Click here for AmazonItems briefly noted:

Straight out of Iraq, we can now view campaign commercials and read the transcripts.

At the University of Oregon, a trademark case of the left's tendency to suppress free speech.

Clarity & Resolve congratulates the AP on recognizing Wahhabism.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Why Bloggers are more Accountable than traditional "Journalists"

Click here for AmazonHugh Hewitt appeared on Fox & Friends and CNN to flog Blog. Hugh described a predominant line of questioning this way: question seemed to me to be on everyone's minds: "Bloggers aren't journalists and so they are not accountable, right?" I'll check a transcript if one is posted when I get back to California, but I think that is pretty much how the question was posed, as opposed to the more neutral: "Are bloggers journalists?"

On both sets I tried to explain blogosphere accountability, and I may have been a touch short with Ms. O'Brien when I pointed out I have been a journalist for 15 years, in television, radio, print, and now text, and that of all the platforms, the blogosphere was the most accountable...

I didn't get to see the interviews and as an author of a (maybe) third-tier blog, do not get invited onto anything except for the Billy Cunningham radio show. And that occurs about as often as a meteorite touches down in Times Square. But I would answer that general question this way:

The same software technologies that spawned the blogosphere makes it -- at least -- an order of magnitude more accountable than traditional media outlets. Consider:

• The Comments feature on most blogs is the equivalent of, say, me interrupting Wolf Blitzer during a broadcast and peppering him with counter-arguments, pointing out his flawed logic, and otherwise providing instant, public criticism. Suffice it to say that traditional media has no such real-time, highly visible feedback loop.

• The Trackback feature is a sign of a story's strength. Consider the original Powerline Memogate posts that disgraced Dan Rather and helped bring about the current upheaval at CBS News: these are among the most tracked-back stories ever, a sign that other voices in the blogosphere not only believe the story but back its assertions and underlying facts.

• The Statistics feature is also a sign of strength. A site-meter, for instance, is a common tool on many blogs and helps a visitor gauge market-share... on a daily basis. I'm still waiting for most major news outlets to release real-time Nielsen-esque ratings for their various online op-ed columns, not to mention their traditional broadcasts and print subscription numbers.

There are a host of others self-correcting features related to validating the blogosphere: Technorati, referrer logs, and similar features help interested readers instantly ascertain story strength and logical consistency.

The first old-line media outlets to offer analagous capabilities will be at a significant competitive advantage.

Harvard's Insecure Pharmacare Web Application

Click here for AmazonLast Friday, the Harvard Crimson did yeoman's work in its exposé of an insecure web application that would reveal the pharmaceutical purchases of anyone with prescription coverage under Harvard's plan. The insurer's web site required only a Harvard ID number and a birthday to list the person's drug history.

What makes this especially grievous is that any organization dealing with sensitive, medical information knows that it must work within the constraints of HIPAA. Even the most rudimentary vulnerability assessment (VA) would have noted the lack of adequate authentication on the part of the web app designer.

...A list of all three prescription drugs purchased by one student at University Health Services (UHS) Pharmacy was accessed by The Crimson by typing his ID number and birthday into another website, run by Harvard drug insurer PharmaCare. Birthdates of undergraduates are published to fellow students, and are in many cases more widely available on sites such as

One security person quoted in the article blamed the problems on the proliferation of university ID numbers.

After the iCommons Poll Tool was shut down last night, University Technology Security Officer Scott Bradner said that “there’s no condition under which [the ID number] should have been shared…It was not a design feature.”

But that, of course, misses the point. The ID number can certainly be used, but only as a single component of an authentication step used to provide access to this sort of application. It's not rocket science: a pre-established PIN, password or use of a pre-established email address (e.g., "") to confirm identity -- or other means of reasonable authentication -- is required.

Of course, the primary motivation for businesses to clean up their information security act is simple: the bottom line.

...Jerome B. Tichner Jr., an attorney practicing healthcare law at Boston-based Brown and Rudnick, said... “If an entity [covered by HIPAA] does not have adequate security systems, and it’s very easy for any third party to walk in or log in and obtain pharmaceutical information or other…healthcare information, that may pose liability concerns,” he said...

Until information security is considered an integral part of the application development lifecycle, expect more public -- and costly -- gaffes along these lines.

Harvard Crimson: Drug Records, Confidential Data Vulnerable

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Iraq, Democracy and U.S. Options

Click here for AmazonFar from the quagmire that leftists and terrorists worldwide enjoy dubbing it, Victor Davis Hansen posits that Iraq is already poised to be a major, strategic success. America's powerful, unexpected response to Islamic terrorism has given it new options in the Middle East and, indeed, worldwide.

...The American persistence in Iraq under difficult circumstances might also explain why potential enemies farther afield, from Teheran to Pyongyang, have so far decided not to seize the moment to press their luck with the United States. Meanwhile, the world at large appears more, rather than less, disposed to stand up to Islamic fascism and the terror it wages. Even less ambiguously, Pakistan, though often playing a duplicitous role in the past, has remained a neutral in the war on terror if not at times an ally, while its nuclear guru, A.P. Khan, is for the moment in retirement. On the issue of the dangers posed by Islamic extremism, nearly 3 billion people in India, China, Japan, and the former Soviet Union are more likely to favor than to oppose American counterterrorism efforts. Libya is suddenly coming clean about its own nefarious schemes and even opening its borders to African aid workers. Murmurs of democratic change are rumbling throughout the autocratic Gulf. Terrorists are not so welcome as they once were in Jordan, Yemen, or much of North Africa...

...If Americans have learned anything from the careers of Qaddafi, the Saudi royal family, Saddam Hussein, and the Iranian clergy, it is that huge petroleum profits accruing among illegitimate autocrats are a recipe for global terrorism and regional havoc. One way to end the present pathology is for the United States, accepting that concerns for our national survival can sometimes trump the logic of finding the cheapest energy source, to develop a policy that helps drive down world petroleum prices. Another option is far more aggressively to promote democratic reforms among the petrol sheikdoms themselves. A third is to do both. Given the entry of India and China into the world petroleum market, fostering tighter global demand while potentially circumscribing our own clout, the hour is more urgent than ever; but the Middle East is also, and once again thanks to the ongoing reform of Iraq and Afghanistan, more fluid and perhaps more promising than ever....

Aligned with these intentions, President Bush's inaugural address painted the stark rationale for our continued actions: that spreading Democracy is directly linked to our national security. In no uncertain terms, a failure to address despots and tyrants is a recipe for increased terror, conflict and risk.

Interesting, Musab al Zarqawi -- reknowned international terrorist -- agrees:

...We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology. Anyone who tries to help set up this system is part of it...

As Hindrocket notes, "Battle lines have been drawn. It's too bad so many liberals can't figure out which side of the line they're on."

Hindrocket also links to the blog of a US soldier serving in Iraq. Kerry Manthey recently posted this missive:

I read in the news today that Zarqawi is “declaring war on Iraqis who vote in the upcoming elections”. Here’s my prediction: The Iraqis are going to declare war on Zarqawi by voting in the upcoming elections. Zarqawi is also going to be captured by American forces. Zarqawi will beg the Americans not to turn him over to the Iraqis.

Zarqawi and Al Qaeda’s declaration of war on the Iraqi people is similar to Al Qaeda's declaration of war on America. If you didn’t think we were already at war in Iraq with Al Qaeda, you obviously missed what Al Qaeda did to us on September 11, 2001.

America didn't cower in fear from terrorism, neither will the Iraqis.

It is stunning to me how frequently today's left finds itself on the side of suicidal extremist terror and Middle East anarchy. One thing is certain: it is a recipe for continued failure at the polls.

Hugh Hewitt back in the LA Times

Click here for AmazonHugh Hewitt is back in the LA Times, at the behest of editors who are, to their credit, offering its critics brickbats and hoping for honest, pointed guidance. Hewitt sensibly partitions the problematic Times coverage into a single, highest-priority concern: covering the GWOT as a war against a bright, motivated, and determined enemy, rather than as disparate, unrelated actions by disorganized groups of nutjobs.

In short, the Times has been as guilty as (or more guilty than) other MSM outlets in failing to paint a comprehensive picture of the threat: the linkages between the Madrid bombings and 9/11, the web of far-flung and clever AQ-affiliated organizations, the lifecycle of violence borne in the madrassas and terminating with catastrophic suicide attacks...

The rest of the MSM needs to follow the example of the Times. Clear the decks and balance coverage with respected, eloquent critics from the right side of the aisle. Britt Hume's show is the template for this sort of forum, but there is no reason that other MSM outlets can't capture the spirit of his show.

Read the whole thing, but here are some highlights of his recommendations:

• Do more to identify and inform the readers on the organization, leadership and capabilities of the Islamist terrorist network, paying more attention to experts who support the war in Iraq and believe... that the battles there will ultimately slow the spread of terrorism elsewhere.

• Start a daily — a daily — feature on the Global War on Terrorism and call it that. Explain the money trail and detail the leadership and do so with the repetition that assures that readers are not overwhelmed with one giant aircraft carrier of a piece. Give them the digestible segments that make for understanding. Where does the support come from and who manages the accounts? Are there names behind the cash that funds the madrasas that churn out the jihadists? What has been done to stop the funding? ...

In short, The Times needs to reorganize to actually cover the war as a war. The last global war was not covered as though the Pacific Theater was independent of the battles in North Africa, or the Russian front disconnected from the D-day invasion. As with that global struggle, so with this one. As it is, unfortunately, readers know less of the terrorist enemy than 1942 readers knew of the geography of North Africa...

Hugh Hewitt in the LA Times: Cover the Terror War as a War

Iran's Political and Military Leadership Call for Martyrdom

Click here for AmazonThe amplified rhetoric of the Mullahs regarding suicide attacks (read: martyrdom operations) continues unabated. MEMRI -- Middle Eastern Media Research Institute -- provides us with the following translations. Note that Khamenei and Shabani have so far suppressed any instincts to martyr themselves, instead exhorting Iranian cannon fodder young people to sacrifice themselves while their senior leaders enjoy all the perquisites of royalty.

In a recent statement to the 8th Congress on Martyred Students, Iran's Leader Ali Khamenei praised the culture of shahada (committing martyrdom operations), and called upon students to follow the path of martyrs.

Speaking at a memorial service at the University of Qom, a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards general, Shabani, called for the training and education of students as martyrs. In his address, which dealt with means of resisting the enemy, Shabani also said that Iran is the third largest power in the region in ballistic missile production.

Khamenei urged students to continue to promote the culture of Jihad and martyrdom among themselves as "a source of national strength and a characteristic of pure worship… When we encounter the name of a student who committed martyrdom we are confident that the acceptance of martyrdom and of the Jihad that led to this martyrdom stemmed from [the martyr's] self-awareness and clear desire, and this intensifies the value of the act..."

"General Shabani said: 'Iran is the third [largest] power in the region in the field of ballistic missile production, following China and Russia.' [He also] praised the exalted status of the Islamic revolution's martyrs, saying: 'As the Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini] said, 'The martyrs are the quintessence of our strength.' Therefore, we must educate and train forces ready to commit martyrdom attacks in order to counter the enemy.

"'In the event of a war with the U.S. we must fight them asymmetrically. As of now, we have manufactured weapons systems and we have attained nuclear capabilities...'

MEMRI: Iran's Political and Military Leadership Call for Martyrdom (Shahada)

Exit Strategy

Click here for AmazonFrom RBShirley at SwiftVets: "The Barbara Boxer Rebellion questioned the exit strategy from Iraq and Afganistan, here is one pundit's tongue-in-cheek description of a potential exit from both."

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Associated (Palestinian) Press

Click here for AmazonIf you're looking for cold, hard proof that the MSM is -- and has been -- aiding and abetting the enemy, look no further than this reportage from the Jerusalem Post:

AFP and AP employ reporters who also receive paychecks from the Palestinian Authority:

Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Associated Press (AP) ― have employed journalists with inappropriately close ties to the Palestinian Authority. Majida al-Batsh was a Palestinian affairs correspondent for AFP for many years, while simultaneously being on the payroll of the Palestinian Authority as a reporter for the PA's official organ, Al-Ayyam.

If this is not evidence enough of impropriety at AFP, last year Batsh announced she would actually run for the presidency of the Palestinian Authority...

Click here for AmazonThis is the sort of outrageous conflict-of-interest that results in the worldwide distribution of photos like that depicting the tragedy leading this paragraph. What the MSM doesn't bother to tell you is that the death of Mohammed al-Dura was, in all likelihood, a direct result of sniper fire by Palestinians.

Click here for AmazonThe same is the case with the Tuvia Grossman incident. The accompanying photo, broadcast and distributed in print throughout the world, depicts an Israeli soldier brutalizing an innocent Palestinian. At least that's what the MSM, including the New York Times, said. The facts behind the picture? The man beaten within an inch of his life is Tuvia Grossman, a Jewish American, who was pulled out of his vehicle by a Palestinian mob and viciously assaulted.

So the next time you see an article by the Associated Press, factor in the Palestinian Authority compensation factor, and read accordingly.

You know...

Click here for Amazoni've just got to note that the first major news magazine to make a serious attempt at balanced coverage is going to make a flat-out financial killing. An example of the kind of coverage I'm thinking of is here, straight out of Time Magazine online: Donkeys in Denial.

Fisking Thomas Friedman

Click here for AmazonBring the video-camera and gather the whole family together as New Sisyphus fisks the New York Times' Thomas Friedman in brutal fashion, using everything but brass knuckles and two-by-fours.

Tommy, you need to put any ice on that?

And, to reiterate an earlier post, the New Sisyphus blog, written by a member of the State Department, is not to be missed.

Shameless Semantics

Click here for AmazonThe eloquent David Limbaugh points out the stunning hypocrisy of the left on yet another front: social security. We all remember the day -- actually only a few years ago -- that Bill Clinton and Al Gore pointed to its problematic financial footing. Gore, as recently as 2000, lectured George W. Bush on the dangers represented by its fading strength.

Therefore, if we were dealing in intellectual honesty and not partisan chicanery, Bush would receive credit from both sides for his willingness to tackle the "third rail" problem. For, as Limbaugh points out, he could easily have avoided the problem for another four years without any risk whatsoever.

Now the left is denying that social security is even in trouble. The troubling facts, however, remain: in less than 15 years, demographic shifts will ensure that there are less workers than needed to support the number of retirees.

Beginning in 2018, absent major reform, the federal government will have to tap general revenues to subsidize its Social Security benefit payments, eventually in staggering amounts approaching $10 trillion. A compounding factor is that the Social Trustees report estimates that we will lose $600 billion for every year we ignore the problem. Yet this isn't a serious enough issue to demand our immediate attention?

How many times have we heard Democrats -- latter-day deficit hawks that they are -- rail against President Bush's deficit spending? How many times have they feigned apoplexy over the spiraling national debt?

Well, folks, they must not mean what they say, because this looming Social Security problem is purely and simply about an inevitable explosion of the national debt. It's only avoidable if we reduce benefits, reduce other federal spending and/or raise taxes -- which at some point will be counterproductive on the revenue side.

Whether you call it a problem or a crisis, it is getting worse, and it's nothing short of immoral to put off working on solutions. The only conceivable reasons Democrats are in denial about it is that they either don't want to allow reform under a Republican president or don't want to fix it at all because they might lose one of the main weapons in their fear-mongering arsenal.

David Limbaugh: Shameless semantics

Thursday, January 20, 2005

This is the Enemy

Click here for AmazonInteresting to look back at this collection of World War II posters. And here are a couple of WWII originals, customized for the times we live in today:

Top Ten Most Wanted Design Bugs

Click here for AmazonAskTog has an excellent summary of the most egregious software design bugs. From his list, my two "favorites" (meaning the ones I also hate the most) are:

  • Mysteriously grayed menus and buttons - how many times have you finally found the right dialog box (layered underneath four levels of tabbed property sheets and "Advanced..." button settings), only to discover that the critical selection is grayed? There's generally no information to tell you why it has been disabled... so you have to go spelunking around the help system and the Internet, compromising your already fragile schedule and generally causing unacceptably high levels of stress.

  • Focus stealing - it happens all the time... you surf to a bank site or similar important URL and start typing in your user-name and password. Midway through the password, inevitably, focus switches to a Google search box and you find yourself splatting your password -- in the clear -- into the edit window. One day, far far in the future, advanced research design scientists will figure out how to defer the focus switch... waiting until you've finished your stream of input before hot-swapping the window underneath you. I know, I know, no human could possibly come up with such an algorithm. Windows has already been around 15 years, so it must be impossible.

  • One Tog didn't mention, but that I find really bothersome is restricted to Windows:

  • Multiple clipboards - the "advanced" versions of Windows support this generally useless and cumbersome feature. Copy something to the clipboard a couple of times, and Windows helpfully interrupts your train of thought by presenting you with the "multiple clipboard" display. Hmmm. Helpful... not. Just get out of the way and let me cut and paste, dammit!

  • One of Tog's top design bugs that I don't agree with is the "Ooooh, shiny!" bug:

    "Bug Name: My app is more special than the others"

    Bug: Programmers part from the OS interface standard...

    In effect, this bug consists of developers inventing their own UI gadgets and controls. I completely disagree with this. Why? Simply look at WinAmp, arguably the ultimate custom application user-interface for Windows. Its main claim to fame was the skinnable, highly custom UI that, oh by the way, looked a hell of a lot cooler than a normal Windows application. And Justin Frankel only pulled down about $200 million for the effort...

    Ten Most Wanted Design Bugs

    Suppressing Comment Spam

    Click here for AmazonGoogle has added support for suppressing comment spam. Comment spam consists of URL's and keywords tossed into blog comments for the sole purpose of gaming search engine rankings. Increasingly, comment spammers are using bots to splat out these sorts of "comments".

    Google's spider now supports a "nofollow" attribute value to separate blog postings from comments. It tells the spider to ignore hyperlinks appearing within comments, trackbacks and referrer lists. Interestingly, the "nofollow" attribute value was already part of the HTML DTD, but this represents a new use.

    Google, in a recent blog post, said its spider has already begun recognizing the tag. Consider the old tag:

    Visit my <a href="">fake Rolex</a> site

    That comment would be transformed to

    Visit my <a href="" rel="nofollow">fake Rolex</a> site

    Search Engines, Bloggers Team to Fight Spam

    Hey, France!

    Click here for AmazonProtest Warrior is offering a great selection of T-shirts (hat tip: MarkA). This one is my hands-down favorite. Check 'em all out.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2005

    The Stunning Victory of the Welfare Reformers

    Click here for AmazonThe New Sisyphus blog is an outstanding new journal authored by an anonymous member of the State Department. His initial post recaps the pitched battle that preceded the enactment of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act and its underpublicized results.

    At that time, legislators on the left acted as "Welfare Advocates", who for decades espoused an unyielding viewpoint that the war on poverty has failed solely because of underfunding, even though benefits, eligibility, programs and spending increased dramatically over the years.

    Conversely, legislators on the right could be termed "Welfare Reformers", who believed that the central tenets of welfare expansion were fundamentally flawed: that they created a "culture of dependence" that increased poverty and illegitimacy.

    ...It was this key point—the creation of a dependence culture... that formed the centerpiece of the debate. Rather than lift people’s lives by lifting their income, the fact of welfare worked against the values so central to middle class success in the United States. This fact of dependence created a social class with interests and values set against the mainstream, thus dooming generation after generation to poverty.

    The 1996 Act and its Aftermath

    In the end, the Welfare Reformers won the debate, not least because their views were very much more in line with the mainstream of American opinion...

    ...[the Act meant] the days of sitting around waiting for one’s welfare check from the government were over... While members of Congress like Charlie Rangel were loudly telling anyone who would listen (and the MSM being the MSM that meant everyone) that the Republicans had just doomed thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of children to lives of poverty, the hard work of implementing the 1996 Act’s mandates slowing got off the ground.

    The result of welfare reform has been nothing less than astounding, if not awe inspiring.

    ...Heather Mac Donald’s 2002 City Journal piece, Don’t Mess With Welfare Reform’s Success, best summarized the Act’s historic accomplishments:

    “Congress’s [1996 Act] wager paid off handsomely. Asked to look for work in exchange for their welfare checks, hundreds of thousands of women found jobs. From 1996 to 1999, employment among the nation’s never-married mothers rose 40 percent. In 1992, only 38 percent of young single mothers worked; by March 2000, 60 percent of that group were employed. Another large portion of the caseload, faced with new participation requirements, simply decided that welfare was not worth the hassle. The result: a 52 percent drop in the caseload since August 1996, when TANF passed, to June 2001. Nearly 2.3 million families have left the rolls.

    Sealing the reformers’ triumph, poverty has plummeted in tandem with welfare use. As Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institute reports, by 1999 child poverty among female-headed households had fallen to its lowest rate ever. Most notably, black children are now better off economically than at any time on record. So much for the myth that welfare is essential to keeping people from want.”

    The fact that the Act spurred the largest reduction in black child poverty ever on record in the US and that literally millions of poor families have entered the middle class is one of Conservatism’s greatest victories since the rise of Ronald Reagan, which probably goes a long way to explaining why it mysteriously has disappeared from the pages of the MSM. In the end, though, one thing is clear: it was the fact of dependence by itself which bred pathologies and irresponsible behavior. When the fact of dependency ended, most welfare recipients were faced with the sort of real-life difficult questions that are every day issues for the bulk of the middle class. And when faced with those decisions, most people adapted their circumstances in such a way as to succeed within the new milieu...

    What are the ramifications of welfare reform for U.S./E.U. relations? Read the whole thing: Welfare Reform, Dependence Theory and U.S.-E.U Relations

    Terrorism as an Excuse

    Click here for AmazonJohn Lott calls our attention to yet another disinformation campaign on the part of the laughingstock discredited "news" weekly 60 Minutes. Lott reports that the day before the Memogate report, the crack CBS staff was busy demonizing 50-caliber rifles.

    Let's ignore the fact that these rifles are large, expensive collector's items and they have been used for exactly one deadly crime ever (and even that incident is under debate). Let's also ignore the fact that the same hysterical tactics have repeatedly failed (e.g., the Brady Bill, the Assault Weapons Ban, the ban on "plastic" pistols).

    History shows us that the demonization of weapons for cosmetic reasons has proven to be an utter failure at crime control - by every measure.

    Sooner or later, perhaps the MSM will get this one simple fact right.

    Who could oppose laws preventing terrorists from getting guns? Obviously no one. But it would be nice if laws accomplished something more than simply making it more difficult for Americans to own guns...

    Last year it was the semi-automatic assault-weapons ban before it expired. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D., N.Y.) claimed the ban was "the most effective measures against terrorism that we have." Of course, nothing happened when the law expired last year. There was nothing unique about the guns that are banned under the law. Though the phrase "assault weapon" conjures up images of the rapid-fire machine guns used by the military, in fact the weapons covered by the ban function the same as any semiautomatic hunting rifle; they fire the exact same bullets with the exact same rapidity and produce the exact same damage as hunting rifles.

    Back in the mid-1980s it was the hysteria over "plastic guns" when the Austrian company Glock began exporting pistols to the United States. Labeled as "terrorist specials" by the press, fear spread that their plastic frame and grip would make them invisible to metal detectors. Glocks are now common and there are good reasons they are one of the favorite pistols of American police officers. The "plastic gun" ban did not ban anything since it is not possible to actually build a working plastic gun.

    Now it is the 50-caliber rifles' turn, especially with California outlawing the sale of these guns since the beginning of the year. For years gun-control groups have tried to ban 50-caliber rifles because of fears that criminals could use them. Such bans have not been passed these guns were simply not suited for crime. Fifty-caliber rifles are big, heavy guns, weighing at least 30 pounds and using a 29-inch barrel. They are also relatively expensive. Models that hold one bullet at a time run nearly $3,000. Semi-automatic versions cost around $7,000. Wealthy target shooters and big-game hunters, not criminals, purchase them. The bottom line is that only one person in the U.S. has been killed with such a gun, and even that one alleged case is debated.

    The link to terrorism supposedly provides a new possible reason to ban 50-caliber rifles. But the decision to demonize these particular guns and not say .475-caliber hunting rifles is completely arbitrary. The difference in width of these bullets is a trivial .025 inches. What's next? Banning .45-caliber pistols? Indeed the whole strategy is to gradually reduce the type of guns that people can own...

    Fighting terrorism is a noble cause, but the laws we pass must have some real link to solving the problem. Absent that, many will think that 60 Minutes and gun-control groups are simply using terrorism as an excuse to promote rules that he previously pushed. Making it difficult for law-abiding Americans to own guns should not be the only accomplishment of new laws.

    Another CBS Disinformation Campaign