Sunday, January 30, 2005

Scenes from the Great North Georgia Icestorm of 2005

The only downed tree I could find Posted by Hello

An icescape...

More ice...

Ice and our house... Posted by Hello

The UN's Shameless Plugs

OK. So does anyone doubt the Diplomad?

This is disgusting.
(courtesy of Instapundit's blogads)

P.S. I'm BACK!!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Stay Tuned...

I am having a crazy travel week, so I am not going to be able to post much, if at all. Back at it over the weekend.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Late Night TV was Never the Same Without Him...

Johnny Carson, the man who invented late night TV (for all practical purposes) has died. It's hard to believe he was 79 years old, until you do the math when you figure he started on The Tonight Show in 1962. He was the best, that's all that can and need be said.

Shipborne Terror Threats and the Means to Deal with Them

EagleSpeak has a very informative discussion of the threats posed by small boat-borne terrorists. He also devotes some attention to possible solutions. Read the whole thing.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Zarqawi Update

In a tantalizing piece from AP (via the Jerusalem Post):
"Iraq's interior minister on Saturday refused to comment on rumors that the top terror leader in the country had been taken into custody.

'I wouldn't like to comment for the time being,' Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib said when asked about rumors that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been arrested. 'Let's see. Maybe in the next few days we will make a comment about it.'

Pressing him, a reporter asked, 'Does that mean he is in custody?'

'No comment,' the minister repeated. "
It seems to me that this quote could be taken one of two ways: Either (a) the Interior Minister is playing games, knowing that Zarqawi is not in custody, but figuring that the interim government could use the uncertainty to its advantage or (b) they (or we) do have Zarqawi, but don't want to release the information until later, again to maximize the advantage of the lack of hard information.

The former course -- pure gamesmanship -- seems to me unlikely: there could be a tremendous public relations backlash if it is revealed that the interim government is playing everyone for fools. The latter course -- which I would, of course, prefer in any event -- seems more likely.

I do have to add, however, that there may be psychological factors playing here that I don't fully appreciate as a non-Muslim or non-Iraqi.

Again, we'll just have to wait and see.

UPDATE: Media Lies is also covering this story.

Captain Ed is also on the case, and urges us to exercise caution in our expectations.

UPDATE 2: Pictured below (from ABC News) is the Iraqi Interior Minister quoted above. He does seem pleased by something...

Boston Dirty Bomb Plot Update

Michelle Malkin notes that an arrest has apparently been made in the Boston Dirty Bomb Plot (for want of a better term). She attribute the information to Fox News. Fox News' online coverage contains the following gem:
"Patrice Diaz-Migoyo, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said he believes it's hard to assess threats because of past government intelligence failures and secrecy.

'Do I personally feel threatened? No,' he said, standing inside an upscale downtown shopping mall where security is usually tight. 'Should I? I have no means to judge.'

But he said the news reports brought back memories of the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

'My first reaction, because I lived in Greenwich Village on Sept. 11, was annoyance if I happened to be in the two cities that got struck,' he said."

George W. Bush 's Place in History

Much has been made of George W. Bush's Second Inaugural Address on Thursday. It has been dismissed by some as more or less inconsequential and lacking in specifics. By others (incredibly enough, Peggy Noonan), the speech has been described as far too idealistic and with not nearly enough reality. In an earlier post, I noted that many of the early returns on Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in November 1863 were also negative:
The immediate reaction of the crowd left even Lincoln with the impression that it had been a failure. To his friend Ward Lamon he remarked, "It is a flat failure and the people are disappointed." Many newspaper reporters in attendance at Lincoln's address panned the speech. A Harrisburg, Pa., newspaper editorial stated, "We pass over the silly remarks of the President; for the credit of the Nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall no more be repeated or thought of." That same day, the Chicago Times opined that "the cheeks of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat, and dishwatery utterances."

Not all the reviewers were convinced, however:

The editor of the Chicago Tribune, however, offered a different perspective: "The dedicatory remarks by President Lincoln will live among the annals of man."
I think, so too, may President Bush's remarks be honored, if the United States pursues the goals to which its Chief Executive dedicated it on January 20, 2005.

These remarks are nothing short of extraordinary. They are the logical extension of the ideals first synthesized by the Founding Fathers over 200 years ago in the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
For 150 years following the first utteranceof that famous principle, the United States was essentially powerless to export these values. Restricted at first by British hegemony, then torn asunder by Civil War and Reconstruction, we were rightly concentrated on consolidating our own political future. With the advent of the 20th century, we were forced to turn outward, to blunt the aggressive power of tyranny in other lands and then, as the President put it:
For a half century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical- and then there came a day of fire.
The 1990s can, in retrospect, be seen in the continuum of our labors as a catching of breath, if you will. September 11, however, served as a very poignant reminder that, though collectivist tyranny was on the wane, there exists no shortage of those who would restore it, under any number of guises: communism, radical environmentalism / anti-globalism and Islamo-fascism.

President Bush's speech is the clearest enunciation in at least a generation (with the exception of Ronald Reagan) of the principles that differentiated the American (Lockeian "limited government") Revolution from the French (Rousseauian "government as Platonic Guardian") Revolution (from which most forms of tyrannical governments today can claim descent). If the Lockeian view -- that governments are of and by the governed -- is to prevail over the Rousseauian view -- that governments are for the governed, but of the governing (however well intentioned) -- then it is clear that the United States must convince the rest of humanity of the of the veracity of that principle.

That was the thrust of President Bush's Second Inaugural Address.

While I certainly agree with Peggy Noonan that it is folly to think that we can create "Heaven on Earth", is it not also foolhardy and selfish not to try to export to the oppressed peoples of this planet the values which have made this country great ?

California to Install Wi-Fi Access in State Parks

I thought California was supposed to be a granola, grapenuts, outdoorsy kind of state. Apparently not as much as they'd like to have you believe.

California has come up with a real smart plan: Wire its state parks for wi-fi. Now this strikes me as the height of foolishness. I am no outdoorsman and I do love having access to the internet (where else would I come across stories like this one, after all), but it seems to me that if you are going to take the time to go to a state park and enjoy the great outdoors, you can just leave the internet behind for a few hours or days. After all, what's the point of going to park in the first place if you are going to spend your time sucking up RSS feeds of your favorite online pundits? You could do that from the comfort of your study at home. What's next -- stadium style floodlighting of the parks, so those who just can't be bothered to visit during the day will not be disadvantaged?

Liberal Retreads

In typical liberal fashion, the United Autoworkers staged a protest outside Ford Motor Company's headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan on Friday. What struck me most about the Reuters article describing this event was the following:
"Police in Dearborn, the Detroit suburb from which Ford runs its global operations, estimated that as many as 600 members of the United Auto Workers (news - web sites) union braved bone-chilling, 12-degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures to join in the protest.It was the first in recent memory to put disgruntled members of the UAW on the doorstep of 'The Glass House,' as Ford's headquarters is known.
Led by union activists with bullhorns, they chanted slogans like 'hey, hey, ho, ho -- we want jobs not Mexico' and 'No Lincolns built in Mexico -- hell no!' "

The libs have used that stupid "hey, hey, ho, ho" thing for at least the last 20 years. Can't they come up with something more original (and somewhat less childish) than that? Or does this mean that they only champion causes that can be rhymed with "ho, ho"? For that matter, what's Santa got to do with it anyway?

Friday, January 21, 2005

Reaction to President Bush's Inaugural Address

The Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web quotes the New York Times reaction to President Bush's Second Inaugural Address:
"The consensus on President Bush's second inaugural address seems to be that it was a very idealistic speech, which it was. As to its meaning, however, the president's critics and supporters alike are divided. The New York Times editorial board yawns that Bush simply fulfilled his 'role, which was to summon the generalities that unite us':

Once in a long while, a newly sworn-in president moves beyond the deeply felt but slightly bland oratory and says something that people will repeat long after he has moved into history. Mr. Bush's speech did not seem in danger of becoming immortal, but its universal intent suited the day.

I seem to recall that there was another speech given by a wartime President that the popular press didn't seem too high on (hint: It was given in November 1863 in a small Pennsylvania town named Gettysburg).

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Shares of EBay Tumble on 'Red Flags'

Ebay stock took a big tumble on Thursday:
"Shares of the online bazaar, where sellers peddle everything from ski pants to private islands, fell 19 percent on Nasdaq."
Apparently, Wall Street sees signs that Ebay's period of explosive growth may be coming to an end.

Its still way above the $16 / share I told my broker that I was willing to pay for it on the day of its IPO.

Boston Dirty Bomb Thoughts

I've been following this story since I first read The Counterterror Blog's posting about it at around 4:30 yesterday afternoon. Since the story first went up, there's been a lot of activity, both in the MSM and the blogosphere about the individuals who may be involved. One thing I haven't figured out, though, is the following: Where in the world did we get the pictures of these people? Every account I've seen says that the individuals being sought have never been on any terrorist watch list. So how is it that we have conveniently available mug-shots of them? The answer to this might be sitting right under my nose (and no, I don't think this is some sort of U.S. Government -created conspiracy), but I just don't know. If you have thoughts on this, please comment.

UPDATE: Apparently, I am not the only one wondering where these pictures came from.

Thoughts on The Apprentice, Vol. 3, #1

As dedicated readers know (all 5 or 6 of you now), I usually comment on politics / current events. On Thursday nights, however, I will be doing something a little different: ApprenticeBlogging. The Apprentice is my one and only foray into the tawdry world of "reality TV". I don't accept it as reality, but it sure can be funny. These people all think they are the hottest thing since the mousetrap. Needless to say: they are not. Enough distractions; time to ApprenticeBlog.

OK. The first week is in the can. This "season" The Donald (not to be confused with one of my friends of the same name) is pitting a team of college educated Apprentice Wannabe's (Magna) against a bunch of high school grads (Net Worth) who have been successful despite their relative lack of education. Predictably, the high schoolers won this week's project (an effort to sell the most of a new Burger King hamburger). At the end of the day, Todd, the lame project manager of Team Magna, got the ax. Danny, who is a guitar-playing, leisure suit-wearing marketing guy in real life, survived. My theory here is that, as badly as Todd led (or failed to lead) his team, Danny was the real reason the team lost. However, because Danny is an interesting character, to say the least, he gets a reprieve for at least a few weeks. Beyond these observations, I can't say too much, because there are just too many candidates left to really get a feel for each of their personalities, strengths and weaknesses.

Stay tuned!

Light Blogging Today

Lots going on. Thoughts about the Inauguration, etc... However, its The Apprentice, Season 3 starting tonight. Back later.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Damascus in the Spring...

Glenn Reynolds is such a tease ...

Uncle Joe Makes a Comeback -- Not Good News

Michelle Malkin relates how Vladimir Putin is allowing a marble statue of "Uncle Joe" Stalin to be erected in Moscow. This is very definitely bad news, in that it signals some yearning on the part of at least official Russia for the "good old days" when the Soviet Union had its way in the world. Thank goodness for the Ukraine. Let's get 'em into NATO as soon as possible.

Reports of Possible Dirty Bomb in Boston

Per The CounterTerrorism Blog. Stay tuned...

UPDATE 1: A good roundup of coverage over at (Our Life) Short Family Online and at Backcountry Conservative.

UPDATE 2: Powerpundit raises the notion that this whole thing could be an Inauguration Day prank:
"This very well could be a prank to raise hackles before the inauguration, but of course they have to take it seriously."

What everyone fears is that the Boston reference is a blind and that the real target is the Inauguration in Washington, D.C. Then, of course, this would be much more than a prank. This calls to mind Stephen Coonts novel, Liberty, in which Islamo-terrorists obtain nuclear warheads from a shipping container in Miami and then make their way up the East Coast towards NYC in a series of tractor trailers. Let's hope that the truth here IS just fiction.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT 1: Senator Dick Durbin (D.-IL) made a big stink last week during the Alberto Gonzales confirmation hearings about the use of torture by U.S. agencies and the military:
"Finally, Durbin said he was disturbed by an answer Gonzales gave, or failed to give, during the confirmation hearing.

"'I asked him, point blank, if any American person, either government or military, could legally use torture. He said he'd have to get back to me,' Durbin said. 'I was stunned by his lack of an immediate answer.'"
Well, perhaps the reason Mr. Gonzales needed to get back to Sen. Durbin was so that he could consider the legality of torture in a case exactly like this Boston story. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the authorities find someone who, it is apparent, knows something about this potential plot. As the interrogations wear on, it is obvious that the person knows a lot more than they're letting on. Further, let us assume that the magnitude of the weapon becomes known and that its a bad one. How far do we go before we use some force (and I'm not talking the rack here or pouring molten lead down someone's throat) to try and obtain useable information from our putative informant? Is it to save 5 lives? How about 500? How about 50,000? I'm not sure I know the answer to that (legally or morally), but I'll tell you this: its not as black & white as Dick Durbin or any of the "anti-torture" crowd would have you believe.

UPDATE 3: Here's a link to the official statement issued by Boston U.S. Attorney and FBI Special Agent in Charge.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


I once started a blog entitled "Reuterswatch", the purpose of which was to detail some of the more outrageous left-wing tripe that that so-called news service put out on the wires. It got to the point where I had to admit that almost everything they put out was outrageous left-wing tripe, and so I gave up. Every once in awhile, however, Reuters outdoes itself, as it did today in its coverage of the Condoleeza Rice confirmation hearings. Contrast the following passage from a Reuters story filed at about 8 pm (EST):
"In a heated exchange in an otherwise generally cordial hearing, California Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer (news, bio, voting record) accused Rice of making contradictory statements to argue the case for war and said the Bush administration shifted its justification because it had failed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

"'I personally believe ... that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell this war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth,' Boxer told Rice, citing statements about how fast former dictator Saddam Hussein (news - web sites [Ed.:Wow! Saddam has his own websites. I wonder if they are hosted by Hosting Matters!]) might acquire a nuclear weapon.

"Rice responded: 'I have never, ever, lost respect for the truth in the service of anything.

"'I would hope that we can have this conversation ... without impugning my credibility or my integrity,' Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, her voice appearing to quaver with emotion as she looked directly at Boxer." (Ed.: how does a voice appear to quaver? It either quavers or it doesn't!)
with the following account of the exchange, taken from Powerpundit:
"Senator we can have this discussion any way you want, but I really hope that you will not imply that I take the truth lightly."
Now, knowing Condi Rice: which version do YOU believe?

Yeah -- me, too.

George W

With all the hoopla attendant to the impending Inaugural events, I decided recently to take up a biography of George W. After all, I really didn't know much about him and how he ascended to the Presidency. I was curious as to where he grew up, who his parents were, and what influences played a large part in his Presidential makeup.

"Who his parents were?" you ask, dear reader, "everyone knows his parents are George and Barbara Bush and that he grew up in Midland, Texas!" Ah, but then that would assume we were talking about George Walker Bush...and not about George Washington!

I recently toured the Gilbert Stuart portrait collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Perhaps you have seen one of his portraits? Anyway, all of the varieties of studies and portraits that Stuart made of GW piqued my interest in this most enigmatic of our Presidents. From time to time, I may share some of what I learn on these pages.

How Far We Have Come!

Ain't progress grand? For $8500 now, you could practically buy a supercomputer.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Pentagon Flames Seymour Hersh

Wow. I don't think I have ever seen such a flaming retort from any government agency as is the Pentagon's official response to the Seymour Hersh article about U.S. Special Forces infiltrating Iran.

(Hat tip: The Counterterrorism Blog)

Social Security Privatization and Medical Savings Accounts

My wife had some eye surgery today to complete a procedure she started in September 2004. We noticed how much busier the waiting room was today versus her first appointment. The staff remarked that this was because in the first half of the year, people are using up the amounts they have set aside in their Medical Savings Accounts. Hence, the waiting room was fuller in January than it was in September.

It seems to me that this is a pretty good analogy to the type of behavior-changes we might expect to see under any Social Security privitization -- taxpayers incentivized to consume (in the form of saving, perversely enough!) as a result of the tax break afforded by privitzation. I haven't fully worked out the full applicablility of this analogy in my own mind. I am only throwing this out now as food for thought. Meanwhile, I am going to do some digging to see if anyone has done a study along the lines of how Medical Savings Accounts have increased discretionary consumer medical spending.

Let me have any of your comments.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Limousine-borne Terror Alert from Time Magazine

Michelle Malkin and In the Bullpen each discuss an Inauguration Day terror scenario posited by Time Magazine in which limousines would be loaded up with a flammable gas in pressurized cylinders. The gas would be released in such a way as to create an improvised fuel-air weapon. Time's scenario apparently derives from papers found in the possession of an al-Qaeda operative captured in Great Britain last year. Although I could not confirm this (as I don't have access to Nexis), I am pretty sure I recall that the finding of these documents initally led to the raising of the terror threat rainbow for Citicorp in New Jersey and the World Bank in Washington, D.C. late last Summer.

I agree with In the Bullpen that it sure looks like Time is just regurgitating this story because the Inauguration represents a high-value target for the terrorists and not because of anything new (after all, in the tradition of Seymour Hersh, you can bet Time would spill the beans if it had classified information).

I'm sure that if something were to happen (and, trust me, I sure hope it doesn't), the liberals would be all over the Bush Administration for not spending enough money on the Inauguration. Oh -- wait a second -- they are already on the record as saying the President is spending too much. No matter -- consistency for these people is definitely not a virtue.

U.S. Conducting Secret Missions Inside Iran?

Seymour Hersh is at it again -- trying to get our troops killed. But what if -- and this is just me saying this; I obviously have no way of knowing -- what if, the idea that there are Special Forces operatives running all over Iran is information planted by the Bush Administration. You have to admit, even if it isn't true, the Iranians are scrambling to see if their nuclear secrets have been compromised. If it only stalls their efforts, the story is worth its weight in gold.

A separate issue, however, is Hersh's evident disdain for the lives of the Special Operators (and, personally -- I think they are there). In the good old days, Mr. Hersh's conduct would be called one thing -- treason.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Sound ... From a Billion Miles (or so) Away

Follow this link to hear the most distant sound ever recorded, from the Huygens probe after it landed on Titan, one of Saturn's moons. Probably the sound of the inhabitants of Titan taking out the evil Imperial probe droid...

World War V?

This article from the Japan Times (courtesy of Instapundit) raises interesting questions about Chinese intentions in the western Pacific. For Japan, which has generally eschewed military activity in the 60 years since the end of WWII, to have developed such contingency plans against Chinese incursions is troubling. I find it troubling because it implies that the Chinese have developed (or will soon develop) an ability to project force beyond its own coastline. Though I hope it will not come to pass, this may be the forebodings of WWV (if the Cold War was WWIII and the War on Terror is WWIV).

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Royal Gaffe

I have to agree with the various Jewish groups here - Prince Harry has no business wearing a Nazi uniform, even if just to a costume party. This simply ignores the evil that was the Nazi regime - a regime that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of Harry's great grandparents' subjects, as well as millions of Jews and others in Europe. The last member of the British Royal Family to wear a Nazi uniform, so far as I know, was Harry' great-great Uncle David -- King Edward VIII.

We know what happened to him.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

How Zarqawi Got to Iraq?

I guess we know now how Zarqawi got to Iraq...

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Thursday, January 13, 2005

A Brilliant Exposition on the Underlying Rationale for the Iraq War

Kudos to Carpe Bonum for just about the best reasoned, best documented explication of the Bush Administration's rationale for the Iraq War that I have seen. Read it all!

OK, Where's the Blogospheric Outrage?

I heard about the Indonesian government's seemingly ingrateful position vis a vis the U.S. military's tsunami assistance a couple of hours ago, while away from my PC. When I got back to the computer, I posted this post, expressing my displeasure over the Indonesian government's position. I concluded that we, the United States (and our stalwart allies) will continue to help, despite the ingratitude, because that's who we are.

Where is the rest of the blogosphere on this? I have never seen it so quiet.

Indonesia Apparently Does Not Value Our Assistance

Indonesia, the country that suffered the most from the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami of December 26, apparently couldn't care less about the assistance being given by U.S. soldiers, sailors and Marines. The Sydney Morning Herald (along with other news outlets) is reporting that:
"[T]he aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, which serves as a key base for relief operations, had to move outside Indonesian territorial waters off Banda Aceh because Indonesians objected to US training flights.

"Moreover, US marines delivering aid to survivors had to scale back their presence on shore and move to ships of the carrier group to address Indonesian sensitivities and security concerns."

If this is how we are treated for helping, then maybe we ought to pack our bags and go home (or at least go where we are appreciated). On the other hand, people are dying and we are the United States of America, the greatest nation the world has ever known and WE HELP PEOPLE, WHETHER IT IS APPRECIATED OR NOT, BECAUSE THAT'S WHO WE ARE.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

One of My Favorite Times of the Year

It's the second week in January...ergo, one of my favorite times of the year -- time for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. OK, its true that I am originally from Detroit and I am constrained to say also that I am employed by one of the principal exhibitors at the show. Nevertheless, NAIAS-time is always an exciting time even for only the casual automotive consumer, which pretty much includes everyone. This is the one auto show where you can almost always count on something new. Oh sure, some years a major announcement is made at the Tokyo show, or the Paris show, or even the L.A. show (which tries to steal Detroit's thunder by opening a week earlier). But almost always there is a major announcement or product introduction (or 2 or 3) at the North American show in Detroit.

Note that I said "almost always". Twice, in fact.

This year, there seems to be a distinct lack of buzz around the show, which usually resonates even down here in the Southeast U.S. I caught one interview early Monday morning between a local anchor and Ford's design V.P. , J Mays (highlighted by the local anchor's clumsy effort at being Ted Koppel). Other than that -- nothing, at least nothing truly automotive that has really captured the attention of anyone whose livelihood does not depend on the auto industry.

There have been a couple of interesting developments, however (one of which is particularly significant for the blogosphere). First is the continued push towards alternate fuel and hybrid models. Toyota (and to a lesser extent Honda) continue to reap the benefit of being there "firstest with the mostest". GM (yes, my employer) has made real strides in this arena, too, but just not so publicly as the imports have. GM introduced the Sequel concept vehicle, which is a second generation "skateboard" vehicle, meaning that the powertrain is actually four powertrains, one for each wheel. What this means is, no "tunnel" running the length of the vehicle for the driveshaft. This leads, of course, to a lot of flexibility in design, according to AutoBlog, which has some pictures of the Sequel on its site. This image is from MSN Autos' coverage of the show. GM Sequel The Sequel builds on the technology first demonstrated in the Hy-Wire vehicle a few years back -- namely integration of hydrogen fuel cells into a workable automotive chassis. The key constraint on widespread acceptance of this technology remains, of course, cost.

The second big development is the introduction of the GM Fastlane blog, featuring GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz (no, I am not commenting on this because I work for GM; it was noteworthy enough to be posted about by such luminaries as Hugh Hewitt (favorably) and by Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit (somewhat less favorably)). What is noteworthy about the GM blog is that this marks a significant milestone in alternative media. GM is the largest advertiser in the United States, spending billions each year to promote its brands. This new blog, which may appeal to real car enthusiasts out there, probably cost relatively little to put together. In just one week, though, it's already generated a lot of "free" advertising. It'll be interesting to see how this goes.

The Emperor's New Clothes

Remember that story from childhood? An emperor from a faraway land was so vain that, when an unscrupulous "tailor" told him that he would weave for the emperor a magical suit that could only be seen by {you pick the group: the noble, the erudite, the cool, whatever ...}, the emperor believed it. When the tailor "wove" the (non-existent) suit, the emperor, of course, could not see it. He was so embarrassed that he -- the emperor! -- was not part of the privileged group that could actually see the suit that he pretended to do so nonetheless and proceeded to march out into town to show it off. It finally took an innocent little child to declare what everyone could plainly see -- the emperor had no clothes! The emperor then realized his folly and repented of his vanity.

While emperors have gone out of style, vanity clearly has not. Witness the various righteous screeds issued by the Mainstream Media over the past couple of days. Mary Mapes, for instance, reacted to the release of the Thornburgh report on Monday by continuing to maintain in the face of mountains of evidence to the contraray that the Burkett Memos are authentic. In USA Today today, writer Jill Lawrence led off her piece in Tuesday's edition with the following, which can only be described as incredible:
"Imagine a Democratic presidential candidate and his allies assailing the character of the Republican nominee in ads and speeches every day for eight months.Having trouble? That's because Democrats generally don't have the stomach or the discipline to do it. Often they don't even effectively fight back when under attack themselves.”"
Huh? Ms. Lawrence must have an ancestor by the name of Rip Van Winkle, since the only way she missed the 10 months of demagoguery otherwise known as the Democratic Presidential primaries is by sleeping through the whole thing.

These journalists (and I am being very generous here...) can only be in a state of complete and utter denial -- much like our mythical emperor. The MSM seems to labor under the misimpression that we don't know: "Shhhh -- don't tell anyone that we're biased; they'll never figure it out!" What THEY have not figured out is that we all know their dirty little secret and we have known it for some time; its just that there hasn't been an effective medium for the thousands of points of light to make their voices heard...until now. The blogosphere has taken on the role of the innocent child crying out that the emperor has no clothes. Only this time, the "emperor" -- the MSM -- does not repent of its folly. Rather (and I just love using that word in sentences on this topic!), it continues onward, towards its own potential destruction.

We've heard a lot of criticism over the last few days -- of CBS, of the individual journalists and of the Thornburgh report. What's needed now, though, is action. The Mainstream Media needs to understand that the game is up and that it is now time to enact positive reform of the industry, if it is to survive. The American people have a lot more choices now from which to get their news; if the Mainstream Media doesn't look itself in the face and resolve to correct itself, it will be no more.

Frankly, I doubt they will be able to do it.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Unbelievable Power of the Tsunami

Some pretty incredible before and after aerial photographs of the area of Indonesia affected by the tsunami. Its like a giant broom just swept the area. Unlike the enviro-nuts, I don't like seeing signs of human habitation just wiped out...

The Good We Do -- Over There

An absolute must read from The Diplomad on the positive impact our sailors, Marines, airmen and soldiers are having in Indonesia.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Monday, January 10, 2005

Frivolous Weather Blogging

Just a quick post to note my continued satisfaction with the warm weather here in the southeast. For a guy from way up north, this has been a real treat!

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

A Real Crook

This is a story I heard about on the Glenn Beck radio show this morning. A soldier, Spc. Elwood Wrigley, will shortly be enroute to Afghanistan -- for the second time. Apparently, he attended a Philadelphia Eagles game New Years Weekend and lost his camera, containing pictures of his family at Christmas. Understandably, he really wants the camera back. Wrigley contacted a local Philadelphia tv station (NBC10 (WCAU)) and asked if they could put out an appeal to the public to see if anyone had retrieved the camera. NBC10 decided to do so and when they did, they were contacted by a Michael Crook, who apparently aspires to live up to the family name. Mr. Crook said he would be happy to return the camera -- for a $1,000 finders fee. According to Mr. Crook:
"'I don't really do things out of kindness. It's a business world and I know it seems harsh but, you know, it is all about the money' Crook said."
Wonderful. Let's hope John Q. Policeman and Bart Prosecutor were also at the game.

Great Minds Think Alike

This evening, I penned a multiparagraph post with my thoughts on the CBS Independent Panel Report released today. Following my initial publication of the post, I decided to add one more citation for my thesis that we should not have expected the Panel to make findings any more damning to CBS than absolutely necessary to support the foregone conclusion that CBS screwed up big time -- probably, but not provably, intentionally. My citation was going to be to a post by Soxblog. However, when I read Soxblog's entire post, I discovered that he reached almost all the same conclusions as I had and, in fact, using many of the same comparisons and language.

In order to avoid any appearance that I may have "borrowed" Soxblog's ideas for my own piece, I have elected to withdraw my post on the subject. I do, obviously, endorse Soxblog's view of the topic, which I commend to your reading pleasure!

Tsunami Relief Organizations that are Getting the Job Done

The Diplomad (who for new readers is one [or more] US Foreign Service Officers who maintain a blog about issues relating to US Foreign relations and is on the spot in South Asia amidst the tsunami carnage) makes a non-endorsement endorsement of relief agencies. I reproduce the list here:

International Organization for Migration (IOM)


Catholic Relief Services

Mercy Corps

Save the Children

Keep these in mind for your contributions...

Blog attacks

Someone really has it in for Hosting Matters (or, more likely, some of their clients). They are down again (11:35 pm 1/9/05). Roger Simon noted they were also down earlier this evening.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Goody Two Shoes?

In today's OpinionJournal - Extra City Journal Contributing Editor Heather Mac Donald lays out the ridiculous extent to which our interrogation techniques of suspected terrorists has descended. From the way the press has reacted over the past several days to the infamous "Torture Memo" (falsely ascribed to Alberto Gonzales), you'd think the United States routinely employed the rack or Chinese Water Torture or boiling terrorists in oil to obtain critical information. Apparently nothing could be further from the truth. As it turns out, the U.S. military has become so afraid of being labelled as torturers, that it has gone to extremes to avoid that label. For instance,
"longstanding Army psychological techniques, such as attacking a detainee's pride or the classic good cop/bad cop routine, also required a specific finding of military necessity and notice to Donald Rumsfeld."
"[a]n interrogator who so much as requests permission to question a detainee into the night could be putting his career in jeopardy."
Something is clearly wrong here. No one is advocating that the United States engage in torture. The use of stress techniqes short of torture, however, have been shown to be effectual. Let's use these techniques now, while we still have the chance. The same useless Democratic Senators who sanctimoniously prattled on during the Gonzales confirmation hearings this week will also be the first ones to accuse the Bush Administration of not doing enough if another terrorist act occurs on U.S. Shores -- an act which might be prevented if we simply use effective but non-torturous interrogation methods. The alternative is one we don't want to consider, and which could ultimately cost us the War on Terror.

UPDATE: Powerline is also raising aspects of this issue.

UNscrupulous Shenanigans

Just caught the latest installment of The Diplomad from the Far Abroad. The Chief Diplomad's account is once again both amusing and distressing. Is it any surprise to any of us that the UN officials are claiming credit for the work being done by the US Military AND are expressing resentment toward said military? No surprise in this corner of the world.

It occurred to me earlier today that there are a great deal of similarities between many members of the U.S. Foreign Service (the Diplomad excluded, of course), their brethren in the UN bureacracy and journalists. Likely most of these individuals chose their occupations because they saw it as a means to "change the world". Rather than merely work with what they are given and be satisfied with the results, they see it as their right to be able to change the world. If events don't naturally lead where they want them to go, by golly, they just take the bull by the horns and make it the way they want it to be. This serves as an explanation for the effort by CBS and the New York Times to swing the recent election for John Kerry. It also explains the UN's collective efforts to claim credit for work being done by others (the Australmericans).

Keep up the good reporting, Diplomad, but do not be discouraged. Nothing is going to change with respect to the UN or the MSM, but the blogosphere is making sure that the world hears the real story.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Where's Zarqawi?

What has happened to all the coverage of the purported arrest of Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi in Iraq? INDC Journal, for example, noted the potential arrest on January 4 and also that the military denied it. Now there's virtually no mention anywhere!

A Tip of the Thudguard to Michelle Malkin

Michelle Malkin had an interesting post this morning about Thudguard, a product that's supposed to protect toddlers from the hazards of walking (or, rather, falling down while walking). This brings to mind something I have frequently mentioned to my wife: How is it that any of us are still here? After all, when we were young in the not all so distant past, we didn't:
  • wear seat belts
  • ride in the back seat of the car, or
  • wear bike helmets
and we didn't have:
  • electrical outlet covers
  • padded foam corners on brick fireplace surrounds
  • safety latches on cupboard doors
  • child safety seats, or
  • stove-switch protectors
and yet we are still here (and yes, I recognize that there is a technical logical flaw in that argument, since those of us who are not here are not reading this, but...).

My point, of course, is this: The everyday physical risks facing children today are no different than the risks facing those of us in our 30s, 40s and 50s when we were children. The stunning casualty rate (serious injury and death) amongst the hundreds of kids I knew or knew of growing up? Almost zero (and I say "almost" just in case I forgot one and I am nearly 100% sure I did not; the lawyer in me simply will not allow me to get away without qualifying an otherwise absolute statement). Not one kid in my neighborhood that I know of suffered a traumatic head or spinal cord injury as a result of an everyday activity, including the appallingly dangerous act (to believe present day activists and personal injury attorneys) of riding in a car. And, I might add, I watched kids flip over bike handlebars, collide with fire hydrants, fall out of trees and tumble off a garage roof -- you name it, I'm pretty sure I saw it or did it myself. Oh, there was the occasional (and I do mean occasional) broken arm or leg -- but not a single serious head or spinal cord injury.

I believe we have become a nation (or I guess planet, since the Thudguard hails from Scotland) of worrywarts when it comes to our children. We are constantly protecting them against the negligible risks associated with living (sure, the risks are there, but the likelihood of occurrence is, at best, remote; kind of like the risk of the Earth being hit by an asteroid -- the result would be pretty bad, to put it mildly, but the risk of it happening? Pretty darn remote). At the same time, we are conveying the message, however subconsciously, to our children that the world can be made free of fortuitous (as opposed to intentional) hazards. That attitude, in turn, has helped foster the current nightmare we call our tort jurisprudence: "Accidents don't happen; its all really SOMEONE'S fault (someone else's fault, to be precise, because WE protected ourselves)."

Accidents, of course, do happen. The critical part on the car or airplane can fail at the most inopportune time. Its not because someone wasn't careful in designing the part or building it or installing or maintaining it. It happened ... just because. Just because that's the nature of things on this imperfect planet in an imperfect universe. This is a concept that has become so foreign in our culture in recent years, quite possibly because the tremendous advances we have made since WWII in our ability to measure and discern the physical universe has led us to believe that we have a similar power to control the physical universe. That this is not so, though, could not have been made plainer than by the Sumatran earthquake and tsunami event of December 26, 2004. Closer to home (and ready comprehension), even though we may possess the means to discern microscopic evidence of metal fatigue in the case of our hypothetical part under controlled lab conditions, that doesn't mean that it is viable, economically or otherwise, to do so in every case in everyday life. To assume otherwise is hubris on our collective part. We cannot legislate or wish away risk; it is as much a part of our world as we are.

Let's turn back the clock here and let kids be kids. A few bumps never hurt anyone, did they? Plaintiff's Exhibit A?:

Just look in the mirror.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Kerry Still Campaigning Down Under?

One would think that the map below map is a depiction of the path John Kerry's sister, Diana, took during her pre-election visit "down-under". But its really just the latest tropical system in the southern hemisphere...

Tropical Storm Kerry

(Courtesy of the Weather Underground)

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

New Kodak Camera Has Wireless Email

This new camera from Kodak will have wi-fi capabilities, allowing it to email pictures it takes directly to Kodak's internet-based Ofoto service. Pretty nifty (though I am surprised its taken this long for camera makers to do this or something similar using cellular phone technology).

Maybe it'll even brew coffee!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

1930s Redux?

In an article partially reproduced in Power Line British writer Melanie Phillips examines at length the effect the media has had on the British public and its reaction to Islamic terror. It is quite interesting to note the parallels between the reactions Ms. Phillips documents and public opinion in Great Britain in the period 1931-37 toward Nazi Germany. It is significant as well that the British malaise of the 1930's (which may have had more to do with the rise of the totalitarians and everything that has happened since, including Islamic terrorism) was largely a creation of the British media elite of the day, namely Sir John Reith of the BBC, Geoffrey Dawson of the Times of London and, early in the period, Max Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook. Those media personalities, probably more powerful in their day, than any MSM figure now, shaped British foreign policy and gave rise to the appeasement movement, which peaked at the time of the Munich sell-out of Czechoslovakia.

Let's hope we don't see history repeat itself.

UnDiplomadic Banter

The guys over at The Diplomad (a blog by some oxymorons [and certainly NOT to be confused with morons] who are both members of the U.S. Foreign Service AND the Republican Party) are having some fun at the expense of the supposed UN Relief effort in South Asia. They have been tracking the impending arrival of the UN High Poobah, Margareeta Wahlstrom in hilarious fashion (not that there's anything funny about what's happened, of course!). I hope the Diplomads keep up the running tale of Ms. Wahlstrom's meetings to set up meetings.

Biting mad...

This story about a mother biting her son over a $20 bill (that the mother stole from the son's friend) speaks for itself.

Too weird.

When Colin Powell REALLY gets upset...

Ann Althouse had a post the other day about Colin Powell appearing upset (or at least as upset as he gets) on Meet the Press on Sunday. Well, in an interview this morning with Diane Sawyer this morning, we see what Colin Powell is like when he really is perturbed.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi reportedly arrested in Iraq

If true, this would certainly be good news: "Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, whom the US occupation authorities declared to be the 'target number one' in Iraq, has been arrested in the city of Baakuba, the Emirate newspaper al-Bayane reported on Tuesday referring to Kurdish sources."

Monday, January 03, 2005

Privatization of Social Security

In this article from 1997, Martin Feldstein lays out some very persuasive reasons for complete privatization of the Social Security system. He argues that a complete privitization of the system could result in a net present value benefit to the economy of $10-20 trillion. If true, a 10% privatization, as proposed by President Bush, could potentially yield a trillion dollars to U.S.

Read the whole thing.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince already No. 1 at

The next Harry Potter installment is already #1. Get it here for only $16.19!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Power Line: Iraqis Cracking Down on Terrorists

This story from Power Line is a hopeful sign on 2 fronts: first, that meaningful inroads are being made against Iraqi terrorists and second, that the Iraqi National Guard is starting to be a force to be reckoned with.

We'll keep watching this one.

Posthumous Peace Award for Margaret Hassan

Two reactions to this BBC story about Margaret Hassan receiving a peace award:

  • I wonder if she would have received this award if she had not been murdered by Iraqi "insurgents" (I'm not saying she didn't deserve the award; from all accounts she deserved that and more); and

  • I'll bet her family would rather have her back than this posthumous award

Bowling ...

Well, a partial day of College Bowl games. I caught the last 14 seconds of the Citrus Bowl between Iowa and LSU...and that's all I needed to see apparently, as Iowa won with a desperation pass.

On to dinner and then a TIVO replay of the Rose Bowl (featuring my beloved Michigan Wolverines)(more about the TIVO effort below). The Wolverines played reasonably well in this game, but reasonably well was not good enough. Not with Michael Vick II (aka Vince Young) leading the Texas Longhorns. When an opposing QB runs for nearly 200 yards against you, its a good bet that you will lose the game. Michigan, especially, has had problems with running QBs this year (Michigan State and Ohio State come to mind). A disappointing end to what looked like a very promising year. Nevertheless, if Michael Hart and Chad Henne stay healthy, and some Braylon Edwards replacements can be found (Sorry, Trajan -- Edwards,despite his attitude, is the real deal), Michigan can look forward to possibly playing on January 4, 2006, 2007 & 2008.

Now, on to TIVO (or is it Tivo?). It's a great service. I use it all the time to record NFL games to watch on Sunday evenings, thereby freeing up Sunday afternoons for the family and those gotta do home maintenance tasks. I have only had 2 problems with it. The first was earlier in the college football season, when I asked it to record only 4 hours of the Michigan / Michigan State game. That game went into overtime, and lasted nearly 4 and 1/2 hours. By all accounts, I missed one of the most thrilling endings to a football game, at least in Michigan football history. Bearing that in mind, I decided to hedge my bets today: Knowing that the start of the Rose Bowl was dependent upon the time the Citrus Bowl ended, I went wild and asked Tivo to record 7 hours of the Rose Bowl. What's the harm, right? So I get a bunch of the Fiesta Bowl on "tape"; I can always delete it when the Rose Bowl coverage is done.

About 8:30 p.m., after having our traditional roast beef dinner and cleaning the dishes, helping out with the bunnies, I settle in for the viewing of the game, which, I presume has ended or is close to ending. Dumb me. I didn't bother to check the recording time. It turns out that Tivo decided, on its own, to start recording Law and Order at 9 p.m. (to add insult to injury, the SVU version, not the original). Don't ask me why it did this. I figured that my manual tweaking of the Rose Bowl recording time to 7 hours would override any other scheduled recording. I was wrong. So, I missed the second most thrilling ending of a Michigan football game of the year, thanks to Tivo. Maybe it thought it was doing me a favor, since the reason this game was only the second most thrilling is because Michigan lost on a last second field goal.

Oh well!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Y2K +5

Happy New Year! Its 2005. Given the hysteria five years ago, it's remarkable that we made it to this point (and I say this while acknowledging the great earthquake / tsunami disaster of a week ago and the events of September 11, 2001).

Just so you remember some of the dire predictions for the millenium (which really didn't occur until midnight January 1, 2001!), here are some:

  • The electrical power grids would crash (that didn't happen until August 2003)

  • The banking networks would collapse

  • The air traffic control system would be inoperable and airliners would have to land unaided

Happily, none of that ever happened (to my knowledge) and now it looks like a fit of overconcern on everyone's part. Of course, all the work done leading up to the event may have had something to do with why nothing ever happened. Imagine the reaction if nothing had been done and even one of these disasters had occurred!