Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Bread and Butter Blogging

That's what it feels like, slogging through a blog entry, as a sort of courtesy note.

It feels lately like I don't have time for noticing current events much less commenting on them. The holiday season is hectic for those of us in the hospitality business. That may or may not let up by February, depending on staff shuffles.

What free time I have, free of an obligation to get enough sleep for the night ahead, is really for savoring with family and friends in the holiday season.

So I'll post when I have the time, energy, coherence, and lack of other chores. Enjoy yourselves!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Slow Blogging

I've been busier at the job than usual, something that will probably continue for a good month or so. I'll be making maybe a third again as much takehome. The downside is that most days the engine of my mind skips a cylinder.

I had two days off this week, of which the first was consumed in preparing and attending the office Christmas party. Wednesday I took a few hours to enjoy a hike along the Santa Ana riverbottom. I wandered down among the bare pecans near the Nature Center and down grey-sand trails to the flowing water, enjoying the thick reeds and warped eucalyptus. So many of the plants down there are imports run wild.

Once I get some rest and have nothing more pressing, I'll finish a post I started Dec. 5th. After I write all my letters and send my Christmas ecards. And pay bills.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bucking the Conventional Wisdom

As I flit from book to book in my library, I was struck by Chapter XII of Adm. Samuel Eliot Morrison's "The Two-Ocean War". That chapter covers the landings at Salerno and Anzio.

I've heard repeatedly that Hitler bungled his response to Overlord, by refusing to let Rommel hurl the panzers at our Normandy beaches immediately.

Yet if you read Morrison's account of our Italian landings, Kesselring did have armor fighting at the beaches, and it failed to break our landings. The best Kesselring, who would later prove himself a very capable commander was able to do was contain the initial landing force. Naval gunfire, directed by fighters, enabled US and British destroyers to destroy gun emplacements and disrupt panzer formations. The Germans weren't able to carry out blitzkreig against the beaches-- Morrison notes one example of a panzer unit of 35 tanks routed with 7 tanks lost to 6" guns--very light mounts for naval weapons. As Morrison points out, this was when the Allies didn't have effective reconnaisance of their road or rail transports, didn't mount paratrooper raids in the interior, and didn't have total control of the air.

At Normandy we had whole airborne divisions beyond the beaches, extensive air recon of the whole region, air supremacy, more troops, more planes, more ships, and an additional year's experience at close naval support fire.

It would take a graduate thesis to prove or disprove, but we can surely speculate that Hitler's refusal to expend his panzers against British and American battleships was no blunder, but a sensible marshalling of resources.

The Silly Season

Like a social disease, the Bushhatred syndrome is raging once more among the MSM. The usual symptoms are present--insistence that a standard practice from prior Administrations be given a sinister interpretation; deliberate fudging of the facts; hysterical insistence that no President can withstand such a furiously building scandal.

He has, he will, and he is doing so.

Because as usual, their idea of "scandal" invokes a "proper" operating procedure that past Presidents have spurned, and the current public spurns too. In this instance, nobody wants the US govt to avoid listening to Al-Qaeda; and that is exactly what the MSM is trying to crucify Bush for refusing to do.

But it's the season to be merry! So laugh at 'em on their way down.

Powerlineblog skewers Sen. Reid, who imagines himself a Cecil spurning Cromwell and the Puritans, but hath not the competence.

And then there's Nancy Pelosi's announcement that the Democratic Party will have no formal war proposal this November, which is like promising to lead-off every inning with a bunt. If that works for them, they may well wonder why they have a Party leadership at all for any issue... Actually, they might wonder that regardless of the outcome.

T'is the season.

Friday, December 16, 2005

It's Unpatriotic

"You know it's unpatriotic to waste paper."

I caught that line channel-surfing tonight. It's from "Up in Arms", a 1944 Danny Kaye flick. Somebody says it to explain why he doesn't throw away a letter.

So many things revealed by a single sentence! A country so bent on victory that household resources were mustered for the war effort. A country so bound by common values that one American could actually refer to "patriotism" as a reason for doing anything, expecting silent agreement rather than a shouting match.

How far we've degraded the term "patriotic". Hugh Hewitt this week went back in time to the 1968 campaign. He was arguing that Curtis LeMay was a patriotic right-wing extremist, and John Murtha is a patriotic left-wing extremist; but LeMay went down in flames while Murtha gets all the good press because the media is a bunch of patriotic left-wing extremists.

They're all patriots to Hewitt, because he can't consider what a decorated combat veteran says about the war without giving brownie points for his war service.

Me, I say Rep. Murtha's unpatriotic. Just look at all the paper he's wasted.

International Calls Are Not Domestic Targets

Michelle Malkin really does her homework, so I'll refer you there for a detailed rebuttal.

But that's the whole point in a nutshell: reviewing conversations between foriegn targets and persons inside the United States is not domestic surveillance.

Is the NSA is supposed to switch off the mikes if bin Laden dials a NY number?

The way the Senate is thinking, that may just be their next demand.

P.S.

I remembered this incident from my reading of "The FBI Story" by Don Whitehead. Here's an online synopsis of the case:
The facts of the case are odd.

Five letters were written in early 1942 and mailed by seemingly different people in different U.S. locations to the same person at a Buenos Aires, Argentina, address.

How do we know that? Because all of them bounced: "Return to Sender"--and the "senders" on the return address (women in Oregon, Ohio, Colorado, and Washington state) knew nothing about the letters and had not sent them.

Wartime censors had intercepted one letter postmarked Portland, puzzled over its strange contents, and referred it to cryptographers at the FBI Laboratory. Our experts concluded that the three "Old English dolls" left at "a wonderful doll hospital" for repairs might well mean 3 warships being repaired at a west coast naval shipyard; that "fish nets" meant submarine nets, and "balloons" referred to defense installations.

The FBI immediately opened an investigation.

It was May 20, 1942--62 years ago--when a woman in Seattle turned the crucial second letter over to us. It said, "the wife of an important business associate gave her an old German bisque Doll dressed in a Hulu Grass skirt...I broke this awful doll...I walked all over Seattle to get someone to repair it...."

In short order, we turned up the other 3 letters:

From New York: "The only new dolls I have are THREE LOVELY IRISH dolls. One of these three dolls is an old Fishermen with a Net over his back...I went to see MR. SHAW he distroyed YOUR letter, you know he has been Ill.
From Oakland: I will try to make these 7 small dolls look as if they are "seven real Chinese Dolls."
From Portland: "I just secured a lovely Siamese Temple Dancer [doll], it had been damaged, that is tore in the middle, but it is now repaired...."
All five letters were using "doll code" to describe vital information about U.S. Naval matters. All had forged signatures that had been made from authentic original signatures. All had typing characteristics that showed they were typed by the same person on different typewriters. How to put these together?

It was the woman in Colorado who gave us our big break. She, like the other purported letter senders, was a doll collector, and she believed that a Madison Avenue doll shop owner, Mrs. Velvalee Dickinson, was responsible. She said Ms. Dickinson was angry with her because she'd been late paying for some dolls she'd ordered. It was a match: the other women were also her customers.

Who was Velvalee Malvena Dickinson? Basically, a mystery. She was born in California and lived there until she moved with her husband to New York City in 1937. She opened a doll shop on Madison Avenue that same year, catering to wealthy doll collectors and hobbyists, but she struggled to keep it afloat. It turned out, too, that she had a long and close association with the Japanese diplomatic mission in the U.S.--and she had $13,000 in her safe deposit box traceable to Japanese sources.

Following her guilty plea on 7/28/44, she detailed how she gathered intelligence at U.S. shipyards and how she'd used the code provided by Japanese Naval Attaché Ichiro Yokoyama to craft the letters. What we'll never know is why the letters had been, thankfully, incorrectly addressed.
Does anybody mourn the FBI's high-handed trickery regarding US mail in this case?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Lips Sealed, Eyebrows Waggling

Robert Novak ably demonstrates why journalists do not, and should not, enjoy the confidentiality protections of priests, lawyers, and doctors.

When a doctor is asked to break a confidence, not only will she not yield the information, she will not refer the questioner to someone who will. She works to ensure the confidence is respected.

Contrast that with Novak's behavior. He clearly wants the name of his source revealed, the confidence broken--just not direct from his lips.

Lawfully immune confidants do not dance in the streets singing

I know something you dunno
I know something you dunno
And I ain't gonna tell you!

When journalists learn that "harlequin" is not an ethical profession, we can endow them with those privileges.

The Arab Street Has Spoken

Anybody who doesn't appreciate what America has done and the President Bush, let them go to hell.----Betty Dawisha

Saturday, December 10, 2005

"What It Takes To Win"

From Drudgereport today:
Today, Senator Daniel Inouye, the Ranking Member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his service in World War II, released the following statement:

"As a Veteran of World War II, I know what it’s like to fight a war and put your life on the line every day. I also know what it takes to win a war, and I know that politics and an attack machine like the President’s plays no part in it.

"The Republican Party’s latest ad is a shameful and disgusting attempt to distract the American people from the problems in Iraq. It may improve the President’s political fortunes, but the American people and our troops will pay the price. I hope that President Bush realizes how shameful it is to play politics when what we really need is leadership, and that he will direct his Party to take down this ad immediately."

Well I guess the Senator forgot the presidential "attack machine" that broke the Axis!

On December 29, 1940:
There are also American citizens, many of them in high places, who, unwittingly in most cases, are aiding and abetting the work of these agents. I do not charge these American citizens with being foreign agents. But I do charge them with doing exactly the kind of work that the dictators want done in the United States.

These people not only believe that we can save our own skins by shutting our eyes to the fate of other nations. Some of them go much further than that. They say that we can and should become the friends and even the partners of the Axis powers. Some of them even suggest that we should imitate the methods of the dictatorships. Americans never can and never will do that.

The experience of the past two years has proven beyond doubt that no nation can appease the Nazis. No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it. There can be no appeasement with ruthlessness. There can be no reasoning with an incendiary bomb. We know now that a nation can have peace with the Nazis only at the price of total surrender.

...The American appeasers ignore the warning to be found in the ate of Austria, Czechoslovakia., Poland, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, and France. They tell you that the Axis powers re going to win anyway; that all this bloodshed in the world could be saved; and that the United States might just as well throw its influence into the scale of a dictated peace, and get the best out of it that we can.

They call it a "negotiated peace". Nonsense! Is it a negotiated peace if a gang of outlaws surrounds your community and on threat of extermination makes you pay tribute to save your own skins?

...We have no excuse for defeatism. We have every good reason for hope-hope for peace, hope for the defense of our civilization and for the building of a better civilization in the future.

I have the profound conviction that the American people are now determined to put forth a mightier effort than they have ever yet made to increase our production of all the implements of defense, to meet the threat to our democratic faith.

As President of the United States I call for that national effort. I call for it in the name of this Nation which we love and honor and which we are privileged and proud to serve. I call upon our people with absolute confidence that our common cause will greatly succeed.


On March 15, 1941:
From the bureaus of propaganda of the Axis powers came the confident prophecy that the conquest of our country would be "an inside job"-a job accomplished not by overpowering invasion from without, but by disrupting confusion and disunion and moral disintegration from within.

Those who believed that knew little of our history. America is not a country which can be confounded by the appeasers, the defeatists, the backstairs manufacturers of panic. It is a country, which talks out its problems in the open, where any man can hear them.

We have just now engaged in a great debate. It was not limited to the halls of Congress. It was argued in every newspaper, on every wave length-over every cracker barrel in the land. It was finally settled and decided by the American people themselves.

The decisions of our democracy may be slowly arrived at. But when that decision is made, it is proclaimed not with the voice of any one man but with the voice of 130 millions. It is binding on all of us. And the world is no longer left in doubt.

This decision is the end of any attempts at appeasement in our land; the end of urging us to get along with the dictators; the end of compromise with tyranny and the forces of oppression.

The urgency is now.


How is it that any man who heard these words and then took up arms to fulfill them, could have forgotten them?
Or is it that he presumes the public would not remember them?

Winston Churchill once cattily remarked, "...honor, like a lady's virtue, is not subject to dimunition."

Either you have it, or you don't. You can't say, well check the record, I've done more good than harm.

For example, Democrats are touting the notion that the Hon. John Murtha's career as a Marine combat officer cancels out any impropriety in his suggestion that America abandon the field of battle to the enemy, without any effort made to relieve our ally who must fight on to the death without us.
That's not dishonorable, says the Dems, for he is an honorable fellow.

Nuts.

Dishonor, like sewage, is an intolerable mark that a decent person seeks to erase immediately before rejoining the society of man. It taints and ruins the whole package.

I've posted eleven months ago on Joseph P. Kennedy, who was one of the "American citizens...in high places" FDR referred to. Kennedy's public comments that America should suck as much out of democratic Britain before it fell to fascism, were dishonorable.

Rep. John Murtha's call for the pullout, and for the President to be stripped of any power to negotiate the pullout terms with the Iraqi government, was dishonorable.

Howard Dean's declaration that the United States is going to lose the war is dishonorable.
(Dr. Dean wants you to know he is damn sorry--that you all heard what he said. He has since offered a totally different statement that loyal Party members will kindly glue in place after excising the erroneous entry with a small razor.)

In what way does declaring our inevitable defeat, advance anything but our defeat?

"What it takes to win" is for the government that is trying to win, that is winning, to denounce and deflate the careers of the defeatists whenever possible. To shame and vilify the architects of defeat for seeking to build a tottering ruin.

When memory of FDR's condemnation of defeatism set me to writing this entry, I thought Sen. Inouye had been duped by misguided love of gentility and decorum on Capitol Hill, into defending defeatism and appeasement.

But reviewing his remarks...I see nothing about succeeding in the war, or affirming a committment to victory. I see a condemnation of the war as problematic, and a declaration that if we don't listen to the Democrats condemned by their own voice in this ad, "the troops will pay the price".

Given the substance of the Democrats' remarks condemned by the ad, in what does Sen. Inouye expect Presidential "leadership" except cut-and-run?

He's off the curb and in the gutter with the rest of them.

"I do charge them with doing exactly the kind of work that the dictators want done in the United States."

Friday, December 09, 2005

Setting Up Another Tet Backlash

I'm thrashing out a lengthy post on the methods of politicization of warfare, but I'll surface with some quick commentary.

I see a lot of Republicans, official and blogosphere aquilifers, hastening to reassure the public that the troops can start coming home in 2006. And pundits like Powerline and John Rasmussen urge the GOP stress that idea or forfeit the majority in November.

Aren't we really setting ourselves up with that approach?

The pace of enemy action is really up to the enemy. If the enemy decides a suicidal, all-out attack across Iraq that requires American reinforcement to crush,is what they really want to try, there's not much we could do to prevent it. We can only rapidly contain and destroy it.

There isn't much talk about the "failed plan" of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. That plan is largely about holding cities hostage. I don't know why those guys haven't figured out that trying to set up sharia in a mid-sized urban area brings them nothing but grief, but they keep trying, and writing each other to demand more of it. Perhaps I shouldn't be suprised, since that was the pattern of Western warfare up to the mid-1800s, when strategy changed to demand a focus on destroying enemy forces rather than on occupying capitals.

So I expect to see more attacks on city governments, and more forces mobilized to fight them in 2006. I don't think the GOP is really preparing the American public for a series of victorious engagements in Iraqi cities next summer. Quite the contrary. I think they are feeding the notion that if we have to fight in Iraq, we're losing the war in Iraq.

The key difference between the President and the Democrats is that Democrats want us to adhere to a schedule of withdrawal, even if we have to helicopter our troops from rooftoops amid heavy rifle fire from smoking cities. The President wants to win, which is why he rejects any timetable. His true friends should avoid stressing that victory means a steady rate of evacuations from Iraq. Winning may require otherwise.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Doctor Dean: We're Doomed

First Dems said we didn't have enough troops in Iraq. We put in more troops and we heard that we had to have a handover. We demonstrate there's a handover in progress and they call it Vietnamization.

ARVN was a conscript army; the Vietnamese had to run a draft for twenty years just to stay afloat. Nixon's Vietnamization plan required the Republic of Viet Nam to revoke draft exemptions for college students. We know how well that works.

By contrast, all of the 212,000 Iraqi police, National Guard and Army are volunteers. All of the recruits coming in are volunteers.

Mention that to the chickendoves and they'll respond with sinister theories about sleeper cells, ethnic chappelles and regional militia. They don't want to win this war.

From the midst of the equine herd rises the bray of Howard Dean. The good doctor, not content with the traditional chairman's role of raising money quietly and preparing to win elections, is now moonlighting as Secretary of Defense (the way fundraising's been going over there, can you really blame him?)
I think we need a strategic redeployment over a period of two years," Dean said. "Bring the 80,000 National Guard and Reserve troops home immediately. They don't belong in a conflict like this anyway. We ought to have a redeployment to Afghanistan of 20,000 troops, we don't have enough troops to do the job there and its a place where we are welcome. And we need a force in the Middle East, not in Iraq but in a friendly neighboring country to fight (terrorist leader Musab) Zarqawi, who came to Iraq after this invasion. We've got to get the target off the backs of American troops.

Well.

For one thing, newspapers may report on troop deployments in absolute numbers, but nobody who knows what they're talking about uses those figures. It's all about brigades, divisions, battalions--it's all about accomplishing tasks and carrying out missions. The Pentagon would no more call up "20,000 men" to Afghanistan than you'd call IBM and order "19 cu. feet of server".

For another thing, back in the 1980s we decided that since we really wouldn't need to police foriegn cities, guard thousands of prisoners, or treat thousands of wounded in peacetime, most of those jobs could be farmed out of the regular armed forces into the Reserves and National Guard, and the regular armed forces would be the combat troops. That's why the Abu Ghraib guards came from the National Guard. The National Guard and Reserves are the outfits that can belong in a conflict like this, by design. (When exactly was President Dean going to learn that, before or after his inaugural?)

And finally, what is the Democrat fascination with flying into a country over the horizon to make raids on terrorists before vanishing out of sight? I thought they'd had their fill of that after Mogadishu. I know Rep. Murtha had his fill of it at that time! Why would thirty minutes of minimal force be less effective than twenty-four hours of maximum power?

Rhetorical questions. They don't want to win this war.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

So Much for the Necessity of Terrorist Profiles

What a wasted opportunity for the terrorists.

I've heard that screening everybody for terror threats has been a waste of time and resources, an imposition on loyal Americans, a surrender to PC-culture, a sign we are not serious about the War on Terror.

Where was this woman on all the proposed profiles? A blue-eyed brunette with a French accent, with a bomb strapped to herself.

Profiles are a cop-out, that gives the enemy free windows of opportunity. Only now, after the attempt, would Belgian women get attention as a risk category. I guess we still have to wait for them to try once with a Nubian Muslim woman, or a Chinese Muslim senior citizen, before those groups get discussed as threats on a par with Arab men.

Which they are. They are out there. Are we even looking?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Charge of the No-Fight Brigade

At the barbershop the other day, I saw a copy of Newsweek for November 28, 2005. It looked like a presidential election issue and Rep. John Murtha was the nominee.

It spoke of him as a "straight-line hawk" who turned against the war, and of his plan as the "turning point", and of Republican criticism of him as "the low point". CW gave him an Up Arrow: "Not Swiftboatable." Veep Cheney got a Down Arrow: "Open to calls of chickenhawk."

Too bad they didn't call Sen. Kerry first so he could clue them in that Democrats really want to stick around and win in Iraq as much as the President does. As he explained on the floor of the Senate, reeling from the President's Naval Academy broadside.

It's gratifying how swiftly the latest charge of the defeatists has been hurled back by the Congress, backed by the majority of the American people. A few bold souls continue caracoles, like Rep. Nancy Pelosi supporting a swift pullout; but their line has been riven and the bulk of their force is scurrying out of sight to reform.

They'll be back, as soon as they psych themselves into thinking another dove has the "moral authority" to make defeat golden. We'll be waiting for them.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Parable of Elephants

Wise Majority Leader Elephant: And now, the Senate will please rise, and clap its hands to demonstrate our belief in fairies. Clap!

Raving Ideologue Elephant: Excuse me?

Wise Majority Leader Elephant: Come on now! If you believe in fairies, clap! Clap I say! Come on!

Raving Ideologue Elephant: Don't we have something more important to be debating?

Wise Majority Leader Elephant: Not now, Ideologue! We're live on CSPAN! Clap!

Raving Ideologue Elephant: All the more reason to skip it.

Wise Majority Leader Elephant: Now let's be the team that plays together! Clap! Clap! Clap if you believe in fairies!

Raving Ideologue Elephant: But I don't believe in fairies!

Wise Majority Leader Elephant: Clap! That's it! (aside) Of course you don't! But I had to promise Fence-Straddling Iconoclast that we'd stage a vote this year to keep him on our side of the aisle!

Fence-Straddling Iconoclast Elephant: (crying) Oh thank you, thank you Wise Majority Leader! My dream is come true! You have my undying loyalty...for now!

Raving Ideologue Elephant: I don't believe in fairies, my constituents don't believe in fairies, and I'm damned if I'm gonna stand with a party that says it does believe in fairies!

Wise Majority Leader Elephant: Oh, so you'd rather have Iconoclast cross the aisle? You'd rather be the Minority Party? You'd rather have the Opposition come back? (skips from side to side) Oh surely comrades, surely you do not want the Opposition to come back?

Raving Ideologue Elephant: Time was, we could govern the United States without building a coalition of lunatics.

Wise Majority Leader Elephant: Well that might play in your right-wing echo chamber, but the bulk of this country is open to new ideas! I grant you a monopoly on American's past--I'm playing for it's future!

Pajama'd Apparatchnik Elephant: The first polls are in, Leader! 12,604 say you're a farkin moonbat, and 74 say they feel for you a farmer's fondness for a sick mule plowing its last furrow.

Wise Majority Leader Elephant: True leadership is staying your course in the face of contrary public opinion. Clap! Clap if you believe!

Raving Ideologue Elephant: Say, why are you clapping?

Lurking Opposition Jackal: (grinning) Who, me? I must have been misled by the President.

Raving Ideologue Elephant: (clicking heels furiously) There's no place like home! There's no place like home! There's no place like home! C'mon, wake up!!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Just Asking

From a San Bernardino Sun review of Syriana by Glenn Whipple:
Clooney's disaffected agent is but one of many characters populating the richly detailed "Syriana." In another plot thread, Damon plays an energy analyst who becomes friendly with the reform-minded Prince Nasir (Alexander Siddig), a leader-in-waiting of an oil-rich gulf country. Nasir wants to bypass a long-standing deal with U.S. business interests and sell his oil to the highest bidder, plowing the profits into a much-needed upgrade of his country's infrastructure. Needless to say, the American oil companies aren't happy with the possible switch.

Elsewhere, we see an ambitious attorney (Jeffrey Wright) trying to wedge the merger of two oil companies through a Justice Department investigation, while his boss (Christopher Plummer) labors to ensure that Nasir's reforms remain pipe dreams and that U.S. oil interests will continue to dominate...

"The job of the film is to show the process that leads to terrorism - and at least understand that there is a process involved," Clooney says. "If you are fighting a war against an idea, you have to understand what creates that idea. It's much more complicated than saying, 'These people hate a liberal society and that's why they want to kill us.' The danger in that is that we're not trying to glorify these characters," Clooney continues.

"But it's not just about labeling things as 'good' and 'bad.' I think people are coming to see that what's called 'the war on terror' is more complex than what was initially presented. And I think there's the opening of the ability to discuss these issues without being called a traitor. That's all this movie is doing. It's saying, 'Let's ask some questions.' "
Ok, let's ask some questions, Mr. Clooney:

When can we expect Hollywood to examine the process by which adult American whites joined the Ku Klux Klan and blew up black choirgirls in Birmingham, Alabama?

Would your participation in the project depend on the strength of the script?

Do you regret owing allegiance to a constitutional republic instead of the sort of benevolent despotism that
Syriana laments?

Do you see any such benevolent despotism out there?

Would you consider dual citizenship with that despotism?

Would it be fair to say that US oil companies direct OPEC?

Why do American firms permit the existence of European competitors?

Can you explain your understanding of a real difference between glorifying something, tolerating something, and refusing to label something as good and bad?

There weren't any American oil companies in Libya from 1986-2004, and there haven't been any American oil companies in Iran since 1979. How would you rate the progress towards liberalization, development, and curtailment of terrorism in those countries in the absence of the insidious influence of American "Big Oil"?

How do you respond to the thesis that the American Left is essentially Americentric, that it focuses entirely on altering American policy and attitudes because it is impotent to reform anything foriegn?


Just asking some questions.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Got Libs? Try Prayer

A lot of pundits are coming out with advice on how to handle the "Bush Lied People Died" attack at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

They range from "patient questioning" (Hewitt) to open mocking laughter (Limbaugh).

I very much doubt it will come up at our dinner, since Nana passed away in September and Tata asked us to make the extra effort to be together all at once for the first Thanksgiving without her.

So I doubt, this year, any of the usual suspects will pursue a brawl between the FDR Democrats and Reagan Republicans.

If they do, there is refuge in prayer:

Pray when driving. Pray when fighting. Pray alone. Pray with others. Pray by night and pray by day. Pray for the cessation of immoderate rains, for good weather for Battle. Pray for the defeat of our wicked enemy whose banner is injustice and whose good is oppression. Pray for victory. Pray for our Army, and Pray for Peace.


Amen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Where's the Code of Conduct for Congress?

Here's what Rep. Murtha swore to abide by as a Marine:
Article I:
I am an American, fighting in the armed forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

Article II:
I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.

Article III:
If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

Article IV:
If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information nor take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.

Article V:
When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service, number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.

Article VI:
I will never forget that I am an American, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.

Why should I respect a Congressman, as a Marine, when he refuses to show the basic loyalty required of every Marine?

I shouldn't.

I won't.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Losing the Hearts and Minds

Our military isn't a Schutzstaffel or a Red Guard. It isn't trained that it was bred from birth for superiority in battle, or that it represents the vanguard of invincible revolution.

Our military is taught that the outcome of battle is always in doubt, but that personal excellence and total commitment is decisive.

This is not just stressed in training exercises and tests for promotion, but in the military culture. A reading of Medal of Honor citations shows a recurring large number of people honored with the nation's highest award for falling on a live grenade. The stories I've heard military personnel tell about previous wars are about servicemen who refused to quit, who carried on regardless of the cost to themselves personally, but whose seemingly unprofitable suffering enabled others to overcome.

When the political leadership refuses to recognize this truth about our military, and lets them know that their personal excellence is irrelevant to the predetermined outcome of the war, there is a marked drop in the performance of the US military. That's true of all armies, but in the US military the contrast is sharper and more widespread, and present both in the front lines and in "quiet" zones far from any war.

Seems like we've got too many people on Capitol Hill that forget this. There's no excuse for it, since the last demonstration is barely thirty years old. There's no excuse for it.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Girding For Battle

Poor Democrats, trapped into supporting a war for victory instead of their cherished war for evacuation.

The reporting I've seen on this vote is pure, blatant editorialization. Any pretense of freedom from partisan bias is gone. It's all about how dastardly and partisan the Republicans were last night.

Funny how a 403-3 vote is proof of the absence of bipartisanship, isn't it?

This wasn't about the merits of one pullout strategy over another, six-months versus immediately. This was the pressure boiler of defeatism being pricked. The Democrats just witnessed months of anti-war mo' evaporating like steam out an escape valve, and they're swearing like a wheelboat skipper stranded on a sandbar.

We'll have to hit them again, just as hard, for months to come. I'm willing.

Friday, November 18, 2005

"Hawkish Democrat" Surrendered 18 Months Ago

Drudgereport has this howler:
Friday, May 7, 2004


WASHINGTON (AP) -- A statement from a pro-defense Democrat that the Pentagon's current military strategy in Iraq makes the war unwinnable drew a sharp rebuke Thursday from Republicans, who accused Democrats of using the war for political gain.
The furor over the position taken by Rep. John Murtha, of Johnstown, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and top Democrat on the House Appropriations defense panel, highlighted the increasingly partisan divide over the current course and future of the war in Iraq.

"We cannot prevail in this war as it is going today," Murtha said yesterday at a news conference with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. Murtha said the incidents of prisoner abuse in Iraq were a symptom of a problem in which U.S. troops in Iraq are undermanned, inadequately equipped and poorly trained.

"We either have to mobilize or we have to get out," Murtha said, adding that he supported increasing U.S. troop strength rather than pulling out.

Republicans responded at their own news conference, with Majority Leader Tom DeLay, of Texas, saying that "this morning, in a calculated and craven political stunt, the national Democratic Party declared its surrender in the war on terror."

He said Democrats "want to win the White House more than they want to win the war, and our enemies know it."

Democrats, said GOP Rep. Michael Burgess, of Texas, "basically are giving aid and comfort to the enemy."

Murtha, a strong supporter of robust defense spending, denied that he was criticizing the troops: "I know what affects them. They want to be taken care of and they're not being taken care of."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
This was how the AP headlined Murtha's latest jeremiad:
Hawkish Democrat Calls for Iraq Pullout
I presume the AP can research its own files without the expense of a Lexis/Nexis search. They didn't do that much--or, their definition of "hawkish" is pretty dovish.

Dafydd ap Hugh noted that Nancy Pelosi distanced herself from Blubberin' Martha this time around. Perhaps she has a better memory than the AP wire editors.

I guess we can count on Murtha to erupt again in May 2007...

As an aside, treason is the only crime defined specifically in the Constitution, in order that charges of treason be rare and specific--as they were not in Merry Old England. Treason is giving aid or comfort to the enemies of the United States, and has been held to such strict definition that Aaron Burr's conspiracy with Spain to rule as King over Arkansas could not be prosecuted as treason, nor was John Walker's sale of Navy codes to the KGB during the Vietnam War.

But calling for all US forces to break off combat with an enemy, and withdraw, leaving him in unmolested possession of the territory in dispute--if that be not treason, what is?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

What's with the Psuedonym?

As I return to regularly available internet access, it might be a good time to explain why a 31-year-old man hides behind The Yell.

About ten years ago when I first got email, I took great joy in finding an AOL screenname that did not require any ordinal number tacked on behind it (e.g. "Stan1232"). For the next decade, TheYell has been my online identity.

When I first opened this blog I did have my legal name on the screen; but after moving back into the same town as The Yell Sr., he requested that I post anonymously as he did not want hordes of angry liberals descending on his homestead searching for me.

I'm still in Riverside, and once he or I move beyond its limits I'll go back to posting under my real name. Until then, like the Lone Ranger, I wear the mask.

Calling On Calvert

The Yell Sr. made a phone call to our Congressman, Ken Calvert (R. CA, 44th District) to clear up some issues with email to the Congressman. The reason for the email, my father said, was to ask the Honorable Calvert to work against the Senate's defeatist language attached to the latest defense bill.

The staffer taking the call said that nothing had been presented to the House, but the Congressman intended to stand by the President.

I've not had a lot of experience talking with Congressional staffers, but I take that as encouraging.

Let's keep up the pressure.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Black Tuesday

My joy at the end of my hiatus is smothered in bile.

The United States Senate has trampled the honor of the United States into the mud, by suggesting it will not support our troops in Iraq longer than any 90-day period.

If this treachery is not crushed in the House or by veto, the word of this or any future President that terrorism will be pursued and destroyed will elicit the unspoken query "Yeah? You and what Congress?"

Let's be clear. John Kerry, Senator, has the same contempt for the doctrine of universal liberty that he had as a perjurer before that body in 1970. Some peoples and places just don't require it in his view, and aren't worth the boost to stable democracy. He's rushing out today crowing that this despicable vote supports his view.

It's hard to see it in any other light. If the Senate truly gave this war the same committment as the men and women risking their lives to achieve it, there would be no question of regular reviews. Once American lives are committed to secure victory, every branch of government owes them its full support, not a quibbling sniveling half-assed allotment of chest-pounding jingoism as it scrambles for cover in Pentagon reports.

Americans, those of us at home owe our troops abroad a call or email to the White House and our Congressmen to reject utterly this craven disgrace to our flag and fighting forces.

Hugh Hewitt has the number for the Congressional switchboard.

Hurry.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Quick Thoughts

Tomorrow the landlord will order an upgrade in our cable-Internet package that will include a home network and all equipment, hopefully ensuring I have constant Internet access by week's end.

Until then, just some brief thoughts:

The Miers nomination ended in failure, and was seen by most Americans as failing because of Republican infighting and insubordination. According to the center-right, that was the worst-case scenario that would destroy the Administration and the Party.
Apocalypse Not, hmm?

The center-right imagines that its numbers are equal to, or greater than, the margin of victory in national elections; and therefore, this self-admitted minority must determine the agenda for the whole party.
Can anybody name one scenario where that's been tried to the benefit of either our Party or the country?

Why are the same people who scream "Bush lied" about Saddam Hussein being any danger, in any way, as to require any action, now demanding Bush do more to save America from the international influenza conspiracy to sap and impurify all our precious bodily fluids?
And how much will Bush spend to demonstrate he's not soft on mutant bird phlegm?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

YEAARRGGHH!!!!

Let me start by thanking the viewers who continue to click on my site hoping something new pops up. I can tell, and I appreciate it.

I'm almost back to being connected! I'm thrashing out a lengthy bleat of conservative frustration, which will take a good four hours to blog, and will require thorough links to other sites--the sort of work I don't feel I can rightly do on somebody else's computer, especially not my employer's!

Hugh Hewitt has made it a lot simpler, by concentrating in one lengthy post all I think is wrong with our current GOP majority. I'll parse it at length, but here's the problem in a nutshell:
Some anti-Miers writers have argued that it is always wrong to take gender into account when a president nominates for SCOTUS. To which I reply: That’s not what Ronald Reagan thought.

And it isn’t what any serious proponent of conservative majorities in the Congress should believe, or any supporter of continued GOP tenure in the White House post-W. (Imagine Hillary’s stump speech rhetoric on SCOTUS if two, new white males had persuaded three other Justices to strike at Casey?)

Basically saying:
In order to achieve the reform agenda we've supported since Reagan challenged Ford, we've got to violate it.
In order to become strong enough to ignore quotas, we've got to adopt them.
In order to advance political principles, we've got to suppress them in support of personalities.
In order to defeat false charges of sexism, we must not draw them in the first place.

Reagan didn't think so, and Gingrich didn't think so, and they triumphed. Why can't we triumph?

Is the Superfly ethos--"I'll leave this rotten game forever and get right--after one last score" any basis for a reform movement?

Why can't we walk through the front door instead of oozing under it?

If the GOP forfeits any majorities this decade, it will be due to this perverted, Clintonian refusal to stop electioneering and start governing.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Hiatus Continues

I'm posting from work, a practice I usually avoid...

Internet is up at the condo, I now just need to identify the proper cable and buy a good 100 ft of it to link my bedroom to the router downstairs. Wireless routers tend to conflict with cell phones around here.

So I'll be online again within the month. I hope.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Oh What A Tangled Web...

Editor & Publisher doth weave, trying its damnedest to mask an editorial as straight news:
NEW YORK Forced to defend what some critics consider its slow and botched response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said on Tuesday it does not want the news media to take photographs of the dead as they are recovered from New Orleans.

FEMA, which is leading the rescue efforts, rejected requests from journalists to accompany rescue boats as they went out to search for storm victims, Reuters reported.

A FEMA spokeswoman told the wire service that space was need on the rescue boats and assured Reuters that "the recovery of the victims is being treated with dignity and the utmost respect."

"We have requested that no photographs of the deceased be made by the media," the spokeswoman told Reuters via e-mail.

The Bush administration's decision to continue a policy of preventing the news media from photographing flag-draped coffins of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq has fueled criticism that the government is trying to avoid images that put the war in a bad light.
Of course this should read:
We can't effectively make the point that President Bush kills people, if we can't photograph the dead. Bush should let us photograph dead people and use those photos editorially. He stopped us in Iraq and now he's doing it in New Orleans. It's an irritating block to our political message, and we want it ended.
But that would not be professional, as interpreted by the high priests of journalism at Editor & Publisher.

Their false priorities have twisted their minds into pretzels. If you can't editorialize on it, bury it in a news article!

But, what's the news here?

That FEMA won't take media photographers instead of its own employees aboard its own vehicles? That's hardly new.

That Bush won't let photographers capture flag-draped coffins being offloaded? This story itself admits that is a continuation of existing policy.

That there is criticism of the Administration? That certainly is heard every day, but shouldn't that be a separate story?

The sole connection between Iraq, New Orleans, and FEMA transportation policies, is media frustration at being denied Pulitizer-grade propoganda pix.

They can't say it outright. They can't even find some academic somewhere to say it for them, and then quote her.

They can only stre-e-e-tch their own arcane rules of composition to the point of parody.

I shouldn't sneer. I should be grateful they have any qualms, any standards, any prick of conscience left at all.

Dems Play the Lame Game

This is just sad.
In a letter to the Senate's Homeland Security Committee chairwoman, Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, pressed for a wide-ranging investigation and answers to several questions, including: "How much time did the president spend dealing with this emerging crisis while he was on vacation? Did the fact that he was outside of Washington, D.C., have any effect on the federal government's response?"
At some point, the Democrats are going to have to make up their minds as to where the President belonged. Was it D.C.? Was it New Orleans? Was it in a holding pattern somewhere between?
At a news conference, Pelosi, D-Calif., said Bush's choice for head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency had "absolutely no credentials."
Well, I guess she'd know, since for thirty years Nancy Pelosi has been one of the nation's top...oh...never mind...
She related that she urged Bush at the White House on Tuesday to fire Brown.

"He said 'Why would I do that?'" Pelosi said.

"'I said because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right last week.' And he said 'What didn't go right?'"

"Oblivious, in denial, dangerous," she added.
You don't knock a softball question out of the park with a bunt.

Just give a detailed answer to a straight question: What did FEMA do wrong?

Congress will do the country no service if this sort of silliness is dignified with a public hearing.

There ought to be a probe, but it ought to come after independent career professionals have a chance to render considered judgement.
After the crisis.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Hiatus II

Well the move didn't get completed. I was waiting 5 days before giving up on OTC cold medicines and seeking antibiotics, and on day 4 the infection moved from my throat into my eyes and I developed conjunctivitis.

I'm able to return to work tonight, and perhaps next week I will do the heavy computer lifting as I formally transfer residence.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

UPCOMING HIATUS

I'll be moving! It will take a week or so to set up the computer for internet access, since the router is downstairs and my computer will be up one floor. I refuse to go wireless for safety reasons, and anyhow I think the hill would block the signal; everything's cable over there.

Once I'm up I'll post anew.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Some Thoughts on Lance Armstrong

I don't doubt that the lab did in fact find EPO in the anonymous urine sample they tested in 2005. I notice that is about as firm an accusation as the lab will make in public.

The argument that the urine was Lance Armstrong's, that it's been untampered since 1999, is not being made by the scientists. That comes from L'Equipage, the same French-chauvinist pigs who've been bitching about an American winning their Tour de France for seven years.

Three weeks ago the same people shouting that Armstrong must "prove" the allegations false--when the lab is the first to say no further testing of the samples are possible--were running around lamenting that the accusations against Armstrong would linger forever. Apparently they realized just how lame that sounded, so voila, here's unverifiable "proof". Not anything they'll act on, just to publish and denounce.

Unfortunately for their national hubris, legitimate testing for EPO was done since 2001, and Armstrong passed every such test in his last five victories. So they can maybe explain how a guy relies on EPO to win, not just compete but win...and then forego it forever, and suffer no loss in performance.

But their purpose is to smear, not to offer justice. It is not Lance who stands condemned by the attempt.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Epiphany

Like Captain Renault kicking the Vichy water, like Darth heaving the Emperor, like Gary Cooper dropping his star in the dirt...there is this:
San Francisco Shuns Retired USS Iowa

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a former San Francisco mayor, helped secure $3 million to tow the Iowa from Rhode Island to the Bay Area in 2001 in hopes of making touristy Fisherman's Wharf its new home.

But city supervisors voted 8-3 last month to oppose taking in the ship, citing local opposition to the Iraq war and the military's stance on gays, among other things.

"If I was going to commit any kind of money in recognition of war, then it should be toward peace, given what our war is in Iraq right now," Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said.

Feinstein called it a "very petty decision."

"This isn't the San Francisco that I've known and loved and grew up in and was born in," Feinstein said.

...Rep. Richard W. Pombo, R-Calif., has sponsored legislation authorizing the ship's permanent move to Stockton. Feinstein has countered with a bill to open bidding to any California city.

How long before she starts sporting that Dodger Blue?

A Soldier's Service Is Not His Parent's Sacrifice

And when you understand that, you have to spurn the claim that Cindy Sheehan has more "moral authority" on Iraq than anybody else.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

No Regrets

Powerline has a good post on the movie "The Great Raid". After reading his review I believe I'll go see it.

It's too bad the reviewers can't support a film that "reinforces stereotypes" of the Japanese enemy. While I don't doubt much of the war propoganda was aimed at demeaning the Japanese race, the political ideology of His Imperial Japanese Majesty's forces is demonstrated where ever the Rising Sun was raised.

From mass enslavement of 'comfort workers', to beheading competitions in occupied China, biowar testing on entire villages, slaughter of POWs, to subtle degradations such as forcing Indonesian Muslims to bow towards Tokyo instead of Mecca and requiring insurgent Indian troops to salute every Japanese soldier regardless of rank--the Japanese perverted all aspects of life to brand their subjects as inferior.

There is nothing shameful in reminding America of the utter good that was done in breaking the Greater East Asia CoProsperity Sphere.

Sadly, the initial audience for this film is largely the over fifty crowd. This story should be heard.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

What's Our Goal in Gaza?

Hamas vows to continue to fight Israel from its new safe haven.

The President laid out his expectactions for the newly independent area earlier this year.
I think what is necessary to achieve the vision of two states living side by side in peace is for there to be progress. Look, there's a lack of confidence in the region. I can understand that. There's been a lot of deaths; a lot of innocent people have lost their lives. And there's just not a lot of confidence in either side.

And I think we have a chance to build confidence. The Prime Minister is taking a bold step and a courageous step, and basically he's saying that, you know, until he sees more progress, he doesn't have confidence. And I suspect if we were to have a frank discussion about it, the Palestinians would say, well, we don't have confidence in Israel.

So what's needed is confidence. And I'm convinced the place to earn -- to gain that confidence is to succeed in the Gaza. And so we're kind of prejudging what is going to happen based upon a rather pessimistic point of view. I'm an optimist. I believe that it is possible to work to set up a self-governing entity in the Gaza. And I believe a self-governing entity is one that is going to be peaceful, because most people want there to be peace. And when that happens, then all of a sudden, I think we'll have a different frame of mind.

I suspect that the tone of your question -- I'm not being critical -- but I just suspect that if there is success in the Gaza, in other words, if there's a state that's emerging, the Prime Minister will have a different attitude about whether or not it makes sense to continue the process. And I suspect that people will say, you know, it is possible for democracy to take hold.

And so there's skepticism now about the process, because as I said earlier, it's a complicated part of the world with a lot of history. And so I want to focus the world's attention on getting it right in the Gaza, and then all of a sudden, people will start to say, gosh, well, that makes sense. The Palestinians will see it's a hopeful -- there's a hopeful way forward. The Palestinian moms will say, well, here's an opportunity for my child to grow up in a peaceful world. And then I think the dialogue will shift. But in the meantime, there is a process to go forward, and we're now ready to help the Palestinians seize the moment that this Prime Minister has provided in the Gaza. So that's where you'll see our attention focused.
In recent weeks, there have been several gunfights as Hamas and PA police collide with each other. It's almost impossible to know, from press reports, the internal political situation in Gaza, just as the press seems unable to report on Iraq. What is clear, is that President Abbas has lot of heavy lifting to do, similar to what the Iraqi state had to achieve...and he doesn't have American divisions to back his ploy.

I doubt at this point, Abbas truly desires the President's goal, though he may come to see the need to break Hamas--if he lives that long.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Check It Out

Phil Hendrie, a social liberal with a hilariously twisted radio show, has a new blog for bashing the antiwar Left. Drop by GeorgeWBushIsGod.com for a look-see.

Monday, August 08, 2005

9th Circuit Gets One Right

As often as I malign the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, I should note when they properly uphold the Constitution.

As the Wall Street Journal notes, Hawaii is trying to propogate the notion of an entire state as the special preserve of one racial group. Not that they'd be any less equal than any other American on the mainland. If they want to open a hotel in Arizona, they don't need to jump through any hoops just because they're Hawaiian.

But if a guy from Arizona wanted to open a development on Maui, that would be a horse of a different color.

The specific case before the 9th Circuit involved admissions. The 9th Circuit in effect, pointed out that the 14th Amendment seems to preclude Balkan enclaves anywhere on US soil.

Outrage at continued "oppression", sadly joined by local RINOs. RINOs who allegedly have the firm support of the President.

Me, I'd meet the Hawaiians halfway. I'd offer them total racialization of the Islands, as Mexico did with the ejidos, in exchange for expulsion from the Union, and total loss of citizenship for all 'ethnic' Hawaiians.

Seems fair to me, if P. Diddy will need special permission to own property in Hawaii, God knows why, then Daniel Inouye should need a visa to buy into the Bronx.

But what do I know, I was born an American and am therefore just another "foriegner". Just like their RINO governor.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Catholic Litmus Test

There's been a lot of roiling controversy over Roberts' statement that he'd recuse himself rather than do something he considered evil. And controversy over the controversy.

I wonder if anybody really wants a judge incapable of recognizing evil, or capable of cooperating with what they believe to be evil.

The question then comes down to what specifically a judge would consider to be evil. And the problem in reviewing a nominee's religious views is that the Constitution specifically forbids the practice.

We have seen a significant erosion of the Constitution at all levels of government in the past several decades. Here now the Senate seems prepared to simply ignore the ban on religious tests.

How long do we have to wait for a government with a sense of duty?
How long before we get a majority of Senators who understand they are not free to elide their way around the plain text of the Constitution?

More than Roberts is on trial here.

Thankfully, as I've said, such problems are basically personnel issues, and temporary, and soluble by long, loud, frequent complaint.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Whose Administration?

From USA Today, on the recent Iraq poll:
For the first time, a majority of Americans, 51%, say the Bush administration deliberately misled the public about whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction — the reason Bush emphasized in making the case for invading. The administration's credibility on the issue has been steadily eroding since 2003.
But not the Clinton Administration? Was it the Bush Administration that prompted Congress to pass the Iraqi Liberation Act, affirming Iraq's WMD noncompliance, in 1998?

It's interesting to me to note the frustration of the media with this poll. They are pleased to report people don't trust Bush and think we're going to lose--but dammit, too many don't think Iraq was a mistake! The yellow press has a mighty row to hoe.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Back In the Saddle Again

Had not realized it was a full week since my last post.

The kitchen is being demolished and rebuilt, and I stayed away from home to escape the noise and get deep, restful sleep. At least I had five hours straight each night, at least.

I've been more active on other sites than on my own. That is because I do a lot of posting elsewhere from my workstation, which I am expected to man as often as possible on my shift. If that means Internet surfing, so be it. A generous perk. But, I hestitate to open my own site or my own email account to contamination through somebody's else's computer.

This means that many things I notice in passing on the job get ignored on this blog, because I won't send myself an email and I can't recapture the link from home.

I will make a very concerted effort to pin down the latest poll on Iraq, where yellow journalism takes note of its own pollution of the American public.

Probably tomorrow.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

BFL Summer Conference

I'll edit to add the photos later.

I have been ruined by all those history seminars at the Huntington Library. I wore a suit; so did Flap; so did Bob Hertzberg. Most of the rest wore the BFL uniform of tees and shorts.

I enjoyed meeting the actual people behind the blogs. Even Irish Lass, who roots for the Foe. It turns out that IamDoubt from BodyParts once had to read my essays as one of my professors. I got a chance to assure Dafydd ap Hugh that I'm not trying to dogfight him off the Net. Really.

Scott Schmidt kept the meeting running briskly, once we moved off the blazing patio into the air-conditioned meeting room.

Dan Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee spoke at length of his quest for critical inside information from Sacramento. At first, when he set up his site through the Bee, he enjoyed publication without critical review. The status-conscious staff at the Bee objected to Dan's possession of this unique privilege, and he was subjected to the usual editorial review.

Dan feels that a private citizen can set up a blog, get themselves placed on mailing lists from all Sacramento legislators, executives, and PACs, and through confidential email and conversation with sources, keep more current with the situation in Sacramento than most officials. The fact that this blogger would not have editors above him would not necessitate a poorer quality product.

There was an odd exchange when somebody asked Dan if this blogger could automatically print and archive these press releases. From the reaction of the Sacramento veterans in the room, I take it these communiques are most definitely not quite ready for prime time. Interesting.

Dan suggested that this blogger either seek 500 $100 contributors or 5000 $10 subscribers to fund operations independently. I asked Bob Hertzberg if he'd pay $50,000 for this sort of operation as part of a campaign, and he felt it was cheap for what it could deliver.

Dan's ideal, however, is that this blogger be beholden to none, neither campaign nor party nor corporate contributor.

Bob Hertzberg said that internet and email had brought his mayoral campaign to the brink of victory, and if he had to do it over again, he would have put more money into Internet campaigning. He is promoting BigIdeas4LA.com, where he will float themes and build a consensus of interested, experienced opinion as to a timetable ("How to improve garbage delivery in 2 years"), and then from online, direct efforts to achieve reform through the political process within the timetable.

Joseph C. Phillips received the most boisterous response of the day, when he stated his desire to serve in the Assembly but felt he could not win his district at this time. Howls from the floor, including Allan Hoffenblum and Bob Hertzberg, that he very well could. This continued, in public, the online wave of enthusiasm Joseph said he received when he first mentioned a run on his site. He promised to reconsider his options.

Ted Costa made brief comments regarding Prop. 77. He explained the problems with the various drafts as due to submitting texts to a committee for review, and filing to two separate state offices, the Secretary of State and the Attorney General. Patterico pressed him to offer copies of both drafts on his site, and he agreed that should be done. Today, Thursday, the court ruled against Ted and ordered Prop 77 off the special election ballot. He expected to engage in some legal battles this summer, and said the same situation had been faced with the recall, so I expect an appeal. Further updates should be available at his site, FairDistricts.com.

Allan Hoffenblum is the author of California Targetbook and a 40 year operator in California politics. He said the blogs currently will only sway a committed 14% of the electorate that dominates off-year elections, but will have little influence over the '86%ers' who dominate major elections. At present. But due to the extreme speed and affordability of Internet campaigning, and the increasing number of people who use the Internet regularly, bloggers will not lose their sway over the 14%ers and will only gain influence over the 86%ers. He expects this process will explode once a Party chairman commits to Internet campaigning year-round, and expects to see the cost of campaigning plummet as a result.

Addressing concerns over FEC regulation of blogs, Allan said such limitations on democracy are a regular part of politics, and the only course is to fight them head-on in a coordinated effort.

At which point we dispersed into the tropical smog. I look forward to the next conference.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Throwing the Baby Out Too

Clark Smith at Calblog gives a good roundup of links regarding Rep. Tancredo's musing that Mecca might be a good place to retaliate for a nuclear strike against the US by "extremist Muslims".

Clark thinks its a dumb statement by a smart guy, and I'd agree. Tancredo said we'd hit "holy sites"; the reporter specifically asked about Mecca. What about the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem? Or the "Footprints of Adam" in Sri Lanka?

If the IRA, with the help of the Republic of Ireland, nuked San Antonio, should we strike the Vatican?

It smacks too much of "Failsafe", to suggest we play mindgames by choosing indirect targets for nuclear strikes.

However...

Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters says Tancredo's wrong, because we'd never kill civilians in retaliation for an attack.

And Hugh Hewitt says Tancredo's wrong, even if the Saudi Arabian government were responsible, because we don't dare upset 1.1 billion Muslims by slagging their favorite town.

I Am Doubt from Body Parts reminds us that retaliation for nuclear attacks on the US is something we thought through long ago.

I believe it was that raving xenophobe, Eisenhower, who said we'd meet nukes with nukes, and not necessarily proportionately. And the flaming reactionary, JFK, who said a nuclear attack on a NATO ally would be considered a nuclear attack on the US and would trigger the Eisenhower Doctrine.

This has been the core policy of the United States ever since. (MAD is technically the subsequent acknowledgement that the other guys would adopt the Eisenhower/Kennedy Doctrine for themselves.)

To make an operable nuclear weapon requires the support of a real government. If a nuclear weapon exploded inside the United States, we would be looking to remove a criminal regime, the same way we had to remove the Taliban. A nuclear-capable state like the Taliban.

To suggest that we'd never, ever bomb cities to do that is foolish. It depends on the enemy's depth of air defense and dispersion of nuclear facilities. The University of Chicago built a reactor under a tennis court...

To suggest we'd deliberately avoid targets with a high cultural/religious value is also foolish. We've seen the Muslim notion of sanctuary is one-sided. The faithful can visit a mosque to pray, or store arms, or direct artillery; but God smite the infidel who visits with a camera! (The only photos National Geographic can obtain of the Qaaba are taken by Muslims.)

At a time when the top brass in China is talking about nuking our West Coast if we stop the conquest of Taiwan, we definitely don't need to give the wrong impression about our resolve to retaliate thoroughly, effectively, at those directly responsible.

Monday, July 18, 2005

BFL Summer Conference i

It was a blast meeting actual bloggers from the BFL and beyond. I'll get my notes in order and post a thorough account tomorrow.

Try A Half-Pail of Molasses

France faces drought, locusts
Jul. 17, 2005 at 9:41PM
On top of a severe drought, France is fighting a plague of hundreds of thousands of locusts.
The locusts are devouring everything from crops to window-box flowers, reported the Observer.
"At the beginning they seem small, insignificant insects but they grow very quickly," said Aveyron region farmer Gerard Laussel. "They eat everything that is green, leaving only stalks, and when they have finished they leave some kind of scent so the cattle do not want to graze on what is left."
The French environment ministry said drought could be felt across most of France, but it mostly impacted from the Atlantic Ocean to Paris.
"There is nothing we can do for the 700 or 800 farmers affected," said Patrice Lemoux, an agriculture official. "The locust has no known predator and the only insecticides which might make a difference are banned."
You hear so much about French protectionism of their agribusiness. I guess that just means pieces of paper get shuffled the right way in Brussels. Apparently it doesn't translate into actual preservation of crops.

This is mindboggling. These guys are a bare three days as the locust flies from the Sahara, where locust swarms predate the wheel, and they had absolutely no contingency for a locust infestation? Just get eaten and let the banque sell the farm to fresh adventurers?

There are tacit tests for First World membership, and mastery of the insect kingdom is one of them. France just failed by default.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

I Am 20% Hippie

I am 20% Hippie.
So Not a Hippie.
What? Am I a Republican? Why did I even bother taken this test?! I guess I’ll back to my George W. Bush fan club and tell them I just wasted 10 minutes of my life. At least I don’t stink, man.


Hat tip to Lex Communis, who I suspect never made a tie-dye. I spilled bleach on a black tee, what else would I do? Which reminds me I do have some old tees and some bleach...

Friday, July 15, 2005

Hour 30

That's how long I've been up, wrestling with a scalding hot Uninterrupted Power Supply at work. Thankfully today is an off-day.

I'll post about the conference next week, possibly by Monday.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Why Conservatives "Deny" 'Torture'

Torture is those practices and techniques which do lasting damage for the purpose of doing damage, which never have any legitimate function.

Mutilation, induced hallucination, soft-tissue injuries, organ damage are all forms of torture.

Sleep deprivation, restraint, denial of air conditioning, and many physical punishments are forms of coercion that may be justifiable.

Even when those techniques are applied illegimately, without justification, they are not torture. They are abuse.

For example, handcuffing a citizen while issuing a jaywalking citation may be abuse, depending on the situation, but it isn't torture. Sodomizing a suspect is always torture, regardless of 'context'.

Acknowledging the possibility of abuse, while denying any charge of torture, is a substantive distinction and not a semantic evasion.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Ultraridiculous

Independent Sources has the good word: the ultraerroneous Los Angeles Times now stands ultracorrected.

The London Independent lets us know the BBC is promoting understanding:
The BBC has re-edited some of its coverage of the London Underground and bus bombings to avoid labelling the perpetrators as "terrorists", it was disclosed yesterday.

Early reporting of the attacks on the BBC's website spoke of terrorists but the same coverage was changed to describe the attackers simply as "bombers".

The BBC's guidelines state that its credibility is undermined by the "careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgments".

Consequently, "the word 'terrorist' itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding" and its use should be "avoided", the guidelines say.
I've looked over the Beeb today, and they seem to totally avoid using "terrorist", but my understanding is barricaded by the value judgments implicit in words like "injured", "dead", "victims", and "outrage".

I'm left with the subconscious impression that what happened in London was a bad thing.
Is that what my understanding should be, Beeb?

What proper understanding would be clouded by the notion that the person who commits an act of "terror" (which is used) is a "terrorist"?

Seems to me that red-lining a word, appropriate in its definition but suspect in its connotation, is a bit "ultraconservative".

Monday, July 11, 2005

Fully Deserving of Jail

Drudgereport has flurries about MSM and Democrats push to get Karl Rove to resign over the Judy Plame flame.

This is why I oppose the shield law.

I don't see Rove calling Cooper and telling him its okay to sing to the grand jury, but not doing the same for Miller. If he's the source.

I don't see the NYT suddenly going on the warpath against their essential source, after bringing down a contempt charge against one of their own, and insisting to the whole world that protecting sources is the most important thing in life. If Rove's the source.

My conclusion is that Karl Rove is not the super-sensitive source for either Miller or Cooper. Which means this whole brouhaha is a disgusting attempt at character assassination.

The MSM know they've lost the legislative battle for the shield law, the judicial battle to keep the sources secret, and the public opinion battle to win a popular exemption from civic duty. They're now out to wreak as much damage before the big names are outed, as possible.

And if they had a shield law, they'd probably play out this mess another two years.

Bush should stand by Rove.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Pointless London Bombings

What a senseless slaughter.

I'm struck by how incoherent the news from London seems. I learnt of the explosions some hours after they occurred, and put CNN on. They repeated the 2 killed estimate for several hours, and reported Tony Blair's statement that it was a terrorist attack as a 'claim'.

Powerlineblog.com notes George Galloway emphasized the "working-class" origins of the victims. The left-wing mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said much the same thing. American references to 'average Americans' on 9/11 was not a comment on class, but on the random destiny that befell people of all walks of life who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. At least, through their own red-tinted lens, the British Left is condemning the attacks, although Galloway blames the government for provoking it.

Our prayers for the British in their time of sorrow.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Jail The Washington Two

The US Senate is aiming to pass a resolution arguing that reporters Cooper and Miller don't belong in jail, and their activities are covered by the First Amendment.

Say what??

There's a reason a grand jury is looking into the Plame name dropping: it's a crime.

There's a reason this is being handled by a special prosecutor instead of the usual federal district attorney: it's been alleged that the Bush Administration is guilty of political crime.

The New York Times can pretend that the "free flow of information" is at stake here; what's at stake is press censorship and calumny.

Denouncing a citizen of a crime carries with it the responsibility of cooperating with the authorities in investigating and prosecuting the offender. Time and the New York Times want to let the matter end with a headline. Nuts.

It's especially impossible when the citizen accused is the President of the United States.

There's a name for reckless denunciation of officials as criminals and threats to national security: McCarthyism. I'd think the Senate would be a little more sensitive about allowing it, and praising those who promote it as essential free speech.

But I feel confident that if the source of the leak turns out to be an Administration official, Democrats will suddenly see it my way, and demand the press cooperate fully with the grand jury probe.

Bear Flag League Summer Conference

Only two weeks left to get your tickets!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Matador in the Mirror

One of the stupidest "smart" tales of all time is FailSafe.

For those of you who haven't read the book, seen the Henry Fonda movie, or the George Clooney remake, an eeeeevil military conspiracy decides to force the USA to knock out the USSR by nuking Moscow. The brave, sensitive American President, desiring only to avoid a Third World War, demonstrates America's commitment to peace by ordering the US Air Force to nuke New York City.

In the fairy tale, this works just fine.

The bulk of the American public rejected the advice of literary and cinema critics and avoided this insanity, but it's captured the imagination of the American Left for over fifty years. When Clooney sought to make a 2000 remake for cable he was able to draw an A-list cast for the project (which also tanked.)

I'm reminded of this when I hear the hissy fit Democrats and the press threw over Bush's speech on Iraq.

Some are angry because they think anybody who didn't participate on the actual 9/11 attack is not a legitimate target of the war on terror. Some are angry because they imagine there's an army of foriegners who'll fight our battles for us for the proper concessions.

Most are angry because Bush wants to fight, and wants to crush our enemies, and won't win a peace by demonstrating how vulnerable and harmless we can be.

Seeking security is arrogant and provocative. This is the leftist attitude recently articulated by Nicholas Ouroussoff in the "Appraisal: Fear in a soaring tower" in the New York Times:
What the tower evokes, by comparison, are ancient obelisks, blown up to a preposterous scale and clad in heavy sheaths of reinforced glass - an ideal symbol for an empire enthralled with its own power, and unaware that it is fading.

...Absurdly, if the Freedom Tower were reduced by a dozen or so stories and renamed, it would probably no longer be considered such a prime target. Fortifying it, in a sense, is an act of deflection. It announces to terrorists: Don't attack here - we're ready for you. Go next door.
Oh you pathetic tough guys! Your effective security measures just link you to all the effective security measures of the past. You just make it tougher for everybody else. Puh-lease!

Ouroussoff wails the loss of the "tension" present in the old design. I guess waiting for a truck bomb to take out thirty floors does give a sort of tension, but probably nobody, including Ouroussoff, really wants to pay the price of that vulnerability.

This is the sort of mentality that gripes about terrorists being recruited by the War on Terror. If only we were puny punk bitches, then Wahabist ghazis would become dentists instead of suicide bombers.

When in reality, having seen a bunch of goatherders from beyond the boondocks kill 2800 people in New York City, serious Americans have a much lower threshhold for foriegners holding "Death to America" summer camps. SoCal Pundit has a nice roundup of instances where Saddam encouraged terrorists and instances where leaders of both parties took notice and sounded off against him for it.

We could react to that and disarm and beg for mercy...

Until the Democrats prefer "Patton" to "Failsafe", they're not going to win a wartime election.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Road Trip

I just got back from a last-minute romp in San Diego. We went down there to watch the Dodgers tackle the Padres at home.

It was interesting, playing the role of invader. For about three hours I sat in tight-lipped frustration, but Dem Bums saved us from humiliation and actually won it in the 10th.

As one of my pals noted, the Padres fans are too classy to hate like the Giants. They actually started congratulating us on our win at the top of the 9th, way too early to give up on defeating the Dodgers.

I forgot any sunscreen until we were already seated, and I am typing with the minimum movements necessary from my Chinese-red arms.

Friday morning I awoke early and saw the latest Supreme Court decision in the headlines. Balls and Strikes has some good background. I think it's yet another destruction of the Bill of Rights as any sort of guarantee of absolute individual rights against government. And with campaign finance restrictions on electioneering, another example of liberal silliness re-enacting the worst excesses of Tammany Hall in the name of progress.

In Riverside County, developers are offering small businesses the lowest possible bid for their properties, explaining that if they don't sell directly, the city will take it in eminent domain for the same amount. They know this in advance because the eminent domain taking is coordinated with the private developer--legally, as the Court has affirmed.

"Fair market value" in real estate is a range of values, and to milk the best price for your property requires time. Eminent domain denies the owner that necessary time to conclude a better deal. That is why these developers go to the trouble to involve local government in their schemes.

As I've said before, I believe any human system can be reformed, but how much damage do we have to allow the Court to wreak, before the country will back serious reform?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Killer Bees!!

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- African honeybees -- also known as killer bees -- have entered Florida, and a University of Florida researcher says the aggressive insects may eventually spread throughout the state and move into other areas of the southeastern United States.

Glenn Hall said African honeybees have been found and stopped at ports in Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa since 1987.

"However, new finds in the Tampa area suggest that African bees are spreading and becoming established in the state, and they are being found farther inland from the ports," Hall said in a University of Florida press release. "We did not believe that enough bees could arrive on ships to form an established population, but they did so in Puerto Rico, and now appear to be doing the same in Florida."

But Hall noted that the bees are here to stay due to the warm climate and could affect the beekeeping industry and the pollination of many crops. That's not to mention the problems they could cause to public safety, recreation and tourism.


The dangerous thing about African honeybees is their instinctual aggression. American honeybees will pursue a foe until it is 100 yards from the hive, and not all drones respond to the chemical alarm thrown by a bee rupturing itself with a sting. All African drones that sense such an alarm will charge the target and they pursue for 400 yards. That's a quarter-mile, as the bee flies; if terrain or infirmity or youth prevent a human from running beyond that midair quarter-mile radius faster than a bee can fly, they've had it.

What's odd about African bees is that their instinctual combat pattern is adopted by American beehives they meet. The queen and drones are all genetically American, but suddenly react according to the pattern of genetically African bees. These bees are called "Africanized" bees.

That is why hives throughout Southern California were destroyed when the African bees began moving in. The lethal pattern of the African bee is spread much faster than reproduction could accomplish. It looks like Florida isn't yet aware of the fact that casual beekeeping in their state is now kaput.

An interesting aside: as an undergrad at UC Riverside, I took Entymology 101 as a lab science. One blazing day in the summer of 1997, we walked from our elderly lecture hall by the labs into the newer, airconditioned science buildings. There, in comfy theater chairs, we had an hour-long lecture by a different entymology professor. I don't remember his name, but his discussion of the killer bee has been with me ever since.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Jersey Joe With the Odds

Sen. Joe Biden was on CBS' Face the Nation this morning to let us know, in measured tones, that we've got 60% odds to win in Iraq only if we bring in the French and Germans and Egyptians, and force the elected government there to bring in the Sunnis. Otherwise, we'll be evacuating the embassy in 2006.

I doubt the French and Germans have resources we can't match; and after the EU constitution and budget debacles their governments might as well resign as sign onto deployments into Iraq. I think Sen. Biden also ignores the fact that the soveriegn government of Iraq can bring Egypt in, without asking our permission. And I guess he forgot that Sunni leaders accepted a deal on Friday, and I guess Bob Schieffer forgot to remind him.

I wish Sen. Biden would show the same fire regarding Iraq, that he showed backing John Kerry in the election. There was never any question of giving odds on a Kerry victory, or talking about the renewed tempo of Republican operations as proof Kerry was in trouble. In Washington, ambivalence on national issues is tolerable, but defeatism about the Party is unforgiveable.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

A Fun Partisan Evening

I had a great time at the Flag Day Dinner! [I'll post some photos when I have them ready.]

I'll start with a public service announcement:

MAPQUEST LIES. THERE IS NO SPRUCE STREET EXIT OFF THE CA-60.

Poor Justene of Calblog was one of those misdirected down the 215.
I had some fine purple prose about Riverside traffic--but that would just discourage you from visiting. I'll just say: call ahead.

We started off with very fine singing by a young lady, then heard introductory remarks by the author of California Conservatives for Truth on the need to expand our base through the Inland Empire through voter registration. Angel feels we're well placed to do so.

Sen. Bob Dutton gave a straight-forward exposition of the budget difficulties. I'll try to summarize his masterfully condensed explanation: the education lobby is demanding, in a year of $80 billion revenue, the same amount they received in 2000 when we collected $100 billion in revenue. The GOP is reluctantly willing, this year, to go $3 billion in deficit to provide for them, but Dems are now demanding a $5 billion deficit and acknowlegement that the dot.com-boom funding level is a permanent benchmark.

News to many of us is the move to create a union of past and present inmates of California's penal institutions. This will apparently shield fundraising and lobbying activities in Sacramento, that the Senator estimated at $78 million in 2006.

Off-the-record, Sen. Dutton discussed Arnold's political muscle and the various initiatives. I'm obligated to keep his conclusions regarding timing, tactics and priorities off-record, but I have no committment regarding the audience's relaxed and appreciative response. Wink-nod.

Michael Zak gave an erudite talk on the founding principles of the GOP, which to its leaders were not cynical "triangulation" but deep beliefs they felt required a firm champion; the Democratic response, ranging from filibusters to assassination; and the failure of the modern party leadership to acknowledge its heritage of liberty. He gave several examples from his book, Back to Basics for the Republican Party, but could only skim the surface. It's available at www.republicanbasics.com. I purchased a copy and will enjoy it over the next week.

All in all, it was a fine event and the next time Angel throws one together I will plug it here for all it's worth.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Why Bother Investigating Schiavo 911 Call?

I don't understand why Jeb Bush is calling for this criminal investigation.

The Schiavo autopsy did not strive to affirm or challenge the decade of medical treatment Terri received before her death--in fact, the coroner relied on her records to discuss her capability to take food orally.

Some factions in this country, that believe the morally right thing to do with the severely disabled is to put them down like dogs, believe that it is enough to show she was severely disabled.

"See," they say, "she was irreversibly damaged. Therefore she would have wanted death, even if she didn't specifically ask. QED".

They are driven to insane Monkei rages when we reply "So what? YOU don't get to make that call."

I didn't join in accusations that Michael Schiavo tried to kill Terri, because I had no evidence of that myself. I did opine that he was a jerk who worked hard to kill her ASAP, based on what he said to the press. I don't think the autopsy found anything to make me take that back.

But some people who went pretty far in making charges have to step back from them.

Now Jeb Bush wants a probe into whether Michael waited too long get treatment for Terri before she collapsed.

Why bother?

To me it seems all a piece with the prosecutions of Robert Blake and Michael Jackson. Both malignant weirdos. Both in compromising situations.

But to get a conviction you've got to persuade a jury that your speculation as to their guilt is the only reasonable scenario. Prosecutors in both cases called for a leap of faith by a jury. The jury refused to hop.

I don't see how, after 15 years, you could persuade a jury beyond reasonable doubt, how many minutes Michael Schiavo took to call 911, and his deliberate intent in taking that amount of time. And with any uncertainty on those points, the jury will acquit. Just as they refused to convict Robert Blake with uncertainty as to who actually shot his wife, and they refused to convict Michael Jackson on the testimony of a confessed perjurer.

Justice, for Terri, will come by reforming the system so that death cannot be handed down so casually. It can't come by tilting at windmills.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Poll: Stupidest American

Who takes the cake?

Sen. Dick Durbin, who thinks Guantanamo Bay is just like a Nazi death camp...apart from all that death.

Brad Pitt, who apparently thinks being married to a Ten plus a One here and there on the side, would be like having an Eeeleven.

Jerry Buss. I feel responsible, I never did send Jerry my offer to deliver the same losing 2006 season for 10% of Phil Jackson's comeback salary.

I'm going to have to go with Rep. Walter Jones & Friends, for demanding the US withdrawal from Iraq begin October 1st of this year. I think Bush should make a counter-offer: a complete withdrawal of combat forces by March 29, 1973.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Aced One!

Hat Tip to Lex Communis. According this quiz, I score a 96%:

You scored as Roman Catholic. You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.


I bet the question about the Pope is worth 60% by itself.