Saturday, October 28, 2006

Opinion as News

From Belmont Club, here is a DoD website that counters a Newsweek article that portrays opinion as fact. For example:
INCORRECT NEWSWEEK CLAIM: “The 2003 invasion of Iraq did more than divert essential resources from Afghanistan; it created a test lab for new insurgent weapons and tactics that have since been adopted by the Taliban.”


The assertion that the Iraq invasion “diverted” resources from Afghanistan is a talking point of critics of the Bush administration. It is an opinion, not a fact.

Resources to Afghanistan have increased since Operation Iraqi Freedom began. In March 2003, the United States had about 9,500 troops in Afghanistan. Today, there are more than 21,000 U.S. forces either under U.S. or NATO command in Afghanistan or directly supporting missions there.

The insinuation that Iraq has created new tactics is, at best, exaggerated. Guerrilla warfare techniques and terror tactics such as suicide bombings were not invented in Iraq.

Additionally, the logic of this claim seems to be that U.S. forces should never confront terrorists far from our shores because of the danger that the enemy might fight back -- and learn new tactics in the process. This is not a coherent policy.
And here is a record of the exchange between the DoD and Newsweek in which the latter refuses to acknowledge the rebuttal in print.
You write that you cannot afford us “space in the news hole of the magazine to lay out the government position in detail,” and instead suggest writing a letter to the editor “concisely stating your point of view.”

This is a troubling response. First, a “concise” letter to the editor, of say, 200 words, cannot adequately address an [sic] 2200-word article containing a series of false assertions. Second, the issue is not Newsweek’s position versus the “government position.” The issue is that your readers were given a one-sided, opinion-laced article on Afghanistan based on falsehoods—which is something that journalists and editors are usually concerned about. Your dismissive reply is disappointing, to say the least.
The active workings of the media against the war effort are truly astonishing. One wonders which side they really want to win.

Actually, we know significant elements within CNN want us to lose:
“Anti-Americanism pays off for us over there, no doubt about it,” says the CNN employee. “Questions were raised about this [jihadi snuff] video and the way we got it. Once it was confirmed that it was real, the next question was how did we get it. And the answer was, we promised to give the terrorists a fair shake. I know that we are saying there was soul-searching here about running the tape. But I didn’t see much of that. There were somber people here, but there was also a segment of people on staff, once the tape had run and created a firestorm, that celebrated. They thought they were so courageous.”
During WW2, "The Good War", there was an Office of War Information, that censored every shred of information of possible use to the enemy with an iron fist, and everybody was on board in cooperating because it served the greater good.

I saw last night on one of those history or military cable tv channels, a segment on the strange Japanese Balloon Bombs. Apparently they launched a massive effort to bomb the United States by making 9,000 huge paper ballons that were launched into the jetstream, carrying incendiary bombs timed to drop approximately over the Northwestern states. It is believed about 1,000 of these large balloons and their bombs landed on North America.

And I never heard of them.

Had you?

Probably not.


Because at the time, the Office of War Information demanded a total blackout of news regarding these attacks, so the Jap would have no idea how effective or ineffective their effort had been. They wouldn't know whether to increase or decrease resources to this project, or whether to make modifications for better effects.

No newspaper stories, no radio reports.

Even when hundreds of weird balloons carrying bombs fell out of the skies.

Even when five Sunday School children and a pregnant minister's wife were blown up by one during a picnic outing in the Oregon woods.

That was then.

Today, the "courageous" thing to do is blab all about top-secret programs to monitor the communications and financial transactions of an enemy bent on destroying our entire civilization.

As if that weren't enough, the fact is that the senseless killing in Iraq is fueled by the hope -- kept alive by the media and the Democrats -- that if they're just barbaric and savage enough, we will withdraw. If that message weren't driven home every day, there'd be less motivation for the enemy to continue fighting.

The media and the Democrats are directly increasing enemy morale.

And I'll never forget that.

Drive them out of business. There's no excuse to ever buy another newspaper or magazine or to watch CNN again.

And another thing.

On that same program, it showed the panic in response to the shelling of targets on the coast of California and Oregon by Jap submarines. Nobody knew if an invasion force was going to land at any minute, and the army defenses were woefully inadequate along the impossibly long coastline.

With the panic, came action.

The program showed filmclips of a line of what must have been hundreds of people -- civilians -- all lined up at a firing range practicing how to fire guns.

This was the militia in operation.

Someone had supplied lots of Thompson submachine guns, but it was apparent from the newsreel that there were also many private rifles being used.

Imagine that, privately owned firearms, being wielded by the citizen militia, according to the purpose and vision of the Second Amendment.

The very militia and the very guns that the goddamn gungrabbing Democrats I've been fighting for 15 years have always been claiming were obsolete and totally unnecessary -- a thing of myth -- since 1775.

There'd never be any imaginable way normal people with their own guns would have to repel an invasion, what a ridiculous idea!

And yet 65 years ago, that's exactly what they were doing.

To fully appreciate this scene, you have to realize they were showing, without a hint of frivolity or cuteness, scores of 1940s middle-aged housewives, in their normal housedresses, grimly practicing blasting away at man-sized targets with automatic weapons and hunting rifles on an outdoor range.

Last week, I just bought a new M1 carbine from Auto-Ordnance (Kahr Arms), a fully-functional replica of the famous GI weapon:

And 200 rounds of ammo.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Peace Through Light

Airborne Laser in the news:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency on Friday hailed what he cast as epochal progress toward putting a high-energy laser aboard a modified Boeing Co. 747 to zap ballistic missiles that could be fired by North Korea and Iran.

The Airborne Laser has been developed at a cost so far of about $3.5 billion with the aim of destroying, at the speed of light, all classes of ballistic missiles shortly after their launch. If successful in flight testing and deployed, it would become part of an emerging U.S. anti-missile shield that also includes land- and sea-based interceptor missiles.
I remember hearing over and over, years ago (from Democrats, mostly), that missile defense was a waste, because the likelihood of facing a small number of missiles from a "rogue state" was ridiculously low.

Who's laughing now?

More effort sooner and we might have been ready by now instead of in a few years.

But the naysayers are once again out in force. Where once they said, oh, it'll just start an arms race and the Chinese or whoever will just send too many missiles to shoot down.

I always said, ok, make them do it!
But the Pentagon's former top weapons tester poured doubt on the project, saying it faced major technical hurdles and might be defeated by a simple countermeasure.

Philip Coyle, the Pentagon's chief weapons tester under former President Bill Clinton and now at the private Center for Defense Information, said in an e-mail reply to Reuters that the ABL's effectiveness appeared doubtful.

"If a laser can be developed with enough power to penetrate the atmosphere and still be lethal once it reaches a target, an enemy would only need to put a reflective coating on the outside of its missiles to bounce off the laser beam, making it harmless," he said.
Simple countermeasure?

Ok, make them do it!

Will every missile in the world be retrofitted with this magical coating that reflects infrared light (these high-powered lasers are more like heat rays than beams of light) and doesn't char even at high temperatures?

Highly unlikely.

I wonder if Mr. Coyle would take a dare to stand in front of a megawatt-class laser with a three-foot aperture with a sheet of reflective mylar for protection.

Somehow, I doubt it.

The official word is:
A Missile Defense Agency spokesman, Richard Lehner, in an e-mailed reply to Reuters, responded that "abrasion" during the early stage of a missile's launch would erase the reflective capabilities of any such coating.
These articles are always rather useless, interesting mostly for how much they omit or miss the point entirely.

Violent Month

The violence is relentless -- another 1500 people gunned down in the streets this month, just like the month before, and the month before, and the month before.

And the month before.

For years now.

It just doesn't let up!

The senseless killing just keeps spiralling out of control! And the police are ineffective and corrupt.


No, South Africa!
South Africa was ranked second for assault and murder (by all means) per capita. Total crime per capita is 10th out of the 60 countries in the dataset. Other data rank South Africa second in the world for murders per capita and first for assaults and rapes.
The place has been bloodbath of thuggish street murder in broad daylight for years. Some of it is simple crime, other aspects of it are tribal or militia-like gang-war, among such things as taxi organizations -- which would be ludicrous if it weren't so deadly serious.

And yet, I'm sure you, dear reader, probably have little sense of "crisis" over South Africa.

Even though the worst months of killings in Iraq are only twice as bad as South Africa, but South Africa's been chugging along like that for nearly 4 times as long!

Yet there's little sense of anxiety.

That's simply because of the toxic effects of non-stop propaganda by the media, making sure you hear about every single atrocity in Iraq, every day, for the last 3 years, but remaining silent on events in South Africa, even when they are noteworthy.

The effect produced is an error in judgement of relative risk. The purpose is to influence you to do anything, even vote in the Democrats, just to get it off your TV screen. Because that's the real implicit bargain: nobody would vote Democrat just to have their taxes raised and the economy trashed and the troops forced to cut and run again, if not for the prospect of simple RELIEF from the manufactured drumbeat of daily bad news.

There's just no political hay to be made, for example, in pointing out that Mandela's African National Congress has been a huge disaster and has failed to create a civil society after a decade -- without external interference from Iran and Syria and assorted religious fanatics!

In fact, even with all the goodwill the kumbaya crowd could muster, it still has deep problems -- imagine if most of the world were eagerly wishing its demise just for the sake of scoring political points against George Bush!

This speech from last month got mostly ignored by the media, for example:
CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- Archbishop Desmond Tutu says South Africa has failed to sustain the idealism that ended apartheid and its people seem to have lost their sense of right and wrong.

Delivering the Steve Biko Memorial Lecture at the University of Cape Town on Tuesday night, the Nobel Peace laureate asked why respect for the law, the environment and life itself were missing in the new South Africa.

"What has happened to us? It seems as if we have perverted our freedom, our rights into license, into being irresponsible. Rights go hand in hand with responsibility, with dignity, with respect for oneself and the other," Tutu said.

Tutu decried the rape of children, some as young as 9 months, and South Africa's staggering murder rate, the second only to Colombia. He said it appeared the African reverence for life had been lost.

"Is it not horrendous ... for an adult man to rape a 9-month-old baby?" he said. "We are not appalled that some of us can chuck people out of moving trains because they did not join" a strike.
His reference to the rape of a child refers to a belief by some that having sex with a child can cure AIDS.

Maybe we would do well to realize that much of the world still operates in a pre-Enlightenment mindset, and therefore that just because someone puts on a Western-style 3-piece suit doesn't automatically make them the Second Coming of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.

Sure, the colonized people of the Third World, from Cuba to Vietnam to South Africa to the Middle East had an issue with being colonized.

But we're finding the real beef with many of these "national liberators" isn't that they wanted a Magna Carta for their people, but rather that they were simply angry that their particular tribe or faction or cronies didn't wield absolute power.

And perhaps we would also do well to realize that the apparent "crisis" of violence in Iraq -- now, really, nearly, almost, on the verge, of total civil war, any day now, we're telling you, say the media, lips smacking! -- should have about as much day-to-day significance to our daily sense of well-being as the situation in South Africa has.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Food Fascists

The Nanny State intrudes once again:
Ban for boy with two snacks
By David Sapsted
(Filed: 14/10/2006)

A boy aged 10 has been banned from his school dining hall because his packed lunch broke the government's healthy eating guidelines.

The father of Ryan Stupples is protesting after his son was forced to eat in the headmaster's office at Lunsford primary school, Larkfield, Kent, because his lunch contained two snacks, instead of one.

Ryan's lunch consisted of a sandwich, fruit, fromage frais, cake, mini cheese biscuits and a bottle of water. The cake and the biscuits broke the snack limit. They were discovered when a teacher checked his lunch box.
The government will run your life for your own good.

Double-plus good!

Monday, October 16, 2006


I was alerted by the latest "Day By Day" cartoon there in the sidebar tonight that there is a trailer out for a new movie called simply "300", and I am all in a tizzy!

Frankly, it looks awesome!

From the official website of the film,
Based on the epic graphic novel by Frank Miller, 300 is a ferocious retelling of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in which King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes and his massive Persian army. Facing insurmountable odds, their valor and sacrifice inspire all of Greece to unite against their Persian enemy, drawing a line in the sand for democracy. The film brings Miller’s (Sin City) acclaimed graphic novel to life by combining live action with virtual backgrounds that capture his distinct vision of this ancient historic tale.
I have the graphic novel on a display stand not ten feet from where I'm sitting now.

The original 1962 film version, The 300 Spartans, was always a favorite of mine.

But this new one is going to be incredible. It will be more stylized and surreal. And by following the graphic novel, it's certainly not a straight telling from Herodotus.

But that's fine. Maybe it won't be a history lesson, but it will certainly be entertaining, and captures the essential elements. They call it an "operatic" telling of the tale.

See the Promo Trailer.

Then see other goodies here. (Or see here for links to sites with trailers in various formats).

Just stay alive until March 9, 2007, to see it!

For a quick take on how stunning it looks, see images below:

Friday, October 13, 2006

Show Trials

Perhaps sensing November election victory, some on the left couldn't conceal their true intentions, calling for people like me, personally, to be put on "Nuremburg-style war-crimes trial" for...(wait for it!)... the terrible crime of being a human-caused global-warming skeptic.

See here, here and here for my heresy!

In other words, the left gaining political power has been revealed as detrimental to my very self-preservation, by their own admission -- though now retracted when it was seen as politically counterproductive to advertise that fact.

I turn to the U.S. Senate's webpage, specifically the subsection for the Environment and Public Works Committee. The Majority Fact of the Day reveals the following from a magazine to which Al Gore favors enough to have given interviews:

A U.S. based environmental magazine that both former Vice President Al Gore and PBS newsman Bill Moyers, for his October 11th global warming edition of “Moyers on America” titled “Is God Green?” have deemed respectable enough to grant one-on-one interviews to promote their projects, is now advocating Nuremberg-style war crimes trials for skeptics of human caused catastrophic global warming.

Grist Magazine’s staff writer David Roberts called for the Nuremberg-style trials for the “bastards” who were members of what he termed the global warming “denial industry.”

Roberts wrote in the online publication on September 19, 2006, "When we've finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we're in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards -- some sort of climate Nuremberg."

Gore and Moyers have not yet commented on Grist's advocacy of prosecuting skeptics of global warming with a Nuremberg-style war crimes trial. Gore has used the phrase "global warming deniers" to describe scientists and others who don't share his view of the Earth's climate. It remains to be seen what Gore and Moyers will have to say about proposals to make skepticism a crime comparable to Holocaust atrocities.

The use of Holocaust terminology has drawn the ire of Roger Pielke, Jr. of the University of Colorado's Center for Science and Technology Policy Research. “The phrase ‘climate change denier’ is meant to be evocative of the phrase ‘holocaust denier,’” Pielke, Jr. wrote on October 9, 2006.
An update shows that Grist has issued a retraction:
But we know what lurks in their black hearts and deranged minds.

Hmmm, let's see, one side is so wrapped up in fantasy that the greatest enemy it sees is, well, me.

Meanwhile, in the real world, another side has finally figured out who really to charge with treason:
Al-Qaeda's Gadahn facing treason charge
By 7News

A Californian man who has appeared in al-Qaeda videos has been charged with treason.

Adam Gadahn, 28, a convert to Islam was understood to have attended al-Qaeda training camps in Pakistan and served as a translator.

He was thought to be hiding in Pakistan, with a reward of more than $1 million for his capture.

It is the first case of treason in the US since the Second World War.

If found guilty, Gadahn could face the death penalty.
I surely don't claim the Republicans deserve to be in power.

But the other side has disqualified itself by default.

What, I'm going to vote to have myself put on a war-crimes trial?

They only motivate me to write more checks to the RNC.

It's just self-preservation.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Axe Time, Sword Time

The Norks say they have tested an atomic bomb.

All I can think of right now is how Odin, troubled by growing portents that the Age of the Aesir was ending and Ragnarok was fast approaching, discovered that the oracles of the Wise Woman and Mimir's Head, rather than giving advice how to avert the inevitable Twilight of the Gods, could now only tell him, over and over, the following:

Axe time, sword time,
Ere the world end;
Wind time, wolf time;
Do you not know more now
Than you knew then?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Pope Quote Video

A very interesting and amusing video that puts the pope's recent "controversial" quote of a Byzantine emperor in proper context is at this link.

There's a long essay there too that you can skip. Just scroll down to the video and click it once or twice to start playing.

The "sidebar" entitled "muslim clerics respond" is also recommended.