Growing up I never understood what the differences between the federal parties were. The "liberals" were "good" and the "Tories" were "not so good." But I didn't know why -- they just seemed like the same parties. All the debates were about stylistic issues and "what it means be Canadian." (Hint: Not an American). Now that I'm grown up (supposedly) I still don't see any difference.
The conservatives in Canada are kinda like moderate Democrats -- Joe Liberman, but not as charismatic. The liberals are, well, like liberal Democrats -- Barbara Boxer, but not as charismatic. The NDP are like the Greens -- Ralph Nader, but, you guessed it, not as charismatic. What about the Bloc Québécois? They are charismatic party and a uniquely Canadian. Of course, they want to separate from Canada.
WASHINGTON - Key lawmakers, including a Republican committee chairmen, are asking the Justice Department (news - web sites) to explain why it released a terror suspect to Syria when several prosecutors and FBI (news - web sites) agents had collected evidence for possible criminal charges against the man.
The circumstances surrounding Nabil al-Marabh's release, detailed in a recent Associated Press story, are "of deep concern and appear to be a departure from an aggressive, proactive approach to the war on terrorism," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote Tuesday in a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft (news - web sites).
"Al-Marabh was at one time No. 27 on the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) list of Most Wanted Terrorists," wrote Grassley, who leads the committee that controls federal spending and also is a member of the Judiciary Committee (news - web sites) that oversees the Justice Department. "He appears to have links to a number of terrorists and suspected terrorists in several U.S. cities."
"The odd handling of this case raises questions that deserve answers from the Justice Department," Leahy said Tuesday. "Why was a suspected terrorist returned to a country that sponsors terrorism? We need to know that the safety of the American people and our strategic goals in countering terrorism are paramount factors when decisions like this are made."
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., another member of the Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday the Justice Department's explanation so far that al-Marabh's deportation was the best option does not make sense. "It seems that pursuing a military tribunal, a classified criminal trial or continued immigration proceedings would have made more sense than merely deporting a suspected terrorist."
I never thought I'd hear a bunch of liberals clamoring for secret tribunals, but there you are. Obviously not all the facts are available to the public, but they do seem to have some valid concerns. I hope that their concern is genuine and not just opportunistic sniping.
One of the best ways to spot glaring problems with the solution to any problem, especially those solutions that are supposed to be applied universally, is to ask what would happen if you increased the magnitude of the problem. That's just what Eugene Volokh has done in examining the Supreme Court's decision on enemy combatants. He worries, quite rightly, that this decision would appear to provide a large burden on our military resources in time of war with very little justification.
I generally take the view that private divorce records, unless they reveal evidence of a crime, should stay private. For that reason I found the clamoring for Jack and Jeri Ryan's divorce records to be rather low and disgusting.
Now Drudge reports that media outlets are considering the same tactic regarding John Kerry's 1988 divorce. I find that this to be just as tasteless. Not only that, but I'm guessing that the chances that anything genuinely relating to Kerry's fitness as commander-in-chief will be in there.
I could be wrong; maybe it really is relevant. But I doubt it.
Michael Ubaldi points out that the Japanese are seriously considering amending their Constitution to allow their military to take more over roles in military actions. The thing I find most interesting about this is that one of the stated reasons for the desired change is that it would allow Japan to take more direct action against those that attack the United States.
As Ubaldi points out, the Japanese seem to understand better than most that the United States is a target because we have been defending the world from tyrannic oppression for 50 years, often on our own. A growing portion of the people, both in and out of government, in Japan now seem to realize that they now have the capabilities to help us in that effort. The only real obstacles they have are the political will and constitutional obstructions. If they can summon the former they will also get rid of the latter.
I wish that the world was such a place that Japan didn't feel the need to take this action. But since there is so much danger in the world I'm glad that the Japanese people are willing to ask, "What do we need to do to help?" I don't know what will come of this, but the very fact that amending the constitution in this way is under consideration seems a sure sign that the world has changed.
Of course, this will only serve to increase the desire of Everyday Americans to bomb the hell out of the entire middle east. I know that's what the jihadis want, but they don't understand. If they get their wish, we won't be using 155 mm mortar shells. Our bombs will leave the rubble glowing in the dark - along with the charred bones of Islam itself.
I think this is part of a fundamental misunderstanding that Islamist have about American goals. The Islamist misunderstood the message of Mogadishu for the same reasons. The US sent soldiers into Somalia because we were horrified to hear stories about people who couldn't eat because the fields were mined by warlords. We went there to try to establish order so that all the ordinary people caught in the middle could be safe again. Part of why pulled out after the "Black Hawk Down" incident is that in that instance the ordinary people we were there to defend sided, or at least appeared to side, with the warlords. After that there was simply no will to continue. If they didn't want our help, why should we keep risking the lives of our military?
But the Islamists never believed we were there to help the ordinary Somali; instead they really believed that we were in Somalia to start building an Empire. Consequently, they saw our pull out as a major military defeat of the "Great Satan".
In the current war we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan because we believed our own security was at risk. The only two options a lot of us see to dealing with this threat are a) to go in and rip out the old regimes and replace them with modern free societies, or b) apply massive fire power in order to eliminate the threat. The problem with options b is that lots of innocent people would be killed in the process. Our societ is rather adverse to the idea of killing innocent civilians so we went for option a. We did this even though it meant that a lot more of our soldiers and marines would probably die.
The Islamists don't really understand why we're there. They still think that we're there as part of some grand empire building scheme. The believe that if they push us hard enough we'll increase the firepower and lots of Arabs who are currently on our side or ambivalent about the whole thing will suddenly go over to their side. At that point they believe they can lead a mighty holy uprising and throw us out.
This way of looking at things fails to acknowledge that the only reason we haven't completely leveled most of the middle east is that we want to protect civilian lives. If the civilians actually did side against us that concern would go away. However, this time we aren't fighting to protect people from warlords; we're fighting to protect ourselves from Islamist terrorists. In Somalia when we decided the civilians were against us we could simply pull out. This time we don't have this option. We'd have to increase the fire power.
As Quick notes, the Islamist think that's what they want. They only think that because they don't really understand what it would mean for the full might of the American military, unrestrained by concerns of civilian deaths, being brought to bear on them indeed.
I don't think we'd ever actually resort to nukes unless a major nuclear, chemical, or biological attack had actually been launched on us. But I think it's certain that the more we hear about atrocities such as the beheading of hostages, the more likely we are to simply lose control.
I hate war. I supported, and still support, the invasion of Iraq but only because I believed it absolutely necessary. If I had not believed our military had the ability and control to largely limit civilian deaths, however, I might have taken a far different stand. The idea of unneeded civilian deaths is horrific to me. Yet even I, when I hear about the beheadings, find that my first response to these atrocities is, "Nuke 'em." If in my unguarded moments I'm thinking this way, then I fear a large part of our society is having far more dangerous tendencies.
In our country right now it's entirely possible that more active rage is being directed against our President than is actually being directed against the Islamist terrorists. If they actually think they want to see what would happen if the full rage and might of America was directed at them, they are sorely mistaken.
Goodness knows the very thought scares the daylights out of me.
Update: Americans aren't the only ones the Islamists risk tipping further than they really want them to go. Following the murder of a South Korean hostage, apparently even many South Koreans who previously opposed the war are now clamoring for action. (Link via Judicious Assinity.)
My DVD player has started acting up. It keeps sticking on spots; occassionally it's so bad that it freezes up completely and I have to cut the power and turn it back on to even get the disc out.
Last night I took the cover off and I couldn't see anything obviously wrong, but I'm no expert. While I had the cover off I vacuumed all over the circuit boards and inside the disc holder but that didn't seem to help. Does anyone have any ideas?
The next time a terrorist gets through and pulls off an attack, it will be for the same reasons: There'll be a bunch of new post-9/11 regulations, and some bureaucrat somewhere will have neglected to follow them, or some wily Islamist will have rendered them as obsolete as his predecessors made all those 30-year old hijack rules. That's the nature of government: 90 percent of its agencies just aren't very good and, if you put your life in their hands, more fool you.
Someone's been hacking Bene Diction's site. It sounds like this has been a long, sustained, yet low level attack. It certainly sounds like the work of someone with an axe to grind. I find that strange in the extreme because while Bene often says or links to things that people don't like, I've never seen anything come out of Bene's site that would anger someone to this extreme.
I was going to try to catch up on the last couple days worth of news, but Bloglines says I've got over 750 news stories and blog posts to catch up on. I'm officially delcaring that a lost cause. Hope y'all have a great weekend and I'll be posting more later.
I don't know what the original source of this tid bit is, but I thought it was hilarious. My aunt sent it to me:
Is it just me or does anyone else find it absolutely amazing that the U.S. government can track a cow born in Canada almost three years ago, right to the stall where she sleeps in the state of Washington, and determine exactly what that cow ate. They can also track her calves right to their stalls, and tell you what kind of feed they ate.
But they are unable to locate 11 million illegal aliens wandering around in their country, including people that are trying to blow up important structures in the U.S.
My solution is to give every illegal alien a cow as soon as they enter the country!
I know this grossly oversimplifies things, but still ....
At this present time, I don't see the worth and to be completely honest, it's just not fun any more. It's kind of like stealing from the ice cream man. It just gets old and after awhile, the ice cream doesn't taste as good.
So far I've been really impressed with Gmail. I just found out that I have six invitations to give out. I sent one to my mom. I've decided that I'm going to give two or three to soldiers. I haven't decided what I'll do with the rest.
By the way, if any of you have invitations to spare, please consider following that link and donating some to soldiers. The huge storage space makes Gmail a great way for soldiers to communicate with home. Some will probably even be able to get home videos via Gmail. You should seriously consider it.
This is my second trip to Washington and I tried to do lots of new stuff. My first trip today was to the Holocaust Museum. I saw surprisingly few actual artifacts at this museum. What they do have are a few powerful displays. They have one portion of the musuem that requires you to get tickets and come back at an appointed time. I didn't take the time to visit that portion of the museum. The major items of significance to me was Daniel's Story. This exhibit recreates the house a small child lived in in Germany and then has displays showing the changes that took place until you eventually get to the concentration camp room. Most of these rooms have very little in the way of reproduction; they instead rely on paintings to represent most of the details. Along the way you see "excerpts" from Daniel's diary. (The actual diary was eventually destroyed by the Nazi's. Daniel's mother and sister were both murdered by the Nazis.
The other powerful item was just two rooms that displayed video testimony from Holocaust survivors and the troops that rescued them. This is very powerful indeed.
While there I felt a great sense of shame. My shame is not about the Holocaust. Instead I'm ashamed that we're not doing anything to stop the Holocaust under way in Sudan. What are we waiting for? I wish I knew.
After leaving there I walked down to the World War II Memorial. The last time I was here the Memorial was still in the early phases of construction so I really didn't know what to expect. I didn't realize why they had the Reflecting Pool closed before, but I do now. The WWII Memorial actually backs right up to the Reflecting Pool and the Pool flows into the fountains in the WWII Memorial. It's quite impressive.
I took my camera with me on this trip and I took several pictures. However I haven't used this camera in a long time. When it was time to change film I couldn't remember how to load it. I finally got it in but the camera immediately wound about half way through the roll. I have no idea if I'll have anything worth anything by the time it's all said and done. (My goodness. I need a digital camera.) If I do have anything I'll try to post them here.
Anyway, when I was done there I decided to walk down to the Air and Space Museum. This means walking all the way around the Washington Monument again. (They've erected a wall around the Monument to control traffic. Then they constructed a fence several hundred feet away from the wall which they say is to allow the turf to grow back. All I know is that this greatly increases walking time.
When I got to the Air and Space Museum the line was incredibly long. I looked at the line for a while and decided I just wasn't up to waiting that long. My feet were getting pretty sore so I walked down to the Capitol Building instead. (All this meant walking by some festival the Smithsonian's got going. They call it the "Folklife Festival." I still don't know what this is supposed to be. Oh well.
I got down to the Capitol Building and just set there stairing at it for a while. It really is an amazing place. The next time I'm here I hope to get a tour. This time however I headed back to the hotel. I walked north to Pennsylvania and started west back to my hotel. My hotel is on 14th and I was at 6th. (If you don't recall the White House is at 1600, although Pennsylvania jumps over a block right there for some reason.) This gave me a chance to see the National Archives, the FBI and Justice Buildings and a few others I don't recall.
The most impressive of the buildings I saw on this little jaunt was probably the Canadian Embassy. It's quite beautiful. Also, on the side of the building they have a huge banner that shows a picture of Reagan from behind with the words "Au Revoir". I've been awfully critical of and upset with the Canadian goverment of late, but things like this remind me that our countries have a long history of friendship.
I got back to the hotel and took a long bath. Anyway, that's my day. Like I said, if the pictures turn out, I'll post them. If not, oh well. Tomorrow I have to do actualy work. That's the price you pay for these trips so I won't complain. Besides, I usually enjoy these meetings.
Rumsfeld, too, authorized only the mildest forms of interrogation of prisoners, even al Qaeda leaders. I found this paragraph, near the end of the AP's account, astonishing:
[Rumsfeld] approved 24 interrogation techniques, to be used in a manner consistent with the Geneva Conventions, but said that any use of four of those methods would have to be approved by him in advance. Those four were use of rewards or removal of privileges from detainees; attacking or insulting the ego of a detainee; alternating the use of friendly and harsh interrogators, and isolation.
I hate to disillusion liberals, but as a trial lawyer, I routinely use two of those four techniques in cross-examining witnesses, and I use at least one of the other two on my children. Frankly, I find it appalling that those in charge of terrorist prisoners may only "reward or remove privileges from detainees" with the permission of the Secretary of Defense. If the Democrats had any sense, they would argue that these documents indict the administration as soft on terrorists.
Personally my biggest complaint on this score is that they have to ask permission to play "good cop/bad cop". Be that as it may, I've gotta agree that this information makes me think the administration is being far to nice to the terrorists.
Is there anyone in Washington who consistently acts like we're actually at war?
To call this arrangement intellectually cowardly is to unfairly malign intellectual cowards. If the whole effect of a comments system is simply to create an echo chamber, then any self-respecting blogger would refrain from such an arrangement. It appears, however, that the ZNet crowd is not so high-minded.
Well, my sightseeing plans got all wet. Literally. I went out to catch a bite to eat and it started pouring. So when I finished eathing I just came back to the hotel. Still got drenching wet. But hey, I grew up in Amarillo where stuff like this happens. When you live in a place where it rains horizontally for 10 years you just get used to being wet.
I made a point of finding a hotel that was a) within walking distance of my meetings, b) within walking distance of the Mall, and c) had a high speed internet connection. This is my first trip to such a hotel since I switched my phone service to Vonage. I brought along my wireless router and my Vonage device (with phone). I've been blogging and checking e-mail wirelessly and calling relatives from my home phone all in the convenience of my hotel. I LOVE technology!
Tomorrow I'll do the sight thing. I'm thinking I may go to the Holocaust Museum this time. I don't know what else I'll do. Last year I never even made it close to Capitol Hill and I may not make it that far this time either. I'm not a big traveller, but I D.C. is totally different. There is just so much here that speaks to the history of our nation.
Got into town about two hours ago. Just finished settling in and catching up on my e-mail. I'm going to grab some food and a shower. Depending on how I feel after that I may do catch some sights. Either way there will be more later.
SOUTH Korea today said it would go ahead with a troop deployment to Iraq, despite a threat from an Islamic group to behead a South Korean hostage unless the plan was scrapped.
"We will go ahead with the troops dispatch as planned. There are no changes to our plan," a defence ministry spokesman said.
It's tragic that the hostage will probably be murdered. However if governments start backing down far more will die in the long run. I've got to give the South Korean government credit for standing firm.
Cairo: The al-Qaeda cell that kidnapped and killed American Paul Johnson Jr said in an online periodical today sympathisers in the kingdom's security forces supplied it with police uniforms and vehicles and set up fake checkpoints to facilitate last week's abduction.
The details of the kidnapping appeared in Sawt al-Jihad, or Voice of Holy War, a semi-monthly online periodical published by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. A separate article, the final one written by cell leader Abdulaziz al-Muqrin, killed in a shootout on Friday night, justified Johnson's slaying.
The first article said militants wearing police uniforms and using police cars set up a fake checkpoint on al-Khadma Road, leading to the airport, near Imam Mohammed bin Saud University.
When Johnson's car approached the checkpoint on June 12, the militants in police uniforms stopped his car - a Toyota Camry - detained him, anaesthetised him and carried him to another car, the article said.
It's no secret that the Saudi entity is a breeding ground for terrorism. It's no surprise, therefore, that some of their police might be cooperating with terrorists. But for al Qaeda to openly disclose the fact would tend to indicate that it's either not true or that the problem is so pervasive that they don't believe there's anything that can be done about it. Unfortunately, I think the latter is the best bet.
Leaders of the Nine-Eleven commission say their differences with the White House over al-Qaida's relationship with Saddam Hussein isn't a major point of contention.
The Bush administration used Saddam's alleged link with terrorists as a justification to go to war.
A commission staff report says there were contacts between al-Qaida and Iraq, but they didn't produce a collaborative relationship.
Vice President Cheney has said Iraq did respond to some of Osama bin Laden's requests for Assistance.
With so many in the press trying to say that the Commission's report is a sharp refutation of administration claims, it's nice to see some outlets actually report that the Commission itself says that their report is no such thing.
These days we take flying for granted. We walk aboard commercial airplanes, and although we don't understand how they work, we're confident that, thanks to the extremely sophisticated technology embodied in these complex machines, some teeny part, possibly in the toilet, will malfunction, and we will be delayed.
But sometimes planes actually fly. And when they do, they become soaring monuments to the brave pioneers who made modern aviation possible -- people like Wilbur and Orville Wright Brothers, Amelia ''Air'' Hart, and Earl P. Flinchwater, who developed the computer program that guarantees that no two passengers on any given flight ever pay the same fare.
Oh, so that' whose responsible! Thanks a lot Earl!
In the past I have been occassionally berated for not announcing trips by those who were, I found out later, actually very close to where I was going to be. In that light I'll be in D.C. next week for a committee meeting. I'll be getting in early on Tuesday the 22nd and leaving Friday the 25th. I'm going to be staying down town about 12 blocks north of the National Mall.
My folks are in town this weekend and we went to see Around the World in 80 Days at the matinee today. That movie is a blast! Jackie Chan is hilarious, as always. The cameos are wonderful too. A great dose of pure, unadulterated, fun.
Blackfive on the other hand is calling for us to send in the marines. Of course, a whole lot of our marines are busy in Iraq right now. That doesn't change the fact that this is the right thing to do. We cannot stand idly buy while hundreds of thousands are slaughtered.
And goodness knows the UN isn't going to do anything. Even if Sudan wasn't on the UN Human Rights Council the UN probably wouldn't do anything other than send really stern letters. But Sudan is on the Council, so we probably won't even get letters.
... and like WOW! If you haven't read Martin Devon's post about the differences (or lack thereof) between Bush and Kerry and the very real differences between the US and Europe, then you really need to go do that right now.
This should sound ironic or odd in today's culture, which cannot distinguish between dogma, ideology, or just plain old certainty, but knows for sure that all three are bad. Indeed, "dogmatism" has an almost entirely negative connotation, meaning at best "unthinking" adherence to ideas, usually bad ones, or even outright bigotry. Pragmatism, on the other hand, is the only philosophical school with a corresponding adjective in daily political life that enjoys an unequivocally positive connotation (hat tip to James Nichols). The philosophy of pragmatism, Papini famously remarked, is to do without philosophy. In fact, ever since the end of the 19th century, what we today call liberalism has been at war with "preconceived" ideas of all kinds. William James in America and Nietzsche and Sorel in Europe championed the notion that "willing" something to be true was all it took for something to be true. And anything that can be willed into being can be unwilled.
Anyway, still suffering from the hangover of their ideas, we even see certainty as a trait of the lowbrow, a habit of those unwilling or unable to understand the perspective of others. The most famous — and actually quite funny — example was offered by the New York Times's Anthony Lewis a few years ago. While the war in Afghanistan was still raging and the rubble at Ground Zero was still smoldering, Lewis gave a fascinating interview to the Times. Asked if he'd drawn any "big conclusion" over his long career as the paper's "most consistently liberal voice" (their words), Lewis responded that "certainty is the enemy of decency and humanity in people who are sure they are right, like Osama bin Laden and John Ashcroft."
Now, in many respects, this is the intellectual equivalent of some of the stunts on Fear Factor: It's impressive precisely because of the audacity of its stupidity.
The Israeli military is seeking bids for building an 80-foot-deep trench along part of Gaza's border with Egypt that would be intended to block the digging of tunnels used for smuggling arms to Palestinian militants.
Military officials who disclosed the plan on Thursday, after the request for bids was published in newspapers, cautioned that the decision to build the trench was not final and would depend on the financial and engineering details proposed by contractors. But the tentative design suggests that it could be a major undertaking costing millions of dollars.