December 31, 2005

Happy New Year, Y'All
— Ace

Heading out now... roofdeck plus fireworks equals crazy delicious. I hope everyone drinks responsibly or, if that's impractical, then irresponsibly.

But whatever you do, drink. It's for the economy.

Posted by: Ace at 01:01 PM | Comments (59)
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Why The Democrats Can't Gain Traction
— Ace

I spoke to my friend Steve_in_HB yesterday. He's not a Republican; he's a sort of extreme libertarian with some Republican leanings. But not enough to be a Republican. He's pretty down on organized religion and the religious right agenda, for example.

When I've tried to argue politics with him, he's generally argued against me 50% of the time. Sometimes a little more. Sometimes a little less.

The point he made is that he is the Democrats' target for recruitment. Born in a Blue State, raised in a Blue State, living in a very Blue State. And yet, when he got involved in arguing with some of the liberal posters here, and checking out Fire Dog Lake blog, he was completely turned off.

He's open to the Democratic message -- whatever the hell that might be -- but they just don't seem particularly willing to engage him with anything other than insults and unhinged Get-Bush-At-All-Costs-isms.

Anyway, he wrote something to this effect on the blog today:

I'll tell you some of what I've seen. A string of people coming here not to discuss issues, but rather to hurl canned insults.

Typically the first sentence contains "fascist". There is also a generally sneering use of mock hick phrasing. Some type of allusion to gun racks and trucks. Also, some variation on the Chimpy McHitler when referring to Bush.

Frankly, there is no reason to take these people seriously. They start out with the assumption that Republicans or Conservatives are evil and stupid, not that their fellow citizens are good people who have different political beliefs. How can you have serious discussions with this type of person?

As for "unpatriotic" -

Having reservations about surveillance activities, counter-terrorism tactics, etc is not unpatriotic. However, many of the "liberal" commenters don't really want to talk about trade-offs between privacy vs security, regime change vs realpolitik, etc. They instead take glee in US setbacks, misteps, etc because it helps their political side. That is unpatriotic.

I'm not even a Republican and disagree with a lot of their positions. In other words, I'm the Dems/Libs target audience. But all I see from them is blind anger, petty politicing, sneering elitism, and, at times, a lack of patriotism.

This isn't just the Internet, either. Sure, it's worse on the Internet, and there are a lot more dummies in cyberspace than working at the DNC, but it's just all part of the Big Democratic Message, which seems, to many, to consist of little more than "Impeach Bush, Give Us Back Power, We'll Make Things Better, Though We Have No Idea How, Or Else We're Too Afraid To Share That Information With You For Fear You Won't Like Our Actual Ideas."

The Republicans got their noses bloodied in 1998 when, as many people believed, they seemed to have de-emphasized advancing actual policy debates in favor of pursuing their bete noir, Bill Clinton, with an Ahab-like intensity. Hey, I was part of that madness myself, so I can't point fingers. I do know, though, that whatever the complaints were against Bill Clinton, Republicans failed to convince a majority of the country that we had anything to offer that was better as a substantive matter.

There's little point in giving advice to your opponents -- you don't want to give them useful advice, and besides, they won't listen anyway -- but really, hatred and spite are just not selling, guys. Even at the steep discounts you're offering based on volume, volume, volume.

You don't like Chimpmaster McHalliburton, Fascist Emperor of Hegemonic Terrorism. We get that. You also despise conservatives, anyone more religious than, say, Michael Newdow, and anyone who's ever taken a shot at a deer.

You say you have trouble "getting your message out;" trust me, that part of the message has come through loud and clear. Message received, roger wilco.

Now-- can we skip down a bit to the bullet-points lower on the list?

Posted by: Ace at 12:09 PM | Comments (311)
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More Subsidies For Hybrid Gas-Electric Cars & Trucks
— Ace

Up to $3150 for a Prius? That sounds less like a subsidy and more like a half-a-free-car handout.

But... maybe not a bad idea in principle. I always get whacked by the free-marketers when I suggest that, given that oil dependency is a strategic peril, perhaps a bit of government interference in the free market isn't a bad idea.

Unlike the fantasy solutions of solar power and wind-farms, this does seem to be a viable technology, improving in efficiency and falling in price every day, and perhaps a bit of a government-sponsored kick-start to the tech would make it better and cheaper, faster.

Still: $3150 in tax credits? What the hell?

From Insty, who has some stuff on terrorists' increasing PR problems, as well as a candidate for dumbest story of the year.

The AP, it seems, wrote a story on the NSA-cookies-scandal (I'm pretty darn sure that's an impeachable offense, by the way), and says that a website putting cookies on your computer isn't "technically illegal."

No? Not "technically" illegal? Is there another sense of "illegal," not codified and technical in nature, which I'm not aware of, thereby requiring this modifier?

Or was AP, even while grudgingly conceding it's legal ("technically" legal, one presumes), trying to insinuate that in some "non-technical" sense it actually is illegal?

The AP, I think, is not technically guilty of criminal stupidity and agenda-liberalism with malice aforethought. But who knows. There've been a lot of changes in the law.

Posted by: Ace at 11:50 AM | Comments (16)
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Second Thoughts On Kathleen Parker's Anti-Blog Screed
— Ace

Q & O pauses to take a breath before writing (not my own personal style, but whatever works for ya), and decides that Parker isn't as off-base as some (like me) alleged.

In particular, he notes that a lot of her criticisms -- of juvenile name-calling, narcisstic seeking of attention, sloppy analysis and fact-checking, etc. -- are in fact true of many blogs, and most blogs on occasion, like, for example, the one you're reading right now. Or many of the left-wing blogs (an update to his post notes Atrios as a culprit, though I'm not sure how "Open Thread" can be subject to any sort of substantive criticism).

I think Q & O makes some good points, and perhaps there is more room for self-criticism on my part.

But I do think one point stands: For an article about the shrillness, incivility, and nastiness of blogs, Kathleen Parker -- MSM Member in Good Standing, and Don't You Forget It -- sure seemed to turn out some shrill, incivil, and nasty copy.

Which is one of my pet peeves regarding MSM criticism of blogs: They tend to accuse of sins they excuse in themselves. Partisanship? Reinforcement of the "bubble" of like-minded thought? Snarkiness? Shrillness? Attention-seeking? Attacking people for personal gain? Lapeses in accuracy, accountablity, and objectivity? Yep, Pardner, the MSM exhibits all these in spades.

I can't really blame any of my personal flaws on my parents, but, in this particular case, I'll just say to the MSM: Don't like what your children have become? Well, Mom and Dad, we learned it all from you.

Posted by: Ace at 11:20 AM | Comments (7)
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That Sort Of Answers That
— Ace

A lefty cartoonist poses a question. It's answered.

Posted by: Ace at 10:32 AM | Comments (12)
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Another Rip of Munich, This Time In The WaPo
— Ace

From the director of the Holocaust Museum argues:

Director Steven Spielberg claims that he's not telling us what to think. In talking about his provocative new film, "Munich," Spielberg says that, as an artist, he's offering questions, not answers. And he insists that, as a Jew exposed to the Talmudic tradition, he wants to provoke discussion, not provide conclusions.

I don't think Spielberg is being disingenuous in talking about "Munich," which re-creates the massacre by Palestinian terrorists of 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympics and Israel's decision to respond with targeted assassinations of the perpetrators. But it's clear from watching the film, and reading his many comments about his goals in making it, that what he says, alas, simply isn't true. On both of the film's central themes -- terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- Spielberg and "Munich" offer plenty of answers and conclusions.

First, the terrorism issue. Spielberg told a Los Angeles Times interviewer that answering aggression with aggression "creates a vicious cycle of violence with no real end in sight." He said much the same thing to Time magazine -- "a response to a response doesn't really solve anything. It just creates a perpetual-motion machine."

And his film frames for the viewer exactly this bleak vision of unending and unendable violence. Palestinian terrorists murder Israeli athletes to put their cause before the world. Israeli counterterrorists assassinate Palestinian terrorists involved with those murders. Palestinian terrorists carry out more murders of innocents, presumably because of the assassinations. At the end of the film, the camera lingers on the pre-9/11 Manhattan skyline, dominated by the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The film is crafted to demonstrate that violence breeds violence in the long run as well as in the short run.

Spielberg told critic Roger Ebert that his movie says, "I don't have an answer." But he, and the movie, do have an answer, and a ringing one: Striking back with force is not the solution.


Posted by: Ace at 10:15 AM | Comments (12)
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Open Thread/Headlines Thread
— Ace

I'm going to soon have a "Comment" feature for those headlines in the sidebar, so people can comment on a particular story that's not on the front page, if they like.

Until then, there's this.

Posted by: Ace at 09:53 AM | Comments (17)
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Again: Indonesian Muslims Bomb Christain Market, Killing Seven
— Ace

I'm beginning to doubt their committment to Sparkle Motion The Religion of Peace (TM):

A bomb packed with nails exploded in a crowded Christian market selling pork ahead of New Year celebrations in eastern Indonesia on Saturday, killing at least seven people and wounding 53, police said.

The early morning blast in Palu, capital of volatile Central Sulawesi province, came after warnings of militant violence during the Christmas and New Year season in Indonesia. But it appeared to be linked to regional tensions, not international Islamic militancy.

Oh, well, that's a relief. It's just a local embrace of the Murder Cult, not an international one.

Indonesia is predominantly Muslim but its east has large pockets of Christians, to whom pork is not forbidden.

...

"This was probably extremists because they targeted a part of a market that was selling pork, which would seem to indicate sectarian violence between the religions. Or an attempt at least to spark sectarian violence," he said.

Great. Now they're killing over entrees.

Posted by: Ace at 09:52 AM | Comments (6)
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Elliot Spitzer Threatened Critic
— Ace

NY AG, and likely gubernatorial candidate, Elliot Spitzer is alleged to have "chilled the right to dissent" of an opinion-writer in the WSJ:

a furious Spitzer tracked [the critic] down in Texas last spring after he authored an earlier piece in defense of former American International Group CEO Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, who was being investigated by Spitzer for corporate fraud. '

Citing notes he said he took during the telephone conversation, Whitehead quoted Spitzer as saying, "Mr. Whitehead, it's now a war between us and you've fired the first shot . . . I will be coming after you. You will pay the price."

...

Spitzer has denied Whitehead’s claims. However, on Friday, the Post reported, Spitzer admitted to having a “a passionate conversation” with Whitehead.

NY GOPers are calling for a probe. Some are calling for impeachment, but really, do we have to play their reindeer games?

Posted by: Ace at 09:39 AM | Comments (2)
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Why Bush Can't Get Warrants For Intercepts
— Ace

Because the warrantless stage of intercepting messages is broad-based and most likely completely computerized:

Programmed into this computerized scan are likely to be automatic prompts that are triggered by messages containing certain keywords, go to certain addresses, occur in certain patterns or after specific events. Supposedly those messages that trigger these prompts are targeted for further scrutiny.

In the context of the post-9/11 threat, which includes sleeper cells and sleeper operatives in the United States, no other form of surveillance is likely to be feasible and effective. But this kind of surveillance may not fit into the forms for court orders because their function is to identify targets, not to conduct surveillance of targets already identified. Even retroactive authorization may be too cumbersome and in any event would not reach the initial broad scan that narrows the universe for further scrutiny.

Moreover, it is likely that at the first, broadest stages of the scan no human being is involved -- only computers. Finally, it is also possible that the disclosure of any details about the search and scan strategies and the algorithms used to sift through them would immediately allow countermeasures by our enemies to evade or defeat them.

If such impersonal surveillance on the orders of the president for genuine national security purposes without court or other explicit authorization does violate some constitutional norm, then we are faced with a genuine dilemma and not an occasion for finger-pointing and political posturing.

Warrants may be sought after the broad computerized scan has intercepted millions of messages and flagged a certain tiny number as possibly related to foreign intelligence, but obviously not previous to this step.


More: From the Washington Post:

Who are our masters of surveillance today? Most are located at the National Security Agency, the giant "Crypto City" complex located off Interstate 95 between Washington and Baltimore. The agency vacuums up 650 million intercepts a day -- called signals intelligence, or sigint -- from satellites, ground stations, aircraft, ships and submarines around the world. And it hunts for patterns that might lend seemingly ordinary words significance in the war on terrorism.

650 million a day. That would be an awful lot of warrant-applications flowing into FISA, wouldn't it?


Posted by: Ace at 09:26 AM | Comments (13)
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Update on Stolen Explosives: Just Some Good Old Boys, Never Meanin' No Harm
— Ace

Makin' their way the only way they know how, that's just a little bit more than the law will allow:

Profit and drug addiction - not terrorism - probably drove the recent theft of hundreds of pounds of powerful explosives from rural Bernalillo County, according to people who know the main suspects.

Federal authorities Friday afternoon arrested brothers David Kendrick Brown, 49, and Leslie F. Brown, 44, both from the northwestern New Mexico town of Bloomfield. Two other men were being held for questioning Friday night.

Bloomfield residents who know the Brown family but asked not to be identified say the brothers were not anti-government and did not have a terrorist agenda - only a drug problem that would benefit from the sale of the explosives.

Weary-eyed federal and local authorities looked relieved at FBI headquarters in Albuquerque when they announced Friday night that all of the stolen items - enough to level a large building, they say - were recovered safely from a barn 12 miles south of Bloomfield in rural San Juan County.

No moonshine was found on the premises, and none of the explosives had yet been attached to arrows.

Thanks to Scott.

Oh... Before the typical trolls scream "You don't care about criminals unless they have swarthy skin!" no, dude, I think these guys should be locked up for a long, long time.

I wrote a jokey headline and link because there was a great deal of suspicion that this was terrorist-related, which I never figured it was.

I do not, in fact, imagine they're just "a two modern-day Robin Hoods," with a hot cousin in short-short cut-offs that lets all her fine junk hang out.

My point is just they're typical crimial lowlifes, not Al Qaedaists. They're just the sort of dudes you see on Cops all the time, congenitally incapable of wearing shirts, usually trying to hide underneath the overturned and rusty dinghy in the back yard when Johnny Law comes a-knockin'.

Posted by: Ace at 08:36 AM | Comments (13)
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Photoshop Opportunity?
— Ace

The header of the Democratic Party blog:

Again, the theory seems to be that if you can't actually give the unhinged left all they want in terms of policy pronouncements, you can appease them by mimicking their juvenile, fight-fight-fight tough-guy-pussy tone.

Thanks to Kevin.

Posted by: Ace at 08:27 AM | Comments (181)
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Update On Iran-Strke Preparations
— Ace

From Allah, a few more details about the supposed strike planning:

According to the report, CIA chief Porter Gus, in his last visit to Turkey on December 12, requested Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to provide military bases to the United States in 2006 from where they would be able to launch an assault.

...

Although Der Spiegel could not say that these plans were concrete, they did note that according to a January 2005 New Yorker report American forces had entered Iran in 2005 in order to mark possible targets for an aerial assault.


Posted by: Ace at 08:17 AM | Comments (6)
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Released German Kidnap Victim Has a Bad Case of Stockholm Syndrome
— Ace

When even the Germans think you're behaving bizarrely, you might want to reconsider your fashion choices:

If former hostage Susanne Osthoff had been better advised, she probably would have opted against appearing on German television entirely covered in a black headscarf. The hijab, which left only a pair of slits for her eyes, made the freed hostage look like a disturbing cross between a Chechen Black Widow suicide bomber and a ninja.

By the way, Patty Heart just called, and she wants her mental stability back.

Posted by: Ace at 08:11 AM | Comments (16)
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Eastwood To Produce New Iwo Jima Movie
— Ace

That's interesting. But this is one of the most absurdly biased articles I've ever read.

Eastwood says he wants to tell the story from "both sides" and apparently views the battle largely through the prism of tragedy. Well, certainly, all those American deaths were tragic (as were those of the Japanese); but again, it seems that this will largely be an anti-war war movie.

That's not really all that surprising, even from Clint Eastwood. Maybe Eastwood is just saying all this because he wants to shoot on location and needs to appease the island's anti-American governor; and of course it's hard to do a movie about a battle which took the lives of 7000 Marines and not sound a mournful note. You really make a movie about the violent deaths of 7000 Marines the feel-good roller-coaster ride of the summer.

I don't know.

But I do know this is the most absurdly, cartoonishly anti-American article I've read in some time.

Eastwood, the gung-ho star of prime slabs of Americana such as Heartbreak Ridge and Dirty Harry, is known for his right-wing political persuasions.

Wouldn't Eastwood's effort - tentatively titled Lamps Before the Wind - be a replay of the infamous Sands of Iwo Jima, starring another Hollywood tough guy, John Wayne?

Sands, made four years after the soldiers returned home, was as shrill and jingoistic as a piece of Stalinist propaganda, and became a recruiting poster for a generation of Marines, inspiring, among others, Ron Kovic, the paraplegic Vietnam veteran whose story was dramatised in Oliver Stone's Born on the Fourth of July.

With its bighearted US grunts pitted against fanatical, Banzai-screaming "Nips" and "Japs", the movie has few fans in Japan, where many old soldiers know that John Wayne never served a day in the forces.

...

Eastwood no doubt hope that the tragic tale of the rise and fall of ordinary American heroes - used then discarded by forces beyond their control - will resonate with contemporary US audiences weary of war in Iraq.

...

The determined [Japanese] general, imbued with the spirit of the quasi-religious Bushido cult, is a standard feature of countless Japanese war movies, as much a cliche as the bug-eyed scarf-wearing Arabs that populate US movies about the Middle East.

Oh? Could you point these movies out to me? US movies avoid the subject matter entirely or else bend over backwards (sometimes too far) to depict even terrorists as having a point.

Japan is the world's second-biggest market for Hollywood movies, one reason why the buck-toothed stereotype of yore has disappeared from movies such as Pearl Harbor, which showed clean-cut Japanese pilots warning American children to flee the bombing.
...

Ishihara's anti-American politics were formed during the war. He remembers being strafed "for fun" by US planes "with pictures of naked women and Mickey Mouse painted on the fuselage".

Etc.

By the way: definitely rent The Great Raid. A very good movie, and you'll be shocked at the un-PC, accurate depiction of Japanese brutality against American POWs and conquered civilian populations (here, the Filipinos).

Posted by: Ace at 07:48 AM | Comments (56)
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December 30, 2005

Man Wakes Up With Bleeding Head, Drives To Work, Then Drives To Hospital, Discovers He's Been Shot In the Head
— Ace

He only decided to seek medical attention when his head wouldn't stop bleeding.

His girlfriend apparently shot herself to death later. She presumably gave him a slug in the brainbox while he was sleeping.

Political angle: More evidence we must not put women into combat positions in the military.

I know "Maybe I've been shot in the head" doesn't often pop into your mind, particularly, I guess, if you have been shot in the head, which might make you a little less on-the-ball than usual, but still, I would think that if I were shot in the head I'd either know it, or not know anything at all, as I'd be dead.

Thanks to Allah.

Posted by: Ace at 03:57 PM | Comments (37)
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Reasonable, Nonwingnuttish Comment of The Day
— Ace

Yeah, they sure do prove our point over and over (though I thought perhaps the site owner might be a little different... guess I was wrong). But these guys almost make me want to believe in God and a Judgement Day... 'cause I know exactly where they would all be when it comes. Taking it in the ass next to Mohammed Atta... cause the only difference between those 9/11 cocksuckers and these My World Is The Only World cocksuckers is the 9/11 cocksuckers actually resorted to violence to protect their closed-minds. I guess we should consider ourselves lucky the cocksuckers on this site are only attempted to use words... and not particularly well-crafted ones at that.

But sadly... we don't HAVE to wait for Judgement Day for the shit to hit the fan. It's already been hitting it - and hard. So who cares if these morons don't understand why.... The only real sad part is the sane people are getting sucked down with them. Oh well... such is the peril of a democracy.

AND:

anyone with half a brain would have understood I was referring to the METHODOLOGY of how one deals with contrary viewpoints when I compared some posters on this board to Atta.

Atta didn't care about a higher truth. He only cared about HIS truth. That describes many of you to a tee.

Thanks to Blinded. He would have written more, but he had to get back to his important work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory-- splitting atoms.

With his mind.

I like that joke, so I'm using it again. If Atrios can start six bazillion open threads, I can use the "with his mind" gag two or three times.

Posted by: Ace at 02:36 PM | Comments (97)
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Chinese Reporters Strike To Protest Removal Of Editor
— Ace

The whiff of freedom?

ONE of China’s most outspoken newspapers was plunged into chaos after 100 reporters took the rare step of walking out in protest against the dismissal of their Editor-in-Chief [for "political reasons"].

...

His departure and the journalists’ defiance are part of a long struggle between Communist Party censors intent on controlling public access to information, and newspapers and magazines keen to attract readers. Party officials singled out the Beijing News for criticism at a meeting on December 6, when they decided to strengthen the party’s control over tabloid papers. The Beijing News had “committed errors in the orientation of opinion” and was a “recidivist”, officials said.

But you know, things are hardly any better here. Bush denies "access" to reporters. So, in my book, if you won't talk to David Gregory, that's pretty much the equivalent of seizing the nation's media and firing "recidivist" editors.

Thanks to Allah.

Related: Controversial death-sentence carried out secretly; debate about it censored. Only now is news that a murderer (he does appear to have been a criminal murderer) was put to death after a rigged trial.

The article notes that the Chinese are beginning to suspect that the Chinese death-chambers, killing more than 10,000 people per year, might be killing a good number of innocent people.

I don't want to prejudge the program before all the facts are in, but I think they might be on to something with that suspicion.

Posted by: Ace at 01:47 PM | Comments (3)
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Iraqi Civilian Deaths Plunge
— Ace

The MSM, of course, is always the last to know. Or at least about sharing it with us, if they do know.

Ever notice the MSM is pretty good about keeping the secrets they want to be kept secret? Isn't that funny.

Thanks to Traffic Psuedo-Santa, who thinks impeachment hearings against Bush are a pretty cool idea.

Posted by: Ace at 12:59 PM | Comments (4)
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This Still Annoys Me
— Ace

In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indy is told that the Staff of Ra should be "six Kaddams high" -- "that's about six feet," Sullah says -- but then he should "take one Kaddam back to honor the Hebrew God whose ark this is."

And yet when he gets to the map room, the staff is at least two feet taller than him.

So, either Indiana Jones is three feet tall, or he completely botched the instructions for the Staff he was so keen on. And, like the Germans, he should be "digging in the wrong place!"

I'm just sayin'. A commenter mentioned the "Kaddam" thing for no reason, and it just started bugging me all over again.

Posted by: Ace at 12:15 PM | Comments (23)
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