Saturday, May 27, 2006

Convenience Nation - Memorial Day A Casualty

It’s almost Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor those who have died wearing the uniform of our nation in war. This observance has its origins in Waterloo, NY in 1865, when a village druggist first suggested it to honor the North’s Civil War dead. It took a while before “Decoration Day” was officially recognized, and it eventually became an annual event to honor all war dead that was observed on May 30.

Then, on June 28, 1968, the United States Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which moved four holidays—Washington's Birthday (which evolved into Presidents' Day), Memorial Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day—from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend.

Out of a sense of convenience we have devalued those four holidays. How important can they be if it doesn’t matter when we celebrate them? Consequently, although we set aside a special day for Columbus and Martin Luther King, Jr.—and I’m not questioning honoring either Chris or Rev. King—we no longer even have a day for the nation’s first president, or any president, for that matter; we’ve lumped all 43 of them together. On a Monday. (Three-day weekend, you know.)

The least we can do is to set aside a day for important observances that has some relevance to the person or event we are honoring. Honor George Washington on his birthday. Set a date to honor our war dead, and stick with it. Convenience is a great thing so long as it doesn’t control our lives.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Friday, May 26, 2006

Are Congressmen Above The Law?

Ordinary law-aiding Americans are incredulous over the reaction of Congressional leaders and some other elected representatives over the recent raid on the office of a Congressman who is the focus of a bribery investigation. This reaction should have had the effect of shutting those Congressional leaders up. But it didn’t.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi—among others—argue that members of Congress are protected by the "speech and debate" protections in Article 1, Section 6 of the United States Constitution, and that the search violates those protections. The appropriate passage of Article 1, Section 6 reads as follows: ”They shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place.”

As I read that passage, no Senator or Representative can be arrested during a session or in transit to a session. Not to pick nits, but the Congressman was not arrested; his office was merely searched and some materials relevant to the investigation were taken. The other pertinent passage notes that the arrest may not occur except for treason, felony and breach of the peace. The reason for the search is that the FBI believes the Congressman is involved in a felony. Game. Set. Match. There is no constitutional issue here.

So what has our Congresspersons so upset? Most likely it is that this supposed barrier separating the world from the hallowed halls of Congress has stood unchallenged for so many years that it has come to be assumed that there actually is a barrier there. But hardly anyone would argue that the Framers intended to prohibit a legitimate investigation into felony crimes from being able to procure evidence from Congressional offices.

Either that, or the corruption is so widespread that it is in the best interest of all Congresspersons to impede investigations of their wrongdoing.

Nah. It’s just the culture.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

What's More Important, Investigating Crime or Breaking Protocol? (revised)

A Democrat Congressman is under investigation for accepting a bribe, and FBI investigators sought and received a search warrant to enter the Congressman’s home where they discovered $90,000 in cash hidden in his freezer wrapped in aluminum foil. Next, investigators raided the Congressman’s Capital Hill office where they seized records.

What is interesting about this case is where the outrage is targeted. You can make the argument that at this stage there should be no outrage, because the Congressman has not been found guilty of any wrong-doing, although it certainly doesn’t look good for him. But his fellow House members aren’t angry that a fellow Representative may be guilty of wrongdoing, they are angry that investigators invaded what they perceive as the sanctity of Congressional offices.

House leaders and House members are outraged at the Judicial Branch approving the "raiding" of a Legislative Branch office by an agency of the Executive Branch. Noting the Constitutional mandate of separation of branches of our government, the separation of powers, and the system of checks and balances, and understanding the need for those provisions, and further acknowledging the importance of observing Constitutional protections, one can and should wonder if investigating crimes involving the potential selling of government influence ought to be obstructed by an element of our Constitution intended to protect the people from government mischief? In other words, should the government not investigate crimes that lead them into the House Office Building just because it is the House Office Building?

Stay tuned.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Monday, May 22, 2006

Circus of the Absurd, Part II

Every once in a while you stumble on some issue or another that is just brimming with foolishness, and you marvel at how so many people can be so foolish about the same thing at the same time. I found such an issue in illegal immigration and commented on it last month in Circus of the Absurd.

This particular issue, more than just brimming with foolishness, is bubbling over with it. In the first installment I commented on how absolutely ridiculous it is to see people who have essentially “broken in” to our country gathering and publicly protesting by waving a foreign flag in our faces, objecting to the United States considering measures to address the millions of illegal aliens in our country. Wow! And there is a second absurdity: there are millions of illegals in the U.S., and our government hasn’t been too terribly concerned about it. And some Americans think both of those things are okay. See what I mean?

Now comes Harry Reid, U.S. Senator from Nevada chosen by Senate Democrats as their leader, to announce to the world that he thinks it is racist for the U.S. to officially declare English as its national language. “Racist,” he said. Well, declaring English our official language may be “something”-ist, but it isn’t “race”-ist.

In the murky mind of Harry Reid if a country that predominantly speaks a particular language chooses that language from among all the languages of the Earth as its official language, that act is “racist,” and by extension the people of that country are racist, too. A Zogby International poll in 2005 found that something like 79 percent of Americans believe English should be our national language, and further showed that more than two-thirds of Democrats and four-fifths of first- and second-generation Americans support English as the official language. According to Harry Reid, they are all racists.

Sen. Reid’s asinine position misses what most Americans understand: English has united Americans for more than 200 years, and if everyone speaks the same language, at least at a level of basic communication, living and working together is immensely simpler. Imagine the chaos if the U.S. were to go to the extreme of providing election ballots and other general information in all languages spoken by Americans. We cannot become one people if we can’t talk to each other, a phenomenon illustrated in the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel where the people wanted to build a tower to reach the heavens. God didn’t like that idea and confused their languages so that each spoke a different language. As a result, they could no longer communicate with one another and the work was halted. You need not believe in either God or the Bible to see the wisdom in the story.

The English as official language movement doesn’t mean “English only.” No one is suggesting that people who come here from China, or Italy, or the Sudan, or Mexico can’t also speak their native language, it just means that they must learn to speak English so that they can effectively function in this country.

So, as the rest of the world accepts English as a common tongue for communication among diverse peoples speaking different languages, people like Harry Reid want the U.S. to move in the opposite direction.

Absurd? Yes. A circus? Absolutely.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Legality of Surveillance

The Washington Times
Published May 18, 2006

[Editor's Note: This is one issue where the truth seems unable to break through. The demagogues keep using an incorrect term, "wiretapping," and also mischaracterizing the government's actions in what must be a deliberate effort to misinform the people. This article helps to clear up some of the misinformation.]

Even the Bush administration's toughest critics must now concede that their case against the National Security Agency's terrorist surveillance is unraveling. That's
inconvenient, since the opening of Gen. Michael Hayden's CIA confirmation hearings this morning would otherwise provide a great opportunity for fireworks. But the truth is sometimes like that.

Practically speaking, the last two weeks have witnessed increasing certainty that NSA surveillance is data-mining and "pattern analysis" of phone records, not surveillance per se, at least not of domestic calls as critics have alleged. To the extent that the NSA may be listening or otherwise examining the contents of communications, administration officials are on record describing the listening as targeted to international calls and e-mails only, and only then by persons known to collaborate or suspected of collaboration with international terrorism. There is a world of difference between this and what the critics have charged.

The strongest defense of NSA surveillance so far comes from the Federalist Society in a brief authored by Andrew C. McCarthy, David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey, three renowned conservative experts on the subject whose paper we commend to anyone seeking to understand the administration's position. The authors' central argument is that the president's authority to order surveillance derives from his inherent constitutional authority to defend the nation and supercedes whatever the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requires. But one need not accept this position, nor think the 1978 FISA framework is invalidated, to see that NSA surveillance is almost certainly legal.

For one, FISA exempts the type of "pattern analysis" described anonymously in recent press reports. In fact, 50 U.S.C. 1802 authorizes the president (or his agent) to conduct electronic surveillance if "there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party." Note the word "contents." If, as USA Today reported, "this program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations," but instead "analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity," then a court order under FISA would not be required. So much for the "Bush is eavesdropping illegally" line that the Democrats have been peddling.

Moreover, the Supreme Court has also agreed that fewer Fourth Amendment protections are afforded to call patterns and phone numbers (as compared to the substance of communications, which are more fully protected). It did so in the 1979 case Smith v. Maryland, which upheld the use of a "pen register" created by a telephone company at police request to monitor phone calls. A "pen register" is not a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, the court argued, and therefore does not require a court warrant.

All these facts lend the administration a strong presumption that its activities were legal and warranted, in which case the whole uproar surrounding them looks to be a sham.

The important point to be remembered in this debate is that America's clear strategic advantage over al Qaeda is our technological superiority. Al Qaeda has advantages in its fluid organizational structure, ability to blend in and its ruthless disregard for the laws of war and innocent human life. Technology is the West's home turf. Our "asymmetric" advantage is found in exploiting it.

Copyright © 2006 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

The United Nations Proves Its Irrelevance Again and Again

Long considered a waste of time, money and energy by thinking people across the globe, the United Nations continues to confirm that assessment by saying and doing unimaginably dumb things. Two recent items spring to mind.

The first of those is that the United Nations doesn't recognize the concept of illegal immigration, and refuses to use that term when referring to foreigners who flout U.S. immigration laws by crossing the border without documentation, that is to say “illegally.”

To the U.N. there's no such thing as an illegal alien or an illegal immigrant, there are only “irregular migrants." Legal immigrants, on the other hand, are referred to as "regular migrants." The United Nations wants illegals to have the same rights as documented immigrants.

If we were to follow the U.N. philosophy to its illogical conclusion, we would have no restriction on who or what comes into our country, and neither would any other country in the world. We’d all just be one big, happy family. Yeah, right.

Next is the ridiculous call for closing the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the prosecution of officers and politicians "up to the highest level" who are accused of torturing detainees. A U.N. Human Rights Commission report concludes that Washington should put the 520 detainees on trial or release them. The report calls for the United States to halt all "practices amounting to torture," including the force-feeding of inmates who go on hunger strike. There is no credible evidence that the U.S. tortures prisoners, of course, but why let a lack of evidence get in the way of a good lynching?

"This shows precisely what is wrong with the United Nations today," said a senior official, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified. "These people are supposed to be undertaking a serious investigation of the facts relating to Guantanamo. "Instead, they deliver a report with a bunch of old allegations from lawyers representing released detainees that are so generalized that you cannot even tell what they are talking about [not to mention unproven] . When the U.N. produces an unprofessional hatchet job like this, it discredits the whole organization."

As if it isn’t already discredited enough, the Human Rights Commission recently admitted Sudan, Uganda, Sierra Leone, and Togo, among others, to a three-year rotating membership, joining Syria, Algeria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Zimbabwe and China. That list is a virtual Who’s Who of countries with the worst human rights records on Earth.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Stupid Cop Department

So you think you are free to defend yourself
and your family in your own home?

Think again.

Fox News reports that on Sunday near Bradenton, Candy Frey grabbed a handgun and fired four shots at a 3-foot alligator that entered her home through a doggie door and attacked her golden retriever. Frey told FOX News she knew of the previous gator attacks when the animal came into her home. "My daughter kicked at the gator and the gator lunged at her," Frey said. "He kept coming through the porch and the screen … I kept trying to flip him away" with the shovel, she added, "but every time I kept trying to flip him away, he came back, so I shot him. I thought that's the only option I had ... you're on instinct to protect your loved ones … he was quite aggressive."

The gator wasn't seriously hurt, but the woman got a warning citation for hunting without a license.

So, police in Florida think it’s appropriate to ticket someone for shooting an alligator that has entered her home and attacked her dog and threatened the woman and her daughter?

That's one of the stupidest things I believe I've ever heard of a cop doing. I’d like the name of that cop. Stupidity of that magnitude deserves publicity.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Messages Through the Years

Something like 5,000 years ago Moses said, "pick up your shovel, pack your ass, mount your camel and I shall lead you to the Promised Land.”

About 200 years ago George Washington said, "Get off your ass, use your shovel, clear the land, and grow plants for camels and you will create the Promised Land.”

Last week the Congress of the United States said: "Si, Amigos, throw away your shovels, sit on your ass, light your camels, I'm giving you the Promised Land."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Now That's the Way to Run a Jail

Perhaps you’ve heard about Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona recently. He’s been on TV, discussing his unique no-nonsense approach to crimes and criminals. Sheriff Joe was first elected in 1992. In 1996, he ran again for sheriff, winning the election with eighty-five percent of the popular vote.

Maricopa County prisoners live in a "tent city” jail, where meals cost 40 cents a serving and the inmates pay for them.

Sheriff Arpaio stopped allowing smoking and porno magazines in the jails, took away prisoner’s weights, and cut off all but "G" movies.

He started chain gangs so the inmates could do free work on county and city projects. Then he started chain gangs for women so he wouldn't get sued for discrimination.

He took away cable TV until he found out there was a federal court order that required cable TV for jails. So he hooked up the cable TV again, but only allowed the Disney Channel and the Weather Channel. When asked why the Weather Channel he replied, "So they will know how hot it's going be while they are working on my chain gangs."

He cut off coffee since it has zero nutritional value. When the inmates complained, he told them, "This isn't the Ritz/Carlton If you don't like it, don't come back."

With temperatures being even hotter than usual in Phoenix it is reported that about 2,000 inmates living in the barbed-wire-surrounded tent encampment have been given permission to strip down to their government-issued pink boxer shorts.

Hundreds of men wearing pink boxers were shown on TV either curled up on their bunk beds or chatting in the tents, which reached 138 degrees inside the week before.

Many were also swathed in wet, pink towels as sweat collected on their chests and dripped down to their pink socks. "It feels like we are in a furnace," an inmate who has lived in the tents for 1 year reportedly said. "It's inhumane."

Joe Arpaio, the tough-guy sheriff who created the tent city and long ago started making his prisoners wear pink, and eat bologna sandwiches, is not one bit sympathetic. He is reported to have told all of the inmates: "It's 120 degrees in Iraq and our soldiers are living in tents too, and they have to wear full battle gear, but they didn't commit any crimes, so shut your mouths!"

Sheriff Joe’s approach to running a county jail may or may not cause prisoners to want to stay out of his jail in the future, but I like the idea of running it like a jail and not a hotel.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

What a Week

It has been a hectic seven-or-so days, and blogging has taken a big hit.

  • Moving my son home from college
  • My daughter's Senior Prom
  • A death in the family and funeral
  • Annual Dinner of Rotary Club
  • A dress rehearsal, school band clinic and concert, and the responsibilities of being director of the group
  • Normal work outside and inside the family
  • Mother's Day trip to visit my mother-in-law

Fortunately things are smoothing out, so blogging will re-emerge from hiatus tomorrow.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Oil Company Profits Indecent?

The issue of high gasoline prices has been suffused with a great deal of irrelevant information and emotionalism.

The truth is that gasoline prices are high not because Big Oil is making indecent profits, or because the oil companies are in collusion with one another, or any of the other emotional class-based arguments now circulating. The main reason for high prices at the pump is a far less exciting and far more practical one: supply and demand.

Supplies of petroleum must be found and obtained. There is only so much of that activity going on in the world; hence there is a finite supply of crude oil to begin with. Then, the oil must be refined into gasoline and other petroleum products, and again there is only so much of that going on in the world.

United States companies drill for crude oil and refine oil, however, both new drilling and new refinery construction have been almost non-existent for the last 20 years due to environmental concerns, and damage to U.S. facilities by Hurricane Katrina has further reduced domestic capacity. Thus, the amount of oil and gasoline that American oil companies have under their control is only a fraction of what is needed to meet domestic demand, and the additional oil must be purchased on the world market where availability and price are controlled by other nations. The tremendous increase in demand from China has put greater demands on world oil and gasoline supplies. As the demand for crude oil and gasoline grows, so does what it costs domestic oil companies to purchase them, and as costs rise, so do prices.

Oil companies have been demonized for making “obscene” profits, but this perspective depends upon a failure to know or understand the basic economics of business. Critics of Big Oil look at the dollar amount of the profits without the critical perspective of profit margin, or what part of every dollar of sales is profit. Several U. S industries routinely make profit margins of 12 to 18 percent; oil companies make about 10 percent. Even in this time of so-called “obscene” profits, oil companies are still making a profit of about 10 percent. In other words, for every dollar of sales, 10 cents is profit; the rest is the cost of production, distribution and other business aspects. As the cost of production goes up, so does the price and so does the dollar amount of profit. But the margin of profit stays the same. As the price of gasoline has doubled so has the dollar amount of profit, so that when you compare profits from the time when gasoline sold for $1.50 a gallon to now when the price is around $3.00, profits are much higher now, but the margin has not grown.

ExxonMobil's actual profits amounted to $8.4 billion in the first quarter of 2006. That’s a lot of money, true enough, but it is $1 billion less than CBS News had predicted and it is a 22 percent decline from the $10.7 billion achieved in the fourth quarter of 2005. And it isn’t “obscene,” as the media and oil company critics would have you believe.

Looking at another side of this issue, in 2005, ExxonMobil reported paying just under $99 billion in taxes: $23.3 billion in income taxes, $30.7 billion in excise taxes, and $44.6 billion in "other taxes." At the pump, you pay somewhere between 40 cents per gallon and 60 cents per gallon in taxes to the federal and state governments.

Yes, the profit numbers are big numbers. But so are the cost numbers and the total sales numbers. ExxonMobil’s $36 billion of profits sounds huge. But when that is considered relative to total sales of $359 billion, it suddenly doesn’t seem so big. Profits equal one dime per dollar of sales, and as U.S industries go, that isn’t a big profit margin.

Other industries and their profit margins: Pharmaceuticals 19; Banking 18; Financial 13; Software and Services 10; Insurance 11.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Star-Spangled Banner

I think that the United States’ National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, deserves a special reverence. It is the “theme song” for our country, and our country is a truly special place. Perfect? No, but special? Definitely.

Having the National Anthem performed at the beginning of public events is done for the purpose of reminding us where we live, and to stir up feelings and thoughts to remind us what makes the United States of America the greatest nation on Earth. So I get really indignant when people who volunteer or are selected to sing the National Anthem at public events try to “make the song their own.”

Message to past and future singers of the National Anthem: It is not a plaything for your ego, a sonic palette for you musical creativity, or a stage upon which you are compelled to show off your vocal pyrotechnics.

Altering the melody of The Star Spangled Banner is commensurate with changing the words of the Pledge of Allegiance, the Lord’s Prayer, or the First Amendment. Some may argue that as long as the words aren’t changed, no harm, no foul. Wrong. The Star Spangled Banner is not just words; it is a song. That means music and words. It is not an original melody, but its origin is unimportant. What is important is that the melody and the words that Francis Scott Key joined together on that September morning in 1814, and which the U.S. Congress made the official national anthem in 1931 are a unit. The song—the words and the music—have been officially selected as our nation’s song of praise, and they therefore should not be screwed around with for the personal satisfaction of the person who has been honored with the opportunity to perform it for the public or for the amazement of the audience.

Having said all of that, I am now confronted with the dual prospects of not only having the National Anthem translated into Spanish, but also of having its text changed to meet some nebulous demands of Hispanics who are either her legally or who have broken our immigration laws to come here. I am tempted to support the position that if someone wants to honor the United States by singing its National Anthem but cannot do so in English that we ought to appreciate that sentiment and allow Spanish words to be substituted, or at least look the other way. However, that tends to lend tacit approval to having people become citizens of this country without learning its language, and I find that inexcusable, intolerable and unacceptable. Changing the words? No way, Jose.

So, here are the rules, according to Observations: Sing the melody straight; sing the words in English as Mr. Key wrote them; and sing it with reverence, or don’t sing it at all.

Most of us—perhaps it is more accurate to say “many” of us—know the first verse. When it is performed publicly, it is the first verse only that we hear. However, there are four verses to The Star Spangled Banner, and I have taken the liberty to provide the complete text for your edification.

The Star Spangled Banner
—Francis Scott Key, 1814

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro' the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when free-men shall stand
Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Machismo, Goats, and Murder

BAGHDAD, Iraq — The U.S. military command Thursday released previously unseen images of a video purportedly posted by Al Qaeda in Iraq's leader, showing him decked out in American tennis shoes and unable to operate his machine gun.

So, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi wears American sneakers and can’t shoot. He is competent with those large knives used to behead innocent infidels, however. I understand they practice on goats. I also understand that their victims are drugged into a stupor.

No wonder Zarqawi can successfully behead someone, but can’t operate a machine gun. I wonder if the goats are drugged? Hmmm.

Allah be praised!


In the early years we learn what words mean. Based upon that early education I learned that the word "service" meant “doing things for other people," “helping,” and things like that.

Then I began thinking about these uses of the word “service”:

The Internal Revenue Service
The U.S. Postal Service
Civil Service
Public Service
Customer Service

I became confused about "service." These things do not reflect what I thought “service" meant.

The other day I overheard two farmers talking, and one of them said he had hired a bull to "service " a few of his cows.

At that moment it all became clear.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Let Him Live

I’m one death penalty advocate who is okay with Al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui getting a life sentence without possibility of parole for his role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "America, you lost. I won," he said, clapping his hands after the verdict was read.

The jury was unable to unanimously agree that this soulless jackass should die, so he gets to live. Normally when some subhuman excrement, like a child rapist or a Muslim terrorist, escapes the hangman’s noose, “Old Sparky,” the firing squad, or a lethal injection, I get all incensed, righteously indignant, and just plain ticked off. But in Moussaoui’s case, I’m going to make an exception, because letting him live—making him live—deprives him of the one thing he gives a damn about: Martyrdom. He was willing to risk his life to become a hero in the afterlife with 72 virgins. Close, but no cigar, Zacarias. You lose.

Moussaoui isn’t very smart. Not just because he allowed his consciousness to be hijacked by a narrow and radical form of Islam and he’s irrationally committed to killing Americans, not because he wasn’t smart enough to be a real Al Qaeda murderer and is just a sorry wannabe, but because he’s just not very smart. A smart person would have remembered his previously expressed desire to be put to death by the infidels so that he could become a martyr, or at least would be aware of what a dope he’d look like when hypocrisy took over and he declares victory in defeat.

All we have to do to make this a complete victory for our way of life over his is to lock this jerk away and forget about him. We don’t need to know how he’s doing on the anniversary of 9-11 or of his sentencing. We don’t need a bunch of softheaded puds worrying whether he has his prayer rug or is getting three squares a day. We don’t need the ACLU or the New Black Panther Party arguing that he needs to work out in a gym and have a law library at his disposal. Just give him a yellow suit (or whatever they wear in prison), put him in an 8x8 cell with a sink and a toilet, lock the door, and give him enough bread and water to make sure he enjoys each day of the rest of his life. And I hope he lasts a long time, because for a lowlife Muslim terrorist each day he lives in the infidel’s prison is one more day of hell he’ll have to endure.

To paraphrase Mr. Spock, “Live long and suffer.”

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

War is Hell

For all of those who think it is cool to criticize the running of the Iraq war, and for all of those who, like me, believe that such criticism is dangerous, destructive and shortsighted, I invite you to read the following piece by Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, retired.

War is an inexact science. War is not practiced daily, like the law or medicine, thus war is messy, unpredictable and full of miscalculations and mistakes.

Anyone that ignores that reality and rushes to judgment against the military or the administration shows their ignorance and has surrendered to political expedience to the detriment of national security.

The piece ran in today’s edition of The Washington Times.

Read and learn.

Binding criticism

By Robert H. ScalesMay 2, 2006

Today I finished the book "Cobra II," written by retired Marine Gen. "Mick" Trainer and New York Times correspondent Mike Gordon. The authors chronicle in great detail the strategic and military missteps that followed the fall of Baghdad in April 2003. The book is particularly important because its publication was the catalyst that launched the "revolt of the generals" a few weeks ago.

Their book appears about three years into this war. As I read, I couldn't help but imagine (given today's political atmospherics) how a book like Messrs. Trainer and Gordon's might have read had it appeared three years after Pearl Harbor.

Such a book would have hit the bookstores at Christmas time in 1944. Messrs. Gordon and Trainer would most certainly have written about the unconstitutional arrogance of an administration that violated international neutrality laws by taking sides with Great Britain against Germany. They would have recognized that Pearl Harbor was the greatest intelligence failure in American history. We would have read the whole horrific story of the humiliating surrender at Corregidor that signaled the shameful loss of the entire American Army in the Philippines.

The condemnatory tenor of the book would continue with depictions of the useless slaughter at "Bloody Buna" in New Guinea, the humiliating loss to the German Army at Kasserine Pass in North Africa, the failure of Dwight Eisenhower to trap the retreating Germans in Sicily, the horrifically wasteful daylight bombing campaign against Germany in 1943. Messrs. Gordon and Trainer would have reserved their worst for the conduct of George C. Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower in their abortive "Crusade in Europe."

We would have read about an Army unprepared to meet the Germans in the hedgerows of Normandy. Operation Market Garden would be depicted as a foolish "bridge too far" that left our bravest soldiers to die for a few square miles of Dutch territory. The useless slaughter in the dank wilderness of the Huertgen Forest would have shocked us. And of course the book would have appeared just at the time the folks back home got word of Hitler's greatest defeat of the Americans at the Battle of the Bulge, evidence of another grand failure of intelligence and a testament to the genius of German arms.

Of course there was no such book written at the time. There were no calls for impeachment, dismissal or relief. None of this happened because military men of that age understood war as the most unpredictable of all human endeavors. Our grandfathers realized that unlike lawyers or doctors, soldiers practice their craft infrequently and often get it wrong at first. Thus, even the greatest military men make mistakes that all too often cost lives.

Sure, soldiers of that era carped about the human shortcomings of their leaders but they kept their own counsel because they realized that there was, first and foremost, a war to be won. They forgave the difficulties experienced by an army that had no choice but to learn to fight by fighting, the most wasteful form of education in the art of war. And they came home to a grateful nation sure in the confidence that they had done their part to destroy a great evil.

The imagination of historians like me can wander and take analogies too far. Al Qaeda isn't the Wehrmacht. World War II was indeed a great crusade consuming two thirds of the nation's production and twelve million of its young. Today the Army and Marine Corps, less than three quarters of a million, shoulder the burden for this war at a cost of less than 1 percent of GDP. Perhaps the American population is more willing to listen to criticism of their wartime leaders because they fail to accept that the stakes in this war are as great (or perhaps even greater) than those in World War II.

But before we become too cavalier about events in the Middle East, remember that Hitler didn't have nuclear weapons and Germany didn't sit astride most of the world's fossil fuel supply. Hitler never came to hate the United States with the mindless imbecility of radical Islamists nor was his anti-Semitic ranting any more threatening than those spouted by the likes of Zawahiri, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Ahmedinejad.

Let's take a page out of the book not written by the greatest generation. Pull some punches and breathe into a bag for awhile. I believe that it's OK for commentators to challenge general defense policies and programs in wartime. I do that quite often. But just as a book written at Christmas time in 1944 might not have offered a meaningful picture of the course of World War II, any commentary on the course of this war might be off the mark just now.

In the interest of winning this war we all must defer judgments about the efficacy of our wartime leaders to the wisdom of the American voters and the 20-20 hindsight of historians like me...after our soldiers and Marines come home.

Retired Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales is a former commander of the Army War College.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Where Are You From?

More people from interesting places checking into Observations:

Brhl, BadenWurttemberg
Castle Hill, New South Wales
Burbank, California
Princeton, West Virginia
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Palm Harbor, Florida
Mount Vernon, Washington
Little Rock, Arkansas
Petaling Jaya, Wilayah Persekutuan
Lowell, Massachusetts
Flushing, New York
Cagayan De Oro, Cagayan de Oro
Alam, Selangor
San Diego, California
Washington, District of Columbia
Lawrenceville, Georgia
Chicago Ridge, Illinois
Memphis, Tennessee
Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Tempe, Arizona
Bluefield, Virginia
Saint Marys, Ohio
Pinellas Park, Florida
Cleveland, Tennessee
Medford, Massachusetts
Pensacola, Florida
Lakeside, California
Chandler, Arizona
Crossett, Arkansas
Fairfax, Virginia
Cairo, Al Qahirah
San Jose, California
Sicklerville, New Jersey
Sun City, California
Malta, Ohio
East Northport, New York
Metairie, Louisiana

May Day 2006

Well, today, May 1, 2006, is the day. It is the day that a good many people in the United States of America will publicly protest. Some of them are citizens or legal residents, but many of them are here illegally. They have broken our laws to come to our country, and they think they have the right to protest our immigration policies.

May Day has long been a focal point for demonstrations by various socialist, communist, and anarchist groups. One wonders just why illegal aliens or their supporters would choose a day so closely associated with ideologies that are so dramatically at odds with the democratic principles that America was founded on?

The protesters share an opinion: It’s unfair for America to want to control its borders and to restrict people from coming into this country unless they go through the legal process. Some even take the position that we are mistreating illegal aliens by expecting them to follow our immigration laws. However, clear thinking people recognize how patently dumb it is to continue to not control who comes into the U.S. from other countries. Even Mexico, where millions of illegal aliens come from, has a rigorous and strict immigration policy, and affords immigrants who become Mexican citizens far fewer rights than “real” Mexican citizens.

Try to imagine, if you can, just how long a group of Americans in Mexico illegally would last publicly demonstrating against Mexican immigration policy. The entire situation is upside down and absurd to the max.

Here are some of the features of illegal aliens:
  • Millions of Mexicans and other foreigners are in the U.S. illegally.
  • They work jobs that Americans would take if the pay were not so low, often below the minimum wage.
  • They only sometimes pay taxes.
  • They frequently send money they make in the U.S. back home.
  • They use our schools and health care system.
  • They do not learn to speak English. The U.S. instead requires certain accommodations for Hispanic-speaking people.
  • They most often do not seek, and do not want, U.S. citizenship.
  • They protest publicly against plans/sentiment to enforce immigration laws and enact new immigration measures.
  • They arrogantly wave Mexican flags in the faces of American citizens in these protests.
  • They now will learn to sing our National Anthem in Spanish.
  • They plan to change the words in the Spanish version.
If the Mexican people are honorable, hard working people, as their supporters say they are, they should not be afraid to play by the rules.

Comments are welcome.