Thursday, June 30, 2005

This is a joke, right? Please tell me this is a f*&#ing joke

Ace, Roger Simon and LGF alerted me to this incredible demonstration of jackassery. Apparently Andrew Jaspan, editor of Australia's well-left of center The Age thinks even harsh language inappropriate for use against the sub-human head-choppers, even when it comes from the victim of one of their kidnappings. From the Herald Sun:

Jaspan is editor-in-chief of The Age, Australia's most Left-wing daily newspaper, and on ABC radio on Wednesday said how "boorish" and "coarse" Wood was at his press conference this week when he called his captors "a---holes"...

But far more shocking was his apparent demand that Wood be more grateful to the men who'd snatched him, kicked him in the head, kept him blindfolded and bound for 47 days, shaved him bald, killed two of his colleagues, made him beg for his life, and -- says a fellow hostage from Sweden -- shot several other prisoners in front of him.

Let's run the tape.

Said Jaspan: "I was, I have to say, shocked by Douglas Wood's use of the a---hole word, if I can put it like that, which I just thought was coarse and very ill-thought through and I think demeans the man and is one of the reasons why people are slightly skeptical of his motives and everything else.

"The issue really is largely, speaking as I understand it, he was treated well there. He says he was fed every day, and as such to turn around and use that kind of language I think is just insensitive." The ingrate.

I get that sometimes the victims of kidnapping start to sympathize with their captors, which I fully admit I don't understand. But what the fuck would cause some newsman thousands of miles away to do so?

Yes, he did not do as did SBS journalist and Left hero John Martinkus after his own brief captivity and declare his kidnappers were "not savages", and say Iraq was "on the road to s---".

INSTEAD, he roared "God bless America" and praised the US-trained Iraqi soldiers -- Iraq's real freedom fighters -- who saved him, saying he was "proof positive that the current policies of the American and Australian governments is the right one".

Oh.... That.

I was remiss in pointing out that Tim Blair was particularily responsible for getting this noticed throughout the blogosphere. On his original post he also notes this fantastic followup:

A hostage held alongside Australian Douglas Wood in Iraq has hired bounty hunters to track down his former captors, promising to eliminate them one by one. Swede Ulf Hjertstrom, who was held for several weeks with Mr Wood in Baghdad, was released by his kidnappers on May 30 ...

Now, he wants to find those responsible.

"I have now put some people to work to find these bastards,” he told the Ten Network today. "I invested about $50,000 so far and we will get them one by one."

Hell yah! He should get someone like Clint Eastwood to kick in some dough for this hunt in exchange for the movie rights. I hope they catch them and do a little more than play bad music to them before turning him in.

*****Further Update ******

Annika's Journal has followed up on the story and came up with this piece of good news.

Hjertström 'doesn’t want to go into detail' about the bounty hunters, but assures Expressen that they are 'the best money can buy.

''They’re not twiddling their thumbs,' declares Hjertström, revealing that he has 'received confirmation that two of [the kidnappers] have already been taken care of.' When asked to elaborate on the fate of the purportedly captured men, the Swede sayshe 'hasn’t inquired' but has his 'suspicions.'

Someone I sincerely wouldn't want pissed at ME.

I thank God that we have these people on our side doing our fighting for us.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Leapfrogging '06

I've been thinking over the past couple of months who I'd like to run for President on the GOP side in '08. This is a whole lot more difficult than coming up with names that I'd like to be President in '09. The people I'd like to see win I think simply couldn't or wouldn't.

  • Dick Cheney. Bar none, top of my list. Leaving aside the fact that he simply doesn't want the job (which is probably part of his appeal), more than half the country sees him in around the same light that they see Spiro Agnew.
  • Phil Gramm is another that I would like to see get the job. Nope, not gonna happen.
  • Dick Armey... even less likely.
  • Steve Forbes. If there's anyone I'd love to see pick up the baton on Social Security, it's this guy. He got my vote in '96 and '00. Unless he paid Edward Hermann to play his part for the campaign, I just don't think so.
  • Newt Gingrich. Even if he were able to sidestep his personal baggage -- which he very well might be able to do -- I think that there may be too much leftover demonization from '95 to allow him to win. It's odd that he might be the most electable of all my picks.
Picking who I want to run is a whole lot harder. I can't seem to come up with a single one. It's much easier to list who I don't want to get the nomination.

  • Bill Frist is Bob Dole without the personality. I don't mean that ironically either. Bob Dole HAS a fantastic personality, but it never came through until after the election and he relaxed a bit.
  • John McCain might be the least principled person in politics. Someone please tell me a SINGLE principle he believes in besides pleasing Tim Russert.
  • Chuck Hagel. Mini-McCain. The difference is that he has to do more outrageous things to get Russert's attention.
  • Mitt Romney. He won a statewide election in Massachusetts. I honestly don't know much more than that. Do I need to?
I fully understand that '08 is a long ways off, but it also isn't. This race is occurring now. Is there any likely candidate out there that ANYONE is excited about? Is it really too early, or is there just simply a dearth of talent?

Shameless self-promotional plugs over at My vast right-wing conspiracy and My Pet Jawa

Kelo Decision

Whenever a Supreme Court case is decided I'm always as interested in hearing the thoughts on the subject from non-lawyers who read the opinions as I am from lawyers. I think attorneys become inured to the mind-bending logical gymnastics that are often necessary in our legal system to make fit all of the precedents, case law, legislation and constitutional requirements that make up the laws that we live by. This is not to say that we amateurs are more insightful or that the untrained are better equipped to analyze. I would no more want a plumber writing these opinions than I would want Antonin Scalia to come over to help me figure out how to deal with the problems I'm having with my claw-foot tub. Having said that, it's much more fun to see the reaction of the uninitiated to the gore of this particular sausage factory than it is of the butcher.

Jeff Harrell over at The Shape of Days is a great example of an amateur who has done what too few have; actually read the opinions and THEN started commenting. Seriously, go read it. He's a really bright guy, writes a hell of a lot better than I, and keeps you entertained to boot. Having said that, I still think that Jeff is wrong to side with Justice Stevens and the majority on the case. This is not to say that I think this is at odds with current precedent.

This is one of those crappy instances in which both sides are correct. Justice Stevens for the majority is correct when he points out that the Court has rejected the narrow interpretation of the public use requirement. But Justice O'Connor is correct when she argues that a broad interpretation of public use basically makes the requirement itself moot and opens the door to future abuses.

I hate to say it, but I have to come down on the side of the majority on this one. In this particular case, it seems clear to me that the city of New London is in desperate need of economic help, and that the purpose of the proposed development is to revitalize the local economy and get the city back on track. The city's intentions are sound, and that the abuses which Justice O'Connor fears are not a part of this case.

There may well be a case at some point in the future where a municipality wants to condemn a strip club and turn it into a Barnes & Noble, or some other clear abuse of the takings clause. In that case, I hope the Court will choose to part with precedent and enjoin cities from seizing private property just because they feel like it. If they don't, then we'll have something to get outraged about.

Both Jeff and Justice Stevens are absolutely correct that we did away with the standard long ago that eminent domain takings needed to serve a bona fide public use. It is the fact that this decision is such a baby step from what the law has been for a hundred years that I find most disturbing. It isn't that there may be future abuses of this doctrine to rob Peter to pay Paul, it's that this IS abuse. Assuming for the moment that the public does benefit from having localities reap larger tax revenues, is there any brake at all on a local government from taking anyone's property and giving it to someone who will use it "better" by producing more tax revenues?

In the majority opinion Justice Stevens writes that this brake is the localities and trial courts themselves. With the writing of this opinion, however, all a locality will have to show any future trial court is that the public will benefit by any proposed taking because the recipient of the seized property will generate a larger tax haul.

As for the first proposition, the City would no doubt be forbidden from taking petitioners' land for the purpose of conferring a private benefit on a particular private party. See Midkiff, 467 U. S., at 245 ("A purely private taking could not withstand the scrutiny of the public use requirement; it would serve no legitimate purpose of government and would thus be void"); Missouri Pacific R. Co. v. Nebraska, 164 U. S. 403 (1896).5 Nor would the City be allowed to take property under the mere pretext of a public purpose, when its actual purpose was to bestow a private benefit. The takings before us, however, would be executed pursuant to a "carefully considered" development plan. 268 Conn., at 54, 843 A. 2d, at 536. The
trial judge and all the members of the Supreme Court of Connecticut agreed that
there was no evidence of an illegitimate purpose in this case.

These are some of those logical gymnastics that I mentioned earlier. Taking someone's property to give to someone else because the government gets more tax revenue is alright so long as it's a "carefully considered development plan."

Finally, I wanted to write just a couple of words on the politics of the decision. For some reason liberals have been surprised that it was the left side of the court that was responsible for this decision. I don't understand this surprise at all. When you believe that it is the government's job to redistribute property and decide who gets what for the public good, why on Earth would you object to a constitutional doctrine that allows the government to do just that?

What I really like about the decision coming out now is how I hope it will affect the coming fight over any Supreme Court nominee thaofferederred in the next few months. I can't WAIT to see the commercials that the Club for Growth puts out:

"The Supreme Court recently ruled that the government has a right to take your home and give it to politically connected developers. We need a court that respects individual rights. Please call your Senators and tell them to support Judge Janice Rogers Brown for the Supreme Court."


Just saw the best comment yet on the Kelo decision from Pamela at Atlas Shrugs:

"But I'm sure glad that the Patriot Act was downsized. I feel so much safer knowing the government can't rifle through my library records. After the government seizes our homes we can at least enjoy anonymity at the library"

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Members of Congress are Never Wrong

A Congressional delegation went down to Cuba for a little sun and Gitmo oversight. Shockingly enough, the Nazis running the place were able to hide all evidence of Gulag-like torture that got Senator Durbin so whipped up last week.
"The Guantanamo we saw today is not the Guantanamo we heard about a few years ago," said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, is one of many Democrats who have called for an independent commission to investigate abuse allegations and have said the facility should close. She said she stood by that position, but acknowledged, "What we've seen here is evidence that we've made progress."

I'm curious, since this is their first visit to the torture center of the Caribbean, how they know that it isn't the Guantanamo of a few years ago or that we've made progress. I guess it's just not possible that they were slandering the military by taking the word of our enemies who had visited the joint. They weren't wrong about Gitmo... Gitmo improved.


Chrenkoff has some good ideas for a Gitmo reality show

Smash is asking for suggestions for better reading materials for the Gitmo guests

Captain Ed does a fantastic job of ripping these two self-righteous wackadoos in Congress:
No, Congresswoman Lee and Congresswoman Tauscher, what we see is that the two of you and most of your colleagues shrilly slander the US military without doing anything to check your facts beforehand. Prior to this delegation, only eleven Senators and a handful of Representatives had visited Camp X-Ray at Gitmo, despite having access to the facility since the war started. Instead of taking advantage of their opportunity to travel on official business to investigate this "hellhole", as one Democrat called it during open debate, the Leftists like Tauscher and Lee simply regurgitated slanders and accusations from hysterics like William Schulz at Amnesty International, who later admitted that he didn't have any idea whether what he said was accurate or not.

"We're not going to win against the insurgency."

Who wants to bet that this quote is used in at least one major newspaper tomorrow to say that Rumsfeld has conceded defeat? I'm absolutely POSITIVE the Kos Kidz will do so. The only question I have is if the WaPo, NY or LA Times does it as well.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Making Iowa Blue Again

The AP reports that Iowa's Governor Vilsack is issuing a blanket order restoring the right to vote to all of Iowa's convicted felons who have served their sentence. Here are a couple of choice quotes from Gov. Vilsack:

"We're here today to talk about justice. When you've paid your debt to society, you need to be reconnected to society."

"It has disproportionately affected minority individuals. It's just not fair. Iowa has been a leader in civil rights."

You can always count on politicians to be high-minded, altruistic and to act in ways that bring to mind the nobility of public service. Why else would he be taking steps to ensure that convicted felons get a hand in deciding the leadership of our nation?

It's just about votes.

It's easily more than 50,000 people. Of them, a disproportionate number are from minority and lower-income groups. That means they are demographically more likely to vote Democratic than Republican. (Which is why left-of-center groups are praising Vilsack and why you can look for Democrats to soon begin felon voter-registration drives.)

These new voters could have a huge impact on the outcome of close elections in Iowa, a toss-up state where big elections often are decided by only a handful of votes. According to the latest registration figures, Iowa has 610,000 Republicans, 606,000 Democrats and 752,000 independents.

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Tipping Point

Civilians bearing brunt of Iraq's continuing violence Death toll in past 18 months tops 12,000; gunmen, bombers keep blood flowing.

The Associated Press
Updated: 12:46 p.m. ET June 3,

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Gunmen on Friday killed a city council official in Kirkuk, a contractor renovating a mosque in Samarra and a man standing outside a Baghdad hospital, while several car bombs that targeted U.S. convoys in the capital wounded six civilians, authorities said.

The new bloodshed came a day after 48 people were killed in a particularly violent day in Iraq — including more than 30 in four suicide bombings — raising to at least 825 the number of people slain since the new Shiite-led government was announced April 28.

In the past 18 months, 12,000 Iraqi civilians were killed, including more than 10,000 Shiites, Interior Minister Bayan Jabr said, citing figures from a research center. But he said he analyzed the figures on the basis of areas where the victims lived, not data explicitly stating the branch of Islam to which they belong.

I noticed that story today. It really didn’t get much play, or at least not the amount that I thought it would. It made me start thinking, “Is there a tipping point on Iraqi civilian casualties.”

Not a tipping point determining Iraqi people’s reaction to the fuckheads killing them. The tipping point I’m talking about is the one in which the right starts highlighting civilian casualties and the left stops rooting for them (please spare me protestations otherwise, there is no other reason to cite nonsensical numbers like 100,000). Does there come a point that the left understands the pretty obvious point that AMERICA isn’t who is killing the Iraqi civilians? Have we already reached this point? Does there come a point that the right starts trying to publicize civilian deaths to show what our enemies are TRYING to do?

Amnesty Int'l

I've always been under the impression that Amnesty International was an anti-American bunch of kooks, so I was pretty happy when they decided to just come right out and confirm it for everyone. When I was reading Reuters' efforts to legitimize AI's nonsensical claims I found one line that I particularily liked. The perfect non-sequitor used to slander our nation.

President Bush dismissed as "absurd" the Amnesty report, which also said the United States was responsible for an upsurge in global human rights violations, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called the description "reprehensible."

"The administration's response has been that our report is absurd, that our allegations have no basis, and our answer is very simple: if that is so, open up these detention centers, allow us and others to visit them," Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Zubaida Khan told a news conference.

"Transparency is the best antidote to misinformation and incorrect facts," said Khan, who is here to meet with Japanese officials.

The United States holds about 520 men at Guantanamo, where they are denied rights accorded under international law to prisoners of war. (emphasis mine)

The United States holds about 520 men at Guantanamo, where they are also being denied rights accorded under international law to fishing boat captains.

In order to explain AGAIN why these shitheads we have at Gitmo are not prisoners of war I turn to a really long, but worth the time it takes to read, piece at Eject! Eject! Eject!

Let’s speak to the Perennially Outraged as if they were the fully grown, post-pubescent children they pride themselves on being.

What is the obvious difference between an enemy Prisoner of War, and an Unlawful Combatant? Suppose two of them were standing in a line-up. What one glaringly obvious thing sets them apart?

That’s right! One is wearing a uniform, and the other isn’t.

And why do soldiers wear uniforms?

It certainly is not to protect the soldier. As a matter of fact, a soldier’s uniform is actually a big flashing neon arrow pointing to some kid that says to the enemy, SHOOT ME!

And that’s exactly what a uniform is for. It makes the soldier into a target to be killed.

Now if that’s all there was to it, you might say that the whole uniform thing is not such a groovy idea. BUT! What a uniform also does -- the corollary to the whole idea of a uniformed person – is to say that if the individual wearing a uniform is a legitimate target, then the person standing next to him in civilian clothes is not.

By wearing uniforms, soldiers differentiate themselves to the enemy. They assume additional risk in order to protect the civilian population. In other words, by identifying themselves as targets with their uniforms, the fighters provide a Sanctuary to the unarmed civilian population.

Anyone who wants to treat illegal combatants as POWs wants to reward people who committed war crimes by intentionally putting civilians at greater risk by not differentiating themselves from civilians. To honor this filth with the respect that we give to SOLDIERS taken prisoner would be an insult to anyone who ever wore a uniform.