Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Condi on Iraq

It should be no surprise to anyone that Condi Rice can write. Most professors can. It should be no great surprise that she knows a lot about the facts of history, given her educational background. But when you read her Washington Post column "The Promise of Democratic Peace" you get more than those two things. There is a real sense here that she not only sees the parallels between the end of WW2 in Europe and Japan and Iraq, she understands its implications at an innate level. She is trying to live that parallel. Given the success of post WW2 Japan and West Germany, this make all the sense in the world. In this case it isn't "those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it" it is "those who pay attention to history might just manage to repeat it". We should all be proud that President Bush picked this woman to be in the two positions she has held in the administration. Go read the article.

Ann Coulter wants to get arrested

This is a funny column. Go read.

They have gone and done it

New York City transit workers are on strike. The busses and subway are shut down. 7 million people normally use these services every day. We will now see if Mayor Bloomberg has the force of will to do what Ronald Reagan did when the air traffic controllers did this. If he announced today that any worker who didn't show up tomorrow was out of a job I suspect that the subways would run tomorrow. If they don't show up tomorrow, start hiring.

I find it curious that in all of the articles I have read during this process I have not seen what these guys make and what their pension plan benefits are. I have seen offers of 3% but the union wants 5% but no hard numbers. Given that the elite media tend to be very pro union I suspect that if we knew what the guy pushing buttons on the train made and what his retirement package looked like you would faint. If that is true it shouldn't be hard to hire people to replace them.

Remember the Gipper, Mr. Mayor.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Hugh Hewitt on Presidential Powers

I disagreed with Hugh on the Harriet Meirs nomination. I really like what I see him posting on this NSA non-scandal scandal. There is a scandal here but it involves the NYT, not the presidential order. Also, this is not an issue that someone like me can have an informed opinion on. This is a matter of constitutional law that the Supreme Court has never, apparently, ruled on explicitly. Hugh's arguments in support of the President's power to authorize these intercepts is pretty complete and I see no major holes. That said, I am not a constitutional attorney so a good ConLaw professor (which Hugh is) could probably sound real convincing to a propeller head like me and be wrong.

On the flip side, I haven't yet run across any viable arguments that suggest, given what little we know, there is reason to suspect that the President does not have such authority. As I said in an earlier post, I always thought this was the case and never had an issue with it. Hugh, aside from being a ConLaw prof at a major law school was also the special assistant to the AG in charge of FISA warrants for about a year. Not too many folks out there with credentials that top that on this particular topic.

In listening to Hugh's show, it is also worth noting that, unlike Harriet, Hugh and I agree on something that we are all allowed to have on opinion on. This thing is a political dog for the Dems. Most Americans will want the President to have such powers. If it is determined that Hugh is wrong, legally, the majority of Americans will want a change in the law. If it is determined that he is right, which is my guess, they will resent the party of non-defense to take it on the chin in the next election. Right or wrong legally, this is a political winner for President Bush.

Hugh's posts:


One more reason to ditch Windoze

Expect a flood of virus infected emails to hit your accounts on Jan 5, 2005. Apparently the Sober virus of last November also left a time bomb that F-Secure figures is going to go off in 17 days. When it does, every computer infected will go off to a series of domains looking for a new virus instance to download and install. One would guess that this virus will also, just like Sober, email itself to all of the address book entries on the box.

Not to worry, your helpful correspondent will not be infected as my Mac and Solaris boxes will not care about any of this. It will agitate me as I will undoubtedly have to delete hundreds of copies of infected emails.

If you are currently running Windows, consider switching to something else, almost anything else, over the Christmas break. Barring that, update your virus scanner and run it. If you insist on running Windows and don't have a licensed virus scanner, buy yourself one for Christmas and install, update, and run it before you start partying on New Year's Eve. Then update it and run it again every night until you decide to make the switch.

NSA wire tapping leak

Powerline has, as usual, the most complete analysis I have seen to date on both stories. It is not clear that the President or the analysts involved in the wiretapping committed any crime. It is entirely clear that both the dozen-ish "current and former NSA officers" and the NY Times reporters, editors, and publishers did break the law.

One thing Scott doesn't point out occurred to me (perhaps because he is a lawyer and I am not). We know that both the White House Counsel and the AG and his primary council approved the order. We also know that senior members of both parties were informed of it. Even if you hate George Bush, can you imagine his private council and the AG's council allowing a written presidential order that violated the law? Can you imagine senior Democrats not running to the press immediately after being informed the first time if it was clear that the order was illegal? I realize that doing so would have been illegal but that has never stopped a congress-critter before, and we have never prosecuted one for it before. This is a conspiracy theory of the first order.

It was always my understanding that monitoring overseas calls involving foreign lands or individuals considered hostile to or "enemies" of the US did not require a warrant of any kind. It was also my understanding that the fruits of such warrantless searches could not be used as evidence in a domestic court. I am guessing that is part of what the 72 hour clause in the FISA court proceedings is about. I may be completely wrong (again, I am a propeller head, not a lawyer). My understanding of the law, right or wrong, never disturbed me in any way. Don't use the phone to plot to overthrow your government with overseas enemies and you have no issue. Since I never planned to overthrow or attack my government or conspire with foreign enemies to break any laws, what's to worry about?

The leak, on the other hand, disturbs me greatly. The fact that reporters would publish said leaks without clear proof that anything illegal happened really pisses me off. In my non-lawyer vernacular, it is treason in my mind. It had to be clear to anyone with a brain that printing this information would be beneficial to enemies of the US (you remember, the people that want to kill all of us). If they had reasonable proof that the administration committed a crime in doing the wire taps I might accept their breaking the law in publishing the information as a valid oversight of the free press. This is not the case. Scott gives the chapter and verse of the law and it is pretty clear that not only the NSA folks but the NY Times folks can be fined or jailed for up to 10 years. I hope, but doubt, that the president will have the reporters jailed. As much as the wacky left in this country loves socialist Europe, they should know that in much of Europe there would be no question that the reporters would be jailed.

I also assume that it won't take long to track down the NSA folks. I don't know if "former" officers are still required to submit to polygraphs without due process, but I am quite sure that current ones are (applied for an internship there in college and it was made pretty clear). There can't be that many folks who knew about this at the NSA. Break out the polygraph machines and let's get to it. We should have some of the culprits in jail by Christmas.

Mapes has still not gotten psychiatric help

Powerline posts her response to what Scott and I thought was an overly generous review of her book by Jonathan Alter. Scott also posts many relevant links in the post.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

University of Colorado, part 5

At the end of the day, the UC Boulder campus has fired their football coach. They didn't fire him because they could implicate him in the non-scandal recruiting scandal. They didn't fire him because he recruited non-student professional grade athletes (ala UNLV). They didn't fire him because he was paying or aware of boosters paying student athletes (ala take your pick). They didn't fire him because he didn't discipline a student athlete accused of sending racist email. They fired him because he lost two games in a row badly. One of those games he was expected to win (by CU fans anyway) and the other he reasonably couldn't have been expected to win.

The regents have, in the same time frame, decided to move from Boulder to Denver to better lobby the state government.

This is a great message for a University. If they had fired him during the non-scandal scandal I would have disagreed but at least understood. I am an NCAA basketball fan, not so much a football fan. I was priveledged to have gone to a university that had a great basketball program during the time I was there. I didn't go there for that reason. I was surrounded by regional schools that had great basketball programs. I chose the one I did based on only two criteria. It was in state tuition and it was ranked extremely well nationally in the course of study I intended to pursue.

Having a great sports program is a good draw for potential 18 year old students. Having a great football or men's basketball program pays for a lot of other "minor" sports scholarships as well as intermurral sports programs for all students. But at the end of the day if you put winning in NCAA sports ahead of academics and societal moral standards you, as a university, have sold your soul to the devil. It may have a short term upside, but it will most certainly have a huge long term down side.

Bear in mind that two games ago the local papers were talking about how strong the CU football program had performed this year. Bear in mind that two games ago people were talking about how high their quarterback, Joel Klatt, would draft in the NFL. Then, two bad games in a row. The second included a serious injury to Joel in a game that nobody expected them to win. To fire a coach under these circumstances says that our university is about money and not about ethics and academia. The move to Denver says, over a bullhorn, the same thing. That statement comes at a long term price, irrespective of what the next coach does or does not do. Winning and losing is the ultimate measure at the professional level, it is not, and should not be at the collegiate level of sports.


CU will move HQ to Denver

CU athletes charged over racist e-mail

Finally, a debacle CU's Barnett can't survive

$3 million ticket out

Playmates arrested for being stupid

This is not a headline that would shock many, but apparently, earlier this month, two former Playboy Playmates were arrested for out of control drunken behavior on a Frontier flight from Denver to San Antonio. The CBS affiliate story on their web site comes complete with the snippet from the nightly news, which I missed. Luckily, Tammy Bruce caught wind of it, and was compelled to post it. Tammy is probably as attracted, physically, to the two idiots in question as I, and most red blooded straight American males are. That is one of the two reasons why we will never make an item as much as I enjoy reading her blog and books and seeing her on TV. For the record, there are also two things between a "melding" between Ann Coulter and I, at least on my end. Ann is a blonde. Can you figure out what the common problem is? Hint: I am not gay. Hint 2: read my previous, "Hire Richi" post in total. Hey, it is my blog, I can confuse and/or offend the stupid who choose to read me at will.

Merry Christmas to those of you who didn't need the hints.

Hire Richi, more inside baseball

In case you are in the market for a good consultant in the computing field, consider the following posts:

Why hasn't SMS spam flooded US phones? I expected it and haven't seen it. Richi blogs on it in Thoughts about SMS text message spam.

Richi asks a very serious question, with some answers but not all of them in Should We Publish Email Addresses? I do, many don't, and many more do "balmer at pathbroadband.com" or other such tricks to try to reduce the infliction of spam address harvesting. I get a lot of spam. By a lot I mean in excess of 50 messages per day in the three accounts that I read regularly. It is a great pain in the tucus. It is a tradeoff. If you run Windoze (tm) and LookOut (tm) you also have to deal with a greater risk of virus attack than I do.

I deal with some of the largest ISPs on in the world every day about email. Therefore, by extension, I deal with some of the smartest folks in the world building and deploying anti-spam solutions. There are no ultimate, perfect, panacea solutions. Trust me, they don't exist. But if you aren't a propeller head and want to read about how to prevent spam one of the best sources is articles like this one from Richi.

Richi sums up mobile WiMAX very well in less than 100 words that are all understandable by non-geeks. This is a technology that I expect to hit big with the public when it becomes widely available and is well worth understanding and tracking.

Richi wins phishing war surrounding eBay, after much too much trouble. If you follow the industry, this is a must read. Note: eBay is a huge customer of my employer. Note: My wife is a huge eBay fan, much to the detriment of my bank account. Note: It wasn't their fault but their front line customer service folks could have done a better job. The point of the story is none of the above, it is really a story about the real danger and hassle of dealing with phishing. Anybody in the industry will be able to give you similar stories, with a variety of different large corporations as the "target".

Work happens

I have been gone for a bit due to travel, holiday, and work things. I have found some things worth looking at. So here is some categorized speed blogs for your consideration. Many are old but still worth reading.


More eminent domain abuse in FL.

Federal courts decide that Social Security payments may be garnished for ancient student loan defaults. I am really split on this one, particularly since I will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in Social Security taxes and expect to never get a dime back. But if Social Security is a "minimum standard of living" how can we subtract from it due to 40 year old sins? I am not old enough to have 40 year old sins but I hope that the sins of my 20s don't follow me into my 70s.

The iron lady, Maggie Thatcher is hospitalized. I have seen no followup but pray that she will recover and live on for decades more to pass her wisdom on.

Federal marshals shot dead a guy who turned out to be just a manic depressive off his meds. While I mourn for his family and friends I have seen no evidence that I would have wanted the marshals to do anything different.

A great piece on Rocky Flats... interesting to all, really interesting to me given that my house is about 5 miles as the crow flies from the place in question.

Other politics:

Global warming is finally proved with record low temperatures throughout the northern hemisphere?????

Apparently, in politically correct Europe (Italy in this case), calling a foreigner a "dirty negro" is not always a racist slur. I am pretty politically incorrect about these sorts of things but this one makes my head spin. To be fair, the people being called "dirty negroes" were Columbian women, presumably not black although the article isn't specific about that. Personally, I think that this is clearly racist, regardless of where it occurred but simply being a racist asshole shouldn't be illegal. In this case the Italians (or should I say WOPs?) in question punched the "dirty negroes". This should be illegal and doubly so because a bunch of men punched a bunch of women which offends my sense of chivalry, honor, and general moral and societal fabric. Go read it and tell me you aren't offended both by the actions of the men and the ruling of the court.

Scott at Powerline attended the White House Hanukkah party.

Babs can't spell.

Dry Bones hits another home run, both on the humor front and on the very sober front of the seriousness of Israeli politics.


Don Ho is recovering from a stem cell procedure to attempt to get rid of his heart arythmia. Not being a big Don Ho fan, this article is interesting for two reasons. First, it is not legal in the US and a very rich US citizen is undergoing it. Second, if you read into the article it is another example of the viability of the use of ADULT stem cell procedures. It isn't illegal here because it involves embryonic stem cells, which as far as I can tell have yet to cure one person of anything.

"Don did not take stem cells from a fetus. He doesn't believe in that," he said. "He took blood from his own body and re-injected that into his heart."

Massive jellyfish invade Japan. This is a case where a picture is worth a thousand words. I have seen jellys even bigger than the one pictured but for those of you who have never been diving in the Pacific, check out the pic even if you don't have time for the article.

Diane Carman of the Denver Post doesn't get why serious Christians are offended by "Holiday Trees". Let me make the matter really simple. We are a nation of laws, but those laws were drafted by Christians. They protect your right to worship as you see fit but they don't protect you, commercially, to insult 80+ percent of the population that shops in your neighborhood. I get Christmas cards from Jewish and agnostic friends every year. I have even been known to get them from devout atheists. I send out a few "Happy Hanukkah" cards every year. I have been known to put a Hanukkah light set in my window, and am considering doing it again this year. Diversity and freedom of religion are a big part of what made this country great. But it is the Christmas season and I don't want "Happy Holidays" as a response to my "Merry Christmas" in the stores. It is offensive. A reply of "Happy Hanukkah" would be perfectly acceptable and a "Happy Hanukkah and a Merry Christmas to you" would potentially get me a life long friend. "Holiday Trees" don't exist as the only religious tradition with December trees is Christmas. The Salvation Army is a Christian organization, but like most American Christian charitable organizations, it's good works are not limited to those who share their faith. Excluding the bell ringers from your doorstep is a really good way to make sure I don't shop at your store during the Christmas season in particular, and the rest of the year in general. The only major retailer that I have not spent money with (and I have spent a ton) this season is the one who did just that. This is America and for most of us that means Christmas is soon to be upon us. You don't have to celebrate it to appreciate that most of us do. If somebody gives you a hard time about not celebrating it in this country I will be one of the first to step up and support you. I am not alone, in fact I am the typical American on this topic. Be happy for me that I am happy in this season, and the Easter season, even if it is meaningless to you and in return I will support to my death your right to worship something different than I do or to not worship anything at all. That is what makes America. It is not secularism, which is killing Europe. What makes America great is that the majority (Christians) and the minorities (Jews, Buddhists, Diests, agnostics and the rest) have traditionally respected each others customs and religious heritage and worked together to build a nation bigger and stronger than any one heritage.