Friday, February 10, 2006

Virginia Puller to be buried today

Wife and rock of Lt. General Chesty Puller should be honored. Her husband has been honored many times. He won the Navy Cross a record 5 times. His wife was the one person who allowed him the latitude to do the heroics that he did, time and time again. I honor the service of all men and women who voluntarily serve in the military of their respective free countries. I have particular afinity and reverence for those who serve under my flag, the US flag. There are many reasons for people who share my view to hold particular reverence for US Marines. I have had close personal relationships with men from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines. All were, without exception, good men that I was proud to call a friend. At the end of the day wars are won on the ground by men with rifles and guts. For that calling, there is not now, nor has there ever been, a better breed of man than a US Marine. I offer as supporting documentation a list of quotes sites about the Marines.


and a few of my favorites:

"The deadliest weapon in the world is a MARINE and his rifle!"

Every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman. All other conditions are secondary.
Gen. A. M. Gray, USMC
Commandant of the Marine Corps

Freedom is not free, but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share.
Ned Dolan

"The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!" Eleanor Roosevelt

"We're surrounded. That simplifies the problem!"

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." GEORGE ORWELL

"A ship without MARINES is like a garment without buttons."

For over 221 years our Corps has done two things for this great Nation. We make Marines, and we win battles.
Gen. Charles C. Krulak, USMC (CMC); 5 May 1997

"The MARINES have landed and have the situation well in hand!"

By their victory, the 3rd, 4th and 5th Marine Divisions and other units of the Fifth Amphibious Corps have made an accounting to their country which only history will be able to value fully. Among the American who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, U.S. Navy

"I have just returned from visiting the MARINES at the front, and there is not a finer fighting organization in the world!"

Marines I see as two breeds, rattlers or Doberman, because Marines come in two varieties, big and mean, or skinny and mean. They're aggressive on the attack and tenacious on defense. They've got really short hair and they always go for the throat.
radon. "Jay" R. Stark, USN; 10 November 1995

"The safest place in Korea was right behind a platoon of MARINES. LORD, how they could fight!"

The Marine Corps has just been called by the New York Times, 'The elite of this country.' I think it is the elite of the world.
Admiral William Halsey, U.S. Navy

I can't say enough about the two Marine divisions. If I use words like 'brilliant,' it would really be an under description of the absolutely superb job that they did in breaching the so-called 'impenetrable barrier.' It was a classic- absolutely classic- military breaching of a very very tough minefield, barbed wire, fire trenches-type barrier.
Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, U. S. Army
Commander, Operation Desert Storm, February 1991

You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced to the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth- and the amusing thing about it is that they are.
Father Kevin Keaney
1st Marine Division Chaplain
Korean War

We signed up knowing the risk. Those innocent people in New York didn't go to work thinking there was any kind of risk.
Pvt. Mike Armendariz-Clark, USMC; Afghanastan, 20 September 2001
As reported on page 1 of the New York Times

and my personal favorite quote about the Marines from a non-marine:

"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem."

And the most appropriate of the famous Marine quotes for today:
"There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and those who have met them in battle. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion." Unknown

I highly suspect that Mrs. Puller could have told the unkown author that there was indeed a third group. Those who really knew them, loved them, encouraged them and made it possible for them to be who they are.

Semper Fi, Virginia Puller
Tell the General and the Good Lord we said Thanks

1 out of 3

Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado) is quickly moving into the zone of right wing nutjob. (HT: Hugh) I am significantly right of center. My opinion is that President Bush is slightly to the left of John Kennedy. He is no Ronald Reagan on policy.

Tom Tancredo has been one of the most outspoken members of Congress on the serious problem of illegal immigration. I am with him on this, in principle. But the President's plan seems entirely reasonable to me. Shut down the illegal border crossings and set up a program where we can verify that people coming to take jobs are not murderers or terrorists, get taxes out of all the foreign workers, and let the free market take care of the rest. No more problems with who to give driver's licenses to. No more questions about whether the parents of kids in our schools are paying taxes or are here for the "right" reasons.

His other two complaints are on the "No Child Left Behind" program and the "Medicare Prescription Drug" program. Here, he hits one out of two for me. It is hard to disagree that the former has been a significant success. It could be better, but the President had to deal with Ted Kennedy to get it passed. Nothing done under those circumstances is going to be perfect. The latter is a disaster. The President had the right idea but the totally wrong implementation. He clearly has a bunch of smart lawyers in the administration but I begin to wonder if there is anybody amongst his advisors that really understands why the free market is so superior to government programs.

So Tom gets a 1 out 3 while attacking the leader of his party. There are dozens of points where center-right folks like me will happily disagree with the President. Picking points that only wackos will agree with you doesn't improve your popularity.

Bob Barr goes off the deep end

I have never been a fan of Bob Barr but this makes me finally understand why. (HT: Hugh)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Cartoonist on cartoons

Dry Bones has a great cartoon on the current controversy. Go have a look and a read.

Robert Livingston gets it

Powerline has the story on him telling a former Democratic colleague not only that he won't sign on to a statement criticizing President Bush for overreaching with his NSA program, but why:
The President of the United States is the Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces. He is Constitutionally obligated to do everything possible in time of war to safeguard the American People. This tempest in a teapot about treatment of cowardly un-uniformed mass murderers and terror mongers, as well as restriction of his ability to monitor conversations of potential terrorists is in my view asinine, and I will have nothing to do with any effort that might be used to undermine his ability to keep us free from terrorism.

It is nice to know there are still a few folks on that side of the isle who get it. If we are lucky it will catch on.

Virginia Puller passes away

Who, you might say? She was the wife of military legend Chesty Puller who won the Navy Cross a record 5 times. He was a Marine's Marine and, by all accounts she was his rock. May she rest in peace. I hope the President will offer to speak at her funeral this Saturday. I further hope they decline any offer from Jimmy Carter after his juvenile behavior at Coretta Scott King's funeral. Tammy is checking with the White House.

Semper Fi, Mrs. Puller.

This is a bad idea

I thought it was a bad idea when some European countries passed laws making it illegal to defame other people's religions, etc. These "hate speech" codes are an unreasonable restriction to free speech and the free exercise of religion itself. Today, LGF points us to this article.
LONDON (Reuters) - The European Union may try to draw up a media code of conduct to avoid a repeat of the furor caused by the publication across Europe of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, an EU commissioner said on Thursday.

In an interview with Britain's Daily Telegraph, EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini said the charter would encourage the media to show "prudence" when covering religion.

"The press will give the Muslim world the message: We are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression," he told the newspaper. "We can and we are ready to self-regulate that right."

This is a very bad idea. It doesn't show reasonableness or restraint. Newspapers committing themselves not to do things that intentionally offend ANY religion would be restraint. Laws prohibiting depictions of Mohammed are a sign of weakness. Is France in charge at this point? I always loose track of the rotating control. Very French to surrender first and negotiate later.

Just so you folks on the big rock across the pond know, the average American is not much in the mood to come save your skins a third time. Happy to help those who have stood with us in the GWOT, but the rest of you may find yourselves on your own. You don't have anything we want any more (your economies are in the tank and your retirement debt makes our Social Security problem look like a parking ticket) so we don't really care if you go back to living in mud huts and your women have to wear bee-keeper suits.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

You got (paid) email

From an opinion piece in the GJ Sentinel:
Some egalitarian Internet users are upset with the plans by AOL and Yahoo. They worry that paying for levels of service will create different classes of users.

Free e-mail is one of the most amazing benefits of the Internet, and no one wants to see that lost. But AOL and Yahoo are not proposing to limit e-mail access. They are simply offering commercial users the chance to buy a service to guarantee delivery of their e-mail to customers along with a tag saying it is a paid message.

I am not sure that anyone would ever call me egalitarian and, with all due respect to the author (who is not listed), he either doesn't understand how this works or doesn't understand the complaint and the reason that this may turn into a bit of a war.

I don't care what Yahoo! does with their FREE email service. AOL email accounts are not, by definition, free. Yahoo! also hosts commercial email accounts for some ISPs for users that are paying and those accounts should be treated like AOL accounts.

Now, I will pick on the Sentinel for no particular reason other than they ran the piece. I assume the Sentinel has a service for their regular readers that they send out the daily highlights in the news. I subscribe to several such services. If, accidentally, a few emails from the Sentinel get tagged by the spam filters and they wish to pay AOL to make sure that doesn't happen.... fine.

What I suspect is going to happen, and this is the concern among email professionals, is something slightly but importantly different. AOL will look at the statistics and determine the top 100 senders to their customers from commercial domains. They will contact those folks and ask them to purchase their new service. Over time those who don't buy the service will find that all the mail from them to their AOL subscribers is marked as spam and never reaches the target user. They will then move down the list with some criteria for minimum traffic. At some point, the Sentinel will HAVE to pay for the service to get to the largest base of commercial email accounts in the US.

One could argue that this would all be free market forces. One would be an idiot, but it could be argued. AOL users pay for, among other things, an Internet email account. If AOL intentionally prevents said customer from corresponding with legal commercial entities of their choice with said account, then it isn't any longer an Internet email account. The Internet is all about open communication.

To my knowledge neither AOL or Yahoo! have explicitly stated that this is what they are going to do. To understand why I think they will you need only understand that the false positive rate on commercial spam filters is a tiny fraction of a percent. Class of service issues can only ensue if AOL puts punitive rate limits on their legitimate commercial senders which is considered bad form. Why would the Sentinel pay AOL to bypass the spam filter for a service they offer to their users for free? AOL doesn't launch things they don't intend to make money on. To make money they have to get a bunch of commercial senders to pay by making it painful or impossible for commercial senders to reach their AOL users.

There is another alternative scenario where this makes sense. Sophisticated spammers might pay a small fee to be able to send unsolicited ads to some AOL users. The problem with this option is that AOL tells their customers that they make the spam go away. If their customer base figures out that they are getting spam with not only the blessing of AOL but because AOL is pocketing a buck on it.... well, let's just say we have seen ISPs hemorrhage users for less stupid moves.

Anybody got an option #3 where AOL makes money on this? I don't. I don't think AOL is dumb enough to try option #2, so option #1 is my only explanation.

If I am correct we will know soon enough. Some bank or newspaper or listserv service will be hit up for protection money and scream bloody murder about it. I am not sure this will cost AOL many users. It is a gamble as it might cost them dearly. I have complete confidence that there is some large scale commercial sender that will refuse to pay and will somehow inform it's users that they are prohibited by AOL from sending requested information to AOL customers.

A little evidence

Pius Kamau writes "CU's black condition" in the Denver Post. He provides a better picture of a serious problem at CU w.r.t. black students. His kids went there and he claims they were "harassed, ostracized and abused". He further claims the university couldn't or wouldn't do anything about it. That is useful, but not complete, information. He goes on:
Few people know the facts about CU's admission of black kids. The highest enrollment was 1.77 percent in 1999; now it's 400 blacks out of a 24,600 student body, or 1.5 percent, and just 1.2 percent of the graduate student body. By comparison, 3.8 percent of Colorado is black, according to the U.S. Census.

That is very useful, but still not complete. I would be surprised if blacks in this state go to college at less than half the rate of whites. But CU is a major university. What percentage of the students there are from Colorado? I would think it more likely that a black student from Denver would be more likely to go to an east coast school than a black student from the east coast going to CU. Ditto for white students, btw.

My point is that there may in fact be a racial problem. I am beginning to suspect that there is. If that is the case it should be easy to put together a simple picture with hard facts that shows it in blazing bright lights. On the other hand maybe it is simply a matter of black students not wanting to hang out with a bunch of ill mannered, upper middle class liberal snobs. I don't. As I have said in a previous post, some of my white neighbors are forbidding their children from going there because of their seemingly valid perceptions of the school. That indicates a problem but not a racist one. Does the school have a racism problem as well?

What are the percentages of in state students at various universities that are black? White? What percentage of black students that are accepted to both CU and CSU go to CU? How about Northern Colorado? School of the Mines? Has anybody tried to contact the black students that were accepted but didn't attend to find out why?

From CSU's web site: "12% of U.S. students are ethnic minorities"

Northern Colorado has a plethora of information here including 2.6% black and around 10% out of state undergrads.

Didn't find anything directly on CSM but their site did have this showing that in 2002 nationally there were almost 16% blacks in engineering programs. That is MUCH higher than I would have expected and is a great sign. These degrees are the closest thing to a guarantee of a middle/upper-middle class existence.

That took 15 minutes. If I had used the phone I bet I could get the relevant statistics in less than an hour.

Professor Bainbridge misses the point

In his piece on the reaction to the King Funeral politics he points out that these things have a tendency to backfire and will probably help Bush in the long run.
In sum, Bush got dissed to his face in public. BFD. He's a big boy and ought to be able to take it. Indeed, if I were in Bush's shoes right now, I'd be pretty happy about it. Just as the Wellstone funeral fired up the GOP base in 2004, this episode has fired up Bush's base. In other words, this is a win-win for Bush. He gets some credit from moderates for showing up and gets lots of support from the base for being insulted. Given how rocky Bush's standing is these days, maybe he ought to seek out opportunities to be publicly criticized.

That isn't the point Professor. The reason that these things backfire and it will probably help the GOP in the long run is because it is unacceptable behavior. Attacking the President's policies is perfectly acceptable (and expected) in many venues. This was the funeral of a much-loved woman. It was supposed to be all about her. She was a political figure but not in the mold of Republican/Democrat. She fought for a cause along side people of all colors, shapes and politics. The vast majority of us believe in that cause and admired her husband and her continuation of the fight after his murder.

Can you imagine what the antique media would have done if Bush had used the opportunity to bash the Kennedy family's illegal wiretapping of her phone and then went on to explain why his NSA program was different? He had Teddy the drunk there. By your reasoning this would have been acceptable, it was a political event.

May Coretta Scott King rest in peace finally reunited with her true love under the care of the angels.

Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Joe Carter

Radioblogger has both transcripts and downloadable mp3 of these 3 segments up. It is good radio with 4 sharp minds wrestling with the difficult issue of how to balance sensitivity with reality.

Ex-officer spurned on WMD claim

Scott at Powerline points us to this article from the NY Sun. It seems that is at least one investigator from the Pentagon thinks he knows where there is, still, WMD stockpiles in Iraq. He found sealed under water bunkers with walls 5 feet think that the locals in the know say contain chemical weapons stockpiles. The Iraq Survey Group which is tasked with checking out reports of WMD is not, according to the article, equipped to check out these bunkers. Make of it what you will but if these bunkers exist what else would they be for? Why would anybody go to all the trouble of building under water bunkers for conventional arms or anything else "normal"? Why would you go to the trouble of building them and then seal the tunnel entrance (big enough for a tractor) with concrete? If they exist it seems to me we need to get the right equipment to them and answer those questions.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Tolerance toward intolerance

A great piece by Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff. (HT:)

Hillary gets dissed

Our average soldier is so much smarter than she is, she really shouldn't put herself in these situations. I am glad she does except that it annoys the soldiers who I like.

Dry Bones 1989

It is amazing how history repeats itself.

24 by Dave Barry

If you are a 24 fan, you have to go read this!

Hugh took my advice

I have no idea if he read my blog entry or my email (which was shorter) but he has Dennis Prager on his show right now talking about the distinction between talking about a religion being good or bad and talking about the behavior of particular practitioners of that religion. Michael Medved (who ranted on the Islamasists and freedom of the press for much of his show today) is also there.

$1.24 Billion for a boat?

Royal Caribbean is have a behemoth built. At 220,000 gross registered tons and a larger displacement than a Nimitz carrier it will be capable of handling 6,400 passengers.
Both will be eclipsed by Project Genesis, which will be 1,180 feet long, 154 feet wide at water level and 240 feet high.

Alzheimer's cure from pond scum

This is potentially interesting. Admittedly a long way from any possible human trials I am glad that there are more folks looking at natural cures instead of synthetics. And talk about a cheap source...

Lesbians equal Ratings?

Grey's Anatomy had enormous ratings Sunday coming on right after a relatively close Super Bowl. The article claims that part of the reason was the lesbian shower scene that opened the show. I could have done without Sandra Oh joining the fun but it was a pretty hot scene. I could also have done without them leaving the cliff hanger they did at the end. My wife and I were quite peeved about that. We watch the show regularly and both dislike cliff hangers. Mind you, I understand why they did it. We will see if the ratings stay high next week.

4 more churches burn in Alabama

This is getting ugly. Somebody needs to catch these slimebags soon. We'll be praying for the folks who have lost their houses of worship. I will also pray that when they are caught they don't turn out to be Muslims. I don't want to see the South rise up again at this particular point in history.

The Nanny State strikes again

I know we want to keep kids relatively safe and there are good reasons why some of the things we all did when I was in grade school aren't allowed today. I thought banning dodge ball was going a little too far. Principles in Spokane Washington don't think that was far enough. They have banned playing tag! Come on people. The nuns made us play it only on the grass which made sense, less risk of skinned up arms and legs and we had plenty of grass. But to ban tag all together? Are we going to put them in crash proof bubbles next? No wonder all the boys are addicted to video games. Nobody lets them have any normal, real world fun any more.

Mini Ice Age coming

And soon (6-7 years) according to a Russian astronomer.
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- A Russian astronomer has predicted that Earth will experience a "mini Ice Age" in the middle of this century, caused by low solar activity.

I don't know much of anything about astronomy but I am curious as to how one could predict the future energy output of the Sun. We certainly know that the output of the Sun has been higher than normal over the last few decades and seems to be declining. Trend analysis is one thing but I had no idea that there was a reliable way to predict the future detailed output (we are talking a few percent one way or the other here). If so, that's pretty cool.
Dramatic changes in the earth's surface temperatures are an ordinary phenomenon, not an anomaly, he said, and result from variations in the sun's energy output and ultraviolet radiation.

Here we go again. Actual facts getting in the way of paranoid political theories.
The Northern Hemisphere's most recent cool-down period occurred between 1645 and 1705. The resulting period, known as the Little Ice Age, left canals in the Netherlands frozen solid and forced people in Greenland to abandon their houses to glaciers, the scientist said.

I was aware that it got pretty cold in the latter 17th century. I was unaware that the glaciers actually invaded the coastal areas of Greenland where people live. Ouch.

OK, I have a prediction here. If this guy turns out to be right (and I have no idea if he is or not) the Kyoto Treaty will have been in effect for a decade or two when it becomes obvious that he is right. The output of greenhouse gases will be higher (despite the Treaty) than it was during the period when the temperature went up a degree and change (or ever). I predict that despite that little annoying fact that the current Global Warming nuts (not concerned folks, the kooks) will loudly announce that the treaty worked and they saved the world. Food output will drop, more people will die of exposure, energy prices will rise, but clearly they were pushing the right solution, and it worked.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Hugh asks 2 questions, the wrong questions

From this piece:
The debate begins with these questions: Are we at war with Islam? Do you want a war with Islam?

My answers and the answers of any sensible person ought to be "no," and "no." I'd like to see blogggers who are opining on the caroons answer these questions up front.

I have, so I will take a whack at this. First of all, it is the wrong question set Hugh. One cannot go to war with a religion. One cannot even agree or disagree with a religion. One can agree or disagree with a particular person's or group's behaviour based on their interpretation of their religion. A religion, in this case Islam, is an abstract idea. A dear Jewish friend has said to me on more than one occasion, "That is a good question. Find me 10 rabbis and I'll give you 11 answers." This is true in all faiths that I am aware of. Look at the number of sects of Christianity we have in this country and how many things they disagree on.

So the "right" questions are: Are we at war with Muslims? Do you want to be at war with Muslims.

To go into a little more detail I will attempt to make the point the way Dennis Prager has made it several times that I have heard on his radio show (Hugh, you should have Dennis on your show to discuss this in the context of "true Muslims"). I will undoubtedly not do this as well as Dennis, but here goes my paraphrase of Dennis.

There is a dispute among Christians and Mormons as to whether Mormons are Christians. I cannot judge this as I am neither a Mormon nor a Christian. Many Christians claim they are not. Mormons emphatically insist that they are. From my perspective I have to assume that the Mormons are Christian since they insist that they are, but it really doesn't matter to me. I can only judge them on their behaviour. Most Mormons are good and decent people. Most Christians are good and decent people. It is a distinction without a difference to me.

In this case there are many different kinds of people who claim to be Muslim. I will simplify greatly for the point of the argument and just discuss two of them.

Muslim group A: Muslims who believe that their faith teaches peace, respect for all people and equality. They wish to spread their faith by setting an example in their own life and peacefully sharing their beliefs with their neighbors. I would agree with most everybody who has spoken up on the topic that the vast majority of American Muslims fit this broad category. Without question there are Muslims who fit into this category around the world, including the Arab world.

Muslim group B: Muslims who believe that their faith teaches them that they must forcibly convert or destroy all non-Muslims. Further, they are prepared to kill other Muslims who don't conform to their version of their religion. Their primary group goals are to destroy Israel and then convert or destroy Europe and the US. Different people have different opinions on what percentage of Arab Muslims fit into this broad category. There is very little doubt that there are a lot of people in this group.

So now we have 4 questions?

Are we at war with group A? NO.
Do I want to be at war with group A? Hell NO!
Are we at war with group B? YES we are without question. This is the GWOT.
Do I want to be at war with group B? Not really, but I see no viable alternative.

The hard, I would argue unanswerable, question is which of these very different groups represent "true Islam"? I don't know and I really don't care. Which is the "true Christianity", the one that committed the atrocities during the Crusades in the name of Jesus Christ, the ones that burned witches, or the peaceful versions we see today in the US? People who aren't Christian shouldn't care.

I am happy to work with members of group A. I don't but would be perfectly happy to live next door to members of group A. I would invite them to dinner in my home. I believe we have to either convert, imprison or kill the members of group B before they kill us. I would guess Dennis is perfectly happy to live next door to modern American Christians. I would guess he is glad that the Crusader-type Christians aren't around any more. I know I am.

The point has been made many times that we don't see enough "moderate" (group A) Muslims denouncing the behaviour of the "extremists" (group B). I agree to a point. First of all, I think there is a lot more of that going on than we see in the antique press. Secondly, people forget that it took many decades (I would argue centuries) for Christianity to right itself after the rift created in the Middle Ages. In the modern world of airplanes, TV, radio and the Internet it should go faster for the Muslims. They could right themselves more quickly (meaning a small number of decades). I hope they do. Group B needs to go away.

Durbin plays the doofus again

This is funny! Go watch. Senator Durbin clearly does not understand the box the Democrats have painted themselves into on the NSA intercept program. Paul Mirengoff clearly does. Paul's question to Senator Durbin:
FISA contains an exception for surveillance that is authorized by another statute, and the administration says that the Authorization for Use of Military Force is such a statute. It that's true, the NSA's international surveillance program is consistent with FISA. Why don't you introduce a resolution to the effect that the AUMF was not intended to authorize the surveillance in question?

It is no surprise that not only did the Senator not want to answer the question, it was pretty clear that he didn't understand it. But the funniest part of the whole thing is that Senator Durbin had never heard of either Pajamas Media or POWERLINE! Now I can understand a not-so-bright politician who gets all of his news from the antique media and/or staffers having not heard of Pajamas Media, but after the Dan Rather/Mary Mapes fiasco who can claim to be informed and not know what Powerline is?

Judge Bork on Justice Breyer's book

Irrespective of your feelings on Judge Bork's approach to the law, it is hard to read articles like this one in the New Criterion and not be amazed by both his intellect and his ability to write coherently for the average non-lawyer. (HT: Bench Memos)