Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Amber alert: Another Missing Headline 
All units, all units: Countercolumn is issuing another Missing Headline Alert.

The headline, "Iraq Child Malnutrition Rates Cut by Two Thirds" has been abducted from the masthead of the British Broadcasting Service, and replaced with the misleading headline, "Children 'Starving' in New Iraq"

From today's BBC:
Increasing numbers of children in Iraq do not have enough food to eat and more than a quarter are chronically undernourished, a UN report says.
Malnutrition rates in children under five have almost doubled since the US-led intervention - to nearly 8% by the end of last year, it says.

In addition to the headline, several important and relevant facts were also reported missing from the story.

Among them was the 2000 report of a congressional Democrat and head of the Congressional Hunger Center:

But Rep. Tony Hall, D-Ohio, says Saddam Hussein's government must share the blame for not getting enough humanitarian aid to Iraqis suffering from malnutrition and disease.

Hall, who spent last week examining hospitals, schools, pharmacies and other facilities that serve Iraqi civilians, said he could verify reports estimating that more than 25 percent of Iraq's children are underweight and one-tenth are suffering from hunger and disease.

Second among the reported missing facts was a prewar United Nations report, cited by PeaceAction.org and countless other sites, which found that 25 percent of Iraqi children were malnourished during the final years of Saddam Hussein.

Investigators for Countercolumn have confirmed that the 8 percent malnutrition rate reported by the United Nations under the coalition government is less than one third of the 25 percent figure cited by UNICEF prior to the war, and taken as gospel by numerous progressive organizations calling for the lifting of the UN sanctions.

Investigators have ruled out charging BBC reporters and editors as well as United Nations diplomats with any crime, since anybody who's too stupid to figure out that today's 8 percent malnutrition rate is not double 25 percent malnutrition, as the BBC lede reports, cannot be held responsible for their actions as if they were, you know, sentient adults.

Splash, out,


What the heck do you have to do qualify for the term "terrorist" 
...at the New York Times?

Today's Robert Worth story leads with the following:

A car bomb exploded outside a primary school west of Baghdad today, killing a guard, as insurgents launched attacks on pilgrims traveling to Karbala for a Shiite religious festival.

The bomb detonated in the town of Abu Ghraib outside the Abu Ghraib School, Interior Ministry officials said. Five civilians standing nearby were also injured.

South of Baghdad, gunmen opened fire on a minibus full of Shiite pilgrims, wounding eight, police and hospital officials said. The attack took place near Latifiya, a lawless area where insurgents have often attacked Shiite pilgrims on their way to or from the shrine cities of Najaf and Karbala.


I see. So terrorists who detonate car bombs outside of elementary schools (what's wrong with the term "elementary school?") still qualify for the neutral term "insurgent."

Shoot up eight pilgrims, and you're a "gunman." Or, again, an "insurgent."

No. "Insurgents" attack military targets. The only people who set off car bombs at schools and who deliberately murder unarmed religious pilgrims are terrorists, by definition.

Did the Times editorial board make a policy decision to avoid using the word "terrorist," even when it so clearly applies here?

I mean, if these people don't qualify as terrorists in the Times' playbook, just who the heck does?

P.S: That's the same Robert Worth who blew it just a few days ago:


I'll defer to The Mesopotamian here:

The mood, though, is that of bitterness , pain and sorrow as we watch the bodies of our young people being ferried in wooden carts like the fresh meet of carcasses in a slaughterhouse. Holy anger is swelling up, not only against the perpetrators, but also against all who seek to find excuses, glorify the foul murderers by such appellations as "insurgents" or worst still "resistors" and such like; against the theorists and the "commentators"; against anybody who even shows indifference to such heinous butchery.

URL: http://messopotamian.blogspot.com/2005_03_01_messopotamian_archive.html#110971290779934804

Splash, out


A tax-planning opportunity 
In view of the current tax season, Countercolumn's editorial staff (i.e., me) is pleased to present the following modest proposal.

Consider: The estate tax gets repealed in 2010, but only for that year. In 2011, the estate tax returns in full force. So it's like playing blackjack: You've got to keep granpa alive until 2010, but not beyond 2010, or you go bust, and wind up having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes.

So here's what you have to do: You've got to entubate grandpa and declare him a vegetable. Nevermind the obscenity of the term. The term "subhuman" has served us well in other contexts, too.

Then arrange to take custody of the meatpuppet, at least until new years day, 2010. At 2010, simply withold nutrition. After all, if you've got the power of attorney you need to withhold nutrition and water, you certainly have the power of attorney you need to execute a new will on their behalf designating yourself as the sole heir.

Even better, we could securitize the mentally deficient, turning them, essentially, into conduits for the tax-advantaged transfer of wealth - each vegetable lending his or her name as beneficiary for the estates of perhaps hundreds of aging high net worth individuals, storing the wealth until 2010, or such time as the vegetable can be liquidated, and assets transferred at their death to the intended recipient, free of estate tax.

The broker can be paid a percentage of the difference between what would currently be due under the estate tax and that which would be due in tax year 2010, which would be zero.

Look, don't get all fucking maudlin and sentimental on me, now. This is just business.

Theoretically, those on death row could even make up all or part of what it costs to keep them, and run them through all the due process it takes to execute a criminal in this country.

In the aggregate, the economy would become markedly more efficient, if not more just. But in the long run, isn't it really the same thing?

I hadn't thought about it before, to be honest. I've never been comfortable with argument predicated on the subhumanity of anybody else. But, you know, from a strictly economic/utilitarian point of view, I hadn't considered how exciting and liberating such a world view could be.

Further, if custodians/guardians of subhuman species are not willing to make efficient use of the wealth management vehicles entrusted to their care, then their title could be stripped of them - and the asset "condemned," shall we say, in the same process that we use to determine the value of a property had the owner elected to employ it in its "highest and best use."

Best of all, a secondary market in human vegetables could be established, in which market participants can bid on an exchange somewhere, based on the tax value of the vehicle to themselves and to their families.

In this way, a part of the burden of keeping a vegetable breathing for years in a hospice can be removed from lower and middle-class families - who have little to gain from any estate tax benefits - and transferred to a population in a better position to afford it.

Yes, I predict that by year-end 2010, hundreds of feeding tubes vacate the abdomens of hundreds of the mentally deficient, the senile, and other undesireables with a giant slurping sound.

Splash, out


(Countercolumn does not give ethical advice. Consult your spiritual advisor for the ethics which apply to your specific situation.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Ballad of the Foxhunter 
'Lay me in a cushioned chair;
Carry me, ye four,
With cushions here and cushions there,
To see the world once more.

'To stable and to kennel go;
Bring what is there to bring;
Lead my Lollard to and fro,
Or gently in a ring.

'Put the chair upon the grass:
Bring Rody and his hounds,
That I may contented pass
From these earthly bounds.'

His eyelids droop, his head falls low,
His old eyes cloud with dreams;
The sun upon all things that grow
Falls in sleepy streams.

Brown Lollard treads upon the lawn,
And to the armchair goes,
And now the old man's dreams are gone,
He smooths the long brown nose.

And now moves many a pleasant tongue
Upon his wasted hands,
For leading aged hounds and young
The huntsman near him stands.

'Huntsmam Rody, blow the horn,
Make the hills reply.'
The huntsman loosens on the morn
A gay wandering cry.

Fire is in the old man's eyes,
His fingers move and sway,
And when the wandering music dies
They hear him feebly say,

'Huntsman Rody, blow the horn,
Make the hills reply.'
'I cannot blow upon my horn,
I can but weep and sigh.'

Servants round his cushioned place
Are with new sorrow wrung;
Hounds are gazing on his face,
Aged hounds and young.

One blind hound only lies apart
On the sun-smitten grass;
He holds deep commune with his heart:
The moments pass and pass:

The blind hound with a mournful din
Lifts slow his wintry head;
The servants bear the body in;
The hounds wail for the dead.

--William Butler Yeats

Monday, March 28, 2005

Drip, drip, drip 
I can't believe not one of these craven moral puppies has the spine to open up the regulator and administer a lethal dose of morphine. Are we performing some sort of experiment? What's the point of prolonging this monstrosity?

An ethical system which allows starvation and dehydration over a period of weeks to someone who is presumed lucid enough to warrant a morphine drip to take the edge off of pain but prohibits a quick and merciful end is a seriously deficient moral code.

Just who are we protecting? Who's interests are being served by this? Certainly not Terri Schiavo's. But then, it's not about her, is it? It's about allowing those killing her to feel detached, clinical, and superior. As if their dispassionate passivity insulates them from the consequence of their actions.

It's the ring in the snout of a swine.

If you're going to kill, then at least have the guts to kill.

"I thirst." 
So much for the "mouth care" lie.

As her brother, sister and brother-in-law watched, the Rev. Thaddeus Malanowski held Terri's right hand as he and the hospice priest, the Rev. Joseph Braun, placed the droplet on her tongue. Malanowski also anointed her with holy oil, offered a blessing and absolved her of sin.

``She received the blood of Christ,'' said Malanowski, adding he could not give her a fleck of communion bread because her tongue was too dry.

Amber alert: Missing Headline 
All units, all units: Be on the lookout for a headline reported missing from the mastheads of America's newspapers.

The missing headline, "130 Terrorists, Car Bomb Factory, Captured near Kerbala," was last seen in a Reuters wire report carried on an ABC news outlet in Australia.


The missing headline may be seen with the following lede:

"Two days ago, Iraqi security forces captured 130 terrorists, tons of explosives, and three fully-assembled car bombs outside the Shiite city of Kerbala."

This headline is currently missing from the archives of the New York Times' website..


The Times did, however, find room to run a story on a mistaken gunfight between Iraqi soldiers and police officers, which killed three.

Such is the news judgement at America's so-called "Newspaper of Record."

The headline is also missing from the archives of the pseudojournalists at the LA Times, who's only mention of Kerbala (or "Karbala") on their search engine is a March 27 story on an IED which killed two U.S. troops.

Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of the missing headline should contact the New York Times' public editor at public@nytimes.com

That is all.

Splash, out


Sunday, March 27, 2005

An Arab Schism Developing? 
The Mesopotamian notes that the Iraqi people are figuring out who's on their side: and it ain't other Arabs.

Anyway, as far as we are concerned; we assure you that revenge will come and those responsible for these horrors will be punished; though the majority of the people are showing the fortitude and patience of early Christians. Because, you see, we know exactly where these criminals are, which tribes they belong to, where are the filthy huts they are living in. We know that these are and have been bandits and murderers from time immemorial. Do you think that those millions who braved the threats and terror and came out to vote in broad daylight cannot overwhelm and obliterate these miserable enclaves of thieves, brigands and murderers in one furious and hurricane-like convulsion; were it were not for strict instruction from their religious leaders to persevere and forbear, for fear that innocents might be hurt, and in order not to be goaded into sectarian conflict and jeopardize our march to democracy and a decent society?

The mood, though, is that of bitterness , pain and sorrow as we watch the bodies of our young people being ferried in wooden carts like the fresh meet of carcasses in a slaughterhouse. Holy anger is swelling up, not only against the perpetrators, but also against all who seek to find excuses, glorify the foul murderers by such appellations as “insurgents” or worst still “resistors” and such like; against the theorists and the “commentators”; against anybody who even shows indifference to such heinous butchery.

Yet the decent majority of Mesopotamia will not bend to anything. The Genie has been released from the bottle and no force on earth can stop him

Hat tip: Villainous Company

Albania: A most excellent friend 
Powerline links to a letter from the Albanian Ambassador to the United States:

Why does Albania do this when it could have avoided President Bush's call for support, or when it could have dropped out as others have done when the going got tough? The answer is not difficult to find. If you believe in freedom, you believe in fighting for it. If you believe in fighting for freedom, you believe in America.

Read the whole thing.

It's interesting to me that this piece ran in the Washington Times. What I infer from that is that the Ambassador first submitted the piece to some other mainstream editorial page, who (predictably, alas) declined to run it.

Today as we simultaneously observe and celebrate the passage of the Hebrews from slavery into freedom, the ressurection of Christ and His victory over death, and the coming of spring and the renewal of life to the land, than to stop and reflect that while conflict is constant, all conflicts are passing, and that nations which once regarded one another with antipathy and suspicion can, within the lifespan of a generation, evolve into being the warmest of friends.

And that all people, everywhere, yearn to breathe free.

Splash, out


Saturday, March 26, 2005

A vacant chair 
A military blogger, Francisco Gregario Martinez was killed in action in Iraq on March 21st.

Riddle me this, New York Times 
How many of your advertising salespeople are on a pure salary program?

Of those, how many of them will get to keep their jobs regardless of production?
Recruiting is sales. Recruiters are taught how to prospect, qualify, and close. Same as other sales jobs.

Sales can be fun and rewarding. But sales is also tough. It can be stressful. Especially during a market downturn such as our recruiters are experiencing.*

Some salespeople will succeed. Many, perhaps most, will fail. And when they do, their failure has personal consequences as well as professional ones. Failing salespeople have family troubles too, because they don't earn good money. And successful salespeople have family problems, because they work long hours, which is probably the biggest reason they are successful.

Military recruiting offices are no different. They don't function that differently from any other outside sales office. I wonder if the Times would ever consider running such a maudlin story about the people in its own advertising department. Given the recent circulation scandals (which don't affect the Times, as far as I know, to its credit), the newspaper advertising sales force is going through pressures of its own, and reacting in similar ways.

I think this reporter would benefit from spending time working in a commissioned sales office. Maybe Kirby vacuum cleaners.

At the very least, he should go rent two movies: "Tin Men," and Glengarry Glenn Ross."

I still walk past my recruiters office when I see him and recite Alec Baldwin's sales motivation speech from Glenngarry:

"Third prize is you're fired!!!"

*I should say that for all the newspaper accounts telling me how terrible everything is, my own numbers in my unit are definitely trending upward. I've got a great recruiter, but also great junior leaders that soldiers want to work for. Plus, where I've got a less, ummm, popular leader on his way to retiring, don't think I don't have a tickle file ready to bring in all the people who left his element in the last couple of years. Those are super soldiers and I want them back, soon!

Here's how the conversation goes:

"Hello, John Smith, please."


"Smith!!!! Captain Van!! How's things!?"

"Sir! Wow, you made Captain. Congratulations!"

"Yeah, thank you. Just checking in with my peeps. What are you up to these days? School? Work? How's the family? Still married to the stripper?"

"Blah blah blah blah"

"Ok. Hey, look, Smith, I got a question for you."

"What's that?"

"Ever see a movie called "The Blues Brothers?"

"Of course!"

"I'm putting the band back together."


Splash, out


Action at Salman Pak 
This is the text of an email I just sent to all my own subordinate leaders:


It's not often I slap you guys with a reading assignment, but I expect all HHC officers and NCOs to read this.

The link is to an after action report of an ambush on a platoon of Kentucky Army National Guard MP's, at Salman Pak, which is a short way south and east of Baghdad.

http://www.blackfive.net/main/2005/03/after_action_re.html (scroll down a couple of paragraphs.

There are a lot of tactical and SOP lessons here which apply directly to our operations.

In a nutshell, the KY MPs kicked Muj ass. They reacted aggressively, and brought their heaviest firepower to bear on the enemy's flank and quickly gained fire superiority, and moved decisively to close with and destroy the enemy. Right out of the MTP.

But they also acted smartly: The trail element of the convoy moved far enough back that they had time to assess the situation and identify the enemy's disposition before becoming decisively engaged. The .50 gunner also recognized the enemy's small fleet of cars for what they were, engaged them, and destroyed them, cutting off the enemy's means of escape. This may have been the difference between killing half of them while the other half got away to attack us again, and annihilating the enemy.

Note also that every single one of the enemy carried handcuffs. We had heard before that the enemy wanted to take a female American soldier hostage. I would die before I let that happen within small arms range of me. Here we see evidence, though, that the enemy is trying concertedly to take one or more of our own alive.

Note also how a standard vehicle load plan SOP allowed one NCO to quickly reload ammo in her personal weapon from another crew's vehicle and get back into the fight. This happened because the NCO support channel, from the 1SG on down, *enforced* the SOP.

Ditto for the weapons. These MPs were able to fight with grenades dismounted because their leaders performed precombat checks, and made sure their LBVs were loaded with the right stuff.

This is not something officers can or should be doing: This is good-old-fashioned nuts-and-bolts good leadership right down to the E-5 buck sergeant level. Officers check to make sure your NCOs are doing their jobs, but NCOs make it happen!

Officers, please pay particular attention to the effect of a shortage of ball ammunition in the field. In war, there will always be shortages. And often you just can't get what you need. But you owe it to your troops to turn over every (ethical) rock, nag your superiors, and harangue the loggies to get what you need.

These weren't pikers. The enemy chose fairly decent ground, and initially took positions in an L shaped trench. They themselves attempted to assault through the kill zone. Maybe that was a reasonable tactical decision, maybe not...it obviously didn't pay off for them. But these insurgents were motivated, and the ambush was planned through, complete with a withdrawal plan.

All in all, a good read. And I think it demonstrates that National Guard units can be, and are the equal, of any comparable unit in the regular army.

I'm confident that you men are of the same caliber as they. Train like this.

Have a happy and safe Easter weekend. I look forward to seeing all of you again soon.

CPT Van Steenwyk

Thursday, March 24, 2005

I swear to God this is NOT from "The Onion" 
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Harry Reid knew he was in a war zone, but he said the biggest surprise of his first trip to Iraq was seeing so many people walking around with guns.

"Every place we went, there were people with guns: men, women," said Reid, D-Nev. "It was remarkable."

(Via Taranto)

For the last few years, I haven't really been following the Terri Schiavo case. I was an agnostic. Generally, I thought it was a matter for the family to settle among themselves.

The more I think on it now, with a woman suffering a long, slow death by deliberate starvation, the faster the "Kill Terri" argument collapses.

Don't talk to me about states' rights and Federalism. No one on the left ever argued for states' rights, nor invoked Federalism, when confronted with a measure to restrict abortion.

And if states' rights are to be esteemed above Federal powers - an argument I am temperamentally normally sympathetic towards, then shouldn't we also similarly respect the right of an individual?

I have no reason to believe anything that comes out of Mr. Schiavo's mouth. This man was an obstructionist - a medical saboteur, who for years, while ostensibly acting as Terri's "guardian" actually railed against and prohibited anything that might be construed as therapeutic for his wife. And even though he has received proceeds from a medical malpractice suit, he has refused to allow her to undergo the normal MRI tests to determine whether she is, indeed conscious.

As if being semisentient were a capital crime in the first place. Ted Bundy got more due process. And an easier death.

Besides, I've seen the video. If Terri Schiavo is really vegetative, I'm Ozzy Osbourne. And I don't see any tattoos on myself. As someone who worked professionally with the profoundly mentally handicapped for a time, Terri seemed a hell of a lot more responsive than one or two of the people I cared for. And each of them had personalities, too. Each of them had a fundamental humanity wholly apart from what they might get on an IQ test.

If Terri Schiavo is really vegetative, then let the burden of proof fall on those who wish to kill her. Let her undergo modern MRI and other testing.

If Terri Schiavo is really vegetative, then why the bloody rush?

I'm not a lawyer. But I know what a fiduciary is. There is no way on God's green earth that Mr. Schiavo's conduct can meet the standard of fiduciary. I expect less self dealing out of a registered investment advisor than I see on Mr. Schiavo's part.

If we are going to uphold the rights of a guardian to pursue the interests of his charge, then we certainly ought to FIRST uphold the rights of the charge to a guardian who is free of obvious conflicts, and who will fight FOR the charge's interests, and not against them. Otherwise the rights of the guardian are simply not worth upholding in the first place.

If Michael Schiavo is Terri's guardian, by mere virtue of paper matrimony, then let him act like one.

Husbands are supposed to husband, protect, shelter, care for, and fight for their wives. They aren't supposed to withhold therapy, withhold testing, and fight to see them dead.

Splash, out


The Survivor 
Once I thought, when we were flying,
life was short - and friends were dying -
life was short and brief thought I;
we were flying through the sky.

Life was brief and short for us,
but for townsmen down below,
life was long and life was slow;
life was long for them below.

Now I know, who am below,
life is never long nor slow;
such my burden is, my grief;
life is ever swift and brief.

- Jim Bailey

Via Moo

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Why we fight: Hawdah's story 
From Thunder 6

Several months ago the insurgents ambushed a military patrol with a ferocious combination of IEDs and direct fire. The American soldiers responded with a hellish storm of lead that blunted, and then silenced the insurgent attack. Despite their initial advantage the fight was brutally one-sided, before the soldiers ears had even finished ringing the insurgents were gone, leaving only their ruined bodies. Although American casualties were negligible, the IEDs searing blast had two tiny victims, Hawdah and her younger sister.

Read the rest of Hawdah's story here.

Thunder6 is an impeccable writer.

Splash, out


More on starvation 
John Derbyshire writes about the awful heartbreak of starvation in Communist China.
If only the Left had such tender sensibilities. The death toll of the great Communist dictatorships of the 20th century “approaches 100 million,” according to the Black Book of Communism, a respectable and well-researched source. It is true, of course, that we did not see these corpses in our newspapers; yet none of this slaughter was much of a secret at the time, for anyone who cared to inquire. Still it took decades to sink into the consciousness of leftist intellectuals. From the earliest years of the U.S.S.R., refugees brought out tales of unspeakable atrocities by Lenin’s secret police. They were ignored. The high-ranking Soviet defector Viktor Kravchenko, in his 1946 book I Chose Freedom, wrote of seeing a mother with a baby in her arms shot down by the Cheka for being “counter-revolutionary.” Nor were babies merely shot by the leftist terror-states, they were eaten, too: the great artificial famines brought on by communism drove millions to cannibalism. Khrushchev recorded this in his memoirs, writing of the 1930 Ukraine famine. Jasper Becker, in his 1997 book Hungry Ghosts, which deals with Mao’s famine in China, records how starving peasants resorted to the ghastly custom of yi zi er shi — “swap children, then eat.” Since no-one could bear to eat his own children, you exchanged yours with a neighbor. Then you ate his, he ate yours.

And the real tragedy, of course, is that half an hour after eating Chinese, you're hungry again.

Splash, out


Death by starvation 
So those among us who can rationalize anything (no doubt the same crowd who can rationalize partial-birth abortion) are now rationalizing that starvation and dehydration is a natural, painless death.

Let's see if that holds any water in other historical accounts:

In 1941 Father Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish friar from Warsaw was arrested for publishing anti-Nazi pamphlets and sentenced to Auschwitz. There he was beaten, kicked by shiny leather boots, and whipped by his prison guards. After one prisoner successfully escaped, the prescribed punishment was to select ten other prisoners who were to die by starvation. As ten prisoners were pulled out of line one by one, Fr. Kolbe broke out from the ranks, pleading with he Commandant to be allowed to take the place of one of the prisoners, a Polish worker with a wife and children dependent upon him. "I'm an old man, sir, and good for nothing. My life will serve no purpose," the 45 year old priest pleaded. He was taken, thrown down the stairs into a dank dark basement with the other nine prisoners and left to starve. Usually, prisoners punished like this spent their last days howling, attacking each other and clawing the walls in a frenzy of despair.


Here's a woman who herself was diagnosed as in a permanent vegetative state, after suffering a stroke at the age of 33. Her feeding tube was removed for eight days, but she became responsive and doctors were forced to put it back in when her husband threatened to sue everyone in sight. The woman, Kate Adamson, recovered. And describes her starvation thus:

O'Reilly: When they took the feeding tube out, what went through your mind?

Adamson: When the feeding tube was turned off for eight days, I thought I was going insane. I was screaming out in my mind, "Don't you know I need to eat?" And even up until that point, I had been having a bagful of Ensure as my nourishment that was going through the feeding tube. At that point, it sounded pretty good. I just wanted something. The fact that I had nothing, the hunger pains overrode every thought I had.

O'Reilly: So you were feeling pain when they removed your tube?

Adamson: Yes. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. To say that — especially when Michael [Schiavo] on national TV mentioned last week that it's a pretty painless thing to have the feeding tube removed — it is the exact opposite. It was sheer torture, Bill.

O'Reilly: It's just amazing.

Adamson: Sheer torture . . .

...and further:

The agony of going without food was a constant pain that lasted not several hours like my operation did, but several days. You have to endure the physical pain and on top of that you have to endure the emotional pain. Your whole body cries out, "Feed me. I am alive and a person, don't let me die, for God's Sake! Somebody feed me..."

...I craved anything to drink. Anything. I obsessively visualized drinking from a huge bottle of orange Gatorade. And I hate orange Gatorade. I did receive lemon flavored mouth swabs to alleviate dryness but they did nothing to slack my desperate thirst.

Splash, out


Woman arrested for trying to bring water to Terri Schiavo 
I guess they'll have to charge her with conspiracy not to commit murder.

It dismays me to see otherwise level-headed attorneys willing to sacrifice a life to preserve an obscure point of federalism.

If Congress passes a law, it wouldn't be 'ex post facto' legislation. There's no reason to criminalize conduct that already occured, under the authorization of a state court. All they would need is to pass a law making it illegal to continue to deliberately starve patients to death.

Oh, and anyone who thinks dehydration is graceful and painless has never seen anyone pass from heat exhaustion to heat stroke.

Splash, out


New York Times Blows it Again! 
Robert Worth does a little better in the multimedia presentation on life returning to normal in Fallujah (currently on the NY Times homepage, but not for long. I wish I had a permalink to these things).

But geez...we've been at war for more than three years. John Worth is a war correspondent. HOW LONG DO WE HAVE TO BE AT WAR BEFORE NEW YORK TIMES REPORTERS LEARN TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOLDIERS AND MARINES???

Editors, how many veterans do you have in your newsrooms?

Splash, out


New York Times Leads with a Lie 
Here's the first sentence from today's story from Robert Worth:

Ordinary Iraqis rarely strike back at the insurgents who terrorize their country.

News flash: Ordinary Iraqis strike back at the insurgents every day of the week.

Ordinary Iraqis strike back at the insurgents just by showing up to work in their police, government, and security jobs. Why are you leading an otherwise great story with this stupid, stupid meme? Why not simply open with this?

Just before noon today, a carpenter named Dhia saw a troop of masked gunmen with grenades coming towards his shop and decided he had had enough.

As the gunmen emerged from their cars, Dhia and his young relatives shouldered their own AK-47's and opened fire, police and witnesses said. In the fierce gun battle that followed, three of the insurgents were killed, and the rest fled just after the police arrived. Two of Dhia's young nephews and a bystander were injured, the police said.

"We attacked them before they attacked us," Dhia, 35, his face still contorted with rage and excitement, said in a brief exchange at his shop a few hours after the battle. He did not give his last name. "We killed three of those who call themselves the mujahedeen. I am waiting for the rest of them to come and we will show them."

That's a terrific story.

Of course, in a misguided effort to provide us with "context," we get this:
It was the first time that private citizens are known to have retaliated successfully against insurgents.

Dude. You have got to get out more.

Splash, out


First Command Restitution Deadline Extended 
First Command customers seeking restitution of fees under the NASD ruling now have until June 30th to collect.

Dem Senator compares Cheney to Saddam 
Another entry in the Big Book of Why Democrats Lose Elections.

Playgirl editor outs self as Republican, is fired 
Well, that didn't take long.

Apparently, it's even worse than Myrna Blyth thought.

(Hell, one of my own former editors - and still a dear friend and wonderful financial writer - in all seriousness compared the prospect of the reelection of the Bush Administration with the rise of the Khmer Rouge.)

And did so with a straight face.

Of course, that won't stop some from denying the liberal domination of the media.

Splash, out


Saturday, March 19, 2005

Freedom from Quant 
Instapundit, via That Liberal Media, is hosting an informative debate over the debunking of the Lancet claim that the war in Iraq has killed over 100,000 civilians.

He also links to a Slate article in which Fred Kaplan has very approving things to say about Iraq Body Count.

My take, longtime readers will recall, is that Iraq Body Count lies about its own methodology.

Glenn Reynolds will generate a lot of traffic to the IBC site, which does have certain limited use. But I want my criticism of IBC.net entered into the public discussion.

Iraq Body Count's numbers still seem somewhat inflated to me, although it's true that there will have been a good deal of undocumented deaths by now in areas of heavy fighting, such as Fallujah.

There will have been an even larger number of guerillas killed in action by coalition forces whose family members are swearing up and down are innocent.

And who are lying through their teeth.

The Lancet numbers, estimating 100,000 odd Iraqi dead (while assuming, for reasons I can't imagine, a roughly symmetrical bell curve distribution) are absurdly high. Laughably high. For the study to be true, it would have to have assumed that the average coalition serviceman killed around 0.5 to 0.7 Iraqi civilians or so during OIF I, depending on how you weight the participants of OIF II.

Which, given an 6-to-1 teeth-to-tail ratio (it takes approximately 6 support troops to maintain one combat arms soldier in the field) means that the AVERAGE combat soldier would have had to have killed between 3 and 3.5 civilians.

My Battalion was in contact almost every day in a pretty busy city, with about 400 combat arms troops, plus support. Believe me, we sure as Hell didn't kill 1200 Iraqi civilians over there.

In order to keep up with Lancet's average score, we would have had to 100 Iraqis per month. Or more than three Iraqis per day.

As Bill Cosby would say:


The Lancet survey fail every test of common sense. It would have been the laugh line of the month around my unit. And as is being made increasingly clear, fail test after test of statistical methodology.*

Splash, out


* Why on earth would any hack statmonger want to deliberate exclude the most violent area of Iraq when trying to calculate, well, the level of violence in Iraq? I mean, that's like trying to explain stock market behavior in 1998-2002 while excluding the Nasdaq. Explaining Babe Ruth's slugging percentage while excluding his home runs.

Friday, March 18, 2005

ROTC at Columbia 
Here are the emails from the faculty, students, alumni, and a few regular joes to the task force evaluating whether to allow a return of ROTC to the Columbia campus.

Looking over most of the letters from the faculty and staff, I think if Columbia allows the military a presence on its campus, then Columbia will receive the better deal.

The ignorance and stereotypes that many (not all, by a long shot) students and Columbia faculty have of people in the military are breathtaking to behold: A smorgasbord of unexamined bigotries, condescentions, and conceits.

The military functions just fine without Columbia. But it's pretty clear that Columbia doesn't.

It's clear that Columbia students are not well served by the absence of uniformed service members on campus.

Splash, out


Thursday, March 17, 2005

Al Qaeda detainees have a right to medical privacy??? 
So says the International Red Cross!

(scroll down)

The International Committee of the Red Cross said in a confidential report last July that the detainees' medical files were open to all. The report said that was unethical and that it diminished the medical care given the detainees, because it discouraged them from seeking medical attention as they knew the information would be shared with interrogators.

I'm sorry, but there's a lot of smart people who aren't wholly convinced that Roe v. Wade is sound legal reasoning even within the United States. And I know damn well that HIPAA standards don't apply outside the U.S. and its territories.

We need to provide quality medical care to everyone in U.S. custody, no question. But a prisoner of war has no right to expect medical privacy. If he wants to withhold medical information to keep it from interrogators, then that's his decision.

Unlike the ICRC, us grownups have a war to win.

Splash, out


The bankruptcy bill 
I'd love to be the guy out front taking the pro-consumer line on this one. I'm an admirer of Dave Ramsey, who's been railing against this bill since the late 1990s. And even though I'm normally pretty conservative, I do tend to have a populist streak when it comes to financial services.

That said, I have a hard time joining the pro-consumer forces with this particular bill, because I don't quite share the same set of assumptions.

If we're not careful, the law of unintended consequences will rear its ugly head. Here's why.

The usual scenario the bill's critics come up with to cite the fundamental injustice of tightening up bankruptcy requirements is that in which the consumer has been driven into bankruptcy by medical bills.

Others have demonstrated convincingly that medical problems have been vastly overstated as a proximate cause of bankruptcy, but I'm not sure the number of cases are really relevant here.

Here's what's important to me:

If we go too far on the side of the consumer regarding medical bills and bankruptcy, and make it easier to default on medical-related debt, then health care providers will simply stop extending credit.

Who gets hurt?

Well, the poor, of course The well off and the well insured don't need medical credit. But we'll wind up hurting the exact same demographic we're trying to protect.

Really, these people will get hurt no matter what. But if we err on the side of making it possible to extend credit to them, on reasonable terms, then the health care companies at least get an account receivable, and those who are ill or injured won't have to put off receiving care--thereby very likely INCREASING health care costs in the long run.

And eventually, we'll end up increasing health care costs anyway, for everyone, since those losses will have to be made up somehow. Someone foregoing routine care for lack of access to credit or insurance will wind up coming back with a far more expensive condition that cannot be turned away, and the rest of us will wind up paying for him anyway.

The logic likewise applies to other industries. If it's easier to declare Ch. 7, then access to credit will quickly dry up, in the very areas that need it most.

That's not to say there aren't usurious lenders out there. I can't stand the check cashing stores and rent-to-own shops. But the solution is educating and developing the economically marginal so they no longer need their services, rather than on making it easier for them to get a free ride.

Otherwise, interest rates - especially for high-risk loans - will increase even further, and no one will get hurt except the people the liberals are trying to protect.

I'm not wildly in favor of the bill, but I have no fundamental problem with it.

Splash, out


U.N. Pulls out of West Darfur. 

Is this the same world that just paid lip service to "Never Again" with the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz?

Is this the same U.N. that sat on its hands while the Serbians raped the "safe city" of Srebrenica?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Not much blogging this weekend, folks... 
I've got five gigs over the weekend, stretched between Coral Gables and Palm Beach, and then back to Boca Raton before I'm done, one after another.

The life of a traditional Irish musician during St. Paddy's day week.

Have a great weekend...back monday.


Thursday, March 10, 2005

The craic was running 90 
This is what I do, musically lately. And why.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The difference between information and knowledge: The Economist's endorsement of Kerry 
Here's a few laugh lines for you, from the Economist's 30 October editorial endorsing John Kerry for President:

If Mr. Bush had meanwhile been making progress elsewhere in the Middle East, such mistakes [i.e., the problematic regime change and garrison of Iraq, which the Economist deems "incompetent"] might have been neutralized. But he hasnt. Israel and Palestine remain locked in their bitter conflict, with America readily accusable of bias.
[Note to the editorial board - yes, we ARE biased against people who blow up school buses, numbskulls. - JVS] In Iran the conservatives have become stronger and the country has moved closer to making nuclear weapons. [And you're blaming the U.S. for that???? --JVS] Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia have not turned hostile, but but neither have they been terribly supportive nor reform-minded. Libya's renunciation of WMD is the sole clear piece of progress.

So not only was the editorial staff of the Economist dead wrong about, well, almost everything except the fact that Iran is closer to building nuclear weapons, but look how they justify pulling for Kerry:

So what of Mr. Kerry's character? His voting record implies he is a vacillator, but that may be unfair, given the technical nature of so many Senate votes. His oscillations this year imply that he is more of a ruthless opportunist...His reputation for political comebacks...indicates a degree of willpower that his flip-flopping otherwise belies.

This is an endorsement????


John Kerry says the war was a mistake, which is unfortunate if he is to be commander-in-chief of the soldiers charged with fighting it. But his plan for the next phase in Iraq is identical to Mr. Bush's, which speaks well of his judgement.

WTF, over????

It just goes to show you how you can have a terrific fund of information and access to reams of data, all accessible at near light-speed...

and still not know a damn thing.

Splash, out


Unconnected dots 
There's been lots of heat in the press from the know-nothings over whether coalition forces were too trigger happy when they fired at a car full of ransom-paying terrorist financial enablers Italians carrying a freshly liberated living, breathing certified check Italian beneficiary of wealth acquired via capitalist enterprise communist journalist.

But buried in this CNN story is information that by firing on a suspicious vehicle, Iraqi security forces actually caused a truck bomb to detonate prematurely, and thereby preventing the terrorists from blowing up an entire hotel.

In central Baghdad, meanwhile, a suicide bomber driving a garbage truck detonated early Wednesday near the Ministry of Agriculture, killing two people and wounding 22 others, emergency police said. The bomber also died in the attack.

According to police, the truck was approaching the hotel through a courtyard when ministry security officers became suspicious and opened fire on it, causing it to detonate.

URL: http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/03/09/iraq.main/index.html

Of course, even though CNN mentions both the truck bomb and the Italians, they don't bother to make the connection.

Splash, out


First Command Sales Practices 
Here's yet another corroboration of the abusive and fraudulent sales practices of First Command, from the San Diego Union Tribune.

McPhail said the agent was able to convince him that putting money in other mutual funds amounted to "risky speculation." Only through a "disciplined" program like the one offered by First Command could he guarantee a secure retirement, the agent told him.

If true, the agent is guilty of fraud. First of all, other funds taken as a whole are no more risky or speculative than First Command's. Second, no fund can "guarantee a secure retirement." If the agent used those words in connection with a mutual fund, he likely committed a serious misrepresentation.

Mercer Bullard, a former SEC lawyer who now heads Fund Democracy, an advocacy group for mutual fund shareholders' interests, criticized the SEC's settlement as being too narrow and lenient. First, the $12 million First Command agreed to pay is only a fraction of the $175 million the SEC believes the company received in fees between 1999 and 2004.

"The SEC should have levied much more severe sanctions," Bullard said.

Yes. $12 million is pocket change in the financial services industry. When the SEC only levied 12 million in fines, there must have been dancing in the cubicles at First Command headquarters. They probably had a big corporate party to celebrate.

At the heart of the case is the concept of affinity marketing – using salespeople who have worked in the same field or have some other familiarity with their customers. It is especially effective in the military setting, Brewer said.

Now, let's not get stupid, here. There's nothing wrong with affinity marketing, and almost everyone practices it to some degree. All marketing is about making and exploiting a connection with a target audience. Most affinity marketing is too subtle for those outside the target group to even notice.

They also bad-mouthed the federal government's Thrift Savings Plan, according the the suit and the SEC order. The plan is set up much like a company 401(k) plan, with employees contributing monthly to low-cost mutual funds and the government providing matching contributions of up to 4 percent.

The characterizations of no-load mutual funds are "blatantly false," said Bullard. He said the Thrift Savings Plan is considered one of the most efficient employee investment plans in the country.

Bullard's right. If any First Command rep was badmouthing the Thrift Savings Plan on the basis of expenses, it's time to tar and feather them and run them out of town on a rail.

"This guy was good and convinced me to stick with it," Kimnach said. "I was only an ensign, and I couldn't believe he would steer me wrong."


Hey, ensign! Do me a favor and ask Master Chief Portman if he's got a box of chem light batteries and a can of rotor wash, will ya? And bring me a box of grid squares while you're at it!

Splash, out


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Army Times Publishes a milblog list 
Naw. Countercolumn didn't make the cut. I guess I'm too mean to their advertisers. But Countercolumn isn't really a pure milblog any more anyway.

But some extraordinarily good blogs did. Check it out.

I don't think "My War" jump-started the blogging revolution, or even war-blogging. But he was easily the best pure action writer among us. Neil Prakash is terrific, too, but My War just had the perfect counterculture, gonzo touch - an immediacy of style that belies something beyond mere intelligence and approaches genius. Lots of bloggers have intelligence. But My War had that little something extra that put him over the top.

Glad to see him get some press. Neil, too, and all the others.

I also want to mention Bob Zangas, who was killed in Iraq last March. The link is to his final post, and a photograph.

His final words to us:

"Hang on to your dreams."

Sins of Omission: The LA Times, Barbara Demick, and North Korea 
"This is amazing," says the Little Red Blog, "You recognize that the regime aborts the children of pregnant women trying to leave the DPRK, recognize that the DPRK has used prisoners as subjects for chemical testing, recognize that the DPRK has kidnapped Japanese and South Korean citizens, and recognize that they possess the means to asymmetrical attack Japan or the South without warning, yet they aren’t evil and none of this was included in your "Without Rancor" column."

Splash, out


Another Jayson Blair at the New York Times? 
Herbert Sobel thinks he may have uncovered the New York Times' next Jayson Blair.

Color me agnostic. I haven't read either Chris Hedges or Herbert Sobel, and Hedges deserves a chance to swing the bat in his own defense. But these are legitimate questions the New York Times should be asking of Hedges.


Rules of engagement: Chess writing. 
Sometimes reading reporting in the paper has got to be like reading some reporter's commentary on the Kasparov v. Deep Blue matches or Fischer v. Spassky chess matches.

The reporter can know the moves. And he can even know the openings. But chess played at the professional level is deeper, more layered, and more profound than the reporter comprehends.

From the New York Times:

The American soldiers know that circumstances erupt in which a second's hesitation can mean death, and say civilian deaths are a regrettable but inevitable consequence of a war in which suicide bombers have been the insurgents' most deadly weapon. But Iraqis say they have no clear idea of American engagement rules, and accuse the American command of failing to disseminate the rules to the public, in newspapers or on radio and television stations.

URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/07/international/middleeast/07patrols.html

Our hearts of course go out to the families of those who have been killed or wounded in cases of mistaken identity. But anybody who's complaining that coaltion forces have not publicly broadcast their exact criteria for engagement is either a terrorist or stupid.

We don't discuss rules of engagement. We aren't going to discuss rules of engagement. It's just not going to happen. And we sure as Hell aren't going to publish them in Arabic.

Nobody's out there shooting reporters or any other noncombatant on purpose. And nobody wants to see any Iraqis die who don't have it coming to them.

It's not a matter of unclear rules of engagement. It might be a matter of unclear marking, or unclear signage at TCPs. And it might be a matter of better lighting at night. But remember that if you light up a TCP like a Christmas tree, you also illuminate it for the enemy, too, who can fire at from darkness, or use the glow on the horizon to register their mortar tubes. And then civilians will get killed anyway.

Further, if you post signage too far forward, then the insurgents who ARE driving truck bombs get a chance to turn around and go back before they reach the checkpoint. In daylight that's pretty obvious when they do that with a properly set up TCP. (You try to do it around a corner or on a reverse slope so they're within small arms range already if they try to turn around.) But it's a lot less obvious when they do so at night. And if a VBEID escapes a checkpoint because of that, you'll never know. But you will sure as hell know the next day when you read the headlines about 50 people killed by a suicide bomb that should have been stopped the day before.

These risks and rewards are constantly being played off against one another. Rules of engagement change subtly with new intelligence and in response to emerging enemy tactics, and can change from one area to another in response to enemy practices and threats. Baghdad doesn't neccessarily know everything that Mosul or Ramadi is doing. Emerging doctrine is a fearful and wonderful thing.

And equally importantly, whether a round is launched downrange can also depend a lot on the sentiment of the soldiers. A unit that's taken casualties recently is going to react differently, and interpret information differently than a unit in a quiet area.

Sometimes, people who write about chess for a living are better off just reporting the moves. Often, good chess writers will insert a paragraph like "(not P-K6?? because ...B-N4, followed by ...R-Q8 and the pressure on white's backward pawn becomes unbearable.)"

But for the most part, they can write the moves, and the people who are equipped to understand will understand. Chess masters must get pretty frustrated with hack chess writers. (Just as financial professionals scratch their heads at the silliness in the financial press, and lawyers chuckle at reporters who try to write about the law.)

War reporting is tough. You can't just show up and expect to be competent. Soldiers work at their craft just as lawyers do, and just as professional chess players do. It takes time and it takes a lot of homework.

Splash, out


Sunday, March 06, 2005

What if... 
What if the President upped the ante in the Middle East?

What if he didn't want to settle for a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon?

What if the President of the United States came forward with a clear and clarion call for democracy and elections not only in Lebanon, but in Syria, too?

The rumblings on the ground suggest that such an act may reverberate across the Syrian landscape like a thunderclap.

Is there power behind that? Is there a critical mass, if not of liberalism, of discontent among the Syrian people?

If the Iraqi people can grasp freedom in a free election, surely it's not beyond the good people of Syria.

It can happen.

Do we have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Recruiting down among African-Americans. 
Interesting stuff from Tom Philpott:

The Army’s wartime recruiting challenge is aggravated by a sharp drop in black enlistments over the last four years, which internal Army and Defense Department polls trace to an unpopular war in Iraq and concerns among blacks with Bush administration policies.

The Army is straining to meet recruiting goals in part because the number of black volunteers has fallen 41 percent — from 23.5 percent of recruits in fiscal 2000 down steadily to 13.9 percent in the first four months of fiscal 2005.

“It’s alarming,” said Maj. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, commanding general of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command in Fort Knox, Ky.

Yep. All that's true. Plus an economy growing faster than expected. So kids have more options now than they did then, though that wouldn't really explain the differential between now and 2001.

Now, a quick statistical analysis is in order: What percentage of the recent Army recruiting shortfall can be solely attributed to fewer recruitments among blacks?

Because if the recruiting shortfall is smaller than the number of African American kids who enlisted compared to the number expected, then that also tells you something about everyone else.

And why is it blacks don't feel like they're part of this war, too?

That's a huge problem.

But you know what?

I think that's as much a problem for the leadership of the black community to solve as for George Bush.

Splash, out


We're Still Making the Papers! 
But not in a good way.

A National Guardsman from a unit based in West Palm Beach compiled videos from Iraq he called "Ramadi Madness" that appeared to show one soldier kicking a wounded, cuffed prisoner and another striking a detainee with a rifle butt, yet Army investigators found no cause to charge anyone with abuse, according to documents released Friday.

The "Ramadi Madness" video was a compilation of recordings taken of the actions of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, a unit of the Florida National Guard that was in Iraq in 2003 and early 2004, according to the investigation documents.

I was only vaguely aware of the video, and the investigation. But someone was always investigating something, so I didn't pay it too much heed.

It surprised me that it was B company that was involved in this, because I knew Bravo company well. I practically lived in their back pocket for much of that time.

I know Joe Lyon, its commander well, too. He did not set a climate that was tolerant of abuse of prisoners. I used to transport his prisoners, and I don't remember ever having to explain banged up prisoners from his company. His troops were all pros as far as I'm concerned.

And yes, CPT (Now MAJ) Lyon did take article 15 action against the soldiers implicated. And kudos to him for not hanging the soldiers in the press over it. (Before my phone starts ringing, no, I don't know who the soldiers were, either.)

Yes, some prisoners did get banged up. It's a rough business. And if I have to knock a about a bit to get him to shut up in a tight spot, when I'm trying to communicate with my soldiers, I'd do the same thing, too.

Think about it for a second. The man was gut shot. I remember I was in the aid station when he came in (again, if it's the one I think it was). Now, you can't communicate with him. But if you know he's gut shot, you have to worry about shock, and you have to worry about blood in his respiratory system, and you have to worry about vomiting.

Now, think about it: Does gagging him seem like a good idea?


So I can't say I have a problem, in principle, with a few love taps designed to get him to shut up, stop being disruptive to the op, and eliminate the risk that he's hollering out troop numbers or a warning to someone.

I don't know how vicious the kick was, and that might be something to look at. But that's on tape, and the people who actually viewed the tape seem to consider the matter dealt with.

(What? I didn't get an advance copy? Where's the love, people?)

We should be more worried about what happens when the cameras are turned off, anyway.

Brian DeSantis of Palm Springs said the investigation came as a shock. They used necessary force to pacify unruly, sometimes violent, detainees, he said.

"We would use equal and matching force being used against us," DeSantis said.

That's exactly what he and other 1st Bn soldiers were trained to do. If deadly force was not indicated, to use the minimum force neccessary to defuse the situation, consistent with the safety of noncombatants, the prisoner, and the soldiers around him. Now, actually, you use enough force to immediately communicate the futility of further resistance. Remember, you can't give a verbal warning. You can't say "If you don't do 'y' then we have to do 'x.'

You have to immediately establish that you are the alpha dog. The quicker and more decisively you establish that, the safer everyone is. Including the prisoner.

This isn't "COPS." There ain't no soundtrack going on in the background. The bad guys can show up in force, any second, and do it with RPGs and machine guns.

Speed and violence of execution is everything. That execution has to be professional, and it has to be controlled. But let's keep things in perspective, here. What I want is everyone back on the truck, alive.

Including the prisoner.

So you don't gag gut-shot or sick prisoners.

The prisoner had been shot through the abdomen because he raised a gun toward American soldiers during a raid, investigators said.

Yep. So why do we have to read so far to get to that?

Lyon, the company commander, said the soldier only "nudged" the detainee to stop him from continuing to shout out the soldiers' location, and only after he had ignored a translator telling him to quiet down. The detainee was quickly flown to a hospital, Lyon said.

Joe Lyon isn't a liar. And he doesn't candy coat things. Nor is he casual about human rights, or the law of war. If he saw the video, or witnessed the event, and says the soldier 'nudged' the detainee, I take him at his word. If he had a problem with anything, the Article 15 should have covered it.

More importantly, the commander found that the nudge (or 'kick,' whatever you call it) only happened after other less violent measures had been attempted.

And look, put yourself in the detainee's shoes: He's scared out of his mind. He's just been shot. He's surging with adrenaline. He's not focused. He's a wild animal, in a way, like anyone else would be. He may have his family in the home and may be worried about them. He's enraged. He's crying. He's struggling like mad.

He is not in "listening mode," people.

Anyone who's worked with the mentally ill knows you cannot talk to someone in that space. If he's so out of control he has to be restrained, you may have to hold him down 15 or 20 minutes before he exhausts himself, and only then can you start talking with him.

A platoon on a raid in Indian country doesn't have that kind of time.

And if the interpreter told the raid leader that he WAS trying to shout out the soldier's location, this prisoner is very lucky he's alive.

Another section of the video appeared to show a soldier hitting a cuffed Iraqi in the head with a rifle butt during an interrogation, according to the civilian who first reported it. However, one soldier told interrogators that this was a staged image, and the Iraqi was not actually hit with the rifle. The soldier said the Iraqi, a juvenile, had been detained for throwing rocks at a U.S. military convoy and was later released.

Don't know if I believe it was staged, neccessarily. But it was on the tape, and so it's for those who viewed the tape to decide. It's a finding of fact, not an issue of law. And the investigators who saw the tape found no cause for criminal action.

A third showed one soldier manipulating a dead Iraqi, shot while trying to run a checkpoint in a truck, to make it appear the man waved to the camera. The soldier said he only positioned the body so other U.S. personnel could remove it. He also said there was a missile in the truck.

That's not an issue I'd waste my time worried about. I might snap something about having respect for the dead, and the issue would be over. And then, I might not. These assholes were smuggling a missile. As far as I'm concerned, the issue stops there. Why is the paper worried about this crap?

News flash...soldiers have a dark and morbid sense of humor.

So do reporters. At least the ones actually out there in the field, working the war, and working the crime beat.

Maybe that's something a staff writer in Fort Lauderdale might not understand.

I say this not to make light of prisoner abuse. Real prisoner abuse, like what happened at Abu Ghraib, should not be tolerated at any level of command.

But let's keep things in perspective here.

Splash, out


What Kind of D&D Character are You? 
I Am A: Chaotic Good Half-Elf Ranger Bard

Chaotic Good characters are independent types with a strong belief in the value of goodness. They have little use for governments and other forces of order, and will generally do their own things, without heed to such groups.

Half-Elves are a cross between a human and an elf. They are smaller, like their elven ancestors, but have a much shorter lifespan. They are sometimes looked down upon as half-breeds, but this is rare. They have both the curious drive of humans and the patience of elves.

Primary Class:
Rangers are the defenders of nature and the elements. They are in tune with the Earth, and work to keep it safe and healthy.

Secondary Class:
Bards are the entertainers. They sing, dance, and play instruments to make other people happy, and, frequently, make money. They also tend to dabble in magic a bit.

Solonor Thelandria is the Chaotic Good elven god of archery and the hunt. He is also known as the Keen Eye, the Great Archer, and the Forest Hunter. His followers respect nature, and only hunt when needed, but are quick to defend the forest from intruders. Their favorite weapon is the bow, and they tend to be extremely talented with it. Solonor Thelandria's symbol is an arrow with green fletchings.

Find out What D&D Character Are You?, courtesy ofNeppyMan (e-mail)

On the warpath... 
Flit(tm) takes me up on my suggestion to let advertisers know they advertised on a press release for North Korea and lines his sights up on Vonage.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Leftist blogger: "F___K THE TROOPS" (No, I'm not making that up!) 
Here's a blogger who's new to me: Simon and the Lefties.Hmmm, what does he have to say?

Fuck the Troops (more proof they are sick fucking tardwads)

"I do take comfort in seeing the bodies of dead soldiers"

Now that the Christmas season is upon us, dear readers, you may be seeking a charitable cause. The people at Adopt a Sniper have the perfect thing for you. These guys will help you get gifts and supplies to real snipers in Iraq so that we can raise their moral as they kill women and rape babies in the service of the Imperium.

Team Iraq (i.e., the insurgency -- JVS)continues to gain momentum against the forces of the Imperium. November had been the second deadliest month of the conflict thus far. The team is only two kills off from surpassing their record of 135 last April. We are hoping that tomorrow will put them over the top. Good work.

60 Minutes had an interesting piece about the casualty numbers coming out of Iraq – they are super under-reported. 15,000 soldiers have been evacuated from Iraq for “non-combat” related injuries!!! We take comfort in their injuries and the knowledge that more slope-skulls than we thought are getting what they deserve for following the directives of the Imperium.

Oh, and this is fun:

The Left had its greatest momentum historically when it advocated the liquidation of the capitalist class – Liberals simply have no program to match that and the Left will not recover politically until the Liberals are cast aside.

Ok, so can we question leftists' patriotism now?

From Bryan Crawford:
I figured it would be as good a time as any to remind those who need reminding that we as Americans don't have any obligation to sit here and pretend like we support our troops if all they're going to do is go places and fuck up. Throwing our support behind these people just because they're out there in harm's way will only encourage the President to send more and more of them over there. At some point, we just need to be like, "Fuck it."

It would be one thing if they were defending us from something, but they aren't. I could also see if these people were unfortunate enough to have been drafted, but they weren't. The fact that they even thought to sign up for the Army, especially after the attacks of 9/11 and what have you, means that, let's face it, these aren't our best or our brightest. If they signed up because they thought they were going over there to spread democracy, or whatever the excuse was at the time, then they're stupid and if they signed up because they thought that by doing so, they could make more than I'll make this year at The Asshole, then they're both stupid and dumb. Either way, I'm tired of pretending like I give a shit about them one way or the other.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

A Vomitous Piece of Pseudojournalism...The LA Times sells it's soul. 
If this "reporter" and I were to cross paths right now, I could only just refrain from spitting contemptuously into her useless face.

This is the most fellative apology for tyranny I've ever seen. This skank isn't fit to shine Robert Fisk's shoes. Robert Fisk at least has done some gutsy reporting on the Algerian war and the brutality of the Mubarak regime.

This girl's the journalistic equivalent of a cum-guzzling camp follower.

I'm talking about this.

I've never wanted so much to vomit while reading a piece. I mean, it's one thing to shamelessly whore your journalistic standards for advertising dollars, as the L.A. Times did with the Staples Center some years back. But to bend over a garbage can in an alleyway to offer yourself as a mouthpiece to a flack apologist for concentration (read, "death" camps) is a journalistic outrage.

This North Korean, an affable man in his late 50s who spent much of his career as a diplomat in Europe, has been assigned to help his communist country attract foreign investment. With the U.S. and other countries complaining about North Korea's nuclear weapons program and its human rights record, it's a difficult task, he admitted.

"There's never been a positive article about North Korea, not one," he said. "We're portrayed as monsters, inhuman, Dracula … with horns on our heads."

So, in an effort to clear up misunderstandings, he expounded on the North Korean view of the world in an informal conversation that began one night this week over beer as North Korean waitresses sang Celine Dion in the karaoke restaurant, and resumed the next day over coffee.

Why the formalities? Just tell him to throw a few coins on the ground when he's through with you. Maybe he'll toss an extra quarter or two just to see you crawl around to pick them up.

The North Koreans said they were keenly attentive to the language used by Bush administration officials in regard to their country. They were relieved that in this year's State of the Union address the president didn't again characterize North Korea as part of an "axis of evil," as he did in 2002. But they were greatly offended that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called North Korea an "outpost of tyranny" during her confirmation hearings.

Cry me a river. Here's a few choice lines from a U.S. Committee for Human Rights report:
Former Detainee #21 reported that she was beaten unconscious in mid-1999 at the In-min-bo-an-seong (People’s Safety Agency) ku-ryu-jang (detention/interroga-tion facility) at Onsong, where detainees were beaten so badly that they confessed to doing things they had not done. Women were hit on their fingertips. She witnessed one very ill woman who was compelled to do stand-up/sit-down repetitions until she died.

Of course, this whornalist is too busy licking around the head to bother the reader with any kind of contextualization. The LA Times does not provide even a hint that while their Korean bureau chief is doing a smiling lap dance for Goebbels, the stormtroopers are slaughtering the villagers right down the hall.

More from the U.S. Committee for Human Rights:

CHOI Yong Hwa assisted in the delivery of babies, three of whom were promptly killed, at the Sinuiju do-jip-kyul-so (provincial detention center) in mid-2000.

Former Detainee #8 witnessed six forced abortions at Chongjin do-jip-kyul-so in mid-2000.

Former Detainee #9 witnessed ten forced abortions at Onsong ro-dong-dan-ryeon-dae (labor-training camp) in mid-2000.

YOU Chun Sik reported that four pregnant women at the bo-wi-bu (National Security Agency) police station in Sinuiju were subjected to forced abortions in mid-2000.

Former Detainee #21 reported two baby killings at the Onsong In-min-bo-an-seong (People’s Safety Agency) police station in late 1999.

Former Detainee #24 helped deliver seven babies who were killed at the Backtori, South Sinuiju In-min-bo-an-seong police detention center in January 2000.

Former Detainee #25 witnessed four babies killed at Nongpo In-min-bo-an-seong police detention center in Chongjin in late 1999, and another six pregnant women subjected to forced abortion.

Former Detainee #26 witnessed three forced abortions and seven babies killed at the Nongpo jip-kyul-so (detention center), Chongjin City, in May 2000.

The reportwhore cannot plead ignorance. Remember, she's the Korea bureau chief. She's the full-time madam on this beat. The Korean peninsula's her alley.

JI Hae Nam confirmed the existence of miniature punishment cells at Kyo-hwa-so No. 1 and reported that beatings and kicking of women prisoners were a daily occurrence in the mid-1990s. She also reported beatings, during interrogation or for prison regulation infractions, in late 1999 at the Sinuiju bo-wi-bu jail, where she was required to kneel motionless, hit with broomsticks, and required to do stand-up/sit-down repetitions to the point of collapse, in her case in thirty to forty minutes.

I wonder what else the LA Times has deliberately left out of their reporting on North Korea? If John Carroll's willing to let this dribble-on-a-blue-gap-dress stain his broadsheets, I wonder what else he's allowed to be left out of everything the L.A. Times has ever printed?

AHN Myong Chol, a former guard, reported that all three of the kwan-li-so at which he worked had isolated detention facilities in which many prisoners died from mistreatment, and that at Kwan-li-so No. 22 there were so many deaths by beatings from guards that the guards were told to be less violent.

Former Detainee #8 reported that male prisoners were beaten by guards at the Chongjin jip-kyul-so in mid-2000.

Former Detainee #9 reported that detainees at the Onsong ro-dong-dan-ryeon-dae (labor-training camp) were compelled to beat each other

What we need to remember is that the stories we do hear from the survivors of the North Korean gulags are stories of the survivors. These people have been allowed to escape. Primo Levi, the Auschwitz survivor and writer who was so haunted by all he had witnessed that he killed himself to escape it, made the point that the stories of the Holocaust which have survived, horrendous as they are, are not the stories of the typical victim. The true nature of the holocaust was much worse than we can ever truly know, because the typical holocaust victim did not survive.

This survivalship bias is going to permeate everything we know about North Korea's concentration camps as well, until the day all the Korean people can breathe free. And even then we will never know the real horror of it.

From the L.A. Times:

"We were hoping for change from the U.S. administration. We expected some clear-cut positive change," the North Korean said. "Instead, Condoleezza Rice immediately committed the mistake of calling us an outpost of tyranny. North Koreans are most sensitive when they hear that kind of remark."

I wish I could grab a fist full of this dictation artists hair and forcefully rub her nose in this.

You don't find this information in the L.A. Times pages today (the North Korean John must have promised Carroll a fat tip), so I'll give it to you from Nick Kristof of the New York Times:

Mrs. Li escaped from Communist-governed North Korea to join a growing number of defectors who say they have firsthand information on starvation and slavery in the camps. "She was 39 years old and had two children, 5 and 7 years old," Mrs. Li said, recall ing her friend who stole the beet, Chae Wal Ryung. "Her husband had been a miner, but he was trapped and killed in a mine accident. So she had to work in the mine in his place. But there wasn't enough food, so one day she stopped on her way home and stole a beet root from a field. She was arrested on the spot, and she was never allowed to go home or see her children again.

"She was a mother, and she used to think of her children. She had images of her children starving to death. But the guards accused her of being reactionary, of not having faith in the Party to care for her children. So she was shot. They gathered us all together to watch, and they shot her."

This is the professional standard at the Los Angeles Times now. This is the context that the L.A. Times reporter leaves out. More from Kristof.

Mrs. Li, a former store manager, says she was falsely accused of embezzlement as punishment for refusing to make payoffs to a policeman. She says she was beaten, stripped, sexually abused and tortured for months. Sometimes, she recounts, she was tied to a bed, forced to drink huge amounts of water from the long spout of a kettle that was forced into her mouth.

The only way to avoid drowning was to drink, but then when her belly was round and full, the guards would put a board on her abdomen and stamp on it until she vomited. Despite that and other tortures, Mrs. Kim says she did not confess. She broke down, sh e says, only when the authorities threatened to punish her husband and son. She confessed to the embezzlement, unaware that her family had already been banished to work in a labor camp in the countryside.

No, rather than lift a finger to expose the true nature of the North Korean monstrosity, the Los Angeles Times quotes a silver-tongued agent disguised as a businessman, without challenge or comment:

He believes that Americans have the wrongheaded notion that North Koreas are unhappy with the system of government under Kim Jong Il. "We Asians are traditional people," he said. "We prefer to have a benevolent father leader."

Can the standards be this low at the LA Times? Are things possibly this bad?


In the prison camp, she says, she was put to work up to 16 hours a day, every day, making shoes, police uniforms, hats and goods for export. Those who did not work hard enough were locked in a coffin-sized punishment cell, pitch dark, on a starvation diet . Other prisoners were punished with death. Mrs. Li told the story of Suh Young Soon, 21, who was sewing nylon dresses when she accidentally tore some fabric. Miss Suh was so frightened that she hid the torn dress under her chair.

A guard discovered it, and Miss Suh was lashed to an iron pole that stood in the prison courtyard. All of the prisoners were summoned and forced to watch as Miss Suh was gagged but not blindfolded. Then six guards fired three volleys at Miss Suh's chest, killing her instantly

And the LA Times:

He also said that U.S. criticism of North Korea's record on human rights was unfair and hypocritical. In its annual human rights report on Monday, the State Department characterized North Korea's behavior as "extremely poor." It said 150,000 to 200,000 people were being held in detention camps for political reasons and that there continued to be reports of extrajudicial killings.

"Is there any country where there is a 100% guarantee of human rights? Certainly not the United States," the businessman said.

Is there any newspaper left with any self respect? Any sense of duty to the truth? Certainly not the L.A. Times, whose editor once had the gall to accuse Fox News of "pseudojournalism."

This piece couldn't even rise to that level. This piece is an affront to the reader, and a journalistic crime that should soil the institution for 20 years. Or as long as Carroll, this reporter, and anyone else who ever touched the piece and had a chance to stop it or block it and didn't works or draws a pension from the company along with other honorable people.

This could have come out of the bowels of Hitler's propaganda ministry in 1938.

While Westerners tend to stress the rights of the individual, he said, "we have chosen collective human rights as a nation….

Let's talk about rights in North Korea. Better yet, let's hear it from an eyewitness to the collective human rights in the nation of North Korea:

Kang says his grandfather was a prominent official who in 1977 was abruptly accused of espionage, apparently because he did something that offended Kim Il Sung. The grandfather was sent to one prison, while th e rest of the extended family-including Kang, then 9, and his younger sister-were hustled off to a huge labor camp in the center of the country.

Adults were forced to work from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, farming or logging or gathering herbs, Kang said, while children were obliged to work from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. Inmates were constantly starving, and the cornmeal diet led to s evere malnutrition, Kang said. "Grandma used to divide up the food for each meal, and we kids always complained," Kang said with a bittersweet smile. "We were small, and we always felt that everybody else in the family was getting more food than we were."

Prisoners periodically tried to escape, he said, but if they were caught, the only question was how they would be executed. "Those who were caught easily were shot to death in front of the other inmates," Kang said. "But those whose escapes had been trou blesome to the guards, or who had beaten guards during their escape, they were hanged slowly from a gallows so that it took them a long time to die. And while they were dying, the guards made us inmates line up and throw stones at them."

Ah, but we digress. Let's get back to our scene, with our reporter just getting down to business.

We should have food, shelter, security rather than chaos and vandalism. The question of our survival as a nation is dangling."

Also dangling by a thread is the reporter's dignity. Will she salvage it? Will she get in even the merest hint of an ironic twist at the end? Will the LA Times even wink at the idea of bearing witness to the truth?

No. Here's the last line:

The most important point the North Korean said he wanted to convey in the conversation was that his nation was a place just like any other.

"There is love. There is hate. There is fighting. There is charity…. People marry. They divorce. They make children," he said.

"People are just trying to live a normal life."

Whore, you better wipe your face before you go back to work.

Splash, out


UPDATE: Come to think of it, this piece reads a lot like the reporter, or someone else at the Times, has been blackmailed. I wonder what they've got?

UPDATE: American Digest has some suggestions.

"Accept your responsibilities:" Columbia University and ROTC 
This professor makes a very cogent argument.

From the transcript of a Columbia Senate hearing on whether Columbia University should accept an ROTC program on campus:

My name is Allan Silver.  I’m on the faculty.  Apart from my short, inglorious career as a rifleman, I have one other status to report.  I am arguably the only member of the faculty who was on the faculty in the ‘60s and who lived through exactly the events that formed the baseline of this discussion.  And if you feel old, imagine how I feel.  NROTC was sent packing in ’69, I vividly recall.  No one who was here does not recall about the ‘60s because of a convulsive cultural and political upheaval going far beyond this campus, but peaking at this campus, involving the war in Vietnam.  And there was conscription.  And I can assure you that without for a moment minimizing the political and cultural upheaval of the time, which stillresonate of course, the matter of conscription played a very central role.

            Student protest at Columbia and elsewhere against the war receded with remarkable velocity when conscription was phased out.  The circumstances today are very different.  The situation cannot be cast in terms of Vietnam.  It used to be said that the generals fight the last war.  That’s not true. On the whole, the generals are futuristic.  It’s the intellectuals who persist in fighting the last war.  The situation now and for some time is that of a volunteer military, so-called professional military, in any case not a conscriptive military, which cuts deep into the society and across it.  The last time I knew, there were three members of Congress who had children in the military.  The Congress that voted to authorize the war in Iraq had three members of their families who were in the military there.  That speaks to the condition in which we are today.

            The military, love it or leave it, is a permanent, major institution in the American polity.  And that circumstance must be sundered from one’s attitude towards this administration and toward the current military endeavors, which in any case bear no resemblance to those of Vietnam.  In these conditions it would be irresponsible on a political level, using the word politics in its higher sense, not in its, let us say, colloquial sense, for Columbia to refuse having ROTC on the campus.  That’s a tragic choice, and I hope I will not be heard as being unctuous about that matter.  It is a tragic choice.  It may or may not contribute to the civilianization of the military with respect to policies towards homosexuals.  I don’t know.  An argument can be made either way. 

            What I do know is that not doing so, symbolically as well as literally, continues or rather reinforces a cultural isolation of the military from civil society. That was okay in the ‘30s and ‘40s, which produced a General Marshall.  It is not okay now.  It makes Columbia as part of civil society a free rider. a free rider on an institution, like it or not, which is both indispensable and permanent as far as we can tell,  a free rider in which you are not—none of us anymore—forced to serve.  And I think that is a professionally and politically irresponsible and unacceptable situation.

            I was there in ’68 and ’69 and it’s a different world.  You have to accept your responsibilities.

Ummm...what he said.



Viewers Abandoning CNN 
Looks like Eason Jordan won't be the only head rolling down the stairwell at Rockefeller Plaza:

CNN posted steep viewer losses during the month of February, slipping 21% in primetime and 16% overall, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Fox News was the only cable news network to see gains in primetime during February and beat all other cable news outlets combined for the sixth straight month.

FNC averaged 1.57 million viewers in primetime, up 18% from the same period last year, while CNN fell 21% to 637,000 viewers from the same time period.

I don't have a TV and I don't watch cable news much at all, so I'm not up on what's going on. I did see Bernard Shaw speak once, at the Securities Industry Association convention which I was covering as a reporter (back before I sold out to The Man and started writing marketing literature). I learned something about the man then: Shaw didn't overstate it, but he let slip that he is a former Marine, and said, something to the effect that "if someone is trying to kill you, you go after them, you chase them down like dogs, and you kill them first."

Overall, he was very hawkish.

He also mentioned that after Desert Storm, Saddam had a mural of George H.W. Bush's face tiled into the entryway into the lobby in one of the prominent Baghdad Hotels.

Most people, according to Shaw, including a lot of reporters, paid it no mind at all, but he was very careful always to walk around the President's image and not step on his face.

Shaw could do a lot for CNN's credibility now.

The man is a mensch.

They should beg him to come out of retirement.

Splash, out


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Anti-Defamation League is a "GOP Jewish Group." 
Now I've seen everything.

The Anti-Defamation League is condemning Sen. Byrd's late remarks comparing Republicans to Nazi thugs on the Senate floor.

And what's the headline?

"GOP Jewish Group Criticizes Byrd's Remarks"

The subhead: "Jewish Republican Group Accuses Sen. Robert Byrd of Comparing Nazis to GOP Filibuster Plan"

Geez. Let's add a healthy dose of weaselness to the AP's/ABC's ignorance. Either Byrd compared a GOP filibuster plan to Nazi thuggery or he didn't. It's a matter of public record. No one is "accusing," here. The facts are not in doubt.

Well, I guess if your grasp on factual matters is as tenuous as the Associated Press's has been, maybe it's time to doubt everything they say.

It's amazing there are so many unemployed journalists and writers out there, and the major news networks still hire people this stupid.

Splash, out


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

What was the economic impact of the Iraq invasion on the region? 
Look at what's happened to Turkish equities since 2003!

The Democratic Social Security Conundrum 
So Dennis Kusinich has unveiled what's purported to be a new argument against the Bush Social Security initiative:
Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) today brought forth a new case against the Administration’s so-called Social Security reform plan by exposing the precipitous drop in future retiree benefits implicit in the Administration plan to switch from wage indexing to price indexing.

In a speech this morning on the House floor, Kucinich said:

“Social Security benefits have increased over the years because they long have been calculated to wage increases, which on the average go up 3.6% a year. So Social Security benefits increase with rising wages. The Administration wants to change all that. They want to index Social Security benefits based on a price index, not wages.

“As a result, millions of future retirees will see their future Social Security benefits reduced as much as 40%. Because prices do not increase as fast as wages.

Ok, the Democrats and Naderites have been arguing for an entire generation - since Reagan took office, at least -- that "real wages have remained stagnant."

If real wages have, indeed, remained stagnant or fallen, thaen it would follow that indexing Social Security to prices, rather than wages, would actually increase benefits, not reduce them. Real wages cannot be stagnant if prices do not increase as fast as wages. Both statements are mutually exclusive of one another.

So, are the Democrats lying now? Or have they only been lying to us for the last 25 years? Which is it?

Splash, out


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