Saturday, December 31, 2005

Is the insurgency collapsing? 
Peace like a River looks at the evidence.

I don't think it will collapse, but I think it is being slowly squeezed by a great logistical and political boa constrictor, which the insurgency no longer has the power to prevent or seriously threaten, provided the Iraqis and US do not lose the political will to confront them. The insurgency will end not with a bang but with a whimper.

Splash, out


Friday, December 30, 2005

Jack Kelly on WaPo's sliming of Bill Roggio 
"The errors about Mr. Roggio's whereabouts and his media affiliation are minor. Erroneously describing Bill as a "retired" soldier is significant only in that it indicates a fundamental ignorance of the military appalling in two reporters who are based in Baghdad. The misstatement of the embed process likely was deliberate, because had it been described accurately, the premise of the story would have been shown to be false."

Well, fundamental ignorance of all things military is nothing new. But that failing is localized to the two guys who wrote the story. There's nothing in assertion that Bill Roggio was retired military that would have triggered a sharp fact checker back in the WaPo building.

But the misstatements concerning the embed process truly are an egregious failing among the WaPo editors, who should know better.

The greatest screw up of them all, however, was the insinuation that Roggio has become a "weapon" to be used by the USMC. When the WaPo did that, they undermined Roggio's good name and reputation for independence - without basis in fact.

And when they did so, the Washington Post comes perilously close to exposing themselves to a libel claim.

Of course, the Post can argue that for the purposes of discussing the Iraq war, Bill Roggio is a limited purpose public figure, and therefore must demonstrate "actual malice." I think that argument is dicey, in this case, though, because of the misrepresentation of the embed process.

The Post, however, cannot lay claim to the absolute defense of truth, though. And for this reason alone should promptly and prominently publish a retraction and a correction of the record.

Splash, out


Thursday, December 29, 2005

Impotence: More wages of appeasement 
"A previously unknown group claimed the kidnapping of French engineer Bernard Planche and threatened on Wednesday to kill him if France did not "end its illegitimate presence in Iraq", in a video shown on Al-Arabiya television.

"I stress that France has no military presence in Iraq and that it has always argued for full sovereignty to be restored to the country," Douste-Blazy said in a statement appealing for the release of Planche." This according to Agents France Presse.

That's what you get when you appease a monster. Your only recourse is more appeasement.

This cheese-sniffing swine, in fact, has upheld the Vichy, collaborationist French tradition by objectively taking the rhetorical side of the terrorists against the United States. The tacet argument is "France already has its tail between its legs like a beaten puppy. You didn't even have to fire a shot. You should kidnap Americans, Britons, and Poles. That would at least be justified by their illegitimate military presence."

The French diplomat also lobs a not-so-subtle putdown at Iraqi sovreignty - which was actually restored a year and a half ago. We've had three elections since then. I notice France hasn't exactly gone out of its way to advance the cause of Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite in Iraq, or much of anywhere else recently.

Obviously, obsequieous bootlicking isn't working out too well for French nationals abroad.

I hope the French ambassador is cooling his heels in the lobby of Secretary Rice's office, waiting for a rebuke.

This is the difference between a nation represented by an eagle and a country represented by a chicken.

As if Berklee College of Music grads weren't already unemployable enough 
...starting next year, you can study bluegrass at Berklee, too.

That's right, the genre of choice for people who like to practice long hours to master a technically demanding style that will qualify them to play at open mic night at the Korner Kafe on the second tuesday of every other month (football schedule permitting) may now plunk down tens of thousands of dollars per year and go deeply into debt for the priviledge.


So just how deeply does the reporter understand the music?

At Berklee College of Music, a school founded as an incubator of jazz and steeped in the syntax of cool, the pluck of the banjo was once a sound disdained. The bluegrass instrument was considered the stuff of Appalachian Mountains, not urbane Boston.

Well, the birthplace of bluegrass is not in the mountains of Appalachia at all, but in the broad plains and lakes of western Kentucky. The Appalachian sound is a distinct style and leans more toward older Irish modalities, and does not have the same blues/African influence. Appalachian music is also much older - bluegrass music as we know it today did not originate until the 1940s and 1950s, thanks to legendary mandolinist Bill Monroe. (How many other musicians are there that have all but singlehandedly INVENTED an entire genre?)

And see? According to the writer bluegrass combines both Celtic AND scottish sounds!

It's good to know, though, that the young fiddlers attending Berklee will be in good hands: Matt Glaser is a truly, truly outstanding musician.

I think that the influence of O Brother Where Art Thou isn't nearly as strong among this crowd as the rise of Alison Krauss and Union Station, and more recently, the outstanding Nickel Creek.

For what it's worth, Vanderbilt University had a fiddle degree program at least a decade ago - formerly headed by the great Mark O'Connor.

Splash, out


Finance tip for servicemembers: Seize the day 
Just kicking around some numbers for an article, and came up with this:

A 25-year-old worker has 40 or more years of work ahead in his or her career before retirement. If that worker contributes the maximum $4,000 per year to a Roth IRA at the beginning of each year, and realizes an 8-percent annual return on his or her investments, that worker would have saved over $1.12 million, tax free, at the age of 65.

If he or she waits just five years to begin saving, however, that figure drops to $744,409: a penalty of 33-percent in retirement income. In other words, waiting 5 years to begin saving costs a 25-year-old $74,943 per year.

Except for the tax free part, troops, the same is true for enrolling in the Thrift Savings Program, except the amounts you may contribute are even higher.

Pay off that ridiculous car loan they stuck you with at that car lot off post - for a car you're not even driving if you're deployed, sucker - and enroll in the Thrift Savings Plan as soon as you can. No, the DoD doesn't match your contributions. But aside from the lack of a matching incentive, you will not find a better 401(k) type plan in the civilian sector.

Splash, out


A Christmas message for all overseas 
"God bless you all and keep you safe, and speed your way back home.
Remember that we love you so, and that you're not alone.

The gift you give you share with all, a present every day,
You give the gift of liberty and that we can't repay."

"Aggressive strategy," Democrat-style 
Tammy Duckworth is a disabled Iraq veteran and Democratic candidate running for Henry Hyde's seat in Congress. What's her platform?

"I think that we need to come up with an aggressive strategy, based on benchmarks of getting our troops out of Iraq."
No. An aggressive strategy would be based on benchmarks of kicking Al Qaeda out of Iraq.

You can dress a surrender monkey up in a pretty uniform. But surrender is surrender, and a purple heart and DD 214 on a surrender monkey is just a ring in the snout of a pig.

Splash, out


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Military Discounts on Apple Products 
Looking to buy an iPod before the end of the year? A Power Notebook? Apple's offering a 17% discount on Apple products for military and DoD civilians until the end of the year.

Call 1-800-MY APPLE and mention military discount. Or bring your ID to any Apple retail store.

(Countercolumn receives no compensation for this announcement. Cheap bastards. My OS X browser at work truly sucks, and crashes several times a day. It's the reason I can't do hyperlinks during the day. Lots of times I don't even bother dealing with blogger on a Mac at all.)

Splash, out


There's a useful discussion on the nature of PTSD and how its diagnosis has become politicized over at Doctor Helen's.

H/T to Glenn

I've worked as a counselor in psychiatric inpatient settings for a few years - running group therapy sessions, etc. Not with much formal training other than self-study, but enough to have made some independent observations.

I've also been an infantry officer in a combat unit in Ramadi.

I've also read (most of) Burkett's book "Stolen Valor," which details the rise of the PTSD industry "supporting" (read: enabling) Viet Nam veterans - many of whom are fake.

My own perception is that PTSD really does exist, but like other diagnoses one can build a practice on, vastly overdiagnosed. The symptoms of PTSD are often conflated with preexisting tendencies towards depression or anxiety. War - and the stresses of family separation that accompany it - certainly exacerbates these tendencies. But many troops who have sought counseling or medication specifically for PTSD had some issues before the war as well.

And therapists who constantly tell patients "you are this way because you have PTSD" tend to reinforce a certain self-image. It's much better, I think, to focus on cognitive skills designed to help people manage the symptoms, and maybe treat the underlying anxiety or depression, if warranted.

One doctor notes, however, a physical difference between garden-variety depression and PTSD-related depression. This might be useful to know and help treat it, but the focus should be on a return to normalcy. The fact that we have so many professional PTSD victims among veterans and others should be a mark of shame to the helping professions.

Splash, out


Shades of Gray 
Chapomatic posts in the comments:

Stethem was picked for torture and murder because he was American and had a military ID. He was specifically chosen because of his nationality and affiliation, not at random.

Hezbollah also has another 283 American servicemen they have killed, in Beirut. I am saddened that our government has not been more forward in its rhetoric and actions towards Hezbollah, but cannot see a way to effect any change in this.

Well, see, there's a situation where looking at things in a shade of gray is warranted.

Yes, Hezbollah are a bunch of beasts, and deserve every bullet fired at them.

But while the Hezbollah threat is largely localized to Israstine, Al Qaeda has demonstrated an interest and capacity for global scale operations, and is a threat to acquire WMD unless possible sponsor nations are forcibly contained.

In this case, the focus on Al Qaeda as the greater threat is justified. And to the extent a focus on Hezbollah will allow Muslims in Pakistan to paint the war on terror as a proxy war in support of the Jews, then a direct attack on Hezbollah by identifiable US forces would be counterproductive, and may actually strengthen Hezbollah to the extent they receive support from Al Qaeda.

It is just this kind of construct I had in mind when I wrote that the shades of gray reasoning is warranted if it helps me to articulate a more efficient policy to advance the cause of liberty.

That does not, of course, require me to recognize any sort of redeeming feature in Hezbollah. Hezbollah preaches murder as policy, and God is not neutral towards murderers.

But if Al Qaeda is defeated, and radical Islamic militantism is discredited on its own turf, as I have advocated, then Hezbollah is cut off from foreign support and intellectual and spiritual capital (read, the blessing of Saudi imams and their powerful fund raising apparatus.)

If Al Qaeda can be defeated, then Hezbollah gets reduced to a rock-throwing mob. If Palestinians see this, and they see a democracy thriving in Iraq with American aid at peace with its neighbors, and Lebanon follows suit, maybe - just maybe - they'll look for another way.

But the fact that Hamadi specifically targeted an American for killing would be the grounds I would have for labelling him a "combatant." Which should have prevented his release. Germany, apparently, has a soft spot still for people who kill motivated by hatred of Jews.

Splash, out


Countercolumn News Ticker 
Breaking News!

Al Qaeda offering rebates to ransomed hostages ...

Dateline: Irbil, Iraq - (CNT) Al Qaeda unveiled a massive marketing campaign today designed to spread the word about a new hostage ransom rebate program. The rebates are designed to encourage Germans and other citizens of spineless, equivocating nations to vacation in violent areas and make themselves vulnerable to kidnap and ransom efforts.

In exchange, Al Qaeda is offering cash rebates of up to 1/3 of the ransom price to any hostages successfully ransomed under the program.

"It's just our way of saying "Thanks" to all the nations who, by looking the other way for so long, have made all our successes possible to this point," said Abu Musab al Zarqawi, President and CEO of Al Qaeda's Iraq division in a statement. "We're very excited to be able to make this offer, which we believe will be competitive with anything offered by any of our competitors in the terrorist industry."

Early demand has been strong, with hundreds of morons signing up for vacations in the Sahara, hoping for a chance to take advantage of the offer. A lucky German diplomat has already gone missing in Yemen.

Former hostages Nick Berg, Kenneth Bigley, Kim Sun-Il, Paul Johnson, Daniel Pearl, and Margaret Hassan did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment.


From a Swiss Reader 
Walt, who writes in from time to time, gives us (a) europerspective on the release of Hamadi by German authorities, me, and (ahem) "Jew money in Swiss banks."

Your letter to the German Embassy is a highlight. Germany has since the Nazi judges were finally pensioned off (not fired: Nazi network) years after WWII independent judges. Judges in Europe are elected with 2/3 or _ majority and have to be confirmed periodically. Berlusconi tried to change to 50%+1 but failed on the Italian president.
Life sentences mean in Europe after about 15 years the case comes up to a review board. If considered no danger the prisoner is released. This is not a parole process but a lengths defined by the law.

So this guy was found guilty 15 years ago, no provision at the time was made for a never release. He spent his time and seems to be considered no more dangerous. European prison system has nothing to do with revenge. The way the USA handles prisoners considered terrorists makes look European sharper of the fingers of our governments. In your blog you forgot to tell why this guy was the only death.

Fascinating. So a real live Euro can look at a known hijacker, a man known to have tortured and beaten a US serviceman in front of a planeload of passengers, and then murdered this sailor in cold blood - again in front of a planeload of horrified and terrorized passengers, and then dump his corpse on the tarmac, and consider him by some magic known only to the German prison system, to have been wholly reformed and "no longer a threat." And then, within the context of a global war on terrorism of global reach which the German government recognizes, actually release him.

If this is true, then this simply further demonstrates the inane obtuseness of the European moral sense.

If the German government felt it no longer needed him in its prison system, then why not extradite him to the United States then? He can stand trial for murder, or simply be declared a combatant and languish in Gitmo like a veal calf until the cessation of hostilities (read: the 7th of Never.)

There is no reasonable way this dog can no longer be considered a threat. And there is no way he can not be considered a combatant in the global war on terror.

By hijacking an American airliner loaded with international crew and passengers, and then causing it to fly from Europe to Algeria to Beirut, and then murdering an American - a citizen of a nation not even a party to the Arab-Israeli conflict - he became a global terrorist by definition.

And since the civilized world is at war with global terrorism, and since no law recognizes a statute of limitations on murder, Hamadi is therefore a combatant.

Walt, I find your reasoning here absolutely specious.

You are widely read but I have problems with your black and white approach and giving not the complete picture.

Hamadi hijacked a civilian jetliner. Hamadi then tortured and beat a passenger, who happened to be an American serviceman. Hamadi then murdered that passenger and dumped his body on the tarmac. Hamadi was found guilty of the charges, and sentenced to life. Hamadi, however, was released after only 15 years, and set free to return to Lebanon. This was against US requests to have him extradited.

It's not a matter of black and white versus shades of grey. All relevant information is contained above and in my original post. The thing is, Mein Herr, some things really are black and white: Hamadi is a terrorist and a murderer. Germany should not have let him go.

Had Europeans been a bit more focused on "black and white" versus "shades of gray" a few decades ago, the Holocaust could not have gradually gained momentum, allegiances to Hitler and Mussolini could not have been rationalized, Vichy France could not have provided safe haven to Klaus Barbie, the village of Lidice would still exist, every nation would have followed Denmark's lead and protected their Jewish citizens against Nazi murderers and their henchmen. Europe would not have looked the other way while Srebrenica was raped and sacked under their guns, with tens of thousands of men and boys slaughtered, and Europeans would not need to be so ashamed of their sordid and filthy 20th century history today.

I try to see shades of gray where shades of gray really exist. I try to use nuance, if nuance helps me articulate a course of action which will more effectively kill Al Qaeda and advance the cause of liberty.

Shades of gray only exist, though, because of a conflict between mutually exclusive goods.

What good was served by releasing Hamadi? Well, I guess it's good for Hamadi, anyway. But his release puts other lives in jeopardy.

Ask US Irishmen if IRA are terrorist or freedom fighter….the answer will be the full specter. Europeans see it in a similar way with Palestinians. What we know for sure is that peace is only achieved by compromises hurting both sides.

I've never yet met an American or Irish who didn't consider the bombers of Omagh and their ilk to be terrorists, thugs, and beasts, pure and simple. Don't try to ascribe European fecklessness to Americans. That fantasy doesn't exist. That's like a drug dealer or a wife beater trying to justify his crimes by arguing that everybody does it. No, everybody does not do it. Not everyone's moral discernment is that crippled.

Your omitting of facts concerning Jewish pre WWII money in Swiss Banks is highly unfair.

1.You are well aware the US treasury collected after WWII from all insurance companies of all countries the live insurances policies of Jews and has never been handed back or compensated.

Again, the "America does it too" defense. Even if true (Walt does not provide any supporting documentation that I've been able to find, so far, though some of the links he provides are pretty extensive), it's also irrelevant.

The United States lost hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded in the gargantuan struggle to rid the world of fascism and to put an end to the Holocaust (though we did not know the full extent of the Holocaust until the later part of the war, and Auschwitz did not hit full stride as an extermination center until 1943.)

The US has plenty of moral capital. The Swiss banking industry is more focused on capital of another kind.

2. No other country to my knowledge investigated its role in WWII. Switzerland government had it three times done. 1950, 1962 (finished 1970) by Edgar Bonjour “History of Swiss Neutrality” (published in 6 books, I guess more then 3000 pages). December 1996 task to Prof Bergier to create an Independent International Commission (I attach a list of Commission Member). The publishing of document started 1997 and was 2002 finished. Then thousands of pages and annexes.

Hey, if they did a better job of it the first time, they wouldn't have to "reinvestigate" it every generation, and they wouldn't still be coughing up settlements into the 2000s.

Splash, out


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

German Appeasement of Terrorists 
Apparently the shameful release of Mohamed Hamadi, the man who murdered U.S. Navy diver Robert Stetham, wasn't the first time Germany had prostrated itself before terrorist thugs.

Don't miss this essential bit of background from the Counterterrorism blog.

A snippet:

But the basic issues remain of how restrained the press can and should be in reporting the movements or potential movements of SWAT teams, and how can the press avoid being manipulated by terrorist who seek to use them as propaganda outlets. The emergence of media such as Al-Jazeera, the favorite conduit for Bin-Laden’s tapes and tapes of the gruesome beheadings of hostage visits, is not encouraging.

Nor can we take encouragement in the German apparently caving in and quietly releasing Hamadi ahead of schedule. This latest German action again undercuts the international counterterrorism effort. It encourages the terrorists to believe that western nations, especially the Europeans, are soft touches and terrorists can continue their kidnappings for money and/or political motives and expect to be rewarded.

The German government should be ashamed —and brace for more of its citizens being taken hostage.

Yep. They're easy marks. Every German citizen has now been transformed by their government into a walking, talking certified check.

Splash, out


Countercolumn News Ticker 
Saddam's Torture Tapes the toast of Cannes Film Festival ...

Army recruiting data suggests evidence of mysterious "flyover country" ...

Jesse Jackson to lead Sunni election protests ...

Media recruits heavily from urban, effete, military reports ...

National markets reporter thinks 2005's returns present bullish sign ...
Short interest rises among institutional investors ...
Psychic Friends Network issues companion report ...

At Christmastime, community comes together to expel unsightly homeless ...

"On Call" suicide bombers complain about irregular hours, lack of benefits ...

After two years of Sunni boycotts and threats, WaPo breaks news that Sunnis are underrepresented in New Iraqi Army ...

'69 Mets, Hanukkah vie for top slot in "God's All-Time Trivial Miracles"
"All this hoo-hah for a LAMP? Where's MY f*cking holiday!? I got God to make the f*cking SUN stand still!!" says embittered Joshua ...

Justice department arrests thousands of Jewish children in annual Dreidel gambling crackdown ...

Dreidel manufacturing, distribution linked to Mafia ...

White House defends constitutionality of secret sperm sampling ...

Developing ...

It's vile 
It's vile, it's banal, it's disrespectful, it's sacreligious, it's grotesque, it's insulting.

I laughed my ass off.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

How does CNN cover a Democratic speech? 
Step 1. Uncritically state the dumbest and most outrageous Democrat claim that the President is cutting services to military families at all.

Step 2. Gloss it over and not specify a single specific service to military families.

Step 3. Provide no context to show military pay raises, increases in benefits, housing, nor the fact that Tricare benefits have been extended to Reserve component veterans of the War on terror - something that Bill Clinton never did even though he was deploying entire Guard battalions and Brigades to Bosnia for years who would have had the same need for coverage and the same employer issues.

Step 4. Don't mention the increase in the Reserve component GI Bill benefits.

Step 5. Don't mention the exponential increase in the death gratuity paid to families.

Step 6. Don't mention that SGLI coverage increased from $250,000 to $400,000 for any service member that wants it.

Step 7. Don't mention the vast increases in recruiting/retention initiatives.

Step 8. Don't press the Democratic speechifyer or their spokesman or the campaign to name a specific example of a military service, benefit, or program being cut.

Step 9. Don't bother getting a reaction from either the Republicans or a neutral and informed observer. After all, why go through the pretense that the editors are anything more than a mouthpiece for the DNC?

Step 9. Run the whole execrable mess on CNN.com.

Splash, out


Music industry presses lawsuit 
against an internet illiterate single mother of five who has clearly derived zero benefit from the unauthorized use of her home computer.

Meanwhile, I just got a Christmas present from someone signed to a major label.

Several CDs.

All homemade pirates.

I don't personally burn CDs except to download them to my MP3 player for personal use, but I'm sorry, but It's just getting difficult to be very vigilant about the copyright interests of the music labels in this context.

If someone lends me a CD and I like it (which is actually rare), I usually go out and buy the CD, or another one by the same artist.

I do loan CDs to people. I've been reluctant to do so in the past except to musicians who make use of them in an educational "fair use" context, knowing how prevalent the practice of unauthorized copying.

If they had had a track record of fair dealing with artists I might feel a little differently.

Actually, I don't know why labels aren't more generous with their material. If I had a record label, I'd make every CD a double CD. Every CD would come with another sampler of 10-12 other artists on the label, unencrypted.

And it would come with a document encouraging CD purchasers to make unlimited copies and email the files to their friends. Maybe with a way you can email a coupon for a discount, or an embedded link to a paid download site where you can download more.

I buy quite a few CDs. Really, most labels don't make an effort. Most labels insult my intelligence both musically and commercially.

I can think of one exception: Compass Records, run by an excellent Banjo player named Alison Brown.

Bonus - almost everything I hear on that label is a gem. Check out just about anything by Kate Rusby.

Splash, out


They came from the East, three of them ...

... bearing gifts.

A very Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukkah to all!


A good strike 
One more tidbit from the Washington Post:

Remember that disputed airstrike that killed 19 or so Ramadi "civilians" back in October?

Yep, that's the one. First reported on by Ellen Knickmeyer, too.
From today's Washington Post (linked to below) we learn that after that strike, the number of IEDs in that neighborhood was reduced to almost nothing.

It would have been good to see some follow-up to that strike prior to today. The obvious question to have asked in October is whether, after having made the airstrike, there was actually a decrease in the number of IED attacks in that sector.

If there was such a decrease in insurgent activity, that would have become obvious within a week or two. I'm unaware of any follow-up reporting, though.

Thanks for the follow-through.

Splash, out


Commandeering is one thing. 
Locking the family inside when you know your actions will inevitably draw American fire, no doubt precisely to create civilian casualties for propaganda purposes is something else altogether. The idea that there may have been a rationale, a purpose, a strategy, behind luring fire to buildings with civilians in them, never seems to cross Ms. Knickmeyer's mind. She has all the evidence right in front of her, the pieces of the puzzle are right there in her article, but she is either unable or unwilling to put them together.

Read Dauber's entire excellent post vivisecting a Washington Post writer's column.

Hollywood Turns its Back on Troops 
By the way, we really enjoyed those CDs and DVDs we bought off the hajis.

P.S. The Guardian's "List of entertainers" is crap. Why couldn't they run a complete list? Darryl Worley isn't on it. He belongs on it. So does Bruce Willis. So does Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band. There are lots of others.

As for the rest of them, I'll keep their actions in mind next time I hear one of them blather about how they "still support the troops" while taking their political petulance out on them.

I mean, is it too much to ask that a reporter does a little reporting!

Meanwhile if some headliner needs a guitar player or fiddler and their regular guy gets a little weak-kneed, I'm game for anywhere we have troops, any time.

Splash, out


UPDATE: NY State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has a Christmas message of his own for the entertainment industry.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Hang Rove up by his thumbs! 
This time, Karl Rove has crossed the line!

Never again 
Rabbi Marc Gellman on why he parted company with the Union of Reform Judaism and supports the war in Iraq:

When I say never again in memory of the Holocaust, I don't mean 'never again Jews,' I mean 'never again anyone.'"

A perfect evening ... 
Got off work tonight. Knocked back a Guinness in a dive bar raising a toast to a coworker who's leaving for another advertising/marketing firm. One of the waitresses took her top off. Yeah, they warned me about this bar. Got a coworker to 'fess up to how she earned the nickname "switchhitter."

No, it's not 'cause she's bi. But the rest I'll never tell.

Passed a movie theater on the way home. Had time to get a slice of pepperoni and mushroom pizza. Saw the movie.

Memoirs of a Geisha.

See it. Touching love story. Visually stunning. Faithful and respectful to the time and place. Exquisitely well-written (though the Sumo wrestling parallel didn't have to be spoonfed to me so much.) Gorgeous soundtrack. Lots of good string playing.

Left the movie. Walked to Borders. Got a peppermint mocha. Cell phone rings. It's Jeff, the bodhran player.

"You coming over, man?"

"Sure, I'll be over there. Is the music happening?"

"Sure is! Come on over!"

"Well, I'll come by, but I don't have anything to play, though."

"No, fuck that, go home and get your fiddle!"

"Well, I'm a lot closer to the pub then home!"

"No, go get your fiddle mam!"

I check my watch.

"It's 10:45. How late you guys planning on going?"

"Let me work on that. Get your fiddle."

Well, I went home, got my fiddle, and arrived around midnight. The band was knocking off for the night.

One beer's my usual limit, so I got a coke and hung out for a bit at a table outside. Piper Eamonn Dillon is there. Again, one of the very top players in the world. John Schreiber is there - a scary good DADGAD guitar player,mandolin player and tenor bango player, who sometimes performs with Cherish the Ladies (his wife, Roisin, is a member of that band and a monstrous fiddler herself. But she's just back off the road and is long since asleep at home)

Virtuoso accordian player Victor Alexander is there with his box, still on his visit from Ireland.

I'm in Earnie Banks mode. What a great day for trad! Let's play some!

So we set up outside. Weather's perfect. Four fabulous musicians - each of them world classers. And then there's me. But they'll pull me along for the ride.

We start at about 12:30 and it's nonstop reels and jigs until almost 4.

Everyone at the top of their game.

The craic, as they say, was grand.

Even when that rat bastard accordian player transposed all these A tunes up a half step it was still grand. (Try playing Red Haired Boy, AKA Danny Pearl's Favorite, in B mixolydian. Loads of fun, and a different look at the tune. I didn't know I had it in me to transpose on the fly like that, at speed. But somehow I did it.

That's what playing with super musicians does. It makes me a better player than I normally am.

I felt like I was on top of the world coming home.

Splash, out


Friday, December 23, 2005

Countercolumn News Ticker 
Santa Claus, eight tiny co-conspirators arrested for violating restricted airspace ...

Democrats vote to subsidize encryption technology for American terrorists ...

"Too many of America's working terrorists are forced to choose between encrypting their cell phones against NSA monitoring and buying prescription drugs for their families," says Sen. Ted Kennedy ...

How the Allies Won: Nazi economy was crippled by lack of personal injury lawyers, historians say ...

NY Times: "Insurgency forces withdrawal of two U.S. brigades ..."
Democrats claim credit ...

Mattel pulls controversial "Klaus Barbie" doll from market ...

Congressman who introduced bill to draft congressmen who introduce bills calling for draft drafted ...

Howard Dean had to be physically restrained from surrendering to area pizza deliveryman, say sources ...

Heads exploding all over Glasgow as football clubs Celtic, Rangers announce merger ...
Thousands dead, tens of thousands go clinically insane ...
Tourists can't tell the difference ...

Impacting ...

Countercolumn News Ticker 
Santa Claus, eight tiny co-conspirators arrested for violating restricted airspace ...

Democrats vote to subsidize encryption technology for American terrorists ...

"Too many of America's working terrorists are forced to choose between encrypting their cell phones against NSA monitoring and buying prescription drugs for their families," says Sen. Ted Kennedy ...

How the Allies Won: Nazi economy was crippled by lack of personal injury lawyers, historians say ...

NY Times: "Insurgency forces withdrawal of two U.S. brigades ..."
Democrats claim credit ...

Mattel pulls controversial "Klaus Barbie" doll from market ...

Congressman who introduced bill to draft congressmen who introduce bills calling for draft drafted ...

Howard Dean had to be physically restrained from surrendering to area pizza deliveryman, say sources ...

Heads exploding all over Glasgow as football clubs Celtic, Rangers announce merger ...
Thousands dead, tens of thousands go clinically insane ...
Tourists can't tell the difference ...

Impacting ...

As Professor Reynolds would say: "Heh."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Got more Christmas shopping to do? 
Gonna buy something for yourself?

Then please, please, please use the Amazon link to the right!

All proceeds from Amazon sales over the last several weeks through Christmas are going to be divided between the Navy & Marine Corps Relief Society and the Army Emergency Relief Fund. (In rough proportion to the numbers of troops currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan from each service)

Have a very joyous Christmas and Hanukkah, friends. Not to mention Kwanzaa and Boxing Day!

G-d bless,


No bugles, no drums 
And no heroes in the press run.

In a study of over 1,300 reports broadcast on network news programs from January to September of this year, Rich Noyes of the Media Research Center found only eight stories of heroism or valor by American troops and nine of soldiers helping the Iraqi people. But there were 79 stories, Noyes said, "focused on allegations of combat mistakes or outright misconduct on the part of U.S. military personnel."

Hat tip: Cori Dauber, who's back from a brief hiatus with some good stuff.

George Bush Sr. Killed JFK! 
Did you know that?

I didn't either. Until I read the Top 10 worst Democratic Underground Quotes of 2005!

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin

Irresponsibility at the NY Times 
The New York Times, not content with giving Al Qaeda an early Christmas present by revealing details of how COMINT is gathered, has seen fit to compromise undercover police operations as well.

But they're not even content with that. The New York Times is actually publishing fully recognizable face photos, revealing the identity of undercover police officers, and possibly jeopardizing their safety, exposing them to retribution by thugs and radicals.


Have these morons lost their minds? Have they no sense of perspective here?

There is nothing untoward about having a police officer suit up and ride around in plainclothes with bicicle protestors. If their argument is that they are on a public street and have a right to use the thoroughfare without a permit, then they have no reasonable expectation that the police will not do the same thing.

Nobody's constitutional rights were violated in any way. If the story had to have been told, it could have been told without blowing the cover of individual officers. There is no public interest in this story that would justify the endangerment of undercover officers.

Once again, the New York Times manages to plumb the depths of journalistic ethics and still come up wanting.

Splash, out


The Rave MP3 Player Sucks!!! 
It's said among marketers that a happy customer will tell 3 people, while an unhappy customer will tell 23 people.

Well, I'm telling about a thousand people:

I broke down and got my first MP3 player last week. I got a Rave, just on a whim and it seemed to be more price efficient for a given amount of memory than an IPod and some of the other players out there.

Bottom line: It's crap.

Don't get me wrong: I love it when it works. And the onboard 5-band EQ means I can engineer it to sound good on my piece of crap car speakers. It's a quantum leap forward over a cd player. And it caused me to listen to and reappreciate tunes I hadn't heard in years - maybe because they were on records I had bought years ago and my ears were just not advanced enough to appreciate what was on them. But thanks to the shuffle feature, I got reacquainted with some gems I had missed before.

But the player conked out on me last night for no reason. It had been out of the box for less than a week. Just froze up mid-tune. Couldn't even turn it off to reboot it. All I could think of was letting it run out of battery power which would take 10 hours according to the sales literature (actually, it takes about 3, but I'm usually powering a cassette adapter rather than ear buds.)

Well, I got home and plugged the USB cable in to see if I could still view the files, and that woke it back up. So I brought it back to work and plugged in the earphones here in the office. It worked fine. For about a minute.

Then shut down again.

Reading the (mostly negative) reviews on Amazon, it's clear my experience isn't unique.

I also notice the random shuffle isn't random at all, but clearly favors about a dozen tracks.

I might have been more charitable in reviewing it, but there was another problem:

I bought the player in part for its voice recorder functionality - it seemed like a convenient way to pick up tunes from other musicians. But there was nothing in the instructions that covered how to use it. So I emailed customer service last friday.

Since then, I figured out how to use the voice recorder (the mic sucks, but it works for its intended purpose), but it's been nearly a week and I have not heard a peep of a response from them.

Soooo tonight, I'm going to see if I can salvage the tracks I've got on the player, then return it for a product that works. I know I want an on board 5 band EQ! The microphone is nice but not a must have. I already have a small Fostex 4 track I'm too lazy to use anyway.

I'm just glad I hadn't bought it for anyone else already.

Sorry, Rave! But next time, don't f***ing ignore your customers!

Meanwhile, any suggestions for a replacement player?


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Germany frees a terrorist 
Now why in God's name this sorry bastard wasn't ruled a combatant and quietly transferred to Guantanamo indefinitely I'll never know:


The Germans sentenced him to life. And let him out in nineteen years.

The name of the man he murdered was Robert Dean Stetham. This thug and his co-orcs beat the crap out of Stetham before they shot him like a dog.

He stole sixty or more years of Robert Stetham's life, and the sorry-assed Krauts, who couldn't enforce a law against anyone but a Jew to save their lives, let him out in just nineteen.

The US should summon the German ambassador and lock the heels of his sycophantic boots together.

This dog killed a US citizen while committing an act of terrorism.

He is a combatant.

Find him.

Kill him.


Here is my letter to the German embassy:

Dear sir/madam

I am writing to express my condemnation of the decision of the German government to release a known terrorist and murderer of U.S. Navy Diver Robert Dean Stetham.

The man your government set free had served only nineteen years of a life sentence. In contrast, Mr. Stetham was only 23 years old when he was beaten, shot, and then thrown from the plane onto the tarmac. The man you freed stole more than 60 years of Mr. Stetham's life.

As a member of a known terrorist organization, and one known to have committed a particularly brutal murder in the service of international terrorism, this man should have been declared a combatant, and held indefinitely.

There was no reason whatsoever to parole this man, except one. Therefore, your government's assertions that his release have nothing to do with the release of a German hostage in Iraq ring hollow, and strain the boundaries of credulity.

It appears that your government has capitulated in a minor Munich of its own.


Jason Van Steenwyk

You can write them yourself here:


Monday, December 19, 2005

Unfortunate Presidential Typos 
"Last night I addressed the nation about our strategy for victory in Iraq, and the historic elections that took place in the country last week. In a nation that once lived by the whims of a brutal dictator, the Iraqi people now enjoy constitutionally protected freedoms, and their leaders now derive their powers from the consent of the government."


(The president clearly said "governed" in his address. This is a pure typo.)

Splash, out


From a reader 
...who has an intel background --

I hope to ease your mind on this issue, though you did say you weren't all that bothered by it.

I would point you to Captain Ed's rundown on the issue: http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/005964.php

Based on a read of FISA regulations, you are a bit off base when you say you cannot make an intellectually honest argument that these were valid, since the targets were not agents of a "foreign government". The actual term is not "foreign government", but "foreign power".

FISA (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode50/usc_sup_01_50_10_36.html) states in Ch 36.I.1801.a.4 that a "foreign power" can be defined as "a group engaged in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefor", and Ch 36.I.1801.b.2.C states that an "agent of a foreign power" can be a person who "knowingly engages in sabotage or international terrorism, or activities that are in preparation therefor, for or on behalf of a foreign power".

If it were solely about being an "agents of a foreign government" then your misgivings would be correct. But it appears that the administration did everything by the book, to include notifying both Congress and the FISA court.

Unfortunately the story is being spun, as well as being presented incorrectly out of ignorance (like my local news), as the US govt randomly listening to everyones phone calls looking for terrorist activity. But in reality, the targets only became so based on their information (phone #, email, address) being found in the possession of a group/individual engaged in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefor.

All true.

But in section 1802, the law limits the presidential authority to those defined in subparagraphs 1-3 here. Paragraph 4, the one mentioning terrorism, is not included. To wit:

As used in this subchapter: (a) “Foreign power” means— (1) a foreign government or any component thereof, whether or not recognized by the United States; (2) a faction of a foreign nation or nations, not substantially composed of United States persons; (3) an entity that is openly acknowledged by a foreign government or governments to be directed and controlled by such foreign government or governments; (4) a group engaged in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefor; (5) a foreign-based political organization, not substantially composed of United States persons; or (6) an entity that is directed and controlled by a foreign government or governments.

Which means that the Federal Government's position would have to be that Al Qaeda is either "a foreign government or any component thereof," "a faction of a foreign nation or nations, not substantially composed of United States persons," or "an entitity that is openly acknowledged by a foreign government or governments to be directed and controlled by a such foreign governments.

I think we can rule out #3.

So then, Al Qaeda would have to meet the definition of number 1 and/or number 2.

You could argue #1 if you wanted to argue that since Mullah Omar was still at large, Al Qaeda are acting as the agents of a head of state, of sorts -- an argument that stretches credulity. Al Qaeda existed before Bin Ladin was invited to Afghanistan, and exists quite independently of the Taliban.

A better case might be made if Bin Ladin or Zawahiri proclaimed a new Caliphate by name, and anointed themselves some position in it. They did come close by naming Zarqawi an "emir."

Number 2 could be argued thus: Al Qaeda is obviously a faction of a foreign nation or nations: It's a violent faction of both Iraq and Afghanistan, in the same way that the IRA Provos are -- or were -- a violent faction of both Ireland and the UK.

Ok, I'll buy that. And if Al Qaeda is a violent faction of a foreign country, then the President can assert his powers under the FISA law.

Splash, out


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Craic dealing alert 
I'll be playing in a session at Paddy Murphy's in downtown Naples from about 1:30 to 5 today, then back in Fort Lauderdale, at Biddy Early's, on Andrews just north of Oakland Park Blvd.

Virtuoso box player Victor Alexander will be playing at both venues. Eamonn Dillon, one of the best whistlers and pipers you will ever hear, should be there, too, along with John Schrieber, who's probably one of the top handful of DADGAD guitar players in the country.(John won't be in Naples. Just Ft. Lauderdale.)

Come on by, have a pint, and hold on to your seats!

Tulg a mach,


Why I love the Army 
Because people like Amy keep joining up.

Were the warrantless wiretaps legal? 

By the best reading of the FISA my little non-law school educated brain can muster, the wiretaps were not legal. They don't bother me, but unless I am missing something, I cannot make an intellectually honest argument that FISA allows warrantless wiretapping on US persons who are not agents of a foreign government.

Prior to the fall of the Taliban, I think the argument could reasonably be made. But when the Taliban fell, Al Qaeda became an extragovernmental agency. You know, like Halliburton. That said, I also don't believe that if you're so tight with Khalid Sheikh "Homeslice" Mohammed that he's got your cell phone on speed dial and you don't deliver falafels for a living, you don't exactly have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

That said, it appears to me that the Administration crossed the statutory line.

Glenn Greenwald links to the relevant statutes and makes the best and most complete case I've seen. I've already noticed that he's right about the selective quoting allegations - rightie bloggers are cherrypicking the statute like you wouldn't believe. I've already seen bloggers linking to the FISA section authorizing limited powers to the president while omitting the nearby (read: on the same SCREEN) paragraph that specifically requires that there be no substantial likelihood that a US person be a party to an intercepted conversation.

The Administration should immediately pursue warrants on all persons currently subject to monitoring on the basis of suspected links with Al Qaeda, and we should all get back to the business of killing or capturing terrorists.

The administration should petition Congress to change the statute to extend the president's limited authority already granted under FISA to include known international terrorist organizations, in addition to agents controlled by a foreign government. FISA does not appear to have adequately forseen the rise of nonstate organizations as significant threats to national security. Which is pretty pathetic when you think about it, because all those people writing superhero comics and cartoons back in the 1940s-1960s sure did!

Splash, out


Saturday, December 17, 2005

...So I've learned a new term today: 
"Vaginal pulse amplitude."

According to a recent study, women are aroused by watching monkey sex. Sure, they're more aroused by watching human sex, but the loving habits of the bonobo are enough to bring out the primate in any civilized lady.

The study, conducted by Meredith Chivers of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health and J. Michael Bailey of Northwestern University, was published in the October issue of Biological Psychology. The researchers found that while straight men are only aroused by females of the human variety, straight women are equally aroused by all human sexual activity, including lesbian, heterosexual and homosexual male sex, and at least somewhat aroused by nonhuman sex.

I knew it.

First, we kill all the lawyers 
From the New York Times:

Though the Supreme Court has prohibited the execution of the mentally retarded, a Texas death row inmate who may be retarded cannot raise the issue in federal court because his lawyer missed a filing deadline, a federal appeals court ruled this week.

The inmate, Marvin Lee Wilson, has "made a prima facie showing of mental retardation," a unanimous three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit wrote in an unsigned decision on Tuesday, meaning the court presumed Mr. Wilson to be retarded for purposes of its ruling.

But the panel said it was powerless to consider the case because Mr. Wilson's lawyer filed papers concerning his retardation in a federal trial court without first obtaining required permission from the appeals court, which he did not seek until a deadline had expired.

"However harsh the result may be," the panel said, its hands are tied by deadlines established in a 1996 federal law, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. The same law now forbids Mr. Wilson, convicted of killing a police informant, to appeal the Fifth Circuit's ruling to the Supreme Court.

Unfortunately, the court is right -- unless it wants to strike down the deadline as unconstitutional due to its arbitrariness. But you have to have some deadlines. This is why we have elected officials. It is quite properly the role of the governor to commute this man's sentence, or for the legislature to pass a law extending the deadline, or specifically pass a resolution calling for judicial review of the case.

Splash, out


Nonsense and flapdoodle 
NY Post columnist John Podhoretz says that all the talk about Iraq inside the United States this year has been meaningless.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Insufferable European Hypocricy, part II 
And so it's official: Local pols in Arnold Schwartzenegger's Austrian hometown of Granz is taking the Terminator's name off their local stadium as a result of his denial of clemency to a man - I won't bother with his name - convicted of murdering four people.

Graz deputy mayor Walter Ferk said: "It is annoying that we are being criticised because of Schwartzenegger's actions in California. It is not exactly admirable for us to be connected with the death penalty. Therefore, I am in favour of renaming the stadium."

Link: http://www.thisislondon.com/showbiz/articles/21213348?source=Metro

This is a politician from a country which elected a known former SS officer and Nazi war criminal to its presidency.

Message to Austrians: I'm sorry you have more sympathy for California murderers. But he did commit murder in the state of California, and as you liederhosers are fond of saying: Regeln sind regeln.

Maybe Schwarzenegger could have garnered more sympathy in Europe if he had executed David Berkowitz instead.

Splash, out


The Road to Damascus 
From a Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reporter embedded with the Stryker Brigade:

Think about everything you’ve heard about the conditions in Iraq, the role of U.S. forces, the multi-layered complexities of the war.

Then think again.

I’m a journalist. I read the news everyday, from several sources. I have the luxury of reading stuff newspapers don’t always have room to print. I read every tidbit I could on Iraq and the war before coming.

Everything I thought I knew was wrong.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Media surprised by success of the election 
Despite the resounding successes of the last two rounds of voting in Iraq, and the assurances of just about everyone on the ground except the terrorists, the media is yet again taken by surprise that today's elections are going as well as they are.

From the NY Times:

In a day remarkable for the absence of large-scale violence, millions of Iraqi voters, many of whom dressed in their best and traveling with family members, streamed to the polls today to cast ballots in a nationwide election as Iraqi leaders predicted the vote would split almost evenly between secular and Islamist parties.

How that loose, baggy elephant of an opening sentence got through the copy desk I'll never know.

But why is it remarkable for there to be a lack of "large-scale" violence? "Large-scale" violence - which I define loosely as the clash of battalion-sized elements or larger - has been largely confined to the Al Anbar province and to a lesser extent, Baghdad for some time. The vast majority of the country is peaceful most of the time. Which is why, for instance, we were able to have near-nationwide votes as long ago as a year.

Nevertheless, both CNN and the New York Times -- as if they were determined to show us how easy it is to lead them around by the nose, give prominent billing to a single mortar strike in Baghdad. Yep: Two assholes with a truck who change nothing and have the power to change nothing are making the global media.

All in all, though, even Eeyore the Editor at the New York Times couldn't conceal the terriffic news.

So when is the Times going to run their obnoxious "raises questions" formulation? As in: "The success of the latest round of voting in Iraq and the failure of the insurgency to create any meaningful disruption raises questions about the prospects and relevance of the insurgency, and suggests that the United States may have been successful in interdicting terrorist efforts and disrupting the insurgency with recent offensives in the Al Anbar and Niniveh provinces. The American strategy seems to be working."

No. Couldn't happen.

Splash, out


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

More vile anti-soldier propaganda from the left 
"Did you kill any civilians?"

"I followed orders. We got a few terrorists here and there."

This is how our troops are being portrayed in films now. This short film, Catastrophic Success, portrays Marines as mindless murderous pathetic losers - and does it with a straight face.

I'm sure the filmmaker is proud of himself. Sounds like something a high schooler would have written.

But they support the troops, right?

Splash, out


Folk Nazis Must Die!!! 
Now I've seen everything!!

From the Irish Echo:

Anti-hate crime groups have asked the Irish community to watch out for Neo-Nazi groups that are organizing Irish dancing and singing events as a way of luring unsuspecting young people into their groups.

The groups are speaking out after Neo-Nazis organized a well-attended Irish dancing class in St. Louis in February, without the participants knowing the true nature of the event.

A group called the National Alliance, the largest and most organized Neo-Nazi group in the country, is organizing Irish cultural events from New Jersey to California as a way of encouraging new membership. The group has hired traditional Irish groups that had no idea they were being used for Nazi propaganda.

One such traditional band, Molly’s Revenge, only discovered the truth when they turned up at an event in Sacramento, California, and discovered that National Alliance supporters were selling Hitler’s writings and baby blankets embroidered with swastikas.

For the rest, go here:



The Euro left is fundamentally unserious 
Via Instapundit comes this must read essay calling Euros to account for their appalling lack of moral perspective - a failing which recent calls to excoriate Arnold Schwartzenegger while renaming a stadium for murderer Stanley Williams is drawing into bold relief:

The countries which the European Left makes a passionate cause of defending – from the Palestinian Authority to Iran and Syria, not to mention Cuba, China and multiple other historic Communist regimes –- routinely imprison and/or execute people without any due process, for reasons ranging from criticism of the Government to adultery and homosexuality. None of that sparks “outrage among Europeans,” because none of that provides an opportunity to depict the United States as the world’s real evil. As a result, the European Left is uninterested in it.

Read the whole thing here: http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2005/12/true-character-of-european-left.html

I do not think that anti-Americanism is the sole reflexive motivator behind European intransigence here. Perhaps it explained the opposition to the presence of a US nuclear umbrella, during the cold war. But the real issue, which seems to be hard-wired into European cultural DNA, is antipathy towards Jews.

It explains the perverse editorials in European newspapers. It explains their kneejerk sympathies for Hamas and Hezbollah and the kleptocracy of Yassir Arafat. It explains their electing a known terrorist and prolific murderer of Jews as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. It explains their willingness to tolerate an intransigent Arab minority in their midst while continuing to burn synagogues and drive French Jews from their homeland to Canada.

Sympathy towards Muslim extremism is accepted as progressivism, while Zionism in any form is excoriated.

Euros are genuinely horrified by the holocaust and the ghosts that live within them - but not so much that they embrace their Jewish minority. Antisemitism remains an underground river in Europe.

And when push comes to shove, I'm not so sure they regard the Holocaust as so horrible a thing. If they did, they would not have been so opposed to toppling the architects of Anfal, nor would they have tolerated the sack of Srebrenica or the Serbian rape camps on European soil, nor so adamantly opposed US efforts to meaningfully put a stop to them.

The number of Europeans murdered by Islamists in the last ten years still numbers in the hundreds. Meanwhile, the number of native Europeans murdered by Zionists still, to my knowledge, hovers around zero.

The numbers don't lie here.

But the Euros do, if only to themselves.

Splash, out


In the CD player ... 
Live at Mona's


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Eurohypocracy in action 
It's amusing to me that the man putting together an investigation into whether the CIA operated "secret prisons" in other sovereign nations in Eastern Europe is a Swiss national.

This hawkeyed vigilance for the interests of prisoners in points east is a pretty new phenomenon. Recall that the Swiss government made an official policy of turning a blind eye towards the assets of thousands and thousands of dormant accounts of Holocaust victims - men and women who had not been heard from since May 9th, 1945, for more than 50 years, all the while looking the other way while Swiss bankers fenced looted art collections and polished stolen gold, treating the families of Jewish holocaust victims as nonentities while obliging Nazis by transferring millions in assets back to wanted war criminals at the end of WWII. Swiss vigilance wasn't so eagle-eyed when UBS of Switzerland was exploiting the forced labor of 400 Auschwitz inmates at a cement factory it owned near the camp - a fact that UBS denied until 5 years ago.

It wasn't just bankers: There's the small matter of J-stamps on Swiss passports for Jewish citizens, as part of an official policy to guard against Uberjudung (excess Jews).

Creating a separate visa for "aryan" Germans and "non-aryan" Germans, thus making Switzerland the only other European country to adopt Nazi racist criteria into its refugee and immigration policy throughout the war (Sweden abandoned such in 1942.)

But hey, I'm only going by the findings of a commission headed by Paul Volker.


Switzerland to this day is home to billions in looted funds. Yassir Arafat's coffers alone amount to untold millions and perhaps billions - all while Switzerland winks and nods at stolen UN funds while they are loaned out to support economic growth in Switzerland on the backs of the Palestinian people.

And then there's the Austrians, criticizing Arnold Schwartzenegger for executing a gangbanger scumbag like Tookie Williams.

This from a country who elected a known Nazi war criminal, Kurt Waldheim, as president.

Meanwhile, I don't recall either Switzerland or Austria lifting a finger to oppose the modern-day rape camps and atrocities committed by Slobodon Milosevic - the proven magnitude of which dwarfs even the feverish worst of the allegations against the CIA into insignificance.

So raping Muslim women and girls and slaughtering their husbands and brothers in cold blood is OK by Europeans. But God forbid we put a panty on some terrorist's head in Romania in order to save the lives of Europeans.

You'd think after their citizens were murdered in Madrid and London and Bali (X 2) and attempted ricin poinonings in the UK and more attempted murders in France they'd learn a lesson or two.

Whatever helps them feel superior I guess.

Splash, out


Countercolumn News Ticker 
DNC, Al Qaeda to form joint Political Action Committee ...

Gay cowboy movie takes Oscar lead in key Hollywood gay demographic ...

Madonna kicks the crap out of Sean Penn ...
"Payback, man. Payback."

Tookie Williams' "Barbie Ganghouse" sales plummet after execution ...

Swiss Investigator's report of CIA "Full of holes" say critics ...

Manpower survey projects accelerating job creation ...
New York Times laments labor shortage ...

Study: Teabagging linked to decreased risk of ovarian cancer ...

Gov. Schwartzenegger finally earns "Terminator" nickname ...

"We may never find a dumber poster child" say anti-death penalty activists ...

Yet more Democrat predictions of rioting and chaos fail to come to pass ...
... Except in Australia

Average number of TV slo-mo soccer goal replays reaches record high ...

Developing ...

Divorce, Alcoholism Rates Higher Among Returning Troops 
I'd be curious to know if we've ever had a war where this wasn't true:

Army researchers saw alcohol misuse rise from 13 percent among soldiers to 21 percent one year after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, underscoring the continuing stress of deployment for some troops.

In post-deployment reassessment data completed in July, researchers also saw soldiers with anger and aggression issues increase from 11 percent to 22 percent after deployment. Those planning to divorce their spouse rose from 9 percent to 15 percent after time spent in the combat zone.

And that’s just the start of the problems, according to military family support groups.

“At the end of the day, wounded servicemembers have wounded families,” said Joyce Wessel Raezer, government relations director for the National Military Family Association. “More must be done to link servicemembers and families with the services they need and the information about PTSD and other mental health issues.”

LINK: http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=32730&archive=true

The flip side of the divorce issue, of course, is that "stupid marriage" rates skyrocket immediately before a deployment, as truckloads of new soldiers who are barely old enough to shave marry their girlfriends so they can get benefits as military spouses.

Many of these marriages would not have occurred in the first place had there been no deployment. I remember the chaplain was a pretty busy guy in our last few days at home station, marrying people in the Battalion Commander's office, amidst all the rest of the madness.

As for anger rates, I think a lot of the anger isn't so much at the deployment (though while troops are deployed there's certainly a lot of that - especially where there are family problems and changes in the go-home date).

I know I get frustrated with lousy press coverage, and as a result, people who equate our veterans to murderers, Khmer Rouge, Nazis, or guards in the Soviet gulags, or people who regard our troops as "babies," "boys and girls," or "victims." Those people I just want to slap.

Well, that's as much a result of irresponsible political leaders as poor press coverage. So yeah, I do get angry. But it's not at the things you would expect.

Splash, out


I knew Lee Harvey Oswald. 
Lee Harvey Oswald was a friend of mine.

John Seigenthaler, Jr., you're no Lee Harvey Oswald.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Battle of the White House Comedy Shorts 
The defending champion: Bill Clinton

And the challenger:

The Bush Administration's "A Very Beazley Christmas"

The envelope, please:

The winner is...."Clinton's Last Days."

Splash, out


Guess the headline 
Here's the story, right out of the Associated Press:

Three-quarters say they are confident about the parliamentary elections scheduled for this week. More than two-thirds expect things in their country to get better in the coming months.

Attitudes about Iraq's future were sharply different in the Sunni provinces and other parts of Iraq, however. Only a third in the Sunni regions were optimistic about their country's future. Shiites, who with the Kurds dominate the current parliament, had a much more positive view than the Sunnis of their own personal safety and whether their own lives are going well.

A majority of both the Sunni and Shiite population say they favor a unified country, however.

In other poll findings:

_Two-thirds express confidence in the Iraqi army and in police.

_Half now say the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was wrong, up from 39 percent in February 2004.

_More than six in 10 say they feel safe in their neighborhoods, up from 40 percent in June 2004.

_Six in 10 say local security is good, up from half in February 2004.

But the national concern mentioned most often is security, named by 57 percent.

A fourth of those surveyed, 26 percent, say U.S. forces should leave now, and another 19 percent say troops should leave after those chosen in this week's election take office. The other half say U.S. troops should stay until security is restored, 31 percent, until Iraqi forces can operate independently, 16 percent, or longer, 5 percent.

Ok, so in other words, 74 percent of Iraqis support a U.S. presence there until the new government is installed, and 52 percent of the Iraqi population-a solid majority- wants us to remain longer than that.

And so what headline do the math-challenged retards at the Associated Press come up with to describe the story?

"Most Iraqis Oppose Troops' Presence."

Splash, out


Sunday, December 11, 2005

The return of our fallen 
Here's the latest bit of nonsense sparking a hysterical reaction on the left. But there's nothing new here. If you're not willfully blind and you're not one of those people who think very hard about anything, you'd realize that we've been moving the remains of our nations warriors by commercial air for some time.

Why? Because that's the fastest and most efficient way to get our warriors home, that's why.

And yes, that means moving them in the cargo holds. Only an idiot would wonder why we move them in the cargo holds rather than sort of leaning the casket up against the bulkhead in the stewardess's area by the coffeepot?

Nobody had a problem with this USMC major taking private first class Chance Phelps home via Northwest Airlines when this moving account by an escort came out.
To wit:

When we got to the Northwest Airlines cargo terminal at the Philadelphia airport, the cargo handler and hearse driver pulled the shipping container onto a loading bay while I stood to the side and executed a slow salute. Once Chance was safely in the cargo area, and I was satisfied that he would be treated with due care and respect, the hearse driver drove me over to the passenger terminal and dropped me off.

As I walked up to the ticketing counter in my uniform, a Northwest employee started to ask me if I knew how to use the automated boarding pass dispenser. Before she could finish another ticketing agent interrupted her. He told me to go straight to the counter then explained to the woman that I was a military escort. She seemed embarrassed. The woman behind the counter already had tears in her eyes as I was pulling out my government travel voucher. She struggled to find words but managed to express her sympathy for the family and thank me for my service. She upgraded my ticket to first class.

After clearing security, I was met by another Northwest Airline employee at the gate. She told me a representative from cargo would be up to take me down to the tarmac to observe the movement and loading of PFC Phelps. I hadn’t really told any of them what my mission was but they all knew.

When the man from the cargo crew met me, he, too, struggled for words. On the tarmac, he told me stories of his childhood as a military brat and repeatedly told me that he was sorry for my loss. I was starting to understand that, even here in Philadelphia, far away from Chance’s hometown, people were mourning with his family.

Read the whole thing. The major describes his interaction with the airline and cargo workers. Many aviation workers are former military themselves, too.

And here's an account of the homecoming of Cpl Jeffrey Starr.

He had at least one military escort from the time he left that street in Ramadi, Iraq, on Monday. For the last leg of the journey, a Marine accompanied Starr's body on a commercial flight from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. When the plane landed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Starr's escort left the plane while all the other passengers sat waiting. The plane's passengers were asked to lower their window shades.

Six Marines in full regalia stood, saluting, on either side of the cargo ramp as Starr's flag-draped coffin rolled out. They carried him to a hearse.

The Starr family and some close friends traveled to the airport together in a black limousine, but were not allowed to meet the plane. While they waited in a cargo area, a Seattle Port Authority officer agreed to use a camera to document Starr's arrival.

So did this news outlet do any actual reporting? Did they bother to think? Provide any independent analysis? Make a few phone calls (other than by ambushing a DoD spokeswoman and asking her what happened without giving her time to research the matter. Of COURSE she doesn't know why something happened on the spot, geniuses!)

Get our warriors home as quickly as we can. Sharp soldiers on escort duty will arrange to personally receive the caskets as they come out of the holds, and do so in a dignified manner.

(Here's an account where things didn't go perfectly, but thanks to some NY State troopers the returning warrior got a dignified reception.)

The airlines should probably load the caskets last, so they can be unloaded first, on a separate forklift, and placed in a waiting hearst by a receiving party.

Occasionally someone will screw up. But it's not clear to me in this case that anybody did. This family had heard their son was coming home via a passenger jet. But he wasn't home yet - they still had time to call Senator Boxer's office to arrange for a color guard. But a color guard may have been present anyway. At a minimum, an escort should have been present, and may well have been.

And no, you don't necessarily KEEP the flag on the casket all the time. That's a good way to destroy a flag. You put it on on the final leg of the journey. At any rate, I gather, our fallen warriors are usually transported in cardboard shipping containers surrounding the casket. So you wouldn't be able to drape it in a visible flag until the casket is removed from the container.

Just like the White Phosphorus flap, it's another case of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth over incompetent reporting from our nation's media.

Splash, out


This just in... 
Pope says materialism pollutes Christmas spirit.

I hear rumors that he's Catholic, too.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Did the New York Times mention the capture of the Butcher of Ramadi? 

Friday, December 09, 2005

OMG!!!! I'm up for Best Military Blog!!!! 
And up against some very good competition!

Vote here.

A major victory in Ramadi? 
I'm getting reports I cannot yet confirm - but appear at first blush to be correct, that Iraqi civilians captured Amir Khalaf Fanus, also known as "The Butcher of Ramadi." He had been preying on the people of Ramadi for some time. He was wanted for a variety of crimes, including murder and kidnapping.

Iraqi civilians took him down, took him to a nearby coalition facility, and turned him over.

If true, he would be the highest-ranking Al Qaeda member to have been turned over by Iraqis so far.

If true, it would be terrific news.

UPDATE: Confirmed.

Lucky bastards.

Infantry and Combined Arms tactics in Iraq 
Courtesy of Instapundit, Owen and Bing West lay out how we make the sausage at the company level.
Interesting, but not too much new for the grunts in the readership. But it's a great primer for the lay reader. I was not aware that there was not one incident of fratricide in the fight for Fallujah. That's an amazing statistic, and says mountains about the entire chain of command.

Moreover, the integration of UAVs, TAC air, and Global Positioning Systems, including distributing GPS technology down to the squad level, says mountains about the chain of command going back a dozen or more years. It was people like Cap Weinberger, General Sullivan, Shinseki, Admiral Crowe, Colin Powell, and Generals Shelton and Shalakishvili and Secretary Cohen who laid the groundwork and created the tools we're using now.

And yes, Al Gore helped, too.

Splash, out


Letters, I send letters... 
I just sent the following letter to the President and all of my Congresscritters:


I am a definite voter in your district, and I am writing to urge you not to lose the political will to win in Iraq.

We have been at war in Iraq less than three years -- not enough time, even, to meaningfully assess the performance of a stock mutual fund, much less the effectiveness of the strategy of "draining the swamp" by bringing democracy to the Middle East.

The strategy we now have will work, but it will not happen quickly. The Iraqi Army is now training its own NCOs and is in a position to grow exponentially now that the critical training infrastructure is in place, and they now have a corps of battle-tested NCOs to train new troops themselves.

But it take years to develop a functioning battle command and staff at battalion, brigade, and division level. I have 13 years commissioned service and a combat tour in Iraq, and I strongly urge that we stay the course until the train-up of the Iraqi Army is complete, they have developed staff and command levels, and until they are fully capable of taking the fight to the enemy and winning.

I further believe that if we try to short-circuit this process and retreat prematurely, we will have demonstrated ourselves to be what Bin Ladin already suspects we are - a paper tiger which does not have the stomach for a fight.

Friends and foes will notice this alike. China will adopt a more aggressive policy towards Taiwan, and North Korea will feel free to pursue brinksmanship against South Korea and the United States.

We will lose allies and cooperation in the middle east as area governments will feel the need to pursue non-aggression pacts with terror groups on the ascendancy in Iraq. And countries like Libya, Syria, and Sudan will feel free to restart their own WMD programs - in Syria's case, needed as a hedge against Iranian power.

And Israel, absent a credible American security umbrella, will feel a good deal of pressure to launch preemptive attacks, destabilizing the Middle East far more severely than any US presence in Iraq could concieveably accomplish. And it will be a generation or more before the United States can lead a coalition in a risky venture with an uncertain outcome.

In short, I believe a premature withdrawal from Iraq will augur a rapid and significant eclipse in American military, diplomatic, and economic power.

This is a "must" issue for me. I will support representatives who are robust and strong in supporting the war on terror, and I will do everything in my power to see that representatives who lose heart, who adopt defeatism, and who lack the courage to see us to victory go down to electoral defeat.


Jason Van Steenwyk

You can write' em, too. This NRA-ILA web feature makes it easy: You just enter your zip code and you can write them all at once.

Please don't cut and paste, because I don't want to lose credibility by being accused of astroturfing. Besides...whattaya wanna cut and paste for? Most of you are smarter than I am, from your emails.

(P.S., Don't be a rock-hugger. You know MoveOn.org is mobilizing its hordes. And you also know they're willing to cheat. We must meet the threat head-on, and establish rapid intellectual and numerical superiority.

The first part isn't hard. The second one can only be accomplished with an all-hands effort from all boots on the ground.)

Splash, out


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Well,this brought back memories! 
This video of an IED attack in Ramadi looks to be along River Road, just west of Ar Ramadi Hospital. Not PRECISELY sure(need a wider angle view) but I used to drive it every day.

Splash, out


Track 'em 
Here's a tutorial on how to track down the identities of people who leave hateful or threatening messages on your blog.

Countercolumn News Ticker 
EU unanimously rejects Iran's call to move Israel to Europe ...

France gives up 1,000 Jews in goodwill gesture ...

Renaults outburn Peugots in Consumer Reports study ...

Local lovers overheard saying "At least we'll always have what's left of Paris."

Howard Dean surrenders to South Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, California, then goes on to surrender to Oregon, then goes to surrender to New York. YEAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!!

Dean, France dispute over who gets to surrender to Oregon first ...

New York Times editor fired for including witness testimony above the page break in story about witness testimony ...

Unemployment soars in New Orleans as musicians return home ...

Documents show Governor Blanco napped for two hours prior to storm ...
Also ate two meals and used the restroom three times day prior to storm ...

Obese area couch potato thinks he would have shot fleeing bipolar passenger in legs ...

Al Qaeda to become publicly traded ...

Profile of Eamonn O'Zairghaigharaigh, Al Qaeda's top-ranked Irishman ...

All the way, sir!!! 
LTG William Yarborough, a great warrior and legendary paratrooper, has left with the quartering party for the final Alpha Alpha.

Rest in peace, General.

Why Howard Dean isn't just wrong, but stupid, too 
I've posted many times here: Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics.

And that is the paradigm through which I want to examine the statement made the other day by Howard Dean, in which he says ""Bring the 80,000 National Guard and Reserve troops home immediately. They don't belong in a conflict like this anyway."

That is an utter falsehood, and belies a profound ignorance of the structure and doctrine of the Total Force Concept and the Abrams Doctrine.

In fact, thanks to the Abrams Doctrine and former SecDef Melvin Laird, the active component cannot function without significant commitment from the reserve forces.

This is because, combat formations aside, much of the required medical, transportation, supply, administrative, communications, civil affairs, legal, and combat support needed to conduct a deployment comes from the reserve components.

If you pull reserve forces out, you will rip the heart out of our combat divisions. You may not even be able to fly them home.

Tell the Brigade commander "you know that truck company you rely on to move a battalion of soldiers to and from the fight? Send them home.You know that -30 level maintenance unit you rely on to get your crew-served weapons firing and to repair your damaged and broken vehicles? You don't get them anymore. You know those MPs already working 12 hour shifts guarding your detainees? Say bye-bye. And you really don't need those Arabic linguists do you? We're sending a whole battalion of linguists home, and we're canceling the deployment of another battalion of linguists next year. You're in the dark. Oh, and forget about fueling your vehicles. The petroleum specialists you have are reservists.

Send home your surgeons. They're reservists, too, and reserve forces surgeons don't belong in a war zone. Better to let some troops die."

And yes, Howard Dean, that will be PRECISELY the result if your stupid plan to strip the reserve component from our Army and Marine Corps now forward deployed.

His logistical sense is so lacking it borders on criminality. You don't strip an army of its support while it's committed in the field. To do so is tantamount to murder.

Thank God almighty this cretin did not become President. His decision-making would make Desert One and Clinton's decision to deny an armored QRF in Mogadishu look like strokes of genius in comparison.

Dean is beyond stupid with that plan. Responsible Democrats should rise up and shut him down.

I know Congressman Murtha understands the role the reserve component plays. Where is he? Why doesn't he stand up for our troops?

Splash, out


P.S.:Can it be this ignorant blowhard was really Commander In Chief of the Vermont National Guard?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

New York Times Elevates Saddam Above His Victims 
Journalists tell you what's important by frontloading it in the story. Basic journalism practice is to strive to include the vital elements of the story - the five W's, and the most riveting details - in the first two paragraphs. A snarky lede is usually held in high regard. But the news article must waste no time in getting to the most important facts.

Today, "Witness A," who was just 16 years old at the time of the massacre, was the first woman to testify against Saddam. Her testimony is at once riveting, graphic, and horrifying - even in understatement.

In a story devoted to the trial, The New York Times buries her testimony in the 10th paragraph.



From the article:

After the woman said she had been held in Abu Ghraib prison, defense lawyers asked her whether dogs had been used or she had been photographed, in a clear reference to the scandal that broke out last year surrounding the mistreatment of Iraqi detainees by American guards at the prison. That tactic appeared to be a continuation of efforts by the defense team to transform the trial from a somber reminder of Mr. Hussein's crimes into a theatrical display of defiance.


So the reporters know what's happening. And yet they willingly carry water for Saddam, playing right into his game plan, by spending ten precious paragraphs leading with Saddam's outbursts.

Saddam is calculating, shrewd, and manipulative. And he's playing the Times like a violin.

As if that weren't bad enough, the Times edits out much of the woman's testimony (as provided by the Reuters article linked to below.) And in a final insult to victims of tyranny everywhere, the Times grants Saddam, not Victim A, the priveledge of the last word:

"I live in an iron cage covered by a tent under democratic American rule," he told the judge. "You should come see my cage."

He complained that "the Americans and the Zionists want to execute Saddam Hussein," but insisted, again and again, that he was not afraid, and reminded the judge that he had been sentenced to death before.

"What does the execution of Saddam Hussein matter?" he said. "He has given himself to Iraq from the day he was at school and has been sentenced to death three times already."

The New York Times should be ashamed of itself.

Here's a detail the reporter missed:

At 16 years old, "Witness A" was just one year older than Anne Frank was when she was murdered by typhus at Bergen-Belsen.

Splash, out



The AP also gives Saddam's outburst the place of honor, and drives "Witness A," already stripped of her dignity and her name, even from the headline.

Via the AP, we also see that there were several other witnesses who gave testimony today.

"Witness C," a man, testified that he was taken by security forces along with his parents and sister. They spent 19 days at the intelligence headquarters and 11 months in Abu Ghraib, where his father died after being beaten on the head, he said. Then they spent three years in the desert.

"At the intelligence headquarters, they put two clips in my ears," the witness said, adding he was told that if he lied, he would be given an electric shock. When he answered a question, the shock was administered, he said.

"In prison they used to bring men to the women's room and ask them to bark like dogs," he said. "My father died in prison and I was not able to see him." He added that his father, who was 65 and had heart problems, was kept in a room about 50 yards from him.

"How come you remember all these things?" Saddam asked.

"This was a great sadness to me," the witness replied, "and I can't forget a sadness."

You can't read about Witness C in the New York Times. While the Times dutifully reports Saddam's every complaint, no matter how trivial, the New York Times deprives him of his very voice.

One can only wonder what else was left out.

Tales of torture of women 
The first woman to testify against Saddam took the stand today.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The first woman to testify against Saddam Hussein, hidden behind a high curtain, recounted on Tuesday how she had been made to strip naked, beaten and given electric shocks during weeks of interrogation ...

"I saw camels and I was envious because they were free," she said. She wept as she told of being forced by an interrogator soon after her detention to strip in custody while five officers watched.

"I was forced to take my clothes off. They lifted my legs up, they tied my hands, they beat me with cables and (gave me) electric shocks," she said.

"From a small window, they gave us two loaves of bread," she said. "After all that torture, do you think we could eat?"

Later she was taken to Abu Ghraib, she said, where the water was freezing cold in winter, prisoners' hair crawled with lice, and women pulled threads from blankets to sew clothes.

Guards stopped the women from helping one woman give birth, even when the baby was stuck between her legs, she said.

This is the work of the man that Howard Dean says we should have left in power.

This is the work of the man that John Kerry says it was a mistake to remove, even though he voted to remove him.

That's no surprise. Kerry can't even accept responsibility for the SUV in his own spacious garage. He can't even accept responsibility for falling down while skiing.

Renditions in context 
From a reader:

July, 1993. Mohammed Ali Rezaq, suspect in the 1985 hijacking of EgyptAir Flight 648, was rendered to Nigeria.

April 1995. Abdul Hakim Murad was rendered to the Philippines.

December 1995. Wali Khan, Amin Sha, a suspectin the 1995 Far East bomb plot, was rendered to a country the State Department does not care to name.

September 1996. Tsutomu Shirosaki, suspected in the May 1986 attack on the US Embassy in Jakarta, was rendered to a country the State Department does not care to name.

In June, 1997, Mr Aimal Kansi, suspect in a 1993 shooting outside CIA headquarters, was rendered to a country the State Department does not care to name.

June, 1998. Mohammed Rashid, suspect in the 1982 Pan Am bombing, was rendered to a country the State Department does not care to name.

August 1998. Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-Owhali, suspect in the August 1998 US Embassy bombing in Kenya, was rendered to Kenya.

August 1998. Mohamed Sadeek Odeh, suspect in the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Kenya, was rendered to Kenya.

December 1999. Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, suspected coconspirator in the August 1998 East Africa bombings, was rendered to South Africa.

This is the rendition record of the "Most ethical administration in history."

Obviously they weren't effective enough. For example, Ramzi Yousef's uncle is one Khalid Sheikh Mohamed. Had we stepped on his neck a bit more, we might have rolled up Sheikh Mohamed eventually and prevented the 9/11 attacks.

Maybe we should have let the Pakistanis hold him a little longer.

Splash, out


Democrats want to cut taxes for the wealthy 
Democratic congress members are jumping onto calls to roll back or eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax, or so says the Wall Street Journal.


But an AMT elimination will cost the Treasury some 29 billion dollars! How will they pay for it?

For background on the AMT, click here: http://registeredrep.com/mag/finance_honey_shrunk_amt/index.html (Hey, who's that writer?)

Well, the answer is that any significant AMT relief will be borne primarily by people in the heartland and by working families. If the Democrats are going to be deficit conscious, and play the fiscal conservative role that should rightly be borne by Republicans (who have abdicated their responsibiities in this regard), any AMT relief will be offset, one way or another, by cuts in services, or by tax cuts to working Americans foregone.

What it really means is that people in Oklahoma will be indirectly subsidizing the outsized property values of beach home dwellers along the coasts, and the outsized home mortgage interest deductions they can therefore claim.

It's amazing to me that the same people who argue that we need an estate tax, and who opposed raising the estate tax uniform exemption above 1 million dollars in total wealth, will then go to bat for the same population.

I'm for low taxes and fiscal restraint. But let's do so in a way that's equitable to heartlanders and coastal dwellers alike.

Splash, out


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